Talking points for 10 April

Good morning, yesterday we wondered “Who leads Africa?” So step forward Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who’s called a meeting of southern African leaders on the Zimbabwean presidential poll delay. Another challenger is new ANC leader Jacob Zuma, who’s criticism of the delay in announcing the election results contrasts with position of South African President Thabo Mbeki.

And as the list of leaders who say they won’t be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics grows longer, what does China have to do to get the Games back on track? How can it staunch the avalanche of criticism? And what should the IOC do?

In the United States Barack Obama has joined presidential rival Hillary Clinton by calling for President Bush to boycott the opening of Olympics. The president has said he will attend, but the White House has not ruled out the possibility that he may miss the opening ceremony. Is the West running the risk of antagonising China and preventing any meaningful dialogue on the regimes human rights record? Or was the idea that awarding the Games to China would allow for international pressure to influence the regime overly optimistic in the first place?

Back to Zimbabwe, and on yesterday’s programme we heard Mary, a white Zimbabwean, say she felt like white farmers were not welcome in Zimbabwe. Is that true?

In Italy, opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi has claimed that right-wing female politicians are better looking than their left-wing counterparts. Ahead of Sunday’s election he said, “the left has no taste, even when it comes to women.” How important is it for politicians to be attractive? Is it harder for an ugly candidate to get elected?

Throughout the week the issue of Iraq has risen to the top of the news agenda in the United States. General Petraeus has outlined his opinion on the future of the US military in Iraq to Congress, he wants troop withdrawals to stop, but politicians are divided. Is it time for America to leave Iraq, or would pulling out now leave the country unstable and vulnerable? With a Presidential election looming, the question of Iraq looks set to continue to dominate as the hopefuls jostle for a viable position on this complex and controversial issue. Whose position do you like best?

And Nepalis are voting today and although I have no question about the elections there it was great to hear the chief of the EU observer mission tell the World Today this morning how people had begun to queue from 5am and then applauded when the polling station opened for business.

15 Responses to “Talking points for 10 April”

  1. 1 john in Germany
    April 10, 2008 at 10:40

    Helo Peter.

    Mr Berlusconi is trying to become Italy’s Prime minister, democracy gone wrong and that in the middle of Europe. As far as i know he has been trying to gain power again, to avoid being taken to court.

    The man is a powerful business man, and a media mogul to boot, I wonder where he has put his brain? What a statement to make Right wing woman politicians are better looking than left wing. He has forgotten to mention that the left wing female politicians are probably more concerned with politics than sitting in a beauty saloon. And that all ladies are beauty full, and that beauty is in the eyes of the observer.

    It breaks ones heart, but it is true, better looking people in all walks of life have a better chance. Thank heavens that most ugly ducklings turn into very beauty full Swans. The man is a moron to make such a statement, and should try to remember, to try to be a gentleman. Even right wing ladies should ignore such stupid statements.

    He should spend some time in clearing up the rubbish, that’s lying around in Italy.

    Have a nice day.
    John in Germany.

  2. April 10, 2008 at 11:47

    Dear John in Germany:
    It is called freedom of speech. I defend Mr Berlusconi’s right to say it. The West is educated, advanced and rational.
    Running the risk of being branded as condescenting twit, I volunteered to impart the information that Mr Berlusconi was ex Prime Minister of Italy and a very wealthy, powerful business, He is also a media baron.

  3. April 10, 2008 at 11:48

    Undercover reports from within Zim have talked about how some protest groups are peacefully marching towards the law courts where a judge will anounce if the presidential results should be released.

    A further example that the people of Zim are looking for the removal of Mugabe from power. It is time for African Leaders to get involved and remove mugabe from power. Although how they will remove the aged lion from his last meal i don’t know..

  4. April 10, 2008 at 12:30

    To the venerable, compasionate, loving with ocean of wisdom DALAI LAMA.

    I am very touched by your statement that OLYMPICS should be carried on in Peking. You do know how to dance up to the Weastern audience
    .Three Questions
    1) The Chinese Leadership said that the DOOR OF NEGOTIATION is ALWAYS open, providing the principle of ONE CHINA policy is adhered to. You repeatedly declared that you only want AUTONOMY, not INDEPENDENCE. Well, do you have problem in walking through the open door or do you think that they are lying?
    2) I saw it often in TV: ‘FREE TIBET’. Can you explain to the world what does that mean?
    3)There are essays and notes by Micheai Parentis, your country man Tsering Shakya wrote book called ‘THE DRAGON IN THE LAND OF THE SNOW’ Two other ENGLISH writers wrote a book called ‘TIMELY RAIN A tribute you dedicate to the mass murderer Mao Zhi Dong. There are very serious allegations made against you. Could you categorically repudiate it? ‘

  5. April 10, 2008 at 12:58

    Is the West running the risk of antagonising China and preventing any meaningful dialogue on the regimes human rights record?

    Yes, yes, yes and yes. I made a point on this in one of the earlier Olympic / China blogs. It is something that everyone needs to be very careful about. Simply jumping on the bandwagon without thinking about future reprocussions it may have could prove to be quite counterproductive.

    In the United States Barack Obama has joined presidential rival Hillary Clinton by calling for President Bush to boycott the opening of Olympics.

    Clintons attempt to appeal to Baracks younger left-leaning base in the final days of her demise. Now Barack has signed on to protect that base. Clinton will end up crying “Well I called for Bush not to attend first”. If it were not for the Presidential race, I don’t think either of them would have ‘called’ for Bush to do anything about the Olympics.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  6. 6 VictorK
    April 10, 2008 at 13:58

    ‘Who leads Africa’ – again, why does WHYS assume that continents or regions need to be ‘led’ or ‘run’, or treated as if they were? Nobody leads Africa, just as nobody leads or runs Europe (despite the EU’s best attempts). And it’s a good thing too, since there isn’t any evidence to suggest that transnational government is possible, would be competent or is compatible with local freedoms and identitites. We don’t have a world government (and continentally managed political regions would be the natural building blocs for such a thing, and hardly anybody is pushing for that) and don’t need one.

    Why are the actions of the British and American leaders so often extrapolated to represent the position of the entire Western world? We’ve not heard, or WHYS hasn’t reported, on the views of most Western leaders on the Beijing Olympics. I think it’s something of an unwarranted political exaggeration to treat the US, UK, France and Australia as standing for ‘the West’, especially when they are expressing national views and not a corporate Western position (if such a thing were even possible). And so what if the Chinese are antagonised? Plainspeaking is better than appeasement. The only dialogue that Western states, individually or collectively, are entitled to enter into with China is concerning Tibet. The human rights of ordinary Chinese is not our concern and we should resist the self-righteous temptation to interfere there. Tibet is a foreign country annexed following invasion: the whole world has an interest in discouraging such behaviour and acting to stop aggression being rewarded by permanet occupation. How the Chinese government treats its Chinese subjects is a strictly internal matter that we in the West needn’t lose a second’s sleep over.

    That’s an odd question to ask the world re Zimbabwe: surely only a white Zimbabwean can answer it? By the way, the BBC generally (but not WHYS) seems to have abandoned even the appearance of impartiality when reporting on Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe (or ‘Mugabe’ as he is known to the BBC – the only other world leader to be addressed with this open contempt being ‘Bush’) is treated as a public enemy and every anecdote and claim from the opposition is treated as though it were a fact. No attempt at finding ‘balance’ here. When the BBC expected Mr Mugabe to be elected it led us to believe that the elections would be fixed. When there was a delay in announcing the Presidential results the BBC reported in detail, and with a sense of inevitability, opposition claims that President Mugabe was massaging the ballot figures to produce a victory for himself. What are we to make of this reporting now that the Mugabe camp are preparing for a second round?

    Politics is like life in at least one respect: it’s better to be good-looking than ugly. If the informed are going to vote according to substance and the uninformed according to appearance, then expect Narcissus to beat Socrates by a landslide. Only in times of crisis, when matters of substance become plain even to the uninformed and frivolous, do looks fall to the wayside and talented, though ill-favoured, politicians come into their own. That’s the way of the world.

    A coalition withdrawal would undoubtedly leave Iraq unstable and more vulnerable. But it should still happen. The Iraqis have two options in such an event: to partition their country amongst the three main groups (Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites) and transfer populations amongst the three new states (using oil revenues to fund the cost of this); or to invite a Muslim Coalition in to provide the stability the country needs. Of course, this amounts to only one viable option – the first – since nobody seriously believes that the Muslim countries of the world would actually lift a finger to assist Iraq (that would be like expecting African countries to care about Somalia, Zimbabwe, Darfur or the Congo, or East Asian countries to care about Burma. If ‘the West’ isn’t interested, then nobody is). Iraq is not a Western problem; it’s an Iraqi one. Iraqis must find the solution to their present chaos – chaos that they have been responsible for – and not expect one to be imposed from the outside. It’s possible that the only viable route to peace in that country is one that a Coalition presence is obstructing: abandoning democracy and dividing the country up into fiefdoms run by militia leaders, tribal elders, warlords, and Iraqi satraps of Iran. Whatever the result, the West needs to cease its interference immediately.

  7. 7 Xie_Ming
    April 10, 2008 at 14:04

    Question for posters:

    Do you favor illegal direct action by protesters?

    If so:

    Are you working eight or more hours a day? Do you favor the rule of law? Should both the protesters and the police be free of legal constraints? Is your judgement better than that of your government officials?

    In supporting the “cause of the week”, do you achieve emotional release or feel less internal guilt?

  8. 8 VictorK
    April 10, 2008 at 14:52

    Xie Ming: what do your questions have to do with any of the Talking Points?

    Wouldn’t they be more appropriate on a different or new thread?

    I’m shocked at such a clear violation of Ros’s Rules.

  9. 9 Xie_Ming
    April 10, 2008 at 15:35

    The foregoing is a suggested talking point for today.

  10. 10 john in Germany
    April 10, 2008 at 16:14

    Hello Dear growingworldcitizen.

    Are you sure the west is educated,advanced, and rational?.Look around, there are certainly some European countries where a very large percent of the population cannot even read. And as far as being advanced, how about Rumanien?: And sorry but is Turkey at the moment rational?.

    Does an mogul make a good prime minister, he was certainly not for Italy. Of course it all has to do with how you like your ladies. And i still think he does not fit into western democracy.

    Why do you think you might be a condescending twit? Because you informed us all about that what we knew. In the west you cannot be condescending, but better informed, more educated, democracy weaned, and last but not least. allowed without redress to say nearly everything you think.

    Please remember to look straight ahead, not down, or up. straight ahead is the level where we all sit and wait for interesting reading, and to date we have it here.

    John in Germany

  11. 11 George USA
    April 10, 2008 at 17:03

    “Who leads Africa?” Glad they are trying- whatever the result.

    Opening ceremony- a symbolic gesture at best.

    Flag on the Play-Piling On
    Obama & Clinton- election “pile on”,not serious input.
    Protocol review to see options is good.
    This issue is not worth hampering relations between nations,
    China’s rulers need to adjust to be functional in the world today.

    And what should the IOC do? get an extra “tip”.

    Pretty Woman
    The conservative woman tends to take care of herself meticulously, making the most of what she has.
    The reverse argument might be made that left wing women are more generous with personal favor dispersal,
    hence holding an attraction to men for that reason regardless of natural beauty one way or the other.

    Wars and Rumors of Wars
    The Brookings Institute, Philip H. Gordon, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, is skeptical and cites
    “The General Accounting Office came forward and General Jones and police Chief Ramsey came forward with another report-both much more skeptical that we heard from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.”
    “But what I don’t think will happen is that Congress or anyone else is going to force a change in strategy. ”
    We are there for the long haul, are intended to be, and that is the way it is.
    Posturing for election changes to viable options once elected.

  12. April 10, 2008 at 19:42

    Does the pro-Tibet protests ruining the OLYMPICS spirit?

    On its own. No. Aided and abbetted by the great Institutions like BBC, Politicians and the so-called journalists in every hue in the Western countries. Yes.

    It was a good thing to protest. It was bad, very bad for the cheer leaders in various costumes to incite and throw oil to the flame.

    P/S: Ros, I posted an email on HYS, taking BBC to task. It has mysteriously gone AWOL..I must say it was not the first time. Where is the freedom of expression and speech?

  13. 13 Sandra Patricia, Colombia
    April 10, 2008 at 20:52

    Hi! 🙂

    Well, I don’t know what’s going on… I wonder if media is increasing the paranoia for the Olympic games’ situation. Why do they insist in involving the games with politics? China has serious problems to solve, but is it the only country that should be penalized to defend human rights? I don’t think so… What becomes evident is that, with the years, the Olympic games have lost all their essence. That’s a fact :'(.

    About Africa, it’s clear enough that it needs other countires support, but not necessarily to lead it. African countries have their own system, and whenever human rights are in danger the other continents should mediate. However, Africa has its own sovereignty and, if well structured and organized, it does not need any other country to rule it. It’s just about having good leaders and a fair political system.

    Greeting to the WHYS team! 🙂

  14. 14 Robert, Canada
    April 11, 2008 at 04:10

    The media of the world is nothing but running a business. As such, it is the favor of the day or week but definitely not more than a couple of months. People vent their political motived view points and then move on to the next favor. It is nothing out there that people can examine the fundamental issues in a more constructive manner to advance the future of the world. It is really sad. I hope that if BBC can spare a forum for this purpose, it will do much more than the existing format.

    For example, why should democracy be the model for government. The fundmental role of a government is to do things that individuals cannot do. Since there are always different opinions on these things, The majority rule will never satisfy the minority. This is probably why the participation rate for most of the democracies are less than 60-70% and most likely even less than 50%. In order to satisfy all concerns, should representation participation not be a more desired model? It may be slower in decision making, personally, we are going for speed on just about everything. Quality of life is just simply not in existence. Moreover, undesirable decisions are ruining the environment, people’s health and most important of all happiness. This is the result of capitalism, is not it? I wonder.

  15. 15 John in Germany
    April 11, 2008 at 11:20

    Sport is not sport any more, whether Olypics, Football, Cricket, always problems with sponsors, TV programmers. and so on.

    The big bosses if Olypics-Football or any other sponsorable sport. cannot give up the power, and life that they lead. Conferences are carried out in the most expensive locations, expense accounts appear to be bottomless, and a lot of the so-called presidents ect are all far over the retiring age.

    So why should Olympics be different, the Olypic committee made the mistake in choosing China. Was it Political, or was it because China is now a financial world power. Not nice of me, but i cant get away from the Idea” Never Been to China before, lets give it a try”: And the whole world is now involved-not in the sport of things but in politics, The Olypic committee knew before hand how China is, They knew that there would be trouble, but they still went a head. Surely they were advised not to choose Chine, but power takes over. “we are the ones that decide”. The payment for a wrong decision is now being made, and has made the Olypic spirit a pain in the butt, for the whole sport world.

    I would like to than you and all others in the World Service for making a complicated and very political area of reporting into an enjoyable and some time exciting media. Critic is of course allowed but only if the criticiser can do as good or better, and not for critic’s sake.

    One day tiddly winks will reach the sponsoring level, wow what a bug.

    Greetings to all in this world of ours, whether you like it or not.

    John in Germany

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