More Troops in Afghanistan or Not?

Several years has passes since the breaking out the US-Afghanistan war. It is such a deep impression that the US declared war against this turbulent nation, which is believed to be the source and base of terrorist attacks. During the time spent postwar, a large number of soldiers have been claimed their lives accompanied with their conquers.

We can recall the days when the war broke out, which was opposed by millions of peace-lovers. They showed their stalwart dislike and hatred of war by wearing anti-war T-shirts and silicone wristbands onto the streets, on a long parade. Words such as “PEACE, NO WAR” were printed on the rubber bracelets. And many T-shirts are dyed scarlet to show the ferocity and bloodiness of regional warfare. Many news reporters even put on these words on their lanyards to attend different news conference

In this sense, we had to admit that controversial issues have been arising continually that weather there is need to send more troops over this region. For on the one hand, we have been devoting so much time, energy, wealth and even lives for the so-called peace-friendly combat all over the world, on the other hand, it becomes doubtful if we should so selfless at the cost of so many lives of the innocent citizens of our great land.

More recently, the top envoy for Afghanistan from the United Nations, Kai Eide, showed his agreement that more troops should be sent in that country, thus showing consent to top U.S. and NATO commander.

In responding this call, president Obama showed his concern. He hoped that more effective work can be directed to the destroying of the network of the terrorist base. The policy that security should be strengthened at the cost of sacrificing our own peaceful arouses heated discussion one time more in the U.S. and NATO ally.

The 5 Million Pesos Reward Money For Palparan Capture

The Philippine government had recently put up a P500,000 Philippine Pesos reward money for the capture of retired Major General Jovito Palparan Jr. for the crimes of kidnapping and illegal detention.

According to Philippines current events, Palparan is the target of an arrest warrant issued by the Bulacan Regional Trial Court for his alleged involvement in the disappearance of two University of the Philippines student activists in 2006.

Although there were talks of surrender, between Palparan’s emissaries and the government, the possibility of surrendering is growing thinner as weeks go by. “We presume surrender feelers are off,” Robredo said when asked what prompted the raising of the bounty.

Questioned if this meant the Palparan camp had indicated he would no longer give up, Robredo said: “Not really. But after a week, unless he communicates with the government again, we presume he is not surrendering anymore.”

Still in the Country

At the time of Palparan’s hiding, many have feared that he had already left the country before releasing his hold departure order. The migrant rights group Migrante urged the administration to launch an international manhunt for him.

However, Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome told reporters the information the PNP had gathered showed that Palparan was still in the country.

Though the PNP General would not divulge the information whether Palparan was in Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao, he did say that “the important thing is that he [Palparan] has not left the country.” Asked if Palparan’s arrest was imminent, Bartolome replied: “Hopefully.”

PNP Generatl Bartolome had also said that the PNP was treating each piece of information carefully and that the reward money should encourage people to help flush him out.

Assuring Palparan’s Safety

According to Current Events in Philippines, one possible reason why Palparan had not yet surrendered was with his fear for his life. Bartolome said the Palparan camp had sought the PNP’s assurance he would be in safe hands if he is taken into custody. Emissaries for Palparan wanted an assurance his security would not be compromised, Bartolome said. “We assure them that he will be properly secured,” he said.

He said Palparan, who had gone into hiding since the court ordered his arrest in connection with the disappearance of activists Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, had no reason to fear for his life if he was taken into PNP custody.

Bartolome also confirmed of receiving feelers from Palparan’s camp about his possible surrender.

“Yes, we have also received surrender feelers. We are talking to some people,” Bartolome said. “We will always give this consideration, all this information we are getting from the community and from those who would like to negotiate.” For more information visit to our site at

Why Tennessee Would Benefit From The National Popular Vote Plan

There was a time not too long ago when Tennessee enjoyed an abundance of electoral attention. Presidential candidates and their surrogates cultivated support in the Volunteer State in hopes of swinging the bellwether state into their electoral column. The state selected the winner of the National popular vote every election between 1928 and 2008, save 1960 when Republican Richard M. Nixon defeated John F. Kennedy.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan defeated President Jimmy Carter by just 0.29% of the vote. In 1992 Bill Clinton selected the state’s Junior U.S. Senator Al Gore as his running mate. The ticket carried the Volunteer state in 1992 and again in 1996, with Gore making a formidable 16 campaign stops in his home state. The last year the state was contested was in 2000, when Republican George W. Bush defeated Gore in his home state by four percentage points.

The state has gradually become a Republican citadel, forcing the Democrats to concede the state years before the Presidential election cycle begins. It was one of only two states (Arkansas being the other) where Democrat Barack Obama performed worse in 2008 than John Kerry did in 2004.

This electoral irrelevance is very disadvantageous to Tennesseans. Presidential candidates spend their time on the hustings in only about 15 showdown states (aside from blue chip fundraisers in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles). They address the concerns of a very select group of voters simply because of their geopolitical location. Candidates are forced to address the trade embargo on Cuba because of the influence of Cuban-American votes in Florida. They must address the foreclosure crisis in Las Vegas because Nevada is a swing state. They must speak to the effects of globalization on the steel industry because of the industry’s electoral muscle in the electoral battlefields of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately for Tennessee, candidates see no advantage in addressing the decline of more than 150 thousand manufacturing jobs in Tennessee over the last decade, violent crime in Memphis, and the plight of the state’s tobacco farmers. When they get into office, Presidents are less familiar with these issues and see no electoral incentive to address them. As former Governor Jim Edgar (R-IL) asserts: “People who are in elected office remember what they learned when they were campaigning. Its important that the candidates campaign in all states, not just the swing states.”

Despite this rather gloomy picture, there is a way to make Tennessee voters actually matter. The National Popular Vote Plan is an interstate compact, whereby participating states would agree to allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the National Popular Vote, as opposed to the candidate who secures the most votes in their state. The compact would take effect when enough states (constituting the requisite 270 electoral votes required to win the Presidential election) agree to participate. Currently 8 states and the District of Columbia, constituting 132 Electoral votes, have ratified the compact.

Despite contemporary belief, the present winner-take-all system of awarding Presidential electors was not part of the grand design of the Founding Fathers. In fact, the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked as to the method of electing the President. They decided to delegate “plenary authority” to the states in awarding their electors, as reflected in Article ll, Section 1, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.” Accordingly, each state has autonomy to select electors in any way that they see fit.

This issue has garnered support from across the political aisle. Political Lightening struck when the Chairmen of the states Republican and Democratic Parties, Bob Davis and Randy Button, joined forces in endorsing this effort. In addition, former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) is a co-champion for the National Popular vote movement. A recent poll showed that 83% of Tennessee voters agree that the person who wins the most votes should win the election.

The National Popular Vote Plan will bring Tennessee back from the electoral abyss. Presidential Candidates will once again have a reason to cultivate and solidify support in the Volunteer state. A vote in Cleveland, Tennessee will be just as coveted as a vote in Cleveland, Ohio. Every vote will be equal. Every vote will count. Every vote will be meaningful, and Tennessee will have a seat at the electoral table.

Why Arab Democracy is Good For America.

We are currently witnessing an unprecedented shift in Arab politics that has caught the whole world, even the Egyptians themselves by surprise. The uprising and it’s epi-center Tahrir Square (Liberation Square) is the Arab world’s version of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For many decades, the general Arab political discourse was defined by the West as the need to strengthen pro-Western dictatorships because of the fear of the alternative which is Iranian style Islamist regimes. Now, the Tahrir Square movement has clearly forced the West to rethink this perspective by showing that there is a third way – the rise of broad based democratic movements that reject totalitarianism and Islamic extremism. We should not fear this change because its uncertain outcome, but rather embrace it and take an active role in encouraging democratic change throughout the Arab world.

Democratic change in Egypt matters greatly to the Arab world because it has historically set the regional pattern of Arab politics. The Islamic Brotherhood which was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt eventually led to the establishment of numerous splinter groups throughout the Middle East. And in 1952, Gemal Abdel Nasser helped replace the monarchy with a pan-Arabist socialist system that also spread to different parts of the Arab world. Gemal Abdul Nasser is regarded as one of the most important figures in Arab history. Then came Anwar Al-Sadat who signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. This treaty had strategic repercussions throughout the Arab world and in fact had weakened it by removing the most populous and powerful Arab country from the Arab resistance camp. Finally, after Sadat’s assassination on October 6, 1981, President Mubarak ascended to the Presidency where he immediately established a police state by implementing “Emergency Rule” which to this day has not been lifted. All these political patterns — from Political Islam, to Pan-Arabism, to the Arab-Israeli peace process, and authoritarianism, have all failed. The Arab people have finally figured it out – it’s People Power.

Supporting democracy in Egypt is good for America as it serves our national interest for a number of reasons. First, dictatorships are mortal — they come and go, and we cannot always guarantee that a pro-US dictator who will eventually die will be replaced with another pro-US dictator. A democratic Egypt where its people share our values of individual political freedoms, tolerance, plurality, and respect for the rule of law will help build a broad based support for the United States by the Egyptian people that will be long enduring. Second, the establishment of a democratic Egypt that opens the political system to a wide range of Egypt’s political-ideological continuum including the Islamic Brotherhood will ensure the functioning of a viable and stable democracy. Incorporating the Islamic Brotherhood into the political system, would further marginalize extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda and its network of splinter groups. Indeed, the Al-Qaeda leadership has been very critical of the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood for disavowing violence as a form of resistance and for the Brotherhood’s adherence to a future Egyptian democratic state that is based on pluralism.

Third, a shift in the balance of power in the Middle East away from Israel will serve our national interest by making Israel realize that its security is directly tied to making a strategic decision of achieving a just peace with the Palestinians. For too long, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has created tremendous anger and frustration amongst the Arab masses for their inability to help their Palestinian brethren. This deep sense of hopelessness, is the most important source of recruiting efforts of Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups who may not care much about the Palestinian cause but nonetheless, use its emotional intensity to recruit Islamic Radicals. Indeed, captured Al-Qaeda recruiting and training videos often included video clips of Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression. In fact, in May 2010, , U.S. General David Petraeus stated in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fomenting anti-American sentiment due to the perception of U.S. favoritism towards Israel.” There is no doubt that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely vital to our national interests.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Arabs have been very forthcoming in peace efforts with Israel. In 2002, the Arab league, consisting of 22 Arab countries offered for the very first time since Israel’s founding, a full and comprehensive peace settlement that would normalize relations with Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal to the pre 1967 borders as stipulated in UN Resolution 242. Israel rejected it outright without even considering some of its elements. More recently, the Palestinian version of Wikileaks where over 1000 pages on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process were leaked to the press did show that the Palestinians were far more willing to compromise than even the 2002 Arab League peace initiative. One such leaked document showed that the Palestinians would accept Israel’s annexation of all settlement blocs in East Jerusalem except one, and this peace offering was also rejected by the Israelis. Israel rejected President Obama’s call to extend the settlement freeze in the interest of the peace process as it rejected every call from every president since 1967 to stop building Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. Even President Ronald Reagan stated in September 1982 that “further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.” Israel’s No, No, No policy is clearly harming our interests in the region.

The intransigence of Israel is because no US government official, including the President of the United States can put effective pressure on Israel because no politician wants to experience the wrath of the pro-Israeli lobby. Moreover,President Mubarak, the head of the most powerful Arab country has been the hired sheriff for Israel for three decades. Israel is so powerful that it sees no strategic interest in making peace with the weak and isolated essence, the current status quo is Israel’s modus operandi. By replacing Mubarak’s dictatorship regime with a democracy that truly represents the will of the Egyptian people will cause a change in the balance of power calculus vis-a-vis Israel in a manner that should convince Israel’s leaders that making the necessary concessions for a final peace with the Palestinians is now a strategic necessity for Israel’s long term security.

Finally, we should engage other dictators and monarchs in the Arab world and convince them that supporting genuine democratic reforms is the right path for long term stability. We should not send our troops to invade countries but we should send our technocrats to help these countries politically engineer republics that truly represent the will of the masses. The Arab people will support us and embrace us if they know that we have made a clear choice — supporting their will to empower themselves rather than supporting arrogant and outdated oppressive regimes that are doomed to fail.