Europe, Canada and US,

The latest country to find its place on the map is sending shockwaves around the world, worries Eric Walberg

21/2/8 -- Kosovo's declaration of independence 17 February 2008 brings the number of statelets born out of the former Yugoslavia, population 23 million, to seven -- Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia- Herzigovina, Serbia, and now Kosovo, which boasts an impressive two million.

The would-be master chef in the Elysée Palace appears to be cooking up a lethal concoction, writes Eric Walberg
7/2/8 -- There is no question that President Nicolas Sarkozy is a master political manipulator. On the domestic front he trumped both left and right, bringing Socialists into his cabinet, setting them at each others' throats. At the same time, showing his true colours, he moved quickly to confront the unions and students over early retirement, probationary work guarantees, university places for all who want them. Note how his "reforms" are all about taking away rights, not giving people more. He also cleverly borrowed a soupçon of Le Pen's anti-Arab jingoism for his broth.

The elections of new presidents in Serbia and Russia gave the West a bad case of indigestion, diagnoses Eric Walberg
7/2/8 -- The post-Soviet New World Order project is continuing to suffer setbacks, with two new old thorns -- Serbian Democratic Party's Boris Tadic on 3 February 2008, who was narrowly re-elected, beating the Radical Party's Tomislav Nikolic, and Dmitri Medvedev, the United Russia candidate, who leads his opponents in the presidential election scheduled for 2 March with a healthy 75 per cent popularity rating.

It could be far worse in Serbia, as Tadic, though opposed to Kosovan independence, is the best of a bad lot, being a big fan of the European Union. A victory for Nikolic, deputy prime minister under the socialist Slobodan Milosevic, would have seen a Russian military base on Kosovo's border and Serbia rejecting all ties with the EU.

Among a dreary cabal of shopworn politicos running for US president, one provides hope for the Middle East, but does he have a chance, asks Eric Walberg
22/11/7 -- The 2007 primaries displayed to the world its range of possible new leaders. The US media first latched onto Democrat New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who supported President George W Bush's invasion of Iraq and continues to support the occupation (Bush lite), and the Republicans on New York ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani who thinks Bush is a wimp and can't wait to attack Iran (Bush on steroids). The latter, despite his support for abortion, has just been endorsed by TV evangelist Pat Robertson, who argues that "the overriding issue before the American people is the defence of our population from the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists." Both potential presidents put service to Israel at the top of their agendas.

UNITED States General David Petraeus's report 13 September to Congress was greeted on the streets of Washington by a 100,00 strong demonstration led by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). Two-hundred were arrested, including the iconic Cindy Sheehan, in a Political climate change is heating up American minds, observes Eric Walberg

20/9/7 -- As the presidential primaries began to dominate the headlines in 2007, it started to look like 1968, when the dark horse Democrat, Senator Eugene McCarthy, stunned political analysts by leaping ahead of the pack with his promise to pull the troops out of Vietnam immediately. Interestingly this time round, the good news was in the Republican camp, where McCarthy's unlikely clone is the libertarian Ron Paul.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here