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FarCenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-31-09 12:51 PM
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MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE - Searching for a New World Order
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By Gerhard Spoerl

The closely watched Munich security conference, which starts next week, has become a large-scale summit for world leaders. This year the US is sending a high-ranking delegation, led by Vice President Joe Biden, which may seek informal dialogue with Iran on the event's sidelines.

President Barack Obama's advisers spent days puzzling over the question of who to send to represent America's new administration at the three-day Munich Conference on Security Policy, which begins on Friday of next week. The closely watched and prestigious conference is a place where the Americans could, for example, enjoy an informal chat with the Iranians -- the kind of dialogue which Obama recently, and perhaps not entirely coincidentally, said he was willing to have.

And a lot is in fact possible in Munich. When it goes well, the conference is a no-nonsense event where decision-makers can talk frankly about current international hot spots. This year 73 big-name delegates have been announced, including prime ministers and presidents, foreign and defense ministers, ambassadors and members of parliament. A summit in its own right, which resembles the G-20 more than the G-8, this year's Munich security conference is overshadowing its competitor in Davos, which is focusing on the global economic crisis.

Of course it would be nice if Obama himself attended, but no US president has yet graced the Munich get-together with his presence. The natural choice would therefore seem to be Robert Gates, who was defense minister under George W. Bush and is keeping his job in the Obama administration. But he won't be attending, because the White House wants a new, more Obama, face in Munich. And so Vice President Joseph Biden is getting the honor of representing the new America.

Every word that Biden says at the conference will be closely analyzed, whether he's talking about Iran, Afghanistan or the Middle East. As a delegate, Biden, who will be making his first trip abroad as vice president, is not without charm: He is a good speaker who prefers to adopt a conversational tone -- even if he is famous for his gaffes.

The Americans are coming in force. Accompanying Biden will be General David Petraeus, who managed to calm Iraq down somewhat and is now trying to do the same in Afghanistan. He will take part in a roundtable discussion on the Sunday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has lost some of his luster lately. Also attending is Richard Holbrooke, Obama's new envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, perhaps the most dangerous region in the world due to its nuclear weapons, its instability and its terrorists. Holbrooke is very American: He exudes the US's superpower status in his demeanor and his words.

The American delegation also includes old Munich hands John McCain, John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman, three influential senators who all once wanted to be president. Kerry, who would have liked to have had Hillary Clinton's job as secretary of state, is now chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will decide whether Obama's ideas on disarmament agreements with Russia are pushed forward. And James Jones, Obama's national security adviser, is coming too. The general in the White House was a surprising choice for the post -- even for Obama, who is known for his surprises.

<snip> http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,6045...


WTF -- McCain and Lieberman??????
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