The Map (The Guardian)
Another long-winded piece from Stratfor that, this time at least, gets to the essentials. Yes, “point defense,” while psychologically necessary, just chases the bombers to new targets. They are trading their lives for a headline. For this, they need someplace photogenic in a major city with dead First Worlders in the aftermath.
The sad fact is that urban terror is a condition to be mitigated, not a problem to be solved. Even the Israelis, with a near garrison state, still get hit with sudden jihad syndrome — terrorists who will run amok and kill as many people as possible with buses or bulldozers if no bomb vests are available.
China's String of Pearls: Ports/Navy Bases Under Construction
BBC has the summary of a military pact agreed upon today between India and the United States. Overall, this is very good for the US. India is a rising power, an obvious counterweight to an unstable Pakistan, and the only blue water competitor in the Indian Ocean. It is also a counterweight to China.
Further, India is a good economic fit with the US. There is a large Indian diaspora here. They speak English and adhere to similar legal and political structures. They do a lot of back office and customer service work for US firms.
However, vocal segments of the Indian polity will find it hard to swallow this deal. There is going to be constant friction from the left-wing in the Congress, the two Communist parties and the nationalist left in general. America was the de facto enemy for too long under the Nehru dynasty, so expect a good bit of friction, backsliding, etc., and expect the American left to amplify this under the usual anti-imperialist concerns.
Rashid in 1992 (Reuters)
A typical editorial from the July 13 edition of The New York Times warrants some coverage. The article states:
Add this to the Bush administration’s sordid legacy: a refusal to investigate charges that forces commanded by a notorious Afghan warlord - and American ally - massacred hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war in late 2001.
According to survivors and witnesses, over a three-day period, fighters under the command of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum stuffed surrendering Taliban prisoners into metal shipping containers without food or water. Many suffocated. Guards shot others to death. The victims are believed to be buried in a grave in the desert of Dasht-i-Leili in northern Afghanistan.
Yes, Dostum is an unsavory character. He’s been on every side at one time or anther. While there is no evidence that would survive a court-room in the West, there is reasonable belief that he was a major drug runner — either directly or indirectly, by providing protection — back to the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He and the other North Alliance commanders are also clearly involved in the ongoing corruption in the current Afghan government.
The details of the “atrocity” are murky and he may well be guilty. (For some perspective, see this link for a description of the sort of prisoner revolt Dostrum might have been afraid of.) The key question is: So what?
Has the national leadership asked us to bear any burden?
Stratfor’s latest “geopolitical intelligence update” runs over 2,200 words. Nothing new here, really, just more of the same long-winded treatises to which we’ve grown accustomed. Among the many points Dr. Friedman makes:
This is not a question of the American will to fight; it is a question of the American interest in fighting.
With all due respect to the Austin-based firm, that misses the point. The key is that neither the American or British governments is willing to make a continuous effort to explain to the Anglosphere public why an ongoing war of attrition in Afghanistan is in our interests. This leaves the field to media and activist groups who reflexively oppose every war and exertion of Western power in the former colonial areas. Any casualty level above zero for both Western troops and Afghans will be portrayed in the worst possible light. Any expenditure of funds will be weighed and measured against “unmet domestic needs.”
Franklin Roosevelt, July 4, 1942:
“To the weary, hungry, unequipped army of the American Revolution the Fourth of July was a tonic of hope and inspiration. So is it now. The tough, grim men who fight for freedom in this dark hour take heart in its message–the assurance of the right to liberty under God–for all peoples and races and groups and nations, everywhere in the world.”