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Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived. ~Abraham Lincoln In 1821
China’s conditions bailout for US on stability in Pakistan, peace in Afghanistan & progress on Kashmir:
There used to be old commercial on American TV. It said “When E.F. Hutton speaks, the world listens”. It showed a room full of cacophonous voices all rambling off on their own frequencies. When E.F. Hutton spoke everyone went quiet and listened to what Mr. Hutton was saying. The message was that Mr. Hutton was a very important man, and we should listen to him. Today that man is not E.F. Hutton or Meryl Lynch. It is Chinese president Hu Jintao.
The new reality is not lost to the Right Wing Neocons in Washingon. Front Page Magazine is one the mouthpiece of the American hawks. Here is an excerpt from Hawkin’s latest article aptly titled “Hegemony is over“.
In a February 23 editorial, The People’s Daily addressed U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, with a focus on improving Pakistan’s position against India. “It is clear that without Pakistan’s cooperation, the US cannot win the war on terror. Therefore, to safeguard its own interests in the fight against terrorism in South Asia, the US must ensure a stable domestic and international environment for Pakistan and ease the tension between Pakistan and India.” This means supporting Pakistan’s position on Kashmir. William Hawkins. Front Page Magazine.
The Chinese version of “speak softly and carry a big stick” was enunciated by the realist Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.” Beijing has been silently building a big stick for the past six decades. The Chinese see the Hillary Clinton trip for what it is–begging Beijing to continue to purchase US Treasury bonds. India feels the pain: The US begs Beijing for money
People have noticed that Hillary Clinton thanked China for its continued confidence in US Treasury bond. “I appreciate China’s continued confidence in US Treasuries,” she told reporters last Saturday, Feb. 20 after meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. And the U.S. also looks forward to the large-scale cooperation with China in the sphere of environmental protection.
Moreover, Mrs. Clinton tried to apply the concept of “soft power” to the Asia diplomacy, not only abandoning former President George Bush’s unilateralism but seeking to extend American interests via wide-ranging contacts or engagements with Asian cultural and economic circles. Peoples Daily. What message has Hillary sent to Asia?
2009 is perhaps the time when China finally has started to speak softly. In the past, per the Deng Xiaoping philosphy Beijing may have prevaricated its real intentions and couched them in pious homilies. Now the Chinese have spoken softly on Afghanistan, asking Ms. Clinton four things. Stop destabilizing Pakistan. Resolve Kashmir. Stop the war in Afghanistan and work with Russia. These few requests (made at a time when Ms. Clinton was visiting China asking for huge favors from Beijing), have a very stong effect on world affairs. Of course the US cannot refuse its banker.
Obama’s China policy renders obsolete the Indian strategic calculus built around the US containment strategy. Hardly two to three years ago, the Bush administration encouraged India to put faith in a quadrilateral alliance of Asian democracies – the US, Japan, Australia and India – that would strive to set the rules for China’s behavior in the region.
According to reports, State Department officials had originally proposed that India be included in the itinerary of Clinton’s current first official tour abroad, but she struck it out. As things stand, Clinton meant every word of what she wrote last year in her Foreign Affairs article that “our [US] relationship with China will be the most important bilateral relationship in the world in this century”. Asia Times. India grapples with the Obama era By M K Bhadrakumar. M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey
The Hillary Clinton trip itinerary was carefully crafted. Hillary was asking for two bailouts, one on Wall Street and the other in Afghanistan. Kabul: The Final assault begins. How long can NATO hang on? Like the proverbial butterfly whose wing flapping creates a tsunami at the other end of the word, there are ripples that emanate from the Hillary trip travel to all corners of Asia and beyond. Ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar of India makes the following salient points in his latest article published in the Asia Times. These and other significant events impact the entire world as we know it. India’s worst nightmares come true: Long term strategic malaise in a changing world
- The US is palpably shifting gear on its South Asia policy, as is evident from Obama’s decision to appoint Richard Holbrooke as special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Beijing has sized up that the US’s relationship with India is entering a qualitatively new phase, which has shown some signs of friction.
- It pays well for Beijing to fish in troubled waters and pile up more pressure on its southern neighbor.
- .. the Russian Foreign Ministry announced last week that invitations had been issued for the long-awaited Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on March 27. Afghanistan: Kremlin cant help itself but smile
- … the CCP invited a delegation of Pakistan’s influential Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) to visit China last week. During the week-long visit, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding enunciating four principles of China-Pakistan relations, including independence, equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each country.
Unnoticed by those reading the New York Times and the Washington Post is the well deserved soft gloating that can be gleaned from the Chinese Peoples Daily. It is pedagogical to note that the Peoples Daily mentions the book by Parag Khanna. A multipolar world: Waving goodbye to hegemony. The Chinese see a mutl-polar world and will not take any diktats from anyone.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published two graphics which struck people as odd by the stark juxtaposition: In 2003, GDP in the U.S accounted for 32 percent of the world total, while GDP of the emerging economies put together took up only 25 percent. In 2008, however, things just reversed with 25 percent for the U.S. and 32 percent going to the emerging economies. The two graphs show GDP as a percentage of total world output. However, what deserves notice is that the dramatic reversal could take place in just five years, and how much more will it change in the next five or the next ten years?
It is evident that the upshot of the shifting economic power signals a swift reduction of U.S. strength as a unipolar power. ‘At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift…So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing—and losing—in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China,’ citing an article in Saturday’s New York Times Magazine titled ‘Waving Goodbye to Hegemony’ by Parag Khanna. By Li Hongmei People’s Daily Online
Why the US gave up India as a Strategic partner? The world has changed. There is new found confidence in Beijing. President Hu Jintao and the Chinese leadership has its hand on the pulse of Asia–specially South Asia. The Chinese feel that the US has squandered its power and prestige by unnecessary and non-productive wars. It waited on the sidelines to let Washington face the wrath of history. Now is is saying “we told you so“. The Pakistanis were not silent spectators in the war in Afghanistan. They were a US ally but were the most mistreated friend in the history of international affairs. Islamabad tried to prevent the US falling into the Afghan trap. Islamabad wanted the US to keep a force of about 5000 Marines to hunt down the culprits in a covert and overt police action. Islamabad felt that it could influence the Taliban at the time to change their ways and to isolate Osama Bin Laden. However Washington was high on adrenaline and hubris. Here is how the Chinese see it.
In the post-Cold War period and with the decomposition of the former Soviet Union, the world scenario was generally subject to the U.S influence. And especially in the 1990s, it seemed conceivable and probable that the international power structure would be ended in the U.S. predominance in the political, economic and cultural systems, or simply and bluntly put, the U.S. would be ‘King of the hill.’ It would be that case if the U.S. were not hit by the ’9.11′ terrorist attack.
The U.S. used to rally the international support by launching a severe clampdown upon terror and acting as the global rescuer to keep the world free from the terrorist havoc. But quite soon, this noble campaign against terrorism, initiated by the U.S. Neo-Conservative elites, was interpreted by the international community as a camouflage used by the U.S. to hide its intention to regain monopoly over the entire globe. In 2008, nevertheless, the U.S hegemony was pushed onto the brink of collapse, as a result of its inherent structural contradictions, which proved well-rooted in the American society and far from conciliatory. A visible sign of the U.S. strength decline turned out to be the decline of its monolithic economic clout over the globe. By Li Hongmei People’s Daily Online
Pakistan: An historic realignment. As dramatic as the implosion as of the USSR is the appearance of the Chinese dragon on the world stage. While the Lilliputian minds in Delhi were squabbling over Mumbai, the Asian Dragon was strengthening its international reputation as a sagacious and wise old Confucian sage. While the Indian National Congress was trying to outdo the BJP in its hawkish statements, Bejing was quietly discussing the future of Asia. While the Bharati media was asking for sanctions on Pakistan and a war, “The Middle Kingdom” was slowly working the new US administration on how to bring about change in South Asia. While Sonia Gandhi was broadcasting bilious blathering against Islamabad, the President Hu Jintau was winning over Africa. While the American Secretory of State Hillary Clinton was begging for money, Beijing invited President Zardari to China and asked him to stay on the sidelines to discuss Pakistani needs with the USA. 2009: Obama’s South Asian policy: A Marshall Plan for AfPak
China has grown to be a new heavyweight player and stepped into the limelight on the world stage. And its role in salvaging the plummeting world economy from hitting bottom looms large and active, as the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during her just wrapped-up Asian tour, ‘the U.S. appreciates the continued Chinese confidence in the U.S treasuries.’ If the Cold War was ‘a tug of war’ between East and West, and a showcase of hard power, what we have today, for the first time in history, is a global, multicivilizational and multipolar competition, and a display of smart power. To be the winner, one has to seek more cooperation rather than confrontation. By Li Hongmei People’s Daily Online
Afghanistan: The writing is on the wall. Can Obama read it? The world is literally slipping from underneath the policy makers in Delhi. For about half a century, the financial capital of the world was in New York. As such Israel had a big stake in American policy making. Many goodies floated through the system to Tel Aviv. Delhi took advantage of Israel technological know how and tried to build up its defense capability. The Bush Administration heavily supported by the Neocon establishment helped craft the strategy of Washington to build up New Delhi as a bulwark against China. Things have dramatically changed. The financial capital has now shifted from New York to Beijing, but Beijing increasingly holds the purse strings of Washington. New York cannot dictate the policy to Washington–Beijing can. The Indian perspective on the Hillary visit to China goes beyond alarm. It is rush of panic. Selective Amnesia of Americans: Pakistan is the most mistreated friend in the world.
Thus, we may get to see some amazing trapeze acts by Beijing in the coming period. The People’s Daily commentary has virtually called for an expansion of Holbrooke’s mandate to include the “Indian-Pakistani problem”. True, it stops short of mentioning Kashmir as such but leaves little to the imagination that Kashmir is precisely what it was referring to – that the US should mediate a solution to what Pakistan calls the “core issue” in its tense relationship with India.
The Chinese commentary says the mere dispatch of more US troops to Afghanistan cannot help achieve Obama’s “strategic goals” unless Washington stabilizes South Asia, especially Pakistan and the India-Pakistan relationship.
The editorial continues:
It is clear that without Pakistan’s cooperation, the US cannot win the war on terror. Therefore, to safeguard its own interests in the fight against terrorism in South Asia, the US must ensure a stable domestic and international environment for Pakistan and ease the tension between Pakistan and India. This makes it easy to understand why Obama appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan issues, and why India is included in Holbrooke’s first foreign visit. In fact, the “Afghan problem”, the “Pakistani problem” and the “Indian-Pakistani problem” are all related. (Emphasis added).
These are not words that are in the nature of off-the-cuff remarks. And these unfriendly remarks are highly unlikely to go unnoticed in New Delhi. Indian diplomats pulled out all the stops to see that Holbrooke’s mandate did not include India, though there is a large body of opinion among American think-tanks and within the US establishment, which insists that so long as the Kashmir problem remains unresolved, underlying tensions in India-Pakistan relations will continue. Beijing now has waded into the debate. It openly expresses support for Pakistan’s stance. Asia Times. China breaks its silence on Afghanistan By M K Bhadrakumar Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
Betrayals & Blackmail in Bakiyev: Cloaking failure as success, hiding the defeat, declaring victory & withdrawing from Afghanistan within 12 months . China has been building up support for its point of view in Washington for the past several months. In typical Chinese style, they have been holding meetings with all the stakeholders and securing itself and its friends. The Algeriafication of Pakistan, the Egyptianization of Bangladesh may will yield Iranian type of revolutions.China does not like a destabilized Pakistan. Beijing wants peace in Afghanistan and it wants secure borders for itself. It has done this by building a long term and lasting friendship with Pakistan at the government and the people level. It has built strong agreemnts with the religious parties in Pakistan and other places, and it has allies in Africa and the Middle East. Beijing sees the solution to Afghan summarized in three points.Swat & FATA for dummies: Who has Infiltrated the “Taliban”. Who are the terrorists in Pakistan?
However, if the US wants to implement its plan to dispatch more troops in Afghanistan and to achieve its strategic goals, three premises are still needed.
First, the US must stabilize South Asia, especially Pakistan and the India-Pakistan relationship. Currently, over 70 percent of the supply materials for the NATO troops are transported through Pakistan. If these logistics supply routes are affected, the international force would face considerable disturbances. In addition, Taliban militants have taken advantage of the special geographic and social conditions along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan to hide and haunt there. It is clear that without Pakistan’s cooperation, the US cannot win the war on terror.
Therefore, to safeguard its own interests in the fight against terrorism in South Asia, the US must ensure a stable domestic and international environment for Pakistan and ease the tension between Pakistan and India. This makes it easy to understand why Obama appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan issues, and why India is included in Holbrooke’s first foreign visit. In fact, the “Afghan problem”, the “Pakistani problem” and the “Indian-Pakistani problem” are all related.
Second, the US must make sure that Russia is appeased. The Central Asia region, where Afghanistan lies, used to be Russia’s backyard. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the US raised its anti-terrorism war banner to move deep into this region and revoked the color revolution in Kyrgyzstan. To Russia, all this feels just like a thorn in the flesh. While relations between US and Russia show signs of recovery after Obama’s assumption of power, Russia’s reactions to the US’ decision of increasing troops in Afghanistan are rather subtle. On February 3, Kyrgyzstan announced it would close the US Manas Air Base established in its territory. The act is believed to be part of a strategy game between the US and Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on February 6 that Russia will allow the US to transport non-military cargo across the Russian territory to Afghanistan. He even hinted on February 11 that Russia might allow the transit of NATO and US weapons via Russian land routes. Russia’s determination to not allow the US enjoying dominant control in the Afghan affair is rather noticeable. The way the US deals with its “cooperative and competitive” relationship with Russia in the Afghan affair will test the US’ capability to realize its strategic goals in Afghanistan.
Third, the US must learn to be pragmatic towards the actual conditions of Afghanistan. Newsweek magazine mentioned at the end of last year that “unlike Iraq, Afghanistan does not possess almost any of the prerequisites of modernity. Its literacy rate, for example, is 28 percent, barely a third of Iraq’s. In terms of effectiveness and legitimacy, the government in Kabul lags well behind Baghdad.” This shows that it will be difficult for the US to copy its successful experiences in Iraq for Afghanistan. An article in a recent issue of German newspaper Die Zeit also stated that using massive capital in Iraq, the US was able to at least make the Sunni temporarily believe that they should take action against terrorism, enabling Sunni tribal leaders to take part in the central government in Baghdad. Conversely, in Afghanistan “a powerful Kabul has always been an eyesore for tribal leaders”. Peoples Daily
The Chinese have their own opinions on solving the Afghan quagmire. Like the Pakistanis the Chinese oppose the “military surge“, and want a “civilian surge“. Its position is consistent and mirrors the position of the Pakistani government which has been calling for accommodation with the moderate Taliban and bringing peace to the region. In Islamabad’s view a massive influx of money would improve the lives of the ordinary citizens. Fixing “AfPak” expedites the inevitable union between Pakistan and Afghanistan
What is truly extraordinary about the Chinese commentary is its oblique references to the central issue of the Taliban. There are indications that Beijing has no problems as such if the Taliban are accommodated in the power structure in Afghanistan as part of a political settlement. Interestingly, the commentary advises the US to be “pragmatic towards the actual conditions of Afghanistan”. It also voices support for the argument that Afghanistan lacks “almost any of the prerequisites of modernity”. Besides, it suggests that Afghanistan cannot be a unitary state.
These comments are to be seen in the light of the new thinking in influential circles in the US and Britain that a “bottoms-up” approach involving diffusion of state power in favor of local leaderships might be the answer to the problems in Afghanistan and will be the best way of involving the Taliban in the power structure in the Pashtun regions.
The People’s Daily admits that the outcome of the US’s surge strategy in Afghanistan remains uncertain. It takes note that the US is also moving toward “a compromise with moderates within the Taliban”, as President Hamid Karzai would not otherwise have ventured onto that track. The commentary lauds such thinking as a manifestation of the use of “smart power”, an idea “frequently mentioned” by Clinton. That is to say, while the US troop build-up is a “hard measure”, “policies like helping the Afghan government to consolidate its regime for gradually stabilizing the country will be the ‘soft measure’.”
The Editorials are not lost on the American think tanks. What is more important is the fact that Beijing knows that the editorials are read in Washington. Here is another excerpt from Front Page Magazine.
The day after the Afghanistan editorial (and two days after Secretary Clinton left China), The People’s Daily ran another opinion piece entitled,” The U.S. Hegemony ends, the era of global multipolarity enters.” It started by reveling in the economic crisis that has swept America and “signals a swift reduction of U.S. strength as a unipolar power.” Its conclusion was stark. “Does the decline of U.S. geopolitical hegemony make multilateral global governance more likely? Perhaps it is still too early to rush any conclusion, but at least one thing is certain: the U.S. strength is declining at a speed so fantastic that it is far beyond anticipation. The U.S. is no longer ‘King of the hill,’ as a new phase of multipolar world power structure will come into being in 2009, and the international order will be correspondingly reshuffled.” William Hawkins writing for Front Page Magazine
All the same, Beijing is aware that the real US agenda could be strategic insofar as Afghanistan is located “at the crossroads of Eurasia“. While smashing up al-Qaeda indeed constitutes a goal, Washington’s strategy will also “enhance NATO cooperation and alliance to guarantee that NATO’s first military action out of Europe will not fail“. In turn, that will enable the US to “raise its leadership status among its allies and reinforce its presence in the heart of Eurasia by using these means“.
It seems China has no problem with such an agenda. China will “hide its capacities” – to quote Deng – even as the US and Russia collide and negate each other and eventually drop down in exhaustion. As The People’s Daily concludes, Afghanistan is known as the “tomb of empires”. Therefore, China must focus on securing its position and simply bide its time – a strategy Deng could surely appreciate. Asia Times. China breaks its silence on Afghanistan By M K Bhadrakumar Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
The Indian analysts are in a tizzy. They are running scared of “change we can believe in” or any change in American policy. Each and every word of the Chinese article has been studied in India. They are looking for small nuances and huge policy shifts. India rode the Bush legacy and milked it for all its worth. Delhi thought that the gravy train would last forever. It has now come to a grinding halt and the and the Indian establishment is scrambling for some semblance of continuity. Delhi should know that if Washington can sanction, bomb and harass its erstwhile ally of 60 years, would it think twice about dumping Delhi for Beijing. For right now Washington has to listen to Beijing to stabilize Pakistan, resolve Kashmir and pacify Afghanistan—all for the paltry price of $1.9 trillion with which it purchases US T-Bonds.
So why not just get out? As always, it’s not so simple. If the Americans pull their troops out, the already shaky Afghan Army could collapse. (Once they lost U.S. air support, South Vietnamese troops sometimes refused to take the field and fight.) Afghanistan could well plunge into civil war, just as it did after the Soviets left in 1989. Already, the Pashtuns in the south regard the American-backed Tajiks who dominate Karzai’s administration as the enemy. The winning side would likely be the one backed by Pakistan, which may end up being the Taliban—just as it was in the last civil war.
Some argue this wouldn’t be such a bad outcome, if the Taliban could be bribed or persuaded to not let Al Qaeda set up terrorist training bases on Afghan territory. According to one senior Taliban leader, a former deputy minister in Mullah Mohammed Omar’s government who would only speak anonymously, some Pakistani officials are urging the insurgents to do something like this now—in return for talks with the Americans. On the other hand, Islamabad could be playing with fire. Given the longstanding ties between the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, a jihadist state on its border is a threat to Pakistan, too. And here, U.S. national-security interests definitely do come into play. Newsweek. With Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai
Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived. ~Abraham Lincoln In 1821 Solutions to “Obama’s Vietnam” Kabul: The Final Spring Offensive? End of NATO? Afghanistan: The writing is on the wall. Can Obama read it? UK Brig. Smith: “We’re not going to win this [Afghan] war”
Failure and Defeat in Afghanistan: Inevitable Frustration & misdirected Payback for ally Pakistan US Charge of the Light Brigade into Pakistan is a US failure and has to stop
Pakistan’s do more list for the USA Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan & Swat run by Taliban Huge Migraine for India
Facing the Khyber poltergeist & Ganges hobgoblin NATO war: UK 1880 defeats in Afghanistan
“Charge of the Light Brigade” in Afghanistan AGAIN: Unfortunately the lessons of the unmitigated disaster of “Auckland’s Folly”, (First Anglo-Afghan War 1838–42) have not been taught to the Oxbridge students.
Bin Laden used Reagan’s USSR strategy to Destroy US Capitalism? Cambodiazation of the Afghan war Rescueing the Pashtuns of Afghania from Afghanistan
Unite! Erase the Durand Line Solution: Fixing “AfPak” expedites the inevitable union between Pakistan & Afghanistan