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Archive for August, 2008

Who is to Blame? The War in Georgia.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Two extracts from an article published in Aljazeera.

“Jon Sawyer, the director for the Pulitzer Centre for Crisis Reporting, said US politicians had encouraged their Georgian counterparts to think they had the backing of the US when Tbilisi decided to launch its attack on South Ossetia last week. “The US has for several years now mishandled the situation in Georgia,” he told Al Jazeera.

“The way that Mikheil Saakashvili has approached this [has been by] thinking that he could be an extension of the west, a partner of the United States.”
“In many ways we have given him cause for thinking that, with the many visits to the United States, the talk of Georgia as a beacon for democracy.”

Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, agrees that US encouragement may have made Saakashvili “miscalculate” and send Georgian troops into South Ossetia.”

…………………….

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the old Soviet Union, said the US had made a “serious blunder” by allying itself so closely with Georgia.
“By declaring the Caucasus, a region that is thousands of miles from the American continent, a sphere of its ‘national interest,’ the United States made a serious blunder,” Gorbachev said in an opinion piece to be published in the Washington Post US newspaper on Tuesday.

Other analysts say that US diplomats may have underestimated the level of anger the US recognition of Kosovo created in Moscow, leaving it fearful that Georgia would assert itself further in South Ossetia.
“The Kremlin made abundantly clear that it would view Kosovo’s independence without Serbian consent and a UN Security Council mandate as a precedent for the two Georgian de facto independent enclaves,” Dimitri Simes, the president of the Nixon Centre, wrote in a post on the Washington Note blog.

“Furthermore, while president Saakashvili was making obvious his ambition to reconquer Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Moscow was both publicly and privately warning that Georgia’s use of force to re-establish control of the two regions would meet a tough Russian reaction, including, if needed, air strikes against Georgia proper.”

Full text here:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2008/08/2008812204333715324.html

See also:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7557915.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7558619.stm

The Rwanda genocide

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

The genocide in Rwanda, in which about 500,000 – 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by more radical Hutus over 100 days in 1994, is one of the worst cases of genocide in the last 60 years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide

There have been repeated stories in the press of French involvement, but now the BBC has published the following report:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7542418.stm

Extracts here:

“Rwanda has accused France of playing an active role in the genocide of 1994, in which about 800,000 people were killed.

An independent Rwandan commission said France was aware of preparations for the genocide and helped train the ethnic Hutu militia perpetrators.

The report also accused French troops of direct involvement in the killings.

It named 33 senior French military and political figures that it said should be prosecuted. France has previously denied any such responsibility.

Among those named in the report were the late former president, Francois Mitterrand, and two former prime ministers, Dominique de Villepin and Edouard Balladur.”

………..

“The BBC’s Geoffrey Mutagoma in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, says the commission spent nearly two years investigating France’s alleged role in the genocide.

It heard testimonies from genocide survivors, researchers, writers and reporters.”

I know little about the history and ethnicities of this part of Africa. What interest did France have in siding with the Hutus? Apparently, the massacres led to the Congo wars. The second Congo war, which began in 1998, cost about 5.4 million lives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Congo_War

Should major western political figures be put before an international court, if evidence justifies it?

The Latest (and Last?) Doha Round of Free Trade Negotiations Collapses

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

The international free trade negotiations, which could have led to a large increase in trade between countries, has collapsed, because of disagreements between India and China on the one and the USA on the other side. Apparently, nations could not agree on a safety mechanism which would have protected farmers in developing countries from a flooding of their markets by agricultural products from developed countries. Who is at fault? Or is there no sense in asking that question? After all, each government has to protect its citizens. However, whoever is responsible, the world’s poor will suffer most.

See here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d04389e4-5dcd-11dd-8129-000077b07658.html