Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gates Says US Air Force May Remain in Iraq Beyond 2011

U.S. officials say they are on track to end the U.S. ground combat role and reduce from 120,000 troops to 50,000 by next October, and to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011. But Secretary Gates said that might not include the U.S. Air Force.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. Air Force will likely continue to have a role in Iraq after all U.S. troops are currently scheduled to leave at the end of 2011, under a U.S.-Iraqi agreement signed last year. Gates spoke to U.S. troops at Forward Operating Base Warrior, near Kirkuk, northern Iraq.

U.S. officials say they are on track to end the U.S. ground combat role and reduce from 120,000 troops to 50,000 by next October, and to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011. But Secretary Gates said that might not include the U.S. Air Force.

"I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see agreements between ourselves and the Iraqis that continues a train, equip and advise role beyond the end of 2011. They realize that they're probably not going to be ready," he said.

Gates was answering a question from a member of the U.S. Air Force during a 45-minute Town Hall-style meeting with several hundred troops at this base near Kirkuk. He came here from Baghdad, where he met early Friday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"I talked to the prime minister this morning about their equipment purchases, training and so on as they look at 2012 and beyond, and they clearly have some concerns," he said.

Secretary Gates said there has been no agreement to keep Air Force units in Iraq beyond 2011, nor even any formal discussion. But he indicated that while the Iraqi Army and Police are taking more and more responsibility for security around the country, Iraq's air capability lags well behind.

Gates also predicted that the U.S. Air Force will have a long-term role in Afghanistan, beyond the five years or more that allied ground forces are expected to be operating there.

Philippine Kidnapping Gang Frees 9 Hostages, Still Holds 48

Kidnapping comes as the government is trying to capture scores of militiamen suspected of being involved in last month's massacre of more than 50 people in Maguindinao province. In the southern Philippines government negotiators continue talks with clansmen holding 48 hostages. The leader of the group demands that murder charges against them be dropped.

In the southern Philippines 15 members of a clan freed nine hostages Friday. They were among 75 people seized Thursday from a school in Agusan del Sur province. The kidnappers freed 18 of the hostages shortly after taking them.

Police say the gang leaders are wanted on murder charges, but the hostage-takers deny the allegation.

Presidential Press Secretary Cerge Remonde says the government hopes to resolve the kidnapping peacefully.

"I was assured by our military commanders that they are ready to move in anytime when the local crisis management committee will give them a signal, but of course right now the local management committee is exhausting all possible peaceful negotiations," said Remonde.

Joebert Perez, the leader of the gang, says the charges against him are fabricated and blames a rival clan, the Tubays, for the murders of six of his siblings. He demands that police disarm the other clan before he will free the remaining hostages.

Government negotiators say they are attempting to disarm both clans.

Police say the hostage-takers are former militiamen who have turned to banditry and extortion, targeting mining and logging companies in the area. For decades, the Philippines government has armed civilian volunteers as a backup security force in areas with communist or Muslim insurgencies.

Remonde says the military is making progress in disarming these militias.

"As of December 10, a total of 1,013 firearms, along with 591,000 rounds of ammunition and C-4 explosives have been confiscated or have been surrendered to authorities," said Remonde.

The kidnapping Thursday comes as the government is trying to capture scores of militiamen suspected of being involved in last month's massacre of more than 50 people in Maguindinao province. They were gunned down to prevent one of the victims from registering her husband as a candidate for provincial governor.

The southern Philippines has long had a violent history. For decades Muslim insurgents have fought for a separate homeland in the south. Several groups that say they are fighting for that homeland have targeted civilians - kidnapping and often killing tourists, farmers, business people and others.

Iraq Awards Oil Field Contracts to Foreign Companies

Despite a myriad of political and security troubles, Iraq has begun concentrating on its economic future, awarding contracts to one of the world's most significant untapped oilfields. Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell and Malaysia's Petronas won the right to develop the Majnoon oil field after strenuous bidding.
Ongoing political and security woes were eclipsed by economic concerns, Friday, as Iraq awarded the rights to develop one of the world's last remaining oil-megafields. Royal Dutch Shell and Malaysia's Petronas won contracts to exploit the Majnoon oil field, near the Iranian border, amid fierce competition.

Iraqi TV reported that foreign oil company representatives "turned out in large numbers" to bid for the oil contracts, "despite potential security fears." It was the second time that Iraq has held an auction of oil contracts since the 2003 US-led invasion.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki addressed oil company representatives at the auction in Baghdad, noting that the very existence of Friday's auction was a sign of how much progress Iraq has made on the political and security fronts.

He says that he wants to thank those companies bidding for the confidence that they are showing in Iraq and in its political system, security and the economy, such that they have turned out in such large numbers. This, he emphasizes, shows that they understand when bidding and competing, that Iraq's guarantee is good, despite eventual upheavals, and that they have the protection of our democratic, constitutional system.

Both Royal Dutch Shell and Petronas won the Majnoon oil field contract after bidding $1.39 per barrel as their fee to develop and exploit the massive, untapped oil reserves. The companies also proposed to ramp up production from the field to 1.8 million barrels per day, or well beyond Iraqi expectations.

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki (R) and Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani (L) attend second round of bids for oil licenses to develop some of Iraq's oil fields, at a meeting in Baghdad, 11 Dec 2009
Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki (R) and Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani (L) attend second round of bids for oil licenses to develop some of Iraq's oil fields, at a meeting in Baghdad, 11 Dec 2009

Iraqi oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani indicated that the exploitation of the Majnoon oil field will dramatically enhance Iraq's position as an oil-producing nation, by increasing production three-fold in the years to come:

He says that this will cause a massive increase in Iraq's national production of crude oil, bringing daily production to 7 million barrels a day at peak levels -- or more than three times current production.

Meanwhile, a consortium including France's Total SA, China's National Petroleum Corp and Petronas, won the rights to Halfaya oil field, also in the south. They will get $1.40 per barrel and have pledged to raise production to 535,000 barrels a day.

But there were no offers for a grouping of four fields in the more dangerous east or for a 5th field near Baghdad.

Iaq has an estimated 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves, or 10 percent of the world total. Analysts say that fewer than a third of the country's documented oil fields are now being exploited.

Gates Predicts Stronger Sanctions on Iran, Unless Nuclear Policy Changes

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Iran's defiance has convinced nations involved in the issue, including Russia and China, that stronger action is warranted.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicted Friday that the international community will impose stronger economic sanctions on Iran unless its leaders change their policy and live up to agreements related to their nuclear program. Gates spoke to U.S. troops at Forward Operating Base Warrior, near Kirkuk, northern Iraq.

During a wide-ranging 45-minute town hall-style meeting with several hundred U.S. troops, Secretary Gates was asked whether there is any plan for military action against Iran. He said he never takes any option off the table, but that such a move would only delay Iran's nuclear weapons development by a few years.

Rather, he said the international community is likely to increase sanctions.

"I think that you're going to see some significant additional sanctions imposed by the international community, assuming that the Iranians don't change course and agree to do the things they signed up to do at the beginning of October," he said.

Gates said Iran's defiance has convinced nations involved in the issue, including Russia and China, that stronger action is warranted.

"At the end of the day, the way to avoid a nuclear-armed Iran is to put together a package of incentives and disincentives that persuade the Iranian government that they would actually be less secure with nuclear weapons than if they had them," he said.

[Friday European Union leaders called for additional actions to be taken against Iran for its refusal to halt its nuclear activities.

EU leaders issued a statement in Brussels saying "Iran's persistent failure to meet its international obligations and Iran's apparent lack of interest in pursuing negotiations require a clear response."]

Secretary Gates said if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, it would likely spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, creating more dangers for Iran than it has now. He also said that under stronger sanctions, the Iranian "people would suffer enormously," and he indicated Iranian leaders might want to avoid that as they are facing what he called "a lot more political turmoil" since the recent election.

Gates said if Iran does develop nuclear weapons the consequences would be "enormous." But he said there is still time to try to avoid that through sanctions and diplomacy. He called Iran "one of the most complex national security problems" the United States has faced in his more than 40 years in government.

U.S. President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech

"Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:

"I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations - that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

"And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize - Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela - my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women - some known, some obscure to all but those they help - to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

"But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries - including Norway - in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

"Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict - filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

"These questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease - the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

"Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers, clerics, and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

"For most of history, this concept of just war was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations - total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of thirty years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it is hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.

"In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another World War. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations - an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this Prize - America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, and restrict the most dangerous weapons.

"In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.

"A decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.

"Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states; have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sewn, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, and children scarred.

"I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

"We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

"I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago - "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life's work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak -nothing passive - nothing naïve - in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

"But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism - it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

"I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world's sole military superpower.

"Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions - not just treaties and declarations - that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest - because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

"So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another - that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

"So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths - that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions."

"What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

"To begin with, I believe that all nations - strong and weak alike - must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I - like any head of state - reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates - and weakens - those who don't.

"The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait - a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

"Furthermore, America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don't, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention - no matter how justified.

"This becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

"I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

"America's commitment to global security will never waiver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

"The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries - and other friends and allies - demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they have shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That is why NATO continues to be indispensable. That is why we must strengthen UN and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That is why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali - we honor them not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace.

"Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant - the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

"Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.

"I have spoken to the questions that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me turn now to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

"First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior - for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure - and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.

"One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: all will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work toward disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I am working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia's nuclear stockpiles.

"But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.

"The same principle applies to those who violate international law by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma - there must be consequences. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.

"This brings me to a second point - the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

"It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.

"And yet all too often, these words are ignored. In some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation's development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists - a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values.

"I reject this choice. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America's interests - nor the world's -are served by the denial of human aspirations.

"So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side

"Let me also say this: the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach - and condemnation without discussion - can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

"In light of the Cultural Revolution's horrors, Nixon's meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable - and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty, and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul's engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan's efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.

"Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights - it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

"It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

"And that is why helping farmers feed their own people - or nations educate their children and care for the sick - is not mere charity. It is also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action - it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.

"Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All of these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, or the staying power, to complete this work without something more - and that is the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there is something irreducible that we all share.

"As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we all basically want the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.

"And yet, given the dizzying pace of globalization, and the cultural leveling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities - their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

"Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint - no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one's own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith - for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

"Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. We are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.

"But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached - their faith in human progress - must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

"For if we lose that faith - if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace - then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.

"Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

"So let us reach for the world that ought to be - that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he's outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.

"Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that - for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth."

Global Economic Crisis Hits Dubai

The tiny Persian Gulf emirate, Dubai, has long sought to position itself as an international finance and trading center within today's global economy. It built an ultra-modern image, with luxury hotels and resorts and high-profile sporting events. But the downturn has already sent some foreign workers packing. For unemployed workers from South Asia, that is sometimes not an option.

In Dubai's hey day, the sound of construction was everywhere. High rises and tourist resorts were built by legions of foreign workers, most of them from India and Pakistan. Dubai became an international magnet, reinventing itself as a financial capital and tourist mecca in the Persian Gulf. Then the global crisis reached this outpost and boom turned into bust.

Now, these men - like thousands of others - are out of work. They are all from South Asia - 20 or so men sharing a room to cut down on rent as they wait for work. Zafar Abbasi is a steel worker. He came to the United Arab Emirates two years ago, but says he recently lost his job. And, now, without money coming in, life is hard.

"No money for the foods [sic], everything is so expensive, medicine and rents," said Abbasi.

These men were among the army of foreign laborers that built Dubai when the economy was booming. Many have been unemployed for more than a month. They say they cannot return home because their employers are holding their passports and have ordered them to wait until work picks up.

More than half of the construction projects in the United Arab Emirates, worth $582 billion, have been put on hold, according to the market research firm, Proleads. Some projects are still going ahead, thanks, in part, to the $10 billion bailout from the UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi. But, many workers are unemployed and stuck here.

Worker advocacy groups - including the United Nations International Labor Organization - have increased pressure for wider protection covering the hundreds of thousands of unskilled construction workers who flooded regions of the Gulf during the building boom and now face the fallout from leaner times.

The demands include ending the illegal-but-common practice of companies holding workers' passports, effectively blocking their chances of looking for other jobs under the country's sponsorship system.

In the meantime, many Western professionals have simply left. Foreign news reports claim 3,000 cars have been abandoned at the Dubai Airport parking lot - left behind by debt-ridden foreigners fleeing the country. Dubai's police chief has angrily refuted the claim.

Marie-Josee Primeau is a businesswoman in Dubai. She says some of her friends have already left.

"Mid-January, it was drastic and definitely people have lost their jobs because the economy is based on real estate and also tourism. Definitely it affects a lot of people," she said.

Still, Primeau says she is staying. She says the economic crisis is a challenge.

"It is a chess game. We have to react. I am driven by challenges, so I'm seeing it in a different way," she said.

Richard Thompson, editor of the Middle East Economic Digest, says the region is starting to react to the economic downturn. Dubai has moved to stabilize its economy with its $20 billion sovereign bond program. For the short term, it should be sufficient to meet the city's refinancing needs this year and lend stability to the economy. He says there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic here.

"People are losing their jobs here," he said. "Money is being lost. There is an uncertainty about how long the credit crisis will last. However, we are optimistic of oil prices returning. Banks should start leading at the latter half of this year when the bailouts start filtering through. There will be a very quick rebound in Dubai."

But the foreign laborers say time is not on their side. Zafar Abbasi says he needs to find work soon.

"That is my hope, but I cannot see that. I can hope, only for hope," he said.

It is a hope to return to boom times and to complete a skyline of half-finished buildings - a hope that now seems distant.

Keys to Successful Economic Development

General Course Information

CALED's Keys to Successful Economic Development Training Course is designed as an introductory course for people who are generally interested in knowing more about how local economic development works, as well as for those people whose responsibilities include economic development assignments.

Three full days of everything you ever wanted to know about economic development. Take advantage of this in-depth interactive opportunity to discuss all aspects of economic development, including strategies, marketing, financing, incentives, business retention, business recruitment and resources. Attendees will get the opportunity to receive a professional certificate of completion in local economic development.

The course instructors and presenters are practicing professionals in local and state economic development who bring a great mix of knowledge and practical experience to the course insuring a large dose of reality. This is the only course of its kind offered in California and is your once/twice a year opportunity to learn more about economic development.


In order to receive full IEDC certification credit for this course and a certificate indicating course completion, participants must attend the entire course and stay through the final session on the last day. Please make travel plans accordingly.

Course Topics Include:

* How to market your community
* Developing an economic development strategy
* Basic and advanced financing techniques
* Pros and Cons of using incentives
* Business attraction, retention, expansion and creation techniques
* Community assessment and planning

Who Should Attend:

* Candidates for IEDC certification
* Professionals new to the field of economic development
* Anyone who wants to learn the basics of economic development
* Practicing ED professionals who want a refresher course on the basics

Branding Local Economic Development

When your role is to do a variety of things for a variety of people, how do you explain it all in one statement?
At a CALED Orange County Chapter Meeting, local economic developers tackled this very question. Bill Davis, CALED's former Vice President in Charge of Facilitation and Training, led the meeting that was organized by the Orange County Chapter of CALED and headed by the planning team of Bart Hoffman (City of Anaheim), Janet Coe (City of Lake Forest), Mechelle Lawrence (City of San Juan Capistrano), Caitlin Lifflefield (City of Anaheim), and Debi Hausdorder (Orange County Business Council). Twenty area Economic Development leaders participated in the challenge to define the characteristics of Economic Development that distinguish it from other professions.

Bart Hoffman, Economic Development Manager for the City of Anaheim and Chair of the Orange County Chapter of CALED, opened the meeting by pointing out that the need to design an "elevator Speech" for economic development is not a new necessity. For decades, ED professionals have struggled to explain what it is they do to friends, family, and other professionals. As Bart noted, "Economic Development is questioned because it is not easily defined or understood. ED professionals need a statement that not only explains what they do, but is easy enough to understand so that people outside the profession can grasp the concept without difficulty " Those familiar with Economic Development know that this is no easy task.

When asked how they currently described their profession to others, some "describe their profession by the tasks they perform." Mechelle Lawrence, Economic Development Manager for the City of San Juan Capistrano, commented that "Economic Development is what the community says it is." Jim Lamb, Project Manager for the City of Huntington Beach, says he, "works to make sure his business residents are healthy and happy."

Everybody agreed with Janet Coe, Economic Development Manager for the City of Lake Forest and Chapter Chair-Elect, that

"What sets ED professionals apart from other professionals in public service is that their sole focus is the health and well-being of businesses. For example, while other public sector employees provide services to businesses, those services are part of performing other primary responsibilities."

What sets them apart from private sector business is that Economic Developers are primarily interested in generating public goods, revenues, and jobs; whereas, the private sector is driven simply by profit.

Led by Bill Davis, the group had an interesting and lively discussion. The participants decided that Economic Developers are catalysts. They are politically astute, strategists who build relationships with the goal of increasing economic viability in their communities. The meeting ended with a new objective: to turn these key points into a statement that brands our profession for a wider constituency. The group intends to develop a consistent brand identity that is applicable to economic developers performing a wide variety of programs in all types of communities.

As these comments suggest, the many components and different views of Economic Development only show the magnitude of the challenge CALED's Orange County Chapter has taken on. No matter what answer they come up with, one thing is clear: the need for this statement is pressing, and we applaud their efforts in leading the way in branding ED.

Qualities of Economic Developers:

* Community strategist
* Build community relationships toward economic vitality
* Customer-driven problem solver
* Catalyst
* Creative in facilitating economic growth
* Politically astute
* Have comprehensive knowledge of factors affecting business and
community viability

The Value of Economic Development

To say that economic development is valuable because it brings revenue to communities does not do this profession justice. At its heart, economic development is about building healthy economies in order to have healthy communities.

These are just a few of the ways in which economiuc development helps communities:

* Increased Tax Base…the additional revenue provided by economic
development supports, maintains, and improves local infrastructure,
such as roads, parks, libraries, and emergency medical services.

* Job Development…economic development provides better wages, benefits,
and opportunities for advancement.

* Business Retention…businesses feel appreciated by the community
and, in turn, are more likely to stay in town, contributing to the

* Economic Diversification…a diversified economic base helps expand
the local economy and reduces a community's vulnerability to a single
business sector.

* Self-sufficiency…a stronger economic base means public services
are less dependent on intergovernmental influences and alliances,
which can change with each election.

* Productive Use of Property…property used for its "highest
and best use" maximizes the value of that property.

* Quality of Life…more local tax dollars and jobs raise the economic
tide for the entire community, including the overall standard of living
of the residents.

* Recognition of Local Products…successful economic development often
occurs when locally produced goods are consumed in the local market
to a greater degree.

Today, more than 200 California cities provide a full program of economic development services. Significantly, most of the growth in local economic development has occurred during the last twelve years. In that time, California communities have realized that local government plays an essential role in local economic development.

As noted in The Economic Development Handbook:

A focus on economic development helps get economic growth going.

The pressure to provide essential public services in the face of constraints on city finances has led over 50 percent of cities to fund a department or organization, other than a redevelopment agency, to attract business investment in their communities. Promoting local economic development adds to sales tax, transient occupancy tax, and other revenues. Almost 90 percent of city-funded economic development agencies are credited with increasing city revenues.

A recent survey of counties conducted by CSAC found that 71 percent of the 33 counties responding to the survey have an economic development program in the county and 82 percent of those responding have adopted an economic development strategy or have one in progress. Eighty percent of the programs are administered from within the CAO’s Office or by a Department of County Government. This high degree of emphasis indicates that counties are viewing economic development in the same light as cities as a means of improving their fiscal condition.

What is Economic Development?

What is Economic Development?
Economic development means different things to different people. On a broad scale, anything a community does to foster and create a healthy economy can fall under the auspice of economic development. Today's economic development professionals are trying harder than ever to define their field in terms that are more concrete and salient to policymakers, the public, and other professionals. There are probably as many definitions for economic development as there are people who practice it. Below is CALED's definition as published in the Economic Development Handbook:

From a public perspective, local economic development involves the allocation of limited resources - land, labor, capitol and entrepreneurship in a way that has a positive effect on the level of business activity, employment, income distribution patterns, and fiscal solvency.

It is a process of deliberate intervention in the normal economic growth by making it easier or more attractive. Today, communities in California are giving attention to what they can do to promote fiscal stability and greater economic development.

Economic development is a concerted effort on the part of the responsible governing body in a city or county to influence the direction of private sector investment toward opportunities that can lead to sustained economic growth. Sustained economic growth can provide sufficient incomes for the local labor force, profitable business opportunities for employers and tax revenues for maintaining an infrastructure to support this continued growth. There is no alternative to private sector investment as the engine for economic growth, but there are many initiatives that you can support to encourage investments where the community feels they are needed the most.

It is important to know that economic development is not community development. Community development is a process for making a community a better place to live and work. Economic development is purely and simply the creation of wealth in which community benefits are created. There are only three approaches used to enhance local economic development. They are:

* Business Retention and Expansion - enhancing existing businesses
* Business Expansion - attracting new business
* Business Start-ups - encouraging the growth of new businesses