Below is a lecture given by professor S.N. Balagangadhara (aka Balu) on the role of stories in Indian culture. He mentions that, in those stories that are indigenous to India, their diverse and prolific nature makes them important in learning forms of socialization. They are ways of representing the world as well as models of how to go about the world. He proposes that this provides a map for emulation, that they provide sub-intentional learning or mimetic learning.
He also briefly touches on the internalization, both within and without India, of the European experience of India being forwarded as the story of India. He gave this lecture in 2009, in Estonia’s University of Tartu.
Part 5 – Q&A:
The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has recently released a report on the need for a policy in regards to Sri Lanka. The report, “Sri Lanka: Recharting US Strategy After the War,” indicates that the island nation is key to US strategic interests in the region.
“As Western countries became increasingly critical of the Sri Lankan Government’s handling of the war and human rights record, the Rajapaksa leadership cultivated ties with such countries as Burma, China, Iran, and Libya. The Chinese have invested billions of dollars in Sri Lanka through military loans, infrastructure loans, and port development, with none of the strings attached by Western nations. While the United States shares with the Indians and the Chinese a common interest in securing maritime trade routes through the Indian Ocean, the U.S. Government has invested relatively little in the economy or the security sector in Sri Lanka, instead focusing more on IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] and civil society. As a result, Sri Lanka has grown politically and economically isolated from the West,” states the US Senate report.
The report’s writers make a case for a shift in US policy by emphasizing the geostrategic importance of the island: “Sri Lanka is located at the nexus of crucial maritime trading routes in the Indian Ocean connecting Europe and the Middle East to China and the rest of Asia.
“[...]A more multifaceted U.S. strategy would capitalize on the economic, trade, and security aspects of the relationship. This approach in turn could catalyze much-needed political reforms that will ultimately help secure longer term U.S. strategic interests in the Indian Ocean. U.S. strategy should also invest in Sinhalese parts of the country, instead of just focusing aid on the Tamil-dominated North and East.”
About 80 percent of China’s oil passes through the waterways near Sri Lanka, most of India’s imports of oil pass through the Indian Ocean, and “three-quarters of all Japan’s oil needs pass through [the Straight of Hormuz],” one of the chokepoints into the region’s open seas.
Robert D. Kaplan has written a noted article in the Foreign Affairs journal indicating that “India’s and China’s great-power aspirations, as well as their quests for energy security, have compelled the two countries ‘to redirect their gazes from land to the seas,’ according to James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara, associate professors of strategy at the U.S. Naval War College. And the very fact that they are focusing on their sea power indicates how much more self-confident they feel on land. And so a map of the Indian Ocean exposes the contours of power politics in the twenty-first century.” Furthermore, “Already the world’s preeminent energy and trade interstate seaway, the Indian Ocean will matter even more in the future. One reason is that India and China, major trading partners locked in an uncomfortable embrace, are entering into a dynamic great-power rivalry in these waters—a competition that the United States, although now a declining hegemon, can keep in check by using its navy to act as a sea-based balancer.”
India continues to secure its naval presence by increasing its surveillance capability. A new listening post has reportedly begun to operate in Madagascar, linked with two other similar listening posts off of India’s west coast. The system will allow for surveillance of navies in large swaths of ocean from Africa’s east coast to India’s west coast. New Delhi considers the security of these lanes as vital to its economic health. Asia Times reports that “most of India’s trade is by sea,” and that, “nearly 89% of India’s oil imports arrive by sea.”
Another report released by the US, this one by Naval Intelligence, reviews Iran’s naval history and strategy: “Iran uses its naval forces for political ends such as naval diplomacy and strategic messaging. Most of all, Iranian naval forces are equipped to defend against perceived external threats. Public statements by Iranian leaders indicate that they would consider closing or controlling the Strait of Hormuz if provoked, thereby cutting off almost 30 percent of the world’s oil supply.” The document is titled ‘Iran’s Naval Forces‘.
The audio the speech is available from the Council on Foreign Relations: here. I don’t have time to provide analysis, though there are some problematic things in the dialogue. The Indian prime minister touches on economics and politics (Asia, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, USA).
How the threat to US and NATO military supplies routes to Afghanistan is the sign of a failed policy.
The Khyber Pass supply route for international forces stationed in Afghanistan was briefly closed by Pakistan, again. DAWN reports, “supplies to Western forces in Afghanistan through Khyber Pass were briefly suspended on Monday after militants attacked an army camp, killing a paramilitary soldier and wounding 10, an official said.” I’m not certain how all of these disruptions are affecting supplies to international forces in Afghanistan. Most of the US-NATO supplies go through the Khyber Pass. I’ve been reading rumbles of already eroded supplies in Afghanistan. With a planned US troop increase and the growing instability of Pakistan along the Khyber Pass, the Western military operation may become even more vulnerable. Protecting the pass with more troops will probably greatly increase international troop casualties since insurgents are well entrenched in the region.
The US and NATO are still trying to negotiate alternate routes, mainly through the countries on Afghanistan’s northern border. The most logical route other than Pakistan is through Iran. However, after a brief period of cooperation following 9/11, the US closed the door on Iran working with them in Afghanistan once President Bush identified Iran as a leading member of the “Axis of Evil”.
Kyrgyztan is one of the countries north of Afghanistan. The country’s government, however, has recently warned that it may any day demand a withdrawal of US presence from the base. This has come after Russian pressure. The US has also voiced interest in basing in Kazakhstan, immediately south of Russia. Kazakhstan has closer ties to Russian than Kyrgyztan and to reach a base there would essentially require passage through Russian territory, then a hop through the air space of another Central Asian state which will also under significant Russian influence and pressure. Furthermore, all but one of the Central Asian states – the exception being Turkmenistan – are facing their own very real Islamist insurgency. After seeing the US-NATO alliance’s abysmal failure to deal with the Taliban, these countries will undoubtedly have little trust in direct Western assistance or presence on their soil, worried that this may well destabalise their own constituencies.
So, in order to solve the supply problem, the US and NATO forces have these options:
(1) Pakistan is itself able to rapidly bring peace to its border area, thus securing supply routes into Afghanistan. This seems impossible in the immediate future. Pakistan has been engaged in a hot war with insurgents since the end of Summer 2008 and the conflict has only expanded. Furthermore, Pakistan’s ruling factions are divided, some even providing barely secret support to the insurgents.
(2) Western forces expand the war into northwestern Pakistan. The plan here would be to formally cooperate with Pakistan in fighting an insurgency that is active both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The goal would likely be to focus a major assault in Pakistan in order to deny Taliban bases and resources there as well as to safeguard what is currently the only supply line of importance to Western forces. There would be need for a predominantly political dimension to this strategy. Pakistan cannot be distracted by possible conflict with India, so this matter would need to be settled between them. Furthermore, there would need to be clear, and commanding leadership from within Pakistan’s political elite in defiance to the powerful factions that resist the defeat of that country’s homegrown armed Islamists. These requirements would allow Pakistan to engage the full force of its army and intelligence services, both of which are currently riddled with dissenting power blocs. Also, the West would have to be prepared for an expansion of the war into Pakistan when war weariness is exhausting the patience of its citizens, commit more money, commit more troops, and commit to much larger loss of life among its soldiers. On top of everything, there would be no guarantee of success; insurgencies are notoriously difficult to quell especially when the local central authority is weak and divided.
(3) Iran is used an alternate route for military supplies. On the surface this seems the most reasonable. Iran has the ports that could handle the marine convoys, it has a relatively secure border with Afghanistan, and has suitable roads into the north and south of Afghanistan. Also, Iran sees the Taliban as an enemy and has for years worked to defeat them, even convincing its allies in the Northern Alliance to work with the US in the 2001 invasion. Relations between the US and Iran, however, are terrible. The US in 2001 rejected attempts at Iranian rapprochement, making it very difficult to quickly reverse the situation of mutual animosity. The US is likely concerned that its key regional allies, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, would react in hostile manner to any American cooperation with Iran on Afghanistan. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are weary of Iranian influence, each wanting to be a regional hegemon and concerned that any Iranian gain would deny them this victory and perhaps allow Iran to instead become the preeminent power. So, this solution will almost certainly be rejected by the US.
(4) The US would need to cooperate with Russia for a northern supply route into Afghanistan. Russia currently has no incentive to accept this. The US, through its NATO alliance, has placed new missile defence military installations on Russia’s western border. The US has also, for the most part, led NATO through massive expansion into former Soviet states, encircling a significant portion of Russia and adding new bases to an already impressive chain that spans from northern Europe to the Middle East and Afghanistan. This cordon is seen as a serious military threat by Russia and after years of signaling its concern at the pursuit of this expanded iron curtain, Russia has regained its confidence and some of its (still fragile) strength to react politically (with new pacts in Central Asia, and the Middle East), militarily (in the short war in Georgia), and economically (mainly through its energy export policy). Russia would not want to help the US and NATO establish stable bases in Central Asia since the US will likely try to turn these into long term bases and succeed in a near complete encirclement of Russia. On some level Russia may actually encourage further US-NATO engagement in Afghanistan’s war, only so that more of its opponent’s resources are sunk there. Following this, it would likely seek, without any outwardly hostile act, to maintain or promote an environment in which US-led forces suffer great military, economic, and symbolic losses.
(5) US-NATO can also seek to pursue the current political and military strategy with minor adjustments here and there. This is unlikely to result in a clear and discernible Western victory in the region especially since the focus remains military with a clear disregard of the political solutions required to face the underlying causes of insurgency, instability, and civil war. Nor will an unchanged strategy bring Afghanistan’s regionally significant neighbours on-side with US goals: many in Pakistan’s ruling elite will resist US policy, India and Pakistan will see Afghanistan as a ground to pursue a proxy war between them, Iran will seek to thwart both the Taliban and the US, and Russia will cheer for a US-NATO disaster.
(6) The US and NATO may try to wash their hands of their own creation and leave after a symbolic show of force potentially in the guise of a ‘surge’. The plan of departure may include at least preliminary negotiations with some elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Western military alliance may then claim to have established a framework of local cooperation superficially facilitated by a military surge. The US and NATO, once withdrawal is complete, would then likely cease any significant direct commitment to Afghanistan. Factional fighting would probably continue in Afghanistan, effectively another civil war. Afghanistan would at this point be even more impoverished and war-torn after the 2001 invasion. In this case the US would likely seek to outsource its Afghanistan policy to a regional ally, as it did prior to 2001. Back then, Pakistan’s military and intelligence services had this role. Things may be different this time around. The US is showing increased interest in having India join a military pact (mainly through a Nuclear deal), while India has shown greater interest in expanding its influence within Afghanistan and Central Asia, partially to counter Pakistan. The US may well support Indian influence in Afghanistan, backing an anti-Taliban government in Kabul. In return for legitimating and subsidising Indian regional influence in this regard, the US could demand greater Indian military and foreign policy compliance, locking India into an Asia-Pacific alliance that would include Japan and Australia.
The US-India nuclear deal explicitly binds India into several foreign relations policies demanded of it by the US in exchange for cooperation on limited access civilian nuclear technology and fuel.
India expressed its commitment to the deal by voting against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decision of September 2005, opening the door to sanctions against Iran due to that country’s investment in nuclear technology. This was a sharp turn for Indian foreign policy, and took place during protracted and labyrinthine negotiations around commitment to the US-India nuclear deal, thus signaling India’s commitment to a foreign policy alignment with certain US interests.
Below are some passages from the Hyde Act, a US Congress passed bill that shapes much of the nuclear deal. These passages relate to Indian policy regarding Iran.
A description and assessment of the specific measures that India has taken to fully and actively participate in United States and international efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear weapons capability and the capability to enrich uranium or reprocess nuclear fuel and the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
Secure India’s full and active participation in United States efforts to dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear weapons capability and the capability to enrich uranium or reprocess nuclear fuel, and the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
Under the Hyde Act, India must yearly be “assessed” to make sure it is in compliance with the above mentioned clauses. If it is not, then the US has the right to terminate the deal.
You can read the entire Hyde Act here.
BOOK REVIEW : Asia’s awesome threesome – Rivals by Bill Emmott. Any friendship between China, India, and Japan is a facade, argues Bill Emmott in his new book on the inter-state rivalry and its consequences for the world. Asia’s “Big Three” are prone to suspicions and jealousies due to their highly competitive and strategic environment and this has led to a complex “new Asian drama”. Emmott’s yen for futurology yields interesting speculations but his premise of a is illogical and bypasses the impact of Russo-American tensions. (Sreeram Chaulia, Asia Times)
India’s perch ruffles China’s feathers. After 43 years, India has re-opened an airfield, the highest-altitude air base in the world, that overlooks China’s Xinjiang province and the Karakoram Highway to Pakistan. Delhi says the move is in response to Chinese incursions, and should be seen as a clear sign that it is fed up with being bullied on the Sino-Indian border. (Sudha Ramachandran, Asia Times)
Japan Seeks to Outbid China in Quest for African Support. Two reports follow on the vast, and vastly expensive, Tokyo International Conference on African Development designed to showcase Japan’s aid to Africa. The conference, held in Yokohama with the presence of 51 of 53 African nations, was attended by 40 Presidents of African nations. The first report by Ramesh Jaura concentrates on the proposed Japanese aid package, as Japan proposes to double both trade and investment in Africa within five years. The second report by the Yomiuri Shimbun’s Kawakami Osamu highlights the real stakes for Japan: the effort to outbid China whose burgeoning trade, investment and presence in Africa is a cause of Japanese, and the continued pursuit of the chimera of a Japanese UN security council seat. Neither report mentions either oil and energy or military strategic issues. (Ramesh Jaura and Kawakami Osamu, Japan Focus)
China’s Thirst for Oil. China’s need for energy is growing faster than any other country’s. Record economic growth results in demand that outstrips domestic supply, leading Beijing to look outward to ensure growth and stability. Concerns about the global oil market have led state firms to buy stakes around the world, often in countries shunned by Western firms. The investments are an important factor in Beijing’s foreign policy. They also drive concerns that China’s actions fuel or exacerbate conflict in the developing world and cause tensions with other major oil-importing countries as it locks up energy resources. (International Crisis Group)
Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Israeli air strike on Syria, Canadian intervention, War, Diplomacy, and Trade Unions
Ray Close on the Mysterious Israeli Air Attack on Syria. Ray Close, who was CIA bureau chief in Saudia Arabia for many years, sent around these musings on the Israeli raid on Syria. This is my Monday morning (speculative) analysis of the mysterious Israeli air attack on Syria on September 6, 2007 (with due thanks to others who have contributed their wise perspectives): 1. The Israelis offered us intelligence that Syria is beginning to develop a nuclear capability based on North Korean technology. They urged the US to cooperate with them in mounting a military attack to destroy the Syrian site. The advantages of this action, as presented to the Bush administration with great urgency by the Israelis, would be… (Syria Comment)
Deconstructing the Haiti coup. Below is from the National Film Board: Darren Ell interviews the director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Brian Concannon, about the political situation and specifically the crimes of UN forces (MINUSTAH) in Haiti. Concannon is a thorough, articulate and elequent speaker on the subject of Haitian politics.
Yves Engler is co-author of the groundbreaking book Canada in Haiti: The War on the Poor Majority. It is the first and only in-depth analysis of Canada’s participation in the 2004 coup d’état against the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In this podcast, Yves discusses key elements of Canada’s participation in the coup.
White Guys with Guns: Canada’s Military in Afghanistan. With a few exceptions, media coverage of the mission has been generally sympathetic to the claims and actions of Canadian military officials. It is the purpose of this essay to shed light on the less-reported aspects of the mission, about which our military and government officials rarely speak. (Dave Markland, Mostly Water/ZNet)
Slum Fights. The Pentagon Plans for a New Hundred Years’ War. Duane Schattle doesn’t mince words. “The cities are the problem,” he says. A retired Marine infantry lieutenant colonel who worked on urban warfare issues at the Pentagon in the late 1990s, he now serves as director of the Joint Urban Operations Office at U.S. Joint Forces Command. He sees the war in the streets of Iraq’s cities as the prototype for tomorrow’s battlespace. “This is the next fight,” he warns. “The future of warfare is what we see now.” He isn’t alone. “We think urban is the future,” says James Lasswell, a retired colonel who now heads the Office of Science and Technology at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. (Nick Turse, TomDispatch)
Ticking clocks and ‘accidental’ war. Whilst Washington looks at the Iranian prospects through the prism of a binary, to bomb or to acquiesce decision, facing President Bush over the remainder of his presidency, the actors in the region see the conflict as imminent and arriving in a roundabout way, through the backdoor – either via escalation of Western and Israeli tension with Syria; or from events in Lebanon, or a combination of both interacting with each other. All these key actors are convinced that conflict, should it occur, will convulse the entire region. (Alastair Crooke, Conflicts Forum)
Pearls for coal. Palestinian and Israeli negotiators began a series of secret meetings on Monday in an effort to draft a joint document for the upcoming US-sponsored peace conference, scheduled to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, in November. The two sides continue to be deeply divided on the major issues at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. According to Palestinian officials close to the talks, the two negotiating teams are likely to spend more time on formulating and asserting their own respective opening positions than bridging the gaps between them. (Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram)
Egypt: Mutual support? Forget it. What should be made of the voluntary cancellation of the editions of 22 independent and opposition newspapers? Is it a coherent way to protest against what journalists believe is a concerted campaign to silence voices critical of the regime? Or is it a shot in the foot? Such questions came to a head when the vast majority of independent and opposition newspapers failed to appear on 7 October in protest against the latest round of custodial sentences handed down to journalists. (Shaden Shehab, Al-Ahram)
Egypt: The Militancy of Mahalla al-Kubra. For the second time in less than a year, in the final week of September the 24,000 workers of the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla al-Kubra went on strike — and won. As they did the first time, in December 2006, the workers occupied the Nile Delta town’s mammoth textile mill and rebuffed the initial mediation efforts of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). (Joel Beinin, Middle East Report)
Turkey fears Kurds, not Armenians. “We did not exterminate the Armenians,” Ankara says in effect, “and, by the way, we’re going to not exterminate the Kurds, too.” Turkey’s threat to invade northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels is linked to its outrage over a US Congressional resolution recognizing that Turkey committed genocide against its Armenian population in 1915. Why the Turks should take out their rancour at the US on the Kurds might seem anomalous until we consider that the issue of Armenian genocide has become a proxy for Turkey’s future disposition towards the Kurds. (Spengler, Asia Times)
The Turnaround in Sino-Indian Relations. Many observers have recently argued that the newly forged Indo-U.S. alliance will work against its “intended aims of Chinese encirclement.” Although India denies its part in any attempt at “Chinese containment” to the publicly acknowledged satisfaction of China, the theory nevertheless persists. China’s response to the Indo-U.S. alliance is, however, quite creative. Instead of reacting with alarm, Beijing has gone on a charm offensive to draw New Delhi into a triangular entente among China, India and Russia. India, which has languished under foreign subjugation for centuries, has a visceral aversion to strategic alliances with world powers. Since its independence in 1947, it has followed what could be described as the “Third Way” in world diplomacy, which manifested itself in the birth of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) in the 1950s. China is now building bridges to India based in part on the latter’s instinctive wariness of foreign influences, which is evident in India’s homegrown opposition to its nuclear deal with the U.S. (Tarique Niazi, Japan Focus)
Oil and the origins of the ‘War to make the world safe for Democracy’. At first almost unnoticed after 1850, then with significant intensity after the onset of the Great Depression of 1873 in Britain, the sun began to set on the British Empire. By the end of the 19th Century, though the City of London remained undisputed financier of the world, British industrial excellence was in terminal decline. The decline paralleled an equally dramatic rise of a new industrial Great Power on the European stage, the German Reich. Germany soon passed England in output of steel, in quality of machine tools, chemicals and electrical goods. Beginning the 1880’s a group of leading German industrialists and bankers around Deutsche Bank’s Georg von Siemens, recognized the urgent need for some form of colonial sources of raw materials as well as industrial export outlet. With Africa and Asia long since claimed by the other Great Powers, above all Great Britain, German policy set out to develop a special economic sphere in the imperial provinces of the debt-ridden Ottoman Empire. (F. William Engdahl, Geopolitics-Geoeconomics)
Even CATO libertarians say energy deregulation does not work. In an Op-Ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal last month (and is available in full to non-subscribers on CATO’s website) two CATO economists specialised in deregulation and energy markets provide a breath of fresh air in the debates on energy. Their point is to criticize the poorly thought out deregulation in various US States over the past 15 years, and they explain clearly how energy markets work (something which is rare enough in the mainstream media), and what the consequences of various bits of deregulation are on market behavior and thus on electricity prices. (Jerome A. Paris, The Oil Drum)
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) says it supports Iraqi oil unions. The Iraqi Kurds’ oil minister, in contrast to the federal oil minister, says what’s best for Iraq is to embrace the oil unions. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has ordered the ministry’s companies and departments to cease dealings with the oil unions. “The trade unions in Iraq now are illegal till the new law is passed by the Parliament,” Shahristani told UPI, referring to a new labor law called for in the Constitution but that has not materialized. Ashti Hawrami, minister of natural resources for the Kurdistan Regional Government, told UPI his region’s law has incorporated local worker requirements, and unions are key to that. (Ben Lando, UPI)
Torture Endorsed, Torture Denied. Marjorie Cohn of Thomas Jefferson School of Law says that the Bush administration’s repeated insistence that it has not endorsed the torture of prisoners rings hollow in light of newly-disclosed US Department of Justice memos supporting the harshest techniques the CIA has ever used. (Marjorie Cohn, The Vineyard of the Saker)
Hizbollah and the Lebanese Crisis. The Lebanese crisis has receded from the headlines but has not gone away. Today, all eyes are on the presidential election, the latest arena in the ongoing struggle between pro- and anti-government forces. Yet even if a compromise candidate is found, none of the country’s underlying problems will have been addressed, chief among them the status of Hizbollah’s weapons. If the election is to be more than a mere prelude to the next showdown, all parties and their external allies need to move away from maximalist demands and agree on a package deal that accepts for now Hizbollah’s armed status while constraining the ways in which its weapons can be used. (International Crisis Group)
Indian Patents: Doing Just Fine. In early August, the Madras High Court dismissed Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis’ claim that a section of Indian patent law was unconstitutional. In the aftermath of the decision, one image stood out: the MNC pharmaceutical lobby, with its tropical agents in tow, raising a big stick to beat an errant country. In a situation rife with speculation, we should know that we have no reason to cower. (Chan Park & Achal Prabhala, Tehelka)
Book Review: Are Diplomats Necessary? Diplomacy is one of the world’s oldest professions, although diplomatic practice as we know it is a relatively recent development. Using ambassadors and envoys, often distinguished personalities of the time (Dante, Machiavelli, Peter Paul Rubens), was an accepted practice throughout recorded history. It was also regarded, in Europe at least, as “a kind of activity morally somewhat suspect and incapable of being brought under any system.” The establishment of the international rules of diplomacy, including the immunity of diplomats, began with the Congresses of Vienna (1815) and Aix-la-Chapelle (1818). The rules were a European creation gradually adopted in the rest of the world. Further international conventions update them from time to time. Diplomats have enjoyed a surprising degree of immunity from criticism for the often violent and disorderly state of international affairs. (Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books)
Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Foreign aid, treason, enemy combatants, weapons and strategy
Nuclear Weapons, Criminal States, and the US-India Deal. Nuclear-armed states are criminal states. They have a legal obligation, confirmed by the World Court, to live up to Article 6 of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which calls on them to carry out good-faith negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely. None of the nuclear states has lived up to it. The United States is a leading violator, especially the Bush administration, which even has stated that it isn’t subject to Article 6. On July 27, Washington entered into an agreement with India that guts the central part of the NPT, though there remains substantial opposition in both countries. India, like Israel and Pakistan (but unlike Iran), is not an NPT signatory, and has developed nuclear weapons outside the treaty. With this new agreement, the Bush administration effectively endorses and facilitates this outlaw behaviour. (Noam Chomsky, Japan Focus)
‘Enemy Combatant’ or Enemy of the Government? By introducing the concept of war into national law, the latest U.S. anti- terrorist law, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), produces a turning point in the legal and political organization of the Western world. It puts an end to a form of state that succeeded in “establishing peace internally and excluding hostility as a concept of law.”1 It is the constituent act of a new form of state that establishes war as a political relation between constituted authorities and national populations. (Jean-Claude Paye, Monthly Review)
Unable to Defeat Mahdi Army, U.S. Hopes to Divide It. Although the U.S. military command’s frequent assertions that the primary threat to U.S. forces in Iraq comes from Iranian meddling, its real problem is that Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi army is determined to end the occupation and is simply too big and too well entrenched to be weakened by military force. The U.S. command began trying to enter into a political dialogue with Sadr’s followers in early 2006 and now claims that such a dialogue has begun, according to a Sep. 12 article by Ned Parker of the Los Angeles Times. But the George W. Bush administration is not prepared to make peace with the Mahdi army. Instead it believes it can somehow divide it if it applies military pressure while wooing what it calls “moderates” in the Sadr camp. Parker quoted an anonymous administration official last month as suggesting that there were Sadrists “who we think we might be able to work with”. (Gareth Porter, IPS)
India holds key in NATO’s world view. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s agenda is centered on its further enlargement as well as lengthening its reach to undertake missions with new partners in every corner of the world. Many of its main challenges are in the Indian Ocean region, which makes a friendly India a priority. Washington fully backs a NATO-India partnership, while Delhi has some critical decisions to make. (M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times)
At last, some good news from Iraq. Iraq’s two rival Shi’ite clerics, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr, who with their powerful militias have long fought for control of the Shi’ite community, have decided to lay down their arms and unite their efforts to bring stability and security to the country. It’s the first genuinely good news from Iraq for a long time. (Sami Moubayed, Asia Times)
CIDA: foreign “aid” in name only? Recent stories about Canada’s foreign aid programs should make us ponder some important foreign policy questions. A Senlis Council report released in August detailed the failure of Canadian programs supposedly aimed at alleviating poverty in Kandahar province. The mainstream media criticized the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) inability/unwillingness to successfully distribute aid and even questioned Canada’s justification for a military presence in Afghanistan. Six months earlier, the media was abuzz over a report that called for the abolition of CIDA because of its failure to alleviate poverty in Africa. On the surface this criticism seems reasonable. All government spending should be effective. But what if this focus on the effectiveness of aid to alleviate poverty narrows the parameters of the debate and excludes the real questions that should be asked?
(Yves Engler, Rabble)
Pakistan at Sixty. Disillusionment and resentment are widespread. Cultivating anti-Indian/anti-Hindu feeling, in an attempt to encourage national cohesion, no longer works. The celebrations marking the anniversary of independence on 14 August are more artificial and irritating than ever. A cacophony of meaningless slogans that impress nobody, countless clichés in newspaper supplements competing for space with stale photographs of the Founder (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) and the Poet (Iqbal). Banal panel discussions remind us of what Jinnah said or didn’t say. The perfidious Lord Mountbatten and his ‘promiscuous’ wife, Edwina, are denounced for favouring India when it came to the division of the spoils. It’s true, but we can’t blame them for the wreck Pakistan has become. In private, of course, there is much soul-searching, and a surprising collection of people now feel the state should never have been founded. (Tariq Ali, London Review of Books)
Somalia’s President Yusuf Loses His Grip on Power. The failures of the two national conferences aimed at devising a political formula for Somalia — the National Reconciliation Conference (N.R.C.) sponsored by the country’s internationally-recognized Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.), and the Somali Congress for Liberation and Reconstitution (S.C.L.R.) organized by the political opposition based in Eritrea — have led to a continuation of Somalia’s spiral into political fragmentation and conflict. (Michael A. Weinstein. Power and Interest News Report)
Egypt: Rumour and retribution. The trial of Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Dostour, opened on Monday only to be adjourned until 24 October. More than a dozen armoured vehicles added to the daily congestion in Downtown Cairo’s Galaa Street while the scenes around the Galaa Court Complex, blockaded by state security personnel, plain clothes security men and high ranking police officers speaking loudly into walkie-talkies, resembled the trials of Muslim Brotherhood members or else of a high- profile spy rather than that of a journalist accused of spreading false rumours about the health of President Hosni Mubarak. (Shaden Shehab, Al-Ahram)
Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Propaganda, nuclear proliferation, and sudden evictions
Perceptions of identity: Islamist identity and neoconservatism. We are at a point of conflict and growing instability in the Middle East where the West’s projection of its perception of Islamist identity is no longer recognizable to Islamists themselves; and the Islamist perception of American motivation for actions has little if any resonance with ordinary Americans. Both sides are ideologically committed to the correctness of their perception of the other’s identity. (Conflict Forum)
The India-US Nuclear Deal at a Crossroads. As the US-India-Japan-Australia-Singapore joint military exercise styled Operation Malabar was conducted in early September, reverberations were felt not only in China, but also in India. The US-India nuclear agreement, driving a nail deep into the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, has produced sharp debate within Indian politics, including in the ruling coalition. (Praful Bidwai, Japan Focus)
Militarizing Japan: Patriotism, Profit, and Children’s Print Media, 1894-1925. The January 1922 issue of Shonen kurabu (Boy’s Club) carried the first episode of an exciting new “hot-blooded novel” (nekketsu shosetsu) drawn from the fertile imagination of noted children’s writer Miyazaki Ichiu. For fourteen consecutive issues Miyazaki enthralled Japanese children with depictions of Japanese valour and the Yamato spirit (Yamato damashii) locked in a titanic struggle against a duplicitous and rapacious foreign enemy. The fate of the navy and of the nation itself hung in the balance. The Imperial navy fought valiantly against a technologically superior foe but was ultimately destroyed. Then, in Japan’s darkest hour, the nation was saved by a group of true patriots, led by a child warrior commanding a powerful new technology. All Japan wept. This was the Future War Between Japan and America, “the greatest naval battle in history.” (Owen Griffiths, Japan Focus)
The war on Gaza’s children. An entire generation of Palestinians in Gaza is growing up stunted: physically and nutritionally stunted because they are not getting enough to eat; emotionally stunted because of the pressures of living in a virtual prison and facing the constant threat of destruction and displacement; intellectually and academically stunted because they cannot concentrate — or, even if they can, because they are trying to study and learn in circumstances that no child should have to endure. Even before Israel this week declared Gaza “hostile territory” — apparently in preparation for cutting off the last remaining supplies of fuel and electricity to 1.5 million men, women and children — the situation was dire. (Saree Makdisi , LA Times)
House Demolitions. On June 10th 1967, the Israeli government demolished the Moroccan Quarter in the Old City of East Jerusalem to make easier public access to the Western Wall. After the Israeli army called on the inhabitants of the quarter to vacate their homes only a couple of hours before the demolitions took place, a call which was not heard by everybody in the quarter, 135 houses were demolished along with two mosques and other sites. 650 inhabitants were left homeless and several others dead under the rubble of their homes. This demolition was not the first of its kind in the Occupied Palestinian Territories but definitely the starting point to a lifetime struggle with illegal house demolitions by the Israel Occupying forces. (Miftah)
Beyond the rhetoric. “We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner’s remarks about Iran, later softened, made ahead of a visit to Moscow on Monday, signalled a qualitative shift not only in the French but the European position towards Iran. They cannot be dismissed as empty rhetoric or grandstanding. Kouchner, after all, is in a better position than most to know what is happening behind the scenes in international politics from Iran to Gaza. He has a reputation as an astute reader of indicators, as a politician sensitive to nuance. (Mustafa El-Labbad, Al-Ahram)
Arms, The Big Deal. Encouraged by New Delhi, a host of Indian companies are currently negotiating with European arms giants to acquire strategic stakes, get into manufacturing and bid for deals. It is reliably learnt that global giants from Austria, the Czech Republic, Sweden, France, Britain, Poland, Romania and Russia are keen to offload stakes to Indian heavy engineering companies. Highly placed sources told TEHELKA that a number of high-level delegations from European firms have visited Indian companies to check out the latter’s interest level. (Shantanu Guha Ray, Tehelka)