On January 6, five Revolutionary Guard speed boats charged three U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz. As the Iranian patrol boats sped toward the American ships, they tossed unidentified boxes overboard, while an anonymous radio message warned “I am coming to you…You will explode after…minutes”. The U.S. Navy has reported two similar incidents in December, one of which ended in warning shots from the USS Whidbey Island. Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has chastised the Bush administration for its non-engagement of Iran, pledging to reach out to the world’s dictators. President Ahmadinejad would like to know whether Obama prefers a gunfight or enriched uranium with his tea.
Indonesian Ex-President Suharto lies on his deathbed, ten years after nationwide riots ousted the dictator from office. His 35-year reign is marred with the murders of more than half a million political opponents. As regional politicians pay their respects and Suharto’s surviving victims call for justice, Time Magazine’s Asian edition faces a $107 million libel suit for a 1999 cover story highlighting Suharto’s widely acknowledged corruption. In its initial ruling against Time Magazine, the Supreme Court recently overturned two lower court decisions. Suharto may never see earthly justice, but we hope Indonesian democracy has sufficiently progressed in the past decade for this farce to be righted.
Ethnic clashes erupted in Kenya over a December 27 election widely criticized by international observers, displacing some 255,000 from their homes and leaving more than 500 dead. Incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and his graft-ridden government should reach a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement, but so far he has shown little inclination to do so. Kofi Annan is taking over mediation of the dispute from January 10. Corrupt officials worldwide let out a collective sigh of relief over the certainty that Annan speaks the same language as at least one of the feuding parties.
Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide bombing while on the campaign trail after ten years of self-imposed exile from her home country. Despite the former Prime Minister’s flawed record while in office, she was attempting to further peaceful democratic change in Pakistan. On December 27, she made the ultimate sacrifice in this cause. May she rest in peace and may her struggle never be forgotten.