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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Default "basics of democracy"

    Why is our governement trying to convert the world?

    Rice Seeks Russian Democracy Commitment
    1 hour, 37 minutes ago

    By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer

    ANKARA, Turkey - Russia needs to show a commitment to a free press and other "basics of democracy," and cooperate with former Soviet republics such as Georgia and Ukraine where democracy is taking hold, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) said Saturday.

    Rice, moving quickly through Europe on her first trip as President Bush (news - web sites)'s chief diplomat, also said European diplomats seem eager to put in the past the estrangement caused by the U.S.-led war in Iraq (news - web sites).

    Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld said as much after meeting with Rice in Warsaw. Poland was an early and durable participant in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But the stationing of Polish troops there has proved unpopular at home and with Poland's neighbors.

    "The unfortunate concept of old and new Europe is a total misunderstanding," Rotfeld said.

    His comment was a reference to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's distinction between opposition in France, Germany and elsewhere to the Bush administration's policy on Iraq and help provided by nations such as Poland.

    The description of France and Germany as part of "old Europe" caused bad blood in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

    Russia, also critical of the war, has retreated during President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites)'s tenure from some of the democratic advances since the collapse of communist rule. Putin has consolidated economic and political power and clamped down on the press.

    "We have concerns, and we've made it clear, about internal developments in Russia," Rice said in Poland.

    "It is important that Russia make clear to the world that it is intent on strengthening the rule of law, strengthening the role of the independent judiciary, permitting a free and independent press to flourish," Rice said. "These are all the basics of democracy."

    She said Russia is a valuable ally and partner in many areas, including the fight against terrorism and efforts to curtail the spread of nuclear arms.

    "We've made no secret" of U.S. displeasure, Rice told reporters en route to Turkey. "But we're not going to stop working on it, we haven't stopped talking about it."

    Rice's eight-day trip is focusing on European ties and the prospects for peace in the Middle East. An additional goal is laying the groundwork for Bush's summit meeting with Putin on Feb. 24 in Slovakia. That was one reason for her lengthy dinner meeting Saturday in Ankara with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

    The backsliding of democracy in Russia could become an irritant in Bush's second term and a sour note as the White House presses for expansion of liberty in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    Bush's inaugural speech last month contained what was perceived as a warning by some nations, including allies or partners with imperfect democratic credentials.

    "We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right," Bush said.

    "We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people," he said.

    Rice said the United States had made its concerns clear to Russia even before that speech Jan. 20, and she reaffirmed that the address was not intended to represent a dramatic change in policy toward allies such as Saudi Arabia.

    The United States wants to see Russia support "democratic processes elsewhere," including in its own backyard, Rice said. She said it is encouraging that after a rough start, Russia has reached out to the newly elected Ukrainian president and has improved ties with Georgia.

    In Georgia, longtime leader Eduard Shevardnadze was forced from power by popular protests in late 2003, led in part by Zurab Zhvania, who became prime minister. After he was found dead Thursday following an apparent gas leak from a heater, the State Department said in a statement that he was "a catalyst for democratic change in Georgia, a dynamic leader and a friend."

    The election in Ukraine strained U.S.-Russian relations as a result of Washington's refusal to recognize the fraud-tainted victory of a Kremlin-backed candidate. The Bush administration threw its support behind a Western-leaning reformer, Viktor Yushchenko, who won in a second round of voting.

    Rice was traveling to Jerusalem for meetings Sunday with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. She also plans a major speech in Paris, a venue chosen in part to respond to French criticism of American foreign policy.

    Anti-war protesters greeted Rice outside her hotel in Berlin on Friday night, and there were small demonstrations Saturday in Turkey against Rice, Bush and the war.

    Strong anti-American sentiment continues in Turkey two years after the country angered Washington by refusing passage to U.S. troops going in Iraq. Turkish leaders also worry that the war could lead to the disintegration of neighboring Iraq and the creation of a Kurdish state in the northern areas.

    That could embolden Kurds in southeastern Turkey, where the Turkish army has been battling Kurdish rebels since 1984. The fighting has left 37,000 dead.

    "I'm here really in part to say to the Turks that we are fully committed, fully committed, to a unified Iraq," in which all political parties and ethnicities are represented, Rice said on the way to Ankara.

    After meeting with Rice, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "In terms of our strategic partnership, relations between Turkey and the United States are at a positive and mature point, and they will continue with the same maturity and in the same positive way."

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    The message seems to be "We're America, and we are right. You will do things our way or you can expect nothing from us."

    Does Bush still consider himself a "uniter and not a divider"? It just feels like this man is determined to cement his place in history books, come hell or high water.
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  3. #3
    Atomic Punk
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    This is lip-service only. We couldn't give a shit what Russia does. They help us out behind the scenes with the war on terror and we basically ignore some of the nasty things that they do in Chechznia.Actually, all of the things they do in Chechznia. Rice is doing what SecStates doe, make nice speeches and be diplomatic. We won't put any muscle behind these remarks.
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  4. #4
    Sinner's Swing! Rokgtar's Avatar
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    If America, the freeest country in the world, doesn't speak out for democracy and freedom, then who the hell will? It's called giving hope to oppressed peoples... How can anyone find fault with that?

  5. #5
    Atomic Punk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rokgtar
    If America, the freeest country in the world, doesn't speak out for democracy and freedom, then who the hell will? It's called giving hope to oppressed peoples... How can anyone find fault with that?
    That's easy, some people think America is wrong about everything. The irony is that at the moment, in Russia, it's a dangerous thing to critisize the Putin governmnet. Putin's the master of the frame up, critics are often arrested after the police find drugs or an "investigation" find's his critic was engaged in some kind of corruption (that's Putin's favorite move).

    The same folks who get worked up about Bush and his people hyping Democracy are the same people who get their panties in a wad when we do business with the same dictatorships we critisize. If they can have it both ways, why can't the governmnet?
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  6. #6
    The Joker BradS's Avatar
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    I think seeking democracy and forcing it are two different things. I am all for advocating democracy in other countries, but I don’t think it should be forced—I also don’t think we should stop relations with a country just because they don’t want to live as we do.

    I know many people might not agree, but I am a strong advocate of getting things right here at home. We need to have a stronger accountability of how are money is spent. Congress has admitted that millions of dollars each year are unaccounted for—they literally don’t know where it went. WTF?

    We say we can’t afford to provide better health care for all, or reduce our outstanding deficit, yet we somehow find millions of dollars to give to Columbia to help fight the drug market. We give and give, but here we stand with our own problems. It doesn’t make sense to me, and I for one would hope that would be the biggest concern of our President.

  7. #7
    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    Well said, Brad. There's a country that needs fixing alright.....It's called America. It's arrogant to the extreme tauting our way of life to other nations when our fuckin' house isn't even in order.

    Imagine if the crackhead living down the block in his shitbox of a house came up to you and told you to take better care of your lawn.
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  8. #8
    Atomic Punk
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    How do you propose to "fix" America without suspending our democracy?

    It's a government by the people, the government relects the citizenry. Guess what? People don't seem to give shit any more. If the people don't care, the government doesn't either. That's how it works. The fact is that the United States is exactly where it's people wanted it to be. The people elect Conressional representatives that do little except take advantage of the fact that the citizens aren't paying attention and line the pockets of their friends. The citizens elect representatives to local office who spend money on silly projects that bankrupt the city (sports stadia, Art Galleries, Muesums of local industry or personalities), they then cut police, fire , schools and library funding. Or they raise taxes.

    What do the people do? They re-elect them, that's what they do.

    The people of California elected an actor to shake things up at the capitol, he has. The people are now bitching because he's doing exactly what he said he'd do. The people want the country to go in a new direction...as long as nothing changes and it has absolutely no effect on them.
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  9. #9
    The Joker BradS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axxman300
    How do you propose to "fix" America without suspending our democracy?
    Just as you said--we need to hold our representatives accountable. I hold them accountable every time I vote. I never said the people had no fault in this. The government, however, is a little more responsible than you give them credit for being.

    We put them in office and then it is their job to do what is best for us. Not knowing where our money goes and giving it arbitrarily to any country that asks is not our best interest.

  10. #10
    Atomic Punk
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    The government has the thumb on one hand up it's ass and the other thumb is licked and held high in the air, testing which way the wind blows.

    Example: The FCC.

    The FCC a year and one month ago was a quiet place to work. They didn't do a whole lot because the Republicans had gutted it, along with the Clinton Admin before them. Then (*Gasp!*) Janet Jackson flashes a boob durring the Super Bowl half-time show. All of a sudden, the FCC's phone is ringing off the hook. John Q Public want's to know what they are going to do about it. John Q Public has also called their Congressperson, now Congress hauls the FCC leadership into a public meeting demanding answers. The Congress passes new laws giving the FCC new and ridiculus powers.

    Result: Fox blurs a cartoon butt. Howard Stern is leaving for satellite radio.

    People just don't undestand the power that they have to effect the government. They are largely indifferent, so the government gets away with sneaky stuff. Usually right under everyone's noses.

    Example: The Country's "New" weight problem.

    We've all been subjected to story after story about the country's problem with obeasity. The truth is the country isn't any fatter than it was 15 years ago. So what changed? The government changed the way that they officially calculate body-mass index. They cut a few steps. Essentually it's like measuring your cock in centameters then counting that number as inches. So they make this change and now they're yanking Coke machines from schools and the fad-diet industry is making millions. The ultimate goal, ofcourse, is to tax fattening food like they tax cigarrettes. It's a scam. Nobody noticed, nobody asked how they came to their new BMI calculations, they just accepted this without thought.
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