September 03, 2011
Gordon G. Chang
Henry Kissinger (New York: Penguin, 2011)
In his sweeping new book, On China, Henry Kissinger seeks “to explain the conceptual way the Chinese think about problems of peace and war and international order.” To do so, he surveys China’s history from ancient times to the present, analyzes the country’s troubled relations with foreigners, admires the strategies of its policymakers, and expresses hopes for America’s ties with Beijing.
When Kissinger writes about China’s past, he displays a subtle understanding of the country. When he relays his conversations with the endlessly fascinating Mao Zedong, he dazzles us. When he considers the future, however, he flounders.
Gordon G. Chang
Follow the inside track on China, North Korea, and other Asian nations every week with Gordon Chang'sWorld Affairs blog.
And On China is, in reality, all about future relations with Beijing. The master strategist picks his subject well, because America faces no more important external challenge at either this moment or for the foreseeable future. As Kissinger notes, “The relationship between China and the United States has become a central element in the quest for world peace and global well-being.”
As part of this quest, Kissinger articulates a vision of “a Pacific Community,” which he describes as “a region to which the United States, China, and other states all belong and in whose peaceful development all participate.” The concept, based on the Atlantic Community formed after the Second World War, would both “reflect the reality that the United States is an Asian power” and respond “to China’s aspiration to a global role.”
Nonetheless, in his more sober moments, Kissinger implies there is not much possibility of ever reaching across the world’s largest ocean to form this grand community. Indeed, he even admits that simply creating a “partnership” between Washington and Beijing would be difficult. A more likely development is what he calls “co-evolution,” which means that “both countries pursue their domestic imperatives, cooperating where possible, and adjust their relations to minimize conflict.” The most he says about this scaled-down goal is that the two sides should “attempt to elevate familiar crisis discussions into a more comprehensive framework that eliminates the underlying causes of the tensions.”
As his tentative language reveals, Kissinger’s hopes for the future of Sino-American relations are more about what should not happen than what should. And what should not happen?
First, relations between the United States and China should not degenerate into a zero-sum game. In contrast to his few airy sentiments about regional community organizing in the Pacific area, he devotes pages to analyzing what happens when great nations compete without inhibitions. For this, he focuses on the late-nineteenth-century story of the rise of more than three dozen sovereign German states, which formed first the loosely organized German Confederation and then a powerful nation in the heart of Europe, thereby irrevocably changing a once-stable European system.
Kissinger shows that the English saw that conflict with Germany was inevitable, not so much because of Berlin’s avowed intentions but because of its growing strength. The British Foreign Office, therefore, viewed formal German assurances as meaningless. As early as 1907, diplomacy became ineffective, and war almost inevitable. “The crisis of the system was inherent in its structure,” he writes in what are the most thoughtful pages in the book.
Kissinger then takes his penetrating analysis of Europe’s changing dynamics a century ago and applies it to relations between China and the United States now. Although he notes in the epilogue to his book that “even the most precise analogy does not oblige the present generation to repeat the mistakes of its predecessors,” he clearly worries that America and China are following the path that England and Germany took a century ago.
To avoid the hardening of attitudes, Kissinger gets to the second thing that should not happen in Sino-American relations: Washington should not seek to change the nature of the Chinese state. His review of millennia of history is really an argument that China is too big, too proud, and too independent for outsiders to influence. For Kissinger, the issue is not whether we Americans would prefer China to be a functioning democracy—we certainly would—but whether we can actually make it one. Even if we could, he asks what price we are willing to pay to achieve this objective. And there is one more thing: any attempt to change China’s system of governance “is likely to involve vast unintended consequences.”
Kissinger sensibly argues the “best outcome” for us is to combine two approaches to diplomacy. “Realists,” he tells us, should recognize that policies must incorporate American values, and “idealists” should be patient. The fundamental problem with Kissinger is not his abstract formulation of mixing realism with idealism but the fact that realism so dominates the mix. On China presents many opportunities for him to affirm enduring American values, and he declines all of them.
Moreover, Kissinger declines to condemn China’s leaders for their brutality. It is bad enough that he endorses the Communist Party’s general rationale for continued authoritarianism, but it’s even worse that he goes one step further and suggests that the protestors in 1989 provoked the regime to engage in mass slaughter. And on this matter, the most that he says is, “This is not the place to examine the events that led to the tragedy at Tiananmen Square; each side has different perceptions depending on the various, often conflicting, origins of their participation in the crisis.”
Kissinger adopts the same non-judgmental posture—which is a disguised way of siding with the status quo of Chinese authoritarianism—when referring, for instance, to a series of recent crises over China’s borders with India, Japan, and neighbors surrounding the South China Sea: “In each case,” Kissinger writes, “there is a version of events in which China is the wronged party.”
Such statements represent a troubling abdication not only of judgment but of analysis as well. First, Beijing’s attempt to assert sovereignty over areas under the control of others is not some diplomatic sideshow—it is China’s principal national goal at this time. The crises Kissinger lists, therefore, reveal a fundamental trend of Chinese aggressiveness. Second, most of the crises to which he alludes involve matters where China’s territorial claims are either weak—such as those involving the Senkaku islands administered by Japan—or just plain ludicrous—as in Beijing’s claim that the entire South China Sea is a Chinese lake or its inability to renounce sovereignty over Indonesia’s Natuna islands. In all cases, Beijing is attempting to change the status quo, actually employing force in some cases or even entering waters administered by other nations, thereby threatening the peace.
And it is not just other territorial claimants that have experienced Beijing’s new belligerence. In March 2009, Chinese vessels and aircraft harassed two unarmed US Navy surveillance ships in international waters in the South China and Yellow Seas. None of these incidents warrants mention by Kissinger in the book. And they should: the Chinese actually tried to steal a towed sonar array of the USNS Impeccable, thereby committing an act of war against the United States. China’s increasingly disturbing tactics make it hard to see, even in a Rashomon-like vision of moral relativity, how China might be considered “the wronged party.”
In the only other reference to these series of hostile acts, Kissinger writes, referring to neighboring nations, “China’s relations with almost all of them have deteriorated over the past one to two years—a trend the Chinese leadership is seeking to reverse.” Unfortunately, the weight of evidence points away from Beijing’s trying to improve relations. In fact, relations with its neighbors have soured, although Kissinger fails to say so, because of China’s overt hostility. On China simply refuses to criticize Chinese leaders, even in the face of obviously bellicose conduct.
It is striking, and even a little sad, that such an intellectually powerful figure as Kissinger, who has been unafraid of making judgments and acting on them over the course of a remarkable career, could suddenly lose his voice on the subject of China at one of the most consequential periods in its long history. He apparently believes, based on his long review of history encapsulated in On China, that it would be inadvisable to irritate the country’s sensitive leaders. Yet as he seeks to avoid geopolitical conflict, he is perpetuating the very conditions for it, continuing decades of perverse incentives.
The United States, following Kissinger’s own policy prescriptions established in the 1970s, has often failed to speak out loud about unacceptable Chinese conduct. In fact, Washington has often rewarded Beijing, even during periods of especially unconstructive behavior. So the Chinese, suffering no penalty, have naturally continued their antagonistic policies. Then, all too often, we rewarded them still more, all in the name of pursuing “friendly” ties. As long as we continue this dynamic into the indefinite future, as Kissinger essentially suggests we do, China has less incentive to become a responsible member of the international community.
Our failure to speak out about Beijing’s conduct could have horrific consequences. Writing about nukes at the end of On China, Kissinger says, “The spread of these weapons into hands not restrained by the historical and political considerations of the major states augurs a world of devastation and human loss without precedent even in our age of genocidal killings.” Yet he doesn’t find space in 530 pages of text to talk about China’s transfer of nuclear weapons technology to Iran, which continues to this day, or its direct assistance to Pakistan’s bomb program, which began in the mid-1970s. There is not one reference to either China’s continuing direct support for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program or Pyongyang’s sales of technology to rogues.
Nuclear weapons pose the only existential threat to the United States, but we have, over the span of three decades, applied Kissinger’s notions and subordinated the critical goal of stopping proliferation to that of integrating the Chinese into the international system. What’s the point of trying to include them in the community of nations if they have been trying to destabilize that community by spreading the world’s most dangerous technologies?
Kissingerian notions of cooperation or co-evolution with China sound wonderful in theory, but the point is that Chinese policymakers are not buying into them. At least Kissinger notes in this book that the United States cannot play a generous game without reciprocity. If Beijing sees the United States as an adversary, the United States, he notes, will have to do the same.
What is missing from this book is not so much the correct analytical framework—no one is against good relations as a theoretical matter—but a factual context. How does Washington seek close ties to an arrogant authoritarian state that shares no strategic goal with us and that is, among other things, supplying weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgents in Iraq, launching cyber attacks against the Pentagon, maintaining predatory trade practices in clear violation of its international obligations, permitting its flag officers and senior colonels to talk in public about waging war on the United States, engaging in the largest espionage campaign against America in history, threatening the democracy of Taiwan, backing Pakistan’s campaign of terror against India with diplomatic and material support, and bolstering almost every rogue state on the planet?
Kissinger disparages those who believe “a constructive long-term relationship with nondemocratic states is not sustainable almost by definition,” and he has trouble with the notion that “true and lasting peace presupposes a community of democratic states.” Yet the fact remains that democracies almost never go to war against each other and that the challenges Beijing poses are not merely those of a rising power but are ultimately rooted in its increasingly corrupt and hard-line political system. And as Kissinger, to his credit, states earlier in the book, “Some congruence on values is generally needed to supply an element of restraint.”
History does not provide any examples of sustainable friendships between great-power democracies and large autocratic states. So Kissinger is taking a large leap of faith when he proposes long-term cooperation between Washington and Beijing. Although the book is not called On India or On Japan, the famed statesman still owes it to us to explain why we should not move closer to New Delhi or Tokyo—or both—instead of Beijing.
As Kissinger notes, Chinese strategists see the first two decades of this century as a “strategic opportunity period” for China. That means, unfortunately, we can expect a risk-taking Chinese policy, especially because Beijing’s leaders perceive the United States to be in terminal decline and no longer able to oppose their ambitions. We are, in their view, no longer “a paper tiger.” Instead, they think we’re really “an old cucumber painted green.”
In these circumstances, relations with Beijing are bound to be tense, and it’s time for us to create a new paradigm, not continue the one Kissinger helped design eight American presidents and four Chinese leaders ago, and which he seeks in this book to paint green.
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World.
"But, you know, we do have specific security requirements, and we're committed to ensuring that those are met, but obviously recognizing these individuals' importance and rank and significant," State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters.
We addressed our and in fact shared our regret over some of these incidents involving high-level Indian diplomats here within the United States, he said in response to a question about some news reports appearing in this regard in the Indian media.
"I'm not aware of the reports that you're talking about. I'll have to look into them," he said.
Last year, Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar was pulled out of an airport security line and patted down by an American security agent in Mississippi despite being told of her diplomatic status, prompting Indian mission here to strongly protest against the incident.
India's UN envoy Hardeep Puri was also detained last year for more than 30 minutes in a holding room at Houston Airport, Texas, after refusing to remove his turban
As Colonel Qaddafi desperately clings to power in his hometown of Sirte, Tehran and Beirut seek a ray of hope-- wishing to hear credible news about the fate of the popular figure Imam Musa Sadr, the Iran-born Shi’a cleric and savior of the once underprivileged Shi’as of Lebanon. Iranian Diplomacy interviewed Masoud Edrisi, Iran’s former ambassador to Lebanon, on the significance of Musa Sadr’s fate for Tehran and Beirut.
IRD: The mystery of Imam Musa Sadr’s fate has come to the fore following the liberation of Tripoli by anti-Qaddafi forces. Why hasn’t the heated saga of this Iranian-born cleric subsided in thirty-three years?
ME: Imam Musa Sadr was the de facto and de jure leader of the Shi’a community in Lebanon. But more important than his stature among the Lebanese Shi’as was his advocacy of unity among the diverse sects of the country. Mr. Sadr’s charisma and doctrine made him the centerpiece of pro-unity campaigns in Lebanon. He was also popular figure among the Christians, besides the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. It was exactly this popularity, influence and agenda that instigated his kidnapping by Qaddafi. The Libyan dictator coveted the role of Arab World leader at that time, and Imam Musa Sadr had turned into his nemesis.
IRD: Why does the Arab League refuse to address the issue of his missing in its statements, despite Lebanon’s insistence?
ME: They never agreed to probe the case, first because he was a Shi’a leader who as I said, was deeply popular among all Lebanese factions. The Sunni-Shi’a concerns prevent the League from probing the case. But more importantly, Imam Musa Sadr was originally Iranian, and the Arab League’s bumpy relations with Iran is another factor that renders them unwilling to resolve the case.
IRD: The Sadr family has frequently complained of the indifference of Iranian administrations in pursuing the case. We recently saw Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi hold a conversation with the head of the Libyan transitional council about the fate of Imam Musa Sadr. Do you agree that Iran has shown negligence in the past?
ME: I don’t think so. I used to serve as the deputy foreign minister for Middle East and North African affairs, and I know about the serious efforts that took place during Kamal Kharrazi’s tenure over the fate of Imam Musa Sadr. A committee was formed at that time on President Khatami's order, and it held regular negotiations with Libyan officials to resolve the matter. The Libyan party was, however, unwilling to cooperate and that gave some the perception that Iran was also disinterested in the story.
IRD: With the Libyan revolutionaries liberating Tripoli, do you see any chance that Imam Musa Sadr’s fate can be finally revealed?
ME: Definitely this is the best moment to shed light on the case. The new government will not have any problems with investigating the mystery. Iran and Lebanon have reactivated the issue in order to reach a conclusion.
Mullapudi Harischandra Prasad, the doyen of industry in Andhra Pradesh, passed away today at the age of 91. He was the Chairman and Managing Director of Andhra Sugars, which he founded in August 1947.
Andhra Sugars, located in the coastal rich town of Tanuku in West Godavari district also contributed to India's space programme. Driven by the passion of self-reliance espoused by Mr Harishchandra Prasad, the company developed the propellant fuel for the rocket boosters of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Mr Harischandra Prasad also started Andhra Petrochemicals Limited, which was amongst the first in the chemical sector. Known for his employee friendly management and fostering entrepreneurship among people, Mr Harischandra Prasad served as the President of the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FAPCCI).
Known for his philanthropy and help for the people in the district, Mr Harishchandra Prasad became an MLA and was close to the late N.T. Rama Rao. He was ailing for the past week and was admitted to the corporate hospital in Hyderabad.
Condoling his death, the FAPCCI said “His contribution is so significant that he is often called Andhra Birla. He pioneered the setting up of several industries in the State”
By Nader Mousavizadeh
The opinions expressed are his own.
Last week, China quietly launched the aircraft carrier Varyag from the port of Dalian. The ship is expected to be deployed to Hainan province in close proximity to the strategic regions of Taiwan and the South China Sea. Amidst an atmosphere of existential gloom triggered by the debt-ceiling debacle and the deeper economic crisis, the reaction in the United States was dominated by the fear of a rising, militarist China challenging America’s global superiority. What few in the United States bothered to mention, however, is that the new Chinese carrier was built from an unfinished Ukrainian hull purchased in 1998 – and is the first and only aircraft carrier China has ever had. The United States, meanwhile, has eleven.
The real problem with the U.S. response was not, however, that it exaggerated the Chinese threat. It is that it greatly overestimates the benefits, to America, of the country’s continuing quest for global supremacy – politically, economically and militarily. To lament America’s decline from a dominant position of unaffordable and unsustainable strategic burdens is, in fact, to mistake an opportunity for a threat. For all of the past decade’s concerns around the world about the reach and military assertiveness of U.S. unilateralism, it seems increasingly clear that its principal casualty has been the U.S. itself. America is choking on the edifice of empire and the sooner it’s dismantled, the easier will be America’s return to a leading – not the leading – position as a dynamic, innovative economy.
Consider briefly what the past decade’s economic policies, military interventions and strategic priorities have brought the country: a Great Recession, debts that are fundamentally irrecoverable, a credit crisis, a housing collapse, and two wars with immense costs in lives and treasure. A country that employs more than one million people within its intelligence community, and still is surprised by the Arab Spring, is not being efficient with its resources. Waste and corruption are endemic to any enterprise of this size – and the U.S. military-industrial complex has been no exception.
Six numbers tell the story of empire’s price in stark terms: federal deficits, gross debt, military spending, infrastructure investment, income inequality and now endemic joblessness:
- Seen over a ten-year span, federal revenue has largely stayed constant, rising from $2.02 trillion in 2001 to $2.17 trillion in FY 2011. Expenditures, meanwhile, more than doubled from $1.85 trillion to $3.82 trillion producing a deficit this year of $1.65 trillion.
- Over the same period, gross U.S. debt has ballooned to over $14 trillion (roughly 100% of GDP) with net debt standing today at $9 trillion (of which 50% is held by non-U.S. entities).
- Defense expenditure over the same period has risen from approximately $300 billion in the year prior to 9/11 to $700 billion in FY 2011, and the figure is hundreds of billions higher if military spending outside the Defense Department is included. The total costs (estimated and very likely low-balled) of the Wars of 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq now stands at some $1.5 trillion, financed of course entirely by deficit spending. The result is that the U.S. now spends more on its defense budget than all other countries combined.
- The U.S., which once led the world in infrastructure development, now spends just 2.0% of GDP in such investments, as opposed to 5% in the EU and 9% in China. Of the 30 largest infrastructure projects globally, half are in developing economies and just five are in the U.S. A single Chinese project (the $150 billion North-South water diversion plan) involves more than double in total investment ($65 billion) of all five current U.S. projects.
- Looking at the U.S. gini coefficient, the most commonly used measure of inequality, no country in the developed world today has a greater gap between rich and poor. U.S. inequality is currently at levels not seen since the first decade of the 20th century – and greater even than in 1929.
- Finally, last week’s payroll report for July showed that nearly fourteen million Americans are now out of work, and more than six million of them have been jobless for more than six months. For more than two years, the unemployment rate has been close to or above nine per cent – and if you include those people who’ve given up looking for work it’s nearly double that.
If this is what global dominance looks like, who needs it?
Not that such a recognition appears anywhere on the horizon when listening to U.S. politicians or policy-makers – from either side of the political spectrum. Instead, reactions appear divided between those on the far right who appear to wish for perpetual hegemony while blithely defaulting on the full faith and credit of the U.S.; and those on the left who are hoping that the present crisis could trigger a second “Sputnik moment” – one that will shock America into redoubling its efforts to achieve global leadership through responsible policy-making. What this hope – fanciful as it seems today – assumes is that restoring the country to its pre-eminent global position is actually a good thing for America. It isn’t.
A nation that thinks it can do anything will do everything – deploy its military to wars of questionable strategic value at a vast cost in lives and treasure; issue IOUs in the trillions to finance consumption; turn the advantage of international reserve currency status into a curse by spending far beyond what creditors are likely to tolerate in the long term; and sustain the fiction of entitlements that no serious observer thinks will be honored.
A victim of strategic gluttony, America has gorged itself for the past two decades on unbridled consumption and military expenditure. And now, like an aging prize-fighter mounting the scales in advance of a major bout only to find that he’s disqualified on grounds of weight, the U.S. will need go on a crash diet.
None of this is to ignore the unique threats and responsibilities that the United States faces today – largely, though not completely, as a consequence of its hegemonic status. 9/11 was an attack on the country that required a strong and sustained global response. Nor is it to discount the future need for the U.S. to help provide essential global public goods – in trade, economy, and security. It is rather to say that even those challenges will be met more successfully by a rebooted and re-sized America that engages with the world as a strategic partner, and not as patron.
From Brazil to Indonesia, Turkey to South Africa, the rising pivotal powers are not looking to replace U.S. hegemony with Chinese dependency. In fact, as they focus on strategies of inclusive growth that sustain accountability and legitimacy, the mobile networked younger generations of these countries will continue to look to America as a model in many respects. A new partnership with a right-sized America disciplined by limitations and constraints is there to be forged – if only U.S. political leaders are willing to rethink the value of empire.
In an Archipelago World defined by the fragmentation of power, capital and ideas where the winners will be those states able to vertically integrate public and private interests, America’s present global posture is more a curse than a blessing. Competitiveness, growth, innovation, and influence are today more a function of intellectual capital and a high-tech infrastructure built to navigate a resource-constrained future. And if you’re asking yourself who will stand up for the victims of aggression and human rights abuses around the world, an exhausted, over-extended, deeply indebted America “leading from behind” it is not.
Rid of the burdens of empire, mentally and physically, the United States will remain a singular country in the world – with its openness, ingenuity, diversity, rule of law, moral purpose and ability to renew itself. An object lesson in the paradox of power, the decline of the American Empire may well be the best thing that can happen to the American Republic – and the sooner the better
The Republic of Korea’s (RoK) plan to develop a naval base in the Jeju Island has led to controversy both within the country as well as in the region. The plan is intended to serve two objectives: to protect the country from possible missile attacks from North Korea and to allow the United States to station Aegis class destroyers outfitted with missile defence systems. Suspicions about the base being intended as part of a military containment strategy against China are unwarranted given that the US ballistic missile defence architecture in Asia is not designed to shield Japan, Taiwan, or any other country in the region from China’s vast missile ballistic arsenal. Besides, it is within RoK’s sovereign right to secure its territory from possible external attack, especially from its hostile northern neighbour. Moreover, the new naval base appears to be part of a broader strategy to enhance the RoK’s maritime presence.
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari has been in Urumqi, the capital of the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang province, with a high-power ministerial and official delegation since August 30,2011. He has gone to Urumqi to attend the inauguration of the China-Eurasia Expo being held there from September 1 to 5. This is Zardari’s seventh visit to China since taking over as the President in 2008 to study the economic development of different regions of China.
2. Miss Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Miss Aseefa Bhutto Zardari are also accompanying the President. Bilawal Bhutto, Zardari’s son, who is the President of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), is separately travelling to China later this week to attend an international political conference.
3. Among others accompanying him are Foreign Minister Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Defence Minister Ch. Ahmed Mukhtar, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Dr. Asim Hussain, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah, Prime Minister of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) Chaudhary Abdul Majeed, Chairman Board of Investment Salim H. Manviwala, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Senator Haji Ghulam Ali and spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar.
4.This is the second time the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan has accompanied Zardari on one of his China visits. Syed Mehdi Shah had accompanied Zardari to Guangdong in China to attend the inaugural function of the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou in November last year. He was extended VIP treatment by the Chinese authorities on par with the other members of the Pakistani delegation.
5. Mehdi Shah was invited for a welcome banquet hosted by State Councillor Madam Liu Yangdong for the foreign dignitaries, who had come to participate in the inaugural ceremony of the Asian Games. He was also a member of the Pakistani delegation headed by Zardari which held bilateral talks on Sino-Pakistani relations on November 12, 2010, with a Chinese delegation headed by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
6. While briefing Pakistani media personnel on Zardari’s talks with Chinese Vice-Premier Li Kequang on August 31, Farhatullah Babar claimed that Vice-Premier Li made a special mention of the inclusion of the Chief Minister of GB in Zardari’s delegation and described it as a gesture.
7.The lack of any Chinese reservation over the inclusion of the heads of Government of the POK and GB in Zardari’s delegation and over their participation as members of the Pakistani delegation in the talks with the Chinese delegation underlines once again that the Chinese no longer consider the POK and the GB as disputed territory whereas they continue to look upon Jammu & Kashmir as a disputed territory.
8. It is doubtful whether the Chinese would similarly welcome and accept the inclusion of any leader or official of the Government of J&K in an official delegation from India.
9.During the three days that Zardari has spent in Urumqi before the inauguration of the Expo, he has had three levels of talks. The first was with a delegation of leaders and officials of the Xinjiang provincial Government and Communist Party headed by the Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xinjiang, Zhang Chunxian. The second was with a delegation from Beijing headed by Vice-Premier LI. The third was with a delegation of heads of Chinese companies assisting Pakistan in various infrastructure projects.
10.Four major themes figured in these discussions:
( a). Continuing Sino-Pak co-operation in counter-terrorism in general and in dealing with the activities of Uighur dissident/ terrorist elements operating from Pakistani territory. While assuring the Chinese authorities from Beijing as well as Xinjiang of continued Pakistani co-operation in this regard, Zardari was also reported to have thanked China for standing by Pakistan during the controversy with the US regarding the sincerity of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism track record after the death of Osama bin Laden in a US commando raid at OBL’s hide-out at Abbottabad on May 2.
( b) .Sino-Pak strategic relations: Zardari reportedly described China as Pakistan’s life-line. He told the Xinjiang delegation: “We offer our territory and ports for Chinese trade.” He was quoted as having told Vice-Premier Li that the two countries needed to expand existing maritime cooperation into a more comprehensive strategic maritime partnership. There was no clarification forthcoming from the Pakistani delegation as to what Zardari meant by this. Was he referring to more structured co-operation against piracy, which might involve Pakistani ports being used regularly by Chinese ships on anti-piracy patrols or was it a reference to Pakistan’s need for Chinese naval assistance in the wake of the gaps revealed by the success of some terrorists in attacking the headquarters of the Pakistan Naval Air wing (PNS Mehran) at Karachi in May? There was also a discussion on possible Sino-Pak co-operation in helping Afghanistan in the field of economic development.
( c ). Chinese assistance for infrastructure development projects in GB. In this connection, reference was made to three on-going projects for repairs to and upgradation of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), the construction of the 4500 MW Diamer Bhasha Dam and the 7000 MW Bunji Dam and the construction of a dry port at Sost on the KKH by SinTrans, a Chinese construction company, which has an equity stake in it. It was stated by Pakistani officials that the Government of Pakistan has accepted a proposal of the China Reconstruction Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for the construction of 13 kms of new route and rehabilitation of 22 kilometers of existing sections of KKH by lowering the water level in the lakes in the region.
( d ).A review of Chinese assistance for infrastructure development in the rest of Pakistan. The focus was on Chinese assistance for the development of mineral resources, for the expansion of Pakistan’s power production and transmission capacity and the construction of a new city in Sindh to be called Zulfiquarabad. There has been no reference to possible Chinese assistance for the construction of a railway line from Xinjiang.
11.Pakistan’s total trade with China is estimated at US $ 8.7 billion. Out of this, its trade with the Xinjiang province is estimated at about US $ 400 million only.
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )
Ukraine is not exactly an India-centric country and its capital Kiev is a patently European city. It is therefore remarkable that Kiev is home to a thriving school of Indian classical dance. It is even more remarkable that it came about through the efforts of a lone Ukrainian enthusiast of Bharatnatyam, the South Indian ancient temple dance.
Over the past eight years, the Indian Theatre Nakshatra has given countless performances, organised Indian art festivals and trained scores of Ukrainians in the art of Indian classical dance.
Nakshatra's founder Ganna Smirnova, praised by Indian art critics as an accomplished performer of Bharatnatyam, is not only its artistic director and main teacher but also the soul and moving spirit of the theatre.
She had her first glimpse of Indian classical dance during a “Year of India” festival organised in the Soviet Union in 1987. By that time she had 12 years of training in classical ballet as well as in Russian and Ukrainian folk dance behind her. She was also practicing yoga, and familiar with the Upanishads and the history of India.
“I was totally captivated by the beauty, rhyme and depth of Bharatanatyam,” says Ganna. “It was a fantastic blend of philosophy and mythology with music and movement. I wanted to make it my lifelong artistic endeavour.”
In 1998 she went to India on a scholarship from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). For the next five years she learned Indian classical dance intensively under Guru Jayalakshmi Eshwar at the Triveni Kala Sangam in New Delhi. She also took up learning the Mayurbhanj Chhau dance and Carnatic vocal music.
Her mastery of Bharatnatyam was so amazing that by the end of her stay in India, the ICCR added her name to a panel of best performing artistes, a rare distinction for a foreigner.
Eager to share her passion for Indian classical dance with fellow Ukrainians after her return to Ukraine in 2003, Ganna set up the Nakshatra dance theatre at the Taras Shevchenko State University in Kiev, Ukraine's premier educational institution. More than 200 students have since attended her dance classes; five of them later went to India to improve their techniques and two have started teaching in Ukraine.
For Ganna's students, Nakshatra Theatre is more than just dance classes.
“Bharatnatyam rouses their interest in Indian culture and history,” Ganna says. Besides teaching the theory and practice of Bharatnatyam, she gives master classes, lecture demonstrations and seminars at different educational institutions in Ukraine. Thanks to her efforts, Indian classical dance has become an indispensible feature of Kiev's cultural life.
The Nakshatra Theatre has staged several dance dramas based on the Indian epics, organised international festivals of Indian classical dance and music and invited famous Indian gurus of dance to teach local students. Nakshatra has turned into a veritable oasis of Indian art in the heart of the Slavic world.
Two years ago, Ganna wrote a book on Indian classical dance titled Indian temple dance — Tradition, legends and Philosophy, the first such book in Russian by a practicing local performer. She is now doing further research on the aesthetics of Indian temple dance at the Shevchenko University.
How can one person cope with so much work? Part of the answer is because of Ganna's Indian husband, Sanjay Rajhans who provides inspiration and support in all her endeavours, besides teaching at the Shevchenko University.
“I try to give a sense of encouragement and logistical support to my committed and god gifted wife,” says Sanjay, who met Ganna at a music class in New Delhi.
Sanjay and Ganna have twin daughters named Kate and Liz, aged 8, who are being raised in the dual Indian and Slav culture.
“They read Pushkin and the Ramayana and learn from Mama the basics of Bharatanatyam and Russian ballet,” he says. “We are trying to expose them to the very best of values of our two great civilisations.” Who knows, the first dynasty of Slav performers of Indian classical dance may be on its way up in Ukraine.
An offer to assist Libya with its post-Qadhafi reconstruction and rehabilitation coupled with India's remaining days as president of the United Nations Security Council and an invitation to attend this week's Friends of Libya conference in Paris enable India to turn the page in its somewhat troubled relations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-backed rebels poised to form the North African country's new government.
The opportunity arises as India alongside China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa – the five Security Council members that did not support the imposition last March of a no-fly zone in Libya and NATO's bombing campaign — finds itself forced to rethink its approach towards embattled Arab autocratic leaders in the wake of the rebels' takeover of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
China and Russia scrambled last week to improve their ties with the rebel Transition National Council (TNC) in a bid to salvage commercial ties and opportunities in post-Qadhafi Libya. Libya may be their most immediate concern as the TNC asserts its authority in the country, but India like China, Russia and the others, is certain to debate the implications of Mr. Qadhafi's fall in its policy towards other embattled Arab leaders, first and foremost Syrian president Bashar al Assad.
Alarm bells rang out last week in the Chinese and Russian capitals after Abdeljalil Mayouf, a manager of the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO) warned that China, Russia and Brazil, in contrast to Western nations, could face political obstacles in reverting back to business as usual once Mr. Qadhafi has been removed from power. Mr. Mayouf did not mention India, but there is no doubt that in his view, it falls into the same category as China, Russia and Brazil.
To be sure, Mr. Mayouf represents only one strand of thinking among the rebels, who have agreed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy inviting India along with the other four recalcitrant Security Council members to the Paris conference to discuss support for the TNC.
Foreign assistance is crucial as the TNC faces the daunting task of enforcing law and order; preventing further acts of revenge and retribution; providing basic services such as water, electricity, food and fuel; reviving oil exports and kick-starting the economy while at the same time hunting down Mr. Qadhafi and gaining control of Qadhafi strongholds such as his hometown of Sirte.
The exercise is likely to provide India and others in the international community a template for similar situations that are certain to arise as anti-government protests sweep the Middle East and North Africa, particularly as protesters' resolve in Syria and in Yemen is boosted by events in Libya and opposition groups seek to emulate the Libyan model of forming a united leadership that effectively serves as a government-in-waiting.
Syria is probably next in line with protesters displaying the kind of resilience and perseverance that has rendered Mr. Assad's five-month old brutal crackdown a failure. As western sanctions particularly of Syria's oil sector start to kick in, the question no longer is if but when Mr. Assad will be forced out of office. India alongside China and Russia is likely to want to ensure that it maintains some kind of constructive relationship with the forces likely to succeed the Syrian leader.
Commentators have been quick to note that Asia's commercial interests in Libya are limited and are likely to in good time assert the same with regard to Syria. India's interests in Libya are virtually non-existent while China relied last year on Libya for only three per cent of its crude imports but had to evacuate from Libya 36,000 workers employed by 75 primarily State-owned Chinese companies earlier this year.
Yet, even if commercial ties with Libya and Syria are relatively miniscule, there is a lot more at stake for India and other Asian nations not only in the three countries whose autocratic leaders were toppled this year, i.e. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, but across the Middle East and North Africa. Beyond chancing that their companies will be at a disadvantage in competing for lucrative post-revolution contracts, they risk negative perceptions in a region in which millions are closely monitoring events in Libya and Syria and are likely to be reinvigorated by the demise of Mr. Qadhafi.
Mr. Qadhafi's fall was preceded by peaceful mass protests that forced the Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt to resign earlier this year. The grievances that have propelled the rebellion in Libya and the protests in Syria, Tunisia and Egypt are shared with the population of a swath of land that stretches from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the Gulf. Change by hook or by crook is likely to be the name of the game for the next decade in the Middle East and North Africa, a region that is strategic because of its geography, energy resources and the financial clout of its oil producers.
No doubt, the struggle for greater political freedom and economic opportunity is likely to be protracted and bloody and the transition towards more open societies messy at best. In a region in which the struggle to get rid of the yoke of dictatorship faces the constant threat of sectarian and tribal strife, India with its mosaic of ethnic and religious groups cohabiting in a democracy and its long-standing ties to parts of the Middle East has much to offer.
That is most immediately true in Libya where the TNC has to quickly move from the rebel capital of Benghazi in the east of the country to Tripoli in a demonstrative gesture of its taking control of the country and a city of two million that is without political leadership or direction. With no running water in Tripoli because supply from aquifers in the desert has been disrupted by the fighting and barely any electricity, the TNC has already promised to immediately start distributing 30,000 tons of gasoline as well as diesel fuel for power stations.
In a country, in which in his 42 years in power Mr. Qadhafi ensured that no institutions developed that could challenge his authority, the TNC and its elected successor will need substantial support in building a more open, transparent society from scratch. Iraq, which was wracked by sectarian violence and fratricide after the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, has served as an example of how not to do it. Those lessons are reflected in the TNC's blueprint for the future, which outlines a 20-month timetable for the transition as well as procedures to ensure that the process is transparent.
Like the rebels, Mr. Qadhafi too appears to have drawn inspiration from Iraq's example. He allowed his capital to fall, ensured his escape and vowed to wage an insurgency. Hussein fled to his hometown of Tikrit where he exploited his successor's policies to fuel sectarian strife. Mr. Qadhafi's whereabouts remain a mystery and it is not clear whether he has returned to Sirte. Unlike Hussein, Mr. Qadhafi has no powerful neighbours on whose support he will be able to rely. As a result, Mr. Qadhafi's final stand could prove to be a less bloody and wrenching battle than that of Hussein and his associates.
For India like for China and Russia, the challenge is to develop middle rather than short-term policies that enable it to capitalise on political and economic opportunities amid initial chaos and instability. Transition in Syria is likely to prove as messy as it is in Libya.
It took five months of bloodshed in Syria for India and the other Security Council holdouts to endorse condemnation of Mr. Assad's crackdown and then only in the weakest possible form because of their concern that it could lead to foreign military intervention. Syrians, unlike Libyans, oppose foreign military aid and have so far insisted that they do not want to move from peaceful to armed resistance.
This should make it easier for India, if not for Russia and China, to get on the right side of history. Doing so does not require a political U-turn but would mean a more forceful stand against the brutality of an embattled leader that does not give him an effective license to brutally crackdown on protesters by effectively blocking an international consensus. Libya offers an opportunity for countries like India to demonstrate that their heart is in the right place.
(James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.)
September 02, 2011
( Written at the request of the “Times of India”)
The soon-to-be 10-year war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates waged by the international community under
Its successes have been in eliminating Osama bin Laden and a number of other high value targets of Al Qaeda and its affiliates in the Af-Pak region, Yemen and Iraq and in repeatedly thwarting their attempts to mount another 9/11 style catastrophic terrorist strike in the US Homeland. The international community has also been able to prevent so far any major threat of maritime and weapons of mass destruction terrorism from materializing.
These successes could be attributed to the strengthening of physical security through improved national capabilities and international co-operation, modernization of counter-terrorism capabilities and techniques, improvement in the collection of human and technical intelligence and follow-up action thereon and stricter laws to deal with terrorism.
The failures have been in the inability of the international community to destroy the terrorist infrastructure in the Af-Pak region,
The morale, the infrastructure and the innovative and constantly improving modus operandi of the terrorists continue to pose a high level of threat, which is likely to continue in the short and medium terms. The terrorists might not have been able to mount another 9/11 style strike, but they have shown an ability to spread the areas of their operations and to take the intelligence and physical security agencies by surprise.
We saw proof of this in the terrorist strikes in
Another development of concern has been in the availability to the terrorists of a much larger reservoir of potential recruits. In the initial years of the war against terrorism, terrorists for pan-global operations came mainly from amongst Arabs .Now they come increasingly from the Pakistani community in the Af-Pak region and in the West. International terrorism, which was largely an Arab phenomenon before 9/11, has now become a mixed Arab-Pak phenomenon with Pakistani organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) moving into the driving seat.
The successes in the ground and air-mounted counter-terrorism operations of the
If the international community has to finally prevail in the war against terrorism, counter-terrorism operations in the Af-Pak region have to be directed as much against the terrorist infrastructure as against its leaders. Terrorist operations against leaders such as OBL are spectacular, but final success will come only if the spectacular is combined with painstaking and surgical strikes against the infrastructure.
The decision of the
The Arab veterans of the Afghan war of the 1980s against the Soviet troops were behind the wave of terrorism of the last decade. The Pashtun-cum Punjabi- cum- Arab veterans of the wars of the last decade against the US-led NATO troops in
While investigation, forensic and physical security capabilities in the rest of the world have improved after 9/11, ours seem to be stagnating as seen from our failure to prevent the 26/11 and 10/7 strikes in Mumbai and the terrorist strike in Pune in February last year. Our inability to successfully investigate any of the post-26/11 strikes despite the availability of greater international cooperation is a matter of serious concern.
Our intelligence machinery and counter-terrorism agencies continue to suffer from major deficiencies. Action to revamp our agencies and counter-terrorism infrastructure has been more in rhetoric than in action.
Counter-terrorism leadership has to flow from the Prime Minister downwards. This has not happened. The opposition has totally failed to keep the debate focused on our deficiencies. Our counter-terrorism debate has been reduced to a meaningless slanging match marked more by partisan agendas than thoughtful ideas. ( 3-9-11)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )