The New Global Crisis Requires A Major Revamping of the Global Power Structure

If the 1990s and the first eight years of the first decade of the 21st Century represented an era when transnational terrorism dominated world attention, the remainder of this decade and the next one promise to be a period of a new global crisis, which might be even more obdurate than fighting global terrorism.  Robert Zoelick, President of the World Bank, described this era as marked by the “double-jeopardy of food and fuel prices,” which will defy solution.  These issues will also make a number of countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America favorite places for the mushrooming of drug cartels, transnational crimes, small arms trade, and even terrorism.  The search for solutions for this new crisis might require a radical reconfiguring of global decisionmaking structures, an issue on which major powers must reflect with utmost seriousness.


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Staying With Robert Gates


President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to keep Robert Gates at the helm of the U.S. Department of Defense is an excellent choice.  As a successor to the highly controversial (almost “radioactive”) Donald Rumsfeld, Gates brought a refreshing sense of professionalism and calculated detachment and distance from George W. Bush’s controversial defense policies.  That was difficult, but he pulled it off. 


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Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Design and Nuclear Brinkmanship

If the world had any doubts that the genie of advanced nuclear weapons proliferation was out of the bottle, those doubts were removed by a report that the Swiss officials have found blueprints of advanced weapons belonging to the nuclear networks formerly headed by Pakistani nuclear physicist, Dr. A. Q. Khan.  What is not yet known is whether Iran or other countries have purchased that blueprint from the nuclear smuggling network.  The U.S.-led pressure on Iran, the Twenty-First version of “nuclear brinkmanship,” is likely to be further intensified as a result of this new disclosure.

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The “Obama Factor” in America–A Personal Narrative

While watching the emergence of Senator Barack Hussein Obama as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for the presidency of the United States, I was experiencing the feeling expressed in the phrase “present at the creation,” by President Harry Truman’s Secretary of State, Dean Acheson.  Here is a black man, whose father was a Somali Muslim and his mother was white woman from Kansas, getting ready to challenge the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, Senator John McCain.  Obama and McCain epitomize the stark contrast that is quintessentially American.  Obama grew up in Indonesia and Honolulu, Hawaii, where I currently reside.  In fact, I live only a few blocks from the Punahou School, which Obama attended.  He is the embodiment of Midwestern America and immigrant tradition, whereby America is called a “nation of immigrants.”  McCain, on the contrary, is part of “mainstream,” Anglo-Saxon America.


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Iraq: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

If either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton wins the net presidential election, there is going to be a radical change at least in the current size of American troop presence in Iraq.  But if John McCain were to win, the present U.S. commitment would remain the same or would even increase.  But the bottom line regarding Iraq is that making a clean break from there is well nigh impossible for America.  At least three explanations are being offered for not getting out of Iraq.  The first one is that the terrorist-extremists would takeover Iraq.  The second one is that America’s withdrawal means its defeat and soiling of its reputation as hegemon (not used pejoratively here).  And that such an eventuality would permanently damage its presence and interests in that region.  Finally, it is argued that America’s withdrawal from Iraq would lead to an immense boosting of Iran’s clout and influence in the Middle East.  A closer look at these explanations is in order.


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    Rhetorical Wars Without An End: U.S.-Iran Practice of “Mutual Satanization”

    Iran and the United States have been indulging in a regular exercise of “mutual satanization,” a phrase coined by Rouhollah K. Ramazani, Professor Emeritus of University of Virginia.  Mutual satanization is referred to an endless rhetoric of mutual demonization.  Iran adopted that policy in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of 1979.  The United States also implemented an analogous policy during the administration of President Jimmy Carter.  It was during that time that the Iranian revolution took place.  The highly turbulent relationship between United States and Iran during the revolution and, most important, Carter’s inability to gain the release of American hostages taken by the Iranian revolutionary zealots, set the ostensibly permanent context of the relationship.  Iran’s own anti-Americanism was the result of the Anglo-American sponsored coup of 1953 that ousted a nationalist government of Premier Mohammad Musaddeq and brought back Mohammad Reza as the pro-American Shah of Iran.  Since then both sides are practicing the policies of mutual satanization. 

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    The Mythical Post-American Era

    In the context of civilizational history, the rise of the West is one of the oldest events. The old colonial powers declined; some of them slid into the category of “former great powers” (France, Germany and arguably Spain and Italy); and others, like Britain – realizing that it could never be a power of global influence again – found its niche as America’s sidekick.

    The European Union has emerged as a club that contains a number of former colonial powers and an entity that is attempting to act as a “great power”. The former Soviet Union imploded, and Russia, as its chief successor, is still tying to find its identity, both as a great power and as a hybrid of democracy and authoritarianism.

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    Implications of Attacking Islamist Schools in Pakistan

    The United States has carried out a missile attack on an Islamic School founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, whom Washington describes as a “friend of Bin Laden.”  The speculations are that the missile attack was aimed at killing a number of Uzbek and Arab fighters who were reportedly using that school as a sanctuary.  However, the missile also struck Haqqani’s family home, killing his sister, sister-in-law and two nieces.  This is just a preliminary report on civilian casualties.


    Haqqani is reportedly in poor health, but his son Sirajuddin Haqqani is reported to be leading the forces fighting the ISAF in Afghanistan.


    From the U.S. vantage point, given the rising surge of the Taliban forces in Afghanistan, such a strike is clearly aimed at changing the tide of war in favor of the ISAF forces.  From the perspective of the fledgling civilian government of Pakistan, the continued U.S. missile attacks are going to raise the level of turbulence inside that country. 


    We are told that the new Pakistani leadership is “quietly” in favor of the U.S. attack while publicly condemning it.  If true, that open secret–since it is being discussed in the Pakistani press as well–is likely to bring down the civilian government before too long.  In the Northwestern Frontier Province, the banners clamoring for “Go Musharraf” have already been replaced by the banners demanding “Go America, Go Zardari.”  And Asif Ali Zardari, a supposed pro-American leader, was sworn in as President only yesterday.

    Neo-Con Rudux?

    One of the hottest topics of discussion in the United States strategic community is that the neo-conservatives have launched a campaign of “redemption”. For now, the person most active is Douglas Feith, who served as under secretary of defense for policy under former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    Feith has written a book, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, and is using the opportunity of its promotion to push the neo-con line. He even appeared on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show , one of the US’s most popular shows that specializes in spoofing daily news.

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