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Geopolitical Clairvoyance


(Talk delivered at the United Service Institute of India on May 11, 2005)


Several millennia ago a renowned philosopher said: ‘The Unexamined Life is not Worth Living”. The subject of the talk this morning falls within the contextual ambit of that quotation from Socrates. Clairvoyance in this case does not amount to reading the tealeaves or crystal gazing. It is simply an attempt to analyze what is taking place in the world: some of it transparent, manifestly so, the larger portion hidden from the public gaze, under a cloud of media-abetted misrepresentation on a global scale.

When George W. Bush became the President at the beginning of the new millennium the horrors of 9/11 had not yet taken place and nor had the world witnessed the retaliatory might of the U.S.A. Moreover, the 1972 ABM treaty had not been unilaterally abrogated, the Kyoto Protocol had not been definitively rejected by the remaining superpower and so many other negative, potentially planet destroying, actions had not been unleashed on the world. The world had entered the new century with hope. In a handful of years – a little over five years of the younger Bush presidency – the world is beset with fears, of a type that had not even been conceived of at the turn of the millennium.

While the world may have put in place mechanisms for mitigating the effects of natural calamities visited on humankind, it has yet to find ways to deal with the disasters brought on by the policies of powerful individuals, be they at the helm of affairs in some of the most powerful countries or shadowy non-state actors. It hardly requires any clairvoyance to see that the present great power policies are not conducive to peace in Asia, or the world. A continuance of these policies threatens to dismantle the existing global order and plunge the world into deepening distress – for human beings as well as for the health of the planet. That being the case the most important issue before the world is to put in place mechanisms that could act as a check on the untrammeled freedom enjoyed by the world leaders, more so, where they are not in consonance with the wishes of the vast majority of the people of the planet, including as well, in many cases, the opinion of people within the countries that flaunt world opinion.

The items selected for discussion in this paper are:

- The Hegemonic Decline
- The Global Economy
- Iran
- New Initiatives Toward Lasting Peace on the Subcontinent

Ideally the proposed expansion of the UN Security Council and the NPT Review Conference now under way should have found mention. Time and space considerations preclude their inclusion in a single presentation.


The discussion starts with the US for the simple reason that much of what that country does impacts on the rest of the world, more so in the regions where there is a sizeable US presence, economic, military or both, as is the case in this part of the world. In like fashion the term ‘hegemon’ is not used as a pejorative. It is very simply a statement of fact. US super ascendance over the world is an established fact. Since there is no getting away from it, it becomes axiomatic that any attempt to look into the future has to take into account the US ability to shape or interfere with events. Here an analysis is being attempted of American propensity for strengthening their dominance of the world juxtaposed to weaknesses that may get exaggerated in the coming years. The weaknesses that could lead to a decline in US power would not have been brought about solely through adversarial action; the more glaring ones have resulted from shortsighted US policies. The ensuing paragraphs highlight some of the effects that could lead to a diminishment in US power.

The published items reproduced below have generally been gleaned from Western commentators, mostly the U.S. press:

- President Bush's "war on terror" has inflicted greater costs on America than that inflicted by the terrorists themselves. - PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

- The American presence in Iraq is costing $4.5 billion a month and putting huge strains on the military. Although George W. Bush is comfortably installed in his second term the political costs of the second term dominated by a nightly accounting of continuing casualties might have to be borne by his party, the Republicans, at some stage or the other. (Emphasis added).

(What is being conveyed here? Not prognostication, merely looking ahead, to make an assessment that many Republican senators and congressmen could increasingly start questioning President Bush’s more radical agenda within USA, as distinct from his policies in Iraq. Concerns are being voiced that George W. Bush’s persistence with his variety of social security reform could considerably debilitate the US middle class over a period of time. Therefore, unless the White House is able to push through the presidential agenda and the more controversial appointments within the next 12 to 18 months, the chances of success, thereafter, would be minimal. After 2006, Mr. Bush might end up becoming the lamest of the lame duck presidents).

- To finance their spending, Americans are borrowing from foreigners at a rate of more than six percent of GDP each year or to put it more simply over $ 2 billion every day.

- North Korea's public revelation that it possessed nuclear weapons represents a formidable challenge for the Bush administration. At face value, the North Korean claim underlines the failure of President Bush's nonproliferation policies.

- The United States while denouncing Tehran’s development of nuclear weapons is quietly modernising its own arsenal.

"In this arena of institutionalized cronyism, the living dead rise from the Cold War graveyard to haunt the halls of Congress whenever the defense-appropriations subcommittees are in session. You might wonder how the military will employ, say, an F/A-22 fighter, a B-2 bomber, or an SSN-774 attack submarine to protect you from a suitcase nuke or a vial of anthrax slipped into the country along with the many shipments of contraband goods that enter unseen by government agents. But never mind; just keep repeating: there is a connection between the War on Terrorism and the hundreds of billions being spent on useless Cold War weaponry. It's important to Congress, the Pentagon, and the big contractors that you make this connection." ("The Iraq War -- A Catastrophic Success" by Robert Higgs).

The most striking fact about American politics is the disjunction between the opinions of ordinary Americans and the behavior of the political elites (The Economist, April 9, 05).
Although Afghanistan is still beset by political disorder, continuing insurgency and major drug trafficking, the Afghan War is largely seen as a success – in USA and perhaps elsewhere as well.


Not long back Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed a new National Defense Strategy paper that said the use of space "enables us to project power anywhere in the world from secure bases of operation." The Pentagon, as is generally known is developing a sub-orbital space capsule that could hit targets anywhere in the world within two hours of being launched from U.S. bases. It is also developing systems that could attack potential enemy satellites, destroying them or temporarily preventing them from sending signals. It would mean that the United States is moving toward a national space doctrine that is preemptive, proactive and potentially destabilizing. Moscow and Beijing have for years promoted a new treaty to govern arms in space, since the current international agreement prohibits only nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction in space. Hu Xiaodi, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations Disarmament Conference, at a U.N. disarmament meeting last year criticized efforts to achieve "control of outer space," as well as research into weapons that can be used there. "It is no exaggeration to say that outer space would become the fourth battlefield after land, sea and air should we sit on our hands," he averred.

Washington sees gaining control of space as key to maintaining global military dominance, and missile defence is part of the strategy. The U.S. plans to eventually have missile defence systems based in space (as well as on land, air and sea). This is part of the US attempt to achieving "space superiority," a goal spelled out in the 2004 U.S. Air Force document Counterspace Operations, which argues that the U.S. must have "space control" and be able to "deny an adversary freedom of action in space." The prospect of the arms race moving into space may give comfort to Washington strategic planners, but dismays the rest of the world. In 1967, ninety-seven nations signed the Outer Space Treaty banning weapons from space. Since then, there has been pressure for a tougher ban. Virtually all nations now support a proposed new ban. The U.S. does not. It wants to take control of space to achieve lasting military dominance.

Because of the extensive US military involvement, which is not limited to the Middle East, the employment of special forces in military policing operations, under the guise of peace-keeping and training, is contemplated in all major regions of the world. A significant portion of this deployment would be undertaken by private mercenary companies on contract to the Pentagon, NATO or even the United Nations. The growing profits of defence contractors and security agencies (mostly western) are undermining the morale and motivation of professional soldiers in these countries, notably USA and UK. In the longer term they could adversely affect intake of good quality new recruits. For example, it has been reported, that retired professionals from Britain’s SAS are charging up to $ 1000 per day for specialized work in Iraq in the danger zones. It has led to many regular SAS personnel seeking premature release, because the differential between their emoluments and those of the employees of security agencies with equivalent capabilities is so vast as to put paid to the patriotism of most serving soldiers. Moreover, the occupation of Iraq, being a case of sheer capitalist exploitation of another country, would hardly fall in the category of national causes inspiring patriotism.

At this stage the role of the National Guard and the Reserves (together, the Reserve Component) needs to be understood. Beginning in the late 1970s, U.S. military forces were designed to incorporate this Reserve Component as an essential element in any major military operation. The Guard and the Reserves were not set up, however, to fight a long and grueling counterinsurgency war. The Iraq War has highlighted deficiencies in this regard. Indeed, the Army Reserve is "rapidly degenerating into a broken force" in the words of its top commander in early 2005. The focus is on the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, by far the largest of the reserve components (RC). They are experiencing the greatest difficulties. As of January 2005, the RC makes up some 40 percent of the military in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Among the Army dead in OIF, about a quarter have been from reserve components. Surveys and interview data have found large differences in the morale of the active duty versus the reserve components. These differences have been widely affirmed over a period of time. Reservists were seen to be markedly more dissatisfied than the active force. This was not thought to be on account of the mission, but rather due to the reservists' perception of inadequate training and poorer equipment compared to that of the active duty forces. The recurring theme was that reserve components were treated as "second-class" members of the Army.

The morale issues that have come to public attention in OIF have revolved around reserve units; the most notable being the prison abuse scandal of the 372nd Military Police Company (based in Maryland) in Abu Ghraib. There was also the case (October 2004) of the reservists in the 343rd Quartermaster Company (based in South Carolina) who refused orders to deliver fuel on the grounds that their vehicles were inadequately armored and the fuel to be delivered was contaminated. On December 8, 2004, Specialist Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team (Tennessee) asked a pointed question about insufficient vehicle armor of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that became a national story. In addition, significant numbers of persons called up for IRR duty have sought to avoid being activated and made their cases public by taking legal action.

In describing the twin components of the emerging US military strategy – i.e., the projected domination of space at astronomical outlays and the declining motivation of the soldiers on the ground - it is intended to show that while the heads of the US establishment may remain euphorically in the clouds the situation on the ground could become more complicated with each passing day. It could ultimately cause setbacks, which the highest technologies might not be able to retrieve. The creeping infirmity referred to above has a bearing – or should have a bearing – on US plans for the subjugation of Iran - dealt with later on in the paper. (The aspect of demoralization and psychological disorientation of US forces has been dealt with extensively in the author’s books Dealing with Global Terrorism: The Way Forward (Sterling-2003) and Global Security Paradoxes: 2000-2020 – MANAS - 2004).

Before moving on to other issues it is worth pondering over an excerpt from a book published barely two months ago in the USA:

“In physical economy, the fixing of the technology of practice to some existing level, defines the physical trend in the economy as entropic. Empires and the like forms of exploitation of foreigners, compensate, if only temporarily, for the decadence of the mother country by parasitism against the foreigner’s physical wealth and human bodies. As the factor of entropy in the combined system of native and foreign operations closes in on the combined elements of that imperial or quasi-imperial system, as upon the U.S.A. and increasingly “outsourced” Europe today, the logic of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the West, and then in the East, is expressed as the doom of the system, as the U.S. is threatened by destruction by its own hand today. (Earth’s Next Fifty Years by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.)

These are not speculative forebodings. They are pointers to a likely decline in US power unless the US government decides to harmonize its policies with the other major world powers in a joint effort for promoting global stability.


The West is facing the twin strains of declining fertility and loss of manufacturing and office jobs to Asia. Whether its economic security could continue through its present dominance of the financial and the knowledge industries alone remains a moot point. Even the question of whether the nation state is eroding in the era of globalization needs going into. Undoubtedly, there may be facets of national sovereignty under considerable strain due to globalization and the spread of MNCs. Nevertheless, there are contra-indications showing that for that very reason an opposite if not an equal reaction might be building up. WTO and other protocols demanding international adherence might tend to undermine national sovereignty. As a consequence thereof many nations have decided to strengthen national controls in areas that do not come under the purview of global protocols. The xenophobic sentiment is likely to get more pronounced in the coming years. Similarly, post-9/11, in the face of threats of terrorism, global or local, more and more countries are enacting legislations that put greater curbs on individual liberty. Ironically, this tendency is the strongest in the countries that are in the forefront for the promotion of democracy around the world, notably USA and UK.

Taking all these aspects together some of the leading economists from around the world have been drawing attention with increasing frequency to the coming economic collapse of the global economy unless urgent remedial measures are put in place. Here is a sampling of some of the comments:

- The US economy is growing at a “reasonably good pace,” said the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, but he warned that dangerous budget deficits must be fixed, preferably through spending cuts. “You cannot continuously introduce legislation which tends to expand budget deficit because down the road the impact of an ever-rising deficit, especially as a percent of the GDP, creates some significant weakness in the structure of the economy,” Greenspan told the House of Representatives Budget Committee. “Addressing the government’s own imbalances will require scrutiny of both spending and taxes. However, tax increases of sufficient dimension to deal with our looming fiscal problems arguably pose significant risks to economic growth and the revenue base,” he stated. (The Economic Times, Friday 4 March 2005).

- Every week of the deployment of troops in Iraq costs US taxpayers $1 billion. The overall spending on the military operation and reconstruction may top $280 billion. The Iraqi campaign is becoming the most expensive in US history. The trouble is that the US army cannot pull out of Iraq now or in the future. It would be construed as a defeat for Washington’s Middle Eastern policy.

- As a nation we are consuming and investing about 6 percent more than we are producing. What holds it all together is a massive and growing flow of capital from abroad, running to more than $2 billion every working day, and growing. There is no sense of strain. I don’t know of any country that has managed to consume and invest 6 percent more than it produces for long. The United States is absorbing about 80 percent of the net flow of international capital.

(US economy skating on thin ice by Paul A. Volcker, The Tribune, April 13, 2005)

Although there would be many contributory factors to a global economic decline, the main ones are being linked to US profligacy and fiscal indiscipline. In the opinion of this writer the looming crisis before the global economy can be artificially kept at bay for a considerable period of time by the powers that be. The reason is that any sudden decline in the US power could adversely affect many other nations, if not the globe as a whole. So, therefore, at this point in time, regardless of the US economic overextension, a catastrophic - as distinct from a gradual - decline in US power might generally not be in the world’s interest.

Currently, the United States is hugely indebted to the nations that hold the largest foreign exchange reserves: China, Japan and Saudi Arabia, among others. These countries know that the reserves they hold – collectively reaching a figure of approximately 2 trillion dollars, if not more - are intrinsically perhaps not worth the paper they're written on. Japan and China know it? Saudi Arabia knows it? But, they are all part of the global system. The governing elites of China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, have been co-opted into the system. So, they're not in a position to pull the rug from under the feet of the United States, and bring in that collapse, because a collapse of the United States ipso facto translates into a collapse of China's ambition to be a global power by about 2025. China, therefore, is not going to pull the rug. Although the U.S. Treasury receipts may be devalued paper, China is using those assets to transform itself into a global power.

The powers that control the U.S. establishment today are aware that their economic policies are pushing the United States into a headlong decline? Not only are they alive to the possible outcome, having access to some of the best economic advice in the world, there appears to be some deliberateness to it. They are positioning themselves to benefit from a global collapse. In the United States, the people allowing the decline to set in are putting their own money into an area that is already defunct. They know it. The National Missile Defense (NMD) effort alone, over the period of its lifespan of 25 years or so, is going to cost America $1.2 trillion. The identity of the people who have bought into and control the firms and entities that are going to support the NMD and allied space domination systems is revealing.

As stated earlier, the challenge before the world is not so much to diminish U.S. power, a catastrophic decline at this juncture not being a solution, but to change U.S. mindsets and channel America's amazing vitality toward productive ends; ends that will allow for the speedy revitalization of the planet. There is an urgent need for a global financial regulatory agency – an independent body – for putting curbs on financial speculations that could distort the global economy or that of a country by outside forces. The regulatory body should strive to first restore economic equilibrium on a regional basis and prescribe limits to speculative and windfall profits. Market forces no longer control global markets, if they ever did. The oft – used capitalist homily of ‘leaving it to market forces’ is not only routinely misapplied it is perhaps one of the biggest myths to have been propagated since the advent of Adam Smith. Hardly any economist can reasonably claim to understand the subterranean capital flows that buffet the global markets practically on a daily basis.


There is not much doubt that US preparations for action against Iran are going ahead. What form the action might take or when remains a matter for conjecture. It could be any of the following: outright invasion, regime change, or intensive high-tech bombardment. Although a full-scale invasion in the manner of Iraq appears to be unlikely, it cannot, however, be ruled out. Iraq itself was to have been an important base for the projection of US force against Iran. The latest developments in Iraq would have relegated this jump off point to a lower priority. US forces in Iraq would, nevertheless, attempt to effectively seal the border with Iran. The other launch pads that have been developed are the bases in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Pakistan. The last named country has become the most important, with sizeable tracts in Balochistan reportedly being acquired by the US.

In the face of the likelihood of US action against Iran what should the world do? If it were to supinely sit back as in the case of Iraq and simply twiddle its thumbs, clearly it would stretch the existing world order to near breaking point. More importantly, it would make the US military-industrial complex even more intractable. The world cannot shut its eyes and allow Iran to go under in the manner of Iraq. Standing up for Iran does not in any way indicate support for its nuclear policies or for the religious dispensation running that country.

Since mere condemnatory noises have seldom deterred the Americans, concerted global action must be put in place before further madness engulfs the region. These actions could include, inter alia:

- Resolution to be passed by the European parliament warning USA not to undertake military action against Iran without UN Security Council Resolution.

- Similar resolutions in respective national parliaments by Germany, France, Spain, and all other countries that could be deemed to be against the projected US action.

- Russia, China and India to make an unequivocal statement that military action against Iran by the USA would invite non-cooperation with USA by these countries in designated areas.

- Russia to consider extending more efficacious defensive military help to Iran to withstand US military action. It is high time that Russia too starts drawing its red lines or les lignes jaunes as the French would say because should Iran go under in the pattern of Iraq, Russia would be further diminished to a considerable extent. German and French commercial interests would also be adversely affected, as happened in the case of Iraq. Perhaps there is a method to the American madness.

On the part of Iran, as a measure of abundant caution, it could even consider inviting Russia to establish one air and one naval base in Iran for a period of 5 years. Iran would defray the expenses of the two bases on Iranian territory at mutually worked out locations. Whether Russia would agree is a matter that can be explored by the two countries. The reasons for the choice of Russia in this regard would be fairly evident.

The US and its allies must be watching with dismay the spread of Shiite influence in the Middle East. With most of Iraq already under their sway, the Iranians would be looking covetously at Lebanon. The Americans might have succeeded in booting out the Syrians. The vacuum thus created is most likely to be filled by the Iranian protégé, the Hizballah. It is perhaps the only well-organized, well-funded and well-backed force remaining in Lebanon after the Israeli withdrawal and the projected Syrian withdrawal. The Iranians and the Shiite heads have become politically savvy. They sense that US policies could pave the way for Shiite dominance of the Middle East. To further these aims, Hizballah’s Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah will most likely mould his followers into a political party in order to capture political power in Lebanon. Not only would the US be unhappy with this turn of events, Sunni Islam would be more shaken with these developments. It is with this anticipated backlash from Sunni Islam in mind – at whatever stage – that Iran is pursuing its nuclear weapons programme. The Iranian nuclear capability is not exclusively designed to counter USA and Israel. There are longer-term compulsions for Iran, much after the Americans decide – again at whatever stage – to leave the Middle East.

Regardless of the present situation in Iran and the current turmoil around Iran, the world including civilized people in the USA, must appreciate that Iran is an ancient civilization with a very refined culture that pre-dates Islam by several millennia. The destruction of that country in the manner of Iraq would deprive the world of another unique heritage. It is too steep a price to pay for gratifying the expansionist urge of vested financial and military interests from another part of the world.


Lasting Peace usually turns out to be a chimera. Nevertheless, it is the general belief that the visits to India in April 2005 by the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and President Musharraf were an important step toward this end with the majority of the writers opining that they were harbingers of peace. What are the prospects of the recent agreements resulting in long-term stability in the region?

Beginning with China the agreements were essentially re-iteration of the framework agreed upon during the visit of Prime Minister Vajpayee a few years earlier. Even when (and there is a big If to it) the boundary dispute is finally settled between China and India, the latter would be displaying extreme naiveté if it were to take Chinese assurances at face value. For lasting peace between China and India, the following conditions must obtain, absolutely and irreversibly:

- Demilitralisation of Tibet followed by the demilitarization of the Himalayas between the two countries. At the very least there should be no offensive military forces in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

- Stoppage of transfer of nuclear and missile technologies to Pakistan.

- Hands off policy in Bangladesh and Nepal.

- No further attempts to establish a military presence of any type in the Bay of Bengal.

Right from the time of China’s first intrusion into Tibet, Indian leaders have been yielding ground to China – literally and figuratively. First, on account of a hazy grasp of realpolitic and, after the 1962 debacle, on account of a perceived military inferiority, more so after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Apparently, their study of Chinese history did not familiarize them sufficiently with the general thrust of Chinese policies over the millennia for the nations on the periphery of the Middle Kingdom. By the 1950s China had attained its objective by occupying Tibet. At the same time it was facing a difficult situation in Korea. To ensure that India did not question its occupation of Tibet it fell back on its time-tested strategy of yore. It projected maximalist demands - well beyond the limits of its geo-strategic imperatives of the 1950s – by laying claim to Indian territories.

This stratagem was resorted to, to ensure that India’s focus remained forever thereafter only on the boundary between Tibet and India and on those portions of territory disputed by China. Tibet, thereby, was cleverly placed outside the ambit of any territorial adjustments that, at some later date, might have caused China considerable discomfort, if pursued vigorously by India. Had the Indian statesmen seen through China’s strategy they could straightaway have countered by at least questioning China’s annexation of Tibet or its rapid demographic swamping. It should be recalled that Chairman Mao had given assurances to the Dalai Lama during the latter’s visit to Beijing in the mid-1950s that Tibetan autonomy would be fully respected.

It is pointless dwelling on the past, however. Having yielded ground to China on almost every count, India has to ensure that it never again underestimates Chinese capabilities, regardless of the harmonizing of relations that may ensue in the coming decades. It is the US presence and India’s growing economic strength, which have brought about a change in Chinese attitude towards India. It would be premature and highly incautious to mistake it for a change of heart.

Turning to Pakistan it will be seen that Gen. Musharraf’s credentials for running Pakistan may appear increasingly attractive to the Western world and China, more recently, perhaps to India as well. The General was forced to do a U – turn after 9/11 with a gun to his head. He capitulated. Publicly he has been making all the right noises. These have been music to US ears. Even his liberal leanings may flow from genuine conviction. What is the reality on the ground, however? The Jihadi elements, no matter how vociferously denounced by him in public proclamations from time to time, are flourishing as heretofore. The madrasas – many still spawning venom-spewing pupils – continue to mushroom. What is more, the political reach of the radical elements has been extended beyond their wildest expectations under his dispensation at the cost of the mainstream political parties.

Now they are unshakably entrenched politically in several provinces.

Evidently there is a contradiction working here. How does one explain the yawning gap between the perceptions of the western elites and the equally incontrovertible signs of the strengthening of the radical elements in Pakistan who have during the same dispensation, established a strong presence in Bangladesh.

The undeniable hiatus between the two perspectives can be put down to General Musharraf’s subtle revenge on the Americans for having forced him to betray the very people who had given a leg up to his military career from the time that he was chosen by General Zia-ul-Haq for a delicate mission. It seems to be forgotten that it was Pervez Musharraf whom General Zia had selected to deal with the restive Northern Areas. To impress General Zia, Brig. Musharraf took a leaf out of a former Army Chief, Gen. Tikka Khan’s book. The latter had earned the sobriquet ‘Butcher of Balochistan’. Musharraf’s handling of the unrest in Gilgit - Baltistan was no less severe. The question then arises “has Musharraf turned over a new leaf or is he playing along with the Americans to the extent that he can manage the differences”?

This point becomes clearer if a rhetorical counter question is posed in the same vein to his American and Western interlocutors. To whit, “hypothetically, if someone had obliged the famous Senator McCarthy with a gun to his head to do a U-turn on communism would it be fair to assume that in case he had gone along to save his skin he would have actually gone soft on communism”? Nearer our time we can pose another question, this time to those who orchestrated the invasion of Iraq, “were the neocons to be made to do a U – turn in their policies, under duress, would it signify a final rejection of their cherished beliefs”? Should the answer to these posers be in the negative, Musharraf’s policies will become clearer – retrospectively and prospectively.

In this regard, just a few days earlier the Editor of the Friday Times, Najam Sethi in an interview in Chennai (reproduced in The Hindu May 6, 2005) states, inter alia: “Al Qaeda, sectarian Islam, political Islam that seeks to capture state power and jihadi Islam are also elements of the same paradigm”. More ominously he adds, “ The fact that Al Qaeda and political Islam are hovering in the region meant that they could lay their hands on these weapons”.

General Musharraf and the Military-ISI combine continue to sedulously nurture this constituency, notwithstanding the capture of top Al Qaeda leaders every now and then. What is more, in a devilishly clever subterfuge, they have provided them with a politically legitimate window to democratically reach for the levers of power and, by extension, at some stage, with their sympathizers in the military, total control over the nuclear assets of Pakistan. The political door for them might have been opened just a crack. They have been quick to firmly wedge their foot into the crack. The door cannot be shut on them now - by Pervez Musharraf or his successors. All this while the US was physically present in Pakistan with their hand on the General’s shoulder.

Both in the case of China and Pakistan these are the hard realities that must temper the enthusiasm generated by the media in relation to the two visits that were dubbed as the harbingers to lasting peace. The divide between India and Pakistan is more fundamental than imagined. The very basis of their separation militates against an easy return to normalcy. Whatever the outcome of negotiations it has to be kept in mind that the two strongest entities in Pakistan today remain the military and the mullahs, both viscerally opposed to the very thought of a prosperous India. Therefore, till the time that these entities suffer significant diminishment in their power and are replaced by a deeply entrenched democratic dispensation, fully committed to the rule of law, freedom of the press, abolition of medieval religious laws, independence of the judiciary and the freedom for all religions to co-exist as equals in Pakistan, lasting peace is not likely to come about any time soon. At best it would be an uneasy accommodation.
The case of China is somewhat different. A realization may be dawning on Indian and Chinese leaders as well as the people of these two countries that genuine peace between China and India, should it come about, could make a monumental difference to peace in Asia. It could change the very dynamic of world peace. More importantly, it would allow the peoples of these two countries to re-discover the phenomenal goodwill that marked their relations for the best part of two millennia. The gains accruing there from would go well beyond the ushering of peace and prosperity for nearly 40 per cent of humanity in the 21st century.

The concluding remark of this presentation coming at the mid-point of the first decade of the 21st century is by way of an item that appeared in a little known newssheet, which encompasses the very real concerns of a large portion of humanity for whom geopolitics and geo-strategy are obfuscating terms used by leaders to camouflage their inability to achieve equitable growth and harmony within their countries and without.

“ It has been the biggest ever travesty of human development that today we have more poor people on earth than before. On the face of all the glitter and glamour that goes for human progress poverty hangs as a shameful spectre. With all the economic development achieved so far the gap between the rich and poor has been increasingly growing over the years and the poor are becoming poorer day by day. The violation of nature has cost us dear. For all the proud achievements of our materialistic age, we are inhaling poisonous air, drinking polluted water, eating pesticide-infested food and absorbing all sorts of harmful chemicals or other synthetic products”. (Purity, April 2005).

People living in overcrowded metropolitan cities are aware of these ill-effects resulting in the early onset of Cancer, Diabetes and other life-threatening diseases in growing numbers of young people. The frenetic pace of unplanned, uncoordinated over-development has already made large swaths of territory in China, Thailand, Russia and so many other places practically uninhabitable. National elites are expending too much of their energies and time on geopolitical and geo-strategic considerations. If the planet has to remain habitable for the coming generations it is necessary to re-focus on issues related to geo-economy for amelioration of the human condition for the vast majority of human beings. Instead of pushing for their place in an expanded Security Council these countries should press for reform of the global monetary and financial systems and the Bretton Woods instrumentalities. There is a crying need for reducing the indebtedness of developing countries groaning under the weight of payouts for servicing national debts. As a first step a global conclave on the lines of the Afro-Asian summit held recently in Jakarta should jointly work on proposals whereby a nation’s debt would automatically start declining by a given percentage annually after the principal amount of the debt has been serviced twice or a maximum of thrice over through interest payments. Similarly, currency fluctuations should not be permitted to adversely – and artificially - affect the indebtedness of nations. Under no circumstances should the burden be allowed to accumulate oppressively and indefinitely.

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