June 09, 2007

War Made New: Technology, Warfare and the Course of History: 1500 to Today


Max Boot is a Power Line reader and, more importantly, the author of the new military history War Made New: Technology, Warfare and the Course of History: 1500 to Today. I asked Max if he would write briefly about the book for our readers, and he has kindly responded:

I wrote War Made New to provide historical perspective on the challenges we face in coping with warfare in the Information Age. Ever since America’s victory in the 1991 Gulf War—a victory made possible by stealth aircraft, smart bombs, GPS locators, and other advanced technologies—there has been a lot of heated debate over how and whether the U.S. military should transform itself to meet future threats. I don’t have any easy answers, but I do try to introduce ordinary readers to this important discussion by looking at how previous Great Powers have coped with epochal changes—the Gunpowder Revolution (1500-1700), the First Industrial Revolution (1850-1914), the Second Industrial Revolution (1917-1945), and now the Information Revolution (1970 to the present). To make this debate more vivid and less theoretical, I build my narrative around a series of battles, starting with the French invasion of Italy in 1494 and concluding with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which illustrate the changing nature of warfare.

My major conclusion? Simply that it’s not enough to acquire first-class technology. You also need the right organizational structures, training, and leadership to take advantage of that technology. Today, the U.S. is the undisputed leader in high-tech hardware but our government bureaucracy is still designed to fight mirror-image adversaries from the Industrial Age—not nimble, decentralized foes like Al Qaeda. We need to transform the government in order to realize the potential of Information Age warfare and avoid the fate of previous superpowers, from the Ottomans to the British, which saw their influence wane because they couldn’t keep pace with Revolutions in Military Affairs.


Promise and Peril for India in the 21st Century--Edward Luce

World Affairs Council of Northern California - San Francisco, CA

Promise and Peril for India in the 21st Century with Edward Luce.

India will become the world's third largest economy within a generation and by 2032 will surpass China in population. By 2050, it will also boast more English speakers than the United States. Yet the rising power of India remains a mystery to many Americans. In his new book, In Spite of the Gods, journalist Edward Luce attempts to shed light on the forces shaping India, a country caught between a stubborn past and a modernizing present.

In Spite of the Gods illuminates a land of many contradictions. The booming tech sector we read so much about in the West, Luce points out, employs no more than one million of India's 1.1 billion people. Only 35 million people, in fact, have formal enough jobs to pay taxes, while three-quarters of the country lives in extreme deprivation in India's 600,000 villages. Yet amid all these extremes, and despite high levels of bureaucratic corruption, India remains the world's largest experiment in representative democracy, and a largely successful one.


Edward Luce was the Financial Times' South Asia bureau chief based in New Delhi between 2001 and 2005. Now based in Washington, DC as the FT's Washington Commentator, he has worked for the Financial Times since 1995 with a one-year break to work in Washington, DC as the speech writer to Larry Summers, the final US Treasury Secretary of the Clinton administration.

Edward Luce is a graduate from Oxford University in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He also completed postgraduate studies in newspaper journalism at City University London.

Europe becoming a haven for crooks

Organiser , June 10, 2007
By M.D. Nalapat

Internationally, thanks to the network of financial institutions that accept money without getting an assurance that it was made legally, scams such as the current smuggling of oil out of Iraq multiply. Those within the region say that at least $ 5 billion in slush funds is getting generated by such illegal sales of oil from that tortured country, and the actual sums may be much more. However, as yet, the international media has ignored this trade.

Terrorists need to be fought on both the military as well as the monetary fronts. So long as funds continue to flow into their hands, terrorists will continue to survive assaults on them, recruiting new zealots and rebuilding infrastructure. As much as the Home Ministry, it is Finance Ministry that needs to work overtime to ensure that terrorist strikes get reduced and finally eliminated. The US has been conspicously successful in this regard, combing through money transfers worldwide to check for suspicious activity. As a result, several terrorist financiers have been arrested, and their beneficiaries identified. Unfortunately, in India, the Income-tax Department looks the other way when friends of the state governments in the north-east and Kashmir acquire huge properties. India needs to follow the example of the US in tracking down terrorist funding, including through narcotics and other mafias, who often partner with extremists to create a network of interlocking entities designed to create both mayhem and money.

Where the present government has been totally remiss is in ignoring the link between administrative corruption and terror. The fact that several officials helped the perpetrators of the 1993 Mumbai blasts to land RDX and pay off mercenaries shows that there is a clear link between corruption and (lack of) security. It is the cheats and the crooks working for the government who help terrorists, because of cupidity or blackmail. There is therefore a need to zero in on slush funds with the same intensity as is now being paid to moneys directly linked to terrorist operations. However, one problem is that a lot of these funds get sent to overseas destinations, especially in Europe. While organisations, such as Transparency International, perform a service by computing estimates of the degree of graft prevalent in countries across the world, what they fail to do is to apportion blame also to governments of the countries where such funds get parked. What they need to do is to trace the money trail to its tip, and it may come as a surprise to know that a large percentage of slush funds lands up in Europe, specifically in havens such as Lichtenstein, the Isle of Man, Switzerland, Guernsey and the Virgin Islands. The other destination of choice is the Middle East, followed by Macau and Hong Kong, where many banking entities ask as few questions about the origin of deposits.

Internationally, thanks to the network of financial institutions that accept money without getting an assurance that it was made legally, scams such as the current smuggling of oil out of Iraq multiply. Those within the region say that at least $ 5 billion in slush funds is getting generated by such illegal sales of oil from that tortured country, and the actual sums may be much more. However, as yet, the international media has ignored this trade. However, what needs to be understood is that such smuggling has a direct effect on the security situation in Iraq, for instead of going to the Iraqi people, the proceeds from smuggled oil go to a few shadowy entities, in the process, damaging the security environment and the future of that conflict-wracked country. Although few of such funds may get used for terrorist activities, yet the maladministration and graft that is the source of such wealth are themselves contributing factors towards the prevalence of terrorism in Iraq. In india as well, it is not an accident that Kashmir and the north-east—which are among the most corrupt administrations in the country—are particularly violence-prone. In other states, graft is an important contributory factor towards the control of Naxalites over more than a hundred districts in the country. While Manmohan Singh rides on his hobby horse of the nuclear deal and giving concessions to Pakistan, the country he is in charge of deteriorates every month, because of the spreading corruption that has inflitrated into its very core. The separation now being made between money got through and for acts of terror and that made through graft needs to be broken down. And one way of fighting graft would be for Finance Minister Chidambaram to ask European governments for information on Indian nationals who are parking their money in banks there. At the same time, he can bring forward a scheme that makes it possible for such funds to return to the country after payment of tax. Indian nationals are estimated to hold about $300 billion in foreign banks, and even 20 per cent of that would make a huge dent in unemployment, if invested in industry.

India should take the lead in calling for a world-wide system that would make transparent to concerned governments the identities of nationals who park funds abroad. Whether it is the Swiss or the Lichtensteinians, or the Guernsey and Virgin Islanders, all are characterised by high personal standards of ethics. Hence an explanation for why they have thus far not looked into the origins of the funds flowing into their banking networks may be that they believe that those making such deposits have the same moral standards as they themselves have. Switzerland and other banking havens need to be informed about the use of their banking system by crooks from India, and the need to help the authorities access such accounts. Such a step would be in conformity with the value system that is claimed to be followed in such countries, if Transparency International is correct. An international system designed to prevent such inflows needs to be created.

The effect of graft can be seen in stark detail in India, where public projects take much longer time to get completed than almost anywhere else on the globe. Roads get surfaced with amalgams designed to wash off during monsoon rains, thus ensuring another lucrative tender. Defence equipment for the Indian military usually costs much more than for other countries, although inconsequential “design improvements” get added on to justify the markup. Types of aircraft that are out of date in Europe or North America get purchased in bulk. Suspiciously, the price of petroleum products imported by India is often higher than the rates charged from developed countries, even as domestic exploitation of oil and gas reserves lags far behind both need and capacity. Along with India, the countries of the Middle East have a high “graft permium” on equipment imported from abroad, and any supplier who refuses to hand out the commissions asked for would lose the contract. Most of the cash made by corrupt local officials in South Asia and the Gulf find their way to European financial centres, an aspect that thus far Transparency International has said little about. In the case of China, crooked officials mostly invest their illegal pickings in real estate and other investments in locations such as the US, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong, while those in India or the Gulf usually keep them as cash in banks. Were each bank worldwide to ask for a declaration of the nationality of each person actually making a deposit, and share this information with the concerned government, there would be a check on such transactions. Rather than remain anonymous behind legal cutouts, crooks in Asia and Africa need to reveal their identities, or risk forfeiture of the funds parked.

The EU has always been—correctly—pointing to the need for clean government. A good way of ensuring this would be to ensure that no location in Europe remains a haven for money got through graft or worse. Funds that come from or go directly to terror networks are only a small proportion of the total money that can potentially be put at the service of “al Qaeda” and other such entities. If the menace is to be choked off at the root, corruption needs to be identifued as a crime that renders the doer legally unfit to hold on to the money secured, if parked in any location in Europe, a continent that needs to set high standards that can serve as an example for the rest of the world. Needless to say, similar standards need to be enforced elsewhere as well. Dubai is making a credible start in this direction by offering to bring its banking industry in line with US standards. India, China and other emerging economic powerhouses need to follow, but clearly the most pressing need to unearth funds that have their origins in graft is in Europe, which today has become a haven where crooks and cheats from across the world can park the proceeds of crime and corruption.

That this is a problem in European countries as well is shown by the Litvinenko case, which involved the radioactive poisoning of a Russian in London. This murder indicated the extent to which Russian mafias have infiltrated into the UK. Many Russian crime syndicates prefer London as their international financial base, and bring with them the musclemen, prostitutes and other collateral manpower of their trade. Thus far, the Blair government has done little to examine the profusion of Russian cash into the UK, an act of negligence that could in time bring as much trouble as permitting “Londonistan” did. Several Islamist organisations operated freely in the UK, many—such as the Kashmir groups—getting support from MPs and others in their activities. Some prominent Labour politicians went to the extent of lending their presence to jihadist groups active in operations in Kashmir and elsewhere in India, without once getting rebuked for such patronage of terror groups. Both London as well as Framkfurt need to do much more to identify and isolate funds that come from crime syndicates in China, South Asia and Russia, if they are to roll back the criminal infrastructure that is being created as a result of the money flows. Several hundreds of billions of dollars of slush funds are now clogging up banking systems across Europe, and as a result, these countries are now part of the problem of the linked issues of graft and terrorism. Europe needs to be true to its principles and do its utmost to ensure that slush funds can no longer find a safe haven within any country in the region. The International Monetary Fund has, like the United Nations, outlived its utility. What is needed is an international entity that can locate and sterilize cash flows that originate in illegal activity worldwide, and for this to happen, Europe needs to take the initiative to clean up its banking system of funds got through graft.

India cannot sleep on Chinese meddling on Arunachal

Source: Organiser ,June 10, 2007

By Rahul Kashyap

Not many in India take politicians very seriously.

The same happened when Arunachal Pradesh representative in Lok Sabha Khiren Rijiju complained that China had set its eye on the state. It was taken as just another attempt to steal newspaper headlines.

But events that unfolded shortly after, quite unfortunately, proved that his fears were not completely unfounded.

The denial of visa to an IAS officer Ganesh Koyu from the state by China cannot be looked at as an ordinary event. If at all the Government does, the fact would only reinforce India’a position as a soft state and the incident as yet another attempt by the Communist state to peddle this image.

And let’s not forget, it happened to a pet proposal by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself.

With the benefit of hindsight now, especially Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi’s comments last November that China claimed ownership over entire Arunachal Pradesh, we can safely that India is in a difficult neighbourhood. And the Chinese threat does indeed loom large from across the Himalayas.

And also that Sun Yuxi’s remarks ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao were not as out of place as Government efforts tried to make it to be.

The Chinese act deserves special attention as it comes at a time when border talks are on way and the impression that the Indian establishment has tried to convey that negotiations are favourably disposed towards New Delhi. So, such incidents come as a shock to the people of the country, that the Government represents. Therefore, the latest Chinese act of misdemeanour, arrogance and resounding rebuff, is a reflection that the Government has not been able to hold on to the promise of protecting national interest.

It might appear to be very loaded, but a stark reality nonetheless, when Rijiju says that while the people of Arunachal Pradesh have always stood up to the Chinese might but the present Government has let them down. He goes to the extent of saying that New Delhi is “afraid of the Chinese military.

He raises another pertinent question—why was the Chinese envoy not summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs and given an earfull?

Some might say that the BJP MP is overreacting, but there is hardly anyone who would dispute the fact that incident has left the UPA government with egg on its face.

The incident is yet another pointer to how little thinking is done by the present regime. The delegation was a well thought decision. It seems, the lackadaisical attitude of their political masters has crept into the iron cast bureaucracy as well. If that were not the case, why would they send someone from the state as part of the team in the first place? Was there any reason for them to forget what Beijing had done to former state Chief Minister Gegong Apang?

In fact, as late as April, three officials and an MLA from Arunachal Pradesh were denied visas on the same grounds—that they did not need visas to visit their own country. They were part of an Indian delegation to attend the 8th China international vegetable, science and technology fair.

However, as waters have been murkied by China, it lends an opportunity for India to raise the issue of Aksai Chin and demand the area back after having been under Chinese occupation for several decades now. The issue of the region being illegally ceded to China by Pakistan, has failed to get the international attention it deserves. It just might get it now.

It must also force a thought about reconsidering the official position on supporting the cause of political and religious freedom in Tibet.

Coming back to the moot topic, let us not miss the larger picture in it. While strategists in North Block have not given much thought, there have been genuine worries about a larger Chinese gameplan to encircle India with Arunachal Pradesh, especially Tawang, providing just a symbolic value.

If we go by the general prediction doing the rounds across the world about the rise of India and China as the world’s next Superpowers, Beijing has indeed gained the upper hand. Unless India indulges in taking corrective measures fast, it would have automatically lost diplomatic ground and considerable international influence too.

(The author is a senior journalist and an International Relations expert. He can be contacted at rahulwaa@gmail.com).

Border Line Case

The story of a map and how India should learn from its old mistakes
The US Congressional Research Service (CRS) releases its report on US-India relations. The report is meant for members of the US Congress. On the last page of this document is a map of India (right inset). It is a two-tone map showing India in yellow and the neighbourhood in brown. This brings into sharp focus what the CRS considers to be India. It is an India with its crown, Jammu and Kashmir, knocked off substantially. The entire Gilgit and Baltistan region of Kashmir is shown as a contiguous part of Pakistan right up to the Karakoram Pass on the Chinese border. The map depicts Aksai Chin as an ‘Indian claim'. The report is on the internet. So apart from the Congressmen reading this report, thousands of others who would have seen this map would have concluded that this is how India looks on the map.

New Delhi February 14, 2007. There is no visible reaction to the depiction of this map.

Brussels, May 8, 2007. The Pakistani Ambassador, under instructions from Islamabad, writes to European Union Rapporteur on Jammu and Kashmir Baroness Emma Nicholson claiming that the ‘Northern Areas of Pakistan' were not a part of J&K in August 1947. There must have been some very good reason for this deliberate distortion of history. It was not the negative impact of the contents of the report that seemed to have led the Ambassador's preemptive letter. Instead, the entire letter concentrated on trying to establish that Gilgit and Baltistan were part of Pakistan and India was in illegal occupation of Siachen.

Brussels, May 22, 2007. Baroness Nicholson refutes the Pakistani Ambassador's claims. She cites historical evidence right from the 1909 maps to Maharaja Hari Singh's letter to Mountbatten on October 27, 1947, to show that Gilgit and Baltistan were a part of the Riyasat of J&K. She also adheres to the traditional reference to the area as Gilgit and Baltistan instead of using the Pakistani formulation of ‘Northern Areas of Pakistan'.

Brussels, May 24, 2007. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the EU releases its report on ‘Kashmir: Present Situation and Future Prospects'. The report is also a severe indictment of Pakistani neglect of areas under its control including Gilgit and Baltistan. The document refers to the "considerable evidence that over many years Pakistan has provided Kashmiri militants with training, weapons, funding and sanctuary and has failed to hold militants accountable for atrocities…" It adds that meaningful demilitarisation can only take place in parallel with genuine action to neutralise the threat of infiltration of J&K by militant outfits operating from Pakistan.

New Delhi, February May 24, 2007. There is a subdued reaction in some of the main newspapers, but there is no exultation that the report castigates Pakistan.

From the 1970s, Pakistan began trying to detach Gilgit and Baltistan from the rest of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). By 1982, General Zia was suggesting that while the question of Kashmir could be examined afresh, Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu were an integral part of Pakistan and were separate from POK. Pakistan gradually tightened its hold on the region. Dissent and nationalism have been suppressed with singleminded ruthlessness. There has been systematic discrimination against the locals and Sunni Pathans imported to offset the Shias of Gilgit and Baltistan to change demographic patterns.

In the early 1980s, Pakistan made serious attempts to move from Skardu towards the Karakoram Pass near Aksai Chin. This intended linking with Shahidullah on the Kashgar-Shigatse road that goes through Aksai Chin and runs parallel to the Tibet-India border would have enabled an outflanking of India in Ladakh. Alarmed at this, India asserted that the Karachi Agreement of 1949, which stipulated that the Line of Control (LoC) would run north towards the glaciers from Pt NJ 9842, be fully implemented. North meant the true north and also meant the Siachen Glacier, not the Karakoram Pass, which is north-east from NJ 9842. Troops had to be sent to the Saltoro Ridge to ensure this. Later, in 1994, the Lahore High Court ruled that administrative separation of these areas from the rest of POK was illegal; the Pakistani authorities had the Supreme Court overturn this in 1996.

There are good strategic reasons why Pakistan has followed this policy. The mighty Indus that irrigates Pakistani Punjab passes much of its distance in India through Ladakh and then Baltistan and Gilgit. Imagine for a moment if today the entire J&K were with India. We would have a border with Afghanistan and the Wakhan Corridor would have provided access to Central Asia. India would have had a border with Chitral, Swat and Hazara districts of the NWFP. The Karakoram Highway, which enters China at the Khunjerab Pass and through which Pakistan has acquired strategic material, would not have been built. Pakistan would not have had direct access to China. Pakistan may have its own reasons to keep the Kashmir issue alive. But it wants the world to assume that Gilgit and Baltistan is a settled issue - settled in favour of Pakistan.

China, too, would be interested that Pakistan has total control over Gilgit and Baltistan. Otherwise the $ 298 million investment in the development of Gwadar is a financial or strategic waste. Xinjiang is only 2,500 km away from the Arabian seaport of Gwadar. On the other hand, it is 4,500 km away from the Chinese east coast. A fully developed port at Gwadar would help in the economic development of Xinjiang. Gas and oil pipelines from Gwadar to Xinjiang and Tibet would enable China to overcome the uncertainty of sealanes from the Persian Gulf through the Malacca Straits patrolled by the US. There
will be a special SEZ for China in Gwadar.

China has set aside $ 150 million to upgrade the Karakoram Highway and widen it from 10 metres to 30 metres for heavy vehicles in all-weather conditions. A rail link is also planned in the region with technical advice from an Austrian firm to connect Pakistan and China. This link will be connected further south into the main Pakistani rail grid. Fibre optic cables are being laid. An Islamabad Kashgar bus service will start from August 1.

Both China and Pakistan are getting ready for an economic boom that will include transit trade to Central Asia. The Pakistani Army's National Logistics Cell, which has a near monopoly, will handle this freight traffic all the way up to Kazakhstan and Xinjiang. There is money to be made. Thus development of both Gwadar and control of Gilgit and Baltistan are interlinked and the Pakistani Army will gain financially from both. In fact, it is going to be a financial bonanza for the already huge corporate interests of the Pakistani Army. All this is being done by using territory that we say is an inalienable part of India.

In retrospect, it can be said that it was a mistake to have halted our troops at Uri and Gurez in 1948. It was a blunder to have then gone to the UN for succour. But it would be a strategic catastrophe to withdraw from Siachen without the entire issue of J&K satisfactorily and unequivocally resolved. Since distortion of facts is possible, a mere signing of documents about the Agreed Ground Position Lines would not be an adequate guarantee enabling troop withdrawals.

History is very unforgiving to those who do not learn from its lessons. The CRS map and the Pakistani Ambassador's letter tell this story.
Source: The Hindustan Times , 7th June 2007

The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis

Cody's Books - Berkeley, CA

Jonathan Cohn uncovers Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis - and the People Who Pay the Price.

In a tiny village tucked into the Catskill mountains, a man whose job stopped providing insurance watches his wife die from cancer. In a booming suburb outside of Austin, a mother fights with an insurance company so that her disabled baby can get the therapy that might someday help him walk. And in the middle of the prairie heartland, a retiree sells his house because it's the only way he can pay for the medications that keep him and his aging wife alive.

To uncover the startling truth about the state of America's health care system, Jonathan Cohn raveled the country, listening to stories of those who are learning the hard way that citizenship in no way guarantees access to medical care. "Sick" is a fascinating, first-hand account of our failing health care system and the consequences that could someday affect us all - Cody's Books

Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of Nuclear Poor

May 19th, 2007

Book Passage - Corte Madera, CA

William Langewiesche talks about Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of Nuclear Poor.

In his shocking and revelatory new work, a celebrated journalist investigates the burgeoning global threat of nuclear weapons production. From Hiroshima to the present day, Langewiesche describes a reality of urgent consequence to all - Book Passage

Armed Madhouse: Mind Map

On Bering Strait Project

Russian Magazine FORUM International Releases Special Issue On Bering Strait Project

June 6 (EIRNS)—FORUM International, a Moscow-based bilingual print publication, today released a special issue devoted to the project to link Eurasian and American infrastructure networks via a tunnel under the Bering Strait. The contents of the 80-page, color-illustrated magazine are centered on the proceedings of the Megaprojects of Russia's East international conference on ``An Intercontinental Eurasia-America Transport Link Via The Bering Strait,'' held in Moscow on April 24 of this year. All of the transcripts and articles are published in both Russian and English.

FORUM International appears as the G-8 summit opens in Heiligendamm, Germany, amid persistent reports that Russia will raise the Bering Strait rail-road-energy project at that meeting. The magazine’s opening spread is the text of an Appeal from the April 24 conference participants, addressed to the heads of state of Russia, the USA, Canada, China, Korea, Japan, and the EU member countries, asking them to put the project on the G8 agenda and to push ahead with funding for its feasibility studies.

Like the April 24 conference, this issue of FORUM International has been sponsored by Council for the Study of Productive Forces, a Russian state research organization known by its Russian acronym, SOPS. It is a joint organization of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, and is headed by Academician Alexander G. Granberg. Included among the proceedings, published in FORUM International, is EIR founder Lyndon LaRouche’s contribution to the SOPS conference, titled, ``The World’s Political Map Changes: Mendeleyev Would Have Agreed.'' It previously came out in EIR of May 4, 2007. LaRouche calls the Bering Strait project ``the navel of a birth of a new world economy,'' as against the ``impulse towards new world wars.''

The theme of collaboration on great, mutually beneficial infrastructure projects as a means of war-avoidance runs throughout the special issue. It comes into focus in Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp LaRouche's testimony to June 2001 Russian State Duma hearings on ``Measures to Ensure the Development of Russia's Economy under Conditions of Global Financial Destabilization,'' which has been included in this issue of FORUM International.

Presenting the link between economic depressions and war, Zepp LaRouche developed for her Russian audience, how the implementation of Dr. Wilhelm Lautenbach's program for productive employment could have ended the depression and prevented the Nazis' rise to power, had it been adopted in 1931. The Eurasian Land-Bridge today, she concluded, therefore gives the world's people a vision of hope that the 21st Century will be better than the 20th.

Former Alaska Governor Walter J. Hickel's April 24 conference speech is published in FORUM International under the headline ``Mega Projects Would Be an Alternative to War.'' Academician Granberg, in his contribution to FORUM International, says that ``multilateral infrastructure mega projects are the only real alternative to confrontation, including military confrontation, between nations and peoples.'' He calls the Bering Strait scheme ``a project that may change the world, a project of joining creative energies, replacing missile defense systems with a territory of international cooperation.''

Granberg is Russia's leading expert on regional development in northern latitudes, such as those of Siberia and the Russian Far East. His call to complete the Bering Strait connection by 2027, made during recent Moscow festivities to mark Prof. Stanislav Menshikov’s 80th birthday, was published in EIR of June 1, 2007. Boris Lapidus, senior vice-president of the state-owned company Russian Railways, writing about the job-creating potential of the trans-Bering Strait railway, says in his article, ``The mutual benefit for Russia, the EU and the Asia-Pacific countries is the basis for cooperation in setting up transit corridors and makes it possible to combine national interests for the common good.''

Other contributors of articles and interviews in the FORUM International special issue include board members of the non-profit Interhemispheric Bering Strait Rail and Tunnel Group, formed in 1991 to promote the project; Russian hydroelectric power executives who want to develop new capacities on Siberia's rivers; and members of the governments and legislatures of several eastern Russian regions. The cover of FORUM International #7 shows a photo of the Bering Strait as seen from outer space, with the prospective rail line between Alaska and Russia's Chukotka Region sketched in.

Among the many other maps in the issue are two historical items of strategic importance: an 1802 map of discoveries made by Russian navigators in the northern Pacific, and Governor of Colorado William Gilpin's, ``American Economic, Just, and Correct Map of the World'' from his 1890 book Compacting and Fusing Together All the World’s Continents.

Published in a print run of 4,000 copies, FORUM International #7 is made available here in pdf by permission of its editors, for personal use only and for no commercial purpose. Persons located in the Russian Federation may obtain a printed copy of the magazine by contacting the editors of FORUM International: olga.forum @ km.ru (remove spaces), telephone +7 926 203 3382; or the Council for the Study of Productive Forces: 7 Vavilov St., 117997 Moscow, Russian Federation, telephone +7 495 135 0004.

An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East

May 21st, 2007

Commonwealth Club of California - San Francisco, CA

An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East with Sandy Tolan.

Before Israel was created, the Palestinian Al-Khairi family built a house and planted a lemon tree. In 1948, the Al-Khairis were displaced by a Bulgarian Jewish family devastated by the Holocaust. The two families met in 1967 and formed a tenuous but lasting friendship. Tolan tells the story of these families riven by conflict but entwined by a simple lemon tree.

US : NDU Graduation Ceremony 07 June 2007

Iraq: Is the U.S. Starting to Maneuver?


Speaking at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden recently, President George W. Bush said that the U.S.'s massive offensive in Iraq would end in September, after which the American troops there would be redeployed into defensive positions. This suggests that Bush has accepted the Baker-Hamilton report. It may be recalled that this report, prepared by a Congressional commission, contains two main requirements: set a clear timeframe on the pullout of U.S. troops, and open negotiations on the situation in Iraq with neighboring countries - Iran and Syria. Bush has now described the report, which he effectively rejected six months ago, as a "road map" for peace in Iraq.

All of that was said hours before the House of Representatives was to consider a bill on additional $100 billion funding for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Approved earlier by the U.S. Senate, the bill was later adopted by the lower house of Congress. The bill does not set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, something on which the Democrats in Congress had earlier predicated their consent to release funding for the military operation. One would think that in the face of forthcoming elections, the Democrats would seek to derive political dividends from such a sensitive issue as the Iraq exit strategy, especially given the rising American personnel losses. According to official reports, the death toll has exceeded 3,500 (excluding those who died of their wounds). But as I wrote previously, the Democrats were apparently reluctant to face charges of "anti-patriotism" should they cut off financial support to ‘our boys' who are being killed in Iraq. In the end, a compromise was reached between the president and Congress.

But this is only one way of looking at the situation.

Addressing the same news conference, President Bush indicated that he would be ready to pull out the troops if Baghdad asked him to do so. True, Bush added that he did not think Baghdad would ask them to leave. Despite this proviso, a linkage between the U.S. pullout from Iraq and a decision by the Iraqi government is something new in the American position. Either Bush has recognized the need for exiting Iraq and is already looking for a "face saving" formula, or he is so confident of U.S. control over the Iraqi government that he can leave it to decide on the future of the U.S. military presence in the country.

Bush said that in September General Petraeus, who is responsible for "battlefield strategy," will submit to the president a report on the offensive stage of the operation, and make recommendations.

Why is the offensive operation to end in September - not earlier or later? I believe the answer to this question is evident: Any date is good enough to ease pressure inside the U.S. for the withdrawal of the troops. Nor should it be forgotten that the deadline demand was made by, among others, Muqtada Al Sadr, the Iraqi Shiite rebel leader and commander of the Mahdi Army.

The impression is that President Bush is maneuvering. He is deviating somewhat from his original stance, namely that no one except the U.S. may set a time frame on U.S. military pullout from Iraq. The U.S.'s decision would depend on how soon the Iraqi side is able to stabilize the situation on its own. This departure, it seems, is not a good will gesture but a forced move, which means that a U-turn is also possible.

It is also important to consider the specifics of the situation in which the U.S. president made his statement. The principal factor here is growing opposition, both at home and abroad, to U.S. military operation in Iraq. And there are a number of circumstances working against the U.S. policy.

Turkey, a NATO ally, has not only closed off its border with Iraqi Kurdistan, but Turkish Army units have moved deeper into Iraqi territory in an effort to eliminate the bases of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. [According to the Turkish Cihan news agency the operation, involving about 50,000 troops, armored vehicles and combat aircraft, is targeting militants in 11 provinces in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. The current operation may precede a full-scale invasion into northern Iraq, where up to 3,500 PKK separatists are reportedly based.- Ed.]

Ankara cites a Turkish-Iraqi agreement to fight the PKK, which was signed in 1996 with the Saddam Hussein regime. The authorities of the Kurdish autonomy have strongly protested the Turkish invasion, which from every indication Washington was unable to prevent. Will the Kurds in this situation remain a force on which the U.S., alongside the Shiites, can continue to rely in Iraq?

The U.S. has established contacts with Iranian authorities over the situation in Iraq. That is good. But at the same time, President Bush continues his relentless pressure on Iran, and not only with words: U.S. Navy strike groups have been amassed in the Persian Gulf, but such muscle-flexing seems to be ineffectual since Iran is gradually emerging from isolation. Ali Larijani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, met recently with EU High Representative on the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. The two sides expressed their satisfaction with the "constructive" negotiations and agreed to continue them. In another important development, Turkey and Iran recently reached an agreement on energy supplies and joint construction of dams and hydro electric power stations.

How far can U.S. maneuvering go in this situation?

By Yevgeny Primakov

Member of the Russian
Academy of Sciences

Assessing the New Cold War

Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: Assessing the New Cold War

Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia Profile

Contributors: Anatol Lieven, Stephen Blank, Nikolas Gvosdev, Eugene Kolesnikov, Andrei Lebedev, Edward Lozansky, Anthony T. Salvia, Ira Straus, Andrei Tsygankov, Andrei Zagorski

It is now official. The growing Cold War style rhetoric between Russia and the West has finally acquired an ideological underpinning – it will be about U.S. new imperialism pushing back Russia’s new revisionism.

President Vladimir Putin said at a Kremlin news conference on May 31: "There is a clear desire by some international players to dictate their will to everyone without adhering to international law... This behavior is nothing different from diktat, nothing different from imperialism."

Putin also insisted that the United States is responsible for a "new round of the arms race" because of its planned missile defense system. In response, Russia recently successfully tested a new multiple warhead mobile ICBM designed to penetrate U.S. missile defenses. Putin commented: "Our partners are stuffing Eastern Europe with new weapons. What are we supposed to do? We cannot just sit by and watch all this."

The Bush administration wasted no time pushing back.

In Potsdam, Germany, on May 31, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded to Putin: "I find Russia's recent missile diplomacy difficult to understand, and we regret Russia's reluctance to accept the partnership in missile defense that we have offered.” She called bilateral relations a "mix of cooperation and competition, friendship and friction." She stressed that "we want a 21st-century partnership with Russia, but at times, Russia seems to think and act in the zero-sum terms of another era."

David Kramer, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said on the same day in Baltimore that U.S. policy toward Russia can be described as "cooperate wherever we can, push back whenever we have to.” In remarks that were approved by the White House to make the point that the administration was quite unhappy with the Kremlin rhetoric and policies, Kramer said Russia sometimes "bullies" its neighbors and engages in "ham-fisted behavior" in some aspects of its European policy. On missile defense, Kramer said that Moscow "prefers unhelpful rhetoric over actual collaboration." A senior White House official remarked to Newsweek that Russia has become a “revisionist power” intent on undoing the geopolitical losses it has suffered with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This is not the first time that Moscow has spoken against “the new imperialism” and “attempts to impose a unipolar world.” But Putin’s remarks last week raised Moscow’s frustration with U.S. policies to a new level. The same could be said about U.S. frustration with Russia’s policies. Neither side has so far shown any willingness to accommodate each other’s strategic concerns on topics ranging from missile defense in Europe to independence for Kosovo. It appears that contradictions and divergent interest on some important but still narrow issues are clouding the need to achieve a stable and productive relationship. Describing the current differences in terms of “new imperialism” v. “new revisionism” helps bridge that gap.

What changes will this new rhetorical escalation bring to Russia’s relations with the West? Why does Putin seem to be looking to overplay the differences with the United States rather than downplaying them? Why is the Bush Administration seeking to push Russia back rather than engage it by showing a degree of understanding for its concerns with U.S. policies? Where will it all end?

Anatol Lieven, Senior Research Fellow, the New America Foundation, Washington DC:

Part of the problem is that too many Western commentators still set as their standard for good relations the utterly unrealistic Western ambition of the early 1990s: A "democratic" Russia that would be completely subservient to the West.

Russians, too, are often still reacting to their experience of humiliation and exploitation in the 1990s with a counterproductive prickliness, arrogance and suspicion. Both sides need to ratchet down their rhetoric and seek pragmatic solutions to the concrete problems dividing them.
They also need to remember that in the long historical term, responsibility for the peace of Europe lies in the hands of the major powers of the continent. Europeans, including Russians, are fated to live together – or die together, as they did in the past at Poltava, Borodino, Sevastopol, Tannenberg and Stalingrad.

In the face of this bloody history, present difficulties hardly look so bad. With luck, they will diminish as the confused post-Soviet period ends and Russia's economic recovery leads to a new equilibrium. Policy on both sides should be directed at achieving such an equilibrium.

For this, Western Europeans must understand that, on most issues, they are simply not strong enough – even with U.S. support – to dictate to Russia. They should also recognize that, given their own past imperial crimes and massive Russian public support for Putin's policies, hectoring criticism is counter-productive.

Russians, on the other hand, need to understand that they are not strong enough either to push back against the West on many issues, or to develop their economy without massive international investment, and that this requires fostering confidence on the part of international investors. Equally important, they must realize that, while the British government was gravely culpable in giving political asylum to Boris Berezovsky and his minions, that does not give a license to the Russian security forces to kill them.

On all these counts, Russians would do well to learn from the pragmatic, restrained and very successful strategy of China. Russia's cancellation of some very one-sided energy deals of the 1990s may well be morally, and even legally, justified. But it is not necessarily wise when it comes to Russia's own long-term interests.

By historical standards, such disagreements will not lead to tragic crises. There is, however, one issue that could do so one day: The question of the rights of Russian speakers in Latvia and Estonia, coupled with the responsibility for the security of these states assumed by the European Union and NATO. This issue has been dramatized in recent weeks by Moscow-backed rioting in Estonia against the government's decision to move a Soviet war memorial revered by the Russian-speaking minority.

In response, the European Union needs a combination of approaches. First, it must make absolutely clear to Moscow that the EU and NATO are prepared to defend their Baltic members against Russian pressure and subversion. Should this increase to really dangerous levels, Western European troops should be sent to the region. Secondly, Western European countries should publicly deplore provocative actions like those of the Estonian government. The UK and France in particular should state strongly that the defeat of Nazi Germany was overwhelmingly due to their Soviet allies, and that they expect the memory of the Red Army to be honored by other EU members.

Thirdly, the EU needs to do far more to defuse the situation on the ground in Latvia and Estonia. While it has softened the most discriminatory aspects of these states' behavior towards their Russian-speaking minorities, this policy is still overwhelmingly directed at assimilating these minorities, not to integrating them. This applies especially to the area of Russian-language education, where both states have been allowed by the West flagrantly to break promises made before independence. The EU should also help reduce this problem in the long term by granting the broadest possible rights to Russian-speakers at the level of the EU as a whole and, in particular, by encouraging members of the Russian-speaking minorities to move to Western Europe to work. At the moment, the non-citizens who make up large portions of the Russian-speaking population face great obstacles in this regard. Given that Spain and Italy both have programs to encourage immigration from Latin America, this kind of strategically directed migration program is entirely feasible.

Finally, Western Europeans need to learn the most important lesson of the Estonian crisis, which is that history does not end when countries join the European Union and NATO. Given that it is by no means certain that they will have the means or even the courage to defend the internally divided Baltic States against a really serious threat, it is insane to pretend that they would defend Ukraine. For the West to continue talking publicly about further NATO and EU enlargements that will in any case almost certainly never happen is not just foolish, it is deeply immoral.

Nikolas Gvosdev, Editor, The National Interest, Washington DC:

Confrontation will continue until the costs become too excessive for one side or the other. The Russian strategy of reminding the West not to take it for granted has the potential to backfire for Moscow if it reinvigorates a new EU-3 (Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and soon-to-be British Prime Minister Gordon Brown) to move closer to the United States. The Bush Administration, for its part, is increasingly influenced by the argument that there is no further help to be gained from Moscow on things that matter to the United States – from resolving Kosovo to putting renewed pressure on Iran, and that it is better for the United States to push its strategic posture eastward into Ukraine, the Caucasus and even Central Asia while there is still an opportunity to do so.

Eugene Kolesnikov, Private Consultant, the Netherlands:

Things are going to get worse before they get better. The public clash between Russia and the United States and its closest allies is not yet at its peak because a number of critical factors have not fully played out. A short list of these critical factors include: Kosovo and by extension Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestr; the disintegrating political situation in Ukraine; further NATO expansion towards Russia’s borders; U.S. global missile defense and potential militarization of space; and Russia’s reassertion of power in the CIS, particularly in Central Asia.

On each of these, as well as a number of other issues, Russia and the United States have diverging or diametrically opposed views and interests. There is no chance that these differences can be reconciled with the current U.S. Administration and, judging by the pronouncements of the leading U.S. presidential candidates, no radical change of U.S. policy towards Russia can be expected after 2008 either. Additionally, the new European leadership is also more pro-American than ever.

Therefore, Russia’s relationship with the West will continue to be acrimonious, but regularly accompanied by pacifying Kennebunkport-like events since neither side wants a complete fall-out. This will hold true until a full-blown crisis develops such as, for example, a breakdown in Ukraine that requires Russia to take sides. At that point, the current situation will be tested. I believe that such a crisis event will prove that Russia is not bluffing and a new world power configuration will be confirmed.

Two schools of thought persist in the assessment of Russia’s post-Munich behavior. One group of pundits are genuinely frustrated that Russia is defying the United States instead of joining it. They miss the point that Russia is defying the determined attempts of the Americans to preserve the preeminence of the U.S.-centric West while allowing the re-emergence of China and denying Russia its re-emergence. These people still think in terms of the 1990s when Russia was written off as an independent power and refuse to see the new reality.

Another group of pundits argue that Russia should demonstrate friendly and benign behavior while working out any differences in a diplomatic manner behind closed doors. These people forget that this approach was exercised by Russia in the late 1990s and during Putin’s first term. This approach simply did not work, and therefore an open debate and, if necessary, non-violent confrontation, are necessary for Russia to claim the place it deserves and is destined to have in the world.

Edward Lozansky, President, American University in Moscow:

Despite the recent agreement between Condoleezza Rice and Sergei Lavrov to tone down negative rhetoric between the United States and Russia, the situation, far from improving, is getting even worse, with inflammatory statements coming from both sides almost daily. Both Washington and Moscow are getting more and more overwrought. Their routine statements denying the eruption of a new Cold War no longer sound convincing.

Just look at the terminology used by both sides: “imperialism,” “diktat,” “Third Reich” vs. “revisionism,” “political murders,” and “bullying neighbors.” Now even Bush, on the eve of his meeting with Putin, says “reforms [in Russia] that were once promised to empower citizens have been derailed, with troubling implications for democratic development."

And these are not just words. Missiles are now also added to the equation. So let us not pretend that everything is not as bad at it seems. For the last few years, we have been hearing that the only thing that keeps U.S.-Russia relations from sliding into a new Cold War is the good personal rapport between Bush and Putin. Now this is no longer the case, and since both of them are on the way out anyway, we should be prepared for the worse.

Is there anything that could or should be done to avoid this extremely dangerous development?

Not much, but since Bush and Putin will meet two times in the next few weeks, there is no reason not to offer this naïve proposal:

To Bush:

Stop this messianic policy of fast-track democracy promotion around the world. It smacks too much of the disastrous Soviet policy of freeing the world from capitalist exploitation for the benefit of the whole of mankind. History has provided conclusive proof for the adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions: whoever proclaims a desire to impose his own ideas, even unquestionably attractive and noble ones, on the whole world, eventually brings more bloodshed and misery. Whether you like Putin’s domestic policy or not, he is supported by the overwhelming majority of the Russian people, so your critical public statements about him merely increase his popularity at home and justify the anti-American feelings of Russian citizens.

To Putin:

The United States is going to work on its strategic missile defense no matter what. Realistically, there is nothing Russia can do to stop it. Entering an arms race with United States will be disastrous for the Russian economy and even for its survival as a state. Threatening to point Russian missiles at European targets only helps Bush consolidate his wavering allies. Instead, take Bush at his word and agree to cooperate on a missile defense system, although of course this would have to be a real partnership, sharing responsibility for R&D.

Andrei Tsygankov, Professor of Political Science, San Francisco State University, San Francisco:

This is a great power politics as we know it. The United States is very uncomfortable with Russia’s foreign policy assertiveness and its recent achievements – from the gas alliance with Central Asian states to the successful test of a new nuclear missile. With its missile defense plans, the White House seems to have had two hopes. One was to reinforce its relationship with the EU, while defeating prospects of Russia’s further rapprochement with Europeans. This is a long process, and it is too early to offer an assessment of its results. The other hope was to create a new bargaining chip in relations with the Kremlin over issues of Russia’s nuclear infrastructure, relations with Europe, NATO expansion, Iran or Central Asian energy resources. This might have been accomplished by first creating a problem by announcing deployment of missile-defense system in Eastern Europe and then, perhaps, offering itself as part of a solution. However, Russia didn’t take the bait, resulting in the escalation of the “revisionism” rhetoric on the part of the United States.

Washington well knows well that Russia is still very much a defensive power, and its role in world politics doesn’t come close to revisionism; it simply wants to push it as far as possible in continuing to extract unilateral concessions from Moscow.

Russia, on the other hand, is continuing with its Munich line of assertiveness, moving to a new rhetorical level because its expectations didn’t quite materialize either – not yet, anyway. The “imperialism” language is an old Soviet tool, and it is doubtful that the Kremlin really believes what it says. The real argument is not over imperialism; it’s about U.S. unilateralism. Hopefully the Kremlin is sober enough to understand the United States is an undisputed superpower under the conditions of unipolarity, and that this situation is likely to remain a reality for the next 20 years or so. Washington is not attempting to make the world unipolar, as Putin claims – the world has become unipolar by objective facts, such as the U.S. share of global trade and military expenditures. Judged by these facts, no other power – not China, let alone Russia – comes close to the United States. What Washington is attempting to do, however, is to seek unilateral advantages from the condition of unipolarity, jeopardizing the interests of all other great powers along the way. The question is whether the United States can learn to promote its interests by way of multilateral diplomacy.

The two sides are still bargaining over issues of critical significance. Russia has learned to do it the American way: It stakes the claim before an important meeting – in this case the G8 summit in Germany – and then shows a greater flexibility during more personal negotiations, particularly if the other side doesn’t act like a bully. Rhetoric will remain rhetoric, and we might even see some fence-mending at the summit.

Anthony T. Salvia, Special Advisor to the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs during the Reagan Administration:

Russia and the West are like two ships passing in the night, which is sad since, in fact, they are in the same strategic boat.

Russia is completing its difficult reentry into historical time, having (barely) survived a harrowing end-of-history experience that lasted from 1917 to 1991. No longer in thrall to an anti-national, atheistic regime, Russia is seeking conventional things for the first time since the fall of the Tsar – domestic peace and prosperity, stable national institutions, secure borders and defense of its (largely regional) interests.

Therefore, Russia – unlike, say, Nazi Germany, which did not shrink from going to war to overturn an international order widely regarded as legitimate – is not so much a revisionist power as a normal state seeking to find its place in the world after the near-death experience of Communism. It's Russia's hard luck that the United States – unwisely, in my view – refuses to let it find that place.

As for the United States, it is unhelpful to try and understand U.S. foreign policy in strictly imperial terms. In the Bush doctrine of preemptive war, there is more than a whiff of the Leninist notion that the moral value of any action is determined not by objective ethical standards derived from Judeo-Christian tradition, but by whether or not the action in question – invading Iraq, or encircling Russia - advances the interests of progressive humanity. There is more ideology in this than classical imperialism.

So rather than speaking of U.S. imperialism and Russian revisionism, let us speak instead of the United States as the world's foremost revolutionary force and Russia as its leading conservative power.

Russia is pursing a wise course from its own point of view. In any case, it has no real alternative. Sooner or later, U.S. foreign policy will collide with reality – it may already have done so in Iraq – and Washington, shorn of its ideological blinkers, will finally embrace the foreign policy imperative of the 21st century: Solidarity and strategic cooperation between the United States, Europe and Russia on the basis of their shared Christian moral, intellectual and cultural traditions. This is the way forward in the face of profound challenges from a rising China and resurgent Islam.

Ira Straus, U.S. Coordinator, Committee on Russia in NATO, Washington DC:

This is not new language; it is the same old Cold War language of opposition to one another's "imperialism" or "neo-imperialism." Here we have two great powers who have enough interests in common that, in the 19th century, they might have had the good sense to frequently support one another's influence beyond their borders, and sometimes to support one another's literal imperialism; but since they are both fanatically anti-imperialist, they spend their energy on accusing one another of "imperialism" as if it were the worst thing in the world. And more often than not, they arrive at the accusation only by using the word in a wildly metaphorical way rather than a literal one.

Every great power pushes around small countries; that is what the Soviets called "diktat." But the Soviets went on to equate "diktat" with "imperialism," at least when it was done by Western powers; their own diktats, of course, were a different matter. Putin is simply repeating the old Soviet language.

Western charges of Russian "neo-imperialism," meanwhile, have been around since 1994. They, too, have been mostly wildly metaphorical, referring to any kind of Russian pressure or influence across its borders that the West disliked. They have only occasionally referred to something like the real thing, in the sense of a few Russian policies having had, among their objectives, a dream that would lead eventually to a restoration of a concrete empire in at least part of the former Soviet space.

The metaphors have differed in some respects. When Westerners speak of Russian "neo-imperialism," they object to what they believe to be a secret Russian dream of restoring an empire, and many of them object to any Russian influence abroad – no matter how inevitable, natural, or beneficent – as an instrument of that design. Russians, in contrast, object to the opposite of concrete empire: They object to the inevitable spill-over across borders of Western ideas, Western influences and Western-rooted international norms, which, they point out, undermine the stability of traditional non-Western societies with their "organic" states and empires. This Russian usage has obvious roots in Soviet Marxist usage; Russians today translate it back from Marxist economic ideology to counterrevolutionary quasi-fascist ideology. In either case, they call Western influence, illogically, "imperialism."

Up until a few months ago, this was where it stood. There was a certain symmetry to the metaphorical excess and distortion in the usage of "imperialism" on both sides, despite sharp differences in the content of their metaphorical usages. And there was symmetry in the way the disgruntled deployers of these accusations on each side succeeded in spreading suspicion of any use of power by the other and preventing cooperation where it was most needed.

Putin, however, has now added some asymmetry. Today it is the supreme leader of Russia, not some sharp-tongued lower-level figure or some opposition ideologue, who bandies about the charge of "imperialism" against the West. The top leadership of the West is still trying to limit the differences; it is not reaching for ideological language.

Is it politics on Putin's part, or is it what he really believes? His charges of imperialism are obviously applause lines, but they leave the impression that he makes these claims first and foremost for self-applause, that he is really proud of himself for saying this stuff. It is a pity; for it is much the same as when a paranoid peron convinces himself to be proud of when he talks nonsense, mixing fact with fear and fantasy into a product that becomes utterly toxic.

At the Association for the Studies of Nationalities convention at Columbia University this April, we had a panel called "Empire as Metaphor: Narratives on 'Russian Empire’ and ‘American Empire' and Their Impact on Mutual Relations." Little did we anticipate that Putin would so quickly confirm our worst concerns about the misuse of the word and raise the importance of the matter to the highest level.

Our participants were more modest than Putin or Bush, but not bad for an academic grouping: they were Donald Jensen, Catharine Nepomnyashchy, myself, Geoffrey Hosking and Ariel Cohen. We discussed the various literal and metaphorical uses of "empire" and "imperialism;" some valid or at least half-truth accusations that might be made against each other along these lines; the reams of utter nonsense that has come out along these lines; and ways in which the prospects for better U.S.-Russian relations after 1991 have been undermined by the old habit of accusing one another of "imperialism." In light of Putin's remarks, perhaps it is time to publish a volume on it.

Andrei Zagorski, Professor, MGIMO-University, Moscow:

The rhetoric coming from the Kremlin makes many believe that Russia is coming back. The truth seems to be different, however.

For the past decade, the United States has acted like an energetic revisionist power seeking to alter the world order while Russia has remained a status quo power, unable to either prevent or adapt to ongoing changes. Moscow has good reasons to fear those changes, as any new world order would endanger the status it has inherited from both the Soviet Union and the old world order.

The current outburst of rhetoric therefore seems to reflect both the growing concern over the erosion of the old world order and the illusion that now, after its economic recovery, Russia can more successfully resist the change. The effect of this policy, however, appears opposite from what is intended or declared.

First and foremost, there is no danger of a new arms race between the old Cold War rivals. The number of Russian nuclear warheads will go under the limits agreed with the United States in 2002 despite the ongoing modernization that barely compensates for the decommissioned weapons. Thus far, no nuclear power appears to be challenged to match the Russian effort.

At the same time, the Russian nuclear force remains sizeable enough, so that no one has ever doubted its ability to penetrate the still-virtual U.S. missile defense system, therefore, the recent test does not make any big difference as it does not tempt anyone to react.

The same is true for conventional forces in Europe. The declared intention of Moscow to suspend or even to decline from the CFE Treaty has caused regret over the fate of arms control. Otherwise, however, this step is unlikely to trigger any changes in the European landscape. By quitting the CFE Treaty, Moscow releases the United States and NATO of any legal limits on their conventional deployments in Europe. The Russian military seems, however, to have no problem with this. The 26 NATO nations now have roughly 20 percent fewer weapons than the 16 NATO nations were allowed by the CFE in 1990. And the Russian military seems to trust that NATO will not fill the gap even if the CFE is no longer in force.

The danger, however, that the Russian rhetoric has already produced, is the recognition of the increasing gap between Moscow and the West – not only the United States. Although Moscow’s cooperation is still sought on instances that require a vote in the UN Security Council, Russia is rapidly losing friends as well as the ability to talk meaningfully with counterparts in the West. On the many issues where Moscow’s role is marginal, there is a growing trend towards avoiding engaging Russia in order to avoid unnecessary problems. Is this what experts mean by the concept of “selective engagement”?

Ethan S. Burger, Scholar-in-Residence, School of International Service, American University; Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.

There is an old saying about people in glass houses . . . .

Russian President Vladimir Putin (or perhaps his advisors and speech writers) must have a weakness for Soviet-era nostalgia that overrides his ability to analyze properly the current state of international affairs. His recent remarks appear to be a throwback to the time when the Kremlin's occupants would speak in "catch-phrases" (govorit' stampami) rather than pragmatically analyze foreign policy goals and see the world through ideologically tinged glasses. If I heard a Russian pensioner using the term "imperialistic" as characterizing U.S. foreign and military policy, I would make the assumption that the individual was incapable of processing the developments that have occurred in the last 20+ years and had not read a newspaper recently.

Many of the problems the Bush administration finds itself addressing today on the global stage reflect a palpable hubris which is a product of a lack of respect for the views of many other countries as well an under-appreciation that U.S. interests are usually served by strict observance of international law. Fortunately, a humbled White House is now doing a better job of consulting with its domestic political opponents and is largely abandoning unilateralism in its policies abroad.

Ironically, in recent months, Putin has made it easier for the United States to restore its relations with many of its principal allies due to inexplicable Russian policies. In 1949, when NATO was formed, the concept of cyber-attacks probably could have only been found in science fiction novels. Now it represents a real threat that Western national security managers must prepare for. Similarly, Russian declarations that it will target European capitals with nuclear missiles if Poland and the Czech Republic take steps to have rudimentary ballistic missile defense capability seems either to be the result of panic or represents a specious justification for the deployment of new weapon systems that serve no real utility.

Russia's economy depends on stable relations with the EU. Russia's posturing will not serve to divide Europe from the United States. Someone should remind Putin that Nicolas Sarkozy is the new French president and that the Center/Left Spanish ruling party did not fare well in local elections.

The upcoming 2008 elections in the United States will be unusual since neither the incumbent president or vice president is seeking the country's highest office. Bush's approval ratings are the lowest of any recent U.S. President while Putin, allegedly enjoying high approval ratings, does not countenance unfavorable television reporting on Russian television and limits the ability of political opponents to challenge developments in the country.

I would have thought that Putin has no domestic reason for promoting policies that could isolate Russia. Perhaps there are memos floating around Washington, London, Bonn or Paris, that India or Brazil should replace Russia as a G8 member. If this comes to pass, Putin will be second guessing himself for quite some time.

Stephen Blank, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA:
(Dr. Blank’s views as contributed to Russia Profile do not represent the position of the U.S. Army, Defense Department, or the U.S. Government)

It is impossible to do justice to all these questions within the limit of 500 words, but some things are clear. For example, the Bush Administration, rightly in my view, has striven to alleviate Russian concerns. The missile defense system was briefed over a dozen times to Russia in 2005-2006 – before the present crisis. Moreover, it sees little reason for mollifying Russia because it regards Russia's threat perception as ludicrous, as do most objective and knowledgeable experts. Indeed, as Putin admitted, the Russian policy is largely driven by the threat perceptions of military experts. In fact, Putin has almost wholly invited them to formulate their worst case scenarios, which he will then make into policy even though those perceptions are based on their own demands for more money and the presupposition of an inherently adversarial relationship with the West.

This perception and the increasingly stark reality of Russia regressing to autocracy led by state takeovers of whole economic sectors and intensifying repression can only be justified on the basis of ever more bizarre threat scenarios (The word “bizarre” here is not mine. Andreas Umland used it first, and it fits). Putin believes that the OSCE and Western NGOs are parts of some orchestrated plot to overthrow his and neighboring regimes and that NATO is lusting to threaten Russia. Likewise foreign intelligence agencies were allegedly behind the terrorist attacks of 2004-2005 in Nalchik! Such threat scenarios are inherently tied to the ruling elites' awareness of the illegitimacy of their own regime and of its inherently imperial proclivities. These include: The expansion of bases in CIS states; efforts to take over CIS and Eastern European energy sectors and subvert those countries' politics; support for territorial revisions of the 1989-1991 settlements in the CIS; and the use of cyberwars against Estonia in 2007 and Poland in 2005.

While U.S. policy is guilty of an imperial overreach, if anything, since 2004-2005, it is in retreat. In fact, the sense of Russia increasing its strength while Washington is in retreat is a powerful psychological tool for the expression of truculence that we see every day by Putin. But whereas American actions derive from specific policies of the Bush Administration, in Russia, imperialism and the new militarism are inherent in the very nature of the neo-Tsarist autocracy that Putin has built. Furthermore Sergei Ivanov and other officials, both privately and more recently in public, have complained that the real reason Russia wants to abandon treaties like the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and build missiles is because states to the east and south – China and Iran, Russia's seeming allies and partners – are building loads of missiles that can threaten Russia. If this is the case, the attacks on NATO and Washington are a sad commentary on the results of Russian foreign policy.

Historically as well, part of Russia's problems with such a system is that it isolates the tsar from reality and leaves him at the mercy of bureaucrats who have a vested interest in spreading these bizarre threat scenarios in which he believes. The absence of any kind of effective democratic control over the various siloviki also breeds an inherent temptation to adventurism, as we have seen in Chechnya, Kosovo and now with the threat to return Europe to a Cold War, a scenario that spells ruin for Russia, but which benefits the siloviki, particularly the military and police sectors. The failure of reform in these sectors and in the Foreign Ministry, are part of the larger failure to achieve democratic reform in Russia.

As long as Russia remains a neo-tsarist autocracy incorporating elements of the Soviet past, its politics will be based on the presupposition that there are enemies everywhere and will be carried out in a heavy-handed and even neo-imperial way. The state of siege in world politics that Lenin introduced cannot atrophy under these circumstances, even if the only beneficiaries of this are Russia's siloviki whose main interest is their own gratification at the expense of the needs of the Russian people.

Andrei Lebedev, Senior Associate, the State Club Foundation, Moscow :

The word is going around Moscow that an understanding has been reached between Moscow and Washington to lower the grade of rhetoric. Nevertheless the war of words gets hotter every day. Evidently one side (or both) decided that the “moratorium” doesn’t serve its interests.

At present, the Western side seems to have the upper hand, since it pretends to look offended by outright invectives of Russian officials, and that is the advantageous position from the PR point of view. But that is the external layer. There is no doubt that, according to an honest appraisal, Western opponents of Russia take a rather modest stand. Repeated accusations heard from Moscow seem more substantial, and are finally sinking in. After all, wasn’t it the United States that unilaterally abrogated the ABM treaty, evidently just in order to push elements of the national ABM system closer to Russian borders? Wasn’t it the NATO side that has been abstaining for years from ratifying the CFE treaty, and now is crying wolf over Russia’s declared intention to suspend it – thus producing the impression of a mousetrap designed specifically for Russia? The list goes on and on.

Interesting and logical enough – prominent Western analysts and media pay more and more attention to Russian grievances, if only to placate the dangerous opponent (some British newspapers – “The Times”, “The Guardian”). Some of them admit that these grievances are justifiable, like Pat Buchanan did in his recent “Who lost Russia?” piece.

The base for respect may be somewhat shaky, but respect for Russia is being shown. If that was the purpose of the latest invectives from Moscow, it has been reached. Why this way was chosen, and why now are quite different questions.
One of the possible answers is that Putin decided to perform Mr. Bad Guy in his last months in office in order to pave the way for his successor (whoever the latter might be – a managing economist, like Mr. Medvedev; a shrewd geopolitician, like Mr. Ivanov; or a moralist, which has been suggested by Russian journalist and political analyst Georgy Bovt). Facing new and not-so-friendly Western heads of state might be easier, the logic goes, if the next Russian president plays Mr. Good Guy in at least some respect – relaxes the grip on the opposition marches, for example. But do not count on enlarged foreign business access to Russian oil and gas reserves – that will be out of the question.

Russia among top 5 in terms of GDP by 2020 - Ivanov

14:01 | 09/ 06/ 2007

ST. PETERSBURG, June 9 (RIA Novosti) - A first Russian deputy prime minister set the goal of making the country one of the five largest economies in terms of GDP by 2020 Saturday.

In his report on the national economic strategy until 2020, which opened the 11th economic forum in St. Petersburg, Sergei Ivanov, seen by many as a possible presidential successor after 2008, said the economic goal could be achieved through a liberal economic policy based on high technologies, broader and transparent investment, and high competitiveness.

In the past few years, Russia's GDP has been exceeding 6%. President Vladimir Putin has set the goal of doubling the GDP by 2010.

"GDP per capita by consumer spending parity will be around $30,000 in 2005 prices [by 2020], compared to the current $12,000," Ivanov forecasted.


Ivanov said Russia was ahead of the majority of emerging economies in terms of foreign investment. As an example, the official said accumulated foreign investment in 2006 topped $150 billion.

"In the first quarter of 2007, we received nearly $10 billion in direct foreign investment," he said. Capital inflow is expected to reach $60 billion in the first half of this year, Ivanov said, adding that the figure exceeded indicators in other countries with transitional economy.

"We are interested in creating a favorable environment for foreign investors," Ivanov said. "It means a transparent investment infrastructure, and further development of the stock market and the banking sector."


Encouraging fair competition will also contribute to faster economic development, and this requires a long-term development strategy, the first deputy premier said. "The strategy must seek to modernize protection of competition and anti-monopoly measures, and to clear barriers for new Russian and foreign businesses entering the market," he said.

Ivanov said foreign companies would have easier access to the Russian market after the country joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). "Further steps here require an agreement on a strategic partnership with the European Union (EU) and an upgrading of regulatory institutions," he said.


Ivanov said Russia might become one of the world's leading innovation centers.

"I am convinced that Russia is capable of becoming a leading world innovation center," he said. "We will set up a special commission to promote breakthrough innovative projects."

Special technological and economic zones will be formed to speed up development in the area, the first deputy premier said, but added that relevant professional training was also required to achieve the goal.

He called for overhauling the education system by applying foreign experience, and setting up business schools and government administration colleges that would be up to international standards.

Ivanov also said Russia must form a society based on information technologies. "It is not an abstract term," he said. "IT technologies must become part of everyday life."

State holdings

As an example of innovative economic development, Ivanov cited state holdings, currently being formed to consolidate state and private assets in the aircraft building, shipbuilding and nuclear industries. Ivanov has been put in charge of these projects.

"Such holdings allow the state to buy out part of the assets from private businessmen - for a market price and not in the form of expropriation," he said. "These will be public corporations that could take up ambitious projects and compete on global markets."

Ivanov also said that part of the currently formed state holdings could eventually be floated. "The goal here is not only to attract funds but also to become truly modern public companies, with both Russian and foreign shareholders," he said.

The official said one of the targets was to promote Russia's civilian aircraft industry to the third place, with 10% of the world market by 2020. "We also expect the shipbuilding sector to triple production," he added.

Substantial efforts will also be put into nuclear energy, Russia's key export technology, he said.

Up to 90% of the profit in the country's nuclear sector comes from nuclear fuel, power and service exports, but Russia also seeks to export more uranium.

Russia has launched projects to build floating nuclear power plants. In April, Russia laid the foundation for the first floating plant in the northern city of Severodvinsk and is expected to build another six plants within a decade.

"Only our country has started building floating power plants with nuclear reactors. Nuclear power will have a considerably larger share in Russia's energy balance," Ivanov said.

A senior Russian nuclear official, Sergei Krysov, said earlier this week that 20 countries had shown interest in floating nuclear power plants.

Will America agree to swap ABM systems?

18:58 | 08/ 06/ 2007

MOSCOW. (Military commentator Viktor Safonov for RIA Novosti) - At this year's G8 summit in Heiligendamm, President Vladimir Putin made George W. Bush an offer he will have difficulty refusing.

Why deploy missile interceptors and a radar in the Czech Republic and Poland to protect Europe against "rogue countries" when there is a much simpler, cheaper and more effective solution?

The Daryal early-warning missile radar is located in Gabala, Azerbaijan, just 180 km to the north of Baku - that is, close to the Iranian border. Using it instead of placing new ABM elements in Europe would benefit everyone.

Washington would remove Moscow's natural concern that the American ground-based interceptors on the Baltic Sea coast are meant for Russian strategic missiles in the Tver, Kaluga, Ivanovo and Vladimir regions. Warsaw, Prague and their European neighbors would no longer be afraid of the Russian Topol-M and Iskander-M missiles that, as Putin has warned, will be targeted at them. The United States would have the opportunity to observe Iranian airspace. The Gabala radar monitors land, water, air and space up to 6,000 kilometers away, the same as the distance from Turkey to Singapore.

Azerbaijan also stands to gain from this proposal. By different estimates, Russia pays it $7-$10 million to lease the Gabala radar. The 900 Russian officers at the station create jobs for the local population. If they are joined by American officers, Azerbaijan will get even more money.

But the main point is that the Pentagon would gain an official foothold in the South Caucasian Republic without embarrassing Baku in front of its strategic partner, Moscow. Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov told the Novosti-Azerbaijan news agency that bilateral talks on this radar had been held with both Russia and the United States. He said that Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov had discussed this issue with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, during the latter's recent trip to Baku.

Later on, Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Vasily Istratov spoke about the possibility of using the Gabala radar as an element of an American ABM system. But his suggestion did not create much of a stir in the international media.

The question of whether the United States will agree to this tempting proposal remains open. Many military analysts believe that Washington is likely to reject Moscow's proposal using some plausible-sounding excuse because it needs strategic ABM system in Europe in order to be able to target Topol-M, Stilet and Satan missiles in European Russia and the southern Urals.

This problem has another aspect. It doesn't even matter whether Russian strategic missiles are a threat to the United States. What matters is the huge amount of money that the American taxpayer, scared by years of propaganda, is ready to spend on national security. The military-industrial complex's lobbyists in Congress and the White House will not allow this money to be used for any other purpose.

Russia and the United States are not likely to cooperate in the ABM sphere. Since 1998, Moscow and Washington have been unsuccessfully trying to reach an agreement on establishing centers for the exchange of information on strategic missile launches on a reciprocal basis. The Russia-NATO Council has set up a joint group to establish a theater ABM system in Europe. It has conducted a dozen consultations and several staff exercises, practiced joint action, reconnaissance and warning. The sides have agreed on what hardware should be used to repel a tactical missile attack - NATO is going to buy the American PAC-3 Patriot. Brussels says that the Russian systems cannot be used for reasons of "operational incompatibility."

Meanwhile, Greece, a NATO member, has built its entire anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense using the Russian Top-M1 and S-300PMU1 systems. It is clear that Europe favors American defense companies over their Russian counterparts.

Putin's latest proposal is likely to meet with the same response. After high-level discussions on using the Gabala radar for protection against Iranian missiles, experts will conclude that it is "incompatible" with the American ABM system.

The ABM swap, therefore, is unlikely. Analysts expect Washington to deploy its elements as planned - near Prague and near Warsaw.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Indian Military Academy : 649 cadets pass out

9 Jun, 2007 l 1307 hrs ISTlPTI

DEHRADUN: The largest single batch of 649 cadets, including 24 foreigners, on Saturday passed out of the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA) here in a smartly turned-out parade.

Chief of Naval Staff Sureesh Mehta reviewed the parade and took salute from the cadets who marched in files at drill square set against the historic Chetwode building.

Three helicopters of the Army aviation crops flew over the parade and showered petals on the cadets.

Twenty-four cadets from friendly nations like Tajikistan, Bhutan and Mauritius also passed out of the academy which is celebrating its platinum jubilee this year.

Security in and around the IMA was tightened with police deploying additional force to keep vigil.

The hallmark of the function was a motorcycle expedition to Siachen, the highest military post in the world, which was flagged off by Admiral Mehta.

Nearly five officers and 16 cadets of the IMA are participating in the expedition.

Immediately after the pop, the cadets gathered for the pipping ceremony after taking the final step, which formally commissioned them as officers in the Indian Army.

Later, as a sign of joy, they tossed their caps in the air and hugged each other.

Sajal Matroja was awarded the Sword of Honour for best all-round performance as gentlemen cadet.

Indian community joins relief work in Oman

Dubai, June 9 (PTI) In the aftermath of the devastation caused by the Cyclone Gonu in Oman, Indian community has decided to join the massive relief efforts launched by the Omani Government, especially in Muscat Municipality.
However, realizing that the Indian community effort required coordination, the Indian Embassy in Muscat has requested two construction firms - Galfar & Teejan and the Hindu Mahajan Association to establish logistic hubs at several locations.

"The local Indian business houses and communities have been requested to channelize their resources to these hubs. Local Indian volunteers and Indian Embassy officials have fanned out to various regions of Muscat Municipality to determine areas of need and coordinate efforts with these hubs for distribution of supplies," said J K Tripathi, Charge de Affaires, at the Indian embassy in Oman.

The engineering firms and local volunteers have also been roped in to clear the debris and sand in the area.

Giving details of the relief efforts, Tripathy said the Indian Embassy has sent two teams to Qurriat and Sur to assess the situation and coordinate for relief distribution.

The Control Room established by the Indian Embassy has been involved in receiving telephone calls from India and elsewhere. It has also established communication with families who have been rendered incommunicado due to destruction of telephone lines, he said.

The Embassy has informed that those Indians whose passports have been damaged or destroyed in the cyclone would be issued new passports. PTI

The CIA is not having a good day

Source: tothecenter.com

A new trial in Italy against 26 U.S citizens, almost all believed to be CIA agents, threatens to expose the inner workings of the U.S and Italian intelligence agencies.

On February 7th, 2003 a terrorism suspect, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, was abducted outside a mosque in Milan as part of a CIA program known as “extraordinary rendition”, in which terrorism suspects are seized and sent to other countries for interrogation, including some in which torture is used, the New York Times reports today. These suspects are moved without the right to any public legal proceedings. This method has been used on numerous occasions in the years since September 11th; however Italian officials are trying this case in order to determine whether this action is legal on Italian soil.

The opening of this trial just happens to coincide perfectly with President Bush’s arrival in Italy to meet with Italian heads of state and the Pope, and is occurring on the same day reports have come out of evidence which shows that the CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania in order to interrogate detainees in the War on Terror.

None of the American defendants involved in this trial were in the country for prosecution today and according to The Guardian, a senior U.S official has stated that the accused would not be turned over for prosecution, even if Rome requests it. The Italian government is also trying to derail the case, charging that the chief prosecutor, Armando Spataro, has overstepped his bounds and violated state secrecy laws as he gathered evidence. Italy’s Constitutional Court is currently deciding whether Mr. Spataro violated secrecy laws by wiretapping Italian secret agents and using documents from a safe house used by agents. Mr. Spataro claims he has an obligation to prosecute law-breaking no matter what the circumstances surrounding it, states that the abduction also ruined the investigation of Italian police into Nasr, impeding the nation’s ability to fight terrorism.

The adamant requests by both countries governments to have this trial shot down quickly and quietly show that the trial threatens to expose some of the nations most closely held security secrets. For the Italians, one of their 7 citizens charged was the head of the nation’s military intelligence, a rough equivalent to that of the CIA director. The trial also risks exposing details about an American program which has in the past been only acknowledged in the broadest terms, with refusals to discuss any of the programs specifics.

During today’s hearing, the Guardian reports that the judge allowed both Nasr and his wife to be listed as injured parties in the case, which allows their lawyers to question witnesses alongside the prosecution. Neither Nasr nor his wife was present at the hearing, with Nasr prevented from leaving Egypt and his wife stopped by authorities while she was at the airport. Nasr is said to have lost about 70% of his hearing in both ears, has a lesion to his spine and has suffered depression all as a result of the torture he endured.

The judge also rejected a bid to name the CIA and Italian intelligence agency as responsible parties, preventing the agencies from being exposed to possible financial damages in the event of a conviction. Also denied was the defenses motion to strip the Americans of their fugitive status and another to close the trial to the public. The trial has been postponed until June 18 while the judge considers the defenses request to suspend the proceedings until Italy’s Constitutional Court can rule on matters related to the case later this year.