Friday, May 29, 2009

The Godfather's Vito Corleone: A Metaphor for Uncle Sam Today?


"The Godfather Doctrine", a foreign policy parable by John Hulsman and Wes Mitchell, uses the Godfather movie metaphor to describe the current situation the United States is confronted with. As a superpower in relative decline like the Godfather in the movie, Uncle Sam faces a situation similar to the one Vito Corleone's sons Michael and Sonny and adopted son Tom Hagen, the consiglieri, faced right after the unexpected attack on the feared but aging Vito Corleone at the peak of his power. It compares the fruit stand attack on Vito by upstarts (Sollozzo) to the 911 attacks by Al Qaeda on the United States.

The metaphor in the book classifies Tom as a "liberal institutionalist" who wants to use the elaborate institutional network Vito Corleone created by making alliances with other crime families and buying out policemen, judges and politicians. This is the system that Tom, in his role as consiglieri, was responsible for maintaining. By sharing access to the policemen, judges and senators that (as Sollozzo puts it) the don “carries in his pocket like so many nickels and dimes,” the family managed to create a kind of Sicilian Bretton Woods—a system of political and economic public goods that benefited not only the Corleones, but the entire mafia community who joined hands with the Corleones.

Sonny's visceral response to the crisis is to advocate “toughness” through military action, a single-minded policy prescription for waging righteous war against the rest of the ungrateful mafia world. Dismissing Tom’s pleas that business will suffer, Sonny’s damn-the-torpedoes approach belies a deep-seated fear that the only way to reestablish the family’s dominance is preemptive action to eradicate all possible future threats to it. While such a strategy makes emotional sense following the attempted hit on his father, it runs counter to the long-term interests of the family. So Sonny represents "the necon" who goes on a rampage, much like the Bush administration did after 911, in response to the attack on his father and fails miserably and gets killed. By starting a gangland free-for-all in the wake of the hit on his father, Sonny unwittingly severs long-standing family alliances and unites much of the rest of the mafia world against the Corleones. The resulting war is one of choice rather than strategic necessity. Sonny’s rash instinct to use military power to solve his structural problems merely hastens the family’s decline.

Michael is the "realist" (Obama?) who survives to use a combination of hard power and soft power to maintain and enrich his crime family by co-opting other emerging crime families, which the book compares with the US attempts to co-opt the BRIC countries, representing Brazil, Russia, India and China among others. It is the strategy that ultimately saves the Corleone family from the Sollozzo threat and equips it for coping with multipolarity. Unlike Tom, whose labors as family lawyer have produced an exaggerated devotion to negotiation, and Sonny, whose position as untested heir apparent has produced a zeal for utilizing the family arsenal, Michael has no formulaic fixation on a particular policy instrument. Instead, his overriding goal is to protect the family’s interests and save it from impending ruin by any and all means necessary. In today’s foreign-policy terminology, Michael is a realist.

While addressing the family’s immediate need for a more versatile policy tool kit and shoring up its teetering alliances, Michael also takes steps to adjust the institutional playing field to the Corleones’ advantage on a more fundamental, long-term basis. Where Tom sees institutions as essentially static edifices that act as sources of power in their own right and Sonny sees them as needless hindrances to be bypassed, Michael sees institutions for what they truly are: conduits of influence that “reflect and ratify” but do not supplant deeper power realities. When the distribution of power shifts, institutions are sure to follow. As the Tataglias and Barzinis gain strength, Michael knows they will eventually overturn the existing order and replace it with an institutional rule book that better reflects their own needs and interests. Evidence that this process is already underway can be seen in the ease with which Sollozzo is able to enlist the support of a local precinct captain—the mafia equivalent of a UN mandate—when police loyalties formerly belonged to the Corleones. Similarly, Washington increasingly finds the very institutions it created after World War II being used against it by today’s rising powers, even as new structures are being built (like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization) that exclude the United States as a participant altogether.

Authors Hulsman and Mitchell compare Iran and North Korea, who defy US and the US-backed institutions such as the UN Security Council consistently, with Sollozzo, who challenges Vito Corleone. And the US doesn't quite know how to deal with them. Sollozzo realizes that fundamental changes are underway in the global system and knows that they give him greater latitude for defying the Corleones than he had in the past. As Sollozzo tells Tom, “The old man is slipping; ten years ago I couldn’t have gotten to him.”

I think the elaborate international alliances and institutions that US has built over 60 years ago, such as UN Security Council, NATO, World Bank, OECD, WTO, IMF, IAEA etc, through which America exercises tremendous power and control, are being weakened partly due to America's own missteps, and my guess is that these alliances and institutions will not survive as they are today. There will be a huge realignment of nations, as the powerful new players, including China, Russia, Germany, Japan, Brazil, India, South Africa want greater say in the affairs of the world. So do the Iranians, the Koreans and the Arabs.

So the only way the US can retain significant power and influence is by co-opting some of these emerging nations. The ones that seems ready to play ball are India and established economic powers like Germany and Japan, who have economically benefited from globalization under the US leadership. Others, such as Russia, China and Brazil, who have also benefited from globalization, are not willing to be co-opted by the US.

In my opinion, India appears to be well on its way to join the US as a close ally in this emerging new multipolar world. There is a burgeoning US-India relationship in almost all spheres. Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh summed it up well when he said to former President Bush on his visit to the White House last year, "The people of India deeply love you."

The Prime Minister continued with the theme of affection and gratitude by adding, “In the last four and half years that I have been Prime Minister, I have been the recipient of your generosity, your affection, your friendship. It means a lot to me and to the people of India.”

Later, India's Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon explained: “I think, if you look at the public opinion polls, the ratings for President Bush are higher in India than in any other country. That is the factual basis.”

As the US-China rivalry grows and US and India continue to build ever closer ties, it is very likely that Pakistan will be forced to make a choice and grow away from the US and closer to China in the years ahead. This decision will be driven partly by the powerful anti-US currents in Pakistan's public opinion.

The book "The Godfather Doctrine" paints the United States as a power in relative decline, and it forecasts the emergence of a new, multi-polar world, with US being one of many power centers. In all likelihood, America will still be quite strong and powerful for a while, but its writ will no longer be unchallenged. It will have to rely on support from other powers to deal with the Solozzos (Iran, North Korea, al Qaeda etc.) of the world.

As you can see, the drama in real life is not quite over yet. Let's see if the metaphor makes sense as it plays itself out.

Here's a video clip from the movie:



Related Links:

Pax Corleone

The Godfather movie

Manmohan Singh Professes Love of America

30 comments:

Optimist said...

Nobody has the softpower and hardpower US has in the world.China is building multi-billion dollar firewall and cyber-police to control information.Its allies are Pakistan,North Korea and Iran. All these countries are perfect for bad guys in James Bond movies..US decline is over-stated theory..China and Russia needs 10-20 years to catch up with US militarily and technology-wise. The most realistic scenario is US will be hyper-power and China,Russia,Brazil and India will be superpowers in the coming decade..

Riaz Haq said...

Optimist:

Hulsman and Mitchell see US in "relative" decline, not "absolute" decline toward the emerging multipolar world. Only time will tell how the US power will stack up against other major powers.

Anonymous said...

since when did japan and germany become emerging powers?

Riaz Haq said...

Right after WWII when UN Security Council was created, Germany and Japan were vanquished powers not considered worthy of being on decision-making bodies. The world has changed dramatically since then. Japan and Germany are now second and third largest economies in the world.

Anonymous said...

It is a nice article. In this whole game, israel is never stated. It is one another player who was once more like an agent of usa but today tries to do things of its own.

It has its own lobby which can move the foreign policy of them in whatever way they want. It is also trying to make friends with countries like india to handle its own isolation.

Further world has recognized the printing currency game of usa and using oil as its only way to keep the demand for it. With local corruption and greed, usa is tending towards its own internal distruction.

Anonymous said...

so what does that make india and china? also emerging? in the same class as germany japan ?

Riaz Haq said...

Economically, Germany and Japan are already very powerful but their wealth has not translated into political power on the world stage. As the talk of re-architecting inst such as Security Council gains momentum, both Japan and Germany want to become perm members, just as India, Brazil and South Africa do.

China is already both politically and economically very powerful.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: You say Israel "is also trying to make friends with countries like india to handle its own isolation. "

You have hit the nail on the head. Yes, Israel will continue to be a very important part of the burgeoning India-Israel-US axis. Israel has become a major conduit of US military technology to India. Israel is trying to do the same with China to earn money but, so far, US has been stopping it because of the growing rivalry between China and US.

Anonymous said...

Both the political parties of india has an ideology favouring christians or hindus but both are not comfortable with muslims.

In fact that is the reason that inspite of non-bjp government in centre the relationship of india with israel is going in great guns.

India has enough capacity to indigenous with its productive manpower. Yes it does get distract with the nuclear armed pscho state of pakistan.

As somebody mentioned if it put the trigger on nuke [ if it is has as many feel the triggers are more in the hands of usa who might have purchased all at a price ], that will be the death knell to north india and pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from NY Times report talking about public anger against the Taliban:

A year ago, the Pakistani public was deeply divided over what to do about its spreading insurgency. Some saw the Taliban militants as fellow Muslims and native sons who simply wanted Islamic law, and many opposed direct military action against them.

But history moves quickly in Pakistan, and after months of televised Taliban cruelties, broken promises and suicide attacks, there is a spreading sense — apparent in the news media, among politicians and the public — that many Pakistanis are finally turning against the Taliban.

The shift is still tentative and difficult to quantify. But it seems especially profound among the millions of Pakistanis directly threatened by the Taliban advance from the tribal areas into more settled parts of Pakistan, like the Swat Valley. Their anger at the Taliban now outweighs even their frustration with the military campaign that has crushed their houses and killed their relatives.

“It’s the Taliban that’s responsible for our misery,” said Fakir Muhammed, a refugee from Swat, who, like many who had experienced Taliban rule firsthand, welcomed the military campaign to push the insurgents out.

The growing support for the fight against the Taliban could be an important turning point for Pakistan, whose divisions about its Islamic militancy seemed at times to imperil the state itself.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting NPR interview of former CIA agent and chief bin Laden hunter in Afghanistan Michael Schueur who says:

1. Double agents today can be deadly. They don't just feed bad intelligence to their CIA handlers, they can literally blow up in your face, as the Jordanian doctor did in Khost at FOB Chapman.

2. Difference between Russian recruits and al Qaeda recruits is that the Russians hated the Soviet communist system and admired the Americans. They thought of the Communist party bosses as just a bunch of gangsters looking out for themselves. The al Qaeda recruits, on the other hand, are very well-educated, wealthy and committed and include doctors, engineers and sons of wealthy individuals like Zawahiri and bin Laden, who gave up their comforts and wealth to fight for their cause.

3. US presidents are not telling the truth about Afghanistan. The Afghans see us as foreign occupiers and infidels in their land. Without the help of the Afghans, the Taliban and al Qaeda could not mount the resistance they do in Afghanistan.

http://www.npr.org/templates/dmg/dmg_wmref_em.php?id=122258540&type=1&date=05-Jan-2010&mtype=WM

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an Op Ed by ex Indian diplomat Bhadrakumar:

Clearly, relations with the US are of the highest priority for India, as they are for Russia or China. But the similarity ends there. For the foreseeable future, despite the heart-warming prognosis by the world community hailing India as a potentially emerging global player, the hard reality is that such a prospect remains distant in the scheme of things. When it comes to issues such as the situation around Iran, India lacks the wherewithal of Russia or China.
---
On the other hand, India is almost similarly placed vis-a-vis the US as Brazil or Turkey are. The fact that these two countries, which are close partners of the US, have not drawn Washington's ire shouldn't go unnoticed. New Delhi's apprehensions that any independent line on the Iran nuclear issue might upset the rhythm of US-India relations seems, in introspect, to have been entirely unwarranted. Countries that have taken an independent line on the Iran nuclear issue during crucial IAEA votes - Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Egypt - have not exactly come to grief. On the contrary, India's traditional ties with Iran grievously suffered when it began blindly toeing the American line.

Worse still, Tehran harbors a suspicion that New Delhi might have used its ''Iran card'' to ingratiate itself with the George W Bush administration. The signs are that Tehran has made a cool analysis about damage control and has decided to more or less relegate its ties with New Delhi to a place on the backburner, even while going through the occasional motions of friendship and exchange of views that the two neighbors cannot do without.

New Delhi needs to take stock that Obama is an extraordinarily gifted politician endowed with intellectuality and it is conceivable he may come up with new thinking and a new approach to the problem. Monday's swap deal underscored indisputably that US policy on Iran is in a cul-de-sac. A reversal becomes inevitable. To be sure, Obama has taken note that Turkey and Brazil highlighted the existence of a whole world beyond the secretive, cloistered framework of the "Iran Six".

New Delhi has of late been attempting to follow in the footsteps of Russian and Chinese policies. Here too, a rethink is in order. India needs to factor in gains accruing to Russia and China from a continuing US-Iran standoff. The Western embargo against Tehran is keeping Iranian energy exports out of the European energy market that might otherwise have competed with Russian supplies. Energy exports constitute the single-biggest trump card of Russian foreign policy to modulate Western policies toward Moscow.

As for China, it is indeed having quite a field day as an exporter of goods and services to Iran as well as for advancing plans to evacuate Iranian gas and oil through pipelines across Central Asia that are nearing completion. In sum, Beijing has done splendidly well.

--------
India's diplomatic ingenuity lies in working on the US thinking to persuade it to become a partner in the Iran pipeline project. The prospect offers a "win-win" situation. Iran doesn't hide its panache for Big Oil. The US has stakes in India-Pakistan normalization. India and Pakistan's energy markets offer massive business for American oil companies. The US involvement acts as a guarantee for the pipeline. Least of all, Washington too wishes to make Tehran a stakeholder in regional stability.

Riaz Haq said...

Diplomat Bharakumar Op Ed on Iran-India contd:

Russia and China, therefore, have complementary interests in shepherding Iranian energy exports to the Asian market. How is India placed in the energy equations? On balance, India in no way benefits out of the US-Iran standoff and, in fact, has a great deal to lose as regional tensions prevail in a region which forms its extended neighborhood. The Iran nuclear issue potentially can complicate the US-India strategic partnership as New Delhi will be firmly opposed to any use of force in the resolution of the problem.
Equally, the bottom line is that Iran is a major source of energy supplies for the expanding Indian economy. In geopolitical terms, a leap of faith uncluttered by the debris in the India-Pakistan relationship will dictate that the Iran gas pipeline project offers a rare opportunity for New Delhi to make its western neighbor a stakeholder in regional cooperation. Even at the height of the Cold War with nuclear armies preparing for Armageddon, pipelines criss-crossed the Iron Curtain. Alas, the Indian strategic community has a closed mind, as things stand, when it comes to developing a matrix of regional cooperation that even remotely includes Pakistan.

India's diplomatic ingenuity lies in working on the US thinking to persuade it to become a partner in the Iran pipeline project. The prospect offers a "win-win" situation. Iran doesn't hide its panache for Big Oil. The US has stakes in India-Pakistan normalization. India and Pakistan's energy markets offer massive business for American oil companies. The US involvement acts as a guarantee for the pipeline. Least of all, Washington too wishes to make Tehran a stakeholder in regional stability.

New Delhi should closely study Turkey's motivations on the Iran nuclear issue. Turkey has interests almost similar to India's and its supple diplomacy enables it to astutely position itself for the day when the US-Iran standoff dissipates. Turkey estimates that Iran is a neighbor (although they have had a troubled relationship) while the US is a key North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally and any midwifery in the inevitable US-Iran rapprochement becomes a strategic asset for Ankara's growing stature as a regional power.

Indian diplomacy has lately made some interesting moves toward Iran, beginning with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao's visit to Tehran in February. The desire to craft a fresh approach is also evident in External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's consultations this week in Tehran. The path is strewn with thorns, as the Iranians harbor a deep sense of hurt about India's stance at the IAEA votes. Therefore, as the US's tug-of-war with Iran intensifies, New Delhi faces the challenge of not treading on Tehran's sensitivities all over again.

On the whole, Indian policy is principled, especially its line that the IAEA ought to be in the driving seat rather than a cabal of states with dubious intentions. But New Delhi is lurking in the shadows in a blissful state of masterly inactivity.

India should openly join hands with Turkey and Brazil in opposing the need for a continued push for UN sanctions against Iran. No doubt, the diplomatic initiative by Turkey and Brazil creates an altogether new situation and Indian diplomacy should grasp its importance and seize its potentials.

Riaz Haq said...

In Silicon valley recently, the US federal government has pumped in about $500 million each into two green tech startups..Solyndra pv solar and Tesla all-electric cars. Obama was here this week to promote green tech and spoke to Solyndra employees.

In addition, there is $1 billion in federal grants being offered to biotech firms under the new healthcare bill.

The reason for US supremacy is partly explained by how much of its public funds it spends on higher education. A 2006 report from the London-based Center for European Reform, "The Future of European Universities" points out that the United States invests 2.6 percent of its GDP in higher education, compared with 1.2 percent in Europe and 1.1 percent in Japan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed in The Hindu on Wikileaks cables showing growing US and Israeli influence in New Delhi:

The publication and analysis of the US embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks is ongoing, but what has been made available so far reveals a disturbing picture. The US has acquired an influential position in various spheres - strategic affairs, foreign policy and economic policies. The US has access to the bureaucracy, military, security and intelligence systems and has successfully penetrated them at various levels. The cables cover a period mainly from 2005 to 2009, the very period when the UPA government went ahead to forge the strategic alliance with the US.
--------
The volte face by the Manmohan Singh government in voting against Iran in the IAEA in September 2005 was one such crucial event. The cables illustrate how the US government exercised maximum pressure to achieve this turn around. The Indian government was told that unless India takes a firm stand against Iran, the US Congress would not pass the legislation to approve the nuclear deal.
------------
Other cables reveal how the United States succeeded in getting India to coordinate policy towards other countries in South Asia like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The close cooperation with Israel under US aegis is also spelt out.

The success achieved in getting India's foreign policy to be "congruent" to US policy is smugly stated in an embassy cable that Indian officials are ‘loathe to admit publicly that India and the US have begun coordinating foreign policies'.
----------
One of the cables from the US ambassador to the American defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld spells out the agenda which the Americans hope to accomplish during the visit. The Defence Framework Agreement was the first of this type to be signed by India with any country. It envisages a whole gamut of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries. It is evident from the cables that the US government and the Pentagon had been negotiating and planning for such an agreement from the time of the NDA government.
------------
The cables show the growing coordination of the security establishments of the two countries reaching a high level of cooperation after the Mumbai terrorist attack. The then National Security Advisor, M K Narayanan was seen by the Americans as eager to establish a high degree of security cooperation involving agencies such as the FBI and the CIA.

The cables also provide a glimpse of how the Americans are able to penetrate the intelligence and security apparatus. Among the forty cables which were first published by the British paper, The Guardian, there are two instances of improper contacts. In the first case a member of the National Security Advisory Board meets an American embassy official and offers to provide information about Iranian contacts in India and requests for his visit to the United States to be arranged in return. In another case the US embassy reports that it is able to get access to terrorism related information directly from a police official serving in the Delhi Police, rather than going through official channels.
---------------
The collaboration between the intelligence and security agencies of the two countries had already resulted in American penetration. Two cases of espionage had come up. During the NDA government, a RAW officer, Rabinder Singh was recruited by the CIA. When his links were uncovered, he was helped by the CIA to flee to the United States. During the UPA government a systems analyst in the National Security Council secretariat was found to have been recruited by the CIA, the contact having been established through the US-India Cyber Security Forum.


http://www.thehindu.com/news/resources/article1568273.ece

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC on US Treasury chief Geithner seeking to broaden and deepen ties with India:

The US wants India to become one of its top 10 trading partners, treasury secretary Timothy Geithner said as the two countries agreed on improving access to each other's markets.

He made the remarks after meeting India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the second India-US Economic and Financial Partnership.

India is currently the US' twelfth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade of almost $50bn (£31bn).

US is the world's biggest economy.

"In the United States, we aren't just watching India's rise as an economic power, we support it. We encourage it. And we want to help advance it," Mr Geithner said.

"India's growth is good for us, just as our growth is good for India," he added.
Barriers to growth

However, Mr Geithner said that if trade between the two countries was to rise to the next level, then India needed to open up more sectors of its economy.

US companies have been lobbying to tap into India's lucrative financial and retail sector, but have not been successful so far.

"American companies still face barriers in India in sectors such as banking, insurance, manufacturing, multi-brand retail and infrastructure," Mr Geithner said.

Mr Geithner added that not only were these barriers limiting growth, they were also a hindrance to job creation in both the countries.

However, Mr Mukherjee said that given the political situation in India it was not easy to introduce reforms in key sectors.

"We do not have a simple, single-party majority in legislature and in parliament," he said.

"We shall have to carry other people with us and we are exactly trying to do that," Mr Mukherjee added.

Despite the limitations expressed by the Indian finance minister, Mr Geithner said he was happy with the overall outcome of the bilateral meeting.

"The single most important take away is the commitment of both governments to work hard to expand deepen this relationship," he said.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13954315

Asadi said...

It is the year 2099, Amreeka has long passed from the scene of super powers, after using India as a cheap whore to play it off against China and forming a hundred million strong market, the US has let it go, toilets are still rare facilities in India, the banyas still squat by the railroads as they contemplate about entertaining themselves to the lattest bollywood production with twenty minutes worth of dialogue and two hundred minuts worth of song and dance, women are still being burned at the pyre and bought and sold as cattle in their society, but in the higher circles of the consumption class, the 100 million strong that have now been reduced to 35 million out of a population of 2.3 billion two obsessions prevail: how to make Pakistan vanish into thin air and how come this upstart power of Islam did in a few short decades what Hindus couldn't do over millinea..Horses now compose poems and robots manage all air traffic and fly planes....the banya still squats by the old railway tracks...

Riaz Haq said...

Asadi: "It is the year 2099, Amreeka has long passed from the scene of super powers, after using India as a cheap whore to play it off against China..."


There are at least two books that paint a somewhat similar picture of India in the 21st century:

1. The Next 100 Years by George Friedman

http://southasiainvestor.blogspot.com/2010/02/next-100-years-for-india-pakistan-and.htm

2. "The Godfather Doctrine" by John Hulsman and Wes Mitchell

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/05/godfathers-vito-corleone-metaphor-for.html

The first argues that, given India's fault lines and growing insurgencies, India will not amount to much in the 21st century.

The second talks about US co-opting India to advance its own agenda.

Asadi said...

Riaz "The Godfather doctrine"

Quote: "Michael is the "realist" (Obama?) who survives to use a combination of hard power and soft power to maintain and enrich his crime family by co-opting other emerging crime families"

Fits in perfectly with Tilly's thesis on the state as organized crime, Tilly actually got it from Thorstein Veblen the institutional (Marxist) economist.

Riaz Haq said...

There was an article in Forbes magazine issue of March 4, 2002, by Steve Forbes titled "India, Meet Austria-Hungary" which compared India with the now defunct Austria-Hungary. Here is an excerpt from the text of that article:

"Influential elements in India's government and military are still itching to go to war with Pakistan, even though Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has taken considerable political risks by moving against Pakistani-based-and-trained anti-India terrorist groups. Sure, Musharraf made a truculent speech condemning India's ``occupation'' of Kashmir, but that was rhetorical cover for cracking down on those groups. Washington should send New Delhi some history books for these hotheads; there is no human activity more prone to unintended consequences than warfare. As cooler heads in the Indian government well know, history is riddled with examples of parties that initiated hostilities in the belief that conflict would resolutely resolve outstanding issues.

Pericles of Athens thought he could deal with rival Sparta once and for all when he triggered the Peloponnesian War; instead his city-state was undermined and Greek civilization devastated.

Similarly, Hannibal brilliantly attacked Rome; he ended up not only losing the conflict but also setting off a train of events that ultimately led to the total destruction of Carthage. Prussia smashed France in 1870, annexing critical French territory for security reasons, but that sowed the seeds for the First World War. At the end of World War I the victorious Allies thought they had dealt decisively with German military power. Israel crushed its Arab foes in 1967, but long-term peace did not follow.

India is not a homogeneous state. Neither was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It attacked Serbia in the summer of 1914 in the hopes of destroying this irritating state after Serbia had committed a spectacular terrorist act against the Hapsburg monarchy. The empire ended up splintering, and the Hapsburgs lost their throne. And on it goes.

Getting back to the present, do Indian war hawks believe China will stand idly by as India tried to reduce Pakistan to vassal-state status? Do they think Arab states and Iran won't fund Muslim guerrilla movements in Pakistan, as well as in India itself? Where does New Delhi think its oil comes from (about 70%, mainly from the Middle East)? Does India think the U.S. will stand by impotently if it starts a war that unleashes nuclear weapons? "


http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/08/chinese-strategist-argues-for-indias.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts from an article Jayshree Bajoria of Council on Foreign Relations:

..... Experts say RAW's powers and its role in India's foreign policy have varied under different prime ministers. Successes that RAW claims it contributed to include:

* the creation of Bangladesh in 1971;
* India's growing influence in Afghanistan;
* Sikkim's accession to India in the northeast in 1975;
* the security of India's nuclear program;
* the success of African liberation movements during the Cold War.
----
RAW had two priorities after its formation, writes B. Raman, a former RAW official, in the 2007 book ,The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane. The organization worked to strengthen its capability for intelligence gathering on Pakistan and China and for covert action in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Some experts say that RAW's efforts in East Pakistan, which was created from the partition of the Indian state of Bengal and completely separated from the rest of Pakistan, was aimed at fomenting independence sentiment. Over time, RAW's objectives have broadened to include:

* Monitoring the political and military developments in adjoining countries, which have direct bearing on India's national security and in the formulation of its foreign policy.
* Seeking the control and limitation of the supply of military hardware to Pakistan, mostly from European countries, the United States, and China.
----
RAW had two priorities after its formation, writes B. Raman, a former RAW official, in the 2007 book ,The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane. The organization worked to strengthen its capability for intelligence gathering on Pakistan and China and for covert action in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Some experts say that RAW's efforts in East Pakistan, which was created from the partition of the Indian state of Bengal and completely separated from the rest of Pakistan, was aimed at fomenting independence sentiment. Over time, RAW's objectives have broadened to include:

* Monitoring the political and military developments in adjoining countries, which have direct bearing on India's national security and in the formulation of its foreign policy.
* Seeking the control and limitation of the supply of military hardware to Pakistan, mostly from European countries, the United States, and China.
----
From the early days, RAW had a secret liaison relationship with the Mossad, Israel's external intelligence agency. The main purpose was to benefit from Israel's knowledge of West Asia and North Africa, and to learn from its counterterrorism techniques, say experts.
------------
In retaliation, in the mid-1980s, RAW set up two covert groups of its own, Counter Intelligence Team-X (CIT-X) and Counter Intelligence Team-J (CIT-J), the first targeting Pakistan in general and the second directed at Khalistani groups. The two groups were responsible for carrying out terrorist operations inside Pakistan (Newsline), writes Pakistani military expert Ayesha Siddiqa. Indian journalist and associate editor of Frontline magazine, Praveen Swami, writes that a "low-grade but steady campaign of bombings in major Pakistani cities, notably Karachi and Lahore" was carried out. This forced the head of ISI to meet his counterpart in RAW and agree on the rules of engagement as far as Punjab was concerned, writes Siddiqa. The negotiation was brokered by then-Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan bin-Talal, whose wife, Princess Sarvath, is of Pakistani origin. "It was agreed that Pakistan would not carry out activities in the Punjab as long as RAW refrained from creating mayhem and violence inside Pakistan," Siddiqa writes.

..... experts point out that India has supported insurgents in Pakistan's Balochistan, as well as anti-Pakistan forces in Afghanistan.....-------....


http://www.cfr.org/india/raw-indias-external-intelligence-agency/p17707

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an MSN report about US Defense Sec Leon Panetta talking about "checking rising powers" in an address at US Postgraduate Naval School:

Washington, Aug 25 (PTI) Noting the rise of powers like China, Brazil and India, the US has said it would make sure that America continues to be a force to be reckoned with and these emerging nations do not threaten stability in the world.

"We try everything we can to cooperate with these rising powers and to work with them, but to make sure at the same time that they do not threaten stability in the world, to be able to project our power, to be able to say to the world that we continue to be a force to be reckoned with," US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in his address to the Naval Postgraduate School Location.

"We continue to confront rising powers in the world - China, India, Brazil, Russia, countries that we need to cooperate with. We need to hopefully work with. But in the end, we also need to make sure do not threaten the stability of the world," Panetta said in his another address to the Defense Language Institute in California.

"We''ve got to be able to project our power in a world in which we make clear that we are a force to be reckoned with.
All of this comes at a time when we are facing budget challenges in this country, challenges that all of us have a responsibility to confront," he said.

"We are facing the largest deficit in the history of this country, a debt that now approaches USD 14 trillion, an annual deficit of USD 1.4 trillion. We do have to roll up our sleeves and discipline our budget for the future. And defense has to play a role in that," he said.

"But we do not have to choose between fiscal responsibility and protecting our national security. The Congress has enacted some budget savings in the debt ceiling agreement," he said.

"It''s my view that while those decisions are going to be tough, that we have the opportunity to make some very important decisions that not only shape defense for today, but the future; that make us an agile force, a deployable force, a force that can confront the threats in the world that has the weapons to be able to do that effectively, that we can project our presence throughout the world and make clear to others that we care about peace in the world," he said. .


http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5391167

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Christine Fair opinion piece in Time magazine:

Early in the war, Pakistan was praised for its indispensable assistance — likely because the cooperation centered on a common foe: al-Qaeda. But as Pakistan watched the U.S. grow closer to India — not just passing the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal but also encouraging India's presence in Afghanistan — it concluded that its interests and those of the U.S. were on a collision course.

In part because of that realization, Pakistan supported the Taliban's newly invigorated insurgency in Afghanistan. The Americans, however, resisted putting pressure on Pakistan for fear of compromising cooperation against al-Qaeda. Thus an ironic equilibrium was established: Pakistan received increasing financial "rewards" for its support of the global war on terrorism while it subsidized the very groups killing thousands of Americans and allies in Afghanistan.

With the American endgame in Afghanistan looming, U.S. officials can no longer ignore this duplicity. Pakistan's influence over the Afghan Taliban and other allies like the Haqqani network is a key obstacle to Afghans' being able to secure their country themselves. What is becoming increasingly clear is that a strategic relationship is not possible when strategic interests diverge so starkly. Observers on both sides are quietly asking whether the other is a problematic partner, an outright foe or both.


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2096478_2096477_2096476,00.html #ixzz1a9K6tjzy

Riaz Haq said...

US Defense secretary sees China and India threats to US power in Asia Pacific, according to Reuters report:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared to call China and India "threats" on Thursday, in comments that the Pentagon quickly sought to correct.

Panetta, addressing workers at a submarine plant in Connecticut, was talking about emerging challenges facing the United States as it looks beyond the Iraq and Afghan wars.

After detailing the threat of cyber warfare, Panetta turned to concerns over "rising powers."

"We face the threats from rising powers, China, India, others that we have to always be aware of," Panetta said.

"And (we have to) try to make sure that we always have sufficient force protection out there in the Pacific to make sure they know we're never going anywhere."

His remarks came the same day that President Barack Obama said on a visit to Australia that the U.S. military would expand its role in the Asia-Pacific region despite budget cuts. Obama declared America was "here to stay" as a Pacific power.

Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby moved to correct the record, saying Panetta believed that relationships with both China and India were absolutely vital.

"Any suggestion that he was implying either country was a military threat is just false," Kirby said.

Kirby said Panetta was referring instead to the challenges that China and India face "within themselves."

"And (he was referring to) the challenges that we share with them as we try to forge better relationships going forward in a very turbulent, dynamic security environment," Kirby said.

Panetta made the comments after touring a nuclear-powered, Virginia-class attack submarine in the very final phase of construction. The U.S. submarine fleet is considered one of the most important counters to China's growing military might, which includes advances in missile technology that make surface targets easier to reach.

Obama also announced this week that the United States will extend the military's reach into Southeast Asia with Marines, naval ships and aircraft deployed to northern Australia from 2012.

China has questioned the deployment to Australia, raising doubts whether strengthening such alliances will help the region pull together at a time of economic gloom.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/17/us-usa-panetta-threats-idUSTRE7AG2H520111117

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Asia Times piece on the importance of GCC Arabs to US power and US dollar:

There's no way to understand the larger-than-life United States-Iran psychodrama, the Western push for regime change in both Syria and Iran, and the trials and tribulations of the Arab Spring(s) - now mired in perpetual winter - without a close look at the fatal attraction between Washington and the GCC. [1]

GCC stands for Gulf Cooperation Council, the club of six wealthy Persian Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - UAE), founded in 1981 and which in no time configured as the prime strategic US backyard for the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, for the long-drawn battle in the New Great Game in Eurasia, and also as the headquarters for "containing" Iran.

The US Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain and Central Command's forward headquarters is based in Qatar; Centcom polices no less than 27 countries from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia - what the Pentagon until recently defined as "the arc of instability". In sum: the GCC is like a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf magnified to Star Trek proportions.

I prefer to refer to the GCC as the Gulf Counter-revolution Club - due to its sterling performance in suppressing democracy in the Arab world, even before Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia over a year ago.

Cueing to Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, the Rosebud inside the GCC is that the House of Saud sells its oil only in US dollars - thus the pre-eminence of the petrodollar - and in exchange benefits from massive, unconditional US military and political support. Moreover the Saudis prevent the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - after all they're the world's largest oil producer - to price and sell oil in a basket of currencies. These rivers of petrodollars then flow into US equities and Treasury bonds.

For decades virtually the whole planet has been held hostage to this fatal attraction. Until now.

Gimme all your toys
-----------------
It's true that whoever dominates the GCC - with weapons and political support - projects power globally. The GCC has been absolutely key for US hegemony within what Immanuel Wallerstein defines as the world system.

Yet let's take a look at the numbers. Since last year Saudi Arabia is exporting more oil to China than to the US. This is part of an inexorable process of GCC energy and commodity exports moving to Asia.

By next year foreign assets held by the GCC could reach $3.8 trillion with oil at $70 a barrel. With all that non-stop "tension" in the Persian Gulf, there's no reason to believe oil will be below $100 in the foreseeable future. In this case GCC foreign assets could reach a staggering $5.7 trillion - that's 160% more than in pre-crisis 2008, and over $1 trillion more than China's foreign assets.

At the same time, China will be increasingly doing more business with the GCC. The GCC is increasingly importing more from Asia - although the top source of imports is still the European Union. Meanwhile, US-GCC trade is dropping. By 2025, China will be importing three times more oil from the GCC than the US. No wonder the House of Saud - to put it mildly - is terribly excited about Beijing.

So for the moment we have the pre-eminence of NATOGCC military, and USGCC geopolitically. But sooner rather than later Beijing may approach the House of Saud and quietly whisper, "Why don't you sell me your oil in yuan?" Just like China buying Iranian oil and gas with yuan. Petroyuan, anyone? Now that's an entirely new Star Trek.


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NA20Ak02.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times blog post on BRICS summit in Delhi:

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa announced on Thursday that they would investigate establishing a system that would allow them to bypass the dollar and other global currencies when trading among themselves.

The leaders of the BRICS group of nations also announced that they would explore setting up an alternative to the IMF and the World Bank that would loan to developing countries and bypass the U.S.-European axis of power that has dominated global economic affairs since World War II.

In a story on the stakes and the obstacles before the BRICS nations, our colleague Jim Yardley explained that the group had not accomplished very much before this, their fourth summit meeting, in New Delhi. But Jim wrote that they were expected to come away with at least one concrete product this time:

They are expected to announce agreements that would enable the nations to extend each other credit in local currencies while conducting trade, sidestepping the dollar, a substantive move if not yet the kind of game-changing action once expected from BRICS.

But that raises the questions:

Do you expect the BRICS to change the global game? What is their potential as a bloc or an alliance? Indeed, are they a bloc at all, or just a list of countries whose growing economic might symbolizes the rise of a world where the United States is no longer solely dominant?

The five countries have very different agendas and forms of government. Does this make forming any kind of unified policy or outlook unlikely? Are they really just a smart catchphrase from a Goldman Sachs economist to encapsulate changing global economics, as Walter Ladwig, a visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, argued in the Opinion pages of the IHT?

The French daily Le Figaro believes that “little by little, the BRICS are asserting themselves.” To what end, it does not say.

In its analysis of the summit meeting, the Times of India concentrates on the group’s political statements urging negotiated resolutions of the conflict in Syria and the West’s nuclear standoff with Iran.

Reuters concentrates on the lecturing and hectoring that BRICS leaders delivered to the profligate West, quoting the customary end-of-summit joint declaration: “It is critical for advanced economies to adopt responsible macroeconomic and financial policies, avoid creating excessive global liquidity and undertake structural reforms to lift growth that create jobs.”


http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/what-do-you-think-the-brics-can-build/?scp=1&sq=BRICS&st=cse

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece in a Russian newspaper on Putin's visit to Pakistan:

>Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin will, on his first foreign tour after taking office, make his first stop in Pakistan. It symbolizes not just Pakistan’s importance in the region, but the shift in relations which means that the two countries, kept apart for so many years because of Russia’s espousal of Communism, are trying to come together. Russia seeks a new ally in the region, to substitute for India, now in the American lap, after the collapse of the USSR. Mr Putin’s visit shows that Russia intends to play a more proactive role in world affairs. It must do so, because by ceding to US supremacy, it has seen it not just invade Afghanistan physically, but threaten Iran. Russia has found its own physical space threatened by US expansionism, with the expansion of Nato threatening it in the West, the snatching away of India and the occupation of Afghanistan threatening it in Asia. The visit is a result of the successful visits to Russia by President Asif Zardari, in August 2010 for the Quadrilateral Summit, and by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar earlier this year.

Russia had previously tried to make headway in Pakistan through the Steel Mills project, and now it has offered to be involved in the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. This is an offer that Pakistan must not hesitate to take up. While Pakistan's official 'ally' has done its best to sabotage the project, and has insisted India withdraw from it, Russia is extending a helping hand. Unlike the steel mills, the pipeline from Iran is existential, providing as it will, gas not just for domestic and industrial users, but also for power production. Thus not just for strategic concerns, but national interest should incline Pakistan towards Russia. However, as strategic concerns include Afghanistan, which Russia has been deeply interested in for a very long time, Russia would also be interested in how Pakistan sees the future of Afghanistan.

It should also be recognized that Russia has a deep interest in the reset in relations between the USA and Pakistan that is presently being discussed by the joint sitting of Parliament. Russia too has seen that the US has not just gained access to South Asia through Pakistan, but also Central Asia. As Russia is seeking an ally in the region to substitute for India, and as Pakistan is distanced from the USA, Russia is naturally more interested in Pakistan than ever before. President Putin’s visit, the first ever by a Russian President to Pakistan, reflects that.


http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_04_13/71586559/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Indian Express story on how much Indians "like" Israel on Facebook:

Israel today said it's official India Facebook page has the most 'Likes' after that of the US and the United Kindgom.

The ISRAEL in INDIA Facebook page, launched by the Israelian Embassy in August, 2010, has received almost 20,000 'likes', a figure surpassed only by the pages of the US and the UK.

Two decades after India and Israel established full diplomatic relations, ties between the two nations are extending far beyond traditional diplomacy, the Embassy said in a statement.

Less than two years after the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi launched its activity on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other virtual platforms, Israel managed to gain “exceptional popularity” in the Indian social media arena, it said.

The Embassy also launched a new website recently, which provides frequent updates on Israeli activities in India as well as a fresh and young look at Israel's society, history, culture and economy. The Embassy also operates specialised websites in Hindi and Urdu.

“These results are impressive”, said Alon Ushpiz, Israel's Ambassador to India.

“They mirror the warmth and friendship that we Israelis feel across India and they are yet another indication of the immense potential that lies in our relationship”, he added.


http://www.indianexpress.com/news/india-likes-israel-the-most-after-us-and-uk-embassy/962009/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News report on Pak-China ties:

Pakistan is China’s Number 1 ally and the most special country for China.



These were the words of Prof Feng Zhongping, President, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), as he addressed members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) at the institute Tuesday morning.



The occasion was the visit by a five-member delegation of the CICIR who had an interactive discussion with a compact group of PIIA members and journalists. Chairperson of the institute, Dr Masooma Hassan, presided over the proceedings.



“Our ties with Pakistan”, Zhongping said, “are historic and as such we treat Pakistan as a very special country”. Pakistan, he said, had a geo-strategic location which was of pivotal importance to China. He said that Pakistan was an old friend of China and added that China had a history of never letting her friends down. Pakistan’s population of 180 million was of great consequence to China, he said.



Another member of the delegation, citing the importance of Pak-China ties, pointed out that it was Pakistan that helped open up China to the world by starting off an air service between the two countries and cited Pakistan’s efforts in bringing the US and China closer.



Pakistan’s location, Zhongping said, was very important as access to the Indian Ocean would make China a two-ocean power, with the Indian Ocean to one side and the Pacific to the other which would benefit the country greatly in light of her rapidly expanding trade with the world.



Asked by a questioner about the validity of the current perception that the US was grooming India to take on China militarily and was building India as a sequel to China, he said that it was premature to make a prognosis there and lots would depend on the Indian stance towards the issue of which there were no indications as yet. He said that all chances were that India would not be sucked into the US strategic plans of the US in the area as that could affect her rapid economic advances and undo the fruits of her development effort....


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-146641-Pakistan-Chinas-number-one-ally-experts

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Forbes piece by Stephen Harner on US-Japan vs China on disputed islands:

Former students of Asian politics and international relations of a certain age (my age, or a bit older), would in college or graduate school have heard of, if not carefully read, China Crosses the Yalu: The Decision to Enter the Korean War, by Allen S. Whiting (1960). This was a seminal study of formal or–mainly–informal signals sent by China in 1950 warning with increasing clarity and vehemence the officially U.N. (but overwhelmingly U.S.) forces under command of Douglas MacArthur, then beating back North Korea invaders and advancing up the Korea peninsula, that China was prepared to and would intervene on behalf of North Korea if its territory or vital interests were threatened.

In the event, on October 25,1950, 25 days after U.N. forces had crossed the 38th parallel, 200,000 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (redesignated by Mao Zedong the People’s Volunteer Army) soldiers, having secretly crossed the Yalu River on October 19, attacked U.N. forces, beginning an engagement that would vastly increase casualties on both sides, but especially for the PLA. Whiting’s book sought to discern at what point China’s in many cases subtle and indirect warnings might have been heeded or responded so that intervention might have been avoided.

I have been reminded of China Crosses the Yalu as I have worked through the new book on the Senkaku/Diaoyu island crisis by Yabuki Susumu (矢吹晋), professor emeritus of Yokohama City University, one of Japan’s most eminent China scholars. The book (written in Japanese) is entitled:「尖閣問題の核心 」(The Core of the Senkaku Issue), and bears a subtitle:「日中関係はどうなる」 (What is to Become of Japan-China Relations). I believe that the book is the fairest and most objective, as well as the most thorough, exposition of the positions of both Japan and China, and–critically–the U.S., on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute.

At the risk of oversimplifying, I think I can summarize Professor Yabuki’s analysis and conclusions as follows:

1. The Japanese position on the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue is indefensible on several counts, including most fundamentally Japan’s unconditional acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (which required the return of all territories “stolen” from China).

2. The Meiji government’s annexation of the Ryuku Islands (theretofore an autonomous kingdom) in January 1885, within which the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands were identified, followed three months later by the Qing Dynasty’s surrender of Taiwan and the Pescadores to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki (ending the Sino-Japanese War) are both mooted by the terms of Potsdam. The islands were and are clearly part of Taiwan, which in addition has the most legitimate claim to continuous use/occupation.

3. The Japanese position that Senkaku/Diaoyu is part of Japanese territory because it was awarded to Japan by the U.S. in the Okinawa Reversion agreement of 1971 is similarly contrary to fact. The U.S. awarded to Japan only administrative authority over the islands, not sovereignty. Sovereignty was specifically not transferred. The U.S. continued to maintain was undetermined between the three claimants and would only be determined through discussion and agreement. (As I noted in the last post, the Obama administration–in a monumental blunder–effectively changed this policy by failing to object to and stop Japanese “nationalization.”)....


http://www.forbes.com/sites/stephenharner/2013/02/20/japan-and-u-s-ignored-chinese-signals-and-history-blundering-into-the-senkakudiaoyu-crisis/