FROM Leon Panetta
Free Trade and the Presidential Campaign Barack Obama says Pennsylvania's rural voters are "bitter" over lost jobs. Hillary Clinton bellies up for a beer with a whiskey chaser in a working-class Indiana bar. So go the latest primaries, with voting scheduled for next week and another televised debate tomorrow. One real issue that might come up is the free-trade deal, like the deal with Colombia, which Democrats have scuttled, at least for the moment. Both Obama and Clinton have publicly promised to renegotiate NAFTA , while surrogates were reassuring Canada they supported free trade. They're both opposed to President Bush's trade pact with Colombia , too. But Bill Clinton's a big supporter. What are the pros and cons? Why do Bill and Hillary Clinton disagree? Is free trade America's only choice in the global economy?
How United Is Iraq's Unity Government? Iraq's unity government is facing a political crisis. Last week, six ministers resigned, and today five more declared a "boycott" of meetings. That leaves no active Sunnis in Prime Minister al-Maliki's cabinet. Feisal Istrabadi, Iraq's Ambassador to the UN, concedes that the al-Maliki government is not providing basic services—water, power and sewage, but claims that the Prime Minister's political problems are growing pains much like those of the early United States.
Is Iraq's Government on the Verge of Collapse With the parliament off on a month-long vacation, five more Iraqi cabinet ministers quit today, the last of the Sunnis in a Shiite-dominated regime. The latest to leave the government of Nouri al-Maliki are loyal to former Prime Minister Ayad Allawai. Also today, suicide bomber killed at least 28 people, including 19 children, in Tal Afar, a religiously mixed city north of Baghdad. This comes on the heels of Defense Secretary Robert Gates' very public disappointment over the failure of political reconciliation. We hear about Iraqi politics and the government's inability to provide basic services, including water and power. Is it too late for the Iraq Study Group's recommendations ? Should Iraq be divided into three separate entities?
Is It Time to Increase the Pressure on the Iraqi Government? President Bush and Democrats in the Congress are deadlocked over setting withdrawal deadlines for the funding of US troops in Iraq. In the meantime, both sides agree with military leaders that continuing violence won't end until there is political reconciliation among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. To that end, Iraq's Prime Minister has agreed to meet certain "benchmarks." Amending the constitution, holding local elections and regulating oil revenues are supposed to give all sides a real stake in peace and stability. The Bush Administration says US forces are needed before political deals can be made, but critics contend the American presence is an excuse for delay. Are the Iraqis meeting the benchmarks? Should the US threaten to cut off support until more progress is made?
Nationalism's appeal on both sides of the Atlantic Nationalism, Populism, concerns about immigration and outright racism are part of election campaigns from the US to Europe. We hear how today's election in Holland reflects the recent past and may forecast the future.