(11/04/05: Update at the end of the post)
Continue reading "The US-Saudi relationship: Oil supply at the expense of US security and moral values"
Europe and the US seem to be addicted to oil and unable to pursue their security interests and moral values in regard to Saudi Arabia. US government reports indicate Saudi support for terrorism and the lack of counter-terrorism coopertation. The State Department determined the non-existence of religous freedom in Saudi Arabia and the non-compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. While countries without any oil were sanctioned for these violations, the Bush administration spared Saudi Arabia. And the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee canceled unexpectedly a hearing on Saudi incitement in U.S. mosques.
Now in more detail:
While the US consulate lowered the American profile in
Frankfurt by moving to a heavily fortified complex on the
outskirts of town, US arts lobbies want to reach out more to the world
by utilizing US cultural capabilities and talents.
Writing for the International
, Alan Riding asks:
With Washington now
dusting off public diplomacy as a strategy to combat rampant
anti-Americanism, is it time to revive cultural diplomacy? The purpose
would not be to mute American popular culture. In any event, that would
be impossible: It is pumped out on an industrial scale and the world
responds, often with delight, sometimes with disgust. Instead, rather
than trying to compete for the attention of the masses, cultural
diplomacy would aim to persuade elites of the virtues of American
Continue reading "Call for revivial of cultural diplomacy to counter Anti-Americanism"
This approach is now being quietly promoted by several arts lobbies in
the United States. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
in July, a group called Americans for International Arts and Cultural
Exchange wrote: "Our coalition believes America has many cultural
capabilities and talents that remain underutilized in the international
arena and which can be effective in reaching out and telling our story
to the world." (...)
The NY Times/International Herald Tribune editorilizes:
There's no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are terrorism and global warming. And there's no disputing that America's oil consumption fosters both. Oil profits that flow to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries finance both terrorist acts and the spread of dangerously fanatical forms of Islam. The burning of fossil fuels creates greenhouse emissions that provoke climate change. All the while, oil dependency increases the likelihood of further military entanglements, and threatens the economy with inflation, high interest rates and risky foreign indebtedness. (...)
A bolstered gas tax would raise huge amounts of revenue, roughly $1 billion for every penny of additional tax. Some of that money would have to be used to provide offsetting tax breaks to low-income households (...) Economists assume that raising the gas tax - say, by a dollar or so - would not necessarily raise the price at the pump by the same amount. Rather, a tax increase could induce exporters to allow the price of oil itself to fall, in order to keep the price at the pump below the level at which oil alternatives begin to look attractive. (Hat tip to medien und amerika
World trade talks are getting hot and tense. The NY Times/International Herald Tribune criticizes the EU and Japan for rejecting the US proposal that
The United States would slash the allowable farm subsidies by 60 percent. In return, Europe and Japan would cut their subsidies by 83 percent - a higher percentage because countries in Europe, along with Japan, have higher subsidies.
Farm subsidies are a major burden for tax payers and the developing world:
The developed world funnels nearly $1 billion a day in subsidies to its own farmers, encouraging overproduction. That drives down prices and leaves farmers in poor nations unable to compete with subsidized products, even within their own countries. In recent years, American farmers have been able to dump cotton, wheat, rice, corn and other products on world markets at prices that do not begin to cover their cost of production, all because of politicians - and at the expense of American taxpayers. Europe's system is even worse: U.S. farm subsidies are equal to only a third of the European Union's.
The Washington Post's Paul Blustein opines that the global trade negotiations "appear to have reached their gravest moment since the collapse of a WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico, two years ago" and blames primarily France for opposing the liberalizing of the EU's agricultural markets:
Meanwhile Reuters reports progress on solving the transatlantic aviation disputes:
"We are now down to days," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said. "If something isn't put together by the end of this month, then I do really believe that this Doha Round is in real jeopardy. Certainly the Hong Kong meeting would be in jeopardy."
The European Union and the United States have agreed key elements of a first-stage deal on an "open skies" pact, the two sides said on Friday, paving the way for opening aviation markets on both sides of the Atlantic. The talks, which restarted on Monday after fizzling more than a year ago, aim to loosen restrictions that determine where airlines can fly, boost competition, and possibly ease ownership rules to make international mergers easier to execute.
prominent German foreign policy specialist Karl Kaiser's
characterization of Frank Walter Steinmeier as the "the grey eminence behind
Everybody who knows him, who has had dealings with him, considers him
extremely able, competent, very pragmatic, and the Christian Democrats
are pleased with the nomination.
chancellor has a lot of foreign policy scope in summit meetings
and so on, and we still have to see how much muscle the chancellery
intends to use," points out Helmut Sonnenfeld, foreign policy
specialist at Washington's Brookings Institution. But the feeling is
that even when Steinmeier steps into the international limelight as
minister of Europe's most powerful country, he will opt for a more
measured, low-key approach that also seems to be Merkel's. Germany's
first woman chancellor has declared a strong commitment to the transatlantic
alliance, but the best that Washington can expect is a change of style,
with not much shift in substance.
interesting articles about Steinmeier and one of
his rare speeches.
Our reader UG
recommends TomDispatch's list
administrators, managers, and career civil servants who
quit their posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced
out, demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arming.
includes well-known names like former anti-terror czar Richard
Clarke and former Secretary of the Treasury Paul
O'Neill, but also less known managers:
late August 2005, after twenty years of service in the field of
military procurement, Bunnatine ("Bunny") Greenhouse, the top official
at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of awarding government
contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, was demoted. For years,
from superiors -- until she raised objections about secret, no-bid
contracts awarded to Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) -- a
Halliburton, the mega-corporation Vice President Dick Cheney once
presided over. After telling congress that one Halliburton deal was "was
the most blatant
and improper contract abuse I have witnessed
during the course of my professional career," she was reassigned from "the
elite Senior Executive Service
... to a lesser job in the
civil works division of the corps."