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Old Sunday, January 30, 2011
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Default Globalisation

The Muslim World: Globalisation
and Under Development

What is Globalisation?

Before we start our discussion, it is appropriate to briefly look at the concept of globalisation. There are various definitions of globalisation. But being an active agent of the globalisation process, the World Bank’s definition can be considered the most authentic one. The Bank says that globalisation means: ‘The growing integration of economies and societies around the world. Globalization is an inevitable phenomenon in human history that has been bringing the world closer together through the exchange of goods and products, information, knowledge and culture.’ In the view of CAFOD, an eminent international charity: ‘Globalisation describes the process whereby individuals, groups, companies and countries become increasingly interconnected. This interconnectedness takes place in several arenas.’ Without reviewing the actual functions of the IMF and the World Bank, especially those that have occurred since the 1980s, defining the globalisation process and its impact becomes almost impossible. It arises from the fact that these two leading international financial institutions have played a crucial role in the whole process of the global transformation of capital.

Such a situation has become particularly acute since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, given the latter’s position as the main rival ideological force in the international political economy. The conservative forces in North America and Western Europe have prepared public opinion for this transformation by controlling large sections of the mass media conglomerates, which, in turn, have actively pushed forward the idea of market deregulation in order to achieve the free flow of capital and the removal of government limitations to the expansion of global finance. Furthermore, the globalisation process has been implemented, strengthened and promoted through the support mechanism of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. This argument is further supported by Amory Starr. In his view:

‘International financial institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank and the IMF, do not exist to make a monetary profit, but a profit of control over the economies of the Global South, facilitating G-8 access to natural resources, land, labour and markets, just as in the colonial era. Meanwhile, foreign aid actually flows in reverse; there is a net outflow from South to North due to debt servicing.’ This situation reflects that globalisation is the outcome of deregulation in the economic market and the integration of information technology in trade, banking, broadcast media and telecommunications.

In fact, in every sphere of life, the twentieth century has brought rapid changes to the world, especially the present globalisation process involved in the geographical extension of economic activities in general and the functional integration of internationally dispersed activities in particular. Consequently, the degree of interdependence and interconnection within the world economy has increased dramatically. In this situation, it is important to understand the overall impact of globalisation upon the lives of millions of poor spread all over world. Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001, worked as Chairman of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors and later as Senior Vice President of the World Bank. He says: ‘(W)hile I was at the World Bank, I saw firsthand the devastating effect that globalisation can have on developing countries, and especially the poor within those counties.’ Furthermore, ‘globalisation today is not working for many of the world’s poor. It is not working for much of the environment. It is not working for the stability of the global economy’. Similar views are also expressed by Amory Starr, who says that ‘globalisation works only for the rich. ... The economic and political system promoted by globalisation is not only morally bankrupt; it is no longer credible as economics.’

Around four decades ago, Marshall McLuhan (1964) argued that ‘man now lives in a global-sized village, and is returning to the values and perceptions of a preliterate culture.’ At the dawn of the third millennium, we are actually experiencing a situation where peoples and their cultures are exhibiting increasingly hybrid characteristics. Although, it can be argued that much of this is not new, as human beings have always been engaged in a process of interaction throughout history, today’s ‘globalisation’ is different, primarily because of the speed with which it is taking place. It is driven by new forms of connectivity, such as the internet, and is governed by different rules, or, in many cases, by no rules at all. At present, we are unable to assess the impact of instant communication across national borders or its effect on culture, politics, economy, finance, ecology and human socio-psychological environment. This is due to the fact that the history of this phenomenon is not of substantia11ength to be able to accurately measure its impact on mankind. However, one factor has emerged that holds significant repercussions for us all, and that is the fact that, the rapid changes which have occurred in the last decade of the twentieth century, have all arisen as a result of the modernisation process and its consequent destabilisation effects.

At the eve of the 21st century, Hobsbawm argued that: ‘G10balisation means wider, but not necessarily equal, access for all and will lead to an increase in disparity between “the haves and the have nots.” For many, there is an urge to resist the process and take refuge in the illusory comforts of nationalism, fundamentalism or other such “isms”. As a result of the rapidly growing market, huge potential benefits are on offer for some, whilst at the same time incredible perils befall many nations of the developing world.’ As mentioned above, globalisation is not a new phenomenon but what is new is the extent and pace at which global integration has taken place, particularly during the last two decades. This trend has been most evident in the post-war era, but can be seen to have existed even before that in the early period of the twentieth century. The process of globalisation has accelerated with the restructuring of the global capital economy but the present struggle can be understood as a resumption of previous trends that ended abruptly with the First World War and the great depression. The creation of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT), in the early post-war period, was an institutional attempt to begin negotiations, aimed at lowering tariff and trade barriers. This institution was eventually replaced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995, which continued to operate with the same remit. In this context, globalisation has restructured the role of the state, which has become merely a vehicle for transmitting global market discipline onto the domestic economy. It has given increased power to capital investors, multinational firms and global financial institutions. …..

The Many Faces of
Political Islam


Abstract

The paper argues that the multiple manifestations of political Islam are primarily determined by discrete contexts, that the vast majority of Islamist movements operate peacefully within constitutional constraints, and that democratization leads not only to the moderation of Islamist political formations as they are forced to build coalitions but also to their fracturing into various parties that pursue different agendas. It will also look back into history to argue that the political and religious realms have for all practical purposes remained separate in the classical age of Islam and that the contemporary manifestations of political Islam are products of the encounter between Europe and the Muslim world during the colonial period. It will argue further that the nature of regimes in the Muslim world and the general thrust of American policy augment the legitimacy and popularity of Islamist movements among the populations of predominantly Muslim countries.

Complete Paper

This paper is based on the forthcoming book Political Islam Demystifies and will attempt to summarize some of the main arguments that is made and supported in greater detail in the book. However, before such a discussion can begins the author would like to define the term “political Islam”. At the most general level, adherents of political Islam believe that “Islam as a body of faith has something important to say about how politics and society should be ordered in the contemporary Muslim world and implemented in some fashion.” While correct as a broad sweep generalization, this is too nebulous a formulation for it to act as an analytical guide capable of explaining political activity undertaken in the name of Islam. A more precise, and analytically more useful, definition of political Islam describes it as “a form of instrumentalization of Islam by individuals, groups and organizations that pursue political objectives. It provides political responses to today’s societal challenges by imagining a future, the foundations for which rest on reappropriated, reinvented concepts borrowed from the Islamic tradition.” …..

The Crisis with Iran: Is it Just about
Iran’s Nuclear Capability?


Executive Summary

In almost every respect, the current crisis over Iran’s nuclear capability is a repeat of that which led to the current catastrophic war with Iraq. From the threats and ultimatums, to indications that the US is prepared to engage in “pre-emptive” strikes against Iran, we are witnessing a replay of the script for the Iraq War. What is different, however, is that this time the Bush Administration is considering the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons.

Physicians for Global Survival is deeply alarmed by any suggestion that nuclear sites might be targeted militarily. Whether such attacks are aerial or subterranean, conventional or nuclear, the consequences would be catastrophic not only for Iran and its neighbours, but for the whole world. Research done by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and Physicians for Social Responsibility, on the health implications of the use of earth penetrating nuclear weapons, concludes that even a weapon with a yield one-tenth of those used on Hiroshima or Nagasaki could “result in fatal doses of radiation to tens of thousands of victims”.

Using Pentagon computer models, the Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that a one megaton nuclear bunker buster targeting Esfahan would spread radioactivity as far as 1000 miles to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India; killing as many as 3 million people and exposing another 35 million to cancer-causing radiation. The B61-11 bunker buster currently being considered for use, while having a lesser yield, would still result in a significant loss of life. If an attack involved multiple strikes against nuclear sites, the consequences could exceed these estimates. In addition to creating a human health catastrophe, vast regions could be turned into a radioactive wasteland for thousands of years.

As physicians, we decry in the strongest of terms any military action whether conventional or nuclear. No political goal can justify death, suffering and destruction on this scale. We have already witnessed the horrific effects of nuclear weapons use and nuclear technology gone awry. The 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor sent toxic clouds encircling the planet dispersing radiation over people throughout the world.

It is deeply alarming that the current Canadian government has yet to reflect Canada’s traditional opposition to nuclear weapons and their use by distancing itself from the US position.

Military strikes must be ruled out. Immediate efforts to establish a dialogue between Iran and the US could take the form of a high level commission under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. Relations between the two countries have been hostile since they severed ties in 1979 following the revolution that abruptly ended US influence and control in the country. Iran must be urged to place a moratorium on its uranium enrichment efforts in exchange for security assurances from the United States and Israel that it will not be threatened or attacked. Work on the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East could create an effective disarmament tool and confidence building measure in that troubled region. …..

The Logic Behind
Sino-Iranian Cooperation


While it is certainly true that today the United States, in the words of the Bush administration, “may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran,” this danger has not emerged in isolation. Serious foreign assistance has helped to nurture Iran’s nuclear quest and expand its regional ambitions. And currently perhaps Tehran’s greatest pillar of support is its ally in the East—the People’s Republic of China.

Ever since the start of international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program some three years ago, China has worked actively to dilute the effectiveness of any global response. It has done so initially through its vociferous opposition to Iran’s referral to the United Nations Security Council, and more recently by its resistance to the imposition of multilateral sanctions against Tehran.

China’s obstructionism has been driven by two primary considerations. The first is energy. China’s runaway economic growth has brought with it a voracious appetite for energy. In 2003, the PRC surpassed Japan to become the world’s second largest consumer of oil and petroleum products. Since then, China’s oil consumption has continued to grow at an unprecedented rate; as of mid-2006, oil demand was projected to reach 7.4 million barrels daily that year—a half-a-million barrel per day increase over 2005 levels. By 2020, according to some estimates, Beijing’s energy deficit could top eight million barrels per day.

All of this has made Tehran an indispensable energy partner for the PRC. Home to approximately 10 percent of proven world oil reserves and the world’s second largest reserves of natural gas, Iran is a bona fide energy superpower. Beijing’s engagement with—and investment in—the Islamic Republic has reflected this reality. In 2004, the two countries came to terms on two massive accords, estimated to be worth some US$100 billion over the next twenty-five years, granting Chinese firms extensive rights to develop Iranian oil and natural gas reserves. A flurry of additional deals has followed, and today Tehran and Beijing boast an energy partnership valued at some US$120 billion or more.

The results have been dramatic; Iran has emerged as one of China’s largest oil suppliers, as long ago as 2002 already accounting for more than 15 percent of the PRC’s annual oil imports. This degree of economic dependence, moreover, is poised to deepen considerably as energy projects now underway between the two countries begin to come online over the next several years.

The benefits of this partnership are hardly one-sided, however. Iranian officials remember well the experience of the late 1990s, when low world oil prices and international isolation brought their country’s economy to the brink of collapse. As a result, the Islamic Republic has embarked upon an ambitious effort in recent years to diplomatically and economically engage foreign nations, more often than not through its chief export commodity: oil. The burgeoning partnership between Tehran and Beijing is a testament to its successes on that front. …..

The New
Iraq strategy


President George W Bush’s bold decision to order a “surge” of some 20,000 American troops for Iraq has brought the debate over the war to a defining stage. There will not be opportunity for another reassessment.

The Baker-Hamilton commission has powerfully described the impasse on the ground. It is the result of cumulative choices — some of them enumerated by the president — in which worthy objectives and fundamental American values clashed with regional and cultural realities.

The important goal of modernising US armed forces led to inadequate troop levels for the military occupation of Iraq. The reliance on early elections as the key to political evolution, in a country lacking a sense of national identity, caused the newly enfranchised to vote almost exclusively for sectarian parties, deepening historic divisions into chasms. The understandable — but, in retrospect, premature — strategy of replacing American with indigenous forces deflected US forces from a military mission; nor could it deal with the most flagrant shortcoming of Iraqi forces, which is to define what the Iraqi forces are supposed to fight for and under what banner.

These circumstances have merged into an almost perfect storm of mutually reinforcing crises: Within Iraq, the sectarian militias are engaged in civil war or so close to it as to make little practical difference. The conflict between Shias and Sunnis goes back 1,400 years. In most Middle Eastern countries, Shia minorities coexist precariously with Sunni majorities. The civil war in Iraq threatens to usher in a cycle of domestic upheavals and a war between Shia and Sunni states, with a high potential of drawing in countries from outside the region. In addition, the Kurds of Iraq seek full autonomy from both Sunnis and Shias; their independence would raise the prospect of intervention from Turkey and possibly Iran.

The war in Iraq is part of another war that cuts across the Shia-Sunni issue: the assault on the international order conducted by radical groups in both Islamic sects. Functioning as states within the states and by brutal demonstrations of the inability of established governments to protect their populations, such organisations as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Mahdi army in Iraq and the Al Qaeda groups all over the Middle East seek to reassert an Islamic identity submerged, in their view, by Western secular institutions and values. Any enhancement of radical Islamist self-confidence therefore threatens all the traditional states of the region, as well as others with significant Islamic populations, from Indonesia through India to Western Europe. The most important target is the United States, as the most powerful country of the West and the indispensable component of any attempt to build a new world order. …..

Iraq’s New
Political Map

Summary

Ø In 2006, a new group of Iraqi leaders came to power through elections. In the absence of strong bureaucratic and military institutions, the qualities and skills they bring to bear and their capacity and willingness to cooperate, especially across ethnic and sectarian lines, will determine whether Iraq collapses into chaos or moves forward toward stability.

Ø Three characteristics of these leaders are striking. First is how new and inexperienced most of them are. Rapid political mobility and change in ministers was prevalent in previous cabinets, but it has intensified in this government. This degree of change has made it difficult for leaders to acquire experience in national governance, create institutions, establish networks across ministries, and cultivate constituencies outside the central government.

Ø Second, the current leadership is still dominated by “outsiders”—exiles who have spent much of their adult life outside Iraq, or by Kurds who have lived in the north, cut off from the rest of Iraq. Most of these exiles have spent time in Middle Eastern, not Western, societies. “Insiders” who lived in Saddam’s Iraq and endured its hardships are still a minority. This fault line between insiders and outsiders helps explain some of the lack of cohesion in the government.

Ø Third, and most important, many of the current leaders have spent the best part of their adult life engaged in opposition to the Saddam regime, often in underground or militant activities. Those who had any affiliation with, or simply worked under, the old regime have still found it very difficult to gain entry. The result has been a profound distrust between the new leadership and those with some association with the old regime. The continuation of the insurgency has helped this political struggle metamorphose into an ethnic and sectarian war.

Ø A fourth parameter is emerging as significant: the development of political parties and groups, often accompanied by militias. While ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq have grabbed most of the headlines, it is these parties and their constituencies that are shaping the political agenda and are likely to be determinative in the future.

Ø The most important of these parties now occupy seats, not only in the assembly but in the government. They include the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Da’wah, and the Sadrist movement in the dominant Shi’ah United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the Kurdistan Alliance, Tawafuq (Iraqi National Accord) among the Sunnis, and the weaker Iraqiyyah (Iraqi) ticket among the secularists. Each of these parties has different positions on issues and different constituencies to satisfy; in a number of cases these cross ethnic and sectarian divides.

Ø Among the most important of these common interests are (a) economic development, (b) oil legislation, (c) management of water resources and the environment, and (d) the role of religion and the state. Even more divisive issues, such as federalism and a timetable for withdrawal of multinational forces, find allies on one or another side of these issues among different ethnic and sectarian groups.

Ø This suggests that despite ethnic and sectarian strife, a new political dynamic could be built in Iraq by focusing on one problem at a time and dealing with it by encouraging party, not communal, negotiations. Although such agreements will take time, they may provide a means of gradually building much-needed trust and a network of people and institutions that can work across ethnic and sectarian boundaries. Such a process will have a far better outcome over the long term—an intact, more durable Iraqi state, than the ethnic and sectarian divisions now being pushed by events on the ground and by some outside policy analysts. …..

Nine Essential Points for Talking
About the War on Terrorism


Americans hear conflicting messages about how to think and talk about terrorism. As a result, the message of freedom and justice is often muted or muddled. Americans can do better. There are core ideas that should serve as a taproot for a consensus on how to under*stand and describe the enemy— and ultimately how to defeat them. Specifically, we should:

1. Remember that winning the long war is all about win*ning the struggle of ideas. Such an effort requires (1) understand*ing the enemy, (2) delegitimizing its view of the world, (3) offering a credible alter*native, and (4) demonstrating the will to prevail in the long war. Americans have a role to play in all four tasks. Using the right words and ideas can help to speed the course to victory.

2. Reject calls for appeasement. Believing that concessions will stem transnational terrorism would be a grave mistake. Osama bin Laden, for example, has promoted attacks by arguing that the West is a “paper tiger” with little stomach for prevailing in a long war. Appeasement would only reinforce this belief. One act of appeasement is the failure to call this conflict “war.” Terrorists believe that they are at war with us. From their perspective, our failure to acknowledge this fact is an act of cowardice and weakness. Refusing to recognize that we are at war only encourages the enemy to be more warlike.

3. Acknowledge that there is no single enemy. Various terrorist networks pose different kinds of local, regional, and glo*bal threats. For instance, while al-Qaeda is the most well known of the terrorist groups, many differ*ent terrorist networks are at work around the world, including ter*rorist groups in the Indian sub*continent, which have carried out attacks in India and Pakistan, and Hezbollah, which has killed hun*dreds of Americans and struck in Europe and Latin America as well as in the Middle East. The distinct threats posed by different terrorist groups require a differentiated U.S. policy custom-made for each group, not a one-size-fits-all approach. Wars and words should be used to divide, weaken, and defeat terrorist groups. …..

From Hegemony to Loose Bipolarity: The Evolving
Geopolitics of the US, EU and China


How will global politics evolve from the United State’s seemingly slipping hegemony? Some observers believe that geopolitics is evolving into a system with three great powers – the US, China and the European Union (EU) - over the next several decades, with Japan and India playing secondary roles. While relations between these countries will vary according to specific issues, we contend that the overall relationship will lean towards the formation of a broadly bipolar geopolitical structure with China and the EU on one side, and with the US, Japan, and India on the other.

Responding to China’s Rise

Although the mishandling of post-invasion Iraq has diminished the US’ standing, its economic and military might remain dominant. However, China’s rise may undercut US influence in certain areas, particularly within Asia. Unsurprisingly, the US is deeply concerned with containing China’s hard and soft power influence in the region. Indeed, American foreign policy towards China, as well as its focus on terrorism, seems likely to guide the US’ strategic role in Asia – and globally – for some time to come. Although these two countries are in a co-dependent trade relationship – which could be weakened as Chinese, Asian, and European consumers buy more and as Americans spend less – the US and China are clearly at odds over energy issues and security policy in Asia. Indeed, the US sees China as its main threat to global hegemony, and for this reason we view these countries as the two dominant powers driving the structure of geopolitics over the next several decades. The EU may become increasingly unified politically as a result of environmental, energy, and security issues; however, its political arrangements will undoubtedly remain too fragmented to permit decisive, unified foreign policy actions in the realm of hard power issues. …..

American, Russian and European Interests in
Central Asia and the Caucasus


The United States, Russia and Europe have significant interests in the Caucasus and Central Asia. These interests coincide in some areas and differ in others. The likelihood that all three will continue to play an important role in these regions provides a compelling rationale for them to reconcile their differences and develop a common agenda that would serve the interests of all concerned. Such a modus operandi has proven elusive. The ability of the United States, Russia and Europe to reach a consensus on Central Asia and the Caucasus could play a big role in their overall relationship.

Russian Interests in the Caucasus and Central Asia

Russia has a much bigger stake than Europe or the United States in the lands it controlled until fifteen years ago. It remains the most important power for both the Caucasus and Central Asia. It also views the two regions as to its security, as well as the locus of its most important economic interests.

For Russia, the Caucasus is the soft underbelly. It has fought two wars—in 1994 and 1999—in separatist Chechnya. The conflict continues to simmer, threatening the fragile status quo in the entire North Caucasus, which lies within Russia proper, but borders on independent Georgia and Azerbaijan. The North Caucasus region is crisscrossed by ethnic and religious fault lines and plagued by poverty. For more than a decade Russia’s security establishment has repeatedly blamed Georgia and Azerbaijan as contributors to the North Caucasus insecurity. …..

European Union as an
Emerging Superpower

Research Article

The European Union consists of 27 sovereign states, which - from a core of six founding members in the 1950s - have built the world’s largest multinational customs union. For the purpose of this article, it is considered to be a unit. The members of the European Union have transferred to it considerable sovereignty, more than that of any other supra-national organisation. Since the United States is the sole survivor of the bipolar superpower race during the Cold War, the EU’s status as a superpower depends largely on comparisons to the US.

Conventional thinking holds that the EU cannot be a superpower because it is not a united state and lacks a large unified military. However, John McCormick argues that neither full political integration nor military power is required for the European Union to wield international influence, in the way a traditional superpower would do. Others see anaemic military capability and investment compared to the United States, along with demographic and economic trends that make it even less likely the EU will close the increasing gap in military power.

POINTS IN FAVOUR OF THE EU AS A SUPERPOWER

Economic Power

At Purchasing Power Parity the EU combined GDP is slightly larger than that of the United States, according to EUobserver data: in currency terms EP Gross Product in 2006 was €10.9 trillion. The EU is also around the same size as the US in terms of trading power, with both the EU and the USA accounting for a similar share of global imports and exports. This power has encouraged the EU to assert itself more aggressively in trade disputes with China over its textile exports, and with the United States over issues as varied as trade with Cuba, trade in bananas, steel tariffs, and industrial subsidies. Thirteen of the EU’s members have adopted the euro, widely considered to be the only global currency that will challenge the dominance of the US dollar. Some multinationals from the EU have joined their US and Japanese competitors in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s biggest companies. …..

India as an
Emerging Superpower

Research Article

The Republic of India is considered as one of the possible emerging superpowers of the world. This potential is attributed due to several indicators, the primary ones being its demographic trends and a rapidly expanding economy. However the country suffers from many economic, social, and political problems that it must overcome before it can be considered a superpower. It is also not yet influential on the international stage as compared to the United States or the former Soviet Union.

Factors in Favour

Geographic factors

Location - India, the 7th largest nation by area, lies at the north-central region of Indian Ocean - a zone with unprecedented potential for growth in the scale of transoceanic commerce, with many Eurasian and increasingly Afro-Asian sea-trade routes passing through or close to Indian territorial waters. The subcontinent’s land and water resources, though strained, is yet sustaining its massive population.

According to Lord Curzon of the British Empire:

The central position of India, its magnificent resources, its teeming multitude of men, its great trading harbours, its reserve of military strength, supplying an army always in a high state of efficiency and capable of being hurled at a moment’s notice upon any point either of Asia or Africa--all these are assets of precious value. On the West, India must exercise a predominant influence over the destinies of Persia and Afghanistan; on the north, it can veto any rival in Tibet; on the north-east . . . it can exert great pressure upon China, and it is one of the guardians of the autonomous existence of Siam. Possession of India gave the British Empire its global reach.

Possible future advantage of location -

Energy - In the future, the world is expected to enter from the “fossil fuel age”, and perhaps “nuclear energy age”, into the “renewable-energy age” or even further into the “fusion power age”, if and whenever these technologies become economically sustainable. Being a region in the sunny tropical belt, the Indian Subcontinent could greatly benefit from a renewable energy trend, as it has the ideal combination of both - high solar insolation and a big consumer base density. For example, considering the costs of energy consumed for temperature control (a major factor influencing a regions energy intensity) and the fact that - cooling load requirements, unlike heating, are roughly in phase with the sun’s intensity, cooling from the excessive solar radiation could make great energetic (and hence economic) sense in the subcontinent, whenever the required technology becomes competitively cheaper. India also has 25% of the world’s thorium resources. …..

US and EU Relations with Pakistan: Problems and Prospects

Western Strategy towards Pakistan: Filling the Empty Slot


Pakistan, the empty slot within Western strategy

Over the last fifty years, the West has developed a rather simple, but useful politico-strategic imagination of world politics. It divides the international system into friendly and not so friendly nations, allocating single slots for individual countries, depending on their current geopolitical and economic importance, ideological orientation, political behaviour, as well as other criteria. This well-founded imagination) does not simply serve Western interests. It provides a useful mental map for anyone familiar with world politics. It is, after all, a flexible scheme that has been able to accommodate for ideological conversions, dissent among Western allies on particular state-objects, and the integration of newcomers into the Western camp.

This Western imagination is still at work today. It has survived the end of the Cold War, and it has been able to accommodate new elites form former “hostile” states. And despite the disagreement over the Iraq war, it has provided a useful framework to deal with new threats like terrorism and WMD proliferation. There are, however, one or two countries that do not fit into it. In these cases, there is not just disagreement on how to deal with them, but a lack of clarity on the subject matter itself: Whom exactly are we facing? Within Western post-911 (or post-cold war) discourse, one country that occupies such an empty slot in the Western politico-strategic imagination is certainly Pakistan.

Consider: Countries like Iran, North Korea, Russia and Japan are culturally and politically not part of the West, but it is clear if and to which degree they share Western aspirations and values. Plainly speaking, it is obvious which side they are on. If, as I will argue throughout this paper, this is not the case with Pakistan, then not because of a split among the Western allies according to their interests, but because of a general uncertainty of Pakistan’ s “real” intentions, strategies, principles, characteristics. Policy makers and analysts in the West never seem to be sure what to make of the country of 160 million inhabitants that at the same time supports the war on terror (by costly military campaigns on its own soil, for instance), undermines the nuclear proliferation regime, supports insurgents in Indian Kashmir and, arguably, still considers “moderate” Taliban a legitimate political force in a democratic Afghanistan. To be sure, no major Western government is prepared to admit nowadays that it has no policy towards Pakistan. There are surely a variety of tactical approaches and some of them quite successful, but is there an overall strategy?

To illustrate the uncertainty about Pakistan, four cases are mentioned in favour.

1. Regime type and political culture: Ever since General Pervez Musharrafs 1999 coup d’etat – which was welcomed by a substantial part of the population, particularly by the middle classes – there have been worries whether Pakistan will remain defiant to democracy and might even become the spearhead for a broader tendency against democratization, or whether this has been just a temporary setback. Since then, Pakistan’s limited exercises in democracy – or rather: exercises in limited democracy –have not given us a clue. Pre-election “engineering” by security agencies overshadowed the 2002 parliamentary elections for the national and provincial assemblies, according to EU observers. The presidential “referendum” of that year is viewed as an outright farce. The local elections of 2000 and 2005 were perhaps more fair, but they were held on a non-party basis – in an apparent attempt to weaken the power of the provincial as well as the national legislators.3 Prime Minster Shaukat Aziz, a former international bank official, is popular in the West, but he lacks support in Pakistan’s domestic constituency; and he has only limited power. What is more: Interlocutors in Pakistan still express their doubts whether the people of Pakistan are fit to govern themselves, particularly in a time of terror. -

2. Ideology and imagination: The question is: Should we consider Pakistan an “enlightened” and “moderate” modern Muslim nation, as President Musharraf suggests, or do we face an Islamic State whose ideological foundation and moral-legal disposition militates against Western values? News accounts about “honour killings” and attempts by conservative religious sections to introduce a “vice and virtue” police force (in the North-West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan) in order to root out un-Islamic behaviour indicate at least a deep-seated clash of civilizations within Pakistan itself. Even Musharraf, the military leader who has reversed the pro-Taliban policies of his predecessors and who has made “enlightened moderation” his political credo, regularly stresses Pakistan’s genuine commitment to “freedom struggles” in Palestine, Bosnia and, of course, Kashmir, as well as to the Islamic cause in general. The West demonstrates very little knowledge concerning the Pakistani people’s vision, in particular of the middle class who should to be the driving force behind democratization and liberal reform.-

3. Strategy: Some analysts doubt whether General Musharraf is sincere in his “unstinted support” in the War on Terror. And even if this were the case, the question arises if there are elements within the government and the army who still support the Taliban, or even Osama bin Laden. And if they do: Are they simply “rogue” elements, or should their actions be interpreted as an integral part of a long-term strategy that still builds upon the vision of strategic depth (through dominance over Afghanistan) vis-à-vis India? Furthermore: Even if we can trust Pakistan in this regard, are its long-term strategic interests in an Asia that, possibly, will be shaped by a rivalry between the United States and its allies on the one side and China and its allies on the other, a rivalry that some decision-makers in Pakistan even today call the “New Cold War”, compatible with Western interests? -

4. Geopolitical position: Nothing seems certain, not even Pakistan’s “correct” geopolitical location. Ever since the “Broader Middle East” has been coined as a concept and a strategic tool to reshape the Islamic-Arab World, it has been unclear whether Pakistan should be considered part of it. Since it seems to share many features with Arab states (low level of education, aborted democratization, weak political culture, involvement in armed conflicts) should Pakistan be lumped together with the Muslim countries in the Middle East? Or should priority be given to the historical and structural factors that make Pakistan, as a successor-state to the British Raj, an integral part of South Asia? Should Pakistan envisage its future in accordance with India, the new hegemonic power of the Indian sub-continent? Should the West, therefore, give priority to the solution of the Kashmir conflict over its attempts to stabilize and democratize Afghanistan? …..

New Tremors
in Pak-US Ties?


One of the first pieces of legislation being considered by the Democrat-dominated Congress is a comprehensive bill whose focus is Pakistan – both in the context of its internal and external policies. The bill expresses concern with Islamabad’s current policies, demands revisions in them and lays down markers as to when, where and how it seeks these changes.

While it may appear that the issue of terrorism, especially in the context of Afghanistan is the main concern of the authors of the bill, other issues such as nuclear proliferation, democracy and human rights figure in it as well. Most astutely, the Democrats have pegged this legislation to the implementation of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act, 2007, aimed at strengthening US national security and foreign policy.

The proposed legislation acknowledges that “since September 11, 2001, Pakistan has been an important partner in helping the US remove the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and combating international terrorism in the frontier provinces”. Nevertheless, “there remain a number of critical issues that threaten to disrupt the relationship between the US and Pakistan, undermine international security and destabilise Pakistan”. The bill also recognises Pakistan’s importance in the war on terror and grants the US president the power to forge a “strategic partnership” with Pakistan. …..

WTO: Challenges
and Misconceptions


Importance of Global trading system: Real GDP of world (annual % change) stood at 3.1, 4.1, 5.3.4.9 and 5.1 (projected) for 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 respectively (State Bank of Pakistan).

Expansion of world output has continued to show improvement and particularly ‘developing countries have contributed to the fast pace of global growth, with strong investment dynamics and overall growth rate averaging about 6% for the group as a whole’ (UNCTAD) whereas World Bank predicts the growth rate at 7% hence importance of fair and predictable trading system cannot be overemphasised.

The Following table shows growth pattern for 2005 and 2006, 2007and 2008 (projected). Trade is one of the engines of the growth, investment and facilitator of development but it is not the only tool to correct imbalances, reduce (!) poverty and ensure better and prosperous future for the human kind.

In economic terms, growth and development, although very much intertwined and interrelated, are relatively two different economic concepts and categories, thus importance and limitations of WTO, a multilateral trading system with emphasis on MFN- (most favoured nation) status- concept should be calculated in correct context.

In the following paragraphs one will examine the opportunities and challenges being thrown by WTO, a young niece of Bretton Wood sisters- World Bank and IMF; and impending serious threat of its probable evolvement into one more League of Nation, General Assembly and into a ‘table’ around which people sit, negotiate and announce the adjournments.

Hence, official announcement of suspension of Doha Development Agenda (round) in Geneva in July 2006 must serve as warning and wake up call for all interested particularly for so called developing (and least developed) countries. The ‘table’ (as described in 3rd edition of Understanding the WTO-side note of chapter one) has once again revealed its scope and limitations.

PRUDENCE As things are changing and are changing at a fast pace; science and information and communication technologies, including present and future modes of physical transport, have turned into the objective agents of change and are destined to change the face of the world within the next couple of decades.

On the one hand ICT is moving ahead exponentially by leaps and bounds, whereas at the same time getting cheap and cheaper, its accessibility is increasing day by day, it is progressively narrowing the (digital) divide between haves and have-nots of such tools and technologies thus generating potential of new type of services, goods and rules of trade too, hence scope and challenges of WTO should be studied also in that perspective.

Slogans of minimum fulfilment of biological needs of human beings, including roti (food), kapra (clothing) and makan (shelter) and reduction of poverty have not remained that relevant as present level of human civilisation and future trends demand for equal opportunities at individual, group, community, nation, country and international level, hence one would like to comment on history, substance, present crisis, misconceptions and future challenges of WTO in this regard along with an elaboration on relevance of local and domestic aspects relating to our relationship with WTO..
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