Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Is America Young and Barbaric?

Contrary to the growing belief that the United States of America is already past its prime and going downhill from here, George Friedman, the Chairman of Stratfor and author of "The Next 100 Years", believes that the American Age has just begun. Friedman forecasts that the 21st century will be the American century. Surprisingly, he expects a significant challenge to the US power only from Russia, not China or other members of the so-called BRIC quartet. Neither India nor Pakistan are likely to emerge as great powers in this century, according to Friedman. He does see rising Turkey (allied with Japan and Germany in this century) as the biggest challenger to US power by 2050 after the reconstituted Russian challenge is defeated by the United States with Turkey's help.



Friedman argues on page 28 of his book that "psychologically, the United States is a bizarre mixture of overconfidence and insecurity". This, he says, "is exactly the American condition in the twenty-first century. The world's leading power is having an extended adolescent identity crisis, complete with incredible new strength and irrational mood swings".

There are three stages of development of cultures: Barbarism, civilization and decadence, according to Friedman. He puts the United States currently in the barbaric stage. He says that "America, like Europe in sixteenth century, is still barbaric (a description, not a moral judgment). Its culture is unformed. Its will is powerful. Its emotions drive it in different and contradictory directions".

Here are a few more interesting observations about the US conflict with elements in the Muslim world, and the emergence of the Turkish challenge by mid twenty-first century:

1. America is a place where the right wing despises Muslims for their faith and the left wing hates them for their treatment of women. Such seemingly different perspectives are tied together in a self-righteous belief that the American values are superior to Muslim values. Americans, being at a barbaric stage, are ready to fight for their self-evident truths.

2. Perhaps more than for any other country, the US grand strategy is about war, and the interaction between war and economic life. The United States is historically a warlike country. The nation has been directly or indirectly at war for most of of its existence...the war of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm. And the US has been constantly at war in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of this century.

3. The United States has achieved its strategic objective of further dividing and destabilizing the Islamic world after 911. The US-induced chaos and deep divisions in the Islamic world are sufficient to fend off any challenges to the US power from any of the large Muslims nations of Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran or Egypt during this century. Even if America loses in Afghanistan, it has already scored a strategic win against the deeply divided Islamic world.

4. After the second collapse of Russia in 2020, Turkey will be backed by the United States to emerge as a stable platform in a sea of instability and chaos all around it. The Turks will have substantial economic and military presence extending in all directions in Eurasia. Israel will recognize the Turks as a regional power and reach an accommodation with them. Eventually, the US will feel existentially threatened by the combination of Turkey's political and economic power, and go to war with Turkey. The US and its European allies will prevail over Turkey and its coalition by using space-based weapons and technology in 2050s.

Friedman acknowledges that 100 years is a long period to make forecasts about, but he believes that the knowledge of history combined with current trends make it possible to prognosticate about the events in the 21st century.

All analyses and forecasts aside, no one has a perfect crystal ball. Only time will tell how the new world order emerges in the 21st century. But I do think the demise of the US power is highly exaggerated, as are the predictions of BRIC's extraordinary rise in this century.





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Are India and Pakistan Failed States?

Israel, Pakistan and Russia Defy Washington

Gaza Flotilla and US Media Coverage

One Man's Hero is Another Man's Terrorist

US, NATO Fighting to Stalemate in Afghanistan

Turkey's Erdogan Blasts Israel at Davos

Clash of Ideas in Islam

34 comments:

Hak said...

Friedman's rather naieve and uninformed predictions about globalization and the Iraq war make him seem rather unreliable to me.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

His comments about Japan make me think that he is a con artist. Japan is a senior citizen's country already with towering deficits and pension funding problems. When there is less young men in a country, historically that has been their end - in that case both Japan and Germany is more or less finished. Nevertheless quality of life in Germany will be well above the other industrialized countries for still several decades, thanks to better fiscal discipline.
May be he is correct about Turkey and also the role of US in de-fragmenting Islamic world. But if Turkey takes it traditional role, then the decades after 1918 would be just an aberration. India is in a much poorer economic health than many think. Budget deficit is high and inflation is rampant. But nevertheless India will be a major power because of military spending and significant scientific achievements. Pakistan may exist as a country on paper, but I think internal strives on ethnic and religious grounds will make it less like a country, more like a group of tribes(will be same of Arabs when the oil runs out).
One thing I wonder is the enormous investments Arabs have made in the Western world recently(in banks and other industries). During a severe violent conflict with Islamic world(which I think is closer than many think), I doubt whether their contracts would be honored. This can happen in two ways - there can be an outright unilateral rejection of contracts like that happened when US left the Gold standard or when Hitler confiscated Jewish properties - their ownership may be simply dissolved. Or in case of high inflation thanks to a war, their ownership in dollar or Euro is worth nothing. Have you ever thought about this?

Anonymous said...

I think it is figment of imagination. All put togather could not predict the fall of the gaints in usa and the current state of affairs.

Vivek said...

His opinion got an amazing amount of holes, the biggest being the prediction of China's failure. Yes China is an export driven economy today but Friedman is either ignorant of or ignores the fact that the Chinese administration is taken strong measures to boost domestic demand as an alternative to the current system. Personally I believe massive real estate bubble can be China's Achilles heel.

With regard to Friedman's predictions about India - yes India has historically being very fragmented, but again its never been as united as it is today thanks to a vibrant media. And for the last decade every central government has been very cognizant of the need for economic growth. In addition the centre has been slowly divesting powers in favour of a more decentralized system.

India will be a 21st century power because of rapid economic growth, good governance, decentralization. better social delivery programs. The one big concern is the large population. When it starts aging towards 2050 that will be a major problem for the India state.

BTW Friedman's Poland prediction is laughable. Secret to great power - F-16s. Egypt has F-16s, Pakistan has F-16s, Greece has F-16s, maybe, just maybe the error is in Friedman's math.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a piece by Robert Fisk in the Independent newspaper about Israeli and western spin with repetition of the terror in the aftermath of Gaza Flotilla massacre by the Israeli commands. This could easily be applied to the Indian and western propaganda against all things Pakistan or Muslim:

Following the latest in semantics on the news? Journalism and the Israeli government are in love again. It's Islamic terror, Turkish terror, Hamas terror, Islamic Jihad terror, Hezbollah terror, activist terror, war on terror, Palestinian terror, Muslim terror, Iranian terror, Syrian terror, anti-Semitic terror...

But I am doing the Israelis an injustice. Their lexicon, and that of the White House – most of the time – and our reporters' lexicon, is the same. Yes, let's be fair to the Israelis. Their lexicon goes like this: Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror.

How many times did I just use the word "terror"? Twenty. But it might as well be 60, or 100, or 1,000, or a million. We are in love with the word, seduced by it, fixated by it, attacked by it, assaulted by it, raped by it, committed to it. It is love and sadism and death in one double syllable, the prime time-theme song, the opening of every television symphony, the headline of every page, a punctuation mark in our journalism, a semicolon, a comma, our most powerful full stop. "Terror, terror, terror, terror". Each repetition justifies its predecessor.
Most of all, it's about the terror of power and the power of terror. Power and terror have become interchangeable. We journalists have let this happen. Our language has become not just a debased ally, but a full verbal partner in the language of governments and armies and generals and weapons. Remember the "bunker buster" and the "Scud buster" and the "target-rich environment" in the Gulf War (Part One)? Forget about "weapons of mass destruction". Too obviously silly. But "WMD" in the Gulf War (Part Two) had a power of its own, a secret code – genetic, perhaps, like DNA – for something that would reap terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. "45 Minutes to Terror".

Power and the media are not just about cosy relationships between journalists and political leaders, between editors and presidents. They are not just about the parasitic-osmotic relationship between supposedly honourable reporters and the nexus of power that runs between White House and State Department and Pentagon, between Downing Street and the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, between America and Israel.

In the Western context, power and the media is about words – and the use of words. It is about semantics. It is about the employment of phrases and their origins. And it is about the misuse of history, and about our ignorance of history. More and more today, we journalists have become prisoners of the language of power. Is this because we no longer care about linguistics or semantics? Is this because laptops "correct" our spelling, "trim" our grammar so that our sentences so often turn out to be identical to those of our rulers? Is this why newspaper editorials today often sound like political speeches?

For two decades now, the US and British – and Israeli and Palestinian – leaderships have used the words "peace process" to define the hopeless, inadequate, dishonourable agreement that allowed the US and Israel to dominate whatever slivers of land would be given to an occupied people. I first queried this expression, and its provenance, at the time of Oslo – although how easily we forget that the secret surrenders at Oslo were themselves a conspiracy without any legal basis.

Riaz Haq said...

The western media coverage of Pakistan is almost always one dimensional, and sometimes downright venom-filled, as the piece (and its accompanying illustration of scorpion) from the Economist titled "Land of the Impure" shows in abundance. Here is an excerpt from it:

THREE score years and a bit after its founding, Pakistan—which means land of the pure—still struggles to look like a nation. Economically backward, politically stunted and terrorised by religious extremists, it would be enough to make anyone nervous, even if it did not have nuclear weapons. For these shortcomings, most of the blame should be laid at the door of the army, which claims, more than any other institution, to embody nationhood. Grossly unfair? If the army stood before one of its own tribunals, the charge sheet would surely run as follows:

One, a taste for military adventurism on its “eastern front” against giant India, which has undermined security, not enhanced it. No adventure was more disastrous than the one in 1971, which hastened the loss of East Pakistan, present-day Bangladesh. More recently, in 1999, General Pervez Musharraf, then army chief, sent troops into Indian-controlled Kashmir without deigning to inform the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. Mr Musharraf thus forced a confrontation between two nuclear states. It was an international public-relations debacle for Pakistan. Today the army remains wedded to the “India threat”. India, meanwhile, for all its gross abuses in Kashmir, is more concerned about economic development than invading Pakistan.

Two, endangering the state’s existence by making common cause with jihadism. This policy started with General Zia ul-Haq’s “Islamisation” policies in the late 1970s. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan (along with the CIA) financed the Afghan mujahideen opposition. The policy turned into support for the Taliban when the movement swept into power in the mid-1990s. Taliban support continues today, even though Pakistan is America’s supposed ally in Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban counterinsurgency. A new report by the London School of Economics claims that not only does Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency finance the Afghan Taliban, but the ISI is even represented on the Taliban’s leadership council. The claims have been loudly rejected, but in private Pakistani military men admit that corners of the army do indeed help the Taliban.

For years both Islamist and liberal generals have also backed jihadists fighting for a Muslim Kashmir. Though vastly outnumbered, the militants have managed to tie down a dozen Indian army divisions. Mr Musharraf and an aide once joked about having such jihadists by their tooti—ie, literally, “taps”, by which he meant their private parts.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a review of "Why The West Rules – For Now", by Ian Morris, published in Daily Mail:

I grew up in a golden age – I just didn’t know it. Things didn’t always feel golden in the Midlands during the Sixties.

And yet the West – a handful of nations clustered around the North Atlantic, plus their colonists on other continents – bestrode the world like a colossus. Westerners, on average, earned ten times as much as Asians or Africans and lived 25 years longer.

‘You’ve never had it so good,’ Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told us in 1957, and we hadn’t.


Westerners had televisions, cars and clean drinking water; unlike most of the rest of the world. European and American armed forces dominated the land, sea, and sky; Americans had even walked on the Moon. The West’s wealth and global domination had no parallels in history.

My oldest family Christmas photos, taken by my dad with a little Instamatic at our home in Stoke-on-Trent in the early Sixties, are crowded with this bounty – overflowing with toys, Cadbury’s selection boxes and bicycles.

But behind the beaming boy and the plastic Daleks, a shadow was already falling. Each passing year, more and more of the things we bought came not from the West but from the factories of the East.

First came Japan, which made the toys I loved; and as Japan, with bewildering speed, moved up the ladder to transistor radios and cars, new Asian manufacturers – South Korea, Taiwan and then China – filled the rungs it vacated. Japan’s economy outgrew Britain’s in 1963, and by 1967 was second only to America. Japan stayed in that spot until this summer, when China displaced it.

How did things change so much?
---------

In the 20th Century the American-dominated global economy drew in the resources of Asia just as Britain had once drawn in those of America.

Japan cashed in first, doubling its share of world production between 1960 and 1980. Next came the so-called Asian Tigers: the economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

And then, most spectacular of all, the People’s Republic of China. Its share of world production tripled in the 30 years after Mao’s death in 1976; rare indeed is the Westerner who does not now put on at least one piece of made-in-China clothing every morning.

Chinese industry has sucked 150 million countryfolk into cities – the biggest migration in history. According to Businessweek magazine, ‘the China price’ now represents ‘the three scariest words in the English language’.

So, whatever the analysts may think, the West’s global dominance and ongoing crisis have precious little to do with flukes, great men, or bungling idiots – and nothing at all to do with racial or cultural superiority.

Rather, they are the entirely predictable outcomes of the complicated interaction of geography and social development across the last 15,000 years – an interaction which, in just the past 200 years, has given the West unprecedented wealth and power. And which, within our own lifetimes, has begun tilting the playing field in China’s favour.

Things will never be the same again.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1323200/Western-society-rules-longer.html#ixzz13K5CZqSm

Riaz Haq said...

New F-16s are arriving from US in Pakistan to modernize and strengthen PAF, according to Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: Second batch of three F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft arrived at the PAF Base, Shahbaz (Jacobabad) on Saturday, whereas two more would arrive during the next week. Brigadier General Michael Nagata, deputy commander, Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan handed over the aircraft on behalf of the US government to Air Marshal Muhammad Hasan, deputy chief of the Air Staff (Operations). Pakistan had signed a contract with the US government in 2005-06 for the acquisition of 18 F-16 C/D Block 52 aircraft. Under this arrangement, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) would receive these state-of-the-art aircraft from the US in staggered batches. In this connection, the first batch of three similar aircraft arrived in Pakistan in May 2010. The deliveries of the rest of the aircraft would be completed by December 2010. The F-16 C/D aircraft is a high tech fighter aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art avionics suite and latest weapons with Night Precision Attack capability. These aircraft are part of the bid by PAF to modernise and enhance its air defence capabilities. staff report

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a description of documents leaked by WikiLeaks about Turkey as reported by pro-Israel Washington Post:

Davutoglu is something of an antihero of the WikiLeaks cables, described as "exceptionally dangerous" and "lost in neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies." Having arrived in Washington a few hours after those descriptions were released, he accepted an apology from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, played down the damage - and embraced at least part of the embassy's analysis. "Britain has a commonwealth" with its former colonies, he reminded me. Why shouldn't Turkey rebuild its leadership in former Ottoman lands in the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia?

It's fascinating to follow the emotional swings in U.S. analysis of this rapidly changing partner. Erdogan is acidly described by former ambassador Eric Edelman as having "an authoritarian loner streak"; Edelman's successor, James F. Jeffrey, concludes that Erdogan "simply hates Israel" and that his drive for regional authority "has not achieved any single success of note." Yet the dispatches also include admiration for Erdogan's political skills and for Turkey's role in Lebanon, Pakistan and even Syria.

In fact, as a would-be leader of the "Arab street," Erdogan looks much more attractive than competitors such as Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah. In the end Turkey depends on European trade and investment; it wants a democratic Iraq, a non-nuclear Iran and NATO's success in Afghanistan. It still recognizes Israel. It is, in essence, a genuine Muslim democracy - which means that it is both more difficult and, in a way, more of an ally than it used to be.

"At the end of the day we will have to live with a Turkey whose population is propelling much of what we see," Jeffrey wrote in a penetrating dispatch. "This calls for an issue-by-issue approach and recognition that Turkey will often go its own way." "The current cast of political leaders," he noted, have a "special yen for destructive drama and rhetoric. But we see no one better on the horizon, and Turkey will remain a complicated blend of world class 'Western' institutions, competencies and orientation, and Middle Eastern culture and religion."

No wonder Davutoglu was grinning. In the end, State's reporting had captured the new Turkey rather well.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the NY Times story about mounting European criticism of the US stance on Julian Assange:

.. American officials and politicians have been widely condemned in the European news media for calling the leaks everything from “terrorism” (Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York) to “an attack against the international community” (Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton). Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates called the arrest of Mr. Assange on separate rape charges “good news.” Sarah Palin called for him to be hunted as an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands,” and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, said that whoever leaked the cables should be executed.

For Seumas Milne of The Guardian in London, which like The New York Times has published the latest WikiLeaks trove, the official American reaction “is tipping over toward derangement.” Most of the leaks are of low-level diplomatic cables, he noted, while concluding: “Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free.”

John Naughton, writing in the same British paper, deplored the attack on the openness of the Internet and the pressure on companies like Amazon and eBay to evict the WikiLeaks site. “The response has been vicious, coordinated and potentially comprehensive,” he said, and presents a “delicious irony” that “it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamoring to shut WikiLeaks down.”

A year ago, he noted, Mrs. Clinton made a major speech about Internet freedom, interpreted as a rebuke to China’s cyberattack on Google. “Even in authoritarian countries,” she said, “information networks are helping people to discover new facts and making governments more accountable.” To Mr. Naughton now, “that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece.”

The Russians seemed to take a special delight in tweaking Washington over its reaction to the leaks, suggesting that the Americans were being hypocritical. “If it is a full-fledged democracy, then why have they put Mr. Assange away in jail? You call that democracy?” Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin said during a news briefing with the French prime minister, François Fillon. Mr. Assange is in jail in Britain while Sweden seeks his extradition to face rape charges.

Mr. Putin then referred to a Russian proverb that roughly translates as “the pot calling the kettle black.”

“You know, out in the countryside, we have a saying, ‘Someone else’s cow may moo, but yours should keep quiet,’ ” Mr. Putin said. “So I would like to shoot that puck right back at our American colleagues.”

German newspapers were similarly harsh. Even The Financial Times Deutschland (independent of the English-language Financial Times), said that “the already damaged reputation of the United States will only be further tattered with Assange’s new martyr status.” It added that “the openly embraced hope of the U.S. government that along with Assange, WikiLeaks will disappear from the scene, is questionable.”

Mr. Assange is being hounded, the paper said, “even though no one can explain what crimes Assange allegedly committed with the publication of the secret documents, or why publication by WikiLeaks was an offense, and in The New York Times, it was not.”

The left-wing Berliner Zeitung wrote that Washington’s reputation had been damaged by the leaks. But the reputation of United States leaders “is being damaged much more right now as they attempt — with all their means — to muzzle WikiLeaks” and Mr. Assange. They are the first, the paper claimed, to have “used the power of the Internet against the United States. That is why they are being mercilessly pursued. That is why the government is betraying one of the principles of democracy.” ...

Lari said...

Paul B. Farrell
War is hell, politics is hell and I’m mad as hell

Last Update: 12:01 AM ET Jul 12, 2011

We’re a warrior nation. We have a warmonger’s soul. But that’s still not why Congress spends over 50% our tax dollars on the Pentagon war machine, why we spend 47% of the total military budgets of all nations worldwide, why the public tolerates such stupidity. No, it’s not national defense. ...Read the rest of the story

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/war-is-hell-politics-is-hell-and-im-mad-as-hell-2011-07-12

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 Guardian story on nuclear weapons spending by several nations including India and Pakistan:

..For several countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Israel and France, nuclear weapons are being assigned roles that go well beyond deterrence, says the report. In Russia and Pakistan, it warns, nuclear weapons are assigned "war-fighting roles in military planning".

The report is the first in a series of papers for the Trident Commission, an independent cross-party initiative set up by Basic. Its leading members include former Conservative defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Liberal Democrat leader and defence spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell and former Labour defence secretary Lord Browne.
--------
Pakistan and India, it warns, appear to be seeking smaller, lighter nuclear warheads so they have a greater range or can be deployed over shorter distances for tactical or "non-strategic" roles. "In the case of Israel, the size of its nuclear-tipped cruise missile enabled submarine fleet is being increased and the country seems to be on course, on the back of its satellite launch rocket programme, for future development of an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM)," the report notes.

A common justification for the new nuclear weapons programmes is perceived vulnerability in the face of nuclear and conventional force development elsewhere. For example, Russia has expressed concern over the US missile defence and Conventional Prompt Global Strike programmes. China has expressed similar concerns about the US as well as India, while India's programmes are driven by fear of China and Pakistan.

Pakistan justifies its nuclear weapons programme by referring to India's conventional force superiority, the report observes.

In a country-by-country analysis, the report says:

• The US is planning to spend $700bn on nuclear weapons over the next decade. A further $92bn will be spent on new nuclear warheads and the US also plans to build 12 nuclear ballistic missile submarines, air-launched nuclear cruise missiles and bombs.

• Russia plans to spend $70bn on improving its strategic nuclear triad (land, sea and air delivery systems) by 2020. It is introducing mobile ICBMs with multiple warheads, and a new generation of nuclear weapons submarines to carry cruise as well as ballistic missiles. There are reports that Russia is also planning a nuclear-capable short-range missile for 10 army brigades over the next decade.

• China is rapidly building up its medium and long-range "road mobile" missile arsenal equipped with multiple warheads. Up to five submarines are under construction capable of launching 36-60 sea-launched ballistic missiles, which could provide a continuous at-sea capability.
-----------
• Pakistan is extending the range of its Shaheen II missiles, developing nuclear cruise missiles, improving its nuclear weapons design as well as smaller, lighter, warheads. It is also building new plutonium production reactors.

• India is developing new versions of its Agni land-based missiles sufficient to target the whole of Pakistan and large parts of China, including Beijing. It has developed a nuclear ship-launched cruise missile and plans to build five submarines carrying ballistic nuclear missiles..


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/30/nuclear-powers-weapons-spending-report?INTCMP=SRCH

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 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 a Daily Mail piece on the economic history of the world since Jesus:

A stunning chart that shows the entire economic history of the world's most powerful countries over the past 2,000 years has been released by investment bank JP Morgan.

Viewed as a whole, the graph shows the creeping restoration of Asian economic supremacy as the rest-of-the-world catches up to the West and its levels of industrialisation.

Charting the globe's 10 major powers since the time of Jesus, the graph can be broken down by simply applying a cut off point at around the 1800 AD mark.

That was the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the U.K. and when taken into account, everything to the left of that mark can bee seen as economic power through sheer size of population and to the right is the effect of mass production on a country's economic output.

One feature of the simple graph is to show that up until around 1500 AD India and China accounted for between 50 and 60 percent of the world's economy until the late 18th century when the Industrial Revolution rendered countries with large populations, just countries with the largest populations.

In 1 AD, China had a population of almost 60 million people, while the United States had a population of 680,000.

It took the United States 1800 years to overtake China's economic output.

But by 1950, even though the U.S had a population three times less than China, it's economic output was three times as great.

Additionally, in 1913, China had a population of 437 million and the U.K. had a population of 45 million, but their economic output was almost identical.

Indeed, when the graph is broken down into its constituent parts, the analysis of what happened in Europe and later the United States shows that the Western lead was taken even before 1800.

For the majority of human history the most important factor in economic growth was the relationship between births and deaths.

If there were too many births then there was not enough food to go around and without mass production techniques people went without until there was starvation or disease.

After a higher death rate, a stable supply of food was re-established, goods were shared among a smaller group of people and everyone felt and became richer until the cycle occurred again.

However, between 1000 AD and 1500 AD, wages, or GDP per capita had started to slowly rise as small economies of scale were made in agrarian organisation and moderate technological advances were made which improved the quality and length of life.

If a similar graph is opened up to show the world from Jesus to Napoleon, the slow building growth especially of Europe is clear to see, even without factoring in the Industrial Revolution.

However, if the graph is expanded to show the world from 1500 to World War I then the effect of mechanisation on the planets economic growth is clear.

Theories about why the Industrial Revolution occurred in the U.K. and then Northern Europe include the dense, localised population, easy availability of natural resources and the mild climate that exists around the North Sea and the U.K. for cotton spinning.
----------
As the world escaped the trap foreseen by Thomas Malthus of a rising population never matched by food production, population and GDP exploded.

The industrial revolution changed the Malthusian Trap leading to a situation today where the U.S. accounts for five percent of the world population and 21 percent of its GDP whereas Asia (minus Japan) has 60 percent of the world's population and only 30 percent of its GDP.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2163610/Fascinating-new-graph-shows-economic-history-world-Jesus.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's piece by James Fallows published in The Atlantic:

Like everyone, and I'd say especially like every parent, I am of course saddened and horrified by the latest mass shooting-murder. My sympathies to all.

And of course the additional sad, horrifying, and appalling point is the shared American knowledge that, beyond any doubt, this will happen again, and that it will happen in America many, many times before it occurs anywhere else.

Recently I visited the site of the "Port Arthur Massacre," in Tasmania, where in 1996 a disturbed young man shot and killed 35 people and wounded 23 more. The site is a kind of national shrine; afterwards, Australia tightened up its gun laws, and there has been nothing remotely comparable in all the years since. In contrast: not long after that shooting, during my incarnation as news-magazine editor, I dispatched reporters to cover then-shocking schoolyard mass shootings in West Paducah, Kentucky, and Jonesboro, Arkansas. Those two episodes, coming back to back, were -- as always -- supposed to provoke a "national discussion" about guns and gun violence. As always, they didn't; a while later they were nudged from the national consciousness by Columbine; and since then we have had so many schoolyard- or public-place shootings that those two are barely mentioned.

The Brady Campaign's list of mass shootings in America just since 2005 is 62 pages long.

I agree with the Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta about the inevitable pattern of public reaction to these events. But I find my own thoughts most precisely matched by Adam Gopnik's on the New Yorker's site today. He says:

The truth is made worse by the reality that no one--really no one--anywhere on the political spectrum has the courage to speak out about the madness of unleashed guns and what they do to American life....

The reality is simple: every country struggles with madmen and ideologues with guns, and every country--Canada, Norway, Britain--has had a gun massacre once, or twice. Then people act to stop them, and they do--as over the past few years has happened in Australia. Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue.

There will be more of these; we absolutely know it; we also know that we will not change the circumstances that allow such episodes to recur. I am an optimist about most things, but not about this. Everyone around the world understands this reality too. It is the kind of thing that makes them consider America dangerous, and mad.


http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/07/the-certainty-of-more-shootings/260133/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an NPR story on Google Glasses which have been sold to a select few developers this week at $1,500 for a pair:

When the screen is off, it's completely transparent and out of my line of sight. When on, it looks — well, I'll let Steve Lee, who helped create Google Glass, explain it: "Imagine you are sitting on your couch at home and you look across the living room and you look at your TV. That's roughly the size of what the display looks like with Glass."

Glass understands some voice commands, like giving directions and answering questions you'd normally Google. It reads your texts aloud in your ear and lets you respond just by talking.

But, first and foremost, Glass is a camera mounted right above your eye.

"Let's say I'm not very good at cooking and I might need to call ... Mom to get some help," Lee explains. "While I'm in the kitchen with my hands busy preparing the food ... my mom can actually see what I am doing" to coach him through dinner.

Glass does almost everything a smartphone does, hands-free. But Google is not selling it to the public yet. Just 10,000 people have won the right to pay $1,500 for a pair. Most of them earned this privilege by telling Google the creative things they'd like to do with Glass.

Dan McLaughlin, who picked up his set Tuesday, has about 30 or 40 ideas, he says, including creating a personal teleprompter. And Monica Wilkinson says getting Glass feels a little like getting a superpower....


http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/04/17/177557810/Seeing-The-World-Through-Google-Colored-Glasses

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times blog on Google Glass Apps:

SAN FRANCISCO — The allure of the iPhone was not its brushed metal or shiny touch screen, but the apps that turned it into anything from a flute to a flashlight. Now, Google hopes that apps will do the same thing for Glass, its Internet-connected glasses.

On Monday night, Google released extensive guidelines for software developers who want to build apps for Glass. With those guidelines, it is taking a page from Apple’s playbook, by being much more restrictive about the glasses than it has been with other products, particularly its Android operating system for phones, and controlling the type of apps that developers build.

Analysts said that was largely because Google wanted to introduce the technology to the public slowly, to deal with concerns like privacy.

“Developers are crucial to the future of Glass, and we are committed to building a thriving software ecosystem for them and for Glass users,” Jay Nancarrow, a Google spokesman, said in a statement.

To begin, developers cannot sell ads in apps, collect user data for ads, share data with ad companies or distribute apps elsewhere. They cannot charge people to buy apps or virtual goods or services within them.

Many developers said they expected Google to eventually allow them to sell apps and ads. But Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester who studies wearable computing, said Google was smart to limit advertising at first.

“What we find is the more intimate the device, the more intrusive consumers perceive advertising is,” she said. Still, she said many consumers had said they would like to interact with brands on Glass in certain ways, like a bank showing a balance while a user is shopping or a hospital sending test results.

On Tuesday, Google sold its first glasses for $1,500 to developers who had signed up last year.

Some developers said they were disappointed by the limits.

“It gives them a lot of control over the experience,” said Frank Carey, a software developer and computer science graduate student in New Paltz, N.Y. “My hope is they make it as open as possible so that we can really test the limits of what this type of device would look like.”

Mr. Carey built an app at a Google hackathon for taking photos of people you meet at cocktail parties and tagging them with their names and details to discreetely pull up the information when you see them again.

Other developers said it made sense for Google to be more cautious than it was with mobile phones because Glass was always in a user’s field of vision.

“You don’t carry your laptop in the bathroom, but with Glass, you’re wearing it,” said Chad Sahlhoff, a freelance software developer in San Francisco. “That’s a funny issue we haven’t dealt with as software developers.”

Mr. Sahlhoff said he wanted to build apps for carpenters so they could see schematics without lifting their eyes from machines, and for drivers to see the speed limit and points of interest without taking their eyes off the road.

Just as the iPhone ushered in a new wave of computing on mobile phones, Glass could be the beginning of wearable computing becoming mainstream. But the question is whether people are ready to wear computers on their bodies, and to interact with others wearing them.

“Glass could be the next great platform for app development, like the iPhone,” Ms. Epps said. “But the variable is whether consumers will want it or not, and that is a real unknown.”


http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/google-releases-details-about-glass-for-app-developers/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times Nobel Laureate economist-columnist on Ibn Khaldun's lessons for Microsoft and other established powers:

The trouble for Microsoft came with the rise of new devices whose importance it famously failed to grasp. “There’s no chance,” declared Mr. Ballmer in 2007, “that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”

How could Microsoft have been so blind? Here’s where Ibn Khaldun comes in. He was a 14th-century Islamic philosopher who basically invented what we would now call the social sciences. And one insight he had, based on the history of his native North Africa, was that there was a rhythm to the rise and fall of dynasties.

Desert tribesmen, he argued, always have more courage and social cohesion than settled, civilized folk, so every once in a while they will sweep in and conquer lands whose rulers have become corrupt and complacent. They create a new dynasty — and, over time, become corrupt and complacent themselves, ready to be overrun by a new set of barbarians.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to apply this story to Microsoft, a company that did so well with its operating-system monopoly that it lost focus, while Apple — still wandering in the wilderness after all those years — was alert to new opportunities. And so the barbarians swept in from the desert.

Sometimes, by the way, barbarians are invited in by a domestic faction seeking a shake-up. This may be what’s happening at Yahoo: Marissa Mayer doesn’t look much like a fierce Bedouin chieftain, but she’s arguably filling the same functional role.

Anyway, the funny thing is that Apple’s position in mobile devices now bears a strong resemblance to Microsoft’s former position in operating systems. True, Apple produces high-quality products. But they are, by most accounts, little if any better than those of rivals, while selling at premium prices.

So why do people buy them? Network externalities: lots of other people use iWhatevers, there are more apps for iOS than for other systems, so Apple becomes the safe and easy choice. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Is there a policy moral here? Let me make at least a negative case: Even though Microsoft did not, in fact, end up taking over the world, those antitrust concerns weren’t misplaced. Microsoft was a monopolist, it did extract a lot of monopoly rents, and it did inhibit innovation. Creative destruction means that monopolies aren’t forever, but it doesn’t mean that they’re harmless while they last. This was true for Microsoft yesterday; it may be true for Apple, or Google, or someone not yet on our radar, tomorrow.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/26/opinion/krugman-the-decline-of-e-empires.html

Riaz Haq said...

Legitimizing of double standards is the West's idea of the "new liberal imperialism" in post-modern world as proposed by British diplomat Robert cooper....It's ok to play by different rules in developing world than at home.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/apr/07/1

Anonymous said...

The annual holiday, known as Thanksgiving, celebrates a mythologized moment of peace between America’s early foreign settlers and its native groups—a day that by Americans' own admission preceded a near genocide of those groups. Despite its murky origins, the holiday remains a rare institution celebrated almost universally in this ethnically diverse society.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/11/27/if_it_happened_there_how_the_u_s_media_would_cover_thanksgiving_if_it_was.html

Riaz Haq said...

Five scary Christopher Columbus quotes that let you celebrate the holiday the right way

1. Conquest: the perfect chaser for expelling Muslims and Jews. You don’t have to be an academic to link Spain’s colonial expansion abroad with its inquisition at home. Columbus made the connection himself. Of course he saw this as a good thing, not a bad one– a killer combo, if you will. He wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain...

YOUR HIGHNESSES, as Catholic Christians and Princes who love the holy Christian faith, and the propagation of it, and who are enemies to the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, resolved to send me, Cristóbal Colon, to the said parts of India to see the said princes … with a view that they might be converted to our holy faith …. Thus, after having turned out all the Jews from all your kingdoms and lordships … your Highnesses gave orders to me that with a sufficient fleet I should go to the said parts of India …. I shall forget sleep, and shall work at the business of navigation, so that the service is performed.
2. These Natives are so nice, we’d be crazy not to enslave them! This excerpt from Columbus’ diary describes the Arawak people who greeted him and his men:

They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
3. I was right about how easy that whole subjugation thing would be! In another letter to King Ferdinand, Columbus wrote

As soon as I arrived in the Indies, in the first island which I found, I took some of the natives by force, in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. And so it was that they soon understood us, and we them, either by speech or by signs, and they have been very serviceable.
4. Rape! Columbus was such a mensch, he would let his men do whatever they wanted with the natives they captured. One of his men and a childhood friend of Columbus, Michele da Cuneo, describes in a letter how he raped a native woman:

While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked—as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. But—to cut a long story short—I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought that she had been brought up in a school for whores.
5. Not so Christian. But the anecdote captured above was not some isolated incident of cruelty. Ironically, but in no way surprisingly, the Spanish who came to save the “heathens” from their idolatry, weren’t very Christ-like in their behavior. In his book The Devastation of the Indies. Bartolome de las Casas, the priest who accompanied Columbus on his conquest of Cuba, detailed the abuse and murder of the native population:

5. Not so Christian. But the anecdote captured above was not some isolated incident of cruelty. Ironically, but in no way surprisingly, the Spanish who came to save the “heathens” from their idolatry, weren’t very Christ-like in their behavior. In his book .....

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/five-scary-christopher-columbus-quotes-that-let-you-celebrate-the-holiday-the-right-way

Riaz Haq said...

Assange believes #Google is an extension US govt and instrument of US Policy. http://www.newsweek.com/assange-google-not-what-it-seems-279447 …

From Newsweek by Julian Assange of Wikileaks:

It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, D.C., including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel.

While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.

I put it aside until February 2012, when WikiLeaks—along with over thirty of our international media partners—began publishing the Global Intelligence Files: the internal email spool from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. One of our stronger investigative partners—the Beirut-based newspaper Al Akhbar— scoured the emails for intelligence on Jared Cohen.

The people at Stratfor, who liked to think of themselves as a sort of corporate CIA, were acutely conscious of other ventures that they perceived as making inroads into their sector. Google had turned up on their radar. In a series of colorful emails they discussed a pattern of activity conducted by Cohen under the Google Ideas aegis, suggesting what the “do” in “think/do tank” actually means.

Cohen’s directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and “corporate responsibility” work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states. Jared Cohen could be wryly named Google’s “director of regime change.”

According to the emails, he was trying to plant his fingerprints on some of the major historical events in the contemporary Middle East. He could be placed in Egypt during the revolution, meeting with Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose arrest and imprisonment hours later would make him a PR-friendly symbol of the uprising in the Western press. Meetings had been planned in Palestine and Turkey, both of which—claimed Stratfor emails—were killed by the senior Google leadership as too risky.
---------

Looking for something more concrete, I began to search in WikiLeaks’ archive for information on Cohen. State Department cables released as part of Cablegate reveal that Cohen had been in Afghanistan in 2009, trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto U.S. military bases. In Lebanon, he quietly worked to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the “Higher Shia League.” And in London he offered Bollywood movie executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into their films, and promised to connect them to related networks in Hollywood.

---------

If the future of the Internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world—in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union and even in Europe—for whom the Internet embodies the promise of an alternative to U.S. cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.

A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.

Extracted from When Google Met Wikileaks by Julian Assange published by OR Books. Newsweek readers can obtain a 20 percent discount on the cover price when ordering from the OR Books website and including the offer code word NEWSWEEK.

http://www.newsweek.com/assange-google-not-what-it-seems-279447

Riaz Haq said...

In his book "The Next 100 Years", George Friedman of Stratfor argues on page 28 that "psychologically, the United States is a bizarre mixture of overconfidence and insecurity". This, he says, "is exactly the American condition in the twenty-first century. The world's leading power is having an extended adolescent identity crisis, complete with incredible new strength and irrational mood swings".

George Friedman's commentary about the US reminds me of Michael Moore's satirical movie "Bowling for Columbine". Its basic logic: "Americans carry guns and kill because they are scared".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nus9BZlAfQ

Riaz Haq said...

Obama at Prayer Breakfast: “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obamas-speech-at-prayer-breakfast-called-offensive-to-christians/2015/02/05/6a15a240-ad50-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html

President Obama has never been one to go easy on America.

As a new president, he dismissed the idea of American exceptionalism, noting that Greeks think their country is special, too. He labeled the Bush-era interrogation practices, euphemistically called “harsh” for years, as torture. America, he has suggested, has much to answer given its history in Latin America and the Middle East.

His latest challenge came Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast. At a time of global anxiety over Islamist terrorism, Obama noted pointedly that his fellow Christians, who make up a vast majority of Americans, should perhaps not be the ones who cast the first stone.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of Obama's speech at prayer breakfast Feb 5 2015: “Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”... `"And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults -- (applause) -- and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are the targets of such attacks. Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t question those who would insult others in the name of free speech. Because we know that our nations are stronger when people of all faiths feel that they are welcome, that they, too, are full and equal members of our countries" .

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/05/remarks-president-national-prayer-breakfast

http://youtu.be/xImluqrNLo8

Riaz Haq said...

The conservative Twitterverse is all riled up because at Thursday’s (Feb. 5) National Prayer Breakfast (an event founded and run by the secretive Christian organization known as The Fellowship), President Obama said that Christians, as well as Muslims, have at times committed atrocities. His words:

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

This would seem to be Religious History 101, but it was nonetheless met with shock and awe.

“Hey, American Christians_Obama just threw you under the bus in order to defend Islam,” wrote shock jock Michael Graham. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., called the comments “dangerously irresponsible.” The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue said: “Obama’s ignorance is astounding and his comparison is pernicious. The Crusades were a defensive Christian reaction against Muslim madmen of the Middle Ages.”

More thoughtfully, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called Obama’s comments about Christianity “an unfortunate attempt at a wrongheaded moral comparison. ... The evil actions that he mentioned were clearly outside the moral parameters of Christianity itself and were met with overwhelming moral opposition from Christians.”

Really?

1. The Crusades

The Crusades lasted almost 200 years, from 1095 to 1291. The initial spark came from Pope Urban II, who urged Christians to recapture the Holy Land (and especially the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem) from Muslim rule. Like the promise of eternal life given to Muslim martyrs, Crusaders were promised absolution from sin and eternal glory.

Militarily, the Crusades were at first successful, capturing Jerusalem in 1099, but eventually a disaster; Jersualem fell in 1187. Successive Crusades set far more modest goals, but eventually failed to achieve even them. The last Crusader-ruled city in the Holy Land, Acre, fell in 1291.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/was-obama-right-about-the-crusades-and-islamic-extremism-analysis/2015/02/06/3670628a-ae46-11e4-8876-460b1144cbc1_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

People who wonder why the president does not talk more about race would do well to examine the recent blow-up over his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Inveighing against the barbarism of ISIS, the president pointed out that it would be foolish to blame Islam, at large, for its atrocities. To make this point he noted that using religion to brutalize other people is neither a Muslim invention nor, in America, a foreign one:

"Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."


The "all too often" could just as well be "almost always." There were a fair number of pretexts given for slavery and Jim Crow, but Christianity provided the moral justification. On the cusp of plunging his country into a war that would cost some 750,000 lives, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens paused to offer some explanation. His justification was not secular. The Confederacy was to be:

"[T]he first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society ... With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so."

It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made "one star to differ from another star in glory." The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws.
Stephens went on to argue that the "Christianization of the barbarous tribes of Africa" could only be accomplished through enslavement. And enslavement was not made possible through Robert's Rules of Order, but through a 250-year reign of mass torture, industrialized murder, and normalized rape—tactics which ISIS would find familiar. Its moral justification was not "because I said so," it was "Providence," "the curse against Canaan," "the Creator," "and Christianization." In just five years, 750,000 Americans died because of this peculiar mission of "Christianization." Many more died before, and many more died after. In his "Segregation Now" speech, George Wallace invokes God 27 times and calls the federal government opposing him "a system that is the very opposite of Christ."

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/the-foolish-historically-illiterate-incredible-response-to-obamas-prayer-breakfast-speech/385246/

Riaz Haq said...

THE recent release of a landmark report on the history of lynching in the United States is a welcome contribution to the struggle over American collective memory. Few groups have suffered more systematic mistreatment, abuse and murder than African-Americans, the focus of the report.

One dimension of mob violence that is often overlooked, however, is that lynchers targeted many other racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, including Native Americans, Italians, Chinese and, especially, Mexicans.

Americans are largely unaware that Mexicans were frequently the targets of lynch mobs, from the mid-19th century until well into the 20th century, second only to African-Americans in the scale and scope of the crimes. One case, largely overlooked or ignored by American journalists but not by the Mexican government, was that of seven Mexican shepherds hanged by white vigilantes near Corpus Christi, Tex., in late November 1873. The mob was probably trying to intimidate the shepherds’ employer into selling his land. None of the killers were arrested.

From 1848 to 1928, mobs murdered thousands of Mexicans, though surviving records allowed us to clearly document only about 547 cases. These lynchings occurred not only in the southwestern states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, but also in states far from the border, like Nebraska and Wyoming.

Some of these cases did appear in press accounts, when reporters depicted them as violent public spectacles, as they did with many lynchings of African-Americans in the South. For example, on July 5, 1851, a mob of 2,000 in Downieville, Calif., watched the extralegal hanging of a Mexican woman named Juana Loaiza, who had been accused of having murdered a white man named Frank Cannon.

Such episodes were not isolated to the turbulent gold rush period. More than a half-century later, on Nov. 3, 1910, a mob snatched a 20-year-old Mexican laborer, Antonio Rodríguez, from a jail in Rock Springs, Tex. The authorities had arrested him on charges that he had killed a rancher’s wife. Mob leaders bound him to a mesquite tree, doused him with kerosene and burned him alive. The El Paso Herald reported that thousands turned out to witness the event; we found no evidence that anyone was ever arrested.

While there were similarities between the lynchings of blacks and Mexicans, there were also clear differences. One was that local authorities and deputized citizens played particularly conspicuous roles in mob violence against Mexicans.

On Jan. 28, 1918, a band of Texas Rangers and ranchers arrived in the village of Porvenir in Presidio County, Tex. Mexican outlaws had recently attacked a nearby ranch, and the posse presumed that the locals were acting as spies and informants for Mexican raiders on the other side of the border. The group rounded up nearly two dozen men, searched their houses, and marched 15 of them to a rock bluff near the village and executed them. The Porvenir massacre, as it has become known, was the climactic event in what Mexican-Americans remember as the Hora de Sangre (Hour of Blood). It led, the following year, to an investigation by the Texas Legislature and reform of the Rangers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/20/opinion/when-americans-lynched-mexicans.html

Riaz Haq said...

Americans hate terrorists and love our kids, right? So you might be shocked to know that preschoolers with guns have taken more lives so far this year than the single U.S. terrorist attack, which claimed four lives in Boston.

This is admittedly tongue-in-cheek, but one has to wonder if the NSA’s PRISM program would have saved more lives had it been monitoring toddlers – or gun owners – rather than suspected terrorists.

11 Deaths in Five Months Where Shooter Was 3 to 6 Years Old

Listed below are the 11 gun fatalities I found where a preschooler pulled the trigger (from Jan. 1 to June 9, 2013). Starting with a list of five toddler shooting deaths The Jewish Daily Forward published in early May, I unearthed six additional cases. This tragic, unthinkable event has happened every month, like clock-work.

Jan. 10: 6-year-old playmate shoots and kills 4-year-old Trinity Ross, Kansas City, Kan.

Feb. 11: 4-year-old Joshua Johnson shoots and kills himself, Memphis, Tenn.

Feb. 24: 4-year-old Jaiden Pratt dies after shooting himself in the stomach while his father sleeps, Houston.

March 30: 4-year-old Rahquel Carr shot and killed either by 6-year-old brother or another young playmate, Miami.

April 6: Josephine Fanning, 48, shot and killed by 4-year-old boy at a barbecue, Wilson County, Tenn.

April 8: 4-year-old shoots and kills 6-year-old friend Brandon Holt, Toms River, N.J.

April 9: 3-year-old is killed after he finds a pink gun that he thinks is a toy, Greenville, S.C.

April 30: 2-year-old Caroline Sparks killed by her 5-year-old brother with his Cricket “My First Rifle” marketed to kids, Cumberland County, Ky.

May 1: 3-year-old Darrien Nez shoots himself in the face and dies after finding his grandmother’s gun, Yuma, Ariz.

May 7: 3-year-old Jadarrius Speights fatally shoots himself with his uncle’s gun, Tampa, Fla.

June 7: 4-year-old fatally shoots his father, Green Beret Justin Thomas, Prescott Valley, Ariz.

At least 10 more toddlers have shot but not killed themselves or someone else this year (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). In the first three cases, the shooter was only 2 years old.

I also found nine instances where children and teens 7 to 19 years old accidentally killed themselves, a family member or friend since January (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here).

Of course, most if not all of the above deaths and injuries can be attributed to careless adult gun owners.

While this analysis focuses on children, another equally accurate headline could read: “U.S. Gun Culture Kills More Americans Than Terrorists Worldwide.”

In 2010, 13,186 people died in terrorist attacks worldwide, while 31,672 people were killed with firearms in America alone, reports CNN’s Samuel Burke.

We Need a Return to ‘Well-Regulated’ Gun Ownership

We cannot deny that guns pose a real danger to innocent American lives and especially to children. While no one is “coming to take the guns” of responsible people, we still must reach a compromise to address gun violence. I do not have all the answers, but I know as responsible citizens we have to do something.

While some people refuse to accept any limits on gun ownership, we simply do not have the right in America to circumvent personal restrictions that protect society as a whole. We can drink and we can drive, but we cannot mix the two. We have free speech, but we cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theater. We have the Fourth Amendment, but we still submit to searches of our bodies and belongings for the sake of air safety.

People who worship the Second Amendment should recognize the “well-regulated” aspect of gun ownership that the forefathers intended. Instead, we have a gun lobby that pays off senators to vote against background checks and gun culture that welcomes a 3-year-old as a lifetime NRA member. I worry for that child’s playmates.

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/guns/toddlers-killed-more-americans-terrorists-did-year

Mayraj said...

"George Friedman, Founder and Chairman of Stratfor, or what is called by many "private/shadow CIA" for its well known connections and close cooperation with the CIA, gave a very interesting speech to the Chicago Council of Foreign Affairs on subject Europe: Destined for Conflict? in February of this year.
This speech came after another interesting interview where he admits that the overthrow of Yanukovych was "the most blatant coup in history" and among other things the American "payback" for Russian involvement in Syria. "

"I very much respect Friedman for his straight-talk and honesty on how the United States should maintain the role of global hegemon. In his speech he cut out all the nonsense and deceiving buzzwords like "spreading democracy and freedom", "promoting human rights" and also gibberish propaganda talk about "bad Russia", and "Putin, the bloodthirsty invader and dictator". He is the only honest spokesman of the Empire.
He recognizes that Russia has legitimate interest for its sphere of influence. However, he doesn't hide that US is trying to geopolitically defeat and humiliate Russia and limit its sphere of influence.
Even though I fundamentally disagree with him about genuine American national and geopolitical interest in decades to come, his realpolitik gives us unique insight. "



http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/03/16/4571

Stratfor Chairman Straight-Talking: US Policy Is Driven by Imperative to Stop Coalition between Germany and Russia
George Friedman, Founder and Chairman of Stratfor ("shadow CIA"), in a must watch video, openly declares that the primordial interest of the US over the centuries has been to to stop an alliance between Russia and Germany.

http://www.sprottmoney.com/news/u-s-begs-russia-to-remain-in-swift-the-one-bank-fails-again-bullion-bulls-canada-sprott-money-news?mw_aref=7b5b8659dfa071b4c7d0a95a56259dec

U.S. Begs Russia to Remain in ‘SWIFT’

http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2015/03/19/an-influential-voice-slams-u-s-handling-of-new-china-led-infrastructure-bank/

An Influential Voice Slams U.S. Handling of New China-Led Infrastructure Bank

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/03/19/going-along-donkey-long-elephants-are-worse

Going Along with the Donkey as Long as the Elephants are Worse



"4. The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government
One “branch” of government is, however, visibly on the rise and rapidly gaining independence from just about any kind of oversight. Its ability to enact its wishes with almost no opposition in Washington is a striking feature of our moment. But while the symptoms of this process are regularly reported, the overall phenomenon -- the creation of a de facto fourth branch of government -- gets remarkably little attention. "


http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/03/19/new-deplorable-american-order

The New (Deplorable) American Order
1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of "We the People"

Riaz Haq said...

Coming to Terms With the American Empire

World War II and the Birth of an Empire

The United States became an empire in 1945. It is true that in the Spanish-American War, the United States intentionally took control of the Philippines and Cuba. It is also true that it began thinking of itself as an empire, but it really was not. Cuba and the Philippines were the fantasy of empire, and this illusion dissolved during World War I, the subsequent period of isolationism and the Great Depression.

The genuine American empire that emerged thereafter was a byproduct of other events. There was no great conspiracy. In some ways, the circumstances of its creation made it more powerful. The dynamic of World War II led to the collapse of the European Peninsula and its occupation by the Soviets and the Americans. The same dynamic led to the occupation of Japan and its direct governance by the United States as a de facto colony, with Gen. Douglas MacArthur as viceroy.

The United States found itself with an extraordinary empire, which it also intended to abandon. This was a genuine wish and not mere propaganda. First, the United States was the first anti-imperial project in modernity. It opposed empire in principle. More important, this empire was a drain on American resources and not a source of wealth. World War II had shattered both Japan and Western Europe. The United States gained little or no economic advantage in holding on to these countries. Finally, the United States ended World War II largely untouched by war and as perhaps one of the few countries that profited from it. The money was to be made in the United States, not in the empire. The troops and the generals wanted to go home.

--------------

The geography of the American empire was built partly on military relations but heavily on economic relations. At first these economic relations were fairly trivial to American business. But as the system matured, the value of investments soared along with the importance of imports, exports and labor markets. As in any genuinely successful empire, it did not begin with a grand design or even a dream of one. Strategic necessity created an economic reality in country after country until certain major industries became dependent on at least some countries. The obvious examples were Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, whose oil fueled American oil companies, and which therefore — quite apart from conventional strategic importance — became economically important. This eventually made them strategically important.

------------
It is true that the United States did not genuinely intend to be an empire. It is also true that its intentions do not matter one way or another. Circumstance, history and geopolitics have created an entity that, if it isn't an empire, certainly looks like one. Empires can be far from oppressive. The Persians were quite liberal in their outlook. The American ideology and the American reality are not inherently incompatible. But two things must be faced: First, the United States cannot give away the power it has. There is no practical way to do that. Second, given the vastness of that power, it will be involved in conflicts whether it wants to or not. Empires are frequently feared, sometimes respected, but never loved by the rest of the world. And pretending that you aren't an empire does not fool anyone.

The current balancing act in the Middle East represents a fundamental rebalancing of American strategy. It is still clumsy and poorly thought out, but it is happening. And for the rest of the world, the idea that the Americans are coming will become more and more rare. The United States will not intervene. It will manage the situation, sometimes to the benefit of one country and sometimes to another.


https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/coming-terms-american-empire