Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Karzai’s hot pursuit of Pakistan

So which troops is Afghan President Hamid Karzai going to send to Pakistan to make good his threat to  hunt Baitullah Mehsud and his men, and stop cross-border attacks? The Afghan National Army, the Afghan national police ? Aren't they already too stretched trying to cope with the Taliban inside Afghanistan to worry about them across the border ?

Hamid Karzai

Indeed Karzai spoke barely a  couple of days after 1,150 prisoners, an estimated 400 of them militants, escaped Kandahar jail after it was stormed by the Taliban in what must be one of biggest jailbreaks, even by Afghan standards

It is hard to see how Karzai can extend his reach into Pakistan's rugged frontier region when his writ barely runs in his country. Or was he speaking on behalf of someone else, the United States, for example, as journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai asks in this piece.

"One is sure President Karzai doesn't mean to carry out his threat to send Afghan troops across the border to Pakistan," he writes. "The only manner in which he can hope to do so is to convince the U.S. and its Nato allies to undertake such a mission in Pakistan and then order some of his Afghan soldiers to accompany the Western forces."

French defence shakeup: more for less?

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French defence It should all be music to the ears of top military brass in Brussels, Washington and at the United Nations, who have long been struggling to fill gaps in under-resourced peacekeeping missions from Africa to Afghanistan.

Although the total number of mission-fit French forces will fall to 30,000 from 50,000 under the plans, the idea is that they will be better equipped, more mobile and better able to respond to everything from terrorism to cyber-attacks.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Should Pakistan grow food for the Gulf?

Queuing to buy wheat flour in Peshawar/May file photoThis is an idea that looks crazy at first glance -- Pakistan, struggling with its own food shortages and rising prices, rents out its farmland to grow grains for the rich Gulf states instead. 

But the idea appears to be gaining momentum. Saudi Arabia is holding talks with officials in Pakistan, among other countries, to set up projects to grow wheat and other grains to protect itself from crises in world food supplies. Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital has already said it is looking at investing in agriculture in Pakistan  and other Gulf countries are also showing an interest.

from Africa News blog:

Does Africa need aid?

Worker carries mud bricks in Chad Rich countries look set to fall roughly $40 billion short of the amount they had pledged to give to Africa by 2010. So says a report released on Monday by the panel set up to monitor commitments made amid much fanfare at the Group of Eight summit in 2005.

The panel said G8 countries were not keeping their promises at the very moment rising food prices threaten to increase hunger and child mortality. The report also calls for a rethink of trade policies to help African countries and urges rich nations to spend more on renewable energy sources there.

The Obama and Clinton show — German style

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It hasn’t garnered as much attention or generated quite the same excitement as the nomination battle between U.S. Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did, but Germany’s Social Democrats are tying themselves in equally torturous knots over who will lead their party into the next election.

Like their U.S. counterparts, the centre-left SPD has two main candidates vying for the right to challenge for the country’s top job. But the similarities between the American and German contests end there.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Is Musharraf looking less beleaguered?

President Pervez Musharraf - April file photoPakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi used an interesting choice of words when he talked to reporters in Paris about the new government's relationship with President Pervez Musharraf.

Reuters Paris chief correspondent Crispian Balmer tells me that he said the ruling Pakistan People's Party had established a working relationship with Musharraf after February elections in which the president's political allies were defeated.

Just by reading this blog, you may be fuelling inflation

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry PaulsonSoaring energy and food prices are the top concern at the Group of Eight finance ministers meeting in Japan this weekend, while central banks are keeping their fingers crossed that they can find a solution without killing off shaky economic growth.

U.S. consumers’ mood plunged to a 28-year low in June as soaring inflation pinched at their purse strings.

Britain’s 42-day detention: draconian or necessary?

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Gordon BrownSo Prime Minister Gordon Brown has succeeded – by the skin of his teeth — in getting Britain’s House of Commons to approve new police counter-terrorism powers that were condemned by civil liberties groups, a former prime minister, a U.N. human rights investigator and several dozen of Brown’s own Labour MPs. The Guardian newspaper writes about ‘Liberty, security and an anxiety over lost rights’.

And even the government admits the power to hold terrorism suspects for up to 42 days before charging or releasing them has never been needed until now: it wants it as an insurance policy against future attacks or plots in which the police may need more than the 28 days they now have in order to investigate tangled international links, false identities and masses of encrypted computer files.

Bush absence baffles Berliners

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Bush in GermanyBerlin has had a deep and enduring love affair with American presidents. Berliners have never forgotten the U.S. leaders who helped keep West Berlin free during the Cold War with the Airlift and many can still recite the words of John F. Kennedy’s  legendary “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech at City Hall in 1963.
 
So it is all the more glaring that George W. Bush has once again avoided the German capital on his fifth and final visit  to the country , spending just minutes at Berlin airport on his way in and out of Germany.
 
It was also odd that Bush failed to mention the Airlift, one of the brightest moments of post-war U.S. foreign policy, at his news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel in the rural village of Meseberg (pop. 150) about 100 km (60 miles) north of  the capital. The Airlift’s 60th anniversary is being marked this month and was supposed to be the reason for Bush’s visit.
 
Perhaps  it was the memories of 10,000 anti-war protesters who disrupted Bush’s first and only stay in Berlin in May 2002. Or maybe it was the recollections of the 10,000 German police needed to guard him in the centre of Berlin, which he turned into a veritable ghost town. Bush lamented about “living in a bubble” when he was here for 20 hours in 2002. His next trip was to Mainz, a provincial city in the far west — there were anti-war protests there too. After that he went to small northeastern villages in 2006 and 2007 — but stayed clear of Berlin.
 
The reason is clear — Iraq. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won re-election against long odds in 2002 by standing up to Bush on Iraq, a hugely popular position in war-scarred Germany that nevertheless got him ostracised by Bush.
 
Differences were later patched up, but even Bush acknowledged in Meseberg on Wednesday: “It’s obviously been a contentious issue between our countries in the past.”
 
Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper columnist Kurt Kister wrote: “Bush is spending his entire visit hidden away in the provincial town of Meseberg. Meseberg has the advantage that it’s easy to seal it off from the rest of the world with fences
and police. It’s not surprising because for the overwhelming majority of Germans Bush is the most unpopular U.S. president in the last two generations.”
 
As an American who’s lived in Berlin for much of the past 15 years, I have felt at first hand the city’s affinity for all things American. In 1994, I saw tears running down the cheeks of American GIs, overwhelmed by 250,000 cheering Berliners giving them a
thunderous farewell, as  the city’s Cold War defence force marched in a farewell parade .
 
And I have seen the tens of thousands that lined  the streets to cheer Bill Clinton in 1993, when he became the first U.S.  president to walk through the Brandenburg Gate, and in 1998 when he came to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Airlift. Clinton even went for jogs in the city’s Tiergarten park and dropped into trendy restaurants with only minimal protection.
 
So, after watching Bush avoid Berlin for the fourth time and knowing how fond Berliners are of America, I’m wondering what’s next. Will the next U.S. president be able to or want to walk the streets of Berlin again? Will that perhaps be a useful barometer?  What does it say  about the state of international affairs if the world’s most powerful leader doesn’t feel welcome and safe in a city that, in many ways, owes its very survival to U.S. presidents?

Bush and Iran; a familiar script

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Bush and MerkelGeorge W Bush’s final tour of Europe as president of the United States has so far been curiously uneventful and curiously familiar. More discussion of Iran, more talk of tougher sanctions if the Islamic republic refuses to stop enriching uranium and another warning that ‘all options’ are on the table to ensure it falls into line.

But despite three rounds of sanctions by the U.N. Security Council, Iran has refused to cooperate. Instead it has set about protecting assets at risk from such measures, for example by withdrawing funds from European banks.

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