Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Afghanistan’s angry Norwegian bites back

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It is both fascinating and horrifying to overhear a bad argument between two old friends. The drama is compelling but you shudder at the pain of each wounding criticism.

I doubt Kai Eide, the U.N.’s top man in Afghanistan, will be holidaying again with his former deputy, Peter Galbraith, after a lacerating row between them over electoral fraud. Once the best of friends, the two have fallen out spectacularly over what should have been done to prevent the ballot stuffing, vote rigging and intrigue that Western powers now publicly admit badly marred the August 20 poll in Afghanistan. Were the stakes not so high, the fight could be brushed off as the consequence of clashing egos and the vagaries of human nature. But the dispute has cast doubt on whether any outcome of the vote can be considered legitimate. A second round may still happen, depending on a recount of suspect votes likely to conclude in a few days. On current trends President Hamid Karzai will emerge the winner, but will look like spoiled goods in the eyes of many in the Obama administration. Obama needs a credible political partner in Kabul to help him sell to Americans the cost in blood and treasure of whatever approach he eventually decides to take on continuing the counter-insurgency fight in Afghanistan.

Galbraith had been making the public running in the argument, charging that his efforts to prevent fraud were blocked and that he was muzzled by Eide, a veteran Norwegian diplomat. When he refused to keep quiet, says Galbraith, he was sacked. Eide’s actions or inactions have helped give the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting Western forces, Galbraith has told anyone who would listen, including the op-ed pages of major American newspapers.

When Eide finally bit back in public he lined up a silent chorus of Western ambassadors to sit on a podium beside him in Kabul to demonstrate the solid support of ‘the international community.’ (The British, French and U.S. ambassadors seated beside Eide did not take questions, despite one being tossed deliberately at Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. envoy). The mild-mannered Norwegian roused himself into indignant righteousness and, without ever mentioning Galbraith by name, fought back against the charges of having winked at massive fraud by agents of Karzai and castigated his former deputy for discourteously breaching confidences.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghanistan blames Pakistan for embassy bombing; India holds fire

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Afghanistan has wasted little time in accusing Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of being behind a bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on Thursday.

Asked by PBS news channel whether Kabul blamed Pakistan for the bombing, Afghan ambassador to the United States Said Jawad said: "Yes, we do. We are pointing the finger at the Pakistan intelligence agency, based on the evidence on the ground and similar attacks taking place in Afghanistan."

from Jeffrey Jones:

Dalai Lama: Afghan war a failure

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    The Dalai Lama believes the war in Afghanistan has so far been a failure, saying military intervention creates additional complications for the country.
    The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, making his first visit to the Western Canadian city of Calgary in 30 years, said foreign military intervention against Taliban insurgents has only served to make the fundamentalist group more determined.  
    The war has been "so far, I think, a failure," he told reporters, adding that he could not yet judge its outcome. "Using military forces, the other hard-liners become even more hard ... and due to civilian casualties the other side also sometimes is getting more sympathy from local people." 
    U.S. President Barack Obama is weighing calls to boost troop levels and alter strategy to reverse what officials have said is a deteriorating military situation. But the Dalai Lama said it would all have been unnecessary had the United States and the European Union spent more on aid to the region.
    "Instead of spending billions and billions of dollars for killing they should have spent billions .... on education and health in rural areas and underdeveloped areas. (If they had) I think the picture would be different."

-- Written by Scott Haggett

(Photo: The Dalai Lama speaks at a conference in Calgary, Alberta, on October 1, 2009. REUTERS/Todd Korol)

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India, Pakistan and Afghanistan: the impossible triangle

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A single paragraph in General Stanley McChrystal's leaked assessment of the war in Afghanistan has generated much interest, particularly in Pakistan.

"Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment," it says. "In addition the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian. While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani counter-measures in Afghanistan or India."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

The missile shield and the “grand bargain” on Afghanistan and Pakistan

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Back in 2008, even before Barack Obama was elected, Washington pundits were urging him to adopt a new regional approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan involving Russia, India, China, Saudi Arabia and even Iran. The basic argument was that more troops alone would not solve the problems, and that the new U.S administration needed to subsume other foreign policy goals to the interests of winning a regional consensus on stabilising Afghanistan.

It would be simplistic to suggest that the Obama administration's decision to cancel plans to build a missile-shield in eastern Europe was motivated purely -- or even primarily -- by a need to seek Russian help in Afghanistan. But it certainly serves as a powerful reminder about how far that need to seek a "grand bargain" on Afghanistan may be reshaping and influencing policy decisions around the world.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghanistan, still the new Vietnam ?

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Try hard as you can, there doesn't seem to be any escaping from comparing America's eight-year war in Afghanistan to the one it fought in Vietnam.

Every now and then, either when there is a fresh setback or a key moment in Afghanistan's turbulent history, like last week when it went to the polls to choose a president, the debate flares anew.

Honduras crisis unleashes media wars

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TEGUCIGALPA – When ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya made a symbolic (and brief) return to his homeland on Friday, what could have been a potentially dangerous situation turned out to be a show for live television — a far cry from the bloody coups of the past in Latin America.

Even as he walked toward the border in sight of Honduran security forces waiting to arrest him, Zelaya, in his trademark cowboy hat, took a call from CNN’s Spanish language channel and conducted a long interview with the broadcaster.

Sometimes admiration comes from unlikely places

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Barack Obama’s American admirers are not the only ones who compare former U.S. President John F. Kennedy to the current U.S. leader. Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a vociferous critic of the United States, also invokes the charismatic late president when he talks about Obama, who, like Kennedy 48 years earlier, was a young senator when he was elected to the White House.

Chavez brought up Kennedy again this week, as he railed against Washington over the coup in Honduras, which many observers have called an unwelcome reminder of the ousters of Latin American leftists during the Cold War — waged partly under Kennedy.

from Africa News blog:

‘New moment of promise’ for Africa?

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As expected, U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech to Africa in Accra had plenty to say on the importance of good governance – but there was also a very strong message that his “new moment of promise” is one that Africans have to seize for themselves.

"You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities, and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts, and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move,” Obama said.

Indonesia’s election: faster, better … boring?

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By Sara Webb

It takes India weeks to complete an election and it never passes without flashes of violence.

But the much younger democracy of Indonesia voted calmly for their president on Wednesday and got the voting over in five hours with a good indication of the result — a second term for the reformist ex-general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — out just a couple of hours later.

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