Friday, 18 October 2019

Catalonia will not forgive the EU’s silence (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat

DURING the period when the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent, it was permissible to wrest property and riches from a native. However, if a British-born “John Company” official took similar liberties with the assets of another Briton, he was swiftly punished. The natives were fair game for those hunting for treasure, but those who were citizens of the colonial power were out of bounds for thieving carpetbaggers belonging to the colonial authorities. In much the same way, the Supreme Court of Spain has legitimized a separation between the way in which others and those who regard themselves not as Spaniards but as Catalans get treated by a justice system in thrall to Madrid. The European Union claims to be a votary of freedom and self-determination, and is not slow to lecture countries across the globe on such matters. However, the convention has been to carve an exception to such a rule. Member countries of the NATO Alliance are exempt from consideration such as human rights.
The hundreds of thousands of Libyans, Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis who have been killed (through bullets or starvation) as a consequence of sanctions and attacks by NATO forces have been ignored by the Human Rights warriors in Europe. As Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright supervised the cruellest of sanctions on Iraq, measures that deprived even the very young of food and medicine, not to mention jobs for their parents. Since then, she has travelled the globe calling for human rights, although not of course for those her actions affected so fatally. What Europeans had done to other civilisations, Hitler did in Europe. He enslaved countries, murdered millions of inhabitants (including most of the Jewish people as well as Gypsies) and acted as though the Europeans were Asians, Africans or indigenous people in the Americas. Now the differential treatment seen in the case of the dealings of the officials of the East India Company has reached the shores of Europe. The Spanish Supreme Court has sought to assist the central police forces of Spain by handing down unjustly long sentences for Catalan leaders who were entirely non-violent and who simply wanted Barcelona to get freedom from Madrid.
During the British era, court after court in India found on behalf of the colonial authorities against the natives, and this was what was on display in Madrid where the Supreme Court sought to stifle the enthusiasm of the growing number of Catalans favouring independence by imposing the sort of sentences that the British imposed during their time on Mahatma Gandhi and his entirely non-violent associates. Unlike the Basques, the Catalans have never deviated from the Gandhian path of non-violence, but the severity of the sentences against 13 Catalan nationalists is likely to make some in the Free Catalonia movement consider whether this has indeed been the best policy. It must be said that non-violence is indeed the best policy, no matter how ferocious the police actions against Catalans.
Ultimately, a free Catalonia within the EU will emerge as a consequence of such self-discipline. Such a transfer of sovereignty from Madrid to Barcelona will make very little difference to the overall situations. Spaniards will continue to have the right to live and work freely in Catalonia, and vice versa. What will change is the money from the Catalonian taxpayer will no longer be available for the Spanish elite to live like royalty, enjoying perquisites such as comfortable sinecures and growing expenditure on mostly avoidable travel. It is because independence for the Catalonians will shrink the money at their disposal (including in maintaining the Spanish Royal Family with its links to former dictator Francisco Franco’s family ) that is providing the motivation for such an outsize reaction to the Catalonian independence movement.
British citizens enjoyed rights from the time of the Magna Carta, but democracy in Spain is barely a few decades old. This may explain the difference in attitude between London and Madrid to the desire of some within a province to break away. Those favouring Scottish independence are not sent to jail for sedition in the United Kingdom, nor are they prevented from entering into government. If only the EU President had urged her Spanish colleagues to follow the example of the UK in such matters. However, Ursula von der Leyen seems to have adopted a vow of silence in the face of the repression let loose by Madrid in Barcelona. This is reminiscent of the manner in which millions of her countrymen and women watched in silence as a former corporal in the Kaiser’s army took office with the support of the President of the Reich, Pual von Hindenburg, who was quickly converted into an admirer of Hitler by the latter’s promise (conveyed through Herman Goering) to gift the Hindenburg family an estate in East Prussia.
Unlike most of the other promises he made, Hitler kept this particular promise, giving away one of the largest estates in Prussia to the President of the nominally democratic German republic. Modern Spaniards are very different from ancestors who killed off entire populations in various parts of the world, and hopefully they will raise their voices in protest against the repression set loose on the Catalans. Just as the atrocities of the British colonial authorities made the handing over of power to the people of the subcontinent inevitable ( with even the military no longer being reliable as a way of putting down the population), the excesses against the Catalans will energize the freedom movement such that another referendum will become inevitable. Not just Catalans living within the boundaries of Catalonia but Catalans living throughout Spain and across the world should have the right to vote in such a referendum, the results of which should be respected by both sides.
Should the verdict go against independence yet again, Catalan nationalists ought to be content with a much higher degree of autonomy than previously. However, should those favouring independence succeed this time around, Catalonia should be given freedom within the EU. Across Europe, there is a strong case for breaking up some countries in order to better reflect cultural and other differences. An example is Bavaria in Germany, which was aghast at Chancellor Merkel’s decision to allow two million from North Africa and the Middle East to settle in the country, surely a move that merits a Nobel Peace Prize much more than has been the case of several winners of that award. Should there be a movement for a referendum in Bavaria, it is unlikely that the protagonists of such a move will be treated in the inhumane manner in which Catalonians are subjected to, most recently by the Madrid Supreme Court. The EU leadership needs to end its silence over the repression in Catalonia and prevail on Madrid to permit a new referendum. That is the only path to stability in Spain, for repression will only breed resentment that could explode into violence. The EU is big enough and flexible enough to accommodate the right of self-determination of the ancient Catalan people. There are moments when silence is shameful, and this is what is happening in the wake of the Madrid Court showing a contempt for the very “European values that Brussels prides itself on.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Xi-Modi Summit will change Sino-Indian ties (Pakistan Observer)

M D Nalapat

THE leaders of two countries that together have 2.7 billion people under their charge are holding their second informal summit meeting in the South Indian resort of Mahabalipuram. The first took place a year ago in the Chinese city of Wuhan. This columnist stayed at Wuhan some months ago and stayed at the guest house where both President Xi and Prime Minister Modi resided during their first summit. Photographs of both leaders were prominently displayed at both the guest house and on the shores of the lake that was the scene of a boat ride taken by the two leaders. The Wuhan Summit represented a conscious decision by the two top leaders of India and China respectively to take control of the relationship. The bureaucracies of both India as well as China have numerous elements that remain tethered to past mindsets that regard the other country as less than a friend.
Only if the top leadership of both countries takes charge of the relationship can it escape the quicksand of historical tensions and bureaucratic inertia. Rather than small steps, what is needed in Sino-Indian relations is a “Great Leap Forward”, the term used by the first leader of the Peoples Republic of China, Mao Zedong, to refer to his plans for rapid growth of the Chinese economy. Although there are many scholars who fault the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) launched by Mao in the 1960s, the reality is that the immense changes within the Chinese Communist Party that were caused by the successive shocks to the leadership structure intentionally caused by Chairman Mao through the GPCR created conditions for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to adopt the far-sighted plans during the 1980s of Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping to reform the Chinese economy. Without the changes caused by the Cultural Revolution, the top rungs of the CCP would not have allowed Deng to introduce reforms that were so different from the past policies of the state in matters relating to the economy.
President Xi Jinping, whose family was among those deeply affected by the Cultural Revolution, has emerged as the most powerful Chinese leader since Chairman Mao, and it can be expected that bold moves will be made by President Xi,including in economic matters and on the issue of relations with India. On the Indian side, Prime Minister Modi is similarly strong-willed,and ready to take actions that are unprecedented. As Chief Minister of Gujarat, he welcomed Chinese investment in the state, and also made a very successful visit to China, where he was given a very cordial reception. It helped that Modi understood the psychology of his hosts and had the visiting cards handed out ( of course in Mandarin) tinted in red, the colour of the Little Red Book containing Chairman Mao’s thoughts that has made a comeback in China under Xi.
The power point presentation made by (then Chief Minister) Modi was entirely in Mandarin, a first for a VIP visitor from India, whose presentations were usually in English or Hindi. As Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has shown a willingness to walk the extra mile for better relations with the Second Superpower, which is why he ignored the counsel of cautious bureaucrats and flew from Delhi to Wuhan last year for a ground-breaking “informal summit” between himself and Xi. This arrangement is unique to India and China and not adopted by the leadership of the two countries in relation to ties with any other country than themselves. With President Xi’s visit to meet Prime Minister Modi in India, the second Informal Summit has given depth and institutional foundations to this interaction between the leaders of China and India. It is expected that several decisions will be taken by the two leaders during their interaction that will have a substantial impact on the relationship between China and India.
Both Xi and Modi are very conscious of the 5000-year history and culture of their respective countries. It was after careful reflection that Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu state was chosen as the venue of the Second Informal Summit between Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi. More than a thousand years ago, the region was part of the Chola kingdom, which had extensive trade relations with China. Holding the summit in such a location reminds both sides of the long historical ties between India and China, and the common strands of culture and tradition that unite two civilisations that have lasted through the millenia. President Xi is known to be a keen student of history with an affinity for culture, as is Modi. The beauty of the format of the talks is precisely that there is no format.
The two leaders will meet and speak to each other as old friends, bringing up subjects that are often difficult and contentious but in a friendly way. Once an agreement gets reached, both leaders are powerful enough to see that those below them in the governance hierarchy carry out their instructions. An example is the return of the Bank of China to India, which closed its operations after the 1962 border war and never returned. The matter came up for discussion at Wuhan, and Prime Minister Modi saw to it that the bank was enabled to return to conduct business in India, a country with which China has nearly $ 100 billion in trade and a $ 60 billion trade surplus, with a potential of $ 300 billion within five years. Among the matters pending decision is on whether to permit Huawei to enter the 5G market in India, or to go by what the Trump Administration is seeking, which is to ban Huawei altogether despite the cost and technological advantages of the product.
Whether it be in Artificial Intelligence or in 5G, the Trump Administration is working on overdrive to try and restrict markets for Chinese products, so that the US retains the hi-tech lead that the world’s first superpower has established for so many decades. The US-China trade war is in essence a series of steps taken by Trump to choke off future competition from China in a manner that the European countries are unable to do. Germany, for example, has become a bystander while China moves forward to establish mastery over products such as machine tools and the automobile, that as of now Germany is leading in. In brief years, it is expected that China will produce civilian aircraft capable of challenging Airbus and Boeing, the way the country is producing military aircraft.
In such a process, access to the Indian market is of prime importance, and this will be a major undercurrent of discussions between the two leaders. In a show of independence from US dictates, as yet the authorities in India have not blocked Huawei from participating in the 5G auctions soon to take place. The final decision on this and other matters will come after the Xi-Modi summit. For decades to come, the US and China will be the two largest economies on the planet. India will be close behind. The relationship between the three will be crucial in determining the direction of geopolitical currents. Will India join the US and actively seek to block China from moving ahead? Or will it remain “non-aligned” between Washington and Beijing? This is the question that the second informal summit between Xi and Modi will help answer.

PM Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping Meet: Grand setting, strong optics | Nation at 9 | NewsX

Saturday, 5 October 2019

With Prof M D Nalapat on the inside story in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey & Malaysia (PGurus)

How much of Afghanistan is under Taliban control? What is the game plan of Turkey? Why is Qatar supporting Pakistan? Why did Malaysia side with Pakistan? All these questions and more answered. References: 1. 2.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Chairman Schiff adopts McCarthyism against Trump (Pakistan Observer)

THAT Bill and Hillary Clinton still dominate the innards of the Democratic Party is clear from the systematic manner in which key elements in the leadership are seeking to throw out Donald J Trump from office. His crime? That he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, much to the surprise of the Clintons, who had believed that the New York billionaire would be an easy candidate to defeat. Practically all foreign governments agreed with them, and their leaders kept away from Trump throughout 2016, thawing to him only after his November 8 victory. Both Shinzo Abe, Modi ignored suggestions that they meet with Candidate Trump, worried that such a move may annoy Clintons, as indeed it would have.
A few days after the results of the 8 November 2017 elections, the Clinton clique began working on a plan to either ensure that Trump gets thrown out of office before his 5-year term gets over in 2020 or gets so unpopular in office that he gets defeated to the Democratic Party nominee, who the Clintons expect will be their supporter, ideally Joe Biden. The fury that has greeted the revelation that President Trump sought an investigation by the Ukrainian government into the deals negotiated by Hunter Biden, the former Vice-President’s son, is based on worry that any scandal involving Biden Senior may toss the Democratic Party nomination to a candidate not subservient to the Clintons, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is fast catching up with Joe Biden in popularity. An almost hysterical campaign has been launched within the US (with assistance from the Clinton acolytes in the US media) to divert attention away from Hunter Biden’s claimed indiscretions to the fact that President Trump “asked a foreign government” to inquire into them.
Incidentally, asking foreign governments to inquire into allegations of wrongdoing by prominent US citizens has been Standard Operating Procedure over the decades, with several such requests having been made in the past under numerous Presidents of the US. This is the reason why an additional charge has been made against Trump, which is that he “threatened to deny defense assistance to Ukraine unless an inquiry into Hunter Biden got initiated”. Such threats and warnings of consequences have also been standard practice by numerous US officials, contrary to the exclamations of horror by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff and his Democratic Party colleagues. During the McCarthy period (1947-54), charges of treason were made against numerous US officials, who were accused of being Communist Party members in disguise. The resulting Red Scare ensured that all chances of carrying forward the cooperation between Moscow and Washington that took place during wartime was ended, and the Cold War began. The present “Blue Scare” is designed to serve the Europeanist interest in keeping Moscow firmly within the minds of the US population as Enemy Number One, and in torpedoing the efforts made by President Trump to move from an Atlanticist policy to an Indo-Pacific policy that replaces Russia with China as the primary geopolitical rival. China, which under President Xi Jinping has become the second superpower, is the beneficiary of the demonization of Russia indulged in by those loyal to the no longer viable course of keeping the Atlantic Alliance rather than the Indo-Pacific at the core of US policy.
Chairman Schiff has sought to create a cloud of suspicion against Trump, but this will dissipate should evidence begin to mount of the money made by Hunter Biden in Ukraine during the time that his father was Vice-President of the US. Those who know the Bidens ( who are regarded by their friends as a charming and dedicated couple) say that after the death of his eldest son Beau, former Vice-President Biden has developed a blind spot about Hunter, about whom he refuses to listen to any comment that is less than adulatory. They claim that Hunter Biden, unlike his brother (who followed the example of his parents in simplicity and rectitude) likes the “high roller” life, and has made himself accessible to those who seek to parlay influence into profit. Ukraine is known for its corruption and the power of its oligarchy, and it is unlikely that it was the brain or looks of Hunter Biden that got him huge remuneration packages from Ukrainians rather than his connections within the Democratic Party establishment.
The question is whether there are any elements left within the US bureaucracy who would be willing to undertake a comprehensive look into the junior Biden’s activities. Donald J Trump has several times thrown Federal employees to the wolves for the most flimsy of reasons, and there is little loyalty left for the 45th President of the US within the Executive Branch. A major mistake was the taking away of the pension of Andrew McCabe, who worked for decades in the FBI before being removed as Deputy Director just a day before his scheduled retirement. While it is a fact that McCabe was among the many within the Washington Beltway who disliked Trump, punishing him with dismissal and denial of pension while giving a “Get Out of Jail Free” pass to Hillary Clinton made no sense in a context where empathy and respect by Federal employees is crucial to the success of a President in fulfilling his mandate. Each day, the media has been filled with abusive stories about Trump, while the numerous donations made to the Clinton Foundation during the period when Hillary was the Secretary of State have gone unnoticed by the investigative agencies.
The permanent bureaucracy in the US is overall a group of hard-working and honest people, and punishing so many of them for reasons that run the risk of being seen as pique or prejudice have resulted in a sharp loss of confidence in President Trump by the permanent bureaucracy. The US Government is not a private company and should not be run as one. The errors made by President Trump in the management of his entire team of officials is assisting Chairman Schiff in his witch hunt against the US President, for there can be no other term to describe the shrillness of the accusations being hurled daily against Trump.
In times to come, “To do a Schiff” against a senior US politician will become a term commonly used in cases where the effort is not to ascertain the facts but to manufacture a case against an individual condemned as guilty from the start. Should Trump fail to come up with more and more facts about Hunter Biden and others being used as reasons to remove him from office, he is likely to go into the 2020 presidential campaign severely bruised. However, after the 2016 debacle, it is unlikely that the Democratic Party will make the mistake of choosing a Clinton nominee as its standard bearer. Politicians of integrity and grit such as Senators Harris or Warren, should they get nominated, will witness the final freeing of the Democratic Party from the tentacles of the Clinton political machine that has run so much of US policy since 1993.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Elizabeth Warren gains over Joe Biden (Pakistan Observer)

SENATOR Elizabeth Warren is gaining on the Clinton clique’s lead choice for the Presidency of the United States, former Vice-President Joe Biden. This inoffensive and financially honest member of the once Clinton-dominated (but now just Clinton-influenced) Washington Beltway has had a stellar career in politics, and had a winnable chance of becoming President of the United States in 2016. However, during the 2016 campaign for the Democratic Party nomination, he stepped aside in favour of Hillary Clinton as the challenger to Donald J Trump, in a supreme act of loyalty to the Clinton clique within the Democratic Party. The Clintons believed that it would be an easy matter to defeat Trump, and they ensured through friendly media outlets a stream of reports, most dealing with the personal life of the New York billionaire who in friendlier times had worked together with the Clintons in matters of business.
Although Joe Biden casts himself as the favourite of the still popular Barack Obama, the reality is that Obama refused to endorse a 2016 Biden bid for the Presidency, nor has he – publicly at least – supported his former Vice-President against the nearly two dozen other challengers that he has to be the party nominee for the 2020 polls. While Biden claims that he is the politician closest to Obama on a daily basis, there seems to have been some flaw in the relationship that has thus far prevented the 44rth US President from endorsing Biden as the best 46th President. Despite his well deserved reputation for integrity, it is known that Senator Biden stood foursquare behind the massive financial interests headquartered in Delaware, just across the border from Washington. And that Biden still has a whiff of the ethnic superiority that some individuals of European extraction have when they compare themselves to those with an Asian or an African ethnic background. Some of the unguarded remarks made by Biden on the campaign trail (such as his patronizing comment that some of those children not of European extraction are as good as the latter) give indications that Joe Biden is in some aspects very much a man of the 1950s, a time when segregation was commonplace in states such as Mississippi and Alabama.
That was a time when several European countries still retained their colonies, and when much of South America was governed by the 5-15% of the population of individual countries that had full European ethnicity. At that time, Asia was still far behind Europe in economic development, while in the field of education, Asian countries were far behind their European counterparts. Given the hangover of nearly four centuries of European colonization of much of the world (including the wiping off of most of the native populations of North America and Australia, such attitudes were perhaps no surprise. However, Biden retains some very conservative views on the right to abortion as well as on divorce, being a strict follower of the Church of Rome in his private life. He is therefore not representative of the overwhelming majority of the population of the US, and it shows.
Joe Biden is day before yesterday’s man, so it is not a surprise that his candidacy is being overtaken by a fiercely idealistic Senator, Elizabeth Warren. This US Senator has shown a contempt for the US financial industry ( which almost closed down the world economy in 2008 because of its greed) that has alarmed those who seek to beguile small investors of their savings through misleading claims. Were she to become President of the US, Elizabeth Warren would follow in the footsteps of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who sought to control the moneybags. Because of the manner in which he folded up his 2016 campaign and trotted along (with then President Obama) behind the campaign train of Hillary Clinton, it would appear that Senator Bernie Sanders is fading out of the race. Another idealistic campaigner, California Senator Kamala Harris, seems to have used the political appeal of her adopted family (including children), for fear of diluting her appeal to the African-American community.
Had her adopted family (which is of European ethnicity) been given a central role in her campaign, Senator Harris may not have been trailing behind Clinton favourite Biden (whose appeal seems to be fading by the day) as well as Senators Warren and Sanders. A Joe Biden would get defeated with ease by Donald J Trump. An Elizabeth Warren has the mass appeal needed to overcome the billionaire’s advantages in the 2020 contest. Throughout her career, she has refused to bow to the pressure and the blandishments of Big Money. She is clearly a person of character, which is why more and more voters are flocking around her candidacy. Should she come first in Iowa and New Hampshire, she would be en route to securing the Democratic Party nomination, although she will of course be opposed by the Clintons. This pair represents the Big Money that Senator Warren has battled all her political life against, and there must be hectic backroom games being played to slow down her progress towards front runner status.
During this contest between her and Biden, reports that Hunter Biden (the son of Joe Biden) may have dealt with some dodgy individuals in Ukraine (a country awash in dodgy individuals) are not helping his father. Rather than accept that an investigation into possible corruption by the son of a Vice-President of the US (which Joe Biden was at the time Hunter was in Kiev) is in the US national interest, some Democratic Party hopefuls are seeking to impeach President Trump for daring to ask the Ukrainian authorities for information about possible corruption by a prominent US citizen. Impeaching Trump on such a specious charge will finish off both the Biden campaign as well as the image of integrity that the post-Clinton leadership in the Democratic Party is seeking to create. Impeachment will add to the votes for President Trump, not subtract them. Once again, the Clinton clique is on course to ensure victory for Donald J Trump in 2020, the way they did in 2016.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

What aspects of 'ancient civilizations' can have a positive impact in the modern era? (CGTN)

The UN Secretary-General has raised a warning against a "great fracture" as U.S. President Donald Trump said "the future does not belong to globalists, but rather to patriots," in his UN speech. China met with other countries at the Ancient Civilizations Forum at the United Nations in an effort to draw upon experience from millennia-old civilizations, and seek out wisdom for the modern age. What is the danger of a "great fracture"? And how can they provide a source of soft power for modern, multidimensional international relations? 

Monday, 23 September 2019

Get with the Programme (Rotary Club of Bombay)

Professor of Geopolitics, Madhav Nalapat spoke to Rotarians yesterday about the need to accept the shifting world order.

MADHAV Nalapat, India’s first professor of geopolitics, is modest about the number of achievements that follow his name. “He is the right person for this talk – Geopolitics and US, China and India power shifts. He understands the world very well!” said Rtn. Manjeet in his introduction.

Madhav said: “We are talking about the US and China, where does India come in to the picture? This country is on track to being the third biggest economy of the world in terms of purchasing power. China is, of course, the biggest economy and the USA is the second-biggest economy. These three are going to be big for a very long time. In that sense, it’s apt to talk about the three of them.”

“In 1991-92, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was talk of a unipolar world. When we talk of a unipolar world, we mean a unipolar idea, too. Idea is the idea of government mechanism, its function, management, military, security, etc. The collapse of the Soviet system removed the only rival to the US system. That rival system was effective, many countries opted to go Communist; some countries like India adopted the Soviet model which, in my view, was regrettable. We demolished the private sector in India in the ’50s when it was more robust than the private sector in Japan or South Korea. So, the Soviet Union had an impact but it collapsed.”

“In media, the leader of the market gets practically 50-60 per cent of total advertising. The guy second gets about 20-35 per cent. The remaining 10 per cent is shared by everyone else. So it is very important to come first. You see all these kids going to KFC, McDonald’s, making a bee line for Hollywood movies, listening to American music, wearing denim etc. But, I believe, America is a quadri-continental country: it has elements of South American, African and Asian culture but some elites believe it is entirely European and other cultures do not belong to America, which is not true. It is very important to be number one in the world because that gives you tremendous soft power and financial power.”

The US dollar, for example, is the currency used for world transaction. It is much stronger because the US is a top country. Now, another country recognised, early on, that if you are the top country, you get enormous leverage on other countries. So after the short period, during which Americans felt that their system had won, today, a new system has come up in the 21st century that is challenging the America-led system in the manner the Soviet Union challenged them, ’50s onwards. That is the Chinese system.”

“Today, democracies across the world are choosing strong leaders because they see the effect of an authoritarian structure on China, which can by no means be called a democracy. My theory is that China is growing because of its authoritarian nature. The Chinese communist party has such tight control and that is why it has had double digit growth. In other words, it is authoritarianism that has promoted Chinese growth. Voters are turning to strong leaders across the world, whether in Turkey, Russia, the US or India. It is the China effect. Chinese companies are taken seriously because the country is moving up the rankings. It is set to become number one in any metric. When that happens, the demonstration effect in economics, politics and geopolitics will become very profound.”

“This would be a complete transformation of geopolitics and, not unnaturally, people in the US are very concerned about this, especially President Trump. I would have been very happy if PM Modi would have chosen one or two people from this group at the PM’s office for key positions. I would like to see people who did something without government support and without the exchequer funding them.”

“Donald Trump has got it: the day China becomes number one in GDP terms – that is the day China is going to find it much easier to break American allies, control or logistics chains, and also American’s financial chains. The Yen is indeed going to start catching up to the dollar. Thus, the trade war with the United States is part of the existential struggle between two systems. We saw one with the US and Soviet Union in which the US won. That’s it! No challenger in the ring. The reality is, this has now become a formidable existential challenge for the US; a large part of US’s economy is based on perception. It is like a bank, consultancy and so many other service industries. Perception drives reality and itself forms a reality. Once the US surrenders that position and the Chinese take over, it will lead to change in perception that will very severely impact the United States.”

“From the American point of view, when the people told me about the trade war in 2018, my prediction was that it would last for generations. Then, I went to China in 2018 and there were reports that Trump wants the Chinese to buy more soyabean, condos, hotel rooms etc. On the American side, I was very clear that it is going to be a fight to the finish. On Chinese side, when I asked about the trade war, they gave me a book to read: On Protracted War by Mao Zedong. In it, Chairman Mao wrote, ‘I want two sets of people to be completely eliminated from the leadership of our party; one: the ones who do not believe that we are going to win. Anybody who thinks we are going to lose should be eliminated. Two: anybody who believes it is going to be easy to defeat the Japanese is as dangerous to the party. It is going to be a very long, hard struggle but, make no mistake, our side is going to win.’ That book was given to me by a very top official in China as an illustration of what they regarded as having been launched, which is a fight to the finish where it’s either China or the US.”

“This battle will end once the US ensures that China falls too far behind to catch up in a generation. I think that is the intention of Trump, Peter Navarro (Assistant to the US President, and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy). Today, we have two military blocs like we did in the past. One is led by China and the other is led by the US. Russia, Pakistan, Turkey, Venezuela, Iran and some other countries are very much part of the China military bloc.”

“I would like to believe, that in our case we do not have a choice, we have to go to the US military bloc and have no place in a China-led military system. The Chinese have now started to dominate the Eurasian landmass. The Belt and Road system is a brilliant idea of President Xi Jinping. In my view, Mao unified China and the country became bigger than every other emperor of China had managed before him. Then there was Deng Xiaoping. Frankly, if you go to China and ask them about Karl Marx, they’d think he is some Hollywood star – that has happened to me.”

“In this kind of battle we have to take sides. And, let us be honest, today’s Russia is not the Soviet Union of the past. Long time ago, there was a man called Durga Prasad Dhar – he worked out a military-style agreement with the Soviet Union. My grandfather got in to a bit of argument with him then and asked why he had signed that pact with Russia. He said, ‘We will have to militarily intervene in East Pakistan and takeover that place to help the Bengalis. If we do that, the Americans will make sure that China jumps on our back and try and break it. The only way to keep China out is by having an alliance with the Soviet Union and I am doing it because of that’.”

“Today, the PM and Amit Shah have said that we have to take over the PoK which, I think, is very important and for that you need a friendship with Afghanistan and you need the US to keep China off your back. Taking hold of PoK is strategically important for us. Today’s Russia is not the Soviet Union of the past. It was anti-US, anti-Russia, anti-Pakistan. Today’s Russia is the closest military ally of China and therefore a close military friend of America. Today’s America certainly doesn’t like Pakistan. That is why we need an alliance with the US because it is today ready to transfer its entire defence platforms to us and make us the most significant partners they have. For the simple reason that ensuring China remains peaceful, ensuring control over the oceans, ensuring control over space, cyberspace. That is why, I say, geopolitics has shifted, let’s not be romantic about the past, let’s be very hard-headed, let’s trade with China and have a security alliance with the US.”

ROTARIANS ASK Apart from allying, where are we going? How would you advise us to improve ourselves?
I had expectations of Modi 1.0 to bring a change in the colonial system of government. I strongly believe in minimum government and we can respond best to that; the stronger the government, the weaker the Indians. So, I am hopeful for Modi 2.0.

What is your view of the US-China trade war?
I think it is a great opportunity for India. Taiwanese companies want to relocate; very few are coming in India because it is difficult to do business here. There are a lot of red lines invisible to the naked eye. Crossing them has become jail-able. It is scary to do anything. We need more public opinion.

What is your take on Hong Kong protests?
I think China is acting smartly in terms of Hong Kong. In my view, the President is giving a very long rope to Hong Kong and the people there are never going to be free from China. To prove we believe in one country, two systems, and two to create revolution among Chinese that Chinese would say, if this is a democracy, I don’t want democracy.

PoK is very important for India, but I don’t see a remote chance to venture there because of the nuclear threats.
There is no chance of any nuclear war with Pakistan because there are 46 sites in Pakistan which are at the direct range of Indian Nuclear retaliation. We may suffer for 15 years but they will suffer for eternity. They are not going to risk their homes to nuclear attack at the cost of their country.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Howdy Modi Bye Bye Imran (NewsX)

New Episode 6 Straight Talk With Joyeeta Basu On Howdy Modi Bye Bye Imran | NewsX

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

An India-America New Deal with Madhav Nalapat | IndiaX Pride & Power Episode 8 | NewsX

Madhav Nalapat on India- America New Deal | IndiaX Pride & Power | NewsX The Sunday Guardian Editorial Director Prof. Madhav Nalapat speaks on how the strengthening Indo-U.S relations could prove beneficial for India, especially in its fight against terror and Pakistan. 

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Prof. M D Nalapat | Integrating PoK with India as a Next Logical Step (Manipal)

A special lecture by Prof. M D Nalapat on "Integrating PoK with India as a Next Logical Step" delivered at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal on 14 September 2019

Friday, 13 September 2019

Corbyn Tories seek Boris surrender to EU (Pakistan Observer)

THE former Home Secretary in the Teresa May government of the Conservative Party is the latest to seek to weaken UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s negotiating position with the European Union to the benefit of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and EU headquarters in Brussels. The reality is that the EU will still need the UK if the entity is to retain its present strength in global market, just as the UK – even outside the EU – would find it an advantage to have normal trading relations with other European countries. “Normal” would be defined as trading relationships under WTO rules, as between Japan (a non-EU member) with its European trading partners. Teresa May believed that it was a mistake for voters in the UK to have opted to leave the EU, and from the start of her Prime Ministership was visibly half-hearted in negotiating terms with Brussels.
Given that only Germany and the UK provided a surplus of funds to the EU, all other countries being in deficit, the Germans in particular (as usual working in an unobtrusive fashion) sought to make the process of divorce so painful that London would reconsider its decision through a second referendum. While on the surface Prime Minister May functioned as though she was sincerely seeking a separation agreement with the other members of the EU, in reality she adopted a stance that would (or so she hoped) make voters in Britain re-consider their earlier decision to walk out of Brussels Club. The agreement worked out by Mrs May was tilted against the interests of the UK, leaving the country with none of the powers it earlier had to influence decisions in the EU Councils, but with most of the obligations of the EU Charter still needing to be met by the British government.
In particular, a huge payout had to be given as ransom to Brussels for walking out of a union to which the UK had contributed far more than what it had taken to, unlike Germany, whose exports and influence grew substantially as a consequence of being in an EU that included another big contributor to the Brussels budget, Britain. The agreement worked out by Mrs May infuriated the Conservative Party, and led to her replacement in the course of time with Boris Johnson, who had served as her Foreign Secretary and who was squarely within the English tradition of exuberant eccentricity, such as that demonstrated by some of the anchors in the BBC, whose twitching and staccato sentences are often more entertaining than educative.
Unfortunately for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a section of his party has from the start been seeking to ensure his failure in the job undertaken by him, which is to leave the European Union either on terms better than those negotiated by Teresa May or without any deal. If the latter, any effort by Brussels to inflict pain on the UK may hurt the country in the short run, but would damage the interests of the EU far more within three years. In negotiating with the EU, it is Boris Johnson that has the stronger hand and not Brussels, but that position of strength is getting eliminated by sabotage from within the Conservative Party itself. To the glee of both the Eurocrats Jeremy Corbyn, Parliament in Westminister has passed law after law that weakens the negotiating position of the UK in any last-minute talks with the rest of the EU.
The intention of the Conservative Party rebels (who are acting in sync with the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats) is to show up Boris Johnson as a failure by making sure that he will have to surrender to Brussels and finally accept either the Teresa May deal or go in for a fresh referendum. The Eurocrats expect that this time around, there will be a majority for the Remain Faction that seeks to keep Britain in the EU. Certainly the self-created confusion and chaos within the Conservative Party may persuade several voters to back the Remain faction. However, they may have the effect of hardening the anti-EU feeling that is latent in the UK (which is being flooded with migrants from the poorer countries of Europe, even as Teresa May and others of her disposition kept out qualified individuals from India on the ground that they lacked European ethnicity). In 1940, the easy course would have been for incoming Prime Minister Winston S Churchill to come to a agreement with Adolf Hitler and stop fighting.
That would have saved Britain nearly five years of war and losses in life and treasure, not to mention the dissolution of the British Empire. Subservience to Berlin would have avoided that, at least in the short run, but over a longer period, would have been the ruin of Britain. Churchill held his ground and refused to follow the counsel of several in his party (such as Lord Halifax) who wanted a negotiated end to the war throughout 1940-41. As a consequence, the Allies won. Should Boris Johnson succeed in leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October, that would be in the “never agree to surrender” tradition of Winston Churchill. However, many within his own party seek to ensure that he fails in this monumental task, success in which will be to the long-term interest of the UK although there will be economic pain for about three years following the exit of Britain from the EU without an agreement. The Germans in particular must be delighted at the attacks from within on Boris Johnson, unlike in 1940-41, when the overwhelming majority of Conservatives held their nerve and agreed with Churchill that surrender was not an option.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Trump seeks to stop China becoming No 1 (Pakistan Observer)

WHEN President Donald J Trump launched a trade war against China last year , the expectation of most observers of the global financial scene was that tensions would subside in a few months, if not weeks. The Chinese would buy more US sorgum and soybean, and Trump would declare victory and roll back the tariffs imposed on Chinese exports to the US. After all, the two countries were the most important trading partners of each other, and numerous US enterprises had either set up facilities in China or were making handsome profits selling Chinese products in the home market. China too bought a large volume of US goods, but far less than what it exported. Chinese importers see to have an affinity for Europe more than for the US, and very often, if a European item was available at a competitive price, that was preferred to the US substitute.
Thanks to the burgeoning Chinese market, European countries have scrambled to establish close ties with China, with the UK and Germany leading the pack seeking to win favour with the government in Beijing. They are facing competition from US companies, that ensured that President Clinton did away with the most powerful lever Washington had over China, which was the annual certification that the world’s most populous country needed from the US administration before the annual Most Favoured Nation clause was renewed. Clinton did away with the need for certification early in the new century, thereby pleasing both US business interests as well as the Chinese Communist Party. After Clinton, President George W Bush seemed to back away from the China-friendly policy followed by his father, President George H W Bush, only to return to a China-friendly approach once 9/11 occurred and the attention of the US turned once again to the Middle East and to Afghanistan. President Barack Obama, guided as he was during much of his term by those close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, continued the Clinton-era policy by talking tough but acting soft. Being from the business community, it was assumed that Donald J Trump would be as China-friendly as his three immediate predecessors.
However, such an assumption was made by policymakers across both sides of the Pacific and the Atlantic only because a few had cared to go through the statements about China that the billionaire New York entrepreneur had been making for almost forty years. Trump had been consistent in his view that the US was the loser – a big loser – in trade with China, and that tariffs were the best way to ensure that US interests and companies retain their lead in global business when faced with competition from Chinese entities. Once he became the 45th President of the US, Trump appointed two “hawks” on China, academic Peter Navarro and negotiator Robert Lighthizer to positions from where they changed policy towards China to the opposite of what it had been till then. Tariffs have by now been put on almost all Chinese exports to the US, even while the demands made of China by Navarro and Lighthizer can be met only if the Chinese Communist Party is willing to face a public backlash that may seriously weaken its hold on power.
Donald J Trump is an old-fashioned patriot who wants his country to remain Number One globally in the 21st Century, the way it was for much of the 20th. Trump is a shrewd businessperson who navigated several crises to ensure his businesses not merely grew but thrived. He knows that once China becomes the undisputed Number 1 economic power globally, the immense soft power of the US will begin to melt away. The dollar, despite the huge internal and external debts of the US, remains the medium of international exchange and a stable currency. KFC, McDonalds, Coca-Cola and other US brands are world leaders not because of price or quality, but because they are American. The same goes for Hollywood. The intangible boost given to every US activity (especially business) because the country is the world’s Number One would begin to diminish once China took over that slot. From then onwards, it would be Chinese entities that would enjoy the dividends that come from belonging to the World Number One.
According to not just Trump but many others, it is the US that has enabled China to become an economy that is on the tip of overtaking its biggest business partner. Companies have transferred knowledge and access to Chinese partners, something that Trump wants to stop. In fact, the US President has gone as far as to hint that US companies should leave China en masse. Along with US enterprises, European and Asian companies are taking the hint and have started leaving the country. After Tsai Ing-wen defeated the KMT’s Eric Chu and took over as President of Taiwan in 2016, she has been quietly encouraging Taiwanese companies to “look southbound” ie to countries that are competing with China in attracting investment, such as Indonesia, India and Vietnam. Since the Trade War got launched more than a year ago, and which shows no sign of abating, leave along ending, hundreds of Taiwanese companies have listened to the advice given by Taiwan’s new President and begun the process of locating their manufacturing activities elsewhere than in China.
As Trump calculated, this has slowed down the Chinese economy, thereby pushing further into the future the day when China will overtake the US in GDP. If Trump had his way, that day would not come at all. He is intent on weakening the Chinese economy to a level that will impact on political stability, while constantly messaging his hostility. What is taking place in Hong Kong can be explained less by politics than by the fact that several young Hong Kong residents of Chinese descent are unable to find a job that would pay them enough to rent an apartment of a tolerable size in a city where rents and property values have skyrocketed while wage increases have remained sluggish.
The calculation of President Trump and the “China hawks” around him (including National Security Advisor John Bolton and the immensely capable Vice-President Mike Pence) is that the Hong Kong situation can get replicated in other cities once economic growth slows down further. It is a bold but risky move by a President who seeks to achieve in China what President Ronald Reagan achieved in the case of the Soviet Union, which was to create economic and diplomatic conditions that led to an implosion of internal support and external reliance. China is not the Soviet Union, and unlike the bureaucrats that ran the USSR, has a dedicated and capable leader in Xi Jinping. What the trajectory of the China-US contest will be is not yet clear. Will the US continue as World Number One, or China step into that position? That question is what the US-China “trade” war is all about.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Macron tempts Rouhani to meet President Trump (Pakistan Observer)

THOSE in the US who argued for the toppling of Saddam Hussein were correct that the Iraq strongman had been an adversary of several US allies in the Middle East. The time for such an operation was during Desert Storm in 1990, when President George H W Bush pounded the Uraqi army to dust in his throwing out of Saddam’s men from Kuwait. Instead of taking matters to a stable conclusion, Bush halted operations against the Iraq military once Kuwait was cleared of them, he refused to allow the US military to march into Baghdad and capture Saddam. Worse, Bush not only allowed the dictator of Iraq to continue in office, he effectively gave him freedom to bomb and strafe the only ethnic group in Iraq that was overwhelmingly pro-US, the Kurds. In a short while, we will find out if President Donald J Trump will repeat the betrayal of the Kurds first carried out by George H W Bush.
Given that the Kurds have provided most of the muscle for the overthrow of much of the Daesh “caliphate” in Syria, such a betrayal would be on an even bigger scale than that of the 1991 green light given to Saddam Hussein by President Bush to kill as many Kurds in their enclaves as he was able to. President Erdogan has repeatedly made his views clear about the Kurdish enclaves in Syria, and his intention to take them over and establish Turkish military control over the population. In an illustration of the Bourbon tendency to continually repeat past mistakes, President George W Bush (the son of George H W Bush) switched his attention from Afghanistan to Iraq before the US military was able to eliminate those forces they were at war with since 9/11.
This enabled these fighters to recuperate, regroup and re-establish control over much of the country. It is estimated that the numerous groups that go by the label of the Taliban controls over 70% of Afghanistan. It is for this reason that the leaders of that heterogeneous but motivated group consider the Ashraf Ghani government to be the “Government of Kabul” and not the Government of Afghanistan. Presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is in a hurry to sign an agreement with select Taliban leaders that would provide an excuse for the 17,000 US forces still in Afghanistan to leave the country, and those aware of his work claim that such an agreement would be ready by the first week of next month. It would be a repeat of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988, the event that more than anything else made international opinion regard Moscow under Gorbachev as a toothless tiger.
Returning to Saddam Hussein, getting rid of him after the Iraqi dictator had surrendered his WMD and almost the whole of his offensive armed capability was a warning to others in the region not to trust in Washington’s assurances of safe conduct. Muammar Kaddafy of Libya panicked after seeing what had happened in Iraq, and surrendered his own WMD stockpile nine months after Saddam was defeated by President George W Bush on the conventional battlefield. So long as Kaddafy had some kind of nuclear device in his possession, even a “dirty” bomb, he would have been safe from attack. No NATO force would dare to expose thousands of its men and women in uniform to the risks involved in the use of WMD by an opposing army. However, once it became clear that Kaddafy was as helpless as Saddam Hussein became after the WMD and most of the conventional military capability in his possession got removed, France and Britain led the charge in 2011 to remove a man from power whose only threat to them was to their clearly fragile egos.
All that Kaddafy had left was verbiage and he continued with his volleys of verbal invective against the NATO member States instead of being meek and respectful as they expected. In particular, he launched into a long speech against the US and its allies at the UN, thereby sealing his future death warrant. Any world leader who abused the then Sole Superpower ( now joined in the title by China) needed to be eliminated, lest others get encouraged to follow Kaddafy’s example, and the Arab Spring gave an excuse for NATO leaders to eliminate Kaddafy. In the process, they destroyed Libya and took away vast amounts of property owned by Libyan nationals in Europe (especially Paris and London) and huge reserves of cash that belonged to the Libyan state. This money has been swallowed up since Kaddafy was ruthlessly killed with the help of the French, who revealed his location to gangs backed by them that were hunting down Kaddafy’s men. The media seems to be not at all interested in who has stolen the cash and property of Libyan citizens and the state.
The UK, France, the US and Germany were planning the same fate for Bashar al-Assad, but China and Russia have ensured not just his survival but the victory of his armed forces over those funded by NATO (especially Turkey) and the GCC. So the attention has now moved to Iran, where the focus is to ensure that not just nuclear capability but missile capacity and other offensive weapons get removed. Once this happens, the calculation is that Iran can be attacked in conventional war and defeated. The problem for NATO is that Iran is not Iraq, Libya or Syria. Should Teheran come under attack, proxies across the region will leap into action, creating chaos and confusion across the region, especially in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
President Macron invited the Foreign Minister of Iran, who had accepted the promises made by the countries that he negotiated the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) with. Of course, eager to show that there was still hope for a deal that is effectively dead, Jawad Sharif came to Biarritz for meaningless discussions with French officials. President Macron was hoping to host a surprise meeting of Presidents Rouhani and Trump, but the Iranian leader refused to take the bait. He demanded the end of sanctions before he met Trump, a condition impossible for the US President to give effect to. At the same time, so long as Iran retains its WMD, the US will not attack the country. So far, both the Europeans as well as India are too respectful of President Trump’s commands to buy Iranian oil. However, the sooner they do this, the better for global stability. The JCPOA was the best deal NATO could get, as the military option in the case of that country is not feasible, given the cost to the attacking armies. President Trump tore up the Iran deal without a Plan B. The world is now paying a heavy price for that decision, in terms of higher oil prices and instability in the Middle East.

Friday, 23 August 2019

PM Modi launches move against VVIP corruption (Pakistan Observer)

PRIME Minister Modi is known to do what he believes is right, although only at a time of his own choosing. He will not follow the timetables of others, but act only when he regards the time to take a particular action has having arrived. Judging by recent events, it is clear that a major drive against VVIP corruption has begun in Modi’s second term. This is welcome, for unlike the situation in China and Pakistan, where several high-level politicians have been sent to jail on corruption charges, in India, the record of taking action against corrupt VVIPs during the first five years of the Narendra Modi government was not exemplary. Although the BJP leveled charge after charge of wrongdoing against several members of the Manmohan Singh government (that was in power: 2004-14), thus far not a single member of that government has been prosecuted and jailed by the BJP government.
Even the Manmohan Singh government sent to prison one of its own Cabinet Ministers, A Raja. Another Cabinet-level Minister, D Maran, was on track to follow the example of Mr.Raja when the Congress-led government was defeated in the 2014 parliamentary election by the BJP led by Narendra Modi, who was and remains by far the most popular politician in India. It was expected that several of the ministers in the previous government would be sent to jail by Modi, but this didn’t happen. Even Maran, who was earlier headed for jail, was spared. Of course, his business interests suffered. An Airline that his relatives controlled, Spicejet, was sold at a very low price to some investors, who have since converted the Airline into a success story. However, the seeming immunity from prosecution of the central ministers of the Manmohan Singh regime has been ended by the prosecution of the former Union Finance Minister, P Chidambaram.
The high-octane politician from Tamil Nadu state is known to be a maestro in placing friends and supporters in high positions. The only politician who has bettered him in this game of ensuring good jobs for friends and supporters is the BJP politician Arun Jaitley, who has been close to Prime Minister Modi for decades, but who has excellent relationship with top leaders of opposition parties as well. Although Jaitley himself lost in the polls, he was speedily accommodated in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and entered the Union Council of Ministers in charge of Defence, Finance and Company Affairs. He was far and away the most powerful individual in the country after Modi himself. The quality that those close to him appreciate is that Arun Jaitley can be relied upon to never forget a friend or a supporter.
If you are a friend or supporter of Jaitley, he will make sure that you get accommodated in some position that is comfortable. Many of his supporters are in high positions all over the country and some even abroad as a consequence of the recommendation of Arun Jaitley, who has had tremendous influence in the national capital no matter who comes to power either in the government or in the BJP. Jaitley was as close to former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee as he is to PM Narendra Modi. A man of extraordinary charm, Jaitley has built a formidable network of supporters throughout the government. He is now in very poor health, and many are praying that he will recover and get back to active politics, a field in which he has had as outstanding a degree of success as he has achieved in the legal profession.
The only other politician who has a similar network of supporters placed in high positions is another senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India, P Chidambaram. The former Union Minister for Finance ensured that bureaucrats who could be trusted to do his bidding got hold of key jobs that involved decisions which could affect the way millions and billions of dollars could flow to one individual or the other. A major stock exchange in India, the National Stock Exchange (NSE), was run by those having direct access to Chidambaram, who is said to have ensured that a rival exchange was destroyed in order to protect the interests of the NSE. Friendly bureaucrats saw to it that the promoters of that exchange were put in prison, a situation which continued even after the new government took charge in 2014, as several officials in the Chidambaram network continued in high positions despite the change in government, and despite the way in which they had bent and broken procedures in order to do the bidding of the powerful politician who was in charge of portfolios as important as Home and Finance.
Those officials who were facilitators of the wrongs committed under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (who followed a policy of seeing no evil in his colleagues within the coalition government except in the rare cases when public pressure forced him to act, as in the case of Maran and Raja) worked silently to ensure that corruption allegations against their former bosses were never seriously investigated. A comprehensive inquiry would have revealed their own role in such shenanigans, as a minister can make corrupt cash only with the help of equally corrupt bureaucrats and not by himself. While Prime Minister Modi was sincere in his effort to clean up corruption, not everybody in the government cooperated with him. However, in his final year in the first term, Modi succeeded in charge sheeting P Chidambaram, only to have the judicial system grant the former Union Finance Minister stay upon stay of arrest.
The number of serially unbroken stay orders on arrest in favour of Chidambaram issued by courts in India would probably qualify for the Guinness Book of Records, if such an entry were to be made. However, finally the investigating agencies have built up a sufficient case to convince an upright High Court judge that Chidambaram needed to be subjected to custodial interrogation. It remains to be seen of the Supreme Court will once again ensure that he remains at liberty. If this does not happen, and if the High Court order is upheld by the Supreme Court, the Modi government will have sent for the first time a Union Cabinet Minister from the previous government to jail. It is unlikely to be the last. Investigations are ongoing as to how state carrier Air India procured dozens of aircraft during the Sonia-Manmohan decade at prices much above those paid by rival carriers Go Air and Indigo.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Jeffrey Epstein : a convenient “suicide” (Pakistan Observer)

That several conspiracy theories are simply theories unsupported by evidence does not detract from the fact that conspiracies do exist. The assassination of President John F Kennedy remains a mystery, despite the voluminous report submitted by the politician-turned-jurist Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Warren Commission claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald was acting alone, and was motivated by hatred for the political ideology represented by Kennedy. Also, that Oswald was not “normal”, whatever that phrase means in a world where there are such divergences between persons.
A surmise that remains in currency is that the killer was acting on behalf of the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba, which was angered by the effort (during the initial days of the Kennedy Administration) to overthrow Castro through an invasion by emigres from Cuba. The Bay of Pigs invasion was a disaster, and was among the reasons why President Kennedy developed a distrust of the military as well as the intelligence agencies. Both had been pressing Kennedy to substantially raise troop levels in Vietnam, a policy option that the US President was resisting. Once Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson took charge on the death of Kennedy, the way was cleared for the disaster that Vietnam represented for the US. Returning to Cuba, had it been a fact that Castro had ordered the killing of Kennedy, his Island would have been overrun within months by the military under instructions from the Pentagon. Among the ( it must be admitted, many) admirable traits of the US is that the other cheek is never turned when a hard slap gets administered by a rival. Instead, a much more violent blow gets landed, as took place in Afghanistan after 9/11. Indeed, the 2003 Iraq war of George W Bush has been seen as motivated by reports accepted by the then President that Saddam Hussein had tried to kill George H W Bush, the father of the then President, as revenge for operation Desert Storm. There is no way that any US Administration would have permitted Castro to continue to rule Cuba, had Oswald genuinely have been sent by the Cuban authorities to kill Kennedy in Dallas, a city that will always be known as the location where John F Kennedy was shot to death.
How did Oswald escape the security sweep that precedes any presidential visit? Why was the Book Depository building not sanitized, nor Oswald stopped on the way to an empty room carrying a high-powered rifle? Why did Jack Ruby, with no previous history of violence, kill Oswald, that too in the midst of a scrimmage of police officers? The death of Kennedy changed US foreign policy for the worse, and removed the threat to the Military Industrial Complex ( General Eisenhower’s description) and the intelligence agencies pressing for a substantial expansion of US military involvement in Vietnam. It must be noted, however, that while President Johnson followed the path prescribed by the Military Industrial Complex on Vietnam, in the matter of racial justice, he implemented the measures that had been initiated by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, finally doing justice to African-Americans a century after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation
And now comes another death, this time of millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who seemed to have a fascination for girls who were young enough to be his grandchildren. Not merely that,Epstein introduced such girls to those who were his friends, including the brother of the Prince of Wales, Prince Andrew, as well as Bill Clinton. The latter is known to be unable to resist even the skirt of a woman fluttering on a clothesline, and records show that he was a frequent visitor to the Epstein abode. Money makes a man popular, and several VIPs frequented the home of an individual who apparently committed grave crimes by exploiting girls who were below the age of consent. Had he been produced in court, several of the VIPs who shared his tastes may have become known. There would therefore have been a strong motivation to ensure that Epstein remained silent, and there is no more effective way of ensuring this than to take away the life of the possible whistle blower. Neither has Epstein’s body been produced nor has any believable explanation been given as to how a man subjected to 24/7 surveillance in a prison cell could have hanged himself to death.
Why have images of the dead man not been released? Who brought the rope to Epstein? In the case of Hermann Goering, who killed himself before being hanged as a war criminal in 1946. The cyanide capsule was hidden inside a fountain pen, which Goering asked a guard to retrieve for him, offering him his wrist watch in exchange. Goering swallowed the cyanide and cheated the hangman. In the case of Epstein, there was no record of depression or any suicidal tendencies in the sexual predator, and the world may have to wait several decades before the circumstances behind the death become known. What is clear is that several VIPs, including Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, will now be able to sleep comfortably without taking a sleeping pill, aware that Epstein has been silenced. The present highly regarded Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Ranjan Gogoi, once told a bail petitioner that prison was a “very safe place”. Such a view is debatable in any circumstance, as has most recently been proved by the “suicide” of Jeffrey Epstein.
Those seeking to forget the matter and move on are calling those who doubt the police version of unassisted suicide as “conspiracy theorists”. Unfortunately, there are many situations when “ conspiracy theories” later get revealed to be true. In the Epstein case, such a development seems unlikely. It has been too convenient a death for any overturning of the cover story to be allowed to take place. The exposure of the activities of Jeffrey Epstein revealed yet again that those with an excess of money and power ( or usually both) often come with a deficit of conscience and good conduct.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The invisible hand that's pushing Pak's rant against India on Article 370 (PGurus)

What does Pak hopes to achieves by opposing abolishing of #Article370, Prof Nalapat reveals the invisible hand that pushes the narrative around the world which was followed by UK, US MPs 

Friday, 9 August 2019

Japan must ensure harmony with South Korea (Pakistan Observer)

JAPAN is a country that has reached the front rank of nations through the quality of its leadership as well as the quality of its people. The Japanese economy has weakened ever since a decision was made by Tokyo from the late 1980s till the middle of the 1990s to surrender to US demands on trade and investment rather than adopt the stance China has these days, that of resisting rather than accepting Washington’s demands. Any other country would have witnessed rising levels of social unrest as a consequence of the steady fall in average incomes during the extended period of deflation that Japan has faced. Instead, the Japanese people have stoically accepted their fate, and there has been no turmoil at all as a consequence of the much slower pace of the Japanese economy. Despite the fact that Administrations in the US made Tokyo agree to measures that serve the interests of the US at the expense of Japan, there has not been any vacillation in the manner in which successive Administrations in Tokyo have supported the US-Japan alliance.
While in the past, owing to its pacifist constitution, Japan was unable to militarily assist the US in numerous theatres of conflict across Asia. However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is working hard on making changes to the constitution and the laws that would give a future government in Tokyo the freedom to intervene militarily if needed. It needs to be mentioned that the Japanese “Self Defence Forces” are a formidable force that contains a powerful army, navy and air force. It is also no secret that Japan is “just a screwdriver away” from having its own nuclear weapons. The nuclear industry is highly developed in Japan, and several companies in that island country are leaders in the field. The only blind spot of the Shinzo Abe government is its inability or unwillingness to recognize that the pre-1945 history of Japan still remains in the collective memories of the people of several countries, notably China and South Korea, in both of which the Japanese ruled, and not very gently. While China is now a superpower and can fend for itself, South Korea is still an economy smaller than that of Japan. The country was occupied by Japan for a considerable period of time, and as with most colonists, the people of Korea were exploited by the authorities in Japan in a manner that cannot be forgotten, even if it gets forgiven eventually. For this to happen, the Shinzo Abe government needs to adopt a much more understanding line towards Seoul than has been the case thus far. The latest example is the use of the trade weapon to attempt to force through concessions from South Korea. This is similar to what President Trump is doing in the case of China.
Both South Korea as well as Japan are not just democracies but neighbours of each other. The bitter memories of the decades under Japanese overlordship remain in the historical memory of not just South Korea but North Korea as well. It is no secret that Pyongyang is paying careful attention to the development of missiles and their payloads as would inflict significant casualties on the Japanese people in the eventuality of conflict between North Korea and Japan, which would need to come to the assistance of the US were President Trump to decide to tackle the North Korean issue through military force, hopefully an option that will be avoided. Just as there are several South Koreans with a negative view of Japan, there are many Japanese whose antipathy even extends to their even refusing to travel in a South Korean car when abroad, even though some of the South Korean models are better and more cost effective than many of their European competitors.
Playing to such sentiments is a political tactic that has been followed by both President Trump as well as his close associate, Prime Minister Abe. The consequence has been a souring in relations between Seoul and Tokyo that can damage both. The move by the Japanese government to block the sale of essential minerals to South Korea will be seen by the latter as an effort to weaken South Korean companies that are competing with Japanese entities across the world. The sudden rise in trade frictions across the world carries the risk of setting off a fall in global economic activity. Such a situation would increase the chances for unrest and chaos in several countries. It is no accident that the “Arab Spring” of 2011 took place in those countries where citizens battled high levels of inflation and unemployment, and spared those countries where the economies were strong and the life of citizens more comfortable. Prime Minister Abe is the leader of a country with a long tradition of noble conduct in the past, and he should keep that in mind while dealing with frictions caused by South Korean politicians.
In times past, the US would intervene in such situations, but President Trump has been so harried and pre-occupied by the Mueller probe into Russian influence among those close to Trump that the effectiveness of much of US policy has been compromised. Far from promoting the national interest, Robert Mueller and the Clinton Machine that backed him has harmed US interests substantially by weakening the hand of President Trump and diverting his attention and his energies from national causes to self-preservation in the face of an assault of unprecedented scale that has been designed to force him to quit or to create the circumstances for a successful bid to impeach him. There is almost no doubt that the Clinton Machine will succeed in the beginning an Impeachment Hearing in the US House of Representatives, that would further divert the attention of the President. Rather than following the example of politicians in the US, Prime Minister Abe needs to act with the grace and nobility shown by Emperor Naruhito of Japan, and work out a conciliation with the Moon Jae-in regime in Seoul rather than continue a conflict that is harming both East Asian democracies and tipping the world further into a global trade war of the kind that was last seen in the 1930s. Over to Shinzo Abe.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Trump Republicans gravitate to the race card (Pakistan Observer)

IT would be less than fair to call President Donld J Trump a racist. It is correct that he has in the recent past been unrestrained in his invective against Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ayaana Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Representative Elijah Cummings and Jessie Jackson. None are of European ethnic origin. However, Trump has been equally dismissive about Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, not to mention others of European ethnicity. However, the Republican Party that functions under President Trump is unrecognizable from the oarty that Abraham Lincoln twice led to victory in the presidential elections. Of course, where racial justice is concerned, the crime laws passed under President Bill Clinton and vociferously backed by the then Senator Joe Biden resulted in targeted injustice to African American youths. The repeal of the Glass Steagal Act, again by Clinton to applause from Biden, played a key role in creating the conditions for the “Greed Recession” that followed the 2008 Wall Street meltdown. Barack Obama, under prodding from the Clinton machine (to which he was subservient for years) stood aside while millions lost their homes, even as he and Nancy Pelosi approved bailouts of nearly a trillion dollars to the hyper rich.
Democrats have therefore been no different from Republicans where it comes to cosying up to money. However, these days there is an increasing volume of no longer subliminal ethno-centric slogans of the Republican Party, which is now unabashedly distant from the days when Abraham Lincoln got signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to an audible gnashing of those who in substance strayed so far from the teachings of Jesus Christ as to consider slavery of those whose ethnic origin was Africa, the natural order of things. Slaveholders and those who tolerated or encouraged such a vicious system used to go to church every weekend, and regarded themselves as “Good Christians”, just as the practitioners of apartheid did in South Africa a century later. During Lincoln’s time, the Republican Party got transformed into an instrument of social change because of the influence of Lincoln and others of European extraction who took seriously the motto that “all men are created equal.
These days, the Republican Party is indistinguishable from what the Democratic Party was in Lincoln’s time, a Party which had adopted 150 years ago the creed later carried out in practice by Adolf Hitler to murderous effect, that there were “Herrenmensch” (Master Races) and “Untermensch”, (Inferior Races). There are risks in ignoring the fact that ability is unrelated to ethnicity or faith. The National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) led by Hitler considered atomic physics to be “Jewish science”, as most of those researching the subject were of that faith. While many such experts were criminally killed by Hitler’s NSDAP thugs, enough escaped to the US to bring to the attention of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ( the third most consequential US President after George Washington and Abraham Lincoln) to the possibility of developing weapons of such power that their use would ensure victory in war. With help from Jewish scientists, Roosevelt launched “Tube Alloys”, the project which resulted in the first ever detonation of a nuclear device on 16 July 1945.
Many believed that the 1933-45 experience of Germany (whose “Herrenmensch” were thrashed into pulp during 1943-45 by the Russian “Untermensch”) would have prevented policymakers across the world from regarding ethnicity as the key to success. However, it did not. The European Union, for instance, kept its doors closed for the most talented individuals of cities in India such as Chennai and Hyderabad, while its western members welcomed into their millions from Eastern Europe who had rudimentary education and capabilities, in the (silently expressed) belief that a European – any European – was preferable to any Asian. The drive to block immigration into the European Union from countries in Asia was led by Germany, although it must be said that under Angela Merkel, the character of the country was permitted to change completely as a consequence of the entry into Germany of what will easily cross two million new citizens from North Africa and other locations outside Europe, without any test or screening whatsoever. Within two generations, Germany will have an entirely different chemistry as a consequence of the bold decision by Chancellor Merkel.
Angela Merkel changed Germany by welcoming migration into the country. Trump is changing the chemistry of the US by blocking migration in ways that are often disturbing, although it must be said that similar scenes occurred during the Obama years, although the media did not pay a tenth as much attention to them as they do to the situation under President Trump. There is a swagger among under-educated and under-employed heterosexual males of European descent, a distinct feeling that the US belongs to them and others of the same complexion, so that those with a permanent tan should be kept out. Such a stance goes against the currents of demographic change and the Zeitgeist (spirit) of the 21st century. The Republican Party is going back to where much of the Democratic Party was in the 1950s, and it is not a pretty sight, ad while it may ensure that Trump win his second term in the 2020 polls, in the longer run, bias towards a particular race will cost the Republican Party heavily in a country where demographic change is impossible to stop or even slow down.