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Geopolitics - Guest - 09-07-2006

<!--emo&:flush--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/Flush.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='Flush.gif' /><!--endemo--> Do we have a list of these 75 Acadummies? Curious to know how many are
Secular South Asian Harvardized Donkies in that 75....


Geopolitics - Guest - 09-08-2006

<!--emo&:argue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/argue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='argue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Though I agree w/ u on this issue k. ram but current adiministeration also plays politics of convenience and expediency at the cost of others e.g. Modi:
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='font-family:Optima'>Modi gets hero's welcome in party meet
[ 7 Sep, 2006 2012hrs ISTIANS ]


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DEHRADUN: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, known for his hardline Hindutva ideology, hogged the limelight at the national executive meet of the Bharatiya Janata Party here Thursday.

There was a dramatic change in the atmosphere as soon as Modi arrived at the venue of the meet. Party activists surrounded him and greeted him by shouting Vande Mataram .

"The welcome he received was in stark contrast to the lukewarm response senior party leaders such as L.K. Advani or President Rajnath Singh received," a BJP national executive member said.

"Whatever his detractors may say, it is clear that his support base in the party is expanding much faster than that of any other leader," the party functionary added.

Outside the venue, the BJP workers rushed to have a glimpse of the man often described as Hindutva's poster-boy. Modi's security staff had a tough time as they tried to maintain the security cordon around him.

"Modi is one leader who has not compromised on the ideological issues and that is why we like him," a senior BJP leader from Uttaranchal said.

The view was echoed by many party activists from various states, who are here to attend the national executive.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee failed to come on the first day of the three-day meet.

"He is not well and we are not sure whether he would be able to come here in the next two days. We are hopeful, though," a senior BJP leader said.

Vajpayee is scheduled to kick-off the party's election campaign for Uttaranchal with a rally in this state capital Friday. </span></span>
Now suppose Modi becomes PM tomorrow; how this will play out?
Will world's 2 biggest democracies at logger heads?
Even MMS had decried US action saying that he is democratically elected CM.


Geopolitics - Guest - 09-13-2006

Religion was supposed to fade away as globalization and freedom spread. Instead, it's booming around the world, often deciding who gets elected. And the divine intervention is just beginning.

This article originally appeared in Sam Huntington's www.foreignpolicy.com. Please note the Psy-Ops against India.

It was reprinted (with permission) in the Dallas Morning News:
God is winning

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Timothy Samuel Shah and Monica Duffy Toft: God is winning</b>

05:23 PM CDT on Sunday, July 16, 2006
After Hamas won a decisive victory in January's Palestinian elections, one of its supporters replaced the national flag that flew over parliament with its emerald-green banner heralding, "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is His Prophet."

In Washington, few expected the religious party to take power. "I don't know anyone who wasn't caught off guard," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

More surprises followed. Days after the Prophet's banner was unfurled in Ramallah, thousands of Muslims mounted a vigorous, sometimes violent defense of the Prophet's honor in cities as far flung as Beirut, Jakarta, London and New Delhi. Outraged by cartoons of Muhammad originally published in Denmark, Islamic groups, governments and individuals staged demonstrations, boycotts and embassy attacks.

On their own, these events appeared to be sudden eruptions of "Muslim rage." In fact, they were only the most recent outbreaks of a deep undercurrent that has been gathering force for decades and extends far beyond the Muslim world. Global politics is increasingly marked by what could be called "prophetic politics." Voices claiming transcendent authority are filling public spaces and winning key political contests.

These movements come in very different forms and employ widely varying tools. But whether the field of battle is democratic elections or the more inchoate struggle for global public opinion, religious groups are increasingly competitive. In contest after contest, when people are given a choice between the sacred and the secular, faith prevails.

God is on a winning streak. It was reflected in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Shia revival and religious strife in postwar Iraq and Hamas' recent victory in Palestine. But not all the thunderbolts have been hurled by Allah.

The struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s and early 1990s was strengthened by prominent Christian leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu. <b>Hindu nationalists in India stunned the international community when they unseated India's ruling party in 1998 and then tested nuclear weapons</b>. American evangelicals continue to surprise the U.S. foreign-policy establishment with their activism and influence on issues such as religious freedom, sex trafficking, Sudan and AIDS in Africa. Indeed, evangelicals have emerged as such a powerful force that religion was a stronger predictor of vote choice in the 2004 presidential election than was gender, age or class.

The spread of democracy, far from checking the power of <b>militant religious activists</b>, will probably only enhance the reach of prophetic political movements, many of which will emerge from democratic processes more organized, more popular and more legitimate than before – but quite possibly no less violent. Democracy is giving the world's peoples their voice, and they want to talk about God.

Divine intervention

It did not always seem this way. In April 1966, Time ran a cover story that asked, "Is God Dead?" It was a fair question. Secularism dominated world politics in the mid-1960s. The conventional wisdom shared by many intellectual and political elites was that modernization would inevitably extinguish religion's vitality.

But if 1966 was the zenith of secularism's self-confidence, the next year marked the beginning of the end of its global hegemony. In 1967, the leader of secular Arab nationalism, Gamal Abdel Nasser, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Israeli Army. By the end of the 1970s, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, avowedly "born-again" President Jimmy Carter, television evangelist Jerry Falwell and Pope John Paul II were all walking the world stage. A decade later, rosary-wielding Solidarity members in Poland and Kalashnikov-toting mujahedin in Afghanistan helped defeat atheistic Soviet Communism. A dozen years later, 19 hijackers screaming, "God is great" transformed world politics.

Today, the secular pan-Arabism of Mr. Nasser has given way to the millenarian pan-Islamism of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose religious harangues against America and Israel resonate with millions of Muslims, Sunni and Shia alike. "We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking toward a main focal point – that is the Almighty God," Mr. Ahmadinejad declared in his recent letter to President Bush.

The modern world has, in fact, proved hospitable to religious belief. The world is indeed more modern: It enjoys more political freedom, more democracy and more education than perhaps at any time in history. According to Freedom House, the number of "free" and "partly free" countries jumped from 93 in 1975 to 147 in 2005. UNESCO estimates that adult literacy rates doubled in sub-Saharan Africa, Arab countries and South and West Asia between 1970 and 2000. The average share of people in developing countries living on less than a dollar a day fell from 28 percent to 22 percent between 1990 and 2002, according to World Bank estimates.

If people are wealthier, more educated and enjoy greater political freedom, one might assume they also would have become more secular. They haven't. In fact, the period in which economic and political modernization has been most intense – the last 30 to 40 years – has witnessed a jump in religious vitality around the world.

The world's largest religions have expanded at a rate that exceeds global population growth. Consider the two largest Christian faiths, Catholicism and Protestantism, and the two largest non-Christian religions, Islam and Hinduism. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, a greater proportion of the world's population adhered to these religious systems in 2000 than a century earlier. At the beginning of the 20th century, a bare majority of the world's people, precisely 50 percent, were Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Hindu. At the beginning of the 21st century, nearly 64 percent belonged to these four religious groupings, and the proportion may be close to 70 percent by 2025.

The World Values Survey, which covers 85 percent of the world's population, confirms religion's growing vitality. According to scholars Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, "The world as a whole now has more people with traditional religious views than ever before – and they constitute a growing proportion of the world's population."

Not only is religious observance spreading, but it also is becoming more devout. The most populous and fastest-growing countries in the world, including the United States, are witnessing marked increases in religiosity. In Brazil, China, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa and the United States, religiosity became more vigorous between 1990 and 2001. Between 1987 and 1997, surveys by the Times Mirror Center and the Pew Research Center registered increases of 10 percent or more in the proportions of Americans surveyed who "strongly agreed" that God existed, that they would have to answer for their sins before God, that God performs miracles and that prayer was an important part of their daily life. Even in Europe, a secular stronghold, there have been surprising upticks in religiosity.

God's comeback is in no small part due to the global expansion of freedom. Thanks to the "third wave" of democratization between the mid-1970s and early 1990s, as well as smaller waves of freedom since, people in dozens of countries have been empowered to shape their public lives in ways that were inconceivable in the 1950s and 1960s. A pattern emerged as they exercised their new political freedoms. In country after country, politically empowered groups began to challenge the secular constraints imposed by the first generation of modernizing, post-independence leaders.

Often, as in communist countries, secular straitjackets had been imposed by sheer coercion; in other cases, as in Atatürk's Turkey, Nehru's India and Nasser's Egypt, secularism retained legitimacy because elites considered it essential to national integration and modernization – and because of the sheer charisma of these countries' founding fathers. In Latin America, right-wing dictatorships, sometimes in cahoots with the Catholic Church, imposed restrictions that severely limited grass-roots religious influences, particularly from "liberation theology" and Protestant "sects."

As politics liberalized in countries like India, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey and Indonesia in the late 1990s, religion's influence on political life increased dramatically.

Even in the United States, evangelicals exercised a growing influence on the Republican Party in the 1980s and 1990s, partly because the presidential nomination process depended more on popular primaries and less on the decisions of traditional party leaders. Where political systems reflect people's values, they usually reflect people's strong religious beliefs.

Many observers are quick to dismiss religion's advance into the political sphere as the product of elites manipulating sacred symbols to mobilize the masses. In fact, the marriage of religion with politics is often welcomed, if not demanded, by people around the world.

In a 2002 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 91 percent of Nigerians and 76 percent of Bangladeshis surveyed agreed that religious leaders should be more involved in politics. A June 2004 six-nation survey reported that "most Arabs polled said that they wanted the clergy to play a bigger role in politics."

In the same survey, majorities or pluralities in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates cited Islam as their primary identity, trumping nationality. The collapse of the quasi-secular Baathist dictatorship in Iraq released religious and ethnic allegiances and has helped Islam play a dominant role in the country's political life, including in its recently adopted constitution. As right- and left-wing dictatorships have declined in Latin America and democratization has deepened, evangelicals have become an influential voting bloc in numerous countries, including Brazil, Guatemala and Nicaragua.


The new orthodoxies

Far from stamping out religion, modernization has spawned a new generation of savvy and technologically adept religious movements, including evangelical Protestantism in America, "Hindutva" in India, Salafist and Wahhabi Islam in the Middle East, Pentecostalism in Africa and Latin America, and Opus Dei and the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church.

The most dynamic religiosity today is not so much "old-time religion" as it is radical, modern and conservative. Today's religious upsurge is less a return of religious orthodoxy than an explosion of "neo-orthodoxies."

A common denominator of these neo-orthodoxies is the deployment of sophisticated and politically capable organizations. These modern organizations effectively marshal specialized institutions as well as the latest technologies to recruit new members, strengthen connections with old ones, deliver social services and press their agenda in the public sphere.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, founded in 1964, "saffronized" large swaths of India through its religious and social activism and laid the groundwork for the Bharatiya Janata Party's electoral successes in the 1990s. Similar groups in the Islamic world include the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Nahdlatul Ulama in Indonesia. In Brazil, Pentecostals have organized their own legislative caucus, representing 10 percent of congressional representatives.

Religious communities are also developing remarkable transnational capabilities, appealing to foreign governments and international bodies deemed sympathetic to their cause.

Today's neo-orthodoxies may effectively use the tools of the modern world, but how compatible are they with modern democracy? Religious radicals, after all, can quickly short-circuit democracy by winning power and then excluding nonbelievers. Just as dangerous, politicized religion can spark civil conflict. Since 2000, 43 percent of civil wars have been religious (only a quarter were religiously inspired in the 1940s and '50s). Extreme religious ideology is, of course, a leading motivation for most transnational terrorist attacks.

The scorecard isn't all negative, however. Religion has mobilized millions of people to oppose authoritarian regimes, inaugurate democratic transitions, support human rights and relieve human suffering. In the 20th century, religious movements helped end colonial rule and usher in democracy in Latin America, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The post-Vatican II Catholic Church played a crucial role by opposing authoritarian regimes and legitimating the democratic aspirations of the masses.

Today's religious movements, however, may not have as much success in promoting sustainable freedom. Catholicism's highly centralized and organized character made it an effective competitor with the state, and its institutional tradition helped it adapt to democratic politics. Islam and Pentecostalism, by contrast, are not centralized under a single leadership or doctrine that can respond coherently to fast-moving social or political events. Local religious authorities are often tempted to radicalize in order to compensate for their weakness vis-à-vis the state or to challenge more established figures.

The trajectory of the young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in postwar Iraq is not unusual. The lack of a higher authority for religious elites might explain why most religious civil wars since 1940 – 34 of 42 – have involved Islam, with nine of these being Muslim vs. Muslim.

We need look no further than Iraq today to see religious authorities successfully challenging the forces of secularism – but also violently competing with each other.

<b>Even in a longstanding democracy like India, the political trajectory of Hindu nationalism has demonstrated that democratic institutions do not necessarily moderate these instincts: Where radical Hindu nationalists have had the right mix of opportunities and incentives, they have used religious violence to win elections, most dramatically in the state of Gujarat</b>.

The belief that outbreaks of politicized religion are temporary detours on the road to secularization was plausible in 1976, 1986 or even 1996. Today, the argument is untenable. As a framework for explaining and predicting the course of global politics, secularism is increasingly unsound. God is winning in global politics. And modernization, democratization and globalization have only made him stronger. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<i>Timothy Samuel Shah is senior fellow in religion and world affairs at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. His e-mail address is tshah@pewforum.org. Monica Duffy Toft is assistant director of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. Her e-mail address is monica_toft@ksg .harvard.edu. This essay appears in the July/August issue of Foreign Policy magazine. </i>

Keep a look out for this Shah: Timothy Samuel Shah
More on SHAH
Seems to be a Gujarati Christian, if I am not completely mistaken.


Geopolitics - Guest - 09-13-2006

He is writing a book on Religion and Politics in South Asia. One cannot help thinking he is another social engineer .

Here is a Q&A Session

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>What do you mean by "God is winning"? </b>
Monica Toft and I used the term — "God is winning" — to suggest that there does seem to be a worldwide trend across all major religious groups, in which God-based and faith-based movements in general are experiencing increasing confidence and influence vis-à-vis secular movements and ideologies. <b>In other words, it is not just Islam that is resurgent or radicalizing, which is often what is claimed</b>. Rather, what is happening within Islam must be understood in the wider context of what is happening within other religious communities. Only then will we have a proper understanding of the causes and consequences of what is, in fact, a global trend toward more politically influential religious movements.

We did not mean to suggest that a common deity with a unified political agenda is winning global political power. The increasingly mobilized and powerful "God-based" movements we are talking about differ from each other in profound ways. Some are violent, many are not; some are Muslim, some are Hindu, some are Christian, some are Buddhist. They differ profoundly in terms of their theologies, their political goals, as well as their political tactics.

<b>Where do you see "God winning"? </b>
In North and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and even in Europe and Russia, religion is enjoying significant and growing political influence — more so now than perhaps any time in recent memory. In public life "God is winning" almost everywhere. Religion is not necessarily the most dominant public force in these places, and its political influence varies from country to country. But if religion's political impact waxes and wanes over time, a lot of evidence supports the conclusion that it's waxing in most parts of the world at the present time.

In some countries religion's growing influence is a familiar story. Most of us are well aware that Islam is playing an increasing public role in places such as Iran, Iraq and throughout the Middle East. And the 2004 presidential election in the U.S. dramatically underscored the political clout of evangelicals in this country. But we are less aware that pentecostals in Latin America and Africa, <b>Hindu nationalists in India, Buddhist revivalists in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka and Catholic charismatics in the Philippines — just to name a few leading movements — are also powerfully influencing mainstream public life and often shifting their societies' political center of gravity in a more religious direction</b>.

<b>What about more secular parts of the world such as Europe, Canada and Japan? </b>
It is true that opinion surveys — including one by the Pew Global Attitudes Project — show that Western Europe, Canada and Japan are relatively secular. But even these places have had religious issues and groups increasingly shaping the public agenda in recent years.

For example, a number of Europe's most contentious public controversies, such as Turkish accession to the EU and immigration, involve Islam and the role of religion in European identity. In Japan, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced last year that it would try to change the constitution to relax the traditional separation of religion and state — mostly to deflect domestic criticism of the prime minister's regular visits to Yasukuni, the controversial Shinto shrine for Japanese war dead. And in our neighbor to the north, not only does a respected recent survey suggest that church attendance is increasing, but Stephen Harper, Canada's prime minister since January, is an evangelical and arguably the country's most openly religious leader in decades.

<b>When did God's public "winning streak" begin, and what were some of the factors behind it? </b>
Today we are asking whether God is "winning," but only 40 years ago Time magazine ran a famous cover asking whether God was "dead." To many informed observers back then, religion appeared exhausted, publicly irrelevant, and increasingly on the defensive — thanks partly to the global expansion of atheistic communism. Sometime between 1966 and 2006 a shift occurred, and it seems to have begun in the late 1960s and accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the developing world, secular leaders and ideologies that seemed in the 1950s and early 1960s to be the harbingers of modern progress began to falter shortly thereafter. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian president who dominated the Middle East with his secular brand of pan-Arabism for nearly 20 years, suffered a humiliating defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and died three years later. The legitimacy of the secular and Western-oriented Shah of Iran declined in the 1970s and the Iranian Revolution of 1979 brought the Ayatollah Khomeini and an Islamic theocracy to power. <b>In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, secular concepts of national identity gave way to more religious forms of nationalism in the 1970s, a trend which has continued to this day. </b> <i>(Psy-Ops)</i>

Greatly accelerating God's "winning streak" was the decline and fall of Soviet communism in the 1980s and early 1990s. Soviet communism was perhaps the most politically powerful and globally successful anti-religious movement in history. Partly due to religious groups such as the Catholic Church in Poland and the mujahideen in Afghanistan, communism was increasingly on the moral and military defensive in the 1980s. The eventual collapse of the Soviet socialist model created a political vacuum in numerous developing countries, which some religious groups, such as Islamists in the Middle East, were able to fill. The collapse of Soviet communism also emboldened some religious groups — above all Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda — to seek a wider field of operations, as well as to target a longer list of enemies, including the United States.

<b>What about God's "winning streak" in American public life? </b>

At the same time that secular ideologies and political movements declined in the developing world in the 1970s and 1980s, a widespread perception that public morality was declining in the United States led some Americans to turn to religion to renew public life.

<i>(WHEN WAS "IN GOD WE TRUST" ADDED TO U.S CURRENCY, and WHY? - when was the west ever secular?)</i>

The Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade mobilized millions of previously disengaged evangelicals in 1973. Three years later, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, Americans elected the "born again" conservative Democrat Jimmy Carter, who promised to uphold morality and decency as president. In 1979, Jerry Falwell started the Moral Majority. Since then, not only evangelicals but many Americans across the religious spectrum have concluded that religion is the solution to America's moral problems. According to a 2000 Public Agenda survey, "Americans strongly equate religion with personal ethics and behavior, considering it an antidote to the moral decline they perceive in our nation today."

<b>You write that we are seeing more "prophetic politics" and "prophetic political movements." What do you mean by those terms and why are we seeing these developments in recent years? </b>

Prophets are divine spokespersons, people who claim — rightly or wrongly — that they speak for God in a given situation. The decline of secular ideologies in the developing world and the perceived decline of morality in parts of the developed world have enhanced the authority of modern political prophets and prophetic political movements. A host of religious leaders and movements over the last couple of decades, such as Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama, Franklin Graham, Desmond Tutu, Osama bin Laden and Ayatollah Sistani have played a "prophetic" role by applying what they claim to be divinely authorized teachings to immediate political circumstances. In some cases, these prophets have commanded great authority and their political influence has been decisive.

Another important factor opening up numerous societies to the influence of prophetic politics in recent years is global democratization. As we pointed out in "Why God is Winning," the worldwide trend toward democracy has been strong in the last thirty years, with the number of "free" and "partly free" countries jumping from 93 in 1975 to 147 in 2005, according to Freedom House. Democracy is crucial because although perceived secular failures and moral crises may give prophetic movements the motive to shape political life, these movements lack the systematic means to do so as long as politics is closed to popular influence. <b>Conversely, where political systems have <i>recently </i>become more open and democratic, religious leaders, religious movements and religiously oriented political parties have often proved competitive at the ballot box, winning unprecedented political power. Such cases include Turkey, Nigeria, Indonesia, the Palestinian territories, Brazil, <i>India </i>and Mexico. </b>

<b>Your research implies that we can no longer assume that if people become wealthier, more educated and enjoy greater political freedom they also become more secular. In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite is true, with such people embracing traditional religions. Where do you see this trend and what accounts for it? </b>

It is undoubtedly true that some forces associated with modernization often weaken the hold of traditional religious explanations of the universe as well as the power of traditional religious authorities. At the same time, other aspects of modernization often enhance the power of religion — on both the "demand-side" and the "supply-side."

On the demand-side, tens of millions of people in the developing world who are facing modernization in its various dimensions — urbanization, modern education, economic and political bureaucratization — often experience it as disorienting and dislocating. They may become somewhat better educated, more prosperous, more cosmopolitan and more autonomous due to modernization, but at the same time they often desire new and stable sources of community and identity to replace the traditional village structures they have left behind. What they are often looking for is a new form of religion adapted to their new life in the modern city.

On the supply-side, modernization gives religious communities new organizational, technological and financial resources, as well as access to international networks of co-religionists. These resources often empower them to form new and highly sophisticated organizations that are designed to meet the spiritual and social needs of the millions of people migrating to a more modern life in the city — as well as the millions buffeted by war, poverty and failed states. Such organizations include neo-pentecostal churches in Africa and Latin America, such as the enormous Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Brazil and Mozambique, <b>the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in India, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian Territory, and Muhammadiyah in Indonesia</b> <i>(Psy-OPS)</i>. Modernization is helping to create a whole host of sophisticated and adaptable religious movements that we describe in the article as "neo-orthodox": they do not merely recapitulate tradition but creatively adapt it to new circumstances using modern means.

<b>
So is religion growing in the world today mostly as a haven for the poor? </b>
This is part of the story, but it certainly is not all of it. Modernization and globalization are bringing increasingly rapid social and moral change to people all over the world, especially those prosperous enough to consume satellite TV and the internet. Such innovations are widely welcomed, but they also help create a pervasive perception among modern publics that traditional ways of life are getting lost — a perception the Pew Global Attitudes Project has identified in almost every society in the world.

<b>One way some groups try to offset the perceived decline of tradition is to identify with religious revivalism. This dynamic is one factor behind the strong and consistent support for Hindu revivalism among large segments of India's urban middle class, as well as a similar pattern of urban middle-class support for Buddhist revivalism in Sri Lanka. </b>

It is relevant to note here that combining advanced modernity and religiosity is hardly new: The U.S. is probably the most salient and longstanding case of a society that has consistently combined intense modernity with relatively high religiosity, private and public. As we discussed in the article, at least some evidence from both the Pew Research Center and the World Values Survey suggests that both private and public religiosity have, if anything, become more robust in the U.S. in recent years. Religion is showing signs of new private and public vitality in many places in the world, not just among people that are economically insecure and underdeveloped. [A Harvard University working paper summarizes data on this issue.]

<b>Have analysts of global politics neglected the powerful role religion can play? Are they paying more attention to religion now? </b>

There is little question that analysts of global politics have generally sidelined religious factors. In fact, religion's role in world politics seemed increasingly irrelevant and out of date to many scholars and informed observers for most of the 50-year period from the end of World War II until the beginning of the new century. They were not unaware of its existence, but they tended to believe that religion was incapable of being a driving political or social force. Instead, it was a passive and static throwback that was doomed to fade away in the face of modernization. For example, Daniel Lerner's classic and hugely influential 1958 study of modernization, The Passing of Traditional Society, cited a consensus of scholars who agreed that "Islam is absolutely defenseless" in the face of the "rationalist" and "positivistic spirit" brought by modernity's rapid advance in the Middle East. In fact, as our article demonstrates, none of the major world religions has been "absolutely defenseless" in the face of modernization. Most have used modernity to make fresh and sometimes successful appeals to a wide range of groups at various stages of modernization.

Nearly five years after the 9/11 attacks, a shift has certainly occurred. Religion is finding its way into mainstream analysis. Major foreign policy think tanks, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, have started to turn their attention to religion's role in world affairs. Various agencies of the U.S. government have made an effort to better understand religion as a distinct factor in global politics. A sign of the new willingness on the part of much of America's foreign policy establishment to take seriously religion's geopolitical role is former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's candid new book, The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World. She is clearly speaking for more than just herself when she writes, "Like many other foreign policy professionals, I have had to adjust the lens through which I view the world…. Almost everywhere, religious movements are thriving." <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


Geopolitics - Guest - 09-15-2006

<b>India and Geopolitics - Part I</b>
<i>By Praker Bandimutt</i>
Tinyurl: http://tinyurl.com/mf9oy


<b>India and Geopolitics - Part II</b>
<i>By Praker Bandimutt</i>
Tinyurl: http://tinyurl.com/p5lz2


Geopolitics - Guest - 09-18-2006

<!--emo&<_<--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/dry.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='dry.gif' /><!--endemo--> Anybody following MMS:
Body signs show leaders' power, stress
[ 10 Sep, 2006 0049hrs ISTREUTERS ]


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NORWICH: Whether it's a power walk, raised eyebrows or who walks through a door first, politicians like George Bush and Tony Blair use a silent language to appear dominant and likeable.

Through gestures, mannerisms and facial expressions they can convey an impression of power, authority and fitness, psychologist and author Peter Collett said.

But politicians can also unwittingly reveal if they are feeling vulnerable, uncomfortable and stressed.

In video clips shown at a science conference, Collett showed that Bush bites the inside of his mouth if he gets distressed while Blair raises his eyebrows when he is trying to look agreeable.

"The mouth bite shows that Bush is feeling nervous. It is what psychologists call emotional leakage," said Collett who used to work at the University of Oxford.

He added it is an unconscious reaction and was evident when Bush was told of the attacks on September 11, 2001 and on other occasions as his way of keeping his anxieties under control. Raised eyebrows indicate submissiveness.

"Tony (Blair) often uses this in order to show he is agreeable and is attentive to what other people have to say and that he is not a threat to them," Collett said.



Geopolitics - Guest - 10-06-2006

<b>Trials of Kissinger</b>
Must watch Video - those who are interested in US role in NAM and Kissingers role.


Geopolitics - Guest - 10-12-2006

<b>Delusions of order</b>


Geopolitics - acharya - 10-26-2006

Political geography
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Political geography is a field of human geography that is concerned with politics. It is closely related to geopolitics, which is seen as the strategic, military and governmental application of political geographies. It is also closely related to International Relations.
Contents
[hide]

* 1 Areas of Study
* 2 History
o 2.1 Pre-World War Two
o 2.2 Cold War Geopolitics
o 2.3 Critical Political Geography
* 3 Notable Political Geographers
* 4 Further reading
* 5 See also

[edit] Areas of Study

Political geography is interested in the relationship between political power or politics and geography. Geography often influences political decisions and vice versa political power influences geographical space. It is often associated with the study of the practices of sovereign states, but it considers politics of all scales, from those of the United Nations to those of day-to-day life.

In particular, then, modern political geography often considers:

* How and why states are organized into regional groupings, both formally (e.g. the European Union) and informally (e.g. the Third World)
* The relationship between states and former colonies, and how these are propagated over time through neo-colonialism
* The relationship between a government and its people
* The relationships between states including international trades and treaties
* The functions, demarcations and policings of boundaries
* How imagined geographies have political implications
* The influence of political power on geographical space
* The study of election results (election geography)

[edit] History

[edit] Pre-World War Two

The term political geography was first used by Friedrich Ratzel in his book 'Politische Geographie', published in German in 1897. Geopolitics was then coined by the Swede Rudolf Kejell.

The discipline gained attention largely through the work of Sir Halford Mackinder in England and his formulation of the Heartland Theory in 1904. This theory involved concepts diametrically opposed to the notion of Alfred Thayer Mahan about the significance of navies (Mahan coined the term sea power) in world conflict. The Heartland theory, on the other hand, hypothesized the possibility for a huge empire to be brought into existence which didn't need to use coastal or transoceanic transport to supply its military industrial complex, and that this empire could not be defeated by all the rest of the world coalitioned against it.

The Heartland Theory depicted a world divided into a Heartland (Eastern Europe/Western Russia); World Island (Eurasia and Africa); Peripheral Islands (British Isles, Japan, Indonesia and Australia) and New World (The Americas). Mackinder claimed that whoever controlled the Heartland would have control of the world. He used this warning to politically influence events such as the Treaty of Versailles, where buffer states were created between the USSR and Germany, to prevent either of the them controlling the Heartland.

Ratzel, at the same time, was creating a theory on states based around the concepts of Lebensraum and Social Darwinism. This stated that states were 'organisms' that needed sufficient room in which to live. Expansionist inclinations - such as the British of French empires were a result of this. Both these two writers created the idea of a political and geographical science, with an objective God's Eye View of the world.

Pre-World War Two political geography was concerned largely with these issues of global power struggles and influencing state policy. The above theories were both taken on board by German geopoliticians (see Geopolitik) such as Karl Haushofer who - they claim inadvertently - greatly influenced Nazi political theory. The politics that were legitimated by 'scientific' theories such as a 'neutral' requirement for state expansion are those that were engaged in during World War Two. Though modern geographers have been more sympathetic to the likes of Haushofer, suggesting that he and his colleagues actually did believe that they were conducting neutral scientific study, it is also almost impossible that they could not have foreseen how their results would be used; Haushofer, in particular, actually tutored Rudolf Hess and is anecdotely said to have passed a copy of Ratzel's Politische Geographie onto Adolf Hitler, whilst he was writing Mein Kampf.




Geopolitics - Guest - 10-29-2006

<!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> Indian tourists' bus stolen in Belgium
[ 29 Oct, 2006 0049hrs ISTIANS ]


RSS Feeds| SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates


Although the police noted down their complaint and promised to look into the matter, what overwhelmed the stranded Indians was the support they got from the Indian embassy as well as by their tour operator, who gave each of them 100 euro as help.

They were also happily surprised that the Indian and Pakistani shopkeepers, after hearing of their ordeal, either refused to take money from them or charged them minimal.

The Indian embassy issued new passports to the passengers the next day, while the UK embassy stamped their Shenzhen visas and the group is in Paris now.

Meanwhile, the secretary general of Europe India Chamber of Commerce and president of Global Organisation of People of Indian origin in Belgium, Sunil Prasad, has advised touring Indians to be alert and vigilant in Brussels. "The incident only reflects the worsening law and order situation in Brussels."

Said Veena Patil, director Kesari Tours in Mumbai, "Italy and Paris are notorious for robberies. Now, we have to include Brussels in the list". From her Belgian contacts, Patil learnt that the bus would have probably been dismantled in two hours flat. She will be filing insurance claims soon.
< Previous|1|2|



Geopolitics - acharya - 11-03-2006

http://www.unesco.org/dialogue/en/Regard1delibera.htm




Geopolitics - acharya - 11-05-2006

Look Who's Running the World Now

By David J. Rothkopf
Sunday, March 12, 2006; Page B01

The Dick Cheney era of foreign policy is over.

From 2001 to 2005, the vice president's influence over U.S. foreign policy may have been greater than that of any individual other than the president since Henry A. Kissinger held the positions of national security adviser and secretary of state during the Nixon years. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld served as Cheney's partner in steamrolling bureaucratic rivals; Colin L. Powell toiled loyally at the largely ignored and mistrusted State Department; and Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser and ostensibly the coordinator of policy, played the role of tutor to a neophyte president and seldom challenged Cheney. As a result, policies were largely shaped by the vice president and his circle.


(By Jason Reed -- Reuters)
Related Story
Look Who's Running the World Now
A dozen thirtysomething aides, breastfed on "Sesame Street" and babysat by "The Brady Bunch," are now shaping U.S. strategies in unexpected ways as senior advisers on the National Security Council.
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But Cheney's influence has waned. He's lost his top aide, his public approval ratings are dismal, and his network of supporters inside the administration has dissolved. At the same time, Rice has taken charge at State, and the National Security Council has faded even further. The result is a kinder, gentler face on foreign policy, but also a void in the Bush administration foreign policy apparatus just where it matters most -- the White House.

Presidents need strong figures in the White House to harmonize competing views and cabinet departments. Otherwise, an administration cannot deal effectively with the pressing problems of foreign policy. And there are plenty of them for Bush today, ranging from the immediate, such as Iran's challenge to the nuclear nonproliferation regime, to the long term, such as how to manage our interdependence with China.

Last week demonstrated the new order. Cheney was relegated to the traditional vice presidential duty of playing the president's heavy. He rattled the U.S. saber and threatened Iran with "meaningful consequences" for its failure to comply with international nuclear safeguards, only to have Rice temper his comments later the same day. As secretary of state, Rice is now more policy architect than presidential aide. Cheney was a role player, not the puppetmaster.

The ebbing of foreign policy initiative away from the White House over the last year represents a striking change from the previous 35 years. During that time, the NSC asserted primacy in foreign policy, nudging aside the State Department, which had been the grande dame of American cabinet agencies since Thomas Jefferson served as its first secretary.

Created in 1947, the NSC was transformed by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger from a tiny team of paper pushers and facilitators into a hub of real policy shapers. Nixon and other Oval Office occupants worried that the appointees they sent to State would "go native" over at Foggy Bottom, just 10 minutes from the White House. "You'd be surprised how big a deal that distance can become," remarked Kissinger. The NSC gave the president a foreign policy staff he could call his own and who owed loyalty only to him.

Since Kissinger, national security advisers have equaled or surpassed secretaries of State in influence. His successors such as Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Powell and Samuel R. Berger have often galled the State Department by taking the lead.

Then, during George W. Bush's first term in office, something unprecedented happened. The seat at the head of the White House policymaking table was, in effect, taken over by the vice president. Cheney's own national security team was larger than the entire NSC staff had been during the early days of John F. Kennedy's administration. Cheney's chief of staff and national security adviser, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, enjoyed the same protocol rank as the president's national security adviser.

What has changed? First, the president no longer depends on the vice president as he did in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, when Bush was still learning national security on the job and the nation was in crisis. The president today is better schooled, more experienced and more confident. Second, Rumsfeld, who is Cheney's staunchest supporter after the president and whose vacation home is just a few steps away from Cheney's on Maryland's Eastern Shore, has lost a lot of his clout. No longer the center of attention, as he was during the offensives in Afghanistan and Iraq, Rumsfeld has legions of his own detractors.

Third, Libby's legal woes over his alleged disclosure of a CIA operative's identity has been a huge distraction. And his departure was only part of the disintegration of the administration's network of neoconservatives that Cheney tapped into. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz decamped for the World Bank, Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith left government, and Undersecretary of State John Bolton received the ironic punishment of being posted to the United Nations, an institution he had derided as irrelevant.

Then there is the matter of Cheney's personality. One former top Bush administration official says, "I have always felt that his relentless pessimism was unsustainable. After a while people want more than fear, they want a positive vision and that was not his strong suit."

Look Who's Running the World Now

Now, Rice is in her ascendancy at State. Diplomatic, thoughtful and a good listener, she is the Un-Cheney. She has the ear and trust of the president and she has been embraced by U.S. allies for her efforts to repair the damage to ties frayed by first-term policies. She has appointed seasoned internationalists and her former deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, who has replaced her at the NSC, seems content to remain subordinate to her. One former NSC staffer said to me, "He runs the NSC like it was a bureau of State's."

In the eyes of many, notably State Department types who have long felt that foreign policy should be led by diplomats, that is just fine. They would like the NSC once again to become more of a coordinating mechanism than an originator of ideas.


(By Jason Reed -- Reuters)
Related Story
Look Who's Running the World Now
A dozen thirtysomething aides, breastfed on "Sesame Street" and babysat by "The Brady Bunch," are now shaping U.S. strategies in unexpected ways as senior advisers on the National Security Council.
Outlook
The Post's opinion and commentary section runs every Sunday.
• Image of This Week's Outlook Front

Who's Blogging?
Read what bloggers are saying about this article.

* SIVACRACY.NET
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* The Agonist | thoughtful, global, timely


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But diplomacy is only one of many tools the United States has at its disposal when it comes to international relations. The State Department is in no position to mobilize Defense, Treasury, the U.S. Trade Representative or any other agency. The NSC is the place where all the president's options come together.

With the profile of the NSC receding under Hadley, this critical role has been weakened. A lawyer who has worked closely with virtually every GOP foreign policy team since the 1970s, Hadley gets high marks for improving interagency coordination. But the joke for the past year in the foreign policy community has been that Rice has two deputies: Robert Zoellick at State and Hadley. One longtime associate of Hadley who worked closely with him in this administration says, "Steve is very, very, very, very, very, very, very cautious. He is a lawyer not just by training but by disposition." Despite traditional rivalries between the NSC and State, one State Department official said, "My only concern is whether he is too invisible, whether the administration wouldn't be better off if he were more out in front on the issues."

So how well will this new, more harmonious dynamic serve U.S. foreign policy? As Brzezinski said to me, "The question really is whether the administration's new look amounts to merely a toning down of past policies or whether it is really the beginning of something new." Will the Bush foreign policy legacy be something more than Afghanistan, Iraq and the opportunity costs of the overwhelming focus on the latter?

"I believe people will ultimately look at the foreign policy of this administration as having had four quarters, like a football game," one senior official at State told me. "The first was focused on 9/11 and the instant coalition that was offered to us by the world to support our efforts in responding to the terrorist threat. The second came as we made the decision to enter Iraq and did so in a way that undercut much of our international support. The third has been spent, during the past year, with Condi's leadership, rebuilding those international coalitions. But the fourth will be about Iran."

And as any football fan knows, the last quarter often counts the most. Iran "is the critical challenge we face," the State Department official added, "but I would have to say, that if I were a betting man, I would not give us very high odds of achieving our goal of keeping Iran from gaining nuclear weapons or emerging as an even more formidable threat to us in the Middle East."

As it happens, the Bush administration devoted itself to containing the weapons of mass destruction threat of a terrorist-supporting Gulf state during its first term. Now diplomacy, however frustrating, has replaced preemption even though the administration is now facing such a threat, this time more real than imagined. If Iran becomes a nuclear power, then the test for U.S. policy will not be about prevention at all, but rather about how to manage new threats in a world in which the nuclear nonproliferation regime is rapidly failing and in which terrorist-sponsoring states will have real nuclear capabilities.

To manage that will require the help of one of our most critical partners, China, which is also one of our most challenging rivals. We compete for oil resources, jobs and influence. Yet, unlike the distance between us and our Cold War rival, interdependence characterizes our relationship with China. To hurt China would be to injure ourselves. We benefit from its growth and China benefits from ours.

Yet our policy toward China lacks coherence. Some people may long for political instability that could bring about a more humane, democratic way of life in China, but unrest there could also take lives and wound the world economy. While there was a great hue and cry about China's desire to purchase a U.S. oil company last year, there was virtually none when the same Chinese company made a major acquisition in Africa, a region from which, in 10 years, we are likely to get as much of our oil as we do today from the Middle East.

If our foreign policy is to do more than damage control from the first term of the Bush administration, it must tackle a new and broader set of priorities with real creativity. For example, in the case of our relations with China, we need to develop a Doctrine of Interdependence -- an approach that carefully uses the levers at our disposal, all the carrots and the sticks, the tools of our interdependence, to help shape relationships, contain threats and drive common interests. In the case of Iran, we need a replacement for a worn-out and abused nuclear nonproliferation regime.

These are hardly policies that can be run from the State Department alone. The reason the NSC has risen in influence in the past is that relationships such as these require genuine collaboration among all agencies, mutually conceived and orchestrated policies, and these can only be driven and implemented by the White House. The decline of the NSC is antithetical to the new challenges we face. It's good to have a more effective, engaged State Department and a diminution of the role of the vice president, who is in no position to play the role of honest broker. But the real challenges of our time require that Rice and Hadley go well beyond process and damage control. Being better than the last term is not enough.

drothkopf@carnegieendowment.org

David Rothkopf is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of "Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power" (Public Affairs).




Geopolitics - acharya - 11-06-2006

Power Shift
Jessica T. Mathews
From Foreign Affairs, January/ February 1997


Summary: The nation-state may be obsolete in an internetted world. Increasingly, the resources and threats that matter disregard governments and borders. States are sharing powers that defined their sovereignty with corporations, international bodies, and a proliferating universe of citizens groups. The bond markets must be satisfied or capital will go elsewhere. International involvement in domestic crises is a growth industry. Activists fight battles in cyberspace for every imaginable cause-and the nation-state gives in. The ramifications of this power shift will be seismic.

Jessica T. Mathews is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.


THE RISE OF GLOBAL CIVIL SOCIETY

The end of the Cold War has brought no mere adjustment among states but a novel redistribution of power among states, markets, and civil society. National governments are not simply losing autonomy in a globalizing economy. They are sharing powers -- including political, social, and security roles at the core of sovereignty -- with businesses, with international organizations, and with a multitude of citizens groups, known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). <b>The steady concentration of power in the hands of states that began in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia is over, at least for a while.-1</b>

The absolutes of the Westphalian system -- territorially fixed states where everything of value lies within some state's borders; a single, secular authority governing each territory and representing it outside its borders; and no authority above states -- are all dissolving. Increasingly, resources and threats that matter, including money, information, pollution, and popular culture, circulate and shape lives and economies with little regard for political boundaries. International standards of conduct are gradually beginning to override claims of national or regional singularity. Even the most powerful states find the marketplace and international public opinion compelling them more often to follow a particular course.

The state's central task of assuring security is the least affected, but still not exempt. War will not disappear, but with the shrinkage of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, the transformation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty into a permanent covenant in 1995, agreement on the long-sought Comprehensive Test Ban treaty in 1996, and the likely entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, the security threat to states from other states is on a downward course. Nontraditional threats, however, are rising -- terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, ethnic conflict, and the combination of rapid population growth, environmental decline, and poverty that breeds economic stagnation, political instability, and, sometimes, state collapse. The nearly 100 armed conflicts since the end of the Cold War have virtually all been intrastate affairs. Many began with governments acting against their own citizens, through extreme corruption, violence, incompetence, or complete breakdown, as in Somalia.

These trends have fed a growing sense that individuals' security may not in fact reliably derive from their nation's security. A competing notion of "human security" is creeping around the edges of official thinking, suggesting that security be viewed as emerging from the conditions of daily life -- food, shelter, employment, health, public safety -- rather than flowing downward from a country's foreign relations and military strength.

The most powerful engine of change in the relative decline of states and the rise of nonstate actors is the computer and telecommunications revolution, whose deep political and social consequences have been almost completely ignored. Widely accessible and affordable technology has broken governments' monopoly on the collection and management of large amounts of information and deprived governments of the deference they enjoyed because of it. In every sphere of activity, instantaneous access to information and the ability to put it to use multiplies the power




Geopolitics - acharya - 11-06-2006

A Global Power Shift in the Making
James F. Hoge, Jr.
From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2004

Summary: Global power shifts happen rarely and are even less often peaceful. Washington must take heed: Asia is rising fast, with its growing economic power translating into political and military strength. The West must adapt -- or be left behind.

James F. Hoge, Jr. is Editor of Foreign Affairs. This article is adapted from a lecture given in April at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.


The transfer of power from West to East is gathering pace and soon will dramatically change the context for dealing with international challenges -- as well as the challenges themselves. Many in the West are already aware of Asia's growing strength. This awareness, however, has not yet been translated into preparedness. And therein lies a danger: that Western countries will repeat their past mistakes.

Major shifts of power between states, not to mention regions, occur infrequently and are rarely peaceful. In the early twentieth century, the imperial order and the aspiring states of Germany and Japan failed to adjust to each other. The conflict that resulted devastated large parts of the globe. Today, the transformation of the international system will be even bigger and will require the assimilation of markedly different political and cultural traditions. This time, the populous states of Asia are the aspirants seeking to play a greater role. Like Japan and Germany back then, these rising powers are nationalistic, seek redress of past grievances, and want to claim their place in the sun. Asia's growing economic power is translating into greater political and military power, thus increasing the potential damage of conflicts. Within the region, the flash points for hostilities -- Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, and divided Kashmir -- have defied peaceful resolution. Any of them could explode into large-scale warfare that would make the current Middle East confrontations seem like police operations. In short, the stakes in Asia are huge and will challenge the West's adaptability.

Today, China is the most obvious power on the rise. But it is not alone: India and other Asian states now boast growth rates that could outstrip those of major Western countries for decades to come. China's economy is growing at more than nine percent annually, India's at eight percent, and the Southeast Asian "tigers" have recovered from the 1997 financial crisis and resumed their march forward. China's economy is expected to be double the size of Germany's by 2010 and to overtake Japan's, currently the world's second largest, by 2020. If India sustains a six percent growth rate for 50 years, as some financial analysts think possible, it will equal or overtake China in that time.

Nevertheless, China's own extraordinary economic rise is likely to continue for several decades -- if, that is, it can manage the tremendous disruptions caused by rapid growth, such as internal migration from rural to urban areas, high levels of unemployment, massive bank debt, and pervasive corruption. At the moment, China is facing a crucial test in its transition to a market economy. It is experiencing increased inflation, real-estate bubbles, and growing shortages of key resources such as oil, water, electricity, and steel. Beijing is tightening the money supply and big-bank lending, while continuing efforts to clean up the fragile banking sector. It is also considering raising the value of its dollar-pegged currency, to lower the cost of imports. If such attempts to cool China's economy -- which is much larger and more decentralized than it was ten years ago, when it last overheated -- do not work, it could crash.

Even if temporary, such a massive bust would have dire consequences. China is now such a large player in the global economy that its health is inextricably linked to that of the system at large. China has become the engine driving the recovery of other Asian economies from the setbacks of the 1990s. Japan, for example, has become the largest beneficiary of China's economic growth, and its leading economic indicators, including consumer spending, have improved as a result. The latest official figures indicate that Japan's real GDP rose at the annual rate of 6.4 percent in the last quarter of 2003, the highest growth of any quarter since 1990. Thanks to China, Japan may finally be emerging from a decade of economic malaise. But that trend might not continue if China crashes.

India also looms large on the radar screen. Despite the halting progress of its economic reforms, India has embarked on a sharp upward trajectory, propelled by its thriving software and business-service industries, which support corporations in the United States and other advanced economies. Regulation remains inefficient, but a quarter-century of partial reforms has allowed a dynamic private sector to emerge. Economic success is also starting to change basic attitudes: after 50 years, many Indians are finally discarding their colonial-era sense of victimization.

Other Southeast Asian states are steadily integrating their economies into a large web through trade and investment treaties. Unlike in the past, however, China -- not Japan or the United States -- is at the hub.

The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), finally, are seriously considering a monetary union. The result could be an enormous trade bloc, which would account for much of Asia's -- and the world's -- economic growth.

THE STRAINS OF SUCCESS

Asia's rise is just beginning, and if the big regional powers can remain stable while improving their policies, rapid growth could continue for decades. Robust success, however, is inevitably accompanied by various stresses.

The first and foremost of these will be relations among the region's major players. For example, China and Japan have never been powerful at the same time: for centuries, China was strong while Japan was impoverished, whereas for most of the last 200 years, Japan has been powerful and China weak. Having both powerful in the same era will be an unprecedented challenge. Meanwhile, India and China have not resolved their 42-year-old border dispute and still distrust each other. Can these three powers now coexist, or will they butt heads over control of the region, access to energy sources, security of sea lanes, and sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea?

Each of the Asian aspirants is involved in explosive territorial conflicts, and each has varying internal stresses: dislocated populations, rigid political systems, ethnic strife, fragile financial institutions, and extensive corruption. As in the past, domestic crises could provoke international confrontations.

Taiwan is the most dangerous example of this risk. It has now been more than 30 years since the United States coupled recognition of one China with a call for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question. Although economic and social ties between the island and the mainland have since grown, political relations have soured. Taiwan, under its current president, seems to be creeping toward outright independence, whereas mainland China continues to seek its isolation and to threaten it by positioning some 500 missiles across the Taiwan Strait. The United States, acting on its commitment to Taiwan's security, has provided the island with ever more sophisticated military equipment. Despite U.S. warnings to both sides, if Taiwan oversteps the line between provisional autonomy and independence or if China grows impatient, the region could explode.

Kashmir remains divided between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. Since 1989, the conflict there has taken 40,000 lives, many in clashes along the Line of Control that separates the two belligerents. India and Pakistan have recently softened their hawkish rhetoric toward each other, but neither side appears ready for a mutually acceptable settlement. Economic or political instabilities within Pakistan could easily ignite the conflict once more.

North Korea is another potential flash point. Several recent rounds of six-party talks held under Chinese auspices have so far failed to persuade Kim Jong Il to scrap his nuclear weapons program in exchange for security guarantees and aid to North Korea's decrepit economy. Instead, the talks have brought recriminations: toward the United States, for offering too little; toward North Korea, for remaining intransigent; and toward China, for applying insufficient pressure on its dependent neighbor. Now recently disclosed evidence suggests that North Korea's nuclear efforts are even more advanced than was previously believed. As Vice President Dick Cheney warned China's leaders during an April trip, time may be running out for a negotiated resolution to the crisis.

SHIFTING PRIORITIES

For more than half a century, the United States has provided stability in the Pacific through its military presence there, its alliances with Japan and South Korea, and its commitment to fostering economic progress. Indeed, in its early days, the Bush administration stressed its intention to strengthen those traditional ties and to treat China more as a strategic competitor than as a prospective partner. Recent events, however -- including the attacks of September 11, 2001 -- have changed the emphasis of U.S. policy. Today, far less is expected of South Korea than in the past, thanks in part to Seoul's new leaders, who represent a younger generation of Koreans enamored of China, disaffected with the United States, and unafraid of the North.

Japan, meanwhile, faced with a rising China, a nuclear-armed North Korea, and increasing tension over Taiwan, is feeling insecure. It has thus signed on to develop a missile defense system with U.S. aid and is considering easing constitutional limits on the development and deployment of its military forces.

Such moves have been unsettling to Japan's neighbors, which would become even more uncomfortable if Japan lost faith in its U.S. security guarantee and opted to build its own nuclear deterrent instead. Even worse, from the American perspective, would be if China and Japan were to seek a strategic alliance between themselves rather than parallel relations with the United States. To forestall this, Washington must avoid, in all its maneuverings with China and the two Koreas, sowing any doubt in Japan about its commitment to the region.

Yet Japan, given its ongoing economic and demographic problems, cannot be the center of any new power arrangement in Asia. Instead, that role will be played by China and, eventually, India. Relations with these two growing giants are thus essential to the future, and engagement must be the order of the day, even though some Bush officials remain convinced that the United States and China will ultimately end up rivals. For them, the strategic reality is one of incompatible vital interests.

Militarily, the United States is hedging its bets with the most extensive realignment of U.S. power in half a century. Part of this realignment is the opening of a second front in Asia. No longer is the United States poised with several large, toehold bases on the Pacific rim of the Asian continent; today, it has made significant moves into the heart of Asia itself, building a network of smaller, jumping-off bases in Central Asia. The ostensible rationale for these bases is the war on terrorism. But Chinese analysts suspect that the unannounced intention behind these new U.S. positions, particularly when coupled with Washington's newly intensified military cooperation with India, is the soft containment of China.

For its part, China is modernizing its military forces, both to improve its ability to win a conflict over Taiwan and to deter U.S. aggression. Chinese military doctrine now focuses on countering U.S. high-tech capabilities -- information networks, stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, and precision-guided bombs.

Suspicious Americans have interpreted larger Chinese military budgets as signs of Beijing's intention to roll back America's presence in East Asia. Washington is thus eager to use India, which appears set to grow in economic and military strength, as a counterbalance to China as well as a strong proponent of democracy in its own right. To step into these roles, India needs to quicken the pace of its economic reforms and avoid the Hindu nationalism espoused by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which suffered a surprising defeat in recent parliamentary elections. Officials of the victorious Congress Party pledged to continue economic reforms while also addressing the needs of the rural poor who voted them back into office. Bullish in victory, Congress spokespersons said that they would push to increase India's annual growth rate to ten percent from its current eight percent.

Unless Congress follows its secular tradition in governing, it will undercut any utility India might have for the U.S. campaign to counter the influence of radical Islamists. To date, the aberrant religious ideology that opposes all secular government has developed only moderate traction among the large Muslim populations of India and the surrounding states of Central and Southeast Asia. For example, fundamentalist Islamic political parties fared poorly in winter and spring parliamentary elections in Malaysia and Indonesia. In other ways, however, radical Islamists are becoming a serious threat to the region. Weak governments and pervasive corruption there provide fertile ground for back-shop operations: training, recruitment, and equipping of terrorists. Evidence points to a loose network of disparate Southeast Asian terrorist groups that help each other with funds and operations.

Recent public-opinion polls show that sympathy is growing for the anti-American posturing of the radical Islamists, in large part due to U.S. activities in Iraq and U.S. support of the Sharon government in Israel. The full impact of outrage over the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners is still to be determined. But deep anger is already in place among Muslim communities worldwide over the perceived slighting of Palestinian interests by the Bush administration. A settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not end terrorism, and Muslims themselves must lead the ideological battle within Islam. Yet the United States could strengthen the hand of moderates in the Muslim world with a combination of policy changes and effective public diplomacy. The United States must do more than set up radio and television stations to broadcast alternative views of U.S. intentions in the Middle East. It must replenish its diminished public diplomacy resources to recruit more language experts, reopen foreign libraries and cultural centers, and sponsor exchange programs. Given the large number of traditionally tolerant Muslims in Asia, the United States must vigorously assist the creation of attractive alternatives to radical Islamism.

NEEDED CHANGES

To accommodate the great power shift now rapidly occurring in Asia, the United States needs vigorous preparation by its executive branch and Congress. The Bush administration's embrace of engagement with China is an improvement over its initial posture, and the change has been reflected in Washington's efforts to work with Beijing in the battle against terrorism and negotiations with North Korea. The change has also been reflected in the reluctance to settle trade and currency differences by imposing duties. In other ways, however, Washington has yet to shift its approach. On the ground, the United States appears undermanned. Despite a huge increase in the workload, the work force at the U.S. embassy in China numbers approximately 1,000, which is half the employees envisioned for the new embassy in Iraq. Training in Asian languages for U.S. government officials has been increased only marginally. As for the next generation, only several thousand American students are now studying in China, compared to the more than 50,000 Chinese who are now studying in U.S. schools.


Going forward, the United States must provide the leadership to forge regional security arrangements, along the lines of the pending U.S.-Singapore accord to expand cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It must also champion open economies or risk being left out of future trade arrangements. The United States must also avoid creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of strategic rivalry with China. Such a rivalry may in fact come to pass, and the United States should be prepared for such a turn of events. But it is not inevitable; cooperation could still produce historic advancements.

At the international level, Asia's rising powers must be given more representation in key institutions, starting with the UN Security Council. This important body should reflect the emerging configuration of global power, not just the victors of World War II. The same can be said of other key international bodies. A recent Brookings Institution study observed, "There is a fundamental asymmetry between today's global reality and the existing mechanisms of global governance, with the G-7/8 -- an exclusive club of industrialized countries that primarily represents Western culture -- the prime expression of this anachronism."

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has embraced the idea of elevating to heads-of-state level the meetings of the G-20 group, which is composed of 10 industrialized countries and 10 emerging market economies. This could incorporate into global economic governance those countries with large populations and growing economies.

The credibility and effectiveness of international bodies depends on such changes; only then will they be able to contribute significantly to peace among nations. Although hardly foolproof, restructuring institutions to reflect the distribution of power holds out more hope than letting them fade into irrelevance and returning to unrestrained and unpredictable balance-of-power politics and free-for-all economic competition.


Geopolitics - acharya - 11-06-2006

Power Shift: China and Asia's New Dynamics (Paperback)
by David Shambaugh (Editor) "The tectonic plates of power that have characterized Asia for half a century are shifting, and China may be returning to its traditional role


The dynamics of international relations in Asia are undergoing broad and fundamental changes that are reverberating around the world. Primary among the catalysts of change in the region is the rise of China as the engine of regional economic growth, as a major military power, as a significant voice in regional diplomacy, and as a proactive power in multilateral institutions. With in-depth assessments by seventeen of the world's leading experts on China's foreign relations, this groundbreaking volume offers the most timely, up-to-date, and comprehensive analysis of China's emerging influence on international relations in Asia.
The contributors explore the various dimensions of China's rise, its influence on the region, the consequences for the United States, and alternative models of the evolving Asian order. What emerges is a clear picture of China increasingly at the center of the regional web; while North Korean and Taiwan could erupt in conflict, the predominant trend in Asia is the creation of an extensive web of mutual interdependence among states and non-state actors. Providing the best overview we currently have of the changing political balance on the Asian continent, this accessible volume will be essential reading for anyone concerned with contemporary Asian affairs.

From the Inside Flap
"This is an extremely important and valuable volume. The analysis is fresh and compelling throughout, and the material reflects the contributors' broad knowledge and sensitivity to ongoing developments in the region."--T.J. Pempel, director, Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
"There is no competing work with this breadth, depth, up-to-date coverage, and absolute top drawer of China specialists. Superior scholarship is apparent in the high level of insight and information throughout this outstanding, superbly written work." --Allen Whiting, The University of Arizona
"In a time of rapid Chinese ascendancy, it is fortunate to have a comprehensive treatment of China's position in Asia by a group of prominent scholars. While new developments are constantly taking place in this revolutionary era, these essays are well researched, balanced, and insightful--providing an excellent basis from which to assess what is to come."--Robert A. Scalapino, Robson Research Professor of Government Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
"This stimulating book is admirably suited for those seeking a better understanding of the underlying issues relating to China's expanding power and an informed basis for assessing the widely divergent views that are being expressed on the subject. Professor Shambaugh has assembled an outstanding roster of world-class scholars on China whose contributions are noteworthy for their readability, their careful marshaling of relevant facts, and their interpretive insights. The result is this superb volume."--J. Stapleton Roy, former U.S. Ambassador to China, Indonesia, and Singapore
"This outstanding collection of essays, written by leading scholars from around the world, takes an unusually comprehensive look at the subject, addressing China's growing economic clout and diplomatic influence as well as its impact on regional security. It also makes an important contribution to the growing debate over the consequences of China's rise for American interests. This volume is essential reading for anyone interested in Chinese foreign policy or the international relations of the Asia-Pacific region."--Harry Harding, University Professor, The George Washington University


Power Shift: China and Asia's New Dynamics. Edited by David Shambaugh. : University of California Press, 2006, 402 pp. $60.00 (paper, $24.95)


This is an exceptionally well-organized and clearly focused product of a scholarly conference on the rise of Chinese power and influence and what it means for developments in Asia and for U.S. interests. In his introductory chapter, Shambaugh identifies seven possible models of the power configurations that may be ahead for Asia. These are all relatively realistic models, and no time is wasted on the possibility that China will violently shake up the world system. The first substantive chapter addresses the impressive role China is playing in the world economy; it is followed by chapters analyzing China's political and diplomatic relations with its Asian neighbors. The final two chapters -- on the policy implications of China's rise for the United States -- arrive at somewhat different conclusions. Robert Sutter sees problems ahead for U.S.-Chinese relations, whereas David Lampton is more optimistic, believing that skilled diplomacy should be able to keep in check any major negative developments.




Geopolitics - acharya - 11-06-2006

China The Balance Sheet: What the World Needs to Know Now About the Emerging Superpower (Hardcover)
by C. Fred Bergsten, Bates Gill, Nicholas R. Lardy, Derek Mitchell "Complex. Contradictory. Confusing. For centuries, China has proven difficult for Americans to understand

This is an excellent study of the outlook for Chinese national development and the likely future configurations of East Asian relations. The contributors have at their command the resources of two of Washington's leading think tanks, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Institute for International Economics. The result is a systematic review of both the positive and the negative features of Chinese development -- and thus an objective balance sheet of China's prospects. They anchor their study more in the realm of economics than politics, and some of their facts and figures are startling. For example, they report that "today's China has over 390 million mobile phone subscribers, 111 million Internet users, 285,000 officially registered nongovernmental organizations and some 140 million migrants on the move in search of economic opportunity." The main thrust of the analysis is that diversity has replaced the monolithic system that Mao Zedong created. There are, therefore, many Chinas -- rural and urban, wealthy and poor, educated and illiterate, international and isolated. The contributors expect that U.S. influence is likely to decline in the years ahead as Asian states become more assertive. They offer thoughtful suggestions for how Washington should deal with an emerging China. They make a convincing case that prudent U.S. policies can make the arrival of a new Asian superpower a peaceful development -- and reduce the threat of conflict.





Geopolitics - acharya - 11-06-2006

India and the Balance of Power

C. Raja Mohan
From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2006
Summary: India is on the verge of becoming a great power and the swing state in the international system. As a large, multiethnic, economically powerful, non-Western democracy, it will play a key role in the great struggles of the coming years. Washington has recognized the potential of a U.S.-Indian alliance, but translating that potential into reality will require engaging India on its own terms.

C. RAJA MOHAN is Strategic Affairs Editor at The Indian Express and a member of India's National Security Advisory Board. His most recent book is Impossible Allies: Nuclear India, United States, and the Global Order.


WILL THE WEST ENGAGE?

After disappointing itself for decades, India is now on the verge of becoming a great power. The world started to take notice of India's rise when New Delhi signed a nuclear pact with President George W. Bush in July 2005, but that breakthrough is only one dimension of the dramatic transformation of Indian foreign policy that has taken place since the end of the Cold War. After more than a half century of false starts and unrealized potential, India is now emerging as the swing state in the global balance of power. In the coming years, it will have an opportunity to shape outcomes on the most critical issues of the twenty-first century: the construction of Asian stability, the political modernization of the greater Middle East, and the management of globalization.

Although India's economic growth has been widely discussed, its new foreign policy has been less noted. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, Indian leaders do not announce new foreign policy doctrines. Nonetheless, in recent years, they have worked relentlessly to elevate India's regional and international standing and to increase its power. New Delhi has made concerted efforts to reshape its immediate neighborhood, find a modus vivendi with China and Pakistan (its two regional rivals), and reclaim its standing in the "near abroad": parts of Africa, the Persian Gulf, Central and Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region. At the same time, it has expanded relations with the existing great powers -- especially the United States.

India is arriving on the world stage as the first large, economically powerful, culturally vibrant, multiethnic, multireligious democracy outside of the geographic West. As it rises, India has the potential to become a leading member of the "political West" and to play a key role in the great political struggles of the next decades. Whether it will, and how soon, depends above all on the readiness of the Western powers to engage India on its own terms.

THREE STRATEGIC CIRCLES

India's grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighborhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over the actions of outside powers. In the second, which encompasses the so-called extended neighborhood stretching across Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral, India has sought to balance the influence of other powers and prevent them from undercutting its interests. In the third, which includes the entire global stage, India has tried to take its place as one of the great powers, a key player in international peace and security.

Three things have historically prevented India from realizing these grand strategic goals. First, the partition of the South Asian subcontinent along religious lines (first into India and Pakistan, in 1947, then into India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, in 1971) left India with a persistent conflict with Pakistan and an internal Hindu-Muslim divide. It also physically separated India from historically linked states such as Afghanistan, Iran, and the nations of Southeast Asia. The creation of an avowedly Islamic state in Pakistan caused especially profound problems ...




Geopolitics - Guest - 11-24-2006

<!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> India among 54 flawed democracies: Economist
[ 23 Nov, 2006 0951hrs ISTIANS ]


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LONDON: India is one of the fifty-four countries that have flawed democracies, according to a new democracy index devised by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a division of the leading news magazine The Economist.

In a detailed analysis of the 'World in 2007', the magazine has devised the index that examines 60 indicators across five broad categories: free elections, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture.

As per the index,<span style='font-size:21pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:red'> India is listed among the 54 'flawed democracies' that include countries such as Brazil, Israel, Poland, Romania and Estonia</span></span>. The list of 'authoritarian regimes' includes Pakistan.

Twenty-eight countries including the US, Britain, Norway, Denmark and Portugal are listed as 'full democracies'. Sweden is described as a 'near-perfect' democracy.

According to the index methodology, India scored 9.58 out of ten for its electoral process and pluralism and 8.21 out of ten for functioning of government. Its score for political participation was 5.56 out of 10 and 5.63 out of 10 for political culture. It got 9.41 out of ten for civil liberties.



Geopolitics - Guest - 11-29-2006

x-post
Did Thomas the Apostle visit South India?
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Did Thomas the Apostle visit South India?
Don Sebastian
Tuesday, November 28, 2006  23:34 IST

After Kerala's Syro-Malabar Church voices concern, Vatican corrects papal remark

Pope Benedict XVI, who became the target of global protest after his comments on Islam and Prophet Mohammed, faces dissent from among the flock for his rediscovery of history.

After the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala voiced its concerns over the papal remark doubting Thomas the Apostle’s visit to south India, Vatican has corrected the speech in its official website.

The Pope, in a general audience at St Peter’s Square on September 27, said: “Let us remember that an ancient tradition claims that Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia then went on to Western India from where Christianity also reached Southern India.”

The new version on the website supplants ‘Christianity’ with ‘he’ (St Thomas), returning to the old theory of the apostle's visit to south India. The Syro-Malabar Church, which accounts for 4 million of the 24 million Christians in India, objected to the Pope’s casual remarks made in a series of catechesis on the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.

The Church’s mouthpiece Sathyadeepam (Light of Truth), a fortnightly, ran an article on its November 19 issue criticising the Pope’s remarks.

The article titled ‘St Thomas the apostle of India or of Pakistan’ written by Jesuit priest George Nedungattu reads: “Pope Benedict may seem to distance himself from his predecessors, especially Pope John Paul II, who on several occasions has referred to St Thomas as the Apostle of India. <b>According to Pope Benedict XVI, however, the area St Thomas evangelised was not south India, but what he called “western India,” corresponding roughly to Pakistan today.” </b>

“Pope Benedict XVI has the reputation of being a theologian, but this is not the same as competence in Church history. His negative stand does not erode the merit of the Indian tradition about St Thomas as the Apostle of India.” The priest, who is working with Oriental Pontifical Institute in Rome, sites sources from early Popes to former Indian Presidents Rajendra Prasad and Shankar Dayal Sharma to prove his point. In 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Santhome Cathedral in Chennai, where St Thomas is believed to be buried in a crypt.

<b>Syro-Malabar Church, one of the three Catholic Churches in Kerala, claims to have been formed by those directly baptised by the apostle, who landed in Kerala in AD 52 and was martyred in Tamil Nadu in AD 72. But Latin Catholic Church, established in the 15th century, has been less insistent on the claim.</b>

“The Pope’s statement is contrary to the views expressed by earlier Popes and official view of the Church. Earlier Popes acknowledged St Thomas as Apostle of India in their statements and records,” Father Paul Thelakat, chief editor of the fortnightly, said. Though there was no official rebuke to the papal theory, believers did not try to hide their resentment. Syro-Malabar Archbishop Joseph Powathil, however, said that “The Pope has been misquoted.”



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<b>St THOMAS AND INDIAThe visit of St Thomas to India is an established fact. St Thomas was linked to King Gondophorus of Pakthia (a place in Pakistan) and this was considered a myth till the end of the 19th century, when coins bearing the name of Gondophorus were unearthed in Pakistan. The visit of St Thomas to India is considered a fact in all ancient Christian centers. The Malankara (Kerala) Syrian Orthodox Church based in Kerala was established by the Apostle himself and its Supreme Pontiff calls himself the spiritual successor of St Thomas. The head of the Syrian Orthodox Church is the only head of church who claims to be the successor of St Thomas.</b> There are no claimants to the throne of St Thomas anywhere else in the world. <b>The Syro Malabar Church came into being in the 16th century and it is composed of those who broke away from the ancient orthodox church of Kerala, under Portugese pressure.</b> However, the Syro Malabar Church claims that it was the church established by St Thomas. Nothing can be further from the truth. <b>The ancient church of Kerala had no links with Rome and did not even know that a personality called the Pope existed. The Kerala church had spiritual links only with the oriental churches of West Asia. Another indicator of the Kerala church's absolute lack of links with Rome is the usage of the semitic Syriac language for worship. Syriac is the language spoken by Christ and the Apostles and its usage indicates the connection it had with St Thomas. The Roman Church from the very beginning used Latin, the official language of the Roman empire. The churches established by St Thomas still exist in Kerala and they are all Orthodox Churches. </b>
By asha mathewWednesday, November 29, 2006<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


So something odd is in the future of TSP. While Hindus are willing to write off the TSP the Church wants to harvest them. This whole Thomas In India or Pakistan should be in geo-political thread as its not just a religious issue.


Geopolitics - Guest - 11-29-2006

New harvest ground is Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

They are pretty successful in Pakistan and Afghanistan border area.