No one who lived through the horrors of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's regime, from whose ruins the new Iraq is emerging, will ever forget them. It is one of the reasons that the elections to be held in January -- the first time most Iraqis will have had the chance of a meaningful vote -- have such wide support in the country. \nThe very notion of a free and fair vote for ordinary citizens was an abomination to Saddam. He and his cronies tortured and murdered their fellow Iraqis if they so much as hinted at dissent. \nThese elections, in which the Iraqi people will decide not just who will govern them but how they are governed, show the country is emerging from this nightmare. They should be supported by all who wish Iraq well. What do those who claim to have the best interests of Iraq at heart fear from elections? \nIraqis are striving to construct a society where freedom of choice, the democratic process and the rule of law are paramount. \nThey want, as they continually tell me and my colleagues in the Iraqi interim government, freedom, peace and stability for their children. \nNo one should be able to deny them this dream. But a small minority of Saddam loyalists and foreign terrorists who have nothing to offer but violence are trying to do just that. \nThey exist in various parts of Iraq, but their base has been Fallujah for some time. \nFrom this city, they have terrorized the local population and spread murder across the country. They have blown up women and children and executed in cold blood fellow Iraqis trying to end the lawlessness in our country. No civilized person can stand by and allow this to continue. No civilized person should support those behind this campaign of murder. \nThe people of Fallujah do not support these men of violence. They want rid of them and have been pleading for the interim government to free them. It would have been better for everyone if this could have been done peacefully. \nSo for many months, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and my colleagues in the interim government have made repeated efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution. \nWe have stopped at nothing to persuade the terrorists and insurgents to lay down their arms, stop hurting innocent Iraqis and spare the city from further military action. We have continually said that the political process remains open to those who renounce violence. It still does. \nThe terrorists and insurgents have refused our advances, preferring instead to continue fighting. Finally the interim government had no other option than to take this action to liberate the people of Falluja from these murderers and protect the people of Iraq from further atrocities. I wish there had been another way. \nBut we need to resolve the situation and quickly. The real aim of these terrorists, as well as causing as much destruction as possible, is to derail the national elections planned for January. They know the more successful these elections are, the less space there will be for their nihilistic brand of violence. \nGiven the current security climate, holding free and fair elections on time poses a huge challenge. But delaying the elections would pose a greater danger to the country's future. \nBy the end of January, Iraqis should have had the chance to elect a national assembly, 18 provincial governors, and the Kurdistan national assembly. The country's ethnic and religious diversity will for the first time in Iraq's troubled history be properly reflected in its political institutions. \nThese elections will show that the entire Iraqi population, minus the small group of violent people, want a better future. They will demonstrate that we want, as people throughout the world do, a choice in how our country is run, and who runs it. \nTerrorists and extremists will not let up in their campaign to derail the political process in Iraq. Motivated by hatred and tyranny, they cannot tolerate Iraq's transformation towards a federal democracy. But we in the interim government cannot tolerate their violent contempt of basic human rights and their attempts to destroy Iraq. \nWe also expect the international community to actively support Iraqis in this battle against terrorism and extremism. We have to be realistic and accept that the resolution of the situation in Falluja will not eradicate the plague of terrorism in Iraq, but it will deny terrorists the command center and refuge they have enjoyed for so many months. \nIt is also hoped that restoration of the rule of law to Falluja will pave the way for improved security and allow full participation in the elections by a larger section of the Sunni Arab community who live there. \nIraq has the chance of a new, better future. It will require a great deal of courage, hard work and dedication to help bring it about. But because this future is what the Iraqi people are determined to grasp, no matter what the sacrifice, it will happen.
Taiwan is not an orphan nation in need of someone to adopt it. Taiwan is not a foundling nation wandering the streets of the world looking for a home. It is not even a poor waif of a nation unable to take care of itself in that same big, bad world. Finally, Taiwan is certainly not terra nullius, a nationless land that is open and waiting to be explored and possessed by those who dare. Taiwan is a mid-sized, democratic nation that by GDP, profitability, location and even microchip production punches far above its weight in its region and in international commerce.
When analyzing Taiwan-China tensions, most people assume that the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) consists of rational actors. Embedded within this belief are three further suppositions: First, Beijing would only launch an attack on Taiwan if it were in China’s national interest; second, it would only attack if the odds were overwhelmingly in its favor; and third, Chinese decisionmakers interpret information objectively and through the same lens as other actors. These assumptions have underpinned recent analyses — including by Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) — concluding that there is no
Do you remember where you were last year at this time? Do you remember what it was like? Here in the leafy suburbs of Washington, D.C., we were in lock-down mode. The streets were bleak and empty. Schools, offices, malls, theaters, churches … all were closed. The essentials were in short supply. Grocery stores rationed the good stuff. Signs read: “One jumbo pack of toilet paper, two cartoons of eggs per family please!” Some days those signs mocked us from barren shelves. It was a lonely and anti-social time. Families and friends had to weigh the rewards of gathering together to celebrate Christmas
US-based diplomatic observers say that interaction between Taiwan and the US has grown in intensity over the past few months, falling short of establishing official relations. Although the interaction is still below the cabinet level because of Washington’s “one China” policy, these observers see a growing propensity in US political circles, across both sides of the aisle, to support Taiwan’s distinct political culture, the outstanding features of which are its vibrant democracy and respect for human rights, along with a thriving economy. The question often debated in academic and foreign policy research circles is whether the US would put boots on