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Republican leaders make remarkable comments on US foreign policy

Condoleezza Rice blames liberal and conservative US administrations of the past 60 years for the lack of democracy in the Middle East.
Karl Rove ridicules liberals as soft on terrorism, while Donald Rumsfeld admits negotiations with the terrorists in Iraq. Dick Cheney believes the insurgency will end soon, while Chuck Hagel thinks the US is loosing in Iraq and the White House is disconnected from reality. And Tom DeLay compares the quality of life in Iraq with Houston, Texas.
Moreover, the Berlin based Republicans protest against the planned demolition of the Checkpoint Charlie memorial honoring the victims of the Berlin Wall.

Continue reading "Republican leaders make remarkable comments on US foreign policy"

"G8 arms exports fuelling poverty and human rights abuses"

July 1 is International White Band Day and people around the world wear white bands and wrap public buildings in white "to send a message to the G8 world leaders that they demand action on trade justice, debt cancellation, and more and better aid." President Bush, Chancellor Schröder and the other G8 leaders meet next week in Scotland. The Make Poverty History campaign is much more than the Live8 concerts.

While it is difficult to justify to voters more foreign aid in economically difficult times, it should be less controversial with voters to ban arms exports to poor countries, who should spend their money on fighting poverty rather than domestic and foreign opponents. According to a report by Amnesty International, Oxfam, IANSA the United States and Germany are among the world's largest arms exporters and

G8 member states are undermining their commitments to poverty reduction, stability and human rights with irresponsible arms exports to some of the world's poorest and most conflict-ridden countries. G8 weapons have been exported to countries including Sudan, Myanmar (Burma), the Republic of Congo, Colombia and the Philippines.

"Anti-Americanism is becoming entrenched, and getting more personal"

According to The Economist, the five PEW Global Attitudes surveys since 2000 "provide strong evidence that anti-Americanism is more than a blip associated with Mr Bush or Iraq". The PEW polls, which The Economist calls "the gold standard of international opinion surveys", indicate that resentment is not limited any longer to the US president or the United States as a country. Rather the positive image of the American people has declined considerably in 9 of the 12 countries that have been surveyed since 2002, including Great Britain, Poland, Canada, Germany, France, Russia, Indonesia, Jordan and Turkey. While 70% of Germans had a positive view of Americans in 2002, it is only 65% according to the latest PEW survey. Three out of four Germans consider Americans as "inventive", but about half say Americans are "violent" and "greedy."

"Favorability ratings of the U.S. have risen slightly in Germany to 41% (up from 38% in 2004), but remain lower than in 2003 (45%) and considerably lower than in 2002 (61%). 60% of Americans now have a favorable view of Germany, up from 50% last year. But this remains far below the 83% favorable rating in February 2002." Germany received better favorability ratings than the United States, France, Japan and China in this poll, which was conducted in 16 nations. The US was even less popular than China. Amnesty International's China reports seem to be little known.

House of Representatives passes 15% increase in funding for exchange programs

Pretty good news for the Fulbright program: Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved legislation to fund the public diplomacy and exchange programs of the Department of State for the fiscal year 2006:

"The bill, H.R. 2862, includes $410.4 million for the Department’s educational and cultural exchange programs, an increase of $54.468 million above the FY 2005 level, but $20 million below the President’s budget request. As previously reported by the Alliance, the Senate has not yet scheduled a mark-up session for its version of the State Department funding bill."

This quote and further information from the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange can be found the US Fulbright Association's homepage.

Germany's vocal US supporters blog against the German media bias

Einer unserer Leser empfiehlt "einen interessanten Beitrag in Die Welt, der die im Internet organisierte pro-amerikanische Minderheit in Deutschland vorstellt":

Im elektronischen Untergrund rumort ein liberales Paralleluniversum, das sich von der deutschen Mehrheitsmeinung verabschiedet hat.

(…) Im Internet hat sich eine regelrechte Subkultur aus sogenannten Weblogs herausgebildet, aus Tagebüchern, die online geführt werden: mit wütender Kritik an den herrschenden Medien, bissig-geistreichen Kommentaren zur Weltlage, Links auf interessante Artikel, Informationen, die anderswo nicht (oder nur schwer) zu bekommen sind.

(…) Daß die Proamerikaner eine Gegenöffentlichkeit bilden, spürt jeder User auf den ersten Klick. Die Blogger sind nämlich vor allem damit beschäftigt, Medienberichte zu zerpflücken. Das Weblog "nobloodforsauerkraut" etwa bietet eine eigene Rubrik, die "Spiegel-Watch" heißt und sich geradezu liebevoll einem bekannten Hamburger Nachrichtenmagazin widmet.

The most popular of these blogs Davids Medienkritik organizes a "Demonstration against Anti-American Bias in German Media and Politics and for German-American Friendship and Cooperation" when Chancellor Schroeder visits Washington D.C. on June 27.


The US helps poor countries more than the amount of aid suggests

After the G8 debt relief agreement the German media often mentioned the relatively small amount of US development aid. The US currently spends 0.16 percent of its national income for aid, while Germany for example spends 0.28 percent. The Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Foreign Policy Magazine (FP), however, remind us that "helping poor countries is about more than giving money—it's about taking responsibility for policies that affect those less fortunate." The 2004 CGD/FP Commitment to Development Index "ranks 21 rich nations on how their aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology policies help poor countries."
The United States has a slightly better score than Germany! Denmark and the Netherlands earn the top spots. Sweden, Australia, the UK and Australia rank better than the US and Germany. Japan finishes last.

To alleviate extreme poverty the G8 have to make international trade more fair and increase aid

According to the Boston Globe:

Every month, more than 150,000 children die from malaria alone. Each year, AIDS kills 3 million worldwide, a number equal to 10 times the tsunami toll.

President Bush, Chancellor Schroeder and their G8 colleagues will meet in Edinburgh from July 6-8, 2005. The Make Poverty History campaign demands not only more debt relief than the G8 finance ministers have promised, but also more and better aid as well as trade justice. The Guardian describes how cultural advice from financial guru Warren Buffett helped Bono to enliste support for this campaign in the US.

A Foreign Policy article by President Bush's deputy assistant secretary of the treasury from 2000 to 2002, describes how US trade barriers hurt poor countries more than the US aid helps them, how aid played a key role in development in the past and why US security would benefit from alleviating poverty. Following are abstracts of both articles.

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Iraqi War Victims Fund

Follow up to our reading recommendation regarding the death of Marla Ruzicka. Under the headline "War Requiem", Tara McKelvey writes in The American Prospect Online:

In April 2003, Senator Patrick Leahy, after prompting from Ruzicka, introduced a bill that allocated funds for civilian victims of the war in . Eventually, he won appropriations totaling about $30 million for programs for civilians affected by the wars in and . This May, Congress voted to rename one of those programs, the Civilian Assistance Program, the “Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund.”

In , Ruzicka won wide admiration for the way she reached out to people who’d been injured in the war -- and the families of civilian casualties -- and helped them file claims for restitution from the government.

(...) Jonathan Tracy, a former captain who processed claims for Iraqi civilians, said he used to go jogging at dawn with Ruzicka on a path that led to the Tigris River . He said he thought that she did excellent work. "Her agenda was very clear and honest. Marla was not a glory hound. Nor did Marla have any anti-military agenda. Her only agenda was to get assistance."