7 June 2007 Edition

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International : Bush says Iran threatens Poland!

A New Cold War? 

BY SALLY GALLAGHER

From June 6-8, the political leaders of eight of the world’s most powerful and wealthy states will meet in Heiligendamm near Rostock in Germany. However, this is not going to be a pleasant meeting. On the outside, those who advocate an alternative to the rule of the elites will be protesting the G8’s lack of legitimacy to take decisions that affect people the world over.
What right do the leaders of Britain, the US, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy and Russia have to make decisions on anyone’s behalf? Where is their mandate? To whom are they accountable? Fairly basic issues in a ‘democratic’ world, you would have thought.
And inside the hall, the elite face further tensions, with a resurgence of Cold War tensions brought about by George Bush’s virtually unilateralist decision to place missile bases in the Czech Republic and Poland, a decision which the respective populations of those countries are none too enamoured with, as repeated opinion polls have shown.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, it was hailed as a victory for democracy and the market - despite the fact that both these concepts are mutually exclusive. Nonetheless, facts cannot get in the way of a well-spun story and the world was promised a new era of peace, global co-operation and development and, most tantalising of all, a ‘peace dividend.’ Nothing of that sort has ever materialised.
The post-Cold War world saw the US economy in a relatively weaker position, but enjoying hegemonic military and political muscle. And it was desperate for an enemy to fill the void left by the departure of the Soviet Union. Terrorism fitted the bill perfectly, a largely subjective category into which any and all opponents can be cast at any given time. And with the unilateralism of Bush and his disastrous foreign adventures, we have seen US using military strength attempting to compensate for and resolve economic deficiencies.

Sensitivity
It is also worth bearing in mind that there was an understanding that the Western military alliance would employ senstitivity in relation to Eastern Europe, to avoid stoking Russian fears of encirclement. Quite the opposite occurred, as NATO first invited former Soviet bloc countries to join and now George Bush says he needs to plant missiles there in order to counter the threat from Iran and North Korea, on the other side of the world.
The Bush administration is planning to deploy missiles in Poland and install a radar base in the Czech Republic - both of whom, the world will be aware, have seen an unholy coalition of North Korean and Iranian troops massed on their borders for several weeks now!
On Sunday 3 June, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, stated that Iran was not a threat to the US as he accused Washington of altering ‘the strategic balance’ by unilaterally pulling out of the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty in 2001. Putin hinted that Russia was the target of the missiles and he threatened to aim weapons to Europe. “If the American nuclear potential grows in European territory, we will have to have new targets in Europe,” Mr Putin said, but then he specified that any “new targets” would be connected to the “strategic nuclear potential of the United States...in Europe.”
And top Iranian security official Ali Larijani, has helpfully pointed out to all and sundry that Iranian missiles were not capable of reaching Europe.
The current US-Russian row is overshadowing the G8 meeting and specifically the demonstrations organised by those who advocate an alternative to the current neoliberal model. As the demonstrators clearly point out, those meeting in Germany under the auspices of the G8 lack any legitimacy in terms of taking decisions that shape the world.
Thus, the demonstration organisers have promised that this summit will face one of the biggest mobilisations ever seen at a G8 meet. At the very least, they can make life uncomfortable for the Elite 8.

 News in Brief

Basque Country

The Basque pro-independence organisation ETA announced on Tuesday 5 June the end of a ceasefire called on 24 March 2006, as it believes that current circumstances do not allow for the opening of a peace process. ETA pointed out that Spanish PM Zapatero’s administration had prevented Batasuna from participating in the local elections that took place last week.
Commenting after it was announced that ETA had ended its ceasefire, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams urged restraint on all sides and called for renewed efforts to put the Basque Peace Process back on track.
Adams said:
“Everyone who has been involved in attempting to get a viable peace process operating in the Basque country is disappointed at the breakdown in the process over recent months and today’s announcement from ETA ending its ceasefire.
“However the lessons of the Irish Peace Process and indeed every conflict resolution process throughout the world tells us that it is now important to redouble efforts to put the process there back on track.
“All sides should show restraint and do everything in their power to ensure that a process is put in place which can allow this conflict to be resolved peacefully through genuine dialogue and engagement.”

Guantanamo

US military judges have dropped all war crimes charges against the only two Guantanamo captives facing trial. Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured in a firefight in Afghanistan at age 15. Khadr (20) was accused of killing a US soldier with a grenade and wounding another in a battle at a suspected al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002. Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen, who is accused of driving and guarding Osama bin Laden. Hamdan last year won a US Supreme Court challenge that scrapped the first Guantanamo tribunal system.
The judges said they lacked jurisdiction under the strict definition of those eligible for trial by military tribunal under a law the US Congress passed last year. The ruling could prevent the trial of any of the 380 prisoners held at the US base in Cuba.
The rulings do not affect US authority to indefinitely hold the 380 foreign terrorism suspects detained at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in southeast Cuba, but it was the latest setback for the Bush administration’s efforts to put the Guantanamo captives through some form of judicial process. It was forced to rewrite the rules last year after the US Supreme Court deemed the old tribunals illegal.


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