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American Militarism is Destroying the Future of Humanity. 

American Militarism is Destroying the Future of Humanity. 

Uncommon Thoughts

American Militarism Is Destroying the Future of Humanity

 

By Mahboob Khawaja, PhD.

Editor’s Note

As the United States moves once again to provoke a situation in the Middle East, this time focused on Iran, we have to ask whether the American people withstand against more war and regime change, or whether the apathy of endless wars has inured them to the true costs of what war with Iran would mean. I must say that I am terribly afraid that the media war is being won by the Lords of Chaos who see nothing but profit in both wars in itself, and the target – Iran. Further, we seem to be at a point where one party, which controls the Senate, has no will to serve not only as a check on the wild gyrations of the Executive Branch but even to protect its own Constitutional powers – namely the right to declare war in this case. So even if the people resist, there is no spine in the GOP to speak even in a whisper the Hell that would be unleashed in such massive destruction and destabilization.It is very likely that large numbers of US troops will be sent to join the Carrier group steaming into the Strait of Hormuz, guns aimed at Iran. Regardless of Trump saying that he doesn’t want war with Iran and he “hopes” that doesn’t happen, the reality is that he has been pushing for this since he was campaigning for President. Further, he has continued to push and provoke and brought in Bolton and Pompeo – both of whom have been pushing to attack Iran for decades. Proclamations of a perpetual liar to the contrary should fall on deaf ears, but apparently whether he shoots someone in cold blood in Times Square (a claim of his immunity from consequences for his actions), or shoots the US arsenal at another nation, no blood will stick to him – or so he and the GOP believe.

Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD.

“The culture of peace is universal. It is shared by people and nations Worldwide. Today’s “culture of war” is a US hegemonic project predicated on the creation of conflict and divisions within and between countries. It is this (unilateral) project of global warfare which is intent upon destroying civilization.” (Professor Michel Chossudovsky, “Towards a Culture of World Peace”. Global Research: 5/16/2019).

Warmongering is an Anti-Human Impulse

The draconian ferocity of wars continues as we watch the unwarranted aggressive events unfolding against Iran in the Persian Gulf Region. One sees a contrast between a real issue and an imaginative problem. The motivating factor signals one thing that American ruling elite thinks: “we are the most powerful nation on earth and nobody else should challenge our supremacy” – the naïve malignity of the mindset of the current American leadership. In the advanced technological warfare of the 21st century, consequential outcomes will leave nothing intact and few living beings will remain. Neither Bolton, Pompeo or Trump, seem to have any understanding or concern as to how their actions could undermine the rest of living humanity. In all probability, the war hysteria is a distraction from domestic issues facing the Trump administration.

Making and maintaining peace requires rational objective reasoning. Could we, the conscientious humanity, hold these naïve people back from triggering a nuclear disaster in the Middle East Arab region? Can we promote the resolution of problems by reason and dialogue rather than belligerency and aggression? Sanctity of human life is grounded in the tenets of moral and intellectual leadership, and being open to listening to and learning from voices of REASON. If the Iranian leadership was smart, it should have acted quickly to seek a unity of its immediate neighbours (Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia), and of all the Arab and Muslim nations, to constitute a powerful moral force of reason to thwart the US plan. The world is fast becoming a violent place at crossroads. All ways of human life require to safeguard and protection from great evils. Ben Tarnoff (“Weaponised AI is Coming. Are Algorithmic Forever Wars our Future?” ICH: 10/13/18), notes the speedy belligerency:

“The wars of 9/11 continue, with no end in sight. Now, the Pentagon is investing heavily in technologies that will intensify them. By embracing the latest tools that the tech industry has to offer, the US military is creating a more automated form of warfare – one that will greatly increase its capacity to wage war everywhere forever.”

America, or its allies in the Arab Middle East, face no formidable enemy except themselves in their own naïve belief in their military superiority. There is no substance to any perceivable challenge or military threat to America from Iran. So why should America rush its armada to the Persian Gulf? It is not for peace, and not to protect humanity from any imminent threat of war from any corners of the strategic game-play in the region. Rationally speaking, the mindset of American leadership appears devoid of reason and accountability. Wars do not bring diverse humanity to peacemaking, but they do destroy the opportunities for dialogue and peaceful resolution of problems. Undoubtedly, the current US administration needs a powerful challenge to make a navigational change. Imagine if Russia or China were to deploy their armadas across the Atlantic or the Pacific regions, would it be seen as a rational and peace-making strategy by either global observers or American leadership? Today some 62 American organizations have asked the US Congress to consider a resolution to stop the war threats against Iran. America is imposing a sadistic war strategy on the rest of mankind.

The UNO and its major organs responsible for global peace and security have proven to be ceremonial debating clubs, and are acting contrary to the essence and purposes of the Charter. Global humanity is tormented by the pain of impending hostilities and demands systematic change and development of a new global organization responsible to the global community, not to the abstract Nation States. It feels like history is repeating itself as once again a few Western egoistic leaders have manipulated the opportunities to dictate and undermine the interests of mankind.  Humanity is the net object of all their deliberations but without any meaningful role in challenging the few global warlords.

President Trump desperately needs to rethink his role as an effective leader in America. Being a responsible leader, one cannot propel willful and premeditated plans of foolish animosities and human destruction.  Once America was enriched with intellectual foresight to safeguard the rest of mankind, but its contemporary leaders and major institutions seem to defy the logic of co-existing with the rest of the global community. For sure, American leaders lack even the essence of Thomas Paine’s historic “Common Sense” to change, but historical change will replace America’s global leadership with others, more understanding and relevant to mankind. American politicians are used to ignoring the imperatives of global peaceful co-existence.

Egoistic Politicians Pursue the War Economy but US Soldiers Are Against the War Culture

America appears to be at the threshold of an unavoidable moral and intellectual transition of reasoning, but it is not following through the rational process of change and future-making.  The Washington-based war culture has incapacitated the US policymakers ability to think rationally and act responsibly in global affairs. Strange as it seems, President Trump and John Bolton cannot explain why 18-25 US war veterans commit suicides every day. (“Why Do Soldiers Commit Suicide and Global Warlords.” Uncommon Thought Journal, USA). Moral and intellectual darkness is renewed under the leadership of the current Commander-in-Chief of the US armed forces. Do the leaders care to protect precious human life?

 

[Photo: Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton]

 

 

 

Most contemporary politicians are not responsible leaders but stage actors pretending to represent the national interests. They learn to excite the emotions of the electorates to win elections but fail to act as responsible leaders. They view humanity just numbers, not precious life which has value in the larger universal context. Most often, these people are disconnected from the annals of normal human thinking and affairs, suspicious and paranoid and they see success to be achieved through ruthlessness, hatred, degeneration and viciousness – all part of their inborn value system, making politics a dreadful game of egomaniacal minds, deception and strategic priorities. This is the opposite of the intelligent commitment to principles of international peace and security for all required to achieve non-aggression in global systems. These systems should be focused on the protection of life and a balanced ecological culture of co-existence within the encompassed Universe -Man and Humanity. America, a leading industrialized power is indifferent to these critical factors of life.

We, The People – Humanity – Have the Capacity to Challenge the Dreadful Calamity of War

The aim of human happiness and solidarity is not violence, wars and aggression. All wars perpetuate violence, fear and vindictiveness against mankind and are aimed at the destruction of civilizations and dehumanization of succeeding generations. Bruce Gambrill Foster (“The Scourge Of War: The Shameless Marketing of Violence” Information Clearing House), observes: “The connection between combating the violence of organized crime, for example, and war is easily bridged. In both, blood is spilt…. If even our simplest joys are couched in terms of conflict, death and domination, what hope is there to distinguish and abhor and eventually end the true villainy of armed conflict, the scourge of war?”

Global mankind is the next victim of the catastrophic madness of the few warlords. Did President Trump learn anything from knowledge, history and facts of life, to understand his weaknesses and strengths? Has he the vision and courage to change and reform his mind and behaviour when facts warrant a change, be it in policy making or global interactive behaviour? After all, listening and learning are critical factors for the changing role of the 21st-century political leadership, as is the importance of flexibility for effective leadership. However, there seem to be no intelligent and proactive leaders with a vision to see the imperative of a United Humanity. Instead, that vision is perverted by egomaniacs full of the sensation of power that they use for trivial and vicious ends to torture and kill mankind and destroy living habitats. Contrary to the brutal perceptions and actions of the US-former Europeans imperialists, the international community is increasingly informed, mature, and enjoys the moral and intellectual capacity to know and understand the facts of life. They are standing up to challenge the leaders promoting insensitivity to universal accord and fighting against the brutality of the Terrorism of Wars. The deliberate efforts at control through destruction and hatred are uniting the people as we share a common fate more than divides us by any token of adversity and separate national identities.

Progressively evolving is a new information-age plausible global culture of Thinking of One Humanity and a new proactive civilization of strong bonds and affinity of people to people cultural communications – global citizenry participation in social, economic and political Thinking and Globalization – a person in one part of the world feels, thinks and acts-reacts to what happens to any person in another remote corner of the globe. Mankind is neither blind nor inept, it defines its own purpose, meaning and identity for peace and harmony that the established institutions of governance – be it in America, the Middle East or Europe or elsewhere miserably failed to recognize or value their importance in global political affairs. Paul Craig Roberts (The Next War on Washington’s Agenda.”), had a rational thought to ask the right question:

We, as Americans, need to ask ourselves what all this is about? Why is our government so provocative toward Islam, Russia, China, Iran?  What purpose, whose purpose is being served? Certainly not ours…………Where do we go from here? If not to nuclear destruction, Americans must wake up. Football games, porn, and shopping malls are one thing. Survival of human life is another. Washington, that is, “representative government,” consists only of a few powerful vested interests. These private interests, not the American people, control the US government. That is why nothing that the US government does benefits the American people.

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012. His forthcoming book is entitled: One Humanity and The Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution

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Trump’s Hydra-headed National Security Strategy   General Mirza Aslam Beg Former COAS Pakistan

Trump’s Hydra-headed National Security Strategy

 

General Mirza Aslam Beg

Former Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan

friendscolumn@hotmail.com

 

 

“Trump’s Security Strategy is a farce because it has no National Security Strategy.  It has outbursts.” – Roger Cohen

 

Trump’s outbursts grow from his notion of America First, where he merges his existence with passion, that defines his National Security Policy:

Protect homeland way of life; promote American prosperity; persevere peace through strength; advance American influence in the world; build India as a counterweight to China.

Trump strategy flows from the above policy. It is a hydra-headed strategy, targeting Palestine, Afghanistan, Iran, China, North Korea and Pakistan in particular

Palestine. Trump celebrates the 100 years of Balfour Declaration of 1917, which is a public statement issued by the British government during World War I, announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a minority Jewish population. It read:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

 

              Thus Trump has wrecked the possibility of establishing the states of Palestine and Israel, bringing the whole of Middle East to a state of crisis and catastrophe. This would result in decimation and destruction of more Muslim countries like Crusade one, which began in 2001. This is now Crusade Two, “to advance American influence in the world through strength.” Therefore chances of peace in Palestine now are remote, because the Arab World has its interests diverted towards war in Syria, Iraq and Daēsh and is engaged in managing the ravages of Arab Spring, while America, who could negotiate peace, has taken sides with Israel.

Afghanistan.

America Lost the War in Afghanistan- Egged-On By Trump Business Partners in India -Trump Wants to Make Pakistan the Fall Guy for US Afghanistan Failures

 America lost the war in Afghanistan by the year 2010, when they sent Richard Armitage to me, seeking dialogue with Afghan Taliban, who were not ready to be cheated again, as in 1990 and demanded occupation forces withdrawal as the pre-condition for talks. Despite setbacks and a gradual erosion of authority, Trump continues to reinforce his defeat through various machinations such as indirect support to Daēsh in Afghanistan, thus creating very serious security dilemma to all the neighbouring countries. He is also threatening Pakistan, to contain and curb the rising power of the Afghan resistance, so that he could “build India as the counter-weight to China”, and establish Indian hegemony from Afghanistan to Bangladesh, under the Indo-Pacific Regime. The purpose is “to persevere peace through Strength.”

Iran. Since 1980, Iran has been demonized as a serious threat to the regional countries, yet Iran has emerged resilient and strong despite sanctions, embargoes and trade restrictions, compelling America to find peace with Iran, by signing the Nuclear Deal. Trump now calls this deal “the worst deal ever been negotiated” and is not ready to sign the waivers on Iran sanctions, and threatens that “the best way to lock-in the Iranian hard-liners for the two decades would be to tear up the deal.” Trump may tear-up the deal, yet he cannot shake-off the resolve and self-confidence of the Iranian people, to “struggle to persevere peace through strength.”

Trump Choose India as a Counter-weight to China

China. Trump has called China “the strategic competitor.” Instead of joining hands with China and follow their geo-economic strategy of peace through regional cooperation, he is trying to build-up the Indian counter-weight, against the rising military and economic power of China. The Indian Counter-weight, which could not contain and curb Pakistan from rising, now has been assigned the task to contain China, with “the United States locked and loaded”, in support of India. A withering superpower could do no better than this.

Trump’s Policy Focused on Containment of China

North Korea. With limited nuclear weapon delivery capability, North Korea has been able to deter America, despite possessing a stockpile of nuclear weapons, most efficient delivery system and a state of the art air defence capability. Yet America has failed to develop a strategy that could build up pressure on North Korea and is showing a kind of helplessness, expecting China to bring sanity to the North Korean leader. The state of helplessness in case of North Korea, as well as Afghanistan, exposes the hollowness of super-power America, trying to advance their influence in the world, through farce policy initiatives.

Iran-Afghanistan-China-Pakistan-Russia

Pakistan lies at the centre stage of the regional conflict syndrome. It has to tread carefully protecting its interests, through the support of the people, embodied in the elected parliament, and building blocks of regional support of Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan, under the security partnership of China and Russia. Pakistani nation shares with Iran, the will to resist and reject, pressures and threats and continues to rise with the sublime dignity of the great civilizations with whom it shares common borders.

Pakistan – Heart of Asia

Pakistan is the Heart of Asia, as late Liaquat Ali Khan reminded the nation and we have to prove to be true to this great heritage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superficial Emergency Session of the OIC

The Emergency Session of the OIC did not show any seriousness amongst the members of the states. Only a few heads of the State attended. There has been an erosion of unity amongst them, and the Arab world, in particular, has been in a state of disarray after the Arab Spring. Taking advantage of the regional anarchy, America and Israel have struck, which seriously “prejudices the civil and religious rights of the Muslims and other communities of Palestine”. The situation poses a big challenge to the entire Muslim World. Except for Turkey and Iran, none seem to be taking the matter seriously. The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly voted against Trump’s Palestine Policy, and hopefully, it would put a check to Israel’s ambition of expanding at the cost of Arab territories for Greater Israel!

 

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Al-Saud’s Only Gamble Option by Ghassan Kadi

Al-Saud’s Only Gamble Option

                                   

by Ghassan Kadi

 

 

A lot has been said and speculated on about the “real” objectives of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. Seasoned veteran British journalist/analyst and Middle East expert Robert Fisk sees it as an attempt to create a Sunni-style NATO to curb the Iranian expansion, and his speculation is on the money, but in realistic terms, what can this visit and its “aftermath” achieve?

Despite the slump on crude oil prices over the last 2-3 years, the Saudis are not short on cash, despite the huge and growing deficit they are running. Their reserve cash is estimated to be a whopping three quarters of a trillion American dollars, and the unit “trillion” has been chosen here because it is the millions of the 21st Century and billions have become too small to consider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That said, the Saudis have recently pledged nearly a third of their stash on “investments” with the USA. The first allotment came in the form of an undertaking to invest over 100 billion dollars in the American housing sector less than a fortnight ago, and upon Trump’s historic Riyadh visit, the Saudis signed an excess of 100 billion dollar arms deal contract. This is a total of an excess of 200 billion American dollars to be injected into the American economy. But on the scale of trillions again, this huge figure amounts to only a mere 1% of America’s staggering official 20 trillion dollar debt.

A drop in the ocean perhaps if taken into the context of the American economy and debt, but there is little doubt that this Saudi money will create jobs in the USA, and if President Trump is still sticking by the promise of creating jobs, he’s on the money with this one too.

Thus far, and nearly four months after his inauguration, it can safely be said that the most predictable thing about President Trump thus far has been his unpredictability. But with all of his eccentricities and swings, what was it that made him swing in favour of Al-Saud? It may not be very difficult to solve this puzzle if we look at the chain of events.

Surely, the USA has a lot of strategic interests in the area, and these interests are multi-faceted. Among other things, the USA wants to protect the long-term well being of Israel, curb the influence of Russia and Iran in the region, have a share in the decision making of the “War on Syria”, and last be not least, keep a tight control on Saudi oil and cash wealth.

One of Trump’s election promises was to get America’s allies to pay their way, and he was very vocal about the Saudis saying on a number of occasions that protecting Saudi Arabia was costing the USA more than it should be paying for. Those subtle “threats” sent a wave of shivers down the spines of Saudi royals, especially that they were already in deep trouble financially and also bogged down in a protracted and highly expensive war in Yemen that seems unwinnable.

Given that the Saudis believed that former President Obama has let them down and did not invade Syria after the alleged East Ghouta chemical attack of August 2013, the unknown and rather unstable Trump looked like a wild card and they braced for the worst.

Knowing that they are in deep trouble and need America more than ever, feeling extremely nervous about the Iran nuclear deal, the Saudis realized that the only option they have with Trump was to appease him; “but how?”, they wondered. But when they put two and two together, and listened to Trump’s statements about Saudi Arabia, the Saudis realized that they can and will appease him with money; a quarter of a trillion dollars and counting.

Taking the big fat cheque book out is not a modus operandi that is alien to the Saudi psyche, because the Saudis have learned to solve their problems with money. And now, they believe that they are forging a new era of military and strategic alliance with the United States, and paying for this privilege with hard cash.

What they do not know is that whilst they were dreaming big, thinking that they are on the verge of becoming a regional superpower to be reckoned with signing an alliance with America, Donald Trump was signing a business deal, a sales contract; nothing more and nothing less.

The way Trump sees this is a win-win situation. If the Saudis do manage to get the upper military hand and curb the Iranians, he would have reached this zenith not only without having to fight Iran, but also whilst being paid for it. On the other hand, if the Saudis take a gamble to go to war with Iran and lose, he would have received his quarter trillion in advance. So for Saudi Arabia to win or lose, the deal makes America a quarter of a trillion dollar richer; or rather a quarter of a trillion less in debt.

In reality however, what are the odds of Saudi Arabia winning an open war with Iran? Or will this war eventuate in the first place? Back to this question later on.

In a part of the world that is highly volatile, supplying a huge arsenal of highly lethal weapons to a regime that is known for its atrocities, war crimes, inciting regional tension and creating conflict is pouring oil on an already raging fire. Trump’s arms deal with the Saudis probably marks one of the lowest points in America’s history. If anything, after the historic American-Iranian nuclear deal, America was in a position to play the role of an arbitrator and try to get the Saudis and the Iranians to reconcile; coerce them if needed. Instead, Trump turned his attack on Jihadi terrorism by supplying more support to the core and centre of terrorism (Saudi Arabia) and signed a huge arms deal that will only lead to further and much deadlier escalations.

With seemingly very powerful Sunni/Shiite animosities resurfacing after many centuries of dormancy, the pro-American axis happens to be predominantly Sunni and the pro-Russian resistance axis is seen to be Shiite; though it is not as such in reality. That said, the strongest Sunni army in the region is undoubtedly Turkey’s, and Turkey could potentially play a key role in bolstering Fisk’s Sunni-”NATO”. However, the Kurdish issue is a bigger threat to Turkey than Iran has ever been, and Turkey will walk away from its Sunni brothers and “NATO” allies if they were to support Kurdish separatists and arm them; and the irony is that they are.

 

 

 

Without Turkey, a Sunni-”NATO” will be a toothless tiger, unless perhaps it receives enough support from Israel; a support America will not be prepared to offer. But apart from some possible airstrikes and intelligence sharing, how much support will Israel give if any at all? And how much will Putin will be able to weigh in with his clout to keep Netanyahu’s nose out of it? Last but not least, how will the leaders of a so-called Sunni-”NATO” be able to “sell” the idea of getting into an alliance with Israel with its Sunni populace base?

There is little doubt that the Saudis now feel that Trump has given them a carte blanche to attack Iran, and if they swallow the bait fully, they may be foolish enough to take the gamble. But first, they have to finish off Yemen, and then look back and think how they miscalculated when they planned the so-called “Operation Decisive Storm”, and which was meant to be a swift and successful operation. More than two years later, victory seems further than ever predicted all the while the Yemenis have been improving their missile manufacturing capabilities and have been able to hit targets in the capital Riyadh.

Whilst the Saudis were begging the Americans to sell them more advanced weapons to win the war in Yemen, the Yemenis were developing their own. But given that Saudis believe that all problems can be solved provided one is prepared to spend as much as needed, the bottom line for them will always be, “how much?”

The Saudis will not only have to re-evaluate the short-sighted military gamble they took in Yemen, but also the financial one. No one knows for certain what has thus far been the dollar cost that the Saudis had to cough up, but it is in the tens of billions of dollars. With a country that is currently running a near 90 billion dollar budget deficit and diminishing returns, to gamble one third of the national savings on a new war aimed at Iran is tantamount to both, military and financial suicide.

If a war against Iran is at all winnable by the Saudis, what will be the dollar cost?

If the budget ceiling was broken, just like that of Operation Decisive Storm, and if the Saudis realize that the over 100 billion odd dollars they “invested” to buy state-of-the-art weaponry from the USA was not enough, by how much will they be prepared to lift the cost ceiling? They will only need to break the ceiling 3-4 fold before they actually run out of cash reserves. Such a budget overblow is not unusual in wars, and Yemen and Syria are living proof for the Saudis to learn from; if they are capable of learning.

A war against Iran will perhaps be Al-Saud’s final gamble option, but unless the Saudi royals change their rhetoric and seek reconciliation with their Shiite neighbours, this war could well be Al-Saud’s only gamble option.

But the bottom line to any military action is military pragmatism. How can the Saudis think that they can invade and subdue Iran when they haven’t been able to subdue a starved and besieged Yemen? In the unlikely event that they will be able to serve Iran with a swift “shock-and-awe” strike and achieve prompt victory, what will add to their woes is Iran’s ability to close the Strait of Hormuz and to also hit oil production areas and ports. In simple terms, the Saudi war on Yemen is expensive enough, but a war with Iran will be much more expensive, and one that will cut off Saudi life-line; its income.

Do the Saudis believe that expensive imported hardware is going to give the military edge they need? “Knowing” Trump, he will likely wait till the Saudis are down on their knees begging and then extort them by hiking the price of an elusive “super weapon”, perhaps even an A-Bomb, that will tip the war in Saudi favour. But “knowing” the Saudis and Iranians, if the Saudis attack and start an all-out war on Iran, then this may indeed earn the name of decisive storm, but not on Saudi terms. Will Iran virtually walk into Saudi Arabia? Such a scenario cannot be overruled. More than likely however, America will continue to feed the fire for as long as the Saudi cow (female camel in this instance) can be milked and for as long as there is money to be had. For as long as the infamous Al-Saud are on the throne, the kingdom will continue to be run by the same old rules of arrogance that will not stop until that evil legacy is down and vanquished.

Reference

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India’s Great Power game by AMB. MUNIR AKRAM

 Editors Note: We apologize for the poor formatting of this article.

India’s Great Power game

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.
The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

THE election of Narendra Modi as prime minister and geopolitical developments — particularly the US pivot to Asia and the Russia’s new Cold War with the West — have revived India’s prospects of achieving Great Power status. In quick succession, Modi has visited Japan’s ‘nationalistic’ prime minister; hosted China’s president; and will be received this week by the US president in Washington.

The US obviously wishes to embrace India as a partner in containing a rising China, responding to a resurgent Russia and fighting ‘Islamic terrorism’.

It is prepared to bend over backwards to secure India’s partnership. During his Washington visit, Modi is likely to be offered the most advanced American defence equipment; military training and intelligence cooperation; endorsement of India’s position on ‘terrorism’; investment, including in India’s defence industries; nuclear reactor sales; support for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and a prominent role in Afghanistan after US-Nato withdrawal. There will be no mention of the Kashmir dispute, nor of past or current human rights violations in India.

The reticence, if any, in this love fest is likely to emanate from India rather than the US. While seeking all the advantages of a strategic partnership with the US, India is unwilling to relinquish the benefits of its relationships with Russia, China, Iran and other power players.

India’s evolving relationship with China is complex. Both Asian giants see the benefits of trade and investment cooperation and want to ‘democratise’ the post-Second World War economic order dominated by America. During President Xi Jinping’s recent visit China offered to invest $20 billion in industrial parks including in Modi’s home state of Gujarat and to support India’s infrastructure development.


The most proximate impediment to India’s quest for Great Power status remains Pakistan.


Yet, there are obvious limitations in the Sino-Indian relationship. Memories of its defeat in the 1962 border war with China still rankle in India. The border dispute has been managed but not resolved. There is an expectation of future strategic rivalry, felt more strongly in India than China. New Delhi wishes to become China’s military and economic equal in Asia and the world. In particular, India desires an end to China’s strategic relationship with and support to Pakistan — a price Beijing is unwilling to pay.

Without compromising its strategic options, China is prepared to adopt a benign posture towards India, in part to prevent its incorporation in the US-led Asian alliances around China’s periphery. As some Chinese officials put it: “When you have the wolf [US] at the front door, you do not worry about the fox [India] at the back door.” If India does eventually emerge as a US strategic partner, Beijing will exercise its options to neutralize it including through greater support to Pakistan. For the present, China’s advice to Pakistan is to avoid a confrontation with India.

The complexity of the Sino-Indian relationship was on display during President Xi’s visit when news surfaced of a face-off between Chinese and Indian troops on China’s border with India-held Kashmir. It is unlikely that the Chinese would have instigated the incident while their president was in India. According to Indian sources, the “robust” Indian troop deployment to confront Chinese border forces could only have been authorized by the Indian prime minister. Was this then a demonstration of Modi’s muscular credentials meant for his hardline domestic constituency or perhaps a message of common cause to the US on the eve of Modi’s Washington visit?

The new Russia-West Cold War over Ukraine will enhance the ability of India (and other non-aligned countries) to play the two sides against each other. But it will also lower the tolerance of both protagonists for third-party positions that are seen as inimical to their vital interests.

So far, the Russians have been quite accommodative of India’s developing relationship with the US and the growing diversification of India’s huge arms purchases away from Russia.

Until now, Moscow has maintained its undeclared embargo on defense supplies to Pakistan in deference to its long-standing relationship with India. However, given India’s closer relationship with the US, Russia’s reinforced strategic cooperation with China, and the slow divorce between Pakistan and the US, the Russian reticence towards Pakistan, and its emotional bond with India, are receding. Moscow is now more likely to adopt a more ‘balanced’ posture towards India and Pakistan on defense and other issues, including Afghanistan.

The most proximate impediment to India’s quest for Great Power status remains Pakistan. So long as Pakistan does not accept India’s regional pre-eminence, other South Asian states will also resist Indian diktat. India cannot feel free to play a great global power role so long as it is strategically tied down in South Asia by Pakistan.

India under Modi has maintained the multifaceted Indian strategy to break down Pakistan’s will and capacity to resist Indian domination.

This strategy includes: building overwhelming military superiority, conventional and nuclear, against Pakistan; isolating Pakistan by portraying it as the ‘epicentre’ of terrorism; encouraging

Baloch separatism and TTP terrorism (through Afghanistan) to destabilize Pakistan; convincing Pakistan’s elite of the economic and cultural benefits of ‘cooperation’ on India’s terms.

In this endeavor, India is being actively assisted by certain quarters in the West.

Insufficient thought has been given in New Delhi and Western capitals to the unintended consequences of this strategy. It has strengthened the political position of the nationalists and the Islamic extremists in Pakistan. Islamabad’s vacillation in confronting the TTP was evidence of this. Further, the growing asymmetry in India-Pakistan conventional defense capabilities has obliged Pakistan to rely increasingly on the nuclear option to maintain credible deterrence.

The combination of unresolved disputes,especially Kashmir, the likelihood of terrorist incidents and a nuclear hair-trigger military environment, has made the India-Pakistan impasse the single greatest threat to international peace and security.

New Delhi’s bid for Great Power status could be quickly compromised if another war broke out, by design or accident, with Pakistan.

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2014

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Iran-US rancor melting into amity

Iran-US rancor melting into amity

 

Asif Haroon Raja

  

In the aftermath of 2nd World War and start of super power rivalry in the form of cold war, the US saw Iran as a counterweight against Soviet expansionism and a source of stability in oil-rich Persian Gulf. CIA and MI-6 jointly engineered a coup in 1953 to oust elected PM Mohammad Mossadegh since he had tried to nationalize Iran’s oil industry and brought US friendly Reza Shah Pahlavi to power. The US helped Shah in modernizing the country and its armed forces as well as in setting up dreaded intelligence agency known as Savaks in 1957. Iran’s military turned into a formidable force to reckon with in Middle East and Shah. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a religious leader was exiled to Turkey in 1964 after he criticized Shah’s relationship with USA. In 1978, turmoil swept Iran which allowed Imam Khomeini to return home and seize power in March 1979.

 

cartoon-axis-of-evil-meet-and-greet-2013-iran-usaIran-US antagonism started peaking in the aftermath of Islamic revolution in Iran, followed by seizure of American Embassy in Tehran by student militants in November 1979 and holding 52 Americans hostage for next 444 days. An American rescue operation ended in a disaster, which further bolstered Khomeini’s image in Iran and Islamic world. Hostages were released as a result of secret agreement under which the US secretly sold arms to Iran and used the proceeds to bankroll a secret war in Central America against Contras. While Iran dubbed USA as the Great Satan, the US named Iran as evil. In order to punish Iran, Iraq under Saddam Hussain was instigated to declare war against its neighbor Iran in 1980. The dual hidden objective was to smother fledgling Islamic power as well as to rein-in ambitious Saddam wanting to emerge as the leader of the Arab world after Egypt signed peace treaty with Israel.

 

Besides the war with Iraq, Iran got involved in Lebanon’s civil war in the 1980s where it supported its advance guard Hezbollah. The US military and CIA exited from Lebanon in 1983 as a consequence to two deadly bombing attacks on US Embassy and CIA HQ in Beirut, allegedly undertaken by Hezbollah. Throughout the 1990s, Iran and its creation Hezbollah were blamed for sponsoring terrorism around the world. Iran was also accused of providing critical support to Hamas suicide bombers against Israel. Bill Clinton imposed oil and trade sanctions on Iran in 1995. A slight improvement in Iran-US relations took place in 1997 after reformist Mohammad Khatami was elected president and he waved an olive branch. Some penalties were lifted. However, their relations dipped low after 9/11 when George W. Bush included Iran with Iraq and North Korea in his ‘axis of evil’ and rebuffed Khatami’s offer of ‘grand bargain’ after he learnt about Iran’s nuclear program.     

 

The US and Israeli leadership started breathing fire when Iran laid the foundation of its nuclear program in 2002 and procured as well as indigenously manufactured array of ballistic missiles capable of striking Israel. Iran was accused of arming Iraqi Shiites and tasking them to kill American troops occupying Iraq. Matters worsened when former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 and he questioned the authenticity of Holocaust saying that it was a myth. He further raised the blood pressure of Israeli leaders by threatening to wipe out Israel from the face of the world. Despite CIA’s full backup support to reformists and destabilization of Zahidan and Siestan provinces with the help of Jundullah group based in Balochistan, Ahmadinejad won the second term in 2009 and he became more rigid on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.

 

The US in league with the UN and EU began applying diplomatic, political, economic and military pressures on Iran to isolate it and to force it to abandon its nuclear program allegedly geared towards making a nuclear bomb. Four-fold crippling penalties included freezing of foreign currency accounts in western banks to the tune of over $7 billion. These pressures were backed by propaganda and covert wars to affect regime change. CIA kept pumping in millions of dollars to discredit the ruling regime and to promote moderate Reformists. Efforts were made to win over Centrists as well. In 2012, Iran was blacklisted from international banking network and embargo was applied on oil exports. These steps radically brought down Iran’s oil production and severely hurt its economy and resulted in high inflation. Riyal dipped to 40,000 Riyal to a dollar.  

 

Provoked by Ahmadinejad’s jingoistic and vitriolic statements and concerned by Iran’s fast growing military and nuclear prowess, together with Tehran’s support to its arch rivals Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and Assad regime in Syria, Israel started ringing alarm bells and describing Iran as an existential threat to its security. It kept poisoning the ears of USA and western countries and asked them to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear program or else nip the evil in the bud. When the US dithered due to its neck deep involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, Israel threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear sites unilaterally. While Netanyahu maintained that Israel reserved the right to protect itself from nuclear Iran, and claimed that nuclear armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella, he didn’t specify as to what damage nuclear armed Israel posed to its neighbors. To exert pressure on Iran, Israel asked USA to approve sale of advanced refueling aircraft and GBU bunker busting bombs. Idea was to convey to Iran that its underground nuclear sites would not be safe from GBUs.

 

Despite heavy economic bleeding, Iran refused to cow down and stood its ground. It maintained its stance that the nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and it has the right to develop it. In the face of looming dangers, Ahmadinejad threatened that if attacked, Strait of Hormuz would be blocked. His aggressive policies were fully supported by people of Iran. Things came to a pass when the internal situation of Syria spun out of control in the wake of use of chemical weapons allegedly by Syrian forces and the US supported by France and UK deciding to intervene militarily. Iran and Russia stood behind Assad regime. With so many powerful actors involved in the Syrian muddle, a war of bigger dimension in the volatile region of Middle East seemed imminent.

 

While Syria became the battleground for proxy wars of Saudi Arabia and Iran, noted analysts opined that the US was paving its way to strike Iran after dismantling Syria. The explosive situation cooled down as a result of Russian President Putin’s wise counsel. An agreement was signed with USA in which Assad agreed to open its chemical weapons stocks for international inspection and subsequent destruction in return for US-NATO putting off strikes. Diplomacy prevailed upon use of force, thus adding a feather in Putin and Obama’s caps. While Assad breathed a sigh of relief, the military contractors in USA, France and Britain as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar that had extended full support to the NATO’s intended offensive plan felt thoroughly disappointed. Obama’s preference to Muslim Brotherhood over Hosni Mubarak in Egypt until Morsi was overthrown by Egyptian military on July 3, 2013 had already disconcerted King Abdullah. Obama’s volte face in Syria further angered him and he decided to forgo Saudi seat in the UNSC, terming it was a dead horse.

 

While the hawks were still trying to absorb the shock effects of US u-turn on Syria, interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva between Iran and P5+1 on November 24, 2013 came as a bolt from the blue. The deal which came about as a result of secret talks between US and Iranian officials in Oman since last March has the potential to dramatically change the geo-strategic landscape of Middle East in particular and neighboring regions in general. Israel is incensed since it feels that temporary freeze may delay but will not block Iran’s resolve to manufacture a nuclear bomb. Israel with its over 200 nuclear warheads has the temerity to demand complete shutdown of Iran’s enrichment program, dismantlement of 19000 centrifuges and uprooting of heavy water reactor at Arak. Saudi Arabia is upset for not being kept informed. Some Gulf countries with Shia minorities and Bahrain with Shia majority are disconcerted over the development. They apprehend that the US patronage may enable Iran to not only regain its envied position in Middle East and in the process hinder growing Saudi-Qatari influence in the region, but also embolden it to export Shiaism. A Saudi analyst expressed his frustration saying that the US uses allies ‘like prostitutes’ and then dump them. The US Congress under the influence of Israel is unhappy and is still insisting on imposition of more sanctions.   

 

While retaining the right to uranium enrichment, Iran will cap its nuclear enrichment up to 5% for next six months and will allow IAEA to inspect nuclear sites. The US in return will defreeze Iran’s bank accounts in western countries and gradually remove sanctions. The deal can falter in case the US feels that Tehran is breaching the interim agreement, or Iran feels that the US is not giving sufficient relief. Spoilers however will continue to thwart the deal. In case the deal collapses, and Iran races ahead to manufacture the bomb, Obama will face the consequences of failure. But if the deal materializes into a final pact, it will add another feather in the hat of Obama. Whatever may be the outcome of the interim deal, what is satisfying is that the situation that had boiled to a bursting point has been cooled down and chances are that it will not trigger again.   

 

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist and researcher. asifharoonraja@gmail.com     

 

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