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Geopolitics - Guest - 12-10-2006

<b>Without Leadership, India Drifts Dangerously</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->by Ramtanu Maitra

India's six percent-plus "impressive GDP growth rate" over the years has drawn much praise from the West, and its "success" has been attributed to the "magical impact" of free-market liberalization and globalization. What it really means, is that India's low-wage-earning labor has begun to replace a section of the high-wage-earning workforce of the West. In the process, India, a nation of 1 billion-plus people stricken with utter poverty, is becoming an economic "powerhouse"—exactly the way China became one, the Indian leaders claim.

However, a visit from one end of India to the other would make one realize that India's GDP growth is driven by only a fraction of its population. Much of the nation remains a picture of rural poverty and urban squalor. Rising social tension because of growing income disparity between a sea of poor and a decent number of middle class, is either not noticed, or ignored, by a callous and rudderless leadership that dots the entire nation. Notwithstanding the illusions of the elites, there are definite signals that some among the many hundreds of millions of poor may not watch the process with benign and dissociated neglect, but instead, could turn violent.

The poverty in India has been exacerbated by the fact that the investors, who are no longer "led" by the powerful and visionary, now invest in those parts of the country where the investment has the maximum potential—a relative term in the Indian context—to optimize profit. As a result, regional disparities are growing fast, involving hundreds of millions of people. Nearly all foreign investments in India go to its six most urban states, with 22 other less-developed states virtually ignored. This gap between cities and rural areas is keenly felt in the suburbs of India's cities, particularly New Delhi, the capital.

<b>Poverty Galore</b>
The endless poverty is there for all to see; it is not hidden like it is in China. There is no escaping the fact that a handful of "skilled Indian workers," tied to Western workplaces through telecommunication, will not be able to pull the hundreds of millions out of the grinding poverty they endure. What is needed is leadership at every level, and the most dangerous aspect of India at the present time is that it does not have any.

Lack of leadership hits one square in the face, starting at the municipal level, all the way up to the highest offices in the North Block and South Block of India's capital. These powerful people have little real understanding of what it would take to make India a nation that cares for all of its people; indeed, they have little intent to achieve such a goal, in any case.

To begin with, it must be understood that a large number of people who are "considered" by Indian leaders not to be poor—a gamut that includes communists, socialists, traders, "casteists," agriculturalists, businessmen, and feudal landlords—are, in reality, abysmally poor. For instance, the minimum income required, as per the World Bank's earlier assessment, to live above the poverty line, for underdeveloped countries like India or China, is about $1 per day or $30 per month (1,410 rupees per month). But the Indian government's poverty line definition, is earning less than Rs. 10 per day, which translates to approximately Rs. 300 (about $7) per month!

<b>Lies and Statistics!</b>
As per the Government of India (GOI), the poverty line for the urban areas is Rs. 296 per month and for rural areas, Rs. 276 per month. According to the GOI, this amount will buy food equivalent to 2,200 calories per day, medically sufficient to prevent death. This is an absurd lie—that amount of money could not buy even one meal for one person in the cities—never mind the rest of the family, and the other necessary expenditures of life. And yet, one finds Indian planners busy bringing down the number of poor using this blatant statistical fraud as a yardstick. In fact, there is no housing available in Delhi—and this includes the huge slums that litter the capital—where a family can get shelter for less than Rs. 2,000 per month.

In other words, 450 million Indians live below the poverty line according to the World Bank's old definition of $1 per day per person, or $365 per year; 700 million Indians live below the poverty line based on the World Bank's later definition of a minimum earning of $2 per day per person, or $730 per year, needed for minimum sustenance.

That is not to say that such a distortion was the creation of the present-day Indian leaders. The distortion existed all along, but it has become further distressing in the present light, since a handful of service-sector personnel, carrying out services for the West, have begun to earn significantly more. It is more distressing to note that by earning even twice the amount that puts the individual in the category of "not poor," does not allow him to have one square meal a day in the Indian cities! Less than 25% of all Indian families are left with any surplus at the end of the day to spend on things which are not absolutely essential.

The slogan of the present crop of Indian "leaders" in power is "India Rising," after the previous crop was kicked out of power because of the fraud of their campaign slogan, "India Shining." To say that the country is reaching "new heights" of success is almost criminal. To begin with, India possesses, as it always has, the potential to be a very powerful and economically sound nation. The opportunity to make that happen lies at the doorstep of India's leaders. Seventy-one percent of the population—742 million people—are below 35 years of age. In other words, India is not a graying nation; it is full of young people. It can be moved with a positive leadership.

But, look at the other figures as well. Almost 94% of India's children drop out of school before completion of the 12th grade. This is largely because of poverty and the lack of opportunities that await them once they get their high school diploma. The successful 6%, the so-called educated youth, go in for a regular college degree, which may not be very relevant in today's context for employment-generation. Seventy-three percent of those graduate from colleges with liberal arts degrees.

<b>Dilapidated Infrastructure</b>
But the Indian leaders do not address these issues—at least openly. They are keen to show to the Western investors—and non-resident Indian investors based abroad—that India is rising and is ready to shine. However, it is not possible to fool all of the people all of the time. While in China, the investors were given a "special place" in the economic process; in India, that is unlikely to happen. India's infrastructure is in an abysmal state. Massive shortfalls in power, water, jammed railroads and roads, and the dwindling number of educated youth threaten India's long-term future, in the hands of these visionless leaders.

India had always been a power-short nation. In the early 1960s, Dr. Homi Bhabha convinced the national leaders that India's economic future lay with development of nuclear power. Almost four decades later, India has very little to show in the production of nuclear power-based electricity, but its scientists and technicians, fighting the heavy odds set up by the nuclear weapons nations, have achieved a great deal of success in mastering the technology. Since the scientists and technicians do not decide on the commercial aspect of utilization of nuclear power, the contribution of nuclear power to India's power industry has been stymied.

India decided on a three-stage nuclear program back in the 1950s, when India's nuclear-power-generation program was set up. In the first stage, natural uranium (U-238) was used in pressurized heavy-water reactors (PHWRs). In the second stage, the plutonium extracted from the used fuel of the PHWRs was scheduled to be used to run fast-breeder reactors (FBRs). The plutonium was used in the FBRs in 70% mixed oxide (MOX)-fuel to breed uranium-233 in a thorium-232 blanket around the core. In the final stage, the FBRs use thorium-232 and produce uranium-233 for use in the third-stage reactors.

As of now, India is by far the most committed nation as far as the use of thorium fuel is concerned, and the scientists of no other country have done as much neutron physics work vis-à-vis thorium as Indian nuclear scientists have. The positive results obtained in the neutron physics work have motivated Indian nuclear engineers with their current plans to use thorium-based fuels in more advanced reactors now under construction.

<b>Wasting India's Strengths</b>
Instead of giving the program the necessary push to make this "indigenous" power source the anchor of India's development, the myopic leaders are now thinking seriously, and begging desperately, to get foreign reactors which do not exactly fit into the Indian mix. Moreover, the huge amount of money that would be spent in getting a handful of large commercial reactors would be good enough to fill in some gaps, but would not make a large impact.

First and foremost, it is important for the Indian leaders to understand why Dr. Bhabha started the program that he did, and why some of the best minds in India have spent their lifetimes to bring that program to fruition. For instance, it is not a national secret that most of India suffers an acute shortage of potable water. There are areas where people spend most of the day trying to procure water to keep themselves alive. A recent World Bank report said that, within the next 15 years, India's demand for water will exceed all its sources of supply.

The report, India's Water Economy: Bracing for a Turbulent Future, by John Briscoe, senior water advisor at the World Bank, examined the challenges facing India's water sector and concluded: "Unless water management practices are changed—and changed soon—India will face a severe water crisis within the next two decades." What Briscoe put in writing has long been said by Indian water experts, but the Indian "leaders" wrung their hands, brushing aside the obvious.

It is also not a national secret that only a handful of Indian rivers have surplus water. The water shortage is particularly evident in southern India, where the Indian peninsula catchment area is narrow, and rivers have a short west-to-east run. But, southern India, more than any part of the country, except perhaps the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat in the north and west, wants to develop and develop fast. The entire southern part of India is surrounded by seas, and it possesses fertile lands. But, the area survives on the brink of disaster because of lack of water.

This is where the importance of indigenous thorium reactors is to be understood fully. If there were visionaries in India today at the leadership level, they would have grabbed this opportunity with both hands. What India needs, and can develop in no time, are these small 25-50 MW thorium-fuelled reactors for providing power locally and for desalinating seawater in bulk quantities. If the Indian leaders understood what is at stake, there would be plans to set up hundreds and hundreds of those reactors, dotting the sea coasts stretching from Orissa in the east to Gujarat in the west. New Delhi must realize that no foreign manufacturer has any interest in developing these small reactors. But these small reactors, if put to work effectively, would boost India's economic capability once and for all.

Another area where India excelled in the past, and the reason why India is still on its own two feet, is its now much-neglected agricultural sector. Blessed with fertile land like no other country in the world, India is not only self-sufficient in food, but it has the ability to feed a billion others. But, to the visionless leaders of today, the agricultural sector is a problem, because that is where the majority of the poor reside. These agricultural workers, lacking education and neglected to the extreme, remain bound to their land, scraping out means of survival. In the suburbs of metropolitan areas, some of these farmers get the opportunity to sell off their land to the housing developers, and a few of them thus move into a stable life. Otherwise, for most in India's agricultural sector, life is cruel and there exists little opportunity to improve their lot.

<b>For Whom the Bell Tolls</b>
A spate of recent reports indicates that the situation in rural agricultural India is becoming desperate. Over the last five or six years, at least 950,000 farmers—nearly a million!—have committed suicide. Over 850 farmers have committed suicide in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh since May 2004, as government relief efforts prove inadequate. One observer pointed out that currently, seven to eight farmers commit suicide in Andhra Pradesh every day.

What are the reasons behind these mass suicides? Reports indicate that successive crop failures due to five years of drought, exacerbated by such factors as the increased cost of inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers, failure of bore wells, and accumulated debt, have led the farmers to end their lives.

There are no authentic figures on the exact number of farm suicides in Vidarbha, but the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers' movement, puts the toll at 782, from June 1, 2005 to Aug. 26, 2006. And, in the last three months, there has been a suicide every eight hours.

In Maharashtra, and as well in Andhra Pradesh, the cotton growers are in deep financial trouble and many of them have ended their lives. Agronomists point out that across the country, the average cost of cultivation of cotton is a little more than Rs. 16,000 (about $360) per hectare. With an average productivity of 460 kg per hectare, it costs between Rs. 35 to Rs. 48 per kg to grow cotton. In Vidarbha, the cost of cultivation could go well beyond Rs. 20,000 per hectare, and if marketing cost is added, it exceeds Rs. 22,000.

Among the farmers who committed suicide in the past year, more than 50% were between 20 and 45 years of age (their most productive years), according to a study by the Sakal Newspapers Limited of the two districts, Amravati and Yavatmal, of Vidarbha. The Planning Commission's fact-finding mission members found out that nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers in Vidarbha are in default. Of every Rs. 100 borrowed, approximately Rs. 80 goes back in to servicing of old loans. Most of these farmers do not get loans from the banks and instead borrow from loan sharks, who are protected by local- or state-level, politicians.

<b>China Model With a Nasty Twist</b>
What is evident from the way India is being "led," and listening to what the leaders have to say, is that India is trying to become a variation of the "China Model" of economic development, but with a catch. The catch is that while China is scouring the entire world to get raw materials and energy to manufacture "things" that can be sold elsewhere, India is pushing to become a service-sector nation, trying to exploit (as long it lasts) the English-speaking capability of a section of its people. The Chinese manufacturing process necessarily requires modernization and expansion of its infrastructure. China has invested heavily in the transportation and power sectors.

China's push for a cheap-wage-based manufacturing sector, and the Indian leaders' unwillingness to look beyond a handful of English-speaking people as the country's asset, pose a long-term threat to India. Having kept its infrastructure obsolete, India's production costs for "things" are higher than China's. Already, Chinese goods are flooding the market, further weakening India's small and medium-scale manufacturers. It will not be long before Indian entrepreneurs, because of this lack of infrastructure, begin to head northward to set up their shops in China with the purpose of "exporting" to India.

While China still has a long way to go to develop the level of infrastructure (including water, education, and health services) necessary to bring all Chinese citizens to the economic mainstream, Indian leaders took a short cut. Instead of focussing on developing the dilapidated infrastructure, they persisted with the service sector in an attempt to reach economic nirvana. Needless to say, these service-sector jobs do not need as much quality infrastructure as a full-fledged manufacturing economy does.

In other words, bereft of vision and a clarity of purpose to build a nation that is economically sound, Indian leaders have turned the focus on making the country a service-exporting nation. In this economic policymaking process, the leaders draw succor from two segments of the society. First, manufacturers: Successful Indian manufacturers, such as the Tatas and the Mittals, have gone abroad to buy fully functioning facilities that are short of capital. These industrial houses made their money in India and they are now investing abroad. That means they have accepted the government's policy not to develop the infrastructure necessary for building a flourishing and productive manufacturing process. In other words, they have badly compromised.

The other group of supporters of this policy belongs to India's English-speaking middle class. With the "call centers" and other white-collar service-exporting jobs beginning to bring larger sums of money into their pockets, this group has de facto endorsed the government's visionless thrust to expand service jobs. Moreover, members of the middle class, with a little surplus money in hand, are getting addicted to consumption, and distancing themselves further from the poor—and from reality.

There is little doubt that the Indian leaders are now keen to show the "success" this model has achieved. In addition, the growth of computer software technology in India, for which the country is recognized worldwide, has come about not because this technology could be used effectively to "wipe the tears off of every Indian's eyes"—as one of India's greatest sons, Mahatma Gandhi, had aspired—but because it would generate a GDP growth and accrue foreign-exchange reserves, which would then allow India "some day" to deal with the poor. But, unlike China's, India's foreign-exchange reserves are small, and even these funds have been temporarily parked in India's profitable stock exchanges. They can vanish in no time. Lack of infrastructure has prevented India from attracting foreign direct investments the way China has done.

However, it is also becoming evident, at least to some Indians, that the foreign exchange earned by these IT companies, and the foreign direct investments that come from abroad, will not be able to make a serious dent in India's poverty-related problems. Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claimed that he expects about $150 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) to come in to alleviate India's infrastructural woes, no one believes him. India is now attracting only $5 billion of FDI a year, and there is a good reason why foreign investors are not keen on putting money into India's decrepit economic infrastructure. The investors have realized that India is not interested in developing the foundation of a flourishing manufacturing sector, but is merely catering to the service-exporting sector, to generate growth and earn foreign exchange quickly.

But the foreign exchange has begun to leave India's shores. For instance, the Tata industrial house, which produces 5 million tons of steel in India, is now ready to spend $6.7 billion to buy Corus Steel of the United Kingdom, which produces more than three times annually what the Tatas produce. Similarly, Ranbaxy, and other Indian pharmaceutical companies, are buying up pharmaceutical manufacturers in Europe and North America for good reasons, but draining foreign-exchange reserves in the process. It is evident that New Delhi, having stymied these manufacturers at home by not building the infrastructure to support them, has made available to them large chunks of foreign-exchange reserves to allow them to expand their business globally.

<b>Social Tensions</b>
These developments are indicative of the problems that were piled up by these leaders adopting an economic policy which has virtually no future for the poor. It is altogether another matter to make Indians believe that the poor will accept the new situation quietly. Already, anger against economic disparity has begun to show its fangs—although New Delhi prefers to ignore them. If the suicides of such a large number of farmers have not awakened the nation, Indian leaders feel they have little cause to worry about the rise of extremist forces in the most poverty-stricken areas of the country.

However, that could be a grave mistake for which generations to come may have to pay. Violent militant cells have been set up virtually all around India. New Delhi talks about them only when those militants carry out bloody actions, such as the explosion of bombs on the Mumbai railroad last July.

It is also ignored that some parts of India are reeling under Maoist-terrorist threats. The Indian Maoists, known in the 1960s as Naxalites, have proliferated. Throughout the virtually ungoverned state of Bihar and the jungles of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh, Maoists have emerged as the "law." They have developed large dumps of arms, and intelligence reports suggest that they are not only working hand-in-glove with their Nepali counterparts, but have developed a close "business relationship" with the "mother of all terrorists"—the Tamil Tigers.

It is widely recognized that the Maoists in India have taken control of a huge swath of land running from the state of Bihar in the north all the way to the state of Tamil Nadu in the south, encompassing in the process highly underdeveloped areas of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh. One common thread that runs through this massive stretch of land is: underdevelopment and poverty.
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Geopolitics - Guest - 02-21-2007

<b>Don't overdo :The trilateral with Russia and China could boomerang on India.</b>
http://www.indiareacts.com/archivedebates/....asp?recno=1587
by N.V.Subramanian
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->16 February 2007: If you take away the spin, it would appear that the trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of India, China and Russia was organized in Delhi two days ago so that all the three countries could talk to the United States through one another. The meeting had an eerie similarity with the US-led six-party talks to denuke North Korea that has proved partly successful. Because the US wouldn't talk to North Korea directly, their bilateral had to be upgraded by including four other parties, with China hosting it. While India, China and certainly Russia can and do engage the US, they have perhaps begun to feel a need to use one another to get their own way with America. As to its success, if such is the strategy, it depends from player to player. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


Geopolitics - Guest - 03-08-2007

Israel, Iran top 'negative list'
<img src='http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42645000/gif/_42645135_country_influ_gra203.gif' border='0' alt='user posted image' />


Geopolitics - ramana - 03-22-2007

Long Post

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>The 2007 Irving Kristol Lecture by Bernard Lewis</b>  Print  Mail
 


Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SPEECHES
AEI Annual Dinner, Irving Kristol Lecture  (Washington) 
Publication Date: March 7, 2007

Introductory remarks by Christopher DeMuth, Reuel Marc Gerecht, and James Q. Wilson


Lewis's Lecture

Thank you, Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, ladies and gentlemen. As you have been told, I have studied a number of languages, but I cannot find words in any of them adequate to express my feeling of gratitude for the honor and appreciation which I have been shown this evening. All I can say is thank you.

<b>My topic this evening is Europe and Islam. But let me begin with a word of personal explanation. You are accustomed for the most part to hearing from people with direct practical involvement in military and intelligence matters. I cannot offer you that. My direct involvement with military and intelligence matters ended quite a long time ago--to be precise, on 31 August 1945, when I left His Majesty's Service and returned to the university to join with colleagues in trying to cope with a six-year backlog of battle-scarred undergraduates.</b>

What I would like to try and offer you this evening is something of the lessons of history. Here I must begin with a second disavowal. It is sometimes forgotten that the content of history, the business of the historian, is the past, not the future. I remember being at an international meeting of historians in Rome during which a group of us were sitting and discussing the question: should historians attempt to predict the future? We batted this back and forth. This was in the days when the Soviet Union was still alive and well. One of our Soviet colleagues finally intervened and said, "In the Soviet Union, the most difficult task of the historian is to predict the past."

<b>I do not intend to offer any predictions of the future in Europe or the Middle East, but one thing can legitimately be expected of the historian, and that is to identify trends and processes - to look at the trends in the past, at what is continuing in the present, and therefore to see the possibilities and choices which will face us in the future.</b>

One other introductory word. A favorite theme of the historian, as I am sure you know, is periodization--dividing history into periods. Periodization is mostly a convenience of the historian for purposes of writing or teaching. <b>Nevertheless, there are times in the long history of the human adventure when we have a real turning point, a major change--the end of an era, the beginning of a new era. I am becoming more and more convinced that we are in such an age at the present time--a change in history comparable with such events as the fall of Rome, the discovery of America, and the like. I will try to explain that.</b>

<b>Conventionally, the modern history of the Middle East begins at the end of the 18th century, when a small French expeditionary force commanded by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte was able to conquer Egypt and rule it with impunity.</b> It was a terrible shock that one of the heartlands of Islam could be invaded, occupied, and ruled with virtually no effective resistance.

<b>The second shock came a few years later with the departure of the French, which was brought about</b> not by the Egyptians nor by their suzerains, the Turks, but <b>by a small squadron of the Royal Navy commanded by a young admiral called Horatio Nelson, </b>who drove the French out and back to France.

This is of symbolic importance. That was, as I said, at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. <b>From then onward, the heartlands of Islam were no longer wholly controlled by the rulers of Islam. They were under direct or indirect influence or control from outside. </b>

The dominating forces in the Islamic world were now outside forces. <b>What shaped their lives was Western influence. What gave them choices was Western rivalries. The political game that they could play--the only one that was open to them--was to try and profit from the rivalries between the outside powers, to try to use them against one another.</b> We see that again and again in the course of the 19th and 20th and even into the beginning of the 21st century. We see, for example, in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Cold War, how Middle Eastern governments or leaders tried to play this game with varying degrees of success.

<b>That game is now over. The era that was inaugurated by Napoleon and Nelson was terminated by Reagan and Gorbachev. The Middle East is no longer ruled or dominated by outside powers.</b> These nations are having some difficulty adjusting to this new situation, to taking responsibility for their own actions and their consequences, and so on. But they are beginning to do so, and <b>this change has been expressed with his usual clarity and eloquence by Osama bin Laden.</b>

<b>We see with the ending of the era of outside domination, the reemergence of certain older trends and deeper currents in Middle Eastern history, which had been submerged or at least obscured during the centuries of Western domination.</b> Now they are coming back again. One of them I would call the <b>internal struggles--ethnic, sectarian, regional--between different forces within the Middle East. These have of course continued, but were of less importance in the imperialist era. They are coming out again now and gaining force, as we see for example from the current clash between Sunni and Shia Islam--something without precedent for centuries.</b>

The other thing more directly relevant to my theme this evening is the <b>signs of a return among Muslims to what they perceive as the cosmic struggle for world domination between the two main faiths--Christianity and Islam. There are many religions in the world, but as far as I know there are only two that have claimed that their truths are not only universal--all religions claim that--but also exclusive; that they--the Christians in the one case, the Muslims in the other--are the fortunate recipients of God's final message to humanity, which it is their duty not to keep selfishly to themselves--like the Jews or the Hindus--but to bring to the rest of humanity, removing whatever obstacles there may be on the way. This self-perception, shared between Christendom and Islam, led to the long struggle that has been going on for more than fourteen centuries and which is now entering a new phase. In the Christian world, now at the beginning of the 21st century of its era, this triumphalist attitude no longer prevails, and is confined to a few minority groups. In the world of Islam, now in its early 15th century, triumphalism is still a significant force, and has found expression in new militant movements.</b>

<b>It is interesting that both sides for quite a long time refused to recognize this struggle. For example, both sides named each other by non-religious terms.</b> The Christian world called the Muslims: Moors, Saracens, Tartars, and Turks. Even a convert was said to have turned Turk. The Muslims for their part called the Christian world Romans, Franks, Slavs, and the like. It was only slowly and reluctantly that they began to give each other religious designations and then these were for the most part demeaning and inaccurate. In the West, it was customary to call Muslims Mohammadans, which they never called themselves, based on the totally false assumption that Muslims worship Muhammad in the way that Christians worship Christ. The Muslim term for Christians was Nazarene--nasrani--implying the local cult of a place called Nazareth.

<b>The declaration of war begins at the very beginning of Islam. There are certain letters purported to have been written by the Prophet Muhammad to the Christian Byzantine emperor, the emperor of Persia, and various other rulers, saying, "I have now brought God's final message. Your time has passed. Your beliefs are superseded. Accept my mission and my faith or resign or submit--you are finished." The authenticity of these prophetic letters is doubted, but the message is clear and authentic in the sense that it does represent the long dominant view of the Islamic world.</b>

<b>A little later we have hard evidence</b>--and I mean hard in the most literal sense--inscriptions. Many of you, I should think, have been to Jerusalem. You have probably visited that remarkable building, the Dome of the Rock. It is very significant. It is built on a place sacred to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Its architectural style is that of the earliest Christian churches. It dates from the end of the 7th century and was built by one of the early caliphs, the oldest Muslim religious building outside Arabia. What is significant is the message <b>in the inscriptions inside the Dome: "He is God, He is one, He has no companion, He does not beget, He is not begotten." (cf. Qur'an, IX, 31-3; CXII, 1-3) This is clearly a direct challenge to certain central principles of the Christian faith.</b>

<b>Interestingly, they put the same thing on a new gold coinage. Until then, striking gold coins had been an exclusive Roman privilege. The Islamic caliph for the first time struck gold coins, breaching the immemorial privilege of Rome, and putting the same inscription on them. As I said, a challenge.</b>

The Muslim attack on Christendom and the resulting conflict, which arose more from their resemblances than from their differences, has gone through three phases. <b>The first dates from the very beginning of Islam, when the new faith spilled out of the Arabian Peninsula, where it was born, into the Middle East and beyond.</b> It was then that they conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa--all at that time part of the Christian world--and went beyond into Europe, conquering a sizable part of southwestern Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and southern Italy, all of which became part of the Islamic world, and even crossing the Pyrenees into France and occupying for a while parts of France.

<b>After a long and bitter struggle, the Christians managed to retake part but not all of the territory they had lost. They succeeded in Europe, and in a sense Europe was defined by the limits of that success. They failed to retake North Africa or the Middle East, which were lost to Christendom. Notably, they failed to recapture the Holy Land, in the series of campaigns known as the Crusades.</b>

That was not the end of the matter. <b>In the meantime the Islamic world, having failed the first time, was bracing for the second attack, this time conducted not by Arabs and Moors but by Turks and Tartars. In the mid-thirteenth century the Mongol conquerors of Russia were converted to Islam. The Turks, who had already conquered Anatolia, advanced into Europe and in 1453 they captured the ancient Christian citadel of Constantinople. They conquered a large part of the Balkans, and for a while ruled half of Hungary. Twice they reached as far as Vienna, to which they laid siege in 1529 and again in 1683. Barbary corsairs from North Africa--well-known to historians of the United States--were raiding Western Europe. They went to Iceland--the uttermost limit--and to several places in Western Europe, including notably a raid on Baltimore (the original one, in Ireland) in 1631. In a contemporary document, we have a list of 107 captives who were taken from Baltimore to Algiers, including a man called Cheney.</b>

<b>Again, Europe counterattacked, this time more successfully and more rapidly. They succeeded in recovering Russia and the Balkan Peninsula, and in advancing further into the Islamic lands, chasing their former rulers whence they had come. For this phase of European counterattack, a new term was invented: imperialism.</b> When the peoples of Asia and Africa invaded Europe, this was not imperialism. When Europe attacked Asia and Africa, it was.

<b>This European counterattack began a new phase which brought the European attack into the very heart of the Middle East.</b> In our own time, we have seen the end of the resulting domination.

<b>Osama bin Laden, in some very interesting proclamations and declarations, has this to say about the war in Afghanistan</b> which, you will remember, led to the defeat and retreat of the Red Army and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We tend to see that as a Western victory, more specifically an American victory, in the Cold War against the Soviets. For Osama bin Laden, it was nothing of the kind. <b>It is a Muslim victory in a jihad.</b> If one looks at what happened in Afghanistan and what followed, this is, I think one must say, a not implausible interpretation.

As Osama bin Laden saw it, <b>Islam had reached the ultimate humiliation in this long struggle after World War I, when the last of the great Muslim empires--the Ottoman Empire--was broken up and most of its territories divided between the victorious allies; when the caliphate was suppressed and abolished, and the last caliph driven into exile. This seemed to be the lowest point in Muslim history.</b> From there they went upwards.

<b>In his perception, the millennial struggle between the true believers and the unbelievers had gone through successive phases, in which the latter were led by the various imperial European powers that had succeeded the Romans in the leadership of the world of the infidels--the Christian Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the British and French and Russian empires.</b> In this final phase, he says, the world of the infidels was divided and disputed between two rival superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. <b>In his perception, the Muslims have met, defeated, and destroyed the more dangerous and the more deadly of the two infidel superpowers. Dealing with the soft, pampered and effeminate Americans would be an easy matter.</b>

This belief was confirmed in the 1990s when we saw one attack after another on American bases and installations with virtually no effective response of any kind--only angry words and expensive missiles dispatched to remote and uninhabited places. The lessons of Vietnam and Beirut were confirmed by Mogadishu. "Hit them, and they'll run." This was the perceived sequence leading up to <b>9/11. That attack was clearly intended to be the completion of the first sequence and the beginning of the new one, taking the war into the heart of the enemy camp.</b>

<b>In the eyes of a fanatical and resolute minority of Muslims, the third wave of attack on Europe has clearly begun.</b> We should not delude ourselves as to what it is and what it means. This time it is taking different forms and two in particular: terror and migration.

The subject of terror has been frequently discussed and in great detail, and I do not need to say very much about that now. <b>What I do want to talk about is the other aspect of more particular relevance to Europe, and that is the question of migration.</b>

<b>In earlier times, it was inconceivable that a Muslim would voluntarily move to a non-Muslim country.</b> The jurists discuss this subject at great length in the textbooks and manuals of shari`a, but in a different form: is it permissible for a Muslim to live in or even visit a non-Muslim country? And if so, if he does, what must he do? Generally speaking, this was considered under certain specific headings.

A captive or a prisoner of war obviously has no choice, but he must preserve his faith and get home as soon as possible.

The second case is that of an unbeliever in the land of the unbelievers who sees the light and embraces the true faith--in other words, becomes a Muslim. He must leave as soon as possible and go to a Muslim country.

The third case is that of a visitor. For long, the only purpose that was considered legitimate was to ransom captives. This was later expanded into diplomatic and commercial missions. With the advance of the European counterattack, there was a new issue in this ongoing debate. <b>What is the position of a Muslim if his country is conquered by infidels? May he stay or must he leave?</b>

We have some interesting documents from the late 15th century, when the reconquest of Spain was completed and Moroccan jurists were discussing this question. They asked if Muslims could stay. The general answer was no, it is not permissible. The question was asked: May they stay if the Christian government that takes over is tolerant? This proved to be a purely hypothetical question, of course. The answer was no; even then they may not stay, because the temptation to apostasy would be even greater. They must leave and hope that in God's good time they will be able to reconquer their homelands and restore the true faith.

This was the line taken by most jurists. <b>There were some, at first a minority, later a more important group, who said it is permissible for Muslims to stay provided that certain conditions are met, mainly that they are allowed to practice their faith. This raises another question which I will come back to in a moment: what is meant by practicing their faith?</b> Here I would remind you that we are dealing not only with a different religion but also with a different concept of what religion is about, referring especially to what Muslims call the shari`a, the holy law of Islam, covering a wide range of matters regarded as secular in the Christian world even during the medieval period, but certainly in what some call the post-Christian era of the Western world.

There are obviously now many attractions which draw Muslims to Europe including the opportunities offered, particularly in view of the growing economic impoverishment of much of the Muslim world, and the attractions of European welfare as well as employment. They also have freedom of expression and education which they lack at home. This is a great incentive to the terrorists who migrate. Terrorists have far greater freedom of preparation and operation in Europe--and to a degree also in America--than they do in most Islamic lands.

I would like to draw your attention to some other factors of importance in the situation at this moment. <b>One is the new radicalism in the Islamic world, which comes in several kinds: Sunni, especially Wahhabi, and Iranian Shiite, dating from the Iranian revolution. Both of these are becoming enormously important factors. We have the strange paradox that the danger of Islamic radicalism or of radical terrorism is far greater in Europe and America than it is in the Middle East and North Africa, where they are much better at controlling their extremists than we are.</b>

The Sunni kind is mainly Wahhabi and has benefited from the prestige and influence and power of the House of Saud as controllers of the holy places of Islam and of the annual pilgrimage, and the enormous oil wealth at their disposal. <b>The Iranian revolution is something different. The term revolution is much used in the Middle East. It is virtually the only generally accepted title of legitimacy. But the Iranian revolution is a real revolution in the sense in which we use that term of the French or Russian revolutions. Like the French and Russian revolutions in their day, it has had an enormous impact in the whole area with which the Iranians share a common universe of discourse--that is to say, the Islamic world.</b>

Let me turn to the question of assimilation, which is much discussed nowadays. How far is it possible for Muslim migrants who have settled in Europe, in North America, and elsewhere, to become part of those countries in which they settle, in the way that so many other waves of immigrants have done? I think there are several points which need to be made.

One of them is the basic differences in what precisely is meant by assimilation and acceptance. <b>Here there is an immediate and obvious difference between the European and the American situations. For an immigrant to become an American means a change of political allegiance. For an immigrant to become a Frenchman or a German means a change of ethnic identity. Changing political allegiance is certainly very much easier and more practical than changing ethnic identity, either in one's own feelings or in one's measure of acceptance.</b> England had it both ways. If you were naturalized, you became British but you did not become English.

<b>I mentioned earlier the important difference in what one means by religion.</b> For Muslims, it covers a whole range of different things--marriage, divorce, and inheritance are the most obvious examples. Since antiquity in the Western world, the Christian world, these have been secular matters. The distinction of church and state, spiritual and temporal, lay and ecclesiastical is a Christian distinction which has no place in Islamic history and therefore is difficult to explain to Muslims, even in the present day. Until very recently they did not even have a vocabulary to express it. They have one now.

What are the European responses to this situation? In Europe, as in the United States, a frequent response is what is variously known as multiculturalism and political correctness. <b>In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions. They are very conscious of their identity. They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of strength in the one, of weakness in the other.</b>

<b>A term sometimes used is constructive engagement. Let's talk to them, let's get together and see what we can do. Constructive engagement has a long tradition.</b> When Saladin re-conquered Jerusalem and other places in the holy land, he allowed the Christian merchants from Europe to stay in the seaports. He apparently felt the need to justify this, and he wrote a letter to the caliph in Baghdad explaining his action. I would like to quote it to you. The merchants were useful since "there is not one among them that does not bring and sell us weapons of war, to their detriment and to our advantage." This continued during the Crusades. It continued after. It continued during the Ottoman advance into Europe, when <b>they could always find European merchants willing to sell them weapons they needed and European bankers willing to finance their purchases. Constructive engagement has a long history.</b>

<b>One also finds a rather startling modern version of it. We have seen in our own day the extraordinary spectacle of a pope apologizing to the Muslims for the Crusades.</b> I would not wish to defend the behavior of the Crusaders, which was in many respects atrocious. <b>But let us have a little sense of proportion. We are now expected to believe that the Crusades were an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world. Hardly.</b> The first papal call for a crusade occurred in 846 C.E., when an Arab expedition from Sicily sailed up the Tiber and sacked St. Peter's Rome. A synod in France issued an appeal to Christian sovereigns to rally against "the enemies of Christ," and the Pope, Leo IV, offered a heavenly reward to those who died fighting the Muslims. A century and a half and many battles later, in 1096, the Crusaders actually arrived in the Middle East. <b>The Crusades were a late, limited, and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad--an attempt to recover by holy war what had been lost by holy war. </b>It failed, and it was not followed up.

Here is another more recent example of multiculturalism. On October 8, 2002--I insist on giving the date because you may want to look it up--the then French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who I am told is a staunch Roman Catholic, was making a speech in the French National Assembly and talking about the situation in Iraq. Speaking of Saddam Hussein, he remarked that one of Saddam Hussein's heroes was his compatriot Saladin, who came from the same Iraqi town of Tikrit. In case the members of the Assembly were not aware of Saladin's identity, M. Raffarin explained to them that it was he who was able "to defeat the Crusaders and liberate Jerusalem." Yes. <b>When a French prime minister describes Saladin's capture of Jerusalem from the largely French Crusaders as an act of liberation, this would seem to indicate a rather extreme case of realignment of loyalties.</b>

I was told this, and I didn't believe it. So I checked it in the parliamentary record. When M. Raffarin used the word "liberate," a member--the name was not given--called out, "Libérer?" He just went straight on. That was the only interruption, and as far as I was aware there was no comment afterwards.

<b>The Islamic radicals have even been able to find some allies in Europe. In describing them I shall have to use the terms left and right, terms which are becoming increasingly misleading.</b> The seating arrangements in the first French National Assembly after the revolution are not the laws of nature, but we have become accustomed to using them. They are difficult when applied to the West nowadays. They are utter nonsense when applied to different brands of Islam. But as I say, they are what people use, so let us put it this way.

They have a left-wing appeal to the anti-U.S. elements in Europe, for whom they have so-to-speak replaced the Soviets. They have a right-wing appeal to the anti-Jewish elements in Europe, replacing the Axis. They have been able to win considerable support under both headings. For some in Europe, their hatreds apparently outweigh their loyalties.

There is an interesting exception to that in Germany, where the Muslims are mostly Turkish. There they have often tended to equate themselves with the Jews, to see themselves as having succeeded the Jews as the victims of German racism and persecution. I remember a meeting in Berlin convened to discuss the new Muslim minorities in Europe. In the evening I was asked by a Muslim group of Turks to join them and hear what they had to say about it, which was very interesting. <b>The phrase which sticks most vividly in my mind from one of them was, "In a thousand years they (the Germans) were unable to accept 400,000 Jews. What hope is there that they will accept two million Turks?" They used this very skillfully in playing on German feelings of guilt in order to inhibit any effective German measures to protect German identity, which I would say like others in Europe is becoming endangered.</b>

My time is running out so I think I'll leave other points that I wanted to make. [Shouts to go on.] You don't mind a bit more?

I want to say something about the question of tolerance. You will recall that at the end of the first phase of the Christian reconquest, after Spain and Portugal and Sicily, Muslims--who by that time were very numerous in the reconquered lands--were given a choice: baptism, exile, or death. In the former Ottoman lands in southeastern Europe, the leaders of what you might call the reconquest were somewhat more tolerant but not a great deal more. Some Muslim minorities remained in some Balkan countries, with troubles still going on at the present day. If I say names like Kosovo or Bosnia, you will know what I am talking about.

Nevertheless, I mention this point because of the very sharp contrast with the treatment of Christians and other non-Muslims in the Islamic lands at that time. <b>When Muslims came to Europe they had a certain expectation of tolerance, feeling that they were entitled to at least the degree of tolerance which they had accorded to non-Muslims in the great Muslim empires of the past. Both their expectations and their experience were very different.</b>

Coming to European countries, they got both more and less than they had expected: More in the sense that they got in theory and often in practice equal political rights, equal access to the professions, all the benefits of the welfare state, freedom of expression, and so on and so forth.

But they also got significantly less than they had given in traditional Islamic states. In the Ottoman Empire and other states before that--I mention the Ottoman Empire as the most recent--the non-Muslim communities had separate organizations and ran their own affairs. They collected their own taxes and enforced their own laws. There were several Christian communities, each living under its own leadership, recognized by the state. These communities were running their own schools, their own education systems, administering their own laws in such matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and the like. The Jews did the same.

<b>So you had a situation in which three men living in the same street could die and their estates would be distributed under three different legal systems if one happened to be Jewish, one Christian, and one Muslim.</b> A Jew could be punished by a rabbinical court and jailed for violating the Sabbath or eating on Yom Kippur. A Christian could be arrested and imprisoned for taking a second wife. Bigamy is a Christian offense; it was not an Islamic or an Ottoman offense.

<b>They do not have that degree of independence in their own social and legal life in the modern state. It is quite unrealistic for them to expect it, given the nature of the modern state, but that is not how they see it. They feel that they are entitled to receive what they gave.</b> As one Muslim friend of mine in Europe put it, "We allowed you to practice monogamy, why should you not allow us to practice polygamy?"

Such questions--polygamy, in particular--raise important issues of a more practical nature. Isn't an immigrant who is permitted to come to France or Germany entitled to bring his family with him? But what exactly does his family consist of? They are increasingly demanding and getting permission to bring plural wives. The same is also applying more and more to welfare payments and so on. On the other hand, the enforcement of shari`a is a little more difficult. This has become an extremely sensitive issue.

<b>Another extremely sensitive issue, closely related to this, is the position of women, which is of course very different between Christendom and Islam. This has indeed been one of the major differences between the two societies.</b>

<b>Where do we stand now?</b> Is it third time lucky? It is not impossible. They have certain clear advantages. They have fervor and conviction, which in most Western countries are either weak or lacking. They are self-assured of the rightness of their cause, whereas we spend most of our time in self-denigration and self-abasement. They have loyalty and discipline, and perhaps most important of all, they have demography, the combination of natural increase and migration producing major population changes, which could lead within the foreseeable future to significant majorities in at least some European cities or even countries.

<b>But we also have some advantages, the most important of which are knowledge and freedom. The appeal of genuine modern knowledge in a society which, in the more distant past, had a long record of scientific and scholarly achievement is obvious. They are keenly and painfully aware of their relative backwardness and welcome the opportunity to rectify it.</b>

<b>Less obvious but also powerful is the appeal of freedom. In the past, in the Islamic world the word freedom was not used in a political sense. Freedom was a legal concept. You were free if you were not a slave. The institution of slavery existed. Free meant not slave.</b> Unlike the West, they did not use freedom and slavery as a metaphor for good and bad government, as we have done for a long time in the Western world. <b>The terms they used to denote good and bad government are justice and injustice. A good government is a just government, one in which the Holy Law, including its limitations on sovereign authority, is strictly enforced. The Islamic tradition, in theory and, until the onset of modernization, to a large degree in practice, emphatically rejects despotic and arbitrary government. Living under justice is the nearest approach to what we would call freedom.</b>

<b>But the idea of freedom in its Western interpretation is making headway. It is becoming more and more understood, more and more appreciated and more and more desired.</b> It is perhaps in the long run our best hope, perhaps even our only hope, of surviving this developing struggle. Thank you.

Bernard Lewis is the recipient of AEI's Irving Kristol Award for 2007.

<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Gives some good insights. I respectfully disagree with his periodization. I believe there were three phases too- Arabic, Turkic and modern Nationalist/Islamist. I believe that the modern Islamist phase which has its origins in the encounter with Europe is a "French" revolution in effect. However there is a transition from Nationalist to Islamist that has occured in the Afghan Jihad. The fall of Saddam ends the Arab Nationalist phase. Mubarak and some hold outs are there but the trend is clear that they will be replaced. the Iranian revolution is an extension of the modern Islamic phase.

His speech also explains the Indian system is trending towards the Ottomon model of separate systems for civil matters. He also explains the Indian Marxistnexus with Islamist in India- theirs is an alliance of conveienence to destabilize the Center in India.


Geopolitics - Guest - 03-22-2007

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->His speech also explains the Indian system is trending towards the Ottomon model of separate systems for civil matters. He also explains the Indian Marxistnexus with Islamist in India- theirs is an alliance of conveienence to destabilize the Center in India. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Tib-bit - One of his grandchild is married to Indian from punjab.


Geopolitics - Guest - 04-11-2007

http://www.wikiislam.com/wiki/Fastest_growing_religion
Here are the facts from Adherents.com
Fastest Growing religion
From the ARIS polls, 1990 and 2000, percent of change:

<b>1. Deity (Deist) +717%</b>
2. Sikhism +338%
3. New Age +240%
<b>4. Hinduism +237% </b>
5. Baha'i +200%
6. Buddhism +170%
7. Native American Religion +119%
8. Nonreligious/Secular +110%
9. Islam +109%
10. Taoist +74%
11. Humanist +69%
12. Eckankar +44%
13. Unitarian Universalist +25%
14. Scientology +22%
15. Christianity +5%
16. Judaism -10%
17. Agnostic -16%


Geopolitics - Guest - 04-11-2007

Just to clarify, the above post from Mudy refers only to the US.


Geopolitics - Guest - 04-14-2007

Post 66:
<!--QuoteBegin-Mudy+Apr 11 2007, 10:13 PM-->QUOTE(Mudy @ Apr 11 2007, 10:13 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Here are the facts from Adherents.com
Fastest Growing religion
From the ARIS polls, 1990 and 2000, percent of change:
<b>1. Deity (Deist) +717%</b>
7. Native American Religion +119%[right][snapback]66768[/snapback][/right]
Post 67 (Vishwas):<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Just to clarify, the above post from Mudy refers only to the US.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->These are the two best figures I've seen.
I hope the Deist trend keeps up. If Americans form a Deist majority, then Deism might become the religious identity of the US and that means America will become a force for good rather than one for misery as it is now. It may finally be as Thomas Paine had envisioned. <!--emo&:clapping--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/clap.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='clap.gif' /><!--endemo-->
All sane Americans become Deists or unreligious anyway. And the numbers keep growing. Deconversion from christianity has an uncanny effect in turning scary Americans back into very likeable people. That means it will have the same effect on the country as a whole.

Most particularly hope that the percentage increase in Native American Religion skyrockets, and that all of North American Native American origin return to their true religion. They have some of the most beautiful life lessons to share. There was something my friend recently added to the footer of his email (he finds then uses lots of different religions' sayings/prayers at the end of his emails; says it helps him to feel free of his former religion, christianity). Will try to find it and post it.

<b>ADDED:</b>
Mudy, see the greatness of Native American Tradition (this one is N American Native American):
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->A young Indian is brought before the tribal elders, who are concerned about his aggressive tendencies.
One of the elders takes the boy aside and tells him that his anger is understandable, since all humans have within them two wolves. A black wolf of hate, greed and anger and a white wolf of love, kindness and peace.
The two wolves are in constant battle to dominate the persons heart, but neither is powerful enough to destroy the other.
The boy asks the elder "Which one will win?"
The elder replies, "The one we feed."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--> <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> So beautiful, so true. What wonderful insight.

My friend also sent around a lovely Taoist lesson he'd found on the internet (unable to find that email now, will look through my inbox again) and of course the famous prayer from the Atharva Veda about 'birds of a feather'. There were more, but I can't remember.


Geopolitics - Guest - 04-20-2007

Pak terror camps: China always knew
Saibal Dasgupta
[ 20 Apr, 2007 0222hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]


RSS Feeds| SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates

BEIJING: China has accused Pakistan of training Islamic terrorists on its soil.

It now turns out that the Chinese government had known about camps in Pakistan for a long time but chose to publicly keep quite about it for diplomatic reasons.

Last January, the Chinese police killed 18 "terrorists" and arrested 17 others on the Chinese side of the Pamir plateau, which extends to Pakistan.

India's lobbying with China on the issue of Pakistani involvement in terrorism and Shaukat Aziz's attempt to overuse the "separatism card" to extract economic benefits may have prompted the government to expose Pakistan's counter-terrorism credentials, sources said.

The revelations are part of the government's case against Huseyin Celil, a China-born Uygur-Canadian, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

The court held him guilty of "taking part in terrorist activities and plotting to split the country".

Celil has been accused of recruiting several people for East Turkistan Liberation Organisation and sending them to training camps on the Pamir plateau in Pakistan.



Geopolitics - Guest - 04-28-2007

<b>Putin to Suspend Pact With NATO</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->MOSCOW (April 26) — President Vladimir V. Putin said Thursday that Russia would suspend its compliance with a treaty on conventional arms in Europe that was forged at the end of the cold war, opening a fresh and intense dispute in the souring relations between NATO  and the Kremlin.
 
<b>The announcement, made in Mr. Putin’s annual address to Parliament, underscored the Kremlin’s anger at the United States for proposing a new missile defense system in Europe, which the Bush administration insists is meant to counter potential threats from North Korea  and Iran</b> .

Mr. Putin suggested that Russia would use its future compliance with the treaty as a bargaining point in that disagreement with the United States.

The new standoff also demonstrated the Kremlin’s lingering frustration over NATO’s expansion toward Russia’s borders and with the treaties negotiated in the 1990s when Russia, still staggering through its post-Soviet woes, was much weaker and less assertive on the world stage than it is today.............<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


Geopolitics - Guest - 05-04-2007

Elections in France.

If Segolene Royal wins, she will become the first female president of France. Her rival Sarkozy, who appears to be winning, is labelled 'right-winger' in the link (3) pasted in this post, as was Chirac in another Yahoo news report. Don't know anything about him at all.

Article (3) is the main bit of news I wanted to paste here, but not sure if everyone knows about Royal yet.

A couple of months ago maybe, the news showed a bit of background on Royal. She's got some scary 'controversial' views:
(a) Seems to support the French part of Canada becoming independent. She's not even French-Canadian, what does her opinion matter?
(b) She praised China's justice system. Of course she would, she's a borderline communist herself.
(c ) Anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian - see article (2) below.

(1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1997112,00.html
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Ségolène Royal in Quebec gaffe</b>
Wednesday January 24, 2007
Ségolène Royal was criticised yesterday for the latest in a string of diplomatic gaffes after she appeared to call for independence for Canada's mainly French-speaking Quebec province, provoking an unusually strong rebuke from the Canadian prime minister.

Ms Royal, the Socialist presidential candidate, has been accused of a series of blunders by supporters of her centre-right opponent Nicolas Sarkozy. <b>Recently in Beijing, she praised the speed of the Chinese justice system, while avoiding the question of human rights.</b> But yesterday she told reporters she supported "sovereignty and liberty" for Quebec. Her comments followed a meeting with the head of the minority Parti Québécois, which wants Quebec to secede from Canada.

Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper warned: "Experience teaches that it is highly inappropriate for a foreign leader to interfere in the democratic affairs of another country."
Quebec held referendums on secession from Canada in 1980 and 1995, with a majority voting against.

Ms Royal denied interfering in Canadian affairs, saying she meant only that "the people who vote are sovereign and free".<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
(2) http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/?feed=TopN...yal-lebanon.xml
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Segolene Royal chided for Mideast meeting</b>
PARIS, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Opponents say Segolene Royal, the Socialist candidate for president of France, was naive when she met with a Hezbollah politician in Lebanon.

Ali Amar, a member of the Lebanese parliament, denounced Israel -- which he called "the Zionist entity" -- and the United States. He compared Israel's policies to those of Nazi Germany, The Independent reported.

"I would only have one point of difference," she said. "I cannot refer to Israel as an 'entity' as you do. The state of Israel exists and has a right to security."

Royal later said that her interpreter did not translate the Nazi reference.

But politicians on the right said the incident showed Royal out of her depth.

"To allow the allies and friends of France, whether the U.S. or Israel, to be insulted without reacting is a serious mistake," said Francois Fillon, a center-right ally of Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also running for president.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
(3) http://au.news.yahoo.com/070504/15/13cfv.html
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Friday May 4, 10:22 PM
<b>France's Royal warns of violence if Sarkozy wins</b>
PARIS (Reuters) - France risks violence and brutality if right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy wins Sunday's presidential election, Socialist opponent Segolene Royal said on Friday.
On the last day of official campaigning, opinion polls showed Sarkozy enjoyed a commanding lead over Royal, who accused the former interior minister of lying and polarizing France.

"Choosing Nicolas Sarkozy would be a dangerous choice," Royal told RTL radio.

"It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of (his) candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country (if he won)," she said.

Pressed on whether there would be actual violence, Royal said: "I think so, I think so," referring specifically to France's volatile suburbs hit by widespread rioting in 2005.

Royal went on the offensive during a fiery television debate between the two on Wednesday night when Sarkozy, portrayed as ruthlessly ambitious by his opponents, questioned whether she was cool enough to become France's first woman president.

Sarkozy's performance buttressed his lead in the polls and a TNS Sofres poll published on Friday showed him at 54.5 percent, compared to 45.5 percent for the Socialist. An IPSOS poll put him on 54 percent against 46 percent for Royal.

A senior Royal aide conceded the situation was serious.

"I have said that if the difference between Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal was more than 5 points, the second round would be difficult," Royal's adviser Julien Dray told RFI radio.

"We will have to wait and see what is happening at the polls on Sunday and draw the consequences afterwards," he added, saying long-standing divisions within the Socialist camp "have not always helped things."

Analysts say a fresh defeat for the Socialists, who have not held the presidency since Francois Mitterrand retired in 1995, could spark a crisis in the party which has not undergone the painful reforms of other European leftist parties.

<b>VIOLENCE</b>

However Royal refused to concede defeat, saying opinion polls could not be trusted.

"There is therefore still hope for those who think that it is all still to play for," she said during a last minute campaign whirl through the northwestern region of Brittany.

At the start of her campaign, Royal refused to refer to her opponent, but with time running against her she has changed tactics and has relentlessly lambasted him this past week.

On Friday she said he had exacerbated social tensions during his time as interior minister and added that he was unable to enter some neighborhoods for fear of provoking violence. The suburbs were hit by widespread riots in 2005.

"When a candidate has so much nerve to tell lies and counter-truths and cannot even go everywhere in the country, then yes, I think this candidature is a risk."

A relaxed Sarkozy laughed off her comments.

"She's not in a good mood this morning. It must be the opinion polls," he told Europe 1 radio.

Sarkozy topped the first round vote on April 22 with 31.2 percent of the ballot against 25.9 percent for Royal.

Campaigning for the second round ends at midnight ahead of voting in some of France's overseas territories on Saturday.

The rest of the nation will vote on Sunday. France has 44.5 million registered voters. Polling stations close at 1800 GMT and the first projections of the result are due soon afterwards.

The election marks a generational shift for France with conservative Jacques Chirac, 74, retiring after 12 years in power. Sarkozy and Royal are in their early 50s and for the first time in a presidential run-off, neither candidate has served as head of state or prime minister.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->If Sarkozy is no better than Royal, the French are in for a bad time. So I hope for their sakes that he's decent at least.


Geopolitics - dhu - 06-04-2007

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->New Great Game
Stagecraft & Statecraft | Brahma Chellaney


A new enterprise focused on security dangers in the Asia-Pacific — the Quadrilateral Initiative — has kicked off with an unpublicised first meeting. US, Indian, Australian and Japanese officials, at the rank of assistant secretary of state, quietly met last weekend on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) gathering in Manila.

Given the qualitative reordering of power underway, with Asia boasting the world’s fastest-growing economies and fastest-rising military expenditures, strategic stability has become a key challenge. The shifts in international power — most conspicuous in Asia — are occurring not because of battlefield victories or new military alliances, but due to a factor unique to the modern world: rapid economic growth.

A new world power brings with it new challenges, especially if it is opaque or harbours imperial ambitions. China’s emergence as a global player is transforming geopolitics like no other development since the time Japan rose to world-power status during the Meiji Restoration.<b> Ironically, it had been the Ching dynasty’s failure to grasp the dramatic rise of Japan that led to China’s rout in 1895 in the Sino-Japanese war, opening the way to western imperialistic intervention in China.
</b>
Today, major powers don’t wish to make a similar mistake over China’s rapid rise. All important players, including China, are manoeuvring for geopolitical advantage through new equations and initiatives. <b>Just as China, for the first time since the Ming dynasty, is pursuing security interests and seeking allies far from its shores, </b>other powers are working to build new equations and partnerships.

The "quad" is just one of several initiatives currently being developed. Yet its preliminary first meeting was not made known for fear of raising China’s hackles. If the China-India-Russia "strategic triangle" can hold high-level meetings with fanfare, why should India, the United States, Australia and Japan shy away from acknowledging discussions on issues of common interest?

With Asia becoming more divided in the face of conflicting strategic cultures and weak regional institutions, the accent has to be on cooperative relationships among the major players. Initiatives like the 26-nation ARF, the 16-state East Asia Summit (EAS) and the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, however, are too large and unwieldy to bear enduring results by themselves. They need to be complemented by smaller initiatives involving important powers in different permutations.

In that light, the "quad" is an appealing idea. In fact, New Delhi ought to also explore the establishment of triangular Russia-India-Japan and Japan-China-India initiatives. Along with the "quad," they could contribute to building strategic transparency and understanding.

A Russia-India-Japan triangle is of immense strategic import. It can help deter power disequilibrium in Asia. But its formation depends on Tokyo and Moscow settling (or, in the interim, setting aside) their Northern Territories dispute and fully normalising bilateral relations.

How the "quad" initiative shapes up will hinge on the resolution of a key issue: will India be a Japan or an Australia to the US (in other words, an ally), or will it be a strategic partner? An ally has to follow the alliance leader, while in a partnership there is at least the semblance of equality.

This question won’t go away easily. Australia and Japan not only have a bilateral security treaty with America but also trilateral security arrangements with Washington. <b>With India, the US has worked out only a defence-framework agreement. New Delhi is going to be reluctant to outsource its security in any way or slavishly follow Washington.</b>

The "quad," however, seeks to involve India in activities to which it is already committed bilaterally with the US — from promotion of democracy and collaboration on homeland security to joint disaster-response operations and building greater military interoperability.<b> Significantly, the first "quad" meeting was preceded by the first-ever US-India-Japan joint naval exercises.</b>

Indian naval ships first went to Okinawa for a joint manoeuvre with US forces before taking part in the trilateral exercises off the Tokyo Bay. The trilateral exercises, interestingly, intersected with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s Tokyo visit. New Delhi, however, had taken care to placate Beijing by despatching two-three ships to China from Okinawa for a friendly exercise immediately after the bilateral manoeuvre with the US.

Just because Washington, New Delhi, Canberra and Tokyo are coming together to build a four-way arrangement based on shared values and interests doesn’t mean that they intend to jointly countervail China. Such a mechanism, at best, can give the four democracies extra leverage with Beijing as part of a common desire to ensure that the fast-rising Chinese power does not slide into arrogance. For each "quad" member, a stable, mutually beneficial relationship with Beijing remains critical to national interest.

In reality, the four have still a long way to go before they can synchronise their approaches toward China. Given their geographical proximity to China and the direct impact Chinese power and ambitions hold for them, Japan and India view power equilibrium as a more pressing imperative. Yet the growing asymmetry in power with China puts them at a disadvantage while dealing with Beijing just at the bilateral level, making broader security arrangements or initiatives attractive.

<b>US strategy, however, is geared toward maintaining a calibrated balance between strategic hedging and greater engagement with Beijing. </b><b>The China factor is so overplayed — as on the vaunted Indo-US nuclear deal — that it obscures the fact that America today has much deeper political and economic engagement with Beijing than with New Delhi.</b>

As part of the hedging,<b> the US is eager to co-opt India, an important geopolitical swing state. But such co-option is unlikely to be at the cost of America’s closer engagement with Beijing. </b>After all, America now relies on Chinese savings and trade surpluses to finance its super-sized budget deficits, hold down US interest rates and prop up the value of the dollar. China indeed has become a locomotive for US economic growth. Politically, the US depends on Chinese assistance on challenges ranging from North Korea’s future to the Iranian nuclear programme. <b>Once allies of convenience during the Cold War, the US and China today are partners tied by interdependence.
</b>
Australia’s extraordinary economic boom, likewise, is being driven by exports to a resource-hungry China, and Canberra is loath to take sides between Japan and China, or China and India. Once regarded with distrust, China has gained respectability in Australia, securing a controversial deal to import Australian uranium for power generation without having accepted verifiable measures of the kind India is ready to embrace against diversion for weapons purposes.

<b>The "quad" also doesn’t mean the US is reversing the Asia-Pacific strategy it has maintained since it took the Philippines in 1898 as spoils of the naval war with Spain — counterbalancing one power against the other to reinforce America’s role as the main arbiter.</b> To underpin that very strategy, the US has in recent years strengthened its bilateral military alliances, <b>reconfigured its forward-deployed military forces, designated Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines as major non-Nato allies, </b>and built strategic cooperation with India and Singapore.

America can live with a China that challenges India and Japan but not one that challenges US pre-eminence. To tie down China regionally, the US is not averse to Japan coming out of its pacifist cocoon as a "normal" military power — but under American tutelage. The revival of the Sino-Japanese historical rivalry indeed can only help the US retain its position as Asia’s strategic pivot.

Similarly, after having penalised New Delhi for its 1974 nuclear test through stringent technology controls, <b>Washington is now ready to promote India’s "normalisation" as a nuclear power, but at a price: India is to bind its interests to America’s, and accept fetters on its still-nascent nuclear-deterrent capability.</b>

<b>Given that a stunted Indian nuclear deterrent equally suits Chinese interests, it is hardly a surprise that Washington has kept Beijing in the loop, </b>with undersecretary Nicholas Burns declaring that China would not be an obstacle when the nuclear deal goes before the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.

To help preserve US interests and primacy in the long run, American policy seeks to build close security cooperation with friendly democracies and bring them within US strategic influence. India is a prominent case. <b>Yet the US hews to its benighted traditional role as the offshore balancer on the subcontinent. It has not only resumed the rearming of Islamabad with lethal, India-directed weapons, but also is beginning to sell New Delhi the very systems it has transferred to Pakistan.</b> In notifying Congress this week of its intent to sell India six C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft for $1.1 billion, Washington has stressed the sale "will not affect" the subcontinental military balance.

The "quad" is one of several new initiatives intended to help shape a new international balance in response to the ongoing power shifts. It seeks not to establish a new security bloc but to evolve common thinking on shared concerns. For India, its geopolitical value lies in the opportunity it offers to better understand the strategic outlook of the other three players. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


Geopolitics - Guest - 06-11-2007

Check this out...a 2005 paper2005 paper by the <b>Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies Singapore</b>.

Author is one <b>Manjeet Singh Pardesi</b> (and true to his name a pardesi in spirit also!)

Basically how India is a hegemonic power, Indians used treachery to win battles in history, Rajputs were foreigners, Mughal Empire was "great", and India's current "hegemonic" designs.

Wonder if this institute has the official backing of the Government of Singapore?



Geopolitics - dhu - 06-29-2007

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Asian Agenda: Water Wars</b>
By Brahma Chellaney

The sharpening Asian competition over energy resources has obscured another danger: Water shortages in much of Asia are becoming a threat to rapid economic modernisation. Water has emerged as a key issue that could determine if Asia is headed toward cooperation or competition. No country would influence that direction more than China, which controls the Tibetan plateau, the source of most major rivers of Asia.

Tibet’s vast glaciers and high altitude have endowed it with the world’s greatest river systems. Its rivers are a lifeline to the world’s two most-populous states — China and India — as well as to Bangladesh, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia, Pakistan, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. These countries make up 47 per cent of the global population.

Yet Asia is a water-deficient continent. Although home to more than half of the human population, Asia has less fresh water — 3,920 cubic metres per person — than any continent other than the Antarctica.

The looming struggle over water resources in Asia has been underscored by the spread of irrigated farming, water-intensive industries and a growing middle class that wants high water-consuming comforts like washing machines and dishwashers. Household water consumption in Asia is rising rapidly, although several major economies there are acutely water-stressed.

The spectre of water wars in Asia is also being highlighted by climate change and environmental degradation in the form of shrinking forests and swamps that foster a cycle of chronic flooding and droughts. The Himalayan snow melt that feeds Asia’s great rivers could be accelerated by global warming.

While intrastate water-sharing disputes have become rife in several Asian countries — from India and Pakistan to Southeast Asia and China — it is the potential interstate conflict over river-water resources that should be of greater concern.

This concern arises from Chinese attempts to dam or redirect the southward flow of river waters from the Tibetan plateau, starting point of the Indus, the Mekong, the Yangtze, the Yellow, the Salween, the Brahmaputra, the Karnali and the Sutlej Rivers. Among Asia’s mighty rivers, only the Ganges starts from the Indian side of the Himalayas.

The uneven availability of water within some nations has given rise to grand ideas — from linking rivers in India to diverting the fast-flowing Brahmaputra northward to feed the arid areas in the Chinese heartland. Interstate conflict, however, will surface only when an idea is translated into action to benefit one country at the expense of a neighbouring one.

As water woes have intensified in its north owing to intensive farming, China has increasingly turned its attention to the bounteous water reserves that the Tibetan plateau holds.

It has dammed rivers, not just to produce hydropower but also to channel the waters for irrigation and other purposes, and is presently toying with massive inter-basin and inter-river water transfer projects.

After building two dams upstream, China is building at least three more on the Mekong, stirring passions in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Several Chinese projects in west-central Tibet have a bearing on river-water flows into India, but Beijing is reluctant to share information.

Having extensively contaminated its own major rivers through unbridled industrialisation, China now threatens the ecological viability of river systems tied to South and Southeast Asia in its bid to meet its thirst for water and energy.

The idea of a Great South-North Water Transfer Project diverting river Tibetan waters has the backing of President Hu Jintao, a hydrologist. The first phase of this project calls for building 300 kilometres of tunnels and channels to draw waters from the Jinsha, Yalong and Dadu rivers, on the eastern rim of the Tibetan plateau.

In the second phase, the Brahmaputra waters may be rerouted northward, in what be tantamount to the declaration of water war on lower-riparian India and Bangladesh. In fact, Beijing has identified the bend where the Brahmaputra forms the world’s longest and deepest canyon just before entering India as holding the largest untapped reserves for meeting its water and energy needs.

The future of the Tibetan plateau’s water reserves is tied to ecological conservation. As China’s hunger for primary commodities has grown, so too has its exploitation of Tibet’s resources.

And as water woes have intensified in several major Chinese cities, a group of ex-officials have championed the northward rerouting of the Brahmaputra waters in a book titled, Tibet’s Waters Will Save China.

Large hydro projects and reckless exploitation of mineral resources already threaten Tibet’s fragile ecosystems, with ore tailings from mining operations beginning to contaminate water sources.

While China seems intent on aggressively pursuing upstream projects on interstate rivers, the forestalling of water wars demands a cooperative Asian framework among basin states to work toward common ownership of the resources. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


Geopolitics - Hauma Hamiddha - 07-16-2007

Sometimes one watches history form around you. You wish it would happen differently but like an enormous phantasm it rolls along its own course. There are many geopolitical events currently that are of considerable interest now. Hindus by and large appear to be imbeciles -- it is hard to believe they once produced a viShNugupta and a viShNusharman. There are no signs they using the opportunities and probably will let them pass by them.
The points to note are:
*The sole superpower, the US, has been hijacked by a small powerful group that wishes to use the American military might for its interests. This group covertly collaborates with what is known to outsiders as racial supermacism or Isaistic evangelism. This is apparent to any discerning observer but the average American is not such. Like the average Indian, the average American is very ordinary and can be easily fooled, lulled into a sweet slumber or made to dig his own grave. He hardly has a realistic view of the countries in which the interest group controlling his government is primarily interested. Sadly, for the Americans the interest group controlling their government uses the media to its full advantage and keeps them busy with nonsense. Even more frighteningly, this interest group is filled with a characteristic arrogance over their strategic brilliance, and hardly bothers about ground realities. On the other side the Americans are not the people who are willing to take military losses on any large scale. As result the Americans are really stuck in Iraq.

*Like in the African wild so also in geopolitics -- Seeing the American elephant stuck in quagmire the hyenas, the cats, the crocodiles and vultures are going to make a bid for the meat. The foremost of these hyenas is China, licking its lips and biding its time with those bone-crusher jaws. Filled with civilizational consciousness and its resurgent chauvinism, it would not stop short of re-enacting its Tang glory. No one can match the Chinese in their arrogance regarding territorial claims (feature going back to the Tang days), and they back it up with a front end of audacious propaganda (Like the African Nations conference, the satellite blasting displays, the Beijing Olympics to name a few). The US and the Leukosphere is in a delicate situation vis-a-vis China. They know it is an existential threat, but cannot do much because they are too entangled economically with China, and have a large dependency on Chinese skilled labor in their science and technology. The west has always tried to use Isaism as a subversionist mechanism against China. However, the disastrous incident of the "Chinese younger brother of Jesus" made the Leukosphere realize that it may be unwise to play the Christian card too hard. The logic roughly goes thus: the Leukosphere assumes that Isaism is its foundation and weapon of subversion. There must be no other power which should become the custodian of Isaism. There is a great chance the the Chinese convert to Messianic Isaism and thus challenge the very foundations of the Leukosphere by setting up an alternative Christian power center. Hence, the US cannot deploy its Christian attack dogs to the maximum on China. Further, US getting stuck in Iraq has reduced its ability to try other options to subvert China. This has definitely put the Chinese in an advantageous situation, giving them the chance to act with much greater impunity now.

*As we have discussed before the group that controls America from within, the Protestant Isaists, the Catholic Isaists and even the Moslems have an alignment of interests when it comes to the Russians. They aligned and cooperated extensively to destroy the Russian empire in the great Cold War by bleeding Russia through its weak underbelly. Average Russians like many other nations, including Americans and Indians are not particularly farsighted and can be easily beguiled by propaganda. What is worse is that the Russian intelligentsia and elite have lost faith in their nation due the effects of communists rule. So much so that now they are serving American interests and economy (from Google to the numerous science labs in the US) having emigrated in droves to the US. Hence, Russia is largely bereft of its human intellectual capital. But they have come under a relatively strong and nationalistic leader Putin, who clearly understands the devastation the Anglosphere and the its vassals have inflicted on Russia. He has been much vilified by the Anglospheric press (a very common tactic), but remains firmly in control. He also realizes how the anglosphere has broken up any possibility of a pan-Slavic unity while all the time building a Leukospheric front under the Anglospheric leadership. Seeing the Americans in trouble has clearly sent the signal for Putin to act bolder-- he has rejected the old treaty with the Anglosphere and its vassals. The Russians will definitely work towards destabilizing the Americans, and Iraq+Afghanistan is an opportunity coming up for them. We would predict that they would use Iran as a proxy to have revenge on the Americans. In Afghanistan the Russian cards are not clear (Uzbeks?).

*The most interesting twist in the current situation is that of the Terrorist state of Pakistan. The marriage between USA and the Islamic terrorist state has been a long and lasting one, transcending many a dictator and prime minister. The hub of international terrorism and the beloved girlfriend of US and the Anglosphere was the architect of their glorious victory against Russia, with the beards plying the CIA's Stinger missiles to the cheers of the Americans. The same Stingers came back to be used against India in Kargil. Even 9/11 could not shake the dance of the lovers (after all they all is fair in love and war <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> ). We have many times in the past explained why this is so, and how much value TSP and Islamic terrorism in general has for the Leukopshere in keeping India (and to some degree other states) in check. Further, here the interests of Beijing and the Leukosphere, though normally in conflict, align perfectly. But now the usual dynamics of Islam are playing out-- Islam is bloody within and without And the gore within is coming to fore in the past few days ! The Moslems unsurprisingly are killing each other and the US is unable to do much here. Any realist state will not pass such an opportunity such as this to flatten the thorn placed by their rivals in its path. But India is not realist state -- the Leukosphere acts at many levels. It has nearly made India a soft state or worse a whore state. Thus, we see history passing around us unable to make much of it (I hope I am wrong). Realist states like Israel have exploited similar gore within Islam pretty effectively to emasculate its proximal Islamic threat (the recent Fatah-Hamas conflict).
*~*~*
A Moslem apologist in Akbar the Mogol tyrant's court describes the battle between Raja Mansingh (a Mogol commander) and Maharana Pratapsingh in Haldighat. He mentions how the Moslem musketeers circled around the clashing armies spraying bullets randomly. He exclaims in delight how, it does not matter if the Moslem bullets hit one of Mansingh's men, because either way it is one Hindu less in the world. Time for Schadenfreude ? Hey, Hindus believe in karma--so now let us Hindus sit back and watch the fun -- who care who wins? Either way one more bearded ghazi get to kiss his boys and girls in Jannat, or did some Leukospheric fellow Abrahamistic apologist say it was just 72 raisins and 28 peaches?. They must be desperate if it is just the latter.


Geopolitics - acharya - 07-18-2007

Study: Americans Don't Understand Others

Corey Binns
Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.com Wed Jul 18, 10:05 AM ET

Rugged American individualism could hinder our ability to understand other peoples' point of view, a new study suggests.
ADVERTISEMENT

And in contrast, the researchers found that Chinese are more skilled at understanding other people's perspectives, possibly because they live in a more "collectivist" society.

"This cultural difference affects the way we communicate," said study co-author and cognitive psychologist Boaz Keysar of the University of Chicago.

Simple study

The study, though oversimplified compared to real life, was instructive. Keysar and his colleagues arranged two blocks on a table so participants could see both. However, a piece of cardboard obstructed the view of one block so a "director," sitting across from the participant, could only see one block.

When the director asked 20 American participants (none of Asian descent) to move a block, most were confused as to which block to move and did not take into account the director's perspective. Even though they could have deduced that, from the director's seat, only one block was on the table.

Most of the 20 Chinese participants, however, were not confused by the hidden block and knew exactly which block the director was referring to. While following directions was relatively simple for the Chinese, it took Americans twice as long to move a block.

"That strong, egocentric communication of Westerners was nonexistent when we looked at Chinese," Keysar said. "The Chinese were very much able to put themselves in the shoes of another when they were communicating."

The results are detailed in the July issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Collectivist societies, such as the Chinese, place more value on the needs of the group and less on the autonomy of the individual. In these societies, understanding other peoples' experiences is a more critical social skill than it is among typically more individualist Americans.

Gross oversimplification

"Of course, these are very gross oversimplifications," said Keysar. "Even in America, you can find collectivist societies. For example, working class people tend to be much more collective."

Culture appears to direct our eyes to read others' emotions, too.

Psychologists at Hokkaido University in Japan have found that Japanese gaze at the shape of a person's eyes, while Americans focus on the mouth. When people from the two cultures interact, these crisscrossed sightlines can lead to miscommunication.

"We all know people from different cultures are different. This is not new. But what research is now showing is how they're different and what are the implications," Keysar told LiveScience. "If we are aware of how we think differently, this can go a long way toward not allowing these differences to get in the way of reaching mutual understanding."




Geopolitics - Guest - 07-22-2007

<!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> Iran's spying squirrels? Posted: Friday, July 20, 2007 3:07 PM
Categories: Tehran, Iran
By Ali Arouzi, NBC News Producer


You can tell that Iran is feeling a little beleaguered these days when there are reports that Tehran may be under attack from rodents!

That is what the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported this week, that police had, ahem, "arrested" 14 squirrels on charges of espionage.

The rodents were found near the Iranian border, allegedly equipped with eavesdropping devices, according to IRNA.

When asked to confirm the story, Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, the national police chief, said, "I have heard about it, but I do not have precise information." He declined to give any more details.

IRNA said that the squirrels were discovered by intelligence services – but were captured by police officers several weeks ago.

'Are you serious?'
The reaction to the report on Tehran’s streets was varied – from disbelief to assigning guilt for the alleged infraction.

"No, I had not heard about this, but it does not surprise me, foreign countries are always meddling in Iran," said Hassan Mohmmadi, a fast-food vendor.

Mohammadi asked me if I knew where the squirrels were from, and I told him that I didn’t know. Then he came to his own conclusions. "I bet they were British squirrels, they are the most cunning," he replied.

Meantime, an independent journalist, Sepher Sopli, was not surprised by the idea that another country would spy on Iran, so much as he was dumbfounded by their methods.

"I read this story in the papers and though it was very bizarre; what struck me as odd was that in this age of modern technology, people were relying on squirrels to do their spying," Sopli said.

But, the report was still strange enough to surprise. "That's very funny, but you’re not serious are you?" said Soraya Jafari, a student in Tehran.

Maybe not a first
Espionage not entirely foreign to animals. If true, this would not be the first time animals have been used for military endeavors.

During World War II, Allied forces used pigeons to fly vital intelligence out of occupied France.

More recently, U.S. Marines stationed in Kuwait trained chickens for a low-tech chemical detection system. It’s also well documented that dolphins have been used to seek out underwater mines.


VIDEO: Were Iranian captives forced to confess?
Spying is something that is taken seriously in any country, especially in a place like Iran, where numerous people are currently being held on charges of espionage.

Still, the squirrels that breached the Iranian border carrying sensitive spying equipment must have been nuts.



Geopolitics - Guest - 07-29-2007

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Europe has lost its nerve </b>
Pioneer.com
Swapan Dasgupta
What do the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Britain's Leader of Opposition David Cameron have in common? The question is intriguing and will leave most people stumped. Yet, this month both politicians found themselves in a similar predicament. Modi was criticised for undertaking a two-day visit to Switzerland at a time when parts of the State were flooded. This week, Cameron - already reeling from adverse opinion poll ratings - was mercilessly pilloried for flying off for two days to show his concern for the citizens of devastated Rwanda. This was at a time when Oxfordshire, where his constituency is located, was in a tizzy over the most serious flood Britain has experienced since 1947. A newspaper carried a particularly nasty cartoon of Cameron sitting bewildered on a patch of land surrounded all around by water; the patch of dry land was shaped like a map of Africa. 

There is, of course, a crucial difference between Modi's Switzerland visit and the Conservative leader's Rwandan expedition. Modi was trying to sell the Gujarat success story to Swiss investors who are salivating over opportunities in India. Cameron, on the other hand, felt that he would be projecting a more caring and compassionate image of the Conservative Party by facilitating a cricket match and being photographed with smiling African children. Modi was being the hard-nosed Gujarati promoter, constantly in search of economic opportunities for his State; Cameron was trying to be what his party is not - the natural home of bleeding-hearts.

The past decade has seen a curious role reversal of India and Britain. From a country that had lost its self-esteem after centuries of subjugation and poverty, India has become a new aggressive face of world capitalism. It doesn't matter if neither Tata nor M&M wins the bid for the ailing Jaguar and Land Rover brands. What is significant is that the Indian takeover of global companies is now regarded as both normal and legitimate. Indians are seen to be naturally industrious, well educated, a bit too hard-working (Europeans complain that Indians don't take holidays), thrifty and committed to their families. But most important, Indians can take hardships and have a high threshold of tolerance and pain.

Britain had all these virtues a century ago - the reason why it built the world's greatest empire. Today's Britain has become excessively soft and flabby. An unexpected but by no means all that devastating flood has been viewed as the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans two years ago. It is not that those who have basements flooded and their kitchens and living room sofas destroyed by water haven't suffered <b>- more so if the insurance companies refuse to compensate the damage - but this is not a hardship in any way comparable to the devastation caused by, say, the Gujarat earthquake in 2000. Whatever happened to the resilience that saw the British through the enormous hardships of World War II?</b>

Britain is not alone; Europe as a whole seems to have lost its nerve. Last week in Kabul, I heard the bizarre ineffectiveness of much of the 41,000-strong NATO-ISAF forces because many of the national contingents don't believe in confronting the Taliban. The US and the British, to be fair, are not among shirkers but <span style='color:red'>Afghans see the Dutch, Spanish, German and Canadian forces as having been already defeated in the mind. The US is not loved but it is feared; the Europeans (Britain apart) are viewed with contempt in Afghanistan.</span>

This contempt is not going to turn to adulation because Cameron teaches the rules of LBW to Rwandan kids and earnest popstars organised concerts to fight global warming.<b> The touchy-feely, sanctimoniousness that characterises the new Europeans is an expression of a nervousness associated with decline.</b> The claim that Europe is a force for "good" sounds dangerously similar to the old Brahminical celebration of lofty abstraction as the alternative to the ignominy of powerlessness. Fortunately, Britain now has a dour Scot as Prime Minister. He personifies values which a resurgent Indian understands and admires.
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


Geopolitics - Guest - 08-01-2007

Former UK Press Sec was a guest on Monday's Jon Stewart Show (Daily Show). He made a very interesting remark that currently US is only super power, when China and India will get their act together, we may have more super power and competitor. UK is just a country.

After hearing his statement I fear couple of things may happen.
West is worried about two Asian giant, they know they can successfully drag India in caste and regional conflicts, as we are seeing in India. Whole Indian is engrossed in caste conflict, now it had entered in every aspect and US is fully supporting these elements and Indian Govt had closed its eyes, they are only worried about Modi.

Historically, stronger China always tried to grab land and trade by hook or crook. China may target Indian on trade with full west blessing.
Also west will drag China into quality, which may drag its economy.





Geopolitics - acharya - 08-09-2007

<!--QuoteBegin-"abhischekcc"+-->QUOTE("abhischekcc")<!--QuoteEBegin-->A lot of private benami airlines are owned by the CIA & all of them are used for smuggling drugs throughout the world and esp within the US.

<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The links that he establishes between oil companies and logistics support companies to the U.S. military, and their <b>importation of drugs that seem to explode anytime CIA goes into Laos or Afghanistan or Colombia or anywhere else in a big way</b>, are remarkable. He has very specific details, including references to drugs going to oil rigs off New Orleans and then directly in through the most corrupt police force in the country. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Well well well, the last part of the quote supports my view, which I have held almost since the beginning of the US assault on Afghanistan, that the yanks are there for the drug money. Just like Vietnam, or the secret war in Columbia.

The conflict provides a convenient cover for the yankee doodles to keep their illegal activities justified in the public eye.

So much for civilisation.<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I will tell you which most of the Indians know about colonial History.
British used the drug trade to create large liquidity in the British trading system and fund wars for over 100 years.
Afghan region and the Burma region was the most coveted region for the Drug production right from those days. At independence they had to make sure that these two region were outside of the Independent India so that they could still control it.

Pakistan was a result of drug business of Colonial British for more than 100 years. They will never allow any other nation to come to Afghanistan as we have seen during the Afghan wars with FSU. Rockefeller foundation was largest trading house for dealing with drug money and transportation.
Hence Pakistan is under direct control of Rockefeller house via PM Aziz(VP Citibank)

During the afghan wars the drug business was still going on using the logistic cell of the PA. The logistic cell and transport business of Afghan/Pathan is a direct result of the drug trade. Taliban was a creation to sustain this operation. PA is sustained and supported mainly because it is the courier and protector of the drug supply chain and money supply. The stability of Pakistan is important for the drug business and also the liquidity of the Wall Street the largest financial center of the world.

AFter the bubble collapse of the Wall Street in 2000 the liquidity of the Wall Street depended on the Drug money of Afghanistan. Hence there was an urgent need to protect the region and control in directly. Hence the Afghan war against the Taliban was launched in 2001. Wall Street was revived back after 2001 with this war.

These are the reason why US lawmakers have special interest in Myanmar and the NE India since these regions are the drug transit routes and supply chain for the business. This is the same reason why missionaries have special interest in NE and drug culture is promoted in NE for over 50 years.