Sunday, February 24, 2008

Kosova - Unpalatable realities

Dangerous Delusions and Unpalatable Realties
Tisaranee Gunasekara

Mike Ghouse: The statement "However illegal the birth of the new state of Kosovo may be, it is now a fait accompli." legitimizes what is not. I am studying the issue of Kosovo, if we have gone against the agreed upon rules, then we are wrong. The big three seem to endorsing the idea that some day, when someone else is powerful, it is OK for them to rule. There is someting seriously flawed in the powerful nations, it is based on grabbing what we can when we have the gun, tomorrow when the other has the gun, what will happen? We should strive for just societies, where each member nation can be at peace.

"Every pose leads to a lie and every lie to death"
Theodor Fontane (A Man of Honour)

Kosovo in her Unilateral Declaration of Independence violated a UN Resolution; the US, Britain, France and Germany in promoting and accepting that UDI acted in contravention of international law. However illegal the birth of the new state of Kosovo may be, it is now a fait accompli. No amount of protests by Serbia, no amount of threats by Russia will change this reality. Peace, stability and prosperity may elude Kosovo, but it will survive, an intensely troubled ‘post-modern state’ guarded by more than 16,000 NATO troops, buttressed by a US base (Camp Bondsteel), "an entity that is sovereign in name but a US-EU protectorate in practice" (The Guardian – 19.2.2008).

The Kosovo story is a modern morality tale that helps us understand the real nature of the world we live in. It is a world in which a new Big Three, the US, the UK and the EU, calls most of the shots (within the EU, France and Germany are decisive). Where these three entities have contradictory agendas, spaces are created giving a degree of manoeuvrability to less powerful countries, Iran being a case in point. But when these three entities act in unison, they achieve their objective, even at the cost of the international law, as in Kosovo. Such a ‘united front’ is most likely when America has a Democratic President. It was Bill Clinton who, together with the EU, presided over the NATO air war against Serbia, a ‘humanitarian intervention’ based on the ‘Right to Protect’. Both Hilary Clinton and Barrack Obama would be equally willing to don this mantle of ‘humanitarian intervener’.

Serbia is backed by Russia and has the support of countries as diverse and as influential as China, Spain and India. Yet it lost the battle for and with Kosovo. That failure contains a warning for Sri Lanka. We must not antagonise all the Big Three, simultaneously. Instead a conscious effort must be made to gain the support or at the least neutrality of one of the three entities. This does not require servility to the West. But it does require a less extreme, more moderate approach, both to the war and to the ethnic problem. Even as the war against the Tigers is prosecuted, concrete and immediate steps must be taken to reduce human rights violations to the absolute minimum. The search for a political solution to the ethnic problem should be expedited. If we are mindful of the need to protect Lankan Tamils in the midst of the war, the humanitarian intervention argument will lose its validity. If we do not discriminate against the minorities in the name of anti-terrorism or national security, if we demonstrate our willingness to share power with them, the R2P principle will become superfluous. That and not a head on confrontation is the best way to avoid a Kosovo outcome in the North-East.

A World of Pitfalls

Vellupillai Pirapaharan obviously understands the post-Cold War/post-Socialist international conjuncture; he used his 2007 Mahaveer Day Speech to argue the applicability of humanitarian intervention and R2P principles to Sri Lanka: "The world’s powers, even while taking forward their own geo-political interests, respect human rights and democratic institutions…. That is why nations like East Timor and Montenegro broke free of their subjugation and gained their freedom with the help and support of the international community. Even now, the international community continues to work for the freedom of nations like Kosovo". The correct script but the wrong actor. The most crucial impediment to a ‘Kosovo outcome’ in Sri Lanka is the nature of the LTTE and the identity of its Supremo. India would not want to see the killer of Rajiv Gandhi carving out a state for himself. But this obstacle is not an eternal one. It can be removed by the death of the Tiger Chief; sans Mr. Pirapaharan, the LTTE will become palatable to Delhi. But the Pirapaharan factor may lose its potency in the eyes of India, if we make sufficient human rights violations in the context of the Fourth Eelam War and in the absence of a political solution to the ethnic problem. If the Northern offensive results in large scale civilian casualties and an exodus of refugees to Tamilnadu, Delhi’s current policy of benign neutrality can be replaced by one of inimical intervention. After all, the new state of Kosovo is also the child of Slobodan Milosevic’s Serb supremacism, of his brutal attempts to impose Serb hegemony on non-Serb people.

Ranasinghe Premadasa once warned, "If we alienate the Tamils and Muslims in the North and the East by acts of intolerance and injustice, they would have no alternative but to throw in their lot with the terrorists" (Daily News – 24.1.1993). By acting in a manner that does violence to the pluralist nature of Sri Lanka we can also antagonise India and the West – that part of the international community which can influence, even decide our future. Recently the Supreme Court criticised the police in the Maradana and Modera divisions for issuing forms to residents smacking of racism. According to the lawyer appearing for the CWC – which filed the case – the Maradana police is issuing a ‘visa’ for four months for non-Colombo Tamils; those who overstay this period are liable to be arrested. This racist measure coincides with a recent request by the JHU for special ID cards be issued to all Tamils: "The (JHU) yesterday urged the government to issue an identity card for all Tamils living in Sri Lanka…. The party is also planning to make a proposal on the matter in parliament" (The Nation – 10.2.2008). Last week we witnessed the indecent spectacle of the Minister of Education trying to deny a Tamil child the right to go to the school of her choice because of her ethnicity. These are symptoms of the malady of Sinhala hegemonism the Lankan state is succumbing to under Rajapakse rule.

Recently the German Economic Cooperation and Development Minister revealed that her government will attempt to persuade the EU to remove the GSP facility granted to Lankan garments. The German minister’s statement should be taken seriously because Germany, together with France, plays a leading role in the EU. Interestingly this warning was made less than a week after President Rajapakse proclaimed in his Independence Day address that the international community has not lost an iota of confidence in us. Either our political leaders are lying to us or they are schizophrenics, who have lost touch with reality, who live in a world which has no existence beyond their febrile imaginations. This would explain the present ‘Chandi malli’ attitude to international relations, with important ministers and key political allies trying to outdo each other in insulting any country, individual or entity that does not offer Sri Lanka uncritical support.

The sickness is obviously a contagion. Last week the Central Bank did what the Central Bank has never done before in Sri Lanka – issue a vitriolic statement against a reputed international organisation. When Standard and Poor’s downgraded our credit ratings to negative, arguing that the country is too dependent on foreign borrowings, the Central Bank accused the agency of subjectivity and partiality, of acting in a manner that is ‘illogical, ill-advised and without rational basis or foundation’. To make matters both more hilarious and more preposterous the Central Bank implied that S&P is in cahoots with the Tigers: "The Central Bank was also disappointed at the way the war against Tamil Tiger separatists has been viewed by the rating agency. The monetary authority said S&P has ‘apparently not realized’ that the war on terrorism is a global effort with which many countries are today dealing in the same way. S&P's emphasis when the Sri Lankan military is ‘making clear headway’ in defeating terrorism and putting forward a political settlement also raised ‘further concerns’, the Central bank said" (LBO – 15.2.2008). Perhaps this unprecedented response by the Central Bank is an inevitable outcome of the unprecedented appointment of a failed electoral politician as the Governor of this august institution. A deadly confluence of unintelligent governance and fevered imaginings are thus created, which makes Sri Lanka act in a manner that is inane and indefensible, counter-factual and counter-productive.

Overzealous Protectors

Vellupillai Pirapaharan’s commitment to a separate state for Tamils cannot be doubted. Ironically his vision of this separate state and the methods he uses to make it a reality have undermined not just his capacity to achieve it but also the well being and the future of the people on whose behalf he has claimed it. Mr. Pirapaharan wants not a Tamil Eelam but a Tiger Eelam, a state under his domination. Mr. Pirapaharan is also indiscriminate in his choice of means to achieve his goal; for him the end is all. The outcome is the imposition of an unending war not only on the enemy, the Lankan state, but also on the Tamils. Though Mr. Pirapaharan’s commitment to his nation cannot be doubted, his vision of what that nation should be and the means he is using to realise that vision are damaging that nation far more than the ‘Sinhala enemy’ even did or could.

Mahinda Rajapakse’s commitment to an undivided, unitary Sri Lanka cannot be doubted. He seems determined to win the war against the Tigers come what may. But the means he is adopting to win the war and his Sinhala supremacist vision of Sri Lanka are undermining his own cause and endangering the well being of the people he represents. By permitting the living, education and health standards of the masses to be severely undermined, the regime is endangering the current and future well being of the nation. More and more people are being compelled to restrict consumption which is bound to affect the health of not just the present generation but also the next one. There will be more malnourished children and more underweight babies (the first signs are already visible). The educational capacity of children will decrease as their nourishment levels fall. We will breed future citizens less intelligent, less educated, less strong and less healthy. This is what Vellupillai Pirapaharan, the Tamil nationalist turned fascist, has done and is doing to the Tamils. Now the Sinhala nationalist Rajapakses are imposing an almost similar fate on the Sinhalese. If the current trends continue, by the time President Rajapakse completes his first term the country would be poorer, sicker, less literate, more internally divided and internationally isolated than ever before.

A majority of Serbia’s Serb population greeted the birth of Independent Kosovo with a sad fatalism, brought about by ‘patriotic exhaustion’. Kosovo is considered the cradle of Serb civilisations, but a majority of Serbian Serbs – as different from the Serbs in Kosovo - seem unwilling to risk another war to keep Kosovo. This is evidenced by the outcome of the recent Presidential election in Serbia. The ultra nationalist and pro-Russian candidate Tomislav Nikolic was narrowly defeated by the pro-European incumbent President Boris Tadic - despite the common knowledge that Mr. Tadic’s election would act as an encouragement for Kosovo to declare independence. A majority of Serbs, however unhappily, chose economic well being over nationalism; they opted to be a part of the EU, someday, even at the cost of Kosovo. No people will tolerate unbearable hardships indefinitely, if they have a chance of opting out of an untenable situation peacefully. And in most multi-party democracies that choice is available, even if it is the unpalatable one of betrayal. A majority of Serbs decided to let Kosovo go because the price of trying to retain it was more than they were willing to pay. Economic distress and desperation can take nations where they never intended to go, and are not happy to be in, simply in order to survive, as individuals and families. This is a historic truth the Rajapakse regime would do well to bear in mind.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kosovo - Problems for US

Kosovo - Problems for US
Kosovo Independence Equals Problems for U.S.


While driving today, I have listened to every news media today. Our Embassy was torched in Kosovo today by the radicals, not one media said the name of the faith of the people who did the wrong, and indeed, that is truly the right thing to do. ( )

If those radicals were Muslims, imagine the feasting that would have gone on by the vultures like O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and Savage. This is the ultimate in evilness of our media. Shame on them. I hope the people of conscience open a blog of their own, each individual and put this out as many times as they can. Media is blatantly evil. I hope each one of you can call on their talk show tomorrow, and encourage them to do the right thing for every incident, bad guys are bad guys, do not stamp them with a religion. Thursday, February 21, 2008 3:27 PM

By: Diane Alden Article Font Size

The current disaster in Serbia, including the attack on the U.S. embassy in Belgrade was predictable. That is, if you know the history of the region, our involvement under Bill Clinton and now George W. Bush, and the U.S. State Department’s craziness about how to create "democracy" and markets in the 21st century.

The Gerard Intelligence Report indicated Monday that Serbia was about to blowup in our faces. You didn’t hear a word about it in the mainstream media. It was barely mentioned as Bush stood signing the paper that gave our stamp of approval to Kosovo "independence."

The rush to do this may have a lot to do with resource issues as much as encouraging democracy to take root — which hasn’t been happening under Clinton or Bush.

Gerard Report advises its clients:

Muslims who represent 90 percent of Kosovo's two million people, have stated their claim on the new state. According to our source, a systematic ethnic cleansing of Kosovo's remaining Christian inhabitants has been going on for several years and will now likely escalate.

Since we have been supporting democracy in Kosovo, and have ignored the strong Albanian Islamic influence in political affairs there, we have opened the gates to a new Islamic state, complete with terrorist training camps on the ground and a global network through which to funnel their graduates.

This begins a trail that leads to (but does not end in) New York City, where the Albanian Mafia has taken over much of the drug and organized crime trade. The combination of the legitimization of their terrorist activities in Kosovo, their links to the U.S., and the fall of Serbia (partly self-inflicted) may spell a new era of unrest and confusion that will mean danger for U.S. interests everywhere.

The breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the late '80s and '90s took place partially because the only thing holding it together was dictator Tito and Russian troops. Part of the reason for the breakup was economic. Insane actions of U.S. and international monetary experts as well as financial gurus at the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization facilitated the collapse of the former Yugoslavia into tiny sectors of ethnic and religious bickering and hatreds that are now causing U.S. problems.

Following World War II, industrial development took place in northern Yugoslavia, while the southern half of country produced raw materials. As the price of raw materials fell, serious economic inequalities between the various states grew. This in turn led to discontent and a desire for independence in the industrial north.

The International Monetary Fund then took over economic policy, implementing a number of all too familiar shock therapies; devaluation, a wage freeze, and price decontrol, designed on the Harvard/MIT economic textbook principles meant to drive the wage rate down to a level where it would be internationally economically competitive."

But the interference of the IMF caused revenues to the central government to shrink and that in turn forced the IMF to insist on raising taxes in Yugoslavia in order to balance the budget.

As the Cold War was ending in the late '80s, the Federal Republic began to splinter. At the same time, servicing the national debt became hopeless.

As a result, the attempt to comply with IMF demands made a shaky economic situation even worse.

Between 1979 and 1985 a quarter of the national income was taken up with debt service. As a result, the economy began to implode and ethnic conflicts erupted. Thus, the current conflict in the Balkans may be partly explained by economic factors as much as by ethnic hatreds and rivalries.

All this should be some indication our experts do not know what they are doing. Neither do our political leaders, it appears, in the modern world of splintering into religious, tribal, and ethnic groupings.

In the '90s, the breakup of the various ethnic and religious provinces accelerated when Europeans, the international press, and State Department whiz kids saw ethnic cleansing only on one side blaming Christian Serbs and ignoring atrocities by the other side. Some believe interference by the Clinton administration was just an attempt to get his troubles off the front page. That intervention for whatever reason had unintended consequences and now America is seeing some of the blowback.

During Bill Clinton's era of screwing things up in the Balkans, his end runaround congress on the conduct of that war is something I vividly remember. The Clinton administration had a contract with U.S. mercenaries to go to Bosnia. At an estimated $50 million the objective was to integrate and build up the Bosnia army of Muslims and Croats against the Serbs. The U.S. State Department’s incompetence and flaky policies in the region gave the go ahead for religious cleansing of Christian Serbs to accommodate Muslims in the former Yugoslavia.

Along with the DoD under Richard Cohen and the U.S. State Department, our leaders hired a firm of American mercenaries allowing the Muslim Croats to create a national army which successfully ejected 150,000 Croatian Serb civilians from the country. This success brought lucrative financial contracts from Islamic countries elsewhere. It was with the help of certain Islamic states that funding for participation by the American firm was concluded.

George W. Bush signing the acknowledgement that Kosovo was an independent nation is one more finger in the eye of the Orthodox people of Central Europe.

It fails miserably to recognize the extent of Islamic Wahabbi Saudi funded mosques in the region and what that portends for the rest of Europe. Recognition of Kosovo independence will do nothing to promote democracy in that part of the world.

More likely it will mean more problems for the United States and Europe in the region. We now have another nation in the heart of Central Europe that is a home to drug cartels, mafia, and frankly, many potential Muslim terrorists.

Recognition of Kosovo’s independence also drives another stake into what is left of our shaky relationship with Russia. Our policies since the end of the Cold War towards that nation may just doom us to relive another Cold War of sorts. Isn’t it odd that former atheistic Soviet Union is supporting a Christian society of Orthodox believers while the last two American administrations enable a growing arc of Islamic power and Arab militarism to form in the suburbs of Europe.

Kosovo - brth of a nation


Posted 2/20/2008

Geopolitics: The breakup of the distinct nations of the former Yugoslavia was a good thing. But splitting Serbia from its Kosovo province goes beyond that. It's trouble, not just for the Balkans, but for the rest of the world.

Many Kosovars celebrated wildly after winning an independence vote. But not all. Serbian Kosovars blanched at the loss of their ancient homeland, known as the cradle of Serbia, to ethnic Muslim Albanians who had moved in, started a guerrilla war and, with the weekend balloting, finally took over.

It was bitter, because Serbs had cleaned up their country, thrown out their dictator and banked on United Nations assurances guaranteeing their territorial integrity in Security Council resolution 1244, passed in 1999.

"It's frustrating that the (Boris) Tadic administration is being punished for acts that took place under (Slobodan) Milosevic, because the new administration helped oust him," Illinois congresswoman Melissa Bean, co-chair of the House Serbian Caucus, told IBD.

She and seven other members of Congress, including Sen. Jim Inhofe of Texas and Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, pleaded in a letter with President Bush to hold the line until a mutually acceptable solution could be reached with all sides.

But on Monday, the U.S. and the European Union said it's a done deal. They extended fast recognition to Kosovo and waved off the Serbs. After all, wouldn't a new Muslim state in Europe show the Arab world that the West wanted successful Muslim democracies?

Diplomacy is all about taking risks. But the West's gamble in Kosovo is too high for the possible rewards in terms of its interests. Five reasons spring to mind:

• Kosovo has just 2 million people. Sure, some microstates, such as Singapore and Panama, make it. But more often, the story is like East Timor's, a nonviable state in turmoil since its 1999 independence. With a GDP per capita of $250, 50% unemployment and half the population under 16, the odds against Kosovo are long.

Awash in corruption and mafias, free market reforms will be tough, and many unemployed young Muslims will be looking for a purpose. "Its instability risks attracting Islamic extremists from around the world," warned ex-U.S. envoy to the U.N. John Bolton.

• Ramming independence through for Kosovo with no regard for Serbia opens the door to new secession movements. Countries such as Spain, which faces a similar situation with Basque terrorist secessionists, tellingly declined to recognize Kosovo.

Canada has reason to worry about Quebec. Russia, China and Iraq fear breakaway regions, too. Meanwhile, Macedonia and Montenegro, which have ethnic Albanian populations, now fear a precedent for parts of their territory to be pulled into a greater Albania.

• The West has lost credibility by breaking its promise to Serbia. Terrorists will take note.

• Alliances are weakened. As the U.S. and dominant nations of the EU push through Kosovo statehood, the nearby nations of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Greece and Israel oppose it. This not only splits the EU with its eastern members. It separates the U.S. from its New Europe allies — not the least of which is Serbia, a country that allied itself to the West in two world wars.

• Russia's appetite for payback is whetted. Unlike smaller nations, Russia has a global reach and engages in tit for tat.

In response to our setting up military bases in Central Asia, Russia sold advanced weapons to Venezuela. With Russia ramping up jet production and buzzing U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific, there's little doubt it'll be looking for ways to create trouble.

In short, a successful Kosovo state is speculative. But the potential for trouble in the wake of trying to create it is certain. If it isn't reversed, it could become a global Pandora's box opened to new problems. This is going to take some major diplomatic repair work.

Cuba - Open armed policy

Open-Armed Policy Cuba
by Cindy Sheehan |

Last year, on the 5th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo torture camp in Cuba, I had the singular privilege of being able to travel there. Travel to Cuba by Americans is, of course, banned, but where in a "free and democratic" society does my government get off telling me where I can travel or not travel? So, defying the incomprehensible ban, our group of intrepid anti-torture and pro-justice activists set off from Cancun, Mexico to Havana on Cubana Airlines.

In my humble opinion, it is imperative that we citizens of the US look at anything that our government says, or does, with healthy skepticism. Knowing that the Bush regime did not invent lying and murder for profit, we can never go back to the days when we believed that the USA was always right and if the US kills or oppresses other humans, then it must be okay because "God Is On Our Side." Especially when we have a "leader" who has a hot line to a God that seems particularly violent and vindictive. The anti-Cuban rhetoric has been prevalent from the establishment since I was born.

So, after being an American for almost 50 years (at that point), I expected to find a Cuba that was beat down and broken under decades of communism and the dictatorship of "Comandante Fidel" who just recently announced that he would be renouncing his role as president. Even though I expected to find a depressed Cuba, I also found it, again, very hypocritical of our government to normalize relations with a very oppressive communist government of China, but would not cut the nation of Cuba (which lies just 90 short miles off of our coast) any kind of economic slack. It may come as no surprise to people, but relations with Cuba have only grown worse during BushCo's reign of terror.

After a few days in Cuba, talking to people on the street (who are far more educated than the average American due to free university education), I was amazed at how happy and healthy (due to free medical care--which is good, since I had to avail of it myself when I was there) everyone seems. We visited the medical school which trains doctors from all over the world (including the US) for no tuition with the only requirement being that the new doctor must work in a poor community for a certain number of years after obtaining a license from the country where he/she wants to practice.

Since the "Special Period" in Cuba of starvation and massive deprivation due to the collapse of Cuba's major trading partner, the USSR; all agriculture in Cuba has been organic or permaculture and food is fresh and it tastes like food, not plastic.

One of the glaring differences in US/Cuban leadership is that after Katrina, Cuban doctors and Emergency Medical Technicians organized to go down to New Orleans to help, but the USA rejected the offer, even though our resources were stretched paper thin, economically and strategically, by the twin disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, during Cuba's "Special Period" all the US did for our brothers and sisters down south was to strengthen the embargo against Cuba by forbidding any subsidiary companies that do business with the US to trade with Cuba. The Cubans managed to eke out subsistence through conservation, rationing and ingenuity to struggle through the Special Period. Cuban women are rightly proud of the methods they used to stretch their family's rations by, for example, grinding banana peel to add to the food. However, I did hear horror stories of fathers watching their children slowly starve and cry from hunger. Cubans lost an average of 20 pounds each during the decade of the "Special Period" which was roughly the entire 1990's.

When we arrived in Guantanamo, Cuba, we found a small town of family farms, (and large sugar plantations) chickens, horse and buggies and horse drawn wagons. The Internet connection was iffy and we did not have hot water for showers, but I was struck by the difference between the average Cuban life and the average American life. If, like during the Special Period in Cuba, America had 80% of our imports and exports curtailed, what would we do? Would we have to dig up our concrete and plant crops to be harvested sometime after we had already starved? Would we have riots for food and other consumables? What would happen if our oil faucet ran dry? It would be pure chaos, but Cuba survived conditions like these due to their already simple way of life.

If life in Cuba is as awful as some would claim, then why do they have a longer life expectancy than we do here in America and why is their infant mortality rate lower? Do we give up "quality" of life for "quantity" of material possessions? I live in a city now where homelessness is rampant and a huge challenge, whereas in Cuba, homelessness is unheard of. Is the "bigger, better, more at any cost" lifestyle of capitalism more humane than communism? Here in America our lifestyle is obtained off the backs of so many around the world, and here at home, we have to ask ourselves if it is worth it for a few extra square feet of living space or to drive an urban attack vehicle that guzzles precious resources and belches toxic waste.

I hope the trade and travel embargo is lifted from Cuba soon. They do suffer from having to import medical supplies and other goods from China and Europe and we suffer from being deprived of the opportunity to travel to a beautiful country where the people are welcoming and generous with the little that they do have. But with the notice that Fidel is retiring after surviving over 600 assassination attempts by the CIA, even Democratic hopefuls parroted the corporate party line and there is slim chance of a lifting of the embargo. Since the USA has a detention facility on Cuban soil where we torture and hold humans in adverse conditions without the basic human right of due process under the law, how can we condemn Cuba for human rights violations?

After the fall of the Soviet Bloc, Cuba is learning to form positive alliances with other countries in South America, and I would challenge our leaders to consider doing the same. Using our military to spread corporate colonialism throughout Latin America has led to the growth of populist governments (Venezuela and Bolivia for example), and instead of trying to undermine these governments, we should work with them to prove that we care more about humane democracy and less about supporting oppressive governments.

We need an "open-armed policy" with our neighbors in this hemisphere, not an "armed and dangerous" persona. America is certainly perceived as a bully all over the world, but in the case of Cuba, it could not be more exemplified.

The US talking tough to Cuba is like a lion roaring at a mouse. Reaching across the channel with fair trade and open arms will go farther towards Cuba becoming more free and democratic than strengthening embargoes that hurt families and only strengthen anti-democracy and anti-American sentiments.

Progress in Pakistan.

Progress in Pakistan.

I am mighty pleased to see the Dallas Morning News editorial, expressed in similar tone as my op-ed two days ago.

I hope the new coalition government in Pakistan reflects the sentiments of her people, except one election a few years ago; the Pakistani people have consistently rejected the religious right, and have always chosen a moderate path. Unfortunately, the people of Pakistan never got a government that reflected their aspirations. I am pleased to see the Dallas Morning News make a note of that.

It is also time to appreciate President Musharraf, despite being a dictator; he did not hinder the democratic process in the last few weeks, nor did he curb the media even though it was to his detriment.

Justice, fairness and inclusion will go long ways. May Pakistan become a democracy and work on checking the extremism and become a source of peace and prosperity to herself and to the subcontinent comprising of India and Afghanistan as its neighbors.

Together, they can meet their first obligation to the people – Hope. Education, employment, freedom, security and safety to raise families who would be contributors to the world peace and co-existence.

Progress in Pakistan
Dallas Morning news

06:48 AM CST on Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good news, for once, from Pakistan: The religious parties lost badly in the recent parliamentary elections, giving lie to President Pervez Musharraf's claim that he's the only thing keeping the nuclear-armed Muslim nation from being lost to the radicals.

It's a fortunate thing that the Islamist parties did so poorly, because Mr. Musharraf's party did even worse. This week's results represented a total rejection of the autocratic president, who has bullied the judiciary and the news media in an increasingly desperate bid to hold on to power.

The United States, which placed all its chips on Mr. Musharraf, is now left with its Pakistan policy in ruins.

The only reasonable thing left for the Pakistani president to do is resign. And the Bush administration must now reconcile itself to the new realities in Pakistan and reach out wholeheartedly to the centrist, relatively secular Pakistan People's Party and the Muslim League, the two big winners of Monday's balloting.

Leaders of both parties – Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto, and the Muslim League's Nawaz Sharif – would be wise to exercise humility and magnanimity in victory. Both parties' pasts in Pakistan were rife with corruption. Mr. Sharif's crooked reign in 1999 caused the Pakistani military to overthrow him and suspend democracy, making Gen. Musharraf, then Army chief, the nation's ruler.

It may be damning him with faint praise, but Mr. Musharraf, who retired as military head in November, apparently and laudably decided to let this week's elections go off with relatively few attempts at vote-rigging, which had been widely feared.

Perhaps he underestimated the depth of his unpopularity, or perhaps he knew that stealing this election would tear his country apart. Whatever the reason, he has done his nation a favor.

He could do it an even greater service by resigning or fading into the background by restoring the presidency to its largely ceremonial role. He could do either, consoled that the Pakistani people, while rejecting him, also rejected the forces of religious extremism. Now comes the rebuilding of civil society, the free press and the independent judiciary. Thanks to Pakistani voters, what some call the world's most dangerous nation has become a bit less so.

Pakistan - individual action

Pakistan, time for individual action
Mike Ghouse, Dallas

God willing, Pakistan will see the formation and transition of the government without bloodshed, turmoil or sentiments of getting even. Every one has to drop the malice and hate towards each other and come together for a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan. It is the Muslim thing to mitigate conflicts, and it is Islamic ideology to cause and bring peace, let this be re-awakened and the time now to change the course of history.

A prayers of gratitude is in order for positive reinforcement of good governance, let this be a major media event, if this event gets TV coverage at least in a few US and Canadian Cities, it will send a good positive message to the future leaders. Time is of essence, it must be done immediately to be effective. Every one understands the Public relations effort and it’s far reaching positive impact, here and abroad.

It is also time to appreciate President Musharraf, despite being called a dictator; he did not hinder the democratic process in the last few weeks, nor did he curb the media to his credit even though it was to his detriment. He should be honored and treated with utmost respect. Muslims need to demonstrate their understanding of the old adage, if you want honey, you don’t kick the beehive. No one should have a gain at the cost of the other; such benefits are deleterious to lasting peace and progress of Pakistan.

If the leaders sincerely believe in developing and bringing a civic rule, then they need to show it by being civil, un-selfish and make a sincere effort to include all parties in the decision making process. That would be the smart thing to do, the minute one takes advantage of the other or plans to undo the other, it is certain that the opposite force will be planning the same. Let the energy and time be spent in progress and not bickering. To expect others do take the first step is not smart, you as an individual must ask yourselves to take that first step towards reconciliation.

Dr. Allama Iqbal’s, the philosopher poet of the Subcontinent wrote a poem that you may find it meaningful, it is very soothing to the soul as well. The video has English subtitles as well for those who want to understand the meaning.

• Lab pay aati hai duwa ban ke tamanna meri
• zindagi shamma ki soorat ho khudaya meri

It is time to drop the revenge, hate and animosity towards each other, as that has never produced results and will mess up the nation again. It is each one’s responsibility to encourage positive ideas and clearly discourage destructive thoughts. It is indeed time to come together and say the Shukrana (gratitude) Prayers.

Justice, fairness and inclusion will go long ways. May Pakistan become a democracy and work on checking the extremism and become a source of peace and prosperity to her self and to her neighbors India and Afghanistan.

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Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website He can be reached at or (214) 325-1916

End Gaza Seige

JVP's Call for an End to the Siege of Gaza

Each one of us needs to be in the forefront to demand justice for every human on the earth. Justice brings security to each one big or the small, knowing that if someone wrongs them, there is going to be justice or vice versa. It helps keep the individuals on line. Justice for others is justice and safety for us.

Justice is the mother that gives birth to truthfulness, honesty, integrity and peace.

I am pleased to see the Jewish efforts about this. The Bush administration and the Israeli Governments do not believe in Justice, and let cruelties like Gaza continue. The ultimate bearers of this injustice are the Americans and Israeli citizens. It is time for us to speak out against any injustice.

Mike Ghouse

The people of Gaza cannot leave, even if they have a medical emergency. One and a half million people are packed into an area less than 1/10th the size of Rhode Island. They are being deliberately malnourished because Israel controls the flow of food and supplies. Without crucial filters, the water is becoming a source of sickness and death. A few miles away in Sderot, a working class community of Israelis is caught in the line of fire and is also dying, their suffering manipulated by their own government. Israeli papers are now talking of possible plans for a major incursion into Gaza.

Giving a donation to JVP right now is a way to take action to support an end to the siege of Gaza.
In late January, a convoy of Israeli peace and human rights organizations, in partnership with Palestinian civil society groups, drove to the entrance of the Gaza Strip to deliver badly needed food and medical supplies. Thousands of you wrote letters to your legislators to ask them to help end the siege. JVP supporters across the country stood on street corners, spoke to the media, and raised funds to support the convoy. On February 18, over 6 tons of supplies from the convoy were finally let through.

But the blockade goes on and JVP is not stopping its work on the Call to End the Siege of Gaza.

We are taking out several ads in The Nation, including a full page color ad on the back cover.
We are using online advertising to bring thousands of people to our website to access information they are not getting in the US media.
We will offer resources, posters, action alerts and ways to plug in to local and international nonviolent campaigns being led by civil society groups in Gaza and Israel.
A gift of $35, $80 or $100 will bring thousands of people to support our work.
The larger we are, the more powerful we are!

Click on the thumbnail image to the right to see a larger version of the poster.

Join JVP's Call for an End to the Siege of Gaza.

Donating is easy and will raise our voices to end the injustices in Gaza and the needless deaths of Palestinians and Israelis..

Thank you
Cecilie, Sydney, Rachel

Donation link:

Learn more:

1. The war on Gaza's children

2. Life must go on in Gaza and Sderot (blog)

3. JVP Gaza Action and Information Center

4. Sderot protest, the ISrael they don't belong to

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Rabbi speaks the truth

Hear O Israel.. A Rabbi speaks the truth!
Rabbi Brant Rosen

Here’s a letter I recently sent off to the editor of the Chicago Sun-Times:

To the editor,

I recently traveled with a Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territories. We met with academics, peace activists, and politicians, including Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Prime Minister Fayad. Among other things, we learned much about the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, circumstances reflected in the 1/22/08 article, “Tens of thousands of Palestinians flood into Egypt through breached Gaza wall.”

Critics of Gaza’s Hamas-led government blame the destitution on the firing of Qassam rockets into southern Israel and clearly, such attacks are intolerable. No country should be expected to remain passive under attack.

But are Israel’s economic blockade and military incursions providing the answer? Currently 860,000 Gazans – more than half the population – now rely on the UN for food. In recent military operations, some twenty Palestinians were killed, including a three-year-old girl. Israel may hope its tactics will turn Gazans against Hamas, but given the choice to hate Hamas or hate Israel, Palestinians will most certainly choose the latter.

Economic deprivation is clearly not working, and we know that there’s no military solution. As always, the only answer is negotiation, as President Bush indicated at the Annapolis peace conference. In the short term this means a negotiated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas; long term, it means a two-state solution.

This won’t be easy. It won’t happen in one step, and more blood may be shed. Bush’s path is far from clear, but those who support Israel must support his efforts towards peace and encourage him to follow up his words with strong actions.

Clearly, war and collective punishment aren’t the answer. If Israel and the Palestinians want true peace and security, the only solution will occur across a table.


Rabbi Brant Rosen
Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston
Brit Tzedek v’Shalom Rabbinic Cabinet

January 24, 2008 - Posted by Rabbi Brant