Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Afghan Journal:

Standing by your friends:India, U.S. push ahead with nuclear deal


For all the hand-wringing in India over getting sidelined by the United States in its regional strategy,  the two countries have gone ahead and just completed an important deal on the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from reactors to be built in India.

The agreement is a key step in the implementation of the India-U.S.  civil nuclear pact which grants India access to nuclear fuel and technology, even though it has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Under the agreement India can reprocess U.S.-originated nuclear material under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards which in itself is a symbolic concession, according to the Washington Post. It said that the Indians were a bit concerned about the idea of American officials running around their  nuclear reactors , a sort of  "a symbolic, sovereignty issue" as  a source in the U.S. nuclear industry said. They would rather submit to oversight by the IAEA, which thus far is a model the United States has only followed for nuclear collaboration with  Europe and Japan.

Considering that America has gone to war in Iraq on the grounds that it was building weapons of mass destruction and is at this time pushing for tougher sanctions against Iran for its nuclear programme, it is indeed a big deal. It can  also potentially reshape the strategic landscape in South Asia with the world virtually granting legitimacy to India as a nuclear weapons state while denying that to Pakistan.

Pushing the accord through in the U.S. has  been a "wrenching affair" as the Indian Express put it,  riding against the current of proliferation concerns worldwide. Why should the world be making an exception for India just as it is breathing down hard on Iran and North Korea to roll back their nuclear programmes ? Where, after all, is the iron-clad guarantee that India won't divert some of the  plutonium extracted from the imported spent fuel to its strategic weapons programme, the experts ask.  Blatant double standards, the Union of Concerned Scientists said.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan: a personal view of the water wars

 It was so long in the making,  so utterly predictable, that the news that Pakistan and India are now arguing over water carries with it the dull ache of inevitability.

When I was living in Delhi, which I left in 2004, a few analysts were already warning that the next war between Pakistan and India would be over water, rather than over Kashmir.  The mountain glaciers which fed the rivers which are the lifeline of both countries were melting, they said, and sooner or later India and Pakistan would blame each other for climate change. I did not take it that seriously at the time. Not even after seeing first hand how far the Siachen glacier - the world's longest glacier - had receded.  

from Afghan Journal:

Obama’s secret trip to Afghanistan


For a leader who has come to own the Afghan war, U.S. President Barack Obama's first trip to Kabul and the military headquarters in  Bagram since he took office 15 months ago was remarkable for its secrecy and surprise.

He flew in late on Sunday night, the blinds lowered on Air Force One all the way from Washington, and left while it was still dark.

Japan’s “political deflation”



“Political deflation” – that’s how one quipster described the woes besetting Japan’s political sphere as support for both the new ruling party and its main conservative rival slips on concerns that neither side is capable of steering an economy plagued by falling prices, decades of lacklustre growth and a fast-ageing, shrinking population.

Six months after the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept to power  for the first time in a landslide election win that ended more than 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the conservative Liberal Democrats, support for Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government is only about half the exuberant 70 percent level enjoyed when he took office.

Australia’s “Ironman” opposition leader kicks off fitness debate



Move aside Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.

Putin, Russia’s bare-chested macho man, and marathon fan Obama  are not anywhere near Australia’s new opposition leader Tony Abbott, who has entered the ranks of ultra iron men, kickstarting a debate about leadership and fitness in the process.

Abbott, 52, this weekend finished the Ironman Australia triathlon, swimming 3.8 kilometres (2.3 miles), cycling 180 kilometres and then running a 42-kilometre road marathon in just under 14 hours of extreme sporting prowess.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Iran’s role in Afghanistan

ahmadinejadkarzaiIran has been hosting regional leaders, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to celebrate the Persian New Year, or Nowruz (a spring festival whose equivalent in Pakistan, incidentally, is frowned upon by its own religious conservatives).

The Nowruz celebrations, which also included the presidents of Iraq, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, are part of Iran's efforts to build regional ties and followed renewed debate over the kind of role Iran wants to play in Afghanistan. As discussed here, it has also been improving ties with Pakistan, and both countries may have worked together on the arrest last month of Abdolmalik Rigi, leader of the Jundollah rebel group.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan on the U.S. see-saw

wagah2Few who follow South Asia could miss the symbolism of two separate developments in the past week -  in one Pakistan was cosying up to the United States in a new "strategic dialogue"; in the other India was complaining to Washington about its failure to provide access to David Headley, the Chicago man accused of helping to plan the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

Ever since the London conference on Afghanistan in January signalled an exit strategy which could include reconciliation with the Taliban, it has been clear that Pakistan's star has been rising in Washington while India's has been falling. 

from Afghan Journal:

Burying the Powell doctrine in Afghanistan

A U.S. soldier in Helamd. Picture by Shamil Zhumatov)

A U.S. soldier in Helmand. Picture by Shamil Zhumatov)

Early this month Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered what military experts are saying was the final nail in the coffin of  the Powell doctrine, a set of principles that General Colin Powell during his tenure as chairman laid out for the use of military force. A key element was that the military plan should employ decisive and overwhelming force in order to achieve a rapid result. A clear exit strategy must be thought through right from the beginning and the use of force must only be a last resort, Powell said, the experience of Vietnam clearly weighing on him.

U.S. military involvement overseas has deviated far from those principles since then but Mullen finally finished it off, according to Robert Haddick in this piece for Foreign Policy. The United States is faced with low-level warfare and the public must accept it as a way of life. The question no longer is whether to use military force; America's enemies whether in Afghanistan or Iraq or Yemen have settled that issue, ensuring it remains engaged in conflict. The question is how should it use its vast power.

Australian voters worming to PM Rudd


rudd001    If Australia’s election worm has its way, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will be re-elected in a landslide victory later in 2010.
    Rudd on Tuesday won the first of three televised debates, say political analysts, kick starting what will likely be a drawn-out eight-month campaign ahead of elections tipped for November.
Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott had the killer lines, but it was the PM’s bookish, technocrat style which struck a chord with voters watching the debate.
    Two commercial television networks which broadcast the debate used a controversial opinion “worm”, a moving line that dips and rises into negative or positive territory according to so-called “wormologist” viewer reactions as each politican spoke.
    Almost everytime Rudd opened his mouth, the worm soared upwards, before diving to earth the moment camera’s switched to the otherwise telegenic Abbott.
    It seemed pugnacious Abbott’s straight-talking style could make no dent against Rudd, whose popularity in major opinion surveys has been sliding dramatically in recent months, although he remains on course for victory.
    “I’m at a terrible disavantage in this debate because I’m not capable of waffling for two minutes the way the prime minister is,” quipped Abbott to live audience laughter.
    Dip, on both networks.
    Most political analysts had opined ahead of the debate that taking part in a debate was a brave move for Rudd, who has been accused of lacking courage to push forcefully for many of the key reform promises that spearheaded his victory two years ago.
    “Some Labor hardheads firmly believe Rudd may have made a strategic mistake,” said senior journalist Lenore Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
    But by the end of the debate, and with the worm attempting to crawl off the charts into positive territory, Rudd’s decision looks like a masterstroke that could restore momentum on health, climate, tax and education reform.
    “Verdict:  Rudd the winner.  Abbott probably won the debate but was too punchy and negative,” wrote columnist Mark Kenny in the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper.
    At one stage it seemed political attack and “negativity” was the problem for Abbott, with viewers punishing anything aggressive. But even Rudd’s rare aggressive forays and straying from his favoured facts seemed to go in his direction. “Okay, finished with the worm.  It’s clearly in love with Rudd,” said political radio network journalist Latika Bourke.
    The lesson of the worm seems that surveys aside, Rudd’s stellar popularity may still be as strong as ever.

from MacroScope:

Frustrated Greeks

The Greek debt crisis appears to be entering a new phase, in which the country is no longer just waiting to get needed help but getting concerned that others -- including euro zone powerhouse Germany -- may actually be making it hard for them to recover.

First, there is Prime Minister George Papandreou (right in photo). His concern is that speculators are pushing  the cost of borrowing so high that it is undermining the plans he has put in place  for deficit reduction.  Papandreou is known for being a mild-mannered sort, so any kind of irritability is worth noting.Greeks