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Confirmed: Russia’s Back In The Game

November 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Pax Americana needs a rival – and for now Russia is asserting itself. A circumspect Russia – with less ideology and more realpolitik.
Obama's red line finally turned out to be line in the sand  |  Cartoon by Nate Beeler on Aug 28, 2013 in media.cagle.com

Obama’s red line finally turned out to be line in the sand | Cartoon by Nate Beeler on Aug 28, 2013 in media.cagle.com

Two years ago, in November 2011, 2ndlook deciphered the Russian writing on the wall.

Syria seemed like a tempest in a teapot. Another Libya in the making. Pax Americana would stomp over Syria.

Except this time, the Russians were back.

Back again.

Does such propaganda work?  |  Cartoon by Steve Breen on August 29, 2011 in utsandiego.com

Does such propaganda work? | Cartoon by Steve Breen on August 29, 2011 in utsandiego.com

Prince Bandar bin Sultan flew into Moscow. His conversation with Vladimir Putin is a study in how diplomacy is not done. Give us Syria, said Bandar, and take the world. It was like the Biblical yarn about the Devil tempting Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. “Get thee behind me, Satan,” said Christ, refusing the blandishments. When Bandar offered all the guarantees for a “terror free” Sochi Winter Olympic games next year, Putin said we know you control terrorists.

This amazing conversation was supposed to be under wraps but one of the two sides leaked it to the Russian press. Bandar’s other startling undertaking was that whatever he offered the Russians had American backing.

This was the trump card Bandar handed Putin at the global casino’s high table.

via The US, Saudi, Israeli alliance is coming apart.


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Questions #Snowden Has Not Asked More Important Than The Answers That He Has Given

June 30, 2013 3 comments

The close co-operation of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc to keep the world under their electronic surveillance is war by ‘other’ means.

Little Difference Between One-Party Systems and 2-Party Democracies  |  Cartoon BY SCOTT STANTIS on June 25, 2013 in chicagotribune.com

Little Difference Between One-Party Systems and 2-Party Democracies | Cartoon BY SCOTT STANTIS on June 25, 2013 in chicagotribune.com

I

f it has not shocked, the scale of electronic surveillance of India by the US certainly has surprised Indians – except 2ndlook readers.

For the last 4 years, before Bradley Manning, Wikileaks and before Edward Snowden, 2ndlook has been raising the danger-flag of the Big Brother State.

PRISM & The Boundless Informant: Why Was India Such An Important Target For America’s NSA?

To many Indians who have considered US to be a friendly country, it may still not be enough that India has been under greater surveillance by the US than proclaimed US-rivals like China and Russia.

Clues to a changing world

In March 2013 the NSA picked up 9.6 billion pieces of information from India’s computer networks, making it the fifth tracked country in the world after Iran, Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt. The top four are all Muslim countries, with Jordan also a close ally, so it’s a no-brainer why the NSA is targeting them. But has the world shifted so much on its geopolitical axis that India is now a bigger target than Russia and China?

There are two possibilities. One, the Americans are making sure India remains on its side of the fence. Secondly, if the NSA has been able to steal more data from India than from Russia and China, it only shows how powerless developing countries are against well-equipped spy agencies.

via Why there are no friends in the spy game | Russia & India Report.

In Europe, Germany occupies the dubious position of being under greater surveillance than other European countries.

The fact that US is mounting this surveillance operations in partnership with Britain has only added to the disquiet.

An Uncanny Alliance

We have Edward Snowden to thank for this insight into the interaction of an uncanny club, the Alliance of Five Eyes. Since World War II, the five Anglo-Saxon countries of Great Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have maintained close intelligence cooperation, which apparently has gotten completely out of control.

It may be up to the Americans and the British to decide how they handle questions of freedom and the protection of their citizens from government intrusion. But they have no right to subject the citizens of other countries to their control. The shoulder-shrugging explanation by Washington and London that they have operated within the law is absurd. They are not our laws. We didn’t make them. We shouldn’t be subject to them.

The totalitarianism of the security mindset protects itself with a sentence: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. But firstly, that contains a presumption: We have not asked the NSA and GCHQ to “protect” us. And secondly, the sentence is a stupid one: Because we all have something to hide, whether it pertains to our private lives or to our business secrets.

No Agency Should Collect So Much Data

Thus the data scandal doesn’t pertain just to our legal principles, but to our security as well. We were lucky that Edward Snowden, who revealed the spying to the entire world, is not a criminal, but an idealist. He wanted to warn the world, not blackmail it. But he could have used his information for criminal purposes, as well. His case proves that no agency in the world can guarantee the security of the data it collects — which is why no agency should collect data in such abundance in the first place.

That is the well-known paradox of totalitarian security policy. Our security is jeopardized by the very actions that are supposed to protect it.

So what should happen now? European institutions must take control of the data infrastructure and ensure its protection. The freedom of data traffic is just as important as the European freedom of exchange in goods, services and money. But above all, the practices of the Americans and British must come to an end. Immediately.

via Jakob Augstein: Data Spying Programs Threaten German Security – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Safety First, Privacy Essential

Apart the selection of targets (India, Germany, etc.), the joint activities of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc, the question is that of solutions. How can users be safeguarded?

  • Is some kind of browser-based, sender-receiver encryption the answer?
  • Do we need a greater variety of desktop-OS that will stop data-snooping?
  • Should we have a global protocol where routers and internet switches use open-source chips, where the encryption key is variable and user-based?
  • Do we need a combination of all the above ideas, which will secure the system, at multiple levels?

Maybe an alliance of India, Taiwan, Korea, Germany, China and Russia can define this architecture?

Terrorism? What About It!

In any one year, mosquitoes kill more Indians (malaria, dengue, chikungunya, etc.) than terrorists.

Is it time that we stopped Governments from terrorizing us with these false alarms? The answer to terrorism may also lie in checking the Anglo-Saxon Bloc.

Why is it that allies, past and present, of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc, are the source and generators of terror-factories!

Limit the Anglo-Saxon Bloc – and you anyway limit terrorism?

Less outrage and more actions will probably do the trick of making NSA into a toothless ogre.


Adoration Of The West: Cannot Stop, Cannot Rest, Cannot End

April 18, 2013 4 comments

Yet no Indian leader gets the kind of respect that foreign leaders get in India..

X

Margaret Thatcher’s death unleashed a wave of grief.

Guess what? In India.

In the last 70 years, the Anglo-Saxon Bloc has gone downhill. From a position of absolute world power to being challenged by China – and now even India.

Yet no Indian leader gets the kind of respect that foreign leaders get in India.

Does it stop here?

Look at this twitter exchange here.

A simplistic reading of the tweet can be taken to mean, ‘FBI is the gold standard. And since FBI is taking time, NIA can also take time.’

Going by Praveen Swamy’s general tenor, it is not far-fetched to see what Praveen Swami implies. But for Indian chatterati, twitterati, FBookeratti, bloggeratti, hero worship of the West cannot stop, cannot rest, cannot end.

The last word.

 

Rage, Anxiety In The West: BRICS Must Be Doing Something Right

April 2, 2013 2 comments

If corruption is all about cornering wealth, power and resources, look at concentration of power.

Is the West assuming leadership of the global financial system, so that they can pervert the system like this?  |  Tom Toles, in washingtonpost.com on 18 Mar 2010

Is the West assuming leadership of the global financial system, so that they can pervert the system like this? | Tom Toles, in washingtonpost.com on 18 Mar 2010

The day-after BRICS announced their plan to start a BRICS Development Bank in New Delhi last year, reactions in Western media barely concealed anger at the BRICS proposal.

Sample this.

Outside endemic corruption, uncertain or wholly absent rule of law, and relatively low per capita income and life expectancy, there wouldn’t appear to be much that unites this disparate collection of nations. But there are at least two things that do – high growth and trade.

via Why a Brics-built bank to rival the IMF is doomed to fail – Telegraph.

See this statement in wider context.

Rule of Law

On the rule of law, I would agree.The is West is truly the land of law.

Between the US and EU, on a population base of little over 80 crores, the West has about 27 lakh (2.7 million) prisoners – EU (total pop. 50 cr.; prison pop. – 6.07 lakh) and the USA (total pop. 31 cr.; prison pop. 21 lakh). With 27 lakh prisoners, the West is a world leader in imprisonment. Coincidentally, the West labels itself as the Free World.

Graphic source and courtesy – economist.com.

Graphic source and courtesy – economist.com.

Exclude children, the old and women from the population ‘eligible’ for imprisonment, we are left with around 27 crore adult males. This would mean that one out of every hundred Western males is in prison.

Comparably, in India, with an overall population of 120 crores, the numbers in prison is around 3 lakhs. Of the nearly 30 crore males, India has just 3 lakhs in prison. Just one in thousand, adult Indian male is in prison.

To enforce the rule of law, the West has also become a Prisoner Planet. Is that what is missing in BRICS? Brazil and Russia have lower imprisonment rates, compared to the US – but it is still high compared to India.

No, thanks!

Corruption … or Collusion

On the matter of corruption, again he is  right.

After the rule of law, with strict rules about libel and slander, corruption cannot see the light of day. But if corruption is all about cornering wealth, power and resources, look at the

The West-dominated global financial system has pioneered a system that depends on mass-employment, low-entrepreneurial activity, excess production coupled with excess pollution and waste.  |  2003 Cartoon by David Baldinger

The West-dominated global financial system has pioneered a system that depends on mass-employment, low-entrepreneurial activity, excess production coupled with excess pollution and waste. | 2003 Cartoon by David Baldinger

Concentration Of Power

How does one measure concentration of power.

Today the most popular method is the Fortune /Forbes /Businessweek /FT 500 listing of Top corporates.

These listings demonstrate that half the world’s economic output is controlled by about 5000 companies run by about 25,000 individuals. Add another 25,000 politicians and bureaucrats. We have about 50,000 people controlling the lives of 800 billion people of the West – and influencing the lives of non-Western societies.

Between the mega-corporations and State, 60%-75% of the work force is employed or paid for being unemployed.

In some of the inefficient states like India, mega-corporations and the State employ less than 3 crore people – which is less than 5% of the Indian labour force.

Forget Western correspondents, there are quite a few NRI chelas for such Western journalists. Like Hong-Kong based, Venky ‘Chumboo’ Vembu. (Don’t know what Chumboo is? Never mind, Vembu knows what chumboo is).

To get an unprovoked reaction of rage and anger, BRICS must be doing something right.

More power to BRICS.


Immigration Into Britain: Bubble Before The Collapse

March 8, 2013 4 comments

This economic ‘trick’ of higher wages, profits, turnover, prices – and a higher GDP creates a brilliant optical illusion. It is called progress.

Was this cartoon a Government effort at building popular opinion on immigration in 1921 - before the passage of the Immigration Act (1924)?  |  A 1921 cartoon from the US Library of the Congress. Creative and publication credits not available at source.

Was this cartoon a Government effort at building popular opinion on immigration in 1921 – before the passage of the Immigration Act (1924)? | A 1921 cartoon from the US Library of the Congress. Creative and publication credits not available at source.

M

odern OECD economies have an interesting economic model.

Overpaid waiters charge more for a coffee. Over-paid waiters fork out fancy amounts for a car-wash. Over-paid taxi-drivers pay huge amounts for a haircut.

And so on.

Socialist, Welfare States work best with slavery - or with immi-grunts model, in the last few centuries  |  Cartoon by Brian Fairrington; earliest date as per internet search 2010.

Socialist, Welfare States work best with slavery – or with immi-grunts model, in the last few centuries | Cartoon by Brian Fairrington; earliest date as per internet search 2010.

How Does Over Pricing Work

Compared to, say Indians, Norwegians are paid some 10-20 times more.These overpriced coffees and haircuts by overpaid waiters and barbers, increases GDP – and gives an optical illusion of wealth.

This economic ‘trick’ creates a brilliant optical illusion. Of higher wages, profits, turnover, prices – and GDP. Now replace Norway, with any OECD economy.

Same story and the plot does not change.

A waiter in Mumbai earns between 125-200 dollars. A Norwegian waiter earns closer to US$1500-2000 per month. Both do the same job and the net economic output should not change.

But it does. What Norway does is overstate Norwegian economic output.

By over-paying everybody.

Attracting imi-grunts on one hand - and making it impossible for some others. |  Cartoonist: John Deering; Pub. Date: 2013-01-30; source & courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com

Attracting imi-grunts on one hand – and making it impossible for some others. | Cartoonist: John Deering; Pub. Date: 2013-01-30; source & courtesy – cartoonistgroup.com

Nuggets of Information

Look behind this show …

A recent study concluded that nearly half of American population dies penniless. Spain has a million prostitutes from approximately 10 million women in the 15-50 age group.

What about the apparent wealth? The cars, trains and aeroplanes …

Using over-generous debt, workers can ‘buy’ the latest cars, toasters and lawn-mowers – which creates an illusion of economic well-being. The vast numbers of workers are tied down by increasing amounts of debt – and taxes.

Dos this ‘wealth’ give them freedom? Liberty?

Not if look at the number of people who are in prison. Who are bankrupt and indebted. Who die penniless. But as long as long as you do what the powerful elite wants you to do, you can have the latest cars, toasters and lawn-mowers.

But …

This illusion can be kept standing, only as entry into the labour pool remains low and limited.  This ties in neatly with low-marital rates – and low birth rates. in OECD countries. Low birth rates mean labour shortages – and need for immi-grunts.

High wages attract immi-grunts…

While making promises on one side - and erecting new obstacles.  |  Published: Wednesday, February 20th, 2013;  Immigration Reform cartoon by by Clay Bennett; source & courtesy - timesfreepress.com

While making promises on one side – and erecting new obstacles. | Published: Wednesday, February 20th, 2013; Immigration Reform cartoon by by Clay Bennett; source & courtesy – timesfreepress.com

And …

To a country like Britain also …

This line of immi-grunts allows British media to be gross and ill-mannered. It gives them the right to talk of ‘booting’ and ‘kicking’ people. Like in this report.

A Home Office report says there may be as many as 863,000 illegal migrants – 70 per cent of whom are living in London.

The study also reveals that 10,000 foreigners who had no legal right to live in Britain have been granted permission to stay under the so-called 14-year rule.

It means they managed to stay in the country for so long without being booted out that the Government has now given up the fight.

The illegal immigrants are a mixture of those who sneaked into Britain in the back of lorries and those who arrived on visas but never went home.

The ‘robust estimate’ of how many illegals are living in the UK comes from the London School of Economics, and is included in a study titled Practical Measures for Reducing Irregular Migration. The LSE found there were between 417,000 and 863,000 illegals living in the UK, with a central figure of 613,000. Ministers accept the figures.

The Home Office says the top five countries from which the illegals have arrived are believed to be India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, and Bangladesh.

This is based on the nationalities of those people the authorities have detected.

Earlier this month, the official Census showed that 7.5million people who were born abroad were living here in 2011, of whom more than half have arrived since 2001.

The Home Office study sets out for the first time how many beneficiaries there have been of the 14-year rule.

This states that, once a migrant has lived in the UK for this long, he or she will have established a right to a family life and should not normally be kicked out.

via Enough illegal migrants to fill three cities the size of Newcastle: 863,000 of them in UK, study finds | Mail Online.

What would be just great is if Brazil decided to throw out British businesses – who are seeking to exploit Brazilian opportunities.

Theresa May, the British home secretary, faces a row with cabinet colleagues over proposals to impose visa restrictions on Brazilians, underlining the tensions between the search for economic growth and the need to recognise public concern over immigration.

Ms May’s plans to tighten rules for Brazilians is a serious test for the coalition, as it tries to balance conflicting priorities. Ministers fear the restrictions will cast a shadow over British relations with Brazil, a fast-growing economy that David Cameron has targeted as a key trading partner for Britain. The Home Office is already fighting criticism from tour groups and UK luxury retailers that the complex process of obtaining a tourist visa in China is preventing high-spending Chinese nationals from entering the UK.

Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, have both visited Brazil since the election and have tried to bolster trade links. But Ms May believes the country is also the source of much illegal immigration to Britain.

The home secretary will propose ending the current agreement, which allows Brazilians to visit Britain for up to six months without a visa. Her suggestion comes as countries such as the US and Australia are taking the opposite course by easing visa restrictions with Brazil, to encourage tourism and business ties.

William Hague, foreign secretary and George Osborne, chancellor, are among those who have clashed with Ms May over her operation of Britain’s visa regime.“The Home Office is in favour of new visa restrictions but everyone else in the cabinet is basically against,” said a person involved in the discussions.

Lord Mandelson, the former Labour minister and EU trade commissioner, said the idea was “certifiably mad”.

Only last summer, Mr Cameron visited São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro accompanied by a 58-strong business delegation, to develop better trade ties with the $2.3tn-a-year economy. According to UK Trade & Industry, 14 government ministers have visited Brazil over the past 18 months.

Home Office figures for 2011 show that Brazil is fifth in the top 10 of illegal immigrant nationalities in the UK, with more than 2,000 forcibly removed that year.

via UK set to tighten Brazilian visa rules – FT.com.

The racism behind the British immi-grunt debate is papered over. Worth looking at some British Government statistics.

Long-stay immigrants into the UK from Poland, India and China are outnumbered by Germans, South Africans, North Americans, people from the white Commonwealth and returning Britons.

Official figures show that of the top ten migrant countries in 2008, 137,000 were from the first group and 152,000 from the second group.

There is no debate in the media, among politicians and among the public concerning North Americans and the white Commonwealth.

The fact that they ‘take jobs’ in the UK does not feature as an issue among those who are most concerned about immigration.

The anti-immigration campaign group Migration Watch and UKIP create fear about immigration numbers and fail to point out that immigrants include people from Australia, US, New Zealand and others.

The figures are contained in the Office for National Statistics latest annual report on migration, Migration Statistics 2008, http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm71/7197/7197.pdf

Of those intending to stay for a long period, the report states:

British, 77,000 (i.e. UK citizens returning to the UK)

Poland, 54,000

India, 48,000

China, 18,000

Germany, 18,000

Pakistan, 17,000

USA, 15,000

South Africa, Australia, Italy, 14,000

The report suggests that many of the Indian, Chinese and perhaps Pakistani long-stay migrants are students. In terms of all visitors and migrants into the UK, the report states: ‘Citizens of the United States of America (USA) comprised 32 per cent of total non-EEA admissions, the nationality with by far the most admissions, representing an increase of 6 per cent to 4.1 million in 2006. The next three nationalities with the highest numbers of admissions were Australia (up 8 per cent to 1.1 million), Canada (up 11 per cent to 1.0 million) and India (up 23 per cent to 0.8 million).’

It is likely that most illegal immigrants are from North America and white Commonwealth countries.

According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, few people sneak into the country undetected so most illegal immigrants are overstayers, or people who stay in the UK beyond their entitlement.

There are few figures concerning overstayers by country. When Australia checked their overstayers in 2005, they found the top countries were the US and Britain.

via UK Indymedia – Most illegal migrants likely to be white.


China:The Limits of Central Control

Chinese Govt drives a consensus with regional govts – using mostly persuasion, sometimes post-facto ratification, rarely central diktat..

China lifts Uncle Sam; cartoon by rodrigo; on September 02, 2009  Published at www.expresso.pt on August 25th, 2009; source & courtesy - toonpool.com

China lifts Uncle Sam; cartoon by rodrigo; on September 02, 2009 Published at http://www.expresso.pt on August 25th, 2009; source & courtesy – toonpool.com

China’s governance, in reality is contrary to the image widely projected or popularly understood.

Instead of a monolithic, unitary, autocratic dictatorship the Chinese central Government drives a consensus with regional governments – using mostly persuasion, sometimes by post-facto ratification, rarely by central diktat.

Smoke On Water

Probably the worst example of Chinese governance is production and promotion of tobacco smoking by regional governments. As cigarettes are a large part of the revenue for regional governments, cigarette smoking has been passively encouraged. Sometimes even actively.

China’s expenditure on internal policing and law & order is larger than China’s defense expenditure. If the control of the China’s central government was so strong, why is its expenditure on internal security so high?

There are many other elements to the Chinese puzzle.

Bit by bit

Earlier posts had examined the Chinese economy that thrived on exports for the last nearly twenty years aided by and supported with a cheap yuan. Will China go the Japan way?

The mysterious manner in which the Buddhist monk has disappeared from Chinese movies is an ominous feature. Especially when the Buddhist monk has been replaced by gangsters. To this add, how Tibetan protests in the form of self-immolation by priests and nuns have unnerved the Chinese administration.

Coming to foreign policy, Indian media paints a unreal picture of the Chinese threat. Even in the past, in the 1965 and the 1971 India-Pakistan Wars, China  maintained a distant attitude towards Pakistan, providing little more than verbal support to Pakistan. Indian Navy in the South China Sea, in alliance with Vietnam, is a significant counter-measure to aggressive posturing by China in the Indian North East.

Catching on and catching up with the emerging China picture.

The reality is that power in China is much less concentrated than it was in the days of Mao and Deng.

Far from being the all-powerful behemoth that some in the west admire for its omnipotence, the central government can often be oddly ineffectual and powerless.

A slightly frivolous but nonetheless instructive example is the government’s complete ban on the construction of golf courses that has been in place since 2004.

Since then the number of golf courses in China has nearly quadrupled. The point is that Beijing produces many well-intentioned laws and regulations that are often not implemented or enforced unless they directly align with the interests of cadres at the lower levels of state power.

The central government can impose its will and mobilise the nation when it absolutely has to but it uses up an enormous chunk of political capital every time it does that.

Because of this, China’s leaders tend to spend a lot of time giving positive speeches but they only really swing into action when faced with a serious crisis.

A good example was the Sars epidemic that emerged from southern China almost exactly 10 years ago and presented the now outgoing administration of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao with their first big test at the outset of their time in office.

After trying first to cover it up they finally responded by mobilising the entire country and eventually brought the disease under control. Mr Xi and his team have not yet been tested with their equivalent of a Sars moment but when they are it will provide more of an insight into their ability to govern the world’s most populous nation

via Xi’s task exposes limits of central control – FT.com.


In A G-0 World, Can BRICS Show Leadership?

February 19, 2013 1 comment

For the world now, instead of ‘G-7, or G-8, or G-20, the more apt description is G-0’ – per Joseph Stiglitz. Can BRICS offer that leadership – starting Afghanistan.

From 1970s, when Pakistan started meddling in Afghan affairs, by how much have Soviet or the American invasions helped Afghanistan?  |  Cartoon By Jeff Darcy, The Cleveland Plain Dealer - 5/21/2012 12:00:00 AM  via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

From 1970s, when Pakistan started meddling in Afghan affairs, by how much have Soviet or the American invasions helped Afghanistan? | Cartoon By Jeff Darcy, The Cleveland Plain Dealer – 5/21/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

With NATO turning tail and leaving, Afghanistan is not much better off than before America’s invasion.

Pakistan, as the sole Islāmic nuclear power, has assigned itself the role of an arbiter of Afghan destiny – a hold over Afghanistan’s future. With its dubious distinction of being a failed State, should Pakistan have any role in Afghanistan?

After ruining Afghanistan with 40 years of disastrous interventions, the West playing the victims is an offensive act | Cartoon By Taylor Jones, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico - 9/7/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

After ruining Afghanistan with 40 years of disastrous interventions, the West playing the victims is an offensive act | Cartoon By Taylor Jones, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico – 9/7/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

The West, under NATO’s military command, is walking away from Afghanistan with nothing to show for this invasion.

After billions in dollars, with more than a million Afghans affected by death, combat injuries, manifold increase in corruption, and a Saudi-Pakistan financed Taliban is on the rise, Afghanistan is West’s biggest failure after Vietnam. Never before in the last 200 years has West’s leadership been in question so much.

In the current State of the world, in the memorable words of Joseph Stiglitz, why ‘talk about the G-7, or G-8, or G-20, the more apt description is G-0.’

Afghanistan was a much better place one millennium ago - as its agricultural exports, arts and crafts will testify. It is the US-Pakistani involvement from the 70s, which has made Afghanistan into a no-man's land. | Cartoon By Jimmy Margulies, The Record of Hackensack, NJ - 10/11/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Afghanistan was a much better place one millennium ago – as its agricultural exports, arts and crafts will testify. It is the US-Pakistani involvement from the 70s, which has made Afghanistan into a no-man’s land. | Cartoon By Jimmy Margulies, The Record of Hackensack, NJ – 10/11/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Afghanistan will be the test of BRICS.

Till 1980s, the Soviet Union bordered Afghanistan. Today, while Soviet Union’s successor, Russia no longer shares a border with Afghanistan, as a part of BRICS grouping, it may continue to play a role in post-NATO Afghanistan.

Will China-India tensions come in the way of BRICS to do what is good for Afghanistan? Will China work with BRICS to keep Pakistan out of Afghanistan? When it matters, can BRICS nations put aside their differences and work on common problems – like Afghanistan?

Straightening Pakistan is a matter of hours. What will take time is building capacity among BRICS nations to work together on common problems – and put aside differences, when these differences are not directly relevant.

One thing is for sure.

If BRICS cam make an Afghan solution stick, a new age will dawn in global diplomacy. The current void in global leadership will start getting filled.

Civil war in Afghanistan is directly the result of Western interventions in the last 40 years.  |  Cartoon by By Arend Van Dam, politicalcartoons.com - 10/24/2012 12:00:00 AM  via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

Civil war in Afghanistan is directly the result of Western interventions in the last 40 years. | Cartoon by By Arend Van Dam, politicalcartoons.com – 10/24/2012 12:00:00 AM via PoliticalCartoons.com Cartoon.

With the US and the UK apparently conceding to Pakistan the lead role in reconciliation with Taliban, India is set to hold talks with Russia and China on emerging scenarios in Afghanistan ahead of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force’s withdrawal from the conflict-ravaged country by 2014.

New Delhi is also expected to air its concern over Pakistan’s role in the peace-process in Afghanistan during British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to India scheduled on Monday. Cameron recently hosted Afghan and Pakistan presidents Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari at his country residence Chequers Court. India will get another opportunity to discuss the issues when it will have a trilateral talk with the US and Afghanistan in New Delhi next week.

Sources said India is expected to drive home the point that Pakistan continues to be “a part of the problem” and it cannot yet be seen as “a part of the solution” in Afghanistan. Any hasty careless move to launch the peace process would in fact give an opportunity to Taliban to crawl back to power after 2014. New Delhi is likely to point out that the US itself, in 2011, publicly slammed Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence for its role in fomenting terrorism in Afghanistan.

What worries India is the Afghan High Peace Council’s five-step draft roadmap to 2015, would ultimately give Pakistan the “strategic depth” it always aspired to have in Afghanistan. New Delhi is apprehensive about Washington outsourcing to Islamabad the peace-process with Taliban, before and after the drawdown of the International Security Assistance Force from Afghanistan.

The “draft road map” also seeks to give some key positions in post-2014 Afghanistan to the leaders of Taliban, including that of provincial governors, police chiefs and cabinet ministers.

To facilitate the peace-process, Pakistan, since November, released 26 Taliban prisoners from its jails, ostensibly on request from Afghanistan but without any oversight, triggering fear that some of them might go back to extremism.

When Menon broached the issue during a meeting of the BRICS high representatives for security in New Delhi last month, it was agreed that he and his counterparts from Russia and China would have a separate meeting to exchange views on the peace-process with Taliban and discuss the emerging scenarios in Afghanistan. Sources said the meeting might take place later this month.

New Delhi has made it clear that it is in favour an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process towards peace in Afghanistan but insisted that the “Red Lines” agreed in London Conference in 2010 were strictly adhered to and the extremists entering the process were made to severe all links with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.

via India to talk to China, Russia on Pak role in Afghanistan.


 

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