Russia the Bully
In Estonia, the removal of a Soviet World War II memorial statute set off nearly a week of rioting by members of the Russian (22 percent) minority. The rest of the population is Finnish, not Slavic (and called Estonians). Most of the Slavic Russians were imported to help keep the ethnic Estonians under control. The Russians were long seen as oppressors and occupiers, not liberators. Locals called the statue, "The Unknown Rapist" in memory of the behavior of Russian soldiers when they took control of the country in 1940 and 1944. In between, Estonia was occupied by (and cooperated with) Nazi Germany. Russia has cut off fuel supplies in protest, and Estonia, a member of NATO, is calling on its allies to pressure Russia into backing off. Russia is a major supplier of natural gas to Western Europe, and cutting off those supplies to former parts of the Soviet Union, as a way to pressure them into following Russian orders, makes Western European nations nervous. There are efforts underway, which Russia opposes, to build a gas pipeline across the Caspian Sea and Turkey, to move natural gas from Central Asia to Europe.
F-16 Fever In the Eastern Mediterranean
Turkey is buying another thirty U.S. F-16D fighters, for about $49 million each. This includes ground equipment, technical services, training, and some spare parts. Turkey already has about 230 F-16s in service, and the new buy is partly in response to its ancient rival, Greece, buying 30 more F-16s. Turkey is also spending $1.1 billion upgrading many of its existing F-16s. The 16 ton aircraft is one of the most popular fighters in service (with 24 nations). The F-16 entered service in 1978, and over 4,000 have been built. It's replacement is the F-35.
The Soviet Union Lives
The Soviet Union lives on in Central Asia. The former parts of the defunct Soviet Union are still run by Soviet era bureaucrats, with the aid of an effective secret police and state control of major industries. While there is some democratic opposition in Kyrgyzstan, these groups have not been able to gain any traction. The Islamic radicals aren't doing very well either, especially in light of the recent losses (several hundred exiled Islamic radicals) in Pakistan, at the hands of angry local tribes. Media censorship, including blocking news sites on the Internet, is on the increase. The dictators are taking help from wherever they can get it, continuing the old Cold War game of playing the major powers off against each other. In this case, the U.S., Russia, the European Union, China and India are all in play. Indian troops help train Uzbek soldiers, while everyone pitches deal to get oil and gas out of Central Asia via pipelines. The Uzbeks have agreed to send half of their natural gas to China, while Kazakhstan will keep shipping most of its oil out via Russia. Because Central Asia is, literally, in the middle of nowhere for the mass media, what goes on there is largely ignored. On the plus side, there's no messy terrorism or rebellions going on. On the minus side, there's not much personal freedom or economic growth either. So, in a way, the Soviet Union lives on, at the corner of no and where.
Former President Jimmy Carter has done it again. First, he wrote a disgusting and historically inaccurate book in which he viciously attacked Israel, our only reliable ally in the Middle East. He unbelievably compared democratic Israel, which gives full rights to its Muslim citizens, to the despicable apartheid regime that prevailed in South Africa for years. Carter’s book encouraged Israel’s enemies and America’s enemies. If Carter was looking for a nation in the Middle East that treats some citizens based on religion or race as second class, it is puzzling why he didn’t notice places like Saudi Arabia, where Christians and Jews can’t even be buried because it would “defile” the “holy” Muslim soil. Perhaps his reluctance to be critical of the Saudis has something to do with the grants coming from the Middle East to his Carter Center in Atlanta.
Over the weekend, Carter once again demonstrated why he left office with the lowest approval rating of any modern day president. He harshly attacked President Bush and then went after America’s other ally, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain. For standing with the United States, Carter called Blair, “Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient.” He added that Blair’s support for our efforts in Iraq, “have been a major tragedy for the world.”
The real tragedy is that President Carter is still taken seriously. In less than a year, he has managed to condemn stalwart American allies, while continuing to urge us to “make nice” with the likes of Syria and Iran. He has lost what little credibility he had left.
Turkey in Turmoil
A major political crisis is brewing in Turkey. On April 27th, the Turkish General Staff issued a demarche to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the wake of the Turkish parliament’s first round of voting in the presidential election, in which the AKP’s candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, had stood uncontested. The Turkish military’s statement, posted on its website, warned that “it should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces are a side in this debate and are a staunch defender of secularism” and cautioned that "when necessary, it will display its attitudes and actions very clearly.”
The Turkish military’s warning touched off a fierce national debate over the country’s future political direction, complete with large-scale pro-secularism protests in a number of Turkish cities. The AKP has responded with an attempt to defuse (or at least delay) the crisis, pushing the presidential elections forward to July 22nd, the same date as national parliamentary elections. However, it has also attempted to tilt the political playing field in its favor, putting forth a parliamentary measure that – if approved by current president Ahmet Necdet Sezer – would allow the direct election to the presidency by popular vote. For their part, Turkey’s various opposition parties are beginning to organize in a bid to oust the AKP from power.
Sending China a Message
South Korea is spending $850 million to build a naval base on Jeju island, which is 90 kilometers south of the South Korean coast. The base will provide piers and other facilities for up to twenty ships and submarines. The island is astride the vital straights separating South Korea and Japan. Through these waters, most of South Koreas maritime trade moves. The new naval base will make it easier to protect that traffic. The new base also makes it easier for South Korean warships to get to small islands in the area that are claimed by South Korea, Japan and China. The new base will be ready for use in seven years. Jeju island is also a major vacation spot for South Koreans.
"I didn't even consider stopping running for President." John Edwards after finding out his wifes breast cancer is back, it has spread throughout her body, and it's incurable. Okay, so your wife is going to die a horrible death from bone and lymph cancer you and you didn't even CONSIDER ending your run for President? Not even once? Riiight. Any normal person would have thought of that instantly, therefor Edwards isn't normal and I am not ever going to vote for him. He is weird, and stupid, and lies far too easily. Be gone with you!
"And I must admit I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy." Mitt Romney trying to encourage people his Mormon faith is normal. Okay, so trying to tell the people who may vote for you that you are a good guy who wouldn't endorse polygamy while in office is one thing but saying that polygamy is so bad that "I can't imagine anything more awful" is ludicrious. I can think of alot of things worse than polygamy you doofus! Murder, slavery, molestation, genocide, and some wars. Wake up dummy and stop saying stupid clueless things.
"I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with someone who has a 9% approval ratings," Senator from Nevada Harry Reid said. He then called Cheney the "Administration's chief attack dog." I guess that government leaders do not have to talk to other government leaders if their approval ratings fall below a certain number? Harry Reid is an ass and statements like this (coming from the senior Democrat in the Senate) only confirm how out of touch the Demoncrats really are. We as the American people expect these guys to work together, not call each other names and inflict governmental paralysis because they don't like the other guy! Get to work, Reid!
"Second thing is, we're going to shove it down his throat," Senator Joe Biden of Delaware said about the bill Congress passed that President Bush will be forced to sign. I would like to shove things down Biden's throat, a shovel being one of them. This bigoted looney leftist has done more damage to America than most other leaders in US history. Hopefully he will depart the earth very soon, giving all of us a repreive from his vindictive rantings.