Category Archives: South Asia

Our Diverted War Against Pakistan

On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked the United States in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

We promptly invaded Tunisia.

A wise is war is fought where it’s advantageous to fight. There is no need to be fair in war, or to fight where an enemy expects. We responded to Japan’s attack by joining Great Britain and the Soviet Union in changing the whole world system.

On September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attakced the United States in New York, New York.

We promptly invaded Afghanistan, and within a few years Iraq.

In Afghanitsan and in Iraq, like in the North African campaigns of World War II, we fought where it was easy. Actually attacking the state that supports, trains, protects, funds, and fights along with al Qaeda is hard.

Pakistan, after all, has nuclear weapons.

Greater Pakistan
Greater Pakistan

The situation is complicated by Pakistan’s economy, which is growing by at a good clip, but falling further behind India’s. Our future actions Pakistan must focus on separating the tribal areas — where Pakistan funds Taliban insurgents and thus protects al Qaeda cells — from the economically productive areas, where eventual integration with India should be our aim.

Some naive commentators believe that the Taliban had pacified Afghanistan by 9/11/01, though of course this is not true. The Taliban are not an Afghan insurgency, but a Pasthun/Baluchi movement supported by Pakistan. Pakistan is behind the Taliban.

Our way forward will be difficult. Liberals will soon turn against the War in Afghanistan. Within a generation of 9/11 — which means within the next 13 years — al Qaeda will be a fashionable cause on college campuses. We have been unable to change Pakistan’s support of the Taliban, so (assuming regime change is not an option), that leaves destroying Pakistan’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy.

New Core Asian Realiagnment

The Bush Administration has been brilliant in building good relations with the New Core of Asia — countries like India and China. Indeed, this success is far more important over the long term than failures anywhere else in the world. We’ve become so accustmed to good news from the Asian New Core that it’s easy for it to fall between the cracks. So here are two stories with brief descriptions:

Indian government wins confidence vote
The Indo-American Nuclear Pact will not only allow nuclear technology to be shared among the two greatest democracies in the world: it also essentially recognizes India as a genuine nuclear power. The left in both countries oppose this… in India because their Left is anti-American, in America because our Left is anti-Bush. Fortunately, India’s government passed a confidence motion, which clears the way for New Dehli ratifying the agreement. Now as long as America’s Congress agrees, it is smooth sailing.

China and Russia’s Geographic Divide
Historically, Russia has been a west-Asian state with only marginal influence on European affairs. When Peter I and other Russian autocrats changed this, Europe began suffering from an infusion of Russian ideals, customs, and habits. Fortunately, the Russian state only exists as long as it has wealth to leach off of, and naturally runs itself down. Traditioanlyl Russia would reinvigorate itself through aggressive wars, though nuclear weapons appear to prevent this from happening against. Thus, Russia slowly falls back into its old role as a west-Asian state, a supplier for Chinese needs with as much freedom of movement as, say, Kazakhstan.

The Rise of India and China, along with the decline of Russia, may be the greatest story of the late 20th and early 21st century. And it’s a very happy story.

The Post-Zakaria World

As I noted in my review, Fareed Zakaria is generally a good writer, generally derivative of Tom Friedman. Too bad he’s a shill for Obama.

The latest howler (Zakaria’s book has the unfortunate habit of getting increasingly ridiculous the more one learns) is that, in spite of Bush being the most pro-India President in United States history, he squandered political good will in India.

Of courese given Bush’s high approval rating in India, perhaps Zakaria is holding Bush to an unspecified and impossible to reach standard?

s for the nuclear deal, Indians’ blithe faith in its chances may stem from something else altogether. The Pew Research Centre found that Mr Bush’s approval rating in India was “still astonishingly high” at 55%. In fact, Indians were the only people sampled who rated Mr Bush more highly than they did Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy. So, perhaps they know something the rest of us don’t

Zakaria’s book can do some real good if it flatters an American left that’s in love with Obama, derisive towards Bush, and against American power, into supporting globalization.

But as a reporter of facts or trends, you just as well watch the Discovery Channel.

Uppity Muslim Woman Killed (Someone is surprised)

Robert Paterson thinks all is lost — we’re on the brink checkmated. (Zen has a more balanced summary.)

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.

tdaxps_new_map_md

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.

A New Asia, Part I: Friends

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…

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 Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council

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.

Free Burma.

Mark and Shane share their thoughts.

Hidden Unities on the Burmese Crackdown

It’s rare that every post on a blog’s front page is worth reading. But Eddie of Hidden Unities has done it!

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.

Chinese in the Gap

Perlez, J. (2007). Militant students capture masseuses to make a point.” New York Times. June 24, 2007.


Chinese Prostitutes Masseuses

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:


Girl, decapitalized

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.

tdaxps_new_map_md
China: On the Frontlines of the Gap

China and the West share a common interest, not only in energy resources, but in a better administration of the Gap.

Pakistan Failing

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 dreamquests

A Good Nuclear Day

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.