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Posts Tagged ‘Islamic demonization’

War On Terror – Desert Bloc Style

September 25, 2011 3 comments

One 9/11 Tally: $3.3 Trillion By Shan Carter and Amanda Cox; Published: Sep. 8, 2011 | Click for larger image. |  Short URL for Source  - http://goo.gl/YmjzV

One 9/11 Tally: $3.3 Trillion By Shan Carter and Amanda Cox; Published: Sep. 8, 2011 | Click for larger image. | Short URL for Source - http://goo.gl/YmjzV

Bush, CIA, FBI did not have to convince anyone of the need for war, killing, death and destruction. Frenzied activity by people and media to convince each other did the job.

Convince each other

A reading or search on the internet, about Saddam Hussein’s killings and genocide, reveals feverish discussions. At one internet forum after another forum, participants were quoting a non-existent report to convince each other.

Based on cyber-fluff. Circular references. At the centre of which, is a cyber vacuüm.

शून्य. Nul. Zéro. Null. μηδέν. ゼロ. нул. Cero.零. Darkness. Nothing. Zilch.

Saddam’s war with Iran, at the behest and encouragement of the West, was painted as ‘human-rights’ violations. Death of soldiers in any war, cannot be equated to civilian casualties. Soldiers are going to war, armed to the teeth, with eyes wide open, knowing fully well, that it is a case of kill or get killed.

The alphabet soup behind this

Bush, CIA, FBI did not have to convince anyone. Frenzied activity by people to convince each other of the need for war, killing, death and destruction did the job.

Wonder who created these viral and circular links, (now dead, but live at some time) on the web, without any source or existence. Which of the American agencies – CIA FBI, NSA, DEA, DOE, Bureau of ATF, DIA, NRO, NIMA, CTC. NPC. INR. DOE Intel., Army Intelligence et al?

But let us assume that vox americanum populi, vox dei (Voice of the American people is the voice of god), and accept the figure of less than 600,000 deaths under Saddam Hussein.

Ten years later

After the bombing of twin towers, on September 11, 2001, there has been much official sentiment and sanctity.

How much of that is real and balanced?

Note the racial undertones to the comments? (Cartoon by Ted Rall; dated 2011-09-16; Source and courtesy - rall.com). Click for larger images.

Note the racial undertones to the comments? (Cartoon by Ted Rall; dated 2011-09-16; Source and courtesy - rall.com). Click for larger images.

Slice of life

Three images capture an ‘objective’ and factual way of looking at the last ten years.

One was an ‘infographic’ presentation by New York Times (fig.1), that has been doing the rounds on the internet.

The slick presentation using an attractive and thin graphic, calculated the US$ trillions that these wars are costing. As though, it was American money, to start with.

Iraqi money and Iraqi oil was being used to kill Iraqi civilians – and then an accounting done on that money, as though it was American money. The Nordhaus report, used by the nytimes.com, says,

Iraq’s oil resources could satisfy current U.S. oil imports for almost a century.

Real people

Two Western estimates, of deaths in Iraq, (extrapolations from Lancet/John Hopkins estimate), and the statistical report by ORB (Operations Research Business) used a statistical sampling method.

A figure of one million Iraqi and Afghan civilian casualties has been arrived at by this estimation method. An estimation method commonly used and usually accepted.

Documented and cross verified reports by the Iraq Body Count, count more than a 100,000 civilian deaths in Iraq. To all those believe that only the Body Count report is good enough, I wonder why they don’t use the same standard for figures about deaths due to Saddam’s atrocities.

Whatever number one may chose, it is important to use the same standard. Saddam, it seems was a lesser evil.

Saddam killed far fewer Iraqis than the Americans have.

White House Trophy Room? (Cartoon by Herbjorn Skogstad | Published May 2011 | Source and courtesy - cagle.com) | Click for a larger image.

White House Trophy Room? (Cartoon by Herbjorn Skogstad | Published May 2011 | Source and courtesy - cagle.com) | Click for a larger image.

Does it matter

Of the nearly 1 million undocumented and estimated Iraqis dead or the documented 100,000 Iraqis dead, the number does not matter. Both the numbers, are huge numbers.

Not that this is the first time. After killing 20 lakh Vietnamese, the American Empire (and its respectable mouth-piece, Time magazine) only counts its own 60,000 killed. In Iraq, after 10 lakh dead Iraqis, the US Empire counts, its’ own less than 5,000 dead.

It is this part of the behaviour that is most revealing. Is self absorption an imperial trait?

Imperial Traits

The British Empire till well after its death, continued (s) to remain self-absorbed. As though other people did not exist, do not matter. Twentieth century, British writing about India, had deteriorated to pure drivel. Best epitomised by Chirol – Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol (28 May 1852 – 22 October 1929).

In case of Pax America, in an earlier Cold-War era, this self-absorption was marked by books like The Ugly American – which sold 5 million copies, in a nation of some fifty million households. Since, the writing of The Ugly American, the self-absorption has only deepened.

This self-absorption screams through these three images linked to this post.

Image no.1 – About my money. It was Iraqi oil and Iraqi money, by the way. A message to David Leonhardt, the Washington Bureau Chief of nytimes.com, evoked no response.

Image no.2 – Talks about my social position. If every month, hundreds of people, are blowing themselves up, there has gotta be a bigger problem, than your social position. Stop looking at Muslims. Look at yourself.

Image no.3 – About my trophies.

Do more words and more bombs, make the War on Islam, OK?

What to do

Possibly, all this killing and war is my problem, in my mind. Who is to blame, if I was brought up, believing,

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत्।

तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा: मा गृध: कस्यस्विद्धनम्।।

(God resides in all; All this here, is permeated by Brahman [The Supreme Soul], whatever there is in this world. Enjoy things by renunciation. Do not covet others’ wealth. – Ishopanishad; Shloka 1; note alternate translation comment below.).

How I wish, I could erase this shloka from my head!

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Democracy – How Think tanks shape policy making

June 15, 2011 3 comments
Finally, less than 100,000 people have the power to shape the world in a manner they deem fit. Concentration of power. (Cartoon BY - ANDY SINGER, Courtesy - POLITICALCARTOONS.COM  -  2/4/2010 12:00:00 AM). Click for larger image.

Finally, less than 100,000 people have the power to shape the world in a manner they deem fit. Concentration of power. (Cartoon BY - ANDY SINGER, Courtesy - POLITICALCARTOONS.COM - 2/4/2010 12:00:00 AM). Click for larger image.

Old boys club

Council on Foreign Relations sounds like a pretty harmless group, which has a few academics that potter around – and release an occasional irrelevant paper.

Not quite. If not harmful, they are atleast pretty powerful.

In 1952, Eisenhower and Richard Nixon became the first CFR members to be elected President and Vice President of the USA.

Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic candidate beaten by Eisenhower and Nixon, was also a CFR member.

‘The Council was starting to dominate American politics at the highest levels,’ write Burnett and Games.

‘The pattern would be repeated four years later, with Stevenson again losing out to Eisenhower and Nixon.

‘Although Nixon was to narrowly lose the next election in 1960 against John F Kennedy, the charismatic Bostonian was another member of the CFR.

‘Nixon would return in 1968 to defeat fellow CFR member Hubert Humphrey, and win again in 1972 against George McGovern.

‘Although not a CFR member in 1972, McGovern saw the light and joined afterwards.’ (via Southern Times – Why Africa needs secret societies).

Red herrings – the challenge ahead

English language media at least, is dominated by a few news agencies like Reuters, Bloomberg, API, and AFP. These agencies in turn are fed by various think tanks and reserch organizations, which then dominate global debate.  In the last few years, top 10 websites control 75% of the web traffic. Hollywood dominates the big screen.

For instance the highly flawed model of Transparency International promotes a narrative of corrupt Africa and Asia. To dominate the debate, censorship is not the only solution. It is not even a preferred solution.

More noise is equally effective. 

Finally a few media conglomerates drive the global mindset. Usually censorship is not needed. More noise is equally effective. (Cartoonist - Ares, Courtesy - Cagle Cartoons, www.caglecartoons.com). Click for larger image.

Finally a few media conglomerates drive the global mindset. Usually censorship is not needed. More noise is equally effective. (Cartoonist - Ares, Courtesy - Cagle Cartoons, http://www.caglecartoons.com). Click for larger image.

Capture and exploit

After this kind of media capture, the West drives the narrative. And exploits this narrative. To get over the ‘problem’ of economic stagnation, the West has created artificial ‘crisis’ situations.

These are major diplomatic offensives using media, academia, events and situations, to

  • Maintain superior negotiating positions
  • Define the agenda – which usually means non-substantive issues.

But for an India to match the trade and tariff barriers, propaganda and diplomatic offensives, calls for more resources.

The image of corrupt politician, Congressman, has become easy to promote, driven by Transparency International's flawed data. The role of these Think Tanks gets concealed. (Cartoon - BY PAT BAGLEY, Published by SALT LAKE TRIBUNE  -  1/27/2010 12:00:00 AM; courtesy - caglecartoons.com). Click for larger image.

The image of corrupt politician, Congressman, has become easy to promote, driven by Transparency International's flawed data. The role of these Think Tanks gets concealed. (Cartoon - BY PAT BAGLEY, Published by SALT LAKE TRIBUNE - 1/27/2010 12:00:00 AM; courtesy - caglecartoons.com). Click for larger image.

Benign designs?

The manner of funding Indian NGOs by external sources, especially the West, is not benign anymore. More than 33 lakh NGOs operate in India, with foreign funding that is estimated at US$4 billion. This figure is double the official Government figure that is based on declared receipts, which reports say, are under-declared.

In times to come

Is the West aiming to capture these Indian ‘think-tanks’? The promotion of Western Climate Change agenda by Amartya Sen, under the auspices of the Aspen Institute India is indication of times to come.

Mechanics of माया maya?

Pakistan. The Calculus has Changed

June 11, 2011 2 comments
The garbageman comes collecting the usual load of rubbish on Pakistan (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

The garbageman comes collecting the usual load of rubbish on Pakistan (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy – bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

Crack in the mirror

Reality has changed. Our stories have not.

It is just not the dirt on our glasses. We continue to look at Pakistan with our old pair of glasses. Even as our vision has clouded, the Pakistan we see, has changed.

To understand some questions on Pakistan, in India we need to abandon the official Congressi narrative. Equally, the Western mass-media rubbish about Pakistan.

The cliché of terrorism

On 4th January, 2011, a Pakistani leader specializing in electoral politics, Salman Taseer died. Shot dead by his own body guard.

Exactly 4 days later, in USA, on the other side of the world, on Saturday 8th January, 2011, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, was shot. At a Safeway grocery store, on the north side of Tucson, Arizona, during a public event.

Both of them shot. For similar reasons, by different gunmen.

What difference

Gunmen who are killing thousands in Pakistan and USA. Technically, more Americans are killed by guns in USA than in Pakistan. For instance, USA law-enforcement authorities found that ‘14,000 murders involving firearms were committed in 2005′. 

Surely, it is no comfort to American victims of gunfire that they were not killed by jehadis.

'Biting' Sarcasm. How the Army-ISI pet has started disobeying the master. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

‘Biting’ Sarcasm. How the Army-ISI pet has started disobeying the master. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy – bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

The most obvious portrayal by the mass-media is terrorist violence in Pakistan. An imploding Pakistan, with gun-toting jehadi terrorists are convenient caricatures that hide a deep shift. To understand the shift, let us look at Pakistan – and its sponsor, ally and undertaker underwriter-in-chief.

All that seems to separate Pakistan and US of A, is a very thick wad of currency notes.

Power grab in Pakistan

Politics in Pakistan is held to higher and different standards. To anyone but the most biased or blinkered, it is clear that there are political and economic objectives that drive Pakistani rulers. Just like other rulers of the world.

When looking at Pakistan, don’t use Western notions like a two-party collusive democracy is better than one-party conspiring oligarchy? Instead of one-party ‘dictatorship’ of China or a ‘two-party’ democracy in the West, there are more Pakistani players, each jockeying for power, differently. According to ‘modern’ political standards, in a very messy manner.

There is a on-going power struggle to control Pakistan’s atom-bombs, wealth, people, natural resources et al. Four Pakistani groups  are in the fray. What Pakistani leadership is doing, is competing with each other to grab power. The anti-India hysteria, alleged Islamization of Pakistan, the radical elements being a lunatic fringe or the mainstream, is just that much baloney.

The Master's Problem: The 'obedient' dog starts barking at the master. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

The Master’s Problem: The ‘obedient’ dog starts barking at the master. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy – bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

Factions in Pakistan

Among the competing groups are, first the army and the ISI combination. Then there are the popular politicians who participate in elections. Add the third element – mullah-madrasa-mujahhid combine of fundamentalist clergy, various terrorist groups – like JeM, LeT, Al Qaida, various Taliban factions et al.

The economy and wealth is in hands of the fourth element – the 22 families that matter in Pakistan. Mahbub-ul-Haq’s “22 families” speech in Karachi in 1968 highlightedthe power and wealth of a few families in Pakistan.

And bringing up the rear, is the fifth part of Pakistan, who don’t matter.

The Rest of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s diplomatic prowess

As recent events in Abbottabad show.

Any regime that can dictate terms to USA, China, Saudi Arabia, like Pakistan has, is a skilled leadership. US, China and Saudi Arabia renew their loyalty and friendship vows with Pakistan every week – with both words and money?

Pakistan’s ability to keep its super-power allies on their toes is a remarkable diplomatic achievement. To remain a nuclear power, after near-universal condemnation and pressure reconfirms its diplomatic prowress. Pakistani leadership, from Jinnah onwards, have used the State and its institutions, for keeping a grip on power.

USA, China, Saudi Arabia have been able to do little about Pakistan’s misdeeds, apart from some squealing, public name-calling. In the end they paid up. Each time. For 60 years.

That is what matters.

Facing India, with Taliban at the back and US drone attacks from above, Pakistan's command structure has done well to keep the wheels moving. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy bamulahija.wordpress.com.). Click for larger image.

Facing India, with Taliban at the back and US drone attacks from above, Pakistan’s command structure has done well to keep the wheels moving. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy bamulahija.wordpress.com.). Click for larger image.

Tolerant West and fundamentalist Pakistan

Pakistan is what Pakistan does. Europe is what is it says it is – and what Europe does, does not matter.

Like ‘freedom’ in the USA, with 20 lakh prisoners – the largest prison population in the world? Or ‘religious tolerance’ like single-faith Switzerland where a third mosque with minarets was not allowed? Maybe, build on ethnic-diversity like the Danes who want to pay Muslims to leave Denmark. Why not even aim for a ‘fair’ legal-system like Britain, where hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested to build a DNA data-bank – ostensibly to help in criminal identification. Or Italy believes it is all right to ban kebabs and other ‘foreign’ food to protect Italian cuisine.

The West today has the lowest levels of ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity – and persecutes whatever little is left, like the Roma Gypsies for example. Italy cheers for Berlusconi who is willing to take global frowns on the finger-printing of Roma Gypsies. Apart from Berlusconi’s Italy, Sarkozy, is a part of the French vanguard to deport “700 members of the Roma Gypsy minority, to Romania and Bulgaria, as part of its controversial crackdown on communities officials hold responsible for criminal activity.”

Sarkozy has encouraged French law-makers to prescribe dress-codes for the French. Sarkozy’s laws sez ‘no burqa’ for French Muslims. The French feel let down because “immigrants were supposed to blend harmoniously into society and not exist in separate communities” – and they did not. Angela Merkel says ‘nien’ to multiculturalism.

For sixty years, Pakistan has bent super-powers to its will. Enviable diplomatic prowess. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; courtesy - indiatimes.com; 3 May 2011, 1400 hrs IST). Click for larger image.

For sixty years, Pakistan has bent super-powers to its will. Enviable diplomatic prowess. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; courtesy – indiatimes.com; 3 May 2011, 1400 hrs IST). Click for larger image.

Like the world is able to digest Europe’s xenophobia, Pakistan’s fundamentalism is not significantly different. Except that the West is far richer than Paksiatn. Yet it dances to Pakistan’s tunes.

Makes one think?

Easy question

What is keeping these four Pakistani factions busy?

Oil. Oil. Oil.

While America and European oil demand is huge, it is not growing. For instance US oil consumption between 1973-2010 has grown from 17 mpd to 19 mpd – with some peak and collapses. Growth in oil consumption by India and China is the only sure bet. And that oil is coming from Central Asia. Through Pakistan and Afghanistan.

There are big American and European business interests in Central Asia. It means that Pakistan and Afghanistan become crucial to Big Oil. The various political factions in Pakistan are competing to assume power for a bargaining position with Big Oil – and India. This trade is expected to cross trillions, over the next few years. From this US$trillion-dollar opportunity, no political player in Pakistan, wants his cut to be diluted.

To this oil opportunity, add narcotics trade. The Golden Crescent (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan) and Golden Triangle (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) are the largest producers of drugs – and expect massive returns on drug trade. This drug traffic is now passing through Pakistan. The Taliban have extensive experience with opium trade in Afghanistan.

The US wants to be an honest broker

What will be US role, if India and Pakistan were to sit down and resolve their issues. It is in US interest for instance, to create false stereotypes of Pakistanis – which we have examined earlier. Is the world likely to allow NATO and US, a free run of Af-Pak region, if it was declared that Pakistan was a peaceful country? Or that the scale of tribal violence in Pakistan was on a scale smaller than gangsta and ghetto violence in USA.

To maintain presence in Af-Pak region, US is using the FUD technique – create Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. What if Pakistani nuclear devices fall in Talibani hands. What if Pakistan itself falls into Talibani lap?

Pakistan may need to work out an amiable way for these 4 power centres to work together. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; Courtesy by indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Pakistan may need to work out an amiable way for these 4 power centres to work together. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; Courtesy by indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

What might change is the way power is shared. The Taliban may become a part of the Pakistani ruling class. How that will happen remains to be seen. A coup? Local elections, maybe. Electoral alliance? Pakistani power-equations are changing. How these equations work out, may surprise us. Some answers, we have. For some haze to clear, we will need to wait. For some outcomes, we must be prepared.

Is India prepared? Ready?

A hard-and-soft answer may work with Pakistan. Soft on trade and economy; hard on defence and terror. (Cartoon by Kartij Bhatt. Courtesy - bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

A hard-and-soft answer may work with Pakistan. Soft on trade and economy; hard on defence and terror. (Cartoon by Kartij Bhatt. Courtesy – bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

The respect Pakistan deserves – and does not get

Global alarm about Pakistan, is triggered by a new and disruptive player, who has joined the power-grab game. Meet the mullah-madrasa-mujahhid combine.

Pax Americana has abused its power to bend Pakistan to a path of failures - and then US media makes mockery of Pakistan. (Cartoon by Joel Pett; source and courtesy - cartoonistsgroup.com). Click for larger source image.

Pax Americana has abused its power to bend Pakistan to a path of failures - and then US media makes mockery of Pakistan. (Cartoon by Joel Pett; source and courtesy - cartoonistsgroup.com). Click for larger source image.

Test of Political leadership

What do you say about a leadership that has two of the world’s super-powers, USA and China, swearing friendship and loyalty – at least once, every week.

Must be a rich, hi-tech country.

No. We are not talking of Saudi Arabia or Japan.

How about describing a leadership that gets economic and military aid – on its own terms, after flouting every previous conditionality imposed on it by the aid-givers?

Is it some super-power? Or a very poor country.

Even Haiti, Cuba, Congo, Ethiopia have to live with very strict conditionalities, imposed on them.

In your words describe a country that shelters and protects half of the world’s most wanted fugitives?

A-ha! We are talking of tax-evaders.

Sorry. Switzerland, it ain’t.

This country has also become a de facto nuclear power – and liberally auctioned nuclear technology, to anyone willing to pay for it.

Israel is not who we are talking of.

One hint. They have been doing this for 60 years.

All this – and more

Any regime that can dictate terms to USA, China, Saudi Arabia, like Pakistan has, is a skilled leadership. What more can I say? Except doff my imaginary hat in respect. (Not that I would like to live under such leaders).

USA, China, Saudi Arabia have been able to do little about Pakistan, apart from some squealing, public name-calling. In the end they paid up. Each time. For 60 years.

That is what matters.

United States is being subjected to an old-fashioned protection racket by Pakistan: pay up or things could go bad for you. Those making money out of extortion and blackmail always come back for more. (via US is paying for Pak protection racket | By SHAUN GREGORY |

Pakistan’s DNA

60 years ago, Jinnah held the entire sub-continent to ransom. After 200 conflicts in 150 years, as the British, their backs to the wall, were walking away, Jinnah became a spoiler. The hour of triumph turned into moment of tragedy. A country born out of this blackmail, has now formalized blackmail as State Policy.

Pakistan leadership knows what it is doing. There must be a reason why there is

hostility towards India and belief in the reality of the Indian threat to Pakistan (that) is woven into the fabric of every Pakistani soldier.

Pakistani state education system inculcates a hatred of the Hindu “other” and glorifies the Pakistan Army as the saviour of the nation, and second through an outdated military training regime which builds on the child’s prejudice and lays the foundation for a career of military service at the metaphorical remote frontier military post. (via Primary threat to Pak is from within, not India – Times Of India).

For most Indians, the puzzling thing about Pakistan, is their hostility towards India.

Has India hurt Pakistan

Logically, all this hostility and threat perception of India is misplaced, feel Indians. The Indian attitude towards Pakistan is best represented by an anti-Pakistan hawk, Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena, a right-wing party and a a known Pakistan-baiter. In a recent interview, he says

TIMES NOW: How do you view what has been happening in Pakistan over the last few months?

Bal Thackeray: Why should I bother? Let them go to hell. I don’t want to know.

For  this is just about what Pakistan means to-day to Indians. Except when there are terrorist incidents. Must Pakistan be wary and suspicious of India. After all, India

has twice imposed military defeat on Pakistan – in 1965 and 1971 – and in neither case sought to assimilate, occupy or otherwise destroy Pakistan. The creation of Bangladesh in the latter war was Bengali-led and an inevitable working through of the inherent contradictions of East and West Pakistan; India did not press its advantage in 1971 over the rump West Pakistan despite Pakistan having lost roughly half its navy, one third of its army, and a quarter of its air-force.

India did not seek to exploit its nuclear monopoly over Pakistan, after the nuclear test in 1974, to the detriment of the Pakistan state. Nor has India been involved in significant military action against Pakistan since 1971 except in response to Pakistani or Pakistani-backed adventurism, such as in Kargil in 1999. India has a “no first use” nuclear policy and in terms of casus belli “Cold Start” is reactive not pre-emptive. (via Primary threat to Pak is from within, not India – Times Of India).

How are Ajmal Kasab and Jared Laughner different? Guns in the hands of killers.

How are Ajmal Kasab and Jared Laughner different? Guns in the hands of killers.

Power grab

Pakistan is actually 5 parts.

First is the army and the ISI combination. Then there are the popular politicians who take part in elections.

Add the mullah-madrasa-mujahhid combine with a fundamentalist clergy, various terrorist groups – like JeM, LeT, Al Qaida, various Taliban factions et al.

The economy and wealth are in hands of the 22 families. Mahbub-ul-Haq’s “22 families” speech in Karachi in 1968 highlighted the power and wealth of a few families in Pakistan.

And bringing up the rear there are the rest. No one in Pakistan talks to anyone. Each has contempt for the other four.

And all five have separate agenda.

Going for broke

To anyone but the most biased or blinkered, it is clear that there are political and economic goals that drive Pakistani rulers. Just like other rulers of the world. Instead of the one-party ‘dictatorship’ of China or a ‘two-party’ democracy in the West, there are many more Pakistani players – each jockeying for power, differently. In a very messy manner, according to ‘modern’ political standards.

Pakistani leadership has been able to use Saudi Arabia, China and USA to meets its own ends. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 24th May, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

Pakistani leadership has been able to use Saudi Arabia, China and USA to meets its own ends. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 24th May, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

Without making value judgements, multiple Pakistani factions are competing with each other to grab power.

The anti-India hysteria, alleged Islamization of Pakistan, the radical elements being a lunatic fringe or the mainstream, is just that much baloney.

Pakistani perception of the Indian threat to Pakistan is inculcated by the Pakistan Army for one central reason – to legitimize the Pakistan Army and ISI’s primacy in the Pakistan polity and thereby to justify the Army’s claim to a huge slice of Pakistan’s national resources. The perception of an Indian threat thus serves a purpose quite disconnected from the reality of that threat.

India’s large standing army is a material reality that has to be at the heart of Pakistan’s security concerns – is legitimate but misses two essential qualifications. The first is that India is no longer Pakistan’s primary security challenge; that is now the terrorism and extremism of militant Islam. The second is that in military terms, capability does not automatically equate with intent: India’s large standing army does not pose a threat to Pakistan per se any more than a large American or French army poses a threat per se to the UK. (via Primary threat to Pak is from within, not India – Times Of India).

India lives in a toug neighborhood. What to do? (cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

India lives in a tough neighborhood. What to do? (cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.blogspot.com). Click for larger image.

All this talk of God, Allah, etc., is just that much hot and fetid air. The truth – all these are tools for power-players to use and come to power. What has made a difference and caused alarm across the world, is that a new disruptive player has joined the game.

What is worrying the world is that the LeT, Taliban are different kind of players  – and they play rough. Will the outcome be any different?

It will not be the usual ‘suspects’ but four different groups of Pakistanis on who will control Pakistan – and Pakistan’s atom-bombs, wealth, people, natural resources – the works. And a whole, new element.

It is called oil.

The headache that is Pakistan

May 25, 2011 2 comments

Gunmen in USA have attempted and killed more people and US Presidents than gunmen in Pakistan. American Government has made guns cheap and accessible in – both in USA and Pakistan.

Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan - 2003- 2011. Source - South Asia Terrorism Portal; Copyright © 2001 SATP. All rights reserved. Click for a larger image.

Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan – 2003- 2011. Source – South Asia Terrorism Portal; Copyright © 2001 SATP. All rights reserved. Click for a larger image.

Why Pakistan gets bad press

After 60 years of Pakistan, India needs to take a fresh look at Pakistan. Maybe, even the world should look again at Pakistan.

To start with, Pakistan has become ‘famous’ for terrorist killings.

Going by numbers

Technically, more Americans are killed by guns in USA than in Pakistan. For instance, USA law-enforcement authorities found that ‘14,000 murders involving firearms were committed in 2005′. Surely, it is no comfort to American gunfire victims that they were not killed by jehadis.

What is it with America and guns? Why does the most advanced democracy, which prides itself on being a bastion of reason and civilisation in a brutal and ugly world, put up with this carnage in its own back yard? Why does it tolerate the sea of blood that flows from gun incidents, with about 100,000 people killed or injured every year? Why does it accept an annual murder rate by guns that is 13 times that of Germany and 44 times that of England and Wales? People tend to remember the low points, such as the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968. But do they know that since those two men hit the floor, more than a million people have been killed in the US from the barrel of a gun? (via US gun crime: death for sale | World news | The Guardian.

The case of Pakistan is becoming more complex. Unchrted waters, anyone? (Cartoonist - Adam Zyglis; courtesy - http://www.adamzyglis.com). Click for larger image.

The case of Pakistan is becoming more complex. Uncharted waters, anyone? (Cartoonist – Adam Zyglis; courtesy – http://www.adamzyglis.com). Click for larger image.

Uncharted waters, anyone?

There will be protests that the SATP figure of 33,213 of Pakistani casualties, is a case of serious under-estimation and under-reporting.

Assuming that there is data-error, by how much can these numbers be multiplied. By 1000%? Maybe 2000%! Or will 3000% be more satisfactory?

At 3000%, more people are killed in US, with guns, than in Pakistan, as per SATP figures.

Coming to political assassinations, Pakistan is no worse. Gunmen in USA have attempted and killed more US Presidents than gunmen in Pakistan. Look deeply enough, you cannot hold the State of Pakistan (such as it is) responsible for free availability of guns.

One may argue that the Pakistani State anyway cannot be held responsible for most other things that a ‘modern’ State is responsible for. American Government has made guns cheap and accessible in – both in USA and Pakistan.

Not just Pakistan, but the whole world is misreading Pakistan. The problem is deeper and different. (Cartoon by DAVE GRANLUND, POLITICALCARTOONS.COM  -  5/4/2011 12.00.00 AM). Courtesy - caglecartoons.com. Click for larger image.

Not just Pakistan, but the whole world is misreading Pakistan. The problem is deeper and different. (Cartoon by DAVE GRANLUND, POLITICALCARTOONS.COM – 5/4/2011 12.00.00 AM). Courtesy – caglecartoons.com. Click for larger image.

So, why does Pakistan alone get such bad press – and so much name calling.


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.

Islamic world changing?

February 28, 2011 19 comments

Does empty rage count as a reason to expose nations to unknown rulers and uncertainty? Unknown devils instead of known devils?

Widespread protests across the Islamic Middle East. Are they for real? (Image courtesy - Times Of India).

Widespread protests across the Islamic Middle East. Are they for real? (Image courtesy - Times Of India). Click for larger image.

Is this change for real?

After two months of protests, two regime changes, it may be time to take a 2ndlook at the developments across the Islamic Middle East. These protests were triggered when,

On Dec. 17, 2010, in the impoverished Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, a street vendor who had been slapped in the face by a policewoman confiscating his wares set himself on fire outside of a government building. The desperate act of the vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, led to protests in the town, which were recorded in video clips posted on YouTube. By the time he died on Jan. 4, 2011, protests that started over Mr. Bouazizi’s treatment in Sidi Bouzid had spread to cities throughout the country.

On Jan. 14, the president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, fled the country he had ruled with an iron hand for 23 years. Less than a month later, Hosni Mubarak, perhaps the most powerful figure in the region, president for 29 years of the largest Arab country, was forced to step down after 18 days of massive demonstrations cost him the support of the military and the United States. (via Middle East Protests (2010-11) – The New York Times).

There has been gushing coverage in the mainstream media on these ‘protests (which) may have now acquired a life of their own’ and ‘sweeping changes … coming to the Arab lands, where authoritarian regimes are the norm’ and how ‘present protests, could be a game-changer’.

While quick to deny the role of the very same media in the West, for events like the Gifford shooting, Western media has been quick to proclaim that Western ‘technology’, especially, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook were behind these protests and regime changes. An overjoyed world of Twitterati, Chatterati, Bloggerati, Paparazzi went ahead and claimed credit for this ‘change’. This was seen as extension of earlier trend like when

Soviet Union collapsed soon after copiers and faxes appeared and information began freely circulating here. The problem, however, is that nobody has proved a cause-effect correlation between fax machines and the Soviet collapse. Nonetheless, leading Western media outlets can’t stop glorifying the Internet and social networks as the new tools for empowering grassroots resistance movements. As President Dmitry Medvedev said last week in Vladikavkaz: “Let’s face the truth. They have been preparing such a scenario for us, and now they will try even harder to implement it.” Medvedev’s reaction shows that the Kremlin is taking the threat very seriously.

After 30 years, a few days of rage will not make a real difference! (Cartoonist - Carlos Latuff).

After 30 years, a few days of rage will not make a real difference! (Cartoonist - Carlos Latuff).

Aladdin’s Lamp – Old despots for new

Covering this wave of protests, CNN correspondents Nadia Oweidat and Cynthia P. Schneider wrote of the ‘the vision articulated in protests, blogs, posts and tweets’ – a vision of a ‘new great awakening is unfolding across the Arab world’.

decades of brutal repression and lack of accountability, governments in the Arab world will be responsible and responsive to their people. They will foster individual freedoms, religious and ethnic diversity, enable economic growth and uphold fair judicial processes

Ringing words – but empty. Specifically, what exactly is the Arab world asking for?

Are Arabs talking of Western style’ democracy’ and ‘freedom‘? Like ‘freedom’ in the USA, with 20 lakh prisoners – the largest prison population in the world? Or ‘religious tolerance’ like single-faith Switzerland where a third mosque with minarets was not allowed? Is it political freedom, like Europe which believes that a two-party collusive democracy is better than one-party conspiring oligarchy?

Maybe, build on ethnic-diversity like the Danes who want to pay Muslims to leave Denmark. Why not even aim for a ‘fair’ legal-system like Britain, where hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested to build a DNA data-bank – ostensibly to help in criminal identification. To be like the West today, that has the lowest levels of diversity – ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. And makes the most noise about freedom and human rights.

How bad were these ‘despots’

Indeed, a case could be made for these stable despots who have sent packing in Tunisia and Egypt. Says Foreign Policy, a US magazine “Tunisia and Egypt have made particularly rapid economic progress in recent years.” In both these countries, people have seen economic progress, without dependence on oil – unlike most of Islamic Middle East. Compared to Turkey’s per-capita, with its imperial past, at US$ 11,500, or oil-inflated Oman’s US$ 25,000 or petro-daddy  Saudi’s US$ 23,300, Tunisia with US$ 9100 per capita and Egypt with US$ 5900 come out favorably. Tunisia or Egypt did not favor the beheading or amputation routine of Iran or Saudi Arabia – or mass-imprisonment regimes like USA, UK or China. Like all modern-State-nations, concentration of wealth is a ‘given’ – regardless of Europe, USA or Islamic Middle-East.

There was neither a shining vision, nor economic necessity, or relative oppression, which triggered these revolts. Instead of an ‘elected’ Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians got Army Rule. Was that a satisfactory or a desirable outcome? Does empty rage count as a reason to expose nations to unknown rulers and uncertainty? Unknown devils instead of known devils? Does a change in government without modifying governance-model make any difference?

Without a viable ‘reason’ for revolt, what made so many people come out in the open?

Translation - 'SoLong suckers!' ( Cartoon courtesy - cagle.com).Click for larger image.

Translation - 'So Long suckers!' ( Cartoon courtesy - cagle.com). Click for larger image.

The trail of the US Plan

We may need to look at Wikileaks to get some real answers. Specifically, a trail of US diplomatic cables. These cables revealed US Administration’s consensus to institute a non-electoral regime change in Egypt. Some of these regime-change organizers from Egypt met in USA, supported by USA, with funds and covert promises of diplomatic support at the right time. Coincidentally, a Google employee, Wael Ghonim, became a spokesman for the protesters at Tahrir Square.

Frank Wisner, former US ambassador to Egypt, an old hand in US Foreign Policy, was sent to Egypt to arrive at modalities of Mubarak’s ouster – “to deliver a specific, one-time message to President Mubarak”.

Wisner has been active on Egypt policy and is said by several Egypt hands in Washington to have pushed to create a group of scholars and academics in Washington to advocate for strengthening ties to the Mubarak regime. That group, which was never fully formed, was to be a counter weight to the bipartisan Egypt Working Group led by the likes of former NSC official Elliott Abrams and the Carnegie Endowment’s Michele Dunne. The Abrams-Dunne group had been pushing for a harder line against Mubarak in the months leading up to the current crisis.

Wisner’s father, Frank Wisner Sr., was the CIA agent portrayed in the film The Good Shepherd. Wisner was previously married to Christine de Ganay, former wife of Pal Sarkozy, the father of French president Nicolas Sarkozy. (via Is Obama’s new Egypt “envoy” too close to Mubarak? | The Cable).

Within days of Mubarak’s ouster, on February 21st, 2011, Frank Wisner’s boss, a senior US diplomat, United States Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns arrived in Cairo.

Time out

After 30 years in power and 82 years of age, Mubarak’s time was over.  Nearly, 2 years ago, Elliot Abrams, associated with shaping US foreign policy, wrote, “Mubarak is 81 years old, so placing all our bets on him–even for so short a time as the three years left to President Obama–is unwise.” Tactically, it was better for US to initiate and control the regime change than allow some ‘random’ political events to determine the outcome in Egypt. Similar logic would apply to  Tunisia. An important cog in the wheel, in each country, were the army establishments in Tunisia and Egypt.

In Tunisia, the refusal of an army general to back Ben Ali and fire on protesters proved to be the turning point. In Egypt, too, the world is waiting to see what the Egyptian army will do.

Egypt’s army is the 10th largest in the world, almost half a million strong, and one of the biggest beneficiaries (along with the Pakistan army) of US military aid. Since 1952, all Egyptian presidents have come from the military. So, even though Mubarak has not been sighted since the protests began, all eyes are actually on the generals. (via Tunisia to Egypt, an Arab upheaval – The Times of India).

The US probably will be able to change Middle East's rulers in the next 2-4 years. Howmuch blood is theonlyopen question? (Cartoon by drybones.com).

The US probably will be able to change Middle East's rulers in the next 2-4 years. How much blood is the only open question? (Cartoon by drybones.com).

Soon after his inauguration, President Barack Obama’s

interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network on Monday was a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalizing on the new American president’s international popularity, though it balanced America’s traditional commitment to Israel, whose security Obama called “paramount”.

“I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries,” Obama said, according to a White House transcript. “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.”

In Cairo, Obama said ‘the time had come to “speak the truth” and “seek a new beginning.” With most Post WWII regimes at end-point, America needs to break-in a new generation of rulers in the Middle East.

These new rulers need to be better attuned to diplomacy instead of war; economics and alliances instead of revolts and revolutions; economy instead of ideology.

Having softened the Muslim world with a relentlessly aggressive campaign from 1992-2008, the West chose ‘Hussein’ Obama to speak softly – after the Muslim world had seen the big American stick in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia etc.

How important is the gold-holdings of all these Middle East rulers?

Some answers we know. Some we can guess.

But some answers, only time will give.

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