JFP 9/14: Carter backs UN Palestine bid, US isolated; Pentagon says closing bases "on the table"

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September 14, 2011

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II) Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The timing of the confrontation at the UN over Palestinian statehood has created a diplomatic quandary for President Obama, the New York Times reports, putting him in the position of opposing Palestinian aspirations for self-determination even as his administration has championed Arabs who have overthrown leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya or who seek to in Syria. At the same time, he faces pressure from Israel's vocal supporters in Congress to block the vote or cut off assistance the U.S. has given to the Palestinians. Internationally, the U.S. and Israel appeared increasingly isolated, with even some European nations, from Russia to France, signaling support for at least a General Assembly vote for the Palestinians, the Times says. The head of the Arab League said the EU's top diplomat assured him of strong European support for the Palestinians in the General Assembly.

2) Former President Jimmy Carter says he supports the Palestinian campaign for statehood recognition at the UN because the Obama administration hasn't offered a plan for peace in the region, Politico reports. Carter said statehood recognition at the U.N. would be a "real step forward," even if the Palestinians were only upgraded "non-member state" status. Carter said peace in the Middle East would only come if Israel would "withdraw from the occupied territories and that's something that so far the Israeli government has been unable to do."

3) Israel's Foreign Minister Lieberman threatened that the UN bid would bring "harsh and grave consequences" for the Palestinians, the Washington Post reports. Washington's opposition to the Palestinian statehood initiative and an expected U.S. veto of the move at the U.N. Security Council have drawn warnings from some Palestinian officials that U.S. standing in the region could be harmed at a time of profound change, the Post says.

4) The Pentagon's incoming No. 2 official told Congress reducing the number of U.S. troops and bases located overseas is "on the table" as part of spending reduction talks, Stars and Stripes reports. During Ashton Carter's confirmation hearing, Armed Services chair Levin said Congress must look at relocating some of the more than 300,000 troops stationed overseas, and closing some of the nearly 700 overseas bases. "Is that on the table?" Levin asked. "On the table," Carter responded.

5) A panel of human rights experts reporting to the UN said Israel's naval blockade of Gaza violates international law, disputing a conclusion reached by the Palmer Report on the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, Reuters reports. The panel said the blockade had subjected Gazans to collective punishment in "flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law." The International Committee of the Red Cross says the blockade violates the Geneva Conventions. Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and one of the five experts who issued Tuesday's statement, said the Palmer report's conclusions were influenced by a desire to salve Turkish-Israeli ties.

6) Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, has a business relationship with an Israeli PR firm that pitches him stories, Max Blumenthal reports for the Columbia Journalism Review. The arrangement would seem to violate the Times' ethics guidelines, Blumenthal notes, although the Times claims that it doesn't.

Iraq

7) There's no reason to keep any U.S. troops in Iraq, argues decorated Navy SEAL officer Leif Babin, who served three tours there, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. The mission of achieving "good enough" security and handing off to the Iraqis is complete; U.S. troops aren't providing security now; leaving 3,000 U.S. troops puts them at enormous risk; the U.S. presence subtracts credibility from the government of Iraq and empowers anti-American, pro-Iranian forces;

Afghanistan
8) The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, in approving an overall 2012 Pentagon budget of $513 billion, cut $1.6 billion from the Pentagon's previous $12.8 billion request for the Afghan training mission, AP reports. It also cut another $5 billion in other areas of the Afghan war budget. The combined cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars for 2012 - $118 billion - compares with about $159 billion this year.

Yemen

9) A UN report says the Yemeni government has used excessive and deadly force against peaceful demonstrators, killing hundreds and wounding thousands since the beginning of the year, the New York Times reports. The report urged immediate international action to alleviate a humanitarian crisis and prevent the country from falling into further chaos. Beyond the violence against protesters, the report accused the government of trying to pressure and punish the civilian population by cutting off access to electricity, fuel and water.

Haiti
10) Protesters in Port-au-Prince called for the withdrawal of U.N. troops from Haiti, AP reports. Protesters said they were angry over the alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old Haitian man by U.N. troops in July. They also expressed anger over a cholera outbreak likely introduced by a battalion from Nepal. The outbreak has killed more than 6,200 people since it surfaced last October.

Contents:

U.S./Top News
1) U.S. Scrambles to Avert Palestinian Vote at U.N.
Steven Lee Myers and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, September 13, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/world/middleeast/us-scrambling-to-avert-palestinian-vote-at-un.html

Washington - The United States is facing increasing pressure as the Palestinian quest for statehood gained support from Turkey and other countries, even as the Obama administration sought an 11th-hour compromise that would avoid a confrontation at the United Nations next week.

With only days to go before world leaders gather in New York, the maneuvering became an exercise in brinkmanship as the administration wrestles with roiling tensions in the region, including a sharp deterioration of relations between three of its closest allies in the region: Egypt, Israel and Turkey.
[...]
The timing of the confrontation has created a diplomatic quandary for President Obama, putting him in the position of opposing Palestinian aspirations for self-determination even as his administration has championed Arabs who have overthrown leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya or who seek to in Syria. At the same time, he faces pressure from Israel's vocal supporters in Congress to block the vote or cut off military and economic assistance the United States has given to the Palestinians.

Internationally, however, the United States and Israel appeared increasingly isolated, with even some European nations, from Russia to France, signaling support for at least a General Assembly vote for the Palestinians.

The support for the Palestinians from the Turkish prime minister was not a surprise, but the commanding tone of his endorsement - coupled with Turkey's souring relations with Israel, once a close ally - underscored the growing sympathy for Palestinian aspirations for sovereignty and statehood.

"Let's raise the Palestinian flag, and let that flag be the symbol of peace and justice in the Middle East," said Mr. Erdogan, the increasingly influential leader of a NATO ally. He also took a harsh tone toward Israel, saying it is "the West's spoiled child."

The Arab League signaled that it would press the Palestinians to seek a General Assembly vote to elevate the status of the Palestinian Authority from nonvoting "observer entity" to "observer state." Some Palestinian leaders, though, continued to press for a Security Council vote.

Although a vote in the General Assembly would not formally recognize a state of Palestine, it would give the Palestinians rights to observe and submit resolutions and join other United Nations bodies and conventions. It could also strengthen their ability to pursue legal cases in the International Criminal Court, something that alarms Israel and the United States in particular.
[...]
Mr. Abbas and his Arab allies argue that Israel's unwillingness to take sufficient steps to create a state of Palestine had obviated the path laid out in the Oslo peace accords of 1993. Mr. Araby [head of the Arab League] said that a United Nations vote would "change the Israel-Palestinian conflict" and become an important step toward a resolution. "It will turn from a conflict about existence to a conflict about borders," he said.

Some European diplomats have agreed, but urged the Palestinians to turn to the General Assembly because they argued that its approval was more likely to facilitate negotiations rather than a vetoed bid at the Security Council. Mr. Araby said that Ms. Ashton, the European Union's chief diplomat, expected strong European support for an elevation of the Palestinians' status to "observer state."

The consequences of that, however, remained unclear. In Congress, senior Republican lawmakers have introduced language in an appropriations bill that would sever American aid to the Palestinians if they proceeded with the vote. Representative Kay Granger, a Republican from Texas who is the chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said she had explained that view personally to the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, during a visit to Israel and the West Bank last month.
[...]

2) Carter backs Palestinian statehood at U.N.
Tim Mak and Mackenzie Weinger, Politico, September 14, 2011 08:02 AM EDT
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0911/63481.html

Former President Jimmy Carter says he supports the Palestinian campaign for statehood recognition at the United Nations because the Obama administration hasn't offered a plan for peace in the region.

"As an alternative to a deadlock and a stalemate now, we reluctantly support the Palestinian move for recognition," Carter said on Tuesday at the Carter Center in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press.

The 39th President of the United States said that statehood recognition at the U.N. would be a "real step forward," even if the Palestinians were only upgraded "non-member state" status at the world body.

Carter says that he would not have been in favor of the U.N. recognition bid had the Obama administration "put forward any sort of comprehensive peace proposal."

The former president said peace in the Middle East would only come if Israel would "withdraw from the occupied territories and that's something that so far the Israeli government has been unable to do."
[...]

3) Anxieties mount over Palestinian statehood bid
Joel Greenberg, Washington Post, Wednesday, September 14, 4:39 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/anxieties-mount-over-palestinian-statehood-bid/2011/09/13/gIQA3uigSK_story.html

Jerusalem - The countdown to a Palestinian bid next week for membership and recognition as a state in the United Nations brought a stark warning from Israel on Wednesday that approval would bring "harsh and grave consequences" for the Palestinians.

The threat by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was the sharpest yet in an escalating cycle of rhetoric on all sides of the conflict. While the Palestinians say they will go ahead with the move, the Obama administration dispatched two senior envoys to the region Wednesday to restate the American case against the statehood bid.
[...]
Lieberman would not say Wednesday what specific actions Israel might take. But a senior Israeli official who briefed reporters recently on possible Israeli responses said that a "basket of tools" was being assembled in response to the statehood bid and that the moves could range from restricting travel for Palestinian leaders in the West Bank to more far-reaching steps.

For their part, Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank have called for mass demonstrations in cities and towns in support of the U.N. initiative, and the Israeli army and police have responded by publicizing their preparations to confront possible marches toward Israeli checkpoints and settlements.

Washington's opposition to the Palestinian statehood initiative and an expected U.S. veto of the move at the U.N. Security Council have drawn warnings from some Palestinian officials that American standing in the region could be harmed at a time of profound change.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, echoed the growing discontent in remarks last week on Voice of Palestine radio. "This shows not only disdain for the Palestinian position," Abbed Rabbo said of the U.S. stance, "but also scorn for what is happening in the Arab world: a revival seeking justice for the Arab peoples and the region as whole."

The Palestinian Authority receives about $500 million a year in U.S. economic assistance and training aid for its security forces, but deep opposition in Congress to the statehood move could leave that funding in jeopardy.

A House appropriations subcommittee has already passed a bill that could cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority over the U.N. bid, although it is still unclear whether such a measure could ultimately win Senate approval.

"If the Palestinians continue on their current path, the question before the Congress will not be what portion of our aid will be cut, but rather what portion will remain," said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), head of the Middle East subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, at a hearing Wednesday on aid to the Palestinians.
[...]

4) Official: Overseas Troop Reductions 'On the Table'
Kevin Baron and Chris Carroll, Stars and Stripes, September 14, 2011
http://www.military.com/news/article/official-overseas-troop-reductions-on-the-table.html

Washington -- Reducing the number of U.S. troops and bases located overseas is "on the table" as part of spending reduction talks, the Pentagon's incoming No. 2 official told Congress on Tuesday.

During Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter's confirmation hearing to be the next deputy secretary of defense, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Congress must look at relocating some of the more than 300,000 troops stationed overseas, not including war zones, and closing some of the nearly 700 overseas bases, installations and other DoD sites.

"Is that on the table?" Levin asked.

"On the table," Carter responded.

Levin also warned that the "massive" Pacific realignment plan that includes moving 8,000 U.S. Marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam "cannot continue," after ballooning to a projected cost of $27 billion.

"Surely we can't do that until we have a reliable cost and schedule data," Levin said. "Now we may not be able to get that data in time for this [budget] review."

Levin and Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. visited the region in May and returned demanding the Pentagon reconsider the entire Pacific realignment, which Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., backed. In June, the panel's Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support approved a measure that would bar any spending in the coming year for the Pacific realignment until the Defense Department conducts a new study to justify the costs.

The Government Accountability Office that month estimated the required Guam infrastructure buildup would cost $24 billion. The U.S. could foot at least $15 billion of that amount in the next five years, plus an unspecified amount of additional funds expected for Guam's missile defense.
[…]

5) UN independent panel rules Israel blockade of Gaza illegal
Report to UN Human Rights Council by five independent UN rights experts contradicts findings of Palmer Report that Israel used 'unreasonable force' in 2010 raid on Gaza flotilla, but that naval-blockade of Gaza legal.
Reuters, 13.09.11
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/un-independent-panel-rules-israel-blockade-of-gaza-illegal-1.384267

Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip violates international law, a panel of human rights experts reporting to a UN body said on Tuesday, disputing a conclusion reached by a separate UN probe into Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship.

The so-called Palmer Report on the Israeli raid of May 2010 that killed nine Turkish activists said earlier this month that Israel had used unreasonable force in last year's raid, but its naval blockade of the Hamas-ruled strip was legal.

A panel of five independent UN rights experts reporting to the UN Human Rights Council rejected that conclusion, saying the blockade had subjected Gazans to collective punishment in "flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law."

The four-year blockade deprived 1.6 million Palestinians living in the enclave of fundamental rights, they said.

"In pronouncing itself on the legality of the naval blockade, the Palmer Report does not recognize the naval blockade as an integral part of Israel's closure policy towards Gaza which has a disproportionate impact on the human rights of civilians," they said in a joint statement.

An earlier fact-finding mission named by the same UN forum to investigate the flotilla incident also found in a report last September that the blockade violated international law. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says the blockade violates the Geneva Conventions.
[...]
Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and one of the five experts who issued Tuesday's statement, said the Palmer report's conclusions were influenced by a desire to salve Turkish-Israeli ties.

"The Palmer report was aimed at political reconciliation between Israel and Turkey. It is unfortunate that in the report politics should trump the law," he said in the statement.
About one-third of Gaza's arable land and 85 percent of its fishing waters are totally or partially inaccessible due to Israeli military measures, said Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, another of the five.

At least two-thirds of Gazan households lack secure access to food, he said. "People are forced to make unacceptable trade-offs, often having to choose between food or medicine or water for their families."

The other three experts were the UN special rapporteurs on physical and mental health, extreme poverty and human rights, and access to water and sanitation.

6) Conflict in Israel?
A problematic speaking deal at The New York Times
Max Blumenthal, Columbia Journalism Review, September 14, 2011 12:02 PM
http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/conflict_in_israel.php

Running the Jerusalem bureau for The New York Times is a tough job in a hypersensitive area, one that attracts more than its share of slings and arrows. So maybe it is best not to hand out extra arrows, as Ethan Bronner seems to have done.

In 2009, Bronner, who has run the bureau since March 2008, joined the speakers bureau of one of Israel's top public relations firms, Lone Star Communications. Lone Star arranges speaking dates for Bronner and takes 10 to 15 percent of his fee. At the same time, Lone Star pitches Bronner stories.

Bronner says his speaking relationship with Lone Star is minimal, non-exclusive, and "not a very active one" - some half a dozen speeches out of seventy-five or so he's given over the last three and a half years to nonprofit groups. His speaking fees, he says, are low, and "My public speaking reflects my newspaper writing - it is reportorial, analytical, and non-adversarial - and fully in keeping with New York Times ethical guidelines," Bronner wrote in a response to interview questions. The Times backs him up. To Bronner's responses,"We would add only that his speaking appearances for nonprofit groups all conform to Times ethics guidelines, and that we have complete confidence in his professionalism and impartiality," Eileen Murphy, the Times's vice president of corporate communications, wrote in an e-mail.

Still, the quantity of Bronner's speeches and the quality of his news coverage are not at question, only that he takes paid speaking engagements from a firm that also pitches him stories. Complicating the arrangement is the fact that Lone Star has a fairly clear ideological bent, and that Bronner has reported on a handful of the firm's PR clients - this in a bureau where every nuance is scrutinized. And a reader of the Times's ethics guidelines might come to a different conclusion about what they say about such an arrangement.
[...]
On the one hand, it might be hard to cover Israel without stumbling across Lone Star many clients. On the other, however, that might be a good reason not to have a business relationship with the firm. The Times's ethics guidelines guidelines say:

"Staff members and those on assignment for us may not accept employment or compensation of any sort from individuals or organizations who figure in coverage they are likely to provide, prepare or supervise." [Section 36]

Also: "Staff members and others on assignment for us may not collaborate in ventures with individuals or organizations that are likely to figure in their coverage." [Section 49]
[...]

Iraq
7) We've Won In Iraq, So Let's Leave
Leaving 3,000 U.S. troops there would only be an irritant.
Leif Babin, Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2011
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904353504576566873976609888.html

[Babin is a former Navy SEAL officer who served three tours in Iraq, earning a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.]

Controversy erupted last week with the report that the United States will reduce troop levels in Iraq to as few as 3,000 by the end of the year. The assumption among many in the higher echelons of U.S. military leadership has long been that U.S. forces would remain in Iraq for decades, despite a formal security agreement with the government of Iraq for U.S. troop withdrawal in December 2011.

I deployed three times to Iraq between 2004 and 2010, and my question is this: Why leave any troops in Iraq? Make no mistake, for those of us who have fought and bled and lost close friends and brothers there, we want more than anything to know that the sacrifices were worth it. But what does winning mean? What does completing our mission entail? Never have I seen this clearly articulated or defined. The vision of Iraq as a flowering democracy free of violent extremist attacks and wielding advanced military capability in close alliance with the U.S. was always a utopian fantasy.

That is not to say the U.S. hasn't succeeded in Iraq. On the contrary, we've won.

As good soldiers will do, the troops on the ground defined the mission for themselves. Like many other units, the Special Operations Task Force, for which I served as operations officer, defined success as lowering the level of violence to a point where Iraqi Security Forces can unilaterally maintain a relative, sustainable peace. "Unilateral" meaning the Iraqis can do it themselves, without U.S. assistance. "Relative" meaning that violence is substantially reduced from its peak but is still present. "Sustainable" meaning the stability of the Iraqi government is not threatened despite this modicum of violence.

All this has been achieved. In fact, we've maintained this success since 2008. So why the argument for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq?

A total pullout, some claim, could risk another civil war. But U.S. troops aren't patrolling the streets and maintaining security - those duties have almost entirely been handed over to Iraqi Security Forces in the years since 2008. The vast majority of U.S. forces in Iraq today rarely leave their bases, except to conduct logistical runs, civil-affairs missions, or engagements with Iraqi military and government officials. Only a handful of Special Operations Forces, a small fraction of U.S. forces there, are engaged in offensive operations - and only when approved to do so by the Iraqi government.

What about staying in Iraq in order to deter Iran? The fact is that the U.S. footprint in Iraq emboldens Iran. For years, Iran has targeted U.S. troops in Iraq through its proxies. Iran has armed, trained and sustained these insurgent groups and thousands of U.S. troops have been killed by so-called explosively formed projectiles, rockets and other weapons exported from Iran. U.S. forces have historically been severely limited in targeting these Iranian-backed insurgents, who are largely protected by the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq. Operatives from the Quds Force (part of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) in Iraq are virtually untouchable, with diplomatic protection from the very Iraqi government we've helped protect and support. As a result, the U.S. appears weak and powerless to take on Iran or Iran's proxies. Leaving only 3,000 troops in Iraq puts them at tremendous risk.

Many fear that Iran will gain significant influence in Iraq after a complete U.S. withdrawal. But Iran already has significant influence there. From 1980 to 2003, Iraq's ruling Dawa Party was based partly in Iran (and partly in Syria), and it maintains strong ties with the Iranian regime.

Hope of limiting Iranian influence in Iraq grew following the narrow victory of Ayad Allawi's secular party in the Iraqi national elections of March 2010. Yet the U.S. presence in Iraq remains a catalyst empowering Iranian influence through Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who drums up popular support based on opposition to the U.S. "occupation." Thus the U.S. presence subtracts credibility from the government of Iraq and empowers anti-American, pro-Iranian forces.

Our presence in Iraq also limits us militarily. Every day that thousands of U.S. forces remain there, Iran can count on mounting U.S. public opinion against employing those forces to open another front in conflict with Iran or otherwise.

It is understandable to want to protect all we've gained in Iraq, but it's important to recognize when we've accomplished all that is reasonably possible. The U.S. dominated the opening salvo of the war but saw Iraqi insurgents gain the upper hand for a substantial period of time. After a shift in strategy and resources, the U.S. radically reduced the level of violence and made lasting security gains. But to stay engaged with a substantial number of troops on the ground risks snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. As greater strategic priorities emerge elsewhere, it's time to call it a game in Iraq.

Afghanistan
8) Congress makes first move to cut Afghan war costs; Pentagon scaling back as troops return
Robert Burns, Associated Press, September 13
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/pentagon-plans-to-cut-cost-of-training-afghan-forces-that-would-take-over-after-drawdown/2011/09/13/gIQAE3UTPK_story.html

Washington - Congress on Tuesday took a first step toward scaling back U.S. spending plans for the Afghan war, reflecting a mounting political pressure to reduce budget deficits and a recalculation of what it will take to stabilize Afghanistan as U.S. and allied forces begin to withdraw forces.

Although an intense and costly program to build up Afghanistan's army and police is a cornerstone of the NATO and U.S. strategy for winding down the war, renewed effort is under way to find further savings without undermining recent progress in training and equipping the Afghan forces.

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, in approving an overall 2012 Pentagon budget of $513 billion, cut $1.6 billion from the Pentagon's previous $12.8 billion request for the Afghan training mission. It also cut another $5 billion in other areas of the Afghan war budget.

Several defense officials in Washington and Kabul, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said NATO and the U.S. have, for planning purposes, set a target of reducing the training budget to $6 billion - and perhaps lower - by 2014, when all foreign troops are to be out of Afghanistan.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said no decisions about future spending on Afghan training have been made, although he noted that the expectation is that spending could be reduced. The withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces also will permit spending reductions, other officials said. President Barack Obama in June announced that the U.S. would withdraw 10,000 troops this year and another 23,000 by September next year.

After the Obama announcement the Pentagon began recalculating what savings could be achieved in the training mission and other aspects of the war effort. Political momentum for spending cuts in Afghanistan also accelerated after the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in May.
[...]
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee, said the Pentagon informed Congress that it could get by with $1.6 billion less for training operations than originally projected for 2012, and that it could cut another $5 billion in other areas of the Afghan war budget as a result of the scheduled U.S. troop reductions. Inouye's panel on Tuesday approved the Pentagon's overall request for $107 billion in support of Afghanistan, plus $11 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq, where all U.S. troops are scheduled to go home by December.

The combined cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars for 2012 - $118 billion - compares with about $159 billion this year.

The search for economies in Afghanistan comes as the Pentagon works on spending cuts required in the debt legislation passed over the summer, which called for a decrease of $400 billion in spending on national security - mostly defense - over 10 years. The Pentagon is bracing for the possibility that much larger cuts could be imposed, although Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that further cuts would be devastating.

"Real defense cuts are coming," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told the nominee for the No. 2 civilian job at the Pentagon on Tuesday. At a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing for Ashton Carter to be deputy defense secretary, McCain said budget tightening will require a culture change at the Pentagon.
[...]

Yemen
9) U.N. Accuses Yemen of Using Deadly Force in Protests
Nick Cumming-Bruce, New York Times, September 14, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/world/middleeast/united-nations-accuses-yemen-of-using-deadly-force-in-protests.html

Geneva - A United Nations report published Tuesday says the Yemeni government has used excessive and deadly force against peaceful demonstrators, killing hundreds and wounding thousands since the beginning of the year.

The report, published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged immediate international action to alleviate a humanitarian crisis and prevent the country from falling into further chaos.

A delegation sent by the office visited Yemen's three main cities at the end of June, according to the report, and found "an overall situation where many Yemenis peacefully calling for greater freedoms, an end to corruption and respect for rule of law were met with excessive and disproportionate use of lethal force by the state."

The United Nations team said it met with officials including the vice president and acting head of state, Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, as well as political party leaders, members of parliament and the judiciary, lawyers and other prominent private citizens. Over nine days in Sana, Aden and Taiz, the team collected thousands of pages of documents and photographs, 1,800 videos and 160 compact discs - evidence that it "archived for appropriate future use, " the report said.

Yemen's attorney general has said the government is investigating the killing of peaceful protesters, but ordinary Yemenis generally have little or no faith in their country's judicial system and do not expect the government to hold those responsible for crimes accountable, the report says.

Beyond the violence against protesters, the report accused the government of trying to pressure and punish the civilian population by cutting off access to electricity, fuel and water.

Initially peaceful protests against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is in Saudi Arabia recovering from injuries he sustained in a bombing of his palace, have been overtaken by an increasingly violent power struggle among government forces, tribal militias and other armed groups, including Islamic militants affiliated with Al Qaeda. The government had lost effective control of sizable areas of the country, including parts of major cities, the United Nations report said.

The political upheaval, collapsing economy and shortages of electricity and fuel have turned Yemen into "a bit of a powder keg waiting to explode," Hanny Megally, who led the mission, told reporters. "If there's not immediate help from outside, it could lead to the disintegration of the country and civil war."
[...]

Haiti
10) Protesters in Haiti demand UN troop withdrawal following alleged abuse of young man
Associated Press, Wednesday, September 14, 5:14 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/americas/protesters-in-haiti-demand-un-troop-withdrawal-following-soldiers-abuse-of-young-man/2011/09/14/gIQAhryLSK_story.html

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Protesters calling for the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers from Haiti clashed with police Wednesday outside the earthquake-damaged Haitian National Palace.

The protesters hurled rocks at Haitian police in riot gear, and the officers responded by firing volleys of tear gas canisters toward the crowd of several hundred demonstrators. As the crowd dispersed, many protesters fled into the Champs des Mars, the park that became a huge encampment of tents and shanties following the January 2010 earthquake.
[...]
Protesters said they were angry over the alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old Haitian man by U.N. peacekeepers from Uruguay in the southwestern town of Port-Salut in July. They also expressed anger over a cholera outbreak likely introduced by a battalion from Nepal. The outbreak has killed more than 6,200 people since it surfaced last October, according to the Health Ministry.

"We are doing a peaceful march and asking for MINUSTAH to leave the country," said protester Christo Junior Cadet, referring to the U.N. force by its French acronym.
[...]
The Wednesday protest came the same day the U.N. released a statement saying that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a trio of senior-ranking officials to Haiti to ensure that a "zero-tolerance" policy on misconduct is enforced. The U.N., Haiti and Uruguay are investigating the abuse allegations.

-

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