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Canada - Notorious Left - Changing It's Mind

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Broke Cowboy

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Seems even the Canadian media - notoriously left in their thinking - are having another think.

Times may be tougher in the world than most think - I hope you guys can hang on.

BC
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Canada Fills Obama's Leadership Void
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, April 17, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Leadership: Amid all the boilerplate about dialogue and partnership at Trinidad's Summit of the Americas, the Obama administration has shown no real leadership on its goals. If they matter, why is it left to Canada to lead?

Thus far, the Obama administration seems more interested in continuing its global apology tour, Latin edition, during this weekend's Fifth Summit of the Americas than he is in leading. His accusations against America are stronger than his promotion of the institutions and treaties that bring authentic democracy and prosperity to our hemisphere.

"Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors," he said. "We have been too easily distracted by other priorities and failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress through the Americas."

Having never set foot south of our border nor paid much attention to the region until this week, he should speak for himself.

A critical goal of the Summit of the Americas when it was founded in 1994 by President Clinton and other democratic leaders was a great free trade zone of the Americas, enabling America and its neighbors to move from Barrow, Alaska, all the way to Tierra del Fuego, Chile, in a great free exchange of people, trade and ideas.

Today, Obama is paying only lip service to that trade goal while two finished free-trade treaties with friendly American allies Panama and Colombia sit in his desk drawer, unvoted-on in Congress.

He speaks of the U.S. being "distracted by other priorities" but in reality he's only "distracted" by listening to Big Labor, which has tried to shut Colombia and Panama out of free trade.

In the same way, he's distracted by the Farm Lobby's campaign cash and won't think of ending the senseless tariffs on Brazil's ethanol — another major free-trade, and energy policy, issue.

He has yet to expend political capital to muscle Congress to put those tariffs and treaties to a vote. If he did, he would show leadership. It's not going unnoticed by democratic leaders of our hemisphere, who, from Brazil to Chile to Mexico to Peru, are urging him to take action. This is the one issue he should be showing strong leadership on. But he isn't.

Canada, by contrast, is taking the lead. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his top priority at the Summit is to champion free trade, in line with the will of the region's real democracies.

"Our focus for the Summit of the Americas will be about free trade and avoiding other countries moving back to protectionist measures," Harper's spokesman said. "Canada's position is that we must not allow the impact of the (financial) crisis to reverse our hard-fought progress towards freer trade and investment."

The region's protectionists can be counted on one hand, and they just happen to be the same countries trying to ruin their own democracies — among them Venezuela, whose de facto dictator, Hugo Chavez, declared at the last summit in 2005 he would "bury" free trade of the Americas. With Obama failing to lead, he's effectively handing Chavez the leadership, as well as a victory.

He's also giving Cuba a victory, unilaterally loosening rules for remittances to the island, providing the bankrupt Castro dictatorship with an economic lifeline as well as a fresh pool of visitors to spy on, blackmail and potentially recruit.

Instead of taking a principled stance, Obama seems to be following the example of other countries in the region. The problem is that in letting the summit focus on his unrequited overture to Cuba, a non-democracy that isn't even allowed to take part, he dumbs down the standards of democracy. That's not leading.

Perhaps this lack of leadership is based on ignorance of history. Obama told CNN En Espanol: "There has always been a tradition of concern that the United States has been heavy-handed when it comes to foreign policy in Latin America. And that's not something that just arose during the Bush administration. That's something that dates back to the Monroe Doctrine and a long history of U.S. involvement in Latin America."

Some history: President Bush was the first U.S. leader in decades to launch no military action on a Latin country. Not very "heavy handed." In fact, his immigration plan showed he was a softie.

Meanwhile, the Monroe Doctrine was declared by President Monroe to protect Latin America's infant democracies from European takeover, a real prospect in 1823. Obama's double apology for that as Iran and Russia erect bases in the region is a bad signal to the region's real democracies — and comfort for our foes.

Right now, the hemisphere's definition of democracy is growing hazier as protectionism rises. The U.S. could lead the region on a better course, but Obama seems more interested in adulation.

What a shame that it's now left to Canada to do the heavy lifting on the actions that will genuinely advance peace and prosperity in our global neighborhood.
 

Broke Cowboy

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Even in Calgary - a not so left part of the country.

It seems the honeymoon from the Presidential visit may be over.

The last paragraph is a bit strong, but it shows how Canadian media personnel are beginning to perceive the new administration.

Canadians are now extremely worried as the economy in the U.S. of A. has a tremendous affect on the Canadian economy.

When America sneezes Canada gets the flu.

BC
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Obama's new politics of international apology


By Susan Martinuk, Calgary Herald April 17, 2009

U. S. President Barack Obama should be extremely grateful to his wife for captivating Europeans and the world media with her "shock and awe" sweater campaign. Amidst her triumphant tour, few noticed that Obama was proving to be a major embarrassment to his own country.

In a February address to a joint session of Congress, Obama confidently declared, "there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America." Last week, he essentially tossed that same "powerful example" under the bus as he became the first president to criticize America on foreign soil. He grovelled before world leaders in an "America's example bad, everybody else good" apology tour to the Muslim world.

The word "grovel" is no exaggeration. At the G-20 Summit in London, the (formerly) most powerful man in the world bowed down to Saudi King Abdullah. According to protocol, American presidents don't bow to other leaders, let alone a Muslim king from a country governed by sharia law, and notorious for its subjugation of women, repression of human rights and financing of terrorists.

He went on to submit to, I mean address, the Turkish parliament in Ankara where he used the middle name (Hussein) that he never uses in America, denied America was a Christian nation, condemned America for its "darker period" (slavery)--without mentioning it was abolished long ago or considering that slavery is a cultural norm in some Muslim countries.

He then gave them a crash course in history saying, the U. S. conveys "our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world-- including my own country." Apparently, history books have missed the fact Islam played a huge role in building America, fighting in its wars, overcoming slavery, fighting for women's equality and the civil rights movement.

He's right in saying that Islam has shaped the U. S. (and its policies)--at least since Sept. 11, 2001. Or the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the attacks on U. S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. And to Obama's credit, Islam has shaped the world since dozens were slaughtered at a Bali bar, the London Tube and on a Madrid train.

In France, he declared the U. S. has to "change our behaviour in showing the Muslim world new respect." He said America had been arrogant, dismissive and derisive. These comments line up with those from his first interview as president (granted to an Arab--not American--network) where he apologized for America's mistakes and said he wanted to restore "the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world . . . 20 or 30 years ago."

But who owes who "respect," based on the events of the past 20 or 30 years? The U.S. has done more to help Muslims than any other nation--including Muslim nations. They've engaged in five wars to liberate Muslims from oppressors and genocide (Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.)

After making it clear his America would humble itself to the Muslim world, Obama went to Prague, where he responded to the North Korean missile test with calls for "violations (to be) punished" and a "strong international response." Then he responded by cutting U. S. missile defence systems, including the Alaska-based interceptors able to shoot down North Korean missiles.

He further emasculated the U. S. by committing to nuclear disarmament and making a personal deal with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to renew dis-armament talks. Obama's first victory on the road to world peace? Hardly. Just 10 days later, Russia launched an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a 550 kilotonne nuclear warhead. Russia is pouring millions into renewing its missile arsenal by 2016, but the U. S. interceptor system that protects America from Russian missiles will be long gone by then.

We're starting to see what America on the world stage will be like under Obama. It'll be a bit like Alice in Wonderland coming out the other side--everything's nonsensical, upside-down and bassackwards.

Susan Martinuk's Column Appears Fridays
 

hypocritexposer

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Broke Cowboy, I'd be more than interested in hearing some of the Middle East perspective and opinions, if you have any insight?

Thanks
 

Broke Cowboy

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hypocritexposer said:
Broke Cowboy, I'd be more than interested in hearing some of the Middle East perspective and opinions, if you have any insight?

Thanks

From Jerusalem Post

Barack Obama does anything but conjure up the specter of a clash of civilizations. In his visit to Turkey two weeks ago the American president continued his efforts to engage the Muslim world, declaring in his speech to the Turkish parliament that "the United States is not at war with Islam," and professing America's "deep appreciation of the Islamic faith." Yet his message to the Islamic world is far more provocative for Islamic radicals than is properly appreciated by Western audiences hoping for reconciliation with Islam. Indeed, Obama's vision represents a departure from the West's own perspective on Islam in a sense that has so far escaped attention.


US President Barack Obama.
Photo: AP
In his town hall meeting with students in Istanbul, Obama displayed his respect for Islam by reminding his audience that the meeting would have to be concluded before the approaching call for prayer. But it should not be assumed that it is gestures such as these, in accordance with a "politics of dignity," that will ultimately alter the dynamics that underlie the strength of Islamic radicalism. And the way Obama conducted himself in Turkey suggests that he is well aware of that.

After the Bush era, any American president would have been expected to feel the need to go out of his way to assuage Muslim feelings, and Obama, with his personal history, is exceptionally well equipped to perform the role of unifier of civilizations. His vision stands in enlightened contrast to the way conservatives in the West - in the fashion of Samuel Huntington - have perceived the Western-Islamic encounter. Indeed, what is almost revolutionary about Obama's vision is that it reintroduces a perspective inspired by Enlightenment thinking in the Western discourse about Islam - a school of thought which had been discarded not only by Western conservatives but by "enlightened" liberals as well.

Prominent American liberal intellectual Mark Lilla expressed this typical opinion when he wrote: "We have little reason to expect societies in the grip of a powerful tradition of political theology (Islam) to follow our unusual path."

APPEARANCES ARE PARTLY deceptive. Although the Bush administration succeeded in creating and maintaining the perception that the United States was engaged in a crusade against Islam, it actually championed "moderate Islam," notably its Turkish variant, as a model for the Islamic world to follow. In the event, the US came to be seen as having joined hands with Islamic conservatism against secularism in Turkey.

What is promising with Obama's approach is his abandonment of any references to "moderate Islam." What makes the message that Obama delivered to the Muslim world from Turkey groundbreaking is not the professions of respect for Islam. It was the fact that the president seems intent on rehabilitating the notion of secularism.

Addressing the Turkish parliament - with its Islamic conservative majority - Obama spoke about "secular democracy" as "the greatest monument to Atatürk's life." Obama's tributes to the secularist revolutionary were not bows dictated by diplomatic etiquette to the founding father of a host country, but politically charged interventions in the ongoing debate about secularism and Islam. Indeed, his words were near-affronts to the belief held by Islamic conservatives and liberals - the alliance which dominates Turkish public discourse - that the introduction of secularist reforms was a traumatic event.

Symptomatically, leading Turkish liberal columnist Ahmet Altan recently wrote that "had it not been for Atatürk, we would not have had any problems at all over the issue of religion." The belief that secularism has created an existential void in Turkey is a theme that runs through the writings of Turkey's most prominent liberal, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Obama's rehabilitation of Atatürk failed to impress Turkish liberals and Islamic conservatives. Radical Islamists plotting in Pakistan and elsewhere, for their part, are sure to have found it profoundly provocative. A decade ago Osama bin Laden planned an attack on the Ataturk mausoleum in Ankara; in his first video message after 9/11, he referred to Atatürk's abolishment of the caliphate as the insufferable pain inflicted on Islam 80 years ago.

Secularism is a revolutionary concept in Islam. To this day, Atatürk's endeavor remains unique in the Muslim world. Indeed, it is striking how few have been encouraged to follow his example, despite Obama's assertion that he "did so much to shape the course of history."

There is no clash of civilizations, but there is certainly a clash of ideas about the proper place of religion in society. By venturing into that ideological battleground, Barack Obama has assumed a challenge that is far from politically anodyne.

The author is Senior Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Center with Johns Hopkins University-SAIS and the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy (www.silkroadstudies.org) and the managing editor of the Center's biweekly publication, The Turkey Analyst (www.turkeyanalyst.org).
 

Broke Cowboy

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From ARAB NEWS
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Obama memo move ‘courageous’
Barbara Ferguson | Arab News

WASHINGTON: As US President Barack Obama works on improving relations south of the border during his four-day trip to Mexico and a Latin American summit, he may be surprised over the welcome his release of interrogation memos is having back home.

Obama, who banned the use of interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation and simulated drowning during his first week in office, released the four top-secret memos on Thursday to mixed reviews. The memos revealed disturbing details about the methods approved by the previous administration for extracting information from terrorist suspects.

“The interrogation techniques described in these memos have already been widely reported,” Obama said in a statement explaining his decision to declassify the memos. “Withholding these memos would only serve to deny facts that have been in the public domain for some time.”

At issue is Obama’s decision to absolve CIA officers from prosecution who committed the harsh, painful interrogations even as his administration released the memos, graphically detailing (and authorizing) such tactics as slamming prisoners against walls, waterboarding them, forcing inmates to maintain stress positions and exposing them to temperature extremes in the nude for long periods of time.

But, in a carefully worded statement, authorities left open the possibility that operatives and higher-level administration officials could face prosecution.

The release of the memos involved a fierce battle within the highest ranks of the White House about the benefits of releasing the information. The memos were among the most urgently sought and the most fiercely protected classified records of recent years.

Intelligence experts said the documents could ignite calls in Congress and among international courts for a fresh, independent investigation of detainee treatment.

The former head of the CIA, Michael Hayden, who ran the agency under President George W. Bush, said the White House move would undermine intelligence work and dissuade foreign agencies from sharing information with the CIA.

“If you want an intelligence service to work for you, they always work on the edge. That’s just where they work,” he told reporters.

On the other side, human rights advocates argued that Obama should not have assured the CIA that officers who conducted interrogations would not be prosecuted if they used methods authorized by Bush lawyers in the memos.

Obama, however, defended his decision. “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past,” he said.

But the decision not to prosecute CIA officers who used the harsh interrogation techniques left some feeling that it could tarnish somewhat Obama’s growing popularity among Arabs and Muslims, who have cheered his promises to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities and withdraw US troops from Iraq.

Leaders in Washington’s Arab American community, however, believe the president was courageous in releasing the memos. “President Obama’s release of the Bush administration’s interrogation guidelines and procedures is timely and relevant,” said John Duke Anthony, President of the Washington-based National Council on US-Arab Relations, adding that memos should “help to further repair the damage the Bush administration inflicted on America’s reputation throughout the Islamic world.

“The president did the right thing,” said James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute (AAI). “The guilty people are not the guys who did it, the guilty ones are the ones who institutionalized the torture techniques.”

Zogby also supported Obama’s decision to release the memos. “The memos are horrifying in their cold and near ruthless attention to the details of each of the ‘techniques’ used in ‘enhanced interrogation’,” said Zogby. “They are an abomination, representing ... a deliberate effort to circumvent and defile the law.

Anthony said the decision by Obama was in line with his campaign promises.

Since taking office he said he has “announced his intentions to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo, change in name from Abu Ghraib to Baghdad Central Prison, extended his hand in friendship to Muslims, reached out to Iran and Syria, appointed a special envoy for Arab-Israeli affairs, gave his first international interview to Al Arabiya Television, and voiced positive Islam-centric opinions during his recent visit to Turkey. These and other initiatives convey a degree of welcomed sincerity and credibility in stark contrast to many of the attitudes and actions of the previous administration.”

The Bush administration’s decision to allow these harsh interrogation tactics “is a disgrace to our country,” said Zogby. “What the president has done makes it possible to restore our lost honor.”

But the AAI president cautioned that the release of the memos must involve a follow-up of accountability: “This brave act of transparency must now be followed by specific steps to hold Bush administration officials accountable for what they have done. “We do not need another Abu Ghraib situation, where only the lowest level personnel are punished, and those who gave the orders and justified these crimes, escape unscathed,” said Zogby.

Despite moves toward transparency and an announcement to shut down Guantanamo, Obama will still have to address the issue of the more than 600 detainees being held at the US Bagram Theatre Internment Facility in Afghanistan, which has been dubbed “the other Guantanamo.” There are at least three other known detention centers in Afghanistan.
 

Broke Cowboy

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From Iran - English News - loved the opening line
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Sunday said that racism and discrimination is a major catastrophe for mankind.“Most crimes in the world take place due to racist attitudes. Wars, aggressions and unfair political and economic ties and the greed for occupation and terrorist operations stem from racism,“ he said before leaving Tehran for Geneva to attend a UN anti-racism conference, IRNA reported.
He reiterated that Zionism and all that it resembles is symbolic of racism.
“By dominating political and media centers Zionists are trying to plunder and humiliate nations. Zionists constantly pursue machinations and psychological warfare. US and European politicians in no small number, their political parties and major economic and monetary systems are controlled by the Zionists. They attempt to use a variety of tools to accumulate wealth,“ he noted.
The president was of the opinion that Zionism has drawn on its full force to ensure that the comity of nations not strive for freedom, seek to eliminate oppression or work for the fulfillment of their rights.
“In this conference we will set out Iran’s stance on fighting racism,“ pointed out Ahmadinejad.
Geneva is slated to host the “Durban II“ summit on Monday, as a follow-up to the last UN conference on racism, xenophobia, and discrimination, which was held in South Africa in 2001.

Prominent Speaker
Ahmadinejad is the most prominent head of state scheduled to address the opening of the UN review conference, which is being boycotted by the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.
The conference raised hackles among the Israeli officials after news broke out that Ahmadinejad would not only attend the sit-down, but also hold talks with a number of European leaders - one of whom is Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz.
The meeting between the two presidents was reportedly scheduled for Sunday evening, a day before the opening of the event.
The United States has said it will not attend the meeting because the text of the draft final statement contains language it is “unable to support“, the state department has said.
Negotiators had been trying to find common ground before the meeting in Geneva, but the US said there were still concerns it would limit free speech and single out Israel for criticism.
Washington’s decision angered human rights advocates and some in the African-American community who had hoped that President Barack Obama would send an official delegation.
Barbara Lee, the Republican chair of the congressional black caucus, said the group was “deeply dismayed“. “This decision is inconsistent with the administration’s policy of engaging with those we agree with and those we disagree with,“ she said.
“By boycotting Durban, the US is making it more difficult for it to play a leadership role on UN Human Rights Council as it states it plans to do. This is a missed opportunity, plain and simple.“
 

Broke Cowboy

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From Jordan
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Iran should honour Obama’s courage

By Rami G. Khouri

The American government‘s decision to join the international negotiations with Iran over the latter’s nuclear energy programme is a historic marker of immense importance - certainly one of the most important diplomatic turning points of our time, in my view. It marks the first time in recent memory when a developing country branded as part of the “axis of evil” by the last American administration forces the president in Washington to reverse American policy and make what might appear to be a humiliating about-face - more or less admitting defeat in the face of Iranian resistance, defiance and persistence.

The core of this reversal in American policy pertains to the fact that Washington will now join the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), who have been negotiating fruitlessly with Iran for some years, in their continuing negotiations on Iran‘s nuclear industry. The George W. Bush administration insisted that it would only negotiate with Iran if Tehran suspended uranium enrichment, and led several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. So now the United States is negotiating with an Iran that moves ahead with its enrichment.

This is not a sign of weakness by the United States, but rather a sign of wisdom and realism for which it should be commended.

The Obama administration was sensible enough to realise that the aggressive Bush policy failed, for many reasons. The US was fighting a losing battle against a determined foe. It took real courage and self-confidence for the Obama team to change their policy without feeling that the US was humiliated and lessened in the eyes of the world. Exactly the opposite is happening: the United States will be more respected for behaving rationally, instead of behaving idiotically and hypocritically - as it did under Bush and Condoleezza Rice.

It is critically important that these negotiations succeed, because lowering the temperature between the United States and Iran - and allowing Tehran to enjoy normal relations with the leading Western powers - is the most important way to make progress on the many other localised conflicts and tension points in the Arab-Asian region. Two things would now seem to take priority.

The first is for Iran to reciprocate the American move. The Iranian supreme leader and the president have both said in recent weeks that Iran would welcome talks with the United States if these were held in a context of seriousness, trust and reciprocity. They said Iran would act in good faith if the US would do so.

The American decision to drop its failed old policy and join the negotiations is a procedural move that should be reciprocated by a move of equal magnitude by Iran. It could be related to non-nuclear issues - like promoting more people-to-people relations - or it could be related to issues like inspections of its nuclear facilities, providing some but not all answers to lingering questions about its alleged nuclear weapons programme, or even a symbolic move, like suspending enrichment for two months in 2,000 of its 7,000 enriched uranium-producing spinning centrifuges - perhaps because they needed cleaning or maintenance.

Every sign of wisdom, humility and courage deserves a countersign. This is the moment Iran has been working towards for years - to show that it negotiates with the United States on equal terms, after forcing the US to accept its position. This is a moment and an opportunity that Iran should not waste, but neither should it gloat about its success to date, or overplay its hand.

The second thing that should happen is to have both sides work more diligently to redefine the aim of the current negotiations. Iran has a uranium enrichment programme, so preventing it from mastering this technology is no longer a realistic goal. Suspending all its enrichment does not seem logical either. More realistic, as Harvard University professor Stephen Walt and others argue, is preventing the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

When I asked his fellow Harvard professor, Steven Miller, a leading American expert on nuclear non-proliferation who also knows Iran from visits there, what could be expected from such an approach, he quickly listed a series of points that Iran had already said it would accept or would seriously discuss, and that would help ensure that it did not weaponise its nuclear assets. These all relate to inspections of its facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency: enrichment levels and quantities, co-production with Western partners, or working within a regional consortium of states that all use enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.

In other words, Miller said, “this suggests that there are arrangements potentially acceptable to Iran that would make it quite difficult for Tehran to secretly use its declared nuclear facilities for weapons purposes”.

Courage and boldness on both sides can initiate serious diplomatic engagement, which in turn can lead to breakthroughs that can transform the entire Middle East.
 

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