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JFP 9/16: 54% of Americans think the U.S. "should not be involved in Afghanistan"
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 16 September 2010 - 6:07pm
Just Foreign Policy News
September 16, 2010
Send the Afghanistan Study Group report to your reps in Congress
It's short. It's accessible. Implementing its recommendations would help end the war. Your representatives in Congress - and their staffs - should read it. Send them the report.
WMNF radio (Tampa): "Two views on the Middle East peace talks"
Just Foreign Policy vs. the Israeli Consul General in Miami.
Military Prosecution Demands More Than Two Years Imprisonment for Bil'in's Abdallah Abu Rahmah
"The prosecution demanded Abu Rahmah will be sent to prison for a period exceeding two years, saying that as an organizer, a harsh sentence is required to serve as a deterrence not only for Abu Rahmah himself, but to others who may follow in his footsteps as well. This statement by the prosecution affirms the political motivation behind the indictment, and the concern raised by EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, that 'the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahma is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non violent manner.'"
You can ask Secretary of State Clinton to speak out, as Europe's Catherine Ashton has, by calling the State Department's comment line at 202-647-6575 and pressing 1.
Or you can send a letter through the State Department's website, by following the instructions given at the end of this post:
Bacevich: Washington Rules
Andrew Bacevich's book, "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War," is a call for Americans to reject the Washington consensus for permanent war.
September 24th: JFP "Virtual Brown Bag" with Andrew Bacevich
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1) 54% of Americans think that the U.S. "should not be involved in Afghanistan now," the New York Times reports. 38% think "the U.S. is doing the right thing by fighting the war in Afghanistan now."
2) The key point to remember is that Al Qaeda can organize small clandestine cells in a wide variety of places (including Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Europe, or even the US itself) and that Afghanistan no longer offers it any particular strategic advantages, writes Afghanistan Study Group member Steven Walt in Foreign Policy. Victory in Afghanistan won't eliminate al Qaeda, and a reduced U.S. presence there won't allow it to become significantly stronger. Moreover, a recent New Yorker profile of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed suggests the existence of a "safe haven" in Afghanistan had relatively little to do with the 9/11 attacks. KSM operated primarily out of an apartment in Karachi, while the attackers themselves were mostly based in Hamburg. The proper lesson to draw is that defeating al Qaeda does not depend on victory over the Taliban, and keeping 100,000-plus troops in Central Asia is probably counterproductive to the larger effort against anti-American terrorists. The war in Afghanistan has become a fool's errand that is neither essential to U.S. national security nor likely to produce a satisfactory outcome. The US will eventually have to come up with an alternative approach. The ASG report was intended to accelerate the strategic reassessment its authors believe is inevitable.
3) The International Institute for Strategic Studies says the threat posed by al-Qaida and the Taliban is exaggerated and the western-led counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan risks becoming a "long, drawn-out disaster," the Guardian reported, describing IISS as " one of the world's leading security thinktanks." "It is not clear why it should be axiomatically obvious that an Afghanistan freed of an international combat presence in the south would be an automatic magnet for al-Qaida's concentrated reconstruction," the IISS director-general, John Chipman, said. Al-Qaida is now "engaged in Pakistan in very small numbers", not remotely comparable to the situation in Afghanistan pre-September 2001, Nigel Inkster, an IISS director and former deputy chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, said. No such threat is likely to come from al-Qaida elsewhere, including Yemen and Somalia, he added.
4) The decision by an independent commission to shutter more than 1,000 polling centers for Afghanistan's parliamentary elections Saturday has effectively disenfranchised 1.5 million Afghans, David Nakamura reports in the Washington Post. The affected voters, who represent about 12 percent of the country's estimated 13 million voters, are clustered largely in Afghanistan's east and south. Many people in these areas are, like the Taliban, ethnic Pashtuns, a population that has felt underrepresented in government since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
5) The Obama Administration is considering invoking the "state secrets doctrine" to obtain the dismissal of an ACLU/CCR lawsuit against the targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki for assassination, the New York Times reports. It is also considering a declaration that in war who can be targeted - and where - is a "political question" for the executive branch to decide, not judges. But this would put the Administration in the position of arguing that the U.S. is at war in Yemen.
6) Senior State Department and US military officials are deeply divided over the pace and scale of military aid to Yemen, the New York Times reports. Central Command has proposed supplying Yemen with $1.2 billion in military equipment and training over the next six years. Opponents fear US weapons could be used against political enemies of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and provoke a backlash that could further destabilize the country. State Department officials said the May 25 US airstrike that killed the deputy governor of Marib Province underscored the need for less reliance on US airstrikes and greater emphasis on improving the ability of Yemeni forces.
7) Confidence in the Haitian government's ability to hold a credible poll is being undermined by allegations that President Préval is attempting to sway the election, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Details of an Aug. 16 meeting between Préval and members of Haiti's election commission (CEP) has observers questioning whether the CEP rejected candidates based on politics instead of the Constitution. The meeting came days before the CEP disqualified hip-hop star Wyclef Jean and 14 other candidates from running. "I have someone at the palace who told me about the meeting between Préval and the CEP," said Haitian Sen. Youri Latortue. "In the meeting they decided which people would be on the list." One of the rejected candidacies was Haiti's former ambassador to the US, Raymond Joseph. "I did hear that a first list came out which said I was approved, then another list came out and I wasn't on it," Joseph said. "I don't think the international community should condone such arbitrary acts and I don't think they should finance it." The CEP excluded 14 political parties from parliamentary elections and seven political parties from presidential elections, including Fanmi Lavalas, the popular party of former President Aristide. The CEP's decision to exclude Fanmi Lavalas defied a recommendation from the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations.
8) A study by the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute said the vast majority of firearms seized from criminal organizations in Mexico have come from the US in recent years, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports. Of an estimated 80,000 total firearms seized from late 2006 to February 2010, roughly 62,800, or 80 percent, came from the US based on data and analysis provided by the ATF. The authors propose a new law that would require authorities be notified when multiple purchases of military-style weapons are made in the US in a short period of time.
9) The influential CNC farmers confederation said NAFTA has done more harm to Mexico than Spain did during the colonial period, EFE reports. Mexico finds its food sovereignty diminished by half, according to the CNC, a group with traditional ties to the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. Imports now account for 33 percent of the corn and 75 percent of the rice consumed in the country. NAFTA was negotiated and signed during the PRI's tenure in power, but some elements of the party have joined voices on the left in calling for a revision of the trade pact.
1) New York Times/CBS News Poll: Mood of the Country as Midterms Approach
New York Times, 9/10-14/10
81. Do you think the result of the war with Iraq was worth the loss of American lives and other costs of attacking Iraq, or not?
8/11-12/03: Worth it: 46 Not Worth It: 45 DK/NA: 9
9/10-14/10: Worth it: 23 Not Worth It: 71 DK/NA: 6
82. Do you think the U.S. is doing the right thing by fighting the war in Afghanistan now, or should the U.S. not be involved in Afghanistan now?
9/19-23/09: Right thing: 47 Not involved: 42 54 DK/NA 11 9
9/10-14/10: Right thing: 38 Not involved: 54 DK/NA 9
2) Defending the Afghan Study Group Report
Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The Afghanistan Study Group report that I wrote about last week is getting some predictable flak from people who hold different views about U.S. strategy there.
It is hardly surprising, for example, that Andrew Exum lavished high praise on Joshua Foust's extended rant against the report. Exum is a counterinsurgency enthusiast and was a vocal advocate of escalating the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. As such, he is hardly likely to favor a report that questions the wisdom of this approach, despite his telling admission that our current strategy is "troubled."
It is of course possible that Exum will one day be proven right, but one would have more faith in his judgment if the situation in Afghanistan had not gone from bad to worse since Obama took his advice. Obama began escalating the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan shortly after he took office, and since then we've had a fraudulent presidential election, an inconclusive offensive in Marjah, a delayed and downgraded operation in Kandahar, and a run on the corrupt Bank of Kabul. Casualty levels are up, and aid groups in Afghanistan now report that the security situation is worse than ever, despite a heightened U.S. presence.
This situation is no accident, as Anatol Lieven outlines here. Rather, it reflects our enduring ignorance about Afghan society and the folly of trying to build a Western-style centralized government in a multi-ethnic society that is notoriously suspicious of foreign occupiers and where the prerequisites for a Western-style political order are lacking. Given the actual situation on the ground (and the condition of the U.S. economy), the Study Group concluded that it did not make sense to spend $100 billion or more per year trying to "nation-build" in a country whose entire GNP is about $14 billion.
As for Foust, his main criticism seems to be that the Study Group didn't consult as many Afghan experts as he would have liked, or provide a lot of nitty-gritty empirical detail to back up our analysis. This latter complaint is partly valid, but largely beside the point. Our objective was to encourage U.S. leaders to rethink the strategic stakes at issue in Afghanistan, to help them understand why the current U.S. strategy wasn't working, and to outline a plausible alternative approach. Despite his overheated rhetoric, Foust says he agrees with most of that, and he also agrees that the current U.S. approach is wrong-headed. Yet he is so eager to cast cold water on the report that he dismisses virtually all of its recommendations, even on obviously specious grounds. For example, he criticizes our call for greater effort to engaging regional partners by saying "it's been tried." But what's his alternative: that we refrain from trying to get regional stakeholders to help us neutralize the conflict? And isn't it palpably obvious that any enduring solution to the Afghan mess is going to require a lot of buy-in from its neighbors?
Moreover, Foust can't even get our arguments straight. He claims that we recommend turning Afghanistan into a "Special Forces and drone firing range," which is simply false. Like President Obama, we argued that America's only vital strategic interest in Afghanistan was to prevent it from becoming a "safe haven" that would materially increase al Qaeda's capabilities and thus make it a significantly greater threat to the United States. This situation could only occur if 1) the Taliban regained power, 2) Al Qaeda moved back into Afghan territory in strength, and 3) if it once again created large bases in which to train a substantial number of new cadres and thus become significantly more dangerous. We pointed out that if that were to happen - and it is hardly a foregone conclusion that it will - such large bases would be readily visible and could be targeted in a variety of ways. And unlike the 1990s, when the Clinton administration vacillated about attacking al Qaeda's compounds, there were would be little debate about going after large al Qaeda encampments today. As Greg Scoblete notes here this sort of campaign does not requires a large scale U.S. military presence, and it is far cry from turning the entire country into a "firing range."
The key point to remember is that Al Qaeda can organize small clandestine cells in a wide variety of places (including Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Europe, or even the United States itself) and that Afghanistan no longer offers it any particular strategic advantages. Indeed, even if we succeed beyond our wildest dreams in Afghanistan, the government in Kabul would not be able to prevent al Qaeda from re-establishing clandestine cells on Afghan soil. In short, victory in Afghanistan won't eliminate al Qaeda, and a reduced U.S. presence there won't allow it to become significantly stronger. And if that is the case, what vital national interest is at stake?
Moreover, Terry McDermott's recent New Yorker profile of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed suggests that the existence of a "safe haven" in Afghanistan had relatively little to do with the attacks that the United States suffered on that fateful day in 2001. McDermott reports that KSM operated primarily out of an apartment in Karachi, while the attackers themselves were mostly based in Hamburg. The proper lesson to draw is that defeating al Qaeda does not depend on victory over the Taliban, and keeping 100,000-plus troops in Central Asia is probably counterproductive to the larger effort against anti-American terrorists.
The bottom line is that these various critiques have not damaged the report's central conclusion: The war in Afghanistan has become a fool's errand that is neither essential to U.S. national security nor likely to produce a satisfactory outcome. It is also an increasingly expensive undertaking, and a major distraction for U.S. leaders at a time when there is no shortage of problems to address. The current strategy is unlikely to work, and the United States and its allies will eventually have to come up with an alternative approach. Our report was intended to accelerate the strategic reassessment that we believe is inevitable, and I hope that interested citizens will read it, along with the views of our critics.
3) Al-Qaida and Taliban threat is exaggerated, says security thinktank
Strategy institute challenges idea that troops are needed in Afghanistan to stop export of terrorism to west
Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian, Tuesday 7 September 2010 15.49 BST http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/07/al-qaida-taliban-threat-afghanistan
The threat posed by al-Qaida and the Taliban is exaggerated and the western-led counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan risks becoming a "long, drawn-out disaster", one of the world's leading security thinktanks warned today.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the west's counter-insurgency strategy has "ballooned" out of proportion to the original aim of preventing al-Qaida from mounting terrorist attacks there, and must be replaced by a less ambitious but more sensible policy of "containment and deterrence".
The critique of the US- and British-backed military policy is contained in the latest strategic survey from the IISS, a respected but usually uncontroversial body. IISS officers made clear today they have departed from their normal practice because of the serious threat to the west's security interests in pursuing the current Afghan strategy.
In an effort to ignite a fresh debate and bring about a new approach towards Afghanistan, they challenge claims, not least from David Cameron, that the presence of thousands of British troops in Afghanistan is necessary to prevent al-Qaida from returning and thus increasing the threat to the UK.
"It is not clear why it should be axiomatically obvious that an Afghanistan freed of an international combat presence in the south would be an automatic magnet for al-Qaida's concentrated reconstruction," the IISS director-general, John Chipman, said.
Al-Qaida is now "engaged in Pakistan in very small numbers", not remotely comparable to the situation in Afghanistan pre-September 2001, Nigel Inkster, an IISS director and former deputy chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, said. No such threat is likely to come from al-Qaida elsewhere, including Yemen and Somalia, he added.
4) For Afghans, A Further Disconnect
Afghans fear election disenfranchisement could harm government support
David Nakamura, Washington Post, Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Kabul - The decision by an independent commission to shutter more than 1,000 polling centers for Afghanistan's parliamentary elections Saturday has been touted as a way to reduce ballot fraud in unstable regions and produce transparent results that will restore the public's faith in the democratic process.
But among the estimated 1.5 million Afghans who have been effectively disenfranchised, it may have a very different effect. Residents and candidates in these places, mostly remote villages in dangerous southern and eastern provinces, said they worry that the move will deepen ethnic rivalries by creating electoral imbalances and accelerate a growing disengagement from the Afghan central government that has fed the Taliban's resurgence.
"In most of these places, the communities already have been somehow disconnected. People are living under very difficult circumstances," said Ahmad Nader Nadery, chairman of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan. "This will give them more of a feeling they are left at the mercy of the Taliban and no major initiative is being taken to bring them back into the fold or provide them security."
That is precisely the scenario that the Independent Election Commission hoped to avoid when it announced this summer that it would close 1,019 of the country's 6,835 polling centers. After last year's fraud-plagued presidential election, in which Hamid Karzai was returned to office amid allegations of ballot stuffing and forged voter registration cards, commission officials and international groups hoped that the move would prevent abuses at insecure, poorly monitored polling stations. In 2009, the commission had planned to shut only a few hundred stations, but the election day chaos led hundreds more to be left out of the final vote tallies.
This year, the affected voters, who represent about 12 percent of the country's estimated 13 million voters, are clustered largely in Afghanistan's east and south. Many people in these areas are, like the Taliban, ethnic Pashtuns, a population that has felt underrepresented in government since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
Though Karzai is a Pashtun, much of his cabinet is composed of ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. The inability of large segments of the Pashtun population to participate in the elections has led some to fear that they will be even further marginalized in the next parliament.
For example, in Ghazni, a diverse province of 1.3 million people, officials have closed 107 of the 379 polling centers, said Said Ismail Jahangir, spokesman for the governor, Mohammad Musa Akbar Zaba.
Risal Di Aji A'ha, a Pashtun who lives in the Ajristan district of Ghazni, complained that most of the shuttered centers are in Pashtun areas.
The decision to close a polling station in the village of Sarkand in the eastern province of Nangahar shocked Malik Nazir Gul, an elder who joined other residents in petitioning the provincial office to reconsider. They pledged to provide their own security at the polls if the government was unable to do so, he said.
Instead, the provincial office instructed the 3,000 Sarkand households to cast their ballots in Kaskoot. That village would take more than an hour to reach by car over recently flooded roads that are littered with improvised explosive devices planted by insurgents, Gul said.
"I think that the security commander of the province thought it was better to close down stations to make his job easier," he said. "Our worry is that the district will sort of be deleted [from representation], and people are very angry and sad about it."
5) U.S. Debates Response to Targeted Killing Lawsuit
Charlie Savage, New York Times, September 15, 2010
Washington - The Obama administration, fresh off a victory in persuading federal judges to dismiss a torture case for fear of revealing state secrets, is divided over using similar tactics to try to block a lawsuit over government efforts to kill an American citizen accused of ties to Al Qaeda.
The administration's legal team is debating how aggressive it should be in a brief responding to the lawsuit, which is due Sept. 24. The suit, filed last month, seeks an injunction that would prevent the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who is accused of playing a leading role for Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen.
The lawsuit was filed by Mr. Awlaki's father, Nasser al-Awlaki, who is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights. It contends that designating a United States citizen for killing outside of a war zone, without an imminent threat, amounts to an extrajudicial execution, and it disputes the notion that battlefield law applies far from Afghanistan.
To strengthen the case, they are considering at least two other potential arguments, each with a downside.
The first would involve asking the judge to dismiss the case because it could reveal classified information. Under the "state secrets doctrine," the government can seek to withhold evidence or block lawsuits related to national security.
The doctrine was the focus of the 6-to-5 ruling by an appeals court in California last week. Reversing an earlier decision, it threw out a lawsuit by former C.I.A. prisoners who contended that they had been tortured after the agency flew them to other countries for interrogation.
The government's increasing use of the state secrets doctrine to shield its actions from judicial review has been contentious. Some officials have argued that invoking it in the Awlaki matter, about which so much is already public, would risk a backlash. David Rivkin, a lawyer in the White House of President George H. W. Bush, echoed that concern. "I'm a huge fan of executive power, but if someone came up to you and said the government wants to target you and you can't even talk about it in court to try to stop it, that's too harsh even for me," he said.
But other officials have cited last week's ruling as a reason to invoke the state secrets doctrine in the Awlaki lawsuit. They have also argued that few people are likely to perceive its use in this case as covering up an injustice.
Mr. Rivkin said he favored a different argument: a declaration that in war who can be targeted - and where - is a "political question" for the executive branch to decide, not judges.
Inside the administration, that argument is also seen as attractive. But invoking it could give the court an opportunity to reject the idea that an armed conflict with Al Qaeda exists in Yemen, said Matthew Waxman, who was the Pentagon's top detainee affairs official under the second President Bush.
"The more forcefully the administration urges a court to stay out because this is warfare, the more it puts itself in the uncomfortable position of arguing we're at war even in Yemen," he said. "The worst outcome would be if the court rules that the president is not authorized to wage war against Al Qaeda beyond combat zones like Afghanistan."
6) Aid To Counter Al Qaeda In Yemen Divides U.S. Officials
Eric Schmitt and Scott Shane, New York Times, September 15, 2010
Washington - Senior State Department and American military officials are deeply divided over the pace and scale of military aid to Yemen, which is emerging as a crucial testing ground for the Obama administration’s approach to countering the threat from Al Qaeda.
As the terrorism network’s Yemen branch threatens new attacks on the United States, the United States Central Command has proposed supplying Yemen with $1.2 billion in military equipment and training over the next six years, a significant escalation on a front in the campaign against terrorism, which has largely been hidden from public view.
The aid would include automatic weapons, coastal patrol boats, transport planes and helicopters, as well as tools and spare parts. Training could expand to allow American logistical advisers to accompany Yemeni troops in some noncombat roles.
Opponents, though, fear American weapons could be used against political enemies of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and provoke a backlash that could further destabilize the volatile, impoverished country.
The debate is unfolding as the administration reassesses how and when to use American missiles against suspected terrorists in Yemen following a botched strike in May. That attack, the fourth since December by the American military, killed a provincial deputy governor and set off tribal unrest.
American military aid to Yemen has soared already, to $155 million in fiscal 2010 from less than $5 million in fiscal 2006, but American commanders say the assistance has been piecemeal.
Military officials say that the aid would be phased in to avoid overwhelming Yemen’s tiny military, and that safeguards would ensure that equipment and troops trained by American counterterrorism experts were not diverted to domestic conflicts. In addition to Al Qaeda, Yemeni forces face so-called Houthi rebels in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.
But senior State Department officials in Washington, as well as Stephen A. Seche, who just completed a three-year tour as the American ambassador to Yemen, oppose the plan, saying the threat - about 500 to 600 hard-core members of the Qaeda branch - does not justify building a 21st-century military force in the poorest country in the Arab world, which has no hostile neighbors, according to two senior administration officials.
The critics say that security aid should be parceled out year by year to retain American leverage, and that it must be part of a far broader plan to promote development and stability. State Department officials offer a scaled-back alternative that focuses on providing Yemeni special forces with transport helicopters to allow them to operate from remote bases and deploy quickly against Qaeda cells, guided by American surveillance photographs and communications intercepts.
State Department officials said the May 25 strike that killed the deputy governor of Marib Province underscored the need for less reliance on American airstrikes and greater emphasis on improving the ability of Yemeni forces. For their part, American commanders say they have tightened the procedures for airstrikes against Qaeda suspects.
7) Haiti election commission under scrutiny for ties to President René Préval
Haiti holds its first presidential debate Saturday, even as President René Préval's ties to the election commission has observers asking whether the CEP rejected candidates based on politics.
Alice Speri, and Hannah Armstrong, Christian Science Monitor, September 16, 2010
Port-au-Prince, Haiti - As Haiti gears up for its first-ever internationally televised presidential debate Saturday, confidence in the government's ability to hold a credible poll is being undermined by allegations that President René Préval is attempting to sway the election.
Details of an Aug. 16 meeting between Mr. Préval and members of Haiti's election commission (CEP) has observers questioning whether the CEP rejected candidates based on politics instead of the Constitution.
The meeting came days before the CEP disqualified hip-hop star Wyclef Jean and 14 other candidates from running. It was confirmed by multiple sources and, while not in itself unprecedented or a sign of political manipulation, puts scrutiny on a supposedly independent body that is meant to ensure elections are free and fair.
"I have someone at the palace who told me about the meeting between Préval and the CEP," Haitian Sen. Youri Latortue told the Monitor. "In the meeting they decided which people would be on the list."
Mr. Préval has met in recent weeks with many of the remaining presidential candidates, which some have interpreted as a further attempt to maintain control over the election. Préval, elected in 2006 to his second term, is constitutionally barred from running again.
"It's pretty clear that President Préval has significant influence in the daily operations of the CEP in its larger decisions, like decisions to include parties or not," says Brian Concannon, director of the Washington-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). "Local press reports he's talking to the CEP on a daily basis, which is clearly not a sign of independence."
Along with Senator Latortue, who is a political rival to the current president but has not backed anyone in the current election cycle, former government spokesperson and political blogger Jean-Junior Joseph claims that three sources close to the president confirmed that Préval ordered CEP Director Gaillot Dorsinvil to bar at least one presidential hopeful. Mr. Joseph claims the CEP originally had a list of 23 approved candidates, which Préval cut to 19.
He says one of the rejected candidacies was Haiti's former ambassador to the United States, Raymond Joseph, who is also Wyclef Jean's uncle and seen as a potential threat to Préval.
"I did hear that a first list came out which said I was approved, then another list came out and I wasn't on it," the former ambassador told the Monitor. "I don't think the international community should condone such arbitrary acts and I don't think they should finance it."
The CEP said it rejected Ambassador Joseph's candidacy on grounds he lacked a "Certificat Provisoire de Decharge," which is a state-issued certificate of fiscal accountability. But Joseph showed the Monitor the state-signed document declaring that "no irregularities of management" were found in his accounting.
In a recent op-ed, Joseph wrote that the CEP's "decision appears blatantly arbitrary, without legal grounding, and motivated by the political agendas of a small ruling elite."
His rejection is also notable because CEP member Ginette Cherubin said she was uncomfortable with the point that derailed his candidacy, and for that reason refused to sign the final list of approved candidates.
"I didn't sign because I'm not comfortable with the way the analysis of the candidate dossier has been done, particularly concerning the question of décharge," she said in an email response to questions, calling her decision a matter of "principles" and "convictions."
Ms. Cherubin was aware of the Aug. 16 meeting between Préval and several CEP members, though she says she was not present.
The CEP excluded 14 political parties from parliamentary elections and seven political parties from presidential elections, including Fanmi Lavalas, the popular party of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Reasons given for its exclusion do not "pass the smell test under Haitian law," says Mr. Concannon at IJDH.
The CEP previously banned leftist party Fanmi Lavalas from senatorial elections in 2009, despite appeals from the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) for the CEP to reverse its decision. Fanmi Lavalas has won with wide margins in every election in which it participated, a recent IJDH report pointed out, including 90 percent of seats in 2000 parliamentary elections.
The CEP's decision to again exclude Fanmi Lavalas defied a recommendation from the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations. A June report titled "Haiti: No Leadership, No Elections," urged "the international donor community to seek an agreement with the CEP and all political parties, including the factions of Famni Lavalas, to ensure that the parties meet the CEP's legal requirements and are not excluded from the elections because of perceived technicalities."
Fanmi Lavalas has been joined by Alternative, UCADD, Rasemble, and Liberation in calling for a boycott of the November election. The latter four parties and were permitted to present candidates but backed out amid growing uncertainty over the CEP's ability to hold fair elections.
8) Study: Vast Majority of Arms Seized from Mexican Cartels Come from U.S.
Latin American Herald Tribune. September 11, 2010
San Diego - A new study released by the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute said the vast majority of firearms seized from criminal organizations in Mexico have come from the United States in recent years.
The report said one of the most significant trends has been the increased cross-border trafficking of military-style rifles and ammunition, despite both nations' efforts to prevent it.
The study "U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico: New Data and Insights Illuminate Key Trends and Challenges," a collaboration between the Trans-Border Institute and the Woodrow Wilson Center Mexico Institute, was prepared by independent consultants and researchers Colby Goodman and Michel Marizco and released on Friday.
The authors said the cartels are using these weapons to attack police, public officials and journalists in Mexico, impose tax-like fees on the Mexican population and even attack U.S. State Department officials.
"Drug-trafficking organization actions are also contributing to major migration away from the violence and, in some cases, towards the United States," according to the study.
The study noted that "U.S. firearms account for the vast majority of firearms seized in Mexico," adding that of an estimated 80,000 total firearms seized from late 2006 - when President Felipe Calderon took office - to February 2010, roughly 62,800, or 80 percent, came from the United States based on data and analysis provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.
The authors propose that the U.S. government increase funding for the ATF so that agency can step up operations on the United States' southwest border.
They also propose a new U.S. law that would require authorities be notified when multiple purchases of military-style weapons are made in the United States in a short period of time.
In addition to revoking the licenses of gun stores that repeatedly violate U.S. law, the authors recommend that the ATF add staff at the U.S. consulates in Mexican states where the majority of arms seizures have been made.
9) NAFTA Hurts Mexico More Than Spaniards Did, Farmers Say.
EFE, September 13, 2010
Mexico City - The North American Free Trade Agreement has done more harm to Mexico than Spain did during the colonial period, the influential CNC farmers confederation said.
"NAFTA has done in 16 years what it took the Spanish Empire nearly five centuries to do, as the transnational firms that operate in Mexico likewise control production, marketing, fertilizers and transportation of food in the country," the CNC said in a statement.
The agreement linking the U.S., Mexican and Canadian economies took effect Jan. 1, 1994.
On the eve of the Sept. 15-16 bicentennial of independence from Spain, Mexico finds its food sovereignty diminished by half, according to the CNC, a group with traditional ties to the main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Imports now account for 33 percent of the corn - the heart of the Mexican diet - and 75 percent of the rice consumed in the country, while beef imports have surged 440 percent in the last three years, the CNC says.
NAFTA was negotiated and signed during the PRI's 1929-2000 tenure in power, but some elements of the party have joined voices on the left in calling for a revision of the trade pact.
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