Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

Bharat Bhakti: Narendra Modi Analysis from an American.

While Congress is immersed in Bhakti of one family after 1947, BJP is immersed in Bharat Bhakti, the Bhakti of 125 crore * Indians!

For BJP, India's youth are not just voters but they are the Nation's power & strength. I appeal all youngsters to register to vote and

understand their strength in the form of vote.


-Narendra Modi, stump speech, probably earlier than 1 Oct 2013.


* 125 * 10,000,000 = 1,250,000,000


SummaryBJP's astonishing dominance of the last elections will allow Narendra Modi to do exactly as he wishes for the next five years,

by my reckoning.  An era has come to an end:  the Congress Party and its devotion to the Nehru/Gandhi dynasty have been sent packing. 

Congress Party were so soundly defeated they don't even lead the opposition.  Half of India is under the age of 25: they're in open revolt

against the establishment figures.  Yet India is more than the sum of its parts. Emerging from a still-relevant ancient history, its political figures

emerge from mythic roots, not wedge issues, as do American politics.


Modi-ji has little foreign policy experience.  That doesn't much matter: India's critical issues are internal, chiefly corruption.  I think he'll do just fine,

even with the USA.  Modi will find allies in odd corners of the landscape: I believe India's bureaucracies are sick of being mismanaged.  The Indian

expatriate community will reappear, to invest in a modern India.




An rina fari ya zama baki: Nigeria analysis


Nigeria is headed for another civil war.  The USA must not take sides in Nigeria's de-facto civil war.  There's no saving Nigeria from the outside.  Consider: Boko Haram is largely based in Borno State, in the northeast.  Borno is the poorest part of Nigeria: corruption keeps the oil wealth in the Christian/animist south and away from the Muslim north.  As the largely Islamic southern Sahel empties out, Borno State has filled up with destitute migrants.  Though the West cannot and must not attempt to intervene, from the outside, much can be done from within. 


The Political Marble: BlaiseP reads the Ukraine entrails

HankP says US foreign policy and security policy is still engaged in self-defeating Cold War tactics. As a veteran of an intricate proxy war waged under the larger rubric of the Cold War, I don't share his opinion. But there's lots to agree with in his diary: there are no Good Guys in this squabble, as there were none in mine.

What's Really Happening in the Ukraine

HankP's picture

Hint: it's nothing like the metric tons of ordure being dumped on this blog on a daily basis.


Ukraine-Venezuela round-up (Updated)

Bird Dog's picture

The only reason I linked the two countries is because the unpleasantness is happening at the same time.



The B52's Open Thread (Updated)

So Obama presumably approved flying two B52's right through China's newly minted Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) established over the islands it disputes with Japan. Meanwhile, the Japanese government instructed JAL and ANA to fly through the zone without notifying Chinese civil aviation authorities of their flight plans, as they had both started to do.



Bird Dog's picture

China. The government is cracking down on Uighers, although there is little sign of an organized, kinetic resistance movement. The government is also cracking down on Bloomberg News.

Pakistan's leaders

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Perhaps one problem with Pakistan is that, when it comes to recruiting the country's best and brightest, it competes with terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (based on a 56-page study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point). And no wonder LeT is doing well.

Islamist Spring: Egypt-Syria edition

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Instead of the hope of democratic governance and expanding freedoms, Islamists in Egypt and Syria are attempting to trade one form of oppression for another.

In Egypt...


Hugo Chavez's Economic Legacy

There will be plenty of negative commentary on Chavez in the US press (and after reflecting on the recent Malaysia scandal, I wonder how much of that will be directly financed by Venezuela's Chamber of Commerce, Fedecameras, which headed the conservative opposition to CHavez).


So this is just a brief diary seeking to counterbalance likely negative news and support the proposition that Chavez was in fact a highly successful leader if we judge success in terms of leaving the people of Venezuela much better off than when he took power.


A House is a Grave: Sahel situation analysis.

A man lives in his wife's tent: a house is a grave. -Tuareg proverb


Précis: as the first phase of the Mali conflict winds down, we see a partial recapitulation of other guerrilla wars in the Sahel. Expelled from Algeria, Ansar Dine has emerged as the major player, the hub around which MUJAO, AQIM and other Islamic groups have coalesced and merged into the local populations. As France withdraws troops, Algeria returns to geopolitical prominence in the region, a brute force (and largely counterproductive) bulwark against Islamism. America returns to its bad habits, having seemingly learned nothing from Afghanistan.


Does the USA have strategic interests in the Sahel? If so, how might we best serve those interests? Let Mali's fall from grace show what happens when the veneer of democracy is pasted onto rotten boards. The nations of the Sahel are going from bad to worse: their wretched poverty and malgovernance are of a piece, a vacuum into which jihaad has moved with a vengeance as it has moved into many other such vacuums.


Africa must save itself. Does America have a role to play in that salvation? I cannot say. This much I do know: the USA appears to be repeating previous mistakes. Therefore, I predict, with considerable anger and sadness, the tragedy of Afghanistan will be writ large in the Sahel, across many nations in an area larger than the United States.


Thoughts on Egypt’s Constitutional Referendum

This post is in large measure a summary of yesterday's discussion hosted by Tamara Cofman Wittes, Director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, with Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Saban Center, and Shadi Hamid, Director of Research at Brookings Doha. I am indebted to the Brookings Institution for much of what follows but my own opinions are injected along the way.


What sort of government is created with this constitution? The House of Representatives and a Senate called the Shura Council constitute a bicameral parliament to act as a check on the powers of the president. The president appoints the prime minister as a proxy. Therefore the president has overweening power, as it was in the evil days of Mubarak.


There is a judiciary but it has little power to challenge the president and is deeply conservative. With the advent of shari'a law as the basis for the constitution, Al Azhar University becomes the ulama, with the unprecedented and vaguely defined power to review legislation, as described in Article 4 of the new constitution.


This constitution is stillborn. For all its windy trash about political and partisan plurality, the rule of law, respect to human rights, guarantee of rights and freedoms, peaceful rotation of power, etc. --the Egyptian constitution hasn't even defined the electoral process. It exempts the military from any oversight. It has created a religious state for all intents and purposes.


This constitution won't last more than a few years. The current referendum isn't about constitution: it is a plebiscite on Mohamed Mursi.  America might not have a large role to play in all this but mostly we ought to hold true to democratic ideals and not doing our usual Deals with Devils We Know.


On The Two State Fiction

So Abbas, as moderate a Palestinian as one could hope for, achieved at the UN global recognition that there is such a thing as a Palestinian people and Palestinian state. The victory was overwhelming; 138 to 9 and not even a reliable US ally like the UK, one of the 40 abstentions, was willing to vote against it.


New Diary - NOW! With more Benghazi-bashing!!

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President Obama held his first post-election news conference today (actually, the first in months) - note: linked NYT transcript is 11 pages, as referenced below.

"Everything you always wanted to know about Benghazi* (*but were afraid Republicans are hacks)"

Because he's awesome like that, Kevin Drum clears up everything currently known about the Benghazi consulate attack, explaining in detail how the Romney campaign has been facepalmingly wrong at every turn.

Why was President Obama initially unwilling to call it an act of terror?


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