Geopolitical thread

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Philip
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Postby Philip » 05 Jun 2008 20:29

Since there is no thread on African affairs,this is being posted here about the deplorable situation in Zimbabwe,where Robert Mugabe is all set to emulate Idi Amin's record for brutality and dictatorship.Having lost the election and sure to lose the re-run,if fair and free,Mugabe is behaving like a typical "darkest Africa" monster,ruthlessly murdering his opponents and opposition leaders,after years of destroying his country's economy and agrarian strengths.Sadly,the current S.African leadership (minus Mandela whom they're trying to forget),is supporting this "old boy" revolutionary, who has turned into one of the world's worst despots.Mugabe is an outrage and an international pariah and his intimidation tactics include arresting his opponent,attacking diplomats who are trying to determine the level of fairness in this run up to the polls (which will end up in a farce),and terrorising the population many of whom have fled the country.Zimbabwe's currency is akin to that of inter-war Germany and it boasts of having the world's largest number of billionaires,where it costs millions for a loaf of bread if available!

British and US diplomats held at gunpoint in Zimbabwe
By Our Foreign Staff
Last Updated: 3:45PM BST 05/06/2008
British and American diplomats have been attacked in Zimbabwe while trying to investigate political violence, the US embassy has said.
Embassy spokesman Paul Engelstad said the group was being held after being stopped at a roadblock in a rural area north of Harare.

The American ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, was quoted by Reuters as saying that their detention was part of a plot to intimidate foreign diplomats that was coming “directly from the topâ€

Philip
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Postby Philip » 06 Jun 2008 17:29

Zimbabwe's new military dictator?
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 41401.html

New face of power in Zimbabwe

Aid suspended as Western diplomat says Mugabe has ceded control to head of army

By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
Friday, 6 June 2008


AFP/Getty Images
General Constantine Chiwenga, head of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, is the power behind Robert Mugabe, Western diplomats say

Zimbabwe's crisis deepened significantly last night as the country's leaders ordered the indefinite suspension of aid distribution, while a group of US and British diplomats were detained at gunpoint by thugs of the Mugabe regime.


A senior Western diplomat told journalists in London that Zimbabwe was now being run by a military junta, locked in an embrace with President Robert Mugabe. Asked if we have already seen a coup in Zimbabwe ahead of the run-off presidential election in three weeks' time, the diplomat said: "Yes we have. This is a junta," referring to the shadowy Joint Operations Command. "These are the people who have actually kept Mugabe in power."

The JOC is under the nominal control of a veteran politician, Emmerson Mnangagwa, but is, in fact, run by General Constantine Chiwenga, head of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

The Zimbabwe government announced the suspension of all field work by private aid and development groups, and non-government organisations, on the ground that they were breaching their terms of registration. The blanket ban came after Care International and Save the Children were accused of campaigning for the Zimbabwean opposition, charges that they deny.

There has been a dramatic escalation of voter intimidation before the run-off between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change.

A group of US and British diplomats were stopped at a roadblock in Bindura, 50 miles north of the capital, Harare, and held for six hours. James McGee, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, said the campaign to intimidate diplomats was "coming directly from the top".

Mr Tsvangirai, who was himself detained for eight hours on Wednesday after being stopped at a roadblock, has also accused the military of staging a de-facto coup by taking control of large swaths of the country and declaring them no-go areas for the opposition.

Speaking to Voice of America radio, Mr Tsvangirai said the army was calling Zimbabweans to political meetings at which they were instructed to vote for Mr Mugabe. He said this opened up the military to being involved in politics. "I think it's tantamount to a military coup," he said, adding that it was "the most dangerous development that's happening in the country".

The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, summoned the Zimbabwean high commissioner to the Foreign Office to explain why the diplomats had been detained. "This is a window into the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans," Mr Miliband said afterwards. "We have to be concerned obviously about British staff, but we also have to be concerned that intimidation does not become the order of the day."

Mr McGee, who was not in the convoy, told CNN: "Police put up a roadblock, stopped the vehicles, slashed the tyres, reached in and grabbed telephones from my personnel. The war veterans threatened to burn the vehicles with my people inside unless they got out and accompanied police to a station nearby."

A State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "It is absolutely outrageous, and it is a case of the kind of repression and violence that this government is willing to use against its own people."

Bright Matonga, a spokesman for the Zimbabwean government, accused the diplomats of handing out campaign literature for the opposition party, and said they had refused to leave their vehicles. "The police simply wanted to get to the bottom of the issue. No force or violence was used," he said.

Following the release on 2 May of the presidential election result, in which the challenger came ahead of the President and forced him into a humiliating run-off, Mr Mugabe's supporters have unleashed a kind of electoral cleansing, systematically targeting MDC voters to prevent them from casting their ballots on 27 June.

The Western diplomat said the military running the enforcement campaign appeared to be prepared to take any risks to stay in power. At least 50,000 people are reported to have been driven out by the displacement of opposition supporters.

Another worrying development, the diplomat said, was the "effective decapitating" of the opposition, by the abduction and murder of five prominent MDC activists, including Tonderai Ndira. Mr Tsvangirai left the country for five weeks and returned at the end of May despite assassination fears.

The diplomat said Mr Mugabe, who almost stepped down after the first round but was persuaded to fight in a run-off, was now "beholden" to the military to stay in power. "They are faceless securocrats. These are not people who can run the country without a figurehead like Mugabe." This was why the leader was confident he did not risk being overthrown when he went to Rome this week for a UN food summit.

Mugabe's military strongman

In the run-up to the first round of Zimbabwe's presidential election in March, General Constantine Chiwenga nailed his colours to the mast. "We will not support anyone other than President Mugabe, who has sacrificed a lot for this country."

Coming from the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for the past four and a half years, the message rang out loud and clear. After it became apparent that Robert Mugabe had lost the popular vote, Mr Chiwenga was instrumental in persuading him to come out fighting.

He has been a faithful Mugabe ally ever since he joined the then-guerrilla leader in Mozambique and fought alongside him in the battle to end white Rhodesian rule. After independence, Mr Chiwenga joined the army, where his ruthless ambition saw him rise swiftly through the ranks.

When Mr Mugabe's land reform got into full swing, Mr Chiwenga was one of the first to grab a white farm. In 2002, he and his wife Jocelyn seized control of a major producer of flowers and vegetables near Harare, a move that saw their wealth swell by some $20m. According to court testimony, Jocelyn told the owner, Roger Staunton, that "she had not tasted white blood since 1980... and that she needed just the slightest excuse to kill someone."

Both Mr and Mrs Chiwenga are among those barred from travelling to Europe and the United States.

Philip
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Postby Philip » 07 Jun 2008 12:38

"This new iron curtain, by the way, starts up in Greenland and stretches down through Britain and Germany, through Bosnia and Greece to Turkey. What is it for? What's on the other side? Russia. China. India."

Robert Fisk on the West/US's capacity for self-delusion in two pieces.

Fisk usually takes a pro-Arab lione in hiswritings,but exposes the hyypocrisy and venality of the US's foreign policy in the Middle East,where it is part of the problem,where it is trying to "annex" Iraq through blackmail of its puppet leadership (posted elsewhere),in similar fashion as it "annexed" Diego Garcia,and not the solution

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/fisk/ ... 42117.html

Robert Fisk: The West's weapon of self-delusion

There are gun battles in Beirut – and America thinks things are going fine

Saturday, 7 June 2008

So they are it again, the great and the good of American democracy, grovelling and fawning to the Israeli lobbyists of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), repeatedly allying themselves to the cause of another country and one that is continuing to steal Arab land.

Will this ever end? Even Barack Obama – or "Mr Baracka" as an Irish friend of mine innocently and wonderfully described him – found time to tell his Jewish audience that Jerusalem is the one undivided capital of Israel, which is not the view of the rest of the world which continues to regard the annexation of Arab East Jerusalem as illegal. The security of Israel. Say it again a thousand times: the security of Israel – and threaten Iran, for good measure.

Yes, Israelis deserve security. But so do Palestinians. So do Iraqis and Lebanese and the people of the wider Muslim world. Now even Condoleezza Rice admits – and she was also talking to Aipac, of course – that there won't be a Palestinian state by the end of the year. That promise of George Bush – which no-one believed anyway – has gone. In Rice's pathetic words, "The goal itself will endure beyond the current US leadership."

Of course it will. And the siege of Gaza will endure beyond the current US leadership. And the Israeli wall. And the illegal Israeli settlement building. And deaths in Iraq will endure beyond "the current US leadership" – though "leadership" is pushing the definition of the word a bit when the gutless Bush is involved – and deaths in Afghanistan and, I fear, deaths in Lebanon too.

It's amazing how far self-delusion travels. The Bush boys and girls still think they're supporting the "American-backed government" of Fouad Siniora in Lebanon. But Siniora can't even form a caretaker government to implement a new set of rules which allows Hizbollah and other opposition groups to hold veto powers over cabinet decisions.

Thus there will be no disarming of Hizbollah and thus – again, I fear this – there will be another Hizbollah-Israeli proxy war to take up the slack of America's long-standing hatred of Iran. No wonder President Bashar Assad of Syria is now threatening a triumphal trip to Lebanon. He's won. And wasn't there supposed to be a UN tribunal to try those responsible for the murder of ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005? This must be the longest police enquiry in the history of the world. And I suspect it's never going to achieve its goal (or at least not under the "current US leadership").

There are gun battles in Beirut at night; there are dark-uniformed Lebanese interior ministry troops in equally dark armoured vehicles patrolling the night-time Corniche outside my home.

At least Lebanon has a new president, former army commander Michel Sleiman, an intelligent man who initially appeared on posters, eyes turned to his left, staring at Lebanon with a creditor's concern. Now he has wisely ordered all these posters to be torn down in an attempt to get the sectarian groups to take down their own pictures of martyrs and warlords. And America thinks things are going fine in Lebanon.

And Bush and his cohorts go on saying that they will never speak to "terrorists". And what has happened meanwhile? Why, their Israeli friends – Mr Baracka's Israeli friends – are doing just that. They are talking to Hamas via Egypt and are negotiating with Syria via Turkey and have just finished negotiating with Hizbollah via Germany and have just handed back one of Hizbollah's top spies in Israel in return for body parts of Israelis killed in the 2006 war. And Bush isn't going to talk to "terrorists", eh? I bet he didn't bring that up with the equally hapless Ehud Olmert in Washington this week.

And so our dementia continues. In front of us this week was Blair with his increasingly maniacal eyes, poncing on about faith and God and religion, and I couldn't help reflecting on an excellent article by a colleague a few weeks ago who pointed out that God never seemed to give Blair advice. Like before April of 2003, couldn't He have just said, er, Tony, this Iraq invasion might not be a good idea.

Indeed, Blair's relationship with God is itself very odd. And I rather suspect I know what happens. I think Blair tells God what he absolutely and completely knows to be right – and God approves his words. Because Blair, like a lot of devious politicians, plays God himself. For there are two Gods out there. The Blair God and the infinite being which blesses his every word, so obliging that He doesn't even tell Him to go to Gaza.

I despair. The Tate has just sent me its magnificent book of orientalist paintings to coincide with its latest exhibition (The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting) and I am struck by the awesome beauty of this work. In the 19th century, our great painters wondered at the glories of the Orient.

No more painters today. Instead, we send our photographers and they return with pictures of car bombs and body parts and blood and destroyed homes and Palestinians pleading for food and fuel and hooded gunmen on the streets of Beirut, yes, and dead Israelis too. The orientalists looked at the majesty of this place and today we look at the wasteland which we have helped to create.

But fear not. Israel's security comes first and Mr Baracka wants Israel to keep all of Jerusalem – so much for the Palestinian state – and Condee says the "goal will endure beyond the current American leadership". And I have a bird that sits in the palm tree outside my home in Beirut and blasts away, going "cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep" for about an hour every morning – which is why my landlord used to throw stones at it.

But I have a dear friend who believes that once there was an orchestra of birds outside my home and that one day, almost all of them – the ones which sounded like violins and trumpets – got tired of the war and flew away (to Cyprus, if they were wise, but perhaps on to Ireland), leaving only the sparrows with their discordant flutes to remind me of the stagnant world of the Middle East and our cowardly, mendacious politicians. "Cheep-cheep-cheep," they were saying again yesterday morning. "Cheap-cheap-cheap." And I rather think they are right.

2:Robert Fisk: So al-Qa'ida's defeated, eh? Go tell it to the marines

Last week the head of the CIA claimed it was winning the battle. Nonsense, argues Robert Fisk. The extremists in the Middle East are growing stronger

Sunday, 1 June 2008

So al-Qa'ida is "almost defeated", is it? Major gains against al-Qa'ida. Essentially defeated. "On balance, we are doing pretty well," the CIA's boss, Michael Hayden, tells The Washington Post. "Near strategic defeat of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qa'ida in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qa'ida globally – and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' – as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam." Well, you could have fooled me.


Six thousand dead in Afghanistan, tens of thousands dead in Iraq, a suicide bombing a day in Mesopotamia, the highest level of suicides ever in the US military – the Arab press wisely ran this story head to head with Hayden's boasts – and permanent US bases in Iraq after 31 December. And we've won?

Less than two years ago, we had an equally insane assessment of the war when General Peter Pace, the weird (and now mercifully retired) chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said of the American war in Iraq that "we are not winning but we are not losing". At which point, George Bush's Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, said he agreed with Pace that "we are not winning but we are not losing".

James Baker, who had just produced his own messy report on Iraq then said – reader, please do not laugh or cry – "I don't think you can say we're losing. By the same token, I'm not sure we're winning." Then Bush himself proclaimed, "We're not winning; we're not losing." Pity about the Iraqis. But anyway, now we really, really are winning. Or at least al-Qa'ida is "almost" – note the "almost", folks – defeated. So Mike Hayden tells us.

Am I alone in finding this stuff infantile to the point of madness? As long as there is injustice in the Middle East, al-Qa'ida will win. As long as we have 22 times as many Western forces in the Muslim world as we did at the time of the Crusades – my calculations are pretty accurate – we are going to be at war with Muslims. The hell-disaster of the Middle East is now spread across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, even Lebanon. And we are winning?

Yes, we've bought ourselves some time in Iraq by paying half of the insurgents to fight for us and to murder their al-Qa'ida cousins. Yes, we are continuing to prop up Saudi Arabia's head-chopping and torture-practising regime – no problem there, I suppose, after our enthusiasm for "water-boarding" – but this does not mean that al-Qa'ida is defeated.

Because al-Qa'ida is a way of thinking, not an army. It feeds on pain and fear and cruelty – our cruelty and oppression – and as long as we continue to dominate the Muslim world with our Apache helicopters and our tanks and our Humvees and our artillery and bombs and our "friendly" dictators, so will al-Qa'ida continue.

Must we live this madness through to the very end of the Bush regime in Washington? Is there no one in that magnificent, imperial city who understands what "we" are doing out here in the Middle East? Why on earth does The Washington Post even give room to the fantasies of a functionary from the CIA, the very organisation that failed to prevent 9/11 because – if we are to believe what we are told – a phone call in Arabic about crashing planes into the twin towers hadn't been translated in time? Are we going to bomb Iran? Is this what we are waiting for now? Or is it to be another proxy Iranian-American war in Lebanon, fought out by Hizbollah and the Israelis? And does Mike believe al-Qa'ida is in Iran?

Israel continues to build settlements for Jews – and Jews only – on Arab land. And Washington does nothing. Illegal though these settlements are, George Bush goes along with it. They fuel anger and frustration and a righteous sense of grievance – and Washington will not prevent this outrage from continuing. I open my Arab papers each morning to find new reasons why the Bin Ladens of this world will not go away.

Take the story that came out of Gaza this week. Eight Palestinian students won grants from the Fulbright scholarship programme to study in the United States. You'd think, wouldn't you, that it was in the interest of America to bring these young Muslim people to the land of the free. But no. Israel won't let them leave Gaza. It's all part of the "war on terror" which Israel claims it is fighting alongside America. So the US State Department has cancelled the scholarships. No, it's not worth turning yourself into an al-Qa'ida suicide bomber for such a nonsense. But it would be difficult to find anything meaner, pettier, more vicious than this in yesterday's papers.

Does Mike Hayden read this stuff? Or is he, like most of Washington, so frightened of Israel that he wouldn't say boo to a goose? Doesn't the CIA realise – or imagine – that as long as we allow the Middle East to fester under a cloak of injustice, al-Qa'ida will continue? Why are our forces – and this is a question I was asked in Baghdad – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria (yes, US special forces have a base near Tamanraset), Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Tajikistan? (Yes again, French bomber pilots are based at Dushanbe to fly "close air support" for our lads in Afghanistan.)

And as long as we have stretched this iron curtain across the Middle East, we will be at war and al-Qa'ida will be at war with us. This new iron curtain, by the way, starts up in Greenland and stretches down through Britain and Germany, through Bosnia and Greece to Turkey. What is it for? What's on the other side? Russia. China. India.

These are questions we do not ask; certainly they're not the kind of questions that The Washington Post would dare to put to Mike and his chums at the CIA. Yes, we huff and we puff about democracy and freedom and human rights, though we give little enough of them to the Muslim world. For the kind of freedom they want – the kind of freedom that allows outfits like al-Qa'ida to flourish – is freedom from "us". And this, I fear, we do not intend to give them.

Mike Hayman may think the Muslim world is "pushing back" al-Qa'ida's "form of Islam", but I doubt it. Indeed, I rather suspect al-Qa'ida is growing stronger. Mike says they're defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. But are they defeated in London? And Bali? And in New York and Washington?

Raju

Postby Raju » 08 Jun 2008 09:43

Who is Pulling Gordon Brown's Strings on the Road to a One World Government?

"Clearly, the leaders of the main Western nations are following a script given to them, which is the reason Western Europe, North America and Australia in particular, are self-destructing under the weight of 'human rights', and 'equality' legislation, where reality is the opposite of the rhetoric.


With the Australian Prime Minister calling for an Asian Union and a North American Union already underway, we can see the plan taking shape that will ultimately (or sooner than we expect) create a One World Government."


http://www.thelabourparty.org/brown_strings.htm

Raju

Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Raju » 10 Jun 2008 14:18

Post WWII-era New World Order Map

http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/maps/19 ... ld4000.jpg

Includes a speech in the bottom left corner by FDR describing his vision for a "New World Moral Order" and an outline of the policies of the new order.

Raju

Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Raju » 10 Jun 2008 14:51

China, India To Be Invited Into Trilateral Commission
By Benjamin Fulford
6-9-8

The Trilateral Commission plans to invite China and India to join them next year, according to the Sankei Newspaper, one of Japan's leading dailies. http://sankei.jp.msn.com/world/america/ ... 009-n1.htm

In an article dated May 10th, 2008, that somehow slipped under my radar screen, the paper, citing un-named Trilateral Commission sources, says many Trilateralists have been complaining in recent years that the commission should disbanded because, without India and China involved, it had become meaningless.

As a result of these complaints, it was decided at the April Trilateral meeting in Washington to invite China and India the club.

"Adding India and China to the commission will be an event of world historical importance," the paper quotes Masa Yamamoto, a Tokyo-based Trilateral commissioner, as saying
.
Both Japanese and US Trilateral commission members have told me in the past the commission was becoming irrelevant. The Japanese members complained that the US and European members never took their advice and so that Japan was beginning to distance itself from the organization.

The Trilateral Commission was set up by David Rockefeller in 1973 because the members of the Bilderberg group refused to let Japanese join their club for racist reasons, commission members say.

...

ramana
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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby ramana » 10 Jun 2008 21:37

Raju wrote:Post WWII-era New World Order Map

http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/maps/19 ... ld4000.jpg

Includes a speech in the bottom left corner by FDR describing his vision for a "New World Moral Order" and an outline of the policies of the new order.


Did you see the emphasis on 'de-militarize' on all the countries? It would be useful to see what google shows up on that author's name.

Looks like NWO is an American obesession or a requirement for manifest destiny.Is it secualrized evanjelicalism?

Rye
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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Rye » 10 Jun 2008 21:48

deleted.
Last edited by Rye on 11 Jun 2008 00:55, edited 1 time in total.

Raju

Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Raju » 10 Jun 2008 22:36

ramana wrote:
Raju wrote:Post WWII-era New World Order Map

http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/maps/19 ... ld4000.jpg

Includes a speech in the bottom left corner by FDR describing his vision for a "New World Moral Order" and an outline of the policies of the new order.


Did you see the emphasis on 'de-militarize' on all the countries? It would be useful to see what google shows up on that author's name.

Looks like NWO is an American obesession or a requirement for manifest destiny.Is it secualrized evanjelicalism?



the new moral world order

highlighted on point 3

A New World Moral Order for permanent peace and freedom shall be established at the successful conclusion of the present war.

de-militarize should probably be seen together with de-nuclearize

Rye
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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Rye » 10 Jun 2008 23:24

Deleted.
Last edited by Rye on 11 Jun 2008 00:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby paramu » 10 Jun 2008 23:46

I think this kind of board and discussion will invite some topics like this. We have to tolerate it since it will lead to some open thinking.
No need to be concerned about it

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Rye » 10 Jun 2008 23:53

Deleted.
Last edited by Rye on 11 Jun 2008 00:32, edited 1 time in total.

ramana
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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby ramana » 11 Jun 2008 00:22

Folks this thread has survived in ~ 15 versions of it and countless ones before the numbering started. I dont want it to be reduced to a squabble like the nuke threads.

Raju, please exercise some restraint in posting about the various groups unless there is direct relevance to the thread.

And Rye, why dont you take the high road and post things to bring up the value of the thread?

Thanks, ramana

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby satya » 19 Jun 2008 19:36

Europe a model for Japan-China reconciliation

In a radical departure from past practice, a think tank affiliated with one of Japan's most influential conservative politicians has proposed that Japan and China emulate Germany and France to overcome their historical differences and create a broad-based relationship for the promotion of prosperity and stability in Asia.

In a short statement marking the unveiling in April of a policy paper titled "A New Chapter in Japan-China Relations," former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, referred several times to Franco-German historical reconciliation as a positive example for Japan and China to follow. In Japan, unlike in Europe, conservative organizations have tended to distance themselves from discussions of Japan's negative past. Looking to Europe for inspiration to overcome history has appealed more to critics on the left, who like to point to Germany as "the good student" and Japan as being a laggard in coming to terms with unresolved issues such as the Nanking Massacre, wartime forced labor and colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Nakasone's proposal, however, breaks new ground. "Like the relationship between Germany and France, we [Japan and China] have a chance to become a linchpin for peace and prosperity in Asia," ( dominate Asia in real politik terms )said Nakasone, chairman of the Institute for International Policy Studies, a think tank he helped found after leaving office in 1987. A fervent anti-communist, Nakasone once offered to turn Japan into an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" for the United States. The position paper praises several things France and Germany have done together since the end of World War II--from Franco-German cooperation in the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951, to the joint French-German high school history textbook launched in 2006.

Nakasone's statement proposing the Franco-German model for Japan-China relations has yet to be reported in the Japanese media, even though the paper's unveiling was timed to precede the visit to Japan of Chinese President Hu Jintao in May. One reason for this oversight may be lack of awareness in Japan of the key role conservatives in Europe played in the promotion of historical reconciliation immediately after World War II.

For example, the first concerted effort to promote Franco-German reconciliation after World War II consisted of a series of retreats held at the headquarters of Moral Rearmament, an international anti-communist organization based in the village of Caux, Switzerland. Starting in 1946, the MRA brought 3,000 leading Germans together with 2,000 French counterparts, including former members of the Resistance. Among the German participants was Konrad Adenauer, later to become the chancellor of West Germany. Adenauer went on to cooperate with French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman to lay the foundations for the ECSC, an organization that had as much to do with reconciliation as with coal and steel. The preamble to the ECSC treaty signed in Paris in 1951 does not actually contain the words coal or steel. It states as its purpose, to create "by establishing an economic community, the basis for a broader and deeper community among peoples long divided by bloody conflicts; and to lay the foundations for institutions which will give direction to a destiny henceforward shared ... ."
To be sure, the Nakasone proposal has its limitations. It fails to take note of the many concrete ways in which Germany has atoned for its past and the lasting positive effect of the German practice of providing compensation and apology to individual victims of Nazi crimes. An important first step to reconciliation is atonement on the part of the state, and this seems to be missing from official Japanese moves aimed at overcoming the past. For example, it has been the insistence of certain Japanese bureaucrats on following an extremely narrow interpretation of international law that has prevented Japan from using official funds to offer direct compensation to "comfort women" and forced laborers.

The Nakasone proposal focuses instead on pragmatic outcomes, such as the mutual benefit for both Japan and China of Japanese aid targeted at helping Chinese industry control carbon dioxide emissions. But, given the present fragility of Japan-China relations, as demonstrated by the enormous damage to both trade and diplomatic relations done by just some packages of contaminated Chinese dumplings, Nakasone's emphasis on pragmatism is nothing less than a bold step forward.

But there is another reason to take note of Nakasone's proposal. In Japan the left can talk about reconciliation, but it is only the right that apparently has the political clout needed to do something about it.


So essentially Russia & India are left out of the packing order by the Western alliances . Interesting times ahead ...........

Raju

Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Raju » 19 Jun 2008 20:51

Image

anupmisra
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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby anupmisra » 23 Jun 2008 02:54

Suth Asian Union
Dangerous Trends

The Proposed countries are Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran Azerbaijan Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan Pakistan, India Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand Laos, Cambodia Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, China, Mongolia North Korea, South Korea Japan and Philippine.


This organization or union will be one of the strongest unions. If we can establish a powerful single currency like EURO for example SACU (South Asian Currency) or dollar or any other selected by the forum. And valuation can be fixed by averaging the currency values of the nations concerned.


Abolish visa system in order to promote traveling facility freely and adopt free trade among the regional counties.


Form a joint military council to establish security of state, countries of the union & for common people.


State to State disputes should be resolve for the best interest of the people, if necessary Union should be involved with other member countries on the table.


Saulat Kamran
House No -28, Road No-4
Dhanmandi R/A. Dhaka-1205, Bangladesh.
E-Mail : info@southasianunion.net

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Gerard » 23 Jun 2008 04:13

The Proposed countries are Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran Azerbaijan Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan Pakistan, India Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand Laos, Cambodia Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, China, Mongolia North Korea, South Korea Japan and Philippine.

:rotfl:
We is all South Asians now.....

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby JE Menon » 23 Jun 2008 12:58

kissikhtha... North bloody Korea??? Mongolia...

:mrgreen: :(( :rotfl:

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Singha » 23 Jun 2008 14:27

HQ'ed in Islamabad ofcourse under the Mahdi - seat of the most 'explosive' economy in the world
and most 'dynami(ti)c society'

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby anupmisra » 23 Jun 2008 17:21

Singha wrote:HQ'ed in Islamabad ofcourse under the Mahdi - seat of the most 'explosive' economy in the world
and most 'dynami(ti)c society'


It is authored by a bangladeshi, HQ'd in Dhaka!! Just as bad.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Vikas » 24 Jun 2008 05:58

But My dear Sau-Laat, why there is no Israel or Taiwan in this list ? Are they North Asians :D

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Sanjay M » 25 Jun 2008 11:13

In a true a demonstration of the New Europe's leftist credentials, they're now blaming the US for their failed Lisbon Treaty vote:

French Pol: Europe Has 'Enemies' in the U.S.

Jean-Pierre Jouyet, France's Minister for Europe, suggests that neoconservatives in Washington influenced Ireland's No vote on the EU's Lisbon Treaty

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Ananth » 26 Jun 2008 09:34

Russia returns to Afghanistan, on request
Two decades after it pulled out of Afghanistan, Russia is returning — at the request of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Moscow will allow land shipment of NATO supplies to Afghanistan across the Russian territory and will supply weapons to the Afghan army.

There is a rich irony in the fact that the U.S., which fought a proxy war against the Russian forces in Afghanistan from 1979-1989, is now asking Russia to help NATO combat the same mujahideen who were armed and trained by Washington to fight the Russians.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby abhischekcc » 27 Jun 2008 22:41

x-posted from non-western world view thread, as it is more relevant here.

There were several factors supporting growth of Nazism, besides the prevailing socio-economic conditions in Germany.

I have earlier written about British and American support for Nazi movement, and then later Nazi Germany.

But I have never spoken about the German elite. They have been trying to unite Europe under their leaderhip for several centuries. First, the Hapsburgs tried to unite/control Europe by marriage alliances. Marie Antoinette was German, so was the wife of Tsar Nicholas, last Tsar of Russia. This effort of the Germans ultimately ended by WW2.

Then the elite tried a more direct approach - war. This was the impulse for their support for Nazis. This effort ended in WW2.

Then when sex and violence both failed, they tried trade.

And the European Economic Community was born. I got the heebie-jeebies when I read that the Nazi plan for post WW2 Europe was called just that - the European Economic Community.

One of the biggest supporters of the EEC was Francois Mitterand - someone who was known to be a Nazi supporter in Vichy France.
So even the people pushing the United-Europe agenda are the same as in WW2.

This project has come closest to fruition among all the paths germany has taken.

And naturally, the Anglo-American Empire does not like it.

Case in point - George Soros' attack on the British pound, which led Britain to get out of the ERM. At that time Britain was undecided whether to throw its lot with a German-led Europe or with their blood brothers across the pond.

Pound's ejection from the European ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism), which was a stepping stone to the adoption of the Euro, caused Britain to side with the Americans - this was the big game going on. Yanks wanted to retain a beachhead in Europe - they got one.

Ironically, this helped Germany's position on the continent to become the strongest ever. For the first time, Germany became the dominant power in Europe. Britain was (partially) out of the united-europe game, and consequently had less say in the Euro. And no longer could Britain play France and Germany against one anothr , as it did in the whole of the 19th century.

Germany's grand strategy in motion.
ramana wrote:Was Nazism a new Islam for Europe? IOW a normative process for Germanic/Central and Eastern Europeans? Islam was similarly developed for Arab people.
Thanks, ramana


Ramana,

There were several factors supporting growth of Nazism, besides the prevailing socio-economic conditions in Germany.

I have earlier written about British and American support for Nazi movement, and then later Nazi Germany.

But I have never spoken about the German elite. They have been trying to unite Europe under their leaderhip for several centuries. First, the Hapsburgs tried to unite/control Europe by marriage alliances. Marie Antoinette was German, so was the wife of Tsar Nicholas, last Tsar of Russia. This effort of the Germans ultimately ended by WW2.

Then the elite tried a more direct approach - war. This was the impulse for their support for Nazis. This effort ended in WW2.

Then when sex and violence both failed, they tried trade.

And the European Economic Community was born. I got the heebie-jeebies when I read that the Nazi plan for post WW2 Europe was called just that - the European Economic Community. :eek:

One of the biggest supporters of the EEC was Francois Mitterand - someone who was known to be a Nazi supporter in Vichy France.
So even the people pushing the United-Europe agenda are the same as in WW2.

This project has come closest to fruition among all the paths germany has taken.

And naturally, the Anglo-American Empire does not like it.

Case in point - George Soros' attack on the British pound, which led Britain to get out of the ERM. At that time Britain was undecided whether to throw its lot with a German-led Europe or with their blood brothers across the pond.

Pound's ejection from the European ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism), which was a stepping stone to the adoption of the Euro, caused Britain to side with the Americans - this was the big game going on. Yanks wanted to retain a beachhead in Europe - they got one.

Ironically, this helped Germany's position on the continent to become the strongest ever. For the first time, Germany became the dominant power in Europe. Britain was (partially) out of the united-europe game, and consequently had less say in the Euro. And no longer could Britain play France and Germany against one anothr , as it did in the whole of the 19th century.

Germany's grand strategy in motion.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby abhischekcc » 27 Jun 2008 22:53

Adding to my earlier post.

A German(EU)-Russian alliance is an alliance madein geo-political heaven for the two countries, and in hell for the Anglo-American Empire.

Russia and EU hail "fresh start" in relations

The two countries are made for each other - each having what the other lacks.
Russia has raw materials (especially energy), a large untapped market for consumer and capital goods. Germany has need for energy and need for Russia's market.
Both need to oppose US thrashing about in their backyards.
Neither country is hung up on promoting 'democracy'.

Watch the moves these two countries make.

The next global opponent of US may not be China, but a unified continental Europe.

Also watch Britain discomfiture as it debates whether to join the New, New Europe or remain part of a declining empire.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Singha » 28 Jun 2008 23:27

Sarkozy has unveiled a plan to cut France army to 225,000 and have infra to deploy
30,000 to any hotspot around the world. I guess that means more Mistrals, A400, A330
and logistic support ships and less focus on Rafale and Le Troimphant.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby SaiK » 29 Jun 2008 02:39

per cia, global warming is a security threat. for example, if half of bangla desh gets sunk by rising water, then they can't keep pushing into India. They will join many dangerous folks out in the afghan, and perhaps sneek into maassa land, to create more troubles for them.

nice thinking! .. we should not ingore this. do we still have stronger walls on the border?

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby satyarthi » 29 Jun 2008 07:16

Axis of evil leaves the pacific coast. President Bush has made up with N Korea and GOTUS is going to announce soon that N Korea is not a terrorism sponsoring country.

It is understandable that allies like Japan, S Korea and Taiwan wouldn't prefer any wars taking place on their lands. A war in that region is not preferable to US and allies, since the allied populations will come into harm's way.

This brings up the question as to where the military conflict between the west and China (or west and Russia) could actually take place.

It appears that the central, western and southern Asia are being groomed by the west for locations of future wars with the adversaries like China and Russia.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Gerard » 29 Jun 2008 21:19

Three's a Crowd
Is a collision among Asia's rising powers inevitable?

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby svinayak » 29 Jun 2008 21:45

That's a bigger problem for Asia than many investors may want to admit.

There's much relief that Asia is holding its ground as the U.S. economy slows and credit-market woes humble Wall Street's biggest names. While asset markets are heading lower from Tokyo to Jakarta and Shanghai to Mumbai, healthy economic growth has confounded the pessimists -- so far.

Knock-On Effects

The knock-on effects are coming, just more stealthily than many expect. Asia is unlikely to get off easy even if the U.S. skirts a recession. The region hasn't decoupled from America as much as some would say.

The worst-case scenario -- a prolonged U.S. decline -- could be devastating, particularly at a time when record oil and food prices are hurting Asian households. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett laid it out in a June 25 Bloomberg interview. He's unsure when the U.S. will recover.

``It's not going to be tomorrow, it's not going to be next month, and it may not even be next year,'' said the chairman of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The idea that Asia will continue to display an impressive immunity to U.S. events ignores how dependent China is on the American economy. It also ignores how reliant Asia is on China's 10 percent growth. Slowing U.S. demand will chip away at that country's export-driven expansion exponentially.

China's Limits

China is one of several Asian economies with negative real interest rates. With its annual inflation above the central bank's benchmark lending rate, China would be hard-pressed to stimulate growth with lower borrowing costs or increased government spending.

Monetary quandaries abound in Asia. Bank of Japan officials, for example, are making it clear interest-rate deliberations have become increasingly challenging over the last two months.

``At the time of the June meeting, both downside and upside risks had risen compared with when we met in May,'' BOJ policy board member Seiji Nakamura said yesterday in Asahikawa, Japan.

The credit crisis that began with U.S. subprime loans is just one force crimping U.S. spending. A new Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times survey shows most Americans are feeling the pain from rising gasoline prices and many are tightening their belts. Seven in 10 of those surveyed said higher gas prices have caused them ``financial hardship.''

Export Woes

That may mean less spending on cars, flat-screen televisions, cellular phones, name-brand clothing items and other goods manufactured in Asia. With U.S. consumers accounting for 70 percent of gross domestic product, any pullback would have an outsized impact on global economies. Housing is arguably the key to all of this.

The U.S. will expand 1.4 percent in 2008, the weakest performance since 2001, according to a Bloomberg survey. U.S. growth may be cut by a half to a full percentage point if consumers spend less and save more, according to Deutsche Bank AG economists. For Asia, that is decidedly bad news.

So is Harvard's housing report and Buffett's concern that the U.S. is heading for stagflation. Rising home prices and easy access to credit have been the major drivers of U.S. growth in recent years. If U.S. housing remains weak, Asia's export- dependent economies are particularly vulnerable.

Here, recent comments by Federal Reserve officials are both good and bad for Asia.

The Fed this week left its benchmark rate at 2 percent, saying ``uncertainty about the inflation outlook remains high.'' Further rate cuts seem unlikely, something that could disappoint some investors. The specter of continued rate moves supported optimism about Asia's export markets.

Yet easy Fed policies also cause problems in Asia. Much of the liquidity that U.S. officials create ends up in Asian markets, increasing so-called hot-money flows. That has made it harder for Asian central banks to control money supply and inflation. Taking a longer-term view, an end to Fed rate cuts isn't a bad thing.

The catch is that with Asia's most important customer in trouble, the region's growth outlook is dimming. Here, the U.S. housing market is more of a linchpin than many in Asia think.


http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... refer=home

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby ShauryaT » 30 Jun 2008 04:32

Gerard wrote:Three's a Crowd
Is a collision among Asia's rising powers inevitable?
Yes, under current global operating world order. Although not nesessarily directly between the three Asian nations.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Philip » 01 Jul 2008 15:49

A WW2 "whodunit".Was the Polish general indeed murdered by the British or the Russians?Truth they say is stranger than fiction.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... orski.html

Did British double agent Kim Philby murder Polish war hero General Sikorski?
By Harry de Quetteville in Berlin
Last Updated: 2:29AM BST 01/07/2008
A Second World War murder mystery featuring Winston Churchill, the British double agent Kim Philby and Joseph Stalin could be solved after the Polish government called for the body of a national hero to be exhumed.
Image 1 of 2
At Downing Street: [from left] Viscount Halifax with Gen Sikorski, Winston Churchill and the Polish foreign minister M Zaleski

GETTY
Kim Philby ran British intelligence in Gibraltar from 1941 to 1944
General Wladyslaw Sikorski, the leader of Poland's wartime government in exile, died 65 years ago this month when his plane plunged into the sea off Gibraltar.

A British inquiry in 1943 found that the crash was caused by the plane's controls jamming. But rumours persist of a plot to kill Gen Sikorski, whose defence of the Polish national cause threatened to derail Britain's relationship with the Soviet Union.

Now Poland's president, Lech Kaczynski, and his prime minister, Donald Tusk, have demanded that Gen Sikorski's body be exhumed from its tomb in Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, the traditional burial place of Polish heroes. "The tragic circumstances of the death of General Sikorski should be explained," said the president.

Article continuesadvertisement
Moves to exhume Sikorski's body follow a long campaign by Polish historians, who claim that it was not examined properly before burial. They claim that he might have been killed before the crash, in which his daughter also died, and only the pilot survived. In particular, they want an examination of his skull to see whether he was shot.

The general's death has attracted a swarm of conspiracy theories, which variously accuse British, Soviet and even rival Polish factions of orchestrating his murder.

But the most insistent rumours suggest that his death was ordered by the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, incensed by Gen Sikorski's demand for an investigation into the Katyn massacre of Polish officers by Soviet troops.

Stalin's accusers claim that Gen Sikorski's plane was left unguarded on the runway at Gibraltar, and could easily have been sabotaged. They also point out that on the day of the crash, July 4, 1943, a plane carrying the Soviet ambassador Ivan Maisky and a small retinue of Soviet troops parked next to the doomed Polish leader's aircraft.

Allegations of a plot by the Soviet Union, determined not to let Polish nationalism get in the way of communist expansion after the war, have been further fuelled by the presence on Gibraltar of Kim Philby.

The notorious spy was in charge of British intelligence operations in the territory from 1941 to 1944. The crash occurred 20 years before he defected to Russia, but he is thought to have been a double agent from the start of the war.

Investigators have also pointed the finger at the British wartime leader Winston Churchill. In 1967 the German dramatist Rolf Hochhuth suggested in the play Soldiers that Churchill was so anxious over Gen Sikorski's impact on ties with Stalin that he ordered the assassination.

Performances of the play were at first banned in Britain. Two years later Harold Wilson, briefed on the case, told the House of Commons such rumours should be "dismissed and brushed aside with the contempt they deserve".

In his defence, Mr Hochhuth referred to the memoirs of the Yugoslav vice-president Milovan Djilas, who said Stalin warned that the British might try to kill Tito as they had Sikorski.

However, in declassified papers from 1969, the former pilot Sir Robin Cooper reviewed the wartime inquiry into Sikorski's death and concluded that "the possibility of Sikorski's murder by the British is excluded".

"But," he added, "the possibility of his murder by persons unknown cannot be so excluded."

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Sanjay M » 02 Jul 2008 05:57


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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Tilak » 02 Jul 2008 06:51


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Patriotism

Postby Sanjay M » 05 Jul 2008 05:34

The Global Patriotism Ranking:

http://www.forbes.com/home/2008/07/02/w ... triot.html

Which country has more patriotic sentiment?

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Re: Patriotism

Postby Keshav » 06 Jul 2008 08:05

Sanjay M wrote:The Global Patriotism Ranking:

http://www.forbes.com/home/2008/07/02/w ... triot.html

Which country has more patriotic sentiment?


I think it just goes to show how much putting a roof over someone's head, giving them food and water can greatly increase someone's patriotism.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby abhischekcc » 08 Jul 2008 00:16

I found this interesting tid-bit while looking for something else:

During the coronotion ceremony of the British monarch:

The monarch is simultaneously crowned as sovereign of multiple nations, Elizabeth II being asked, for example: "Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?"[


Would this mean that Pakistan is still a British colony?

If so, it gives a very profound reason for the American/British support for Pakistan - it is British territory!!! :eek:

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation ... sh_monarch


This also explains the western anti-pathy for Indira Gandhi.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby Johann » 08 Jul 2008 20:40

Abishek,

India, Pakistan and Ceylon were all *independent* dominions in 1947. Just as much as South Africa or Australia.

The oath didnt mean that Australia is 'British territory', just that Elizabeth is the Queen of Australia. Sovereign states that happen to share the same symbolic head of state.

India's constituent assembly finished its job quickly, and India became a republic in 1950.

Elizabeth's coronation was in 1953.

Pakistan's constituent assembly was deadlocked over a bunch of issues - some of them over the role of Islam, but mostly over how to keep the Bengalis of East Pakistan out of power. They didnt finish their job until 1956, which is when Pakistan became a republic.

In other words if George the VI had died in say, November 1948, Elizabeth's coronation oath would have included India as well. Or if it had been 1958, Pakistan would have been excluded.

Incidentally South Africa would have dropped out of the list if it was 1968 - South Africa became a republic in 1961. The Boers never liked the English, and certainly not after political pressure from the UK to accept majority rule.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby abhischekcc » 08 Jul 2008 20:58

Well, I suppose that should clear it up.

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Re: Geopolitical thread - 15

Postby ramana » 09 Jul 2008 03:39

op-ed or rather trip report in Deccan Chronicle, 9 July 2008

Astana, heart of Asia
By Indranil Banerjie

Not too many people in this country would have heard of the city of Astana. It ranks perhaps somewhat below Timbuktu in the list of generally well-known places. Also, it has not been around for all that long. Till 10 years ago, for all practical purposes, it did not even exist. In its place was a small, insignificant settlement chilled by bitter Siberian winds in winter and blistered by scorching sunshine in summer. The original settlement was known as Akmola.

Today, rechristened Astana, it is the flourishing capital of a resurgent Kazakhstan — a country that has forced its way into global reckoning by virtue of its enormous petrochemical resources and aggressive economic policies. Last Sunday, July 6, the city which is destined to play a major role in the emerging geopolitics of the Eurasian landmass celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Astana is a city that has sprouted virtually overnight from the flat Siberian steppes. Glistening glass towers and imposing spires of tall buildings emerge from a sea of seemingly endless grassland. The slow flowing Ishim river roughly separates the old part of town from the new. The new city is the brainchild of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who had selected the late Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa to design a grand new capital. Kurokawa, before he died, drew up a blueprint for an astonishingly modern urban complex. Today, much of his designs are complete, including the new international airport, which has become a stopover for many flights crossing the expanse of Eurasia. Glass and metal offices, bright Lego-like apartment blocks and shopping malls, the enduring if banal symbols of contemporary urban life, are very much in evidence. It is a spanking new city with a young population and a steadily growing population of expatriates. Plans are to make Astana a self-sustaining economic centre as well. But all this does not explain the real importance of Astana.

Astana is significant because it sits at centre of the vast Eurasian landmass, with the Far East on one side and Europe on the other. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of independent republics in the Asian heartland was a historical turning point. It reversed the trend started in the mid-15th century following the fall of Constantinople, which had led to the demise of the centuries-old overland Asia-Europe trade and the gradual extinction of the so-called Silk Route. The decline of overland trade led to the advent of the maritime age and the ascendance of seafaring nations. The imperial powers, including Russia, brought most of Asia under their control, apportioned spheres of influence and effectively froze intra-Asian trade and commerce. Cities and populations dependent on the historical trans-Asian trade declined and decayed. Among these were the legendary Khanates (city states ruled by Khans) of Central Asia, including places like Samarkand, Turkestan, Bukhara and Khiva. Colonialism also devastated most Asian economies and local political power.

That trend was reversed following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which, for all practical purposes, was the last colonial power in the continent.

Several parts of Asia, Kazakhstan included, have emerged as economic successes in recent times. Political power has risen somewhat less spectacularly but has grown nevertheless. All this is translating into a rising desire for intra-Asian trade, travel and cultural exchanges. There is also as an incipient but strong desire to ensure that past patterns of dominance and exploitation do not resurface. Consequently, there are new alliances and new geopolitics. Kazakhstan straddles two of the most important economies in the world. On one side is the formidable Chinese economy and on the other, the European Union. In the south is energy-hungry India, which is also emerging as an economic powerhouse. Europe has begun sourcing a significant amount of its gas via land pipelines from Russia, which in turn is sourcing a lot of it from Central Asia. China is doing the same with oil. In December 2005, President Nazarbaev pressed a button in Astana to start oil flowing through a $700 million 960-km pipeline to China. Much oil has flowed since then and more pipelines are in the queue. It is beginning to make economic sense to transport commodities, oil and gas over land routes once again.

One consequence is the revival of some of the old trade corridors. Central Asia is once again becoming the crossroads of Eurasia, and Astana is smack in the middle. The importance of Astana is underscored by the fact that key transport projects run through that city. The most important, of course, is the Asian Highways project being coordinated and facilitated by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The project aims to create a network of world-class roads across the Asian continent and two of the most important corridors, AH5 and AH6, pass through Kazakhstan. The AH5, starting in Shanghai, will pass through the Kazakh city of Almaty, where it will fork northwards to Astana for the northern Europe leg and southwards to the Caucasus for eventual entry into Europe through Bulgaria. The Chinese are working on this project at breakneck speed and the Kazakhs are close behind. Once completed, trade caravans will once again roll between Europe and the Far East. This time, instead of camel and oxen, the beasts of burden will be trucks, snorting and honking their way across the Asian steppes.

Most Asian countries recognise the importance of Astana. Significantly, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first foreign visit was to Kazakhstan and China in May this year. Radio Free Europe quoted John MacLeod, senior editor at the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting, in pointing out: "Kazakhstan is the dominant state politically and economically in Central Asia and I predict that it will continue to be so for some time to come." Most Asian leaders know that, and want a piece of the action. Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao, visit Astana regularly, at least every other year, indicating the importance his country attaches to Kazakhstan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too has met President Nazarbaev twice: in Moscow in May 2005 and at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg in July 2006.

At the same time, Astana also represents a huge gamble. Greenfield cities are generally high-stakes projects, specially in thinly-populated countries. The Astana experiment is not without its critics. Some in Kazakhstan point out that Almaty, the former capital, is better and more strategically located. Almaty enjoys great weather for most of the year, unlike Astana, which is afflicted by terrible Siberian winters. Moreover, existing train and road routes already connect Almaty to China in the east and onward to Russia and Europe in the west. There are also other old routes leading south from Almaty to Turkestan and further onto destinations in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iran and even India. They argue that there was no need for Astana. The country’s leadership disagrees, and feels Astana is the key to their future. Only time will tell whether Astana will be remembered as a monumental folly of a Mohammed bin Tughlaq or as an act of foresight by a prescient Shah Jahan.

— Indranil Banerjie is a defence and security analyst based in New Delhi



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