Thursday, June 12, 2008

thursday reads

Suspected terrorists and foreign fighters held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to challenge their detention in federal court, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The BBC has obtained documents suggesting that Zimbabwe's military is actively involved in running Robert Mugabe's re-election campaign.

FEMA ave Away $85 million in household goods meant for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Shrub in Yurp

Adrian Hamilton in The Indepedent: The strange legacy of President Bush
Not a tear was shed, nor a cheer raised. Not even the protesters have bothered to turn out as President Bush has wound his way around Europe on the final visit of his two-term occupancy of the White House. Instead, he has come almost like an anonymous diplomat to hold talks in private, say a few words to the cameras and –unless the UK has something very unexpected up its sleeve this weekend – to depart almost unrecognised, and certainly unacclaimed.

There's a fanciful version of this event, spun by the commentators in Washington and followed even by some here, which says the very anonymity of Bush's visit is a tribute to the success of the relationship he has now developed with Europe. Where in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, relations were fraught and loud, now Bush and Europe are pretty comfortable with each other. The EU's three main leaders – Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy – are all positively pro-American. Even Iran does not divide them.

Well, this may be the gloss which diplomats wish you to believe. But it's the opposite of reality. The silence that has accompanied Bush's final foreign tours is the silence of failure, not the quiet of accomplishment. He wanted to end his presidency with the outlines of a Middle East peace settlement. As his visit to Israel earlier this year showed, we are actually further from peace there than ever.

Spiegel Online: The Punching Bag's Farewell
"Unfriendly background music," is the phrase used by the respected conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to describe the raft of highly critical commentaries (more...) and reporting on George W. Bush's final visit to Europe as an American president.

The paper was reacting to comments such as "memory of Bush will darken America's image in the world for years to come," as the country's other leading daily, the Süddeutsche Zeitung put it. There was even Bush-bashing from within the ranks of Chancellor Angela Merkel's own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, whose foreign policy spokesman, Eckart von Klaeden, remarked: "I won't miss George W. Bush."

Karsten Voigt, a Social Democrat and the government's coordinator for relations between Germany and America, earlier this week accused Bush of triggering a "deep crisis in relations between the two countries" by launching the Iraq war. Noting that Bush was staying at Meseberg Palace in the countryside far from populous Berlin, the head of the market liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), Guido Westerwelle, said "anyone who is entrenched and barricaded, isn't visiting a country, but rather avoiding any contact with it. Other than a few photo ops, this visit is meaningless." Members of the Left Party and the Greens also sharply criticized the president.

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