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June 08, 2007

G-8: Not Just One Queasy Stomach
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

This entire G-8 meeting, which was to have been an opening showcase for France's Sarkozy, a farewell love-in for Britain's Tony Blair, and a chance of global warming redemption of President Bush, is looking like a big bunch of nothin' to me.  Sure, that's often the case, but you'd have thought there were several leaders with the incentive to do more, our own included.

Here's the most positive spin I could find on the climate change language:  "wait and see."

The $60 billion commitment for Africa is $30 billion of previously-pledged US money and $30 billion of new pledges from European nations that are behind on their previous pledges... and NGOs which have up to now been supportive of the G-8 process are hopping mad.

I am exasperated," Irish rock star and anti-poverty campaigner Bono told Reuters. "I think it is deliberately the language of obfuscation. It is deliberately misleading."

Le Monde claimed that there was "agreement reached" on Darfur, but the language doesn't look like anything to get excited about to me:

We underline that there is no military solution to the conflict in Darfur and fully support the efforts of the special envoys of the UN and the AU [African Union] to restart negotiations with a view to reaching a political agreement.

Ditto Iran and North Korea, unless I missed something.

And on Kosovo's final status, the Russians gave nothing, no statement, nada, zip, zero.  (Trying to make an early mark, Sarkozy proposed that the sides have six months to work something out and, if they failed, the independence-with-lots-of-oversight proposals of UN mediator Martti Ahtisaari would go into effect.  Cute.  But nyet.)

No wonder W. stayed in his room this morning.

Legitimacy Synonymous With Democracy?
Posted by David Shorr

One of the latest papers in the Stanley Foundation's Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide project is a piece by Ivo Daalder and Robert Kagan on America and the Use of Force: Sources of Legitimacy. I agree with much in the paper (disclosure: I"m a co-editor), but when they argue that only democratically elected governments can lend legitimacy at the international level, I see a real problem.

The authors take the emphasis on regime character to its logical extreme: undemocratic governments are members of the international community at our sufferance. Now I'm no neo-realist, but to me, this dismissal of the Westphalian order is liberal internationalism run amok. And as we try to revise the concept of sovereignty to hold leaders accountable for how they treat their own people, I actually see the Daalder-Kagan position as a threat to the emerging -- and important -- Responsibility to Protect norm. It's the difference between viewing the Community (Concert) of Democracies as a long-term project, which is a fine thing, or seeing it as a soon-as-we-can-slap-something-together replacement for the UN, which is not such a good idea.

Continue reading "Legitimacy Synonymous With Democracy?" »

An Urgent Letter from Egypt
Posted by Shadi Hamid

I just got an email from Saad Eddin Ibrahim, one of Egypt's most prominent and courageous pro-democracy activists. Amr Tharwat, an employee of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies (which Saad Eddin founded), was arrested just over a week ago. Saad Eddin writes:

[Amr Tharwat] has been in Egyptian custody for one week now, along w/ four other family members, and we have been able to discover nothing about his specific whereabouts or what he is being charged with.  We at the Ibn Khaldun Center consider his arrest as simply another manifestation of the current regime's complete disregard for human rights and basic human liberties.  Please do all you can do through whatever channels you have at your disposal to pressure the Egyptian government to release Amr and his family members.

This is not just about Amr. This is about a rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt, the second-largest recipient of US aid. This is about Egypt's autocrats - led by strongman-for-life Hosni Mubarak - who have mercilessly done everything in their power to destroy the Egyptian opposition. So what will we do? As Americans, we have a responsibility to speak out, particularly as close to $2 billion of our money goes to the Egyptian regime each year.    

As I wrote earlier this week, Congress is set to debate and vote on foreign aid levels as part of the foreign operations appropriations bill. The full committee mark-up is scheduled for this Tuesday, June 12. Rep. David Obey (D-WI), Tom Lantos (D-CA), and Nita Lowey (D-NY) are three Democrats who have taken an interest in this issue, with Obey and Lantos, in particular, having supported reductions in aid to Egypt. If you would like to call their offices to urge them to take action on aid to Egypt, please do. Phone numbers: Obey (202-225-3365), Lantos (202-225-3531), Lowey (202-225-6506). To learn more about this issue and what congress can do about it, see here.

June 07, 2007

Global Economy, Global Primary
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

I've got a piece up on expanding on my argument that progressives ought to want more and varied debate on global issues in the primaries, not less:

Telling progressive candidates to focus on domestic issues has been a longstanding staple of the political consultant’s talking points. But that’s been wrong for a while now. Wrong because many working people’s issues are international, or globalized, issues. Wrong because Americans are telling everyone who’ll listen that they want a change in how America acts in the world. And wrong because a whole class of candidates proved in 2006 that progressive candidates can make national security work for, not against, them as an issue.

Jewish and Arab Americans Think Alike about the Middle East?
Posted by Jerry Mayer

Well, not exactly. But via Andrew Sullivan, I found this great new poll, in which the authors found remarkable areas of agreement between Jews and Arabs in the US:
The poll is yet another, and this time quite stunning confirmation that both groups want an American administration that is actively engaged in Middle East peacemaking, support a two-state solution, an end to occupation and freeze on settlements, and see a peace agreement as a U.S.strategic interest. A thumping 68 percent of Jewish Americans, and 64 percent of Arab Americans, say they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who promised to take an active role in the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians. While fully 80 percent and 77 percent respectively rate President Bush's handling of the conflict as not effective
In an academic article I wrote a few years back, I showed that Christian fundamentalists were Israel's strongest supporters among the American public. This latest poll contributes to my belief that American Jews are actually more moderate in their support for Israel, compared to fundamentalist Christians. I would argue that they are better friends of Israel, because you don't show your friendship to Israel by encouraging it to hold onto as much of the West Bank as possible. You show your friendship by doing what is necessary to bring peace, which means removing most of the settlements. A lot of American Jews are to the left of Likud, but not so many Christian fundamentalists are.

June 06, 2007

Aid to Egypt: Time for Congress to Take a Stand
Posted by Shadi Hamid

An article of mine on the question of cutting U.S. aid to Egypt is out today at the American Prospect. The basic problem is this: We support Egypt's dictatorship to the tune of nearly $2 billion of aid each year. And the political situation in the country continues to deteriorate. The Islamist and secularist opposition alike are being crushed, and the Bush administration refuses to do anything about it. Now that it's appropriations season, it is time for congress to lead on this issue:

The time of year has again arrived when the U.S. Congress considers funding levels for foreign aid. But this year is different. Democrats control a majority in both the House and Senate and, for the first time in more than 12 years, will have the opportunity to set the agenda on this critical issue.

2007 has seen a continued deterioration in the political situation in the Middle East. Democrats have been preoccupied with a contentious debate on Iraq war funding, which has split the caucus in recent weeks. But beyond the war, 2007 has also been marked by the resurgence of Arab autocrats, who have strengthened their grip on power, and embarked on a sometimes brutal campaign against their opponents. There is no longer any "Arab spring" to speak of. Most troubling is the unfolding situation in Egypt, one of America's closest allies in the region and the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid.

Since January, the regime of longtime President Hosni Mubarak has unleashed an unprecedented wave of repression on opposition parties and civil society. The regime has recently focused much of its ire against the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group in parliament (it holds 88 seats), imprisoning hundreds of its members and freezing the group's financial assets. The smaller secular and liberal parties, such as the Al-Ghad party and the Kifaya movement, have been similarly crushed.

Continue reading "Aid to Egypt: Time for Congress to Take a Stand " »

June 05, 2007

"They'll follow us home" and other McCain spin
Posted by Jerry Mayer

So in tonight's debate, McCain said this (this is from my own ears, not from a transcript so caveat auditor)

“I am convinced that if we fail and we have to withdraw they will follow us home