Rising powers do not want to play by the west’s rules

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by ajtr, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Rising powers do not want to play by the west’s rules


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    There are two ways of looking at the efforts of Turkey and Brazil to resolve the dispute about Iran’s nuclear programme. One dismisses the initiative as collusion with Tehran’s attempt to derail a fourth round of United Nations sanctions; another welcomes a recognition in Ankara and Brasilia that rising powers have a stake in sustaining a rules-based global order.

    Unsurprisingly, the default response in the west has been the former. Reactions in Washington, London and elsewhere to the agreement brokered by Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ranged along a spectrum from condescension to intense irritation. Ankara and Brasilia, at best, were dupes.

    The bargain struck by the two leaders with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, if implemented, would see Iran transfer to Turkish custody a large proportion of its stockpile of enriched uranium. In return, Tehran would be supplied with the more highly-enriched material used in medical isotopes. The risk of an Iranian bomb would be reduced, while Tehran would retain what it sees as a sovereign right to mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle.

    There is nothing novel about the idea. It is modelled on an offer made last autumn by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The difference is that this first proposal envisaged the Iranian uranium would be sent to Russia.

    The latest plan raises plenty of legitimate questions. Among other things it does not tell us what Iran proposes to do with the rest of its uranium stockpile and why it is continuing to produce more. Tehran has also yet to explain why it is now enriching to a higher concentration.

    The timing of the deal raises the justified suspicion that Iran’s primary objective is to upset the US-led move towards further UN sanctions. During many years of negotiations with the west, Tehran has hardly been subtle in its tactics: the pattern has been one of apparent concessions at moments of pressure followed by lengthy prevarication and enrichment as usual. On a generous interpretation, one western diplomat told me, Mr Erdogan and Mr Lula da Silva were naive.

    Against this background, the US, France and Britain have unveiled their plans for the latest sanctions – this time directed at Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – with obvious satisfaction. Turkey and Brazil might think their deal had abrogated the need for further punitive measures, but China and Russia had been persuaded otherwise.

    Perhaps I am overly cynical but I detect a certain petulance here. Turkey and Brazil have temporary seats on the Security Council, and it is as if the permanent members are affronted the two nations should presume to strike out on their own.

    The Iranian nuclear issue, you could almost hear diplomats saying, is an argument that has to be settled by the established powers. If others want to help that is fine – but they should do so by backing the west’s plan rather than coming up with crackpot ideas of their own.

    There are several reasons why this is short-sighted. Most obviously the permanent five have got just about nowhere so far. Even those arguing that sanctions are the only way to coerce Iran into toeing the UN line do not really believe the measures can work on their own. If Tehran really has decided to build the bomb, a squeeze on the Revolutionary Guard will not change its mind.

    It is evident, too, that in the event that the present regime were to change course and seek an accommodation on its nuclear programme, ways would have to be found to ensure it was not seen as capitulating to the great, and lesser, Satans of the west. A deal struck with a neighbouring Islamic state might – and I emphasise the might – be a route out of the impasse.

    For Mr Erdogan’s government the attempt to broker a deal is a natural extension of Ankara’s active regional diplomacy. The last few years have seen a marked rise in both Turkey’s economic prosperity and its political confidence. As France, Germany and others have found reasons to exclude it from the European Union, Turkey has turned eastwards.

    Ankara’s rising stature in the region has been based on the brilliantly simple proposition that nations that want to project influence should start by fixing their own disputes. Mr Erdogan has settled long-running arguments with Syria and Iraq and sought to lower tensions in the Caucasus.

    The neighbourhood problem-solving has not been universally successful but it has been sufficiently so to turn Turkey into a big regional player. Mr Erdogan’s government now shows the political confidence that comes with understanding that it has opened up options for itself beyond frustrating and fruitless negotiations in Brussels about the terms under which it might at some point qualify as a “European” power. Here, I think, lies a source of the irritation in Washington and elsewhere about the latest initiative.

    The off-stated ambition of western governments is that the world’s rising powers should bear some of the burden of safeguarding international security and prosperity. The likes of China, India and, dare one say, Turkey and Brazil, are beneficiaries of a rules-based global order and, as such, should be prepared to contribute. They should, in a phrase coined some years ago by Robert Zoellick, act as stakeholders in the system.

    Seen from Ankara or Brasilia, or indeed from Beijing or New Delhi, there is an important snag in this argument. They are not being invited to craft a new international order but rather to abide by the old (western) rules. As I heard one Chinese scholar remark this week, it is as if the rising nations have been offered seats at a roulette table only on the strict understanding that the west retains ownership of the casino.

    As it happens, the US understands better than Europeans the shifting distribution of power. Barack Obama’s administration has been thinking hard about the new geopolitical geometry, even as Europe remains trapped in its anxiety to cling on to the old Euro-atlantic order.

    In its excellent exercise in crystal-ball gazing, Global Trends 2025, the US National Intelligence Council presciently included a scenario in which Brazil acts as a mediator at a moment of crisis in the Middle East. Imagining a different future, though, is not the same as coming to terms with it. If the west wants global order, it has to get used to others having a say in making the rules.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    India is a rising power.

    India plays by the rules.:funny_2:
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Ray sir,
    India plays by rule only when it suits its interests.Otherwise india would have signed on most of the treaties(NPT,FMCT,CTBT,Climate change,WTo etc.) pushed by west long back.
     
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  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    The ascent of India —by Aliya Anjum

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    In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India
    By Edward Luce
    Little, Brown; Pp 362


    This book is a candid and all-encompassing account of India by a seasoned journalist. In a strangely interesting way, Edward Luce shows a remarkably local understanding of the Indian psyche that is usually lost on most westerners, yet retains his factual and incisive western prism while viewing the country. It is, therefore, a compelling read that covers the entire gamut of factors influencing modern India. It is of special interest to the Pakistani reader since many of India’s ills also plague us and their study of medicine provides a worthwhile read.

    To capture the imagination of the average Western reader, the book skilfully begins with mystic India and tales of westerners who discovered bliss while living in ashrams. India successfully portrayed itself to the West as an enchanting land far away not too long ago. This was further testified by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s observations upon arriving in Harvard in the late 1980s. Weaving together religion and economics, Luce exhibits his prowess by leading his reader almost imperceptibly to acknowledge the various socio-cultural ills that (ironically) plague India due to its religious traditions. Modern India shows a juxtaposition of extreme poverty with extreme religiosity. Surprising and baffling the intended audience, the writer raises this question to westerners who claim to have found a solution to deal with materialism in India. By elucidating the social crisis caused by the caste system that sanctions apathy, resignation and even aggression to perpetuate economic inequalities on the basis of religion, Luce tries to dissect the problem himself. He rightly contends that this remains the single biggest obstacle to an equitable (western style) growth model in India.

    Akin to Pakistan, dynastic politics pervaded India in the first five decades of its independence, which is hardly surprising. Nehru’s vision of complete economic independence styled on a socialistic model, whereby all foreign goods were discouraged, guided India to swaraj or ‘self-rule’. He unsuccessfully attempted land reform. In a farsighted move, Nehru focused on developing the techno-managerial talent in India through the now famous Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management since 1951. He received much flak for ignoring the dismal state of primary schooling in favour of tertiary education. Nehru’s move eventually paid phenomenal dividends in the form of export earnings from the sale of products and services related to information technology.

    Luce also talks of the 1960s when India survived on aid from the US and could not feed its poor. Possibly spurred by the swaraj psyche, India became self-sufficient in food during the 1970s and now stands as an exporter of food. In 1991, India had to swallow the bitter ‘IMF pill’, which shattered the swadeshi or ‘self-reliance’ dreams of Nehru. India’s intellectual talent groomed through Nehru’s stress on world-class higher education came to its rescue. This was coupled with a stroke of luck tinged with an ironic display of patriotism exhibited by Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of Rajiv Gandhi. The Indian politician, notwithstanding his tendency to be corrupt, retains a deep loyalty to India. Perhaps this is also explained by the deeply embedded swaraj mindset, which was Nehru’s greatest gift to India. In a truly patriotic and democratic gesture, Sonia Gandhi prevailed upon her Congress Party to appoint Manmohan Singh as prime minister after the 2004 general elections. The latter, an able economist, led an ailing Indian economy to almost athletic strength. This historic step helped India to move away from incompetent and inexperienced dynastic rule towards professional leadership and has perhaps been the single most important factor in the rise of modern India. The author attributes many personal and political reasons behind this move.

    The book is peppered with Luce’s incisive analysis of the main driving forces in India. He covers the Indian bureaucratic tradition, an almost untouched colonial legacy and devotes an entire chapter to the Dalits or ‘untouchables’. This seems befitting given the gigantic impact of this issue on every facet of Indian life. He explains how the caste identity is manipulated, used and abused and, ironically, how it is inescapable even after conversion to egalitarian religions like Islam and Christianity. Luce then gives deserving attention to the rising tide of Hindu nationalism, which precipitated the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) rise to power. The deeply intolerant, Hindu-centric agenda of the BJP has dealt a fatal blow to Nehru’s vision of a secular and tolerant India. In a country that might not care for global jihad, religious extremism and self-righteousness is equally pernicious, if not more, given the sheer number of minorities living in India.

    The catchiest title of a chapter in the book is perhaps ‘Many crescents — South Asian Muslims’, which covers Kashmir and Pakistan. It merits the inclusion of all, given that an analysis of Muslims in India cannot be divorced from the events of partition and the creation of Pakistan. Though Luce has outlined many factors leading to partition, there is a subtle pro-Indian slant in his analysis, which may be described as naïve or showing a deliberate bias.

    Lastly, Luce pays attention to India’s position in the world vis-à-vis China and the US. He covers the fast changing socio-economic landscape of India and ends with the numerous challenges that stand in the way of India and its quest to become a global power. Covering a vast canvas, the writer has come up with an interesting work that deserves attention.
     

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