Video: Iraq – Non-combat combat troops

Rebranding will not change fact that US troops in Iraq will be involved in combat

Speaking to President Obama’s announcement of withdrawing US combat troops from Iraq within 18 months, Phyllis Bennis says, “Obama says that the combat mission will end but combat will not end. When you leave 50,000 troops on the ground in a volatile, war-like situation, there is going to be combat.”

Part 2 of this interview will be published shortly.

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BioPhyllis Bennis is a Senior Analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. She is the author of Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis , Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy US Power. and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.

COHA: Bolivia’s Evo Morales’ European Tour 2009: Russia Flies the Flag Over Latin America and Everyone’s A Winner… Mostly

  • Moscow is increasing its presence in South America, the latest being its development and military agreements with Bolivia
  • Russian military helicopters to be used by Bolivian security forces for drug operations, sending a message to Washington that DEA aid is not needed in the Andes
  • Bolivia becomes the equivalent of Saudi Arabia when it comes to the lithium market, but will it help abate the former’s high poverty rating?
  • Bolivian leader Evo Morales seeking recognition as an autonomous figure and not a Chavez clone
  • Obama administration bestowing priority to Middle East and Asia; conversely Russia, France, Iran and China, among others, rule the roast in the Americas
  • The 5th Summit of the Americas to be held in April in Trinidad and Tobago will be the first meeting between Obama and all of the region’s leaders. Nevertheless, two months is a long time in politics and Washington continues to watch its influence drain in what increasingly must be viewed as its former ‘backyard’

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Marc Becker: "El Salvador: Voting in Rebel Territory"

Heading out from San Salvador to Chalatenango, the roads are covered with political propaganda from the ruling right-wing ARENA party.  In the lead up to the March 15 presidential elections in this small Central American country, all of the utility posts have been painted in the party’s colors of red, white, and blue.  Presidential candidate Rodrigo Avila beams down from billboards with promises that he will rule with ‘sabiduría,’ with wisdom.  Smaller banners promise a future of freedom and prosperity.

Once past the town of Chalatenango, however, the ARENA propaganda quickly disappears, replaced by the distinctive red graffiti of the leftist FMLN party and posters of their champion, journalist Mauricio Funes.  By the time we arrive at Cambridge’s sister city of San José de las Flores and Madison’s sister city of Arcatao, not a single ARENA marker is to be seen anywhere.

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Video: Historic power shift in El Salvador

Journalist leads former guerrilla army to left’s first presidential victory in country’s history

Just over 17 years since the 1992 Peace Accords brought an end to El Salvador’s vicious civil war, the country has seen its first peaceful transfer of power. V for victory hand signs and red flags were paraded throughout the country’s streets as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, FMLN, won the presidency; thereby bringing to an end 20 straight years of rule by the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA. El Salvador will be governed from the left for the first time since gaining its independence from Spain in 1821. The face of the victory was that of former television journalist Mauricio Funes, a political newcomer and the first FMLN leader to not have fought in the country’s horrific 12-year civil war.

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