JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for October 31-November 6, 2011.
This week the European Parliament awarded the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to key participants in the Arab Spring.
The five recipients were chosen “in recognition and support of their drive for freedom and human rights.” The five are described in a press release announcing the award as “representatives of the Arab people.”
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named for the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded by the European Parliament every year since 1988 to individuals or organizations that that multinational body believes “have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy.” The prize is accompanied by an award of €50,000.
The named winners of the €50,000 prize are: Asmaa Mahfouz (Egypt), Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi (Libya), Razan Zaitouneh (Syria), Ali Farzat (Syria), and posthumously to Mohamed Bouazizi (Tunisia).
The first prize was awarded jointly to South African Nelson Mandela and Russian Anatoly Marchenko. The prize has also been awarded to various individuals and organizations throughout its history, the first being the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (1992).
Millions no doubt have read or heard the Hans Christian Andersen tale of how some alleged weavers of long ago convinced their emperor that the new clothes they were selling him were made of such fine and rare material that only the stupid and incompetent could fail to see the exquisite threads. The emperor, not wishing to be exposed as either stupid or incompetent, bought the story and the invisible “clothes.” He wore nothing else as he went though the streets in a grand parade, hearing nothing but praise from his subjects on the excellence of his royal attire. Until one simple, unschooled child broke the spell by crying out the simple, unadorned truth: The emperor was wearing no clothes at all.
We are left to imagine what might have followed. Was the politically incorrect brat beheaded for that unseemly outbreak of candor? Placed in a dungeon? Enrolled in one of the emperor’s schools to be reeducated, with a mind more attuned to the political “realities”? And what of the conniving “weavers”? Were they suitably punished for deceiving the emperor and his subjects with false “intelligence” on the nature of the fabric that went into the making of the magnificent new clothes? Or did they receive the emperor’s Medal of Freedom and go off to write books and appear as experts at symposiums on royal apparel?
If Herman Cain is elected President, America’s soldiers are not going to be coming home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq anytime soon. To the contrary, they can expect more foreign deployments than they are experiencing today under the Obama administration. Asked his view of foreign policy, presidential candidate Herman Cain told NBC’s Meet the Press host David Gregory that he’s most impressed with the opinions of establishment neoconservatives, though he said he was unfamiliar with the term “neoconservative”: “I’ve looked at the writings of people like Ambassador [John] Bolton,” Cain said October 16. “I’ve looked at the writings of Dr. Henry Kissinger and K.T. McFarland, someone I respect.” All three are establishment neoconservatives and have been Council on Foreign Relations members — internationalists of the first order — who are among the “experts” most interested in expanding America’s foreign wars.
Asked about his views on the Iraq War and if he was familiar with the neoconservative movement, Cain told Gregory, “I’m not familiar with the neoconservative movement.... I don’t think the war in Iraq was a mistake, because there were a lot of other reasons we needed to go to Iraq and there have been a lot of benefits that have come out of Iraq. Now that being said, I don’t agree with the President’s approach to draw down 40,000 troops and basically leave that country open to attacks by Iran. Iran has already said that they want to wait until America leaves.... I would want to leave American troops there if that was what the commanders on the ground suggested, and I believe that that’s what they are saying.”
China has the world's second-largest economy and grew at more than 10 percent last year, yet Congress continues to dole out foreign aid to a country that holds more than one trillion dollars of U.S. government debt. Although long overdue, two U.S. lawmakers are speaking out against this seemingly illogical notion, as they pose the question: Why should the United States continue to shovel out taxpayers’ dollars to a communist nation that holds more than one trillion dollars of U.S. debt and competes in the same economic spheres?
"Why in the world would we be borrowing money and then turn[ing] around and giving it back to the countries that we’re borrowing it from?" asked Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). "If they have enough of a surplus to loan us money, they have enough of a surplus to take care of their own needs." Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) echoed his Republican colleague, telling Fox News, "Hey, in the crisis that we’re in right now, should we really be continuing to send American taxpayer dollars over to China for these purposes?"
U.S. foreign aid to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is siphoned off in the form of bilateral and multilateral developmental assistance and aid to individual recipients. Some of the aid exits to the PRC in the form of social and economic development assistance through the United Nations.
Are the days of the European Union coming to an end? The riots in Athens, the popularity of the True Finns Party in Helsinki, and the growing tension between Paris and Berlin all indicate that more and more Europeans are seeing themselves as citizens of nations, rather than members of an amorphous bureaucracy headquartered in Brussels. In fact, the folks in Brussels are looking at a nation unable to form a government at all and teetering on the brink of splitting into the two logical nationalities — Flemish and Walloon — which language, religion, and custom divide more than unite.
Prime Minister David Cameron has a reputation as a technocrat and policy wonk rather than the tough leader of a clear political position. His coalition government with the Liberal Party (which is really the middle-of-the-road party in Britain) only makes that inclination toward a nuanced response to euroskeptics more politically natural.
The problem for Cameron is that significant members within his Conservative Party are demanding a popular referendum on British membership in the European Union. In parliamentary governments such as the United Kingdom, the head of government (Prime Minister Cameron) needs to have the confidence of a majority of the members in the lower chamber of the national legislature, or the House of Commons in Britain.
Afghan “President” Hamid Karzai, who rose to power with massive U.S. assistance, promised that the regime ruling Afghanistan would support the Pakistani government if a war broke out between America and Pakistan.
"God forbid, if ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan," Karzai said during an interview with Pakistan’s Geo television. "If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needs Afghanistan's help, Afghanistan will be there with you."
Other governments such as India (population: 1.2 billion) would also face the wrath of Afghanistan’s pitiful military if they decided to wage war. “Anybody that attacks Pakistan, Afghanistan will stand with Pakistan,” insisted Karzai, who clings to power in Kabul largely because of the U.S.-led occupation of the nation. “Afghanistan will never betray its brother.”
After news of Karzai’s remarks swept through the Western media, a spokesman for the presidential palace claimed the statements were taken out of context. "Pakistani media has misinterpreted it. They only showed the first part when the president says Afghanistan will back Pakistan if there is a war," the official insisted, claiming Karzai was talking about his regime’s willingness to accept Pakistani refugees if needed.
The White House announced that once again, the United States would be reevaluating its defense partnership with the Republic of China on Taiwan. The administration decided last month that the arms package it would be selling to Taipei would be sorely reduced; the Pentagon has chosen not to sell Taiwan 66 late-model F-16 aircraft, a deal potentially valued at over $8 billion, after years of debate over whether to supply the free Chinese island with advanced strike aircraft to upgrade its aging air force. Instead, administration and congressional officials said the new arms package will include weapons and equipment to upgrade its existing F-16 jets, worth about $4.2 billion.
The Obama administration turned down the request from both Taipei and congressional Republicans; supporters of the sale say that the new F-16s, produced by Lockheed Martin, are needed to bolster Taiwan’s defenses against communist China’s growing air power and to produce jobs for the U.S. aerospace industry (a blatant example of Military Keynesianism at play — the belief that government-manufactured and taxpayer-funded defense commodities are somehow a feasible, economically-sound, and constitutional means of creating and sustaining jobs).
Red China and the Obama Administration
Experts believe that the primary reason why the Obama administration refused to sell Taiwan the new F-16s is its desire to improve relations with communist China. Rather than viewing China’s growth as a threat to American interests, Obama stated on January 19, 2011 (at a White House press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao), “We welcome China’s rise. I absolutely believe that China's peaceful rise is good for the world, and it's good for America,” arguing that the country’s economic progress benefits the United States and opens the door to greater international stability and humanitarian progress.
Even as the National Transitional Council (NTC) declared Libya “liberated” following the violent death of former strongman Col. Muammar Gadhafi, analysts were warning that civil war might continue to rage on as militia groups and armed factions struggle to seize power. And with real elections tentatively scheduled for 2013 at the earliest, the worst may be yet to come.
Western leaders have been demanding that all of the revolutionary groups unify behind the NTC. But widely divergent interests — including remaining pro-Gadhafi forces and victims of NATO bombings and rebel brutality — would seem to make that a difficult proposition, according to Libyans and outside analysts.
Why is Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, determined to prevent Jews from living in the new independent Palestinian state? After all, it would solve the settlement problem if Jews were permitted to become citizens of Palestine. But that would require the new state to be democratic. It would have to honor human rights and would have to permit the Jews to vote. It would have to become as secular and democratic as Turkey, where Jews have lived for centuries.
So, instead of integrating these highly productive Jewish settlements in the West Bank into a new Palestinian state, Abbas wants them all to be dismantled. But because there are over 250,000 Jews living in those settlements, Israel is not willing to dismantle them as they did the Jewish towns in Gaza.
Indeed, the Gaza experience has created intense opposition to any such further removal of Jews from anywhere in the Holy Land. The West Bank is the heartland of the biblical Jewish commonwealth, and Zionist Jews believe that they have every right to settle and live there as they did during the days of the British Mandate.
But this is the kind of impasse that Abbas probably welcomes, because it makes it impossible for him to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel, which is what Hamas and other Islamic extremists want. They want perpetual war against Israel. That is why Abbas is seeking UN sanctioned statehood before signing a peace treaty with Israel, so that the Palestinians can continue waging war against Israel while enjoying the benefits of statehood. Should the UN approve statehood for the Palestinians before there is peace with Israel, they would be making a mockery of everything the UN is supposed to stand for. They would be taking sides in a war against a member state.