A Nobel Peace Prize About More than Good Intentions: Financial Times Deutschland, Germany

October 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

When President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, there was a lot of criticism. While Barack Obama’s intentions seemed great - many said he hadn’t actually done anything. Not so for this year’s winner. Financial Times Deutschland columnist David Bocking writes that this time around, the Nobel Committee awarded a man that has risked everything - including his life - to promote freedom and democracy in China.

From the Financial Times Deutschland, columnist David Bocking writes in part:

In selecting Liu Xiabao, the Committee honors a man who has long confronted China’s communist leadership. This honor is a political signal, as it was last year when the award went to Barack Obama. But while the U.S. president was honored almost exclusively for intentions, Liu has paid a high personal price for his beliefs and actions for many years. In 1989 he was one of the leaders of the student protests at Tienanmen Square. Just five months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chinese citizens dared to criticize the lack of freedom in their country.

In contrast to the peaceful revolution in the German Democratic Republic [East Germany], protesters in China were literally mowed down by tanks. An unknown number of people died that day and there followed a wave of arrests in which Liu also fell victim. While East and West Germans were embracing each other, China’s political opposition feared for their lives. Of course, Oslo could also have honored the successful German revolution, in which case an East German civil rights activist would have deserved the prize at least as much as Helmut Kohl. But especially now, remembering the Chinese revolution sends a stronger signal.

In regard to whether the award shows ‘Western arrogance,’ Bocking writes:

Awarding Liu the Nobel Prize has nothing to do with Western arrogance. Politically, China remains a developing nation, a fact that was demonstrated most recently by Liu’s re-imprisonment at the end of last year. If Beijing - at events like the recent summit with E.U. nations, for example - seeks more recognition as an industrialized nation, then it must also submit to criticism of its domestic polices.

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Odierno weighs in on Iraq’s immediate future, Iran’s intentions

August 21, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) - The top U.S. military commander in Iraq says the Middle Eastern country is on its way to being ready for next year’s planned withdrawal of remaining U.S. troops, but Gen. Ray Odierno is also sounding a cautionary note about the intentions of one of its key neighbors.

In an interview set to air Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Odierno gives his assessment of the readiness of Iraqi security forces and of the Iraqi people overall.

“My assessment today is … they will be [ready for next year's withdrawal],” Odierno says in the interview. “I think that they continue to grow. We continue to see development in planning, in their ability to conduct operations. We continue to see political development, economic development and all of these combined together will start to create an atmosphere that creates better security.

“And the Iraqi people are resilient. They want this. They want to have a democratic country. They want to be on their own. They want to move forward and be a contributor to stability in the Middle East.”

In the same sit-down, Odierno says that neighboring Iran may not want Iraq to move in that direction.

“I think they don’t want to see Iraq turn into a strong democratic country,” the general says. “They’d rather see it become a weak governmental institution. So they don’t add more problems for Iran in the future.”

Earlier this week, the 4,000-member 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team departed Iraq in a move that many took to symbolize the end of U.S. combat operations in the country; the formal change in mission is set for September 1. After the 4th Stryker’s departure, the U.S. military said the number of U.S. troops remaining in Iraq is about 52,000. That figure puts U.S. forces on track to draw down to 50,000 troops by September 1, when forces are to switch to an advise-and-assist role.

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