March 1, 2004
World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
BUZZFLASH NOTE: Once again, these are the views and perspectives of the individual papers, not of BuzzFlash or Gloria. They offer BuzzFlash readers a way of reading what other nations are saying about the crisis, whether we like it or not. We repeat: This is not an endorsement of their viewpoints.
* * *
WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR MARCH 1, 2004
1//The Scotsman, UK--GUILIANI: BUSH'S DREAM TICKET (US President George Bush is ready to pull off the biggest shock of this year's election campaign by naming Rudy Giuliani as his running mate at the Republican convention in Manhattan in September. Giuliani remains the most popular politician in the US and speculation is mounting that Bush will announce the former New York mayor as his vice presidential candidate as the country marks the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The Republican party has already carried out canvassing of voters to assess how much support Giuliani has across the country and, according to reports, received high levels of public support.)
Times Online, Hong Kong--AFGHANISTAN: PLAYING POLITICS
AGAIN (Even as military operations continue
on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and
Pakistan to flush out members of the Afghan resistance
and remnants of al-Qaeda, initiatives continue apace
to fill political vacuums that have the potential
to derail any permanent Afghan peace process...Roping
in "moderate" Taliban and playing the Pashtun
card are continued endeavors in this regard.)
4//The Daily Star, Lebanon-- DILEMMA FOR ARAB YOUTHS:
THEY MUCH ENJOY AMERICAN PRODUCTS BUT DESPISE US
POLICIES (The only place you won't find Coca-Cola
is in the areas of Lebanon wholly controlled by Hizbullah.
How the Lebanese and Arab youth who make up the majority
of Middle Eastern populations will resolve their
criticism of the US and its policies with their increasing
thirst for its culture remains to be seen. But the
facts on the ground suggest the standardized cultural
model of America is gradually gaining ground in Lebanon
and throughout the Arab world.)
* * *
Scotsman Sunday, 29th February 2004
GUILIANI: BUSH'S DREAM TICKET
Giuliani remains the most popular politician in the US and speculation is mounting that Bush will announce the former New York mayor as his vice presidential candidate as the country marks the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The Republican party has already carried out canvassing of voters to assess how much support Giuliani has across the country and, according to reports, received high levels of public support.
The public has not forgotten Giuliani's stoic leadership in the dark days after 9/11, when his words and actions became a beacon for the American people.
Analysts believe Bush, who lags behind Democratic frontrunner Senator John Kerry in opinion polls, would benefit from tapping into Giuliani's popularity.
Dozens of polls since 2001 have shown Giuliani to be the most popular politician in the US, even though he has not held public office since Michael Bloomberg took over the post of mayor of New York in 2002.
Leading commentator Al Neuharth, the man who created USA Today, said Bush would do what his father did not - namely dump his vice president, currently Dick Cheney.
Neuharth said the ideal time for the announcement would be at the Republican convention in September, commemorating 9/11 at Ground Zero.
Bringing Giuliani on board would be a massive boost for Bush, who is lining up to run as a 'war President', concentrating on the war on terror rather than the war in Iraq.
AFGHANISTAN: PLAYING POLITICS AGAIN
KARACHI - Even as military operations continue on both sides of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan to flush out members of the Afghan resistance and remnants of al-Qaeda, initiatives continue apace to fill political vacuums that have the potential to derail any permanent Afghan peace process.
On the political front, meanwhile, interim Afghan President Hamid Karzai revealed this week that he is considering a meeting with "moderate" former Taliban leader Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, who was foreign minister in the regime of Mullah Omar that was run out of office in late 2001 in the face of a US invasion. Karzai said Muttawakil had written him a "nice letter" and that he was considering talks in an effort to reintegrate onetime Taliban supporters into government. Muttawakil was released from US custody several months ago and lives comfortably in a "restricted" house in Kandahar.
Also this week, an important meeting took place in Kandahar, headed by the governor, Yusuf Pashtun, at which the idea of a "greater Kandahar" was once again discussed. This envisages, as first proposed by Abdul Ahad Karzai, Hamid Karzai's father, that Kandahar act as the headquarters (capital) of all of the Pashtun belt provinces in the south and southeast of the country. The elder Karzai was chief of the Popalzai tribe, a former government minister and immensely respected among southern Pashtun tribes.
The overtures by Muttawakil (although certainly under "advice" from US authorities) and the sudden revival of the greater Kandahar concept are no accident. The moves are clearly designed as part of the process to find a counter-balance to the strong Northern Alliance (mostly non-Pashtun) influence in the north of the country, and more importantly, in the corridors of power in Kabul. The moves are also aimed to blunt the threat of the resurgent "non-moderate" Taliban in the country, in alliance with the Hebz-i-Islami Afghanistan of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar is bent on stirring grassroots Pashtun feelings against foreigners in the country, and on playing on feelings of deprivation among Pashtuns, who, despite being the major ethnic grouping, believe that they are politically marginalized.
Simply defeating the resistance in battle is not enough, if even that can be achieved. As important is a strategy that will bring about a political solution to allow the US to exit the country. Roping in "moderate" Taliban and playing the Pashtun card are continued endeavors in this regard.
PM MUST ANSWER TO HOUSE ON SHORT CLAIMS, SAYS KENNEDY
Tony Blair will be under pressure this week to tell Parliament whether it is true that British agents bugged the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.
Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, will press for a Commons statement on the allegations raised last week by the former Cabinet minister, Clare Short.
She risks having her turbulent career as an MP brought to an end by party colleagues enraged by what they see as a one-woman campaign to bring down the Prime Minister.
But for other politicians, the issue was not Miss Short's motives for speaking out, but whether her extraordinary claims were true. Mr Kennedy said that Mr Blair's refusal to give a straight answer to this question will leave a lingering suspicion that Britain was using underhand methods to coerce the United Nations into backing a war with Iraq.
Writing in The Independent on Sunday, he added that
Mr Blair had been willing to publish intelligence
material when it helped him argue the case for war.
Meanwhile, a member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee has suggested to the IoS that there is sufficient resentment of Ms Short - particularly around the West Midlands where her Birmingham Ladywood seat is situated - to put her political future at risk.
She has refused to back down after being accused of being "irresponsible" by the Prime Minister. "The best way to correct mistakes is to persuade Tony Blair to stand down," she wrote in yesterday's Independent.
DILEMMA FOR ARAB YOUTHS: THEY MUCH ENJOY AMERICAN
PRODUCTS BUT DESPISE US POLICIES
"I don't like the Americans, I don't like the way they treat us in the Arab world, making war and telling us what to do," says Haytham, a young student at the Lebanese University in Beirut, "but I like Nike and I like the products they make."
Talking to Haytham reveals one of the biggest inconsistencies facing a large element of Lebanese and indeed Arab youth today; namely the question of how to resolve criticism of the United States with an increasing appetite for its culture.
Walk down almost any street in Damascus, or go to a deprived suburb of Beirut or stroll through the American University of Beirut or the Lebanese University and you will see this contradiction in clear view.
Open criticism of the US is obvious in debates, posters, and papers but it is coming from a youth wearing American clothes on their bodies, smoking American cigarettes and hanging out in American fast food joints watching American pop stars on television.
In Lebanon, not to say in the Gulf states, there is a massive national obsession with that inherently American sport of basketball. There are American basketball players here, former NBA stars, numerous street courts and a national league with lots of money behind it.
Basketball fashion, and its sartorial offspring, hip-hop fashion, is everywhere present in American brand sneakers to shirts and caps.
Satellite television offering easy access to Western programs as well as that big opener of communication and global culture - the internet - has created in the youth an awareness, and an unstoppable and undeniable fascination with American culture whether they like it or not.
Arab youth culture, especially in Lebanon, is slowly but surely being diluted with the youth culture of the very country these young men and women often accuse of waging war on the Arab world.
All of this is of course good for American products. Is anyone wondering whatever happened to the boycott of US goods that came into effect last year before and during the invasion of Iraq?
It fizzled out. Marlboro cigarettes are smoked more than any other brand.
The only place you won't find Coca-Cola is in the areas of Lebanon wholly controlled by Hizbullah.
How the Lebanese and Arab youth who make up the majority of Middle Eastern populations will resolve their criticism of the US and its policies with their increasing thirst for its culture remains to be seen. But the facts on the ground suggest the standardized cultural model of America is gradually gaining ground in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world.
OPINION: RUSSIA'S ELECTORAL TIME BOMB
Few would dispute that the upcoming presidential election is devoid not only of competition, but even of the intrigue that attended the previous presidential election, despite the fact that even then the outcome was effectively a foregone conclusion. Indeed this time round, it is not so much an election as a vote of confidence in President Vladimir Putin. For the first time since Gorbachev's perestroika, the Kremlin has openly renounced key elements of the electoral process. The unexpected dismissal of the Kasyanov government last week, due to the timing, is evidence of a rather clumsy attempt by the Kremlin to generate some intrigue to disguise the fact that the election is essentially a referendum on Putin.
This referendum is, nonetheless, more important than all previous elections. Prior elections played a role in the formation of the "new system": they regulated the balance of forces, strengthened private property and averted a return to communism. But more importantly than that, these elections, including those in 1999-2000, contained an element of uncertainty regarding the direction of the country's development: Russia could have moved toward oligarchic capitalism or bureaucratic capitalism, but could also have moved in the direction of real democracy.
The current round of elections play a qualitatively
different role -- they mark the end of Russia's liberal
democratic experiment. They are not about development,
but about the formalization of the post-Communist
system. From now on, it will not be possible to alter
the rules of the game, create a party bottom-up,
win an election without approval from the authorities
or force one's way to the top independently. Provided,
of course, that there is not a crisis which forces
a reorganization of the whole political system on
Russia. In any case, the period of spontaneous development
in Russia is over. From now on, the only source of
spontaneity will be the unintended consequences of
the authorities' own actions.
* * *
In memory of Muffy the guinea pig, age 7+, who passed away during the early hours of Leap Day.
Her innocence and sweetness will be missed.
otherwise noted, all original