Politics Daily #9 – Americans’ (Misplaced) Faith on an Afghan Governor

In his latest Huffington Post article, Joshua Hersh discusses prominent Afghan governor Atta Muhammad Noor’s dissatisfaction with the American strategy of withdrawal, particularly their plan to bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations.  Hersh highlights Noor’s argument as being the fact that many of his men and that of this fellow governors and warlords fought alongside American troops against the Taliban, and cannot stomach the fact that the Taliban was extended an hand by the Americans.

Hersh also notes Noor’s public rhetoric that attempts to galvanize Afghan nationalism by declaring that they will not be used by the “Western countries,”  which fuels speculation that he might well be seeking to become the next Afghan President.  Hersh corroborates by quoting Lt. Col. David Olson of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) as saying of Noor that “He’s looking out for his regional and ethnic interests. But on balance he’s someone we feel we can count on. He’s a very influential fellow, and he’s very vital to the efforts of the government of Afghanistan up here.”

Sounds like Noor is someone who is trying to shine in areas where Hamid Karzai has failed.  And, given that Karzai is generally viewed by the U.S. as an unreliable lying crook, why not advocate for a fresh face to lead Afghanistan and can actually contribute to the peacemaking process.

Ahmadinejad Resignation Coming? Speculation Over Internal Rift Intensifies

Read the quite-amusing article on the HuffPost here

“On Thursday, the battle took a strange turn as allies of Ahmadineja­d found themselves slapped with charges of sorcery.”

Comedic gold right there.

Osama Bin Laden Dead: World Leaders Hail Al Qaeda Leader’s Death But Fear Revenge

Read the article and quotes on the HuffPost here

While Hamas might have been compelled to issue a statement like it did for please its base, perhaps they could’ve done so in a less blatant tone. While trying (at least on the surface) to present themselves as the leaders of a near-natio­nal entity, their words just made it that much harder for the internatio­nal community to stomach and recognize them as legitimate­.

Canada Elections: Conservatives Win Coveted Majority

Read the HuffPost article here

A sad day for Canadians and the world. If the majority of Canadian voters believe that Harper will make the country stronger, then it is a sign of troubling things to come.

Michael Ignatieff should of course bear a lot of the blame for the Liberal Party’s embarrassi­ng loss, but it really comes down to whether or not Canadian voters believe turning Canada into more like America.

Osama Bin Laden Death: Obama Ran Serious Risks With Mission To Kill Terrorist Leader

Read the HuffPost article here

Obama knew that success means that he could emerge the figure who will lead the world in combating terrorism, as well as how improve on how America is viewed from abroad (by other Western nations). Failure will see America condemned as a belligeren­t power with Obama as a reckless leader.

At the end, Obama chose this type of strategy because the rewards were very much worth the risk. It has been said before that past Presidents­, particular­ly Bill Clinton (and possibly both Bushes), has had the opportunit­y to take down Bin Laden but never did. Obama knew that Bin Laden represente­d terrorism and is still feared by so many around the world (including Americans)­. This fueled his determinat­ion to take him down and made him take the risk he took.

Tungurahua, Ecuador Volcano, Sends 300 Fleeing From Truck-Sized Rocks

Fortunately, the volcano is located at a rural area, and the locals have evacuated out of danger. School has been suspended for days due to ashes. Read the HuffPost Report here

I don’t think mother nature has been very pleased with us this year…

Walter Breuning, World’s Oldest Man, Dies In Montana At 114

Read the very compelling story on the HuffPost here

Without knowing him personally­, just from reading the principles with which he lived his life under, I’d say he was a great man. Rest In Peace.

Global Military Spending Hits High But Growth Slows

Check out the HuffPost article here

I remember reading a New York Times featured article about Secretary Robert Gates and others including Colin Powell suggesting that cutting Pentagon spending could help with the deficit (read my comment about it here) I guess that hasn’t happened yet. It’s pretty sad, considerin­g nobody seriously thinks that will be attacked by any nation in a full-blown military conflict (which is what the U.S. army is geared for, as supposed to Terrorism)­.

Many Americans are still under the false impression that a large part of whether they are viewed favorably abroad hinges on the side of the military they have. That would be true, if they wanted to be viewed with disdain.

Jerusalem Explosion Reported: Blast Near Bus In Israel

Read the report from the HuffPost here

As if not enough things is going on in the Middle East right now, someone has decided to reignite the Israeli-Pa­lestinian conflict again.

Meanwhile, Conflict Resumes In Israel

On the morning of Saturday, March 19, Hamas militants fired dozens of mortar shells from Gaza into Southern Israel, effectively ending a cease-fire that had lasted since the Israeli military operation ended in Gaza more than two years ago.

Read more about it on the HuffPost (Article by Reuters) here, and two articles on the New York Times here and here.

My initial reaction upon reading the news somewhat amused me; maybe the leaders of Hamas had decided to make its play now in hopes of being overlooked because of all the other conflicts currently going on in the Middle East. The world has its eyes on Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, even Syria, they can’t possibly have time to check out what Hamas has been up to, can they?

The short post by the New York Times points out that there might be internal conflicts within Hamas:
“… there were signs of internal differences within Hamas, particularly between the hard-line military wing and the government, which may have led to the escalation.”

It’s always prudent to keep in mind that thus far, we know very little of what really happened. This can keep us from jumping to conclusions and making false judgments, whether on the actions of Israel, Abbas, or Hamas. We can, however, speculate; it maybe well be that the moderate, pro-negotiation wing of Hamas had no knowledge of the mortar attack on Israel, that it was launched by a rogue group within the hard-line wing. Or, as the HuffPost / Reuters article suggests, this could have been a calculated timing attack to see the extent of Israel’s retaliation and to put Abbas in a difficult position.

Speaking of which, Mahmoud Abbas has had his work cut out for him for quite a while, but this latest attack by Hamas takes it to a whole new level. If he tries to reconcile with Hamas, Israel will see it as both Hamas’ government and his as a united threat, which would undoubtedly hinder any peace talks with Israel. If he goes continues negotiating with Netanyahu without Hamas, he won’t be seen as the leader of all Palestinians.

All this is happening while the United States is trying to act as a mediator, as evident by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s numerous visits there.

This new development on the decades-(centuries, even) old Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be viewed as a cap off of all the conflicts going on in the Middle East today. It was the center of Middle East politics a thousand years ago, and it remains so, because of its gravita and the hope it brings if peace is achieved. On the other hand, it could also be viewed that the rest of the region is progressing with its yearn for change, leaving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict behind in what seems to be a never-ending saga.

We won’t be able to tell which is which, maybe not for decades. But we it is now evident that the Middle East will be the epicenter of international politics for a long time to come.