News about women leaders -- here and across the big pond
It is time to catch up again with stories about women in the news. Probably the biggest story is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is at the ranch in Crawford, Texas, with our current president (OCP). The story has it that they will be talking about Iran. From the story it looks like Chancellor Merkel will not be buying the pitch of OCP, and will hang tough. Let us hope the bar-b-que is good. The International Herald Tribune headlined it: "Merkel meeting with Bush; Iran at center of talks." To quote:
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President George W. Bush were meeting this weekend at Bush's ranch in Texas, and German officials said Friday that Iran's nuclear ambitions were likely to dominate the talks.
Merkel, who is making her sixth visit to the United States since taking office two years ago, but her first to the Bush family home, made it clear this last week that any measures taken on Iran must be decided by the UN Security Council. "The international community must pursue its goal of preventing Iran from having nuclear arms with firmness," Merkel told the Berliner Zeitung. "This is a process we should take step by step."
. . . Seeking to win over Merkel to his position, Bush said on German television that "we definitely need Germany's help on issues like Iran," adding, "Germany is a crucial country in terms of building coalitions to deal with the threats we face."
What is our Secretary of State doing this weekend, while her boss is meeting with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel? The Secretary will be there, too, after having met with the editorial board of the Dallas Morning news to give them her views about things. Her overly simplistic, vanilla views reflect the general weakness of U.S. diplomatic efforts. The headline is, "From Pakistan to Russia, Condoleezza Rice shares her assessment of the United States' role." It is a fascinating article that gives important perspective to other elements of my post here today. For examples, a few quotes from the Q & A follow:
What is your read of the situation in Pakistan?
Obviously, it is very strained. We are concerned everyone acts in a way that doesn't lead to greater violence.
What kind of person are you dealing with in Gen. Musharraf?
You can talk and reason with him. He is someone who has tried to fight terrorism. This is a modern man, but this was a bad decision. It wasn't the first time we tried to talk him out of it.
This newspaper has supported the president's Mideast freedom agenda. But given how elections in Iraq and Palestine turned out, why is it in the interest of the U.S., or any Mideast nation, to embrace the freedom agenda?
I don't think the election of Hamas was a disaster for the freedom agenda. Finally, they have to show they don't know how to govern.
You try to give moderates more capacity. That's why launching peace negotiations is important.
Not long ago I blogged about Condoleezza Rice. With things in the Middle East and elsewhere pretty much in an uproar, a little digging revealed that yesterday Rice has sent a State Department diplomat to Georgia, the European nation currently in crisis. He went with a stern message, according to the International Herald Tribune. Evidently, Rice is "disappointed."To quote,
The diplomat, Matthew Bryza, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said by telephone that he would meet with Saakashvili and deliver a clear message from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "I plan to tell the government that it needs to lift the state of emergency immediately," he said. "It is a big disappointment."
On Monday Secretary of State Rice talked with Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf for twenty minutes. According to a Pakistani spokesman the call was "inconsequential."To quote the story from SoutheastAsiaNews.net,
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's phone call to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Monday lasted for 20 minutes, the State Department has confirmed.
Musharraf's spokesman, Major General (retired) Rashid Qureshi, told a foreign news agency that "nothing of any consequence" had been discussed.
By comparison Pakistan's opposition leader, Benazir Bhuto's role in Pakistan is far from inconsequential. "Defiant" is how her actions have been characterized by Aljazeera. Their headline read: "Defiant Bhuto vows more protests." To quote:
Benazir Bhutto has vowed to go ahead with a planned rally next week to protest against the emergency rule imposed by General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president.
In a show of defiance, the former prime minister on Saturday joined a small journalists' demonstration in the capital against media restrictions under the state of emergency.
"I have come here to express solidarity with you. I condemn these curbs," she said.
DailyIndia.com reports that the Palestinians have agreed to Israel's security demands as part of a renewed Middle East peace process. Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni has been behind much of what has precipitated the decision. Secretary Rice may try to meet in the Middle East next week. As far as I know, however nothing has ever significantly changed as a result of United States diplomatic efforts between Palestine and Israel, so the local diplomats are still pretty much on their own. To quote from the story:
The Palestinian Authority announced its intention to comply with Israel's security demands as part of the first stage of the so-called road map to peace.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may meet with Palestinian and Israeli representatives as next week to develop a blueprint to talks, Ynetnews reported Friday.
Israeli negotiators confirmed Friday that their Palestinian counterparts agreed to disarming and disbanding terrorist groups operating within the Palestinian Authority, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The negotiators said the agreement came during a meeting between Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and top Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei.
All the while President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf chugs along in Liberia. She has been busy removing 17,000 names of "ghost workers" from her government's payroll. From allAfrica.com (9 November 2007) "Liberia: President Sirleaf Meets Forum of Political Parties Association." To quote:
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says she is committed to holding mayoral elections in Liberia in October 2008. She has assured that she will not violate the principle of elections.
The President gave the assurance today at the Foreign Ministry when she met with the Forum of Political Parties Association in Liberia. The meeting, which focused on issues of national concern, was characterized by a frank exchange of views.
The Liberian leader emphasized that it is her desire to have a constitutional change which would lead to the election of superintendents and expressed her concern about the proliferation of cities in Liberia. The President further revealed that the issue of ghost workers in Liberia's civil service remains a major challenge, stating that 17,000 ghost names were recently discovered on government's payroll.
"Women are making their marks in the Middle East," I wrote back on August 9 of this year. At that time I said,
Middle Eastern women are in the news recently. From voting in Lebanon and Jordan, to fighting to stay alive as Taliban hostages, women's stories are things we need to know about the situation in the region.
Womens' work is never done. It is good news that more and more of us are involved in leadership roles. And it is predictable news that we are having mixed successes. After all, we are only human. . . did that sound like Hillary?
(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)