The Best Offense Is a Good Defense; Finally, Time for U.N. Peacekeepers; Rounding Up Big Bird and Friends; A Look Back at an Inhumane Policy; Russia Aims to Be Santa's Landlord
The Best Offense Is a Good Defense
Bush administration policy in the Middle East is looking increasingly like a Cold War-style exercise in containing Iranian power, judging by the rare dual visit to the region last week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Topic A on their travels: plans for major arms sale deals with America's friends and allies in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere in the Mideast. Likely to include sophisticated air-to-air missiles, precision-guided munitions, and warships, the future sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab gulf states will run into the billions of dollars.
The administration's focus on Iran is trumping its earlier calls for autocratic Arab leaders to reform and democratize, an approach that alienated the Saudis and others. Iran is blaming the Bush administration for "creating fear" and political divisions in the region. But Rice countered: "Iran constitutes the single most important single-country strategic challenge to the United States and to the kind of Middle East that we want to see."
The administration also announced an expansion of U.S. military aid to Israel ($30 billion over 10 years) and to Egypt ($13 billion over the same period) as Rice tried to jump-start stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Finally, Time for U.N. Peacekeepers
France, Denmark, and Indonesia stepped forward last week to offer peacekeepers for the newly authorized United Nations-African Union force for Darfur. The U.N. Security Council, after much delay, authorized the 26,000-strong peacekeeping force for the conflict-wracked region of Sudan, where some 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their villages by armed attacks. Sudan's leaders dropped their long-standing opposition after the council, at the insistence of China (which has major oil investments in Sudan), eliminated language threatening new sanctions on the country if it fails to cooperate with the peacekeepers.
Rounding Up Big Bird and Friends
China promised to make further efforts to improve the safety of its exports, following the recall last week by Mattel of nearly a million Fisher-Price plastic preschool toysincluding Sesame Street charactersmade by a Chinese manufacturer using paint containing lead, a neurotoxin. China makes about 80 percent of the toys sold in the United States, and the recall was the latest case to draw scrutiny of China's poorly supervised manufacturing practices and limited U.S. measures to prevent the importation of potentially dangerous products.
A Look Back at an Inhumane Policy
In a landmark case, a court in Australia ordered that $448,000 in damages be paid from a state government fund to a 50-year-old aboriginal man who was taken during infancy by the government and given to white foster parents. It was the first such compensation award to a member of the "stolen generation" of more than 100,000 mostly mixed-blood Aborigines taken from their parents between 1910 and the 1970s under state and federal laws intended to "save" the children from what was then considered a doomed race. The ruling by the South Australian Supreme Court puts pressure on Prime Minister John Howard, who has steadfastly refused to issue an apology for past government actions or to support compensation payments to Aborigines, many of whom suffered long-term psychological damage from the loss of family and culture.
Russia Aims to Be Santa's Landlord
At the top of the Earth, two minisubmarines dived 2
The United Nations previously rejected Russia's claim, citing lack of evidence, but Moscow plans to resubmit a more documented claim in 2009.
With Thomas Omestad and Associated Press
This story appears in the August 13, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.