Monday, April 28, 2014

Israel and Apartheid State

Part of the reason Israeli Right and Bibi have started to insist that Palestine recognizes Israel as Jewish State is by doing so Israel negates the specter of rising Arab Population in Israel demanding the requisite legitimate 'say and power' in the Israeli State. In other words, 'demand to recognize Jewish State' is essentially a first step in possibly going the route of an apartheid state. Too bad when Sec. Kerry speaks that truth, and when someone clearly breaks media rules (shouldn't that reporter be prosecuted for breaking the rules of that conference?); as usual gadfly Senator Ted Cruze rides the horse...never mind his own stupidity and poor judgement in understanding politics of America. That is where American Politics has come to - those who tell the truth are derided while others continue to spin the web and utter speeches without being held accountable for their poor judgement.

On the ground, with the proposed unity government of Hamas and Fatah, everyone is going into wait and watch mode. Israel is right to suspend talks with a government which has Hamas - unless Hamas renounces violent, terrorist means and recognizes Israel's right to exist.

I doubt this unity government will come through or last long. End goal of this political exercise is to conduct elections. As elections come near, both parties will turn to cheap rhetoric at which point it will not be easy to avoid the temptation of - stridency against Israel to gain votes. Possibly again that can turn into vicious relationship between these factions or even if elections are done; how easy will it be for any of these factions or united government to keep aside inflammatory rhetoric just before the election? In other words, conducting elections would essentially 'close out' the room of compromise with Israel even though stated aim is to gain a united, legitimate 'voice' standing for whole of Palestine. 

This is all in uncharted territory and status-quo will remain - by that I mean Israel continuing its settlements while Palestinians making rounds and rounds of world organization for a flicker of justice.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cold War in Internet Era

Amid news that Obama Administration is looking past recent troubles with Putin into a future where it would 'contain' possible damages Russia can do or incessant criticism that President Obama does not lead, here are some glimpses of what kind of warfare America can conduct in globally connected world - keep exposing those who want to subvert rule of law and international norms. Revelations that clearly links Ukrainian insurgents to Russian military folks is the exact step in that right direction. The more Obama Administration provides intelligence, concrete electronic / Big Data inputs, more it has a chance to respond effectively to Russian adventures in Global Media. That is the way you win global mind share in today's inter-connected world.

No one is saying that is sufficient. America must get more involved in NATO protection going forward, all which need not occur in public glare. Equally, Ukrainians must understand that their mother land is nowhere going to get protected if they allow detrimental 'looting and corruption' in their country. Corruption in Ukraine has simply brought it to a brink. Unless and until folks and well wishers of that country want to eradicate all pervasive corruption, all their love for their country is of much less value or use; Ukraine will not able be saved as a united country. (Campaign of Arvind Kejriwal in India shows that even in one of the most corrupt polities, one can make good politics by aiming to remove corruption.)

Reality is until West stands united and strong to a bully named Putin, dismemberment of Ukraine seems all too possible. West must use Internet and Big Data to win minds of Global Citizenry to isolate Putin. This must be backed by commitment of West in hard assets and equally strong sanctions as well as full realization by Ukrainian people that in the end 'they themselves only' can save their country. They must ensure fair and transparent elections as early as possible to embark upon corruption free country. Without that, Ukraine is doomed to be a footnote in History.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reading Democratic Tea Leaves and Partisan Ripples

Here are few thoughts regarding unfolding play-book for Democrats:

- It is universally acknowledged that playing field is adverse for Democrats in 2014 elections. Given that legislatively nothing is going to happen in Congress (it is barely meeting 50 days or so in the remainder of this year), President Obama needs to give up any hopes of attaining anything as far as Immigration goes. Voter turnout is the bigger problem for Democrats come 2014. President Obama, as the Democratic Party Chief, has been lying low on Immigration with the hope that House Republicans in Congress would get necessary political space to achieve something. But with ObamaCare on upswing (Dems must fight it aggressively on the hustings now that positive results are coming in); House Republicans have every incentive not compromise with this President. Otherwise also their incentives have been always aligned to oppose whatever Obama proposes. So there is no realistic possibility of any compromise bill coming out of House on Immigration. Exactly, now is the time for Democrats and President to tune up the volume on Immigration and drive up their voter turnout. President Obama needs to keep doing what he has started. GOP does not want any Immigration Reforms; let us make them pay the 'political price' for such obstructionism. 

- The moonbeam Governor is indeed on something here - successfully finding politically winning solutions for one problem after the other. California Governor Jerry Brown has not shown any interest in Presidential bid 2016 so far. He does not have to do anything there, just keep focused on delivering what he has been up to. Pretty soon Democrats all over the nation will start realizing political value of Jerry Brown in setting the national agenda for 2016. The guy has found the luck (booming NASDAQ) and he is wise enough in exploiting this good luck of California for good purposes. (Even rain Gods smiled at the fag end of the current Winter season and possibly we are talking rain soaked season in 2014-15.)

- The one Democratic Governor I hugely respect and who has delivered so far is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. I even thought he will be the hot ticket after Hillary on the Blue side in 2016. But he has shown no such interest so far (well...that is the trick...). But that is besides the point, or rather all the 'point' - why is he acting so anti-Democrat lately? Adhering to Party orthodoxy is not the goal here, but the issue is he is adopting failed policies of Romney-Ryan Ticket - 'favor the rich and shove the poor'. Indeed Harold Meyerson asks a right question - why is there no Democratic Primary Challenge to Andrew Cuomo? With his policies enacted so far, he seems to be ripe for that. In the end, he and Democratic Agenda can move forward only as much as he is ready to carry the whole party with him. He cannot be a Demcratic leader when there are no followers for him in Democratic Party and when he places misplaced faith in 'being anti-Democrat' is the way to govern. We all know his leadership in gay-rights movement, Democrats need similar leadership from him in the 'bread and butter' economic issues

Saturday, April 12, 2014

AAP - Lost Chance in 2014?

Reports are surfacing that AAP is admitting that:
- it was essentially 'stupid' to resign from Delhi State Administration and
- the party has attempted to grab more than what it can chew in the Loksabha 2014 election.

With the prospect of possibly drawing blank in Loksabha 2014 or at the most a single digit representation in Loksabha; AAP leaders and supporters are realizing that Mamata Banerjee style 'rage and emotion driven' politics is hardly useful in the long term. Instead of establishing credibility with Indian Voters and demonstrating the resolve to make actual sustained changes in lives of Indians; immature Kejriwal threw the towel early on. What is sad is neither Party's senior members could bring sanity to the decision making nor there is a cohesive leadership structure in place to arrive and execute longer term decisions.

But then these are early days for this party. AAP could take solace from History that even BJP started with only 2 seats despite 7.74% national vote share in Loksabha immediately after the death of Indira Gandhi as well as BSP started with 3 seats even with 4.5% national votes. Over the years both parties grew into the force to reckon with. In all these years I have seen most serious acts of Political Parties in India getting fair chances from Indian Voters over a period. So if not in 2014, but after that AAP would get a chance so long as it sticks to its policy prescriptions of 'transparency, corruption free administration'. Need for such governance at national and state level is not going away. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Honorable Exit

Like many people, I thought Kathleen Sebelius was primarily responsible person for the botched roll out of HealthCare.gov and she should have resigned last Fall. You hold 'political appointee' as the responsible person for a political fight and she was that person. 

She stuck with the task on hand and President allowed her to get her job done well. She did it and that is a perfect time to exit honorably. That demonstrates capacity of this White House to accommodate folks to try faithfully to repair a botched job. It is no less a good thing that the incoming appointee is a competent manager. This administration needs managerial competence in days to come since legislatively there is nothing what President Obama can achieve. What is left is to guard what policy enactments have erected so far. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Israel Palestine Peace Talks


Is it all Sec. Kerry's fault as some pro-Israel commentators claim or should we praise him for his courage so far? No doubt Sec. Kerry could have been more guarded in showing any kind of optimism early in the negotiations. As Israeli leader Tzipi Livni suggested he might have as well allowed Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to run on their own rather getting in between. Or as some commentators rightly criticize, Sec. Kerry shouldn't have invested so much to commit the cardinal mistake of 'being party to the negotiations' rather than being a strictly mediator when he offered the byzantine Pollard deal.

But that is all water under the bridge. To be fair Sec. Kerry did achieve few things. He was able to conduct the diplomacy without any leakages for so long. That is not a mean achievement given the world wide media focus on this issue. Palestinians are wrong when they claim that these negotiations did not produce anything - what about scores of prisoners freed so far and relatively slow pace of settlement in occupied territory? And what true price Palestinians have paid additionally in these months while negotiations are going on? Doesn't seem like any price - their rights of going to world bodies remain as they are and in fact Palestine executed those rights in applying for 15 international bodies.  

Truth is both parties are not mature to visualize and realize a longer term peace. Israel sees itself in a stronger position from a tactical point of view and does not see any reasons to compromise. Whereas though Palestine is on a weaker wicket, it assumes that with every passing day in the integrated world with Internet, it would be in a position to move world public opinion more and more in it's favor. Who is right then? Are Israeli Right wingers right to think that Israel can simply withdraw from a position of strength leaving behind scraps for a perennially weak Palestinian state unable to stand on its own? Sure Israel can do that in years to come and for a minute we can keep aside the morality of such an act as well, especially considering how the world heaped 'injustice on Jews' for centuries. But how does that address Israel's problem of growing Arabs born in Israel? Or for sure world opinion turning against it? Imagine a world in post-Obama America where contours of World Politics are determined more and more by Asia, slowly recovering Europe and many other non-Americans countries; all sympathetic to Palestinian cause. (Obama or his successors, they better do no tie America's future to defend increasingly indefensible position of Israel. Conservative Israeli backers in America are blind to believe that American democratic process is so corrupt that larger Americans would not recognize the folly of toeing Israeli line at a great cost to this great country.)

What is clear though however, Palestinians not to have any sanity in understanding hopelessness of their future country when Israel unilaterally withdraws from some patch-work of land and basically undermines sustainability of an independent Palestinian permanently. Israel withdrew from Gaza, what happened? Have Palestinians emerged stronger? Not at all. Divisive politics among Palestinians still kept them weak at the negotiation table. Neither Arafat had nor the current leadership of Palestinians have leadership qualities which can clinch the peace deal.

Probably that is what Sec. Kerry needs to recognize - fundamentally Palestinians are incapable of  undertaking any serious peace compromise. At best what can be desired is day-to-day compromises without any larger picture initiatives. Palestinians are more likely to get a 'kick' from a meaningless legal victory in the court of global opinion than real improvements in lives of common people. And for Israeli's what needs to be understood is 'forces which are against peace deal' for narrow political advantage are alive and kicking.

So what can Sec. Kerry do then? May be as Tzipi Livni says, let the two parties negotiate on their own and USA focuses on other international issues to gain leverage over Israel. For example, if America demonstrates that it is serious in locking down Iranian nuke program, it will have salutary effects on these middle-east negotiations. That seems to the way forward rather than America getting bogged down with intransigence and petty tactics of these two parties.