Tidibits and Morsels (3)



The Cold War in its old form disappeared when the Soviet Union imploded.  But the U.S.-Russian competition did not.  The United States continued a strange policy of expanding the NATO membership and bringing that Alliance all the way to the Russian borders, despite strong and continued protestations from Mosow.  It was highly irrational on the part of the United States to think that Russia should only listen to its rhetoric–which went along the lines that “we are no longer adversaries”–and totally ignore its near obsession with the NATO enlargement.


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Tidbits and Morsels (2)

The post-9/11 era popularized the phrases “weak states,” “failing states” and “failed states.”  Those were places where terrorist organizations evolved and eventually took over the country.  Somalia emerged as the archetype (if that is the right adjective) failed state.  Even if the world wanted to forget Somalia, it could not, when that country became a stronghold for pirates.  While children in Manhattan, New York, Dubai, or Copenhagen aspire to become successful business executives when they grow up, children in Mogadishu dream of becoming pirates.  Somalia hit the world news when, on November 18, 2008, pirates hijacked the Saudi-owned supertanker, The Sirius Star.  The Saudi government promptly equated piracy with terrorism.


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Tidbits and Morsels (1)

These are brief comments on stories that caught my attention.  I will attempt to write this series on my website as frequently as I can.  If you would like to see more of these in the future, please drop me a note on my gmail account: ahrarie@gmail.com


OPEC is reducing its production by 2.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d).  That is a desperate attempt of the oil cartel to firm up the declining oil prices, which stand at $41.99/bbl.  Recall that only three or four months ago, the same barrel of oil was going for around $140/bbl. 

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Impending Popular Wrath: India’s Post-Mumbai Blues

India has always been a bundle of political, social, and economic paradoxes.  In the post-Mumbai terrorist attack days (which Indians refer to as India’s 9/11, or, to be precise, 11/26), it stands at the crossroads of modest economic growth as well as political chaos.  The developmental aspect of this paradox is related to the promise of economic development, which is only shaken but not shattered as a result of the terrorist attacks.  The chaotic aspect is related to sustained political stability in the coming years.  In a democracy, voters don’t forget what happens to them in the wake of a tragedy or a disaster.  They only get even through ballot boxes; except that the reasons underlying the “revenge” of different political, social, and economic groups are different.


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The Ups and Downs of a Strong Security Team

President-elect Barack Obama’s new national security team comprises strong and highly-qualified individuals.  Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, and James Jones as National Security Advisor.  These are good choices, but what are the chances of an impasse on matters of policy stemming from these head-stong persons?  The positive side of such a team is that Obama improves the prospects of success in his awesome task of revamping America’s economic institutions and their processes and retaining America’s image as an enlightened global power–tasks that are as challenging as those faced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  The negative aspects of headstrong persons serving an inexperienced president is that he is likely to face policy impasses stemming from disagreements among his top aides on policy choices.


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