Posts tagged ‘International’

05/11/2013

Immigration: 200 Years of Law

Although immigration is once again being debated, it’s an issue that’s been discussed on and off since the founding of our nation. Before Congress and the President pass another bill, perhaps it’s time to review the federal laws previously enacted.

Let’s start with the U.S. Constitution. The score here is one right and one wrong. The Founders got it right when they delegated to Congress the power over Naturalization and Citizenship and thereby federalized the issue (Art I, Sec. 8). It would have been a mistake if they had allowed each state to write their own laws.

The Founders, however, got the idea of Citizenship wrong when they counted only 3/5ths of slaves and initially limited immigration to only free white persons (1790).

Congress got it right as they required immigrants to first reside in the U.S. for five years before they could become citizens (1795). They got it wrong by extending residency to fourteen years (1798), but then corrected the error, by returning to five (1802).

Congress got it right in the mid-1800s, when they ignored the Know Nothing Party and their Protestant members, who wanted Irish immigrants excluded, simply because they were Catholic.

America got it right after the Civil War when the 14th Amendment made all persons born or naturalized here, Citizens of the U.S. and of the state where they resided. Citizenship by birth, regardless of the nationality of their parents, was the right thing to do.

Congress got it wrong as they passed laws that excluded Chinese and other Asians based on nothing more than race (1875-92)

Congress got it right when they made some knowledge of the English language a condition of citizenship (1906). There is nothing wrong with requiring English reading tests (1917). Some civics is also not too much to ask from someone who wants to become a U.S. Citizen.

Congress got it wrong after WWI when they limited entry of newcomers to small numbers, by establishing quotas based on the nationalities of those already in the U.S. (1921-24). Ironically, the exclusion of foreigners, willing to work for low wages, helped organized labor in the U.S., by giving American citizens more job opportunities and greater bargaining power during the roaring 20s.

America got it right after WWII, when millions of homeless and orphaned displaced persons were taken in from war-torn Europe.

Congress got it wrong in the McCarthy Era (1950s) as suspected subversives were deported, and blacklisted people, like future Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, were kept out.

Congress got it right in 1965 when they abolished the nationality quotas established in 1924, and started focusing instead on immigrant work skills, regardless of country of origin.

Congress got it right in 1986, as they imposed sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants. But they got it wrong by giving amnesty to three million illegal-aliens, as this had the unintended effect of encouraging even more to enter unlawfully.

Congress got it right in 1990 when they increased the annual number of legal immigrants from 500,000 to 700,000.

Congress got it right in 1996 when welfare and immigration reform made immigrants here illegally ineligible for most forms of federal assistance, including many types of Social Security.

We’ve learned from history the federal government, and not the states, have exclusive jurisdiction over immigration policies. These laws should not reject people on the basis of race or religion. Immigration policies must properly require newcomers to learn civics and to read and write English. People with useful skills should be allowed to enter the work force, as the U.S. needs a steady flow to insure a gradual rise in population. Caps on the annual flow are needed, however, so unemployed American citizens are able to find jobs, and not be displaced by excessive foreign labor, willing to work for less. Employer sanctions must be enforced, so everyone pays into the Social Security System. The underground economy must be destroyed to end cash payments under the table, so everyone contributes income taxes.

05/08/2012

Russia’s Putin is no Gorbachev

Russia has a new virtual czar named Vladimir Putin, who was sworn in yesterday for a third term as President, despite the fact the legitimate Russian Constitution limits him to just two terms.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union over 20 years ago, Russia remains an important country, since it continues to hold a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and remains influential in many developing nations. Although Russia adopted market and political reforms under Gorbachev in 1991, Putin’s recent power grab, has set Russia back in the eyes of the world.

The problem is many Russians like Putin lack a role-model for good governance. They have no George Washington to look up to, a man who could have been the first American king, if he had only wanted a crown. Since George abhorred the very idea of monarchy, he settled for President, and proved his real faith in democracy, as he voluntarily left office after two 4-year terms.

The problem in Russia is most of their well known figures were either czars or brutal dictators. Peter the Great, whose army expanded Russian interests along the Baltic, was no democrat. When Napoleon’s Grand Army invaded Russia in 1812 to liberate humanity from the tyranny of monarchs, the Russians stood on the wrong side of history, and defended the czar. When Alexander II freed the serfs in 1861, he forgot to give them any land, and of course doomed them to a never-ending cycle of poverty.

Even after the birth of the Bolsheviks, Russians gained no lasting role-model. While Karl Marx condemned the Czar, arguing wealth was accumulated through the exploitation of labor, no one today uses his icon. Vladimir Lenin, whose bust was everywhere in the Soviet Union 30 years ago, has been relegated to the pages of history. Certainly no one now could emulate Joseph Stalin, whose murderous dictatorship carried on for nearly 30 years, (1924-53).

The man Putin and others could admire is Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-91), but for some reason his lead is not being followed. Gorbachev was perhaps the greatest man of the 20th Century, as he unilaterally withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988, advocated glasnost (openness), and promoted perestroika (a rebuilding). He ushered in open elections in 1989, for the first time in 70 years. He received the Nobel Peace Prize, as he took out old-line communists, and faced off against 100,000 reactionaries, whose coup attempt against him failed. Gorbachev single-handedly dissolved the Soviet Union from within in 1991, as 14 former Soviet republics celebrated their independence.

Following Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin served as President (1991-99) until he resigned in 1999. When Vladimir Putin, finished his term (1999-00), there was hope Russia was on its way to a free and open system, as Putin was elected in his own right (2000-04), and then re-elected for a second four-year term (2004-08).

Russia however turned in the wrong direction in 2008, when Putin failed to leave government, and instead cut a deal with a little inconsequential man named Dmitry Medvedev, who kept Putin’s seat warm for four years, while Putin served as Prime Minister (2008-12). After Medvedev abolished the Constitutional ban against serving more than two terms, Medvedev stepped down, making way for the Presidential return of the power-hungry Putin.

As President for nine years and Prime Minister for four, Putin has already been in charge for 13 years, and he should now leave the Kremlin. Gorbachev did not dissolve the dictatorial rule of the old Soviet guard, only to see it replaced by a new round of corrupt men. While Russia badly needs another Gorbachev, they got stuck instead with Putin, and more of the same. The Russian people must re-assert their Constitutional term limits, take Putin and Medvedev out, and replace them with a modern-day Gorbachev.

 

04/13/2012

Close Persian Gulf Region Bases

How many military bases does the United States really need for national security purposes in the Persian Gulf and the surrounding region? The following, which excludes any lingering unclassified facilities in Iraq, is just a partial list of our presence in the area.

KUWAIT
Army: Camp Arifjan
Air Force: Ahmed Al-Jaber Air Base
Air Force & Army: Ali Al-Salem Air Base (since 1991)
Army: Camp Buehring (NW)
Army: Camp Virginia
Navy: Kuwait Naval Base

BAHRAIN
Navy: Manama Naval Base
Air Force: Sheikh Isa Air Base
Air Force: Bahrain International Airport

SAUDI ARABIA
Air Force: Eskan Village

QATAR
Air Force: al-Udeid Air Base
Camp al-Saliyah

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Navy: Fujairah Naval Base
Navy: Jebel Ali Seaport
Air Force: al-Dhafra Air Base

OMAN
Air Force: Masirah Air Base
Air Force: Thumrait Air Base
Seeb International Airport (dual use)

DJIBOUTI
Navy: Camp Le Monier

TURKEY
Air Force: Incirlik Air Base

ISRAEL
Army: Dimona Radar Facility
Navy: Port of Haifa (6th Fleet)

INDIAN OCEAN
Navy: Diego Garcia

AFGHANISTAN
Marines: Camp Dwyer
Marines: Camp Leatherneck
Marines: Camp Rhino
Marines: FOB Delhi
Marines: FOB Delaram
Marines: FOB Fiddler’s Green
Marines: FOB Geronimo
Marines: PB Jaker
Air Force: Bagram Airfield
Air Force: Shindand Airbase
Air Force: Kandahar International Airport

KYRGYZSTAN
Air Force: Manas Air Base

UZBEKISTAN
Termez Air Base Khanabad

KAZAKHSTAN
U.S. military presence

TAJIKISTAN
NATO presence

04/12/2012

European Bases Should Be Vacated

In addition to the large number of U.S. military facilities in Germany, there are several in other European countries, that are draining funds from the federal treasury, without yielding much of anything in return, and they should be closed.

BRITAIN: In addition to supporting seven NATO facilities in the United Kingdom, the U.S. leases the following installations:
Air Force: RAF: Lakenheath, Brandon, Suffolk
Air Force: RAF: Menwith Hill, Yorkshire Dales
Air Force: RAF: Mildenhall
Air Force: RAF: Croughton, Upper Heyford
Air Force: RAF: Alconbury, Cambridgeshire

NETHERLANDS: The U.S. Air Force contributes to the Joint Force Command Brunssum (NATO) in the Netherlands.

PORTUGAL: The U.S. Air Force leases a base at Lajes Field in the Azores, which are Portugese Islands in the Atlantic. We also contribute funds to support a NATO facility in Portugal itself.

SPAIN: The U.S. Navy uses the Rota Naval Station in Spain, and our Air Force has bases in Andalucia.

ITALY: The exact number of U.S. bases in Italy is not clear. One author claims there are over 100, while another source lists just a few. The U.S. uses at least the following:
Army and Air Force: Aviano Air Base (NATO)
Army: Caserma Ederle, Vicenza
Army & Air Force: Camp Darby, Pisa-Livorno
Army: San Vito Dei Normanni Air Station—Brindisi
Navy and Air Force: Naval Air Station Sigonella (NATO)
Navy: Naval Support Activity Gaeta
Navy: Naval Support Activity Naples
Navy: NCTS Naples

KOSOVO: Since the Serbian bombings in the 1990s, the U.S. has had a presence in Kosovo. The U.S. Army uses Camp Bondsteel and Film City-Pristina.

BULGARIA: Since Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2005, the U.S. presence in Bulgaria has grown. The U.S. Army has bases at Aytos Logistics Center (Burgas Region) and Novo Selo Range (Sliven Region), while the U.S. Air Force has a presence at Bezmer Air Base in the Yambol Region, and Graf Ignatievo in the Plavdiv Region.

GREECE: The U.S. Navy uses a Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay, on the island of Crete. We have also maintained facilities at Hellonicon and Nea Makri.

04/11/2012

Korea: Time to Close Military Bases

The U.S. has roughly 39 disclosed military bases in South Korea, 57 years after an armistice put an end to the Korean War (1950-53), and the question now is whether they serve any purpose, or has our ongoing American military presence actually become an obstacle to reunification, and a roadblock to demilitarization?

A U.S. presence in Korea followed a vacuum caused by the defeat of imperial Japan in WWII. After trade started with Korea in 1875, the Japanese decided to simply take resources by force in the 20th Century, and their abuse did not stop until 1945, when the U.S. occupied South Korea, and the Soviets entered North Korea.

While the U.S. and Soviets forced Japan to grant independence, neither of the wartime allies was particularly focused on the needs of the Koreans. As the American and Russian forces withdrew in 1948, they divided Korea into a North Korean People’s Republic, north of the 38th Parallel, and the Republic of South Korea, south of it.

Two years later, the North invaded the South in an effort to reunite Korea. The United Nations, with Russia absent from the vote, found a breach of the UN Charter, and authorized the use of collective force to repel the invasion, in what became the Korean War (1950-53). Mao’s China soon entered the conflict on the side of the North, causing a stalemate, and an ultimate ceasefire. A 2½-mile Demilitarized Zone has separated two Koreas ever since.

After both North and South Korea joined the UN in 1991, train travel between the two was attempted to ease tensions, but the labeling of the North as a terrorist state, and fear of conflict, has kept both sides on edge, and has caused occasional flare-ups.

From the perspective of the North, since the Americans still have 30,000 troops stationed at various military facilities in the South along with their weapons, they must maintain a large military to repel a possible attack.

So what would really happen if the U.S. unilaterally withdrew all forces? Hawks may in a knee jerk fashion predict an invasion by the North. What is much more likely is a demolition of the barrier between North and South, and the commencement of trade. The North would gladly take the benefits of trade from the Southern economy, one of the strongest in Asia.

While a total unilateral withdrawal is largely a pipe-dream given the dysfunctional American political system, since very few American politicians would have the courage to do something so bold, progress always begins with an idea, and the idea is to unilaterally close our bases in Korea, and withdraw from their soil. Such a move would ease tensions, lead to reciprocal demilitarization, and eventual reunification.

04/10/2012

Japan: Close All Military Bases

The U.S. still has at least 22 military facilities in Japan, 67 years after the end of World War II, a conflict that transformed the Japanese government from a militaristic chain of command into a liberal democracy, such that now they pose no threat whatsoever to the U.S. So why do we still have a military presence in Japan?

While Korea is in the neighborhood, where the U.S. military has an even greater presence, Japanese bases add little to their needs. China, also nearby, is really no threat to the U.S. Since Hong Kong and Taiwan are part of sovereign China, the U.S. could not act lawfully, even if unrest developed in those enclaves. In the 1960s, we listened in on the Soviets from undisclosed bases in Northern Japan, but the Cold War ended over 20 years ago, and Russia has been our ally ever since.

While reports show some U.S. forces are now being moved to Guam, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and the Philippines, the best place for them is back home in the U.S. We should work on withdrawing all of our forces from the following Japanese bases:

TOHOKO REGION (N Honshu)
Air Force: Misawa Air Base, Misawa-Aomori

KANTO REGION (SE Honshu, Tokyo)
Army: Camp Zama
Air Force: Yokota Air Base

SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE (SE Honshu)
Marines: Camp Fuji

KANAGAWA PREFECTURE (SE Honshu)
Navy: U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka
Naval Air Facility Atsugi

YAMAGUCHI PREFECTURE (SW Honshu)
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

KYUSHU ISLAND (Far SW)
Navy: U.S. Fleet Activites Sasebo

OKINAWA (Far S, Ryukru Islands,  Kyushu Region)
Army: Torii Station
Army: Fort Buckner
Marines: Camp Smedley Butler
Marines: Camp Courtney
Marines: Camp Foster
Marines: Camp Gonsalves
Marines: Camp Hansen
Marines: Camp Kinser
Marines: Camp Lester
Marines: Camp McTureous
Marines: Camp Schwab
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma
Naval Forces Japan, Okinawa
Air Force: Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

04/09/2012

Germany: Let’s Close All U.S. Bases

For a long time since the end of World War II, 67 years ago, the Europeans, and in particular the Germans, have posed absolutely no threat to our national security, yet we continue to maintain 62 facilities in the fatherland that could be shut down. While 20 are scheduled for closure by 2015, the remaining 42 should also get the ax, since we do not need them, and can no longer afford them.

The 42 facilities, not currently slated for closure, (listed below) are in the states of Bavaria (13), Baden-Wurttemberg (8), Rhineland-Pfalz (17), Hesse (3) and North Rhine-Westphalia (1). The 20 set to close between 2012 and 2015 follow.

NOT SLATED TO BE CLOSED, BUT SHOULD BE:

ANSBACH (Bavaria) (8)
Army: Barton Barracks
Army: Bismarck Kaserne (the word means barracks)
Army: Katterbach Kaserne
Army: Shipton Kaserne
Army: Bleidorn Housing Area
Army: Urlas Housing and Shopping Complex
Army: Oberdachstetten Storage Area
Air Force: USAF Ansbach

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN (Bavaria) (1)
Army: Artillery Kasermne

HOHENFELS (Bavaria) (1)
Army: Hohenfels Training Area/Joint Multinational

ILLESHEIM (Bavaria) (1)
Army: Storck Barracks

VILSECK (Bavaria) (2)
Army: Rose Barracks
Army: Grafenwohr Training Area

BOBLINGEN (Baden-Wurttemberg) (1)
Marines: Camp Panzer Kaserne

HEIDELBERG (Baden-Wurttemberg) (1)
Army: Heidelberg Army Airfield

MANNHEIM (Baden-Wurttemberg) (1)
Army: Hammonds Barracks

STUTTGART (Baden-Wurttemberg) (5)
Army: Kelly Barracks
Army: Panzer Kaserne
Army: Patch Barracks
Army: Robinson Barracks
Army: Stuttgart Airport

BAUMHOLDER (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Army: Smith Barracks

DEXHEIM  (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Army: Anderson Barracks

GERMERSHEIM (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Army: Germersheim Army Depot

KAISERSLAUTERN (Rhineland-Pfalz) (5)
Army: Kaiserslautern Military Community
Army: Kleber Kaserne
Army: Pulaski Barracks
Army: Rhein Ordnance Barracks
Army: Semback Kaserne

LANDSTUHL (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Army: Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

MAINZ-GONSENHEIM MOMBACH (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Army: USAG (Garrison) Wiesbaden Military Training Area

MAINZ-FINTHEN AIRPORT (Rhineland-Pfalz) (2)
Army: USAG Wiesbaden Training Area
Army: USAG Wiesbaden Radar Station

MIESAU (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Army: Miesau Army Depot

PIRMASENS (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Army: Husterhoeh Koserne

RAMSTEIN (Rheinland-Pfalz) (1)
Air Force: Ramstein Air Base

SPANGHAHLEM (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Air Force: Spangdahlem Air Base

WACKERNHEIM (Rhineland-Pfalz) (1)
Army: McCully Barracks

GRIESHEIM (Hesse) (1)
Army: Dagger Complex Darmstadt Training Center

WIESBADEN (Hesse) (2)
Army: Wiesbaden Army Airfield
Army: Storage Station Mainz-Kastel (Weisbaden)

GEILENKIRCHEN (North Rhine-Westphalia) (1)
Air Force: NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen

SCHEDULED FOR CLOSURE:
BAMBERG (Bavaria) (2)
Army: Bamberg Local Training Area (2015)
Army: Warner Barracks (2015)

SCHWEINFURT (Bavaria) (5)
Army: Askren Manors Housing Area (2015)
Army: Conn Barracks (2015)
Army: Ledward Barracks (2015)
Army: Yorktown Housing Complex (2015)
Army: Rottershausen Storage Area

HEIDELBERG (Baden-Wurttemberg) (5)
Army: Patrick Henry Village (2014)
Army: Campbell Barracks (2015)
Army: Mark Twain Village (2015)
Army: Nachrichten Kaserne (2015)
Army: Patton Barracks (2015)

MANNHEIM (Baden-Wurttemberg) (5)
Army: Benjamin Franklin Village (2012)
Army: Funari Barracks (2012)
Army: Sullivan Barracks (2014)
Army: Coleman Barracks (2015)
Army: Spinelli Barracks (2015)

SCHWETZINGEN (Baden-Wurttemberg) (2)
Army: Kilourne Kaserne (2015)
Army: Tompkins Barracks (2015)

LAMPERTHEIM (Hesse) (1)
Army: Lampertheim Training Area (2015)

The German economy has benefited greatly from the large sums of U.S. dollars spent in their country since the end of WWII, but it is now time for the U.S. to get its own financial house in order, by withdrawing all of our remaining troops and closing all of our facilities.

04/06/2012

American Samoa: Reunite with Samoa

American Samoa, some 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, and nowhere near the continental U.S., is an American territory in the South Pacific, which should either become an independent free state, or be reunited with the separate island-nation of Samoa, 84 miles to the west, from which it was forcibly severed by the United States in 1899.

Western intervention in Samoa dates back to the 18th Century. After Dutch navigators first sighted Samoa (1722), French sailors arrived (1768), followed by English missionaries, who erected a permanent settlement (1830). A visit by an American Expedition in 1839, was followed by a U.S.-Samoa Friendship Treaty (1878).

In the First Samoan Civil War (1886-94), the German Navy raided the island, causing the U.S. and Britain to support the opposition in 1887. A battle between the U.S. and Germany was narrowly avoided in 1889, as a typhoon damaged both fleets. A resolution was reached, under the Treaty of Berlin (1889), which created a three-power protectorate to jointly govern the islands, but soon the deal fell apart, and fighting resumed.

In the Second Samoan Civil War (1898-99), Germany, Britain, and the U.S. finally settled the dispute, by partitioning the islands under the Tripartite Convention (1899), which transferred Fiji to the UK, Western Samoa (now Samoa) to Germany, and Eastern Samoa (now American Samoa, east of the 171st meridian) to the U.S. Republican President McKinley, an imperial expansionist, had no trouble annexing the islands, even though his conduct went against the grain of over 100 years of anti-colonial U.S. policy.

In WWI, New Zealand seized German Samoa, renamed it Western Samoa, and governed for 48 years (1914-62), under a League of Nations mandate (1921), and subsequent UN Trust (1945), until independence was granted in 1962. The name Western Samoa was later shortened to simply “Samoa” (1997).

Although the U.S. has not granted independence for American Samoa, in 1967, self-rule was allowed, and in 1981, the territory received a non-voting seat in the U.S. House. Since American Samoans are not U.S. Citizens, they cannot vote in American elections, or hold public office, but as U.S. Nationals, they may reside or work in the U.S. without restriction, and may apply for U.S. Citizenship, as resident aliens.

The colonial relationship between the U.S. and American Samoa should now come to an end. It started in 1899 when there was no Panama Canal, and ships needed to sail around the horn of South America into the South Pacific, to ultimately reach the West Coast. The reason we took American Samoa is now long gone.

American Samoa, 4,770 miles from San Diego, has no chance of becoming a U.S. state, and it should now either merge with the nation of Samoa, or gain recognition in the UN as an independent country. Their population of 65,628 could easily assimilate with the 219,998 who live on one of 14 inhabited Samoan islands, and it is time for the U.S. to let go and allow American Samoa reunite with Samoa.

09/12/2011

911: Are We Still Missing The Boat?

On the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11, while the broadcast media repeatedly showed videos of planes crashing into buildings, along with survivor interviews and memorials, they failed once again to seriously examine why 911 happened in the first place.

Americans have no trouble recalling 911. They are painfully aware of the airport and government security measures implemented since then, and know international communications and finance are now under surveillance.

What they still do not know, however, because no one has explained it to them, is why 20, mostly Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes on Sep. 11, 2001, and set out to crash them into buildings, for the purpose of killing as many us as possible.

Until we learn what motivated the attackers, we will never understand the enemy, or eliminate the threat they pose. While the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) may take some small security measures at home, they will never make us completely safe, since they do not address the root causes of the problem.

So what was it that bothered the 911 attackers so much that they were willing to become kamikaze pilots? The answer begins with our one-sided bi-partisan U.S. foreign policy that blindly supports Israel, and angers many Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims.

Americans would be safer at home if we stopped supplying Israel with weapons that end up killing Palestinians. We would be safer if our Navy abandoned the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. We would be safer if we withdrew all of our ground forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations in the Mideast and Persian Gulf.

Since the special interests that finance our political campaigns are not going to support candidates willing to withdraw from the Mideast, the U.S. is not going to stop angering the nations of Islam. Consequently, more enemies will unintentionally be recruited, and more will eventually succeed in doing harm to us.

Once we understand every event has a cause, and know why Sep. 11 occurred, we can eliminate the factors that led to it, and only then return to a secure environment, free of the fear of another 911.

08/31/2011

Former Soviets Still Need Democracy

Five former Soviet states could do a much better job of advancing democracy, by removing their dictators, holding new elections, and by enforcing a two-term limit of no more than 10 years total.

BELARUS: Alexander Lukashenko has ruled the former Soviet Republic of Belarus since 1994. After winning the 2001 election, he abolished presidential term limits in 2004, and essentially made himself dictator for life. Opposition candidates received just 2% of the vote in 2006, in a contest the EU called fundamentally flawed. Policemen severely beat two opposition candidates in the 2010 race, causing EU members to boycott his 2011 inauguration. Belarus must now remove Lukashenko, choose a new leader, enforce term limits, and rightfully join the democracies of Europe.

KAZAKHSTAN: Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan has been in power since the Soviet Union dissolved, under a system which is one of the most corrupt in the world. His regime drafted a constitution that virtually gives him unchecked powers. He took bribes in the 1990s from U.S. oil interests. He won the 1991 election, because opposition candidates were not allowed. Instead of using the electoral process, he extended his rule for four more years in 1995, through a referendum. Although the constitution had a two-term limit, it was amended by his friends in parliament to let him run as often as he wanted. He was re-elected in 1999 and 2005, with 91%, in races criticized by international groups.

UZBEKISTAN: Islam Karimov has controlled Uzbekistan since 1989. When independence was declared in 1991, he became their first president, with 86% support, by manipulating the vote. He limited opposition parties by requiring them to obtain 60,000 signatures to register. He extended his reign in 1995 for five more years via a referendum, and then claimed 91% of the vote in 2000. He let the U.S. use military bases (2001-05). Despite a two-term limit, he won a third term in 2007 with 88% of the vote against no opposition. As one of the worst dictators, Islam Karimov must go.

TAJIKISTAN: Emomalii Rahmon has held power in Tajikistan since 1992. He was “elected” in 1994, and again in 1999, with 97% of the vote. He controls much of the economy. Like others in the region, he used referendums, instead of elections, to remain in office beyond his term. He received 79% of the vote in 2006, and commenced another 7-year term. It is time to remove this dictator and establish a true democracy in Tajikistan.

RUSSIA: Outside pressure from Russia would help to change the politics in this region, but Vadimir Putin also has trouble letting go. When Boris Yeltsin resigned as President, Putin finished his term (1999-00). Putin was then elected in his own right, (2000-04), and re-elected for another 4-year presidential term (2004-08). Instead of stepping down at that point, and leaving government, he became Prime Minister (2008-). After 12 years as President and Prime Minister, Putin still appears to be the one in control, and it’s time for him to set an example by leaving the Kremlin.