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Hillary the Hawk

The good news about Senator Clinton is that her position has improved. Mr. Scheer is right that she's not a peace candidate; but give her time.

Her position was identical to that of Sen Lieberman at this time, last year. Now she promises that she'll end the war and has voted to debate the anti-surge resolution.

As those opposed to the war gain in numbers, Sen. Clinton's affection for the war has decreased. By this time next year, she may actually be against the war.

Daniel Millstone

New York, NY

Feb 21 2007 - 11:45am

McCain Mutiny

I was somewhat surprised by the "surprised" tone of Blumenthal's article. I remember very well back in 2000, when McCain was running against George W, a large part of the Arizona Republican establishment backed Bush against McCain, Senator Kyl as well as then governor Jane Dee Hull--no love lost between McCain and the governor.Also, Blumenthal fails to mention the legal entanglements and the forced resignation of Gov. Symington. Although his conviction was overturned and he he was pardoned by President Clinton, the whole story might have had an impact on the recent election in the Republican party.

That McCain, as one of the Keating Five--who still remembers the S&L scandal in the late 80s ?--would try to reactivate Gov. Symington, himself not without blemish in S&L matters, does not speak well for his political acumen.

McCain may have been the darling of independents and Democrats at a time he seemed to be distancing himself from the conservatives, but he always has carried and carries a lot of baggage.

It is sad that he is now (forced to?) pandering to the right, again. He might be outmaneuvered by another "moderate," Rudy Giuliani.

But I suspect that most of your readers would not vote for him, anyway.

Ernst August Knoke

Hamburg, Germany

Feb 21 2007 - 10:45am

Dude! Where's My Debate?

Why do almost all pundits come out on the side of "free trade"? Well, who pays them? None other than the vested interests who benefit from "free trade". If anything, the near unanimity of the pro free trade position among media pundits is really just a clear reflection of venality more than any ideological bent or belief. There's more money to be made siding with money than against it.

In answer to Wallace and Anelovic, don't people in a democracy have a right to protect their standard of living? Or do you believe in democracy? For that matter, do you believe people have the right to form independent labor unions?

Is the lowering of living standards in 'developed' countries the proper way to raise living standards in poor countries? If that's what you believe, then you should say that directly, and in person, to someone in a "wealthy" country who is struggling as their living standard falls. Regarding 'generous social policies' are people suppose to forget about decent employment and settle instead for the dole?

You guys sound like liberal Republicans, like Bill Clinton - liberalistic verbiage draped over a Republican core economic agenda, a kinder and gentler Republicanism.

William C. Gilwood

San Dimas, ca

Feb 21 2007 - 3:23am

War Drums on Iran

They should definitely check the serial numbers of those mysterious "weapons from Iran."

Could be the very ones we sold them when Reagan was president.

Ann Banks

New York, New York

Feb 21 2007 - 12:41am

Bush's Somalia Strategy Enables an Ethiopian Despot

The main reason I wrote my comments was to add perspective to the views of foreigners regarding the current situation in Ethiopia. I believe foreigners need to take into context the previous governments that we had, the progress currently being made, and the potential for instability and conflict (as a result of our current political climate and historical and ethnic background) before condemning this government entirely. I mentioned China not because it has particular similarities with Ethiopia, but because they are having difficulties achieving democracy, just as we are.

Ethiopians amongst ourselves have our work cut out for us in getting involved in discussions, debates and working towards achieving democratic progress.I acknowledge the faults of the government, but I advocate a gradual movement towards reaching our democratic goals, while avoiding the risks of instability and chaos. Of course, a time may come when change might be necessary at all costs, if the situation under this government reaches a certain point. I don't think we are at that point -- and avoiding conflict, strengthening our institutions and reaching certain agreements and understanding amongst our different constituencies must first be achieved. Some might ask how could you do this under this government? Maybe through dialog, peaceful demonstrations and strikes, and applying pressure....(all these are being done by may courageous people right now).

But demonizing the government or violent demonstrations and actions, in my opinion may retard our move to democracy and could lead to instability. Most people will agree that a violent overthrow of this government will lead to civil war, right? I support our move towards democracy while doing everything possible to avoid conflict and chaos, and not just wait and see what might happen.

Aleqa Gebrehana

Los Angeles, California

Feb 20 2007 - 8:44pm

Bush's Somalia Strategy Enables an Ethiopian Despot

A response to Aleqa Gebrehana of LA:

"Ethiopia is a very complex amalgam of ethnic groups, religions and cultures, with a frightening possibility of instability that can result in tragic consequences. Foreign observers including journalists, US Congressmen or European diplomats, who do not understand the country's historical, cultural, ethnic and political realities, are quick to demand Western-style free democracy ..."

One notable time I heard a similar idea as this one told was when Meles and Museveni told European countries not to try to "impose western style democracy" (paraphrasing) on them at some meeting they were invited to by the EU. These two individuals had been recieving aid from the EU for long without exactly having any problem with EU's requirement of "good governance". What changed now is the fact that they both had problems with their latest elections at home.

Anyways, what I would like to say to you is that, while I understand the essence of your message and believe your concern may be valid (I don't know...I prefer to stick to the things I can see), you forget to mention all the forces involved in wanting to bring democracy to Ethiopia. You only mention foreign observers, journalists, US and European diplomats and leave Ethiopian farmers who are tired of being pushed around and told how to vote because of the fertilizer debt they owe to the government. Perhaps including the latter will spoil the argument that the West is trying to impose its version of democracy on us and makes it hard for the government and its appologists who do anything to avoid international scrutiny.

It is like some cultural relativists who say anti-FGM activists are brainwashed by the west to hate our culture and that any anti-FGM movement should be locally grown. But really, is there anything more Ethiopian than an Ethiopian woman who dies while at labor because of injuries caused upon her by FGM? This is just an analogy. What I am trying to say is that, no, the "quick" need for democracy in Ethiopia is not a result of western doctrination, but a need that arised out of persecution of the people by the government. It is only natural for Ethiopians to resist persecution and repression.

And Ethiopia as we know her now has been around for more than 100 years and most of those were lived under repressive monarchies, so what does "quick" in this context mean, exactly? When is it going to be enough or okay for democracy to be wanted?

And no, we don't compare Meles's work to his predecessors', but to what is right. The time of settling for a dictator that is "better" than the dictator before him should be over with. And how exactly is it that China should be the measuring unit for our democratic aspirations and westerners shouldn't? What are the special similarities between Ethiopians and the Chinese that makes them undeserving of democracy?

And I don't understand why China is often brought up by people who argue in the line of "we should take democracy slow". Who said economic development is the ultimate aspiration for all soceities? If some (political prisoners) have to be killed and their skin used to make cosmetics out of, according to some reports in Europe, so that the state that keeps "economic miracles" happening could continue to operate smoothly, isn't it self-defeating? Isn't the economic development to benefit the Chinese? And who decides which Chinese gets to live to benefit and which one gets to die? Or are you a believer that some should be sacrificed for the "good of the masses" (still the question of who gets to choose not answered)? Well, that might work in China...they might have a culture or religion that justifies that as morally correct; I don't know. But I know for sure that in Ethiopia, a country where the majority are Muslims and Christians, that would be wrong.

As for the possible scenarios you described if power had been completely turned over to the opposition, I can't really agree or disagree because what you said is simply a speculation - a "could be". And I think if we all start to speculate and build up scenarios from our respective perspectives, there will be no end and we will never sleep because there are tones of possibilities.

But let's stick to the things on the ground. We agree on something - the building of democratic institutions. I think that is what so many Ethiopians are crying out for right now without exactly articulating it that way. Even many of those who support the opposition leaders in prison and demonstrate for their cause, including myself, have less to do with identifying with their political agendas than believing that had we had well functioning democractic insititutions, such as independent judiciary, those people wouldn't be in prison right now.

So, let's not miss the point. The point is not who is better fit to lead the country, which by the way is never gonna be universally accepted because everybody has their own pick and that is why we have elections; the point is whether the system put in place to allow the population to vote for the ruler of their choice functions well. It has been seen that it doesn't, and as we all know, opposition leaders are currently in prison, not because they contested the alleged rigging of the election (they had conceded that at the end) but because they put forth suggestions on strengthening our democratic insititutions based on the provisions of our very constitution, and refused to enter parliament until these are secured because, obviously, they didn't feel secure under the existing circumstances. So the government is obviously standing against any genuine attempt to build well functioning democratic institutions. So you say let's stop the usual attacks against the government and start working on building democratic instituitions, and I ask you, under this government, how exactly are we going to do that?

Thank you.

M M Sibhat

Los Angeles, California

Feb 20 2007 - 5:05pm

L'Étranger

Very good article. I am afraid that Mr. Obama's campaign will be covered and analyzed in an "O. J. Lite" frenzy, with the same ridiculous context of race/racism applied.

I am particularly disturbed by otherwise intelligent Black Americans who apply a 'blackness gauge' to each other. The danger of racially identifying yourself by your station or your behavior is quite obvious. Who draws the line? When does character become caricature? Who sets the rules and standards?

We may think that we do, but we don't--it's the people in charge, and that ain't us. Who do you think the term "acting white" came from? Some weeks ago I was listening to a white Radio host talk about Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. He said that Frazier was 'blacker' than Ali because he had lived poor and was the son of a sharcropper.

Trust me, someone else is setting the standard of what being "black" is--just ask Joe Biden.

Solomon Arrington III

East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Feb 20 2007 - 2:43pm

Targeting Tehran

What sickens me most about this apparently looming conflict with Iran is that the Bush regime is using the same lies it used against Iraq before going to war.

The mainstream media seems to take as a given the deceptions about Iranian involvement in Iraq, despite intel reports revealing that evidence of such is at best inconclusive.

How many wars will the Bush regime start, and how many lives will be thrown away for the greed and imperial ambition of a handful of men, before Congress and the American public stand up and do something to stop it?

Michael Kwiatkowski

Cleveland, Ohio

Feb 20 2007 - 1:53pm

White History 101

I believe Gary Younge's intentions are good; however, "the new approach" leaves room for the emphasis to again be taken away from the historical black contributors.

Instead, "the new approach" of "white History as it affects African Americans" should be taught in programs and by their parents. White history has always been taught in the classroom, and African Americans had to educate their families at home.

True, the children may not know who James Blake is, but if the only African American pioneer they know about is MLK, then our education system is seriously unbalanced.

I'd rather white boys and girls learn more about the influences of African American people in society than focusing on holding racists accountable for their actions.

Amberly R. Carter

Chicago, IL

Feb 20 2007 - 10:21am

Bush's Somalia Strategy Enables an Ethiopian Despot

I read your article about Meles and the current situation in Ethiopia with great interest. I understand there are many faults, mistakes, even criminal violations being made by the government. But as stale as it may seem, I still agree with Meles' contention that democracies do not emerge overnight. This, while I acknowledge Meles' dictatorial tendencies and inevitable corruption. (What government isn't...look at the Bush administration and Big Oil, Halliburton, lobbyists etc...)

Ethiopia is a very complex amalgam of ethnic groups, religions and cultures, with a frightening possibility of instability that can result in tragic consequences. Foreign observers including journalists, US Congressmen or European diplomats, who do not understand the country's historical, cultural, ethnic and political realities, are quick to demand Western-style free democracy not realizing that the necessary institutions for its success are nonexistent.

Democracy is not an easy destination to arrive at--let alone economic growth, and the eradication of poverty. For example, the Chinese are doing miracles with their economy, but are still far from achieving democracy. Why? Not just because the government is all corrupt and dictatorial (obviously it is doing some things right), but also because it is difficult in the context of the country's reality. Of course, I do condemn all human rights violations in China, Ethiopia or elsewhere.

What would have happened if power was completely handed over to the Ethiopian opposition in 2005? A flowering democracy with respect for human rights, economic growth, and the march towards the elimination of poverty? Maybe. But for many observers with a grasp of the whole reality, instability, ethnic conflict, more widespread separatist movements, more corruption, and retribution seem more likely. In my opinion, continued dialog and less demonization is necessary to bring about democracy in Ethiopia.

After all when we absolutely demonize the current government, who are we comparing it to? Haile Selassie (did some great things but was ancient, feudal and certainly not democratic), or Mengistu and the Dergue (genocidal)? Easing the rhetoric and gradually and deliberately building the necessary institutions is the way for the achievement of democracy, in our particular country.

Aleqa Gebrehana

Los Angeles, California

Feb 19 2007 - 7:43pm