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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Baithak World Apr 29: India-China-G8, NYT-SunPost, Gen Suleimani, McCain -Fareed Z, Syria, Israel, RealNews

India and China have been wary about joining an expanded G8 owing to fears of being coaxed and cajoled into making unfair concessions on the Doha Development Round or on carbon emission caps. Both countries attended the 2007 G8 Summit in Germany as "outreach countries" but forthrightly rejected the deal announced at this meeting for the US to abide by environmental targets conditional upon New Delhi and Beijing following suit. Arguably, the intransigence of India and China on trade and environment has rattled the US, which is not seconding Britain and France on the project of creating a G13. The US silence on India's permanent membership of the UNSC is likewise a product of anxiety about more independent-minded states spoiling the US-dominated agenda of the UNSC's five permanent members (the US, UK, Russia, China and France). The voting for the post of UN Secretary General in 2006 showed a similar ordering of choices, with the US going for South Korea’s Ban Ki Moon over India’s Shashi Tharoor. The calculation in all these instances is that India is not sufficiently pliable and can be a fly in the ointment for Washington’s unquestioned sway on global institutions. India, China hold G8 options By Sreeram Chaulia

The New York Times’s Andrea Elliot, who won a Pulitzer last year for a series profiling a Brooklyn mosque, turned in a heartbreaking article this morning detailing how a local educator was drummed out of her chance to be the principal of a new New York City public school that offers Arabic classes as a major curriculum component. One thing that makes the piece so striking is that it is, at heart, a quiet but mighty piece of press criticism. Before her departure, The New York Post, in a ridiculous story about a supposedly offensive t-shirt, pieced-together a damning quote from Almontaser that ended up sinking her career, while The New York Sun ran an amped up op-ed raising specious doubts about the school. It’s no secret or surprise that those papers’ fingerprints are all over this disgrace. But it’s still a shame. NYTimes schools Post, Sun on Arabic School

BAGHDAD — One of the most powerful men in Iraq isn't an Iraqi government official, a militia leader, a senior cleric or a top U.S. military commander or diplomat, He's an Iranian general, and at times he's more influential than all of them. Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani commands the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, an elite paramilitary and espionage organization whose mission is to expand Iran's influence in the Middle East. As Tehran's point man on Iraq, he funnels military and financial support to various Iraqi factions, frustrating U.S. attempts to build a pro-Western democracy on the rubble of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.
According to Iraqi and American officials, Suleimani has ensured the elections of pro-Iranian politicians, met frequently with senior Iraqi leaders and backed Shiite elements in the Iraqi security forces that are accused of torturing and killing minority Sunni Muslims. Is an Iranian general the most powerful man in Iraq

On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed. In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil—but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power. What McCain has announced is momentous—that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war. Fareed Zakaria on McCain's Foreign Policy Bumbling

Professor William Beeman at the University of Minnesota passed along a note today from "a colleague with a U.S. security clearance" about the mysterious Syrian site targeted in a Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike. The note raises more questions about the evidence shown last week by U.S. intelligence officials to lawmakers in the House and Senate. The author of the note pinpoints irregularities about the photographs. Beeman's source alleges that the CIA "enhanced" some of the images. For example he cites this image: The lower part of the building, the annex, and the windows pointing south appear much sharper than the rest of the photo, suggesting that they were digitally improved. The author points to more questions about the photographs of the Syrian site. Satellite photos of the alleged reactor building show no air defenses or anti-aircraft batteries such as the ones found around the Natanz nuclear site in central Iran. The satellite images do not show any military checkpoints on roads near the building. Where are the power lines? The photos show neither electricity lines or substations. Here is a link to a photo of the North Korean facility that the Syrian site was based on. Look at all the buildings surrounding it. The Syrian site was just one building. SYRIA: More questions about alleged nuclear site

April 29, 2008 | For years, liberal American Jews who have chafed under the taboo against criticizing Israel have dreamed of starting a political organization that would speak for them. Now, with the launch of J Street, that dream has become a reality. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group's founder, says that the incident that drove him over the edge took place when he was working as policy director for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. Dean said the U.S. should take an "evenhanded" approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, Ben-Ami recalled. He was immediately, and predictably, savaged as anti-Israeli and a coddler of terrorists. "All hell broke loose," Ben-Ami said. "And this from a man who's married to a Jewish woman, who's raising kids in the Jewish faith, and is extremely pro-Israel in everything he'd ever said and done. But to use that one word, and then to have that cascade into a torrent, was just amazing to me. And it's certainly been repeated and magnified with the attacks on Obama and some of his aides, some of them crossing any line that any of us should have about civil discourse." Taking back the debate over Israel

Shake-Head Lines


Paul Jay presents RealNews
What did Israel bomb in Syria?
Pepe Escobar: Real story behind September air strike has never been investigated view

Karzai, cabinet ministers flee under fire
Senior Afghan leadership, foreign dignitaries sent running for cover as militants open fire on ceremony view

Some Kurds still wait for the new Iraq
Alive in Baghdad: Attempting to redress the wrongs done to Faili Kurds view

55 dead in Morocco factory fire
AP: Officials looking into claims workers were locked inside building view

Richardson reaches out to Chavez
AP: Fmr. presidential candidate says Venezuelan leader can help with release of US hostages held by FARC view


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