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Old Monday, May 30, 2011
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Default World Affairs (Important Articles)

Chomsky on Oil and the Israel Lobby

By
M. Shahid Alam


In the slow evolution of US relations with Israel since 1948, as the latter mutated from a strategic liability to a strategic asset, Israel and its Jewish allies in the United States have always occupied the driver’s seat.

President Truman had shepherded the creation of Israel in 1947 not because the American establishment saw it as a strategic asset; this much is clear. “No one,” writes Cheryl Rubenberg, “not even the Israelis themselves, argues that the United States supported the creation of the Jewish state for reasons of security or national interest.”(1) Domestic politics, in an election year, was the primary force behind President Truman’s decision to support the creation of Israel. In addition, the damage to US interests due to the creation of Israel – although massive – was not immediate. This was expected to unfold slowly: and its first blows would be borne by the British who were still the paramount power in the region.

Nevertheless, soon after he had helped to create Israel, President Truman moved decisively to appear to distance the United States from the new state. Instead of committing American troops to protect Israel, when it fought against five Arab armies, he imposed an even-handed arms embargo on both sides in the conflict. Had Israel been dismantled [at birth], President Truman would have urged steps to protect the Jewish colonists in Palestine, but he would have accepted a premature end to the Zionist state as fait accompli. Zionist pressures failed to persuade President Truman to lift the arms embargo. Ironically, military deliveries from Czechoslovakia may have saved the day for Israel.

Once Israel had defeated the armies of Arab proto-states and expelled the Palestinians to emerge as an exclusively Jewish colonial-settler state in 1949, these brute facts would work in its favor. Led by the United States, the Western powers would recognize Israel, aware that they would have to defend this liability. At the same time, the humiliation of defeat had given an impetus to Arab nationalists across the region, who directed their anger against Israel and its Western sponsors.

This placed Israel in a strong position to accelerate its transformation into a strategic asset. In tandem with the Jewish lobby in the United States, Israel sought to maximize the assistance it could receive from the West through policies that stoked Arab nationalism; and as Israel's military superiority grew this emboldened it to increase its aggressive posture towards the Arabs. Israel had the power to set in motion a vicious circle that would soon create the Arab threat against which it would defend the West. As a result, at various points during the 1950s, France, the United States, and Britain began to regard Israel as a strategic asset.
America's embrace of Israel did not begin in 1967. Israel's victory in the June War only accelerated a process that had been underway since its creation – even before its creation. Indeed, the Zionists had decided in 1939 to pursue the United States as their new mother country; they knew that they could use the very large and influential population of American Jews to win official US backing for their goals.

This paid off handsomely in 1948; but thereafter, the United States sought to contain the damage that would flow from the creation of Israel. However, these efforts would be self-defeating; the die had been cast. Israel – not the United States – was in the driver’s seat; and Israel would seek to maximize the negative fallout from its creation. As Israel succeeded in augmenting – within limits – the Arab threat to itself and the United States, the Jewish lobby would regain confidence; it would re-organize to reinforce Israel's claim that it was now a strategic asset.

We have here another vicious circle – virtuous, for Israel. The Jewish lobby would gain strength as the Arab-cum-Soviet threat to the Middle East grew. When Israel scaled back the Arab threat in 1967, the Jewish lobby would step in to spend the political capital the Jewish state had garnered in the United States. The Israeli capture of Jerusalem in 1967 also energized the Christian Zionists, who, with encouragement from Jewish Zionists, would organize, enter into Republican politics, and soon become a major ally of the Jewish lobby. The sky was now the limit for Israel and the Zionists in the United States. The special relationship would become more special under every new presidency.

Several writers on the American left have pooh-poohed the charge that the Jewish lobby has been a leading force shaping America's Middle East policy. They argue that the United States has supported Israel because of the convergence of their interests in the region. (2) Oil, primarily Saudi Arabian oil, they maintain correctly, is “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”(3] Incorrectly, however, they insist that this is what has driven US policy towards the Middle East.

A priori, this is an odd position to maintain, since Britain – up until 1948 – had managed quite well to maintain complete control over Middle Eastern oil, a dominance the United States could not sustain ‘despite’ the ‘strategic support’ of Israel. Successively, they argue, Western control over oil came under threat from Arab nationalism and militant Islamism. Israel has demonstrated its strategic value by holding in check and, later, defeating, the Arab nationalist challenge. Since then, Israel has fought the Islamist challenge to US hegemony over the region.

It may be useful to examine Noam Chomsky’s analysis of this relationship, since he enjoys iconic status amongst both liberal and leftists in the United States. Chomsky frames his analysis of ‘causal factors’ behind the special relationship as essentially a choice between “domestic pressure groups” and “US strategic interests.” He finds two limitations in the argument that the “American Jewish community” is the chief protagonist of the special relationship between Israel and the United States.

First, “it underestimates the scope of the “support for Israel,” and second, it overestimates the role of political pressure groups in decision-making.” Chomsky points out that the Israel lobby is “far broader” than the American Jewish community; it embraces liberal opinion, labor leaders, Christian fundamentalists, conservative hawks, and “fervent cold warriors of all stripes.”(4) While this broader definition of the Israel lobby is appropriate, and this is what most users of the term have in mind, Chomsky thinks that the presence of this “far broader” support for Israel diminishes the role that American Jews play in this lobby.

Two hidden assumptions underpin Chomsky’s claim that a broader Israel lobby shifts the locus of lobbying to non-Jewish groups. First, he fails to account for the strong overlap – barring the Christian fundamentalists – between the American Jewish community and the other domestic pressure groups he enumerates. In the United States, this overlap has existed since the early decades of the twentieth century, and increased considerably in the post-War period. It is scarcely to be doubted that Jews hold – and deservedly so – a disproportionate share of the leadership positions in corporations, the labor movement, and those professions that shape public discourse. Starting in the 1980s, the ascendancy of Jewish neoconservatives – together with their think tanks - gave American Jews an equally influential voice in conservative circles. Certainly, the weight of Jewish neoconservative opinion during the early years of President Bush – both inside and outside his administration – has been second to that of none. The substantial Jewish presence in the leadership circles of the other pressure groups undermines Chomsky’s contention that the pro-Israeli group is “far broader” than the American Jewish community.

There is a second problem with Chomsky’s argument. Implicitly, he assumes that the different pro-Israeli groups have existed, acted and evolved independently of each other; alternatively, the impact of the lobbying efforts of these groups is merely additive. This ignores the galvanizing role that Jewish organizations have played in mobilizing Gentile opinion behind the Zionist project. The activism of the American Jews – as individuals and groups - has operated at several levels. Certainly, the leaders of the Zionist movement have directed a large part of their energies to lobbying at the highest levels of official decision-making. At the same time, they have created, and they orchestrate, a layered network of Zionist organizations who have worked very hard to create support for their aims in the broader American civil society.

American Jews have worked through several channels to influence civil society. As growing numbers of American Jews embraced Zionist goals during the 1940s, as their commitment to Zionism deepened, this forced the largest Jewish organizations to embrace Zionist goals. In addition, since their earliest days, the Zionists have created the organizations, allies, networks and ideas that would translate into media, congressional and presidential support for the Zionist project. In addition, since Jewish Americans made up a growing fraction of the activists and leaders in various branches of civil society – the labor, civil rights and feminist movements – it was natural that the major organs of civil society came to embrace Zionist aims. It makes little sense, then, to maintain that the pro-Israeli positions of mainstream American organizations had emerged independently of the activism of the American Jewish community.

Does our contention fail in the case of the Christian Evangelicals because of the absence of Jews in their ranks? In this case, the movement has received the strongest impetus from the ingathering of Jews that has proceeded in Israel since the late nineteenth century. The dispensationalist stream within Protestant Christians in the United States – who believe that the ingathering of Jews in Israel will precede the Second Coming – has been energized by every Zionist success on the ground. They have viewed these successes - the launching of Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, the creation of Israel, the capture of Jerusalem, ‘Judea’ and ‘Samaria’ in 1967 – as so many confirmations of their dispensationalist eschatology. The movement expanded with every Zionist victory. At the same time, it would be utterly naïve to rule out direct relations between the Zionists and the leaders of the evangelical movement. The Zionists have rarely shrunk from accepting support even when it has come from groups with unedifying beliefs.

Noam Chomsky raises a second objection against the ability of the Jewish lobby to influence policy on its own steam. “No pressure group,” he maintains, “will dominate access to public opinion or maintain consistent influence over policy-making unless its aims are close to those of elite elements with real power (emphases added).”(5) One problem with this argument is easily stated. It pits the Jewish lobby as one “pressure group” – amongst many – arrayed against all the others that hold the real power. This equation of the Jewish lobby with a narrowly defined “pressure group” is misleading. We have argued – a position that is well supported by the evidence – that Jewish protagonists of Zionism have worked through many different channels to influence public opinion, the composition of political classes, and political decisions. They work through the organs that shape public opinion to determine what Americans know about Israel, how they think about Israel, and what they can say about it. This is no little Cuban lobby, Polish lobby or Korean lobby. Once we recognize the scale of financial resources the Jewish lobby commands, the array of political forces it can mobilize, and the tools it commands to direct public opinion on the Middle East, we would shrink from calling it a lobby.

Chomsky quickly proceeds to undermine his own argument about “elite elements with real power.” He explains that the “[elite] elements are not uniform in interests or (in the case of shared interests) in tactical judgments; and on some issues, such as this one [policy towards Israel], they have often been divided.”(6) Yet, despite the differences in their interests, their tactics, and their divisions, Chomsky maintains that these “elite elements” have “real power.” Oddly, these “divided” elites – whoever they are – exercise the power of veto over the multi-faceted Jewish lobby with its deep pockets, hierarchical organizations, and influence over key organs of civil society, campaign contributions, popular votes, etc.

Chomsky’s argument shifts again – a second time in the same paragraph – away from “elite elements” to “America's changing conceptions of its political-strategic interests” in the Middle East.(6) This suggests a new theory of the chief determinant of US policy towards Israel. At the heart of these “political-strategic interests” is the oil wealth of the Middle East – and the twin threats to American control over this oil wealth from Arab nationalists and the Soviets. Presumably, Israel protects these “political-strategic interests” by holding the Arabs and the Soviets at bay. Chomsky conveniently forgets that the Arab nationalist threat to US interests in the Middle East was – in large part – the product of Israel's insertion into the region, its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and its aggressive posture towards Arabs since its creation. It is unnecessary to account for the Soviet threat, since they entered the region on the back of Arab nationalist discontent. Indeed, had Israel never been created, it is more than likely that all the states in the Middle East – just like Turkey and Pakistan – would have remained firmly within the Western sphere of influence.

In another attempt to convince his readers that oil has driven US policy towards the Middle East, Chomsky claims that the United States was “committed to win and keep this prize [Saudi oil].” Presumably, the United States could not keep this “prize” without help from Israel.

This argument fails because it ignores history. Starting in 1933, American oil corporations – who later merged to form Aramco – gained exclusive rights to explore, produce and market Saudi oil. Saudi Arabia first acquired a 25 percent ownership stake in Aramco in 1973. Had there emerged an Arab nationalist threat to US control over Saudi oil in the 1950s – in the absence of Israel – the United States could have handled it by establishing one or more military bases in Saudi Arabia or, preferably, in one of the Emirates, since American military presence in Saudi Arabia might inflame Islamic sentiments. Far from helping entrench American control of Saudi oil, Israel, by radicalizing Arab nationalism, gave Saudi Arabia the excuse to first gain a 25 percent stake in Aramco and then nationalize it in 1988.

Chomsky claims that the United States was committed to winning and keeping the “stupendous” oil prize. This claim is not supported by the results that America's Middle Eastern policy has produced on the ground over the years. If the United States was indeed committed to this goal, it would have pursued a Middle East policy that could be expected to maximize – with the lowest risks of failure – the access of US oil corporations to exploration, production and distribution rights over oil in this region. This is not the case.

In creating, aiding and arming Israel, the United States has followed a policy that could easily have been foreseen to produce, as it did produce, exactly the opposite effects. It gave a boost to Arab nationalism, radicalized it, and led within a few years to the Arab nationalist takeover of three of the four key states in the Arab world. In turn, this contributed to the nationalization of oil wealth even in those Arab countries that remained clients of the United States, not to speak of countries that were taken over by Arab nationalists , who excluded the US oil corporations from this industry altogether. In addition, America's Middle Eastern policy converted the Middle East into a leading arena of wars. It also became a source of deep tensions between the US and the Soviets, since US partisanship of Israel forced the Arab nationalist regimes to ally themselves with the Soviet Union. In the October War of 1973, the United States provoked the Arab nations – because of its decision to re-supply the Israeli army during the war – to impose a costly oil embargo against the United States. In opposition to the pleadings of its oil corporations, the United States has also prevented them from doing business with three oil-producing nations in the Middle East – Iran, Iraq and Libya.(8)
If oil had been driving America's Middle East policy, we should have seen the fingerprints of the oil lobby all over this policy. In recent decades, according to Mearsheimer and Walt, the oil lobby has directed its efforts “almost entirely on their commercial interests rather than on broader aspects of foreign policy.” They focus most of their lobbying efforts on getting the best deals on tax policies, government regulations, drilling rights, etc. Even the AIPAC bears witness to this. In the early 1980s, Morris J. Amitay, former executive director of AIPAC, noted, “We rarely see them [oil corporations] lobbying on foreign policy issues…In a sense, we have the field to ourselves.”(9)

Why does it matter whether it is oil or the Jewish lobby that determines US policy towards Israel and the Middle East?

The answer to this question has important consequences. It will determine who is in charge, and, therefore, who should be targeted by people who oppose Israel's war mongering and its destruction of Palestinian society. If US policy is driven by America's strategic interests – and Israel is a strategic US asset – opposing this policy will not be easy. If Israel keeps the oil flowing, keeps it cheap, and keeps down the Arabs and Islamists – all this for a few billion dollars a year – that is a bargain. In this case, opponents of this policy face an uphill task. Sure, they can document the immoral consequences of this policy – as Noam Chomsky and others do. Such moral arguments, however, will not cut much ice. What are the chances that Americans can be persuaded to sacrifice their “stupendous prize” because it kills a few tens of thousands of Arabs?

On the other hand, if the Jewish lobby drives US policy towards the Middle East, there is some room for optimism. Most importantly, the opponents of this policy have to dethrone the reigning paradigm, which claims that Israel is a strategic asset. In addition, it is necessary to focus attention on each element of the real costs - economic, political and moral – that Israel imposes on the United States. Winning these intellectual arguments will be half the battle won; this will persuade growing numbers of Americans to oppose a policy because it hurts them. Simultaneously, those who seek justice for the Palestinians must organize to oppose the power of the Israel lobby and take actions that force Israel to bear the moral, economic and political consequences of its destructive policies in the Middle East.

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Default Worldwide reactions to Osama’s death.....

Worldwide reactions to Osama’s death
By
Musa Khan Jalalzai


People ask why Pakistan considers non-state actors like the Afghan Taliban strategic assets, why it allows terror networks on its soil and why the country provides terror-training facilities to such groups

The sudden death of Osama bin Laden has left devastating effects on the jihadi networks of the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban, including the Punjabi Taliban, in the UK, US and the Arab world, but this does not mean that al Qaeda and the Taliban insurgents will end their terror operations. His death is very irksome for the extremist elements in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. In London, radical clerics repudiated the method of the operation against him in a protest outside the US embassy. A British Pakistani extremist, Anjum Chaudhry, said that he was going to lead the ‘funeral prayers’ of bin Laden and call on the US government to return the body of Osama to his family.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, five suspected terrorists were arrested near a UK nuclear plant trying to take pictures of the nuclear installations. In an online message, al Qaeda vowed to carry out revenge attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan over the killing of Osama bin Laden. Funeral prayers for bin Laden and protests against the US violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty were held in various cities. On May 3, 2011, members of the Punjabi Taliban and Jamaat-ud-Dawa held bin Laden’s funeral in Karachi, Pakistan. In Indian Occupied Kashmir, members of Kashmiri extremist groups offered special prayers on Friday for the al Qaeda chief. In Indonesia, a Muslim fundamentalist organisation, the Islamic Defenders Front, held a prayer service. In Afghanistan, the reaction focused on the criticism of Pakistan. President Hamid Karzai said the death of Osama in Abbottabad proved Kabul’s stance. Afghan intelligence claimed they had helped the US pinpoint Osama’s hideout in Pakistan.

Notwithstanding all these reactions, most states in the Middle East kept quiet. Experts say that the death of Osama bin Laden will not affect the terror operations of al Qaeda across the globe, but how US Special Forces tackled the operation and how they treated the dead body of Osama bin Laden is being considered as wrong. The US violated the principles of Islamic tradition by burying Osama’s dead body at sea. Muslim and non-Muslim leaders strongly reacted.

Former chancellor of West Germany Helmut Schmidt told German TV that, “It was quite clearly a violation of international law.” According to an Australian human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, “It is not justice.” The man had been subjected to summary execution. Pakistan’s foreign secretary said that the American action involved legal issues concerning the violation of sovereignty and that these should be addressed for the sake of global peace and stability. Osama bin Laden has died, but the alleged connivance of Islamabad put on spike the reputation of the Pakistan Army, ISI and the government.

The Pakistan Army and the ISI have been critical of the deployment of a large number of American intelligence contractors in Pakistan’s cities in the past. They reluctantly warned that if the US carried out any more raids inside Pakistan (like the one that killed Osama bin Laden) in future, it would result in a terrible catastrophe. Moreover, Pakistan’s army chief warned that more such raids would not be tolerated and would lead to a review of our cooperation with the US. But the sudden death of Osama bin Laden has triggered a barrage of questions about whether the Pakistan Army and the ISI knew of the assault or not; the CIA chief ended the confusion by confirming that Pakistan was neither consulted nor even informed about the Abbottabad raid.

In a series of reactions to this incident, newspapers in Pakistan carried sharp editorials against the army and ISI reaction. The statement of the Pakistani prime minister that the entire world should share the blame for the intelligence failure was repudiated in the western media. The situation is going to get worse in Pakistan. People ask why Pakistan considers non-state actors like the Afghan Taliban strategic assets, why it allows terror networks on its soil and why the country provides terror-training facilities to such groups. Intellectual and diplomatic circles understand that this policy of indirect interference of the Pakistani government and the army has brought nothing positive but has only brought shame. Destabilising neighbouring states through these irregular forces has badly isolated the country. Now Pakistani citizens demand that this misunderstood policy be changed and a coordinated effort be undertaken to free Pakistan of its bondage to the concept of a restrictive, misunderstood and violent Islam.

The death of Osama bin Laden and his presence in the country for a long time enraged Pakistanis enough to challenge their leadership. Pakistan’s Pashtun and Punjabi Taliban networks both in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have put the civil and military establishment at the top of their hit list. The army has come under constant threat from al Qaeda and the Taliban. To clear the position of the army and the ISI on the US Abbottabad operation, the ISI chief recently met the CIA station chief in Pakistan first, and then set out to Washington to meet President Obama and his friends.

Pak-US relations may further deteriorate as American taxpayers are pressing President Obama to pressure Pakistan to do more. The international community has now come to know that Pakistan has been using a double-edged sword in the war on terror. Since 2001, the US government, CIA and the international community have been accusing Pakistan of protecting and sheltering bin Laden but the civil and military establishments in Pakistan have constantly denied this accusation.

President Hamid Karzai has already claimed that the war on terror should not be fought in Afghanistan but in Pakistan. Experts say that in the future, attacks on the US forces in Afghanistan will continue because the extremist groups have already sent threatening messages to retaliate over the arrests and deaths of key figures. Now the main question is: what will now be the level of cooperation between the US and Pakistani intelligence agencies and how can they rebuild trust deficits? Now, after the death of Osama bin Laden, Pakistan is facing one of its worst crises. The situation on the Afghan border has become alarming and the increasing drone attacks have further enraged the Pashtun population of FATA and the Waziristan regions. Poverty and unemployment benefit the Taliban insurgency.

The social and physical infrastructure of the country, which forms the backbone of the economy, is in a deplorable state. Finally, the international community understands that the war in Afghanistan and the military operation in Pakistan are critical in the war against terrorism. Both the states surrendering to the extremist forces would mean leaving the fate of the war undecided.

The writer is author of Britain’s National Security Challenges and Punjabi Taliban. He can be reached at zai.musakhan222@gmail.com

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Default An opportunity for peace...

An opportunity for peace
By
Khalid Aziz

REPORTS from Kabul, Islamabad, Washington and New York indicate that peace talks between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban are inching ahead. This was confirmed by President Hamid Karzai who said on Saturday that peace talks with the Taliban were going on.

On the same day, the UN Security Council meeting in New York separated the `1267` joint list of names of members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This will permit the Taliban leadership to come in from the cold. It may be noted that both Gen Ashfaq Kayani and Gen Shuja Pasha representing the ISI are actively working with Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the Afghan High Peace Council, who is leading the peace talks. Pakistan reportedly facilitated a meeting between Siraj Haqqani and the Afghan president a few days ago. Yet, it is still too early to be optimistic.

At the same time, the US has put forth its terms for negotiations. These were expressed by the State Department`s spokesperson Mark Toner who said that “They [the Taliban] must renounce violence; they must abandon their alliance with Al Qaeda; and they must abide by the constitution of Afghanistan; this is the price for reaching a political resolution and bringing an end to the military actions….”

The response of the Taliban was equally swift. On Saturday, two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a police station in Kabul; three police officers, one intelligence agent and five civilians were killed in this assault. Clearly, the Taliban do not subscribe to the US red lines and perceive the US as a spent force on the decline. It is evident that as time passes, the US will become peripheral to the peace talks and as such Pakistan has the opportunity to play a constructive role and Mr Karzai realises it.

It will thus be more opportune for the US defence and military elite to recognise that with the passage of time the US will lose the capacity to shape future outcomes in these negotiations; thus it is now, more than before, that the US needs Pakistan`s help to exit in a respectable manner from Afghanistan. This can only be provided by a friendly and a strong Pakistan. Its continuous rubbishing in the US is shortsighted.

The above discussion highlights the factors that will shape Pakistan. What the latter lacks at present is an agreed policy towards these negotiations. Long after the US and the others have left, we will remain in the same neighbourhood. So what are the risks that we should guard against and the results that we should seek as a final outcome of the Afghan peace talks?

After the death of Osama bin Laden, the new leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri doesn`t have much love lost for Pakistan. As a matter of fact, he has been propagating since 2007 that Pakistan must be targeted since it is an `apostate` state in league with the US; he defined the `near enemy`, (Pakistan) as a more dangerous threat to achieving ideological goals than the US.

Secondly, Al Qaeda has taken over the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and transformed it to fight the country. In 2008, Al-Zawahiri was the force that combined all the Pakistani militant splinter groups to form the TTP. -

The creation of a jihadist front in Waziristan and later in Bajaur and Swat was a part of Al Qaeda`s policy to disperse the Pakistani forces, so that their passage to attack Isaf forces in Afghanistan was clear. It was only Maulvi Nazir in Wana and Siraj Haqqani in North Waziristan who stood against Al-Zawahiri`s designs. Both Maulvi Nazir and Haqqani have refused to fight the Pakistan military. In order to neutralise the Haqqanis and Maulvi Nazir, AlZawahiri has used the TTP, the Uzbeks and the Kashmiri militants to challenge their remit.

This was what compelled Maulvi Nazir to massacre Uzbeks in Wana in 2007, who had virtually imprisoned him near Wana. The Haqqanis have since the 1980s relied upon Pakistanis from southern Punjab to do their fighting; it is for this reason that there are so many Punjabi families settled in North Waziristan. shura

To neutralise Haqqani`s fighters and to drive a wedge in their (Punjabi Taliban) ranks Al Qaeda succeeded in winning the support of an outstanding Kashmiri militant Ilyas Kashmiri. He not only transferred his loyalties but was found so capable that he was made a member of Al Qaeda`s inner and given command of its feared 313 Brigade. Ilyas Kashmiri`s recent reported death in a drone strike has upset Al Qaeda`s plans to subvert the Punjabi Taliban under Haqqani`s command. The irony is that in this way the US has helped its arch foes the Haqqanis.

The equation described indicates clearly that Pakistan needs to protect its own self-interest in the restructuring that is bound to take place after the start of the peace talks. It is not certain that the peace talks with the Taliban will succeed. Whatever the final outcome, the following is essential from the point of view of Pakistan`s own national interest: firstly, it must initiate a comprehensive rehabilitation, reintegration and reconciliation programme for militants that is fully budgeted with national legislation covering it.

Secondly, there must a crafting of robust civil-military institutional arrangements to take the process of de-radicalisation, reintegration and reconciliation forward. Thirdly, the military must disengage from handling civilian detainees — it is the police`s job; dealing with detainees causes feelings of ill will and vendettas against the military. Lastly, this process must be led by the civilian political leadership.

If these policies are successfully implemented they will go a long way in bringing peace to our troubled land. We have reached a historical junction and should not be found wanting.

The writer is chairman of the Regional Institute of Policy Research in Peshawar.

azizkhalid@gmail.com
-Dawn News-


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Default Is climate change the biggest.....

Is climate change the biggest national security challenge we are facing?
By
By Eric Hammel

Over the past year, I’ve worked the vast security implications of global climate change into a few comments on The Best Defense, but they haven’t taken hold. I cannot fathom the prevailing so-what attitude as the FEMA-grade weather disasters mount toward becoming serial and routine occurrences. It’s here now, for all to see.

Tens — perhaps hundreds — of millions of heat, drought, flood, and famine refugees are probably going to be shaken loose within a decade. (Some estimates say half of humanity — 3,000,000,000 people — will have to move or die just from heat-related causes.) Thanks to topsoil erosion via drought and helped along by deadly, unstoppable tornado clusters and unlivable ambient temperatures, the bulk of farming in North America will shift northward and most likely will become restricted to a narrower band in the upper Midwest and on into higher Canadian latitudes-assuming there is sufficient rainfall there. Sea-level rise from melting glaciers on land will soon be poised to shake loose uncountable refugees from drowned coastal regions, where most of the world’s people live. If the warm North Atlantic conveyor current is halted or recedes southward due to desalinization via the Greenland freshwater ice melt, the Canadian Maritimes, New England, and northwestern Europe will probably experience unbelievable winters and might (this is counterintuitive) freeze over.

Global famine is going to force the use of our military as a police force organized to feed unknowable masses of people (until cold reality sets in as reserve food stocks evaporate). I believe that North America’s first up-close brush with famine-motivated mass migration will take place in northern Mexico and on into the U.S. border states. (Refugees fleeing in the wake of the collapse of Mexico’s central government could precede drought- and heat-related dislocations. Are we prepared to handle such a dress rehearsal?)

The only force on Earth with the inherent capability to police, process, house, feed, and move refugees on a mass scale is the U.S. military, but, though its reach is global, its capacity and stamina are nonetheless limited, probably to one or two major disasters at a time, not the overlapping rolling meta-disaster climatologists predict. (Remember, the only components of the Katrina effort that worked at all were the military responses, beginning with Coast Guard helicopters.)

The implications for military use alone in the looming weather-related crises are mind-boggling, but no one appears to want to face up to them with an action plan, a doctrine, a list of precepts. I find it worrying to the nth degree that there is absolutely no public discussion. Have the relevant agencies studied it all already-and thrown up their hands? I already know from a series of phone calls to relevant local and state agencies that there is no actual integrated plan in place to respond to high-impact earthquakes in major California population centers. The “plan” is to play it as it lays. And I sincerely doubt that a repeat of Katrina would be met with an effective plan based on lessons learned.

Can we bring this out of the shadows, and least in this venue?

Eric Hammel has written more books about the U.S. military in Vietnam, Korea and World War II than most people have read.

Source: Foreign Policy
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Default Murdochgate, Islamophobia....

Murdochgate, Islamophobia and the killings in Norway
By
SHABANA SYED

RUPERT Murdoch’s New York Post and The Sun newspaper had already announced that it was Islamic terrorists who attacked Norway before it was known that a right-wing Norwegian nationalist with a passion for reading anti-Muslim hating blogs such as Daniel Pipes, Jihad Watch was the person who killed over 90 innocent people.

The media have been at the forefront creating hatred and fear of Muslims. A research project by IERA that looked at “Perceptions about Islam and Muslims” revealed that 63 percent of Britain’s believed that “Muslims are terrorists while 70 percent believed that Muslims preached hatred”.

The media largely owned by Murdoch have been propagating this fear and hatred; one of the most blatant examples of “public mind control” by Murdoch’s news outlets has been the invention of “Islamophobia”.

As the hacking scandal unfolds, Murdoch has already moved into damage limitation mode, apologizing and presenting himself to the British Parliamentary Committee as a doddering forgetful old man not aware of the practices of his company. At the same time he has already started to rebrand himself announcing a new Sunday edition of the Sun newspaper.

The hearing criticized for its weak line of questioning has led critics to fear that eventually there will be a whitewash of the crimes Murdoch’s empire has committed and the unethical culture that had been created by the management at the News of the World will continue as too many figures in government and the police are embroiled in the whole affair.

The fact that Britain’s top anti-terrorism policeman became the second senior officer to quit over the News Corp phone-hacking scandal raises many questions.

Mainly, why would an officer dealing with terrorism issues collude with a group of people with a track record of dabbling in unethical activities which include hacking phones of murdered children and their families, celebrities, politicians and even the royal family.

More importantly should he be dealing with a pro-Israel media company whose ethos is “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists are Muslims” therefore guilty through association.

Revelations by The Guardian also highlighted how survivors of the 2005 London bombings have alleged that Scotland Yard “sold” or passed on the confidential contact list of the 7 July victims to reporters working for News International.

Maybe this could explain the ill-judged anti-terror strategy “Prevent” which Mehdi Hasan in The Guardian calls the “conveyor belt theory of radicalization.”

In a climate of knee-jerk government policies and journalism, and at the risk of being labeled a conspiracy theorist, there are many who still want to understand how jihadists fighting in caves could carry out a plot that needed powerful technological and organizational skills to cause the destruction of the Twin Towers, and also why WTC 7 which was not hit collapsed demolition style.

Also if there is a real concern for terrorism why was Anthony John Hill taken to court for making a documentary called “Ripple Effect” which questions the official government narrative for 7/7? Incidentally Hill won the case.

Tony Farrell, a “Principal Intelligence Analyst” who had been working for 12 years for South Yorkshire Police was sacked from his post after he found evidence that there was no Muslim terrorist threat and that 7/7 was “deliberately engineered” to justify British PM Tony Blair standing shoulder to shoulder with Bush in the illegal war in Iraq.

Of course, there has been hardly any coverage of these cases in the mainstream media simply because Murdoch not only controls the world’s largest news organization but also has his own agenda.

It is not difficult to make out his agenda; one just has to watch Fox News. His Fox News Network fabricated lies to promote the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and all his media outlets support Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and flouting of every international; at the same time it propagates a systematic Islamophobia that continually vilifies Muslims.

Journalist Robert Fisk left The Times newspaper after Murdoch had taken over, saying “he had turned The Times into a tame, pro-Tory, pro-Israeli paper shorn of all editorial independence.”

Gordon Duff, senior editor at Veterans Today said that it is not just an issue of phone hacking but a bigger issue of spying for Israel. He writes: “Who is Rupert Murdoch? What he is not is an Australian ‘right-wing’ billionaire. Murdoch, though born in Australia is an Israeli citizen and Jewish. Why is this important? Murdoch is now admitted to have controlled the political systems in Britain and America for two decades. He has had the power to choose national leaders, make policy, and pass laws at will. Where did the power come from? We now know it came from spying, blackmail, bribery and propaganda.”

Jack Shaheen, the author of “Reel Bad Arabs” asks how can one talk of democracy “when the system, on many different levels, is dominated and controlled by the dictates of one small group whose loyalty is to a foreign country?”

One just has to look at the pro-Israel journalists scattered in various newspapers and websites fueling the fires of division.

As the famous ex-Israeli musician-writer Gilad Atzmon highlights: “It is Jewish right-wing pro-war platforms such as Frontpage Magazine, Daniel Pipes, Harry’s Place and others following their example, that consciously, openly, deviously and divisively cultivate a prevalent culture of hate and Islamophobia.”

Murdoch has amassed a media empire; he is aligned to the powerful Jewish lobby in the UK and with AIPAC controls the American Congress.

All of Murdoch’s newspapers (around 175 in 2003) supported the Iraq invasion. He was constantly on the phone to the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the lead-up to the invasion. Many in Blair’s inner circle even called him “the 24th member of the Cabinet.”

Murdoch is said to have personally dictated the policies he expected from David Cameron in return for his electoral support and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks is said to have met Cameron on 26 different occasions.

At an event held by Conservative Friends of Israel (most of the Conservative Party are members of CFI) Cameron declared himself a Zionist and said in an interview to The Times: “I hope I can say I’m not just a good friend of Israel but I am, as you put it, good for Jews”.

One of the main agendas of Murdoch’s media outlets was to take every opportunity to marginalize Muslims and ensure that they don’t have any political voice. It is now clear that Murdoch took particular interest in destroying any potential Muslim participation in the political process as the case of Mohamed Ali, the CEO of Islam Channel, a popular TV station, reveals.

In 2008 an Australian journalist working for Murdoch was sent post haste to Tunisia to liaise with the now discredited Tunisian regime to fabricate detrimental information linking the CEO of Islam Channel to terrorism. The journalist known for his anti-Muslim stance based his reports on only one fact which was that Mohamed Ali was wanted by the Tunisian government and had been placed on the Interpol’s wanted list.

This fact was not a secret, Britain’s Home Office and everyone knew that anyone who was against the Tunisian government was on that list, and it did not mean one was a criminal or a terrorist. The journalist used fabricated information and continued systematic attacks through The Times newspaper on the reputation and credibility of Mohamed Ali and Islam Channel continually charging him for being anti-Semitic.

Islam Channel was launched in 2004 with Mohamed Ali in charge. Why did Murdoch’s people start a campaign of vilifying him and the Channel in 2008 and not in 2004?

The answer goes back to Murdoch and his agenda. As a “pro-Israeli Zionist or ultra-nationalist extremist” as Gordon Duff calls him, Murdoch supports Israel’s expansionist plans and by creating a climate where Muslims are seen as terrorists, there will be less opposition when Palestinian women and children are killed, and when the West is dragged into wars with Muslim countries. The more you vilify and marginalize Muslims, the less they will have a political voice, and the first step is to destroy the credibility of their leaders.

Islam Channel by 2008 had become influential. It had the largest viewership in Britain and Europe; at the same time its Global Peace and Unity Event in 2008 was attended by nearly 90,000 Muslims; it also had many British MPs and world leaders gathering to discuss and support issues concerning peace and communal harmony.

The Times attack on Mohamed Ali was aimed to discredit him. However, The Times’ reputation is in question now as we know about the phone hacking, bribery and liaising with a corrupt despotic regime to fabricate facts and printing them as “News.”

The only scenario that hopefully will change after Murdochgate is that government legislation and news concerning Muslims should be less a result of knee jerk reaction and more analyses. This campaign of vilification takes humanity out of its discourse and will result in the growth of extremist movements like the EDL and fascists like Geert Wilders who spawn extremism and vigilantism resulting in a killing spree of innocents like the massacre that has just taken place in Norway.


Source:---Arab News
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Default Is There Light ?

Is There Light At The End of Egypt's Tunnel?
BY
JAMES TRAUB--- SEPTEMBER 23, 2011

Egypt is a mess right now, but if its Army can figure out how to give up power and set elections on course, there's still hope for a happy ending.

Egypt is a mess. This month, the country's interim military government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), issued Decree 193, stipulating that the country's long-standing emergency law would be expanded to include such offenses as "infringing on others' right to work," "impeding the flow of traffic," and "spreading false information in the media." The SCAF had promised that the law would be repealed by September, before scheduled elections began; a few days ago, officials declared that it would be extended until June 2012. No one knows when a constitution will be drafted or presidential elections held, because the SCAF won't say so. Egypt's military rulers seem not so much determined as paralyzed.

Mess, of course, is inevitable; the question is whether Egypt's revolution is in danger, and if so, what it is in danger of. The fears being aired in the Egyptian media include that the SCAF won't leave, that Islamists will control the new government, and that the interim council's drift and opacity will deepen chaos to the point where whatever new government takes over, whenever it takes over, it will be overwhelmed with troubles -- a fate that the riots outside the Israeli Embassy on Sept. 8 may have been a deadly harbinger of. This last scenario seems the most probable, but any of them would call into question the success of the Arab Spring. The transition in Tunisia is looking less problematic than it is in Egypt; but Egypt is of course much bigger and much more important than Tunisia. If Egypt fails, so does the Arab Spring.

The underlying problem is that when a dictator is deposed, power must be vested in some entity until elections can be held. In Egypt, it was the Army that forced out the dictator, President Hosni Mubarak, and it was the Army, alone, that enjoyed sufficient national prestige to inherit his rule. (In Tunisia, with a much weaker army, power has passed to a civilian-led commission.) But elections cannot be held until new political parties can be formed, electoral institutions established, and, often, a new constitution drafted. And at present parties are still forming, merging and hunting for candidates, while drafters of a new constitution are too busy debating whether to include overarching principles to focus on constituent elements. This means that the interim government will serve for long enough that it must exercise power even if it is neither inclined nor competent enough to do so -- a description that seems to fit the SCAF quite well.

The SCAF appears both unwilling to govern and unwilling to let anyone else do so. When Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was appointed in March, he was widely seen as a tribune of Tahrir Square, a liberal democrat in the inner councils of state. But Sharaf and his cabinet have proved to be irrelevant. And the senior military officials who have inherited power are not, of course, democrats of any kind. They benefited from Mubarak's autocratic rule and shared his values. The council has refused to explain its decisions, refused to share power with civilians, and refused to tolerate media criticism of its own practices. The SCAF's intransigence has forced democracy activists to return again and again to Tahrir Square, because the new leaders seem to respond only to public pressure. As Marina Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has written, Egypt "is teetering between authoritarianism and the diktats of the street." It's a dangerous moment.

Yet the danger Egypt faces is not perpetual military rule. The SCAF plainly wants to return to the barracks; a much more plausible worry is that the military, which has its fingerprints all over Egypt's economy, will insist not only on preserving its traditional privileges but on dominating a weak and divided civilian government from the shadows, as the military does in Pakistan. That's a long-term concern. The short-term concern is indecision and drift. Last week, a group of presidential candidates publicly demanded that presidential elections be held by June 2012. Right now, no one knows when they will be held. Parliamentary elections are scheduled to run from late November through March. A constituent assembly appointed by the parliament is to approve a constitution, though the timing is also unclear. And Egypt's electoral commission has not said whether presidential elections can be held before, during, or after the promulgation of a new constitution. A new president may not be chosen until mid-2013. Who would rule in the meantime? It's not clear.

Issandr El Amrani, an Egyptian who blogs at arabist.net, says that the rampant uncertainty "is really unnerving to the population; it's radicalizing the political class, because they're fighting over issues that should have been settled months ago; it's incapacitating Egypt's ability to answer its domestic problems; and it scares away foreign investors." Egypt's economic growth has slowed to a crawl, and teachers and other civil servants have been going out on strike. The emergency law is in part a response to rising social tensions. It's not hard to imagine a downward spiral of protest and crackdown virtually paralyzing daily life. Street protest maybe the only way to get the SCAF to shorten the electoral schedule, and thus its own hapless tenure.

Still, come what may, there will be a civilian government on the other side. And though it may have a strong Islamic cast, it won't actually be Islamic. As the sole politically organized force in the country, the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to win a plurality of votes in the parliament, though no one has the faintest idea how large that plurality will be. Michele Dunne, who heads the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, estimates that the Brotherhood will win between 15 and 40 percent of the seats allocated to political parties -- itself an unclear fraction of the whole -- with the rest divided among a wide range of groups and blocs: members of the former ruling party, the largely secular liberals who manned Tahrir Square, Islamic reformers who split off from the Brotherhood, and the Salafists, who follow a rigidly orthodox brand of Islam. The Brotherhood, catering to fears that it could dominate the new government, is not running a candidate for president, though it certainly could furnish the new prime minister. Without a constitution, it's impossible to know what the distribution of powers between those two offices will be.

The most hopeful scenario is that Egypt will have a very rough patch to negotiate but will come out more or less OK on the other side. El Amrani says that he is much more worried about the short term than the long term -- a refrain one often hears. Democratic transitions by their very nature are rocky and demand a great deal of patience from the activists who have sacrificed to make them possible. It will be harder in Egypt than in Tunisia because its politics are more divisive; but in Egypt, as in Tunisia, millions of people have been mobilized in the name of change and will not easily allow their revolution to be stolen.

I hope that's the case. New democracies usually have a grace period of several years to prove that they can deliver the basics of a good life more effectively than the autocracies they replaced. Egypt may need that time, and more. An inexperienced and internally divided government may find itself unable to deal effectively with immense social tensions and economic problems, not to mention an overweening military. Democracies fail all the time: Look at Venezuela or Ukraine. Establishing a democracy isn't hard; preserving it is.

What can Americans do to help? Not very much, it seems. Egypt is in a deeply nationalistic phase. Last month, the country turned down a $3 billion International Monetary Fund loan, apparently in a burst of anti-Americanism. The riot that engulfed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo this month shows how popular fury, long suppressed under Mubarak, has now been unleashed. That anger will only grow if the United States is compelled to veto Palestine's bid for statehood at the U.N. Security Council. Washington was the chief ally of Mubarak, as it is of Israel. Even U.S. military aid to Egypt matters much less than it used to, as Egypt's economy and defense budget have grown. Washington will have to be patient, accepting that though the revolution may be harmful to American interests in the short run -- and certainly harmful to Israel's -- in the end it will produce a more stable and more peaceful Middle East.

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Default Avoid mistakes of Iraq, Afghanistan

Lessons for US in Libya’s transition: Avoid mistakes of Iraq, Afghanistan
By
Nick Dowling and P.J. Crowley

Chasing Muammar Qaddafi out of Tripoli was the easy part. Transitioning from dictator to stable democracy is the moonshot. The challenges in Libya are many and complex, from the development of security forces to creating jobs to establishing effective governing bodies. Yet stability and success will depend on one critical issue: whether the self-appointed National Transitional Council (NTC) establishes and sustains a legitimate and inclusive political process.

The last time Libya changed its leader? Through Mr. Qaddafi’s coup in 1969, just after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Just launching the political process in Libya, a country with no democratic tradition and few effective governing institutions, will be an enormous challenge. As the United States and international community consider how to best support Libya, there are some lessons from recent experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia from which they can learn.

The NTC is expanding its representation. But to be effective, it will have to attract support – or at least participation – from across all sections of Libya, including the western and southern regions of the country, some of which still support (and perhaps shelter) Qaddafi. He will remain dangerous until caught.

Given the historical regional rivalries and complex tribal structure within Libya, the temptation will be to focus on Tripoli and build a government from the top down. This was a mistake the international community made in both Afghanistan and Iraq, where national governments lacked legitimacy due to poor regional representation.

Libya’s new political structure should be built from the bottom up. The political process must both serve and balance competing political interests, giving all key parties a stake and voice.

The NTC has announced plans for an initial election in 2012 en route to a constitutional democracy by 2013. Getting there requires the emergence of local and regional leaders who can deliver meaningful results to the citizenry, particularly job creation, well before 2013.

For example, Libya suffers one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, with half its population under the age of 25. Development efforts, while incorporating outside expertise, must concentrate on employing as many young Libyans as possible.

As national figures emerge, we can hope for, but not expect, a Havel- or Mandela-like figure in Libya – a homegrown leader who might galvanize a nation toward unity and progress. In any case, we should not try to invent one.

Shortly after the American invasion of Afghanistan, the December 2001 Bonn Conference anointed Hamid Karzai as leader of the Afghan Interim Authority before he had demonstrated his viability where it counted most – in Afghanistan. The Bush administration also tried to put a thumb on the political scales when it transported Ahmed Chalabi back to Iraq after the invasion in 2003. He has been complicating political unity there ever since.
In Libya, the current NTC leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has gained respect inside and outside Libya for being as measured as Qaddafi was bombastic. While he has publicly pledged not to run for office in 2012, the international community may be tempted to encourage him to stay on. But he can’t be “our guy” unless he becomes “their guy.” The international community should in fact engage all Libyan leaders who are committed to participate constructively in an open and inclusive political process.
Though forming a new democratic government must be a Libyan-led process, the US and the West must use available leverage to ensure results and accountability from the emerging government.

In Bosnia, influence came through the political, security, and economic promises of European integration. While these exact tools are not available in Libya, political and economic levers do exist to ensure that the transitional government’s commitments are met and that it serves national rather than narrow interests.

For example, it is important for Libya to resume full-scale oil production and use that wealth to rebuild the country. However, natural resources must not become a source of corruption, instability, and conflict – the so-called “resource curse.” The inability of Iraq after years of political haggling to pass an energy bill has hampered both its economic recovery and political development.

The World Bank developed an agreement with neighboring Chad to commit its sovereign wealth for a broad public benefit, in Chad’s case, poverty reduction. While Chad ultimately reneged on the agreement, economic leverage on issues such as trade agreements and return of frozen assets can be a useful model to compel steps that enhance political stability.

What has fueled Libyans up to this point was their hatred of Qaddafi. Now the nation requires a viable political process to retain its momentum. Without it, as the world has seen in other places before, the revolution will stall before it reaches a sustainable orbit.

Nick Dowling is president of IDS International, a national security consulting firm. P.J. Crowley is the Omar Bradley Chair at Dickinson College, Penn State University and the Army War College. Both served on the National Security Council staff under President Clinton.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
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Default challenges of strategic flux

2012: challenges of strategic flux
By
Dr Maleeha Lodhi

At many international conferences I attended last year a number of themes emerged about the challenges and opportunities presented by a world in strategic flux. These are instructive when looking at the year ahead to identify key trends and other signposts to the future.

Five issues in particular seemed to dominate the global discourse: 1) the growing threat to the global economy posed by the financial crisis unfolding in the West since 2008; 2) a continuing shift in the world’s economic centre of gravity to Asia and China’s global ascent; 3) the closing of an era of large-scale military intervention; 4) a widening gap between global problems and institutions of global governance and 5) the Arab awakening and shifting sands of regional geopolitics.

The economic crises that many Western countries have been wrestling with for the past three years have far reaching geopolitical implications. Strained sovereign balance sheets, a wrenching process of financial deleveraging and potential economic meltdowns pose serious threats to long-term global security.

The debt crisis in some of the world’s largest economies underscores the danger of a global slowdown. The euro zone crisis has also raised the spectre of contagion.

In this backdrop, more economic turmoil can be expected in 2012. Crisis-ridden western economies will struggle to avert double dip recession. As structural problems in advanced economies including the US will take years to resolve, another challenge will be to deal with the social consequences of economic dislocation. This is already exemplified by the ‘occupy Wall Street’ protests in America and street action elsewhere.

The economic crisis that began in 2008 has accelerated the shift – already underway – in economic and political power from the West to the East. China’s ascent as the world’s second largest economy and main creditor to the biggest economy (the US) is an obvious marker of this. 2012 will further consolidate this trend, as economic power continues to shift to Asia, even if China faces the prospect of an overheating economy and inflation.

This structural transformation of the global environment has occurred in a decade in which the US remained preoccupied with the ‘security wars’ it initiated in Afghanistan and then Iraq in the wake of 9/11. Over time this confronted the US with the consequences of these protracted conflicts in the form of debilitating financial crisis due in large part to the debts contracted during this decade.

Thus the most consequential change to emerge in the past several years occurred not in the theatre of war but in the global economy. In bringing about a redistribution of global power this produced a vastly transformed strategic picture and an America diminished by military overreach and internal economic stagnation.

2012 will see more of what has been underway – the US trying to adjust to the relative diminution in its power in an increasingly multipolar world with diverse centres and sources of power. Its economic troubles will also reinforce the need to give priority to ‘nation-building’ at home. As the Obama administration acknowledged in its 2010 National Security Strategy, only by reviving the economy would Washington be able to exercise influence and leadership abroad.

In recognition of this reality and in light of the chastening experience of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the era of large-scale military interventions may be coming to a close. The completion of the American military withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 affirmed this. The formal end to a conflict that began in 2003 came amid crumbling public support for foreign wars and sharp budget cuts – eroding any zeal for such engagements in the future.

2012 will reinforce this trend as the drawdown of “surge” forces gets underway in Afghanistan and is completed by year end ahead of the 2014 transition, when US and Nato combat forces are expected to pull out.

At several conferences there was consensus on the view that the West’s appetite for over-the-horizon military interventionism was exhausted making them less likely in the future. This was a function not just of their public’s disapproval but also of the inability to achieve desired outcomes.

The Libyan intervention in 2011 did not negate this ‘new imperative’. For from offering a template for externally aided regime-change, it underscored the constraints on the use of force. America’s reluctant, back-seat involvement, portrayed as ‘leading from behind’ reflected an unease with more military enterprises. The Libyan case showed that Nato nations did not in fact have the military, organisational, political or economic capability for effective intervention in states other than the weakest and where their regimes lacked regional support.

This does not rule out military intervention in the future. But its feasibility will rest on several risk and cost factors, calculation of a certain outcome, and only when the direct strategic interest of a major power is involved. This has implications for the ongoing US confrontation with Iran, which will remain a key issue in the coming year.

Another issue that figured prominently in the international debate last year was the growing inadequacy of existing institutions of global governance to deal with the complexity of international challenges. This means that the quest for appropriate policy responses and multilateral mechanisms will continue. In a world characterised by the decentralisation of power this will also involve finding a balance between multilateralism and minilateralism.

Impatience with the cumbersome, consensus-based multilateral process and lack of UN leadership has seen a greater resort to expedient devices especially informal ‘coalitions of the willing’. Understood as an approach that mobilises a core group of countries to solve a specific problem, minilateralism has already been utilised in the form of ad hoc groupings, commissions and contact groups including the G20 (comprising the world’s largest economies), the five plus one group on Iran, and the Quartet on the Middle East.

2012 and beyond will likely see a combination of the two approaches. But rule making by a powerful yet unrepresentative oligarchy will not offer lasting solutions if they are imposed on others with no voice in these decisions. The G20 is already seen by many as a ‘coalition of collusion’, whose legitimacy will continue to be questioned. The latest publication of the World Economic Forum, ‘Outlook on the Global Agenda 2012’, points out that “networks of actors, coalitions of like-minded but disparate forces and unexpected partnerships” may become more dominant.

The future of the ‘Arab spring’ and fate of uncertain transitions in countries undergoing popular upheaval was much debated in the preceding year. They will be key questions for 2012. The victory of Islamic parties in Tunisia and Egypt has shown that the Arab spring may well turn out to be a Muslim ‘awakening’ rather than the triumph of a secular order celebrated in early western media coverage.

The battle to determine the Arab future will intensify in 2012 with the outlook clouded by the danger of sectarian strife, civil war and disorder. The prospects for one of the most promising developments in recent Arab history also rests on their precarious economies being lifted from stagnation and on restoring social cohesion, eroded by political disruption and economic stress.

The momentous developments in the Arab world represent a global shift away from traditional balances associated with the last century. Among trends that will likely be reinforced in 2012 is the decline of America’s influence in the Middle East. From arbiter Washington became little more than a bystander in the popular protests that swept away the old order it had long supported. The task of managing the transition has fallen to the region, as it should, even if the outcome is far from clear.

With no clear leader in the world today a key question for 2012 is whether imperatives of global problem solving will yield collaboration or division in responding to emerging and enduring challenges in an environment of few certainties.

Source----The News
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Default Libyan conflict

Was the Libyan conflict a war for oil?
By
Terry Macalister

The Libyan conflict has been a war about oil if not ‘for’ oil. The country’s economy is almost totally dependent on hydrocarbons and a key objective for the transitional government will be to get the wells up and running again as soon as possible.

The British and French, meanwhile, are worried about future energy supplies. They are already pushing and shoving over who should get what of the energy proceeds before the political dust has even settled in Tripoli (just as BP and Shell are once again sitting pretty in Iraq following western military intervention there).

The UK government has been working hand in glove with parts of the oil industry to bring about regime change in Libya. London crude trader, Vitol, held meetings with international development minister Alan Duncan (a former consultant to the firm) and played a key role in keeping the revolutionaries well-supplied with petrol while others tried to starve Muammar Gaddafi’s troops of fuel. Was this a practical operation to undermine Gaddafi’s military logistics or a potent symbol that western politics and oil are so closely intermeshed that the agendas of both are indistinguishable?

Certainly the French blew the gaff on Thursday. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe was trying to bury a story run in Liberation that suggested that Paris had tied up an agreement to be given 35 per cent of all the country’s oil in future in return for military help. He said it was ‘fair and logical’ to him that Libya’s new interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC) would turn to France in the reconstruction of Libya.
The British have not been so public about their expectations but we know that BP has already held talks with the new opposition leaders and are preparing to re-enter the country. Clearly, the role of Vitol, never mind the RAF jets, will require some recognition in the new Libya that emerges at least in the eyes of the UK political and oil establishment.

And the prospects look good. An executive from the rebel oil company, Agoco, has already said the interests of Britain, France and Italy will all be treated favourably compared with those who equivocated, such as Russia and China.

But won’t the NTC want to reorganise its oil industry differently, and perhaps do without the west completely? Gaddafi originally kicked out western oil but then invited it back in after UN sanctions over the Lockerbie bombing were lifted. The problem for the NTC is that oil provides virtually all of the country’s income. Even if nationalisation was their preferred option, getting production back up and running as quickly as possible is the imperative. Libya used to produce 1.6 million barrels of oil a day worth an almighty $1.3billion (Dh4.77 billion) a week at today’s crude prices, and money the NTC desperately needs, even if it means sharing the spoils.

Tougher terms

Whatever deal is reached, it is unlikely to be all or nothing: nationalisation or capitulation. What the new government will certainly want to do is exact much tougher terms for western oil company involvement. The idea that a third of Libya’s oil would be simply turned over to the French, as the Libration story suggested, is surely nonsense. It would be political suicide for the NTC. What happened in Iraq is instructive. Although BP and others have been given access to reserves in Iraq, they are not on the terms they would ideally have chosen. The auctions there have resulted in ‘technical service agreements’, where the likes of BP act as contractors and get $2 on each barrel of oil produced but do not ‘own’ the reserves in the way they do in the North Sea or did in Iraq before they were removed by Saddam Hussain.

Western independent oil companies have the most modern technology, easy access to capital market money and a can-do spirit, but they are also on the defensive because they are being gradually muscled out globally by state-owned national oil companies in places such as Venezuela, Brazil and Russia.

The desperate and now failed recent attempt by BP to tie up a share-swap deal with Russian state-owned Rosneft, despite all the problems it has had in that country, was just another sign of this. With the North Sea and other mature basins fast running out of oil and a failure to fully invest in lower carbon alternatives, western ministers are also desperately worried about future crude supplies. It was a war around oil in Libya but the new interim government in Tripoli could yet win that, too.

Courtesy & Copyright: Guardian News & Media Ltd
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Default World Affairs (Important Articles)

Can Brics create new world order?
April 3, 2012
By Simon Tisdall

The one-day annual summit of the so-called Brics countries Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on March 29 has received scant attention in the West. That may be because the grouping has achieved little in concrete terms since its inception in 2009. Critics deride it as a photo-op and talking shop.

But this neglect, or disdain, may also reflect the fact that the Brics, representing almost half the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output, poses an unwelcome challenge to the established world order as defined by the US-dominated UN Security Council, the IMF and the World Bank. The truth of the matter probably lies somewhere in between. The five national leaders — presidents Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Hu Jintao of China and Jacob Zuma of South Africa and their host in Delhi, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — are not noted for iconoclastic radicalism.

Rousseff has been the most outspoken, insisting that developing countries must be protected from the global ‘tsunami’ of cheap money, unleashed by the US and the EU in the wake of the financial crisis, that was rendering their exports less competitive. “We will defend our industry and prevent the methods developed countries use to escape from crisis resulting in the cannibalisation of emerging markets,” she said last month.

Brics boosters project a grandiose vision. India’s commerce secretary, Anand Sharma, said last week the group sought nothing less than “to create a new global architecture”. But commentators interpret such ambitions as essentially anti-American hot air. Pointing to a signal lack of substantive policy agreements, they suggest a desire to counter Washington’s global dominance is the Brics’ sole unifying objective.

“There are calls to establish a permanent secretariat and even a development bank in an effort to bolster the grouping’s political impact,” wrote Walter Ladwig of the Royal United Services Institute. “But this focus on institution-building is misplaced. It is the fundamental incompatibility of the Brics nations, not their lack of organisation, which prevents [them] acting as a meaningful force on the world stage”. Ladwig continued: “Beyond the issues of economic governance, in many key areas the Brics nations are actually in strategic competition. Within Asia, India and Russia are potential obstacles to China’s presumed regional dominance. At the international level, Russia, Brazil and India desire the emergence of a multipolar international system in which they are major actors, with the latter two seeking membership in an expanded UN Security Council. “In contrast, China aims for a bipolar world in which it serves as the counterbalance to American power.”

A joint declaration issued at the close of the summit found common ground in strongly criticising western economic policy. “It is critical for advanced economies to adopt responsible macroeconomic and financial policies, avoid creating excessive global liquidity and undertake structural reforms to lift growth that create jobs,” it said. There was agreement, too, to press ahead with plans to create a ‘South-South’ development fund that might one day rival the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Geopolitical influence

The Brics renewed their demand for expanded voting rights for developing countries in the IMF and challenged western policy on Iran, stressing that military action to curb Tehran’s suspect nuclear activities was unacceptable and suggesting the group was not bound by a looming ban on Iran’s oil exports. Both the Iran and Syria crises must be resolved diplomatically, it said.

“We must avoid political disruptions that create volatilities in global energy markets and affect trade flow… We must ensure policy coordination to revive economic growth,” Singh said. Brics countries would increase co-operation on terrorism and piracy, he added. On UN Security Council reform, he appealed for the group to speak with one voice.

The Brics countries’ ambition to change the world in their image raises questions of fundamental values as well as geopolitical influence. Key members China and Russia have a tenuous attachment, or none at all, to democratic principles such as free elections, free speech and free media.

India, too, faces rising criticism about perceived attempts to muzzle open debate. Tibetan activists said about 250 people were jailed last week in an Indian government drive to pre-empt anti-China demonstrations. The approach to basic human rights taken by China and Russia, most recently in relation to the Syrian uprising, is not a paradigm that developing countries might happily adopt.

In a similar vein, less powerful non-aligned states are wondering whether the rise of the Brics merely marks the emergence of another selfish global elite, which will pay no more attention to their interests than do the western powers. Sreeram Chaulia, an international affairs analyst in India, told the New York Times that many smaller, poorer developing countries, especially in Africa, were watching to see if the five nations can evolve into true advocates for non-western interests. Developing countries wanted a multipolar world, rather than one dominated by the US “or, for that matter, by China,” he said.

Source: Gulf News
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