Foreign Policy Briefing 4/7/10

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This summary briefing comes to us through the courtesy of Just Foreign Policy.

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Real News: U.S. covering up reality in Honduras
State Department campaign denies the systemic repression that continues nine months after coup.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4C6RqYTAZI&

Congressional Pressure Can End the War, Saving Many Lives
The fight over the war supplemental is tremendously important, because Congressional pressure can move Administration policy, even when critics of Administration policy don’t command a majority of votes. This is especially true when, as in this case, critics are in the majority in the President’s own party, and when, as in this case, the policy under pressure is an international policy which is also under significant international pressure.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/537

Urge Congress to Talk About the Human Cost of War
In the next few weeks, Congress is expected to be asked to approve $33 billion more for war and occupation in Afghanistan. Urge your representatives in Congress to use this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the human cost of continuing war and occupation.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/humancost

Call Congress the Week of April 12 Against the War in Afghanistan
Groups are collaborating in generating calls to Congress against the war, urging: opposition to the war supplemental, support for a military withdrawal timetable, support for a public exit strategy and support for peace negotiations. Spread the word.

Highlights of the Afghanistan Debate
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/video/housedebate

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Senator Feingold and Representative McGovern are expected to introduce legislation as early as next week calling for a “flexible timetable” for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, reports Tom Hayden in the Nation. A troop withdrawal deadline is seen by peace advocates as an incentive to draw the Taliban into peace talks, directly and indirectly, Hayden writes. Some Congressional staff and peace advocates are considering demands to make as possible amendments on the war supplemental, including requiring all-party talks in Afghanistan leading to new internationally supervised elections, including elements of the Taliban, as a condition of funding; replacing ISAF troops in Afghanistan with peacekeepers from non- aligned countries, challenging drone attacks in Pakistan.





2) Even as a new investigation of a February U.S. Special Forces night raid was being announced, General McChrystal’s spokesman insisted that there had been no U.S. cover-up of the killing of Afghan civilians in the raid, writes Gareth Porter for Inter Press Service. Asked by IPS how the US could have arrived at its initial claim that three Afghan women were already dead when Special Forces began the raid, McChrystal’s spokesman suggested that US forces had not found the bodies for some time. But family members have told reporters a very different story. Family members told CNN and the UN that two of the victims died hours later, after US forces prevented family members from taking them to the hospital.

3) Senior Palestinian leaders are promoting and participating in nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occpuation, the New York Times reports. With both diplomacy and armed struggle out of favor for having failed to end the Israeli occupation, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, joined by the business community, is trying to forge a third way: to rouse popular passions while avoiding violence. Billboards have sprung up as part of a campaign against buying settlers’ goods, featuring a pointed finger and the slogan “Your conscience, your choice.” The Palestinian Ministry of Communications has banned the sale of Israeli cellphone cards because Israeli signals are relayed from towers inside settlements. A senior PLO official was arrested at demonstration protesting Israeli restriction on travel to Jerusalem.

4) A spokesman for US Central Command said Tuesday that Central Command was “looking into” the U.S. shootings of two Reuters employees in Iraq following Wikileaks’ release of the military video, but stopped short of referring to it as an investigation, the New York Times reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the video “confirms our long-held view that a thorough and transparent investigation into this incident is urgently needed.”

5) Former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and Samuel Berger have told the Obama Administration it will have to put its own proposal on the table for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to get talks moving, the New York Times reports. A senior US official said such a move would not happen now, but would happen once talks started and got bogged down. Most Middle East experts draw the same outline for a peace deal, the Times says: Palestinians would have to accept compensation rather than return for 1948 Palestinian refugees and their descendents; Jerusalem would be shared, with Israel’s capital in the West and Palestine’s in the east; Israel would return to its 1967 borders, give or take a few negotiated settlements and territorial swaps; the US or NATO would give Israel security guarantees; Arab states like Saudi Arabia would recognize Israel.

6) The US and Brazil have reached an agreement aimed at settling a dispute over US subsidies to cotton growers, the New York Times reports. The announcement came one day before Brazil was to begin imposing up to $830 million in sanctions with authorization from the WTO. The case was closely watched because Brazil would have been the first country to violate U.S. intellectual property claims in retaliation for unfair trade policies with the approval of the WTO. Brazil had threatened to stop charging its farmers technology fees for seeds developed by US biotechnology companies and to break US pharmaceutical patents before their scheduled expiration.

7) The Kyrgyz opposition said on Wednesday it had forced the Central Asian country’s government to resign after troops shot at protesters besieging government buildings, killing dozens, Reuters reports.

Israel/Palestine
8) Israeli journalist Anat Kamm is scheduled to go on trial in Israel for allegedly having copied Israeli military documents concerning the premeditated killing of Palestinian militants in the West Bank and of leaking them to a reporter, the New York Times reports. Kamm has been held secretly under house arrest for more than three months. If Kamm is found guilty, she could face up to 15 years in jail. Observers have speculated that the recipient of the documents was Uri Blau from the newspaper Haaretz. According to The Independent, Blau is currently “hiding in Britain.” A November 2008 article by Blau suggested that the killing of Ziad Subhi Muhammad Malaisha by Israeli forces contravened an Israeli Supreme Court ruling.

9) The IMF says there has been no significant easing of Israeli restrictions in the West Bank in 2010, the New York Times reports. The IMF says unemployment in the West Bank is 18%; in Gaza it is 39%.

Afghanistan

10) The brother of Gul Rahman, who died in a CIA prison in Afghanistan in 2002 from exposure when he was left shackled and half-naked at near-freezing temperatures, says Gul Rahman braved rocket and small-arms fire in 1994 to rescue now-President Karzai, AP reports. Karzai, then deputy foreign minister, had been arrested by Afghan intelligence, by some accounts because he was in contact with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and other militia leaders to end the civil war. Gul Rahman’s family is appealing to the Red Cross and the US to return Rahman’s body for burial.

Pakistan
11) Despite pending constitutional changes expected to strengthen democracy in Pakistan, the US is likely to continue to prefer dealing with Pakistan’s military, the New York Times reports. Under the changes, provinces will eventually have the right to legislate, to control their own education programs and significantly more of their finances

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