Thursday 28 August 2008

Racism Trumps Reason at Vienna (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Contrary to the expectations of Congress Party boss Sonia Gandhi and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, last week's special meeting in Vienna of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group ended in deadlock. The meeting had been requested by the United States to approve George W. Bush's quest for a "clean waiver" for the resumption of nuclear trade with India – commerce that had been frozen since India's 1974 nuclear test.

Tellingly, all but one of the countries opposing India were either European, or of largely European stock. The one exception was Japan, a country that prides itself on its people being the "Westerners of the East."

Expectedly, Austria led the Euro-attack against the proposed exemption, reiterating the bloc’s 34-year demand that India be forced to accept full-scope safeguards on all its nuclear facilities, as well as sign on to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Finland, Switzerland and Ireland joined hands with Japan in backing the Austrian stand, even though each had been individually made aware by Indian negotiators that any such conditions would result in India walking away from the deal.

Unfortunately for backers of the deal, reports reaching New Delhi suggest that the Bush point person for the talks, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation John Rood, proved to be less than enthusiastic about securing a clean waiver for India. In this, Rood is following in the path of his predecessor Robert Joseph, who had also been unenthusiastic about the deal. Both are members of the U.S. nonproliferation mainstream that for decades has focused on India – a state that has never proliferated its technology beyond its own borders – while doing little about U.S. policies that have winked at proliferation by Pakistan, China and North Korea.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Will Zardari Follow Musharraf? (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — After Pervez Musharraf himself, the individual who will be most nervous at the resignation of Pakistan’s president is the Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari. For it was Musharraf – admittedly with repeated prodding from Condoleezza Rice – who offered Benazir Bhutto's widower amnesty from the numerous corruption cases against him in exchange for his party’s support to his presidency.

Zardari, for reasons unknown, declined to take over as prime minister of Pakistan, putting forward a presumed yes-man, Yousaf Raza Gillani, in March.

The new prime minister, a Shiite and a Saraiki-Punjabi, lost less than a week in establishing direct links with the real power center in Pakistan, the army. He made the unusual gesture of personally calling on the chiefs of both the Inter-Services Intelligence and the army. Today it is to Gillani, rather than to Zardari, that military chief Ashfaq Kiyani turns on the infrequent occasions when he wishes to consult the civilian authority. As for the ISI, that instrument of jihad continues to function under army headquarters.

Although he owes his job to Zardari, it is unlikely that Prime Minister Gillani will do more than offer a token resistance to the reinstatement of those judges sacked by Musharraf last year, including the Zardari-phobic former chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhury.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Russia Starts "Lukewarm War" with the West (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — The Soviet Union became a superpower during the rule of Josef Stalin, who terrorized those territories that he did not immediately annex. After the 1939-45 war, the USSR controlled Eastern Europe and challenged the primacy of the United States and its European partners across the world.

But since Stalin’s death in 1953, Moscow has almost always given way when confronted with a resolute Western response. Nikita Khruschev blinked hard in Cuba in 1962, with the United States agreeing only to avoid another invasion of Cuba -- a course that anyway had been shown to be folly a short while earlier -- in exchange for a humiliating withdrawal of Soviet missiles from the island.

Throughout the Cold War, although Moscow enjoyed considerable conventional military superiority in Europe, its forces never once strayed beyond the boundaries set in 1945. Had it done so, the history of Europe may have been different in that such tensions would almost certainly have affected the economic environment negatively.

As it turned out, it was the USSR that imploded economically, drained both by a dysfunctional central-command system as well as by military spending that would have been justified only if the armaments so expensively procured were put to use to secure geopolitical gains.

The Afghan war most exposed the strategic cowardice of the Soviet leadership. At any stage in the decade-long conflict, an attack on Pakistan would have resulted in the immediate drying up of the flow of supplies from across the border to the mujahideen. It is unlikely that the United States and other NATO partners would have risked a flare-up of Warsaw Pact-NATO tensions in Europe by seeking to protect Pakistan from a Soviet assault. Peshawar and other centers of Afghan resistance would have been pulverized by Soviet bombing, and international jihad -- which today has morphed into a severe threat to international security -- would have lost its Afghan-Pakistani sanctuary.