BUSH TO OUTLINE "NEW IMMIGRATION
WASHINGTON,Dec.6(IPS):-Hoping to attract more Hispanic support for his re-election bid, President Bush on Wednesday will resurrect a plan to help millions of immigrants work legally in the United States, officials said.
Officials familiar with the president's plan said he would outline proposals based on some principles rather than specific legislation. Bush will meet next week with Mexican President Vicente Fox, who has long pressed for U.S. concessions.
The officials said the plan would seek to allow immigrants to enter the United States legally if jobs were waiting for them and would also include a way for some undocumented workers already in the country to move toward legal status.
Analysts estimate the number of illegal immigrants at about 10 million, although some estimates go as high as 14 million. That number is growing by about 300,000 to 500,000 a year, according to the National Immigration Forum. White House spokesman Scott McClellan, while not commenting on the contents of Bush's proposals, said the president would give "an important speech on immigration policy" in the White House East Room at 2:30 p.m. "The president believes that America should be a welcoming society," he said. "We are a nation of immigrants, and our nation is better for it."
Bush is reviving an issue put on hold when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks raised American worries about terrorists slipping across U.S. borders and prompted tighter control of foreigners entering and living in the country.
Bush's re-election team would like to increase Hispanic support for a second term for the president, particularly in states where they could tip the balance in his favor, such as Florida and California.
Hispanics have traditionally been part of the Democratic base. Democrat Al Gore beat Bush by 66 percent to 32 percent among the Hispanic electorate in the 2000 election.
Hispanic organizations said it was time Bush addressed the issue after campaigning in 2000 for immigration reform."I don't want to be cynical about this, but it's interesting that he's doing this during an election year," said Maria Cardona, project director for the New Democrat Network organization that addresses Hispanic issues.
"We fear this is political positioning and we really want to see some sincere policy outcomes and see something that really helps the immigrant community and not just the Bush campaign," said Michele Waslin, spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, a group dedicated to improving the lives of Hispanics.
Any legislative proposal would likely run into opposition from conservatives on Capitol Hill who are particularly concerned about border security. Rep. Thomas Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who leads the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, a group of 70 legislators that argue for more restrictions, said an amnesty of any kind was a "step backwards."
"So to the extent that their proposal provides for some kind of legalization in the status of those who are here, then I would certainly be opposed to that," he said.
"We haven't had presidential leadership on this issue for a while," said a senior Republican Senate aide. "It's going to be a long process but having the president's support for reform in general is enormous to this effort."
If implemented, the plan could lead to the biggest change in U.S. immigration law since 1986 legislation that gave legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, many of them smuggled across the Mexican border.
What to do about them is a political conundrum. Americans do not like having illegals in the country, but many undocumented workers take low-wage jobs that Americans shun but are necessary for a functioning society. "I'm not sure he's going to go far enough," U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said of Bush's initiative. "We have 10.5 million illegal workers in the United States right now. If they went home, we'd have to shut down the country." ,...................IPS
Pakistan's nukes secure: Bush
CRAWFORD, Jan :(IPS):- US President George W. Bush said on Thursday that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was "secure" following two failed assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf in the last three weeks.
Bush also said he emerged from a recent telephone conversation with President Musharraf convinced that the "friend of the United States" and ally in the global war on terrorism had the situation under control.
"Obviously terrorists are after him and he sounded very confident that his security forces would be able to deal with the threat," Bush said. "He sounded confident and therefore I feel confident about his security situation."
In response to a reporter's question, the US leader said that Pakistan's nuclear weapons "are secure and that's important. It's also important that India as well have a secure nuclear weapons programme." -.......IPS
Embargo sparked consideration of use of force
LONDON - Jan.(IPS):-The United States gave serious consideration to sending airborne troops to seize oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi during the 1973 Arab oil embargo, according to a top-secret British intelligence memorandum released Wednesday night. The document, dated Dec. 13, 1973, and sent to Prime Minister Edward Heath by Percy Cradock, head of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, went on to discuss the likely scenario for an American invasion, how Britain could assist the United States and how Arab nations and the Soviet Union were likely to respond.
Arab members of OPEC imposed the embargo on the United States and other Western countries in October to try to force them to compel Israel to withdraw from Arab territories. The embargo, which lasted until March 1974, cut off only 13 percent of U.S. oil imports but caused steep gasoline price hikes in the United States, Europe and Japan.
'Not empty threats'
U.S. officials at the time hinted that retaliation was possible but did not describe the form it might take. At a news conference on Nov. 21, 1973, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger declared: "It is clear that if pressures continue unreasonably and indefinitely, then the United States will have to consider what countermeasures it may have to take."
In his memoir "Years of Upheaval," Kissinger added, "These were not empty threats. I ordered a number of studies from the key departments on countermeasures against Arab members of OPEC if the embargo continued. By the end of the month, several contingency studies had been completed."
Neither Kissinger nor Schlesinger, contacted through aides, responded to requests for comment.
The British document -- one of hundreds released by Britain's National Archives in an annual disclosure of government papers that are 30 years old -- goes beyond previous accounts in describing what the countermeasures might have been. It assessed as unworkable such options as replacement of Arab rulers with "more amenable" leaders or assembling a show of force. Instead, it described an airborne military operation as the most feasible alternative, although "a move of last resort.
"The initial force need not be large," the document states, adding, "We estimate that the force required for the initial operation would be on the order of two brigades, one for the Saudi operation, one for Kuwait and possibly a third for Abu Dhabi." After the initial assault, it adds, "the remainder of the force which might eventually amount to two divisions could be flown in from the United States."
"The area would have to be securely held probably for a period of some 10 years," it concluded.
In Saudi Arabia, it said, "the operation could be fairly straightforwa rd, " with U.S. forces facing only a "lightly armed national guard battalion at Dharan" and a U.S.-made Hawk surface-to-air-missile battery. In Kuwait, it said, "operational problems are greater" because the Kuwa- itis had stationed some 100 tanks near the airport. While the Saudis and Kuwaitis might attempt to sabotage oil wells and terminals, the memo concluded that oil could be flowing within weeks of occupation.
One complication, it noted, was that British officers were stationed in Abu Dhabi. "For this reason alone the Americans might ask the U.K. to undertake this particular operation," it said.
The document noted that military action could trigger a confrontation with the Soviet Union, lead to a long occupation of Arab territory and deeply alienate Arab and Third World public opinion. But it discounted the possibility that the Soviet Union would use military force against a U.S. invasion, saying it would seek instead to make political and propaganda capital from the move.
"The greatest risk of such confrontation in the Gulf would probably arise in Kuwait where the Iraqis, with Soviet backing, might be tempted to intervene," it said, presaging Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
In another memo released as part of the disclosure of government papers, Heath expressed deep anger with President Richard M. Nixon over the U.S. failure to inform or consult with Britain before imposing a worldwide nuclear alert during the Yom Kippur War.
"We have to face the fact that the American action has done immense harm," Heath wrote after learning from a news service report that Washington had raised U.S. military readiness to Defcon 3, the highest peacetime state of readiness.
Heath characterized Nixon as "an American president in the Watergate position apparently prepared to go to such lengths at a moment's notice without consultation with his allies . . . [and] without any justification in the military situation at the time."
Nixon imposed the alert after Leonid Brezhnev warned that Soviet forces might intervene militarily in the Middle East after Israeli forces crossed the Suez Canal. No intervention took place, and the Israelis eventually withdrew................IPS.
America admits policy errors
WASHINGTON, Jam.(IPS):-: US Secretary of State Colin Powell has admitted foreign policy mistakes and sought to assure the outside world that despite the US invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration's approach "is not defined by pre-emption".
In a broad article in Foreign Affairs magazine released by the StateDepartment on Tuesday, the top US diplomat struck a conciliatory tone toward America's old allies in Europe, called for a broader international role for China, and expressed optimism about a peaceful resolution of the North Korean problem. He largely sidestepped the question of Iraq, but implicitly took issue with his presumed chief rival inside the administration, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who in September dismissed the decades-old concept of military deterrence as a theory that "has been overtaken by events".
Mr Powell, however, presents a different point of view. "As to pre-emption's scope, it applies only to the undeterrable threats that come from non-state actors such as terrorist groups," he writes in the magazine's January-February issue. "It was never meant to displace deterrence, only to supplement it."
President George Bush's doctrine of pre-emption was spelled out in a strategy paper released by the White House in Sept 2002, one year after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.
To the consternation of the outside world, the document made clear the United States would consider it justified to use force pre-emptively to eliminate what it sees as threats to its national security.
The invasion of Iraq, with the stated goal of ridding the country of weapons of mass destruction, is seen as the first instance of the doctrine's implementation. But in his article, Powell argued that "our strategy is not defined by pre-emption".
"Above all, the president's strategy is one of partnerships that strongly affirms the vital role of NATO and other US alliances - including the UN," he wrote.
Moreover, the secretary of state admitted to unspecified mistakes committed during President Bush's first three years in office. "It would be churlish to claim that the Bush administration's foreign policy has been error-free from the start," he pointed out. "We are human beings; we all make mistakes."
Powell downplayed the importance of disagreements between the United States, France and Germany over Iraq, describing them as "differences among friends" bound by a partnership "that is based so firmly on common interests and values that neither feuding personalities nor occasional divergent perceptions can derail it".
He underscored the importance of parallel improvement of US relations with Pakistan and India and the need to turn it "into a triangle of conflict resolution".
Powell welcomed improved relations between the United States and China, pointing out they were the best they have been since former US president Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to Beijing. "Indeed, we welcome a global role for China, so long as China assumes responsibilities commensurate with that role," he wrote. -..................IPS.
Bush Embraces Some Regulations as Election Approaches:
WFORD, Texax (IPS): The Bush administration's twin moves on Tuesday to ban the dietary supplement ephedra and the sale of meat from cows that appear to be sick on the way to the slaughterhouse underscores a simple White House maxim these days: with an election approaching, even a president who came to office assailing government regulation cannot do too much to protect consumers,a news analysis published in New York Times said.
By all accounts, there was no grand political plan to embrace government activism suddenly events forced the administration's hand. Ephedra's fate has seemed clear since a 23-year-old pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles died after taking it early this year, though this is the first time the Food and Drug Administration has banned such an herbal supplement. And with mad cow disease suddenly dominating every cable channel and front page, Mr. Bush and a small clutch of his aides staring out at the cattle grazing his ranch knew they had to appear to be taking action. In this case, the action included some protective steps they rejected as unnecessary just months ago.
In fact, quietly, in ways few would notice, Mr. Bush's aides have been doing everything they could think of in recent months to inoculate Mr. Bush against accusations that the war in Iraq has led him to ignore risks and annoyances of everyday life.
The man who drew cheers in 2000 by promising to roll back government interference with the private markets has, in recent months, gladly signed legislation to restrict telemarketing and e-mail spam, and boasts at fund-raisers that he will lock up executives who abuse the public trust in their companies. It is a line that always draws big cheers, a reflection of how the political atmospherics about big government have changed in the three years Mr. Bush has been in office.
"As far as I can tell, he has not uttered the word `deregulation' since 2001," said James L. Gattuso, a research fellow in regulatory policy at the Heritage Foundation, who recently completed a study of regulation in the Bush era. "This stuff about the antiregulation president is a Howard Dean myth," he argued.
That is certainly the way Karl Rove, the president's chief political strategist, would like to position Mr. Bush in the coming year. An so, in the last week of 2003, the Bush administration has suddenly reached back to the politics of Theodore Roosevelt, who instantly rode the political winds after Upton Sinclair published "The Jungle," sending his own agents to the Chicago stockyards and pressing for the first Federal Meat Inspection Act in 1907.
Mr. Bush, who used to keep a volume of T.R.'s speeches on his coffee table here, has so far said little about the efforts to contain mad cow disease. But he is expected to address the issue on Wednesday, when the residents of this small farming town expect him to show up as he traditionally does on Dec. 31 at the local diner for his favorite cheeseburger special.
The actions on Tuesday enable him to answer his Democratic challengers, who since Sunday have been issuing broadsides against the administration for waiting too long to act. "The new policy is too little and much of it is too late," Representative Richard A. Gephardt said on Tuesday. "Many of the measures should have been taken immediately when we knew that the deadly disease was a threat to our food supply." Both Mr. Gephardt and Senator John Kerry issued plans this week to deal with the issue; many of those steps were taken by the Agriculture Department on Tuesday.
"It's a time to be cautious," one of Mr. Bush's aides in Washington said late on Tuesday, when asked about the seeming rush to enact rules that have been debated, to little effect, for many months. "You want to make judgments based on good science, but also on maintaining confidence.".........IPS.