Thursday, March 31, 2005
"Russia Tells Pakistan: India 'Deserving UNSC Candidate'," Daily Times, 31 March 2005, http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_31-3-2005_pg7_45 (from The Acorn).
I blogged before on Russia's responsible attitudes toward China. Part of the reason is Russia is excellently placed for Asia's future -- Moscow's Cold-War-Era times to New Delhi should come in useful. The latest good news? Russia support's India's quest for a United Nations permanent seat:
Russia told Pakistan on Wednesday that India was a “deserving candidate” for an expanded UN Security Council seat, PTI reported. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s special envoy Riaz Khokhar was told this when he called on Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, PTI said. Khokhar met Saltanov to convey President Musharraf’s personal message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The conversation focussed mainly on international and regional issues. “In the context of a upcoming UN reforms the Russian side affirmed the well-known consistent and principled position of Russia on expanding the UN Security Council membership. Moscow sees India as a deserving candidate,” said Russian sources, reiterating Putin’s statement in December last that Russia would back a permanent UNSC berth for India. However, Saltanov called for a consensus on UNSC reforms.
The Acorn adds his thoughts
Moreover, by leaking news of what was supposed to be a ’secret meeting’ the Russians did not lose the opportunity to score points in New Delhi.
"Ending the EU Arms Embargo: The Repercussions from Russia," by Stephen Blank, Jamestown Foundation, 29 March 2005, http://www.jamestown.org/publications_details.php?volume_id=408&issue_id=3280&article_id=2369496 (from Simon World).
"From Bill Roggio's Assignment Desk," by Bill Rice, Dawn's Early Light, 30 March 2005, http://dawnsearlylight.blogs.com/del/2005/03/from_bill_roggi.html.
Two stories touching on China. One retorts an article on India snubbing the US by buying arms from other countries for a little less than a billion. Reading the article, though, reveals no mention of advanced US arms. Rice's response:
The $746 million would likely not be paid out in one current defense budget year, and only represents 5% of 2004-2005 Indian defense spending of US $15 billion [February 5, 2005 Asia Times]. The same article hints at a possible purchase of 126 US F-16s: "The Indian defense community's wish list is long, which they feel is necessary to modernize the country's armed forces. These include a proposal to purchase F-16 fighter jets, Scorpene submarines and long-range rocket systems. The proposal to buy 126 F-16s - at $25 million each over five years - will itself cost the exchequer $3 billion. "
And that doesn't even mention the advanced and expensive F-18!
But while Indo-American military connectivity is definitely a good thing, the Sino-European deal is not.
First, Brussels may be less responsible than Moscow
Since 1989, Russia has been China's virtually exclusive supplier of military arms and assistance to the tune of $2 billion annually. China, however, wants to receive the technology and know-how to build these weapons indigenously so as to minimize its exclusive dependence on Russia. Since the Russian defense industry would collapse without the Chinese and Indian markets, it has had little choice but to oblige China's requests. Thus, China now has the capability to make much of the Russian-type weaponry through technology transfer. To the degree that China can get top of the line weapons and communications/information technology that it needs (and in many cases better quality weapons and servicing) from Europe, the Russian defense industry will take a severe blow. Indeed, Beijing probably hopes to obtain technologies and capabilities that it cannot get from Russia since Moscow has been reluctant to sell top of the line systems to China.
Second, it risks turning an emerging democracy into a servant of an emerging economy
Last year, China already joined the EU's Galileo project to tap into European developments in space and satellite technology. While there has been no official statement from Russia about the EU's impending decision, there is clearly considerable unease as to what it may portend for the Russian defense industry – and for Moscow, which clearly displays considerable ambivalence about China's future goals. This unease feeds into a broader sense that Russia cannot regulate the consequences of China's growth and might face a creeping "satellization" vis-à-vis Beijing if it loses still more leverage.
Third, it empowers the worst people in the Chinese leadership
Thus, Beijing has the opportunity to not only pit the EU against Washington diplomatically, but also against Moscow with regard to arms sales and technology transfer. China is already attempting to exploit this trend. In late 2004, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov successfully proposed joint Chinese-Russian maneuvers to Beijing. Russia wanted to conduct joint anti-terrorist operations in China's troubled Xinjiang province, a move that made strategic sense given Xinjiang's unrest and proximity to Central Asia. However, China has recently insisted that the operation involve large-scale conventional forces in anti-landing operations and take place on China's coast. That orientation would recast the joint maneuvers as a rehearsal for an invasion of Taiwan, not an anti-terrorist exercise.
Fourth, besides confirming CCK-Style Cravenness in Europe, in keeps war profiteers in business on the shrinking continent
However, it is also clear that individual members like France, Germany, and Great Britain are also pushing strongly to end the embargo. Although their individual motives vary, these countries have a common desire to rescue their ailing defense industries (which are finding it ever harder to compete in what is today an arms buyers' market) by opening up to China and India. Likewise, they all hope to cash in on China's economic growth and would seem willing to sacrifice their standing on human rights and democracy to gain these profits and expand their influence with China.
The only good news from the article? Pace Blank, China is improving
Second, there is no sign that China's overall human rights record has improved despite the changes in the country since 1989. While China may be a much more prosperous and even freer country, none of those freedoms are anchored in stable legal human rights and can be removed at any time. Removing the embargo gives China a "good housekeeping seal of approval" and rewards China's continued obstruction of democratic reform. At a time when the rhetoric and policy of promoting global democratization is trump in Washington, as shown in President Bush's second inaugural speech, for the EU to reward China's trampling of human rights hardly signifies a willingness to cooperate with America.
Economic liberalization is the cornerstone of stable democracy. Economic freedom is the cornerstone of political freedom. China is getting better. In spite of Europe.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
"The EU and the Arabs II -- Kojeve's Latin Empire," by Marc Schulman, American Future, 27 March 2005, http://americanfuture.typepad.com/american_future/2005/03/the_eu_and_the__1.html (from Zen Pundit).
Eastertide moves all men to ponder post-War French foreign policy. At the same time I penned by thoughts on a Carolingian (Franco-German) Explanation for a French "No" Vote, AF ponders a Latinite (Italo-Franco-Spanish) bent to French actions
The fullest embodiment of the principles of the French Revolution were for Kojeve the countries of postwar Western Europe . . . For these were societies with no fundamental “contradictions” remaining: self-satisfied and self-sustaining, they had no further great political goals to struggle for and could preoccupy themselves with economic activity alone . . . The end of history, he believed, meant the end not only of large political struggles and conflicts, but the end of philosophy as well: the European Community was therefore an appropriate institutional embodiment of the end of history.
Kojeve’s franco- and euro-centrism, which would certainly have been appealing to de Gaulle, is already apparent: the French, not the American, Revolution ushered in modernity, and the countries of Western Europe, not the United States, were the primary manifestations of modernity.
Does not the phrase “they had no further great political goals to struggle for and could preoccupy themselves with economic activity alone” apply to today’s Europe, which, in contrast to the United States, has no political goals other than stability and no faith other than materialism?
Latinité: France Looks South
More importantly, Schulman argues that the dream of Latinite propelled France's EU policy. Specifically,
The European countries in the Latin Empire have a common “mentality”:
the differences of the national characters cannot mask the fundamental unity of the Latin “mentality” . . . this mentality is specifically characterized by that art of leisure which is the source of art in general, by the aptitude for creating this “sweetness of living” which has nothing to do with material comfort, by that “dolce far niente” itself which degenerates into pure laziness only if it does not follow a productive and fertile labor (to which the Latin Empire will give birth through the sole fact of its existence).
This shared mentality is what differentiates the Latin Empire:
this mentality not only assures the Latin people of their real — that is to say political and economic — union. It also, in a way, justifies this union in the eyes of the world and of History. Of the world, for if the two other imperial Unions will probably always be superior to the Latin Union in the domain of economic work and of political struggles, one is entitled to suppose that they will never know how to devote themselves to the perfection of their leisure as could, under favorable circumstances, the unified Latin West; and of History, for by supposing that national and social conflicts will definitely be eliminated some day (which is perhaps less distant than is thought), it must be admitted that it is precisely to the organization and the “humanization” of its free time that future humanity will have to devote its efforts.
Leisure instead of work, harmony instead of conflict. Are these not building blocks of the European Union, and the sources of much of the European criticism of America?
Further, this Latinite is distinct from the Anglosphere or Sovietism
While the Latin Empire must be as politically united as the British Commonwealth or the USSR, it is not necessary to copy the social and economic organization of the two rival empires:
there is nothing to suggest that the “liberalism” of great unregulated cartels and massive unemployment dear to the Anglo-Saxon bloc, and the leveling and sometimes “barbaric” “statism” of the Soviet Union, exhaust all possibilities of rational economic and social organization. In particular, it is especially clear that a “Soviet” imperial structure has nothing to do with “communism,” and can be easily separated from it.
The Alternative: Carolingia
France Looks East
After a detour on French views of the Islamic "other," AF sums up
Needless to say, there is an obvious continuity between Kojeve’s advice of sixty years ago and today’s French foreign policy. Kojeve proposes nothing less than the formation of a European Union that would led by France, counter the power of the Anglo-Saxons and the Soviets (multipolarity instead of bipolarity), and keep others out of the Mediterranean area, which just happens to be where the Arab states are located. Independence from America (and Britain) was a theme in his advice to de Gaulle. The General took Kojeve’s advice; while in power, he vetoed UK membership in the European Community and withdrew France from a NATO that was dominated by the United States. In 2003, Chirac followed his advice by attempting to keep the United States (and Britain) out of what the French have long believed to be their sphere of influence. He could not stop it, but he made it more difficult.
Respectfully, I disagree. Post-War France showed no interest in reviving a Latin Empire. Among other reasons.
- Before the Great War, a Latin Monetary Union actually existed. France did not seek to revive this, and Latin Europe only shares a common currency now because of the Euro.
- While Rome and Paris signed the Treaty of Rome, Madrid did not. Spain did not even join the European Club until 1980. If a new Latin Empire was France's goal, it is doubtful the Republic would have let a little matter of dictatorship get in its way.
- French Post-War policy cenetered on harmozing with Germany. It makes no sense to call an Italo-French-German Club "Latin."
The European Union: What France Actually Got
All of these problems are solved by viewing French Post-War policy as Carolignian. France's post-1945 goal was to harmonize all things with Germany, to create a Western European nation-state. Latinite is a valid theory to the extent it overlaps with this Carolingian perspective.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
"France Threatens Military Action Against Syria over Lebanon!," Naharnet, 26 March 2005, http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/Newsdesk.nsf/Story/CCA1B20FF465EB02C2256FD0003A070F?OpenDocument&PRINT (from Democratic Underground).
Syria's stupid assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister just earned them threats from an unlikely source
France has reportedly warned the Assad regime against playing procrastination games to sabotage the process of change in Lebanon, saying "otherwise, all doors will be flung open for all eventualities against Syria," including military action.
The London-based Asharq Al Awsat on Saturday quoted a French official as saying the report of the U.N. fact-finding mission on ex-Premier Hariri's assassination "is the message we wanted to address to Syria to refrain from preventing the change in Lebanon."
The newspaper quoted the French official as saying in a harsh language that reflects a French ultimatum: "France has long resisted calls for directly attacking Syria. So do not push us into a situation where we have to change our stance."
"If the Syrians fail to understand this or if they try to manipulate and procrastinate, they will lose their last chance" the French official said, according to the Saudi-owned newspaper.
France has long supported Wolfowitz Style Occupations -- little planning, lots of killing. The French Republic's opposition to the Iraq was built on interest, not principal -- France is willing and able to destroy small countries.
Chirac may prefer having France invade Syria, and so make France and feared as America, than have France look weak and America look strong.
This will be interesting.
Friday, March 25, 2005
"Belarusian National Republic," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belarus_National_Republic.
"Protesters clash with police in Belarus, 150 people arrested," Kyodo News, 25 March 2005, http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=8&id=332026 (from Coming Anarchy).
I'll sign off tonight on some hopeful news. Really hopeful news. Belarus may join Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan
Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police in Minsk near the palace of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday and 150 protesters were arrested, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
The police made the arrests after some 1,000 pro-democracy protesters reportedly tried to gather near the presidential palace, demanding democratic reform.
As you can tell by the national shield, the Belarussian government never got over its Soviet fix
Interesting, not only are Belarussia's historical symbols much more "European"
They still have a government-in-exile from the post-World-War-I days. Nifty!
"Are they winning?," The Economist, 23 March 2005, http://economist.com/world/europe/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3798465.
The thrust of the article is the sudden "no" sentiment in France to the referendum on the European Constitution, but the economic news is even more depressing
Whether they represent a new trend or not, the new polls show that a French no is now a real possibility. How to explain such a surge of Euro-hostility? Partly, no doubt, it is a protest against an unpopular government, led by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the prime minister, which seems to have lost its way at a time when voters are most anxious about jobs and pay. Unemployment is over 10%. Growth is still sluggish. Rents are rising. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets. Yet the government lacks any serious plan to revive the economy or increase jobs. Moreover, a whiff of sleaze hangs in the air, after the resignation of Hervé Gaymard as finance minister over a housing scandal, not to mention the opening this week of a corruption trial that fingers colleagues of Mr Chirac when he was mayor of Paris.
As for the Constitution issue... that's more understandible. "Europe" was designed to end war in Europe forever by uniting France and Germany under one regime. Books such as Before France and Germany and Mohammed and Charlemagne persuasively argued that the "French" and "German" nations were illusions, and that a Carolingian or "European" nation truly occupied those lands. (This was one of the bases of my graduate research at USD).
Unfortunately for France, America has successfully moved to "drown" Carolingia in a a large structuer -- first a free Western Europe and now the continent-stradling behemoth we see today.
France's dream is dying. Their future worth creating is fading away. I feel sorry for them.
Update: Bizblogger shares his take
After all of Chirac's discussion of a powerful Europe to counter-balance the weight of the U.S., what an interesting twist of irony it would be if France were the country that undermined his wish.
I wouldn't view this as ironic. France may have more to fear from a federal Europe than Britain. France's actions in the EU and her opposition to America are explained by Paris's desire for Carolingia. To "end war in Europe forever," France wants to merge with Germany. First to counter the Soviet threat and now to ensure American power in Europe, Washington wants France submerged in a wider Europe. A "No" vote may hurt America more than France.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
"Moldova Communists stay in power," BBC News, 7 March 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4322617.stm.
"Russia Picking A Fight Over Kyrgystan," by Tim Russo, Democracy Guy, 22 May 2005, http://democracyguy.typepad.com/democracy_guy_grassroots_/2005/03/russia_picking_.html.
There's so many angles to this story: Putin's alienation of Moldova, joint Opposition-Government patrols, Russia's generation-old policy of trading power for money, the wave of democratic revolutions, Russia's army being so incompetent that it can't invade a country where it has military bases, etc.
In the same month two new ex-Soviet states, Moldova and the unpronounceable Kyrgystan, look to be joining Georgia and Ukraine in cutting their ties to Moscow. But everything is swamped by this headline
To those who need a second look
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
"Bush Picks Wolfowitz for World Bank President," by Adam Entous, Reuters, 16 March 2005, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=586607.
President Bush has selected Paul Wolfowitz to be the new President of the World Bank.
President Bush on Wednesday selected Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a magnet for controversy as one of the leading architects of the Iraq war, as his choice for World Bank president.
This is wonderful. Baghdad Spring, and the hot chicks to go with it, would never have happened without Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. At first I was worried that he was being "kicked upstairs," but then...
European sources said Wolfowitz's name was circulated informally among board directors several weeks ago and was rejected. "Mr. Wolfowitz's nomination today tells us the U.S. couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks," one source said.
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier suggested other candidates could be considered. "It's a proposal. We shall examine it in context of the personality of the person you mention and perhaps in view of other candidates."
If the French are mad at the promotion of an American, I'm happy. Bush is staking international political capital on Paul's promotion. Good luck to both of them! And God bless their work!
Update: Dr. Barnett agrees
A short comment on Wolfowitz for World Bank: He does have the background, and he'll probably do a really good job. He wants to be his own guy, and this is one helluva job for someone with his long career of working with foreign governments. To me, it's putting in the WB a guy who's really smart on developing Asia (former ambassador to Indonesia famous for his immersion techniques), and that's a huge plus right now. Getting all of Asia into the Core is more important than fixing the Middle East in the grand scheme of things--a lot more important. Having someone Bush really trusts in that job is key--a very good sign. It's yet another amazing turn for a guy with an amazing career. I honestly see it as overwhelmingly positive, understanding the many misgivings many have about him. Comparing him to McNamara is nonsense, really. Two very different people. Wolfowitz is no technocrat, not even a Vulcan. Deep down, he's far more romantic in his understanding of the world than anyone realizes, in my opinion. He'll do fine. It'll be a great choice in the end.
Friday, March 04, 2005
UK Warns Syria of 'Pariah' Status," BBC News, 4 March 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4317473.stm.
"Bush Offers to Help EU Over Iran," BBC News, 4 March 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4317579.stm.
Repitition today. Trading Syria for a Persian Bomb is old news. American hostility to Baby Assad's Syria is old news. Syria's encirclement is old news. Potential WTO Membership for Iran is old news.
Such obvious Atlantic cooperation on the trade is the only novelty here.
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has warned Syria it risks being "treated as a pariah" if it fails to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.
In a BBC interview, Mr Straw said more UN peacekeepers could be deployed in Lebanon to replace Syrian troops.
His comments come a day after Russia and Saudi Arabia joined growing calls for Syria to withdraw its forces.
He said Syria had to withdraw "in a sensible, swift but phased way" in order for the country to "come back into the fold of the international community".
"If they don't," he said, "they really will be treated as a pariah."
for the Bomb
US President George W Bush has said he is willing to help European countries in their negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.
Mr Bush said he had told the Europeans that the US was looking at how it could help move the process forward.
The European plan could offer Iran economic and trade incentives if it abandons its nuclear programme.
As Dr. Barnett writes, it is not "appeasement," it is "the fastest way to getting what we want."
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
"Two thoughts from Amsterdam: On legalising prostitution and drugs," The Acorn, http://opinion.paifamily.com/index.php?p=1278, 2 March 2005.
Acorn combines India, Europe, personal liberty, technocratic governance, and federalism in the best post, ever
While social acceptance of prostitution may not be the government’s business, the government does have an interest in tackling the social problems the ensue from prostitution. Countries like the Netherlands have legalised prostitution; both to avoid the social costs of an industry driven underground, and also to achieve the economic benefits of a formal, organised industry. Can this happen in India?
Not if the central government in New Delhi is expected to make a moral, economic, political and social decision that really is a matter for individual communities to make and live with. Prostitution is really a local business. A brothel in a small, closely knit village of 20 families is quite a different matter from a brothel in a city of 10 million people. For that reason, the decision to legalise or not must be left to the lowest level of government. In India’s context, this means that it may be a matter for the panchayati raj system. States already have the ability to impose prohibition, that another impractical measure. Empowering communities to make their own decisions on matters affecting them most may be a good way to go.
Drugs are quite another story. Amsterdam’s coffeeshops sell soft-drugs to anyone who is above the legal age. Hard drugs remain illegal. The need to make this distinction shows that the question of legalising drugs is tricky. While it can be argued that while consenting adults engage in prostitution on their own free will, this becomes harder to justify in the case of drugs. While prostitution is local, the drug industry is not. China, for example, is only too aware of how opium played a major role in undermining its society and weakening its power. This genie is best kept in the bottle for now.