Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Afghan Journal:

America, don’t “leave us in the lurch” in Afghanistan

(U.S. Marines in Nimroz province, southern Afghanistan)

(U.S. Marines in Nimroz province, southern Afghanistan)

One of the first things that U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates did during his trip to India last week was to assure Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the United States did not intend to cut and run from Afghanistan.  America was committed to Afghanistan for the long-term, he said, trying to calm Indian concerns over the Obama administration's stated plans to begin  withdrawing troops from July 2011. 

It struck me as quite remarkable that India, long a prickly nation opposed to superpower presence in the region, had so openly pinned its hopes on a prolonged U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Quite a change from the time  it would rail against the presence of such "extra-regional" powers.

But the world has changed and India like several other countries in the region, feels  more threatened  by the spread of Islamist militants than the long arm of a foreign power. Indeed while nobody likes the idea of foreign troops occupying another country, the very prospect of American withdrawal, still more than 18 months away, seems to be sending jitters. Pakistan has been saying all along its not sure how long the United States will remain engaged in Afghanistan.  It reminds everyone how it was left holding the can once the U.S. turned away from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the former Soviet Union.

Come  to think of it, it suits quite a few countries nicely that America invests its blood and treasure in Afghanistan while these nations focus on their own development, as some commentators are pointing out. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in a piece written from Taipei said he felt quite envious of the leaders of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong who had far more time to focus on building their countries "than my president whose agenda can be derailed at any moment by a jihadist death cult using exploding underpants."

from Tales from the Trail:

Haiti … Too Much Suffering

QUAKE-HAITI/Having hurtled by car through the Dominican Republic to the ramshackle Haitian border, I and four other foreign journalists were desperate to reach Port-au-Prince by nightfall. So after exchanging Ramon's beaten-up taxi for the the back of a modern pickup owned by one of Haiti's elite families, our speed stresses were soon put into terrible perspective.

Just a mile or two into Haiti, a group of people stood disconsolately by the road, trying to flag down any vehicle that would stop, and pointing to the collapsed face of a nearby quarry. "There's someone inside there," one of them said, pointing to a pile of rocks.

from FaithWorld:

Thoughts on Obama’s Nobel Theology Prize speech

obama speaks

President Barack Obama in Oslo, 10 Dec 2009/John McConnico

If there were a Nobel Prize for Theology, large parts of President Barack Obama's Oslo speech could be cut and pasted into an acceptance speech for it. The Peace Prize speech dealt with war and he made a clear case from the start for the use of force when necessary. While he began with political arguments for this position, his rationale took on an increasingly religious tone as the speech echoed faith leaders and theologians going back to the origins of Christianity.

It started with a hat-tip to Rev. Martin Luther King when he said "our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice" -- echoes of King's 25 March 1965 Montgomery speech saying "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

from The Great Debate:

War and Peace, by Barack Obama

Bernd Debusmann-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

It is a timeline rich in irony. On Dec. 10, Barack Obama will star at a glittering ceremony in Oslo to receive the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. That's just nine days after he ordered 30,000 additional American troops into a war many of his fellow citizens think the U.S. can neither win nor afford.

Does the EU need another president?

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The fact that European Union leaders have not yet reached a consensus on who should become president of the 27-nation bloc, with time running out before a summit on who should  be given the post, has compounded my belief that they should scrap the idea all together.

During the horse-trading of the past few weeks I have found myself asking the question: why do we need an EU president, particularly since the bloc has at least one, if not two, capable presidents already.

from Raw Japan:

Obama bowing to convention

OBAMA-JAPAN/

The depth or angle of U.S. President Barack Obama's bow -- and handshake -- with Japan's Emperor Akihito has become a heated on-line topic, with sides arching into political camps on whether the greeting went too far -- literally -- or was appropriate based on customs and culture.

I don't pretend to be an expert on bowing in Japan, but a few basic rules of thumb, or backbone, are: the more important a person you are greeting, the deeper and longer you bow, with hands generally at one's sides; and multiple purposes can be served by this act including greeting as well as displays of respect, recognition, apology or gratitude.

Forget about light bulbs – Iran wants a seat at the table

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For years Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and outgoing head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, has warned the United States and other Western powers against jumping to conclusions about Iran’s nuclear program. While Washington, Israel and their allies see increasing indications that Tehran’s secretive nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons, ElBaradei told an audience of academics, politicians and diplomats at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City that his agency has “no concrete evidence” that Tehran is pursuing an atom bomb.

So is Iran’s nuclear program intended solely for lighting light bulbs in the world’s fourth biggest oil producer as Tehran insists? According to ElBaradei, its purpose is something completely different.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Gridlock in the Mideast

JamWant to know how it feels to be George Mitchell, President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East? Try getting from Jerusalem to Ramallah on a typical weekday at the rush hour. And experience stalemate, frustration, competitive selfishness, blind fury and an absence of movement that even the most stubborn and blinkered of West Bank bus drivers might see as a metaphor for the peace process that is going nowhere fast right now.

It took me 2 full hours to drive the 100 metres (yards) or so from the Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank barrier around Jerusalem to reach the relatively open main street through Qalandiya refugee camp, the gateway to Ramallah. The reason? Well, at its simplest it's traffic chaos caused by anarchy, a vacuum of law and order. Look further, as with much else in the Middle East, and you get a conflicting and contrasting range of explanations.

from Environment Forum:

Will Nobel Prize also take Obama to Copenhagen climate talks?

The surprise award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama just nine months into his presidency on Friday may put pressure on him to visit a 190-nation meeting on a new U.N. climate treaty in Copenhagen.

The prize will be handed over in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of the award's founder Alfred Nobel, and the U.N. talks will run in Copenhagen from Dec. 7-18. It takes about an hour to fly between the two Scandinavian capitals.

Does Obama deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

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U.S. President Barack Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Obama had been awarded the prize for his calls to reduce the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons and work towards restarting the stalled Middle East peace process.

The committee praised Obama for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

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