March 28, 2008

Symposium: India’s Standoff With Jihad

By | Friday, March 28, 2008

Can India counter the Islamic challenge on its own? A distinguished panel joins Frontpage Symposium today to discuss this issue. Our guests are:

Praveen Swami, Associate Editor of Frontline magazine and The Hindu newspaper. He writes on security issues. His most recent book, India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad examines the history of Islamist terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir from 1947 onwards.

Moorthy Muthuswamy, an expert on terrorism in India. He grew up in India, where he had firsthand experience with political Islam and jihad. He moved to America in 1984 to pursue graduate studies. In 1992, he received a doctorate in nuclear physics from Stony Brook University, New York. Since 1999 he has extensively published ideas on neutralizing political Islam's terror war as it is imposed on unbelievers. He is the author of the new book, The Art of War on Terror: Triumphing over Political Islam and the Axis of Jihad.

Lawrence Prabhakar, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Madras Christian College, Chennai, India and a Visiting Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Dr. Prabhakar specializes in academic and policy research in issues of nuclear weapons and Asian Security, Asymmetric Conflict, Maritime Security and grand strategy of India, China and United States.


Dr. Ajai Sahni, the Founding Member and Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) and the Editor of the South Asia Intelligence Review.

He is also the Executive Director of both the South Asia Terrorism Portal and of Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution, ICM’s quarterly journal. He has researched and written extensively on issues relating to conflict, politics and development in South Asia. He jointly edited (with K.P.S. Gill) Terror & Containment: Perspectives on India’s Internal Security and The Global Threat of Terror: Ideological, Material and Political Linkages.

FP: Praveen Swami, Moorthy Muthuswamy, Lawrence Prabhakar and Dr. Ajai Sahni, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Moorthy Muthuswamy, let’s begin with you. Tell us the threat that Islamic jihad poses in India today. And, without doubt, Bhutto’s assassination looms large in the fears of many of India’s citizens. The threat of Islamists in Pakistan is obviously a part of this story, correct?

Muthuswamy: Thank you Jamie for doing a symposium on this hitherto discussed topic in the western media.

India and its largely dysfunctional democratic system are in an advanced state of a jihadist siege. The words of a jihadist commander, Syed Salahuddin, based in Pakistan, “We can hit any soft target in India at any time” should give an indication of India ’s extraordinary vulnerability to terrorism.

Not just India’s only Muslim majority state of Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state with about 20 percent Muslim population has become a new terror base for jihadists – and with several more states well on their way.

Unlike just about all non-Muslim nations with Muslim minorities that are affected by terrorism, since coming to power in 2004, the ruling Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi regime has taken almost every major security policy decision with an eye on accommodating jihadist interests in India. Even the previous regime led by nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) never took any measures to comprehensively address the terror threat. Among the main reasons: Jihadist control of the 15 percent Muslim voting block is deciding who gets elected and who does not in many constituencies!

The multi-front jihad in India is being escalated in a calibrated manner, with terrorism constituting just one component. As part of this jihad, unfair reservations for Muslims in educational institutions and jobs, grants and other freebees are being extracted under the threat of violence and false claims of Muslim “grievance”. These reservations and other forms of “extractions” are designed to further empower jihadists at the expense of non-Muslims in order to destroy India from within.

Jamie, you hit the nail on the head; the very same forces that have destabilized Pakistan are now working to destabilize its neighbor, India. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the security agency of Pakistan, and entities in many Middle Eastern nations see (once Muslim-ruled) India as an unfinished agenda of Islamic conquest – and are behind this genocidal “religious” warfare imposed on unsuspecting Indians. As an integral part of this vision, Indian Muslims have been systematically indoctrinated to act against their own state and their compatriots, under the cover of “religious teachings”.

In the aftermath of Bhutto’s tragic assassination, India not only faces escalating terror attacks on its soft targets, but also assassination of its political and religious leaders, seen adversarial to the jihadist interests.

Swami: In my view, the threats posed to India by the crisis in Pakistan are overstated. While a meltdown of the Pakistani state—which I do not believe is imminent—could necessitate a reappraisal of the risks, a protracted crisis of the kind that now seems to be underway is unlikely to transfigure the nature or intensity of terrorism directed at India.

Ongoing Islamist terrorism in India is just a phase of what India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, once described as an “informal war”: a covert war waged, no doubt, by non-state actors, in this case Islamist terror groups, but one that is at its core an onslaught by one nation-state against another nation-state.

Ever since Independence in 1947, Pakistan’s covert services sponsored a variety of terror groups which operated against India. Some of these, like the Razakars in what is now the state of Andhra Pradesh, or the Master Cell and then al-Fatah in Jammu and Kashmir, were Islamist. Others, like the ethnic insurgencies of the north-east of India or the Khalistan movement in Punjab, had very different ideological underpinnings. The ideological premise underpinning all these operations was developed by Qurban Ali, newly-independent Pakistan’s key covert strategist, who, drawing on British colonial dogma, believed the Indian nation-state would inevitably succumb to ethnic-religious pulls and pressures.

Quite evidently, it has not.

Undaunted by reality, the jihad against India has gone on—and will go on. Its intensity has never been determined by the relative strength or weakness of Islamists in Pakistan. Rather, Pakistani Islamists and Pakistani Generals demonstrated a remarkable unity of intent and purpose, notwithstanding their sometimes-conflicting domestic agendas. Pakistan’s military and covert services calibrated their jihad-without-end against India at levels which they believe best serves their strategic purpose. Islamists collaborated with this project. While Generals and Jihadis might find themselves at war for the soul of Pakistan, there is no real divergence in objectives in India. In coming years, moreover, Pakistan-based Islamists are more likely to be preoccupied with the war within their country than focussed on theatres outside of it.

Does this, conversely, mean terrorism will diminish in India? No. India is now the site of a substantial indigenous Islamist infrastructure, which poses a significant terror threat. Most, though not all, major terror bombings outside of Jammu and Kashmir have, for the last few years, been carried out by groups which draw their cadre from amongst Indian nationals. While these groups rely on the infrastructure of Islamist terror groups in Pakistan and Bangladesh, their in-house capabilities are increasing. In addition, Salafi ideologues and preachers have acquired growing influence amongst some sections of young Indian Muslims. While vigorously working to combat Islamist terrorism, Indians must ask themselves, frontally, why this is so—and, indeed, many are doing so. India’s poor record in combating anti-Muslim chauvinist organisations, and in upholding the rule of law, is one, if not the sole, factor. Even as it fights terror groups, the Indian state must work to re-establish its legitimacy as an entity that respects the rights of all its citizens.

Can India effectively fight the threat it faces—and new threats that might emerge? Despite polemic on India’s “soft state” status, its record has not been as poor as some imagine. India has degraded one of the world’s best-funded and best-organised insurgencies, that in Jammu and Kashmir, to a point where it now claims well below 1000 lives a year — no small achievement if one considers the situation as it was in 1999-2001. Its security services’ record on interdicting and preventing major terror strikes is also far from dismal. While the Hizb ul-Mujahideen’s Syed Salahuddin—whose real name is the somewhat more prosaic Mohammad Yusuf Shah—may assert he can hit any target in India, the fact is his terror group was unable to mount a single operation of consequence in 2007. In addition, it lost its senior-most commander for Jammu and Kashmir, along with four key subordinates. Undoubtedly, the state needs to invest more in modern policing and intelligence—but in a nation where a third of our children are malnourished, fighting terrorism will not always be the number-one priority for policy-makers.

I would add here that the Indian state has been sensible in not succumbing to hysterical polemic on the supposed fundamentalist leanings of India’s Muslim community. Notwithstanding the seduction of some numbers of Indian Muslims by Islamists, there is nothing to suggest that the religious right constitutes the principal voice of the community. The fact that some of the heads of some of the most successful counter-terrorist units in Jammu and Kashmir are Muslim, and the fact that in every year since 1988, Islamist terror groups have felt compelled to slaughter overwhelmingly more Muslims than Hindus for the furtherance of their jihad, speak for themselves. Increasingly, Indian Muslims understand that the Islam pedalled by Pakistan-based neo-fascists is a threat to their centuries-old traditions and beliefs. Every day, tens of thousands of Muslims in our police and armed forces put their lives on the line combating Islamists—an act of conviction I do not believe it behoves those of us who do not take these risks to belittle.

Finally, I wish to underline two points of significance. First, while there can be a number of very legitimate criticisms of the current government’s planned affirmative action programmes for Muslims, these cannot simply be dismissed as appeasement. Any sensible security policy must include measures directed at de-ghettoising Indian Muslims, breaking the power of clerics through funding modern education, and according the community stakes in our economic progress. Second, I would dispute the notion that India’s supposedly dysfunctional democratic institutions are weak instruments for fighting the Islamist threat. India’s “dysfunctional” democracy has allowed it to weather six decades of violent challenges; authoritarian Pakistan split in two in 1971, and has now ceded de-facto control of large parts of its territory to Islamists.

Sahni: If brevity was a primary objective here, I could simply say that I agree with all that Praveen has written, and stop. It is, however, possible to elaborate a little further on some of the perspectives he has articulated.

Some of Dr. Muthuswamy’s remarks also demand attention, and I will turn to these first. Much of what he says reflects a polarized ideological position – in many ways a distorted mirror image of radical Islamism – built on very selective and often warped representations of fact or data, and an evident measure of unfamiliarity – or deliberate neglect – of the situation on the ground. The statement regarding “Jihadist control of the 15 per cent Muslim voting block” is a case in point. This is an utterly absurd claim and if the Jihadists did, indeed, ‘control’ this ‘block’ in any significant measure, India would be aflame from end to end. There is no single political formation or ideology that ‘controls’ Muslim votes – and a bulk of these, for the first over four decades of Independence, historically went to the purportedly secular Congress party. Even today, as the unscrupulous Congress manipulation of ‘vote banks’ has been widely exposed, while a proportion of Muslims does tend to vote as a block – as does a proportion of every other communal, caste, ethnic, linguistic or regional sub-group in India – no ‘Islamist’ or manifestly Muslim formation has ever claimed any substantial segment of their vote.

Again, that various “freebees are being extracted under threat of violence and false claims of Muslim ‘grievance’” is an extreme and unconscionable distortion of reality. First, the demand for ‘freebees’ is not unique to the Muslims, but is an entrenched facet of India’s ‘vote bank’ politics, and is something that characterizes virtually all distinguishable social and economic sub-sets, including other religious minorities, various caste groupings, ethnic, regional and linguistic formations. This demand is not led by Jihadists – indeed, this has never been any part of the Jihadists’ demands. While some Muslim leaders and parties have articulated these positions, the truth is that it is India’s mainstream political parties that have created a political culture within which such demands become the principal tool of electoral mobilisation, particularly in a situation where the ‘Muslim vote bank’ has become progressively fragmented. It is, moreover, necessary also to assess the degree to which such demands have actually been conceded – and it is obvious that, other than a few symbolic concessions, such as the ‘Haj subsidy’, Muslims in India have not been particular beneficiaries of any excessive state munificence.

As for the Jihadists harnessing “false claims of Muslim ‘grievance’” – grievances, both real and imagined, are the bedrock of any violent political movement, and are hardly unique to the Jihadists. India has a multiplicity of ethnic fundamentalist insurgencies in the Northeast, and a raging Maoist movement across a large part of its Eastern board, and a range of ‘grievances’ – many of them very real – constitute the essence of the strategies of ideological mobilisation and recruitment in all these violent insurrections. Moreover, on this point, Muslim claims of ‘grievance’, both real and imagined, have been given far greater currency by mainstream ‘secular’ political parties and, in many cases, Government institutions such as the Minorities Commission and, recently, the often perverse Sachar Commission, than by the jihadis (even the Maoists have found it expedient to call attention to the ‘exploitation’ and ‘oppression’ of their ‘Muslim brethren’). The pertinent question is: how many Muslims have actually bought into the jihadis’ “false claims”? If we go by evidence – and not by a presumption of guilt against the entire 15 per cent of India’s population on the grounds that they are Muslims – it is abundantly clear that only a minuscule proportion, numbering no more than a few thousand across a Muslim population of over 150 million in India, have actually responded to the calls of extremist Islam and taken recourse to terrorism.

As for “India’s dysfunctional democracy” – dysfunction characterizes all democratic systems in some measure – there is no “advanced stage of jihadist siege” here. Praveen has rightly noted the resilience of the system, though both he and I have been insistent critics of the absence of a coherent strategy of response, and the extreme paucity of the capacities for response – deficiencies that are crying out for correction. Nevertheless, drumming up hysteria about the system ‘under jihadist siege’ serves little constructive purpose, as does the attempt to draw false parallels between circumstance that prevail in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), on the one hand, and the “new terror base for jihadists” in “India’s largest state with about 20 per cent Muslim population”, on the other. Islamist terrorist strikes, backed by Pakistan, have been engineered, over the past years, in a number of Indian States, and a long and sustained process of subversion has created what Praveen describes as a “substantial indigenous Islamist infrastructure” – but one needs to ask what ‘substantial’ actually means in this context. The numbers needed for terrorism are insignificant in terms of the proportion of the Muslim population – most agencies put the total number of Islamist terrorists, both domestic and ‘foreign’ (principally Pakistani and Bangladeshi) at no more than four to five thousand across the country at present – and it is both unjust and dangerous to try to tar the entire community with the same brush.

I have written elsewhere on the consequences of Benazir Bhutto’s “tragic assassination” (Overtaken by Darkness), and will only reiterate here that the Bhutto assassination will have little impact on the prevailing equations of power in Pakistan. Moreover, I assert a fundamental equation with regard to the internal situation in Pakistan and the scale of terrorism in J&K and across India: the greater Pakistan’s internal difficulties, and the more jihadi violence is directed against Islamabad, the lower the intensity of jiahdi violence in India. This trend established itself shortly after 9/11, and has endured throughout the following period, irrespective of tensions or ‘peace processes’ between the two countries.

While this equation will hold in the near term, in the medium term, the outcome of the ‘global war on terrorism’ will have crucial impact on the trajectory of Islamist terrorism in South Asia and its enveloping geopolitical framework. The steady loss of American lives in Iraq, the inability of the US Forces to impose order and project a sense of control, and the visible and growing consternation among the US Forces, media, the political establishment and the general public, are already being taken as proof by Islamist extremist forces that the world’s ‘sole superpower’ is vulnerable to their methods of sub-conventional warfare. The impact of a precipitate withdrawal of Western Forces from Iraq – which seems a possibility towards the end of 2008 – would reverberate across the region, triggering a wave of Islamist extremist triumphalism and terrorism across Asia and into the heart of Europe. At this stage, South Asia will experience unprecedented levels of jihadi violence, and this is the danger against which the Indian state must prepare with great urgency.

Prabhakar: I concur with the views of Swami and Sahni on the scope of the Islamic Jihadist threat to India but would like to specifically address some issues:

[1] The notion of the hard measures of cracking terrorism and the popularity of iron-clad legislations to defang the sting of terrorism is not going to be effective. Today the war is of the hearts and minds and the sensitive issue is that the enemy is now entrenched.

Affirmative actions for de-ghettoising the community has its salient purpose, how do we sustain that? It goes by Good Governance and the reaffirmation of the secular creed. The electoral whiplashing of the communities and the glorification of the majoritarian creed by hype-politicians in India actually provides the fertile ground of discontent.

[2] Civil society and its effectiveness has a role in the combat against radical jihadism and other militant ideologies including the hard-core Left. The imperative for a humanitarian perspective to all contentious issues is most essential. Politiking for votebanks is the favorite instrument of all political parties in India and that is the core cause for the increasing polarization of the Indian society. Civil society would address this through education and empowerment;

[3] The Indian globalization experience has produced billionaires in a resource-rich, but impoverished country of millions whose below-the-poverty line has not shown any improvement. Unrestrained globalization, privatization and liberalization has its ill-consequences, in other words the rampant economic liberalization has not been attendant with social reforms and good governance. The need is to create social safety nets that would not further aid deprivation, while at the same time the imperatives of good governance should aid in viable public policies in agriculture, education, employment and empowerment and specifically women empowerment.

Well these would be specific issues, complex they are and difficult in rationalizing and implementation, yet all the more important to contend, contain and combat radical religious violence.

Muthuswamy: All of my India-based colleagues discount the very notion of an Islamic siege of India. However, an Islamic siege is a necessary tool to achieve the Islamic conquest of a non-Muslim nation.

Although under assault by Islamic forces since its birth in 1947, for the first time, the Indian state is responding in a negative way to the escalating jihadist threat by placating Muslim elements against national interests. This was carried out by the ruling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress-led regime in Delhi, itself implicated by India's own intelligence agency in being infiltrated by jihadists. Major examples: India's anti-terrorism law, POTA, was rescinded because it was considered "anti-Muslim". The Indian Supreme Court's verdict to identify and expel illegals from Bangladesh was circumvented as its proposal was deemed too troublesome for Bengali-speaking Indian Muslims.

Studies of Muslim insurgencies tell us that they are preceded by decades of jihad build-up whereby resident Muslim minority populations are systematically indoctrinated, increasingly driven away from the mainstream, fed resentment toward the majority and finally, terror cells are established in the communities to mount armed insurgencies.

No one any longer disputes the presence of terror cells in Muslim communities across India. These pose an imminent strategic threat to India. The bad news is these cells can only grow in size (the underlying populations are already sympathetic to the cause, thanks to decades of indoctrination), power and significance, continuing to spread their tentacles among the broader population of Indian Muslims. The fact that terror cells in India may be limited in number (as pointed by Swami and Sahni) at the present time is no consolation.

The ideological opportunity to neutralize this jihadist build-up is long gone (especially under a poorly governing democracy) and the Indian state is now limited to small-scale operations to neutralize newly detected ones. But Indian agencies limited or no penetration into terrorist groups. In fact, it is far from clear whether the Indians are even aware of the full scope of terrorist penetration or their plans.

This is one war the Indian state is losing.

At this rate, India is staring at the inevitability of mini Kashmir-like insurgencies based in its many Muslim communities. This could kill the Indian economy and make India highly destabilized, opening the way for other destabilizing groups such as the Maoist ones, already entrenched across India, to become even more potent.

Tackling Muslim backwardness by bringing them into the mainstream through reservation policies may superficially seem appealing. However, without viewing Muslim "affirmative action programs" or Muslim reservations in India through the prism of the ongoing Islamic conquest of South Asia is plain absurdity. Yet, this is what Swami, Sahni and Prabhakar have failed to do.

That an Islamic conquest of South Asia is underway should be evident from the observation that from every Muslim majority region of this region – without exception –be it Pakistan, Bangladesh or from India's own Kashmir valley, non-Muslims have been massively driven out to Hindu-majority India. This occurred when Muslim populations in these areas obtained political power. In1971 about three million Hindus were slaughtered by the Pakistani army in the then East Pakistan and many more were driven to India, never to return.

There is another revealing way of interpreting this data: South Asian Muslims (about 25% of the total) obtained a permanent, almost exclusive 25% land of opportunities in the form of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir valley, in addition to their equal rights in secular India. But non-Muslim South Asians are now squeezed into 75% of the original landmass they must share with Muslims in the form of India.

This documented genocidal conquest of non-Muslims in South Asia compellingly defines the first human rights priorities for India: Ensuring India's long-term existence as a free and safe land of opportunity for non-Muslim South Asians.

This exception-free mistreatment of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority regions of South Asia shows that South Asian Muslim populations do not believe in coexistence (other than religion these populations share ethnicity, language, culture and food habits). Hence, the faster growing Muslim population within India can be seen as a growing and looming genocidal threat to the non-Muslim Indians. Thus from a risk management perspective, one needs to be especially cautious in venturing to empower this Muslim population at the expense of non-Muslims through reservation schemes.

It is fair to ask: Should Muslims in India get additional job and educational reservations, easier-to-get-loans and other concessions when Muslims have already expropriated almost exclusively about 25% of the original land?

Preponderantly, Muslim deficiencies vis-à-vis modern education is self-induced and is cleric-directed. How can reservation solve this problem when clearly what is needed from every perspective is complete liberation of Muslims to alternate faiths or life style from the political ideology of conquest masquerading as a religion?

Although modern education can liberate some Muslims from clerical control, it will also likely empower many more who are predisposed to extremism to wage a more effective jihad against the Indian state. This phenomenon is evident in Muslim communities all over the world.

Indeed, this reservation scheme will eventuate in jihadist empowerment and weakening of the majority community – the two indispensables for a rapid and successful Islamic conquest of India. With the Muslim population growing at a rate 1.5 times that of non-Muslims, is not the implementation of "proportional reservation" for Muslims a sure way to marginalize non-Muslim Indians?

Unfortunately, Swami and Sahni have decided to embrace speculation, not hard data, to somehow assume "moderation" among most Indian Muslims. Indeed, all available statistics indicate the contrary: the vast majority of Indian Muslims having a fundamentalist outlook and identifying with pan-Islamic causes contrary to national interests.

From Where Indian Muslims Have Gone Wrong by Aakar Patel, Mid-day:

"A recent poll revealed that just under 90 percent of Mumbai's Muslims, presumably the most progressive in the country, rejected a secular civil code—preferring instead sharia law, favoring polygamy, triple talaq (Muslim verbal divorce) and Islam's unequal inheritance laws which allow women half as much property as they allow men. The views of most younger and educated Muslims and of women were also the same, in almost the same proportion."

The above data can be seen as representative of the Muslim outlook in all of India, as other data associated with Muslims in the rest of India are consistent with this. The preference of retrogressive sharia over a modern secular uniform code can be seen as favoring fundamentalism over a moderate outlook.

Hence, it is not surprising that jihadists would control the 15% Muslim vote-bank. Jihadists not only represent the face of fundamentalism most Indian Muslims look up to, but as political activists they also seek out leadership positions in the community.

Grossly inaccurate assessment of Indian Muslim outlook and importantly, not learning the right lessons from India's past have led these India-based scholars to not even recognize the extraordinary threat India faces from within.

How prepared the top two Indian leaders are in advancing Muslim interests in India and in undermining the majority is revealed in their own words (and again implying the success of the Islamic siege of Indian democracy). Prime Minister Singh stated in Dec. 2006: "They [Muslims] must have the first claim on resources". Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party President and Singh's boss, went a step further. She wrote a letter as part of a 2007 election campaign in UP (Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state), specifically pleading to over 15,000 Muslim leaders, including clerics, in the state to "help me generously to fight against caste and communalism [read majority Hindus, already targeted by jihadists] so that I can build a society of your dreams" With most clergy in UP representing retrogressive Islamic forces, this is nothing less than promising to work for a jihad-sponsoring Islamic India!

In my opinion, the non-Muslim majority, specifically, the Hindu majority must be mobilized in order to neutralize the escalating Islamic siege of India. Unaided, the majority community in India is incapable of mounting a successful fight. The Western nations must cooperate with the majority in India to encourage their mobilization. Such an India can become an effective frontline state in the war on terror and give Western nations multitude of options against states such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Iran in the coming decades.

Swami: I wish to start with a small caveat, stemming from an observation made by Muthuswamy: “This is one war the Indian state is losing”

This is simply untrue. All the empirical data that the Indian state has become increasingly successful in containing the threats posed to it. It might not have done so at a pace, or with an efficiency, that I or other commentators find acceptable, but declining incident and casualty figures in all major theatres of combat—not just Jammu and Kashmir—show the war, if it indeed can be meaningfully called one, is being fought with resolve and commitment.

I have begun here because I think it is important to understand that while large historical currents in India might at times appear like inexorable tides leading us towards the apocalypse, terrorism can none the less be combated successfully.

My main point, though, is this: I think we are at some risk of seeking to forcing our debate on Islamist terrorism in India into slots devised for polemics on the character of secularism that were conducted between socialists, liberals, and religious nationalists in the 1970s and 1980s.

The question we ought to be addressing is not whether Indian politics has served appeased Muslims, or in fact institutionalised backwardness, but instead: what kinds of policy interventions are necessary to address the problem.

Part of the problem is that terrorists do not fall into any simple profile, of the kinds that policy-makers are so beloved of. Mohammad Shahid Bilal, who headed the jihadist cell which carried out several strikes in south-eastern and northern India last year, might have come from an impoverished inner-city background. He might well have been scarred by Hindu-chauvinist violence. But Kafeel Ahmed, the suicide bomber who targeted Glasgow airport last year, was a child of privilege—the very kinds of educational and economic privilege we sometimes imagine will strike at the “root causes” of terrorism.

Quite simply, there is no one archetypical Islamist, any more than there is an archetypal bank robber or pickpocket. What unites them—as the desire for wealth unites bank robbers—is that the Indian state is a predatory Hindu entity, bent on doing harm to Muslims, and, more important, that its workings are just a small part of a global Zionist-Crusader-Hindu axis against the faith. Just as the Indian state, like all other states, uses both persuasion and coercion to defend its ideological frontiers, so to do the Islamists.

Now, defeating Islamist coercion is a relatively straightforward matter, if not a simple one: it consists of enhancing India’s intelligence and police capabilities to the point where executing attacks becomes ever more difficult. It should be evident to us from the outset that there will never be a ‘zero’ point of violence, but it bears mention here that the investments India has made in Jammu and Kashmir have now brought about per-capita fatalities to lower levels than those in some major US cities.

Second, we must address the problem of countering the ideological challenge. I think this problem, too, is more complex than we sometimes suggest. In India, as in any other plural democratic country, there are bound be diverse ideas of what justice and equity for Muslims might mean—or even whether it is a desirable thing. Major political parties, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and of course Muslims—not counting industrial workers, peasants, landless peasants, the unemployed—will be divided between and amongst each other on what equity and justice mean.

What we ought to be striving to ensure is that Indian citizens who are Muslims become full participants and partners in this debate. The idea is not to end terrorism—it will not—but to demonstrate that the mosque and the Salafi meeting-room are not the only political spaces available for Muslims.

Sahni: I think Dr. Muthuswamy comes to the crux of the disagreement between him and the other participants in this symposium – it is essentially a disagreement between “India based colleagues” who are largely bound by the realities of the ground situation, and a member of an alienated Diaspora community, who derives most of his arguments from nostalgia, ideology and his own prejudices.

The magnitude of distortion of fact that Dr. Muthuswamy cavalierly resorts to is astonishing. Take, for instance, the claim that, “in 1971 about three million Hindus were slaughtered by the Pakistani army in the then East Pakistan”. The Genocide by Pakistani Forces in what is now Bangladesh is undeniable, as is the fact that all Hindus apprehended were regarded as targets for summary execution. Nevertheless, demography and distribution ensured that the overwhelming majority of the estimated three million slaughtered by the Pakistani Forces were, in fact, Bengali Muslims. I am yet to come across a comparable claim that three million Hindus were killed in the Bangladesh war in any authoritative work on the genocide. While no definitive attempt has been made to determine the proportion of Hindu victims in the genocide, my discussions with those who covered the war as well as others who have written and researched the birth and politics of Bangladesh indicate that there is no reason to believe that Hindu fatalities were extraordinarily disproportionate to their population share in then-East Pakistan.

Again, the claim that the Manmohan Singh regime has “itself been implicated by India’s own intelligence agency in being infiltrated by jihadists”. I have not heard such arrant nonsense being articulated even on the lunatic fringes of the Hindu right in India, and the idea that this regime has been “implicated by India’s own intelligence agency” in this connection, is unmitigated rubbish. As for POTA, while I have been one of the vocal advocates of a strong counter-terrorism law in India and an opponent of the withdrawal of POTA by the present regime, it is impossible for me to escape the fact that the law was more abused than used – and certainly not only against Muslims. POTA’s withdrawal, moreover, had more to do with the polarized partisan politics in this country and with a hysterical campaign by the ‘human rights’ lobby (the inverted commas are intended to reflect the fact that the operation and funding of many ‘human rights’ organisations in India are far from transparent, and at least some of these are no more than front organisations of terrorist and extremist groupings) and liberal democratic elements in India’s fractious polity.

Congress party mischief in turning a blind eye to illegal migration from Bangladesh cannot, again, be denied – but this reflects unscrupulous ‘vote bank politics’ and not ‘jihadi infiltration’ of the Government. Were it the latter, the previous National Democratic Alliance Government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, would be equally open to the allegation, since it did nothing whatsoever to speed up the processes of identification and deportation of the illegals during its own tenure in Government – although it did repeatedly use shrill rhetoric to exploit the issue for electoral ends.

As for reservations, I stand against them for all groups – including the scheduled and backward castes, the scheduled tribes, and any reservations that may be proposed for or given to the Muslims. I believe these have deepened social fissures in India, and led to the larger and enduring neglect of these very populations, who are merely politically exploited in the name of reservations. But far from seeing a conspiracy for ‘jihadist empowerment’ here, I see nothing other than the same unscrupulous electoral politics. And frankly, if reservations are to be accepted for a widening array of disadvantaged groupings, what consistent logic can be advanced against reservations for disadvantaged Muslims?

As for the ‘genocidal conquest of non-Muslims in South Asia’ as a result of the distribution of land at the time of Partition in 1947, the reality is that the conquest of non-Muslims by Muslims in South Asia – ‘genocidal’ or otherwise – occurred many centuries earlier, in continuous waves commencing as far back as the 13th Century and, in lesser incursions, since the 8th Century AD. The distribution of power in 1947 represented a radical diminution in Muslim territorial dominance as compared to the height of the Mughal Empire. We may rail against the injustices of history, but inventing a new history is hardly a constructive solution – they’ve tried to do that in Pakistan, and look at where they are.

The point here is that everything is being viewed by Dr. Mutthuswamy through a communal lens, and the situation is much too complex to lend itself to this reductionist analysis. In advocating that the “non-Muslim majority… must be mobilized in order to neutralize the escalating Islamic siege of India” Dr. Mutthuswamy simply mirrors the jihadi agenda, advocating an anti-Muslim jihad – or, in Hindu parlance, dharma yudh – to ‘neutralize’ the ‘Muslim jihad’.

As stated earlier, large segments of Muslims – soldiers and policemen – have fought the jihadis in India. Others – including, most recently, the hyper-orthodox Deoband school – have spoken out openly to condemn Islamist terrorism and Osama bin Laden’s appalling cult. To ignore this is to succumb to the same ideology of hate that is advocated by bin Laden and his ilk.

It is the “politics of belligerent self-pity” – to borrow Fouad Ajami’s phrase – that impels the jihadis; it is the same psyche that motivates Muthuswami and others who share his views.

I agree with Swami. We need to examine the issue of what kind of policy interventions are necessary to address the problem of widening terrorism in India, as well as the widening spheres of deprivation and distress that Prabhakar points to, and not to drown ourselves in polarized polemical debates or in a sentiment of belligerent self-pity.

Prabhakar: The Islamic siege is now a global phenomenon. Military and hard-core legislations are not going to decrease it. It is a struggle of the "heart and mind." Therefore demands a viable and appropriate response that would win the heart and mind of the insurgents. If there is a concept of humanity, it is inclusive of all. There cannot be any exclusion of "us" and "them."

What is important to infer is the "evil" and not to align "the human to the evil." Separating the evil from the person who is seized with that frenzy is the most important task of winning the "hearts and minds."

It needs a humanitarian approach based on strong moral-ethical foundations in governance, civic education, empowerment and not the iron laws that clamp and stifle the personae of individuals belonging to any particular ethnic, religious, sub-regional, lingual or racial group. Who are we to discriminate--when humanity as a whole has the fine print of creation.

FP: Well if you are against discrimination sir, I guess you will begin with lecturing the Muslim world about the fact that all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad. It is Islam that separates the Islamic and non-Islamic world and that mandates war until the whole world is Muslim. If Islamic terrorists did not get their inspiration from their theology, then we wouldn’t be in the conflict we are in today.

I have a bit of difficulty understanding how we would have defeated the Third Reich if our only approach versus Hitler and the Nazis would have been to win over their “hearts and minds”. And I have difficulty understanding how we may have prevented 9/11, and how we will prevent more 9/11’s, and stop the jihdists in their destruction, if we somehow just get a hold of the likes of bin Laden and the rest of his demons and try to make them understand the beauty of democracy, the separation of Church and State, individual freedom, the sacredness of the pursuit of happiness on earth etc.

The totalitarians who believe that heaven must be built on earth and that it must be done so on the ashes of the earth that exists in the here and now, I am not to sure what kind of dialogue you want with these people. The tyrants who believe that the only way to the higher paradise is through the purification of the earth through mass suicide, I am not so sure what kind of conversation you think will work with these people. History has taught us that military means is all that can save us in the face of this evil. That is not to say that an ideological battle is also not involved in this conflict.

FP: Moorthy Muthuswamy, since you were outnumbered on a realm or two in this symposium, take the last word.

Muthuswamy: The fundamental differences between myself and the India-based authors stems from our varying view of Islamic terrorism in India: Conquest model of Islam vs. the religion one.

In order to indoctrinate Indian Muslims into attacking the Indian state, “grievances” against the state and the majority community have to be discovered. This is part and parcel of the jihadist strategy. Noted by Swami, one such grievance “the Indian state is a predatory Hindu entity, bent on doing harm to Muslims” flies contrary to the data that after the partition of British-ruled India in 1947, most Muslims were allowed to stay and practice their religion in secular Indian state, while Hindus and other non-Muslims were massively driven out from every Muslim majority region of South Asia and the non-Muslims who chose remain there now live as Dhimmis.

I am claiming that we can understand the above phenomena and more in the context of the conquest model of Islam. Jihadists in India, Pakistan and in Middle East are the ones talking about conquering India for Islam and claim to be inspired by Islamic scripture. Why should we expect that this is just talk?

Swami is not correct to exclusively focus on terror. Islamic scripture and jihadists themselves have articulated terror as just one of the tools of conquest of unbelievers. From this view, jihadist access to corridors of power and modern education must be increased. The Indian state is obliging them by allotting preferential reservation schemes for Muslims. Indeed, educated Indian Muslims are increasingly caught in the terror net, and many appear to have got their education through these schemes for Muslims. The disturbing trend now is the escalation of the reservation jihad for Muslims.

That the Pakistani army singled out Hindus in the then East Pakistan for extermination in 1971, is backed by Pakistan’s own Hamoodur Rahman Commission. Here is what a “professional” army of a Muslim nation can do to the unbelievers: “There were verbal instructions to eliminate Hindus… To a great extent I executed this order. General Niazi visited my unit at Thakurgaon and Bogra. He asked us how many Hindus we had killed. In May, there was an order in writing to kill Hindus.” The point is – there were no Carte Blanche orders to kill Muslims, unlike the Hindus. That there is some disagreement about the extent of massive extermination of Hindus is beside the point.

It is not my invention that Islamic terrorist links are showing up in mainline parties, including the ones that make up the ruling Congress-led regime in New Delhi. It is discussed in this article in a well-regarded magazine.

When Muslim majority regions of South Asia were under British control, non-Muslim communities there had no existential threats. But when Muslims got political power there from the departing British in 1947, the situation changed almost overnight. From over 20% of the population prior to 1947, non-Muslim population in Pakistan now stands at no more than 3%. This is a str ong evidence of Islamic conquest of land. Unfortunately, Sahni is unable to see the significance of this data.

The icing on the cake is Sahni’s claim that “hyper-orthodox Deoband school – have spoken out openly to condemn Islamist terrorism and Osama bin Laden’s appalling cult.”

The declaration by India-based Deoband is an act of Taquiya (an Islamic deceit). It has not denounced the terrorism directed at Indian state and the majority community by Pakistanis and other Muslim nations or by Indian Muslims. It instead castigates the Indian state for doing its duty to protect its citizens. It has not condemned Kashmir terrorism by Muslims, but instead notes “Their aggression [the Western nations’], barbarism and state-sponsored terrorism not only in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan but also in Bosnia and various South American countries have surpassed all the records known to human history.” Importantly, it doesn’t specifically declare that the killing of innocents in the name of Islam is wrong.

Sahni’s enthusiastic interpretation of this bogus and deceitful “anti-terrorism” declaration is one of inventing a non-existing message, and it has more than revealed his outlook and his disconnect with the symposium topic. His unwarranted description of me as “a member of an alienated Diaspora community, who derives most of his arguments from nostalgia, ideology and his own prejudices” is disappointing.

Let me point out to Prabhakar that good governance, opportunities, wealth and secularism have not stopped large sections of British Muslims from identifying with jihadists. Unfortunately, Prabhakar, like the rest of the panellists, thinks that Muslim aspirations are like any other.

Terrorism directed at unbelievers by Muslims and Muslim societal outlook, including the one from India, depicts a different picture – that there is an underlying ideology of conquest shaping Muslim aspirations and is driving them toward a perpetual war of conquest – not nation or community building, like the rest of us. Jamie summarized it nicely when he said: “If Islamic terrorists did not get their inspiration from their theology, then we wouldn’t be in the conflict we are in today.”

To conclude, a rising India can be seen to reflect the success of its entrepreneurial class, and by some astute observers, despite the state. However, robust national security, unlike wealth-creation, requires functional democracy.

India is going to have a hard time countering the Islamic challenge on its own.

FP: Praveen Swami, Moorthy Muthuswamy, Lawrence Prabhakar and Dr. Ajai Sahni, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

What Does China Think?

Fahamu (Oxford)

28 March 2008
Posted to the web 28 March 2008

By Stephen Marks

Stephen Marks argues in this extended review of recent publications about China that there are few other important global players whose affairs are so exclusively analysed on the basis of ignorance and stereotype. There is little understanding outside China about the differences of perspectives of Chinese intellectuals - they are far from being a homogeneous group.

China is no longer a topic - it's a dimension. On every issue, from global warming to the credit crisis, China and its impact can no longer be ignored, not as a subject apart to be left to experts, but as an integral component of the global picture, on which every analyst or commentator has to have an opinon.

And as we all do when we have to come up with an opinion on something of which we know nothing, we reach off the shelf for a ready-made answer. In the case of China, these are easy to find.

There is the cold-war image of China the sinister Communist dictatorship. There is the older racial image of the sinister 'inscrutable' Chinese. And for Africa, there is the image of the voracious Chinese imperialist, concerned only to rape the 'eternal victim, the dark continent', of its precious resources. [see 'Fu Manchu versus Dr Livingstone in the Dark Continent? by Emma Mawdsley - ]]

There are few other important global players whose affairs are so exclusively analysed on the basis of ignorance and stereotype. Across the world, those who follow international politics are aware of the major policy debates in Washington between neo-cons, traditionalists and 'multilateralists'. The ebb and flow of federalist currents in the EU are common knowledge. Even the revival of Russian assertiveness under Putin can be analysed as a modern trend, without invoking the ghost of Stalin or images of the Russian Bear.

But as Mark Leonard, Director of what calls itself 'the first pan-European thinktank', asks us in his recent book, 'how many of us can name more than a handful of contemporary Chinese writers and thinkers?' Indeed, if we are honest, 'a handful' would be generous where most of us are concerned.

The chief merit of Leonard's contribution [What does China think? Fourth Estate 2008] is to show us what we are missing, and whet our appetite for more. The same feeling of stumbling across a hitherto unknown continent of argument and debate around central issues of our time comes from Zhang Yongle's summary of the range of ideas in a leading Chinese intellectual journal in his article 'Reading Dushu' [New Left Review 49 second series, Jan Feb 2008].

It is no surprise to be introduced to the ideas of 'New Right' economist Zhang Weiying, a pioneering advocate of the free-market economic reforms which led to China's astonishing record of 9 per cent growth year after year for three decades.

But cliches will be shattered by exposure to the thinking of some of China's 'New Left', who have no wish to turn their backs on the market at home or abroad, or to turn the clock back to a central command economy, but instead are grappling with the same issues of combining market institutions with social justice and equity, as their counterparts in the West and South.

Economists Wang Shaoguang and Hu Angang argue persuasively that a central state which was at once stronger and more democratic could curb unaccountable regional power centres which currently waste resources through corruption and duplicated prestige investments. The resulting resources could finance a welfare safety-net which would give the public confidence to consume, thereby strengthening the domestic market and reducing China's dependence on Western consumer demand.

Other writers such as Wang Hui and Cui Zhiyuan lament the 'new enclosure movement' which is ripping-off public property, and discuss ideas such as an Alaska-style 'social dividend' for citizens from the profits of state-owned enterprises, which would provide a 'social wage' to replace the largely dismantled welfare state.

Slightly more exposure abroad has been given to the environmental critique of Pan Yue, quantifying the horrific human, ecological and economic cost of the environmental degradation that has accompanied China's breakneck growth. Though appointed to head the official State Environmental Protection Association, his report has been shelved, and widely ignored on the ground. But its concerns are certainly reflected, however inconsistently, in official pronouncements.

When it comes to political institutions, the Chinese debate is also far from the stereotype of Stalino-Maoist totalitarianism, though still remote from any Western concept of democracy. There have been some widely-trumpeted experiments in village-level democracy, contested inner-party elections, and consultative innovations such as 'citizens juries' and public policy hearings. But these remain few, localised and untypical.

Moreover, their champions do not see them as leading to multi-party democracy but rather to a 'chinese model' of 'deliberative democracy' where the central government allows a range of consultative opinions to be presented to it, supplemented by low-level electoral participation.

However, as new leftist Wang Shaoguang points out, this represents in effect a convergence with the West where the established electoral democratic system is increasingly perceived as 'hollowed out' and formal, and is frequently being supplemented by consultative processes, citizens juries and local referendums. Could China and the West be converging on the same destination from different starting-points?

The debate that Leonard reports on issues of global governance is equally stimulating, and shows a keen awareness that Chinas's interest lies in promoting a notion of 'soft power' against the one-dimensional US obsession with hardware.

Many of us are familiar with solemn Western debates about how to 'manage' China's rise, so as to 'assist' the new arrival to be a 'civilised' member of the 'international community' just like an assumed Western 'us'. So it is a pleasant and amusing surprise to be introduced to the mirror-image debate in Beijing about how to 'manage' the West's decline.

This debate came out into the open in 2006 when Wang Yiwei, a young scholar, asked in a newspaper article 'how can we prevent the USA from declining too quickly?' Shen Dingli argued that China's goal should be 'to shape an America that is more constrained and more willing to co-operate with the world'.

So however we are to analyse the complex and changing reality of the 'actual' China, the cliches of the conventional wisdom - the 'evil Communist Tyranny', the 'inscrutable oriental', or the new imperialist raping and looting Africa - are clearly more a hindrance than a help.

Which therefore leads us to ask why these unhelpful images persist. One obvious approach would be to ask whose interests are served by portraying China in this way. Less obvious, but also perhaps more interesting, is to make a comparison with the first encounter between the West and China, in which the prevailing stereotypes were not negative but on the contrary, rather idealised.

Leading philosophers of the 18th Century Enlightenment, including such figures as Leibniz and Voltaire, frequently referred to China in the most glowing terms. This followed an explosion, reminiscent of our own days, in the volume of Western publications about China.

According to the German scholar Thomas Fuchs [The European China - receptions from Leibniz to Kant [url=][/url]:[/url]

"In the half-century from 1600 to 1649, China literature emerged in moderate numbers, between 32 and 47 titles per decade.14 Later, the publication output increased... In 1700-09, literary productivity peaked--599 works on China came out in one decade."

As Fuchs tells us:

"China's discovery challenged the cultural and political identity of European intellectuals. China was the first civilization found by Westerners that could be neither ignored nor destroyed. Nor could it be integrated in Europe's cultural identity.

But in the Enlightenment, as a result of seeking emancipation from tradition, China became a normative model in its own right. For Europeans, China served as a tool for interpreting the religious customs, the political system, and the social order on their own continent. "

Leibniz went so far as to argue that "Certainly the condition of our affairs, slipping as we are into ever greater corruption, seems to be such that we need missionaries from the Chinese".

Fuchs continues:

"Apparently, China had just what late eighteenth-century scholars were missing in Europe: A strong central government that acted in line with rational criteria. It is thus no coincidence that the second edition of Leibniz's Novissima Sinica (1699) depicts an engraving of Emperor Kangxi. In Europe, China represented a rational state and the ideal of enlightened absolutism." And Voltaire" transformed China into a political utopia and the ideal state of an enlightened absolutism; he held up the mirror of China to provoke self-critical reflection among European monarchs."

Now these utopian images of China did indeed draw on aspects of reality. But their purpose was not so much to understand the real China, as to say something about the society of the West. Could the same be true of today's negative image?

For example, the 'neoconservative' US columnist Robert Kagan goes so far as to argue that China's policy towards Sudan and Zimbabwe is determined not so much by economic self-interest as by political solidarity with their dictatorial regimes, and foresees a Sino-Russian 'League of Dictators'. [Robert Kagan League of Dictators? Why Russia and China Will Continue to support Autocracies Wahington Post April 30 2006.]

Is he really trying to say something about China's policy? Or is he using a certain image of China in order to say something positive by contrast about US policy - just as the Enlightenment philosophers used their idealised image of China for the opposite purpose?

Likewise when China's African role is reduced to a supposed re-run of Europe's exploitative colonial past, is the real purpose a better understanding of China's role? Or is it to imply, by comparing China's present to the West's past, that the West's present is different to the West's past?

Of course, just as with the idealised China of the European past, the demonised image of today can also draw on aspects of reality. But perhaps any such correspondence is, also as in the past, purely incidental to other more important functions.

To separate fact from fiction, and disentangle reality from the myths, an indispensable first step must be to acquaint ourselves with the actual and often surprising debate taking place within China itself.

However before we all get carried away we must remember that these debates are taking place within limits which, while far broader than the generally accepted cliches would suggest, are still constrained by a government which does not claim to subscribe to Western concepts of democracy and individual rights.

Paradoxically, the lack of western-style political pluralism enhances the role of 'insider intellectuals' and their debates. And as Leonard points out; 'The Chinese like to argue about whether it is the intellectuals that influence decision-makers, or whether groups of decision-makers use pet intellectuals as infornal mouthpieces to advance their own views'.

But either way, if China is a central component of the issues that we face in every continent, including Africa, so the ideas that contribute to shaping its policies, and those who frame those ideas, should be part of our reality too.

Stephen Marks is research associate with Fahamu.

Copyright © 2008 Fahamu. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

China: Military Media Attacks on India- A Tibet issue fall out?

by D. S. Rajan

Almost coinciding with the beginning of the Tibetan unrest, several articles highly critical of India have started appearing in the Chinese language strategic journals and military media in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Their accusations, in the main, concern the alleged regional and global power ambitions of India, increase in defence outlay and further signs of New Delhi-Washington military collusion. What do these comments mean at this juncture when the Tibet developments are apparently casting a shadow on Sino-Indian ties? Prior to any analysis, a look at the contents of the relevant material would be necessary.

A comment in the Yadong Military website[1] (16 March 2008) while taking note of the holding of India’s “Dakshin Shakti” military exercise in the ‘Sino-Indian border’, has raised a question whether or not the simulated manoeuvres, in which formations from the infantry, armoured and artillery units as well as fighter aircraft like Su-30 and MIG-29 took part, had China’s Southwest, even Beijing, as targets. Revealing suspicions that India has such objectives, which the “even mighty US cannot think of”’, it said that the exercise appears to reflect India’s “strategic defence” needs, i.e ‘using defence for offence and vice versa’

An article (Zhongguo Xinwen, 25 March 2008)[2], published by the pro-Beijing Ta Kungbao of Hongkong, has alleged that India’s move to raise its defence outlay for the financial year 2008, is in response to the need felt by it to augment the country’s defence potentials, taking note of the prevailing conflict situation in the international political and military fields and the instability which has risen in South Asia. The necessity for New Delhi to dominate the Indian Ocean and protect oil transport sea-lanes, are equally important motivators. This year’s defence allocation has brought India closer to China in the Asian ranking; third along with South Korea, after Japan and China. India is also among the first 10 nations in the world in respect of defence expenditure.

A China Radio International Commentary (25 March 2008)[3] has accused the US for its plans to search for American airmen missing in action during the second world war, in “Arunachal Pradesh, the so-called Province set up forcibly and illegally by India in Chinese territory”. Declaring that the ‘Chinese government has never recognised the legality of this province’, it alleged that after a change in its erstwhile stand in January 2008, India is cooperating with US in this regard, scheduling a meeting between the two sides in New Delhi in March 2008. The Indian Intelligence Bureau had opposed the US idea from the point of view of the region’s sensitivity, particularly in respect of entry of foreigners, but the country’s Home Ministry has not accepted such objections. The Commentary then identified New Delhi’s motivations in this regard as attempting to strengthen military ties with Washington and legalise the status of Arunachal Pradesh as an Indian province, expecting that it will contribute to an increase in India’s weight in the ongoing negotiations with China on the disputed border. The US motivations, according to the Commentary, are to further develop its military relation with India and use the Arunachal issue as means to restrain China’s intentions.

A rather ‘jingoistic’ article (authoritative China Institute of International Strategic Studies[4], March 26, 2008, written by “Zhan Lue”, believed to be a high level cadre) has compared the situations in the 1962 war and of now. Alleging that in the last Sino-Indian conflict, India had the support of two super powers to fight China (implied reference to the former Soviet Union and the US), the writer claimed that the People’s Liberation Army is strong now in Tibet after several years of deployment and ‘will not repeat the past 30km withdrawal’. Touching the current picture, the article has found that with the ability gained to increase its military build-up and possess nuclear weapons, India is not only aiming at opposing Pakistan, but also at realising its ‘world and regional big power ambition’, for which China is looked upon as a ‘greatest obstacle’. “ Zhan Lue” has further charged that India is stationing its border troops perceiving China as enemy, conducting ‘massive’ military exercises as means to suppress China’s preparedness and continuously importing arms, to use against China. Posing a question as to what does India think ultimately, he accused the Indian government of “walking today along the old road of resisting China”, adding that New Delhi should be told “not to requite kindness with ingratitude”.

Needless to say that in China, opinions expressed in the state- controlled media always enjoy the blessings of authorities. What looks new in the latest material is the direct Chinese media attack on India, unlike in the past when the practice has been not to single out the country for criticism. The farthest the Chinese organs went was at the time of their making comments on the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement when India was identified by name as an agreed partner of the US in the latter’s efforts to ‘balance the forces of Asia’ (People’s Daily, August 2007),

Looking from a larger context, a question arises - Are the latest outbursts, though confined to Chinese language media and not meant for international audience, a precursor to a hardening of attitude on the part of the Chinese government towards India as a sequel to Tibet developments? This needs to be addressed carefully at this juncture marked by definite differences in perceptions of Beijing and New Delhi on the unrest in Tibet.

It will be worthwhile to first mention about the definite divergence of opinion between Beijing and New Delhi on the Dalai Lama’s role. Though Beijing is fully convinced of India’s position that Tibet is a part of China, it is definitely not going to be happy over India’s not sharing the Chinese position that the Dalai Lama is the instigator of Tibet unrest. India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has on the other hand acknowledged in Washington the pre-eminent spiritual position of the exiled leader. Also, New Delhi’s position for “dialogue” with the Dalai Lama, stands in contrast to Beijing’s “ conditional dialogue” line.

Secondly, as it appears, China may have developed fears of an India-US understanding on the Tibet issue, based on, as it sees, New Delhi’s failure to prevent the visiting Speaker of the US House of Representatives from criticising China on the Tibet issue from the Indian soil and the figuring of Tibet issue, considered by China as an internal matter, in the agenda for Mukherjee-Bush discussions.

Lastly, it may not escape the attention of China that its border claims vis- a- vis India have somewhat been weakened as a result of Tibetan unrest; more importantly, with the loyalty of Tibetan population coming under a question now, Beijing may be concerned about the likely negative implication of the issue for Tibet’s defence including in the borders. After all, no defence operation can be effective without the support of local population. The Chinese summoning of Indian Ambassador at Beijing at odd hours and the reported Indian cancellation of Commerce Minister Kamal Nath’s visit to Beijing (attributed to reasons of dates etc. later), could only be seen as mere symbols of the storm which appear to be brewing now in New Delhi-Beijing ties.

India can expect further media barbs from China.
(The writer, Mr D. S. Rajan, is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies. Email:

[1] Yadong Junshi Gang, March 16, 2008;




India’s Tibet policy Need for a change

Source: SAAG

Guest Column by Rajiv Sikri
Rajiv Sikri is a former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. This article was originally published in rediff on 27th March 2008 and has the author’s permission to publish in South Asia Analysis Group . The views expressed are his own. The author can be reached

Recent events in Tibet have put an uncomfortable spotlight on China. Although the Tibetan uprising appears to have been put down for the moment, the Tibet story is not over. Troubles could erupt again. The whole world and the people of China themselves realize that China’s Tibet policy has been a failure. A group of eminent Chinese writers and intellectuals have shown the courage to publicly question the Beijing regime’s Tibet policy. The psychological impact of developments in Tibet could be debilitating for China in the long term. It could inspire other disaffected ethnic and other groups in China like the Uighurs to try to coalesce with Tibetan groups, both within China and abroad. The more repression there is within China, the less credible is China’s claim of ‘peaceful rise.’ Tibet may well hold the key both to China’s internal stability and Hu Jintao’s political longevity. No wonder Beijing is hysterical and considers Tibet a “life-and-death” question.

The settlement of the India-China border and the status of Tibet are interlinked issues. Unless there is all-round agreement that Tibet is a part of China, there is only an India-Tibet boundary, not an India-China boundary. By the crude and aggressive reiteration of its claim to Arunachal Pradesh, China has already ruled out any early settlement of the boundary question with India; recent events in Tibet would only reconfirm Chinese thinking not to settle the border with India unless it has Tibet firmly under its control. Therefore, India should deal with China with this perspective clearly in mind.

Although it has already extracted significant concessions from India on Tibet, China remains uncertain and anxious about India’s Tibet policy. The Dalai Lama’s periodic statements, including recently, that India’s policy on Tibet is over-cautious reinforce China’s suspicions and fears. The failure of six rounds of talks between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government seem to indicate that the Chinese leaders have made up their minds that a satisfactory solution to Tibet, from China’s point of view, is unlikely while the present Dalai Lama is still alive. China’s mistrust of the Dalai Lama has only intensified after the recent troubles. Yet, contrary to what the Chinese Government may be thinking, a post-Dalai Lama situation may become more radicalized, unpredictable and violent.

In India’s relations with China, Tibet is a key issue that requires skilful handling by India. India has recently taken some welcome tentative steps to review its Tibet policy. The first move was made in January 2008 when the statement issued at the end of Indian Prime Minister’s visit to China did not carry any reference to Tibet. It is not clear whether this was a deliberate policy move, or a one-off measure. The widespread disturbances in Tibet in March 2008 provide an opportunity for India to continue with its subtle policy shift. India’s official statement on March 15, 2008 was a step in the right direction. Firstly, clearly refuting official Chinese propaganda, it stated that “innocent people” had died in Lhasa. Secondly, by expressing its “hope that all those involved will work to improve the situation and remove the causes of such trouble in Tibet….through dialogue and non-violent means,” New Delhi has conveyed its message to Beijing that there is merit in the demands of Tibetans, that the onus is on Beijing to find a solution, and that such a solution requires dialogue, not use of force. In describing the Dalai Lama as a man of non-violence, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has clearly conveyed that India does not endorse the harsh and vituperative official Chinese denunciations of the Dalai Lama. China’s recent offensive and patronizing approach and behaviour about India’s stand on Tibet, including summoning the Indian Ambassador in the middle of the night, required an appropriate riposte. It is good that India has put off Minister Kamal Nath’s visit to China. At the same time, India has sought to reassure China that India considers Tibet as “an autonomous region of China.” One hopes that in the coming months the Government gives its Tibet policy a clearer strategic direction.

While formulating its policy on Tibet, India has to keep in mind that it is uniquely placed vis-à-vis Tibet, and therefore must have a unique policy that conforms to its national interests, irrespective of what the rest of the world says or does. No other country has as important stakes in peace and stability in Tibet as India does. A Tibet in ferment makes India’s Himalayan frontiers unstable and insecure. As a democratic country that is hosting such a large number of Tibetans, India has a legitimate interest in what happens in Tibet. Since developments in Tibet have direct consequences for India, Tibet cannot be, as the Left parties in India make out, just an internal matter of China. If there is a severe crackdown on the Tibetans, it is likely to lead to an increased Chinese military presence in regions close to India’s borders, which would have implications for India’s own defence planning. It will also inevitably trigger off a fresh influx into India of Tibetan refugees, whom India would find it difficult to turn away on practical and humanitarian grounds.

In subsequent official statements and/or through authoritative but deniable unofficial channels, India could emphasize that while it firmly upholds the principles of supporting the territorial integrity of duly constituted states and non-interference in other states’ internal affairs, its own experience shows that the peace and stability of multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural societies requires dialogue and accommodation within a democratic framework. Ethnic and separatist problems require political solutions that give every citizen the confidence of being an equal stakeholder in the state. India expects that China would put in place policies that would stabilize Tibet and give the Tibetan diaspora in India the confidence that they can return to their homeland.

India needs to take full advantage of an important nuance, perhaps unintended, in India’s acceptance of Tibet as a part of China: India has merely conceded that the “territory of the Tibetan Autonomous Region is a part of the People’s Republic of China;” it has not accepted that Tibet (whose borders historically and in the minds of the Tibetans extend beyond the Tibetan Autonomous Region) was always a part of China. As a matter of fact, Tibet was quite independent of Chinese rule and had all the attributes of a sovereign state between 1913 and 1950. Traditionally, thousands of Indian pilgrims have made pilgrimages to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar lakes in Tibet without needing any permission from the Chinese authorities in Beijing. If China can lay claim to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh on the grounds of its cultural, historical and spiritual links with Tibet, the case for India’s claim to Kailash-Mansarovar region on similar reasoning is probably more substantive. Secondly, if at any time in the future the People’s Republic of China were to give way to another entity India could well argue that it is not obliged to recognize Tibet as a part of any new political entity of China. Of course, this is a hypothetical scenario, but the Chinese would not miss such nuances and subtleties.

India needs to take a leaf out of China’s book in the matter of observance of solemn bilateral commitments. Just as China, contrary to the agreements with India in 2003 and 2005, has re-opened very aggressively its claim to Arunachal Pradesh, has still not fully accepted Sikkim as a part of India, and does not want an early settlement of the boundary question, India too should subtly reopen the whole question of the legitimacy of China’s claim to Tibet, which is the basic foundation for China to make any territorial claim on India. There could be many ways in which India could introduce some nuances in its traditional policy. For example, India could state that it considers Tibet, as an autonomous region, to be a part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China – the implication being that it is only if Tibet is a truly autonomous region that India recognizes it as a part of China.

Ironically, China, in welcoming the Indian approach during the recent uprising, has given legitimacy to India’s unofficial policy shift. The Chinese should be made aware that subtle shifts in India’s Tibet policy will continue, and that India will remove the ambiguities in its Tibet policy only under the following conditions: firstly, if the situation on the ground permits it (very unlikely if China persists with its present repressive policies); secondly, if there is a definitive settlement of the boundary issue; and, finally, only as a quid pro quo for China recognizing all of Jammu & Kashmir as an integral part of India.

It is time for India to get out of its defensive mindset and timid approach in dealing with China. There are vital national security interests at stake. Relations with China must be handled from a strategic, not a legalistic, perspective. The approach India follows should be multi-dimensional. India does want better relations with China, but it must also evolve a calculated and calibrated policy to put China under some pressure to safeguard its interests and concerns.

(Rajiv Sikri is a former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. This article was originally published in rediff on 27th March 2008 and has the author’s permission to publish in South Asia Analysis Group . The views expressed are his own. The author can be reached

Pakistan: Zardari's big tent

Mar 27th 2008 | LAHORE
From The Economist print edition

Benazir's widower tries to keep everybody happy

ASIF ZARDARI, widower of Benazir Bhutto, has played his cards well so far. After Miss Bhutto was assassinated on December 27th, he seized the reins of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP), capitalised on a wave of sympathy for her and led it to victory in the general election in February. Then he surprised everyone by offering to share power with the other big party—the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), or PML(N), of Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister, with which the PPP has long been at odds. Mr Sharif was bent on a confrontation with President Pervez Musharraf that would have created unrest and hurt the prospects of the new government. But by including Mr Sharif, Mr Zardari has engineered a degree of stability. And on March 22nd he executed his masterstroke.


A salute for Gillani, the stopgap premier?After weeks of suspense about who would be the PPP's nominee for prime minister—Mr Zardari himself was ruled out because he had not contested the election—he nominated Yousaf Raza Gillani, a nondescript feudal landlord from Punjab province. From many points of view, Mr Gillani seems an ideal choice. He is a sop to the powerful province of Punjab, because the big jobs in government are likely to go to party stalwarts from Mr Zardari's home province of Sindh, where the PPP swept the polls. Amin Fahim, who had been widely tipped as the likely prime minister, was a lieutenant of Miss Bhutto and a big feudal landlord and rival from Sindh, who might have been hard to dislodge. But Mr Gillani is a diehard PPP loyalist, who is expected gamely to make way for Mr Zardari as prime minister after he wins a by-election in a few months' time.

In his first move as prime minister, with Mr Zardari pulling the strings, Mr Gillani freed all the judges detained by President Pervez Musharraf and promised to restore them to their old jobs in the high courts of the country—but did not say when. This is meant to take the sting out of a lawyers' movement that is threatening to provoke a confrontation with Mr Musharraf. If the judges are fully restored, they will not take long to dethrone the president and the judges who have taken their places. But Mr Zardari wants to avoid precipitating an immediate showdown between parliament and government on the one hand, and the president and the present Supreme Court on the other. That might compel the army to step in again, as it has so often, with unpredictable consequences.

The new government has enough on its plate without such constitutional clashes. It has to take “ownership” of the unpopular “war on terror”, widely seen in Pakistan as an American war fought there with Pakistani blood. And in the economy, belt-tightening measures have to be taken after months of political indecision and instability. Mr Zardari's solution is to make “national reconciliation” coalition governments in Islamabad and the four provinces so that the PPP is not singled out for popular wrath. This is problematic. If all the coalition partners are accommodated, the administration will be the most bloated in Pakistani history, whereas Pakistan needs leaner government. To soften the blow, Mr Zardari is expected to recruit new coalition partners in three phases.

Significantly, Mr Zardari has succeeded in wooing the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that controls urban Sindh. Since the PPP had the numbers to form its own government in Sindh, this move was not strictly necessary. It has alarmed the PML(N), because the MQM remains a staunch supporter of Mr Musharraf. Mr Zardari is not putting all his eggs in the anti-Musharraf basket, perhaps because he thinks the president still has a role to play, albeit a much reduced one. The Bush administration seems to agree. It sent John Negroponte, the deputy secretary of state, and his assistant, Richard Boucher, to Islamabad on March 25th to make exactly this point to the new government.


March 27, 2008

Russia and Japan form nuclear alliance

13:24 | 27/ 03/ 2008

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Tatyana Sinitsyna) - Paris is in shock: nuclear giants Atomenergoprom and Toshiba have decided to form an alliance in civilian nuclear power operations, including power plant construction and fuel production.

The two companies signed a framework agreement last week, under which the Russian company will enrich uranium produced in Kazakhstan, while Toshiba will produce nuclear fuel and undertake the designing and engineering of nuclear power plants.

The firms may establish a strategic partnership in the future, Toshiba said. By securing a stable supply of nuclear fuel through the alliance with Atomenergoprom, Toshiba hopes to sharpen its competitive edge.

Experts predict that the alliance will become the world's leader in the nuclear sector.

Previously, the market was divided between four players: the French-German alliance of Areva and Siemens, two American-Japanese groups, Toshiba-Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi, and Russia's Atomenergoprom.

The Russian-Japanese alliance will cut the number of players to three. Moreover, Toshiba now owns a 70% stake in Westinghouse.

The French newspaper Les Echos described the alliance as "the main event in the nuclear production cycle." As a nuclear power and leading player on the global market of nuclear power engineering, France is worried that the Russian-Japanese tie-up could become a major rival of the French Areva.

The newspaper reports that the French government intends to merge Areva and Alstom into a nuclear power plant building super-company.

The Russian-Japanese merger was prompted by Russia's desire to swim with the tide, although Toshiba was neither its initial nor only choice. Russia made offers of strategic partnership to several candidates, but Toshiba offered the best terms.

Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Rosatom, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, said: "The Japanese have the engineering know-how to build nuclear power plants within three years. They are the recognized leaders in this respect; it takes us five years to build a nuclear power plant. So, we will learn from them if the alliance is formed. We may also cooperate in mutual supplies of large-size equipment. [The alliance] will also allow Russia to emerge on the global market for nuclear fuel."

Atomenergorpom has the technologies of an open nuclear fuel cycle and can build civilian nuclear facilities under turnkey conditions. It also has cutting-edge water-water reactor (VVR) technologies.

Although it has signed only a framework agreement with Toshiba, experts believe that the document is the first step to forming a full-scale transnational alliance. It will be set up as an absolute parity, without the partners exchanging stakes or assets, but agreeing to jointly plan their business. The alliance will work toward a global goal of developing and applying safe, clean and efficient nuclear generation systems.

"The framework agreement is a sign made to the market; subsequent moves will be based on the assumption that business is a highly practical matter, with adequate decisions depending on each particular project," said Novikov.

"If we decide to build a nuclear power plant in Russia's Far East, as stipulated in the general plan for placing nuclear power plants, it would be logical to invite the Japanese," he said.

Experts also say that Russia may join forces with Toshiba to manufacture equipment for nuclear power plants.

Taken together, this promises dynamic, effective and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Rosatom corporation, said: "An alliance of two giant companies would have a positive effect on the nuclear renaissance, making it more predictable and technically feasible."

He said that all consumers of commodities and services of the nuclear fuel cycle would enjoy the fruits of Russian-Japanese partnership.

Harufumi Mochizuki, head of Japan's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, is of the same opinion.

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

Big Questions of Our Time : Which Idea Will Dominate the 21st Century?

Part 23 - Which Idea Will Dominate the 21st Century?
- By Sundeep Waslekar

February 2008

The most influential force in the world is the idea. Gods, priests, kings, dictators, democrats, terrorists, anarchists all need an idea to justify themselves. It is on the strength of one idea that we once believed that the world was flat and scientists had to work hard to prove that it was actually round. We again believe in a flat world from a completely different perspective.

It is on the strength of the idea of nationalism that we fought two world wars and killed over a hundred million people. It is on the strength of the idea of nationalism that large segments of the world’s population gained freedom from their colonial masters. The idea of evolution drives scientific research today. The idea of post-humanism may drive scientific research tomorrow.

In the last century, the ideas of capitalism and communism competed with each other to dominate the human mind. Also, the idea of freedom and authority competed with each other at the same time. Many people bracketed capitalism with freedom and communism with authority, though capitalists supported authoritarian regimes in Panama, Chile, El Salvador, Pakistan, Congo, the Philippines, among other countries while communists supported freedom movements across Asia and Africa. Francis Fukuyama proclaimed the permanent victory of democracy and free market (representing freedom and capitalism) in the world as the Berlin Wall collapsed in Europe, even though vast tracks of Latin American, African and Asian continents were still ruled by dictators and economies. Obviously to some people in the West, including an honorary Westerner like Fukuyama, the West was the world. No wonder the West was attacked, giving birth to the idea of clash of civilizations. Obviously to some people when the West is attacked, civilizations clash. When the West attacks others, it is just boring colonisation.

While the conflict between freedom and authority and capitalism and communism is still not solved in at least two third of the world, one idea seems slowly to unite a growing number of people from north and south, east and west. It is the idea of sustainability. I would personally credit the Club of Rome for raising the question of sustainability through its Limits to Growth. Never mind that computer projections about future resource supplies have been proved wrong. The underlying idea that growth is not sustainable with an infinite assault on the earth’s resources has seized people’s imagination. It encourages villagers in Himalayas to hug trees to save them from timber companies. It encourages Wangari Mathai to plant a million trees and Al Gore to give a thousand presentations on climate change. It has led to a treaty on emissions (even though it may not have been signed by the world’s largest emitters), triple bottom-line auditing, clean-tech investments, green technologies, renewable energies and eco-tourism. It is slowly leading to a change in our lifestyle.

The idea of sustainability is so far understood in the environmental context. The practices that lead to environmental damage also often lead to social conflicts and violence – ask farmers in China and India or Sudan and South Africa. Stein Tonnesson, director of Peace Research Institute Oslo, fears that in future we may see environmentally driven trade wars. Others worry about conflicts over water and emissions. We may see the concept of sustainability expanding as linkages between climate change and social change are better understood.

We can expect sustainability to be the dominant idea of the second decade – perhaps also the third decade - of the 21st century. Will it be the idea that dominates most of the 21st century? I doubt it.

The sustainability idea is perhaps the last idea that concerns the human civilization that we know today. In the second half of this century, science and technology may change the very nature of humanity through dramatic developments in outer space exploration and GNR technologies (genetics, nano-technology and robotics). Human being of tomorrow may not be human being at all. They may be artificial designer humans or some combination of humans and machines. They may be able to go deeper into space and perhaps live there. They may even be able to connect to other beings in other galaxies. The issues we will debate then will be very different from the issues we debate today.

I don’t know which ideas will dominate in the world where humans co-exist with post-humans. I just hope that such a new world – which I will not be around to see – is different from our world in one very fundamental way. All the ideas that humans have developed so far – perhaps with the exception of sustainability – are ideas that compete for dominating the world. Thus, underlying all such conflicting ideas is the idea of dominance. If sustainability takes a deeper root from its current scope, it may finally compete with the idea of dominance that has characterised human history. If it does not and if somehow the human race still manages to move to the world of human and post-human co-existence, desire for dominance might convert human being into demons. The big question before us is not so much which idea will dominate the 21st century. It is whether we can challenge the idea of dominance and save humanity.

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US: Losing Europe

The next US president may be able to improve America's tarnished image in Europe, but many allies have already headed for the hills and the task is indeed a formidable one, Peter Buxbaum writes for ISN Security Watch.

By Peter Buxbaum in Washington, DC for ISN Security Watch (27/03/08)

Will the next president of the United States improve American's image in Europe? It depends, of course, on who wins the November election.

But only in part. America's Iraq fiasco and the Bush administration's unilateralism has so tarnished the US persona that even the country's closest allies, with only a few notable exceptions, have headed for the hills.

The case in point is Afghanistan, the one conflict that the consensus opinion views as a necessary and righteous war against the perpetrators of 9/11 and their protectors. The US misadventure in Mesopotamia has so compromised US capabilities to confront the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan that it has soured America's NATO allies to the US conception of the global war on terror. The Germans have said recently that they will not deploy troops to the more dangerous areas of southern Afghanistan, while French and Turkish troops appear to have taken more of a peacekeeping than an offensive posture.

So the task of polishing the US image to a shine will be a formidable one. The question is which of the approaches of the three remaining candidates is most likely to achieve this aim.

No about face
Europeans seeking an about-face on US policy will likely to be disappointed no matter who is elected. John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are all interventionists who would continue chasing terrorists around the world while also deploying US power for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

All three have advocated beefed-up NATO operations in Afghanistan, while also speaking approvingly of mounting a multilateral mission in Darfur. All three have also deployed Cold War-like rhetoric for one reason or another.

McCain and Obama are the easiest cases to discern, while Clinton's is more ambiguous. McCain, consistently more hawkish on the war in Iraq than even President George W Bush himself, is most interested in preserving and projecting American power. Obama - a citizen of the world who has succeeded in transcending ethnicity at the domestic political level - is more likely to pursue true partnerships with America's European allies, which would assert western interests in the war on terror as well as perform peacekeeping and humanitarian missions globally. Clinton would seek to mobilize European partners by harkening to the US-European success in defeating the Soviet Union in the Cold War past.

The candidates' policies toward the US presence in Iraq will have to be one of the key prisms through which Europeans will view the United States.

McCain has vowed that he will not pull US forces out of Iraq, and might actually station them there for another 100 years. This would continue to restrict the US military in operations it will be able to conduct elsewhere and would force reliance on others. A President McCain would expect NATO and other forces to continue to provide the lion's share of human resources in the conduct of operations in Afghanistan, and perhaps at other flashpoints in the so-called war on terror. McCain has already advocated that NATO increase its troop presence in Afghanistan.

McCain can also be expected to continue the Bush policy of avoiding the multilateral processes of the United Nations. He has advocated establishing a League of Democracies, which "would form the core of an international order of peace based on freedom." The League "could act where the UN fails to act, to relieve human suffering in places like Darfur," McCain said in a campaign speech. "It could bring concerted pressure to bear on tyrants in Burma or Zimbabwe, with or without Moscow's and Beijing's approval. It could unite to impose sanctions on Iran and thwart its nuclear ambitions."

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have both advocated withdrawing US troops from Iraq, a policy that would be supported by most of America's European friends. But Obama would seek to recruit allies with lofty rhetoric appealing to high ideals while Clinton would galvanize them with neo-Cold War verbiage.

Obama invokes the memories of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F Kennedy, when he presents his world view. "They ensured that America, by deed and example, led and lifted the world," he said on the campaign trail.

"As Roosevelt built the most formidable military the world had ever seen, his Four Freedoms gave purpose to our struggle against fascism," he continued. "Truman championed a bold new architecture to respond to the Soviet threat, one that paired military strength with the Marshall Plan and helped secure the peace and well-being of nations around the world. Kennedy modernized our military doctrine, strengthened our conventional forces and created the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress. They used our strengths to show people everywhere America at its best."

Clinton is not without her appeal to good works, but prefers to couch her world view in the nitty gritty of policy details. She appeals for a new definition of national security which would incorporate trade and energy policies. On the trade front, she would confront what she sees as China's excesses.

Clinton would "take aggressive steps to stop China from manipulating its currency," she said in a campaign speech, and would "start breaking our reliance on China for not only what they provide to us in terms of the way they buy our dollars and buy our debt but also to be held to higher standards for what they import into our market.

"When we talk about foreign policy, we have to talk about fiscal policy, energy policy and so much else besides just the narrow view that has been primarily driven by the Bush Administration over the last seven years," Clinton added.

John McCain appears to be anxious to confront Russia, while Obama would rely on NATO to push back against a Russian move in the Balkans. Russia, in McCain's view "looks more and more like some 19th-century autocracy, marked by diminishing political freedoms, shadowy intrigue and mysterious assassinations," he said, in a speech. "Beyond its borders Moscow has tried to expand its influence over its neighbors in Eastern, Central and even Western Europe.

"We need a new western approach to this revanchist Russia," McCain continued. "We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies. It should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia."

Obama would confront Serbia and Russia in the event that those nations attempt to compromise the integrity of the newly independent Kosovo. "We have a strong international structure anchored in NATO to deal with this issue," he said in a recent campaign debate with Hillary Clinton. "We have recognized the country of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign nation, and I think that that carries with it, then, certain obligations to ensure that they are not invaded."

Clinton, by contrast, blames Bush for the deterioration in US-Russian relations. "After September 11, President Bush focused US-Russian relations around just one issue, fighting terrorism," she said, in a speech. "Mr Putin saw that this meant he had a free pass to act as he liked at home and in Russia's neighborhood. In the meantime, America's relations with our European allies, who are absolutely essential to an effective Russia policy, frayed."

While McCain and Obama's willingness to confront Russia may sound like a retreat to Cold War geopolitics, Hillary Clinton seeks to reinvigorate NATO by invoking Cold War ideology, but to a different aim. "The war on terror, like the Cold War, is fundamentally a battle over ideas and values," she said, in a campaign speech. "Let's be sure that the American military does not fight terrorism alone. It is time that we demanded that our alliances, including NATO, are united with us in this fight."

Winning back Europe
Whatever their campaign rhetoric, the next president will be challenged to change America's perception among its European partners.

McCain's promise to retain Bush's postures and expand his policies means that a McCain presidency will almost certainly not alter America's perceptions in the world. His strident rhetoric against Russia will also no doubt fall flat on a continent reluctant to return to the Cold War.

But the Democrats are handicapped because they feel obliged to talk tough on foreign affairs and to strike a militaristic pose. Besides having to overcome eight years of Bush unilateralism, the next US president will also have to face decreasing NATO military budgets and overloaded and exhausted NATO military organizations. Europeans will be reluctant to follow the US lead into an escalated Afghanistan operation after a seven-year war that has fallen short of its aims, no matter the rhetoric or the incentives.

The election of John McCain can only be seen as a third term for George W Bush, at least as foreign policy is concerned.

Obama and Clinton have a better chance of recruiting European support on a broader range of issues.

Obama's personality and rhetoric are more likely to appeal to Europeans while Clinton's promised reform of the US-Russia policy and broadened definition of national security means that Europeans will be able to engage with America on a range of issues that go beyond military operations and the war on terror.

Peter Buxbaum, a Washington-based independent journalist, has been writing about defense, security, business and technology for 15 years. His work has appeared in publications such as Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Information Week, Defense Technology International, Homeland Security and Computerworld. His website is