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USA And The Future Of The World
<b>Obama is Just a Slave </b>
15.09.2009 Source: Pravda.Ru
Pages: 12

By Hans Vogel

The cheers of crowds in the US and the ROW (“Rest of the World”) upon hearing the news of the election of the first black US president are still ringing in my ears. How happy, no, how elated all those folks were! Their joy knew no bounds. One would be inclined to believe the new Messiah had arrived—a black one even! It would seem Dr. Martin Luther King's dream had finally come true. Change had finally arrived. The masses, hungering for justice and peace, were confident that a new age had at last begun.

Change...Yes we can! Does Obama have a speech impairment or is he mentally challenged. Does he suffer from amnesia, or is he developing Alzheimer's, like his congenial predecessor, Ronald Reagan? Are Obama's two brain halves connected? There is no way of telling what exactly is the matter, but let us be generous towards the man and suppose he suffers from a rather serious speech impairment. Perhaps he has long been a stammerer. After all, he cannot deliver a speech without using a teleprompter. Again, like Ronald Reagan, but also like his mentally challenged immediate predecessor, Bush II.

Change...Yes we can! Let us just assume, not to be too unkind to Obama (we might get accused of being racists), that he was unable to finish pronouncing the sentence. What he meant to say must have been something like: “Change...Yes we can say the word!” But he apparently never got beyond the first four words.

If Obama actually meant to say what he has been saying during his campaign, i.e. that with the support of those who would vote for him, he would be effecting change, he has been deceiving the people. However, he might also have been stating the obvious: “Change...Yes we can!” just meaning that his voters would be able to vote him into office, thus bringing about a change in the ruling party, from Republican to Democrat. This kind of change is not uncommon in the US, for there is a long history of presidents voted in and out of office by voters. Nothing worth mentioning, really, but perhaps for Obama, it may have been special, who could tell, anyway?

Because, let us be honest, how much change have we been seeing? Change for the worse, certainly, but change for the better, the kind Obama was suggesting he would inititate? None whatsoever. All we have seen is incremental change: more war, more killing, more stealing from the taxpayer, more deceit of “allies” (the politically correct term for “client states”), more home foreclosures, more bank failures, more bankruptcies, more bonuses paid out to incompetent bankers and Wall Street fraudsters.

On the 8th anniversary of the pulling of the Twin Towers and WTC 7, Obama announced the emergency measures that have been transforming the US into a fascist state would be extended for another year.

Pravda.ru forum. The place where truth hurts

Le Figaro, France
<b>Obama’s Troubles
By Pierre Rousselin

Deepening the deficits and leaving Uncle Sam to cover the debts was the easy part. The hard part still lies ahead.</b>
Translated By Louis Standish
13 September 2009
Edited by Alex Brewer
France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

Barack Obama is not the messiah. His current difficulties are not shocking at this stage of his presidency. He finds that America’s problems are of a severity without precedent.

A few days after his defense of health care reform, Barack Obama is again putting himself out there - today in New York, a year after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. He is using this occasion to advocate for the necessary regulation of the financial system. He is also going to make certain that everyone knows he is not responsible for the crisis, but inherited it from the previous administration.

Heading up several reforms at once is a choice Nicolas Sarkozy has also made. In the United States, where it is Congress who decides economic mattes, the wager is riskier. It would be better to score a victory before throwing himself into a new battle. It is always a matter of timing.

Must they truly choose the pit of a recession in order to turn the health insurance system upside down? Couldn't we expect the recovery to do what has been long overdue: give coverage to the 46 million deprived Americans? Obama is hardly convincing when he says that his project, costing $900 billion over 10 years, "will not add one dime to the deficit." But politically, everyone understands that the president needs his reform. If that flagship element of his administration does not pass now, before the midterm elections in 2010, it will never be adopted. This should already have been accomplished by using the sufficient majority in Congress favoring the White House.

As for financial regulation, shouldn’t they have expected it earlier? The large banks display some positive results. Wall Street has rebounded more than 50 percent compared to its lowest point at the beginning of March. American finance is no longer in free fall and the feeling of urgency has dissipated. Will Obama be able to reach his goals and pass a package of measures, albeit short of what is dreamed of by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy?

The anti-Obama demonstration Saturday in Washington was a caricature. It succeeded in bringing together people who just want to use the president as a foil. But their message deserves to be heard. Never, in the United States, has the government been as tied to the economy as it is now. It is true especially for the banks and the auto industry, in a country where the large majority distrusts state intervention.

The most serious part of this tumultuous time is that exiting the financial crisis is not being accompanied by a return of confidence. Since December 2007, the beginning of the recession, approximately seven million jobs have been lost. A large number of laid-off workers are nearing the end of their unemployment benefits. Everything indicates that economic recovery will not lead to a sharp decline in the unemployment rate, which is as close to 10 percent today compared to only five percent at the beginning of the year.

Right at the moment when these numbers translated into a major shock for public opinion, Obama stalled. Deepening the deficits and leaving Uncle Sam to cover the debts was the easy part. The hard part still lies ahead.
<b>President Barack Obama is beginning to look out of his depth</b><i>
It is lovely to feature in other people's dreams. The problem comes when they wake up. Barack Obama is an eloquent, brainy and likeable man with a fascinating biography. He is not George Bush. Those are great qualities. But they are not enough to lead America, let alone the world.</i>

By Edward Lucas
Published: 8:30AM BST 20 Sep 2009
Comments 7 | Comment on this article

Admittedly, the presidential to-do list is terrifying. The economy requires his full-time attention. So does health-care reform. And climate change. Indeed, he deserves praise for spending so much time on thankless foreign policy issues. He is tackling all the big problems: restarting Middle East peace talks, defanging Iran and North Korea and a "reset" of relations with Russia. But none of them are working.

Regimes in Moscow, Pyongyang and Tehran simply pocket his concessions and carry on as before. The picture emerging from the White House is a disturbing one, of timidity, clumsiness and short-term calculation. Some say he is the weakest president since Jimmy Carter.
The grizzled veterans of the Democratic leadership in Congress have found Mr Obama and his team of bright young advisers a pushover. That has gravely weakened his flagship domestic campaign, for health-care reform, which fails to address the greatest weakness of the American system: its inflated costs. His free trade credentials are increasingly tarnished too. His latest blunder is imposing tariffs on tyre imports from China, in the hope of gaining a little more union support for health care. But at a time when America's leadership in global economic matters has never been more vital, that is a dreadful move, hugely undermining its ability to stop other countries engaging in a ruinous spiral of protectionism.
Even good moves are ruined by bad presentation. Changing Mr Bush's costly and untried missile-defence scheme for something workable was sensible. But offensively casual treatment of east European allies such as Poland made it easy for his critics to portray it as naïve appeasement of the regime in Moscow.
Mr Obama's public image rests increasingly heavily on his extraordinary speechifying abilities. His call in Cairo for a new start in relations with the Muslim world was pitch-perfect. So was his speech in Ghana, decrying Africa's culture of bad government. His appeal to both houses of Congress to support health care was masterly – though the oratory was far more impressive than the mish-mash plan behind it. This morning he is blitzing the airwaves, giving interviews to all America's main television stations.
But for what? Mr Obama has tactics a plenty - calm and patient engagement with unpleasant regimes, finding common interests, appealing to shared values - but where is the strategy? What, exactly, did "Change you can believe in" – the hallmark slogan of his campaign – actually mean?
The President's domestic critics who accuse him of being the sinister wielder of a socialist master-plan are wide of the mark. The man who has run nothing more demanding than the Harvard Law Review is beginning to look out of his depth in the world's top job. His credibility is seeping away, and it will require concrete achievements rather than more soaring oratory to recover it.
Edward Lucas writes for The Economist and is the author of The New Cold War (Bloomsbury, £8.99)

Les Echos, France
America is Out of Ideas

By Michel Ktitareff

Translated By Louis Standish
15 September 2009
Edited by Jessica Boesl
France - Les Echos - Original Article (French)

While America undergoes a particularly brutal crisis of mass unemployment, decline and the collapse of the housing market, one wonders with worry about the question of competitiveness. Why is it that the motor of exceptionally long and regular growth for three decades hasn't come up with anything to surpass its larger competitors?

More and more experts have become publicly alarmed by what today is considered America's obvious inability to innovate. This is all the more serious, as it would be the last step before a deep and lasting economic decline.

Pessimists aren't lacking evidence. Last Feburary, a report published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, an influential Washington think tank, estimated according to 16 criteria measuring competitiveness that the United States no longer comes in at sixth. The U.S. is now far behind several countries of Northern Europe (most notably Sweden) and many in Asia (particularly Singapore), that collect the fruits of massive engagement, past and present, of their governments in favor of technological innovation.

Recently, an expert in analysis of American economic growth, Adrian Slywotzky, explained in "Business Week" that American economic dynamism was "already broken" by the failure to invest in scientific research. According to him, this crisis of innovation had already begun at the end of the 1990s. In order to convince others, he emphasizes the desertification of huge public research laboratories, those financed by the federal government, because the salaries of researchers were so unattractive that it discouraged the best students, and reflected the absence of the political will to support fundamental research.

Indeed, so many experts recognize that the American model of privately funding innovation remains one of the best in the world and that it's better to underline that non-implemented research is in decline. For example, Bell laboratories received six Nobel prizes last century and largely contributed to create the American telecommunications industry, but saw its size cut down ten years after its golden age. Ditto for the famous Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in Silicon Valley, which invented the concept of the mouse and the laser printer practically by accident. The best example is perhaps the military laboratory of Darpa, created in order to compete with the Soviets in the space race in the 1950s; it also originated the concept of the internet. Without quality fundamental research, the television, the transistor radio and even the solar photovoltaic cell would never have seen the light of day in America.

Is pessimism justified? Certainly, some promises made by scientific Americans in recent years have not yet been realized, most notably in the biotechnology sector, where they still wait for miraculous treatments for cancer or Alzheimer's. Still, there is evidence to suggest that the new administration is conscious of the need to revive necessary research in order to restore the competitiveness of America. Hardly in power, Barack Obama financed a new agency, ARPA-E (E for energy), which has the mission of designing green technologies to do what Darpa did for information technology, militaristic or not.

IBM, Cisco, General Electric, Google or DuPont recall for themselves their own wishes for fundamental, specific research leading to lasting development, at the beginning of which they developed commercial applications.

But, even if a certain vision takes shape, another danger threatens America. Contrary to the last century, America is no longer attracting the best minds in the world. A recent study from the Kauffman Foundation indicates that 50,000 Asian immigrants have left the United States in the last two years, a movement that's only just begun. Worse is that 90 percent of those returning received advanced degrees and were attracted by the opportunities available elsewhere.

Well trained in American universities but broken by the lack of creation of innovative companies, some of those brilliant students could very well hatch the next Google of "clean tech" on the side of Shanghai, Singapore or Bombay.


<b>Jimmy Carter was right. 'Post-racial' America is still a forlorn hope
The former president has caused outrage by claiming that many Americans do not want a black president. Sadly, he spoke the truth

Jimmy Carter has always been one to speak bluntly – irritatingly so, to some of his critics. Even at 84, the former president continues to show his willingness to raise the most indelicate topics, often at the most inopportune time. This time, the topic is race and, more specifically, the racism that underlies some of the ugliest, most vociferous criticism of President Obama.

"I think people that are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by the belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American," Carter said.

Carter's remarks were like throwing a dead cat into the middle of the dinner table. Obama in interviews broadcast today says race is not a factor, while other democrats disavowed the former president. Republicans cried foul. But perhaps most disturbing in all this is that it looks like Carter is right.

Ten months after Americans poured into the streets to celebrate the historic election of the first black president, the racists, white supremacists and old-school segregationists are feeling emboldened. As Obama's poll numbers have fallen from stratospheric highs, and as criticism has grown over his health reform plan and economic policies, so, too, have the bigots felt more comfortable coming out of the woods.

Sharp criticism of presidents is routine and bipartisan– it comes with the territory. And it can sometimes be nasty. Ronald Reagan was derided as lazy and ill-informed. George W Bush was mocked as the "toxic Texan" and an imbecile who bumbled us into Iraq.

But Obama-hatred among a certain segment of the extreme right has crossed a line into something else – it borders on the pathological. When a southern congressman shouted: "You lie!" in the middle of Obama's joint session of Congress, it was a stunning display of disrespect, not just to the institution, but to the president himself.

One did not have to look too hard at the 12 September anti-Obama rally in Washington – an overwhelmingly white, largely rural crowd – to see the sea of Confederate flags, a symbol of "heritage" to some southern whites and a symbol of racist oppression to blacks. Or the racially laden signs, such as "The zoo has an African lion – the White House has a lyin' African." Others held signs that demanded Obama be sent "back to Kenya".

The increasingly overt racism was on display earlier this year with the so-called "birther" movement, the small but vocal group of conspiratorial nuts who, despite documented evidence to the contrary, are convinced Obama was actually born in Kenya and is ineligible to be president.

If the president were white and his name was O'Malley, would anybody be seriously questioning whether he was secretly born in Ireland?

And go back to the campaign itself, when, despite Obama's groundbreaking triumphs, particularly in majority white states such as Iowa, racism showed its ugly face on the edges. There were the people bringing toy monkeys with Obama stickers and buttons to McCain-Palin rallies. And the people shouting that Obama was "an Arab".

For an unvarnished glimpse of the nastiness, take a look at the disturbing documentary Right America: Feeling Wronged, in which film-maker Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of House speaker Nancy Pelosi, attended 28 rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin, and just let the crazies speak directly to her camera and microphone.

What is most disturbing is not the evil and inane nonsense these people spout – it's that they seem perfectly happy to do so for a documentary.

Reporters on the campaign trail often encountered similar sentiments. My Washington Post colleague Robin Shulman travelled to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a largely white, working-class former coal-mining town. At a diner there, a retired collection agency worker named Marlene told her: "I guess you could call us prejudiced… I don't believe a black person should be president."

The dirty secret of American politics is that race has been a salient issue for decades. It is rarely spoken of directly; it comes in coded language. But racism has provided an ugly undercurrent ever since the Supreme Court announced an end to Jim Crow segregation of the south in 1954. In the late 1960s, Richard Nixon, eyeing the 13% of the vote that went to Alabama's segregationist governor George C Wallace in the 1968 presidential election, adopted what became known as "the southern strategy", which made blatant appeals to the Wallace vote and made the south solid for Republicans for a generation (the exceptions being when a southern Democrat was on the presidential ballot).

According to my former Post colleague Thomas B Edsall, who has written extensively about race and politics, it was Wallace who laid the groundwork for the Republicans' current brand of conservative populism. Over the last 40 years, Republicans learnt to echo the conservative "anger points", through coded phrases such as "states' rights", "family values", "tough on crime" and opposition to "centralised government" and meddling "federal judges".

The racial signals are sometimes subtle, often not. In 1980, Reagan began his presidential campaign in Neshoba County, Mississippi, a place notorious for the slaying of three civil rights workers in 1964, and he declared: "I believe in states' rights." Constantly on the campaign trail, Reagan railed against a so-called "welfare queen from Chicago". His supporters knew what he meant.

Obama's victory was supposed to be that transcendent moment that moved us beyond race; he was the "post-racial candidate".

But take a close look at the numbers. Obama won 53% of the vote overall, but he won just 43% of the white vote – McCain beat him by 12 percentage points among whites.

More important, look at specific state results. In the southern states of the old Confederacy, Obama managed just 30% of the white vote, even while he was winning close to half the white vote in the non-southern states. In Alabama, Obama won just 10% of white votes; in Mississippi, 11%; in Louisiana, 14%.

Is all opposition to Obama and his agenda racist? Of course not. Many Americans are clearly frightened by what they see as the deepening reach of the federal government into the American economy and their lives. Being afraid of government overreach is as American as the republic itself.

So, too, is entrenched resistance to any plans to "redistribute" wealth downward. The "haves" never want to pay more in taxes to help the "have nots". But there is a racial component here, too, when the "have nots" are seen as poor blacks, Hispanics and immigrants who came the country illegally.

To paint absolutely all of Obama's critics as racist is clearly wrong. But for his conservative and Republican critics to deny the racial ugliness at the fringes is also wrong – and dangerous.

Republican and conservative leaders rushed to the microphones to condemn Jimmy Carter for playing the race card. Too bad that when it comes to condemning the racists – the ones carrying the signs and questioning the country of the president's birth – those same "leaders" have offered only a deafening silence.

Gazeta, Russia
America’s Solitude</b>

By Fedor Lukyanov
Translated By Olga Kerzhner
10 September 2009
Edited by Robin Silberman
Russia - Gazeta - Original Article (Russian)

Exactly one year ago, the world started observing (first with amazement, then with fear) the events that took place in the United States. On September 7th, the nationalization of the mortgage company giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as Lehman Brother's collapse three days later, marked the beginning of the global financial crisis. During subsequent months, talk about the failure of the neo-liberal capitalism model, as well as the immanent changes in the way the world operates, became commonplace. Twelve months later, the emotions have somewhat subsided.

The economic crisis has not turned international relations upside down. The shocking events served as a catalyst to the process that started much earlier, and will continue for an indefinite length of time, changing world dynamics. The predominant outcome of this process is the relative weakening of the U.S. as the world's dominant power. The U.S. remains, and will continue to be in the foreseeable future, a superpower, which, by its cumulative potential, highly exceeds any other country, or even several counties combined. However, its degree of dependence on other participants in international relations is increasing. The fact that the U.S. cannot single-handedly achieve its goals became apparent even during the first five years of this decade, when it failed in its attempt to reorganize the Middle East.

The economic crisis caused a change in Washington's leadership, and a change in the U.S. tactics in world affairs. Last year's predictions that the crisis had undermined other countries' confidence in the American economic model have been exaggerated. The world still looks to America as the source of all economic and political change and innovation. This reflects the United States' objective power as well as its connection with Barack Obama's personal popularity. For a period of time, President Obama earned most of mankind's trust. America has tools (unmatched by other countries) to influence international affairs. But last year's events have made clear, as strange as it sounds, America's solitude.

Despite numerous formal allies around the world, Washington can't seriously count on practically anyone. For example, looking at the larger Middle East region (which, to a large degree, determines overall world politics), countries that were traditionally America's strong allies (e.g. Pakistan, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia) are now more likely to be the source of additional U.S. policy problems, than partners who help to solve them. In each of the above examples, the scale and character of the problems is different. But the listed countries expect to get more from Washington than they're willing to give.

America's relations with Europe are a separate phenomenon. The crisis has exacerbated the transatlantic tensions. Discrepancy between the two sides of the Atlantic with respect to strategic development goals had started to emerge long before the economic crisis. The Old World, with the exception of the U.K., is not prepared to take risks in order to help America strengthen its global position. Also, based on Afghanistan, it's unlikely that the U.S. will be able to reequip NATO for America's global needs. Another conceptual gap that has emerged is how to overcome economic problems. America's approach is to stimulate demand, while Europe seeks to tighten regulation of financial markets, and control executives' incomes.

Mutual protectionist trends have noticeably increased. The drawn-out sale of Opel is an indicative example of this trend. Besides General Motors' reluctance to allow Russian co-ownership, there's also another underlying rationale: the American side is unhappy that the German government is too autonomous. There's also tension regarding reform of the global financial institutions. Large developing countries, especially China and India, demand a redistribution of control in the IMF and the World Bank. The United States, seeking to establish relations with the Asian giants, would like to meet those demands. But it would like to do so primarily by changing the European countries' quotas, whose economic weight does not correspond with the current power balance.

As the focus of world strategic interest shifts to the Asian-Pacific region, the United States is faced with a question of how to behave towards Europe. Among other things, the Obama administration has not yet determined how to deal with Central and Eastern European countries, which have traditionally acted as agents of American influence in the Old World. This region's priority has declined, partly due to the influence of stiff Russian opposition, and partly due to the abundance of problems associated with the post-communist world.

The main challenge in U.S. policy is how to develop relations with China. Although China has also been affected by the economic crisis, it will continue to be the fastest growing country. The world recession has demonstrated the degree of mutual dependence between the United States and China. But this dependence is more negative than positive in nature, and both sides would prefer to get rid of it, rather than make it stronger. In any case, the talk about G2, which was a major topic in U.S.-Chinese relations throughout the year, showed the short-lived nature of such ideas. Of course, the prospects of China joining an anti-American alliance are just as illusory. China has its own complex relations with America.

Overall, global political trends that started taking shape in the early 21st century, and were stimulated by the crisis, were not favorable to Washington. They forced Washington to intensively search for new approaches. Relations with Russia should also be viewed in this context. The global recession has demonstrated the Russian economy's extreme vulnerability to outside influences. Contrary to expectations, the recession did not particularly influence foreign policy. Moscow is active and aggressive, due to a sense of general confusion, and the desire to seize the moment to strengthen its position. Russia's peculiar competitive advantage is its socio-political system. In other countries, the presence of full democratic control would hardly allow the government to spend money to support geo-political initiatives during a deep recession. But an authoritarian government can afford to do so, to a certain extent, with available state reserves being the only limiting factor.

Under the circumstances described above (Washington's crisis with respect to its allies), it is important for Washington to understand the extent to which Moscow could be used as support for solving a number of important problems. Despite the numerous weaknesses that threaten the country's future development, Russia is one of the few remaining countries that possess strategic thinking, potential, and the ability to apply force. Europe has lost these qualities, while China is focused on self-development, at least for now. This makes Moscow a potential opponent for Washington, and also a possible important partner. However, to become partners, both sides must move beyond the ideological notions established during earlier eras. This has not happened yet. But being aware of the "two solitudes" (Russia's solitude is so obvious, there's no need to talk about it) could influence strategic thinking.

Sina, China
<b>Afghanistan: The Fall of the American Empire</b>
The failure of the American troops in Afghanistan will most likely be the American version of the Battle of Adrianople in the year of 378. This battle was the prelude to the invasion of the Germans and the collapse of Roman Empire and has resulted in the ill fortune of Western civilization for 1,100 years!

Translated By Guangyong Liang
11 September 2009
Edited by Alex Brewer
China - Sina - Original Article (Chinese)

The eight-year-long Afghanistan anti-terrorism war has become the second longest overseas war next to the Vietnam War. During last year's presidential election, New York Times columnist Friedman wrote: “I would not vote for anybody who is under the mask of 9/11. We do not need another 9/11 president. We need a 9/12 president.” After eight years, more and more Americans have walked out of the shadow of the terrifying 9/11 events.

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, Obama's policies, such as the market rescue, have made the deficit go up continuously. The Afghanistan War, similar to the Iraq War, has become a bottomless pit that sucks in American political, economic and diplomatic resources. According to a series of public opinion polls, the number of Americans who are against the Afghanistan War is on the rise.

Before this, when Obama became president he thoroughly evaluated former President Bush's anti-terrorism strategies. He gave up the idea of a global “War on Terror.” Instead, he emphasized that “necessary military actions must be taken with limited power and in certain regions.” Obama reevaluated the anti-terrorism strategies of the U.S. in Afghanistan and Pakistan and decided to shift the overseas battle center away from Iraq to Afghanistan. The clear and focused purpose of Obama's new strategies toward Afghanistan is to destroy, breakup and smash Al-Qaeda to ensure the security of the U.S. and the international community.

Besides the huge increase of soldiers, the focal point of military actions will be shifted to the training and expansion of Afghanistan's army. During the military transition, Obama is to “utilize political, economic and societal power to eliminate the soil generated by terrorism” and to take effective actions to win the hearts of the so-called “moderates” in Afghanistan, who can bring military support to facilitate Afghanistan's peaceful process. He is also to solve these problems by strengthening the cooperation with the international community. More noticeable is that the U.S. treats the Afghanistan issue the same as border issues with Pakistan.

To carry out his ambitious new strategies, Obama has increased the number of U.S. soldiers in the country by 30,000, effectively doubling troops there. In addition, he provided $2.8 billion for the economic development and the provision of services that people depend on. Learning from the experience gained from the American troops in Iraq, tactics are being shifted from killing the Taliban military to protecting Afghanistan's civilians and making a great effort to keep in contact with tribal elders to improve the U.S.’s image and win morale.

However, it has been about half a year and the situation in Afghanistan has not changed a bit. The Taliban occupies over half of Afghanistan, having 54 percent of the country covered. Also the Taliban is active in 38 percent of the entire region. To ensure the process of the presidential election, the U.S. Marine Corps launched a “sharp sword attack” at the beginning of July and garrisoned the region where the Taliban are most active, thus signaling a change in the way the U.S. military handles executing similar tasks. But the Taliban made use of this “circuitous tactic” and attacked the eastern and northern parts of Afghanistan, causing damage to the troops of many countries.

The death toll of American troops in Afghanistan keeps breaking records; in July and August the totals were higher than any month of the previous eight years. Even the U.S. and the commander of NATO in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal had to admit that the Taliban is in an advantageous position. In a evaluation report that he sent to the U.S. Department of Defense on Aug 31, he depicted the American troops as a bull and the Taliban as a bull-fighter, clearly admitting that the U.S.’s new strategies have not been effective yet and the U.S. must change it strategies with its alliances. Before this, on Aug 23, U.S. Admiral and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen stated that the situation in Afghanistan is very serious and is worsening. The insurgency plan of the Taliban has gradually become more perfect and complicated.

The current election makes the problem more aggravated. The Karzai administration is corrupt and ineffective. It is also filled with stratocracy and conflicts of interest. Even Karzai is made fun of by the media calling him the “mayor of Kabul.” In the eyes of Afghanistan's people, he has no legitimacy. But given the accusations between Karzai and his opponent Abdullah under the background of the revival of the Taliban and racial problems, it is seemingly hard to predict what will happen to Afghanistan's weak democracy. Whether this will further intensify Afghanistan's domestic situation is yet to be observed.

Under this situation, if Obama continues to expand military, political and economic investment, he will be doing so against public opinion. Within the Democratic Party the differences of opinions will exacerbate and the party will become more passive politically. If he follows public opinion and gives up on Afghanistan, this will allow Al-Qaeda to come back and the U.S. and the rest of the world will never have peace again. It has been pointed out that the failure of the American troops in Afghanistan will most likely be the American version of the Battle of Adrianople in the year of 378. This battle was the prelude to the invasion of the Germans and the collapse of Roman Empire and has resulted in the ill fortune of Western civilization for 1,100 years!
La Croix, France
<b>Why is the U.S. Scrapping Missile Defense?</b>
By Alain Guillemoles
Translated By John Isquenderian
17 September 2009
Edited by Louis Standish
France - La Croix - Original Article (French)

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday, September 17, a "new approach" to the U.S. anti-missile defense project in Europe. The radar shield is in fact a U.S. early warning system in case of an Iranian missile launch. The system consists of a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic and for counter-missiles to be deployed from Poland. The Pentagon has favorably reported a "slimmed down" response to potential Iranian threat, though still claims it remains of "importance." Nonetheless, Washington has announced its clear intention to deploy missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic by 2015.

Laurence Nardon, researcher at the International Relations French Institute (IFRI)

“This decision is a turnaround in U.S. relations with Central Europe and Russia and comes as a result of the U.S.'s vision of the Iranian menace. The shield was originally intended to thwart a likely Russian threat, though it was never formally directed at Russia. In fact, the shield has never been a good prediction in improving strained relations between Moscow and Washington. Currently, the Obama administration is trying to soften the tone with many foreign partners, Russia among them, and expressed open intentions to restart negotiations with Moscow.

One has also to take into consideration the wishes of the Czech Republic and Poland to host American bases on their territory. Having U.S. bases is considered a point of pride for the nations and a protection against Russian influence. The U.S. decision to revoke the shield could well be a big disappointment for both countries.

This new attitude is also seen as a change in strategy since the George W. Bush era which was clearly opposed to "old" Europe (Western Europe) in favor of "new" Europe (Central Europe). Barack Obama certainly does not have the same vision.

The U.S. Wishes to Have Its Fingers in Many Pots

It's high time the U.S. has decided to replace missile defense with a lighter system. This is quite indicative of how Washington sees the Iranian threat, since the missile shield was meant to protect the U.S. against possible Iranian missile attacks.

The U.S. intelligence reports have excluded the possibility that Iran would be working on developing long-range missiles, but rather medium- and short-range ones that are capable of targeting Israel, Turkey and other countries in the Middle East. This is a good justification to arm oneself with a smaller system, and the U.S. aims at keeping a policy of having its fingers in many pots.”
The rich still run the US</b>

America's traumatic recession should have ushered in a wave of progressive political reform. It hasn't happened

o guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 September 2009 16.30 BST

Corruption takes many forms in different countries and locations. Here in the United States it may not be as common to pay off a judge or a customs official as it is in most low- and middle-income countries, but we do have quite a bit of legalised bribery, especially in the form of electoral campaign contributions. The most obvious current case is that of healthcare reform, where the powerful insurance, pharmaceutical and other lobbies are in the process of vetoing some of the most important parts of the healthcare reform that most Americans want and need.

For example, the vast majority of Americans favour a public option – insurance offered by the government, as we have for senior citizens in the Medicare programme – yet these powerful interests are blocking it in the Senate. This is despite the modest nature of the reform, which would not provide free or universal insurance, but rather an additional option that employers and individuals could buy into, with some subsidies for those who could not afford it. The insurance companies don't want competition, and the pharmaceutical corporations don't want another potentially large buyer that could bargain against their own monopoly power over the prices of patented drugs.

The United States is a rich country, so it seems obvious that our forms of corruption are preferable to those that plague developing countries. And they are, in the sense that it that it is always better to be a rich country and have rich country problems than to be a poor or middle-income country. But if we look at the US from the point of view of its potential – and I don't mean utopian dreams but merely what is quite feasible and practical in the immediate or near future – it seems that we have a very limited form of democracy.

One year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and nearly two years into our worst recession since the Great Depression, we have almost nothing to show in the way of reforms that could prevent a recurrence. The financial sector is probably more concentrated than it was before the crisis, and financial firms are still gambling with taxpayer guarantees, and even subsidies.

Some are doing remarkably well – Goldman Sachs, a recipient of billions of dollars of taxpayer assistance, is expected to pay bonuses averaging $700,000 each to 30,000 employees. The vastly over-bloated financial industry that brought us this calamity has shrunk by only 7.7% in terms of employment, far fewer than the percentage of jobs lost in manufacturing (14.6%) or construction (31.6%), since the recession began.

One reform that many experts saw as necessary to avoid future financial disasters was to regulate the trading of derivatives – financial instruments that are based on some other assets or values – so that they could be traded and priced on an exchange like stocks, bonds or commodities. Because many of these often complex derivatives were traded outside of exchanges, financial companies were able to hide enormous losses that only showed up when things fell apart.

But off-exchange trading is a highly profitable business – because when there are no market prices, there is limited competition. So Wall Street is pushing this modest but important reform off the table as well.

"Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall," Barack Obama announced Monday in a speech on Wall Street. But so far, it looks like that's exactly what they are doing.

What then are we to make of the prospects for reform under an Obama administration and a Democratic Congress? It is still relatively early in the game, but one thing seems clear: This administration needs a lot more pressure from the progressive end of the political spectrum, especially the people who did the work and made the contributions that elected this president.

Most of the pressure is coming from the right, which is to be expected given the historic shift that the 2008 election represented. For nearly four decades the politics of the country had been shifting rightward, including during the Clinton administration. Most importantly, the rules of the game have been steadily rewritten in ways that shifted the distribution of income upward.

The latest data that now takes us through the end of the last business cycle (2002-2007) shows that two-thirds of the income gains during these years went to the top 1% of the income distribution. This brought the income share of the top 1% to its highest level since 1928. The bottom 90% got only about 12% of the income gains. This continued and accelerated a trend that began in the mid 1970s, which was also quite pronounced during the Clinton administration, when the top 1% captured 43% of all income gains (as compared to just 11% in the 1960s).

The election of 2008 was a turning point, partly because the recession and financial crisis forced swing (mostly white, working-class) voters to focus on the economic issues and see that they were getting hammered under Republican rule.

The current recession will reverse that upward redistribution temporarily, as happened in the last recession, because a lot of wealth disappears. But whether we get back on track toward a more equitable society when the economy recovers will depend on structural reforms. Healthcare is one such reform – and the outcome is still undetermined – but we also need reforms that more directly help the majority of Americans to share in the gains from productivity growth.

For this reason it is especially unfortunate that the Obama administration has not fought for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to recover their lost ability to form unions in the US. The most important provision in this act is known as "card check", which would allow employees to form a union as soon as a majority of them had signed cards expressing their desire to join. This, too, is in the process of being derailed.

Income distribution is fundamental, because it is difficult to imagine social and economic progress in most other areas, including democratisation, education, poverty and social exclusion and crime as our society grows increasingly unequal. It remains to be seen whether we will see progress on this front when the economy recovers.

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