Boycotting The Summer Olympic Games In China

I for one was very pleased to see the protests taking place in Paris, London, and now San Francisco over the human rights abuses and dreadful foreign policy decisions by China.  At a time when too many here think of Iraq and the Middle East when the extremely broad topic of foreign policy is mentioned, it is important that Chinese policies be brought to the center of our global awareness.

I have long argued that the decision by President Nixon to go to China was more important than the Watergate affair.  As deeply damaging as Watergate was to the political culture in our nation, the fact is the positive effects of Nixon’s famous China trip are more important.  The long lasting impact of opening lines of dialogue and trade has benefited both our nations, and fostered connections that will serve all in the future.  If we do what is right.

By having international connections with China does not mean there are not serious differences that will require honest debate and action.  We should not be blind to the fact that every nation that we consider to be a rouge state has the support of China.  China policy to these nations comes in various forms, be it militarily or economic.  Iran is but perhaps the most central example to many who follow the headlines.  But the issues that arise from Chinese policies in places like Tibet and Darfur, and which do not see the banner headlines everyday, are worthy of the reaction that has been seen over the Olympic Games to be held this summer in China.

The ability of leveraging China to move in a more humane direction is one of the benefits of having diplomatic relations with the most populous nation in the world.  We should not, and must not abdicate our role on the world stage.  There is an old saying that “the road to the East runs through the West.”    If the United States uses the clout we now have on the world stage, and in conjunction with our European allies, we can set again a tone and series of expectations about Chinese foreign policy.   There are rules that govern civilized nations, and the world community.

We have the ability to do this, since our primacy on the world stage is not in doubt today.  But with China growing in economic and military power, that chance will not be forever ours to take.  By banding together with leaders such as Prime Minister Brown, and French President Szarkozy we have an opportunity to make a statement about what we think is most important in the world.  As China rises as a world power it does so at a time when open and democratic nations rule the world.  To not coerce China to play by the international rules will set up a world struggle that we will soon regret. 

We have an opportunity with the Olympic Games.  The protestors have opened the door.  Will the United States be willing to lead the world through the door?

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American Troop Levels Will Remain Too High In War-Ravaged Iraq

There have been many pundits who have argued over the past months that the Iraq War was no longer the main issue in this election year.  Housing woes and health care, as part of the overall ailing economy, were seen to be the issues that most Americans were now stressing to pollsters as more important than the war.  The fact that the national price tag for the war is damaging the national economy seems forgotten by many Americans. 

To be sure the economy is a major issue that makes many uneasy, but after the Congressional hearings today and Wednesday I think the Iraq war will again become an issue.  The smooth talk from Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker does not quite balance out the fact that 4,000 Americans have been killed, and the lull in violence in Iraq has now started to climb once again.

The fact that there have been no real political answers applied in Iraq over the past year, while the whole purpose of the ‘surge’ was to allow for that very thing, is unsettling.  The lead paragraph from the New York Times seems to place the right somber tone for the nation.

The senior commander of multinational forces in Iraq warned Congress Tuesday against removing “too many troops too quickly” and refused under stiff questioning to offer even an estimate of American force levels by the end of this year.

There is no end to the conflict, and no hope for an end given the current political climate in Washington, D.C.  Instead of hoping that the war will somehow end if we just no longer concentrate on it is folly.  The economy is rough, but the war should be the top priority this election cycle as it deals with international, economic, legal, and moral aspects of our lives as citizens.

It is time for the war to be back on page one above the fold in our morning papers.

In stating the Democratic Party’s case against administration war policy, Senator Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that Mr. Bush’s goal of creating “breathing room” for political progress by sending five additional combat brigades last year “has not been achieved.”

“That reality leads many of us to once again challenge President Bush’s policies,” Mr. Levin said as the general and the ambassador sat motionless at the witness table. Senator Levin said the current Shiite-led government in Baghdad has shown “incompetence” and “excessive sectarian” policies.

The fact that an occupying force of American soldiers will be in Iraq for the foreseeable future is clear.  And wrong.  Has no one ever read the history of the Middle East in the Bush White House?

It has been widely anticipated that American troop levels in Iraq would be held steady for some weeks after the departure by July of five extra brigades ordered to Iraq last year by President Bush. There would be 15 combat brigades and close to 140,000 troops remaining in Iraq.

Given the time required to remove troops from Iraq or to halt departures of heavy equipment from the United States, senior officials have said that even under the best of circumstances no more than two or three more brigades could be brought home before Mr. Bush leaves office in January.

Even if all goes well, more than 100,000 troops would probably remain in Iraq into next year, leaving any decision on major reductions to the next president.

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