Blair Talking to Bush: Iraq

November 12, 2006

In what is shaping up to be a key week in UK and US foreign policy in the Middle East, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to present evidence on Iraq this Tuesday to the Iraq Study Group. The British leader is testifying because the bi-partisan group is to deliver a report to President Bush and Congress within the next few weeks; the report’s publication date was set to some time after the Midterm Elections. The US president, who created the ISG, will be addressing the group Monday.

In fact, Tony Blair and George Bush have been spending time on the phone, discussing prospects for Iraq. With President Bush calling his new Defense Secretary an “agent of change,” it’s clear that the British leader and his counterpart have been discussing a change of policy in Iraq.

One of the British scenarios is to involve Syria and Iran in bringing about stability to Iraq. Iran, of course, is the influential voice of the Shi’a. Present-day Iran is a Revolutionary state whose government is led by a supreme (Shi’a) cleric; the majority Iran’s 68 million inhabitants are also Shi’a. Syria, on the other hand, is in majority Sunni (despite being led by Assad, who is an Alawite) and has historic ties to Baghdad because the Ba’th party was born in Damascus. Also, Syria and Iran have in the past opposed Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

In spite of these new scenarios and the obvious eventuality of an exit from Iraq, the US top General in Iraq expressed confidence in US commitment to the Iraqi mission.

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US Self-Isolation

October 26, 2006

The US President has signed a law to instate a fence at the US-Mexico border to prevent illegal migration into the US.

It’s still unclear where the funding for the fence will come from, although over a billion USD will be taken from a homeland security bill.

Could the signing of the bill be a way to divert attention from the growing opposition to the war in Iraq? The law will find some supporters, but it’s not without controversy. It certainly seems insulting to the US border to the south. And the policy is not far off from Russia’s handling of its diplomatic differences with Georgia — except that the US is economically dependent on Mexico and will is simply not in a position to stop trade.

The US is economically tied to Mexico (and Canada) through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Because of its proximity, Mexico has become a market for cheap labor for the US, and many products are produced there.

The US has also been pushing for tighter border regulations with Canada, not as radical as with Mexico. The argument for Canada goes that it’s a through-way for terrorists: too easy to come into (Canada) and too easy to pass on (to the US).

It will be interesting to see what kind of opposition the new law will receive in the US and if the international community will comment on it — Mexico is set to make a complaint with the UN regarding the matter.

Not only has the US been isolating itself slowly, in terms of Foreign Policy, it’s now doing so continentally.