In the news …

No Oscar for Hugo Chavez/Castro as their FARC hostage public relations side show ends for now, with a dud.  My prior posts on this subject can be found here.

During the weekend Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to expel our Ambassador and ban trade in U.S. dollars if newly imposed sanctions were not removed by the Bush Administration.   The International Herald Tribune reports: “As soon as substantial sanctions against our economy are imposed, we will retaliate in a toughest possible way on all fronts,” the Belorussian state media quoted Lukashenko as saying.

While nuclear talks flounder (now NK calls it “maintenance nuclear deterrence“), the North Korean government launches a website in English for those interested in investing in the North Korean market.  “Partners for economic and trade transactions with the DPR Korea are most welcome. We hope that our website will be helpful to you with useful information and data and diverse services,” says the site. No mention or warnings for U.S. investors of U.S. economic sanctions.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Information and Publicity complains to a newspaper that “Our African brothers in the AU and Sadc have discovered that the country’s challenges are being caused by illegal sanctions and have called for their removal. We urge our brothers in the opposition to join everyone in unilaterally condemning them and we would achieve our goals of turning around the country’s fortunes.” 

Yet another interesting take on the Iran NIE by folks in Israel, dubs it a “fantasy world,” while the Washington Institute for Near East policy posted a good op-ed on why sanctions on Iran are long overdue.  It is by a former Treasury Department official and says, in part, that short of the diplomatic leverage that new sanctions will create, “policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic will eventually be left with the unenviable choice of bombing Iran or tolerating a nuclear Iran.”

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