Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Berlin angst about Georgia’s U.S.-backed leader

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merkel.jpgThere was an awkward moment on Sunday, when Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili stood next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Tbilisi and thanked her for having “initiated” plans to bring his country into NATO.

Anyone who followed NATO’s last summit in Bucharest back in April knows that it was Merkel who broke with Washington and spearheaded opposition to such a move.

Shifting uncomfortably, Merkel couldn’t help but interject: “Give credit where credit is due,” she said curtly, taken aback by Saakashvili’s strange distortion of her stance.

The moment was instructive, underlining one of the main reasons why Berlin remains opposed to giving Georgia a seat in the military alliance anytime soon.

Bush: With friends like these…

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President Bush and Prime Minister Putin in Beijing/Aug 8/Larry DowningHe tried to build relationships with other world leaders but where did it get him?

In 2001 President George W. Bush famously declared that he had looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes and got a sense of his soul. He invited the Russian leader to his parents’ seaside estate
in Kennebunkport, Maine, where the former Texas oilman and ex-KGB spy went fishing and ate lobster. Bush then visited the Russian leader at his vacation villa in the Black Sea resort in Sochi, all to repair a friendship that had developed cracks.

Georgia: How close did Europe come to a wider war?

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ferdinand.jpgA poster at the entrance to the World War One exhibition at London’s Imperial War Museum depicts the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, minutes before they were shot dead as they toured the streets of Sarajevo in an open topped car. The two bullets triggered World War One. Alliances quickly came into play and an argument between Austria and Serbia drew in Russia, Germany, France, Belgium and Britain.

Europe was at war.

On August 8 this year Russia sent its forces into Georgia to repel Tbilisi’s attempt to wrest control of the pro-Russian, breakaway region South Ossetia. Georgia, like Ukraine, has been pressing to join NATO but has only been promised membership of the alliance at an unspecified future date. What would have happened if Georgia had already secured NATO membership, as it wished, at the alliance’s meeting in Bucharest back in April?

U.S. invasion of Iraq — For better or worse?

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iraq.jpg(Posted by: Khalid al-Ansary)

The Iraqi government says it is negotiating a “time horizon” with the United States for withdrawing its troops from Iraq.

That has Iraqis like me thinking back to how the Americans giraq1.jpgot here in the first place, and whether the U.S. promises of peace and democracy after the fall of Saddam Hussein five years ago have been fulfilled.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Will Musharraf’s resignation bring stability to Pakistan?

PPP supporters dancing in the streets/Athar HussainUPDATE - President Pervez Musharraf's resignation has been greeted with jubilation from supporters of the ruling PML-N and PPP parties (see picture right), and sparked a rally in the stock market. But reading through the comments on this and other blogs, I can't see any clear theme emerging, with some praising and others condemning Musharraf's legacy, some regretting and others welcoming his departure, and many fretting about the future.

I rather liked this comment on All Things Pakistan which seemed to sum up the many contradictions of people struggling to work out how to rally around a common cause:

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Looking past Musharraf and the role of the Pakistan Army

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June photo of President Musharraf and Army Chief General Pervez Kayani/Ho NewAmid the feverish speculation about when, how and where President Pervez Musharraf will go, analysts are already looking beyond to the future of Pakistan in a post-Musharraf era. One theme stands out: while the consensus appears to be that the Pakistan Army will not step in to save Musharraf, it might well intervene in the not so distant future if it believes it needs to save the country.

"Musharraf's departure will highlight the problems that confront the country, which is in the grips of a food and energy crisis. Inflation is out of control," writes Tariq Ali in the Los Angeles Times. "The price of natural gas, used for cooking in many homes, has risen by 30%. Wheat, a staple, has seen a 20% price hike since November 2007 ... According to a June survey, 86% of Pakistanis find it increasingly difficult to afford flour on a daily basis, for which they blame their new government."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Will Obama’s Afghan plans survive Kashmir crisis?

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Senator Barack Obama/Hugh GentryLess than a month ago, Senator Barack Obama was saying  that the U.S. war in Afghanistan would be made easier if the United States worked to improve trust between India and Pakistan. "A lot of what drives, it appears, motivations on the Pakistan side of the border, still has to do with their concerns and suspicions about India," he told a news conference in Amman.

The logic was in line with thinking expounded by U.S. analysts at the time who argued that elements within Pakistan will never completely relinquish support for Islamist militants in both Pakistan and Afghanistan as long as they believe they can be used to counter Indian influence in the region. Therefore end Pakistan's insecurity about India, and support for militants will melt away, making the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban much easier -- or so the argument goes.  At least that was the thinking barely a few weeks ago, as I wrote in an earlier blog on this subject

from Africa News blog:

Colonial borders. Does Africa have a choice?

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Lord Lugard, founder of Nigeria

The lines of Europe's carve up of Africa were finally taking shape. On March 11, 1913, Britain and Germany agreed who got which bits of a swampy corner of the continent that few in either of the cold and distant countries had heard of.

Two states that did not exist at that time put the border agreement into effect again on Thursday with Nigeria formally handing over the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon.

from Africa News blog:

Are talks going Mugabe’s way?

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Mugabe at rally in HarareIs it just me, or is Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe starting to look more confident again? At the start of power sharing talks a few weeks back he appeared distinctly grim when he and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had their historic handshake.

Mugabe shakes hands with Tsvangirai

In the past few days he has been much more his old self, lambasting the West at a speech to commemorate the dead in the liberation war, giving a national honour to George Chiweshe, who organised elections that were condemned by much of the world, and generally upbeat during three days of talks that in the end delivered no result.

Saakashvili’s media onslaught: Is he losing the war?

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saakashvili.jpgEver since Russia launched a massive counter-offensive in response to Georgia’s attempt to retake the pro-Russian, breakaway region of South Ossetia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has been omnipresent in Western media. He has appeared on CBS, CNN, BBC and pretty much every other English-language TV channel to accuse Russia of penetrating Georgia far beyond Ossetia, planning an assault on the capital and plotting his overthrow. 

On Aug 11 he wrote an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal warning Georgia’s fall would mean the fall of the West.

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