Belmont Club

Links sent by readers April 22, 2009

  • The WSJ writes in Obama Among the Dictators that when an American President appears to be chummy with a dictator it sends a message to those he oppresses. The article uses a now-forgotten parallel. “The now-famous photograph of Barack Obama sharing a handshake and mile-wide smile with happy Hugo Chávez recalled to mind a visit years ago of Philippine strong man Ferdinand Marcos to The Wall Street Journal’s offices in lower Manhattan. … They had been sending the Philippines images of Marcos in the company of American symbols — bankers, journalists, politicians. Propaganda. The message for the Philippine opposition was: Behold, the Americans are with me, not you.”
  • Meanwhile, the AP says that Russia has moved troops closer to Georgia’s capital. “Russia has stationed its forces just 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the Georgian capital, in violation of the EU-brokered cease-fire that ended last year’s brief war. And in recent weeks, it has sent even more troops and armored vehicles to within striking distance of the city ahead of street protests against Georgia’s president.”
  • Pakistani government forces and the Taliban have clashed 60 miles from the capital. “Pakistani paramilitary troops rushed to protect government buildings and bridges from encroaching Taliban militants just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the capital quickly came under fire Thursday by gunmen who killed a police officer, authorities said. … In recent days, the valley’s militants have entered Buner in large numbers — establishing checkpoints, patrolling roads and spreading fear in an area some 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Islamabad. Their movement has bolstered critics’ claims that the [peace] deal would merely embolden the militants to spread their reign to other parts of the province bordering Afghanistan.”
  • General Petraeus, speaking at the Kennedy School of Government, urged the Pakistanis to de-emphasize their conflict with India and turn to what he believed was the real thread. “yesterday, at a forum here at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus had a message for the Pakistanis: Get over it. These days, your biggest enemy isn’t India. It’s home-grown extremists.”