Things go bump in the night
In the early hours of 2nd May, 2011, an obscure twitter-user started tweeting about the US raid on Osama Bin Laden’s safe-house – 35 km from Islamabad, 200 miles south of the Afghanistan border, in Abbottabad. In a city, which houses Pakistan’s equivalent of Indian Military Academy.
But Pakistan’s police, para-military, military forces claimed ignorance, showed surprise, feigned outrage. Par for the course. Was it abject failure or a cover-up in Pakistan , by the powers-that-be?
Afraid of the mullah-madrasa-mujahid combine, predictably, Pakistan started denying any role in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Truly Pakistan ‘doth protest too much, methinks’. Secret deal or not, in the past or post-facto, a deal around killing Osama could have been easily hammered out between Pakistan and USA.
It suited both the leaderships.
It is election time in USA
Pakistan was not alone in using Osama. Osama alive was source of US funds for Pakistan. Osama dead is an election ticket and a feel-good factor for the a USA being battered by the Great Recession. As Rajiv Dogra points out, on the opposite side of the world,
The timing suited Obama well. It had long been speculated that Osama would be killed around the time Obama’s re-election campaign kicked off.
Predictably, the US made a song-and-dance about the annual aid of US$3 billion that they dole out to Pakistan. Compared to the US$3 trillion that the US Department of Defence is unable to account for, this talk of US$3 billion makes for poor form.
On a lighter – and logical side
Famous for the song केम छे ‘kem che, kem che’ from the film जिस देश में गंगा रहता है Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rahta Hain, a Bollywood songwriter confidently predicted, soon after 9/11, that Bin Laden would be found near the White House or Islamabad!
Coming to India
Memories dimmed, history forgotten, India draws wrong conclusions from these Western adventures in our neighbourhood.
After WWII, as British, French and Dutch colonialists were being thrown out of Asia, in country after country, the West was in real danger of losing markets and raw material sources.
A new power, fueled by a growing migrant population, USA, took the place of tired, old powers – Britain, France and the Dutch. Instead of the openly exploitative system of European powers directly running colonial governments in these Asian countries, the US installed an opaque system – which is equally exploitative. To impose its writ on the newly independent Asian countries, the US simply destroyed their economies by war. The USA, then instituted the innovative USCAP Program and ‘helped’ these countries. These countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, et al) were now ruled by overtly independent regimes – but covertly, client states of the USA.
US multinationals and home-grown oligarchs (keiretsus, chaebols, etc.) took over the economy – and sidelined British, French and Dutch companies. To impose this economic model, US armies, using nearly 1 million troops, killed 50 lakh Asians. The takeover of European colonial possessions by the USA was handled over 3 regimes of Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson seamlessly.
Between a rampant USA, behind biggest terror spots of the world, and a nuclear-armed, imploding Pakistan, India’s choices are difficult – and reactive policies inadequate.
Once more, Osama’s death and Obama’s antics bring out India’s policy inadequacy in sharp relief.
- Cable: Pakistan military learn anti-Americanism (cbsnews.com)
- Bin Laden’s Pakistan villa: Tourist destination? (cbsnews.com)
- Osama bin Laden dead: Pakistan returns helicopter wreckage (telegraph.co.uk)
- You: Drones hurting national integrity (nation.com.pk)
The spirit of the Congress of Vienna, where great powers assembled to effectively govern the world, has no place in the contemporary international community. The G20 is sorely lacking in legitimacy and must change.
A number of countries that have been central to international cooperation in the past, including Norway and the Nordic countries, are excluded from direct membership. Low-income countries and the continent of Africa are almost entirely without the needed representation.
As the response to the financial crisis showed, there is value in having an effective, smaller forum of nations, equipped to act quickly when necessary. But, within that framework, there are simple ways to make the G20 more representative of the world it influences. (via The G20 lacks legitimacy).
It is every man for himself
Caught in a vicious downward spiral, Europe is at a loss. Britain is moaning about the demise of its special relationship with the USA. Sarkozy is off to the US, to mend fences with the Americans. At Copenhagen, while the BASIC countries were negotiating a ‘deal’ with the USA, European countries were sitting out. Waiting for the Big Boys to finish their talks. Japan, China, Korea – along with the USA and India are meeting at Seoul in June to create a strategic oil reserve, against possible supply shocks. To be shuttered out like this, is an unfamiliar experience to Europe.
The Norwegian appeal for inclusion in G20 is to be seen in light of the above reality.
That man with a tan – Obama
Obama has been stressing that EU needs to get its act together and speak in a common voice. The days when 6-12 European countries walked onto centre-stage, are over, seemingly. And Norway is one such victim of the changed circumstances.
The Greek crisis is stressing the weak links between European States. A ‘suspected’ withdrawal by Germany from the EMU would devastate Europe – and EU. Should the EU collapse, the Nordic countries would be shut out from many global forum.
And it is this fear that fuels Norway’s plea for G20 membership!.
In the doghouse
But it was not Obama who put European principalities (Norway, ruled by a king, is too small to be called country) in the doghouse. It started when George Bush railroaded Europe into Iraq and Afghanistan. And excluded the habitual European attendees from G20 – like Norway.
“decided by a secretive five-strong committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament. All current members are former politicians drawn from Norway’s four biggest parties. It is chaired by Thorbjørn Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister.”
It was noted that,
“Worldwide astonishment greeted the decision yesterday to give Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. The U.S. President has been in office for less than nine months, has yet to score a major foreign policy success. He had not even known he was among the record 205 nominations. The deadline for submitting candidates had come just 12 days after he entered the White House.”
At the airport, he was welcomed by the ”Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Kaci Kullmann Five, deputy chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.” In his acceptance speech, Obama admitted that maybe there were “more deserving” candidates. Was the Nobel price in anticipation of a Nordic inclusion in G20? For turning a more benign American eye towards Europe?
Norway raised its claim for G20 membership, the Financial Times wrote
a month before Barack Obama, the US president, visits Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Jonas Gahr Store proposed that members of the Nordic Council – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland – could share a rotating seat together with the Baltic states and possibly Poland.
Spain and the Netherlands have managed to secure invitations to all three summits since the financial crisis without being official members. But others such as Poland, Belgium and the Nordic countries have been excluded.
So much for Norway’s Nobel price.
The legitimacy of G20
Jonas Gahr Støre is stressing about the ‘legitimacy’ of the G20 group. If the G20 is indeed illegitimate, then in that case, Shri Støre, you should ask for disbanding the G20! Not make a desperate plea for inclusion into the G20. Will an illegitimate forum become legitimate by Nordic Norway’s inclusion?
That reminds me. Norway was one of the ‘moving’ spirits’ behind the Copenhagen Circus on climate change. This Copenhagen Circus sought to impose a rule of Western NGOs on poor countries of the world. Faceless NGOs, without accountability to anyone, were able to bring global political leadership, to the very brink of an agreement. How legitimate was that Shri Støre?
Støre’s logic somehow escapes me.
Norway- One Great Power
Shri Støre invokes the hoary spirit of the “Congress of Vienna, where great powers assembled to effectively govern the world” . Now, by what logic do ‘Great Powers’ derive legitimacy to govern the world? By Norway’s inclusion?
Shri Jonas Gahr Støre has sent out copies of the same PR material, to Malaysia (published in the New Straits Times), in Canada (published in the Ottawa Citizen), and in the (as per the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway) in The Straits Times (Manila, the Philippines), 6 April 2010 – Al Hayat, 7 April 2010.
God has been kind to Norway! Instead of thanking God for His kindness, for underground wealth – and for natural beauty above the ground. Instead, Norway wants to be ‘recognized’ as a ‘Great Power’!
Norway’s claim to fame is oil. Some 12%-15% of Norway’s GDP is oil. A significant part of Norway’s wealth is “raw products mined and processed in Norway include iron ore, lead concentrates, titanium, iron pyrites, coal, zinc, and copper.” Is Norway’s claim to be a ‘Great Power” based on something buried underground!
15% of Norway’s GDP is Tourism! With more than 1,1oo hotels and nearly 1,000 registered campsites, with picturesque coastline and fjords plus a number of well-known ski resorts. By the way, Norway’s population is about 45 lakhs – 4.5 million.
Manufacturing accounts for an awesome, jaw-dropping 1 percent of Norway’s annual GDP.
The world must listen to
Norway’s population is lesser than Haiti! If there is one country that the world needs to hear clearly and audibly, it is Haiti. Compared to Norway, Haiti has a far superior claim to be a Great Power. Single-handedly responsible for forcing the West to abandon slavery, Haiti has been a victim of Western vindictiveness. It is time that the world listened to Haiti. And for Norway to keep quiet!
And be grateful to God!
After the US-Pakistan “strategic bonhomie” in Washington last month … India finds itself placed on the historical “backburner” again, a situation similar to 1947. The additional American aid and military hardware promised to Pakistan recently is really a tactical move by the US to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2011, leaving Pakistan and the “good Taliban” to supervise the return of religious fundamentalism in AfPak, which will then export terror globally. The increased numbers of Pakistani troops along India’s borders in end March, and daily gun battles with the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba in Kashmir, are indicators of the things to come.
US President Barack Obama, who got his healthcare bill passed on March 21, 2010, and reached an agreement on the 30 per cent nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia on March 26, now has only three more items on his list to ensure that he gets re-elected as President in 2012: withdrawal of American forces from the disastrous war in Afghanistan; revitalising the American economy; and “firm action” against Iran. The $750 billion US defence budget could then be reduced by $300 billion and this “saving” could be ploughed back into the ailing US economy, while leaving a couple of billions to pay Pakistan annually, to “police” AfPak.
In January 2010, Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani gave a 62-slide power-point presentation at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) headquarters in Brussels, which convinced the audience that he could help get Nato out of Afghanistan, provided Pakistan’s strategic concerns are met. On January 28, 2010, at the London Conference, Britain and America supported Gen. Kayani’s theory that “Pakistan needs to be the lead player in the Taliban reconciliation process”. (via Is PM up for some plainspeak? | Deccan Chronicle).
Vice-Admiral Arun Kumar Singh (Retd. Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief – Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam) captures this interesting snap-shot of the current impasse that India may have painted itself into. The threat of India-Pakistan re-hyphenation, the rise of Pakistan in Afghanistan are all viable propositions. More than that,
The Obama administration seems to have taken India for granted, while giving Pakistan the opportunity to have cordial relationships with three competing nations viz. US, China and Iran. After the expected Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan, China (which has invested $3.5 billion in a copper mine there) will need Pakistan-backed Taliban’s assistance to “pacify” Afghanistan, to ensure that it gets unhindered access to that nation’s mineral wealth. Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent backing of the “good Taliban” and Beijing visit is an indication of China’s growing role in the region. In essence, Pakistan, in addition to getting “strategic depth”, financial aid and military gifts, will now be “re-hyphenated” with India, while China sits on the high “G2 table” with the US, and Iran benefits from its gas exports to Pakistan.
Leaving India licking their lips.
Iran – India’s options
After making some important points, the post ends on disquieting note. Maybe semantic quibbling, or may be a reflection of current mental position that establishment maybe into. Singh states,
stepping into an unfamiliar strategic environment where great powers (eg. China and US) only respect a decisive nuclear weapons power which displays a combination of strategic vision, political will, economic power and military capability. It is time for India to stand tall. Good relations with China and US should be achieved without appearing to kneel.
The operating phrase here is that India should not be “appearing” to kneel. You can kneel – but make sure that no one sees you kneel.
Is that what you are saying, Shri Singh?