Monday 23 June 2003

U.S. losing Mind War in Iraq

M.D. Nalapat 

MANIPAL, India, June 23 (UPI) -- After World War I, the consequences of the Versailles "peace" were the rise of the National Socialists and World War II. That conflict was followed by the Marshall Plan, the democratization of Germany, Italy and Japan and their bonding with the United States and Britain into both a security alliance as well as an economic partnership. Both British values and American culture permeated the three former Axis powers, vacuuming away the hostility in the minds of their populations to the victors. Today, some Germans (as indeed many Britons and more than a few French) may be anti-Enduring Freedom. Almost none is anti-American except in a narrow political sense.
Why did the peace imposed after World War II create a benign backlash while that which followed World War I create the Hitler-Tojo-Mussolini monster? The reason was that conquest was achieved in the 1914-1918 conflict only on the ground, over physical territory. In the second, it won over the mind of the "enemy" population pool as well. It can be argued the extremely liberal treatment given to the Germans after they had backed the most loathsome dictatorship in history, a policy of forgiveness that took within its fold more than 95 percent of those who had been active in the NSDAP, helped avoid a second Hitler. It is now clear the formal respect paid to the emperor of Japan and to the non-militaristic aspects of the culture of that civilization, together with ruthless MacArthurite democratization and integration into the modern economy, transformed a power that had been first suspicious of and then hostile to the West (at least for the previous two centuries) into a reliable ally, despite the horror of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Forget that Operation Enduring Freedom ought to have been conducted by giving equal billing to a "Free Iraq" leadership as was given to U.S. participants. A Free Iraqi general conducting news briefings jointly with the non-telegenic Tommy Franks would have had an effect similar to that created by projecting Charles De Gaulle as the heroic leader of a horde of "Free French" when the reality in German-occupied France was that the level of resistance was far lower than that found in the eastern theatres, while active collaboration was high. The "Free French" were, however, wonderful in cinema newsreels and on the British Broadcasting Corp. and Voice of America, which was enough to preserve French pride into the postwar period, avoiding the kind of backlash that made Paris craft the Versailles Treaty.

Friday 6 June 2003

Constrain, not contain, China (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat
MANIPAL, India, June 6 (UPI) -- Second of two parts
The Clinton administration tried to recruit Communist China as a strategic ally that would help Washington defend U.S. interests, but that strategy failed because China's long-term interests are significantly different from those of the United States.
China seeks the strategic withdrawal of the United States from Asia, and sees itself as the replacement.
It would like to ensure that an Asian Common Market get formed that would give member-countries -- principally itself -- preference over countries outside the bloc.
An Asian Common Market that included the Middle East, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and South Asia would isolate Japan, suck in South Korea, and in the view of the planners in Beijing, ensure Chinese prosperity at a time of increased tensions with Washington.
Today, throughout Asia with the exception of Japan and, until recently India, China has been conducting a quiet but persistent diplomacy designed to wean the countries of the region away from their "dependence" on the United States.
This has been only partially successful in the ASEAN region of Southeast Asia, as most of the countries belonging to this group are wary of the giant nearby, seeing it afar as a safer option, at least in private.

Tuesday 3 June 2003

Constraining China (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat
MANIPUR, India, June 3 (UPI) -- After it became clear that Winston Churchill had been right at Fulton, Missouri after World War II and that the Soviet Union had imposed an "Iron Curtain" on postwar Europe, the United States began a policy of "containment" against Moscow.
This involved the putting in place of a cordon sanitaire that blocked Moscow from access to significant sections of Western markets and technology. Countries that were not already communist were sought to be kept away from Soviet influence, while within that bloc, those republics such as Yugoslavia that demonstrated some independence of the Soviet Union were encouraged in their behavior by access to Western financial and other resources
The Soviet Union, both individually and through its satellites, imposed a quarantine on Western -- principally American -- scholars and others from civil society, who were given either zero or highly restricted access to the Soviet bloc. However, the choking-off of such non-official contacts was not one way. Successive Cold War U.S. governments encouraged neither tourism nor investment to the Soviet bloc. In the case of countries such as Cuba, they were explicitly banned by Washington
This denial of markets and direct knowledge of the functioning of a modern economy resulted in the Soviet Union having to re-invent not one but several wheels, either by stealing or by developing technology on its own. Refused the chance of cross-fertilization with Western financial and mercantile infrastructure, the Soviet economy remained mired in a command system that often relied exclusively on quantitative measures of performance.