• 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Posted by prad in BRF....

from stratfor:

Turkey's Challenge

Quote:TWO EVENTS OCCURRED ON THURSDAY that involved Turkey. In the first, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs forwarded a resolution to the House floor for full debate, which called for the condemning of Turkish actions in what many Armenians refer to as the 1915 genocide. The response from the Turkish Foreign Ministry was vitriolic, complete with an ambassadorial recall and threats to downgrade Turkish-American relations at a time when the Americans sorely need Turkish help in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the second development, which preceded the events on Capitol Hill by several hours, the Turkish government announced it would host its own version of the World Economic Forum (WEF) this October in Istanbul. The WEF gathers several hundred business and political leaders every year to discuss pressing global issues in Davos, Switzerland. Invited are all of the leaders from the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Arab world.

Here at STRATFOR these developments generated a bit of a “hmmm.” It is not that we are strident followers of the discussions in Congress (much less at Davos), or that we are blindly impressed or appalled by anything Turkey does. However, we are students of history, and seeing Turkey reaching for the position of a regional opinion leader at the same time it has an almost allergic reaction to criticism is something that takes us back a few hundred years to another era.

Much of Turkey’s rich history is bracketed within the period known as the Ottoman Empire — to date one of the largest and most successful empires in human history. But what truly set the Ottomans apart from the rest of history’s governments was not the size or wealth of the territory it controlled, but the way the Turks controlled it. We have to dive into a bit of a geography lesson to explain that.

The core territory of the Ottoman Empire of the past — as well as the Turkey of today — is a crescent of land on the northwest shore of the Anatolian peninsula, including all of the lands that touch the Sea of Marmara. In many ways it is a mini-Mediterranean. It is rich in fertile land, has a maritime culture and wealth that comes from trade. It is a natural birthplace for a powerful nation, and in time it became the seat of an empire.

But the lands to its east — what is currently eastern Turkey — are not so useful. The further east one travels, the drier and less economically useful the Anatolian peninsula becomes. So in the early years of the Ottoman expansion, the Turks pushed not east into Asia, but north into the Balkans — moving up the rich Danube valley into the fertile Plains of Hungary before being stopped by a coalition of European forces at Vienna.

This expansion left the Turks in a bit of a quandary. The size of their conquered territories was now larger than their home territories. The wealth of their conquered territories was potentially larger than that of their home territories. The population of their conquered territories was comprised of different nationalities and religions, and combined was larger than that of their home territories. The Turks very quickly came to the uncomfortable realization that they not only needed their conquered peoples to make their empire functional, but that they needed those conquered peoples to be willing participants in the empire. The Ottomans may have started out as Middle Eastern, but their early successes made them European.

This realization shaped imperial policy in a great many ways. One was the development of a Millet system of city organization where the Turks only control a portion of the city, leaving the rest of the population to live among, and police, their own. One was the establishment of the Janissary corps, an elite military force that reported directly to the sultan, but was stocked exclusively with non-Turks. Another was the simple fact that the chief vizier, the second most powerful man in the empire, was almost always not a Turk. And it was all held together by a governing concept the Turks called suzerainty: regional governments would pay taxes to the center and defer to Istanbul on all issues of foreign and military policy, but would control the bulk of their own local affairs. By the standards of the Western world of the 21st century, the system was imperial and intrusive, but by the standards of 16th century European barbarity, it was as exotic as it was enlightened.

But things change — particularly when borders shift. During two centuries of retreat following twin defeats at the gates of Vienna, the empire’s northern border crept ever further south. The demographic balance of Turks to non-Turks reverted to the Turks’ favor. The need for a multinational government system lessened, and by the Ottoman Empire’s dying days, the last threads of multinationalism were being ripped out.

But the Turks were not alone in what would soon come to be known as the Turkish Republic. There were also substantial populations of Armenians and Kurds. But unlike the Hungarians, Romanians and Bulgarians who dwelt in the fertile, economically valuable lands of Southeastern Europe — and whose cooperation the Turks needed to sustain a viable empire — the Armenians and Kurds called the steep, desiccated, low-fertility valleys of eastern Anatolia home. These lands held little value, and so the Turks had scarce need of its inhabitants. The Turks felt these lands held negligible promise, and that the need for an egalitarian governing system had passed: one result was 1915.

In our minds, today’s twin events highlight the challenge that Turkey faces. After more than 90 years of being in a geopolitical coma, the Turks are on the move again, and are deciding what sort of power they hope to become. Within that debate are two choices.

The first would herald a “Great Turkey” rooted in the founding of the Turkish Republic that celebrates its Turkish-ness. This is a very comfortable vision, and one that does not challenge any of the tenets that modern Turks hold dear. But it is also a vision with severe limitations. There are very few Turks living beyond the borders of modern Turkey, and even Turkey’s ethnic cousins in Central Asia and Azerbaijan are extremely unlikely to join any such entity. This vision would always rail at any challenge to its image. This is the Turkey that objects so strenuously whenever the 1915 topic is broached.

The second would herald a “Greater Turkey,” a multinational federation in which the Turks are the first-among-equals, but in which they are hardly alone. It would resurrect the concept of Turkey as primarily a European, not Middle Eastern, power. In this more pluralist system, Turkey’s current borders would not be the end, but the beginning. It is this version of Turkey that could truly — again — become not simply a regional, but a global power. And it is this Turkey that calls all interested, perhaps even the Armenians, to Istanbul in October to honestly and openly see what they think of the world.

Turkey hosting Central Asians, Arabs, Balkans, Caucasus all under one roof in an economic summit......this is a big news.
[url="http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Walkers_World_Obama_is_losing_India_999.html"]Walker's World: Obama is losing India[/url]
Quote:The Obama administration is trying to play catch-up in its relations with the country that could become its most important long-term ally. But it may be leaving it too late, after India last week agreed a $7 billion deal in arms, nuclear reactors and space technology with Russia.



Robert Blake, the senior State Department official dealing with India and its region, is hopeful that a deal can be concluded by this summer. Indian officials are less optimistic and query U.S. insistence that India's parliament enact a limited liability rule on compensation for nuclear accidents, an issue that does not seem to worry Russian and French suppliers.

There is a pattern here. Two far-reaching agreement on U.S.-Indian military cooperation have stalled, as have other projects for hi-tech and space research cooperation.

The real problem is fundamental. Indians complain that the Obama administration still sees India less as a great power in its own right, than as a walk-on player in two issues that worry Washington more. The first is the Afghan-Pakistan imbroglio and the second is U.S.-China relations. [color="#FF0000"]Obama's suggestion, during his cap-in-hand visit to Beijing, that China help the United States "manage" the Indo-Pakistan problem "led to the mistrust of Obama that today pervades the Indian establishment,"[/color] argues influential Indian commentator Professor Madhav Nalapat.

"President Obama's policy of downgrading India to the level of a South Asian power is pushing Delhi closer toward Moscow and Beijing," Nalapat adds." If such an axis takes place, the 'credit' will go to the Obama administration. India sees itself as an Asian power with a global focus. Those unwilling to accept this cannot be defined as friends."
[url="http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=128413"]Deficits making U.S. military nervous[/url]

Will Obama have enough money left for national security?

[url="http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100315_germany_mitteleuropa_redux?utm_source=GWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=100316&utm_content=readmore&elq=10c7831d53e242ed869725e13e4536e4"]Germany: Mitteleuropa Redux[/url]

[url="http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100310_terrorism_defining_tactic?utm_source=SWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=100311&utm_content=readmore&elq=63d04b5dbe4d48b48dd8b40cb403228c"]Terrorism: Defining a Tactic[/url]
[url="http://euobserver.com/?aid=29683"]China exploring rail routes to Europe[/url]
Quote:EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - China is exploring the possibility of extending its high-speed train network as far as Europe, potentially cutting rail travel time between London and Beijing to as little as two days.

Officials hope to see the project completed over the next ten years, enabling passengers to travel the roughly 8,000 kilometre journey at speeds of up to 320 kilometres per hour.

Two lines to Europe are reportedly being considered under the proposals, one passing through India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, while a second would head to Germany via Russia. Exact routes are currently undecided however. A third line would extend south from China to connect Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Malaysia.

Wang Mengshu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a senior consultant on China's domestic high-speed railways said this month that work on the Southeast Asia line had already begun.
Quote:China is currently in the middle of a vast railway expansion project that aims to build nearly 30,500 kilometres of new railways in the next five years, connecting all its major cities with high-speed lines.

The world's fastest train, the Harmony Express, was unveiled in the country last year. Wholly Chinese-built, but using technology from Siemens and Kawasaki, the train is capable of a top speeds approaching 400 km/h.
Moved over from C-17 thread


[quote="Gilles"] Many of the Indians need to wake up and realize that you are a global power. The constant paranoia of seeing a conspiracy in every single action is the behaviour of tiny/weak nation. Maybe it was appropriate in the past, but India has grown greatly since then. Have more confidence in your own country!

India isn't going to let the US dictate its foreign policy no matter what deals are made.[/quote]


The US is spreading its influence and imposing itself across the whole Globe. But it uses different methods according to which country it is dealing with. When they deal with a leader who is is not afraid to openly stand up to them they "demonize" the leader and the country and use brute force and blockade and sanctions: Afghanistan (Taliban era), Cuba, Grenada, Iraq (Hussein era), Iran, Libya, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan (Musharraf era) Panama (Noriega era), Syria, Venezuela etc. They do this while totally overlooking other demons who walk the line : Afghanistan (today), Azerbaijan, Colombia, Egypt, Kuwait, Israel, Panama (while Noriaga helped them against Nicaragua), Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc.

In one word: work with us, and you can oppress your people all you want, work against us and you are in for it.

They use economic ploys to keep others in line, China being the most notable. The China owes a fortune to the US but cant afford pulling the plug since the US is such a big customer and will stop buying of they do.

For others who have money, like Saudis, the Omanis, the Kuwaitis, etc, they manufacture a large nearby threat (Iraq first and then Iran) and impose whatever they want on them in exchange for "protection" against this threat. That "protection" of course involves billions in military purchases from the US (India may fall under that scenario) South Korea does, Japan does, Taipei does, Colombia in a way...... The thinking behind it is who will buy arms unless there is a credible threat? And who is the biggest arms exporter in the World?

Against their real friend, they'll use veil threats, economic mostly. Canada, France, Japan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom. Canada was clearly made to understand that the great relationship we have enjoyed over the years would suffer if we did not send troops to attack Iraq. They didn't in fact want our troops. They wanted the credibility our troops would give to their so-called "coalition of the willing" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalition_of_the_willing) France was not "willing" to be "willing" so they mauled France. Good friend Canada cowered and sent frigates to the Gulf and troops to Afghanistan. Quickly. Not because we wanted to. No. Because we feared the economic retaliation of our "good friend" next door. Our people were against. So the government of Canada told us the Canadian frigates patrolling the Gulf alongside the US ships were on "anti-terrorism" patrol. The Canadian press remained silent.

"Willing". Please pause and give the word "Willing" some thought to contemplate how cynical the US is. How many nations were actually "willing" in this Iraq affair? Each and every one was coerced into embarking in something that was clearly wrong. To obtain this, the US had high level emissaries, like the one who delivered the warning to Japan the other day, criss crossing the Globe with a stick and a carrot in their briefcases. They were the "coalition of the willing" builders. And they mostly used the threat of the stick. And instead of calling it the "US-backed coalition" or something realistic and neutral, they called it exactly what it was not: a coalition of the "willing". And the US press went along with the term, without even a hypocrite smile on the side of their faces, since they know full well that its all a big scam.

No, I don't think that India is naive. And I don't think the US can invade India or overthrow its government. But the same was that the US was able to make certain democracies take actions in Iraq while it was clearly against the wishes of its people (UK, Australia, Spain, Italy, to name but a few), they can do it with India if they find the proper leverage. Its going to be a combination of several things and much of it will be related to China, Pakistan and energy. The C-17 is just one pawn in that chess game.

Just wait and see.[/quote]
Pioneer Op-Ed, 25 March 2010

For US, the world is a chessboard

Quote:Thursday, March 25, 2010

For US, world is a chessboard

Premen Addy

The Obama Administration is as much in need of healthcare as the American people. By supping with the Pakistani leadership without the prescriptive long spoon, the US President and his advisers are guaranteeing a mightier inferno for the AfPak landscape than the one consuming it. The price demanded by the Pakistani Government for past and present services rendered to the American imperium amounts to a brazen $ 35 billion, with a few nuclear power plants, squadrons of F-16s and other lethal weaponry thrown in for good measure.

How the discussions in the Oval Office of the White House pan out will be known soon enough, but the promised consummation of the India-US relationship is likely to remain the 21st century’s unfulfilled dream. Just as well, for tying the knot on the deck of another doomed Titanic — Pakistan in this instance — would hardly make good copy or a riveting film. However, the mystery of David Coleman Headley might, one day, do both, with its darkest secrets revealed and an Oscar to be won.

The world's ‘sole superpower’, the prayerful refrain of acolytes of the living Moloch, bears more than a passing resemblance to Gulliver trussed up and bound to the ground by legions of Taliban and Al Qaeda Lilliputians in Afghanistan and Iraq and the earth beyond. Superpower hubris is no assurance of second sight. Mr George W Bush proclaimed a famous victory in Iraq from the deck of an American battleship and the pronouncement, in due course, crumbled to dust.

Newsweek reproduced a picture of the former US President savouring his triumph in 2004 against its report of the recently deemed success of an Iraqi general election. What price such traduced freedom? A broken nation boasting multitudes of orphaned cripples, thousands of dead and millions living as insecure refugees abroad; a country gifted with intermittent power and water by its mendacious occupier, its innards torn out, its confessional communities at each other’s throats with bombs, bullets and anything else that came to hand.

Truth will out, but not clearly in the Anglo-American media. The fourth-rate estate has long been reduced to a complicit parody in a lacquered criminal syndicate. Their news coverage refracts the seamless engagement between what can be seen as the world’s second-oldest profession with the world’s oldest. Checks and balances are nursery rhymes for lulled innocents cutting their milk teeth at their mother’s breasts. Al Capone and Goebbels embodied fascism’s infancy, today’s finished product boasts a corporate face.

International alignments, once cast in stone, are in flux. Nato, like Shelley’s Ozymandias, could well become a half-buried trunkless head of stone in the sands of Araby. You wouldn’t have thought so leafing through the insouciance of Mr Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Polish American geostrategic guru hired by the Obama campaign team for the 2008 US presidential election, whose worldview may well be haunting the corridors of power in Washington, DC. As President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser between 1976-80, his advice was inevitably coloured with the Pole’s primordial hatred of Russians.

Apropos of clandestine US activity in Afghanistan, which pre-dated the Soviet appearance in the country, he said: “This secret operation was an excellent idea. Its effect was to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap. You want me to regret that?” (Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism by John K Cooley). In his book, Cooley writes, “Brzezinski, like President Carter’s CIA director Admiral Stansfield Turner ... freely acknowledged that the possible adverse consequences of the anti-Communist alliance with the Afghan Islamists (and shortly afterward, with their radical Muslim allies around the world) — the growth of a new international terrorist movement and the global outreach of South Asian drug trafficking — did not weigh heavily, if at all, in their calculations at the time.”

Years later, March 20, 2010, to be precise, The Times correspondent, Anthony Loyd, in Peshawar, described how a motley group of jihadis — Arabs, Uzbeks and Pakistani Punjabis — were giving the American and their allies a particularly hard time in Afghanistan. The 1,500 Uzbeks, apparently the most formidable of the lot, usually fought to the last man.

Three days later, on March 23, came a front-page Daily Telegraph report, with the headline: “Dirty nuclear bomb threat to Britain”. Duncan Gardham’s opening paragraph set the scene: “Britain faces an increased threat of a nuclear attack by Al Qaeda terrorists following a rise in the trafficking of radiological material, a Government report has warned. Bomb makers who have been active in Afghanistan may already have the ability to produce a ‘dirty bomb’ using knowledge over the Internet. It is feared that terrorists could transport an improvised nuclear device up the Thames and detonate it in the heart of London” and other British cities.

“Lord West, the Security Minister, also raised the possibility of terrorists using small small craft to enter ports and launch an attack similar to that in Mumbai in 2008 ... The terrorist group since then had approached Pakistani nuclear scientists, developed a device to produce hydrogen cyanide, which can be used in chemical warfare, and used explosives in Iraq combined with chlorine gas cylinders,” the report says. Frankenstein’s monster is now stalking its creator. President Barack Obama and his aides will have much to discuss with their Pakistani guests. If only the fly on the wall could speak and write proper English what a tale it would have to tell. <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Rolleyes' />

Following the demise of the Soviet Union, Mr Brzezinski, inebriated by the chaos of the Yeltsin dispensation in Moscow, issued his projection of the future, The Great Chessboard. Eurasia, the subject of his title, with its oil and geostrategic location was preordained to be a giant American bailiwick. Controlled tenancies for Russia, India and China, etc, would form part of the Pax Americana. The book’s sting came in its tail, the reference to “China’s support for Pakistan (which) restrains India’s ambitions to subordinate that country and offsets India’s inclination to cooperate with Russia in regard to Afghanistan and Central Asia”.

Mr Brzezinski confides in his Chinese interlocutors in 1996 — recalled in an extensive footnote in his book, published the following year — on a possible US-China condominium for the region, inspiration, possibly, for Mr Obama’s hint of G2 summits floated in Beijing last autumn. Its eccentricity is reminiscent of the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, whereby the Pope in Rome divided the newly discovered dominions of Asia and Africa between the Catholic Majesties of Spain and Portugal.

To George Nathaniel Curzon, player extraordinary of Kipling’s Great Game, belongs surely the final word: “Turkestan, Afghanistan, Transcaspia, Persia ... To me, I confess, these names are the pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a game for the dominion of the world.” This being 2010, checkmate, alas, it must be.
[url="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/01/opinion/01kristof.html"]China, Concubines and Google[/url]


One of the most important diplomatic relationships in the world is between China and the U.S., and it is deteriorating sharply. What’s more, many experts believe it will get considerably worse over the coming year — and one reason may be that China’s leaders seem to feel as if they have their backs to the wall.


That’s one of the reasons China is adamantly refusing to let the renminbi rise further. There’s no question that China’s undervalued currency irresponsibly creates global imbalances — but if you’re in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, your concern is just staying in power.


“Patriotic education” and carefully nurtured nationalism mean that in many disputes between China and the West, the Chinese people and the Chinese government stand together. We in the West see human rights in Tibet as a moral imperative and a rising renminbi as an economic imperative; Chinese citizens and leaders alike see these issues as part of a 200-year-long string of Western imperialist efforts to bully or dismember a fragile China.

But the Internet is different. The Politburo doesn’t want a free Internet, and the people do.


The mood among young Chinese reminds me of Taiwan or South Korea or Indonesia in the 1980s, when an increasingly educated middle class — beneficiaries of enlightened economic policies of oppressive governments — grew to feel stifled and patronized by their governments. Eventually, in each case they upended one-party rule and achieved a democracy.

Chinese leaders surely fear that parallel, and that is likely to be one of the reasons they are cracking down frantically on dissent. But again, all this may be a sign of weakness, not strength.

[url="http://www.eurasiareview.com/2010/03/32308-india-and-myanmar-treacherous.html"]India And Myanmar: Treacherous Frontier - South Asia Intelligence Review[/url]


This South East Asian neighbour now remains the lone safe-haven for militant groups operating in India’s Northeast, since their alternative refuge in Bangladesh was shut down by the Shiekh Hasina regime (camps in Bhutan were shut down earlier, in a military campaign in 2003). Aggravating the problem is rising evidence of Chinese mischief in supplying arms to insurgent groups operating across the Myanmar corridor.


There is large-scale ingress or egress of men and material, substantially controlled by insurgent groups, across the India-Myanmar border, which takes advantage of the 10 kilometers zone within which free movement is permitted on both sides of this border.


Sources indicate that a major modernization drive in the Chinese Army has released vast quantities of old weapons, some of which are being offloaded to arms dealers, to reach militant groups.


The weapons are smuggled into India via Ukhrul, Moreh in Chandel, and Churachandpur, the Districts of Manipur bordering Myanmar, and some parts of Mizoram. The sea route involves Bangladesh's Chittagong port, from where the weapons are sent to militants in the Northeast. Though some weapons are of other origin, the majority of them are Chinese


A piecemeal approach to the border safeguards mission, consequently, persists. The existing insecurity that has, for years, permeated this strategic frontier region, consequently can be expected to persist in the foreseeable future.

[url="http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/LC17Ad01.html"]China's Panchen Lama enters political arena[/url]

Quote:China's handpicked 11th Panchen Lama, born Gyaltsen Norbu in northern Tibet, made his political debut this month at the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, appearing as a national committee member of the top political advisory body.

Observers expect the 20-year-old Panchen Lama will be named a vice chairman of the CPPCC within the next couple of years, though he was not, as expected, given the post this year. While the title is largely honorary, it is an important national leadership post similar to one his predecessor, the 10th Panchen Lama, held when he died in 1989.

Beijing hopes that with an elevated political status the 11th Panchen Lama will more effectively keep the the influence of the exiled Dalai Lama in check among Tibetans. Traditionally, the Panchen Lama is respected as the second-highest ranking leader in Tibetan Buddhism, second only to the Dalai Lama.

In Dharamsala, the Tibetan government in exile and exiled Tibetans insist that Gyaltsen Norbu is not the legitimate 11th Panchen Lama, since he was appointed by the Chinese government and is not acknowledged by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama.


Norbu's appointment to the CPPCC does not change his role or give him any decision-making powers, but it does underscore the CCP's efforts to legitimize his position, say analysts.

"This is a pro-forma elevation for him to a titular role that does not amount to much in terms of actual decision-making or policy," Srikanth Kondapalli, chairman of the Center for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told the Hindu. "This could also be a move to placate the views of Tibetans, both in China and outside."

Hao Peng, vice chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region and therefore the official voice of the government, told AsiaNews that "the Panchen Lama's participation in social activities in China demonstrates the important role of the living Buddha in our world. Norbu is very popular in Tibet, and we all are very happy for his appointment. I hope he can continue in this vein, showing love for the motherland."

However, Norbu rarely visits the Tashilunpo monastery in Tibet to which the Panchen Lama traditionally belongs. The young man spends most of his time in Beijing, studying and surrounded by the care and control of the CCP.


But Tibetans acknowledge that the rise of Panchen Lama could influence the selection of the next Dalai Lama. "Seeing the new post and rise of Beijing's Panchen Lama will alter the Tibetan people's view," said Thupten, adding that Panchen Lama carries extra spiritual weight. He said that while the selection of next Dalai Lama is the one of the main responsibilities of the Tibetan government in exile, the approval of high-ranking lamas in exile will also count.

[url="http://media.www.theracquette.com/media/storage/paper1301/news/2010/03/26/News/The-Big.Melt.Asian.Water.Supplies.In.Jeopardy-3895418.shtml"]The big melt: Asian water supplies in jeopardy[/url]


China has begun a policy of forcibly resettling the nomadic families from open grasslands to enclosed complexes. Tibet has a long history of being a disputed territory, fluctuating between the reign of China and their own government, headed by the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan nomads realize that this forced relocation is not only a way to maintain authority over the plateau's vital natural resources, but is also a way to quell any future protests by the Tibetan nomads that would challenge China's occupation of their land.


The Tibetan Plateau has clearly become an epicenter of crisis. As the multiple glaciers retreat, glaciologist Lonnie Thompson has described the area as the "fresh water bank account" of Asia. Time has shown that the rivers and lakes are running lower, pastures are drier, the deserts are larger and weather patterns in general are now more unpredictable. These problems clearly foreshadow that the plateau and surrounding lands are moving towards an environmental disaster which needs immediate attention.
[url="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704454004575135633609958248.html?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines"]Asia's Drive for Free Trade [/url]


Fears of rising protectionism in the West are inspiring a newfound Asian enthusiasm to promote intraregional trade.


Bilateral free-trade agreements are sprouting like weeds. Last August, Asean signed a deal with India, and one with China came into effect in January. India also inked a deal with South Korea. Japan, South Korea and China are exploring a trilateral trade agreement, and India and China are looking at a deal of their own.

Trade within the region has been growing by leaps and bounds. In the five years between 2002 and 2006, trade among the 10 Asean members more than doubled to $188 billion, and trade between China and Asean tripled from $59 billion to $192 billion, according to data Mr. Mahbubani cited.

However, a significant portion involved components for goods ultimately destined for export to the U.S. and Europe, highlighting the limits to any aspirations of Asian regional self-reliance. Political tensions within the region also pose serious obstacles to trade growth


"The Raj created this whole region into a single market," Mr. Mohan said. "We need a policy initiative from the Indian side which takes the leadership to open its markets unilaterally."

Other optimistic visions of ways to promote regional trade included a suggestion by Victor Zhikai Gao, director of the China National Association of International Studies, that China extend a high-speed rail network connecting Beijing with Tibet across the Himalayan border into India.

"This would be a major breakthrough," enthused Mr. Gao, and "would really increase the exchange of people, goods and eventually ideas between these two countries." Of course, critics of the railway's environmental impact and China's controversial policies toward its Tibetan population probably wouldn't be too thrilled.

[url="http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article381695.ece"]Flood of fears over China's projects[/url]


Officials from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, countries which lie in the Mekong basin, will on Sunday voice their concerns over eight dams that China is building along the Mekong, in talks with Chinese officials in Thailand.

The four countries in 1995 set up the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to facilitate joint management and water-sharing in the Mekong region, though China and Myanmar have so far refused to formally join the body. The Mekong runs almost half of its 4,400 km course in China's south-west, where it is known as the Lancang, before entering Myanmar and Laos.

The MRC's concerns closely echo those voiced by India in the past over China's plans to build dams along the Brahmaputra, or the Yarlung Tsangpo as it is known in Tibet. In both cases, China's position as an upper riparian or upstream-lying state has given it an advantage in controlling the rivers' resources, say experts. International laws allow China to build hydropower projects that do not divert or substantially alter the course of the rivers, though the absence of robust water-sharing arrangements has led to persisting concerns in several downstream countries, including India, over the future of their water security.


The Chinese government views the dams as crucial to maintaining water security in its south-west, which is currently facing its worst drought in five decades, affecting more than 24 million people. The government has allocated 27 billion Yuan ($4 billion) to build more reservoirs and dams in Yunnan alone.

[url="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Nepal-revives-border-feud-with-India/articleshow/5693939.cms"]Nepal revives border feud with India[/url]


Nepal’s lawmakers have demanded a revision in the completed survey, saying problems persisted in at least 15 districts in southern Nepal, adjoining India’s Terai plains.

The Foreign Relations and Human Rights Committee of Nepal’s interim parliament has released a report based on lawmakers’ visits to contentious districts, asking the government to reclaim the land it says has been encroached on by India.

This is the third such rap on the knuckles of the government by the committee, which has also alleged widespread complaints against India’s border patrols.

[url="http://www.eurasiareview.com/2010/04/33055-india-caught-between-china-and.html"]India: Caught Between China And The Deep Sea [/url]


The Chinese have a long memory. They have not forgotten that one of the old Dalai Lamas was born in Tawang and that the present His Holiness fled from Tibet into India in 1959 across the border in the Tawang area. They have made it clear that there will be no border agreement unless India transfers at least Tawang to China. That would mean the exodus of the Indian population from the territory handed over to China. No Indian Government, however popular, may be able to sell such a transfer favourable to the Chinese to the Indian Parliament and people.


There are as many Chinese tourists visiting the Maldives as Indian and a Chinese bank has been allowed to operate in the Maldives to meet the foreign exchange needs of the Chinese tourists.


The Chinese think and plan long-term. Indian response is ad hoc. Just as New Delhi woke up late to the likely threats by land from the North, one realizes belatedly that the threats are from the South, East and West as well.

[url="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/-ISI-suffers-setback-on-Indo-Nepal-border/articleshow/5687370.cms"]ISI suffers setback on Indo-Nepal border[/url]


The ISI got a setback after the murder of three ISI agents and arrest of others running the counterfeit Indian currency (CFIC) racket during the last five months.


[url="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303450704575159901541431846.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_news"]U.S. Aims to Ease India-Pakistan Tension[/url]

Quote:APRIL 5, 2010, 4:20 A.M. ET<h2 class="subhead">Progress in Afghanistan Hinges on Improved Relations Between New Delhi and Islamabad, Obama Administration Directive Says

By [url="http://online.wsj.com/search/term.html?KEYWORDS=PETER+SPIEGEL&bylinesearch=true"]PETER SPIEGEL[/url] in Washington and [url="http://online.wsj.com/search/term.html?KEYWORDS=MATTHEW+ROSENBERG&bylinesearch=true"]MATTHEW ROSENBERG[/url] in KabulPresident Barack Obama issued a secret directive in December to intensify American diplomacy aimed at easing tensions between India and Pakistan, asserting that without détente between the two rivals, the administration's efforts to win Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan would suffer.

Pakistani Rangers (L) and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel perform the daily retreat ceremony at the India-Pakistan Border at Wagah on December 26, 2009.

The directive concluded [color="#0000ff"]that India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority[/color] for progress to be made on U.S. goals in the region, according to people familiar with its contents.

The U.S. has invested heavily in its own relations with Pakistan in recent months, agreeing to a $7.5 billion aid package and sending top military and diplomatic officials to Islamabad on repeated visits. The public embrace, which reached a high point last month in high-profile talks in Washington, reflects the Obama administration's belief that Pakistan must be convinced to change its strategic calculus and take a more assertive stance against militants based in its western tribal regions over the course of the next year in order to turn the tide in Afghanistan.

A debate continues within the administration over how hard to push India, which has long resisted outside intervention in the conflict with its neighbor. The Pentagon, in particular, has sought more pressure on New Delhi, according to U.S. and Indian officials. Current and former U.S. officials said the discussion in Washington over how to approach India has intensified as Pakistan ratchets up requests that the U.S. intercede in a series of continuing disputes.

Pakistan has long regarded Afghanistan as providing "strategic depth"—essentially, a buffer zone—in a potential conflict with India. Some U.S. officials believe Islamabad will remain reluctant to wholeheartedly fight the Islamic militants based on its Afghan border unless the sense of threat from India is reduced.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already taken the political risk of pursuing peace talks with Pakistan, but faces significant domestic opposition to any additional outreach without Pakistani moves to further clamp down on Islamic militants who have targeted India.

U.S. and Indian officials say the Obama administration has so far made few concrete demands of New Delhi. According to U.S. officials, the only specific request has been to discourage India from getting more involved in training the Afghan military, to ease Pakistani concerns about getting squeezed by India on two borders.

"This is an administration that's deeply divided about the wisdom of leaning on India to solve U.S. problems with Pakistan," said Ashley Tellis, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has discussed the issue with senior officials in the U.S. and India. "There are still important constituencies within the administration that have not given up hope that India represents the answer."

India has long resisted outside involvement in its differences with Pakistan, particularly over the disputed region of Kashmir. But, according to a U.S. government official, a 56-page dossier presented by the Pakistani government to the Obama administration ahead of high-level talks in Washington last month contained a litany of accusations against the Indian government, and suggestions the U.S. intercede on Pakistan's behalf.

The official said the document alleges that India has never accepted Pakistan's sovereignty as an independent state, and accuses India of diverting water from the Indus River and fomenting separatism in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signaled that Washington isn't interested in mediating on water issues, which are covered by a bilateral treaty.

Subcontinental Drift

The White House declined to comment on Mr. Obama's directive or on the debate within the administration over India policy. The directive to top foreign-policy and national-security officials was summarized in a memo written by National Security Adviser James Jones at the end of the White House's three-month review of Afghan war policy in December.

An Indian government official said the U.S.'s increasing attention to Pakistani concerns hasn't hurt bilateral relations overall. "Our relationship is mature—of course we have disagreements, but we're trying not to have knee-jerk reactions," the Indian official said.

According to U.S. and Indian officials, the [color="#0000ff"]Pentagon has emerged in internal Obama administration debates as an active lobbyist for more pressure on India, [/color]with some officials already informally pressing Indian officials to take Pakistan's concerns more seriously. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. government's prime interlocutor with the powerful head of the Pakistani army, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, has been among the more vocal advocates of a greater Indian role, according to a U.S. military official, [color="#0000ff"]encouraging New Delhi to be more "transparent" about its activities along the countries' shared border[/color] and to cooperate more with Pakistan.

In interviews, U.S. military officials were circumspect about what specific moves they would like to see from New Delhi. But according to people who have discussed India policy with Pentagon officials, the ideas discussed in internal debates include reducing the number of Indian troops in Kashmir or pulling back forces along the border.

"They say, 'The Pakistanis have this perception and you have to deal with the perception'," said one foreign diplomat who has discussed India's role with Pentagon officials.

An Indian defense ministry spokesman said his country's army has already moved about 30,000 troops out of Kashmir in recent years.

The State Department has resisted such moves to pressure India, according to current and former U.S. officials, insisting they could backfire. These officials have argued that the most recent promising peace effort—secret reconciliation talks several years ago between Indian Prime Minster Singh and then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf—occurred without U.S. involvement.

A senior State Department official involved in Indo-Pakistani issues said Mr. Singh, in particular, has risked his political standing domestically by suggesting India would decouple talks on issues such as trade and travel from Indian demands that Pakistan act more aggressively against terrorist groups, particularly Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamist movement believed to have masterminded the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

"Our principal interest has always been to encourage the talks to resume, but we also understand where the Indians are coming from, which is that there has to be some progress on these bilateral counterterrorism" issues, said the official.

The official noted that recent arrests by Pakistani authorities of top members of the Afghan Taliban have come without any major progress on Indo-Pakistani talks, raising questions about the link between the two.

Separately, Pakistan has been more forcefully raising concerns about Indian activities in Afghanistan with the U.S. Senior Pakistani officials allege India is using its Afghan aid missions as a cover to support separatists in Baluchistan and the Pakistani Taliban, and say they have presented evidence of that to U.S. officials. Indian officials deny the accusations.

A Pakistani security official said his government also has pressed the U.S. about India's ties to the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Security Directorate, and argued that Indian consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar are outposts for India's spy agency.

[color="#0000ff"]"Something has to be done to stop Afghanistan from being a jumping-off point for Indian intelligence," said the security official. [/color]

Indian officials said they have received no requests from the U.S. to scale back India's rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan, and don't plan to change those initiatives."We're in Afghanistan to help the government; we don't do anything they aren't asking us to do," said an Indian official. India's engagement with Kabul is broad and deep, giving Afghan President Hamid Karzai an important diplomatic ally in the region. It has given Afghanistan more than $1.5 billion in aid, building roads and laying power lines, among other projects. India, with its own well-developed bureaucracy, trains about 700 Afghan civil servants a year in India.

The senior State Department official said the U.S. remains skeptical of Pakistani accusations about India in Afghanistan.

—Amol Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this article.

[url="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Pentagon-for-pressure-on-India-to-ease-tension-with-Pakistan-WSJ/articleshow/5762217.cms"]Pentagon for pressure on India to ease tension with Pakistan: WSJ[/url]

IANS, Apr 5, 2010, 11.39am IST

Daily Pioneer has this:

Quote:Tuesday, April 6, 2010

[url="http://www.dailypioneer.com/247287/US-wants-troop-cut-in-Kashmir-to-win-Afghan-war.html"]US wants troop cut in Kashmir to win Afghan war[/url]

S Rajagopalan | Washington

To get Pak on its side, Washington mulls exerting pressure on India to reduce operations in Kabul

Reducing the number of Indian troops in Kashmir or pulling back forces along the border is among the “ideas” being discussed by the Pentagon in internal debates as part of measures to ensure that US efforts to win Pakistani cooperation for its Afghanistan operations do not suffer. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the Pentagon push for “more pressure” on New Delhi comes in the wake of President Barack Obama issuing a “secret directive” to his top officials to work hard for an Indo-Pak détente.

Citing people familiar with the contents of the directive, reportedly issued by Obama in December, the influential daily went on to say that its conclusion was that “India must make resolving its tensions with Pakistan a priority for progress to be made on US goals in the region”.

While the White House has declined to comment on the directive or on the debate within the administration over its India policy, the paper said the directive was “summarised in a memo written by National Security Adviser James Jones at the end of the White House’s three-month review of Afghan war policy in December”.

It is the Pentagon which is reportedly going all-out to call the shots in favour of Pakistan by making the case for increased pressure on New Delhi, while the State Department is resisting such moves, saying they could backfire.

“According to the US and Indian officials, the Pentagon has emerged in internal Obama Administration debates as an active lobbyist for more pressure on India, with some officials already informally pressing Indian officials to take Pakistan’s concerns more seriously,” the Journal reported.

It went on to cite a US military official as saying that Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Government’s prime interlocutor with the powerful Pakistani Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani, was for “encouraging New Delhi to be more ‘transparent’ about its activities along the countries’ shared border and to cooperate more with Pakistan”.

Although the Obama Administration has reportedly made “few concrete demands of New Delhi” thus far, the report quoted US officials as saying that “the only specific request has been to discourage India from getting more involved in training the Afghan military, to ease Pakistani concerns about getting squeesed by India on two borders”.

This is being seen against the Pakistan’s concerted bid to more or less get India out of Afghanistan even as New Delhi has categorically ruled out any scaling down of its presence in that country.

On the sensitive issue of reduction of Indian troops in Kashmir, the Journal reported: “In interviews, US military officials were circumspect about what specific moves they would like to see from New Delhi. But according to people who have discussed India policy with Pentagon officials, the ideas discussed in internal debates include reducing the number of Indian troops in Kashmir or pulling back forces along the border.”

Some US officials are said to believe that Islamabad will remain reluctant to wholeheartedly fight the Islamic militants based on its Afghan border “unless the sense of threat from India is reduced”.

One foreign diplomat who has reportedly discussed India's role with the Pentagon officials was quoted as saying: “They say, ‘The Pakistanis have this perception and you have to deal with the perception’.”

The 56-page note presented by the Pakistani Government to the Obama Administration ahead of the recent high-level US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue here “contained a litany of accusations against the Indian Government, and suggestions the US intercede on Pakistan’s behalf”, according to a US official.

However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials have in their recent public comments ruled out any US intervention on Indo-Pak matters, whether over Kashmir or the water issue that was sought to be raised by Islamabad prominently during the Washington meeting.

State Department officials have been credited with the view that moves to pressure India at Pakistan’s bidding could backfire. A senior official involved in Indo-Pak issues has been quoted as saying that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has risked his political standing domestically by suggesting India would decouple talks on issues such as trade and travel from demands that Pakistan act more aggressively against terrorist groups, particularly Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.

“Our principal interest has always been to encourage the talks to resume, but we also understand where the Indians are coming from, which is that there has to be some progress on these bilateral counterterrorism issues,” the official was quoted as saying.

Jet disaster in Russia...

Poland in shock...

Central bank, army chiefs killed...

'Clipped tops of trees, crashed down and broke into pieces'...



Pilot error blamed as witnesses report three or four attempts to land in thick fog

Army chief and national bank supremo also killed in disaster

PM calls emergency Cabinet meeting as shocked crowds gather

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-...z0kjR3HPKW



Lech Kaczysnki - Polish president.

Maria Kaczynska - The president's wife

Ryszard Kaczorowski - Poland's last president-in-exile

Aleksander Szczyglo - head of the National Security Office

Pawel Wypych - presidential aide

Mariusz Handzlik - presidential aide

Jerzego Szmajdzinski - deputy parliament speaker

Andrzej Kremer - Deputy Foreign Minister

Gen. Franciszek Gagor - head of the army chief of staff

Andrzej Przewoznik - minister in charge of WWII memorials

Slawomir Skrzypek - head of the National Bank of Poland

Janusz Kurtyka - head of the National Remembrance Institute

Przemyslaw Gosiewski - lawmaker

Zbigniew Wassermann - lawmaker

Grzegorz Dolniak - lawmaker

Janusz Kochanowski - civil rights commissioner

Bishop Tadeusz Ploski - army chaplain
Doesn't Poland have the policy of not letting so many VIPs travel in a single aircraft?

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)