Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

If Obama stayed in power?

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 »

India and Pakistan still fight over Kashmir

By Jonathan Power

October 18th 2016.

In the middle of last month Pakistani militants moved across the “line of control” that separates Pakistan-controlled Kashmir from the Indian-controlled part. The two countries have been at loggerheads about the title to this gorgeously beautiful state, now bereft of tourism and much income, since independence.

In recent years guerrilla activity has died away and most observers thought that the Pakistani army was seriously clamping down on its own sponsored guerrillas. The indications were that the government truly wanted rapprochement with India. And India too with Pakistan.

However, not everybody in India thinks so positively. Professor Brahma Chellaney noted in the Japan Times recently, “India’s response to Pakistan’s military strategy to inflict deaths by a thousand cuts through terrorist proxies was survival by a thousand bandages”.

This time Indian did not take it lying down. It said that Indian special forces made multiple strikes on terrorist launch pads. (Pakistan said there had only been cross border firing.)

Surprisingly, India has made no move to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism or to declare bounties on the heads of prominent UN-designated terrorists who still operate openly in Pakistan – not the same one who killed 150 school children last year but other similar movements.

India is conducting, to the ire of Chellaney, only “a silent war”. He goes further and says that “if in a year’s time (when things have hopefully cooled off) India returns to “peace talks” with Pakistan it will be crystal clear that India’s biggest enemy is India”.

Strong words and I profoundly disagree with him.

At last, very belatedly, Read the rest of this entry »

More US hostility towards China?

By Jonathan Power

September 20th 2016

The two American presidential candidates give the impression of being rather hostile towards China. This is counterproductive.

“The US should not adopt confrontation as a strategy of choice. In China, the US would encounter an adversary skilled over the centuries in using prolonged conflict as a strategy and whose doctrine emphasizes the psychological exhaustion of the opponent. In an actual conflict both sides possess the capabilities and ingenuity to inflict catastrophic damage on each other. By the time any such hypothetical conflagration drew to a close, all participants would be left exhausted and debilitated. They would then be obliged to face anew the very task that confronts them today: the construction of an international order in which both counties are significant components”.

Henry Kissinger who wrote this four years’ ago, was the architect, along with his boss, President Richard Nixon, of the US’s rapprochement with China which led to Communist China taking up its seat on the Security Council and to full diplomatic recognition.

But these days China has begun to feel the old Soviet paranoia that it is being not only contained but encircled. The US of President Barack Obama has been giving it a hard time. The dispute over the ownership of the islands in the East and South China Seas is profoundly threatening for most members of China’s governing elite. Indeed they are right to feel partially encircled.

China has no friends to the east and to the south, except North Korea. To the west it has Read the rest of this entry »

The Global Right and Left and Immanuel Wallerstein

By Johan Galtung

Immanuel Wallerstein is unique. Nobody else has presented such a coherent theory of what he calls the modern world-system, from “the long 16th century” up till today; essentially capitalist. There are ups and downs during those four centuries. He is very much at home in the economic Kondratiev cycles–A for up, B for down, but not that much down–and in the political-military hegemonic cycles of the would-be hegemons in the same period.

Read Immanuel Wallerstein and become wiser.

He warns against the Global Right “Lampedusa tactic” of “changing things so that they remain the same”. And insists on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for the Global Left–but sees the French Revolution more as normalizing change than as people’s sovereignty. Like faith in the middle classes: they are actually helping the Global Right, when in minority they are enlarged by the majority working classes, when in majority they neglect the working class minority left behind.

Right now Wallerstein sees capitalism in crisis with no remedy – of which I am not so sure – and the US hegemony also in a crisis with no remedy – a view I share – as the fall of an empire with local elites killing for them; now they have to do most of the killing themselves.

The Global Right, in power for a long time, is now faltering. Time for the Global Left?

Or, does Zizek’s brilliant formula “the left never misses a chance to miss a chance” apply?

Wallerstein offers six Global Left proposals: Read the rest of this entry »

America, the threatened?

By Jonathan Power

September 6th 2016

The French ambassador to the US from 1902 to 1924, Jean-Jules Jusserand, observed that distant powers could not easily threaten the US because “On the north, she has a weak neighbour; on the south, another weak neighbour; on the east fish and on the west, fish”.

The coming of the submarine-based nuclear missile has not changed that. Apart from the fact that no enemy would dare use them for fear of retaliation, and that there is no country in the world that feels that hostile to America (accept North Korea), the fact is America is too big and too far away to be invaded and dominated. There could not be a blitzkrieg by a foreign army across the mid-west or a Vichy America.

The real tragedy of 9/11 is just as a majority of the US electorate had settled into a post-Cold War comfort zone with the new president, George W. Bush, not being overly pushy or confrontational in foreign affairs, America was jolted so badly that a large proportion of its electorate – maybe half – has been paranoid ever since. Enemies are once again seen under the bed.

Enough of the electorate have persuaded themselves that they are insecure Read the rest of this entry »

The global power imbalance

By Johan Galtung

Dear Reader: This editorial 444 – the number calls for attention – is dedicated to a global overview, the world “right now”, so unstable with imbalances everywhere that what we are living is fluxes and jumps.

Let us start with two major relations: Nature-human, the US-the Rest.

Look at the human-nature relations.

We are used to being on top, killing and taming animals, protected against many of nature’s hazards including micro-organisms. But nature comes up with ever smaller viri, and larger, or more, tsunamis and earthquakes, and an erratic climate.

We oscillate between blaming ourselves, including military scheming, and the anthropomorphic “Mother Nature is angry” (Evo Morales).

If nature is angry, she has good reasons for a good riddance of us. And we are slow at a deeper human-nature relations respecting and enhancing both.

Nature is on top and our natural sciences are simply not good enough, taken by surprise all the time. Meteorology is good at covering the whole Beaufort wind range from 0-12; others not.

Maybe we have desouled nature and besouled ourselves too much to establish our own Herrschaft (rule, dominance), at the expense of Partnerschaft (partnership).

Unless this changes, imbalance with nature on top, and surprises, will continue.

Maybe the opposite holds for the US-Rest imbalance; that US exceptionalism serves USA as badly as humans above nature serves us? Read the rest of this entry »

Perhaps economic stagnation is a good thing?

By Jonathan Power

August 16th 2006

The announcement was made yesterday – August 15 – by Japan’s Finance Ministry: In the last quarter of the year the Japanese economy grew at an annualised rate of 0.2%. “One wonders if the economy will remain at a standstill for the rest of the year”, the Financial Times asks.

But then Japan’s economy has been becalmed for 30 years. Even though the government has poured billions of dollars into the economy it has had only a small effect in boosting demand.

One wonders when the government will give up and what happens then – another decade of minimal growth? If that is what happens how much does it matter? To the Japanese themselves it seems not that much. By and large they are contented with their lot.

The rest of the word may be worried as a powerful country is importing less and less. It does not contribute to world economic growth as it did before when its fast growing economy progressed at Chinese rates from a much higher base.

Some American and European economists are worrying that the Japanese “disease” will spread before long among all the leading economies. Indeed it could be argued that with Europe in the doldrums – apart from Sweden and Poland – and the US economy not steaming ahead as it once did, this may be already happening.

The former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has said that the world faces looming “secular stagnation” – a persistent period of low growth, low inflation and low interest rates.

But is this such a bad thing if the cost of living also falls? Read the rest of this entry »

Can China threaten the West?

By Jonathan Power

August 2nd 2016.

How far behind the West is China? Is its economy still booming so it could within 20 years overtake America? Is its military becoming of such a strength it will take the big decision to confront the US navy in the South China Sea?

While it is obvious that the Chinese leadership is much more far sighted and cautious than, say, Donald Trump, can one conclude with 100 % certainty that potentially dangerous clashes won’t occur?

The communist leadership believes that before long it will be the world’s biggest economy. Yet if one looks at national income per head it is way down the league table of economic achievers. Size is not everything. Moreover, if one starts from a low base, as China did before the paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, introduced capitalism in 1978, fast rates of growth, as reported in government statistics, overstate what is happening in many parts of the country.

Away from the booming coastal areas China is extraordinarily backward, with the countryside and smaller towns looking like, at best, Central America, at worst India.

The US, Japan, South Korea and Europe will always have the technological edge. It’s true for most things that the West can do better whatever China does. Compared with past rising powers – Read the rest of this entry »

Russia and China right now

By Johan Galtung

The background is the two major communist parties in the world. Russia Communist Party-Bolshevik made the November 1917 revolution; from 1922 the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU(b). CPC, the Communist Party of China, now celebrating its 95th anniversary, made the 1 October 1949 revolution. World-shaking events; in the world’s biggest state in area and in the world’s biggest state in population.

The revolutions cut into the modernity contradictions in the State-Capital-People triangle by conquering State-military and police. Two lasting achievements of CPSU(b): State Planning of the economy – maybe five years at the time, pjatiletka – now found in most countries; and lifting some bottom up to meet basic needs, surprisingly quickly. But CPSU(b) exercised gross structural violence in the countryside. And CPC, imitating CPSU(b), made the same mistake to start with.

Then they became different. Russia got stuck with the Party on top of the State, for some people, but not by the people. CPC, like CPSU, did not – and still does not – permit FAFE, fair and free elections at the national level. But China gave People a voice in the 70,000 People’s Communes, helping them lift themselves up when in misery.

China did not see State and Capital as either-or; like Bolshevik Russia opting for State through expropriation, and neo-liberal USA for Capital through privatization, manipulating and spying on the People. China opened for the neither-nor local level, for the compromise of some welfare state, and for the both-and of their capi-communism.

This intellectual-political flexibility, rooted in daoist holism and an unending force-counter-force dialectic, not in Western faith in a final state, Endzustand, opened for two very different “communisms”.

How are they doing these days, those two communist parties?

The Russian party is out for the time being; and in came capitalism. But over and above that discourse looms the history of a huge Russian Orthodox empire attacked by Vikings, Mongols-Tatars, Turks, Napoleon and Hitler, Catholic Christianity, and Cold Wars with extremist US evangelism, now over Ukraine too.

Yeltsin – hated by Gorbachev (INYT, 3 Jun 2016) – gave the West what they wanted.

Popular Putin tries to build autonomous Russia without Western-capitalist imperialism, probably successful in the longer run. However, in Russia the long run is very long. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 380: Brex’it. So Be’it – And now what?

By Johan Galtung

The vote turned out like the two referenda held in Norway in 1972 and 1994. And much for the same reason: Protestant break with Rome – Catholic, imperial – Henry VIII made himself head of the Anglican Church in 1534.

Religion was not the only reason, there are Protestant Nordic members of EU, closer to the continent and closer to Russia. World history, a short while after Pope Francis – Patriarch Kirill also made world history, bridging the Catholic-Orthodox 395-1054 gap.

The Disunited Queendom is now London with surroundings; England. The implications are enormous, for UK-GB and the British Isles in general, for EU and Europe in general, USA and the world in general.

The US Trojan horse decided to leave the EU on 23 June 2016.

UK-GB and the British Isles in general:

Goodbye United Kingdom, UK, we may get United Ireland, UI, instead.

Goodbye Great Britain, GB, we may get Scotland in EU instead.

Welcome to Britain of England-Wales, if they care for that vocabulary.

Welcome to new-born England, 23 June being the Day of Independence.

Independence?

Washington, having lost its inside-EU ally, Read the rest of this entry »

 

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