Sunday, 27 September 2015
Friday, 25 September 2015
M D Nalapat
- IN 1938, when UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his French counterpart Eduard Daladier forced Czechoslovakia to surrender its border defences to Adolf Hitler, the man believed that this act of betrayal would guarantee “peace in our time”. He even had a signed statement from Hitler to that effect, which he waved to delirious crowds in London on his return by air, the first time he had used that mode of transport. The takeover of first the Sudeten territories of Czechoslovakia and later the entire country strengthened the German military sufficiently to launch an attack on Poland a year later, the action which triggered the 1939-45 war which devastated Europe and established the US as the leader of the post-1945 international order.
The USSR, exhausted by the death ( of 25 million) and destruction of the war,was too enervated to catch up with its former wartime ally,and the effort to do so in the field of defense slowly poisoned the Stalinist command economy. Unfortunately for Moscow, the country had no Deng Xiaoping,an economic reformer with the capability of melding communist doctrine with capitalist economics, with the result that the rising cost of maintaining a military which could counter the US and its European allies led to the effective collapse of the economy by the 1980s. From that time onwards, assisted by the bureaucratic regime led by Leonid Brezhnev, the fall of the USSR became inevitable. However,it must be remembered that Baldwin and Chamberlain saw the Communist Party under Josef Stalin as much the worse threat to civilisation than Hitler and the Nazis, which is why they refused to ally with Moscow against Berlin, despite repeated efforts by Soviet foreign minister Maxim Litvinov to form a front of the UK, France and the USSR against Germany.
Finally, in the (correct) belief that London and Paris were uninterested in any deal with him, but only looked forward to a battle between him and Hitler from which they could walk away with the spoils, that Stalin allowed Vyacheslav Molotov, the new foreign minister (now that Litvinov had failed to persuade the democracies to join hands with Moscow), to sign an agreement with his German counterpart Joachim von Ribbentrop in August 1939, which gave Hitler the leeway he was looking for to wage war against Poland. To watch the gyrations of US Secretary of State John Kerry is to relive the 1930s as he seeks to make Vladimir Putin follow same course which Hillary Clinton adopted for Syria, and which has led during the past couple of years to takeover of a third of that country by Daesh (ISIS). Should Putin follow Kerry’s advice and cease Moscow’s assistance to Bashar Assad, the terror group would within a year gain control of more than three-fourths of Syria, including its capital, Damascus.
The problem with US policymaking is that often the roster of “experts” relied upon for this purpose remains largely constant over long stretches of time, despite what are in some cases decades of consistent misjudgement. Earlier, Hillary Clinton, who is more European than American in her mindset,led along with Sarkozy the wolf pack against Muammar Kaddafy, not even restraining herself from publicly gloating over his gruesome death. She clearly wishes the same fate for Assad, and this desire is shared widely within the State Department, hence it is not a surprise if John Kerry objects to any form of support for the Assad regime. CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera,the three main channels reflecting NATO’s viewpoint,repeated claim that the deaths which occured in Syria since 2011 are almost entirely the responsibility of Bashar Assad, when in fact, his armed forces account for less than a fifth of the several hundred thousand who have been killed in Syria as a consequence of the war since 2011.
About a third of the deaths have been the consequence of Daesh while the rest are due to so-called “moderate” opposition fighters, most of whom are simply looking to make a fortune through the conflict. Despite evidence in their possession of the reality that almost all such “moderate” fighters either sit out the struggle after being given help, or else join Daesh and similar outfits, this policy is being continued, and is the basis for John Kerry’s efforts at getting Vladimir Putin to resile from his commitment to enhance military support for Assad, who incidentally is backed by the Christian minority which Clinton, Cameron and Hollande claim to feel for Of course, despite the posting of images on social media showing fighters using weapons supplied by the US and its allies (including regional powers) beheading Christians in profusion, support for such “moderates” has not abated.
It would be a simple matter to identify the sources of the weapons and funds in the hands of Daesh (and which are far more modern than the ramshackle weapons of the Iraqi military, which CNN,Al Jazeera and BBC wrongly claim is the source of Daesh weaponry).
However,perhaps because such a trace would lead to some of their proxies, such a reckoning has not taken place, with the result that several financiers of Daesh and similar outfits continue in their generosity to an organisation which resembles the Nazi Party in the savagery of its behaviour towards the innocent. It is unlikely that Moscow will listen to the chatter from those who have through their actions been responsible for the creation of Daesh. The intervention of Russia in an emphatic manner will result in President Assad getting back control of two-thirds of Syria in place of the 40% he now holds.
The remaining third, which is located on the border with Turkey or Jordan, will continue in the hands of the extremists until these countries abandon their de facto support to such groups Although the house-trained media in those capitals will never point this out,the fact is that the only way the flood of refugees into Europe will abate is when the Putin strategy of placing a cap on the meltdown of Syria begins to take effect. Just as the medicine forced down the throat of the Czechs by Daladier and Chamberlain in 1938 led to catastrophe, so would the course of action now being recommended to Moscow by Secretary of State John Kerry with his usual volubility. Were the Assad regime to collapse, the tide of refugees into Europe would multiply threefold. However, try telling that to the Amanpours!
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.
Thursday, 24 September 2015
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
Q.1 (Kourosh Ziabari): ISIS terrorists, and their ideological leaders, claim to be representing Islam and continually make the assertion that their pseudo-government is an “Islamic Caliphate.” At the same time, all the major Muslim scholars, both Sunni and Shiite, and the majority of Muslim world politicians, have condemned ISIS, and called it a deviant current whose practices run counter to the basic principles of Islamic faith. Has the global public believed the mantra that ISIS is really an Islamic state? What could be done to preclude the reinforcement of this conviction that ISIS carries out actions that are sanctioned by Islam, including the beheading of Christians and raping the women?
A.1 (Madhav Nalapat): Unfortunately, several individuals, especially in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE have accepted the view that ISIS represents the "conqueror and fighting" phase of Islam, in which the Word of God got disseminated and accepted by vast territories and myriad peoples. Wahabbi thought explicitly posits that an equally sharp acceleration of dissemination of the faith ( ie Wahabbism) is feasible, and ISIS is feeding on this thought and this desire. Money comes from those who have in their personal lives been dissolute and believe that they can escape hellfire in the afterlife by helping ISIS (a view intelligently spread by the protagonists of this terrible creed), while recruitment takes place among the young already exposed to Wahabbi ideology, who regard it as feasible to engineer a second "conqueror and fighting" phase of Islam. The only way to prevent this is to return to the true meaning of the Word of God and get accepted the fact that the core qualities of a Believer are compassion, mercy and beneficience and not resort to violence and cruelty under any pretext. We must (1) separate the core qualities from the others are seek to ensure that these be universally accepted (2) excommunicate and not tolerate or pamper Wahabbis as being betrayers of the Word of God and (3) take strong action to eliminate any manifestations of this ideology, by military means wherever needed, otherwise mere statements against ISIS will not prevent the ideology from spreading.
Q.2 (KZ): The data and figures on the foreign fighters that have joined ISIS over the past 3 years are mind-boggling and unthinkable. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on January 29 that as many as 1,200 French citizens, 600 Britons, 250-300 Swedish nationals, 150 Austrians and more than 1,000 Germans have been fighting in the ranks of ISIS. Even the Australian government has reported that 100+ citizens of this Oceanic country have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight for the ISIS terrorists. Why have so many Westerners embarked on this risky journey of joining such a ruthless terrorist cult? Some commentators claim that they’re all immigrants and offspring of Muslim families in these countries. Is it really so?
A.2 (MN): A few are from the indigenous population but the overwhelming majority are from the immigrant population. Since the 1980s, there has developed within the member-states of NATO a cult of Wahabbi jihadism, which has been celebrated ever since such individuals were armed, trained and funded by NATO powers to do battle against the USSR in Afghanistan. Certainly the Soviet invasion needed to be reversed, but this job should have been left to Pashtun nationalists, who are religious moderates. Instead, such healthy elements in Afghan society were ignored in favour of Wahabbi fanatics, who were empowered to fight not only the USSR forces but also those Afghans who did not accept their toxic ideology. Textbooks inculcating hatred and a predisposition towards violence were designed in US universities to ensure that young minds globally turned towards Wahabbism. Since the 1980s, an estimated $ 380 billion has been expended by individuals, agencies and countries to build up the Wahabbi International. It should not therefore be a surprise that many of the young coming from Muslim countries where this indoctrination took place are turning to ISIS, which is after all from the same ideological matrix as other Wahabbi extremist groups. The USSR having collapsed in 1991, this "demon" has been replaced by the entire non-Wahabbi population of the globe, all of whom are seen as "devils" by Wahabbi ideologists. Even a casual look at Wahabbi literature would demonstrate this fact. Hence the need to criminalize Wahabbism worldwide and roll back the Wahabbi international network, including by removing Wahabbi literature from educational curricula.
Q.3 (KZ): In one of your pieces, you wrote that 1936-37 was the period when the Nazis could have been rolled back and eliminated efficiently. But the world didn’t take appropriate action, the Nazis rose to prominence and exterminated thousands of people. As you maintain, today is the best time for forming a global coalition against ISIS and defeating it. However, again it seems the international community is not sufficiently determined to fight ISIS and that’s why they’ve been able to grow their power and become stronger. What’s your idea on that?
A.3 (MN): The Wahabbi International has been active in throwing money at scholars and policymakers within the NATO bloc, so that they repeat Wahabbi doctrines and seek to discredit those fighting this enemy of civilisation. For more than a century, countries in Europe and later North America have assisted Wahabbis, first against the Turkish caliphate (which is why it is ironic that Turkey now has a Wahabbi as Head of State, who is systematically destroying the Kemalist base of that country). Later, in the 1950s and the 1960s, they used Wahabbis to wage a "thought battle" against Arab nationalists such as Nasser, who were challenging former European colonial powers unlike Wahabbi establishments, who have always talked tough but acted in a slavish manner towards former colonial powers. In the 1980s, the creed was used to fuel the war against the USSR in Afghanistan. It was only after September 11,2001 that the NATO bloc understood the danger posed by Wahabbism to themselves, a danger pointed out by me in 1987 and in 1992 in the US, at a period when the Clinton administration was funding and assisting Wahabbis worldwide, especially in Afghanistan.
Even after 9/11, the US and some of its partners focussed not on eliminating Wahabbi terror groups in Afghanistan but in removing Saddam Hussein, an enemy of the (Wahabbi-influenced) GCC regimes, in 2003. In 2011, they sided with the same regimes to remove Muammar Gaddafy from power and life in Libya and are now seeking to repeat that in Syria with President Bashar Assad. Because of the well-funded influence of Wahabbi doctrines within strategic community within the key NATO allies, they regard the Wahabbi International as a far lesser threat than they do Iran. This is similar to those in France and the UK who saw Hitler under Germany as being a lesser threat than the USSR under Stalin. Such people caused the deaths of tens of millions of innocents because of such an error or perception, and these days, that same blinkered vision is causing the spread of ISIS. Hopefully, sense will dawn before it is too late and a global rather than a limited war against the Wahabbi menace becomes inevitable, in my view by around 2019. This is why I call this the "Rhineland Moment”, the period in 1936 when Hitler could have been humiliated by the French armies and sent off to prison, where his capacity for damage would be much reduced. Instead, he was allowed to once again get away with conquest in 1938 (Czechoslovakia), thereby making the 1939-45 war inevitable.
Should a global coalition not get formed against ISIS and other components of the Wahabbi International, a coalition which includes Iran, this evil will spread within populations. This will be an "atomised" war, in which small groups of individuals such as suicide bombers and suicide automatic weapons carriers create havoc through technology which ensures severe destruction at a relatively low cost, and will take place across the globe, including the heart of the US and Europe. Such a war could ultimately be as destructive to life and property as the conventional wars which took place in the past. The potential of ISIS to spread its cells across entire countries rises with each month that the organisation continues to have a safe haven carved out of parts of Iraq and Syria. My sense is that President Obama realizes this, but not yet his Secretary of State John Kerry (who has lately been seeking to assist ISIS by preventing Moscow from giving President Assad the military means to defeat its gangs) or the UK or French leadership. David Cameron was a principal architect of the Libya disaster, which is the seed from which ISIS has grown, and the UK Prime Minister still seems oblivious of reality, living in a Lawrence of Arabia world.
Q.4 (KZ): In a meeting at the European Council on Foreign Relations, the former NATO Secretary General and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has suggested that Iran is the only country capable of fighting the ISIS terrorists. There are many others who think likewise. It’s noted by many commentators and analysts that Iranians are genuinely opposed to ISIS and have the prowess to stop its atrocities. If we accept this premise, then why doesn’t the United States ask for Iran’s help to address the concern of ISIS and eradicate it forever?
A.4 (MN): My view is that Barack Obama and possibly Angela Merkel understand this, which is why they prevailed over Hollande and others who sought to derail the nuclear agreement with Iran. Hopefully, the next President of the US will be a realist and not a fantasist in the mould of Dick Cheney.
Q.5 (KZ): There are worrying reports of some Western and Arab governments still providing ISIS with financial and military aid, even though all of these governments have been trying to absolve themselves of the accusation. The Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne has boldly claimed in an editorial that ISIS is a by-product of Western powers’ regional operations, and this sectarian terror group “won’t be defeated by the western states that incubated it in the first place.” Do you agree with this assertion? At any rate, is ISIS going to be beaten while it can sell massive amounts of oil and receive financial and arms assistance?
A.5 (MN): My view is that the US, UK and other NATO allies did not understand the damage which could get caused globally to themselves and to the rest of the world by the Wahabbi International, which is the ideological root of ISIS. Just as a combination of the US, the UK and the USSR defeated Germany in the 1939-45 war, the world needs NATO to ally with India, Iran, Russia and China to wipe out ISIS. Certainly it is correct that NATO cannot do it alone, but its involvement would be crucial in any anti-ISIS coalition. However, time is running out. The embrace of NATO with Wahabbi-supporting regimes need to end, and Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia need to be warned that any further assistance to ISIS through giving help to so-called "moderate" fighters who switch to extremist in the battlefield should end. The world is running out of time, as it did during the 1930s in Europe.
Q.6 (KZ): A group of right-wing commentators and pundits, including Will McCants, who is being cited as an authority on ISIS and “militant Islam”, have been striving to create connections between ISIS and the Islamic theology. They claim that Abubakr al-Baghdadi is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad and is a pure Muslim trying to establish an Islamic state as part of his historic, religious mission. Is there any point in portraying ISIS as an original Islamic creation and its leader a member of prophet’s family, while the massive majority of Muslim believers don’t sympathize with them?
A.6 (MN): In the past as well, there have been multiple individuals calling Wahabbism "the purest form of Islam" when in fact it is the opposite. Why take such "experts" seriously?
Sunday, 20 September 2015
Friday, 18 September 2015
M D Nalapat
- Around 1983, after a few years of experimentation in the Chinese fashion, Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping took a decision to concentrate on economic matters and keep aside other considerations. The following two decades of peace, when China deliberately avoided any reference to its growing military prowess, made the difference. The country became a superpower, and in purchasing power parity terms, several measures already place it ahead of the US. As the experience of the USSR has shown,a well-endowed military is of no value unless backed by a stable and expanding economy. As for the possession of nuclear weapons, North Korea has them, but this does not help the many in that country who lack adequate food each day.
While Mao Zedong unified China in a manner not seen earlier in that country’s history, it was the pocket-sized French-language expert, Deng Xiaoping, who is the architect of modern China. The country has had a generation of double digit growth, and this has resulted in the sharpest reduction of poverty within any country in a comparable period of time. Up until the 1990s, unless a country was on amicable terms with the US, it was unlikely to grow at a fast clip. India lost the chance during the 1960s and the 1970s,when circumstances forced Delhi to prefer Moscow over Washington in the geopolitical arena. However, for the past sixteen years, unless a country has a stable economic relationship with China, that country is unlikely to witness strong growth. Even Japan, which is now in a somewhat rocky phase of its relationship with China, needs the bigger country for the prosperity of its people.
Since the end of the 1980s,there has been an emphasis on the wealthy within a society, the calculation being that if they became even richer than they were, much of the extra cash would filter down to lower levels. Whether it be Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher, whether it be India or China, the rich have grown even more wealthy while the poor remain where they are. The financial industry has perfected the science of sucking money away from the middle class and funneling it into the bank accounts of the growing number of billionaires on the planet. Stock exchanges have witnessed huge transfers of money from retail investor to the super rich. Even in China, during the past two months, retail investors (many of whom borrowed money to buy shares) have seen the value of their investments fall sharply.
Since 2011,there was a perception that the government was unhappy with the rising cost of housing, and would take measures to cool down the market and ensure that prices fell. Indeed, some steps were indeed announced by Beijing when Wen Jiabao was the Prime Minister. This drove investment into the stock market, raising the price of equities to unsustainable levels. A crash was inevitable, and when it came this year, millions of small investors lost out. This has once more revived interest in housing, and sales of dwelling units are rising after a period of stasis The fall in equity prices has given new life to the China doomsayers, who claim that the economy of country is on brink of collapse. It needs to be remembered that in the 1960s and the decade thereafter, there were multiple learned tomes written about India, and how the country was about to break up.
Instead, India is on track to have 800 million internet-enabled mobiler devices within the next five years,and Bangalore is as important an information technology (IT) hub as San Jose. Within a decade, the size of the IT sector in India is estimated to cross $ 1 trillion, despite the fact that several government policies have in the past weakened rather than strengthened the industry. Indeed, during the 1980s, intrusive officials sought to control the nascent industry the way they have other sectors, but were taken aback by the rows of binary numerals and cards. Eventually, they left the industry alone, with the result that in the 1990s,after Pamulaparthy Venkata Narasimha Rao liberalised some aspects of the economy, the IT sector began to boom, earning foreign exchange and creating jobs on an unprecedented scale.
Unfortunately, from 1999,the government again tried to get control of the industry through a multitude of regulations, a process that was sharply accelerated after Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister in 2004. Sadly for the economy of the country, real power vested not in 7 Racecourse Road (the Prime Minister’s House) but in 10 Janpath, the residence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Officials and ministers knew that there was little consequence in disobeying an order from the Prime Minister’s Office, but that they could lose their jobs if they disregarded a command from Ahmed Patel, the quiet and super-efficient Political Secretary to the Congress President.
The new President of China has launched a campaign that has hit even the most powerful, such as former members of the Standing Committee of the CCP. The number of high officials in prison for corruption has risen to the hundreds, and the consequence has been that a window of opportunity has opened up to ensure that the SOEs be handed over to the control of those who get their jobs on merit rather than through accident of birth. Should such a re-engineering of the higher managements of the SOEs take place, these giant enterprises are likely to become competitors in several fields to the major international brands. More important, Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang need to ensure a more level playing field between those entrepreneurs without political influence and those who come from well-connected backgrounds.
Clearing SOEs of deadwood at the top and opening major sectors to domestic competition will result in a rise in performance levels, and to the Chinese economy humming once again. Given the importance of China as a producer, as a market and as a source of investment to economies around the globe, many will be hoping that a “hard landing” can be avoided and the economy enter into a Middle Income equilibrium, with domestic producers and consumers playing the key role rather than foreign investment.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Guests: Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, former Indian Ambassador to Nepal ; D.P. Tripathi, MP, NCP ; Monu Nalapat, Political Analyst ; Prashant Jha, Associate Editor, Hindustan Times ; Yubaraj Ghimire, Editor, Annapurna Post.