Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category
By Jonathan Power
April 18th 2017.
There are 29 states which have at one time or another set about becoming nuclear weapons powers or have explored the possibility. Most have failed or drawn back. Only the US, Russia, France, UK, China, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea have crossed the threshold. Only the first five have long range, nuclear-tipped, missiles. North Korea wants to walk in their footsteps.
The common belief that when a state has decided to do so it goes for it as fast as it can is wrong. Sweden, Japan, Algeria, Australia, Italy, Yugoslavia, West Germany, Egypt, Iraq, Switzerland, Syria, Brazil, Argentina, Taiwan, South Korea, Norway, South Africa, Pakistan and India all sought to acquire nuclear weapons but their pace and commitment were different.
In the end all but Pakistan and India became convinced to kill their programs off. For many years Indian leaders, unconvinced of their value or of the morality of use, stalled the urge of nuclear scientists to step up the pace of research and engineering.
Nuclear weapon possession is usually counterproductive. Vipin Narang, in Harvard’s “International Security” has shown that “on average, states pursuing nuclear weapons face more armed conflict”.
In the case of the US and the Soviet Union (now Russia) it led to an arms race that enabled each side to blow up each other’s civilization not just once but many times.
North Korea is today’s hot potato. Clearly the regime is moving things forward just as fast as it can. But in past years – during the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama – North Korea was prepared to compromise. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
March 23rd, 2017
The Asian economies are picking up speed again. After the big hit from Wall Street when the bank, Lehman Brothers, collapsed in a heap in 2008, sending shock waves everywhere, a recovery is now in the works.
How many child deaths in the Third World did these bankers cause?
Another question is will future growth be like the past- fast but severely inequitable? The same growth before 2008 that reduced absolute poverty created a widening gulf between the haves and have-nots.
But isn’t that sufficient for the day, many ask? Absolute poverty must be the key mark of progress- raising incomes, giving people more money to seek education for their children or medical care or filling the coffers for the state so that it can fund bore holes in the countryside and sewers in the urban slums.
After all in the period of rapid growth from 1990 to 2008 the number of people living in extreme poverty was almost halved, from more than 1.5 billion to 850 million.
China’s poverty fell dramatically from when 85% of the population lived on less than $1.25 a day to when only 13% lived in poverty. India has also reduced poverty rapidly, particularly under the last Congress government of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, but the voters still fell for the opportunistic populism of the BJP and voted Congress out.
Of course there are good arguments why the progress made has not been seen as enough, not just because of rising inequality but because India and China between them have two-thirds of the world’s poor.
Escaping poverty is not enough. Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
When the Clinton campaign started bitching about Russia interfering in US elections by hacking into the DNC I was struck by their excesses of outrage and the virtual absence of any acknowledgement that the United States has been interfering in dozens of foreign elections for decades with no apparent second thoughts.
CNN and other media brings one national security expert after another to mount various cases against Putin and the Kremlin, and to insist that Russia is up to similar mischief in relation to the upcoming French elections.
And never do they dare discuss whether such interference is a rule of the game, similar to espionage, or whether what was alleged to have been done by the Russians might lead the US political leaders and its intelligence agencies to reconsider its own reliance on such tactics to help sway foreign elections.
Is this selective perception merely one more instance of American exceptionalism?
We can hack away, but our elections and sovereign space are hallowed ground, which if encroached upon, should be resisted by all possible means. It is one thing to argue that democracy and political freedom are jeopardized by such interference as is being attributed to Moscow, and if their behavior influenced the outcome, it makes Russia responsible for a disaster not only in the United States but in the world.
The disaster is named Trump.
Assuming this Russian engagement by way of what they evidently call ‘active measures’ occurred is, first of all, an empirical matter of gathering evidence and reaching persuasive conclusions.
Assuming the allegations are to some extent validated, it hardly matters whether by what means the interference was accomplished, whether done by cyber technology, electronic eavesdropping, dirty tricks, secret financial contributions, or otherwise.
What is diversionary and misleading is to foster the impression that the Russians breached solemn rules of international law by disrupting American democracy and doing their best to get Trump elected or weaken the Clinton presidency should she have been elected.
The integrity of American democratic procedures may have been Read the rest of this entry »
March 14th 2017
Rocket launches galore in North Korea. Colours and flames in the sky. It’s all a bit like a peacock spreading his tail.
Murders abound. Is this a butcher’s shop- an uncle, a half-brother and a couple of high-placed generals and no doubt others?
Kim Jong-Un, the president, is no Hamlet and murder seems not to give him doubts. The day after he is photographed at some event, smiling the smile of a psychopath who ditched his conscience somewhere at the top of the Alps when he was out for a hike organised by the school in Switzerland he was sent to.
When he was leaving office President Barack Obama warned Donald Trump that the nuclear-armed, rocket-raqueteer, Kim, would be his most immediate foreign policy challenge. But, apart from saying he is prepared to meet Kim, Trump hasn’t offered a plan.
The Financial Times in a recent editorial said Kim has bad cards but plays them well. One could add that the US has good cards too but plays them badly – and that goes for three presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
At one time Washington did play a good hand Read the rest of this entry »
March 6, 2017
By Johan Galtung
An Unstable World: Analysis, Forecasting, Solutions
Take current deep conflicts in our unstable world and go back in time, aided by dialogue with the parties about “when did it go wrong”. Chances are a year will emerge. There was a basic event, or process, polarizing something that used to be more cohesive. A faultline had emerged that can last for centuries, more or less polarized, up till today, and beyond, if there is no intervention.
The faultlines function like tectonic plates. Nothing may happen for long periods. Then they shock against each other, with earthquakes geo-physically; Norway-, Euro-, World-quakes socially.
The tern “karma year” is used. Not destiny-Schicksal-skjebne; too deterministic. Karma is destiny that can be changed through awareness.
By Jonathan Power
March 7th 2017.
The state of being vigorously anti the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is becoming out of control. It is in danger of becoming pathological and self-destructive. What does the West gain in the long run if it sees nothing ahead but being anti-Russia?
The West is in danger of having embarked on a journey to nowhere. Russia is not going to change significantly in the near future. The very close Putin/ Dimitri Medvedev team are going to remain in the saddle for a long time.
We are not yet in a second Cold War. Those who say we are don’t know their history.
The Cold War was years of military confrontation, not least with nuclear arms. It was a competition for influence that stretched right around the globe and it was done with guns. There was the Cuban missile crisis when nuclear weapons were nearly used.
If Putin is here to stay we have to deal with him in a courteous and constructive way. Russia is not a serious military threat. President Donald Trump’s proposal for an increase in US defence spending is larger than the whole of the Russian defence budget.*
Neither is Russian ideology. When the Soviet Union was communist there was a purpose behind Moscow’s overseas policies – it was to spread the type of government of the supposedly Marxist-Leninist workers’ state. No longer.
Today the militant anti-Putinists – I would include in this group Barack Obama, most of the big media in much of the Western world and most, but by no means all, EU leaders – believe they are defending the US-led “liberal democratic order”. They believe that Russia is intent on undermining it. In their eyes it is democracy against authoritarianism.
But it is not. Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
To understand something we often compare it with something else.
A recent Harvard study found 26.7% of world car production in China and 13.3% in USA; US economy bigger but China leading in export with 8 of the 12 biggest harbors; USA end 2016 fighting 7 wars with bases all over and China with no wars or bases, investing, building the New Silk Road-Lane, the Economic Belt. How successfully, it is to be seen.
But these are global power relations. That the West is going down, the Rest is coming up, the USA is a major part of the West and China of the Rest, are decades-old truths. And the EU is also part of the West.
What does domestic China remind us of, historically, structurally? Not USA, a state since 1776, 1812. Let us compare China with present border and context to Europe from the Atlantic to–whatever the border.
One conclusion can be foretold: only recently are both of them becoming cohesive, as super-states and as super-nations. Why, and how? Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
“View” meaning not only a glimpse from above, but a position taken on the world on which the US electorate is now dumping Donald Trump.
That world is today basically multi-polar, maybe with 8 poles: 1) Anglo-America, 2) Latin America-Caribbean, 3) African Unity, 4) Islam-OIC from Casablanca to Mindanao, 5) European Union, 6) Russia more region than state, 7) SAARC from Nepal to Sri Lanka, 8. ASEAN, Australia-New Zealand. [See list of abbreviations with links to the mentioned organisations under the article]
And thre is the multi-regional Shanghai Cooperation Organization, SCO, with China and Russia, Islamic countries, India and Pakistan.
There is a waning state reality, smaller states being increasingly absorbed into regions.
There is a waxing region reality with the above eight; adding West Asian, Central Asian and Northeast Asian regions, maybe eleven.
There is a global reality based on IGOs, inter-governmental organizations, with the United Nations on top; TNCs, the transnational corporations, with the US-based on top so far; and INGOs, international non-governmental organizations, with religions on top.
Now, insert into all of that something concrete from William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report #146 and his Rogue State.
From WWII, the USA has: Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
November 8th 2016.
An interesting question is what would happen to American foreign policy if President Barack Obama were allowed to have another four year term in office?
It would be a less interventionist presidency than what is about to become. This is not to say that I think the way Obama has handled the war in Afghanistan has been successful. Nor do I believe the attack on Libya was a sensible idea. Nor do I think the way he dealt with Russia and Ukraine in the last four years has been anything but counterproductive.
But I do believe the world would be an even messier place if he had not been president. Syria would have been invaded with ground troops. Iraq would have been replicated.
I think confrontation with China over the ownership of the contested islands in the South China and East China seas would have been more serious than it has been.
There would have been no bringing back Cuba in from the cold. (Cuba was the home of the missile crisis of 1962 when the world came terrifyingly near to a nuclear war.)
Most important, there would have been no nuclear deal with Iran. Iran’s research which could have led to the making of a nuclear bomb (not that I think it had any intention of going that far) would have continued.
At some point Israel would have bombed Iran’s reactors Read the rest of this entry »