tv Worldfocus WHUT September 23, 2009 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT
tonight on "worldfocus" -- >> as he delivers a major foreign policythe united nations, president obama is said to be considering important policy shifts on afghanistan and the middle east. the president says iran must be held accountable if it continues to pursue a nuclear weapons program. the iranian leader also speaks out. we will take you to jamaica for part two of our "signature series" on the battle against aids. tonight one woman's personal crusade to end the stigma attached to the disease. and from south america, from peru, an unusual twist on global warming.
winters there are actually getting colder with dire consequences. from the world's leading reporters and analysts, here's what's happening from around the world. this is "worldfocus." major support has been provided by rosalindp. walter, and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters -- good evening. i'm daljit dhaliwal. tonight we want to step back a bit and assess where u.s. foreign policy is heading, especially on the critical issues of war and peace in afghanistan, the middle east and iran. the president has been in office for eight months now, and today he gave a major speech to world leaders here in new york for the united nations general assembly.
in that speech, the president said that the united states is committed to working with other countries to solve the world's major problems. but he challenged them to do more and derided what he called an almost reflexive anti-americanism sweeping across the globe. as we hear now, the president gave no hint of any major changes in u.s. policy toward afghanistan. >> the violent extremists who promote conflict by distorting faith have discredited and ey offer nothing but hatred and disruption. in confronting them, america will forge lasting partnerships to target terrorists, share intelligence and coordinate law enforcement and protect our people. we will permit no safe haven for al qaeda to launch attacks from afghanistan or any other nation. we will stand by our friends on the front line as we and many nations will do in pledging support for the pakistani people tomorrow. >> the president also seemed to break little new ground on his
remarks about the middle east, calling on the palestinians to pursue peace with israel and urging the israelis to curb settlements in palestinian territories. >> we continue to call on palestinians to end incitement against israel. and we continue to emphasize that america does not accept the legitimacy of continued israeli settlements. the time -- [ applause ] the time has come -- the time has come to relaunch negotiations. without preconditions. >> though he gave no hint of it, during his speech "the new york times" reported today that the obama administration is considering major foreign policy changes in the middle east and afghanistan. the "times" said that the president is easing his demand for an israeli settlement freeze in a push to get the mideast peace talks started. it said the pivot greatly increases the stakes for an
administration that has found even small advances to be beyond reach. it also risks making mr. obama appear ineffective in not having gained a tangible early goal in. the "times" also said the president is considering a strategy shift in the afghan war by pursuing alternatives to plans to send more additional troops there. this article said the options under review are part of what administration officials bed as a wholesale reconsideration of a strategy that the president announced with fanfare just six months ago. so just how significant are these shifts? for more we are joined by james lindsay, a senior vice president and director of studies at the council on foreign relations. thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> so what about this alternative approach to afghanistan?
what might it be? who might be pushing it? and what are the chances of the administration would pursue it rather than sending more troops to afghanistan? >> okay, let's begin with what we know. and that is there have been no shifts or decisions made by the president. what the president apparently is doing, according to today's story in "the new york times," is asking tough questions about whether he wants to get deeper into afghanistan in terms of committing u.s. troops. there seems to be some division within the administration over whether to send more troops or to either hold steady or decrease the number of troops. >> so what would a more nuanced understanding of his foreign policy be? give us your thoughts on that. >> i think what we're seeing right here is that president obama realizes he's at a pivotal point in his afghanistan policy. back in the spring, the president announced to great fanfare his new strategy for afghanistan which emphasized what we call in the business counterinsurgency, sending more troops in to afghanistan to provide greater security for the afghan people. over the intervening six months, two important things have
happened. number one, we've had an election in afghanistan with widespread charges of corruption, raising questions about the reliability of our ally mr. karzai. second thing is that general mcchrystal, who president obama appointed to the job of being chief general in afghanistan, has come back with a report that is very dire in its assessment of the situation. so from what we can tell, the president is considering whether he wants to get in further into afghanistan. >> and mcchrystal is going to be sending his troop request by the end of the week, which is earlier than it had been anticipated. why do you think that is? >> well, we're hearing mixed stories as to whether general mcchrystal is going to send forward his troop request or whether it's going to be held to the side. there's a fundamental split within the administration from all press reports what we're hearing is that vice president biden has been arguing since the beginning of the administration that we should not be getting deeper into afghanistan, that it would be better to put more
resources into pakistan, whereas other elements of the administration, apparently secretary clinton, arguing for the policy the president ultimately has decided on. so i think again right now what they're trying to do is figuring out do they want to continue on the road they started going down or not, and you'll know by whether or not the president decides to accept general mcchrystal's recommendation for more troops. >> let's turn to the middle east for the remainder of the time that we have left. how significant do you think it is that the administration is pressing for peace talks without the israelis freezing settlements? i mean, did ben, main netanyahu essentially outlast the president? >> well, i think what you're seeing is the president's recognition that his effort to get the israeli prime minister to have a total freeze on israeli settlements has not worked and is not going to work. and actually from the president's point of view has been counterproductive. it has actually made prime minister netanyahu much more popular in israel and driven president obama's favorability
ratings into the single digits in israel. so what the white house now seems to be doing is saying, okay, we're going to back out of this dead end, we're not going to get stuck on talking about how to start negotiations. we're going to do what you said all along you're willing to do, let's begin talking about actual negotiations. >> isn't it a major policy reversal? >> it's not a policy reversal, but it's certainly changing tactics. i think one thing to keep in mind is that the president has not abandoned his call on the israelis to freeze all settlement activity. one of the things you discover in politics is that you may make an initiative, it doesn't work, you have a choice. you can sort of stay stuck on the tactics you have or you can try different ones. i think that the president's tactics are changing, but his goal, which is to get the peace process moving between the israelis and the palestinians and to get something approaching a final settlement, that goal remains intact. >> james lindsay, thank you very much.
>> thank you, daljit. in his address to the united nations general assembly, president obama also spoke about another key foreign policy issue, the nuclear ambitions of iran and north korea. several countries led by the united states are considering additional sanctions against iran and north korea if they don't curb their nuclear programs. >> and i will repeat, i'm committed to diplomacy that opens a path to greater prosperity and more secure peace for both nations if they live up to their obligations. but if the governments of iran and north korea choose to ignore international standards, if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability, if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both east asia and the middle east, then they must be held accountable. >> in an interview with the associated press, iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad said that he expects next week's discussions with the west about
iran's nuclear program to be free and open, but called on the world's nuclear powers to give up some of their weapons, too. is it likely nuclear negotiations with iran will succeed or are harsher sanctions against iran inevitable? joining us is mansour farhang, a professor of international relations at benington college. professor farhang was revolutionary iran's first ambassador to the united nations. welcome to the program. >> pleasure to be here. >> do you think that these talks, which are going to be starting next week, are they going to succeed or are harsher sanctions inevitable against iran? >> regrettably, the talks are not going to succeed, but i'm not so sure if we are going to see harsher sanctions. they will not succeed because iranian regime at the present time is going through a significant shift in the centers of power from the conservative clerics and their lay associates
to the security and intelligent organs of the state. this shift has given the revolutionary guards and their allies in the so-called economic foundations in the country a situation that they really need an enemy in order to justify purges within the regime and suppress the dissident elements who question the totality of the regime. >> does iran come to these talks from a position of weakness? >> iran comes to this position from a position of weakness internally but not externally. because iran is aware that the united states is in trouble in afghanistan and has difficulties in iraq. therefore, the capabilities and the possibilities of pressuring iran are limited. and also iran is somewhat certain that china and russia are not going to participate in significant sanctions against the iranians. >> do you think that iran is making a bomb? does it want a bomb? >> there is no question that
iran wants to gain the capacity to make a nuclear weapon because this is the way to become a serious player in regional relations. however, whether or not iran will go the last step and actually do make a bomb, withdraw from international atomic energy agency and make a bomb, that depends on how secure or insecure they feel at that time. which is a year, two years or three years down the road. >> professor farhang, thank you. >> thank you very much. and that brings us to tonight's "how you see it." eight months into the obama administration, is u.s. foreign policy headed in the right direction or the wrong direction? you can tell us what you think by going to the "how you see it" section of our website at worldfocus.org. in central america, in honduras, supporters of deposed
president manuel zelaya again took to the streets last night in defiance of a government curfew. zelaya has been holed up in the brazilian embassy in honduras after sneaking back into the country on monday. it has been reported that six people have died in those clashes, a claim that's been denied by the government. deutsche welle reports on the standoff from the honduran capital of tegucigalpa. >> reporter: clashes erupted in tegucigalpa as supporters again took to the streets despite the extended curfew. >> translator: we're here to defy the curfew because as the republic's constitution says, we don't have to take orders from a government created by a coup d'etat. >> reporter: the street protests and growing internat pressure appear to be having some effect. in a statement read by his foreign minister, interim president roberto micheletti said he's willing to talk to zelaya.
>> i am ready to discuss how to resolve theolitical crisis under the flamework provided to us by the honduran constitution. and i am ready to do so with mr. zelaya as long as he explicitly recognizes the constitutionality mandated presidential elections. >> reporter: zelaya is constitutionally barred from standing for a second term, but the ousted leader contests that point. >> translator: you can't deny the people in honduras the right to vote for who they want. even as president. that is a violation of the constitution. >> reporter: since monday, zelaya has been holed up in the brazilian embassy with troops surrounding the building and cutting off electricity, water and telephone lines. the brazilian government is pushing for an urgent u.n. security council meeting on the honduran crisis. >> that report from deutsche
welle. argentina's so-called dirty war against political dissent is again making news more than 25 years after it ended. a pilot for a european airline has been arrested by spanish authorities during a stopover in that country. the pilot is suspected of having flown death flights for the former argentine government in which prisoners were thrown from airplanes into the atlantic ocean. he's wanted for questioning in cases involving some 1,000 deaths. no, you're not looking at pictures from the latest hollywood sci-fi thriller. instead, this is what residents of the east coast of australia woke up to this morning. the eerie scene is the result of
the worst dust storm in australia in 70 years, caused by high winds and a record drought. overseas flights into sydney, home of the country's largest airport, were being turned away while millions of aussies were left coughing and sneezing. and from india, there is a warning about a severe drought to come. with india's rainy season about to end, rainfall has been 20% less than the country usually gets. officials worry that the shortfall will stunt farm crops and disrupt the flow of water into reservoirs that are used to generate hydroelectric power hampering india's economic growth. over the last several years, india has had one of the world's fastest growing economies. in south america, in peru, they are also experiencing their share of unusual weather. but the consequences there have been more dire, leading to hundreds of deaths.
over the last several years winters in peru's andes mountains have grown longer and longer with nighttime temperatures often dropping far below normal, all the way down to 20 below zero. peruvian officials believe global warming is behind the unprecedented cold spell. itn's girish juneja reports from this little visited area. >> reporter: a mixture of poverty and climate change killed baby rose, according to her parents. they died soon after catching pneumonia. there was no nearby medical but rose's distraught father says the sudden onset of the illness is down to changing weather patterns. >> translator: since i can remember, i've seen the sun getting stronger and the winds getting colder. you can feel it at this altitude. i can only imagine what it must be up higher up like where i grew up as a chi. how are you meant to predict such things? >> reporter: this year in the andes over 300 babies r known to
have died with treatable diseases and not all deaths are reported. doctors complain that by the time sick children reach them from remote regions, often all they can do is offer respite. >> translator: at this hospital we've had 28 deaths. from these, 22 died at home and 6 died here. when they arrive the children generally already have serious pneumonia. so much so that sometimes very little can be done for them and they die within a few hours. >> reporter: here nearly 4,000 meters above sea level, records show the sun's rays are getting stronger and the nights colder. locals say a lack of basic health services is now compounded by this rapidly changing environment. the radio station tries to warn people about the impacts of the changing weather. this year winter arrived three months early, in march rather than june. >> translator: we aren't talking about politics here. we have to sit together and talk over this issue of the cold that's costing lives.
>> reporter: but there is talk of politics, the government in lima is accused of abandoning indigenous peruvians who live in the mountains. >> translator: when did this weather change? i think about five to eight years ago. before it was manageable. before we could handle the sun's rays. now anyone with sensitive skin just gets burned. the same happens with the cold. but the issue of pneumonia is about poverty as well. there's no budget to tackle it. no money for medication or even supervision. >> reporter: the government admits that there have been delays in providing medical care due to what it terms as logistical and budgetary problems. it all means the ancient way of life in the andes mountains may be under threat. >> it is not easy to live in those kind of places. we have the threat of the pressures of oxygen, we don't have enough human resources like doctors to go to work there. >> reporter: the days here are marked by pristine turquoise skies that scorch the earth. at night the whole region is
described as a living freezer worsened by icy winds. the temperatures during this time of year now reach as low as minus 30 degrees celsius. we end tonight with our "signature story." we call it "in the shadows." in jamaica, as in many places, those with aids often find themselves shunned by society. depression and even suicide among aids patients there is common. that's why we wanted to bring you the story of one woman in the captainal city of kingston who has taken it upon herself to help aids patients reclaim their sense of dignity. "worldfocus" producer lisa biagiotti has her uplifting story which was report with the help of the pulitzer center on
crisis reporting. >> reporter: aids is a fact of life in thompson pen, an inner city community on the outskirts of kingston. here some of jamaica's poorest people are living with aids and the fear and social stigma that always seems to travel with it. ida northover, known as miss gene, has lived in this community for 59 years. a few years ago she volunteered to become the local representative for jamaica's national aids program. >> i play all the roles in this community. i'm the lawyer and the doctor, i'm the mp, i'm the counselor. i does everything. everybody comes to me just about everything. >> reporter: today an estimated 27,000 people are living with aids in jamaica. miss gene has made it her job to look after those in her community. people like lasalle gray.
>> here is your medication. >> i just took two. >> reporter: when aids first appeared in jamaica in 1982, it was a death sentence. few medications existed, and those that did, the poor couldn't afford. >> persons couldn't buy their medications. so people get real sick. people get sores. some people just have that thing. >> reporter: most people live less than a year after diagnosis. and suicide was a common response. >> first time the doctor spoke to me i was thinking about suicide, you know. so you know, as life goes on, i go to my group meeting and so forth, and i receive the support. i get back to myself. >> welcome to our support group. and the topic today is about adherence.
>> reporter: the national program has set up support groups like this one to help people cope with the daily challenges of living with aids. >> you have to have people coming and talk and let me know that life goes on and so forth. >> when you get into a group of persons who are hiv positive and you see they are well and they're looking well, they can be well, they can be productive and they continue to live a normal life, then this helps them psychologically. >> reporter: winston keane dawes who runs the local aids program here says the biggest change came five years ago when the government began providing free drugs to everyone with the virus. >> the medication free of cost. they can see that they're feeling much better. they're looking much better. nobody can suspect that person looks like an hiv person. >> reporter: here being publicly identified with aids often leads
to social isolation and even violence. when nikon brown was first diagnosed with hiv, he was afraid to leave his house. >> he was not allowed to come out because the risk of being killed, total social rejection. they tolerate him now. there were occasions where people want to get rid of them by lighting the place on fire or threatening to kill them. >> at first hiv positive, threats to me. >> i tried to explain to them what hiv is all about. and if a person holds your hand, sits down here, you cannot catch it that way. >> you just tell them sex wise, blood. otherwise, you are not going to get it. >> nikon has gone from being secluded in a room to knowing the whole community is prote protecting him.
>> reporter: miss gene has changed the lives of those with hiv in thompson pen which today has become a haven o of tolerance in a still turbulent sea of stigma and discrimination. >> you start a little ripple and it becomes a wave. that's the only thing. and that's a concept really. because we're starting with one little part of jamaica and thompson pen has gone beyond to the other adjoining communities. >> the communities are not that successful because it's not everywhere that we can find a gene. ♪ i worry >> reporter: for "worldfocus" i'm lisa biagiotti in kingston, jamaica. that is "worldfocus" for this wednesday evening. you can find us here at the same time tomorrow and on the web any time. that's at worldfocus.org. i'm daljit dhaliwal.
for me and the rest of the "worldfocus" team, thank you for joining us. "worldfocus" team, thank you for joining us. bye-bye. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com major support for "worldfocus" has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters --