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Friday, December 28, 2007

New U.S. Foreign Policy Necessary

The tragic death of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto yesterday underscores the importance of a coherent U.S. foreign policy that is firmly based on the support of human rights all over the world.

President George W. Bush and his administration moved quickly after the terrorist actions on 9-11-2001 by invading Afghanistan which at the time was under the rule of the Taliban who were providing safe haven to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

After a successful U.S. military campaign, President Hamid Kharzi was installed and backed by the Bush administration. However, since Kharzi became President, domestic programs in the areas of health, education, transportation, and employment have been complete failures across Afghanistan.

President Kharzi's travel in Afghanistan is infrequent and when it does occur is only done under heavy military guard. The Taliban is back and roaming freely in the mountainous border region with Pakistan while poppy has again become the major export of the country.

At the time of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Bush administration also moved quickly to develop an alliance with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. This is a country with operational nuclear weapons which is also strategically located in the region.

In neither case was there ever any effort by the Bush administration to stress the importance of human rights to the Leaders of these two countries.

Untold hundreds of millions and most likely billions in U. S. aid have been spent in these two countries with literally no accountability of how the funds were spent while human rights violations continue to occur on a daily basis.

Starving farmers in Afghanistan find "friends" in the drug trade who pay them up front to plant and harvest poppy. A similar action of utilizing U.S. aid and directing it to farmers to plant alternative crops and to also provide protection to them seemingly has never been thought of, let alone attempted to implement in Afghanistan.

At the same time the Bush administration continues to support the Musharraf regime while he makes a mockery of Democracy in Pakistan.

His total disregard of the constitution of Pakistan culminated with the removal of all the supreme court justices prior to their ruling against the constitutionality of his reelection as President. His recent lifting of the marshal law he had imposed on Pakistan, his stepping down from his dual role as General, and allowing the parliamentary election to be held on January 8, 2008 were all just smoke and mirrors by a man who is a Dictator.

These foreign policy actions taken by the Bush administration seemingly became secondary as the rush to invade and go to war with Iraq took the lead. The continued morass in Iraq stymies the ability of the U.S. to conduct meaningful foreign policy as the respect for the U.S. has fallen to perhaps an all time low around the world.

Continued U.S. support of dictatorial regimes based strictly on strategic military reasons without regard to human rights give rise to anti-American sentiments. While perhaps advantageous to the U.S. in the short term, the long term ramifications can and will be disastrous.

The international damage done by the Bush administration is substantial and will require from the American President elected in November of 2008 a clearly understood foreign policy focused on human rights.

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