Janus’ Musings

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Posts Tagged ‘Politics

Whither Pakistan?

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Lots of changes happening in Pakistan – new President (today); recent Prime Minister and the country continues to go downhill. The Americans have always supported Pakistan as an ally – but of course this was convinient to the Pakistanis. The American money kept flowing and the Pakistanis kept doing what they do best – feeding the Taliban monster.

An article in the NY Times questions Pakistan’s loyalty. The Americans seem to have just woken up. But seriously, the direction is taking is really a ticking time bomb with real bad implications for India.

For once, Pakistan needs to get over it’s obesession with India and create an identity for itself that different from being “not-India”. Grow up guys, there is a whole world out there and lots of problems to solve in both our countries. So let’s not waste people by blowing them up.

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Written by janusmusings

September 6, 2008 at 3:08 am

Posted in Asia, India

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Does Osama bin Laden Still Matter

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Time magazine asks this question in a recent issue…well I don’t think so – I don’t think he ever mattered. He was nothing more than a small time smuggler (of opium etc) who had some wealth that he was willing to spend on causes he thought would make him the next Imam of Islam. He has visions of grandeur – nothing else. He got lucky once (9/11) and was never been able to repeat anything like that ever. I don’t think he will ever, either.

His vision of pan-Arabia Islam with him as the Caliph did not materialize. The Muslim world did not stand up together when America invaded Iraq – quite simply most of Muslim world are engaged in their own battle – to stay in power…

Written by janusmusings

July 7, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Posted in Asia, India

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Moral Duty to intervene?

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Given the disaster in Burma and that Government’s indifference to the pain of the people – the question to be asked is: should other nations have the right to intervene in a clear humanitarian crisis where the local government is indifferent? My view is yes – Burma should have been invaded and the regime changed a long time ago – much before Iraq or Afghanistan or the nations in South America.

An article in the Economist questions the legality of a unilateral intervention by the UN in Burma

Responsibility to protect is not yet dead, but it is fragile.
Supporters point to the power-sharing deal that stopped Kenya’s civil
war in February as the concept’s first success. The fact that the UN, in principle, retains the right to impose its will by force may have made it easier for the world body to broker a settlement.

Perhaps. But the idea will need some clearer successes than that if
it is going to survive. And Myanmar, apparently, is not going to be one
of them.

Written by janusmusings

May 30, 2008 at 2:12 am

Posted in Asia

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Mugabe

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A good op-ed in the NY Times early on in April on Robert Mugabe – Heidi Holland tries to put a human face on Mugabe and tries in some way to explain (if it can be explained) how Mugabe feels victimized by the Western World:

So why talk about his heathen grandmother? I wanted to understand the Robert Mugabe who had been obscured amid the chaos and misrule. The one described by his classmates as shy, bookish, a loner deeply attached to his mother and resentful of his absent father. The one who was at first remarkably forgiving of white landowners when he came to power in 1980. (For instance, Mr. Mugabe allowed his predecessor, Ian Smith, who led the white minority government that ran Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known, to live on in Harare without harassment, even when Mr. Smith embarked on a campaign against him.)

But bitterness had clearly welled up within him. When I first met him at that dinner in 1975, he seemed to be a considerate man, asking after the health of my toddler son even as he fled into exile to a neighboring country shortly afterward. By the end of 2007, as we sat together again after 28 years of his rule, he exuded the air of a lost and angry man.

Why? Part of the answer came to me in our interview, as Mr. Mugabe expressed almost tearful regret at his inability to socialize with the queen of England. He feels that the West — and Britain in particular — has failed to recognize his “suffering and sacrifice.” As someone who by his own estimation is part British, this rejection has taken on the intensity of a family quarrel.

Much of the quarrel centers on the vexed issue of land redistribution. As part of the pact that created Zimbabwe’s independence, Britain promised financial aid to help the young country redistribute land from white farmers to blacks.

When this money was misused, the British government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher began to withhold it. Mrs. Thatcher’s successor, John Major, agreed to restore the money. But before he could do so, his successor, Tony Blair, reversed course, taking the aid off the table, where it remains today. It is this grievance against Britain for short-changing him on the land redistribution issue that Mr. Mugabe craves understanding

Written by janusmusings

April 13, 2008 at 2:15 am

Posted in Africa

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Burma and India and China

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My view was that India failed to leverage it’s influence in Burma – hence allowing China to cozy up to the generals and getting access to Burma’s raw materials. India seemed to moving away from this position with the recent military and economic co-operation; but today I read this op-ed in the WSJ by Tarun Khanna – he has persuasively argued that India should use the softer approach viz. supporting the democracy movement and wait it out till the Junta falls. Tarun also advocates using Bollywood as a way to get into the hearts and minds of the Burmese:

India’s true strength lies in projecting soft power. Unstinting support
of democracy, for example, is far likelier to work in the longer run as
the junta runs out of steam. India should not squander an opportunity
to lay useful groundwork in this regard. Even other tools of soft power
will likely work better. Bollywood, for example, has a large following
in Burma, and the over hundred thousand Burmese refugees in India will
likely embrace India over China. Trying to play China’s game against
China is folly, not to mention unprincipled. It will no more work than
if China tries to project only soft power against India’s tactics.

Written by janusmusings

April 10, 2008 at 12:48 am

Posted in Asia, India

Tagged with ,

Tibet

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While the world has been going crazy talking about the repression in Tibet – one newspaper article tries to look at what the Chinese think of what’s happening. Looks like the Chinese Govt has used the media skillfully to play the nationalist angle – the general feeling in China seems to supportive of what the Chinese Govt is doing there.

“We couldn’t believe our government was being so weak and cowardly,” said Ms. Meng, 52, an office worker, who was appalled that the authorities had failed to initially douse the violence. “The Dalai Lama is trying to separate China, and it is not acceptable at all. We must crack down on the rioters.

Written by janusmusings

March 31, 2008 at 7:03 am

Posted in Asia, china, India

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Extending China’s reach

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While we in India fight over caste and other issues, China has been busy building a road from Kunming to Bangkok going through Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and then onto Thailand. I guess this will use part of the old WW II road – the Burma road. India has been lobbying (unsuccessfully) to get the Stillwell road going to link India’s East to the Burma road and then onto Kunming. A lot of money was spent on the road:

The Chinese spent $4 billion building the highway from Kunming to the border. One particularly difficult stretch of road required the construction of 430 bridges and 15 tunnels. That portion of the road is also monitored by 168 cameras centrally controlled by highway department officials who watch for elephants — there are an estimated 275 in the area — and other stray animals. The cameras also assist the police in catching suspected criminals.


The net benefit (as always) is trade:

The new roads, as well as upgraded ports along the Mekong River, are changing the diets and spending habits of people on both sides of the border. China is selling fruit and green vegetables that favor temperate climates to its southern neighbors, and is buying tropical fruit, rubber, sugar cane, palm oil and seafood.

“You never used to see apples in the traditional markets,” said Ruth Banomyong, an expert in logistics who teaches at Thammasat University in Bangkok.

China has blasted shallow sections of the Mekong to make it more easily navigable for cargo barges, allowing traders to ship apples, pears and lettuce downriver. The price of apples in Thailand has fallen to the equivalent of about 20 cents apiece from more than a dollar a decade ago. Roses and other cut flowers from China have displaced flowers flown in from the Netherlands, making Valentine’s Day easier on the wallet for Thais. Traders now have the choice of shipping by barge, truck or both.



Written by janusmusings

March 31, 2008 at 6:59 am

Posted in Asia, china, India

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