June 2008 Archives

Guest Voice  |  June 3, 2008 11:01 AM

Olmert's Last-Chance Dance

By Ori Nir

What Ehud Olmert should – but probably won’t - tell George Bush on Wednesday in the White House.

Thanks for seeing me, George. This may be my last meeting with you as Israel's prime minister.

I'm in a pinch, you know, and I'm fighting to save my political life. All these calls in recent days for me to resign have broadened my perspective. They have actually inspired me to speak bluntly to you.

You still have more than six months in office, time you can use to do some good in our region. The window of opportunity for peace that we both saw two years ago should not come slamming down on your fingers. It is up to you to hold the window open now.

Please, let me have your attention for just a few minutes. Please focus on these points. There are only three and they are pretty simple:

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Guest Voice  |  June 11, 2008 11:34 AM

They Still Hate Us

Terrorism on the decrease? Not so fast – that's probably unfounded optimism.

By Bernard I. Finel

A mere six months ago, the Bush Administration was arguing that the terror threat was so severe that even a momentary lapse in the domestic surveillance authorization would place American lives at risk. Now, a series of briefings and speeches by high-level officials, reported on and amplified by prominent columnists has created a veritable drumbeat in support of the notion that not only is the threat diminished, but that victory in the “war on terror” is in sight. The timing is tremendously convenient in the run-up to an election that will inevitably become something of a referendum on the Bush years.

Think about it. This was supposed to be a generational conflict, and now it turns out that it that victory was always just an Iraqi awakening, a few predator strikes, and an obscure manifesto away. Islamo-fascism? Forget about it. The threat is now just from a bunch of yahoos. Porous American borders, disaffected Muslim populations in Europe, madrassas pumping out fanatics in Pakistan… all largely irrelevant.

Well, personally, I don’t buy it.

There are three recent reasons to be optimistic about progress in the struggle against violent extremism, but none of them is particularly compelling when examined closely.

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Guest Voice  |  June 12, 2008 11:14 AM

Ireland Takes the EU Spotlight

The Irish, of all people, hold Europe's fate in their hands with a single vote.** (Ed. Note appended.)

By Philippa Maister

Today, the Irish -- for the first and perhaps only time - hold the future of Europe's 500 million people in their hands. For weeks, they have been wrestling with the question of whether to vote for a treaty that would change the balance of power between the European Union and its component countries, including Ireland.

Ireland’s four million people are the only Europeans to have a direct say in whether reforms of the EU’s powers and procedures, which have taken six years to negotiate, can eventually become reality. The changes embodied in the Treaty of Lisbon can take effect only if ratified by each of the EU’s 27 member states. Other states have left the matter to their elected representatives to decide.

As an American, to observe the struggle has been to gain some sense of what the citizens of the original 13 American colonies must have experienced as they contemplated joining a larger Union.

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Guest Voice  |  June 13, 2008 10:59 AM

Ireland Snubs the EU

By Conor O’Clery

Irish voters, making up a fraction of one per cent of the population of the European Union, have rejected a crucial EU reform treaty by a narrow margin, leaving itself isolated in Europe and the European Union in crisis.

The result stopped in its tracks an accord hammered out in Lisbon, Portugal, to enable European institutions to cope with a rapid EU growth to 27 countries with a population of 495 million people.

The outcome, announced yesterday afternoon, of the referendum held Thursday dismayed and angered governments across Europe, which saw their tortuous negotiations to make EU institutions more efficient thrown into disarray.

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Guest Voice  |  June 19, 2008 12:33 PM

Indonesia Loses Its Way

By Mujtaba Hamdi

It's a very disappointing day for democracy when supporters of religious tolerance are publicly beaten. But that is precisely what happened this month in Jakarta when 200 activists of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) suddenly stormed the Monas Square where supporters of the Alliance for Freedom of Religion and Belief (AKKBB) were holding a peaceful rally.

AKKBB activists – most of whom were women – were attacked with sticks, leaving many injured. They had been celebrating the 63rd anniversary of Pancasila, a national creed that accepts foreign influence from Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and Western thought. Pancasila is the embodiment of Indonesia's basic pluralism, the philosophical glue that binds together Indonesia's diverse populations.

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 |  June 23, 2008 12:12 PM

Tsvangirai's Lawyer Meets His Own Fate

Eric Matinenga in a holding cell in Rusape, Zimbabwe.

When I was imprisoned in Zimbabwe two years ago while writing my undergraduate thesis, advocate Eric Matinenga refused to bribe local officials to secure my release.

"I am a lawyer. My tools are the law,” Mr. Matinenga said. “If one bypasses the law, there will never be justice here.”

Then this bald, bespectacled lawyer entered Harare’s sprawling courthouse and, with relentless focus and wit, successfully argued for my release.

As Mr. Matinenga led me out of the crowded, subterranean cell in which I had lived for one week, he said, “The courts are the last hope here.”

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Guest Voice  |  June 25, 2008 6:14 PM

There Are Two Pakistans

Uniting Pakistan the military state and Pakistan the nascent democracy is our generation’s calling.

By Haider Ali Hussein Mullick

There are two Pakistans. The first is stuck in an illusion of undisturbed national stability and unity through military management; the second stands on the weak shoulders of a nascent democracy, perpetually insecure and sporadically functional.

For more than sixty years, Pakistan has struggled with its split personality, brought about by its military or political parties. Historically the United States has preferred the first Pakistan – managed by the military and governed by the free market. The challenge for today's generals and politicians is to find a way to merge, secure, and present the country in a way that attracts the better of the two Pakistans, and preserves U.S. support in the war on terror.

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