Engaging Third World Dictators

President Obama should engage all world leaders, and especially all of the Third World dictators, as well the Second World dictators like Putin, only Putin will be gone by then, but he will likely be succeeded by a clone.

The engagement should be at all levels possible. He should encourage people to people exchanges with all nondemocratic countries, he should flood the airwaves with broadcasts in local languages, he should engage all countries in as much trade as possible. And he should meet in person as many world leaders and as often as possible, if only to stare some of them down on their dismal human rights records. It should be the Third World dictators who should look like they are trying their best to not have to bump into President Obama in the corridors of the UN building.

The goal has to be maximum possible engagement with all Third World dictators, especially dictators in Africa. With every engagement the wave of democracy in each such country should rise higher. President Obama will not spread democracy, America will not spread democracy. But there are democracy activists and pro-democracy leaders in every authoritarian country and they need to be provided all possible moral and logistical support, and President Obama's interaction with their thug heads of state to make very explicit as to exactly where it is that President Obama stands on democracy and human rights will be a more powerful symbolism than any that anyone else could offer to those pro-democracy leaders. President Obama has to make it very public that he is aware of their existence, and he is with them in spirit always. President Obama also has to redesign his State Department to add muscle to his personal stare down. President Obama also has to be the inspiration for private sector funds and organizations that will work globally to provide all possible moral and logistical support to the democracy movements around the world.

Democracy comes from inside the human heart. Freedom rings in every human heart. Democracy does not come from America. It comes from inside, from within. But an American president can help like noone else can. American Senators can help just by giving precise voice like Senator Leahy did for Nepal.

Leahy Amendment Says No Arms To Nepal
Leahy, Lion
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat, Vermont
Senator Leahy To US Congress On Nepal

President Obama must talk to North Korea, to Iran, to Cuba, to Venezuela. Cuba and Venezuela are slightly different from North Korea and Iran, sure. But to hope for democracy in a country like North Korea is to engage North Korea like China gets engaged. The goal has to be maximum engagement.

In The News

Obama, Romney outpace rivals in WA money race Seattle Post Intelligencer Sen. Barack Obama is leading all other presidential candidates in Washington state fundraising and has nearly twice as much money as his closest Democratic rival.
Analysis: Clinton and Obama fend off Edwards and other rivals in ... International Herald Tribune the candidates left the forum in exactly the same condition they came in ..... Clinton mostly ignored her rivals, instead touting her ability to challenge Republicans. .... "For 15 years, I have stood up against the right-wing machine. And I've come out stronger," Clinton said to applause from the crowd. "If you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl." ..... Clinton did a great impression of playing Muhammad Ali during the debate, dodging and weaving as her rivals threw punches. ...... In the 2004 elections, organized labor gave $53.6 million to Democratic candidates and party committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That amount increased to $66 million for the 2006 elections ..... The AFL-CIO — which has 55 member unions and represents 10 million workers — said in 2006 that it knocked on 8.25 million doors for union candidates, made 30 million telephone calls, distributed 14 million fliers and sent out 20 million pieces of mail in its successful efforts to help Democrats take the House and Senate.
Obama softens talk on striking al-Qaeda in Pakistan Hindu, India Obama has stressed the need for the US and Pakistan to be "constructive" allies in fighting al-Qaeda ..... expressed sympathy for Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf, who faces a growing militant backlash in his Muslim nation. .... In Islamabad, a spokesman said Musharraf's government is not ruling out imposing a state of emergency because of "external and internal threats" to Pakistan and deteriorating law and order in the volatile northwest near the Afghan border.

South Carolina GOP Plans to Move Up Primary New York Times States jockeying for influence are continuing to move their presidential nominating contests earlier and earlier in an accelerating electoral domino effect. ..... Jan. 19 .... Iowa caucus goers could well end up casting the first votes of the 2008 presidential election in December of 2007. ..... New Hampshire typically holds its primary on a Tuesday. If South Carolina moves its primary to Jan. 19, the first Tuesday more than seven days earlier would be Jan. 8. But Iowa has a law requiring it to hold its caucuses at least eight days before any other state — which could push the caucuses back to December. ..... whether the Iowa law is binding, since the political parties put on the caucuses, not the state ...... the stampede by bigger states to hold their contests by mid-February. At least 20 states — including delegate-rich states like California and New York. ....... "An ounce of history is worth a pound of logic."
South Carolina Prepares to Move Presidential Primary Washington Post
South Carolina Poised to Push Up Primary Forbes
Georgia: Russian Jet Fired Missile
Russian missile hits Georgian village, Tbilisi says Messenger.ge
Making a Move Against Shi’ite Militias TIME U.S. forces are ramping up operations against what they see as a more serious long-term threat: Shi'ite militias supported by Iran ..... Al-Qaeda in Iraq remains a formidable threat; a senior U.S. military official in Baghdad called it the organization most likely to push Iraq's vicious sectarian conflict into a full-blown civil war. ...... Mahdi Army cells with Iranian backing were responsible for 75% of U.S. and Coalition deaths last month ...... the Mahdi Army, which sprang up in 2003 as a nationalist militia opposed to both the U.S. occupation and Iranian interference ........ an Iraq in which the "the government is not in control of the state." ..... the presence of a Hizballah-style armed group, more powerful in some areas than the national government and receiving weapons, training and guidance from Iran
Inside Iran‘s Secret War for Iraq The U.S. Military's new nemesis in Iraq is named Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, and he is not a Baathist or a member of al-Qaeda. He is working for Iran. ..... al-Sheibani's team consists of 280 members, divided into 17 bombmaking teams and death squads ..... the aim of fostering a Shi'ite-run state friendly to Iran ..... "We have to think anything we tell or share with the Iraqi government ends up in Tehran," says a Western diplomat. ...... Iraq closer to all-out civil war ...... the U.S. believes that Iran has brokered a partnership between Iraqi Shi'ite militants and Hizballah ...... an Iranian plan for gaining influence in Iraq that began before the U.S. invaded ..... the Badr Corps, formed in the 1980s as the armed wing of the Iraqi Shi'ite group known by its acronym SCIRI, now the most powerful party in Iraq. Divided into northern, central and southern axes, Badr's mission was to pour into Iraq in the chaos of the invasion to seize towns and government offices, filling the vacuum left by the collapse of Saddam's regime. As many as 12,000 armed men, along with Iranian intelligence officers, swarmed into Iraq. ......... "These guys with beards and Kalashnikovs showed up saying they'd come to protect the campus," says a student leader at a Basra university. "The problem is, they never left." ...... The Iranian program is as impressive as it is comprehensive ...... Businesses, front companies, religious groups, NGOs and aid for schools and universities are all part of the mix. ..... Tehran still funds various political parties in Iraq ..... Iran was paying the salaries of at least 11,740 members of the Badr Corps ....... using "nonattributable attacks" by proxy forces to maximize deniability .... money and matériel flowing in from Iraq's Arab neighbors to Sunni insurgents. ...... those groups maintain a "shared world view" with Tehran, much as Brits and Americans share each other's
China's Olympics: One Year to Go the world's largest authoritarian state .....the government is ill-prepared for the growing attention of the world's media ...... "A temporary measure — which perhaps no government in the world except for China could do — is to shut down cars" ...... During a summit with African leaders last fall a half million official vehicles were taken off the road for nearly a week. ...... use the Olympics to pressure China on everything from Darfur to Tibet to greater religious freedom. ..... Paris-based NGO Reporters Without Borders held a press conference outside the offices of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games to demand the release of some 100 journalists and online activists imprisoned in China ....... dissidents within China say they welcome the attention the Games will bring. "I like to have people from outside come," says Hu Jia, an AIDS and human rights activist. "We want the world to know the pressure we are under."
Stop Obsessing About Iran The thrust of Bush's strategy now appears less to build democracy in Iraq than to prevent it from becoming a client state of Tehran. ...... Iraq poses big problems, but becoming Iran's flunky probably isn't one of them. There are three main reasons: Iraq's Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds. ..... a Sunni insurgency stocked with Saddam's former officers and bankrolled by oil money from the gulf. .... Tehran probably fears an Iraqi civil war more than it relishes calling the shots in Baghdad ..... Kurds .. make up 7% of Iran's population ....... As non-Persians (and Sunnis to boot), Iran's Kurds get nothing but abuse from their Shi'ite masters in Tehran. In July 2005, Iranian police killed a Kurdish opposition figure, strapped his body to a jeep and dragged it through the streets of a Kurdish town, sparking riots that lasted six weeks. Many Iranian Kurds would love a country of their own ......... the Shi'ite leader America fears most is also the one feared most in Tehran ..... Tehran's mullahs fund al-Sadr to cover their bets, but distrust and dislike him ...... al-Sadr has made common cause with anyone fighting the occupation. (In 2004, when U.S. troops were battling Sunni insurgents in Fallujah, al-Sadr sent them aid ...... Americans worried during the Vietnam War that if we left, Hanoi would become a puppet of its wartime patron, Beijing. Instead, four years after the U.S. evacuated Saigon, Vietnam and China were at war.
Behind the Sunni-Shi‘ite Divide
The Case For Dividing Iraq
Even Churchill Couldn‘t Figure Out Iraq The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, gave a ridiculously upbeat speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress last week, but his government has been unable or unwilling to cut the grand political deal that is necessary for stability. ..... the Saudis and Jordanians, who are predominantly Sunni, have quietly moved to support the insurgency with money and intelligence .. ..... if the city were divided along the Tigris River--a popular rumor in the Iraqi blogosphere--approximately 1 million Sunnis would be stranded on the Shi'ite side and vice versa. "The human catastrophe would be extraordinary," said an Army colonel. If partition happens, an Iraqi official told Reuters, "Iraq as a political project is finished," and chaos ensues. Colonel Hammes identified a more basic, undeniable problem: "Talking about a new strategy is useless until we get a new team--in the Pentagon, in the Administration. These guys have screwed up everything.
Talking to Iran — or Talking War? Iran was three to eight years away from having the capability to produce a nuclear weapon ..... Vice President Cheney is actively promoting military action against Iran, despite such a course of action being unanimously opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a meeting with President Bush last December ..... Bush has given the CIA a green light to conduct non-lethal covert operations against Iran using propaganda, disinformation and the squeezing of Iran's international banking transactions.
Being Careful of Your Friends in Iraq a halt in combat, followed by a treaty .... Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 military commander in Iraq, believes that up to 80% of insurgents would be open to such a deal ...... they want to engage and become a part of the government of Iraq ..... many Sunnis are tiring of al-Qaeda's brutal tactics that target Iraqi civilians and all who oppose them
Billy Graham: Hillary's Solace "I told him," Graham said of President Clinton, "when he left the presidency, he should become an evangelist, because he had all the gifts." .... during the Monica Lewinsky scandal ..... he was very strong in saying, 'I really understand what you're doing and I support you.' ...... He said, 'You know, forgiveness is the hardest thing that we're called upon to do. And we all face it at some point in our lives and I'm just really proud of you for taking it on." ...... Clinton had seen Graham on television growing up in Chicago .... she did not hear him preach in person until 1971, when she attended the Northern California crusade at the invitation of her then boyfriend, Bill Clinton, who had first heard Graham preach in Little Rock in 1959. "I wanted her to see Billy," he said. ........ She is different from the Hillary you see in the media. There is a warm side to her
An Army Mutiny in Israeli Settlements? Using cellphones, the soldiers immediately called their rabbis for moral guidance.
The Myth About Boys The voyage to manhood had come to seem as perilous and flummoxing as the future of Iraq. ...... "I don't think anyone will deny that girls are academically superior as a group. Girls are more academically powerful. They make the grades, they run the student activities, they are the valedictorians." ..... Even sperm counts are falling. .... "The biggest issue is not a gender gap. It is these gaps for minority and disadvantaged boys .... our left-right political noise machine ...... the sinking trajectory of undereducated males as blue-collar jobs move to low-wage countries ..... "We've started posting photographs of each day's activity on our website, and still I'll get complaints if we don't have a picture of every camper every day."
Is Iran a Terror Threat in the U.S.? In another week or so no one is going to remember the "JFK plot." ..... Iranian hard-liners believe a war with the United States is inevitable. .... Trying to blow up JFK Airport is the least we could expect from them if Cheney does get his war. ... What worries him instead is an accidental confrontation, like a hothead in the IRGC firing a missile at one of our carriers in the Gulf. If that were to happen, a war could follow, and we'd find out soon enough if the Iranians really do have sleeper cells in the U.S.
Hizballah‘s Long Reach Into Iraq
Hunt for the Bomb Factories
Pakistan's Next Red Mosque Problem? They are young angry boys. ..... "These militants are inviting America to attack our region," the old man tells me. "It seems like a conspiracy against the people."
Interview: 'We are Ready to Talk'
Why Not Talk? George W. Bush likes his briefings short and concise
Violence in Niger Delta expands into gang war
Insurgents vs. al-Qaeda
Fatah Islam No. 2 Killed in Lebanon Washington Post
Obama raps rivals over Pakistan
Gulf Daily News
Obama Expresses Sympathy for Musharraf ABC News
Obama Softens Stance on Musharraf Washington Post Obama's statement about Pakistan last week, which were defended by many foreign policy experts

Pakistan's Musharraf pulls out of US-backed summit Los Angeles Times not only as a snub to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but also as a rebuke to the Bush administration ..... Pakistan has been angry over official and unofficial suggestions by U.S. politicians that American forces should stage unilateral strikes at Al Qaeda figures believed to be taking shelter in Pakistan's tribal lands if Musharraf's government failed to do so...... Pakistan, which is in the midst of a major military offensive against militants in the semiautonomous border region, said any such U.S. action would be a violation of its sovereignty. ...... About one-third of Pakistan's originally designated delegation has declined to attend, including Pashtun tribal leaders from the Waziristan region, which has been the focal point of both the fighting and the search for Al Qaeda figures. .... Pakistan was indignant over Karzai's renewed assertions during a visit this week to Washington, which included two days of talks with Bush, that the main problem with fugitive militants lay on the Pakistani side of the frontier. ...... he is battling the most serious political woes of his eight-year tenure. ... Pro-democracy activists are demanding that he allow free and fair elections and renounce his position as military chief, and Islamic militants embarked on a campaign of suicide bombings and other attacks after the storming of a radical mosque in the capital by government forces a month ago. ..... More than 100 people died in the raid on the Red Mosque, and at least 250 others have been killed in fighting and suicide attacks since then.
Musharraf to begin 'emergency rule' Aljazeera.net on the point of announcing a state of emergency for one month. .... the emergency could be extended to three months.
War on Terror Takes Focus at Democrats’ Debate New York Times
Powerful quake rocks Jakarta
The Age
7.5-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes JakartaAHN
Obama, an Opportunistic Hawk?
Yahoo! News
States Swing For Clinton in Poll Washington Post A new poll out today gives New York Senator Hillary Clinton a decisive lead in Florida ..... gives Clinton a wide 30-point advantage over Illinois Senator Barack Obama in the Sunshine State. ...... The New York senator's big lead in Florida's primary, set for Jan. 29, 2008, is matched in a simultaneous poll of registered Democrats in Ohio. In that state, she has a 25-point lead over Obama. ...... In Pennsylvania, the third state Quinnipiac surveyed by telephone from July 30 to August 6, Clinton has a 16-point edge over Obama.
Clinton has big lead, but rivals say just wait Reuters A poll in August 2003, for example, showed the ultimate 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry in fifth place behind other challengers. .... Obama is doing well in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and Edwards is holding his own as well, especially in Iowa. Many believe the candidate who does well in those states will gain momentum for the contests ahead. ..... The Edwards camp attributed Clinton's boost in the polls largely to her name recognition.


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