• Democratic and Republican candidates restate their positions on Iraq war; Clinton opposes ‘long-term’ strategic partnership being negotiated with Baghdad
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  • With the American casualties reaching the 4,000 figure mark during the week, both the Democratic and the Republican presidential candidates reiterated their respective stands on the Iraq war. Senator Clinton and Senator Obama asserted that they will implement a speedy withdrawal of troops, while Senator John McCain, citing the ‘successes’ accrued due to the ‘troop surge’, pledged to continue his support to the Iraq war1. Senator Clinton also expressed her opposition to the 'long-term strategic partnership' that President Bush was unilaterally negotiating with the Iraqi government without the consent of the US Congress2. Along with Senators Bayh, Boxer, Casey, Feinstein, Menendez, Obama, Webb and Whitehouse, she had introduced the Congressional Oversight of Iraq Agreements Act (S2426) on December 6, 2007. The provisions of this Act included barring the authorization or appropriation of any funds to carry out any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq involving "commitments or risks affecting the nation as a whole," including a status of forces agreement that was not approved by the Congress. On Tibet, the Democratic presidential hopeful urged the White house to be more forceful in condemning the violence. She however made no call to boycott the Olympics3.

    Meanwhile, Senator Obama received rave reviews for his speech in the previous week on the issue of race in America. The speech was compared to those delivered by Martin Luther king and Abraham Lincoln and a poll conducted by CBS News revealed that seven in ten respondents had the explanation of his relationship with his pastor Mr. Wright.

    Commenting on Taiwan’s presidential elections, Obama congratulated the people of Taiwan on the presidential elections and hoped that Beijing would respond to this election in a positive, constructive, and forward-leaning way. He also urged Washington to rebuild a relationship of trust with Taipei by supporting its democracy, open the blocked channels of communication with Taiwan officials and continue to provide the arms necessary for Taiwan to deter possible Chinese aggression4.

    In other developments, Senator McCain remarked that he did not support any governmental invovlement in the housing crisis, stating that it was “not the duty of the government to bail out and reward those who acted irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.” In doing so, he drew a sharp distinction between himself and the democratic candidates both of whom have expressed greater governmental involvement in abating the financial crisis. Senator Clinton had expressly argued for federal intervention to help affected homeowners, including a $30 billion fund for states and communities to assist those at risk of foreclosure while Senator Obama called for greater federal government involvement, including the creation of a $10 billion relief package to prevent foreclosures5.