Monday, December 14, 2009

Peace and Security? Where is the Prosperity?

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 10, 2009 Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize
Oslo City Hall
Oslo, Norway

1:44 P.M. CET

THE PRESIDENT: 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. (Laughter.) 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've 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 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 the military 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 42 other countries -- including Norway -- in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

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

Now 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.

And over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers and 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 certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.

Of course, we know that 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 30 years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it's 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, 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 and 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.

And yet, 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 -- all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, 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: 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 Jr. 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 work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's 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 may sometimes be 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, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world's sole military superpower.

But 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 others' 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, 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 inreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. 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." A gradual evolution of 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, international 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 -- in fact, no nation -- can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don't, our actions appear arbitrary and undercut the legitimacy of future interventions, no matter how justified.

And 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's 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 waver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. America alone cannot secure the peace. 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've 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's why NATO continues to be indispensable. That's why we must strengthen U.N. and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That's 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 of wagers -- 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 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. (Applause.) And we honor -- we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard.

I have spoken at some length to the question that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me now turn 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 actually 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 towards disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I'm 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 laws by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo, repression in Burma -- there must be consequences. Yes, there will be engagement; yes, there will be diplomacy -- but there must be consequences when those things fail. 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 on 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 too often, these words are ignored. For some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are somehow 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 around the world.

I reject these choices. 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 that these movements -- these movements of hope and history -- they have us 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 -- condemnation without discussion -- can carry forward only 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's 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 and shelter they need to survive. It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.

And that's why helping farmers feed their own people -- or nations educate their children and care for the sick -- is not mere charity. It's 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, more famine, more mass displacement -- all of which will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and environmental activists who call for swift and forceful action -- it's military leaders in my own country and others who understand our common security hangs in the balance.

Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All 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, the determination, the staying power, to complete this work without something more -- and that's the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there's 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're all basically seeking 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 somehow, given the dizzying pace of globalization, the cultural leveling of modernity, it perhaps comes as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish in 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're moving backwards. We see it in the Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.

And 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 the Red Cross worker, 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 I believe it's incompatible with the very 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. For 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 of 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 fundamental faith in human progress -- that 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's 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 condition makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

Let us reach for the world that ought to be -- that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. (Applause.)

Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, 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, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school -- because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child's 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. Clear-eyed, 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's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

2:20 P.M. CET
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

President Obama at Oslo receiving the Peace Prize while conducting two wars concurrently,0,3952920.story

Obama accepts Nobel Peace Prize as he defends the need for war
Obama acknowledges the irony of receiving the prize as he orders a troop buildup in Afghanistan.

He lauds past winners' commitment to nonviolence but says he can't follow their examples alone.
By Christi Parsons

7:21 AM PST, December 10, 2009

Reporting from Oslo

President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize here today, acknowledging the irony of winning it as a wartime president and calling his own accomplishments "slight" in comparison to past winners.

But in his speech to the Nobel Committee, Obama spoke of the concept of a "just war" and the pursuit of a "just peace," which he said sometimes depends on more than simply refraining from violence.

Lauding the commitment of past Nobel laureates to nonviolence, Obama said that, as a head of state and commander-in-chief of a military at war sworn to protect and defend his nation, he cannot follow their examples alone.

"I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people," Obama said. "For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent 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."

With his remarks, delivered in the brief sunlight of the Norwegian winter's midday, Obama answered critics who complain that he was receiving the award before he has really done anything to achieve peace.

The award also comes just days after the president announced a military buildup in Afghanistan, a surge of 30,000 U.S. troops which the White House hopes will disable the terrorist headquarters in the region and bring the eight-year war to an end.

In presenting the award to Obama, Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland argued that Obama has already changed the temperature in the international climate since he was sworn in in January, simply by insisting on negotiations and diplomacy first.

The committee didn't want to wait to voice its support for Obama's ideals, Jagland said, suggesting the award will help the president achieve his goals.

"It is now, today, we have the opportunity to support President Obama's ideas," said Jagland. "This year's prize is a call to action for all of us."

Obama accepted the award on those terms, calling his own accomplishments "slight" in comparison to past winners and others who he said deserve it more than he.

"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," Obama said.

The war in Iraq is winding down, he said, and the one that he is ramping up in Afghanistan is one which the U.S. did not seek.

"Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land," Obama said. "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," he said in a lecture delivered at Oslo City Hall.

Speaking before a large glass window, with the Oslo fjord visible behind him, the president praised the dignity of Burmese activist Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the bravery of Zimbabweans who insisted on the right to vote despite threat of violence and demonstrators who have marched against recent oppression in 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," he said. "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."

But Obama also described a "just peace" as one that includes not only civil and political rights but also encompasses economic security and opportunity.

"For true peace is not just freedom from fear," he said, "but freedom from want."

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Friday, December 4, 2009

Good Governance and the US war on terror

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 01, 2009
Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Eisenhower Hall Theatre, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York
8:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan -- the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion.

It's an extraordinary honor for me to do so here at West Point -- where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.

To address these important issues, it's important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people.

They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of passengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.

As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda -- a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban -- a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.

Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them -- an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to nothing.

The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 -- the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda’s terrorist network and to protect our common security.

Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy -- and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden -- we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed.

The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. At a conference convened by the U.N., a provisional government was established under President Hamid Karzai. And an International Security Assistance Force was established to help bring a lasting peace to a war-torn country.

Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war, in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here. It's enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq war drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention -- and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.

Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011.

That we are doing so is a testament to the character of the men and women in uniform. (Applause.) Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.

But while we've achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda’s leadership established a safe haven there.

Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it's been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces.

Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to control additional swaths of territory in Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating attacks of terrorism against the Pakistani people.

Now, throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq. When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war. Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive.

And that's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops. After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian efforts.

Since then, we've made progress on some important objectives. High-ranking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and we've stepped up the pressure on al Qaeda worldwide. In Pakistan, that nation's army has gone on its largest offensive in years. In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election, and -- although it was marred by fraud -- that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan's laws and constitution.

Yet huge challenges remain. Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There's no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum.

Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border. And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population. Our new commander in Afghanistan -- General McChrystal -- has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated. In short: The status quo is not sustainable.

As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you fought in Afghanistan. Some of you will deploy there. As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. And that's why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy.

Now, let me be clear: There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review period. Instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions, and to explore all the different options, along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and our key partners. And given the stakes involved, I owed the American people -- and our troops -- no less.

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war now for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources.

Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. And having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home.

Most of all, I know that this decision asks even more of you -- a military that, along with your families, has already borne the heaviest of all burdens. As President, I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars.

I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. I visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed. I've traveled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place. I see firsthand the terrible wages of war. If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.

So, no, I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat.

In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.

Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America's war. Since 9/11, al Qaeda’s safe havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.

These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.

We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months.

The 30,000 additional troops that I'm announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 -- the fastest possible pace -- so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They'll increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

Because this is an international effort, I've asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we're confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. And now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what's at stake is not simply a test of NATO's credibility -- what's at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.

We'll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government -- and, more importantly, to the Afghan people -- that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.

Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security.

This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai's inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We'll support Afghan ministries, governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas -- such as agriculture -- that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people.

The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They've been confronted with occupation -- by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand -- America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country.

We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect -- to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.

Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.

We're in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That's why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.

In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who've argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.

In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear.

America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistan people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

These are the three core elements of our strategy: a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.

I recognize there are a range of concerns about our approach. So let me briefly address a few of the more prominent arguments that I've heard, and which I take very seriously.

First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we're better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. I believe this argument depends on a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action.

Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now -- and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance -- would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Second, there are those who acknowledge that we can't leave Afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we already have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through, and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan security forces and give them the space to take over.

Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a time frame for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort -- one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests.

Furthermore, the absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.

As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don't have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I'm mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who -- in discussing our national security -- said, "Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs."

Over the past several years, we have lost that balance. We've failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills. Too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.

All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I'll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.

But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That's why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended -- because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own.

Now, let me be clear: None of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies.

So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict -- not just how we wage wars. We'll have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold -- whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere -- they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.

And we can't count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we can't capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.

We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. And that's why I've made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to pursue the goal of a world without them -- because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever more destructive weapons; true security will come for those who reject them.

We'll have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I've spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world -- one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.

And finally, we must draw on the strength of our values -- for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That's why we must promote our values by living them at home -- which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the source, the moral source, of America’s authority.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents and great-grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions -- from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank -- that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.

We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades -- a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, and markets open, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours.

What we have fought for -- what we continue to fight for -- is 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 access opportunity. (Applause.)

As a country, we're not as young -- and perhaps not as innocent -- as we were when Roosevelt was President. Yet we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom. And now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age.

In the end, our security and leadership does not come solely from the strength of our arms. It derives from our people -- from the workers and businesses who will rebuild our economy; from the entrepreneurs and researchers who will pioneer new industries; from the teachers that will educate our children, and the service of those who work in our communities at home; from the diplomats and Peace Corps volunteers who spread hope abroad; and from the men and women in uniform who are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people, and for the people a reality on this Earth. (Applause.)

This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue -- nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership, nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time, if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.

It's easy to forget that when this war began, we were united -- bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear.

I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. (Applause.) I believe with every fiber of my being that we -- as Americans -- can still come together behind a common purpose. For our values are not simply words written into parchment -- they are a creed that calls us together, and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, as one people.

America -- we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you. May God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 8:35 P.M. EST

Friday, November 20, 2009

Queen's Speech to British Parliament: Good Governance in Action

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Wednesday 18 November 2009
Queen’s Speech 2009
Transcript of Her Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 18 November 2009.

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My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

My Government’s overriding priority is to ensure sustained growth to deliver a fair and prosperous economy for families and businesses, as the British economy recovers from the global economic downturn. Through active employment and training programmes, restructuring the financial sector, strengthening the national infrastructure and providing responsible investment, my Government will foster growth and employment.

My Government will also strengthen key public services, ensuring that individual entitlements guarantee good services, and will work to build trust in democratic institutions.

My Government will seek effective global and European collaboration through the G20 and the European Union to sustain economic recovery and to combat climate change, including at the Copenhagen summit next month.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our visit to Bermuda and our State Visit to Trinidad and Tobago and to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in this, the Commonwealth’s 60th anniversary year. We also look forward to receiving the President of South Africa next year.

My Government will continue to reform and strengthen regulation of the financial services industry to ensure greater protection for savers and taxpayers. Legislation will be brought forward to enhance the governance of the financial sector and to control the system of rewards.

As the economic recovery is established, my Government will reduce the budget deficit and ensure that national debt is on a sustainable path. Legislation will be brought forward to halve the deficit.

My Government will introduce a Bill to enable the wider provision of free personal care to those in highest care need.

Legislation will be brought forward to introduce guarantees for pupils and parents to raise educational standards.

My Government will legislate to protect communities by ensuring that parents take responsibility for their children’s antisocial behaviour and by tackling youth gang crime.

My Government will introduce a Bill to ensure the communications infrastructure is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting.

Legislation will be introduced to support carbon capture and storage and to help more of the most vulnerable households with their energy bills.

My Government will respond to proposals for high-speed rail services between London and Scotland.

Legislation will be introduced to protect communities from flooding and to improve the management of water supplies.

My Government is committed to ensuring everyone has a fair chance in life and will continue to take forward legislation to promote equality, narrow the gap between rich and poor and tackle discrimination. The Bill would also introduce transparency in the workplace to help address the differences in pay between men and women.

My Government will continue to enshrine in law its commitment to abolish child poverty by 2020.

My Government will legislate to provide agency workers with the right to be treated equally with permanent staff on pay, holidays and other basic conditions.

Legislation will continue to be taken forward on constitutional reform. My Government will also publish draft legislation on proposals for a reformed second chamber of Parliament with a democratic mandate.

A Bill will be introduced to strengthen the law against bribery.

My Government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in the interests of all the people of the United Kingdom. My Government is committed to the Northern Ireland political process and will continue to work with Northern Ireland’s leaders to complete the devolution of policing and justice and to ensure its success.

In Scotland, my Government will take forward proposals in the Final Report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution. My Government will continue to devolve more powers to Wales.

Members of the House of Commons.

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

My Government will work for security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and Pakistan and for peace in the Middle East.

Legislation will be brought forward to ban cluster munitions.

My Government will work towards creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, including addressing the challenges from Iran and North Korea.

Draft legislation will be published to make binding my Government’s commitment to spend nought point seven per cent of national income on international development from 2013.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and members of the House of Commons.

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Tags: Queen, Queen's Speech, Queen's Speech 2009, State Opening of Parliament

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ethio-US relations 106 Years

Dear Patriotic Ethiopians and Global Friends of Ethiopia:

Re: Chartering an improving Ethio-US Relations, a visit by a sitting US President to Ethiopia is a possibiliity!

As part of an effort to make our upcoming meetings more user-friendly and relevant in the context of Ethio-US relations and the role of this August Body to make a substantial input in this evolving and continuously improving relationship, it is critical we base all our efforts on research, and evidence based facts to charter a better future.

We need to review the attached history that was published in Ethiopia following the recent diplomatic and strategic visit of a third of Ethiopian Cabinet with their counterparts led by the Foreign Ministers Mesfin and Clinton respectively for Ethiopia and USA.

This result did not come in a day. It took some 106 years of deliberate and intelligent communications that was started during the reign of Emperor Menelik II and President Theodore Roosevelt. As we charter the future, we need to honor those before us who created this august and unique relationships over the time.

We need to engage all our Diaspora to be educated with facts and not fantasy and build on this historic relationship and not squander it.

As Ethiopia is deliberating on building wealth and prosperity, let us say goodbye to poverty with education and competitive enterprises and not depend on hand outs and perpetual poverty reduction mantra. We cannot reduce poverty, but build wealth and prosperity with education, technology and the spirit of competitiveness based on free market and good governance.

Surely, we have to contribute in the wealth creation effort by bridging the gap between our two sister countries. The recent visit by Prof Andreas and Tase is an excellent example on which to build.

The road map is being chartered and we need people to walk on it so that it becomes a super high way. Ethiopia has also to open up the Internet, and Information High way to make the connection with development like the Chinese have done.

As I listen to President Obama visiting China and making all these great remarks, I wonder, when will he visit Addis, the home of his ancestors and African Union. We just need to work at it, it is not acdeptable to have retired US Presidents coming to addis with their coffers and platitudes like Carter and Clinton did, we need to engage them when they are in power with win-win partnership ventures that would transform our respective nations.

That task is in the hand of the future Ambassador to the USA and this August body, if we work hard on it.

I look forward for your alternative perspectives

Thank you

Dr B

Here is a an important historical fact

More will come

Dr B

Ethio-USA cemented relations will persist!
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

11 November 2009 (No.22)

A. Recent Ethio-US Relations (Mesfin-Clinton Bilateral Meetings)

Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, in his recent visit to the United States of America, said that his visit would be extremely fruitful in touching base on issues that are of crucial importance both to the United States and Africa and in Ethiopia. His counterpart Secretary Clinton on her part said Ethiopia is a country with which America has very long ties, and has, in recent years, developed a very close working relationship on a number of important issues.

B. 1903 Formal Bilateral Relations during Emperor Menelik II and President Theodore Roosevelt

Available documents witnessed the bilateral relationship between Ethiopia and the United States of America was started in the 1903. Emperor Menelik II held nine days meetings with Robert P. Skinner, an emissary of President Theodore Roosevelt for the first time to begin their relations.

C. Treaties of Arbitration and Conciliation on 26 Jan 1929 (Health, Education and Agriculture)

On January 26, 1929, they signed treaties of arbitration and conciliation. The two countries had strengthened their relations. Economic and mutual defense assistances were signed in 1953. Then USA provided Ethiopia with $282 and $366 million military and economic assistances for health, agriculture and education.

D. Cooling down and down graded relations with the advent of the Military Communist Junta

However, their relation cooled down during the Derg regime as USA snubbed the request for increased military assistance. However, the relation has revived since the downfall of that dictatorial regime and improved dramatically.

E. Upgrading relations to Ambassador level in 1992 and improving economic ties.

In 1992, diplomatic relations were upgraded to the ambassadorial level. USA assisted Ethiopia $2.3 billion between 1991 and 2003 and it provided a record of $553.1 million assistance in 2003.

F. Ethiopia as a Classical Strategic Partner and Anchor of stability and Peace in the Continent

Ethiopia is a strategic partner not only for the USA but also for other developed countries. It has been exerting tremendous efforts to peace and stability in the continent. It has also remained a reliable partner of peace loving countries and has been contributing remarkable role in fighting terrorism. Its military measure upon the al Qaeda affiliated extremist group is Somalia was very crucial and unforgettable deed that almost disqualified the revival of terrorists in the Horn of Africa.

G. Upgrading 7,500 Years of Governance to Democracy and Good Governance

The country has been also keen to upgrade its democracy and good governance along with its efforts of fighting poverty. Ethiopia and the United States of America have so many commonalities. It will be helpful if they strengthening their relations for mutual benefit. The recent visit of the Ethiopian Foreign Minister indicates that the cemented relations of the two countries will persist.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 November 2009 )

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From: Belai FM Habte-Jesus
To: EPRDF Support Group EPRDF Support Group ; Abdulhadi K. Ferhat ; Abebe Zewdu ; Alebachew Beyene ; Ambachew Kidanemayi ; Anteneh Tirusew ; Assefach Kahssay ; Awash Michael ; Benyam zerihun ; Besrat K. Tefery ; Desalegn G. Abbay ; Desta A. Abadi ; Dineka Kornma ; Dr. Belay ; Esayes Tesema ; Eskinder Haile ; Eyassu Beyene ; Feisel Aliyi ; Gebrewahid Woldu ; Hailekiros Gebreigziabher ; Hakim A. Mohammed ; Hussein Nur Hassan ; Hussien Abdi ; Isayas A. Abaye ; Melesse Asfaw ; Mesfin Ayenew ; Mowlid Mohammed ; Mulu Assefa ; Mulugeta Tsegaye ; Mulugeta ; Mulugeta Berhe ; Nardos ; Nardos ; Negash Gebremedhin ; Negussie Birratu ; Negussie Wouhibe ; Nigussie Retta ; Omer A.Ahmed ; Rahel Burayu ; Segen Negash ; Shekib Ahmed ; Tekle Haileselassie
Cc: Tilahun Beyene ; Tsehaye Debalkew ; Tutu Hailemichael ; Waka B. Kassahun ; Wolde W. Negusse <>; Yohannes Abate ; Yosef Haile ; Yousuf A. Nassir ; Zeki Sherif ; Zenebe Z. Shewayene Z. Shewayene ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Sent: Mon, November 16, 2009 3:37:09 PM
Subject: Re: Eprdf general members meeting

Dear Gofta N Biratu:

Thank you for your invitation and your efforts to make us a win-win partners with EPRDF and the Ethiopian New Vision for 21st Century.

I believe it is critical to update the membership about the challenges and opportunities we face at the time when Ambassador Samuel is leaving us.

A. Reviewing the past

A.1 Post Adwa Celebrations (2006)

We had just celebrated the Adwa Centenarry and Ethio-US Relations Centenary, where we had a lot of opportunity to build on the past and charter a new future.

Unfortunately, that did not happen, and our image in general and the Diaspora in particular was in held hostage by few Anti-Ethiopia forces masquerading as Opposition groups, but working for Anti-Ethiopian interests in the Horn.

A.2 Post Centenary US-Ethiopia Relations (2004)

Dr Asefa and his team joined the Ethiopian Embassy at a critical US-Ethiopia relations where we just celebrated the 100th Ethio-US relations and the Diaspora tried to celebrate it without the involvement of the Embassy staff.

I feel ashamed of this fact, as I was in the initial planning stage, and left them when they collected Anti-Ethiopian elements and infront of my eyes those of us, who started the whole show became marginalized.

We then tried to have an alternative one, but it was too little to late. So, the lesson is always take control of your events even as you want many others to join you.

Then came the rather unfortunate scenario that followed the 2005 Elections, where the Anti-Ethiopia forces managed to convince the US Congress and hold rather unfriendly hearings against Ethiopia led by the Kinijit Fiasco.

A.3 Post 2005 Elections

I remember, the Interim Ambassador Fiseha Asgedom testimony at the Africa SubCommittee where Donald Payne, who knew Emperor Haile Selassie and Prime Minister Endalkatchew as early when Blacks were still considered slaves here in the United States and could not vote. Ethiopia according to his own personal naration was a beacon of light and hope for many in the Civil Rights Movement, and yet he had the audacity to favor the ONLF terrorists and Somalia War Lords and Eritrean Terrorist against Ethiopia.

A.3 Post Ethiopian (African) Millennium

Then comes the Alliance and the Millennium Celebrations at the Mall in Washington DC which was a great success. Here again, a young man with few dedicated people tried to take over the planned Millennium Celebrations. This was meant to be a partnership but our group had to give in to a lot of unnecessary restrictions in the way we wanted to celebrate it.

B. Post the Formation of EPRDF Support Group

The EPRDF Support Group came into existent in these critical times, and was able to encourage and be a good example for the mushrooming of Pro EPRDF Forum and Paltalk Networks including the likes of Aiga Network

B.1 The Alliance and its impact to change the tide of history

I believe, the Alliance was the cradle of the movement of Pro-Ethiopians where more than 20 or so organizations put their hats together and formed a unique constituency that will stand for the positive US-Ethiopia relations.

B .2 The Post 2005 Elections Campaign to lobby US Congress and Senate

I would like to remind everybody how difficult it was to fight the HR2003 and all preceeding bills that were Anti-Ethiopia. I could not help but remember people like Prof Mesfin, Dr Berhanu, Birtukan testified against their own country and government with ONLF and Shabia operates. That was the real bottom line (worst point) of the whole exercise.

B.3 The passing of HR 2003 by some fluke Procedure in the Congress

The speeches made at the US congress at this critical moment is worth keeping for history and posterity and lessons learnt.

We were galvanized to ensure that this idiotic Bill HR 2003 would not pass the US Senate. That is where our African American and Jewish American friends completely let us down and Republicans shined in the Person of Senator Einhoff, etc.

I will not forget that Smith and Payne fiasco at the Press Club and the Support Group did a tremendous work and Smith never took up the public space against Ethiopia after that episode where Patriots and friends of Ethiopia faced him head on. He was embarrassed and this was followed by Payne going to Moqadisho against the interest of Ethiopia and the terrorists missed his plane by few feet when they shot at him at the Airport. He has never recovered from that personal embarrassment.

C. Post Senator Einhoff blockage of HR2003

This was the zenith period of Pro-Ethiopia forces. We were proactive, in letter writing, visiting congress and demonstrating aggressively for Pro-Ethiopia activities. The works of Mulie and Biratu and that of Amb Samuel could not be underestimated here.

C.1 The synergy of Pro-Ethiopia forces.

All in all, we are in a better place because of the work of Great Giants amongst us. We need to honor them. I would like to share with you how honored I feel for being a partner with Negusie Wolde Mariam for the excellent work we did at Hager Fiker defending the honor and image of Ethiopia.

I will never exchange this with any thing, even though Negus had to pay the maximum sacrifice of being shot at, at his home and then being taken to court under false pretexts. The work of Abassadors of Fiseha and Colleagues will never be forgotten for eternity.

Our six hours radio was shrank to one hour and we even did a stint in English, Voice of the Patriots and at last changed our studio from 1390 AM to 1160 AM when we had to protect our personal security as the opposition were coming on just before us and after us and we had to stand their abusive temperament and at times insults.

C.2 The mushrooming of Paltalks and our campaign to get funding from Private-Public Sources.

It was the most challenging time, as resources were available but could not be channeled to our campaign and we had to endure so much frustration ~!

C.3 The Diaspora Engagement Group

This is another excellent group that continues to work hard and the recent AAU President Meeting at the Embassy is worth following up!

The future

We need to galvanize our talents and resources and put our money and time on building the Positive Image of Ethiopia as this is the most critical element for investment, development and demoratic diplomacy in the end.

I trust, this is a worth while reading.

More will come as time permits as I have wonderful recollections of the time!

Dr B

Please write your personal recollections to enrich our memory and history!

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc. 4 Peace & Prosperity
Win-win synergestic Partnership 4P&P-focusing on
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Our Passion is to reach our Individual and Collective Potential

From: EPRDF Support Group EPRDF Support Group
To: Abdulhadi K. Ferhat ; Abebe Zewdu ; Alebachew Beyene ; Ambachew Kidanemayi ; Anteneh Tirusew ; Assefach Kahssay ; Awash Michael ; Benyam zerihun ; Besrat K. Tefery ; Desalegn G. Abbay ; Desta A. Abadi ; Dineka Kornma ; Dr. Belay ; Dr. Belay ; Esayes Tesema ; Eskinder Haile ; Eyassu Beyene ; Feisel Aliyi ; Gebrewahid Woldu ; Hailekiros Gebreigziabher ; Hakim A. Mohammed ; Hussein Nur Hassan ; Hussien Abdi ; Isayas A. Abaye ; Melesse Asfaw ; Mesfin Ayenew ; Mowlid Mohammed ; Mulu Assefa ; Mulugeta Tsegaye ; Mulugeta ; Mulugeta Berhe ; Nardos ; Nardos ; Negash Gebremedhin ; Negussie Birratu ; Negussie Wouhibe ; Nigussie Retta ; Omer A.Ahmed ; Rahel Burayu ; Segen Negash ; Shekib Ahmed ; Tekle Haileselassie
Cc: Tilahun Beyene ; Tsehaye Debalkew ; Tutu Hailemichael ; Waka B. Kassahun ; Wolde W. Negusse <>; Yohannes Abate ; Yosef Haile ; Yousuf A. Nassir ; Zeki Sherif ; Zenebe Z. Shewayene Z. Shewayene ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
Sent: Sun, November 15, 2009 8:54:47 PM
Subject: Eprdf general members meeting

Friday, November 13, 2009

Identity Cards and Rating Immigrants the new UK policy of Survival of the Fittest or Government Selection

Thursday 12 November 2009
Speech on immigration
A transcript of a speech on immigration given by the Prime Minister in Ealing, west London, on 12 November 2009.

Read the transcript
Prime Minister:

Can I say, first of all, what a huge pleasure it is to be with two of the best Members of Parliament in the country - Virendra Sharma and Steven Pound - and to thank them for what they do for their constituents, and what they do for the whole of our national life in Britain. We are very proud of what you do.

Can I say also that we meet this morning, in this great hall, in a capital city where over 300 languages are spoken; a city that is one of the most culturally rich places in our world; a city that epitomises the strong values and the diversity that has helped to make Britain one of the most dynamic countries in human history.

Today I want to celebrate with you - Members of Parliament, Councillors, representatives of a large range of different organisations from all over our communities that diversity; and I want to also address head on the issue of immigration.

The case for managed and controlled migration where it is in the national interest - economically, socially and culturally - is a case that I have constantly made. I have never agreed with the lazy elitism that dismisses immigration as an issue, or portrays anyone who has concerns and questions about immigration as a racist.

Immigration is not an issue for fringe parties nor a taboo subject - it is a question to be dealt with at the heart of our politics; a question about what it means to be British - about what are the values we hold dear, the responsibilities we expect of those coming into our country; about how we secure the skills we need to compete in the global economy; about how, out of diversity, we preserve and strengthen the richness of our communities.

And it’s a question which must be seen in its proper context. People who come to this country have made and continue to make an enormous contribution - across the decades, in every walk of life - from business to sport, from the social fabric of our communities to our culture, from our public services to our public life.

Right here in Ealing, Virendra’s own story - first coming to better himself on a scholarship; today representing the people of Ealing Southall as their MP - epitomises the contribution that one person can make to our country, and the benefits of welcoming talented people to our shores who join in with British society, who pull their weight, and contribute to our economy, as seen in thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands, of examples of Great British citizens.

And I believe also that attracting highly skilled migrants with scarce or specialist skills is essential to our continued success and influence as Britain, in the global economy. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks or costs to immigration or that we shouldn’t acknowledge them and do our best to minimise them. The top line about the benefits of immigration disguises significant variation in how those benefits and costs are felt across the country, or across different parts of the economy and society.

You see, if you are working for a multinational company in a growing sector in a big city then a more diverse workforce from across the world is likely to seem like an exciting source of new ideas - and it is. If you work in a sector where wages are falling or an area where jobs are scarce, immigration will feel very different for you, even if you believe that immigration is good for overall employment and growth.

If the main effect of immigration on your life is to make it easier to find a plumber, or when you see doctors and nurses from overseas in your local hospital, you are likely to think more about the benefits of migration than the possible costs.

But if you’re living in a town which hasn’t seen much migration before, you may worry about whether immigration will undermine wages and the job prospects of your children - and whether they will be able to get housing anywhere near you. And everyone wants to be assured that newcomers will accept the responsibilities as well as the rights that come with living here - they’ll accept the responsibilities to obey the law, to speak English, to make a contribution.

So if people ask me, ‘Do I get it?’ Yes - I get it. I have been listening, I understand, and I am now announcing some new changes to our policies. You see, ours is a something for something, nothing for nothing society. In an older world we could perhaps assume that people would accept all their responsibilities as well as their rights.

In a fast moving world it is vital for cohesion that all people in Britain explicitly sign up to the direct responsibilities that come from being part of a community. So, in the interests of fairness, a condition for entry to our home, our British family, must be that you will commit to maintaining all that is best about the country we love.

British values are not an add-on for us - an option, or an extra to take or leave. Those who wish to come to our country must embrace them wholeheartedly and proudly, as we do.

And we must set these issues in their proper context - and we must never stop pointing out the facts. That British society has gained immeasurable benefit from its diversity, from being continually refreshed by new talent and new perspectives, from the confidence that comes from defining ourselves positively by our values, rather than negatively by any hostility to others.

And we must continually remind ourselves also that net inward migration from both within and outside the EU is not rising but it is falling, with the annual figures showing that overall net immigration is down 44% on last year, and with independent migration experts like Oxford Economics predicting further sustained falls. And we must also point out the fact that over the past decades, people who have come from abroad to our country have boosted employment and growth; have filled key skills gaps in both our public and private sector.

I want to ensure, as I will explain later, that we give British people looking for jobs the best chance of filling vacancies that arise as we come out of the downturn. But where there are vacancies that have been advertised here and are unfilled, it is necessary for businesses and for the economy to be able to recruit more widely. So we reject the views of those who argue for an inflexible, arbitrary quota or cap on immigration.

It would deny British business flexibility; it would prevent them from getting the skills that they need; it would prevent employers from filling vacancies; it would overturn our obligations to our neighbours in the European Union; it would damage our economy; it would hurt our public services.

To understand the damage a quota system would do to our economy, we should go back to the American system during the early part of this decade. There was an annual quota for skilled IT workers - seven times that quota was exhausted before the end of the year.

It is this that has led President Obama to say that he will now reform the difficulties in the system. The chairman of Intel, Craig Barrett, said when the quota ran out with most of the year still to go: “These arbitrary caps undercut business’s ability to hire and retain highly-educated people in the fields where we needed to maintain our leading position. Instead of arbitrary caps,” he said, “a market-based approach that responds to demand is needed. Only then will the U.S. be competitive and have the ability to hire the best and the brightest.”

So we favour a tough but fair approach rooted in a points system under which we decide what categories of skills are to be allowed into this country. This combines the flexibility and control that is right, with a continued commitment to strong borders, and the rigorous enforcement of the laws against illegal immigration.

So it’s a system which is positive about managed and controlled migration while ensuring that it serves the national interest; it recognises what we, as a country, need for a successful economy, but it also strengthens our society and our communities.

So under this system, we must continue our efforts, as I will explain today, to equip our people with the skills they need to compete in the global economy. As a result we will, as I can announce today, tighten our successful points system - and I will detail our measures in a minute.

Second, we must understand and manage the impact of immigration at a local as well as a national level - with mainstream funding responding more quickly to changes in population, and the new Migration Impact Fund ensuring that newcomers pay an additional contribution to help ease the pressures that happen to some communities.

And then, third, our new proposals for earned citizenship will now ensure more explicitly that people from outside the European Union who want to stay here permanently must earn the right to do so - not just through their economic contribution, but also by their respect for our values and our language and by their wider contribution to society.

And then fourth, and finally, the measures to strengthen our borders are now more coordinated than ever: our new Border Agency, biometric visas, electronic border controls counting people in and out, ID cards for foreign nationals - ID cards that are designed to prevent illegal working and protect our national security.

Now let me just address the policy points in turn. First, using the Points Based System to target immigration on skills gaps, while at the same time improving the skills of British men and women to fill those gaps for the future.

Two years ago there were 80 different immigration categories which had developed in piecemeal fashion over many decades. Now there is a simple, easy to control, five-tier system, with one of the tiers, for low skilled migrants, currently closed.

We are continually working to improve the management of the system but we believe it is above all the flexibility of the points system which has allowed us to help British workers through difficult times, when it is right to be more selective about the skills levels we need from migrants.

In March this year we raised the minimum salary level and the qualification level for tier one. We required Jobcentre Plus to apply the resident labour market test for tier two, so that no job can go to a migrant unless it has first been advertised to jobseekers in the UK for two weeks.

The changes we have made mean that, from this autumn, local workers will get a better chance, with jobs advertised now for four weeks in local Jobcentres before they are offered more widely.

We set up the expert Migration Advisory Committee to advise on the effects of the Points Based System on the labour market, and while their latest report suggests that there remain skills we need to recruit from abroad, it confirms that we no longer need to recruit civil engineers, hospital consultants, aircraft engineers, ships officers - and so these and other jobs are being taken off the list.

And the report shows that we are able to target the list on narrower, more specific vacancies including certain types of scientist, geologists, critical care nurses, highly specialist trade workers. But as growth returns I want to see rising levels of skills, wages and employment among those resident here, rather than employers having to resort to recruiting people from abroad.

So I have talked with the chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor David Metcalf, about how government and the skills agencies and the sectors can respond faster in training the existing labour force for the new skills we need.

To date this year we have been taking a further 30,000 posts off the list and over the coming months we will remove more occupations and thousands more posts from the list of those eligible for entry under the Points Based System.

So we are building on the skills strategy which set out the new more tailored programme yesterday to invest in reducing these skills gaps by training up workers here.

And I have asked the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to provide advice in January about national priorities for the skills system.

I have asked the Commission to work with the Migration Advisory Committee to consider removing certain occupations on the shortage list - for example, engineering roles, skilled chefs, care workers - and to link that to the priorities of our future investment in the skills of the future.

As part of this review I have asked the two expert bodies to consult employers, training providers and other agencies to develop realistic timescales during 2010 for when these occupations will be taken off the list.

As the economy recovers, we need to do more to ensure that people with low skills and poor job prospects are helped into work and to secure decent living standards for them and their families. More investment in skills, more help for families with childcare, tougher welfare reform - all will ensure that British people can meet the responsibility to take up work whenever they can but in return ensure their right to be properly rewarded for doing so.

Now our second priority is to understand and manage the impact of immigration at local as well as national level. Whenever there are short-term increases in the numbers of children at your local school, or patients using local GP services, extra resources should of course be provided.

The new Migration Impact Fund, launched earlier this year, requires every non-EU migrant who comes to Britain to pay - on top of the visa - an additional charge into the £70m fund. And this fund is already paying out to provide more teaching assistants and to increase GP cover in the areas most affected by immigration. And I believe it is entirely fair that newcomers themselves should be asked to make an additional contribution, over and above tax, to help the communities that they are joining.

There are concerns in some areas about how social housing is allocated. And I want to emphasise the importance of local councils, following the new guidance we have just issued asking and encouraging them to give more priority to local people and those who have spent a long time on the waiting list - and to engage more closely with their communities in setting allocation policies.

Now this comes on top of a pledge to create more housing opportunities all round - a £1.5 billion investment in housing which shows we are committed to investing through the downturn to continue to build the new housing our communities need, helping to deliver over 100,000 new affordable and, in this case, energy-efficient homes for young families to rent or buy over the next two years.

And then third, we must set out clearer expectations of newcomers who plan to stay in our country for any length of time. It is because we believe those who look to build a new life in Britain should earn the right to do so that we will now push forward the Points Based System to the next stage by introducing a points based test not just for entry, but also for permanent residence and citizenship. And this will enable us to control the numbers of people staying here permanently just as we are controlling the numbers coming in.

So the right to stay permanently will no longer follow automatically after living here for a certain number of years. Instead, as we have said, that after living here for five years, migrants will have to apply to become probationary citizens - and at that point they will pass a points-based test, with evidence of continuing economic contribution, of skills, of progress in English and knowledge of life in Britain.

And of course everyone must show a clean criminal record. The most basic but also must fundamental principle is that anybody who comes here - whether to work, to study, or to live - should obey our laws and pay the price if they don’t.

Now, our position since August 2008 is that those coming from outside the EU who commit any crime resulting in a sentence of over one year will be considered for deportation. But since April this year our position is that those from inside the EU who are convicted of sex, drug or violent offences resulting in a sentence of 12 months or more will be considered for deportation.

And we are deporting an increasing proportion of foreign criminals. For when a mother or father is grieving for a son who has been killed, or caring for a daughter who has been assaulted, it cannot possibly be right for that grief to be compounded by the knowledge that the perpetrator had no right to be here in the first place.

In total we remove 68,000 people from the UK each year, double the level in 1997 - and this includes more than 500 European nationals who have committed crimes. Let me be clear - all newcomers to Britain have a responsibility to obey British law. There are no exceptions. Serious offences will be met by deportation, but even less serious offences will count heavily against progress towards citizenship - delaying or even ending the process.

The second requirement of earned citizenship is that as well as obeying our laws, we expect newcomers to be able to speak English. This applies to workers coming under the Points Based System, who wish to stay permanently and settle their family in the UK. In 2004 we introduced language requirements for citizenship. Now there are requirements for those coming under the Points Based System. And we have set out plans to introduce a new language requirement for spouses.

And we expect that newcomers should not be a burden on the country which has offered them the opportunity to come and make a new life. Those who applied to come here to work and who want to stay must show they are continuing to make the economic contribution.

Those who came to settle with their family must show that their family have made every reasonable effort to support them. This message will be clear: if you cannot achieve the points necessary for probationary citizenship, you will not acquire it. And unlike the current categories, probationary status will be just that - probationary. If after a number of years as a probationary citizen - a minimum of one year but a maximum of five - someone wants to stay in this country, they will have to meet the test of full citizenship or permanent residence - or go home.

Because we believe in a something for something society, under this new system many of the rights and access to public services, which are currently available to migrants early in their stay, will not be available to probationary citizens. They will follow only when newcomers move to full citizenship or permanent residence. That’s the right to post-18 education at the ‘home rate’, the right to permanent social housing tenancies, the right to some social security benefits - saving hundreds of millions of pounds.

But at the same time, we will encourage probationary citizens to demonstrate their commitment to this country and their local areas through volunteering and community service. This will be reflected in the new points system so people will be able to move more quickly towards citizenship when they have made a difference in their community.

This new pathway to probationary citizenship and then to full citizenship shows the clear expectations we have, as a society, of people who come to our country. Clear expectations at every stage of their journey - because living and working here, becoming a British citizen, is of course a set of obligations as well as a guarantee of rights; and it’s a prized asset to be aspired to, earned, and cherished.

Now the final area I want to talk about today is that our systems for managing migration are matched by our continuing work to strengthen our borders: new investment, innovative approaches to meeting the changing demands of what everybody knows is a fast moving world.

More UK immigration staff and equipment are now based abroad, helping of course to stop suspect or dangerous travellers before they travel - for example turning back 240,000 individuals from flights in the last 5 years. Increasingly we require visas from most countries - even just for a holiday - and all our visas are now biometric - not just a piece of paper with a stamp on it, but fingerprint records which allow us to detect those who try to violate the rules and so prevent those who have abused our system from coming to Britain again.

We are also using the new requirement under the Points Based System for all employers and colleges to obtain a licence to act as a sponsor for each migrant - and in return accept certain responsibilities to check on their progress and whether they are following the rules.

This year for example we have inspected colleges approved to sponsor student applications, and we’ve cut the list of approved colleges by more than half, from 4,000 to 1,800 - as well as temporarily shutting down applications for student visas from parts of China where there was evidence of abuse. And I want to thank Phil Woolas, our immigration Minister, who’s done so much to make this a far better system.

Where visa abuses arise, we will deal with them. The risk of abuse is higher in relation to shorter courses at lower qualification levels below degree level. Our universities continue to offer high quality degree and post graduate courses to foreign students; they contribute greatly to universities, and to our research base and to our economy.

I am announcing today a review of student visas - to be conducted jointly by the Home Office and the Department for Business. It will involve key stakeholders, and will report in December.

We will look at the case for raising the minimum level of course for which foreign students can get a visa. The review will also examine the case for introducing mandatory English language testing for student visas other than for English courses. And it will review the rules under which students on lower qualification courses work part-time, especially those on short courses, to look at whether temporary students are filling jobs that would be better filled by young British workers.

To enforce these tougher rules we have more than doubled the number of immigration officers at the border. Last year we set up the UK Border Agency. It is a single force bringing together immigration, customs and visas powers and checks - and last year the agency stopped and turned back almost 28,000 people crossing the Channel illegally.

We have toughened the rules on exclusions and deportations. Since November last year we have issued 100,000 identity cards to foreign nationals.

And the next stage of reform is the electronic border controls, which are already counting people in and out. Not the pointless bureaucratic process which was withdrawn in the 1990s but effective, real time checks of identities against passports or visas, which are then matched against the warning indexes for crime, terrorism and immigration. It’s already led to 4,000 arrests; it’s ensured that those who have been properly removed or deported from Britain, or who have committed a serious crime in their own country, will not be able to enter.

One of the greatest obstacles to dealing with illegal immigration is the refusal of foreign governments to accept back their citizens after they have deliberately destroyed their identity documents. Now, where there is a problem of nationals from certain countries overstaying their visas or working illegally, we will require those countries to accept evidence of the travel document scanned at the border, as sufficient for them to accept back their citizens.

And, as you know, we are stepping up our action against employers who hire illegal workers - sometimes abusing them shamefully, in a way that is completely unacceptable, as well as undercutting people here. And it has caused resentment, as you know, in some areas. So we have raised the penalties for employing illegal workers up to £10,000 or 2 years in prison, and also the penalties for employers who undercut the minimum wage or risk health and safety - and have provided additional money for enforcing these new rules from the Migration Impact Fund.

Many people also feel it’s not fair if agency workers can be used to undercut their pay - and most agree it is not fair that even after months in a job, agency workers can be paid less than staff they work alongside. That is why we are changing the law. Last year Britain took a leading role in negotiating an agreement across Europe that will see agency workers in Britain get equal treatment after 12 weeks in post. And we intend that this law will be on the statute book soon.

So we live in a fast-changing world. Government must change to meet the new challenges. Our immigration system is a very clear example. In 1997 we inherited an immigration system with 80 different categories, a small and old fashioned Immigration Service, a paper-based system for recording entry and exit which the previous government had accepted was unworkable but had no plans to change.

This was a system which was clearly not ready to respond to the new global trends that were already evident. As these new trends continued in our first few years in government, our first priority became to reform our asylum system to deal with the worldwide increase in asylum applications. And as those reforms succeeded and numbers came down, our priority in the last two years, as I have set out, has been to reform our system of entry for working migrants.

The changes I have set out today - the new Points Based System on entry, the proposed Points Based System for citizenship - amount to far more than a different mechanism for handling these difficult issues. Together they constitute a fundamental reform of a decades-old system - a reform founded on the British values of personal responsibility and our civic duties. They are aimed at ensuring our economy continues to attract and retain the highly skilled workers we need, whilst reinforcing the rights and responsibilities of newcomers as part of our community, and the expectations society has of them at every stage. They amount to a fundamental restatement of what we expect of those who aspire to British citizenship and how we intend to strengthen the idea of what it means to be British.

I am proud of my country; I am proud to be British. Everybody here is proud to be British. This is a country of diversity and yet solidarity; of different cultures and yet universal values. And we will always be a country that, whatever the challenges we face, can never be broken by anyone or anything. For we will never compromise on that enduring British ideal - that rights and opportunities will always be matched by clear responsibilities for everyone. That is what a Britain of fairness and a Britain of responsibility means to me. Thank you very much.

Tags: immigration, Migrants, points-based system