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JFP 7/23: Teacherless War Supplemental Coming Back to the House
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 23 July 2010 - 12:47pm
Just Foreign Policy News
July 23, 2010
KPFK Uprising: The U.S.-U.K. "Special Relationship" and Afghanistan
Just Foreign Policy talks with Sonali Kolhatkar and argues that the US-UK "special relationship," in which Britain is expected to collaborate with U.S. wars even when they are unpopular and illegal, is in the interest of the majority in neither country.
Urge Your Rep. to Vote No on the War Supplemental
The war supplemental for Afghanistan is expected to come back to the House next week - without any kind of timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and without money to save teachers' jobs attached. Urge your Representative to vote no on the war supplemental. FCNL has established a toll-free number: 1-888-493-5443. If you use this number, it will add to FCNL's count of how many people called Congress against the war supplemental, so your call will make two marks.
Don't Let Petraeus Sabotage Afghan Peace Talks
54% of Americans want the U.S. to establish a timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan, CBS News reports. But if General Petraeus has his way, the U.S. will dig in deeper. Petraeus wants the State Department to designate part of the Afghan Taliban as a "foreign terrorist organization," which, as the New York Times noted, would undermine Afghan government efforts to end the war through political reconciliation with the Taliban - efforts that the U.S. claims that it supports [see e.g. Guardian story, below]. Urge your representatives in Congress to oppose Petraeus' "backdoor escalation" to prolong the war.
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1) The absence of serious progress in Afghanistan this year has sown new doubts, here and abroad, that Obama will be able to reach even the scaled-down goals he set in the time he laid out seven months ago, writes David Sanger in the New York Times. Obama has begun losing critical political figures and strategists who are increasingly vocal in arguing that the benefits of continuing on the current course for at least another year, and probably longer, are greatly outweighed by the escalating price. Democrats in Congress have been holding up billions of dollars in additional financing for the war, longer than they ever delayed similar requests from President Bush. The allies, voicing similar concerns, have abandoned most talk of a conditions-based withdrawal in favor of harder timetables. Senior White House officials who a few months ago said that this would be "the year of Kandahar" now acknowledge that the chances of progress there are growing more remote.
2) Jewish Voice for Peace is petitioning TIAA-CREF to divest from holdings in companies that profit from Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports. Among the companies listed are Caterpillar, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Veolia and Elbit.
3) A report from Senator Lugar warns that the U.S. risks wasting the aid it is offering Haiti, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Haitian government has failed to make basic reforms such as ensuring transparent elections and reducing barriers for private investment, the report says.
4) The U.S. military said Thursday that it will resume relations with Indonesia's special forces, Kopassus, angering human rights groups, the Washington Post reports. Under US law, the US is prohibited from having contact with foreign military units that have a pattern of human rights violations and have resisted efforts to hold abusers accountable. Indonesia has convicted about a dozen Kopassus officers for abuses. But advocacy groups noted that many have been allowed to return to duty, including some who have taken senior positions in the Indonesian military.
5) A group of lawmakers has launched a campaign to further cut the U.S. military presence in Europe and Asia, Stars and Stripes reports. Rep. Frank and several other lawmakers are calling for the elimination of one Air Force fighter wing overseas, one Army brigade combat team in Europe and two reinforced Marine Corps infantry battalions in Okinawa as part of a proposal to shave $1 trillion from defense spending worldwide over the next 10 years. Frank says there is no longer any reason to keep Marines in Okinawa. A spokesman for Speaker Pelosi, said "all spending, including the Defense Department, must be subject to scrutiny" but would not offer any specific backing to Frank's plan.
6) Rainbow PUSH leader Jesse Jackson and United Auto Workers President Bob King announced that a march in Detroit on Aug. 28, the 47th anniversary of King's 1963 march on Washington, will kick off a campaign to to rebuild the nation's cities, provide jobs and education, enact a moratorium on foreclosures, and end the wars in the Middle East, the Michigan Citizen reports.
7) British Prime Minister Cameron said Britain could start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as early as next year depending on conditions, the Guardian reports. Cameron said the British public should be clear that, by 2015, the UK would not have "combat troops or large numbers" in Afghanistan "because I think it's important to give people an end date by which we won't be continuing in that way." But plans to begin handing control of provinces to Afghan security forces by the end of this year have been quietly dropped amid fears among European countries that Gen. Petraeus is less committed to a speedy transfer of power. "Petraeus is trying to slow everything down, pushing back any announcement of transition until 2011," a senior European diplomat said.
8) An Arab man convicted in Israel of "rape by deception" because he allegedly pretended he was a Jew when he had consensual sex with a Jewish woman has called the verdict racist, the BBC reports. "If I were Jewish, they wouldn't have even questioned me," Sabbar Kashur told Haaretz.
9) Gen. Odierno says the US will need to provide financial assistance to Iraq for at least three more years to help build up the country's military, The Hill reports. But Sen. Levin has decided to slash $1 billion from the Administration's request, arguing it is time for Iraq to put its own money into the military. Sen. McCain opposes the $1 billion cut to the administration's request and is expected to fight it when the Senate takes up the defense bill.
10) The White House is having trouble getting funding from Congress for a key component of the plan to shift thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the Wall Street Journal reports. In making its cuts, the Senate Appropriations Committee noted the recent controversy in Japan over the relocation of U.S. Marines on Okinawa and concluded the recent election "could further cloud the future of the realignment process."
11) The Jubilee USA Network welcomed the IMF decision to cancel Haiti's $268 million debt to the IMF but expressed serious concern about the IMF's decision to provide $60 million in financing support as a new loan. "Now we must raise our voices again to make sure the Fund understands that a loan of any kind is completely inappropriate for a country in such desperate need," said the Executive Director of the Jubilee USA Network.
1) Afghan Deadline Is Cutting Two Ways
David E. Sanger, New York Times, July 21, 2010
Washington - When President Obama announced a new strategy for Afghanistan in December, he argued that by setting a deadline of next summer to begin drawing down troops he would create a sense of urgency for the Afghan government to take the lead in the fight, while acknowledging the limits of America's patience with the longest war in its history.
But over the past two weeks - on Capitol Hill, in Kabul and even in conversations with foreign leaders - Mr. Obama has been reminded how the goal has become what one senior American military commander called a "double-edged sword," one that hangs over the White House as surely as it hangs over President Hamid Karzai.
The absence of serious progress this year has sown new doubts, here and abroad, that Mr. Obama will be able to reach even the scaled-down goals he set for America's mission in the time he laid out in his speech at West Point seven months ago. The result is that the fierce debate over whether the war is worth the cost - a debate that Mr. Obama did not want to join until the Taliban suffered some losses - is unwinding one summer earlier than he had hoped.
Mr. Obama has begun losing critical political figures and strategists who are increasingly vocal in arguing that the benefits of continuing on the current course for at least another year, and probably longer, are greatly outweighed by the escalating price.
For two months [longer, actually - JFP], Democrats in Congress have been holding up billions of dollars in additional financing for the war, longer than they ever delayed similar requests from President George W. Bush. Most Republican leaders have largely backed a continued commitment, but the White House was surprised the other day when one of Mr. Obama's mentors on foreign policy issues in the Senate, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, argued that "the lack of clarity in Afghanistan does not end with the president's timetable," and that both the military and civilian missions were "proceeding without a clear definition of success."
"We could make progress for decades on security, on employment, good governance, women's rights," he said, without ever reaching "a satisfying conclusion."
The allies, voicing similar concerns, have abandoned most talk of a conditions-based withdrawal in favor of harder timetables. Britain's new prime minister, David Cameron, did his best to sound as though he and Mr. Obama were on the same page during his first visit to the White House on Tuesday, but he also told a BBC interviewer while in Washington, "We're not going to be there in five years' time." The Dutch leave this fall, and the Canadians say they intend to follow suit by the end of 2011.
All this has made it harder than ever for Mr. Obama to convince the Afghans and the Pakistanis that the West's commitment is enduring. "Politically, the support is absolutely crumbling," said David Gordon, a former top official on the National Intelligence Council and at the State Department who is now at the Eurasia Group. "You can't hide that from the players in the region, and when they see it, it makes them hedge even more, preparing for the post-American era."
But when granted anonymity, some senior White House officials who a few months ago said that this would be "the year of Kandahar" - referring to plans to retake control of the city that was the spiritual center of the Taliban - now acknowledge that the chances of progress there are growing more remote.
From the start of Mr. Obama's review of the war's strategy last year, he and his advisers debated the debilitating effects of what one called "the weariness factor." Their calculation was that the withdrawal from Iraq, combined with the 18-month limit on the troop increase established by Mr. Obama, would quiet critics in his own party. That assessment proved optimistic. Earlier this month, 153 Democrats, including the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, voted in favor of an amendment that would have required a clear timetable for withdrawal. Only 98 Democrats joined Republicans in defeating it.
But over the long term, what may be more damaging is the fact that members of the foreign policy establishment, even those who vigorously supported ousting the Taliban in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, are gaining traction with arguments that the White House has simply failed to make the case that the rising cost is worth it.
"After nearly nine years of war," Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior official in Mr. Bush's State Department, wrote over the weekend in Newsweek, "continued or increased U.S. involvement in Afghanistan isn't likely to yield lasting improvements that would be commensurate in any way with the investment of American blood and treasure. It is time to scale down our ambitions there and both reduce and redirect what we do."
2) Jewish group petitions TIAA-CREF to divest from Israel
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 20, 2010
A Jewish grass-roots organization is petitioning a major financial services provider to divest from holdings in companies it says profit from Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
Jewish Voice for Peace has organized a campaign asking TIAA-CREF, one of the world's largest providers of financial services, to stop investing in companies it says "proﬁt from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem." Among the companies listed are Caterpillar, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Veolia and Elbit.
The organization hopes to have 15,000 signatures on a divestment petition in time for TIAA-CREF's annual meeting Tuesday. As of Monday there were 12,000 signers.
Caterpillar benefits from the demolition of Palestinian homes and Veolia profits from a landfill it operates in the West Bank, while Motorola, Northrop Grumman and Elbit all profit from security systems and military services they provide to Israel, according to Jewish Voice for Peace.
3) U.S. Senator Warns Aid to Haiti Is at Risk
Nicholas Casey, Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2010
The U.S. risks wasting the aid it is offering earthquake-torn Haiti, a Senate report to be released Thursday says. The government has failed to make basic reforms such as ensuring transparent elections and reducing barriers for private investment, according to the report "Without Reform, No Return on Investment in Haiti," by Sen. Richard Lugar (R., Ind.), who criticized Haitian President Rene Préval's leadership during the crisis.
"President Préval's actions do not suggest a departure from the self-destructive political behavior that has kept Haiti the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere," the report said. "If reforms ... do not occur, American taxpayer investments in Haiti, beyond essential humanitarian aid, should be reassessed."
The censure, from the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, marks the latest escalation between the Haitian government and its principal foreign benefactor.
The U.S. has promised to deliver more than $2.8 billion to Haiti, but in recent months concerns have grown among U.S. lawmakers that the money won't spur needed changes like direct foreign investment.
A main concern, according to the report, has to do with the difficulty of reconstructing Haiti's private sector.
Private enterprises suffered more than 70% of the Jan. 12 earthquake's total damage, yet the country remains one of the Caribbean's most difficult in which to begin a business due to government red tape, the report says. Haitian entrepreneurs are hobbled by lack of credit in the country, and the Haitian government has done little to change regulatory barriers, it says.
The report suggests the establishment of a fund administered by Haitian and American bankers, underwritten with a U.S. government grant, to provide loans for private businesses.
Mr. Préval hasn't been receptive to earlier suggestions from the Senate. After Sen. Lugar recommended an international team restructure Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, which has been accused of being loyal to the president, Mr. Préval rejected the proposal, saying it would cause "anarchy."
The report warns that current efforts to rebuild Haiti could follow U.S. attempts to aid the country which it called unsuccessful.Since 1990, the U.S. has given roughly $4 billion in aid to Haiti, yet the effort has "not delivered many improvements," the report said.
4) U.S. to end ban on Indonesia's special forces, angering human rights groups
Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, Friday, July 23, 2010; A10
Jakarta - The U.S. military said Thursday that it will resume relations with Indonesia's special forces, an elite group blamed for atrocities and repression during the country's dark years of authoritarianism.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in a visit here, said the United States will end its 12-year prohibition on contacts and assistance to the special forces after the Obama administration concluded that the unit had cleaned up its ranks and is committed to human rights.
"These initial steps will take place within the limits of U.S. law and do not signal any lessening of the importance we place on human rights and accountability," Gates said after meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. "Our ability to expand upon these initial steps will depend on continued implementation of reforms."
Although the Pentagon has been pressing for years to resume contact with the Indonesian special forces, human rights groups and some U.S. lawmakers have resisted, arguing that the unit has stymied efforts to hold current and former military leaders responsible for kidnappings, assassinations and other crimes.
"This decision is a stunning betrayal of the standards the U.S. has," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. She added that it will "have ramifications well beyond Indonesia, in effect telegraphing to abusive militaries worldwide that the Obama administration's human rights standards are up for negotiation."
U.S. officials described the end of the ban as a key development in their attempt to develop closer ties with Indonesia, a country of 238 million people, most of them moderate Muslims, that has embraced democracy since emerging in 1998 from decades of dictatorship.
The Indonesian special forces, known as Komando Pasukan Khusus, or Kopassus, have about 5,000 members but exert outsized influence on the Indonesian government. The president's brother-in-law is a former member, as are high-ranking members of the Indonesian military.
After months of negotiations with the Indonesians, U.S. defense officials said the White House and State Department had approved of the resumption of contacts with Kopassus just before Gates's arrival in Jakarta on Wednesday. The United States resumed regular ties with the remainder of Indonesia's military in 2005.
U.S. defense officials said Indonesia has cleansed Kopassus's ranks of people convicted of human rights violations and has pledged to prosecute any future cases in civilian courts. They also said that the special forces have professionalized their ranks over the past decade and that a new generation of officers with untainted reputations is now in charge.
Under a 1997 measure sponsored by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the United States is prohibited from having contact with foreign military units that have a pattern of human rights violations and have resisted efforts to hold abusers accountable, even for crimes committed long ago. The State Department also has a policy of vetting officers from foreign militaries before they are allowed to participate in U.S. training programs.
Kopassus served as a brutal arm of the military during long reign of Indonesian dictator Suharto, crushing communist sympathizers and repressing opponents in East Timor, Aceh and Papua. Suharto was deposed in 1998.
Indonesia has subsequently convicted about a dozen Kopassus officers for abuses during Suharto's rule. But advocacy groups noted that many have been allowed to return to duty, including some who have taken senior positions in the Indonesian military.
5) Overseas military spending comes under congressional scrutiny
John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes, July 21, 2010
Stuttgart, Germany - As the Army's transformation in Europe moves forward, with a string of base closures planned in the year ahead, a group of lawmakers has launched a campaign to further cut the U.S. military presence in Europe and Asia.
Against the backdrop of a burgeoning national deficit and years of massive increases in defense spending, the restructuring plan meant to save taxpayers $80 billion in overseas military spending has reignited the debate in Congress over the future of U.S. military bases abroad.
"I do not think we should be spending money to have troops in Germany 65 years after World War II. We have a terrible deficit and we have to cut back," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, who is spearheading a House effort to cut defense spending. "NATO was a wonderful concept. But 61 years later, I think it's time to say our western European allies should be on their own. We'll cooperate with them, but we shouldn't be subsidizing their defense."
Frank and several other lawmakers are calling for the elimination of one Air Force fighter wing overseas, one Army brigade combat team in Europe and two reinforced Marine Corps infantry battalions in Okinawa as part of a proposal to shave $1 trillion from defense spending worldwide over the next 10 years. The plan also would curtail spending on many expensive weapons systems. Frank hopes the recommendations will be included in next year's Deficit Reduction Plan, which is being drafted by an 18-member commission assembled by President Barack Obama and has a Dec. 1 deadline.
Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, said "all spending, including the Defense Department, must be subject to scrutiny" but would not offer any specific backing to Frank's plan.
The U.S. military is shrinking its footprint in Europe by consolidating a number of bases into five main hubs. It recently announced the closure of 22 Army installations between 2010 and 2015. But leaders have been resistant to eliminating Army brigades, saying that those forces are needed to work with Europe allies and deter threats.
In addition to Frank's proposal, politicians on both sides of the aisle are zeroing in on expenditures abroad. For instance, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, an advocate for relocating more troops stateside, says too much money is being spent on overseas base construction projects.
"If the United States really wants to assure our allies and deter our enemies, we should do it with strong military capabilities and sound policy - not by keeping troops stationed overseas, not siphoning funds from equipment and arms and putting it into duplicative military construction," Bailey said during a July 13 speech on the Senate floor.
To be sure, more lawmakers are questioning strategic assumptions that have long escaped serious challenge. At the heart of the argument over Europe is whether a large-scale American military presence on the continent is an outdated Cold War relic or a vital piece in a much larger strategic puzzle.
The Sustainable Defense Task Force, the group of defense analysts established by Frank, released its finding in June. The task force's report - Debts, Deficits and Defense: A Way Forward - contends that significant cuts can be made without compromising national security. Among the recommendations: cut the troop presence in Asia from to 65,000 from the current 76,500.
Frank says there is no longer any reason to keep Marines in Okinawa in an age when the central security threat facing the U.S. is terrorism, not a conventional war in east Asia. Moving the Marine command elements, including 8,000 Marines and their families, from Okinawa to Guam has been in the works for years. The target date for the transfer is 2014.
In Europe, about 35,000 of the current level of about 75,000 would be retained under the task force's plan.
"The question that motivated us was, 'What is most essential for our defense?' Our assessment is there is no likely contingency in Europe that will ever require a deployment of troops the size we have there," said task force member Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives. "There is both cost and risk, but you have to weigh it against the economic problems we are facing. The financial problem is a national security problem and we need to make sure we have capacity for the long haul."
Russia's intentions are unclear, but Europe would most likely respond in different ways to a reduced American presence, according to Paul Ingram, executive director of the British American Security Information Council, which examines trans-Atlantic security and arms control issues.
"Western Europeans would be quite comfortable with an American drawdown. If you look at the military doctrines of any western European government, they don't perceive any threats beyond terrorism [and] the proliferation of weapons. No one is concerned about invasion," said Ingram. "But it's very different in central and eastern Europe where a significant drawdown of conventional forces would be seen as problematic by them.
Despite the end of the Cold War there is still a perceived threat from Russia."
While Europeans are divided on the Russia threat, so are American politicians.
From Frank's perspective, the concept of reassuring allies from a Russian threat is a case of "cultural lag." At this point, European countries "are big enough and rich enough to reassure themselves," Frank said. "Secondly, no one knows what we are reassuring them against. There is no more threat."
6) UAW, Rainbow PUSH join for 'Jobs, Justice and Peace'
National march in Detroit August 28 to kick off campaign
Diane Bukowski, Michigan Citizen, July 18, 2010
Detroit - A rising tide of hope for the future hit Detroit July 12. Rainbow PUSH leader Jesse Jackson and prominent union, church and community representatives kicked off a campaign to rebuild the nation's cities, provide jobs and education, enact a moratorium on foreclosures, and end the wars in the Middle East.
United Auto Workers President Bob King and Jackson are the key leaders of the Jobs, Justice and Peace campaign, which was unveiled at a press conference in UAW Solidarity House on E. Jefferson. They announced that a march in Detroit on Aug. 28, the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963 march on Washington, D.C., will kick it off. King hosted a Freedom Walk of 125,000 in Detroit that June, where he first gave his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.
Speakers targeted the nation's banks, corporations and war as the culprits responsible for the misery of its people.
"The government bailed out the banks with our tax dollars, but the banks never reinvested in our country," Jackson said. "Instead, they say to urban American 'austerity and deficit reduction,' and have foreclosed four million more homes this year.
"The public sector is under attack, public education and public housing are being cut, but Congress just voted $6 billion more for the war in Afghanistan. [Actually, $33 billion is the standard number for the Afghanistan war in the supplemental, which is expected to come back to the House next week, as the Senate and House, which have both passed it, have not yet passed the same version - JFP]
7) UK troops could start leaving Afghanistan next year, says Cameron
Prime minister says British troops could start being withdrawn next year, but decision will be 'based on conditions on the ground'
Patrick Wintour, Jon Boone and Mark Tran, Guardian.co.uk, 21 July 2010
Britain could start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as early as next year depending on conditions there, David Cameron said today following a meeting with Barack Obama in Washington yesterday.
The prime minister raised the prospect that a pullout of Britain's 9,500 troops could begin next year when asked whether the UK could emulate the US, which hopes to start withdrawing its forces from next July. "Yes we can, but it should be based on the conditions on the ground," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"I mean, the faster we can transition districts and provinces to Afghan control, clearly the faster that some forces can be brought home. I don't want to raise expectations about that because that transition should be based on how well the security situation is progressing."
Although hedging his bets about the start of a withdrawal next year, Cameron said the British public should be clear that, by 2015, the UK would not have "combat troops or large numbers" in Afghanistan "because I think it's important to give people an end date by which we won't be continuing in that way".
Speaking on the second day of his visit to Washington today, Cameron played down suggestions that he was shifting Afghan policy by stressing his remarks were in line with the previous Labour government policy. He said the start of a withdrawal next year remained a goal, rather than a firm deadline.
The desire of Obama and Cameron to start pulling out combat troops next year, however, could put them at loggerheads with General David Petraeus, the new US commander in Afghanistan.
Plans to begin handing control of provinces to Afghan security forces by the end of this year have been quietly dropped amid fears among European countries that Petraeus is less committed to a speedy transfer of power.
The change of tack, revealed in the final communique from yesterday's historic international conference in Kabul, reflects Petraeus's concerns that security conditions in Afghanistan are too weak for a transition of power to begin as quickly as originally planned, a Nato official told the Guardian.
Although the conference agreed that the security needs of the country will have to be met by the Afghan army and police by 2014, major European troop contributors were looking forward to more rapid progress in the relatively stable north and west, where Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and other nations have personnel.
Beneath the diplomatic niceties, it became clear that plans first agreed by Nato ministers at a meeting in Estonia in April had been quietly dropped. Nato had hoped that, by the end of this year, a cluster of neighbouring provinces in the north-west of the country would have begun the handover to the Afghan army and police force.
But in the final agreement of the conference, a reference to transition taking place on a "province by province" basis, which appeared in an earlier draft, had been removed. A Nato official said the change reflected Petraeus's wish to slow the pace of the transfer of power. European powers had wanted to announce which provinces would be handed over at a summit of foreign ministers in Lisbon in November.
The official said: "For Petraeus, Lisbon is not a problem. His main concern is the US political timetable, and being able by next summer to show progress that won't unravel."
According to the official, the slowing of the timetable sparked a heated exchange between Petraeus and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary general, during a video conference last week.
Speaking before this week's conference, a senior European diplomat said Petraeus's approach was far less welcome than that of his predecessor, Stanley McChrystal. "Petraeus is trying to slow everything down, pushing back any announcement of transition until 2011," the diplomat said.
8) Israeli Arab who 'raped' a woman says verdict 'racist'
BBC, 21 July 2010
An Arab man convicted in Israel of rape because he pretended he was a Jew when he had consensual sex with a Jewish woman has called the verdict racist. Sabbar Kashur, 30, was found guilty of "rape by deception" by the Israeli court and sentenced to 18 months in jail.
According to the complaint filed by the woman, the two met in a Jerusalem street in 2008 and had sex that day. When she discovered he was not Jewish, but an Arab, she went to the police. Kashur was arrested and charged with rape and indecent assault, but the charges were later replaced by a different charge of "rape by deception".
But according to Kashur, he did not pretend to be Jewish. He told reporters that he is known by friends and family by the nickname Dudu, which is more commonly used by Jews called David.
He has been under house arrest for two years, he said. "If I were Jewish, they wouldn't have even questioned me," the Haaretz newspaper quoted him as saying. "That's not called rape, I didn't rape her in the forest and and throw her away naked. She agreed to everything that happened."
A lawyer with the Public Defenders' Office said the court had gone too far. "The test the court used is problematic," said Elkana Laist. "Every time a man tells a woman he loves her, based on which she sleeps with him, he could be convicted of rape."
Kashur's lawyers say he will appeal against the sentence. Around 20% of Israel's population are of Arab descent.
9) U.S. Gen. Odierno Presses Case For $2B In Funding To Rebuild Iraq
Roxana Tiron, The Hill, 07/21/10
The United States will need to provide financial assistance to Iraq for at least three more years to help build up the country's military, according to Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. general in Iraq. "It's very important that we continue at some level […] to provide some support," Odierno said Wednesday at a breakfast with defense reporters.
Odierno's case for more U.S. funding in Iraq comes as some leading lawmakers are planning to significantly cut the Obama administration's request of $2 billion for the Iraqi security forces in fiscal year 2011.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has already decided to slash $1 billion from the request, arguing it is time for Iraq to put its own money into the military.
"Some of us feel pretty strongly about this issue: That it's time - given the amount of money that Iraq is taking in oil revenue and the fact they cut their own defense budget in half in the parliament - it's kind of hard to justify putting billions of dollars in for the Iraq army, OK?" Levin said during a press briefing in June when he announced his panel's work on the 2011 defense authorization bill.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the top Republican on the armed services panel said the U.S. needs to stay focused and pay attention to the formation of the Iraqi government and continue to support the Iraqi government and military to "maintain their capabilities." McCain strongly opposes the $1 billion cut to the administration's request and is expected to fight it when the Senate takes up the defense bill.
10) Obama's Okinawa Plan Hits New Snags - in D.C.
Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2010
The Obama administration's plans to realign forces on Okinawa is running into new roadblocks - in Washington. In addition to political delays in Japan, the White House and Pentagon are now having trouble getting funding on a Capitol Hill for a key component of the plan, which involves shifting thousands of Marines from Japan's southern island to Guam.
At the beginning of the year, the Obama administration requested $452 million in the current budget to pay for the relocation by building new facilities in Guam. But the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Appropriation committee voted to cut $320 million from that request. This week, the House Appropriations committee voted to cut a smaller amount, $273 million, from the funding for the Guam move.
In making its cuts, the Senate Appropriations Committee noted the recent controversy in Japan over the relocation of U.S. Marines on Okinawa and concluded the recent election "could further cloud the future of the realignment process." The Senate noted that the Okinawa government has yet to approve a landfill permit crucial to building a new runway at Camp Schwab. (The Japanese government is now waiting for the November governor's election to seek that crucial local approval.)
The budget cuts aren't the only signs of Washington opposition to the Marine's complex Okinawa plan. Veteran Democratic Rep. Barney Frank has made waves by calling on the Marines to pull out of Okinawa altogether.
But Congressional budgeteers say they weren't intending to signal to Tokyo that the U.S. was backing away from the plan to move Marines to Guam - and insisted the Japanese wouldn't take it that way.
"We think the government of Japan is very sophisticated and understands our system of government," said a Congressional staff member. "They understand that if we are going to do this move our goal is to make it work as smoothly as possible."
Congressional staff members said the problems in building new facilities for the Marines in Guam loomed even larger than the politics in Japan in their decision to cut funding.
The Senate appropriations committee said they remained concerned about Guam's inadequate water, electrical, road and sewer infrastructure - and said inadequate planning had gone in to preparing for the nonmilitary aspects of the move.
The House Appropriation Committee report echoed the Senate findings about Guam, and said it had made the cuts because of the Defense Department's "inability to address numerous concerns about the sustainability of the buildup as currently planned."
Most critically to the Guam buildup, the Environmental Protection Agency has called the military construction plan for Guam "environmentally unsatisfactory." Those concerns have caused the military to delay an environmental impact study that must be completed before construction is to begin. "If you can't get the permits you can't build," said another congressional staff member. "If you can't build it, you don't need the money."
11) IMF Takes Two Steps Forward and One Step Back on Haiti
Jubilee USA Encouraged by IMF's Debt Cancellation for Haiti, Concerned by New Loan
Jubilee USA Network, July 22, 2010
Jubilee USA Network welcomes the International Monetary Fund Executive Board's decision to cancel Haiti's $268 million debt to the institution in response to the January 12 earthquake. Yet the IMF's decision to provide $60 million in financing support as a new loan raises serious concerns.
When the IMF provided emergency assistance to Haiti as a $102 million loan after the earthquake, Jubilee USA and allies world-wide mobilized, calling for all of Haiti's debt to international financial institutions, including the post-quake IMF loan, to be cancelled.
The Fund's launch of the Post-Catastrophe Debt Relief Trust Fund, through which Haiti's debt cancellation will be financed, represents an important step forward for the IMF as it initiates a concrete framework that provides debt cancellation and grant support to countries which face devastation beyond their control.
"It is indeed a victory that the International Monetary Fund responded to calls from civil society and governments around the world to cancel Haiti's debts. Now we must raise our voices again to make sure the Fund understands that a loan of any kind is completely inappropriate for a country in such desperate need," says Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network.
Just Foreign Policy
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