Archive for May, 2007

Kissinger: Lessons from Vietnam

May 31, 2007

WASHINGTON, May 31 (UPI) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said politicians should learn from the Vietnam War that deadlines won’t work in ending the Iraq war.“In Iraq, rapid, unilateral withdrawal would be disastrous. At the same time, a political solution remains imperative. A strategic design cannot be achieved on a fixed, arbitrary deadline; it must reflect conditions on the ground,” Kissinger wrote in an opinion piece in Thursday’s Los Angeles Times. “But it also must not test the endurance of the American public to a point where the outcome can no longer be sustained by our political process.”

Kissinger said a bipartisan solution is needed to bringing a successful end to the war.

President Bush owes it to his successor to make as much progress toward this goal as possible; not to hand the problem over but to reduce it to more manageable proportions. What we need most is a rebuilding of bipartisanship in both this presidency and in the next,” Kissinger wrote in the Times.

Kissinger said the two conflicts had something in common — debate over them “became so bitter as to preclude rational discussion of hard choices.”


The Case for Conservatism

May 31, 2007

By  George F. Will
The Washington Post
Thursday, May 31, 2007; Page A19

Conservatism’s recovery of its intellectual equilibrium requires a confident explanation of why America has two parties and why the conservative one is preferable.

Today’s political argument involves perennial themes that give it more seriousness than many participants understand. The argument, like Western political philosophy generally, is about the meaning of, and the proper adjustment of the tension between, two important political goals — freedom and equality.

Today conservatives tend to favor freedom, and consequently are inclined to be somewhat sanguine about inequalities of outcomes. Liberals are more concerned with equality, understood, they insist, primarily as equality of opportunity, not of outcome.

Liberals tend, however, to infer unequal opportunities from the fact of unequal outcomes. Hence liberalism’s goal of achieving greater equality of condition leads to a larger scope for interventionist government to circumscribe the market’s role in allocating wealth and opportunity. Liberalism increasingly seeks to deliver equality in the form of equal dependence of more and more people for more and more things on government.

Hence liberals’ hostility to school choice programs that challenge public education’s semimonopoly. Hence hostility to private accounts funded by a portion of each individual’s Social Security taxes. Hence their fear of health savings accounts (individuals who buy high-deductible health insurance become eligible for tax-preferred savings accounts from which they pay their routine medical expenses — just as car owners do not buy insurance to cover oil changes). Hence liberals’ advocacy of government responsibility for — and, inevitably, rationing of — health care, which is 16 percent of the economy and rising.

Steadily enlarging dependence on government accords with liberalism’s ethic of common provision, and with the liberal party’s interest in pleasing its most powerful faction — public employees and their unions. Conservatism’s rejoinder should be that the argument about whether there ought to be a welfare state is over.

Today’s proper debate is about the modalities by which entitlements are delivered. Modalities matter, because some encourage and others discourage attributes and attitudes — a future orientation, self-reliance, individual responsibility for healthy living — that are essential for dignified living in an economically vibrant society that a welfare state, ravenous for revenue in an aging society, requires.

This reasoning is congruent with conservatism’s argument that excessively benevolent government is not a benefactor, and that capitalism does not merely make people better off, it makes them better. Liberalism once argued that large corporate entities of industrial capitalism degraded individuals by breeding dependence, passivity and servility. Conservatism challenges liberalism’s blindness about the comparable dangers from the biggest social entity, government.

Conservatism argues, as did the Founders, that self-interestedness is universal among individuals, but the dignity of individuals is bound up with the exercise of self-reliance and personal responsibility in pursuing one’s interests. Liberalism argues that equal dependence on government minimizes social conflicts. Conservatism’s rejoinder is that the entitlement culture subverts social peace by the proliferation of rival dependencies.

The entitlement mentality encouraged by the welfare state exacerbates social conflicts — between generations (the welfare state transfers wealth to the elderly), between racial and ethnic groups (through group preferences) and between all organized interests (from farmers to labor unions to recipients of corporate welfare) as government, not impersonal market forces, distributes scarce resources. This, conservatism insists, explains why as government has grown, so has cynicism about it.

Racial preferences are the distilled essence of liberalism, for two reasons. First, preferences involve identifying groups supposedly disabled by society — victims who, because of their diminished competence, must be treated as wards of government. Second, preferences vividly demonstrate liberalism’s core conviction that government’s duty is not to allow social change but to drive change in the direction the government chooses. Conservatism argues that the essence of constitutional government involves constraining the state in order to allow society ample scope to spontaneously take unplanned paths.

Conservatism embraces President Kennedy’s exhortation to “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,” and adds: You serve your country by embracing a spacious and expanding sphere of life for which your country is not responsible.

Here is the core of a conservative appeal, without dwelling on “social issues” that should be, as much as possible, left to “moral federalism” — debates within the states. On foreign policy, conservatism begins, and very nearly ends, by eschewing abroad the fatal conceit that has been liberalism’s undoing domestically — hubris about controlling what cannot, and should not, be controlled.

Conservatism is realism, about human nature and government’s competence. Is conservatism politically realistic, meaning persuasive? That is the kind of question presidential campaigns answer.

Genocide diplomacy from Washington to Beijing and Darfur

May 30, 2007

The Christian Science monitor
May 30, 2007

President Bush ratcheted up US sanctions Tuesday against Sudan for its atrocities in Darfur or, specifically, for not allowing in UN peacekeepers. His action, done on behalf of “the conscience of the world,” just might force China, Sudan’s main supporter, to find more of a conscience in helping end a genocide.

In April, when Mr. Bush was ready to impose these tougher sanctions, China, along with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, sought additional time for diplomacy. Bush agreed, reluctantly. More attempts were then made to persuade Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, to approve a 17,000-strong UN peacekeeping force for Darfur.

Such persuasion, without teeth, didn’t work.

Mr. Bashir simply referred to UN peacekeepers as “neocolonialists.” The Khartoum regime kept up its campaign of violence against the 2.5 million refugees in its western region of Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed since 2003 in this civil war. The regime took no steps to disarm local militias committing most of the atrocities. And the UN discovered Sudan flying arms into Darfur in planes painted white, making them appear to be UN aircraft.

With a G-8 summit next week, Bush decided to announce the tougher sanctions in hopes that the forum of rich nations would join his drive for more pressure on Sudan. One part of the Bush plan is a ban on an additional 31 Sudanese companies (from more than 100) conducting any dollar transactions within the US financial system. That step may have some effect, but an assist from European banks would help.

And the US also seeks a nod from the UN Security Council for two other, noneconomic sanctions: imposing a broad arms embargo against Sudan and barring the government from conducting any offensive military flights in Darfur. That action will require China to not cast its veto in the Council.

But Beijing buys more than half of Sudan’s oil, a part of its global grab for raw materials to fuel a superheated export economy. If China now jeopardizes oil imports from Sudan by standing up for human rights in Darfur, it may face similar scrutiny over imports of resources from (and aid to) dictators in Burma (Myanmar), Zimbabwe, and elsewhere.

Western countries often link trade and aid to good governance and human rights, but China doesn’t. That’s an increasingly difficult stand to take, especially when China will host the 2008 Summer Olympics.Beijing hopes to use the spotlight on the Games to showcase itself as a global player. In recent months, however, activists have branded these “the genocide games,” aiming to muster a boycott unless Beijing acts tougher on Sudan.

That pressure has had some effect on Beijing, but now Bush’s call for harsher sanctions should force China to exercise a stronger hand over its friends in Khartoum. If China doesn’t go along, the humanitarian crisis and the genocide in Darfur may only worsen.

What Beijing ultimately does will send a signal to nations in Africa that it has recently courted as economic partners: Regimes such as Sudan’s can’t abuse diplomacy when atrocities against innocents are going on.

WHO says China must take smoking threat seriously

May 30, 2007

BEIJING (Reuters) – China needs comprehensive laws to reduce the number of smokers or the habit could end up killing 2.2 million Chinese a year by 2020, the World Health Organisation said on Wednesday.

China is the world’s largest cigarette producer and Chinese are the world’s most enthusiastic smokers, with a growing market of about 320 million making it a magnet for multinationals and focus of international health concern.

Chinese cigarettes are also among the cheapest in the world and a packet can cost as little as $0.08.

“The death toll from diseases associated with tobacco is around one million Chinese annually, a figure that is expected to increase to 2.2 million per year by 2020 if smoking rates remain unchanged,” the WHO’s China representative, Henk Bekedam, said in a statement.

Although China in 2005 ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control — which aims to reduce tobacco consumption, including through a ban on advertising and promotion — stronger laws are needed, Bekedam said.

“Ultimately, China needs to enact national laws that set the standard for tobacco control for the entire country and are clear, strong and enforceable,” he said. “Now China needs to implement comprehensive measures that will change people’s behavior and lead to fewer people smoking.”

China’s Ministry of Health this week said about 100,000 Chinese die annually from diseases associated with passive smoking, while more than half a billion suffer from the smoke exhaled from cigarettes.

It said in a report that only 35 percent of respondents to its survey were aware of the dangers of passive smoking, and suggested the government ban smoking in public places.

“Our country still does not have a dedicated law banning smoking in public places,” the report said. “Passing a law banning smoking in public places is an effective way to cut tobacco use.”

The government has banned smoking on public transport, but it is still allowed in many public places, such as restaurants, and it is not uncommon to see people smoking even in hospitals.

A senior official from China’s State Tobacco Monopoly warned earlier this year that smoking was so pervasive in China that efforts to curb it would upset social stability — something Bekedam acknowledged.

“Fighting tobacco is not easy, especially when there is a state monopoly on tobacco production,” he said, ahead of Thursday’s World No Tobacco Day.

“There will always be huge opposition to tobacco control in China. Political commitment is needed across every element of the Chinese Government,” Bekedam added.

He suggested raising tobacco taxes and banning advertising.

“Increasing tobacco taxes is a clear win-win situation for China. Despite a fall in the number of people smoking, higher taxes mean the government’s revenue will rise and there will be a fall in smoking-related health costs, diseases and deaths,” he said.

Second Hand Smoke a Problem in China

BEIJING (AFP) – China’s ministry of health said Tuesday that up to 100,000 Chinese die each year from passive smoking, while over half a million others were sickened by second-hand smoke.

The ministry’s report, believed to be the first of its kind, estimated the nation had over 350 million smokers, with nearly one million dying from smoking-related disease each year, Xinhua news agency said.

“We hope the report can prompt authorities to institute and implement laws or regulations to prevent passive smoking inside public buildings,” it quoted a National Center for Disease Control and Prevention official as saying.

The government has banned smoking on public transport but it is still allowed in many public places, including restaurants.

The ministry called on the cities hosting next year’s Olymic Games here to issue a tobacco-free plan for a “green Olympics,” Xinhua said.China is home to one in three of the world’s smokers and is the world’s largest producer of tobacco, according to the World Health Organisation.

Challenging China on genocide

May 30, 2007

Los Angeles Times

May 30, 2007

PRESIDENT BUSH tightened the screws on the Sudanese government Tuesday, stiffening U.S. financial sanctions aimed at ending the ongoing genocide and displacement in Darfur. It was a long-overdue move, though Bush’s tough talk may be aimed at the wrong country. The Darfur crisis probably won’t be resolved until more pressure is brought to bear on China, and the real impetus for that pressure isn’t coming from Washington but from Hollywood.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir clearly doesn’t lose much sleep over threats of international sanctions. For four years, he has presided over a campaign of murder and rape against the people of Darfur to punish rebel factions seeking a share of the nation’s oil wealth. Despite continual attempts to negotiate a peace treaty or send in a 22,000-member-strong United Nations force to protect civilians, there has been no letup to the killing and only one small breakthrough on peacekeeping: In April, Bashir agreed to allow 3,000 U.N. personnel to join the 7,000 overstretched African Union troops in the region.

On Tuesday, Bush targeted several Sudanese companies and individuals for U.S. financial sanctions and vowed to seek tougher U.N. sanctions against the country. This was probably met with a yawn in Khartoum.

China, the biggest buyer of Sudan’s oil and a prime source of development aid, is the only country whose opinion really matters to Bashir. China has blocked sanctions against Sudan in the U.N. Security Council and will doubtless do so again unless the rest of the world imposes a price for its support of the genocidal regime.

In recent months, Hollywood celebrities have been more successful than world leaders in exacting that price. Show-biz people are in a unique position to rattle China because it is about to put on the biggest show in its history: the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Thus, when director Steven Spielberg, an artistic advisor to the Games, sent a personal letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao requesting a change in policy toward Sudan, it got attention. Shortly afterward, Bashir permitted the 3,000 U.N. peacekeepers, and the timing may not have been coincidental. Meanwhile, calls from actress Mia Farrow for a boycott of the “Genocide Olympics” and efforts by actors Don Cheadle and George Clooney to point out China’s role in the conflict are generating anxiety in Beijing.

China, which sees the Games as a sort of coming-out party, is desperate to avoid an embarrassment like the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics. Yet it can’t pretend to be a world leader, or even a responsible member of the international community, while funding a genocide. If it doesn’t change its stance toward Sudan, there will be a bloodstain on next year’s Games visible around the world, boycott or not.

Bush Takes Stand As “Human Rights President”

May 29, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
May 30, 2007

Yesterday the President of the United States, George W. Bush, staked his claim as the “Human Rights President.”

Yesterday, President Bush took strong action against Sudan and welcomed to the Oval Office some of Vietnam’s most vocal critics.  Bill Clinton never achieved such a day.

After many diplomatic overtures to the United Nations, China and Sudan, the President of the United States said that he was acting more harshly and unilaterally against Sudan for ongoing Human Rights abuses in Darfur.

“The people of Darfur are crying out for help, and they deserve it,” he said. “The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world.”

Human Rights activists believe up to 450,000 people have been killed and some 2.5 million displaced as a result of a campaign of violence waged since 2003 in Darfur.

China is Sudan’s number one foreign investor and protector.  China has practically denied there is a problem in Darfur.

The President called the wrongdoing in Darfur “genocide.”

This is a giant slap in the face to President Hu Jintao of China, who has attempted to downplay China’s involvement and complicity in the genocide in Darfur while China pumps out of Sudan its precious natural resource: oil.

If he is smart, President Hu of China will imediately take action to alleviate the suffering inSudan.


BecauseChina has planned for itself a gigantic coming out party at next summer’s “Beijing Olympics.” But just as China is calling this the “Beijing Olympics,” influential Hollywood celebrities are already calling them the “Genocide Games.”

China’s actions in the Sudan now look inexcusable. President Hu: Time to reverse course.

Tuesday afternoon, President Bush went a step further in his Human Rights effort by welcoming to the White House four of communist Vietnam’s most hated critics. The President of the United States welcomed into the White House Cong Thanh Do, founding member, Peoples Democratic Party of Vietnam; Diem Do, Chairman, Vietnam Reform Party; and Nguyen Le Minh, Chairman, Vietnam Human Rights Network; Quan Nguyen, Chairman, International Committee For Freedom To Support The Non-Violent Movement For Human Rights In Vietnam.

This is the same President Bush who in 2005 welcomed into the Oval Office Vietnam’s Phan Van Khai, the leader of one of the most repressive and intolerant regimes in the communist world.

Khai is gone now and replaced by younger and some might think more tolerant men. On July 4, 2006, Honglien and I published an article in The Washington Times which stated: “The top political leadership of Vietnam just changed. A new team of economic reformers emerged; but their ability to move Vietnam toward a more open and democratic future remains uncertain. The question, as we celebrate Independence Day in America, is this: can democratic governments like the U.S. influence Vietnam toward more freedom and democracy?

Last week in Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung was chosen by the communist ruling body as Vietnam’s youngest post-war prime minister, arguably the most significant leadership position in the government. Nguyen Minh Triet, the Communist Party head in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, formerly Saigon), was chosen as Vietnam’s new president, a more ceremonial position. Nguyen Phu Trong was named as new chairman of the national assembly.

The leaders named nine new cabinet members, who were confirmed by the national assembly, including two deputy premiers and the foreign, defense and finance ministers.”

Our hopefulness didn’t bear fruit.

Vietnam, especially in the last several months, has instituted a deadly round of repression.

So President Bush has accepted the Vietnamese minority into the White House. He has welcomed home the Freedom Fighters. He has extended his hand to those that represent Human Rights in Vietnam.

Yesterday’s actions by the President of the United States on Human Rights are cause for celebration and joy.

Bush concerned about Vietnam human rights

Genocide diplomacy from Washington to Beijing and Darfur

U.N.: Russia, China have Little Interest in U.S. Darfur Actions

Challenging China on genocide

Bush concerned about Vietnam human rights

May 29, 2007

GLYNCO, Georgia (AFP) – US President George W. Bush planned to meet Tuesday with four Vietnamese-American democracy advocates to underscore his concerns about repression in Vietnam, the White House said.

“The United States has been concerned by the increasing incidence of arrest and detention of political activists in Vietnam for activities well within their right to peaceful expression of political thought,” said national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

“As Vietnam’s economy and society reform and move forward, such repression of individuals for their views is anachronistic and out of keeping with Vietnam’s desire to prosper, modernize, and take a more prominent role in world affairs,” he said.

Political activist Nguyen Bac Truyen (R) sits in a police vehicle as he leaves a court in Ho Chi Minh City, May 10, 2007. The White House on Tuesday expressed concern about the arrests of political dissidents in Vietnam, saying the detentions were out of character for Vietnam’s recent modernization. (Kham/Reuters)

Bush was to meet with Cong Thanh Do, founding member, Peoples Democratic Party of Vietnam; Diem Do, chair, Vietnam Reform Party; Nguyen Le Minh, chair, Vietnam Human Rights Network; Quan Nguyen, chair, International Committee For Freedom To Support The Non-Violent Movement For Human Rights In Vietnam, said Johndroe.

The meeting at the White House was “to discuss the best way the international community can support efforts to promote greater freedom and openness in Vietnam,” Johndroe said in a statement.

We at Peace and Freedom have not always been totally in agreement with President Bush on the subject of Vietnam.

The Agony of Vietnam

By John E. Carey
June 21, 2005

Today the president of the United States hosts a most unusual caller at the White house: the prime minister of Vietnam. When Phan Van Khai calls on George W. Bush, the leader of one of the most repressive and intolerant regimes in the communist world will sit down with the leader of the Free World and the self-proclaimed advocate of human rights and democracy throughout the world.
What you say? The Vietnam war was more than 30 years ago so get over it? The problem is: the communist Vietnamese never recovered from the war that ended in 1975. This is not about the 58,000 U.S. men and women who died there. This is not about bad memories from a long-ago jungle war. This is about facts since the end of the war: a 30-year record of repression, imprisonment, harassment and torture by the communist regime of Vietnam carried out upon those remaining Vietnamese who value free speech, religion, press or tolerance and openness of any kind. The crimes continue today.
We don’t hear much about Vietnam. It has no missiles and poses no apparent threat to regional neighbors. But Vietnam’s leaders terrorize their own people and this places them into a special category that should interest us all.
When Saigon (now renamed Ho Chi Minh City) fell to the communists in 1975, the new government began a 30-year tenure of hate, agony and human destruction. Millions of people were sent to “re-education” camps. Most Americans, upon observation, would call these concentration camps.
No courts, no sentences, no possibility of parole accompanied one’s detention in postwar Vietnam. The lucky ones stayed imprisoned until they were deemed suitable for a return to society. The unlucky ones just disappeared. A local Vietnamese immigrant, now a U.S. citizen, told me recently her brother was “dismissed” in the camps. He was killed for his apparent wrongs: He was a teen-age school leader who chafed under communist rule.
Religious repression of an unprecedented scale also accompanied the communists’ arrival in Saigon. The Catholic bishop of Saigon, Nguyen Van Thuan, disappeared into a communist prison for 13 years.
After the war ended in 1975, every Christian was forced to renounce his faith or suffer added imprisonment. Bishop Van Thuan is emblematic of the religious intolerance and repression that continues. His more modern replacement, Father Nguyen Van Ly, has been in a communist jail since 2001.
On April 28, largely due to Bush administration pressure, a 21-year old Sunday school teacher named Li Thi Hong Lien was released from a prison in Vietnam. Her offense: She is a Mennonite. In prison, one of the beatings by her captors broke her jaw. She suffered a nervous breakdown. Two days after her release, Miss Lien was rearrested for attending a bible study. Her captors figured she just didn’t get the message.
The Montagnards from the Central Highlands are among whole groups marked for continued harm. In April 2004, Vietnamese soldiers and police opened fire upon a Montagnard protest, killing scores and wounding hundreds. The international community might not have noticed except hundreds fled into Cambodia, reporting the Vietnamese demanded the Montagnards renounce Christianity.
The U.S. Department of State reported recently Vietnam’s communists repress “independent Buddhists, Baptists, Mennonites, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Baha’is, independent Cao Dai and Hoa Hao groups, independent Sunni Muslims, and ethnic Cham Hindus.”

In other words, the communists violently oppose just about every faith that exists in Vietnam.
The 2005 World Report from Human Rights Watch begins:
“Human-rights conditions in Vietnam, already dismal, worsened in 2004. The government tolerates little public criticism of the Communist Party or statements calling for pluralism, democracy, or a free press. Dissidents are harassed, isolated, placed under house arrest, and in many cases, charged with crimes and imprisoned. Among those singled out are prominent intellectuals, writers and former Communist Party stalwarts.”

The United Nations and a host of other international groups have condemned Vietnam’s record on human rights.
The repressed include not just members of the former democratic regime (most of them dead or gone), “lunatic religious fanatics” (people of almost any faith), or other “extremists.” “Former Communist Party stalwarts” suffer the consequences of any enlightenment they profess.
Vietnam and the United States today share trade topping $6 billion annually. Vietnamese-Americans, U.S.-born Vietnam war veterans and others, frequently visit Vietnam as cash-stuffed tourists. Vietnamese communists recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the “normalization” of relations with the U.S.
But all is not normal. Today’s leaders in Communist Vietnam support terrorism, torture and the control of the population as did former leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq. The current leadership of Vietnam is full of terrorists who deny the most basic rights and freedoms to the people they subjugate.
Vietnam’s prime minister has earned a place at the table with the president of the United States for an hour or so today. But to truly join the world community and stay out of the “axis of evil,” the Vietnamese leadership needs to emulate more the U.S. record of freedom and human rights and not follow the record of their other big ally: China. 
 John E. Carey is an international consultant and human rights advocate in Falls Church, Virginia. 

President Bush imposes new sanctions on Sudan

May 29, 2007

By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – President Bush ordered new U.S. economic sanctions Tuesday to pressure Sudan’s government to halt the bloodshed in Darfur that the administration has condemned as genocide.

“I promise this to the people of Darfur: the United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world,” the president said.

The sanctions target government-run companies involved in Sudan’s oil industry, and three individuals, including a rebel leader suspected of being involved in the violence in Darfur.

“For too long the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, murder and rape of innocent civilians,” the president said. “My administration has called these actions by their rightful name: genocide.

“The world has a responsibility to put an end to it,” Bush said.

The conflict erupted in February 2003 when members of Darfur’s ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they considered decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government. Sudanese leaders are accused of retaliating by unleashing the janjaweed militia to put down the rebels using a campaign of murder, rape, mutilation and plunder — a charge they deny. The fighting in Darfur has displaced 2.5 million people.

Bush had been prepared to impose the sanctions last month, but held off to give U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon more time to find a diplomatic end to the four-year crisis in Darfur where more than 200,000 people have been killed.

Beyond the new U.S. sanctions, Bush directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to draft a proposed U.N. resolution to strengthen international pressure on the Sudanese government of President Omar al-Bashir.

“I call on President al-Bashir to stop his obstruction and to allow the peacekeepers in and to end the campaign of violence that continues to target innocent men, women and children,” Bush said.

Bush said delaying sanctions to allow more time for diplomacy had not been effective.

“President Bashir’s actions over the past few weeks follow a long pattern of promising cooperation while finding new methods for obstruction,” the president said.

“One day after I spoke, they bombed a meeting of rebel commanders designed to discuss a possible peace deal with the government.,” the president said. “In the following weeks he used his army and government- sponsored militias to attack rebels and civilians in south Darfur. He’s taken no steps to disarm these militias in the year since the Darfur peace agreement was signed. Senior officials continue to oppose the deployment of the U.N. peacekeeping force.

“The result is that the dire security situation on the ground in Darfur has not changed,” Bush said.

Al-Bashir agreed in November to a three-phase U.N. plan to strengthen the overstretched, 7,000-strong African Union force in Darfur.

After five months of stalling, the Sudanese president gave the go-ahead in April for the second phase — a “heavy support package” with 3,000 U.N. troops, police and civilian personnel along with six attack helicopters and other equipment.

Over the weekend, however, al-Bashir reiterated his opposition to the deployment of a 22,000-strong joint U.N.-AU force, saying he would only allow a larger African force with technical and logistical support from the United Nations.

The new sanctions target 31 companies to be barred from the U.S. banking system. Thirty of the companies are controlled by the government of Sudan; the other one is suspected of shipping arms to Darfur, the officials said.

Nearly 10 years ago, the United States cut off about 130 Sudanese companies from the U.S. system over a different dispute, forcing them to find ways to do business outside the sanctions framework.

The U.S. also is targeting three individuals, cutting them off from the U.S. financial system to prevent them, too, from doing business with U.S. companies or individuals.

The Treasury Department said that Ahmad Muhammed Harun, Sudan’s state minister for humanitarian affairs, has been accused of war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Sudan’s head of military intelligence and security, Awad Ibn Auf, was also designated, along with Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, a rebel group that has refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement.

“Even in the face of sanctions, these individuals have continued to play direct roles in the terrible atrocities of Darfur,” said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr. “We are working to call attention to their horrific acts and further isolate them from the international community.”

The U.N. resolution Bush is seeking would apply new international sanctions against the Sudanese government in Khartoum. It also would seek to impose an expanded embargo on arms sales to Sudan, prohibit Sudan’s government from conducting offensive military flights over Darfur and strengthen the U.S. ability to monitor and report any violations.

Meanwhile, Liu Guijin, China’s new troubleshooter on Africa, defended Chinese investment in Sudan Tuesday as a better way to stop the bloodshed rather than the sanctions advocated by the U.S. and other Western governments.

Fresh from his first trip to Sudan since his appointment this month as a special government envoy, Liu said he saw no desperation in refugee camps in Darfur last week and found that international and Sudanese groups were working together to solve humanitarian problems there.

“I didn’t see a desperate scenario of people dying of hunger,” Liu said at a media briefing. Rather, he said, people in Darfur thanked him for the Chinese government’s help in building dams and providing water supply equipment.

Omar Hasan Ahmad
Omar al-Bashir
Tyrant of the Month

Hanoi, Beijing Using Executions As “Smack Down” For Cultural History of Corruption

May 29, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
May 29, 2007

China and Vietnam each sentenced people to be executed today.

In China, the villain is the state’s former director of drug review and acceptance. He was found guilty of accepting bribes and approving a drug after almost no testing that ultimately killed ten people. Think of the U.S. Director of the Food and Drug Administration sentenced to death for accepting a bribe to wink at proper testing of a drug.

The execution may also be a signal to the west that the food irregularities which killed people and pets in the west will no longer be tolerated.

In Vietnam, a court sentenced four people to death after finding them guilty of illegal trading and producing ecstasy pills.

The three defendants, including one woman, were charged with having sold more than 10,000 ecstasy pills and several kilograms of other drugs between July 2003 and their arrest in March 2005.

Since the beginning of the year, at least 33 people have been sentenced to death in the communist nation of Vietnam, 24 of them for drug trafficking, according to figures compiled by news outlets from officials and state media. Four people have been executed, including one for drug trafficking.

We are against capital punishment, after a lifetime believing that executions deter heinous crimes. We have concluded that a life sentence without the possibility of parole is the more appropriate and humane sentence. Add to that a growing number of death row inmates cleared after DNA evidence came to the fore.

But, critics will say, the United States allows capital punishment. True. But in the United States no one has been executed for a crime other than murder or conspiracy to commit murder since 1964.

So what is going on in China and Vietnam? Why is the state controlled judicial system in each nation using executions for crimes other than the most heinous such as murder?

Because China and Vietnam both live in a world where corruption of government officials has been so accepted and “normal” for so long that it may be next to impossible to eliminate government corruption in the near term. Both nations are using a kind of “smack down” technique to get everyone’s attention.

The foreign media takes the executions as a signal that China and Vietnam are hell bent for the elimination of corruption and the institution of clean government.

Inside China and Vietnam, the governments hopes the people and those in government get the message that a new era of intolerance is upon them.

In Vietnam, the drug trade is so prevalent that it is pumping billions of dollars into the “economy,” and much of that via pay-offs to police and other officials. This could pose a serious threat to Vietnam’s tourist and other industry. So it is in the government’s best interest to at least put up the façade of tough enforcement.

But executions for trading in drugs or accepting bribes seems extreme.

Expect strong condemnation from international watchdogs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

We are proud to say: executions are extreme.

Related articles on corruption in China:

China: Culture of Corruption a Problem

China: Sacked Olympics chief had ‘pleasure palace’ full of concubines

China and the Food Supply: The Ugly Story of China’s Culture of Corruption

U.S. lawmakers blast China piracy ahead of meeting

Jihadists moving into Lebanon from Syria

May 29, 2007

By Christopher Allbritton
The Washington Times
May 29, 2007

NAHR EL-BARED, Lebanon — Heavily armed foreign jihadists have been entering Lebanon from Syria from around the time Western authorities noticed a drop in the infiltration of foreign fighters from Syria to Iraq, Lebanese officials say.
Syrian authorities, hoping to disrupt Lebanon so they can reassert control of the country, “have stopped sending [the jihadists] to Iraq and are now sending them here,” charged Mohammed Salam, a specialist in Palestinian affairs in Lebanon. “They sent those people to die in Lebanon.”
Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, commander of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, said about half of the militants who have been battling Lebanese forces in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp outside Tripoli for nine days had fought previously in Iraq.
“They are very dangerous,” he said in an interview. “We have no choice, we have to combat them.”
Officials traveling with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said before Miss Rice’s meeting with her Syrian counterpart in Egypt early this month that Syria appeared to be taking “positive” steps to guard its border with Iraq, resulting in a reduced number of jihadists crossing the border.
But U.N. officials running the Nahr el-Bared camp told The Washington Times that a large band of foreigners carrying mortars, rockets, explosive belts and other heavy weapons entered the camp in a group several months ago.
That is near the time that infiltration of militants from Syria into Iraq fell off, according to Lebanese authorities, who suspect the jihadists were simply redirected by Damascus.
Several thousand residents have been trapped in the Palestinian refugee camp since fighting broke out May 20 between the army and several hundred militants of a group called Fatah Islam, which includes a large number of foreign fighters.
Palestinian leaders tried yesterday to negotiate an end to the standoff, in which Lebanese army forces are ringed around the camp, but Prime Minister Fuad Siniora insisted that the militants surrender and face justice.
Gen. Rifi said the foreigners began arriving in Lebanon during the war between Hezbollah and Israel last summer, when between 60 and 70 jihadists were integrated into Fatah al-Intifada, a group set up by Syrian intelligence in the 1980s.
In November last year, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship named Shaker Youssef al-Absi broke with Fatah al-Intifada and set up a new group, Fatah Islam, based in the Nahr el-Bared camp. Gen. Rifi said Fatah Islam has about 250 fighters, of which about 50 have been killed so far.
“They are parasites,” the general said. “Even in Nahr el-Bared, there are not a lot of Palestinians with Fatah Islam.”

The original group had about 30 to 40 Lebanese members and 20 Palestinians in the leadership positions, Gen. Rifi said. The rest were made up of fighters from Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Yemen, Algeria and even from as far as Bangladesh.
Residents of the camp appear to have been terrorized by the jihadists, according to interviews with Palestinians who fled for their lives over the past week.
The militants “were shooting at anyone who moved,” said one refugee who declined to give his name. He said he could tell they were foreign by listening to their accents, but his wife shushed him and he said no more.
Gen. Rifi said there are several more cells of foreign jihadists scattered around Lebanon. Some are in the Palestinian camps, some are in Tripoli and some are in Beirut. Another government official said some were based in the Bekaa Valley.
“Some [Gulf] Arabs, originally from al Qaeda, joined the group,” Gen. Rifi said. “But they are false al Qaeda. Our al Qaeda is made in Syria.”
Money for the fighters comes from local criminal activities, such as bank robberies — one of which sparked the current standoff — and support from Gulf countries and “local politicians,” said a senior regional military source. “They’re part of the global jihad,” he said.
Many government supporters think the timing of this flare-up, given an upcoming U.N. Security Council vote on the formation of an international tribunal to investigate the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, indicates Syria’s involvement.
“It’s actually a Syrian-sponsored and -coordinated move to send these jihadis into Lebanon to topple the regime,” said Mr. Salam.
Syria has been using the militant Shi’ite group Hezbollah to advance its interests in Lebanon, but Mr. Salam suggested Damascus was worried about inflaming religious tensions with the Sunni-led government that could spill over into Syria.
The Syrians “wouldn’t mind demolishing Lebanon, but they didn’t want to do it with a Sunni-Shi’ite war because that could cross the border into Syria. So they got Sunnis to fight Sunnis,” the analyst said.