February 28, 2006

Bush needs caution in wooing India (JOHN O’SULLIVAN, 2/28/06, Chicago Sun-Times)

India is not a neurotic superpower but it is still an ambivalent one. Almost all the economic and political developments cited above point the country toward adopting an economy strategy of free market globalization and a political one of alliance with the United States. The two countries share a common language, common liberal democratic values, similar legal and political institutions (inherited in both cases from the British), a common strategic rival in China, and a common enemy in al-Qaida. These similarities help to explain the growing Indian diaspora in America, the boom in U.S. companies outsourcing to India’s own Silicon Valleys, the ease of military cooperation between Indian and U.S. military forces, and the fact that America is more popular in India than in any other country.

Altogether, India’s progress is bottom-up rather than top-down. It is also bipartisan. Both government and opposition have advanced the economic reform agenda in the last 14 years. So a change of government would probably not mean a drastic change of policy. It is likely to last.

Yet there are powerful groups that for various reasons dislike the switch of policy from socialism and neutralism to globalization and a pro-American diplomatic stance. India’s “Regulation Ra” is naturally opposed to losing its control over economic life. Traditional industries would like to keep their protective subsidies. Influential left-wing intellectuals dislike the new official embrace of free market capitalism and globalization. Factions in the Congress government hanker for India’s former role as the morally upright leader of the Third World sympathetic to global socialism. And some Indians are simply nervous about getting into bed with a partner as large and overwhelming as the United States.

Bush should therefore go carefully in wooing New Delhi. Rather than stress the exclusive nature of the Indo-U.S. partnership — which frightens as well as flatters — he might want to point out that other friends of India are also linking themselves more closely to the United States in the post-Cold War world. Howard’s Australia is one. Tony Blair’s Britain another. After the recent election in Canada, Stephen Harper’s new government is likely to move closer to the United States. In fact the English-speaking world, plus Japan, is gradually emerging as an informal U.S. alliance. And in that alliance India would be a junior partner to nobody except the United States.

There’s safety in numbers — not only in the war on terror but also as a way of avoiding unintended domination in alliances led by a generous but sometimes careless United States.

India is the ideal location for the President to present himself as the humble American he spoke of in his debate with Al Gore.


February 27, 2006

Bush’s Grand Strategy (Michael Barone, 2/27/06, Real Clear Politics)

[P]re-emption was not the only doctrine in the document. The words just quoted were preceded by a clause reading, “While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community …” Even while claiming the right to act pre-emptively, Bush agreed to Tony Blair’s plea for a second United Nations resolution to justify military action in Iraq, even though it was justified by previous resolutions and Saddam Hussein’s defiance of them.

And there was more to the strategy of securing America than just dealing with immediate threats. The NSS called for “global efforts to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations.” Bush critics say that he has undercut that by continuing to reject the Kyoto Protocol. But the agreement Bush concluded with India, China, Japan and Australia to limit growth of greenhouse gases seems likely to produce significant results, while the European countries, for all their hauteur, are failing to meet their Kyoto targets.

Bush has also gone beyond the NSS by agreeing to joint military operations with India and encouraging a Japanese military presence abroad — both counterweights to Chinese military power. Also going beyond his proposals is his massive commitment to combat AIDS in Africa, which is only hinted at in the document.

In other respects, Bush has not delivered on the promises of the NSS. The Free Trade Area of the Americas, envisioned for 2005, is nowhere in sight. And “an independent and democratic Palestine, living beside Israel in peace and security,” won’t appear soon.

Well, he can act unilaterally to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, and will if necessary, but you can’t unilaterally impose free trade. Meanwhile, Palestine is a democracy and Israel has been moved to the point where it’s about ready to recognize its independence — on Israeli terms — peace and security will follow.


February 27, 2006


February 27, 2006

One town doubts Hamas (Joshua Mitnick, 2/28/06, The Christian Science Monitor)


When the militant group Hamas beat the ruling Fatah party for control of this Palestinian town of 42,000 in last May’s municipal elections, the new councilors promised to pave uneven streets like the one outside Mustafa Juadei’s glass business. And while Mr. Juadei awaits the road improvement, he says that potential clients go elsewhere.

Hamas’s win in cities like Qalqilya was a harbinger of their surprise Jan. 25 victory in the parliamentary election. But, after experiencing six months of local Hamas rule, Qalqilya was the only district in which Hamas lost to Fatah last month. Now, as Hamas cobbles together the first Palestinian cabinet led by an Islamist party and struggles to secure much-needed aid money, some locals say a Hamas backlash could spread in the Palestinian territories.


February 27, 2006

US tsunami aid still reaps goodwill: A recent poll found Indonesians’ support for the US is almost as high as it was in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. (Tom McCawley, 2/28/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

The poll of 1,177 Indonesians in late January found that those “with a favorable opinion of the US” jumped from a low of 15 percent in May 2003 following the US-led invasion of Iraq, to more than 44 percent in January of this year. A similar poll released by the Pew Research Center in June last year also said tsunami aid had changed Indonesian opinions of the US.

“The military aid [after the tsunami], humanitarian help, and private philanthropy … boosted the image of the US,” says Djoko Susilo, a legislator on parliament’s security commission, noting that “even rich Indonesians” don’t generally give money to such causes.

And they’re an emerging democracy to boot.


February 27, 2006

The Emperor’s Visit: Whither India? (Rajesh Ramakrishnan, 27 February, 2006,

The official invitation to President George Bush to visit India is a slap in the face of India’s history of struggle against imperialism and has therefore evoked strong opposition from a sizeable section of Indians. The United States Government has a long history of imperialist aggression and war crimes against developing countries. The ravaging of Latin America and South East Asia, and the attack on Yugoslavia, are fresh in public memory. The barbaric attack on Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq are the bloodiest conflicts of our times. The cruel torture of Iraqi civilians by the US military in the prisons of Abu Ghraib has been beamed worldwide by the media. The recent call of the UN Human Rights Commission to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp confirms that torture and abuse are part of the US war machine, evoking memories of Nazi concentration camps. Resistance to this war and occupation is growing within the US and UK. The people of Iraq are still waging a heroic struggle for independence from occupation. The Bush Administration continues to use the September 11 incident to justify a global military onslaught to capture key resources, markets and strategic regions. The threat of military attack looms large over Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and now Iran. Falsely painting the Iranian civilian nuclear energy programme as a weapons programme, President Bush, who presides over the largest nuclear weapon stockpile in the world, is preparing for a military attack on Iran.

…India is now a key partner in that imperialist crusade to universalize liberal democracy. It’s bad old days of supporting Third World dictatorships just because they were anti-Western are over.


February 27, 2006

Diplomacy About Iran’s Nuclear Program Shifts from Moscow to Tokyo (Steve Herman, 27 February 2006, VOA News)

Iran’s foreign minister has arrived in Japan for talks expected to focus on easing concerns over the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions. Manouchehr Mottaki’s three-day visit begins a day after Iran and Russia announced an agreement to establish a joint uranium enrichment venture, in the hopes of averting United Nations sanctions.

Japanese officials say Foreign Minister Taro Aso will tell his Iranian counterpart that Tehran should suspend its production of enriched uranium, which can be used for producing nuclear weapons.

Japan supports the proposal for Iran to enrich uranium in Russia, but officials here say it is not clear whether, as a result of the deal between Moscow and Tehran, Iran has agreed to entirely give up enrichment at home.

Aso has said he will press the Iranian foreign minister, for details of the Iranian-Russian agreement.

Aso, speaking Monday to lawmakers, said that if international sanctions are imposed on Tehran, it will be difficult for Japan to press ahead with a huge oil project in southern Iran.

A textbook illustration of how the Axis of Good encircles Chinese Communists and radical Islamicists.