June 26, 2002
The G8 Summit in Kananaskis
The G8 summit opening today is certainly worth our attention and you'll find several critical views and related info on this below - one of the most amazing being (to me!) that half a billion dollars of Canadian taxpayers money will be wasted for the 2 day photo-op - the same amount promised by Prime Minister Jean Chretien to help Africa, a noble cause for which he definitely deserves some kudos, although a considerably more efficient "assistance" would certainly be to actually cancel all African countries' debts as demanded by all big summit protesters over the last couple years, something the rich countries promised to do but never delivered. Also the much vaunted U.S.
I'll have more related material this week that will shed some interesting light on various aspects of the repression/dictatorship of the current global economic system and the elite it sustains.
Your comments are welcomed as usual...
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
IMPORTANT NOTE: I believe many of you will be interested to listen (on your computer at http://www.VoiceAmerica.com) to a 45 minute radio interview I'll give today, this Wednesday, on "The Spirit of World Peace" radio show hosted by Deborah Moldow a long-time ERN subscriber who called me to invite me on her show. Here are some more details... THE SPIRIT OF WORLD PEACE - a series of 13 one-hour live Internet radio broadcasts at http://www.VoiceAmerica.com hosted by Deborah Moldow, Director, The World Peace Prayer Society, Wednesdays 1:00-2:00 pm est (10-11am Pacific Time) - The Spirit of World Peace goal is to inspire listeners, to be the spirit of peace in their own lives and in the world. At this time when peace is challenged all over the world, those who believe in peace must do all we can for the betterment of all life on earth. The theme of the show is "May Peace Prevail on Earth." The Spirit of World Peace showcases people from various fields motivated by their spirituality to make a unique contribution toward world peace. To listen to the archives of previous shows go at http://www.worldpeace.org/spirit.html
Here is how Deborah will introduce me and the topic: "JUNE 26 - The Spirit of the Internet, with Mr. Jean Hudon - French Canadian Jean Hudon is a global networker, a visionary who is pioneering the use of the Internet as a tool for planetary consciousness. He has created a communication network that spans the globe, offering a wide variety of information that is not available through traditional media, as well as organizing worldwide peace meditations."
1. The G8 Agenda
2. G6B The People's Summit: G8 Counter Conference
3. BUSH PLAYS SHELL GAME WITH AFRICAN LIVES
4. G8: FAILING MODEL OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE
5. The speech: beautiful words bypassing ugly reality
CANADA PREPS FOR G8 SUMMIT (June 24, 2002)
Jittery heads of state gather this week in some of the most remote and rugged terrain in Canada. Terrorism, anyone? (...) There's also a tremendous financial cost for Canada, which is spending an estimated $500 million to host its G8 brethren for two days -- about as much money as Canada has promised to dedicate to the much-ballyhooed New Partnership for Africa's Development, which has been assigned the awkward acronym NEPAD and is supposed to be the centerpiece of summit discussions.
Chrétien Aims to Aid Africa by Mobilizing Rich Nations
OTTAWA, June 19 - (...) In what analysts call the most ambitious foreign policy proposal of his nine years as Canada's leader, Mr. Chrétien will press the other leaders of the major industrial powers to turn their attentions from terrorism, the Middle East and the India-Pakistan crisis and forge a new strategy to assist Africa. He will argue that the wealthiest nations should increase their aid budgets for education, agriculture and fresh water, as well as helping to restructure government and legal institutions, combat AIDS and malaria, and encourage foreign investment in Africa. He will also argue that they must drop their trade barriers to African textiles, footwear and farm products. CLIP
(To access several links not provided below in the text, please go to this URL above)
Jun 23 2002
The G8 Agenda
In their own words, the priorities at the Kananaskis summit will be to strengthen the global economy, build a partnership for Africa's development, and to fight "terrorism".
Questions arise about the intended means to "strengthen" the economy. In the past, the G8 has relied on international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank, which caused the economic devastation in Argentina, and sent Colombia's economy into a tailspin. Other questions arise as to whether the G8 will keep any promises they might make, as they failed to do with their 1999 debt-relief pledge.
The Partnership For Africa's Development (NEPAD) being touted by the G8 has come under fire for not gathering the required public input, and for supporting neo-liberal economic policies similar to those of the IMF and World Bank. IMF and World Bank programs have been identified as the original cause of Africa's economic woes. Amnesty international has launched a campaign to draw attention to how the G8's trade in arms and military aid in Africa undermines human rights. Human Rights Watch has voiced similar concerns, arguing that NEPAD does not address the massive human rights violations occurring on the continent.
Concerns have been raised about how the "War On Terrorism" is being used by G8 member countries to further their own domestic agendas. Canada has passed several anti-Terrorism bills aimed at cutting civil liberties, which include the infamous Kananaskis clause. Russia has stepped up aggression in Chechnya, amid flagrant human rights abuses (see at http://www.hrw.org/un/unchr-chechnya.htm). The United States was recently condemned by a group of leading artists, writers and academics for what they call a 'War Without Limit'. Others have wondered how it could be a war against "terrorism" when it's leader is itself a leading terrorist state.
Conspicuous by its absence is talk about the Kyoto Protocol, long since killed by Canada and the United States at a past G8 meeting. More information on issues behind the G8 can be found at http://www.geocities.com/ericsquire/g8.htm
Here is an excerpt from http://www.geocities.com/ericsquire/g8.htm
The G8 is an exclusive grouping of the wealthiest advanced industrialized nations - U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Canada (otherwise known as the G7) - plus Russia. In the year 2000, the G8 accounted for a net GDP of $21.1 trillion (US$) within a total world GDP of $31.3 trillion, meaning that the G8 controls about 68% of the world's economy (see table below). In contrast, the combined populations of the G8 nations make up less than 14% of the total world population. On the basis of its economic and military strength, the G8 sets a global agenda and advances it via its members and via the various international organizations which they dominate: e.g. the IMF, the World Bank, the G20, the WTO, and so on. The G8 has no general mandate from a more legitimate international institution.
The G8 derives from earlier groupings which were formed to coordinate and to promote the economic and strategic interests of the main capitalist states during the Cold War. The earliest incarnations of the G8 are shrouded in secrecy. The existence of the Brussels Group, for instance, notable primarily for its efforts to undermine early pollution control initiatives (see: Plot to undermine global pollution controls revealed at http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99991734), only came to light in 2001, 30 years after its formation (1971). Subsequent to the Brussels Group came the Library Group (1973 - U.S., West Germany, France, U.K. - plus Japan a year later), the 'G6' (1975 - U.S., West Germany, France, U.K, Japan, Italy), and then the G7, in which Canada was added at U.S. insistence in order to counterbalance the growing European strength (Canada was chosen for its heavy economic dependence on the U.S., which allows it to be easily manipulated). It is only since 1998 that Russia - having been successfully subdued and coerced into a Western neoliberal economic mode - has been included, thus completing the G8. Russia's role, however, is still limited, and it continues to be excluded from most of the 'ministerials' which take place in the months leading up to the annual summit.
What the G8 does...
The main work of the G8 involves the furtherance of the global neoliberalization program. This means nudging the global economy in directions which reinforce the supremacy of private and corporate interests over democratic and collective ones. In specific terms, it means favoring privatization, deregulation (i.e. reducing or eliminating environmental, health, and labor standards), capital mobility (by removing currency and investment controls), and the erosion of sovereign control over domestic economies. The G7, for instance, played an important role in advancing the Uruguay Round agenda of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), which led, in turn, to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
When there are perceived or anticipated setbacks in the advance of the neoliberal program, the G8 functions as an ad hoc executive committee to formulate corrective policies. The G8 has taken upon itself to deal with international crime, terrorism, and certain forms of financial speculation, for instance, since these types of phenomena represent threats to the steady advance of larger capitalist interests.
The G7/G8 can also be efficient at undermining initiatives which have popular support but might entail sacrifices on the part of the wealthy. The characteristic pattern has been to make promises in the spirit of popular demands, and then to appear to be incapable of reaching any agreement on how to actually realize them. Contradictions like this are made possible thanks to the G8's lack of transparency and clear process, and its lack of accountability. Significant debt repudiation, for instance, has long been promised by the G8, but the group has consistently succeeded in avoiding all but the most meagre commitments.
On June 26-27, 2002, the G8 will hold their annual summit in Kananaskis, Alberta, a posh resort area tucked away in the Rocky Mountains. The location was chosen by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in the wake of a massive outpouring of popular resistance at the previous G8 summit in Genoa - an event which was marred by shocking reports of police brutality and the tragic shooting of protester Carlo Giuliani. Determined to keep shows of political dissent in Kananaskis to a minimum, various 'anti-terrorist' bills have been tabled in the Canadian parliament giving security forces broad new powers and making the exercise of civil liberties increasingly risky.
The main items on the Kananaskis agenda are:
- economic recovery,
- terrorism (especially the U.S./Canada border issue), and
- Africa, particularly the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), and the so-called Africa Trust Fund which Canada initiated by committing $500 million in its December 2001 budget;
and other issues which may be addressed are:
- education (meeting the Millenium development goal of universal primary education by 2015) and
- the Kyoto Protocol
Also, the U.S. may attempt to use the summit to promote the expansion of its 'war against terrorism' into Iraq.
G8 Interest in Africa
G8 Activist Network
Alberta Independent media Center
Peaceful march opens week of protest against G8 agenda (June 24)
G6B The People's Summit: G8 Counter Conference
Starting on: Friday, June 21, 2002 until Tuesday, June 25, 2002 Every day. Next: Tuesday, June 25, 2002
On June 26 and 27, 2002, the leaders of the world's most industrialized countries, the G8, will meet in Kananaskis, Alberta. They will make critical decisions that will have global impact. Past G8 Summits have consistently failed to offer an effective means for individuals, civil society or even other states, to provide input to, or engage in, meaningful dialogue with G8 leaders.
We believe, therefore, that an alternative forum, offering a means for the views and concerns of all of the world's peoples to be expressed and considered, is sorely needed. As such, the G6B (Group of 6 Billion -- reflecting the entire global citizenry) will be held in Calgary, offering a forum to generate and discuss ideas and solutions that will promote economic activities that are beneficial to people living in all parts of our world, but that also reflect full respect for human rights and the environment.
The G6B Conference will offer an alternative view of the planet's future; one which is not rooted in increased militarism and poverty, and decreased human and civil rights.
Committed to bridging the divides and inequalities that exist between the developed and developing world, the conference will bring forward recommendations in six theme areas: trade and economy, human security, health, education, environment, democracy and governance.
Importantly the G6B will consider concrete proposals and clear recommendations, which will be presented to G8 governments in the weeks and months leading up to the Summit -- effective, practical solutions, not just a litany of problems and complaints.
The Purposes of the Conference are:
- To figure as part of a long term campaign for global peace, justice and equality
- To pay particular attention to the needs, challenges and aspirations of the peoples of Africa
- To foster public dialogue and participation on the issue of globalization in relation to social, economic and political well being, both individual and collective, from national and international perspectives
- To make recommendations to G8 governments that will ensure equitable trade, protection of human rights and the environment, and sustainable development
The Conference will bring renowned speakers, respected experts, and activists from the frontlines of poverty and conflict, together with an anticipated audience of 500, to explore a number of crucial issues and recommendations within the G6B's six themes. Consistent with the priorities of the G8, all sessions will have a special focus on the issues of Africa.
More details on their website at http://www.g6bpeoplessummit.org/
International Society for Peace and Human Rights: ISPHR Website: http://www.peaceandhumanrights.org/
Global Justice Action Summit: US Citizens Alternative Summit, to the G8 http://g8.activist.ca/view.php?id=0-1564
Starting on: Thursday, June 20, 2002 until Monday, June 24, 2002 - Every day. U.S. Based Citizens Alternative Summit to the G8 - The Global Justice Action Summit (Global JAS) is being organized to identify the specific tools and strategies people can use to change undemocratic decisions and unfair global economic policies. Together, we will explore a global vision that respects human rights, cultural diversity and ecological integrity with the intention of helping to build sustainable communities worldwide.
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002
From: Progressive Response <email@example.com>
Subject: G8, Africa Policy, CIA
Click http://www.fpif.org/progresp/volume6/v6n19.html to view an HTML-formatted version of this issue of Progressive Response.
The Progressive Response (PR) is a weekly service of Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF)--a "Think Tank Without Walls." A joint project of the Interhemispheric Resource Center and the Institute for Policy Studies, FPIF is an international network of analysts and activists dedicated to "making the U.S. a more responsible global leader and partner by advancing citizen movements and agendas." CLIP For more information on FPIF and joining our network, please consider visiting the FPIF website at http://www.fpif.org/, or email <firstname.lastname@example.org> to share your thoughts with us.
BUSH PLAYS SHELL GAME WITH AFRICAN LIVES
By Salih Booker
(Editor's Note: The following Global Affairs Commentary is also available at http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2002/0206aids.html .)
On the eve of a meeting of rich country leaders in Canada, President Bush has brought out a "new initiative" promising $500 million to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children. Intended to stave off the embarrassment of coming empty-handed to a summit trumpeted as focusing on Africa, the White House initiative is in fact a cynical move to derail more effective action against AIDS.
With a bipartisan congressional coalition poised to approve an additional $500 million or more in AIDS funding for fiscal year 2002, President Bush first put the squeeze on Republican senators to cut the total back to $200 million, half of which could go to the Global AIDS Fund and half for bilateral programs to cut mother-to-child transmission. Then he offered his plan, which claims the $200 million as his own while only promising to ask Congress for another $300 million two years from now. His plan would allow no additional money for the Global Fund.
The administration justifies the smaller amounts and the go-slow timetable by the need to first show "results." But, with 8,000 people around the world dying of AIDS daily (some 6,000 of them in sub-Saharan Africa), the results of Bush's stalling action are crystal-clear: more dead people.
Demonstrably successful anti-AIDS programs run by governments, nongovernmental organizations, and mission hospitals are starved for funds. Fewer than 2% of AIDS sufferers in sub-Saharan Africa, including pregnant mothers, have access to anti-retroviral drugs that can save lives. The Global AIDS Fund, which is estimated to require some $10 billion a year, is already out of funds less than halfway through its first year, while the U.S. has supplied less than a tenth of the $3.5 billion a year that would be its fair share.
When the issue is saving African lives, the administration says "Let's wait." In contrast, there is no hesitation in shelling out more than $5 billion a year in new subsidies for rich U.S. farmers, or more than $6 billion a year to pay for suspending the state taxes on the richest Americans.
President Bush has also recently announced a trip to Africa for next year and $20 million a year for African education (beginning in 2004). But public relations gestures and budget shell games do not save lives. The American public--and Congress--need to tell the President to change course.
(Salih Booker <email@example.com> is executive director of Africa Action, which is based in Washington, DC, and is FPIF's (online at www.fpif.org) policy adviser on U.S.-Africa affairs.)
Note from Jean: See also...
BUSH BAILS ON BONO
How long can U2's Bono sing a song of hope when Bush's paltry AIDS plan for Africa is merely a retreat, rather than a step forward?
Also from Progressive Response <firstname.lastname@example.org>
G8: FAILING MODEL OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE
By Tom Barry
(Editor's Note: Excerpted from a new FPIF policy brief, available in its entirety at: http://www.fpif.org/briefs/vol7/v7n09g8.html .)
The G8 summit in 2001, which sparked massive street demonstrations in Genoa, raised new questions about the legitimacy and value of this annual gathering of world leaders. To avoid a clash with anti-globalization protesters, the isolated Canadian town of Kananaskis was chosen as the site for the 2002 summit. Although questions about the legitimacy of the G8 persist, the summit did offer a welcome opportunity for world leaders to discuss ways to improve international cooperation.
Africa's development, fighting terrorism, and the stagnating global economy were the preestablished priorities of the summit. The G8 leaders were also slated to review progress on priorities from previous meetings, including promoting universal primary education, fighting infectious diseases primarily HIV/AIDS, bridging the digital divide, and debt reduction. While summit pronouncements were expected on all these topics, the expectations for the 2002 summit were uniformly low. Newly aggressive U.S. unilateralism has created new fractures in the cross-Atlantic and cross-Pacific alliances, thus undermining one of the original reasons for the summit--namely, to reduce U.S. hegemony and build collective global leadership. Since the mid-1990s, the annual summits have incorporated more social issues and developing country concerns into their agendas, but they have failed to demonstrate much progress on these issues. Similarly, the G8 has failed to produce the kind of global leadership necessary to jettison the failed neoliberal model for managing the global economy. For many NGOs and developing countries, the G8 summit remains a symbol of elite global governance, but concerns about the legitimacy of this self-constituted forum are increasingly overshadowed by criticisms of the forum's ineffectiveness.
Global governance lies in shambles, but there is little indication that the world's most powerful political leaders have the inclination or will to reform current institutions or create new ones. Within the multilateral institutions, blame and recriminations abound, leaving no room for self-criticism and change. Neither have the various groupings of like-minded nations--the G8/G7 and the G77 being the most prominent--provided the kind of enlightened leadership necessary to upgrade global governance.
Due to its powerful economy, its lead in information technology, and its lack of military competitors, the U.S. once again exercises hegemonic power in the capitalist world--which now encompasses virtually the entire planet. Washington and the other G8/G7 leaders could begin by taking the representation and legitimacy critiques more seriously. Within successful global governance, there can be a constructive role for self-constituted groupings of like-minded countries such as the G8/G7. The G8/G7--with its annual summits, ministerial meetings, and consensus process of agenda-setting--has established a valuable process for setting international policy agendas for groups of countries with similar interests and concerns. However, without the presence of other similarly strong country groupings (particularly of developing countries) and in the absence of more democratically constituted multilateral institutions, the G8/G7 countries have assumed an unhealthy degree of power.
Rather than working to foster forums of other like-minded nations, the U.S. has historically sought to undermine groups that it cannot or does not control. Just as the wealthy industrialized countries benefit from sessions involving only other like-minded nations and leaders, so too will poor and developing countries benefit from strategy meetings with their counterparts throughout the South and in the transitional states. The concerted campaign in the 1970s led by the U.S. to crush the factions within the UN supporting a "new international economic order" and its aid embargo against leaders of the nonaligned movement are cases in point. The reemergence of the G77 at a meeting in April 2000 is a positive development that deserves U.S. support and encouragement, and more weight needs to be given to the G24, a smaller grouping of developing countries and emerging markets.
Standing at the center of global governance there must be effective, representative intergovernmental institutions, starting with the United Nations. The representation and legitimacy problems of the G8/G7 need to be addressed, but these problems cannot be solved without first addressing the representation and structural problems that beset the UN. Policies are needed that will ensure a system of global governance that has both strong decisionmaking institutions at the center and informal, consultative groups around the perimeter.
In their role as responsible global leaders, G8/G7 policymakers should adopt agendas that foster such a global governance system. At the same time the leaders and ministers can advocate policies that will go a long way toward meeting its stated objective in 1975 of "strengthening democratic societies everywhere." These include:
* Proceed with earlier commitments made during the Asian financial crisis to reform the international financial architecture to address the problem of large, speculative capital flows instead of its present focus on patching the architecture's cracks and its asymmetric attention to reforming the policies of borrowing nations.
* Increase economic aid commitments at least to the UN target of 0.7% of the donor's gross domestic product. (The U.S. contributes less than one-seventh of this target, the lowest level of any major industrialized nation.)
* Substantially expand the 1999 Cologne summit's commitment to IMF/World Bank debt relief programs, eliminating 100% of the bilateral and multilateral debt of the poorest nations.
* Commit (without demanding parallel commitments from developing countries) to substantial cuts in carbon emissions at least as deep as those called for in the Kyoto Protocol.
* Provide leadership in countering international terrorism that focuses on multilateral action, maintains respect for human rights, and addresses crises like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that spark terrorism.
The G8/G7 would go a long way toward improving its credibility as an important forum of global leaders if it distanced itself from the professions of belief in free trade ideology that have characterized past summits. At the same time, the G7 leaders should refocus their attention on the grave global affairs crises--including security (arms proliferation), economic (increasing social polarization and marginalization), and environmental problems (global climate change)--for which the wealthy nations are primarily responsible.
(Tom Barry <email@example.com>, a senior analyst at the Interhemispheric Resource Center, is codirector of Foreign Policy In Focus.)
See other FPIF analysis on G8-related issues:
* Developing Countries, Global Financial Governance, and the G20 By Gerald Helleiner Online at http://www.fpif.org/commentary/0111gs.html
* Thabo Mbeki's New Partnership for Africa's Development Breaking or Shining the Chains of Global Apartheid? By Patrick Bond Online at http://www.fpif.org/papers/nepad/index.html
From: "Gush Shalom (Israeli Peace Bloc)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002
Subject: [GushShalomPress] The speech: beautiful words bypassing ugly reality
GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - http://www.gush-shalom.org/
The speech: beautiful words bypassing ugly reality
Democratic reforms, a practicing democracy based on liberty and tolerance, an effective legislature, an independent judiciary, separation of powers, a new constitution - so many rosy items did the President of the United States set out for the Palestinians, in his long-awaited speech on the Middle East.
Somehow, throughout his speech George W. Bush managed to avoid any mention of the present situation in the same parcel of land where all these wonderful things are to materialize. No mention of the fact that all West Bank cities had been invaded by Israeli military forces; that hundreds of thousands of inhabitants are imprisoned in their homes by a strict curfew, and that civilians appearing on city streets risk having tanks shoot shells on them (while the speech was delivered in Washington, Israeli soldiers completed the takeover of Hebron, killing three Palestinian policemen in the process); that even before that conquest, the towns and villages where Bush would have a flourishing market economy set up are cut off from each other by checkpoints and closures and sieges, with inhabitants replacing their cars with donkeys able to negotiate narrow mountain paths.
How are Palestinians to implement any kind of reforms under such circumstances? How are they to reform a Palestinian Authority which is being systematically chocked out of existence?
How could elections be held "before the end of the year" without a pullout of Israeli forces, and some assurance of their non-interference?
And what would President Bush do if Palestinian voters, exercising their democractic right to choose, re-elect Yasser Arafat as their leader? Would that democratic choice be set aside in yet another military invasion? And even if "new Palestinian leaders" would get elected, pass Bush's careful scrutiny, and try to "fight terrorism" as the president so vocally demands, would they be assured of the basic conditions for doing so? Would their efforts not be continually thwarted by Sharon, as are those of the existing Palestinian leadership? In the Gaza Strip, the one parcel of land where the Palestinian Authority retains some measure of control and where it tried in the past few days to take some action against Hamas, Israeli forces yesterday committed the provocation of assassinating a major Hamas leader (together with five family members who happened to travel in a taxi with that leader, and who got killed by the same missile which killed him).
The root cause of terrorism and suicide bombing (or "homicide bombing" as the president insisted upon calling it) was hardly addressed at all: the situation of young Palestinians under an increasingly tight occupation, who see themselves oppressed and dispossessed, deprived of all hope and expectation for the future, abandoned by the world, and who reach the point where they decide to blow themselves up in order to kill random Israelis. No end to terrorism can be expected without offering some tangible hope to such people, to dry up the phenomenon of suicide bombing at the source.
President Bush's speech - making strident demands upon the weaker party to the conflict, and only vague polite requests upon the stronger side - contributes little to that cause. No wonder that Sharon expressed immense satisfaction with the speech - but the two peoples, locked in this terrible struggle, pay the price for the arrogance, short-sightedness and lack of resolve of the dweller in the White House.
Adam Keller - Gush Shalom spokesperson
A New Condition for the Palestinians Is Set by Bush
The president on Monday made clear the price of a Palestinian state: "Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a Palestinian state can be born."
Bush Speech Ignores Bloody Reality
(No URL provided - Published on Tuesday, June 25, 2002 in the Toronto Star and sent by "Mark Graffis" <email@example.com>)
Palestinian officials see president's map to peace as unrealistic
JERUSALEM - U.S. President George W. Bush's speech was unabashedly pro-Israeli, but Palestinians fear it condemns both sides in the conflict to more bloodshed. "Unfortunately, the immediate and practical impact of this speech is zero," Palestinian cabinet minister Ghassan Khatib said last night. Bush's long-awaited speech on ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was delivered as the Israeli army occupied six Palestinian-ruled towns, and tanks yet again confined Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to his battered West Bank compound in Ramallah. Bush didn't say a word to restrain Israel's military campaign, triggered by back-to-back suicide bombings that killed 26 Israelis last week, and implicitly gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a green light to press ahead. Indeed, Bush went as far as implicitly calling for Arafat's removal from power. Arafat chose to ignore that aspect in an official statement issued by his office and instead called the speech "a serious effort to push the peace process forward." (...) "This was the most Israeli-friendly speech ever given by an American president," said Tommy Lapid, head of the secular Shinui party. "He didn't even try to be even-handed." CLIP
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