Sunday, July 08, 2007

Leave Iraq and Brace for a Bigger Bloodbath

By Natan Sharansky
The Washington Post
Sunday, July 8, 2007; Page B03

Iraqis call Ali Hassan al-Majeed "Chemical Ali," and few wept when the notorious former general received five death sentences last month for ordering the use of nerve agents against his government's Kurdish citizens in the late 1980s. His trial came as a reckoning and a reminder -- summoning up the horrors of Saddam Hussein's rule even as it underscored the way today's heated Iraq debates in Washington have left the key issue of human rights on the sidelines.

People of goodwill can certainly disagree over how to handle Iraq, but human rights should be part of any responsible calculus. Unfortunately, some leaders continue to play down the gross violations in Iraq under Hussein's republic of fear and ignore the potential for a human rights catastrophe should the United States withdraw.

As the hideous violence in Iraq continues, it has become increasingly common to hear people argue that the world was better off with Hussein in power and (even more remarkably) that Iraqis were better off under his fist. In his final interview as U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan acknowledged that Iraq "had a dictator who was brutal" but said that Iraqis under the Baathist dictatorship "had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school."

This line of argument began soon after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. By early 2004, some prominent political and intellectual leaders were arguing that women's rights, gay rights, health care and much else had suffered in post-Hussein Iraq.
Following in the footsteps of George Bernard Shaw, Walter Duranty and other Western liberals who served as willing dupes for Joseph Stalin, some members of the human rights community are whitewashing totalitarianism. A textbook example came last year from John Pace, who recently left his post as U.N. human rights chief in Iraq. "Under Saddam," he said, according to the Associated Press, "if you agreed to forgo your basic freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK."
The truth is that in totalitarian regimes, there are no human rights. Period. The media do not criticize the government. Parliaments do not check executive power. Courts do not uphold due process. And human rights groups don't file reports.
For most people, life under totalitarianism is slavery with no possibility of escape. That is why despite the carnage in Iraq, Iraqis are consistently less pessimistic about the present and more optimistic about the future of their country than Americans are. In a face-to-face national poll of 5,019 people conducted this spring by Opinion Research Business, a British market-research firm, only 27 percent of Iraqis said they believed that "that their country is actually in a state of civil war," and by nearly 2 to 1 (49 percent to 26 percent), the Iraqis surveyed said they preferred life under their new government to life under the old tyranny. That is why, at a time when many Americans are abandoning the vision of a democratic Iraq, most Iraqis still cling to the hope of a better future. They know that under Hussein, there was no hope.
By consistently ignoring the fundamental moral divide that separates societies in which people are slaves from societies in which people are free, some human rights groups undermine the very cause they claim to champion. Consider one 2005 Amnesty International report on Iraq. It notes that in the lawless climate of the first months after Hussein's overthrow, reports of kidnappings, rapes and killings of women and girls by criminal gangs rose. Iraqi officers at a police station in Baghdad said in June 2003 that the number of reported rapes "was substantially higher than before the war."
The implication was that human rights may not really be improving in post-Hussein Iraq. But the organization ignored the possibility that reports of rape at police stations may have increased for the simple reason that under Hussein it was the regime -- which includes the police -- that was doing the raping. When Hussein's son Uday went on his legendary raping sprees, victims were not about to report the crime.
Of course, Hussein's removal has created a host of difficult strategic challenges, and numerous human rights atrocities have been committed since his ouster. But let us be under no illusion of what life under Hussein was like. He was a mass murderer who tortured children in front of their parents, gassed Kurds, slaughtered Shiites, started two wars with his neighbors and launched Scud missiles into downtown Riyadh and Tel Aviv. The price for the stability that Hussein supposedly brought to the region was mass graves, hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq, and terrorism and war outside it. Difficult as the challenges are today -- with Iran and Syria trying to stymie democracy in Iraq, with al-Qaeda turning Iraq into the central battleground in its holy war of terrorism against the free world, and with sectarian militias bent on murder and mayhem -- there is still hope that tomorrow may be better.
No one can know for sure whether President Bush's "surge" of U.S. troops in Iraq will succeed. But those who believe that human rights should play a central role in international affairs should be doing everything in their power to maximize the chances that it will. For one of the consequences of failure could well be catastrophe.
A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces could lead to a bloodbath that would make the current carnage pale by comparison. Without U.S. troops in place to quell some of the violence, Iranian-backed Shiite militias would dramatically increase their attacks on Sunnis; Sunni militias, backed by the Saudis or others, would retaliate in kind, drawing more and more of Iraq into a vicious cycle of violence. If Iraq descended into full-blown civil war, the chaos could trigger similar clashes throughout the region as Sunni-Shiite tensions spill across Iraq's borders. The death toll and the displacement of civilians could climb exponentially.

Perhaps the greatest irony of the political debate over Iraq is that many of Bush's critics, who accused his administration of going blindly to war without considering what would happen once Hussein's regime was toppled, now blindly support a policy of withdrawing from Iraq without considering what might follow.

In this respect, the debate over Iraq is beginning to look a lot like the debate about the Vietnam War in the 1960s and '70s. Then, too, the argument in the United States focused primarily on whether U.S. forces should pull out. But many who supported that withdrawal in the name of human rights did not foresee the calamity that followed, which included genocide in Cambodia, tens of thousands slaughtered in Vietnam by the North Vietnamese and the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of "boat people."

In the final analysis, U.S. leaders will pursue a course in Iraq that they believe best serves U.S. interests. My hope is that as they do, they will make the human rights dimension a central part of any decision. The consequences of not doing so might prove catastrophic to Iraqis, to regional peace and, ultimately, to U.S. security.

Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident who was imprisoned for nine years in the gulag, is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Jerusalem.

North Korea: Iffy cool-down

Richard Halloran
The Washington Times
July 8, 2007

Hearts are fluttering once again among the disarmament folks over renewed hopes North Korea will finally take the first step toward giving up the nuclear ambitions of its leader, Kim Jong-il.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have visited Yongbyon, site of North Korea's primary nuclear facility. The U.S. negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, has been received in Pyongyang. China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi urged Kim Jong-il last week to move things along. The Six-Party Talks central to this process are to resume this month or next.

Skeptics, however, have cautioned that not everything will go well. The North Korean regime
has a long history of reneging on promises to other nations while keeping promises to the North Korean people, foremost of which is Mr. Kim's pledge to retain nuclear arms to deter what he sees as a U.S. threat.

Graham Allison, who specialized in arms control as a Clinton administration assistant defense secretary and is now at Harvard, wrote recently that even if the Yongbyon plant is disabled, much remains to execute an accord reached in February by the Six Parties — North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States. It calls for North Korea to shut down all its nuclear sites.

Mr. Allison warned: "Expect lengthy slogging through incomplete records, all in Korean script, missed deadlines, disputes about who can visit where, and all the other antics" that have frustrated those who have dealt with North Korea.

Confronted with this likelihood, the United States appears to evolved have a new strategy, which is to play for time by adopting the North Korean tactic of talk, talk, and more talk until Mr. Kim either gives up his nuclear weapons or his regime collapses. Whiffs of dissent have recently been wafting from Pyongyang, making regime change a possibility.

Said an American insider: "The U.S. will take note of North Korea's nuclear weapons but we will never accept North Korea as a nuclear nation. We will never tolerate a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons."

The game afoot has ruled out military action to destroy North Korea's nuclear sites. Bombs and cruise missiles could do enormous damage but would most likely trigger a North Korean attack on South Korea. Tens of thousands of South Koreans would die in artillery barrages before South Korean and U.S. forces could overrun North Korean positions.

Instead, in this developing strategy, American negotiators will continue talking while carrying out what might be called the five "Nots." The U.S. will not:

-- Extend diplomatic recognition to North Korea, thus depriving it of a status that Kim Jong-il is said to be eager to attain.

-- Sign a treaty replacing the truce that ended the Korean War of 1950-53 because North Korea will not give assurances it will reduce its forces along the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas.

-- Remove the threat of U.S. nuclear weapons that could strike North Korea from submarines in the Pacific or with ballistic missiles or bombers based in the United States.

-- Offer substantial economic aid to a North Korea that has been stricken with famine, limping industrial output and financial disruption for a decade.

-- Open trade and investment relations with a nation that, like China, could benefit from access to American markets, technology, and capital.

The Bush administration has already drawn fire about this strategy and can expect more, especially from China.

John Bolton, President George Bush's former ambassador to the United Nations, reflected the so-called neo-conservatives in an article last week, asserting: "The Bush administration has effectively ended where North Korea policy is concerned, replaced for the next 18 months by a caretaker government of bureaucrats, technocrats and academics."

Chinese leaders have long said they will keep North Korea afloat. David Frum, of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in June that Beijing dreads a North Korean breakup. "Chinese leaders know that such a collapse," he said, "would unify the peninsula under a democratic government based in Seoul and aligned with the U.S. and Japan — for them, a terrifying outcome."

Nor will North Korea roll over easily. Rodong Shinmun, an official newspaper in Pyongyang, said last week that North Korea's "mighty war deterrent for self-defense has become an invincible shield for curbing reckless war provocations of the bellicose forces at home and abroad."

That doesn't sound much like a nation ready for nuclear disarmament.

Richard Halloran is a free-lance writer and former New York Times correspondent based in Honolulu.

Doctors of Death: Let's Be Honest About the Terrorist Threat

By Oliver North
The Washington Times
July 8, 2007

On July Fourth, President Bush told the troops and families of the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va., that, "Our first Independence Day celebration took place in the midst of a war — a bloody and difficult struggle that would not end for six more years before America finally secured her freedom." He urged "more patience, more courage, more sacrifice," to achieve victory in Iraq.

"If we were to quit Iraq before the job is done," the president explained, "the terrorists ... would follow us here," and he reminded his critics: "These people want to strike us again."

What he didn't do was describe just who "these people" are. In the aftermath of last week's botched terror attacks by eight medical professionals in Great Britain — explaining who "these people" are has became more difficult, and the potentates of the press aren't about to help him.

Mainstream media coverage of the three-part event — two "car-bombs" that failed to detonate in London and a flaming SUV driven into the front of the airport terminal in Glasgow, Scotland — was a bigger dud than the doctors' poorly designed vehicular-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). Even before the terror suspects were identified, cable news and wire service reports were trying to link the botched attack to the war in Iraq.

MSNBC described the attempted attacks as a "chilling new threat: Iraq-style devices. The car bombs were similar to highly destructive explosives used in Iraq and could have killed hundreds of people." According to AFP, "terror threat returns to London after two Iraq-style car bombs were defused in London." The words "Iraq-style" were hyped in dozens of other print and broadcast reports.

Activists and politicians who want to begin extracting U.S. and British troops from Iraq have seized on the London-Glasgow events as "proof" the mission has already failed. Readers, listeners and viewers are drawn inescapably to the conclusion this attempted attack would likely not have happened had British troops been withdrawn from Mesopotamia. But those who know anything about terrorism realize the description of this most recent event as "new" or "Iraq-style" is at best incompetent — and at worst a scam.

First, it is interesting to note that while one of the alleged perpetrators, Dr. Bilal Abdullah is apparently a refugee from Iraq, not one of the British government, police or intelligence spokesmen who have described the London-Glasgow devices — or those detained in connection with the failed attacks — has uttered the words: "Iraq-style." The phrase is entirely the creation of the media reporting on the events.

Second, VBIEDs are hardly an Iraqi invention. Al Qaeda terrorists, Shi'ite militia-men and Ba'ath militants in Iraq may have elevated car-bomb carnage to the level of a new art form, but they are far from the originators. Bolsheviks and anarchists perfected the technique early in the last century. One of the earliest was a horse-drawn wagon detonated on Sept. 16, 1920, on Wall Street that killed 40 and wounded more than 300. The Israeli Stern Gang, the Irish Republican Army, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood all used VBIEDs for decades before U.S. troops set foot in Iraq.

Finally, those of us who have actually seen — and felt — the effects of real VBIEDs know that describing the London and Glasgow devices as "similar to highly destructive explosives used in Iraq," is grossly misleading. In Iraq — and increasingly now in Afghanistan — IEDs of all kind, including those driven by terrorists bent on suicide, are usually constructed using military explosives, prima-cord and heavy artillery rounds connected to sophisticated detonators.

Unlike "Iraq-style" car bombs, the London-Glasgow devices were apparently built with propane ("Patio gas" in the United Kingdom) tanks, gasoline and improperly wired cell-phone detonators. Though certainly capable of inflicting serious casualties, these devices would be unable to do anything like the kind of damage done by the VBIEDs our troops encounter regularly on Iraqi roads. Fortunately, the Doctors of Death in Britain were incompetent bomb builders.

Instead of trying to distract us with bogus connections between the failed London-Glasgow attacks and the war on Iraq, the media would better serve the interests of the American people by more carefully reporting on why well-educated Muslim professionals want to kill us.

Who are the imams, mullahs, sheiks or ayatollahs with the power of persuasion to convince doctors to abandon their Hippocratic oath: "I will prescribe regimens for my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone." How do they entice engineers to devote their lives to destruction? What could they say to prompt an experienced airline pilot to kill his 217 passengers by crashing his plane into the sea?

"These people," as the president said on Independence Day, "want to strike us again." Why, and where, and how, have much more to do with radical Islam than they do with Iraq.

Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on the Fox News Channel and the founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides support to the troops and scholarships to the sons and daughters of American heroes.

China Waging Capitalist Warfare

By William Hawkins
The Washington Times
July 8, 2007

China's government took the first official step June 27 to inject $200 billion into a new sovereign company that will buy equity assets abroad. Beijing announced its plan in March to make more profitable use of $1.2 trillion in hard currency reserves, much of which are now kept in U.S. Treasury securities. The Finance Ministry will capitalize the fund, to be run by a former Finance official.

What will distinguish this Chinese fund is not just its size but that it will be a government entity. As its agents scout the world for lucrative investments, it will act to draw private enterprises into government control. It will enter the market to subvert the market.

Beijing's foreign direct investment has focused so far on energy and raw materials to support its expanding industries. China would prefer to import from itself, owning its overseas supplies to assure security and avoid market fluctuations. Importing at the internal cost of production, rather than a price set by rising global demand, will give China's industry another global edge.
The attempt by China National Overseas Oil Company (CNOOC) to buy the American energy producer Unocal in 2005 set off alarm bells in Washington. Unocal then accepted a rival bid from Chevron.

To avoid another such confrontation, the new Chinese fund initially may settle for minority stakes administered by front companies like the Blackstone Group, into which China's new agency poured $3 billion just before Blackstone launched its initial public offering.

In the longer run, a state-run agency with such enormous reserves will likely try to use those funds to advance broader national objectives than merely a few extra percentage points of return on capital.

On June 26, China created an initial $1 billion fund to finance trade and investment by Chinese companies in Africa to advance ties with that resource-rich continent. The fund is part of Chinese aid promised by President Hu Jintao at a Beijing summit with African leaders in November.

Chinese state oil companies have expanded aggressively on the continent, signing deals in Nigeria, Angola and Sudan. After a 2004 Latin American tour, Mr. Hu promised $100 billion in investments for that region, mostly in energy, mining and infrastructure projects (the latter to help ship resources to China). These will be paid for with Chinese manufactured goods in classic colonial style.

Chinese investments have often gone to shore up radical regimes, thus becoming part of Beijing's diplomatic offensive to build coalitions against American "hegemony." At a Darfur conference in Paris the same week the Africa fund was launched, the Chinese envoy argued against imposing sanctions on Sudan for its genocidal policies.

Washington needs to shore up its own economic defenses in case Beijing turns its attention again to buying strategic American assets. Besides resources, China wants advanced technology and has shown interest in acquiring high-tech firms. Beijing has made no secret of its desire to obtain "dual use" technology with military applications, whether through trade, acquisitions or espionage. It protested new Commerce Department security measures on U.S. high-tech exports announced June 15. The measures are much weaker than originally envisioned, due to lobbying by certain business groups that seek to profit by helping China's rise to great-power status. Beijing and its "business" partners cannot be trusted when U.S. security is at stake.

Public authorities must be vigilant and have the authority to act to guard the national interest.
On June 29, the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (S. 1610) was passed by the Senate on a voice vote. The work of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, it would strengthen the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). This multi-agency committee was created in 1988 to analyze foreign acquisitions of privately owned entities to determine their affect on national security. There is wide agreement — including a scathing 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office, that CFIUS has not done its duty, rubber-stamping deals without much serious investigation. Mr. Dodd's bill is a good start, but Chinese reserves are likely to reach $2 trillion by the end of the 110th Congress. Stronger action is needed to keep Beijing from using its vast store of purchasing power strategically against the American economy in an attempt to shift the global balance of power.

Beijing is well aware of how foreign investment can be used in this regard, remembering how China was divided into spheres of influence by the imperialist powers of the 19th century. Last August, its Commerce Ministry set new limits on foreign investment that could transfer control of leading enterprises or traditional Chinese brands, threaten companies with more than 2,000 employees, or pose risks to "economic security" — not just military security. Beijing uses the term "comprehensive national power" to unite economic and military concerns, and Washington must think in the same way.

William Hawkins is senior fellow for national security studies at the U.S. Business and Industry Council.

Vietnam: “Phone Home” (Explosion in cell phone users and transport needs)

These articles appeared briefly on the internet of the Communist system but were then removed as it their custom.

July 7, 2007

VietNamNet Bridge (Communist Net Feed) – By the end of June 2007, Vietnam had 38.8 million phone subscribers, 74% of whom were mobile subscribers.

In June alone, Vietnam had an additional 11 million phone subscribers, equivalent to the total number of new subscribers in 2006. Vietnam has reached a ratio of 45.8 phones per 100 residents.

The country also has 4.52 million Internet subscribers, equivalent to 16.2 million Internet users, reaching a ratio of 19.5% of the population. The total number of broadband Internet subscribers is 753,000.

The postal network has more than 19,000 service points. Each point serves residents in a diameter of 2.37km or 4,400 people on average.

According to Deputy Minister of Post and Telematics Le Nam Thang, the biggest worry of state management agencies in the fields of telecom and IT in the first half of 2007 was the theft of undersea optical cable.

Mr. Thang said that the Ministry of Post and Telematics would compile an instruction on protecting international telecom systems, especially the undersea optical cable networks to submit to the Prime Minister for consideration.


Vietnam urges Japan to complete transport studies

VietNamNet Bridge (Communist Net Feed) – Vietnam has asked Japan to wrap up its study on Vietnam’s overall transportation system in order for development programmes to take place as quickly as possible.

Acting co-Chairman of the Sub-committee on three major infrastructure projects of the Vietnam-Japan Joint Co-ordination Committee, Nguyen Xuan Tien made the request at the sub-committee’s meeting in Hanoi, on July 6.

The plans are integral to the development of the country’s infrastructure and transport system, said Tien, who is also deputy head of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Department for External Economy.

“Vietnam hopes the Japanese side will accelerate its studies and surveys so an overall report is released as soon as possible,” Tien said.In response, Minister of the Japanese Embassy and co-Chairman of the Sub-committee, Matsunaga Daisuke, said Japan will endeavour to complete the studies as soon as possible.