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.


February 27, 2006

Changing the rules: a review of Redefining Sovereignty: The Battle for the Moral High Ground in a Changing World By Orrin C. Judd (Steven Martinovich, February 27, 2006, Enter Stage Right)

Liberals aren’t likely the only ones who will argue with the conclusions of many of the essays presented in Redefining Sovereignty. While most are hostile to transnationalism and the erosion of sovereignty, many argue American intervention in the internal affairs of other nations as justified. Judd himself argues that George W. Bush’s mission to reshape the Middle East in a democratic image isn’t at odds with the history of American foreign policy and is indeed necessary to preserve American security. It’s doubtless an argument that will have paleoconservatives and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party less than pleased, arguing as they did against interfering in the Balkans and Iraq because they were sovereign nations dealing with internal issues.

Not surprisingly it’s in between these two camps — the transnationalists and sovereignty absolutists — that Judd pitches his tent. Echoing Ayn Rand when she famously wrote that a state was only legitimate when it protected the rights of its citizens, Judd writes that “Americans have moved on to a paradigm that requires that a regime only be recognized as sovereign if it has democratic legitimacy.” Where previously the test consisted only of international recognition of sovereignty, the new test includes the nature of the state claiming the sovereignty.

Small wonder that new test has generated no small measure of controversy.

It’s at the printer–the new hardcover came last week and looks awfully good–and will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble & bookstores by the end of March.


February 27, 2006

Bush strides out to change the world with his new best friend (Gerard Baker, 2/27/06, Times of London)

American expectations are high for both legs of this trip, but especially for Mr Bush’s meetings with Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister.

“The President’s visit, at least to some extent, marks the transition from a 40-or-so-year painful bilateral history to the transformed relationship the two countries have today,” Robert Blackwill, a former US Ambassador to India, said last week.

The change in the relationship is reflected in that India is, according to recent surveys, the one place where the popularity of the US, if not its President, has risen in the past four years.

American officials cite many areas of common interest. As Mr Bush presses a pro-democracy agenda for the world, India is the world’s largest free nation. Economic growth in the sub-continent has been rapid, bringing trade and investment opportunities for both countries’ companies.

The two countries have shared interests in energy security and, of course, in confronting Islamist extremism. And, in the US at least, some long-term strategic thinkers see India — democratic, capitalist and, in large part, English-speaking — as a powerful ally and makeweight to China’s growing hegemony in Asia, although Indian officials, eager to stay on good terms with their large neighbour to the north, are keen to play down that aspect of the relationship.

Mr Bush and Mr Singh will discuss those issues, and India’s relations with Pakistan, where a fledgling peace process is under way over the disputed territory of Kashmir.


February 26, 2006

The civilisations of the modern world are more likely to collapse than collide (Niall Ferguson, 26/02/2006, Sunday Telegraph)

or all its seductive simplicity, I have never entirely bought the theory that the future will be dominated by the clash of civilisations. For one thing, the term “civilisation” has always struck me as much too woolly. I know what a religion is. I know what an empire is. But, as Henry Kissinger might have said, who do I call when I want to speak to Western Civilisation? Anyone who crosses the Atlantic as often as I do quickly learns how vacuous that phrase has become.

As Robert Kagan said, in another Great American Essay, “Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus” – at least when it comes to the legitimacy of using military force. In a whole range of ways – from the way they worship to the way they work – Americans and Europeans are more than just an ocean apart. As for “Judaeo-Christian” civilisation (a phrase popularised by Bernard Lewis, another prophet of the great clash), I don’t remember that being a terribly harmonious entity in the 1940s.

The really big problem with the theory, however, is right in front of our very noses. Question: Who has killed the most Muslims in the past 12 months? The answer is, of course, other Muslims. […]

Now Huntington is too clever a man not to hedge his bets. “This article does not argue,” he wrote back in 1993, “that groups within a civilisation will not conflict with and even fight one another.” But he went on to reassert that “conflicts between groups in different civilisations will be more frequent, more sustained and more violent than conflicts between groups in the same civilisation.”

Sorry, wrong. It is well known that the overwhelming majority of conflicts since the end of the Cold War have been civil wars. The interesting thing is that only a minority of them have conformed to Huntington’s model of inter-civilisation wars. More often than not, the wars of the New World Disorder have been fought between ethnic groups within one of Huntington’s civilisations.

To be precise: Of 30 major armed conflicts that are either still going on or have recently ended, only 10 or 11 can be regarded as being in any sense between civilisations, in the sense that one side was predominantly Muslim and the other non-Muslim. But 14 were essentially ethnic conflicts, the worst being the wars that continue to bedevil Central Africa. Moreover, many of those conflicts that have a religious dimension are also ethnic conflicts; religious affiliation has more to do with the localised success of missionaries in the past than with long-standing membership of a Christian or Muslim civilisation. […]

The future therefore looks more likely to bring multiple local wars – most of them ethnic conflicts in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East – than a global collision of value-systems. Indeed, my prediction would be that precisely these centrifugal tendencies, most clearly apparent in Iraq today, will increasingly tear apart the very civilisations identified by Samuel Huntington.

In short, for “the clash of civilisations”, read “the crash of civilisations”.

The fundamental problem with the clash of civilizations theory is that it’s an outgrowth of multiculturalism, whereas the End of History, though Mr. Fukuyama never grasped the fact, is essentially Evangelical. China and the Middle East are going to evolve into liberal democracies because they have no other choice. You just can’t build a decent society and a functional state/economy on Confucianism or Islamicism.