Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Chicago Summit on Afghanistan

Chicago summit between Obama, NATO, G8, Afghan stakeholders was seen as a pre-election exercise. NATO passage through Pakistan was one of the items. The inside story.

Obama needs to show some 'successes' before election day  |  Cartoonist Sabir Nazar; source & courtesy - pakistantoday.com.pk  |  Click for image.

Obama needs to show some ‘successes’ before election day | Cartoonist Sabir Nazar; source & courtesy – pakistantoday.com.pk | Click for image.

Probably unprecedented, but 4 of 5 UN-Veto members will go through a government change process in April 2012-March 2012 period. In the same period, of the 8 nuclear powers (P5+India, Pakistan and Israel), 5 will see a government change process. In this process, some amount of uncertainty has been injected in global affairs.

Analysts seem to think that the recent NATO+G8+Afghanistan summit in Chicago, called by Obama was an election exercise. The NATO paasage to Afghanistan through Pakistan was a one of the items on this list. A former Pakistani diplomat ‘reveals’ all.

Pakistan is

a country whose leadership – of any stripes, civil or military – has traditionally taken great pride in being the most steadfast ally of the US. Pakistan’s first military dictator and “Bonaparte”, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, boasted in his autobiography Friends not Masters that Washington would never find a friend more trustworthy than Pakistan.

However, relations between the two “all-weather friends and allies” have been in a deep chill since the fateful US raid and there are few signs of a warming. All the same, being scripted out of Chicago was deemed, in Islamabad’s power corridors, as an ultimate insult that could doom relations forever.

So the Pakistanis went scampering to their Turkish friends – with whom bonds of camaraderie and fraternity pre-date the birth of Pakistan in 1947. The Turks are also cozy with the Americans and have been part of the NATO brigade in Afghanistan. There couldn’t be a more effective and credible middleman than Turkey to bail Pakistan out of the very tight corner in which they seem to have painted themselves.

Frantic phone calls to President Abdullah Gul, who led the Turkish team to Chicago, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Pakistan as these lines are being written and who is receiving a rapturous welcome, melted the ice in Washington and Brussels – Zardari was given the green-light to board a plane for Chicago.

The ice, however, didn’t simply melt because the Turks had waved a magic wand. The Pakistanis assured their Turkish interlocutors – who then relayed the message to Washington – that the Pakistanis were ready to play ball and revive transit facilities for NATO. This was interpreted as a conciliatory gesture and enough for the welcome mat to be rolled out.

It was anticipated that Pakistan would have lifted the ban before Zardari boarded his flight to Chicago. But that wasn’t to be, and he landed without bearing the gift everybody was expecting.

In obvious pique, Obama refused to meet Zardari one-on-one, while he bestowed that favor on Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai. That was like rubbing salt into the Pakistani wound.

NATO secretary general added his own insult to the Pakistani injury when he, too, wriggled out of a planned one-on-one meeting with Zardari claiming “scheduling problems”. (via Asia Times Online :: Pakistan hoist by its own petard).


Abbottabad does not quite add up

May 11, 2011 2 comments
The difference between 'civilized' West and 'barbaric' Islamic world. (Cartoon by John Cole; courtesy - caglecartoons.com). Click for original image.

The difference between 'civilized' West and 'barbaric' Islamic world. (Cartoon by John Cole; courtesy - caglecartoons.com). Click for original image.

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?

US triumphalism is misplaced. But then Osama's death will surely get Obama many votes. (Cartoon courtesy - http://jeffreyhill.typepad.com). Click for larger image.

US triumphalism is misplaced. But then Osama's death will surely get Obama many votes. (Cartoon courtesy - http://jeffreyhill.typepad.com). Click for larger image.

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.

Pakistan's soldiers patrolling the tribal area of Ditta Kheil in North Waziristan for militants and al-Qaida activists in March.| Photograph by Mohammad Iqbal/Associated Press | Picture courtesy nytimes.com /Click for original image.

Pakistan's soldiers patrolling the tribal area of Ditta Kheil in North Waziristan for militants and al-Qaida activists in March.| Photograph by Mohammad Iqbal/Associated Press | Picture courtesy nytimes.com /Click for original image.

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.

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image  source - loonpond.com; artist attribution not available at image  source)

To make war palatable, Desert Bloc invented religion. (Image source - http://loonpond.blogspot.com; artist attribution not available at image source).

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.

Pax Americana handles criticism

`Crowley was not even dissenting - unlike Bradley Manning? (Image courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com; cartoonist Matt Wuerker). Click for larger image.

Crowley was not even dissenting - unlike Bradley Manning? (Image courtesy - cartoonistgroup.com; cartoonist Matt Wuerker). Click for larger image.

The official spokesman at the US State Department, PJ Crowley, resigned. His

resignation followed Crowley’s remarks to an MIT seminar last week about Manning’s treatment in military prison.

Crowley had said: “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence.”

Glenn Greenwald, a Salon reporter who has been outspoken about Manning’s detention, tweeted that “detainee abuse is allowed, speaking out against it isn’t”.

Last week, Manning gave his own account of how he is being held, saying that it was harsh treatment designed to punish him even before he was put on trial. He said he was stripped naked every night after he made a sarcastic comment to guards about the absurdity of the regime he was under.

Manning has been charged with multiple counts relating to the leaking of thousands of secret US embassy cables, as well as videos and warlogs from Afghanistan and Iraq.(via PJ Crowley Resigns After Remarks Bashing Bradley Manning’s Detention, Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, March 13, 2011).

What is the real story …

Crowley was not a critic – or even dissenting. He was an establishment man – concerned that Manning’s treatment may ‘impact on global standing and leadership’ of Pax Americana. Was this display of power more important than the display of ‘freedom’?

Intriguing.

‘Honest’ Broker – United States Foreign Policy!

October 2, 2010 2 comments
The Buddhist Jataka that travelled to Victorian England!

The Buddhist Jataka that travelled to Victorian England!

India and Honest Brokers

There is this Buddhist Jataka story which we have all heard.

Two cats go to a monkey for help in dividing some eatable equally. End result – the monkey gets everything. The cats, nothing. ‘Honest’ brokers are the monkey which leaves nothing for the cats.

Hillary Clinton assured a nervous gathering of Foreign Policy analysts that the world is counting on the USA today as it has in the past. When old adversaries need an honest broker or fundamental freedoms need a champion, people turn to us. When the earth shakes or rivers overflow their banks, when pandemics rage or simmering tensions burst into violence, the world looks to us. (via Remarks on United States Foreign Policy).

In real life

What is left of Pakistan after US finished with brokering Pakistan’s future? After the West carved up the Ottoman Empire, and divided the Turkish possessions among their puppets, what is left of the Middle East? With oil, Big Oil, oil politics, oil-dollar, oil prices at stake, can the US be a honest broker.

Tell that to the birds.

With oil at stake, how 'honest' a broker can the US be? (Cartoon by Pat Oliphant). Click for larger image.).

With oil at stake, how 'honest' a broker can the US be? (Cartoon by Pat Oliphant). Click for larger image.

Can there be a ‘honest’ broker?

This idea that there cannot be ‘honest’ brokers, made Buddhism so popular all over the world. Not pretty statues and musical chants. In the last 200 years, भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra has gone into regression. But, in this period, the world has also learnt more about the limitations of the Desert Bloc ideology.

People get ready!

The G20 lacks legitimacy

Obama's media management 

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

After a Nobel .. a grateful Obama was the least that Europe expected ...

After a Nobel .. a grateful Obama was the least that Europe expected ...

 

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. 

On Dec 10th, 2009, President Barack Obama landed in Oslo, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize – an annual ‘price’ that is 

“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

Media is falling over themselves - courting Obama

Media is falling over themselves - courting Obama

 

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. 

Norway’s economy

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!

Black cat, white cat … both are not catching the mice.

January 15, 2009 2 comments
Whats the difference?

What's the difference?

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson isn’t the devil … (but) on his watch the US has morphed into a huge debt-issuing machine … (and) the US deficit will more than double this year to at least $1.18 trillion, the biggest since World War II. The CBO’s estimates don’t include the cost of the president-elect’s stimulus package, which will probably add at least $750 billion to the total over the next two years. Last year’s shortfall totalled $455 billion.

Barack Obama has even bigger plans.

“I spent most of the first two quarters of 2008 marvelling at the pace of Chinese reserve accumulation,” Council on Foreign Relations economist Brad Setser in New York wrote on his Web log this week. “I expect to spend the first few quarters of 2009 marvelling at the size of the US fiscal deficit.”

Along with its Faustian bargain, one wonders if China risks a Madoffian one, too.

No, the Treasury isn’t engaged in a massive fraud of the kind allegedly perpetrated by financier Bernard Madoff. Yet the US’s $5.3 trillion government debt arena is looking more like a Ponzi scheme than a market.

MADOFF’S SCHEME

Madoff personifies the greed, lack of transparency and lost trust that has accompanied the US’s fall from grace. Even though sceptics raised concerns about the veracity of Madoff’s performance over the years, regulators failed to act. They believed Madoff’s assertions and figures. (via William Pesek: China risks the Madoff treatment from treasuries).

‘Black cat, white cat, who cares as long as it can catch mice’

There are two frauds – one by the US Government on the world – and the other by the Chinese Government, on its own citizens. USA is a democratic, capitalist, developed, modern G7 country. China other an authoritarian, communist, totalitarian, developing ancient culture. And they both seem to be committing some fairly large frauds.

So much for the ‘superior’, Western, democratic and model. It really does not matter if the cat is white or black – because they both don’t seem to be catching the mice.

Another Dynamite From Nobel – Buffet, Krugman, Obama and Gold

October 19, 2008 2 comments

Importance of being Krugman

The prize committee cited Krugman’s work on trade theories and also mentioned his role as an opinion maker. For the world at large, however, it is the latter role that distinguishes him from most of his fellow laureates of late. (bold letters mine).

Many Think .. That There Are Many More Qualified …

Paul Krugman has been (allegedly) anti-Obama – and advising Obama to pay heed to Roosevelt’s policies. Now, we all know what Roosevelt’s (most significant) economic policy was – nationalization of American gold stocks.

Was Krugman’s Nobel Prize award to help him to increase his ‘opinion making’ powers? Was the Nobel prize fixed to meet American /Western short term requirements?

Was the Nobel prize given to the Paul Krugman to make his position strong – as a part of the Obama Dream Team – or as ballast against an ‘adventurous’ Obama who may not toe the line? Will Krugman join Warren Buffet in rescuing the Western economic system?

Will they nationalize gold again – and instead promote silver? Is a new version of the bi-metallic standard coming?

Announcement

The 2ndlook model for a Third currency Bloc is ready. Join in to review, participate, critique and develop the First Cut. While the need for a new global reserve currency has been evident, there is very little in the public sphere. The speed of events has clearly caught the BRICS and Third World napping – and unprepared. But, not 2ndlook – who, from the very beginning, proposed that the world should stop clinging to the Dollar-Euro skirts.

%d bloggers like this: