Thursday, December 27, 2007
Robert Paterson thinks all is lost -- we're
The cause of this suspicious death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who suffered bomb blasts and bullets. There's now a riot, possibly martial law, blah blah blah.
My question: Why is anyone surprised this happens in a Muslims country?
Broadly, most of the world "works." Aside from troublesome campesinos near the Andes and racist Pacific Islanders, if you are not in the continuous geographical Gap that stretches from the Cape of Good Hope to frontier of Russia, things are going pretty good for you. The chances of you becoming the victim of a suicide bomber, a mass rape, or good ol' fashioned genocide are remarkably small. Regularly there's really bad news from the Gap, such as a camapign of rape fully understandable by our chimpanzee ancestors or today's assassination of a talkative woman, but really, it doesn't effect our lives.
So, what next?
The Gap is actually composed of two distinct regions, an Islamic Gap in the later stages of civilizational collapse and an African Gap that never progressed far enough to collapse in the first place. We do not know how to pull off large-scale social engineering, but we do know that most of our attempts to do so have failed. So firewalling ourselves off from the Islamic Gap, doing what needs to be done while strictly limiting human migration from the Islamic Gap to the globalized core, is the best policy. Likewise, we should move away from what Muslim allies we have, as seen in American and Chinese movements away from Pakistan and toward India.
The African Gap, by contrast, needs large-scale engagement. A complete lack of inftrascuture means major opportunities -- both for profit and for power -- for those able to impose such an infrastructure.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
A number of unfortunate stories out of Beijing these days, two being China promotes Taiwan-focused military officers and China rejects use of sanctions to resolve Myanmar crisis. While neither are new developments (the Communist Party has protected the Burmese junta and opposed Taiwanese democracy for some time), the decision to look to the past says little about the strategic wisdom of the Hu Jintao Presidency.
President Hu has not lived up to the high expectations set for him. In spite of personal squabbles with former President Jiang Zemin that just don't end, the current generation of Chinese rulers are no more imaginative than the last. Things aren't getting better with respect to China's international behavior, but they aren't getting worse, either.
A sensible approach would be to assume that China's cautious glidepath toward development will remain unchanged. So we should keep growing trade links with China, and of course encourage helpful behavior from them. But we shouldn't have naive dreams, either. China is developing, but she is not a democracy. She has people, but does not have the security experience of India. She has wealth, but does not have an ocean of free capital like Japan. She has culture, but nothing like the vibrant democracy of Taiwan or the captive city of Hong Kong.
American policy in western and central asia should focus on the economic integration of China and the security integration of Japan, Taiwan, and India.
In both cases, the prime obstacle is the Democratic Party. But that is a post for another time...
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Wanted! For Being in the Wrong Places at the Wrong Time (and also killing those people and keeping his country in poverty)
Burma has largely been in the sort of loser country -- those of the Gap and the Seam -- that we can live with. Unlike Ba'athist North Korea, Russia, Milosevic's Serbia, Saddam's Iraq, Syria, etc., Myanmar has kept its dysfunction largely to itself. Allowing its neighbors of India, China, and Thailand to develop in peace, Burma has long been a problem we can deal with later.
Then Burma, lacking refinaries and experiencing the sort of economic problems states do, raised gasoline prices. They did this at the same time of mountain economic pressure over lack of both economic and political reforms. Burmese political activists lept at the opportunity, mass-rallied, and were quickly killed.
The outrage against Burma's rulers is a product of these facts, with one more: Burma's neighbors are becoming rich. If the same events happened twenty years ago, the world would pat itself on the back for larger achievements elsewhere. If the same events happened in Africa, the world would not care. That the events did happen a generation agian, and are happening in Africa, testifies to this fact.
So what should we do?
Remove the junta, of course. That others are worse does not give them an excuse to remain in power. Burma is not democratizing in the idealistic (leading to free and fair eleections) or materialistic (leadering to free markets) sense. It kills its own people, and does not meaningfully participate in regional economic growth.
Mark and Shane share their thoughts.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
It's rare that every post on a blog's front page is worth reading. But Eddie of Hidden Unities has done it!
- In The Streets Of Burma….
- Burma: Tear Gas & Violence… Now What?
- Hitting Back Against The Junta
- Foreign Affairs: How To Move Forward On Burma
- A Realistic Take On China & Burma, Wild Cards Included
The Burma of 2007 is something like the Central Asia of the 19th century: a mixture of direct and indirect colonization by an outside power. While Shan State, Burma, is under effective Chinese control, the rest of Myanmar is a client-state whose ticket to survival is the good wishes of Beijing.
China gains from having Burma as an ally -- especially when Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India are so suspicious of China's rise -- but would benefit more from a Burma that would economically reform. A backwater that is only good at ticking off the world is not in Beijing's interest.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Perlez, J. (2007). Militant students capture masseuses to make a point." New York Times. June 24, 2007.
If there's anything that illustrates how screwy Pakistan, and for that matter the rest of the Islamic Gap, is, it's this:
“There were about 25 Chinese women, dressed only in underpants and bras,” recalled Ms. Okasha, 24, a muscular high-school badminton champion who had shed her black garb for soft mauves, her face uncovered, during an interview inside the women-only confines of the school. “They scattered, but we managed to grab five.”
Though a concluded paragraph isn't bad, either:
Ms. Hassan, her face absent of makeup but her fingernails and toenails varnished with red, said she was proud of her raiders.
“I said to the students before they went off, ‘The Chinese are masters at karate; you don’t know how to make one kick.’ But they were able to manage.”
And for completeness sake:
His college-age students asked “many times,” he said, about the legitimacy of suicide bombing. Suicide bombing was justifiable against American soldiers. “It depends on the circumstances,” he said. “In a supermarket I will say no. Suicide bombing against American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, I will say yes, yes. It’s not suicide. It’s a mission, then it’s allowed.”
Two take-aways from this article:
First, it's interesting that the New York Times describes what are obviously prostitutes as "masseuses." The reason is clear: opposition to prostitution should be an intellectual, liberal exercise, and not a goonish one. The Times is clearly embarrassed to be intellectually on the same side as madrassa-studying reactionaries, though this isn't surprising. Both the New York Times and the Islamists prefer prostitution to remain in the informal, depriving many women of a natural capitalization vehicle. Both the the Pakistani extremists and the old liberals of the New York Times share the disdain for market exchange, Hernando de Soto-style capitalization of private wealth, and liberty. Both share a sentimental opposition and a thuggish adoration of enforced virtue.
Secondly, the story highlights the transition of China from the Gap to the Core. China is in the unusual condition that while she is becoming a global leader, she has a large reservoir of very low paid citizens. This means that while the United States, Europe, and Japan find their capital flowing oversees in a process of creative destruction, China finds her people innovatively moving abroad for profits. This creates friction, and while the the typical American "downside" is lost capital, the increasingly typical Chinese "downside" is lost lives.
China and the West share a common interest, not only in energy resources, but in a better administration of the Gap.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
A commentator posted a well-thought-out comment in response to a revised discussion of Core India and Gap Pakistan. His comment was long enough, and had enough points deserving response, that I am upgrading my response into this post.
Mark, thank you for your excellent comment. It really adds to the discussion.
Its fashionable to say that pakistan is an about to fail state in indian and jewish/zionist circles.
I'm sure, though I am neither Indian nor Jewish --nor do I know how the existence of Pakistan in South Asia threaten the integrity of Israel. I think it may be closer to say that talk of the failures of Pakistan is fashionable among those who enjoy news.
It is very true that the international boundaries in south asia are imaginary. Why because they were drawn by the British when they were in a hurry to leave the subcontinent and were not interested in what heppens next.
Besides saying that the British left before any Pakistani nation could be built, does this say anything? Certainly, the same failure is true throughout much of Africa, but Britain was ousted from the United States, and essentially forced out of South Africa, and in both places those states have real borders.
Blaming Britain for Pakistan's failures might explain Pakistan's failures, but does not turn those failures into successes.
Pakistan has been able to defy all predictions about its failed status and lumbar on for 60 years.
Well, not really. If one had predicted that Pakisatn would conduct a genocide against an ethnic minority, one would have been correct. If one would have predicted that as a consequence of that Pakistan would be split in two, one would have been right. If one would have guessed that Pakistan's abandonment of public education would have created a radicalized and violent populace, one would have been correct. If one would have predicted that Pakistan would lose every war against India, and be forced out of the North-West Frontier, one would have been correct. If one would have predicted that Pakistan's search for "strategic depth" in Afghanistan would result in a hostile, anti-Pakistan government in Afghanistan, one would have been correct.
It is very nice to say that Pakistan will break up, but will it? I dont think so.
Why? because the people in pakistan are united in their misery and depriviation.
Did this prevent the split between Pakistan and Bangadesh? Or are you suggesting that the Pakistani government would use nuclear weapons against its own citizenry?
There is a single rallying point in the whole of Pakitan and that is their religion.
Perhaps, but a similar Islamic fervor did not prevent mass violent in Afghanistan, betweens groups of fundementalist Sunni Muslims.
Add to the quagmire the interest Chinese are taking in this neo-great game of the sub-continent, and the things take a whole different shape.
Well, not really. Pakistan was a client of both China and the United States throughout the late Cold War, because of India's work with the Soviet Union. However since then Russia has retreated from strategic projection, and the United States
Once again the big nations of the world are playing each other in the mountains and valleys of the greatest playing field of the world.
I like Ahmad Rashid as well. Taliban and Jihad are good books on power-politics in Central Asia. It's a good lesson about how countries act in a part of the world they don't really care about.
In the meantime to think that Pakistan will implode and fall under its own weight is dreaming of the most wishful kind. Pakistan will not break without a war with an external aggressor (read india). But with economic growth raising the stakes of losses I doubt that it will ever happen in the near or far future.
A more likely future of Pakistan is that of a large ghetto, like so many African and other failed states.
So dream on untill you wake to the reality
If you enjoy dream-quests...
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Two recent events, within twenty-four hours of each other, give hope to us all. First, India and the United States signed a nuclear accord which will allow that Republic to develop technology to deter deter an unseemly neighbor (Pakistan) and a neighbor that should be deterred from war as much as possible (China). Meanwhile, North Korea continues to show obstinance in her nuclear talks, which encourage Japan's nuclearization. This encourages Tokyo to develop technology to deter an unseemly neighbor (North Korea) and a neighbor that should be deterd from war as much as possible (China).
Sometimes, proliferation is grand.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
"The Pentagon's New Map," by Thomas Barnett, Esquire, March 2003, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/published/pentagonsnewmap.htm.
"LeT, SIMI hand in Mumbai blasts," The Times of India, 11 July 2006, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1733318.cms (from Democratic Underground).
"IT IS HIS FAULT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!," by democracynowfla, Democratic Underground, 11 July 2006, http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=102&topic_id=2381900&mesg_id=2382604.
Discussion on this blog of India maintaining a near-abroad now seem quaint, as yet again the country is victim of a terror war inside her borders.
The terror attack on Mumbai trains was carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba and local Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists and was designed to trigger communal conflagration in the country’s financial capital, intelligence sources said.
While still waiting for clues to emerge, top intelligence sources in New Delhi seem pretty sure the blasts on the trains were plotted by Lashkar modules which are increasingly collaborating with activists of SIMI, which boasts of strong pockets of influence across Maharashtra.
This confirms my earlier work which defined an AfroIslamic Gap, as well as Tom Barnett's model of a New Core. As is predicted by Tom Barnett's original Esquire article,
This country has successfully exported security to globalization’s Old Core (Western Europe, Northeast Asia) for half a century and to its emerging New Core (Developing Asia) for a solid quarter century following our mishandling of Vietnam. But our efforts in the Middle Ease have been inconsistent—in Africa, almost nonexistent. Until we begin the systematic, long-term export of security to the Gap, it will increasingly export its pain to the Core in the form of terrorism and other instabilities.
The Democratic Underground is, as always, helpful
BUSH AND COMPANY HAVE CREATED THE ATMOSPHERE THAT ALOWS THESE ATTACKS TO TAKE PLACE.
THERE WAR MAKING MACHINE IS MAKING OUR WORLD A MORE VIOLENT PLACE.
While Chirol at Coming Anarchy is more worthwhile.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
A "near abroad"is an area outside of a country which that country claims as her own. One example of a near abroad is the western hemisphere, which the United States (through the Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary) has protected for ages. Other "near abroads" are simply parodies of the concept. Russia (through the old Soviet Empire) and China (with her nemesis, the democratic state of Taiwan) pretend they are able to control areas which they are too weak too.
Recently, some ultranationalist statements have hinted that many citizens of India also wish their country to have a near abroad.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
"China vs India by charts," New Economist, 14 October 2005,http://neweconomist.blogs.com/new_economist/2005/10/china_vs_india_.html (from SimonWorld, also at PSD Blog).
Deutsche Bank recently compared Chinese and Indian economic growth over the past few years. It clearly shows how just a few years of slightly higher economic growth can change global power,a lot
Growth is very important. Let's hope American politicians have learned the lesson.
Update: The Asianist picks up the story from AsiaPundit, and agrees with the conventional wisdom
What this tells me is that China's reform policies have paid off handsomely, but that China's business culture has some strong hurdles. Conversely, India has fared less well due to slower reforms, but has a greater potential in the sense that there is more ingrained Western-style business culture.