September 29, 2005

U.S. insists on keeping control of Web (BRADLEY S. KLAPPER, September 29, 2005, Associated Press)

A senior U.S. official rejected calls on Thursday for a U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its historical role as the medium’s principal overseer.

“We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the Internet,” said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department. “Some countries want that. We think that’s unacceptable.”

Many countries, particularly developing ones, have become increasingly concerned about the U.S. control, which stems from the country’s role in creating the Internet as a Pentagon project and funding much of its early development.

Nothing is more certain to turn even those Americans who aren’t entirely hostile to transnationalism into full-throated unilateralists than the idea of the UN controlling the Internet.


September 28, 2005

It’s Azerbaijan’s turn (Farhad Husseinov, 9/28/05, International Herald Tribune )

A country of 8.5 million people – roughly half of whom live in poverty – on the Western shores of the energy-rich Caspian Sea, [Azerbaijan] is preparing for parliamentary elections in early November. Baku, the capital, is the next obvious candidate for a democratic revolution of the kind witnessed in Georgia and Ukraine. At stake are the multibillion-dollar investments of oil giants like BP and Chevron.

The incumbent president, Ilham Aliyev, is a Soviet-educated autocrat who inherited power from his late father, Geidar Aliyev, in late 2003 as a result of rigged elections followed by a ruthless police crackdown. […]

The greatest hope is invested in the newly forged Freedom Bloc, with the pro-Western Musavat Party as its driving force, which succeeded in holding a series of rallies across the country that the government was compelled to allow because of domestic and international pressure. The last such demonstration was organized in Baku on Sept. 10 and drew about 50,000 people, many of them wearing orange shirts and waving orange flags in an echo of the pro-democracy rallies in Ukraine last year.

In today’s globalized world, democracy requires support from without. The Bush administration’s “freedom agenda” is a praiseworthy step in this regard. It should, however, also be extended to illiberal countries that possess oil or host a NATO military base. Democratic turnover in the post-Soviet states is not Western imperialism by another name, as some would like us to believe. What they represent, rather, is a shift toward the rule of law, democracy and national reconciliation.

Azerbaijan presents the next opportunity for Western leaders to prove their commitment to the founding principles of their own nation-states. With time, this moral choice will prove to be a smart strategic choice as well.

In Freedom’s Century, no regime is legitimate unless consensual.


September 25, 2005

Why Kyoto will never succeed, by Blair (Patrick Hennessy and James Langton, 25/09/2005, Daily Telegraph)

Tony Blair has admitted that the fight to prevent global warming by ordering countries to cut greenhouse gases will never be won.

The Prime Minister said “no country is going to cut its growth or consumption” despite environmental fears.

Mr Blair’s comments, which he said were “brutally honest”, mark a big environmental U-turn and will dismay Labour activists. […]

His remarks, unreported at the time but now published in a transcript of the conference, are certain to spark wide-ranging criticism that he is again signing up to the agenda of President George W Bush. Under Mr Bush, the US has consistently refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty.

Wonder if he used the same shiv with which he dispatched the EU?


September 24, 2005

Mandelson extends olive branch on subsidies (James Kanter, 9/24/05, International Herald Tribune)

Europe will have to be prepared to curb subsidies to Airbus if a settlement is reached with the United States in the dispute over government aid to the aircraft maker and its chief rival, Boeing, the top European trade negotiator said Friday.

The candid warning from the European Union’s trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, to his own side signaled a desire to restart talks with Washington, even as a dueling lawsuits at the World Trade Organization inched forward Friday. […]

If talks do restart, “then European government funding will have to adapt to the outcome of those negotiations,” he added, referring to the millions in development loans provided to Airbus – aid that Washington insists be cut off.

Any settlement is preferable to ceding power to the WTO.


September 24, 2005

Whites Account for Most of Military’s Fatalities
: African Americans are 17% of the troops and were 9% of the dead, a study says. Hispanics, who are 9% of force, were 10% of those killed. (Tony Perry, September 24, 2005, LA Times)

The majority of soldiers and Marines killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were young, white, enlisted personnel from active-duty units, according to a study released Friday by the federal Government Accountability Office.

The demographic study involved 1,841 service personnel who were killed and 12,658 who were wounded, as of May 28.

Whites, who constitute 67% of the active-duty and reserve forces, accounted for 71% of the fatalities. African Americans are 17% of the overall force and were 9% of the fatalities. Hispanics are 9% of the force and were 10% of the fatalities.

George Bush isn’t Nat Forrest, he’s Nat Turner!


September 24, 2005

A Million Little Pieces (NADER MOUSAVIZADEH, 9/24/05, NY Times)

THE United Nations summit meeting last week should be the last of its kind. It allowed world leaders, once again, to over-promise and under-deliver on behalf of an organization that few of them genuinely wish to equip for success. With the failure of its member states to agree on meaningful reform – even after Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq and the oil-for-food scandal – it is time for a new approach.

The central, governing structures of the United Nations – the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretariat – have each in their own dismal way been allowed to decay to the point where they arguably do more harm than good to the very causes they were founded to serve. They should be dissolved, and their legislative responsibilities transferred to the governing bodies of the United Nations agencies that have demonstrated a capacity to deliver, decade after decade, on the world body’s founding ideals – agencies like the High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Development Program and the World Food Program. From coordinating the global relief effort in the aftermath of the tsunami to providing shelter for refugees from southern Sudan and shepherding East Timor to independence, the staff of these frontline organizations have brought meaningful, measurable progress to millions around the world.

On their own, most, if not all, of the major United Nations agencies would stand a fair chance of earning the legitimacy, support and resources necessary to succeed. The United Nations Development Program is already financed by voluntary contributions. Its board is made up of donors and recipient countries – all with a powerful common incentive to sustain an organization that can fight poverty efficiently. Taking one step further toward the model of, say, the World Health Organization (which operates independent of United Nations governing structures, though it is part of the United Nations family) need not disrupt its operations nor damage its finances. To the contrary: freed from the management rules and practices still imposed by the General Assembly, the Development Program would be even more able to attract the right people and improve the lives of the poor.

Each of the United Nations funds and programs could be reconstituted on this stand-alone model: financed by voluntary contributions; governed by a board composed of shareholders with an interest in results, and not just process; and staffed by men and women, hired on the basis of merit, who are given the resources to make a difference. Accountability, transparency – and, ultimately, success – would have a far greater chance of flowing from such a model than from the present one.

The central problem of the UN/League of Nations has always been the delusion that some such central institution can/will eventually form the basis of world governance.


September 22, 2005

EU admits constitution is on ice (BBC, 9/22/05)

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has acknowledged that the EU will not have a constitution for “at least two or three years”.

He said that the text was unlikely to be ratified in the near future, after French and Dutch voters rejected it.

However, Mr Barroso said this should not mean paralysis in Europe.

He said it was important to convince citizens of the relevance of the EU by creating jobs, improving security and protecting the environment.

So just scale it back to a trade federation with joint security services.