March 10, 2006

What the Indian Giver Got (Pat Buchanan, 3/07/06, Real Clear Politics)

Standing beside Pervez Musharraf, an ally in the war on terror, President Bush explained how he told him Pakistan would not be getting the same aid in developing peaceful nuclear power that Bush had just promised to India:

“I explained that Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories. So as we proceed forward, our strategy will take in effect those well-known differences.”

Bush was bluntly saying India is a democracy we can trust not to spread nuclear technology, but we’re not sure we trust you. After all, your boy A.Q. Khan was running a Home Depot for A-bomb technology.

Unstated message: We’re not sure any nuke technology we give you, Pervez, will not end up in an al-Qaida madrassa. For there is no guarantee you will be around that long, Pervez, given your enemies have tried to kill you four times and elections are to be held in 2007.

If Musharraf feels he was asked to come through the service entrance and given the bum’s rush, who can blame him?

While even his greatest admirers do not confuse Bush with Bismarck, what the president did on his Asia tour seems inexplicable.

It is inexplicable only if you don’t understand the revolution in sovereignty that has elevated regimes that are democratically legitimate at the expense of those that aren’t.


March 3, 2006

Bush Likely to Face Opposition on Atomic Deal With India (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, 3/03/06, NY Times)

Critics of the deal in Congress and abroad are certain to focus on what they maintain is a double standard embraced by the Bush administration: in effect, allowing India to have nuclear weapons and still get international assistance but insisting that Iran, North Korea and other “rogue states” be given no such waiver.

But administration officials insisted there was no double standard.

“The comparison between India and Iran is just ludicrous,” R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said Thursday in a telephone interview. “India is a highly democratic, peaceful, stable state that has not proliferated nuclear weapons. Iran is an autocratic state mistrusted by nearly all countries and that has violated its international commitments.”

With fairly minimal reforms Iran can meet the same standard.


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 22, 2006

Sri Lanka’s only hope for peace: The Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels start their first direct talks for three years on Wednesday. The BBC assesses why they are so important. (Paul Danahar, 2/22/06, BBC)

Whether the Sri Lankan government likes it or not – and they do not – the Tamil Tigers have established a de facto state in the north-east of the country. […]

The Tamil diaspora, which has been hugely successful around the world, has also made the Tigers one of the richest militant groups, one that has its own navy and can afford long protracted battles.

But if they are brilliant guerrillas, the diplomat said, they are also supremely bad politicians.

He believes that the Tamil boycott of last year’s presidential elections was not part of a cunning plan but an act of political immaturity.

It snatched the presidency from Ranil Wickramasinghe, the former prime minister who negotiated the 2002 ceasefire, and handed it to Mahinda Rajapakse, who campaigned on a hardline ticket.

Things have been sliding downhill ever since.

But, analysts say, if the Tigers don’t have the political maturity now to move away from violence, they won’t ever get it if they are kept isolated from the outside world.

It’s a tough thing to ask the politicians to do because the Sri Lankan press are notorious for savaging anyone who suggests compromise.

But diplomats believe that until the Colombo polity shows it wants to help the Tigers make the transformation from the bullet to the ballot box, the deadlock cannot be broken.

The wrong side is being required to grow up here. As with the Kurds, Palestinians, Basque, ec., when a people consider themselves sovereign and have de facto sovereignty, they’re going to get their own state. That’s just a function of the democratic age.


February 20, 2006

Treat Pakistan, India equally: FO (Daily Times, 2/21/06)

The Foreign Office has called for the equal treatment of Pakistan and India as nuclear weapons states that are not signatories to the Non Proliferation Treaty, after France joined the United States in signing nuclear cooperation deals with New Delhi, APP reports.

India is a stable, pro-Western, protestant, increasingly capitalistic, liberal democracy. It’s entitled to be treated much better than a country where we depend on dictatorship to prevent a radical takeover.


February 15, 2006

Special report: America’s Long War: US introduces radical new strategy (Simon Tisdall, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, February 15, 2006, The Guardian)

>European governments are still digesting the contents of the US report and are expected to give full responses in the next few weeks. But initial reaction appears to be one of caution.

The Ministry of Defence said yesterday it had been consulted by the Pentagon as the review was drawn up and was pleased to see references to working with allies. As the consultation took place, Royal Marine commandos arrived at their base in southern Afghanistan yesterday at the start of a mission described in the Commons by government opponents as confused and unclear.

But British commanders expressed concern that increased attacks on suspect terrorists using drones – in which decisions are made rapidly by secret watchers based thousands of miles away – could have legal implications. They also highlighted potential infringements of sovereignty and the bypassing of political controls and of established rules of engagement.

Never mind the 21st century political correctness that would pass up a shot at the enemy just because of transnational legal fictions, if they haven’t figured out yet that our recognizing the sovereignty of others depends on their meeting our liberal democratic standards then they have their other foot in the 19th century.


February 14, 2006

U.S. and Israelis Are Said to Talk of Hamas Ouster (STEVEN ERLANGER, 2/14/06, NY Times)

The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail and elections will be called again, according to Israeli officials and Western diplomats.

Note the sources? This administration won’t have anything to do with such nonsense. Opposing democracy for Arabs is what caused the current mess in the first place.


February 8, 2006

Afghanistan Welcomes US Decision to Cancel Debts (Benjamin Sand, 08 February 2006, VOA News)

Afghanistan has welcomed the decision by leading Western creditors to cancel the country’s debts. The United States says it will cancel its entire $108 million debt and called on all of Afghanistan’s lenders to follow suit.

Afghan government spokesman, Khaleeq Ahmed, on Wednesday applauded the U.S. move, which eliminates a major financial constraint on Afghanistan’s new democracy.

No state need, nor should, honor odious debt.


February 1, 2006

For Hamas, honeymoon’s over in a West Bank town (Joshua Mitnick, February 1, 2006, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

But after more than half a year of Hamas rule in Qalqilya, it was Fatah that carried the district’s two legislative seats — a reversal that many residents put down to disappointment with Hamas’ performance to date.

Hamas politicians are blaming the losses on voter fraud by Fatah activists, but the fragility of Hamas’ new mandate was obvious in a series of interviews in the town this week.

“There is disappointment with Hamas,” said Nidal Hanayel, who heads the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) party in Qalqilya. “The public didn’t feel any improvement in the town. They didn’t make good on their promises.” […]

Mutasem Kanfroi called the parliamentary vote in the city a “correction” for last spring’s municipal landslide and predicted the same would happen elsewhere after a period of Hamas rule. “There was a high tide, and now we’re returning to normal.”

“Hamas is indeed being tested,” said Mr. Hanayel, the PFLP leader. “Four years is not a long period,” he said of the time until the next parliamentary elections. “So let the people experience and judge.”

Now Hamas has to improve the lives of all Palestinians or be rejected, which is why they didn’t want to win and it’s a good thing they did.


January 23, 2006

Hamas’ road to politics (OLIVIA WARD, 1/23/06, Toronto Star)

As Wednesday’s Palestinian election approaches, with Hamas’ closest rival, the Fatah party, in disarray, Israelis are forced to think the unthinkable: the group that launched hundreds of suicide bombers to kill more than 350 of their countrymen and wound more than 2,000 others, may be the principal partner in negotiations for the future of Middle East peace, and eventually form the government of a new Palestinian state.

After the election, pollsters predict, Mesha’al and his organization are likely to be a significant political force. If so, their success will be built on patience as well as violence, assembling an organization that has, in less than two decades, put down deep roots in the Palestinian community.

“Hamas represents, in the minds of people here, the resistance, the faithful Muslims, the good and incorruptible — and they also have a great social network of services for women, children and youth,” says Gaza psychiatrist Eyad al Sarraj. “When people vote overwhelmingly for Hamas, it’s because they trust them more than any others.”

And, he points out, “Hamas is the main framework of security here. When children become teenagers, they have seen how powerless their fathers are, unable to protect their families. But Hamas takes on the role of the father, and identifies itself with the ultimate father, God. God cannot be defeated as your father was.”

Forcing them to govern is part of the genius of imposed statehood.