Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bush may step up troops in Iraq

President Bush has addressed the American people and asserted his determination to continue his effort in defeating terrorism and to step up efforts in Iraq to advance a ‘unity government’. During his address he said, “We’re going to win” but acknowledged the “situation is tough”. He said, “I want our troops to understand that we support them, and what I want our enemies to understand is we’re not going to cut and run“. One of the options he suggested, in his continued War on Terror, was for more troops to be sent to Iraq. “Victory in Iraq is achievable and is taking longer than I’d have hoped” but retreat from Iraq would not be beneficial to America. “The most painful time in my Presidency is the reading of the losses of American troops in Iraq,” he said, “My heart breaks for them on a regular basis.” The President also urged for increased development of alternative and environmental energy sources. He particularly stressed the importance of electricity developed from nuclear technology. He said that trading technology with countries such as India was important. But when it came to a question on Iran, and its continuing nuclear program, he said, “The Iranians must suspend their enrichment program.” He also singled out Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as being a backward looking President, and added, “My message to the Iranian people is you can do better.” He also attacked other counties in the region. “To Syria the message is the same.” He said that Syria ought to “stop Saddamists sending arms and money to Iraq.” Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has been particularly criticized recently for having denied the Holocaust []. He has been quoted many times as saying Israel should be “wiped off the map”. But Ahmadinejad’s questioning of the truth of the Holocaust has enraged many throughout the world. He said in letter to German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that the allied powers invented the Holocaust to ‘embarrass’ Germany. In the letter, sent in July 2006, he said, “Is it not a reasonable possibility that some countries that had won the war made up this excuse to constantly embarrass the defeated people ... to bar their progress." It is not the first time he has raised issue of the veracity of the truth behind the Holocaust which killed millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, political enemies, communists, artists and others. A year ago he was quoted as saying, "Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces. . . Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true. . . .The Europeans should give some of their provinces in Europe to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe." And in June this year, at a conference in Shanghai, China, he called for an investigation to establish the truth of the Holocaust. "An event that has influenced so many diplomatic and political equations of the world needs to be investigated and researched by impartial and independent groups," he said. But there have been some unlikely attendees to a recent conference in the Iranian capital [BBC]. Neturei Karta (Guardians of the City), a Hasidic sect of a few thousand people which views Zionism [the movement to establish a Jewish national home or state in what was Palestine] as a "poison" threatening "true Jews". Meanwhile, Palestine has seen a resurgence of violence in recent weeks. Fighting in the region has exacerbated between Fatah and Hamas [BBC] and Israel has also continued to launch attacks on Gaza. This has provoked criticism over a number of incidents in which civilians have been killed. Israel has also come into the spotlight over its believed possession of nuclear weapons. In an interview with a German TV station, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, made a slip in which he appeared to confirm Israel’s possession of such weapons [BBC]. During a debate in which he criticized Iran’s perceived development of nuclear weapons, he said, “Can you say that this is the same level, when they [Iran] are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?". Since then, there has been much debate over what might be drawn from his comments [BBC]. Into all this turmoil, Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived at the weekend in attempt to bring all sides together [BBC]. But his talks with Abbas and Olmert, appear to have produced few results. Many UK papers are dismissive of his efforts. The Financial Times described his latest visit to the region as a “last roll of the dice”, whilst the Guardian said, “neither Iraq nor the conflict between Israel and Palestine are close to resolution and Mr Blair may not bring it any closer.” Mr Bush ended his 50 minute news conference with a goodwill wish. “Happy Holidays”, he said. Not so happy if one lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, to name just a few unhappy regions of the world.

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