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India And The World

Guest Column-by Gaurang Bhatt

Birthrates in much of the EU, but particularly in Italy, Spain and Germany are below the replacement rate of slightly above two. Russia and Japan are having the same problem. America and Canada are hovering on the brink. The projection of future fall in population raises a number of problems including weakening of power projection, falling rate of GDP growth and increasing retirees and decreasing workers to support their un-funded social security retirement benefits. The options available are to reduce future benefits or permit increasing immigration of young and working, to continue paying current pensions from the payroll taxes of the working or utilize both options. The arguments against taking in new immigrants are xenophobia and racism for non-white immigrants and the fear of terrorism for Muslim immigrants. Excess populations keen on immigrating are to be found mainly in Asian, African and South American countries. Another solution is to fund the present retiree pensions from the general budget at the cost of running larger deficits and setting up individual benefit accounts for part of the payroll to provide partially privatized individual social security benefits supplemented by general retirement accounts. Below is an analysis on a country and/ or strategy basis.


These two countries have partially privatized and segregated social security retirement by removing the intake and payout from the budget and putting the funds under management by a quasi-governmental body. Australia in addition, is encouraging immigration from Asian countries to increase the ratio between workers and retirees. It has the advantage of a large landmass and sparse population.


Both of them are encouraging immigration. Canada has the landmass, a sparse population and promotes multiculturalism, making it a very attractive destination. New Zealand has a limited land area and a very slow rate of growth but often fails to provide upward mobility or even jobs commensurate with the skills and education of immigrants. Asian immigrants are not unknown to return to their country of origin after failing to obtain other than menial or hard labor jobs, despite having college degrees and white collar skills.


Japan has an aging workforce and falling population. South Korea has a fast growing economy with a stable population and labor shortage. Japan is a creditor nation with holdings of over a trillion dollars, bulk of it in US dollars and assets. While it currently supports the dollar at great loss to stem the rise of the yen and preserve its trade surplus and jobs, it is not likely to do so in the future. Japan has already announced a moratorium on supporting the dollar and driving down the yen and may alter its policy in the coming fiscal year starting April 1, 2004. It is currently content to seek shelter under the American military might and nuclear umbrella. America is seriously wary of a re-armed nuclear Japan and so is China. A nuclear North Korea, a militarily strengthening China and unrest across the Taiwan Straits are all likely to feed and swell the rising tide of militarism in Japan. It also has a huge national debt to GDP ratio and an un-funded social security system, which will require calling in its IOUs from America, seriously threatening America’s low interest rates and the current value of the dollar. The xenophobia and ethnic pride of Japan has prevented it from allowing increased immigration or more equal treatment of migrant labor. South Korea has opted for a detestable form of indentured labor by issuing apprentice work permits to Thai, Philippino, Nepali, Bangladeshi and other workers. These workers are often at the mercy of their employers and severely restricted from changing jobs or bargaining for better wages. Their fear of being deported makes them captive labor. Some American employers have used H and L visas or illegal immigrants similarly.


Oil rich Arab countries in the Persian Gulf routinely use South and Southeast Asians for routine and menial jobs with labor contracts. The workers never acquire permanent residency or citizenship but pay no taxes or finance any government benefits. Incidents of maltreatment including intimidation, physical punishment and even rape have been reported but are not frequent. The reasons here are not low birthrates or funding pensions, but sheer laziness, ineptitude and exclusion of women from the labor force on grounds of custom and religion. Falling per capita GDP and a school system which provides no useful marketable skills and a radical Islamic education leads to unemployed and unemployable youth susceptible to terrorist indoctrination due to lack of a political or economic future. The non-oil exports and GDP of all Arab countries combined is less than that of Spain. Sooner or later, due to economic and political instability, the need for and the remittance of South and Southeast Asian workers will decrease severely and a source of employment and foreign exchange earnings for India may vanish.


Falling birthrates and un-funded government pension liabilities are forcing the old EU countries to difficult choices. Europe has tried to take in workers from prior colonies, as they would be assimilated quickly because of fluency in the colonizers language. France and Belgium took in Algerians, Moroccans and Africans. Spain took in Moroccans and Britain did the same with South Asians, West Indies and some Africans. Germany opted for guest workers from Turkey but restricted citizenship more than other countries. Netherlands accepted Indonesians and Surinamese. The post industrial service economies and some discrimination has reduced the job opportunities of those immigrants who did not vigorously pursue education because of economic, intellectual or religious reasons. The differential economic status of Indian immigrants in Britain compared to Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants stands out despite similar experience with discrimination. The jobless youth riots in Bradford and Islamic terrorism has caused considerable problems to the EU countries. The UK riots, capture of British born terrorists of Pakistani origin, anti-Semitic violence in France and the recent Madrid train bombings raise serious doubts about the assimilation of Muslim immigrants into a secular EU based on the rule of law. One option they have used is to enlarge the union and accept surplus labor from Eastern Europe and Baltic states. Spain has opened doors for Central and South Americans who are Christians and speak Spanish and tried to clamp down on Moroccan Muslims. There is much less tolerance in old Europe for a multi-ethnic and multicultural nation state. This has spawned anti-immigrant parties and racist violence in many of the countries. France and Britain have tried to reduce social security benefits and Germany is mulling over the idea. The rising Euro, stagnant economies and high unemployment resulted in recent restrictions on free movement of labor in the EU and a marked reduction of farm and other subsidies to the ten new EU members. Their farmers and workers are likely to suffer the same devastating consequences as Mexico and India due to high farm subsidies for France and old EU members and the better machinery and worker training of Germany. The fear of being flooded with Muslim workers from Turkey causes the EU to deny it membership.


America has always been a multicultural society because the original inhabitants were American Indians and the white immigrants from many European countries after the first British ones. The large importation of African slaves and subsequent absorption of Mexicans, imported Chinese laborers and opening doors to Asians in the nineteen seventies created the melting pot. It has nevertheless kept the white population as the dominant power by laws, economics, wealth or numbers. Its un-funded liabilities and shrinking workforce is usually overcome by open immigration or temporary work permits under migrant labor laws or H-1B and L-1 visa programs. More work permits for Mexicans are under consideration. It is now following a policy of further enriching the rich and dismantling the safety net to create a two-tiered society. A trial balloon to cut benefits has been floated by the un-elected Federal Reserve Chairman who is a point man for the Republicans. In the last twenty-five years all Presidents and Congresses, be they Democrats or Republicans have tilted towards the rich. The stage is now set to leave the rich and the corporations in power and have increasing immigration of the working poor who have been politically emasculated or brainwashed by fear, religion or race. The electorate is bamboozled with trappings of democracy. They are allowed to vote but the candidates are chosen by the powerful. America is to become an insect society where the worker bees will toil ceaselessly at mundane chores to let the royals live in gated luxury. To give due credit, the path to riches in America is open to superior talent irrespective of ethnic background. The path to power is generally not. Recent attempts by Congress to eliminate overtime pay and the irresponsible trade, current account and budget deficits are bound to lead to curtailment of government services and benefits. The younger working population will rebel against necessary tax and social security contribution increases, thus forcing the legislative and executive branches to eviscerate further the social safety net without accepting blame and transferring it to the shoulders of the rebellious younger generation. Thus there will be a generational conflict added to the class, race and religious conflicts. The certain unraveling of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestinian West Bank and Possibly Pakistan is sure to add to the travails of America.


Its excess of educated manpower has a great opportunity to immigrate to developed countries. The Hindu is not perceived as a terrorist threat. There is a real possibility of being mistaken as Muslim terrorists on the basis of color, as the recent arrests of two Indians in Madrid showed. It is unlikely that two white Spaniards who sold cell phones or cards would have gotten the same treatment. Having said that, it is important to stress that the legal system is generally fair and honest, as the later release of the two Indians in Madrid proves. Many Indians have prospered and some bountifully so in America, Britain and Canada. Until India offers its own citizens opportunities to succeed without nepotism and bribery, it is destined to suffer a loss of talent through immigration. If it cannot get rid of bureaucratic red tape, it may even lose the benefit that some of its successful scions have to offer from nostalgic love. India has one thing to be thankful about, Indian diaspora did not leave the nation because of political or religious persecution, like some Cubans, Iranians and Vietnamese did. They thus bear no enmity towards their motherland or its leaders. On the contrary, there is a large reservoir of goodwill and affection, but it will not last very long after the first generation Indian Americans die out.
Hindu Forum of Britain launched

H S Rao in London | May 27, 2004 14:11 IST

The Hindu Forum of Britain, an umbrella body of Hindu organisations from different regions and cultural backgrounds in the UK, was launched in the House of Commons on Thursday evening, with speakers describing it as a milestone event for the development of 700,000 British Hindus.

Outlining the salient features of the forum, its general secretary Ramesh Kallidai said: "At the core of the forum's activities is a strong belief in the richness and diversity of the Hindu culture, its value system that encompasses respect for all beings and faiths, and a cultural heritage that facilitates community co-existence."

He said 130 different Hindu organisations have joined the forum.

The launch function held at the Boothroyrd Room of the Portcullis House was attended by MPs from all three major
political parties.

It was co-hosted by Lord Navnit Dholakia, chair of the Liberal Democratic Party; Stephen Pound, MP, chair of the
Labour Friends of India; and Peter Luff, MP, chair of the Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India.

Baroness Amos lit a lamp to inaugurate the forum amid chanting of Sanskrit shlokas.

Ishwer Taylor, president of the forum, said it was the most significant milestone for Hindus in Britain in the 21st century.

"We have excelled in education, employment, business and professions and we will continue to excel in our friendly relations with other communities," he said and hoped the forum would represent the voice of Hindus in the UK.
Bharat should not only be part of G-10 (G-8 Plus Bharat and China) but also be a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN.

It is good that the present G-8 members realize that the group will have meaning only if two nations with over 2 billion people are part of the global deliberations.

The task before Bharat is not to gloat over the periodical photo-ops provided by G-10 summits but to work towards realizing Bharat Vision 2020 making Bharat a developed nation.

It is time to stop politicking, remove the cancer of corruption from the body politic starting with the removal of criminals from the councils of ministers not only in the centre but also in the states, to empower the villager panchayats and usher in the democratic systems which were evident in the Uttaramerur inscription of the 9th century and which are a heritage which date back to the Rigvedic times. Bharat doesn’t have to learn about democracy from the G-8 but can offer the path of Hindu Dharma which is an alternative to the current tensions created by christism and Islamism, two aberrant faiths which have wrought untold miseries over centuries.

G-10 will become meaningful when Bharat regains her true swarajyam, ensures the enrichment of the villagers by providing urban facilities in the villages, by ensuring equitable distribution of water resources to all parts of the country after reclaiming Manasarovar of Free Tibet as the cultural capital of Bharat, double agricultural production in the next 5 years so that Bharat can feed the world and take the nation to the levels of prosperity and peace that are her destiny. Only Hindu Dharma can save the world ridden with factionalism and intolerant faiths based on wrong understanding of human rights. Human rights will have to be earned by human responsibilities which should be enshrined by understanding Dharma and Vrata as the guiding principles for all walks of life.


G-8 considering opening doors to India
Friday June 11 2004 14:39 IST


WASHINGTON: The Group of Eight industrialised nations are considering opening doors of the elite club to include more states, including India and China, to reflect the growing importance of the two Asian economic giants.

There is "certainly a case for including countries like China and India," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the end of the G-8 summit held in Sea Island, Georgia, yesterday.

"We have already begun the process of outreach and I'm sure that will continue," he was quoted as saying by British newspapers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said India and China's participation in the G-8 Conference would make much sense.

"India and China are huge countries, whose potential is growing energetically and intensively," he was quoted by Russian news agency Itar-Tass as saying.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had said on the first day of talks that the leaders were considering inviting China and India into the G-8 fold.

"It doesn't make sense for us to talk about the economy of the future without the two countries that are protagonists on the world stage."

Welcome back Dr.K <!--emo&:guitar--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/guitar.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='guitar.gif' /><!--endemo-->

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Manasarovar of Free Tibet as the cultural capital of Bharat<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Can you plz elaborate, how is maansarovar cultural capital of bharat, how can there be any central cultural capital for bharat?
“Gun Boat Diplomacy” of the strictly benign kind with South American countries with a large Indian diaspora :

Indian Naval Ship Visits Trinidad and Tobago.

India - Guyana relations.
<!--QuoteBegin-rhytha+Jun 11 2004, 09:10 PM-->QUOTE(rhytha @ Jun 11 2004, 09:10 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> Welcome back Dr.K <!--emo&:guitar--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/guitar.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='guitar.gif' /><!--endemo-->

<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Manasarovar of Free Tibet as the cultural capital of Bharat<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Can you plz elaborate, how is maansarovar cultural capital of bharat, how can there be any central cultural capital for bharat? <!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Ya ya me too me too

How come manasarovar ? Is it just because of Kailash or something else ? to my knowledge no city/civilization live there... <!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo-->
I do not wish to answer for Dr.K, but as a Dr.K myself i have my own theory. Saivism and its variants are prevalent throughout the length and breadth of the subcontinent (Saivites are of course to be found all over india not just in the south)and in some mysterious way Mt.kailash and manasarovar are tied to the fundamental traditions and cultural ethos of India. There must be a lot more to the story of why Mt.kailash and Manasarovar are central to the Saivite narrative than we are commonly aware of.

How it ended up in the hands of China is one of the tragic stories of the modern era.
Geo-politics has to be complemented with geo-culture.

A series of actions which have occurred during the last 10 years and
in particular, after the Berlin wall was broken down and after 9/11,
place Bharat in the epicentre of geopolitics vis-a-vis China and
islam-ism with the super-cop calling the shots.

Entry of Bharat into UN Security Council as a permanent member and
into G-8 (to make it G-10 together with China) is a work in process.
What needs to be done within Bharat is an awareness that the path to
achieving a developed Bharat vision 2020 shouldn't be riddled with
sycophancy and politicking of the type we have witnessed in electoral
politics. On this path, two key markers are: advancement of
fast-breeder reactor technologies to ensure that 20,000 mw of nuclear
energy gets produced by 2020 and the setting up of a National Water
Grid to empower the villagers of Bharat. These two swarajyam
development initiatives alone will take Bharat to its true place in
the comity of nations. If a geo-political perspective has to be added,
Bharat should take the lead in establishing an Indian Ocean Community
(Hindumahasagar Parivar) as a counterbalance to the European
Community. The Hindumahasagar Parivar stretch from the Straits of
Hormuz across Straits of Malacca upto to the west-coast of Australia,
a rim of over 60,000 miles. Rebirth of Vedic River Sarasvati, and
restoration of Angkor Wat (Nagara Vatika) as the cultural identiy of
this parivar has to be taken up with the involvement of all
Bharatiya-s celebrating Bali Yatra on Kartika Purnima day and
Sarasvati janmadivas on Magha S'ukla Pancami day, every year.

Bali Yatra

To commemorate the glorious past of commercial voyages to the islands
of Bali, Java and Sumatra by Orissa Traders, a big fair called 'Bali
Yatra' is held on the Mahanadi river bank at Cuttack.

Saraswati Puja / Shree Panchami

The day marked for the propitiation of Saraswati, the Goddess of
learning is known as Sripanchami or Basanta Panchami. The words 'Sree'
and 'Basanta' are significant to the festival. 'Sree' is beauty and
the other name of 'Saraswati' and Basanta is spring season which
brings beauty and pleasure to the Earth. Therefore it is a festival to
welcome beauty through worship of the Goddess


Glide path to 'Slide path' ?

By Inder Malhotra

All through the years since the then U.S. President Bill Clinton's
visit to this country, there has been much talk about India and the
United States being "strategic partners", if not "natural allies".
Both officials and analysts have spoken also about a "qualitative
change" in the relationship between the two democracies that had
remained estranged for more than four decades.

It would, of course, be wrong and unfair to dismiss this talk as mere
rhetoric without reality. But despite undoubted desire on both sides
to befriend each other, nagging problems have persisted. There was,
for instance, what the former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee,
used to call America's "double standards" on terrorism. This
inevitably attracted greater attention though the real focus always
was on the painfully slow progress on the key issue of transfer of
high technology to India that had been denied this country for long.

To begin the story from the beginning, it was way back in the 80's
that Indira Gandhi and President Ronald Reagan decided to make
technology transfer the main driving force behind an improvement in
the relations between the world's most populous and most powerful

Shortly after her assassination, a comprehensive and highly promising
agreement on cooperation in the area of science and technology was
signed. Hi-tech savvy Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister by then was
enthusiastic about making the accord work. But, thanks to America's
geo-strategic priorities, nothing came of the muchacclaimed agreement.
On the contrary, the U.S. denied this country even a super computer.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for Pune-based Indian
scientists were able to build a supercomputer even better than the one
sought from Washington. Almost exactly 20 years and climatic changes
in the global situation later, the story is no longer so bleak but it
is disappointing nonetheless.

During the remaining two years of the Clinton tenure nothing could be
done because his policy on nuclear nonproliferation, even after the
1998 nuclear tests by this country as well as Pakistan, remained one
of capping, rolling back and eventually "eliminating" this country's
nuclear weapons programme. President George W. Bush was not so
hidebound. He had no use for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT),
Clinton's sheet anchor that the U.S. Senate had refused to ratify.
Bush also valued Indian democracy and economic potential much more
than his predecessor did.

Even so, it is a measure of the obstructive power of the
nonproliferation fundamentalists still entrenched in the U.S.
establishment, especially in the State Department, that things moved
at an excruciatingly slow pace, if they moved at all. It took more
than two years of strenuous negotiations at very high levels even to
get a firm American commitment to letting India have the technologies
it was seeking.

In January this year, President Bush and Prime Minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee made separate statements spelling out that the U.S. was
willing to transfer to India technologies in the areas of civilian
nuclear programme and space. Another encouraging part of the American
statement was a promise to be more forthcoming in the supply of "dual
use" technologies. To this "trinity" that had been under discussion
since November 2001, the American side added the arena of missile
defence as another area of cooperation but almost immediately there
was some backtracking on this. The "quartet" reverted to trinity" once
again. The Bush declaration was described as the "Next Stepsin
Strategic Partnership (NSSP). It was also given the alias "glide

Surprisingly, within hours of Bush's declaration, welcomed by
Vajpayee, the U.S. Under Secretary of State, Marc Grossman, held a
briefing for the world press during which he poured buckets of very
cold water on what his President had said. What had been announced,
Grossman said, was a declaration of intent that might take "months, if
not years, to implement." The subsequent dragging of feet by the
American side underscored that he was right. The glide path was
turning into slide path.

Not a word of explanation of Grossman's peculiar performance, leave
alone an apology for it ever came from the American side. On the
contrary, U.S. officials embarked on some of the more curious
questioning and argumentation on the subject.

For instance, a U.S. delegation conducted, with Indian consent, an
"inspection" of the end use of a dual use technology imported from the
U.S. Without any evidence of any wrong doing, it declared itself
dissatisfied with its findings. Subsequent talks about "tightening"
Indian export controls turned into a dialogue of the deaf.

After months of nitpicking of this kind some movement towards
translating words into deeds has at last taken place. But regrettably
it is limited and confined only to "cooperation and commerce" in
relation to space.

Only the other day, the U. S. Under Secretary for Commerce and the
principal American interlocutor with India on technology issues, Ken
Juster, wasin Delhi on way to a huge and week-long conference on space
in Bangalore. He let it be known that next year the Boeing, the famous
American corporation and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
would collaborate in the first launch from Indian soil of a satellite
belonging to a third country.

But the vision statement issued by the Bangalore Indo-U.S. Space
Conference was long on platitudinous sentiment and short on a concrete
plan of action. It is in relation to the critically important area of
nuclear power generation, however, that the U.S. performance has been
most unhelpful and depressing. Citing its laws and other difficulties,
the Bush administration has virtually declined to transfer civilian
nuclear technology at a time when India's need for speedy augmentation
of its nuclear power generation is acute.

This, unfortunately, is not all. Several European countries, with
France and Russia in the lead, are keen to join this country's nuclear
power programme. To do this, however, they require the American nod to
a waiver to India from some of the conditions imposed by the Nuclear
Suppliers Group (NSG) which is not forthcoming. For, there is no way
India can either accept full-scope safeguards or sign the NPT or the
additional protocol on enhanced IAEA supervision. New Delhi is
prepared to accept facilityspecific safeguards, as in the past, but is
getting nowhere. Its plea is falling on deaf ears.

There are several ironies in the situation. One of these is that while
China has become a member of the NSG notwithstanding its prolonged
proliferation of both nuclear and missile technologies to Pakistan.
But in India's case even the mildest exception to the NSG rules is not
contemplated, never mind this country's inclusion in the NSG. China,
incidentally, has demanded, in a recent statement, that India should
fully implement the UN's resolution 1172 that requires this country to
give up nuclear weapons and sign the NPT as a non-nuclear country.
With Beijing the matter can be taken up separately. The pertinent
point is that strategic partners have to do more than the U.S. seems
prepared to do so far. Juster was told this during his stay in Delhi.

How important are Cental Asian states to India? by M V Kamat
What if .. What if Boutrous Boutrous Ghali (spl ? ) had been UN had instead of current one..
A report from PINR - Power and Interest News Report -

18 August, 2004
India: A Rising Power

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States underwent major strategic reassessments of its capabilities and geopolitical reach around the globe. As the threat of a single force -- the U.S.S.R. -- receded and then disappeared altogether, new challenges arose. One such challenge was the relationship with several countries that began to gain clout and importance on the world's political, military and economic scene. While Washington's attention has been fixed on the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China, a country somewhat neglected by U.S. policymakers steadily gained in importance and has the potential of being one of the world's major geopolitical players -- India.

The grand strategy of the American empire
US unilateralism has become the dominant issue in world politics. It has been one of the most visible features of the present US administration ever since George W Bush took office in January 2001. Bush's speedy denunciation of the Kyoto protocol on global warming prompted the Financial Times to comment, 'An anti-regulatory stance at home and a unilateralist approach abroad are signs that the US government will be the most conservative since the Second World War'.1 This trend has been dramatically reinforced since 11 September 2001, above all with the Bush administration's drive--as usual tailed obsequiously by Tony Blair-to launch a war intended to impose 'regime change' on Iraq. The first anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington was followed by the publication of a new National Security Strategy that begins with the affirmation, 'The United States possesses unprecedented--and unequalled--strength and influence in the world,' and concludes with the warning, 'Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in the hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States'.2

This blunt avowal that, as the right wing journalist Anatol Lieven puts it, the US is seeking 'unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority' has come as an unpleasant surprise to those who swallowed the idea--widespread in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War--that economic globalisation was being accompanied by the emergence of forms of 'global governance' that would overcome the centuries-old struggle for supremacy among the Great Powers.3 No one has defended this view more strongly than Blair, who first unfolded his 'Doctrine of International Community' during the 1999 Balkan War and reaffirmed it at the Labour Party conference in September 2001.4 Blair's rhapsodies about 'reordering the world' sit ill with the entirely accurate prediction of Condoleezza Rice, George W Bush's national security adviser, that his administration would 'proceed from the firm ground of the national interest, not from the interests of an illusory international community'.5

Understanding US imperialism
There is something faintly comic about the way in which Blair's self righteous moralism has now been pressed into service to provide a facade of justification for the realpolitik of Bush and his advisers. But the important question is to understand what is at stake in the present US war drive. Edward Luttwak defines grand strategy as the dimension of inter-state conflict 'where all that is military happens within the much broader context of domestic politics, international diplomacy, economy activity, and all else that strengthens and weakens'.6 So what is the grand strategy of the American empire under George W Bush?

One of the distinctive features of the Marxist theory of imperialism is that it treats diplomatic and military conflicts among states as instances of the more general process of competition that drives capitalism on. More specifically, as formulated by Nikolai Bukharin during the First World War, the theory of imperialism argues that in the course of the 19th century two hitherto relatively autonomous processes--the geopolitical rivalries among states and economic competition between capitals--increasingly fused. On the one hand, the increasing industrialisation of war meant that the Great Powers could no longer maintain their position without developing a capitalist economic base. On the other hand, the growing concentration and internationalisation of capital caused economic rivalries among firms to spill over national borders and become geopolitical contests in which the combatants called on the support of their respective states. Economic and security competition were now closely interwoven in complex forms of conflict that developed into the terrible era of inter-imperialist war between 1914 and 1945.7

It is this theory that provides the best framework for understanding the contemporary US war drive. But before proceeding it is important to clarify one crucial point. Often both friends and critics of the Marxist theory of imperialism reduce it to the claim that imperialist states act exclusively from economic motives. One recent version of this is the widely held belief that the real aim behind the Western attack on Afghanistan was the desire of the Bush administration and the oil corporations to which it is closely allied to build a pipeline through the country as a means of exporting the oil and gas of Central Asia.8 Now, undoubtedly the energy reserves of the region are an important factor in Washington's interest in the region, but to reduce the war in Afghanistan to this interest would be a bad mistake. The US attacked Afghanistan, as we shall see, primarily for political reasons focused on reasserting its global hegemony after 11 September. The greater access it gained to Central Asia was an important by-product of the overthrow of the Taliban, not the main motive behind this action. At the same time, however, it would also be a mistake to reduce US strategy to geopolitics: control over Middle Eastern oil is, as we shall also see, a major preoccupation in the Bush administration's war planning.9

More generally, throughout the history of imperialism, Great Powers have acted for complex mixtures of economic and geopolitical reasons. At the end of the 19th century the British ruling class began to perceive Germany as a major threat to their interests, in the first instance because of the decision by the Second Reich to build a world class navy. This was a threat to Britain's naval supremacy, and to the security of the British Isles themselves, but control of the empire--and of the flows of profits from overseas investments--was closely bound up with British sea power.10 To take another example, Hitler was an intensely ideological ruler, whose long term aim was to secure dominance of the Eurasian land mass for a racially purified Germany, but economic considerations played a powerful role in both military strategy (the decisions to start the Second World War, to extend it to the Soviet Union, and to attempt to take Stalingrad were heavily influenced by fears about raw material shortages) and in Hitler's vision of a colonised Russia as the solution to the economic contradictions of German capitalism.11 Today also it is important to understand that the Marxist theory of imperialism analyses the forms in which geopolitical and economic competition become interwoven under capitalism, and does not simply reduce one to the other.

US strategy after the Cold War
The origins of the 'unprecedented--and unequalled--strength' of which the Bush administration boasts lie, of course, in the end of the last phase of inter-imperialist competition, the Cold War (1945-1990). The revolutions in East and Central Europe in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the US as the leading military power. They also gave US capitalism access to regions that had previously been closed off to it by the Cold War partition of the world into rival superpower blocs, most notably Central Asia, both a site of important energy reserves and strategically placed at the boundary between Russian and Chinese spheres of influence. Nevertheless, the disintegration of the Stalinist system did not abolish rivalries among the Great Powers. Unruffled by the triumphalist talk of the 'end of history' and a second American century, a number of Marxists argued that, now that the relative discipline imposed by the bipolar structure of international politics during the Cold War had been removed, the world was entering a period of intensified geopolitical competition and therefore of greater instability and danger than had prevailed before 1989.12

More specifically, the US faced two potential sources of challenge. The first came from within the Western capitalist bloc. Germany and Japan had been firmly subordinated to US political and military leadership throughout the Cold War, but they had developed into major economic rivals to US capitalism. US relative economic decline in the face of this challenge was one of the main driving forces behind the world economy's entry into a new era of crises at the end of the 1960s.13

Liberated from the restraints demanded by unity against the Eastern bloc, Germany and Japan might increasingly assert themselves geopolitically and develop into world powers threatening US hegemony. Though it was a newly reunified Germany that flaunted its independence from Washington (for example, by engineering the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991-1992 in defiance of the efforts by the administration of the elder Bush to keep the federation together), Japan's penetration of US markets and its growing investments in the American homeland made it seem the greater threat. George Friedman of the security consultancy firm Stratfor even co-authored a book in the early 1990s that announced The Coming War With Japan.

The second group of potential rivals came from outside the Western bloc. Russia, though impoverished and descending into social and political chaos, remained a Great Power, armed with thousands of nuclear warheads, sprawling across Eurasia, encompassing or bordering on vast energy reserves. More threatening still was China. The rapid economic growth that China has clocked up since its rulers embraced market Stalinism in the 1980s might seem to vindicate laissez-faire capitalism, but it also gave them the resources with which to build China up as a major military power in the most geopolitically unstable region in the world.14 Indeed, as the Japanese economic challenge receded in the course of the 1990s, China loomed ever larger as the major long term threat facing US capitalism. The leading American analyst of international relations John Mearsheimer wrote recently:

Another way of illustrating how powerful China might become if its economy continues growing rapidly is to compare it with the United States. The GNP of the United States is $7.9 trillion. If China's per capita GNP equals [South] Korea's, China's overall GNP would be almost $10.66 trillion, which is about 1.35 times the size of America's GNP. If China's per capita GNP is half of Japan's, China's overall GNP would then be roughly 2.5 times bigger than America's. For purposes of comparison, the Soviet Union was roughly one half as wealthy as the United States during most of the Cold War... China, in short, has the potential to be considerably more powerful than even the United States.15

On the basis of this projection, Mearsheimer goes on to construct a grim scenario for north east Asia and indeed the world:

Not only would China be much wealthier than any of its Asian rivals...but its huge population advantage would allow it to build a far more powerful army than either Japan or Russia could. China would also have the resources to acquire an impressive nuclear arsenal. North east Asia...would be a far more dangerous place than it is now. China, like all previous potential hegemons, would be strongly inclined to become a real hegemon, and all its rivals, including the United States, would encircle China to try to keep it from expanding.16

Others, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), are much more sceptical about China's capacity to develop into a serious challenger to US hegemony, particularly when predictions involve (as Mearsheimer's arguably do) 'the mechanical reliance on statistical projections'.17 All the same, Brzezinski has been among the most forceful to argue that the challenge facing the US ruling class since the end of the Cold War has been to preserve its leadership of the Western capitalist states and to extend it to incorporate the other Great Powers. The main geopolitical success of the Clinton administration (1993-2001) was that it succeeded in maintaining a reorganised US hegemony in Eurasia. This was greatly facilitated by the economic background. For most of the 1990s the US economy enjoyed a boom that grew in strength in the course of the decade.18 Meanwhile the German economy stagnated for most of the 1990s, while Japan suffered the most serious deflationary slump experienced by any major capitalist state since the 1930s. This relative shift in the balance of economic power in favour of the US was reinforced by the Clinton administration's selective use of military power. The NATO bombing campaigns against Serbia over Bosnia in 1995 and--on a much greater scale--over Kosovo in 1999 served to underline the dependence of the European Union on American political leadership and military muscle to overcome crises even in its own back yard in the Balkans.

The expansion of NATO into East and Central Europe which took effect during the 1999 Balkan War performed a triple function: (1) it both maintained the position of the US, established during the Cold War, as the leading power in Western Europe and extended it eastwards; (2) it legitimised the penetration of the economically and strategically crucial zone of Central Asia by a US-led NATO now authorised to undertake 'out of area' operations; (3) it amounted to a new strategy of encirclement directed towards a Russia that US policy-makers had concluded was unlikely somehow to metamorphose into a prosperous liberal democracy and would therefore have to be contained.19 The first test of the new NATO against Serbia was at best equivocal in its results, since the bombing campaign (which caused little serious damage to the Yugoslav army) was only one of the factors that prompted Milosevic to abandon Kosovo--Russian refusal to back him and pressure to strike a deal probably played a at least as important a role. But the Balkan War was the occasion on which the ideology of humanitarian intervention was most forcefully invoked, particularly by Blair, in order to assert the right of the 'international community'--in this case the US and its European allies--to override national sovereignty and wage war ostensibly at least to punish violations of human rights by 'rogue states'.20

On the face of it, then, the Clinton administration pursued a multilateralist strategy. The real motives behind this strategy were, however, much more clearly exposed by Brzezinski, who was one of the main architects of NATO expansion. In The Grand Chessboard he presented this policy as one facet of a much broader approach to maintain US dominance through a continent-wide policy of divide and rule. Openly using the language of imperial power ('America's global supremacy is reminiscent in some ways of earlier empires'), Brzezinski advocated US coalition-building in order to incorporate and subordinate potential rivals such as Germany, Russia, China and Japan:

In the short run, it is in America's interest to consolidate and perpetuate the prevailing geographical pluralism on the map of Eurasia. That puts a premium on manoeuvre and manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that would eventually seek to challenge America's primacy, not to mention the remote possibility of any one particular state seeking to do so. By the middle term [the next 20 years or so], the foregoing should gradually yield to a great emphasis on the emergence of increasingly important but strategically compatible partners who, prompted by American leadership, might help to shape a more co-operative trans-Eurasian security system. Eventually, in the much longer run still, the foregoing could phase into a global core of genuinely shared political responsibility.21

It is important to understand, however, that despite this emphasis on coalition building (and Brzezinksi's willingness to envisage some genuinely co-operative relationship among the Great Powers in the very remote future), the Clinton administration's strategy was not in any simple sense a multilateralist one. Promoting the expansion of NATO and the EU was a means of maintaining US hegemony in Eurasia, not an alternative to US primacy. Clinton and his advisers were what one American conservative calls 'instrumental multilateralists':

Americans prefer to act with the sanction and support of other countries if they can. But they're strong enough to act alone if they must.22

The US initiated the 1999 Balkan War under the aegis of NATO, without reference to the United Nations Security Council. The Clinton administration had already flouted the UN when it launched a bombing campaign against Iraq in December 1998 with the support of Britain and Kuwait. Madeleine Albright, Clinton's peculiarly inept and arrogant Secretary of State, justified an earlier cruise missile attack on Iraq by saying:

If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We stand tall. We see farther into the future.23

It was this kind of imperialist hubris that led that veteran servant of the US state Samuel Huntington to warn:

In acting as if this were a unipolar world, the United States is also becoming increasingly alone in the world... While the United States regularly denounces various countries as 'rogue states', in the eyes of many countries it is becoming the rogue superpower.24

The Bush doctrine: 'pre-emptive retaliation'
The rogue superpower is now on the rampage. The terrorist atrocities of 11 September 2001 represented what another American political scientist, Chalmers Johnson, called 'blowback'--the reaction that US imperial power was provoking, particularly in the Middle East, had now cost the lives of thousands of innocent US civilians.25 But the attacks on New York and Washington gave the administration of the younger Bush much greater scope than it had previously enjoyed to pursue a global strategy that was qualitatively more unilateralist than that of its predecessors.

The administration's disdain for coalition-building was revealed in its attitude to NATO. On 12 September 2001 the North Atlantic Council invoked, for the first time in its history, article five of the 1949 treaty establishing NATO and declared that the attacks on the US were attacks on all the alliance's member states. Bush pocketed this declaration of solidarity along with a UN Security Council resolution, but the Pentagon didn't bother to use NATO in its war against Afghanistan. NATO, which barely two years before had been Washington's preferred instrument of intervention in the Balkans, was now treated with the same contempt that had become habitual in American dealings with the UN. The National Security Strategy devotes a mere three paragraphs to it.

This preference for unilateral action reflected in the first instance the serious symbolic blow that US power had suffered on 11 September. After the spectacular attacks on its financial capital and military headquarters, the US state had to be seen to be striking back itself, not dialling 911 for the international police. US power had been violated--US power had to be seen taking revenge. Pentagon chiefs had in any case made clear their impatience with NATO's cumbersome procedures during the 1999 Balkan War. But since the fall of Kabul in November 2001 it has become clear that the Bush administration is using the 'war on terrorism' to justify a much more aggressive geopolitical strategy, deploying military power to eliminate some threats and intimidate everyone else.

The first step came with the substantial extension of war aims announced by Bush in his State of the Union address on 29 January 2002. Reaffirming that 'our war on terror is just beginning', Bush announced that, in addition to directly attacking terrorist networks, 'our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction', and named Iran, Iraq and North Korea as 'an axis of evil'.26 Under-Secretary of State John Bolton subsequently extended the net, identifying Libya, Syria and Cuba as 'state sponsors of terrorism that are pursuing or who have the potential to pursue weapons of mass destruction'.27

But the full dimensions of the administration's strategy only became clear when Bush announced what the Financial Times called 'an entirely fresh doctrine of pre-emptive action' in a speech at West Point on 1 June 2002.28 Bush said:

For much of the past century, America's defence relied on the Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. In some cases, those strategies still apply. But new threats also require new thinking. Deterrence--the promise of massive retaliation against nations--means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies.

We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systematically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialise, we will have waited too long [applause].

Homeland defence and missile defence are part of stronger security, and they're essential priorities for America. But the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge [applause]. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act [applause].29

This 'Bush Doctrine' of (as one administration official put it) 'pre-emptive retaliation' is enshrined in the National Security Strategy: 'While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defence by acting pre-emptively'.30 The first test of this doctrine is Iraq. US policy in the Middle East after the 1991 Gulf War was one of what was called 'dual containment', designed to isolate both Iran and Iraq. In the case of Iraq, a combination of economic sanctions and bombing raids was intended to keep the Ba'ath regime of Saddam Hussein weak and on the defensive. By the late 1990s the policy was falling apart diplomatically, since both permanent Security Council members such as France and Russia and the Arab states were showing an increasing interest in strengthening their economic and diplomatic links with Iraq. To maintain the isolation of Iraq, the US and Britain were forced increasingly to take unilateral action, in particular through an intensified bombing campaign.31

As recently as 2000 Condoleezza Rice (then a Stanford professor advising the Bush campaign) was arguing for a continuation of this policy. Referring to 'rogue states' such as Iraq and North Korea, she wrote:

These regimes are living on borrowed time, so there need to be no sense of panic about them. Rather, the first line of defence should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence--if they do acquire WMD [weapons of mass destruction] their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration.32

Challenged recently about these remarks, Rice joked feebly that 'academics can write anything', and appealed to the awful warning of 9/11.33 The argument is hardly persuasive. The conflation constantly made by Bush and Blair between regimes such as Saddam's and the Al Qaida terrorist network ignores the fact that absolutely no serious evidence linking Iraq to 11 September has been produced. Nothing that has happened since the attacks on the US has altered the fact that any state that mounted a nuclear, chemical or biological strike against America would be committing national suicide. And, of course, the focus on WMD ignores both the massive nuclear arsenals maintained by the US and the other leading powers, and the development of nuclear weapons by states closely aligned to Washington such as Israel and Pakistan. To understand the Bush Doctrine we need to take a closer look at the Bush administration itself.

Bush II: the Republican right take the helm
The administration of the younger Bush tended initially to be presented as a continuation of his father's. The same view is expressed in the commonplace claim that the planned war on Iraq is a settling of an old family score. Interpretations of this kind are fundamentally mistaken.34 Though much of the top personnel of the present administration--notably Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld--served under the elder Bush between 1989 and 1993, ideologically Bush II harks back to the era of Ronald Reagan, president during the last phase of the Cold War between 1981 and 1989. It was Reagan who denounced the Soviet Union as an 'evil empire', and authorised the CIA and the Pentagon to back right wing guerrilla movements against Third World nationalist regimes such as Nicaragua, Angola and Afghanistan that the US deemed to be on the wrong side in the Cold War.35 The arch-cynic Henry Kissinger admiringly summed up Reagan's foreign policy thus: 'The high-flying Wilsonian language in support of freedom and democracy was leavened by almost Machiavellian realism... the Reagan Doctrine amounted to a strategy for helping the enemy of one's enemy--of which Richelieu would have approved' (one of the beneficiaries of this strategy proved to be Osama Bin Laden).36

Bush Jr has clearly modelled his personal style on that of Reagan--the folksy great communicator who concentrated on getting the big issues right (from the perspective of the Republican right). More importantly, the central axis of his administration is defined by the politics of Reaganism. The elder Bush was a product of the East Coast establishment: the tone of his foreign policy was set by his Secretary of State, James Baker, who carefully constructed a broad coalition based on the authority of the UN Security Council to wage the last war against Iraq, and who withheld a $10 billion US loan guarantee to Israel to force the right wing prime minister Yitzhak Shamir to take part in the Madrid peace conference with the Palestine Liberation Organisation.37

Cheney, Secretary of Defence under Bush Sr, was then a relatively isolated figure. In March 1992 a Pentagon Defence Policy Guidance document was leaked to the New York Times. Its main thrust anticipated the younger Bush's National Security Strategy: 'Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival...that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union... Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor'.38 One of the authors of the document (which was repudiated by the first Bush administration) was Paul Wolfowitz, today Rumsfeld's deputy. According to Frances Fitzgerald, Rumsfeld himself was 'Cheney's Washington mentor and his friend for over 30 years. As [President Gerald] Ford's Chief of Staff and later as his Secretary of Defence, Rumsfeld had moved the Ford administration [1974-1977] sharply to the right and frustrated [Secretary of State] Kissinger's attempt to conclude the SALT II treaty' reducing the superpowers' nuclear arsenals.39

Today Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz form the core of a group of right wing Republican intellectuals that is setting the agenda of the Bush administration. Others include Condoleezza Rice at the National Security Council, John Bolton, Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Affairs, and Richard Perle, the legendary right wing 'prince of darkness' under Reagan, who is now chairman of the advisory Defence Policy Board. As Fitzgerald puts it, 'What had been a minority position in the first Bush administration had become a majority position in the second'.40 Now it is Colin Powell, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bush Sr, the architect of the 1991 Gulf War, who is isolated when he argues for coalition building. Powell's approach had some influence in the immediate aftermath of 11 September, but increasingly he is being sidelined by the right wing unilateralists. What is their agenda?

The right's outlook is, as James Fallows puts it, 'defined by pessimism, optimism, and impatience with procedure'.41 The pessimism is chiefly represented by the belief that America's present supremacy may soon be challenged by the emergence of new peer competitors. This assessment was strikingly expressed by Wolfowitz in an essay he wrote under Clinton. There he compared the post-1989 triumphalism about the victory of liberal capitalism and the 'end of history' to the view widely held at the end of the 19th century that economic growth and international integration had made war obsolete:

The end of this century resembles the end of the last in another important way, one that puts a question mark over the great hopes for continued peace and prosperity as we enter the 21st century. Alongside the remarkable and peaceful progress that was taking place at the end of the last century, the world was grappling with--or, more accurately, failing to manage--the emergence of major new powers. Not only was Japan newly powerful in Asia, but Germany, which had not even existed before the end of the 19th century, was becoming a dominant force in Europe.

Today the same spectacular economic growth that is reducing poverty, expanding trade and creating new middle classes is also creating new economic powers, and possibly new military ones as well. This is particularly true in Asia... The emergence of China by itself would present sizable problems; the emergence of China along with a number of other Asian powers presents an extremely complicated equation. In the case of China, there is the obvious element of its outsider status. To hark back to the last turning of a century, the obvious and disturbing analogy is [with] the position of Germany, a country that felt it had been denied its 'place in the sun', that believed it had been mistreated by the other powers, and that was determined to achieve its rightful place by nationalistic assertiveness.42

It is this world-historical vision that informs the Bush team's preoccupation with asserting US military power in order to block the emergence of challengers. As Zalmay Khalilzad, one of Cheney's staff in the early 1990s and now Special Assistant to the President for Near East, South West Asian and North African Affairs, put it, 'It is a vital US interest to be willing to use force if necessary' in order to 'preclude the rise of another global rival for the indefinite future'.43 A commission (including Wolfowitz among a gallery of Republican ideologues) that was set up by the right wing Project for the New American Century to review US defence strategy warned in 2000:

At present the United States faces no global rival. America's grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible. There are, however, potentially powerful states dissatisfied with the current situation and eager to change, if they can, in directions that endanger the relatively peaceful, prosperous and free condition the world enjoys today. Up to now, they have been deterred by the capability and global presence of American military power. But as that power declines, relatively and absolutely, the happy conditions that follow from it will inevitably be undermined.44

The drive to maintain US hegemony is thus informed by a sense of potential long term weakness. But it is also undergirded by a confidence that in part derives from the outcome of the Cold War. As Fallows puts it:

The confidence lies in the conviction that if the United States confronts 'evil' enemies, it can win. The proof is, of course, the Soviet Union's fall. Ronald Reagan came to office calling not for détente but for outright victory over the 'evil empire'. Ten years later the empire was gone. Nearly all the members of today's defence leadership were part of Reagan's team. The memory of that success lies behind George W Bush's promise that terrorists will be not just contained, like drug traffickers, but beaten, like Nazis and Soviets.45

This confidence is reinforced by the successes the US military have enjoyed in the post Cold War era, and in particular by the role of air power in securing victory against Iraq in 1991, Yugoslavia in 1999 and Afghanistan in 2001.46 Even before 11 September Rumsfeld was struggling to force through a transformation of the American military against the resistance of the Pentagon. This involved using the so called 'Revolution in Military Affairs' made possible in particular by the development of information technology to reorganise the US armed forces into relatively small specialised units, supported by a variety of forms of air power employing precision guided munitions. In a key speech in January 2002 Rumsfeld compared the assault on Mazar-e-Sharif by the Northern Alliance and US Special Forces during the Afghan war to the Nazi Blitzkrieg in 1939-1941:

What was revolutionary and unprecedented about the Blitzkrieg was not the new capabilities the Germans employed, but rather the unprecedented and revolutionary way they mixed new and existing capabilities. In a similar way the battle for Mazar was a transformational battle.

Coalition forces took existing military capabilities from the most advanced laser-guided weapons to antique 40 year old B-52s--and also to the most rudimentary, a man on horseback. And they used them in unprecedented ways, with devastating effect on enemy positions, on enemy morale, and, this time, on the cause of evil in the world.47

The same faith in US military prowess is reflected in Richard Perle's assertion that as few as 40,000 US troops would be needed to overthrow Saddam: 'I would be surprised if we need anything like the 200,000 figure that is sometimes discussed in the press. A much smaller force, principally special operations forces, but backed by some regular units, should be sufficient'.48 After toppling the Taliban the Bush team believe they can do anything.

America versus Europe
It is this belief that informs what Fallows describes as their 'impatience with procedure'. In the first place, they are even less willing than their Republican or Democratic predecessors to pay lip service to international institutions. John Bolton accurately summed up this attitude when he said, 'There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that is the United States, when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along'.49

This stance represents a shift in emphasis rather than a break with the past. As we have already seen, the Clinton administration was ready enough to bypass the UN and take unilateral action when it deemed it necessary. But the younger Bush's administration is much more open in the disdain it expresses for the other leading capitalist states in Western Europe and East Asia. It quickly ran into a series of conflicts with the European Union over the Kyoto protocol, trade (in particular the US imposition of steel tariffs) and US opposition to the International Criminal Court. The underlying contempt felt by the Republican right for the Europeans was frankly expressed by Perle, who, as an unpaid adviser to the administration, can afford to be indiscreet. Asked about whether the US needed EU backing to overthrow Saddam, he replied:

The same phenomenon that leads the Europeans to tolerate Saddam Hussein--that is they accept whoever is in power--will lead them to support the successor regime to Saddam. They will change quickly... They'll do what is in their own interest. I mean, they're jamming the hotels in Baghdad now to sign contracts that will take effect when the sanctions are lifted. They'll be in the same hotels looking for the same contracts with the next regime.50

Sometimes this contempt for Europe develops into outright hostility, as was very effectively evoked by Anatol Lieven, a British journalist well connected with the Republican right, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11:

Not long after the Bush administration took power in January, I was invited to lunch at a glamorous restaurant in New York by a group of editors and writers from an influential American right wing broadsheet. The food and wine were extremely expensive, the decor luxurious but discreet, the clientele beautifully dressed, and much of the conversation more than mildly insane. With regard to the greater part of the world outside America, my hosts' attitude was a combination of loathing, contempt, distrust and fear: not only towards Arabs, Russians, Chinese, French and others, but towards 'European socialist governments', whatever that was supposed to mean. This went with a strong desire--in theory at least--to take military action against a broad range of countries across the world.51

Lieven quotes a leading Republican politician who asked, 'Who says we share common values with the Europeans? They don't even go to church.' Robert Kagan, Lieven's colleague at the conservative Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has developed a somewhat more sophisticated analysis, according to which the American preference for unilateralism and the European commitment to multilateralism flow from 'the power gap' between the two sides:

Today's transatlantic problem...is not a George Bush problem. It is a power problem. American military strength has produced a propensity to use that strength. Europe's weakness has produced a perfectly understandable aversion to the exercise of military power. Indeed, it has produced a powerful European interest in inhabiting a world where strength doesn't matter, where international law and international institutions predominate, where unilateral action by powerful actions is forbidden, where all nations regardless of their strength have equal rights and are equally protected by commonly agreed-upon international rules of behaviour. Europeans have a deep interest in devaluing and eventually eradicating the brutal laws of an anarchic, Hobbesian world where power is the ultimate determinant of national security and success.52

Kagan argues that these consequences of the differences in material power between the US and Europe were reinforced by the development through the process of European integration of multilateral institutions encouraging the reconciliation of national interests. But the taming of inter-state rivalries within Europe depended on the US military umbrella:

By providing security from outside, the United States has rendered it unnecessary for Europe's supranational government to provide it... The current situation abounds in ironies. Europe's rejection of power politics, its devaluing of military force as a tool of international relations, have depended on the presence of American military forces on European soil. Europe's new Kantian order could flourish only under the umbrella of American power exercised according to the rules of the old Hobbesian order. American power made it possible for Europeans to believe that power was no longer important.53

On the basis of this thesis Kagan criticises the idea, put forward by Francis Fukuyama and followers such as the British diplomat Robert Cooper, that with the 'end of history' advanced capitalism has entered a 'postmodern', 'posthistorical' era in which war is obsolete within this bloc, even though it may still be a threat in the 'modern' or even 'pre-modern' parts of the world.54 Europe may indeed have gone beyond history, Kagan argues, but:

...although the United States has played the critical role in bringing Europe into Kantian paradise, and still plays a key role in making that paradise possible, it cannot enter this paradise itself. It mans the walls but cannot walk through the gate. The United States, with all its vast power, remains stuck in history, left to deal with the Saddams and the ayatollahs, the Kim Jong Ils and the Jiang Zemins, leaving the happy benefits to others.55

This self image of the US as a sentry selflessly shouldering the military burden required to keep Europeans gambolling in a postmodern paradise would naturally breed resentment. Some of the underlying tensions burst to the surface when, faced with defeat in the September 2002 federal elections, the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, swung the Social Democratic Party firmly in opposition to a US attack on Iraq. After the German justice minister compared Bush to Hitler, Condoleezza Rice said, 'An atmosphere has been created that is...poisoned'.56 While Schröder was celebrating his narrow victory in Berlin, Donald Rumsfeld pointedly used the occasion of a NATO meeting in Warsaw to repeat the complaint. Richard Perle went even further, declaring that the best thing Schröder could do to restore US-German relations would be to resign.57

Free market imperialism
Their world-historical perspective leads the Bush team to conclude that a window of opportunity has opened in which they can use the US's present military superiority to improve the long term position of US capitalism. 11 September and the 'war on terrorism' have provided the occasion for this effort, but the US is after much bigger game than the elusive Bin Laden and his Al Qaida network. A key section of the Bush administration's National Security Strategy warns:

We are attentive to the possible renewal of old patterns of great power competition. Several potential great powers are now in the midst of internal transition--most importantly Russia, India, and China.

While insisting that these powers share common interests and values with the US, the document directs a very specific warning at Beijing:

...a quarter century after beginning the process of shedding the worst features of the Communist legacy, China's leaders have not yet made the next series of fundamental choices about the character of the state. In pursuing advanced military capabilities that can threaten its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region, China is pursuing an outdated path that, in the end, will hamper its own pursuit of national greatness. In time, China will find that social and political freedom is the only source of that greatness.58

In other words, the consensus that Bush and his advisers are seeking among the Great Powers is one on the US's terms. This is true in the military sphere. Only Uncle Sam is allowed to develop 'advanced military capabilities'. The Republican right's commission on defence strategy affirmed:

...what should finally drive the size and character of our nuclear forces is not numerical parity with Russian capabilities but maintaining American strategic superiority-and, with that superiority, a capability to deter possible hostile coalitions of nuclear powers. US nuclear superiority is nothing to be ashamed of; rather, it will be an essential element in preserving American leadership in a more complex and chaotic world.59

In the light of such statements it is hardly surprising that Russia and China should fear that the scrapping of the ABM treaty and the construction of the National Missile Defence system by the Bush administration are designed to give the US a nuclear first-strike capability that would perpetuate US supremacy. Claiming 'rapid progress' in the development of National Missile Defence, Paul Wolfowitz boasted in October 2002, 'The US is finally free to pursue missile defences without the artificial constraints of an outdated 30 year old treaty with a country that no longer exists'.60 The administration's Nuclear Posture Review, leaked early the same year, listed Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya as potential nuclear adversaries and proposed the integration of nuclear and conventional capabilities--for example, the addition of nuclear warheads to bunker-buster weapons intended to kill enemy leaders such as Saddam Hussein.61

Meanwhile the war on terrorism provided the US with an opportunity to establish a string of military bases in Central Asia--a region closed to it during the Cold War--and to return its troops to the Philippines, where US bases were closed in the early 1990s.62 The National Security Strategy emphasises that this is no temporary development: 'To contend with uncertainty and to meet the many security challenges we face, the United States will require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and north east Asia, as well as temporary access arrangements for the long distance deployment of US forces'.63 No one could blame China's rulers if they saw these moves as the first stage in a strategy of encirclement directed at them.

It is important, however, to see that the Bush administration's grand strategy is aimed not simply at maintaining US geopolitical pre-eminence, but at imposing the Anglo-American model of free market capitalism on the world. Bush's preface to the National Security Strategy begins by affirming, 'The great struggles of the 20th century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom--and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.' Bush goes on to avow the intention 'to create a balance of power that favours human freedom: conditions in which all nations and societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty'. One chapter of the document is devoted to outlining neo-liberal policies that will 'ignite a new era of global growth through free markets and free trade'. The document also notes, 'The US national security strategy will be based on a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national success.' It is indeed a peculiar kind of internationalism that leaves peoples free to choose the 'single sustainable model of national success'--US-style laissez-faire capitalism. A new era of Great Power competition can be avoided so long as potential challengers such as Russia and China sign up to 'common values'--which means, of course, American liberal capitalist values.64

The left-liberal economist Robert Wade has painted a striking picture of the extent to which the structure of the world economy since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s has favoured the interests of US imperialism:

Suppose you are a modern day Roman emperor, leader of the most powerful country in a world of sovereign states and international markets. What international political economy do you create so that, without having to throw your weight around too much, normal market forces bolster the economic pre-eminence of your country, allow your citizens to consume much more than they produce, and keep challengers down?

You want autonomy to decide on your own exchange rate and monetary policy, while having other countries depend on your support in managing their own economies. You want to be able to engineer volatility and economic crises in the rest of the world in order to hinder the growth of centres that might challenge your pre-eminence. You want intense competition between exporters in the rest of the world to give you an inflow of imports at constantly decreasing prices relative to the price of your exports...

What features do you hard-wire into the international political economy? First, free capital mobility. Second, free trade (except imports that threaten domestic industries important for your reselection). Third, international investment free from any discriminatory favouring of national companies through protection, public procurement, public ownership or other devices, with special emphasis on the freedom of your companies to get the custom of national elites for the management of their financial assets, their private education, healthcare, pensions, and the like. Fourth, your currency as the main reserve currency. Fifth, no constraint on your ability to create your currency at will (such as a dollar-gold link), so that you can finance unlimited trade deficits with the rest of the world. Sixth, international lending at variable interest rates dominated in your currency, which means that borrowing countries in crisis have to pay you more when your capacity is less. This combination allows you to consume far more than they produce (and it periodically produces financial instability and crises in the rest of the world). To supervise the international framework you want international organisations that look like co-operatives of member states and carry the legitimacy of multilateralism, but are financed in a way that allows you control.65

This is a description of what Peter Gowan calls the Dollar-Wall Street Regime (DWSR) through which successive US administrations from Nixon onwards have sought to organise global financial markets for the past 30 years.66 It is overstated in three respects. First, Gowan in particular gives too conspiratorial an account of how the DWSR developed: accident (for example, the far from predictable success of the Thatcher government's privatisation programme) and innovations made by financial actors played an important part in the story. Moreover, as Robert Brenner has emphatically argued, the centrality of a dollar unanchored in gold to the international financial system has not always worked to the advantage of US capitalism. The September 1985 Plaza Accord among the leading capitalist states produced a fall in the dollar that proved crucial to the recovery of US international competitiveness. But what Brenner calls 'the reverse Plaza Accord' ten years later, when the Clinton administration switched to a strong-dollar policy designed to revive the depressed Japanese economy, laid the basis for the profitability crisis in US manufacturing industry that developed in the late 1990s.67 Second, the US-dominated institutions that run the DWSR--what Wade calls the US Treasury-IMF-Wall Street complex--are to some extent providing 'public goods' that benefit all the advanced capitalist economies, not just US capitalism: thus European multinationals like Suez have played a leading role in profiting in both North and South from the privatisation of water demanded by the neo-liberal Washington Consensus. Third, what this indicates is that European and Japanese capitalism, even if still relatively marginal geopolitical actors, are major economic players whose interests and demands cannot simply be ignored by Washington and Wall Street.

Now that euphoria surrounding the US boom of the late 1990s has evaporated, and the elements of speculation and straightforward fraud are being exposed, the claims made for the US 'New Economy'--that its performance had taken it 'beyond history', as Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, put it--have deflated along with the Wall Street bubble. Brenner points out that US productivity growth during the boom 'was not decisively better than that of its leading rivals. Whereas between 1993 and 2000 manufacturing labour productivity improved at an annual average rate of 5.1 percent, manufacturing labour productivity in western Germany and France grew at the annual average rates of 4.8 percent (through 1998) and 4.9 percent respectively'.68 Richard Layard extends the comparison to economies as a whole:

In the past ten years output per hour worked has grown faster in euro-zone countries than in the US, and in France and Germany it is now as high as it is in the US. Even on a per capita basis, output has grown as fast in the euro-zone as in the US--over the past ten years and over the past three.69

According to the IMF, in 2001 not only Germany and France but also Italy had higher output per hour than the US!70

The US's huge military lead over the other powers should not be allowed to conceal the fact that the economic contest, particularly with the EU, is much more evenly balanced.71 The implication is that the current US supremacy depends on a highly contingent and transitory set of circumstances. It is precisely for this reason that US administrations have had to fight hard to maintain their hegemony--first of Western capitalism, now on a global scale--over the past generation. The Bush administration is seizing advantage of the present conjuncture in order to shift the terms further in the favour of US capitalism. But--to borrow the title of Gowan's book--this is a gamble, not a racing certainty.

'Regime change' and the politics of oil
The immediate priority for the Bush team is not, however, to confront any of the US's major rivals, but forcibly to remove Saddam Hussein. This enterprise plays two main functions. First, a successful US war against Iraq would serve as a warning to others: if overwhelming US force can remove the recalcitrant ruler of a minor Middle Eastern power, then Washington's potential peer competitors had better watch their step. Secondly, bringing down Saddam would play a more specific role in an ambitious programme that at least some on the Republican right harbour for reordering the entire Middle East.

'What people are not adequately grasping here is that after Iraq they've got a long list of countries to blow up,' defence consultant John Pike says of Richard Perle and his ilk. 'Iraq is not the final chapter--it's the opening chapter'.72 High on their list of targets is Saudi Arabia. In July 2002 Perle caused an uproar when he introduced Laurent Murawiec, a RAND corporation analyst and former follower of Lyndon LaRouche, the notorious conspiracy theorist who moved effortlessly from the far left to the far right of US politics, to brief the Defence Policy Board. This elite advisory body listened in amazement as Murawiec explained that Saudi Arabia was the 'kernel of evil' and 'should be counted among "our enemies", and that, if necessary, the US should threaten Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, which are located inside Saudi Arabia'.73

In the ensuing furore Rumsfeld and Perle were quick to dissociate themselves from these ravings. But Murawiec's views are shared by others on the Republican right. According to Michael Leeden of the American Enterprise Institute, the 'terror network--from Al Qaida to Hezbollah, from Islamic Jihad to Hamas and various Palestine Liberation Organisation groups--is as potent as it is because of the support given by four tyrannical regimes, which I term the "terror masters": Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia.' Leeden doesn't actually propose that the US goes to war against Saudi Arabia. He argues that Washington's first target should be Iran, which 'created, trained, protected, funded and supported the world's most deadly terrorist group--Hezbollah': presumably killing Israeli soldiers is a more heinous crime than massacring US civilians.74 Nevertheless for what has been a key ally of the US in the Arab world ever since the 1940s suddenly to be placed in the same category as three of Washington's least favourite rogue states is an astonishing reversal.

Three factors are involved in this shift. First, there is 11 September. The Bush administration itself sought to skate over Bin Laden's roots in the Saudi ruling class and the Saudi origins of most of the 9/11 hijackers, but many on the Republican right have been much more open in holding Saudi Arabia to account: 'The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to footsoldier, from ideologist to cheerleader,' Murawiec told the Defence Policy Board.75 Relatives of 9/11 victims have launched a trillion dollar lawsuit against several Saudi institutions and three members of the Saudi royal family for financing terrorism. A more honest accounting would have pointed the finger at the US government--and in particular the Reagan administration--for, in close alliance with Saudi Arabia, financing, training and arming Islamist guerrillas to fight in Afghanistan during the last phase of the Cold War. But in the distorted prism of the right wing Republican worldview, 11 September has helped to shift Saudi Arabia into the axis of evil.

Secondly, to a much greater extent than was true of earlier generations of US conservatives, many contemporary right wingers unconditionally support the state of Israel. Perle, for example, is a director of the Jerusalem Post, and sought to use his influence in Israel in a clumsy attempt to sabotage the 2000 Camp David talks. Support for Israel reinforces the Republican right's preoccupation with Iraq, long seen as a major threat by Israel. As Perle noted in 1996, removing Saddam is 'an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right'.76 Republican right wingers (including Christian fundamentalists who see Palestine as the land god gave the Jews in the Old Testament) tend to share the hostility to the Middle East peace process expressed by Likud leaders such as Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu. They therefore detest conservative Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt for the pressure they put on Washington to force Israel back to the negotiating table. According to Anatol Lieven, 'Murawiec advocated sending the Saudis an ultimatum demanding not only that their police force co-operate fully with US authorities, but also the suppression of public criticism of the US and Israel within Saudi Arabia--something that would be impossible for any Arab state'.77

The right's alternative to negotiating with the Palestinians is forcibly to reshape the Arab world. At the height of the Jenin crisis in the spring of 2002 William Kristol and Robert Kagan argued that Bush should not allow himself to become 'so immersed in peace-processing' that he forgets 'the road that leads to real peace and security--the road that runs through Baghdad'.78 Overthrowing Saddam would be the beginning of a process of 'rollback'--like the US-engineered counter-revolutions in Central America and the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe during the 1980s--that would spread liberal democracy throughout the Arab world. According to the Wall Street Journal, 'Liberating Iraq from Saddam and sponsoring democracy would not only rid the region of a major military threat. It would also send a message to the Arab world that self determination as part of the modern world is possible.' If this democratic upheaval replaced the House of Saud with an anti-American government, this 'would force a decision on whether to take over the Saudi oilfields, which would put an end to OPEC'.79

Condoleezza Rice has expressed a similar sense that Washington can use its military power to extend the boundaries of liberal capitalism:

...if the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11 bookend a major shift in international politics, then this is a period not just of grave danger, but of enormous opportunity... This is, then, a period akin to 1945 to 1947, when American leadership expanded the number of democratic states--Japan and Germany , among the great powers--to create a new balance of power that favoured freedom.80

The real underplot to such triumphalist fantasies of imposing liberal democracy on the Middle East is provided by the third and most decisive factor in the Republican right's thinking on the region--oil. It is the fact that Saudi Arabia contains the world's largest oil reserves that has bound the US and Saudi ruling classes together since the Second World War. The Bush administration, with its close links to the fossil fuel corporations--Mike Davis has described it as 'the executive committee of the American Petroleum Institute'--is particularly concerned about US long term access to energy supplies.81 In May 2001 Washington released the National Energy Plan, drafted (with the help of Enron) by a team headed by Dick Cheney. Michael Klare writes:

In essence, the Cheney report makes three key points:

The United States must share an ever-increasing share of its oil demand with imported supplies. (At present the United States imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, representing 53 percent of its total consumption; by 2020, daily US imports will total nearly 17 million barrels, or 65 percent of consumption.)

The United States cannot depend exclusively on traditional sources of supply like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Canada to provide this additional oil. It will also have to obtain additional supplies from new sources, such as the Caspian states, Russia, and Africa.

The United States cannot rely on market forces alone to gain access to these added supplies, but will also require a significant effort [on] the part of government officials to overcome resistance to the outward reach of American energy companies.

In line with these three principles, the Cheney plan calls on the Bush administration to undertake a wide range of initiatives aimed at increasing oil imports from overseas sources of supply. In particular, it calls on the president and secretaries of state, energy and commerce to work with leaders of the Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan to boost production in the Caspian region and to build new pipelines to the West. It also calls on US officials to persuade their counterparts in Africa, the Persian Gulf and Latin America to open up their oil industries to great US oil company involvement and to send more of their petroleum to the United States.

In advocating these measures, the Cheney team is well aware that US efforts to gain access to increasing amounts of foreign petroleum could provoke resistance in some oil-producing regions. By 2020, the report notes, America 'will import nearly two of every three barrels of oil [it consumes]--a condition of increased dependency on foreign powers that do not always have America's interests at heart'.82

What Klare calls this 'strategy of global oil acquisition' helps to explain many of the actions of the Bush administration--plans for a big increase in oil imports from Russia, the development of US military bases in the Caspian region, US officials' support for the unsuccessful right wing coup in Venezuela last April, the US-backed government military offensive in Colombia. But it also underlines the strategic importance of the oil states of the Middle East. As we have seen, the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia is deteriorating--on both sides. In August 2002 the Financial Times reported that 'disgruntled Saudis' had withdrawn as much as $200 billion from the US in recent months, helping to push the dollar down. Among the reasons cited were anger at US support for Israel and the calls made by right wing commentators for Saudi assets in the US to be frozen:

Calls are now coming out of Riyadh, including in the press close to the government, urging a review of the strategic relationship with the US. A less public debate among Saudi Arabia's elite is whether to punish the US by pricing oil in
Not that it matters but what the heck..Britain backs India for Security Council and Qatar too..
<b>Pakistan and Italy to block UNSC expansion</b>
ROME: Pakistan and Italy have agreed to block the expansion of permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. President Pervez Musharraf and Italian President Carlo Ciampi announced this in a joint press statement after their meeting on Tuesday.
<b>We are not pleading for UNSC seat,</b> says Ronen Sen
Hi to everyone;

A lot of countries have offered thier support to India as it seeks to become a permanent member of the UNSC. China, France, Germany and many other nations back the 4 countries hoping for a place amonsgt the world's most influential body.

Although it may not mean much i would just like to say I, a Pakistani, would like to extend my support to India's bid in the UNSC. I think if India becomes a member of the UNSC it would not only benefit the people of India it would also benefit all peoples of South Asia as after years of suppression to foreign powers a country from South Asia will be in an influential position.

Best of luck to India in its hopes of becoming a full-fledged member of the UNSC.
you are to be commended for taking a stance independent of your government. But the congenital hatred of the Paki government towards india and blocking india on every international forum continues unabated for the last 50 years. Your lone voiice while interesting no doubt, is of little pragmatic value.

Remember this , India does not covet anything that Pakistan has and simply wishes to be left alone to chart her own destiny, while that is not the case with Pakistan. Everything Pakistan does is india centric. Well rest assured india will never give up any more territory. Enough is enough.
Thaksin Blows Chance of UN top Job

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Ill-considered remarks by Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra may have compromised his chances of becoming the next secretary-general of the United Nations, Western diplomatic sources stated to Arab News yesterday.

Last month the five veto-holding members of the Security Council who must choose the next UN secretary-general appeared to be moving toward a consensus on Thaksin’s candidacy. Initially proposed by the United States as a suitable successor to Kofi Annan, whose second and final term ends next year, Thaksin won support from both Britain and China, with Russia and France appearing amenable if not enthusiastic.

By tradition, the secretary-general’s post rotates among the five continents. Next year it would be the turn of the Asian continent to nominate the secretary-general.

Whoever gets the post would have a good chance of leading the UN for two successive terms of five-years each.

<b>Doubts about the suitability of Thaksin came after he made a series of remarks, including a statement to the Parliament in Bangkok, about 78 Muslims who were suffocated to death while in police custody last week. Thaksin refused to apologize or organize an independent enquiry. He claimed that the Muslims had died because they had become “weakened by fasting during Ramadan”. He said some of the detainees were under the influence of drugs when they died. The remarks that have shocked the Thai Muslim community, some eight million people, and the Muslim world beyond, are seen by many as an indication that Thaksin lacks the good sense and tact needed for the UN job.</b>

One thing is certain: Thaksin’s nomination would anger a majority of the world’s 57 predominantly Muslim countries, more than a quarter of the UN’s total membership.

<b>If Thaksin is out of the race a number of other Asian political figures may be considered for the post. France and Britain are likely to back the candidacy of Benazir Bhutto, the former Pakistani prime minister. Also under consideration is Indonesia’s former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

If it all comes down to a ladies’ race, India may well nominate Sonia Gandhi while Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and the Philippines’ President Gloria Arroyo Macapagal may also be persuaded to run.</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&Rolleyes--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rolleyes.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&:unsure:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/unsure.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='unsure.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->India may well nominate Sonia Gandhi <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--> <!--emo&:roll--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ROTFL.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='ROTFL.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Atleast that will get the monkey off our backs.. <!--emo&:whistle--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/whistle.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='whistle.gif' /><!--endemo-->

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