Monday, March 28, 2011

American Exceptionalism

I would not reduce President Obama’s speech to a single point - an answer to Palin charge of lack of American Exceptionalism; but there is simply no way one can ignore the ‘assertiveness’ when Obama says

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."


This leader has been particularly coy in engaging Conservatives on their turf. So I did not expect Obama to demonstrate this ingenuity and classic Liberal interpretation of American Exceptionalism so vocally. Indeed this a positive surprise and is a ‘class act’ the way he laid out the case subtly but without any hesitation. Conservatives may try to point contradiction in opposing Bush’s Iraq invasion and supporting Libya intervention. But they also will have to accept this Liberal interpretation of American Exceptionalism with a full sense of ‘what is affordable and what is not affordable’. President Obama and his Administration are claiming that they have got this balance of ‘when to intervene on moral grounds and when to step aside due to costs’. Today’s speech is one good attempt to convince Americans about that.

Meanwhile, not that the speech cannot be a warning to Saudi Arabia. Who knows that may be the reason Saudi Arabia is enticing American Oil Service companies with lot of sudden contracts so as these sharper edges are blunted in some ways.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Will Merkel Last?

With the defeat of CDU/FDP in a German state ruled for decades by German Conservatives, it is becoming harder and harder for Merkel to rule Germany with full popular support. It is quite possible that German Conservatives have to find some new leaders here.

When anti-science and anti-environmentalism agenda is in full ascend in United States of Fools oh, I meant United State of America; it is heartening to see that there are people on this planet who punish senseless nuclear agenda of their rulers as well as feckless international diplomacy in the case of UN Libya resolution. Apparently that is what has turned German people against Merkel.

However, the third reason why Germans have turned on Merkel does not bode well for Euro and Global Market - opposition to European bail out fund on back of German Tax Payers. But I guess what else can be the result when German Politicians continue to sustain a myth that German prosperity is exclusively because of their hard work and ingenuity. As how American Politicians are reluctant to tell the truth about ‘entitlement costs of American people’; German Politicians are reluctant to tell their folks that ready market for German exports in Europe paved the road to prosperity. With Portuguese government down, Ireland issue reigniting and Greece not finding any firm footing for it’s economic recovery; Euro crisis refuses to go away. Any failure there again will be considered as a Merkel failure making her political recovery distant.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Canadian Instability

In last 10 years, Canada already had 4 parliaments and the 5th one will be elected on May 2, 2011. 37th Parliament of Liberals lasted little over 3 years (Jan 2001 to March 2004) and there after no government has lasted that long. Generally economic instability leads to political instability, but in case of Canada it seems like ‘economic prosperity’ is leading to ‘fight for spoils’ among Canadian politicians. Conservative Party under Stephen Harper may find a strong political pitch in arguing that Conservatives will preserve this Canadian prosperity while Opposition under Liberals would only derail this economic progress. Liberals may have a point when they point ‘Bush style’ politicking by Harper; but at the end of the day any such ‘nuances’ hardly bring you any electoral bounty.

Larger issue is Canadian Prosperity on the back of commodity boom to China and ably avoiding Financial Market Crisis of 2008-2010; is not helping Canada to strengthen it’s political union. Something is structurally not correct in that political system. May be far dispersed population spread over a vast country results in ultra-thin population density and that makes the task of political union more complicated. Encouraging immigration in this scenario is a good policy but in absence of strong ‘cultural and economic’ means to absorb the new inflow quickly; it only results into lingering pockets of isolation making it harder to integrate further. None of these issues seem to be on minds of politicians of Canada as they may be busy settling their personal scores (whereas in USA we do destruction of America for ideological reasons...).

For an outsider what all this looks like is Canada is squandering a golden opportunity - when its economy is on so solid footing - to strengthen it is as a tightly integrated country with enhanced influence in global affairs. May be a complete majority to Harper’s Conservatives would pave the way as Opposition is not forthcoming about a pre-election coalition alternatives as like in India.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

End of Ponting Era

“The knock was a microcosm of Ponting the man. It had skill, grit, bloody-mindedness, and dare; it was Ponting. It will probably be the only knock from him that won't be remembered for many scintillating shots and it will be cherished for how responsibly he curbed his natural strokeplay.

There was tremendous poise in how he dealt with the slow nature of the pitch and a great amount of skill in the way he handled spin. Ponting showed sheer grit in the way he held the Australian innings together, and admirable character to do it when he wasn't in great form, on such a big stage. ”


-- Cricinfo

Glad that Ricky found a grand end to his great career. No more third World Cup, but a worthy end! Thanks Pointing for pleasure of Cricket all these years.

So Indian players think that their ‘millions’ are worth to deliver something for their fans. With this form of Indian Team, it will be very difficult for any other team to beat them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let others be Leaders

These two articles, one by Andrew Sullivan and another in Financial Times, make it very clear why it is indeed a sound policy for President Obama to take a back seat in Libya intervention.

As long as President Obama avoids mass slaughter of Libyan innocent folks; it is perfectly fine to pay the price of Boehner sermons. President Obama should have acted early, but that was in order to have a lesser cost intervention with maximum bang. Having missed that opportunity, the best course is what he is doing right now - keep the low profile and simply be an instrument to avoid mass slaughter. If additional actions without paying the price of American lives and exorbitant cost can pull down Gaddafi; so much is better.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Indian Mess

As more and more commentators are questioning longevity of Dr. Singh’s second government; one is tempted to think that the second UPA government is on brink. But it is not that easy. It true that coming Assembly elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu & West Bengal are not going to give any political momentum to Congress. On the contrary it is likely to embolden non-Congress, non-BJP Parties. Question is will that momentum will be carried till year end when drum beats of UP election early next year would start getting louder? Because as things stand in UP, Rahul’s Congress is unlikely to do any miracle. Mayawati and BSP are likely to romp back. At that point possibility of opposition coalescing behind Mayawati becomes realistic. Of course, there are issues in that configuration as well - Mayawati herself is not any cleaner than most Congress leaders, she is equally corrupt; the alliance between BJP and BSP had not been durable in past and beyond that any such coalition still has to muster support of many splinter groups to form the majority.

But precisely these vulnerabilities of non-Congress opposition may prompt Sonia and Rahul to wind down Dr. Singh’s discredited government. Any such collapse would pave the way for the non-Congress non-UPA government; but just the scale of political contradictions in that government and equal avarice via graft would not keep that government for long. And then at that point Congress under Rahul can be the ‘savior’ for the fully exhausted Indian aam janata. That seems to be a scenario for Rahul and Congress to make a clean come back and be a political force to solve India’s problems. As of now it seems Dr. Singh’s credibility is simply gone and the UPA government is out of gas.

Some speculate that youth in India take inspiration from Egypt and Middle East to rally and demand change. That is doubtful. Regular Indian parliamentary, state and local elections provide all necessary ‘valves’ to vent youth frustration. Capable young Indians are able to find avenues in Private Sector to prosper. If not, avenues outside India are always open. Granted that all this is applicable to only one slice of India’s young population whereas still large swath of young Indians are not having any encouraging economic opportunities. But sadly one has to say they do not seem to have any compunction with ‘corrupt ways of life or cancer of institution killing’ which is spreading in India. In other words, there is simply no possibility of Indian Youth demanding anything dramatic or be a organized force for change.

All this means, India is in for a rough ride for next few years until things stabilize one way or the other. What is clear though is chances of things stabilizing in Dr. Singh’s second term are slipping with every passing day. Tendency to continue to rule even with this beleaguered coalition will be high - why let go the graft money tree which you can shake from time to time to get wealth? But the scale and frequency of corruption getting exposed would exact the price eventually. In addition to that, oil price driven inflation is making Indians very nervous about the direction in which Indian Economy is going. With this increasing unrest, fragility of the second UPA government is getting exposed vividly.

Friday, March 18, 2011

America’s Third War

That is what President Obama effectively declared. Andrew Sullivan has a point when he argues that President Obama is usurping more power in declaring this policy without Congressional approval. But time is of essence and one doubts whether Obama is committing ‘boots on ground’ intervention which must need Congressional approval. Technically approval is needed, but not just lives of American soldiers not directly involved; but also we are not talking too much of treasure for intended intervention.

Ezra’s
criticism of inconsistency in application of ‘force for humanitarian cause’ is valid; but I am more with Matt here.

The real question is what is the end game here and what are the benefits for America. There are two benefits which are kind of visible here:
- possibility of stable Oil Markets once the political and military balance in Libya settles; and
- proven example of not only when America stands with people’s revolt but a clear ‘stick’ for other Arab nations about what can happen to them if those nations cross a line and America / World come to the rescue of rebels.

Andrew Sullivan
line of criticism clearly ignores this potential upside to the intervention. The difference between other dictators/butchers slaughtering their own people and Libya is that it is a ‘story of Arabs’. There may be multitude of Arabic nations and national borders; but there is something like a single ‘Arabic consciousness’ and that is what Obama would be nodding when he commits his resources. The most important society in the Arabic consciousness is Egyptian which has seen toppling of Mubarak without Westerns intervention. Once that is in the bag, next fight is Libya precisely because rebels cannot run the campaign on their own. There are many other Arab rebels with similar predicament (Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia); but if America demonstrates that in such a crunch time America stands with those who are fighting against tyranny at least in one such case; that is effective foreign policy and that is effective politics. One just hopes that Obama takes this intervention to the logical conclusion and does not abandon it in between.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Germany, India OK let Gaddafi kill Libyans

That is the message from votes of UNSC members on the latest resolution on Libya. China & Russia keeping aside was expected. Note that current African members like South Africa, Nigeria & Gabon voted for UN intervention. But going forward you want to know how emerging powers like Brazil & India are reacting to such unfolding situation; both did not support the resolution. Surprise is of Germany. Really when it comes to politics, things can be totally erratic - a Conservative Government can take constitutionally dubious stance of closing nuke plants due to Japanese nuke accident scare while at the same time the same Conservative Government of Merkel would not move along Anglo-French Conservative outlook (for sure supported by John McCains in USA). Imagine John Kerry to the Right of German Conservatives! Reading justification of UN Diplomats / Foreign Ministers on UNSC resolutions is always entertaining and German Foreign Minister Westerwelle is no exception here.

India is simply unable to take off ghosts of its Police Raj in Kashmir and brutal fight against Naxalites; all of which always compels India to side with those established rulers in other countries (Gaddafi in this case) which brutally suppress rightful challenges. So there is no change in the ‘pathetic foreign policy of India’ when it comes saving lives of innocent Libyans. This is further surprising because Arab League essentially laid the groundwork for this UNSC resolution and India is generally with Arab nations.

But overall Obama Administration’s policy is very perplexing. The golden opportunity of moving fast with rebels in early days was squandered with full knowledge that things will be hard afterwards. Now, after Gaddafi was almost about to complete the mopping; Obama Administration steps in when Arabs called the bluff. Is it that Arab League backed UN action on Libya knowing fully that militarily it would result in ‘no equilibrium’ and as a result Oil prices will continue to remain high? Result is Obama Administration policy is neither going to result into stable Oil Prices nor it is going to remove Gaddafi effectively and quickly. Strategically, getting Libya in equilibrium as early as possible would have been more profitable to the West and World - either remove Gaddafi surgically or let him run the show and have stable oil production. With such a late intervention in Libya; the whole issue is going to linger for long resulting into quite possibly a stalemate between Gaddafi forces and Rebels. Consequence of all this will be unstable Oil Markets.

Liberals Don’t Get How To Do Business

Not that I am aware of Wall Street Journal making ton of money from its paid web subscription, but this neat dressing down of NYT’s broken business model by Felix Salmon clearly illustrates that Gray Lady is unable to come up with a sound business model to monetize content on web. May be NYT talk to Koch Brothers to learn ropes of money making trades....

It is possible that NYT’s this second attempt will bomb as like the first too. All this Pay Wall Web Infrastructure at the cost of $40 Million per year to generate around $24 Million revenue smells like any typical ‘engineering driven’ project in absence of a sound business model. Because programmers got itch to develop something....we all know well how it ends in our industry.

But all said and done, time of Internet Media starting to charge for it’s content is coming. As a blogger I look forward for that era because inherently value proposition to end users of a free blog like this increases dramatically as we start seeing incisive analysis going behind the pay wall one way or the other. Jury is out, we will see how things develop and meanwhile this blogger enjoys doing things as they are on this blog.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Media Failure?

That is what Clive Crook at The Atlantic is suggesting with valid reasons. Indeed it has been frustrating to get more appropriate information about the unfolding Japanese Nuclear Tragedy on continuous basis. (As a news it has relegated media coverage about the original natural calamity of earthquake and tsunami impact to the second place, that is a different matter.) What was that news like Japan would take help of American military to control nuke plants? What would American military do here? They only know how to ‘blow up’ something, not aware of their skills in dousing a raging nuclear fire. No real, in depth news here. Internet and new media are NOT doing any value addition here.

Update - Drones? That is an ingenious answer, question is why did it take so long? Prima facie drones should help here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gaddafi on Top

Seems like Libyan rebellion is going kaput in absence of West refusing to throw its weight behind it against Gaddafi. Notwithstanding Arab League demand of ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya, meanwhile it seems like it is too late and Gaddafi is mopping up his country to a status quo with disorganized rebels. The best result seems like these rebellions to hold on at least some oil producing area so that either in future they launch another offensive or are able to get some concessions from Tripoli before folding the tent. Japan tragedy news is going to help Gaddafi to go away from the spot light as Western Media would reduce the coverage of Libyan revolt and as a consequence there will be much less public pressure on Western Governments to help Libyan rebels. Western public would rather pressurize their governments to help Japan and will mobilize any available resources to help Japan recover from this tragedy. (Japan needs all the help here is not in question. I just wish eventually Japanese young people resort to more ‘baby’ production to recoup this terrible loss of projected 10,000 Japanese lives.)

Two decades back, in the first Gulf War under Gen. Powell and President Bush Sr. as coalition forces were retreating; Shiite in Basra and Southern Iraq led a rebellion against Saddam. There were calls to coalition forces to help those Shiite to overthrow Saddam rule as there was implicit expectation from these Shiite members that America would come forward to overthrow decades of draconian rule of Sunni Saddam on Shiite people. American help did not materialize and tens of thousands of Shiite members were slaughtered by Saddam’s army. My speculation is Bush Jr.’s Iraq war was ‘this family name cleansing business’ as much as revenge for attempts on Bush Sr.

Today it seems like Barack Obama is running Presidency exactly like Bush Sr. The president who gave the Cairo speech, the president who said Gaddafi must go; did not do anything when the time came to act. Well, looks like that is the notion of Barack Obama ‘to mature in White House’ - to have blood on his hand. President Obama can argue that he was simply heeding to the advice of his intelligence agencies that Gaddafi had the upper hand; but then that same CIA has egg all over its face in case of its failure to assess Tunisia and Egypt; so one wonders how much you want to believe CIA here.

To be fair, when America should intervene and when it should not - there are no exact rules or a moral theory for that. So that is the benefit of doubt Obama would get here and we move on. As long as it helps to cool down Oil Price, it will be at least that much helpful to Americans and everybody in the world. It is not as if Americans or the world are guzzling oils of dictators and butchers for the first time.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Setback to Nuclear Energy and Japanese Tragedy

“[Explosion at Japan nuke plant] was caused by hydrogen interacting with oxygen outside the reactor. The hydrogen was formed when the superheated fuel rods came in contact with water being poured over it to prevent a meltdown.

They are working furiously to find a solution to cool the core, ... they have begun to inject sea water into the core,...That is an indication of how serious the problem is and how the Japanese had to resort to unusual and improvised solutions to cool the reactor core.

About 24 percent of electricity in Japan is produced by 55 nuclear power units in 17 plants and some were in trouble after the quake.

...a Russian nuclear expert, said a Chernobyl-style meltdown was unlikely. It's not a fast reaction like at Chernobyl, ... everything will be contained within the grounds, and there will be no big catastrophe."

-- AP News

One hopes that indeed it is not a Chernobyl-style disaster.

But in any case when we have such scary stories in Media, it is going to be a dramatic setback to Nuclear Energy Industry. President Obama has been trying ever since his election to encourage Nuclear Energy Industry. But all that work (not that it had any great success to start with) is further going to be derailed by all these scary moments.

Meanwhile it was right for President Obama to describe Japan situation as potentially catastrophic. When one reads following account in the same AP News, it is clear that we are talking death count in thousands in this tragedy.

“The confirmed death toll from Friday's twin disasters was 574, but the government's chief spokesman said it could exceed 1,000. Devastation stretched hundreds of miles (kilometers) along the coast, where thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers cut off from rescuers and aid.

The scale of destruction was not yet known, but there were grim signs that the death toll could soar. One report said four whole trains had disappeared Friday and still not been located. Others said 9,500 people in one coastal town were unaccounted for and that at least 200 bodies had washed ashore elsewhere.”

For a population declining, recession plagued nation, loss of human life on this scale and such a large scale devastation is going to be traumatic and long lasting. As if the world does not have enough worries, media coverage about Japanese tragedy is going to overlay on top of Libya, higher Oil Prices and Euro Crisis.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Leadership Failure

“Mr. Obama’s political advisers clearly believe that this strategy of protective camouflage offers the president his best chance at re-election — and they may be right. But that doesn’t change the fact that the White House is aiding and abetting the dumbing down of our deficit debate.

And this dumbing down bodes ill for the nation’s future. Health care is only one of the large and difficult problems America needs to deal with, ranging from infrastructure to climate change, all of which demand that we engage in a lot of hard thinking. Yet what we have instead is a political culture in which one side sneers at knowledge and exalts ignorance, while the other side hunkers down and pretends to halfway agree.”


-- Paul Krugman, NYT

“We’re waiting for the president of the United States, he is the most prominent Democrat in America -- only his signature can make something a law. Now is the time to engage, and he has been curiously passive up to this point.”


-- Sen. Mitch McConnell, MSNBC / Politico

So the meme that Obama is abducting his responsibility when it comes to facing long term deficit problem is getting established. It is for Obama the Politician to see the political cost and danger of this - essentially he will forgo his second term if this view gets calcified. His lethargy in battling this spreading perception is further going to cripple his presidency and his ability to make substantive changes for Americans.

The problem here is very simple - to tackle the core driver of deficit problem means to address health care costs and ObamaCare is the first ‘right’ step in that direction. Obama understands the reality that he lost miserably the political battle for ObamaCare in Nov 2010 election and he does not see any political salvation in reliving that fight again.

But the political reality of this country is not dictated by conveniences for Obama the Politician. Is not ‘leadership’ all about keep insisting ‘right things for society’ even if People do not get it for a period? Americans ‘do not get’ Affordable Care Act (ACA) because Obama failed in stopping ‘lies, canard and fabrication’ of Right about ObamaCare. But then what is Politics in today’s America if it is not winning ‘communication / narrative in Media’? Hence, there is no other conclusion than continued failure of Obama Leadership.

Few months back WaPo columnist Steven Pearlstein had a sensible suggestion - enlist American Businesses - small and big - in defending ObamaCare. There cannot be any other politically smart strategy than making Chamber of Commerce and American Businesses ‘defender’ of ACA and ‘non-dumbing’ down of deficit cutting. When businesses say that they need all this investment for better future and deficit reduction should not come at the cost of ‘eating corn seeds of next seasons’; GOP would not find it easy. Just Obama singing like a parrot ‘winning the future’ without engaging with Businesses on this front would simply result in Obama Popular Support sinking like a rock. I thought the whole point of bringing Chief of Staff Daley in WH was to precisely repair and enhance Business engagement. That is not happening sufficiently. Well, as far as, Americans are concerned; that is all Obama Mess to clean up and he is simply going into this ‘care taker presidency’ mode for the fear of his re-election; which in the end he is bound to loose unless he becomes a responsible politician in solving our core problems.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lunacy of Gingrich Ambition

“....
I was hopelessly, irretrievably in love. I guess that makes me a sinner. But it also makes me a patriot.”

-- Jeffrey Goldberg on Newt Gingrich Ambitions


But who knows, this country can land up with Gingrich as the President! That is how sad affairs are in this country at present.

(And talk to a Tea Party member and she would say that is exactly right when America elected Kenya born Obama in Nov 2008; each one with her views.)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Dems Screwed in Wisconsin and Everywhere

That is what Republicans have achieved in Wisconsin. Doesn’t seem like there is anything Dems can do other than focusing on recalling Republican Senators and eventually the Governor Walker. The ideological battle Walker and GOP waged, for which they clearly did not campaign, is won here by GOP. Dems & Progressives are properly screwed. I am doubtful there was anything what elected Dems in Wisconsin could do or people of Wisconsin could do. People of Wisconsin had come out in enough numbers at enough times to demonstrate their opposition. But ‘buyers remorse’ has no place in electoral politics, what matters is who wins elections.

The real action in coming days, now that GOP there has crossed this Rubicon, is - whether Dems and Progressives are able to mobilize enough Wisconsin folks to start making GOP pay the political price for this ideological war.

Absence of concentrated opposition by Dems in Wisconsin and in rest of the country will embolden GOP to drive its ideological agenda further. Add to it dangerous signs by Obama and White House of caving in to GOP demands for Federal budget.

If these GOP policies were to give rise to growth and reduction in deficit, that would be a different matter. But these policies do not address America’s deficit problem. On the other hand these would kill the nascent recovery underway. No wonder Americans are nervous about all this. President Obama refuses to explain the reality to Americans that GOP is cutting deficit wrong way while mortgaging future growth without tackling true drivers of deficit - unchecked entitlement growth. President Obama is quiet because he does not want to bell the cat here and propose any plans to control longer term entitlement growth.

Dumping USA Treasury bonds - that does not look like a bad plan here as ideological excesses are accelerating America’s decline. Disgusting and depressing reality in America.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Answers to George Will Questions about Libya

My take here on George's questions:

* The world would be better without Gaddafi. But is that a vital U.S. national interest? If it is, when did it become so? A month ago, no one thought it was.

Answer is Oil. Will should read this story from Economist to understand why it is imperative for USA and World to restore peace in Libya.


* How much of Gaddafi's violence is coming from the air? Even if his aircraft are swept from his skies, would that be decisive?

That is like refusing to understand warfare. Whatever meager air superiority Gaddafi has it will be decisive over rebel as well as expose large swath of Libyan population to danger.


* What lesson should be learned from the fact that Europe's worst atrocity since the Second World War - the massacre by Serbs of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica - occurred beneath a no-fly zone?

That worst massacre’s need to be stopped no matter what. West and like minded countries like Australia, India, Brazil, Chile, Turkey all need to come together to stop this bloodshed if Russia and China do not want to come forward. That is a classic opportunity to differentiate from Chinese Communist Regime.


* Sen. John Kerry says: "The last thing we want to think about is any kind of military intervention. And I don't consider the fly zone stepping over that line." But how is imposing a no-fly zone - the use of military force to further military and political objectives - not military intervention?

But why the taboo on ‘intervention’? Do what is needed to stop Oil catastrophe for self interest as well as killing of innocent people.


* U.S. forces might ground Gaddafi's fixed-wing aircraft by destroying runways at his 13 air bases, but to keep helicopter gunships grounded would require continuing air patrols, which would require the destruction of Libya's radar and anti-aircraft installations. If collateral damage from such destruction included civilian deaths - remember those nine Afghan boys recently killed by mistake when they were gathering firewood - are we prepared for the televised pictures?

Let helicopters roam for a while and arm the rebels on ground to fight Gaddafi helicopters. Ammunition to these anti-aircaft guns will be will be controlled by USA and West so in future those should be possible to cripple down as needed.


* The Economist reports Gaddafi has "a huge arsenal of Russian surface-to-air missiles" and that some experts think Libya has SAMs that could threaten U.S. or allies' aircraft. If a pilot is downed and captured, are we ready for the hostage drama?

Commander-in-chief needs to set expectations of Americans about why this is done and what risks are there to Americans.


* If we decide to give war supplies to the anti-Gaddafi fighters, how do we get them there?

Contact and talk as many rebels as possible and anoint the leaders among them most suitable to deal with West.


* Presumably we would coordinate aid with the leaders of the anti-Gaddafi forces. Who are they?

See the above answer.


* Libya is a tribal society. What concerning our Iraq and Afghanistan experiences justifies confidence that we understand Libyan dynamics?

Where is our occupation like Iraq and Afghanistan planned? Why do we need to bother about these questions?


* Because of what seems to have been the controlling goal of avoiding U.S. and NATO casualties, the humanitarian intervention - 79 days of bombing - against Serbia in Kosovo was conducted from 15,000 feet. This marked the intervention as a project worth killing for but not worth dying for. Would intervention in Libya be similar? Are such interventions morally dubious?

What is morally dubious - doing nothing when Gaddafi is going to butcher thousands of his own countrymen, women and children. Not too many exquisite choices there.


* Could intervention avoid "mission creep"? If grounding Gaddafi's aircraft is a humanitarian imperative, why isn't protecting his enemies from ground attacks?

For the same reason Mujaheddin in Afghanistan did their own fighting with Soviets while Regan only helped from outside.


* In Tunisia and then in Egypt, regimes were toppled by protests. Libya is convulsed not by protests but by war. Not a war of aggression, not a war with armies violating national borders and thereby implicating the basic tenets of agreed-upon elements of international law, but a civil war. How often has intervention by nation A in nation B's civil war enlarged the welfare of nation A?

South Korea has emerged in the shadow of dangerous North.


* Before we intervene in Libya, do we ask the United Nations for permission? If it is refused, do we proceed anyway? If so, why ask? If we are refused permission and recede from intervention, have we not made U.S. foreign policy hostage to a hostile institution?

To put on record that China and Russia failed to come to senses here.


* Secretary of State Hilary Clinton fears Libya becoming a failed state - "a giant Somalia." Speaking of which, have we not seen a cautionary movie - "Black Hawk Down" - about how humanitarian military interventions can take nasty turns?

Yes we have and at the same time, decades of civil war in Oil rich region can give rise to tomorrow’s West hating terrorists too.


* The Egyptian crowds watched and learned from the Tunisian crowds. But the Libyan government watched and learned from the fate of the Tunisian and Egyptian governments. It has decided to fight. Would not U.S. intervention in Libya encourage other restive peoples to expect U.S. military assistance?

Egypt, we already provide it billions of dollars.


* Would it be wise for U.S. military force to be engaged simultaneously in three Muslim nations?

Of these 3, Iraq was wrongly started and in Afghanistan Obama makes the mistake of supporting corrupt Karzai at any cost. Question is not of number but why do we intervene and what do we do of those interventions.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Libya - America’s Problem

Latest news clearly indicate that a ‘golden window’ to swamp Gaddafi loyalist is probably lost by rebels. This was the point where ‘minimum’ help from America and West would have had maximum bang for money. From here onwards, it is all going to be expensive involvement as and when America decides to get into the mess.

May be Def. Sec. Gates is right when he shows reluctance in getting involved in yet another Middle East country because it is never cheap regardless of how inexpensive it looks at the face value. But considering Oil market disruptions and consequent dramatic derailing impact on American recovery, price of intervening Libyan crisis can be simply another stimulus! The stimulus which Right loves to back - militarily flexing muscles. Of course, Right and their Oil backers would love to have these high Oil prices. But remember, 2008 recession was opened when Oil did hit $148 per barrel, in-spite of all these erudite economists saying ‘oil price’ does not impact economic condition. They are all wrong, high Oil prices always impact economies all over the world, America is no exception.

Apart from Oil price, humanitarian reasons abound - Gaddafi is a butcher. He would easily kill thousands of innocent people in trying to retain his hold. As is his wont, Obama would reluctantly start getting involved in this affairs only when world media starts flashing horror photos of rotten corps of innocent Libyan people. But by then high Oil prices would have possibly killed the nascent American and Global recovery. I would say this is the fitting pattern of Obama Leadership - lackluster, hesitant and no long game. Unless Obama moves away from this lethargy, America and World are likely to see a spectacle of Libyan People’s Revolt going waste along with other consequences.

What is needed is a multi-prong approach without actually committing ‘boots on ground’:
- establish ‘no-fly’ zone,
- continue the humanitarian help,
- cut of ammunition and supply lines of Gaddafi forces,
- refill ammunition and supply lines of Rebel forces and
- continue blocking money of Gaddafi and his close circle.

That is how in the end this Commander-in-Chief - Barack Obama - will be evaluated. So far he is falling short miserably.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Mubarak and Ben Ali of Tech Corporate World?

That is how I feel about John Chambers, CEO of Cisco and Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft. They are equivalent of deposed Middle East Leaders Mubarak and Ben Ali. At least these well past expiry date leaders of Middle East are gone (and will be soon joined by Gaddafi); but these corporate chieftains are reluctant to make room for new blood even when it is well known that their ‘Midas touch’ is all gone. It just seems that Corporate America and Wall Street are reluctant to use the same ‘competence criteria’ for these CEOs which they generally like to apply to everyone else.

Update - Talking of Tech Titans, Larry Ellison of Oracle is another tough name. Of course, he is the anti-thesis of Chambers and Balmer considering how well he has served his share holders lately. But his 'too rough ways' spill lot of blood. However, all that blood-shed is excused to Ellison as long as he keeps his promise of protecting and nurturing Java's openness as he promised when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystem. Java as an open technology has been a 'force for good' and indeed has achieved lot for society. Keeping that legacy alive is a worthwhile endeavor.