BuzzFlash.com's World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR DECEMBER 17, 2001
Op-ed and editorials. Of special interest: the last piece from the Guardian-a brilliant and succinct explanation of how the far right have demolished the left-a must read!!
International News, Pakistan--OPINION: HOLIDAY SEASON IN THE US
Hindustan Times, India--COLUMNISTS: JEHAD INTERNATIONAL INC.
Daily Star, Lebanon--OPINION: IT'S WE, NOT THE ISRAELIES, WHO LACK A PEACE
Morning Herald, Australia--EDITORIAL: AMERICAN HYPERPOWER
Guardian, UK--WORDS REALLY ARE IMPORTANT, MR. BLUNKETT
1//The International News, December 16, 2001-- Ramadan 30,1422 http://jang.com.pk/thenews/
HOLIDAY SEASON IN THE US-- Dr Manzur Ejaz
Lucky stars! This year, Muslim Eid, Jewish Honokaa and Christian Christmas are falling in the same month. The US media is buzz with chats about this opportune time when the stars have converged to reflect unity of adherents of Abrahimi religions. President Bush will not miss this God given opportunity to invite leaders of Muslim, Jewish and Christian organisations. After all, giving Muslim leaders a tour of the White House and feeding them once a while is the least expensive way to show that the US is not against Islam. In addition, the US Muslim leaders have to be consoled also who, after the US actions in South Asia and inaction in Middle East, are being taunted by their leaders for voting as a block for George W Bush. And one should not forget that Bush's re-election is just two years away.
Unfortunately, lucky stars are not aligned well on the Middle East and South Asian skies. Either the stars are not in sync on every region or the smoke of bombs or religious haltered has blurred the eyes of descendants of many to avail this rare chance provided by celestial bodies. Instead of celebrating their revered festivals in the same month, Christians, Jews and Muslims are making sure that none of them celebrates. Yasser Arafat may be confused on the question of poisoning the atmosphere of celebrations but Ariel Sharon is not. His decision to cut off negotiations with Yasser Arafat and moves to reoccupy Palestinian lands has left no doubts about how clear the Israelis are about busting the celebrations. Americans have no choice but to celebrate because the economy will sink down further if the holiday spirit is not translated into dollars at the shopping malls.
US economy has been sliding down for some time but the US Congress was desperate to shower $20 billion more on Pentagon even if they were not requested to allocate these funds. President Bush, a defence hawk, had to veto the Congress's generous gesture. However, the matter of medicines for the elderly - forced to be making a hard choice between food and expensive medicine everyday - is still in the hearing committees. Probably, the Congress and the President will get to the issue next year when they would need votes of the elderly citizens. But intelligence agencies cannot wait if America has to be made a secure place: no wonder they are known to be slush with funds.
May be the High School English teachers in New Jersey State are in the wrong business who had to go to jail for to protect their health benefits: They refused to accept the court orders to go back to classes if their health benefits are not maintained. Their unionised activities are dangerous (may be terrorism!) for the health of the US capitalism. Unionised workers are so harmful that the White House could not agree to provide funds for a faltering bridge in this area if unionised labourers are going to be used in this project. Now, the governor of the state has agreed to accept non-unionised workers and the bridge construction will start soon. Nonetheless, White House has warned that if any portion of the bridge is constructed with rights-conscious workers, the bridge will never complete. How such workers can be kept in circulation by the conservative Republican president when they vote for the bleeding-heart liberal Democrats.
Reconstruction of Afghanistan must be on the minds of many governments and their high profiled contractors. If half of the estimated twenty to thirty billion dollars is going to be ploughed in for rebuilding the war ravaged Afghanistan, numerous entities must be vying for the lucrative contracts. Behind the scene, many commercial ventures must be pressing their governments to pitch in for them: Commercial minded Japan's leadership in reconstruction efforts is quite understandable. European Union will not be sitting behind in this game either. And most of all, American companies have to make enough for their economy to compensate for the mammoth amounts spent on Afghan war: the loss of just one B-1B bomber is about $200 million loss to the US.
Many in Pakistan, addicted to making money from Afghan wars, must be missing the action. Now, Afghanistan's other neighbours are also in the business of sharing the spoils. May be Ahmed Rashid's proposal, to involve the commercial sectors of neighbouring countries in the reconstruction work, can work better for the region. He has argued for keeping the intelligence agencies of neighbouring countries away from Afghanistan's rebuilding. This must be a bad news for many who were dreaming to become overnight millionaires: they had a life-time chance to follow their predecessors who had made their buck in 1980s.
COLUMNISTS: JEHAD INTERNATIONAL INC. By Vir Sanghvi
While details of the white Taliban fighters are hard to come by, the Americans have been trying even harder to suppress information about the Pakistanis who have been fighting the Taliban's war. We know - thanks to Northern Alliance spokesmen - that at least 1,500 Pakistanis have been captured. We know also that the Americans have asked the Northern Alliance to give them a fresh set of clothes and to escort them to the Pakistan border so that they can return to the comfort of their homes.
The Northern Alliance has fewer details about the Pakistani army regulars who have been fighting in Kunduz.
This confirms what we, in India, have always suspected. The Taliban may have been barbarians but they were international barbarians. Their ranks comprised more than just Afghans. There were Arabs - like bin Laden himself - and there were Pakistanis drawn by the talk of jehad. There was also a floating population of international warriors (such as David Hicks) who were attracted to Islam and looked for holy wars to fight. And then of course, there was the Pakistani army.
The international nature of the Taliban army - and the even more global character of the Al Qaeda network - should give the Americans pause for thought. At present, Washington is acting as though the battle is won and the war is nearly over. It has released a video tape of bin Laden gloating about the September 11 attacks in support of its contention that Al Qaeda was behind the incidents. Now that the Taliban are finished and bin Laden is only one step away from capture or sudden death, say the Americans, justice has finally been done.
This could prove almost as major a miscalculation as the CIA's decision to recruit bin Laden for the Afghan operation in the 1980s.
It is important to defeat the Taliban but they are not the enemy. They were - at best - merely a transit camp for an international operation that can move from country to country without any of the world's intelligence agencies being any the wiser. In fact the destruction of Afghanistan as a playground for terrorists could end up being the worst news that we in India have heard for a long time.
They might all just end up here.
As of this writing, nobody has taken credit for Thursday's attack on Parliament but you don't have to be a genius to work out who is responsible. The modus operandi of the terrorists was distinctly similar to the attack on the J&K Assembly carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammad two months ago. This operation has the signature of one of the international terrorist groups active in the Kashmir Valley.
What the Americans don't seem to realise is that you cannot artificially separate Afghanistan, bin Laden, the Taliban, the ISI, the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, the Harkat-ul-Ansar and the Jaish-e-Mohammad. They are all different heads of the same Hydra, a sort of Jehad International Inc.
If you destroy the Taliban then all you achieve is that you push the jehadis from one theatre to another. If you demonise bin Laden then you play the terrorists' game by focusing on a single individual while ignoring the true nature of the enemy. And if you claim that Pakistan is your ally against terror then you find yourselves in the bizarre situation of aligning with the Pakistani army in Islamabad to fight the Pakistani army in Kunduz.
Indian intelligence believes that the hijackers received their weapons on the tarmac from a Pakistani diplomat who was visiting Kathmandu airport. We have evidence to prove that the hijackers arrived on a flight from Karachi and that their documents had been prepared by an ISI cell.
My concern is that these links will be ignored because the Americans fought the Afghan war with a limited agenda: they wanted to take revenge for September 11 and reassure their domestic constituency that nobody who attacked America could get away with it.
What is more likely is this: the jehadis who have been sent back from the Afghan operation will look for new wars to fight. Inevitably, they will be drawn to Kashmir. Their mentors, who have been humiliated by the fall of Kandahar, will tell them that the Kashmir insurgency is a much more attractive option. At least there, you can claim it's a freedom struggle, talk about human rights abuses by Indian troops and lobby the international community for the right to self-determination.
As the violence in Kashmir increases, so too will attacks on targets outside Kashmir (such as Parliament). The jehadis need successful operations against soft targets to keep their morale up.
All this may sound too pessimistic - and perhaps it is. But who can miss the significance of the timing of the attack on Parliament - just as Afghanistan is lost, a new battle is joined! And which sensible Indian can fail to be worried by the manner in which the Americans have taken General Musharraf's sincerity at face value?
Our best hope is that the Americans confront the true face of the enemy and stop treating bin Laden as some all-powerful villain from a James Bond movie. The war against terror is not about individuals. It is not even about countries. It is about Jehad International Inc., perhaps the most powerful terrorist organisation in living memory.
Today, the jehadis may prefer New Delhi to New York. But the WTC attacks demonstrated that terror knows no boundaries. Today it's Kashmir. Tomorrow it could be Kansas.
IT'S WE, NOT THE ISRAELIES, WHO LACK A PEACE PARTNER
Hani al-Hassan is strategic affairs advisor to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and the external relations commissioner of both the PLO and Fatah Movement. He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star.
GAZA: Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated because he realized there was no military solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He was murdered in the context of a factual dispute within Israel over the future of the West Bank. The Israeli right-wing and military and security establishments saw, and still see, a peace that would lead to a genuinely independent Palestinian state being established in the territories captured in 1967 as a real threat to Israel, undermining Its national security and spelling the end of Zionism.
There are those who claim that Ehud Barak was "generous" in the terms he offered the Palestinians. This is not true. What he proposed was in effect not a peace agreement but a security agreement. He wanted to annex 9 percent of the West Bank to Israel outright, lease a further 10 percent along the Jordan River for 25 years, and retain Israeli sovereignty over the Palestinian state's borders with Egypt and Jordan, and its airspace and coast. This was non-negotiable as far as he was concerned. He refused even to share the West Bank's waters, allocating to the Palestinians a mere 10 million cubic meters out of the annual output of 900 mcm. He insisted on Israel retaining five military bases and outposts in the West Bank, in addition to a string of army storage depots.
The difference between Barak and Ariel Sharon is that the former wanted to achieve this via American political pressure on the Palestinian Authority, while the latter seeks to do so by eradicating it. Sharon wants to deal with a new generation of Palestinians, unversed in politics and struggle, which would agree to retaining the Jewish settlements and the Palestinian state's dependency on the Israeli economy, and leaving final status issues to "phased negotiations." In practice, this means indefinite negotiations.
Sharon sought to exploit the intifada as a pretext for putting his ideas into practice. His real aim was to secure international cover from the US and Europe for ejecting Yasser Arafat from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, entering the towns, "cleansing" them, and installing a new leadership. He claims to have the makings of one. But I don't know where he would find a single Palestinian who would accept his terms, let alone a group. He has tried to create a puppet leadership before. It was Sharon who set up the Village Leagues in the 1970s, but he got nowhere. They were a failure. Yet he's thinking along the same lines again today.
Sharon is a militarist who does not believe in a political solution, even one that is advantageous to Israel. This is the core problem. From the outset, he has refused to sit down with anyone from the PA. He would send his son Omri to meet Arafat instead, and then proceed to rubbish him as a Meretz loyalist.
Sharon's problem is that nearly a year after assuming office he has failed to deliver to Israelis the security he promised them within 200 days. Most Israelis are convinced that the Palestinians rather than the Israeli Army can deliver security, ie that security would stem from a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Not Sharon. And he is obsessed with the idea of not allowing Arafat, who foiled his bid to destroy him in 1982, to defeat him a second time.
Bush rashly forced the Europeans to adopt his stance after Sharon persuaded him that Arafat was capable of putting an end to what he defines as "terrorism" at the push of a button. This is not the case. The situation at present does not enable anyone to control matters at the push of a button, in the absence of a political framework that can persuade people that the intifada can culminate in the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The reason there were no significant acts of so-called terrorism between 1997 and 2000 was because there was a political framework where the PA was allowed to impose security. Now, the Israelis have split the Gaza Strip into four parts and turned every West Bank town into a separate enclave. There's little the PA can do in such a situation, especially when Sharon does not want it to succeed. He wants it to fall and the Islamists to become dominant, as he thinks that will secure him US permission to reoccupy the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and foster an alternative Palestinian leadership.
Others in the Israeli military see no point in going back into the Palestinian villages and towns they had occupied for 26 years. They argue that by continuing to bombard and besiege them, they can squeeze the Palestinian people so hard that they would revolt against the PA. That is what they are awaiting for at present, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the PA is far more moderate than the general public. Having experienced occupation for 34 years, they have watched the PA negotiate with Israel for eight years without making political progress, and are convinced that Israel is using the negotiations merely to gain time. In reality, it is the Palestinians, not the Israelis, who do not have a peace partner.
EDITORIAL: AMERICAN HYPERPOWER
After September 11, the White House convened an extraordinary meeting of Hollywood executives, seeking their input, and imagination, in pre-empting future attacks on Americans and their interests. The simple concept of world domination, as a deterrent to enemy attacks, has been thoroughly exploited by Hollywood creatives but, historically, somewhat less successfully by nation states. However, the US President, George Bush, has taken a significant step towards consolidating American global military superiority by announcing the controversial national missile defence (NMD) system will go ahead, regardless of heated objections from China and Russia, and more considered criticism from the European Union. Mr Bush has insisted on linking NMD to the terrorist threat, despite the lack of clear evidence that any terrorist group is missile capable.
The pursuit of NMD, and later the more ambitious theatre missile defence (TMD) system, will theoretically render Russia's missiles ineffective against American targets. Recent co-operation in the "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan and the dilapidated state of Russia's military machinery means Washington no longer ranks Moscow as a major threat. The treaty, President Bush argues, is a "relic" of the Cold War, and ignores the new threats the US faces from terrorists or so-called "rogue" states, such as North Korea and Iraq, which are thought to be developing nuclear and biological weapons. Mr Bush is evidently willing to jeopardise ties with Russia, which argues that arms control pacts are the cornerstone of global security.
While Washington is promoting the system as the ultimate peacekeeper, its implications for the global balance of power are far more complicated. China, in particular, feels extremely vulnerable because NMD would render its strike capacity virtually useless. There are also similar concerns about reactions from unpredictable nuclear capable states such as India and Pakistan.
Numerous defence experts have warned NMD could trigger another global arms race, as disenfranchised nations seek to build more sophisticated weapons to beat the missile shield.
On an ideological level, Washington's decision to abandon the ABM treaty is a watershed. Painstaking international negotiations over the past four decades produced a series of important arms control agreements which brought together hundreds of nations in the pursuit of peace. With the US determined to unilaterally pursue its own interests, critics argue these are now under threat. In recent months the Bush Administration has shown a similarly dismissive attitude to important global protocols on greenhouse gas, nuclear test bans, biological and chemical weapons and small arms controls.
Strategic domination, however, cannot replace co-operation and compromise in defusing the inevitable conflicts of the future.
REALLY ARE IMPORTANT, MR. BLUNKETT By Will Hutton
The rise of the American Right since the mid 1970s has not only transformed American politics and society, its impact has resounded around the globe. If you're a British rail commuter experiencing rail travel whose reliability is now worse than during the Second World War, your fate is linked by a golden thread to the ascendancy of conservative ideas originating in the US.
Political correctness is one of the brilliant tools that the American Right developed in the mid-1980s as part of its demolition of American liberalism. The core of the conservative proposition is that moral individuals are the basis for a just society and dynamic capitalism, ahead-to-head confrontation with the 'liberal' view that individuals are social animals and that fair societies require universal rules asserting justice in its widest sense. Justice does not come from coercive rules, argue conservatives; it comes from moral individuals. The whole fabric of taxation, welfare, regulation, anti-discrimination legislation and public initiative is a coercive web which undermines freedom and morality. It must be fought to the last.
What the sharpest thinkers on the American Right saw quickly was that by declaring war on the cultural manifestations of liberalism - by levelling the charge of political correctness against its exponents - they could discredit the whole political project. Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing talk-show host, talking about 'feminazis', is part of the same movement as Allan Bloom, whose seminal book, The Closing of the American Mind , argues that political correctness has infected the US's capacity to think. This is the populist battering-ram behind which the Right makes the case for tax cuts for the wealthy and welfare minimalism for the poor.
The difficulty has been that American liberalism, itself split between whether it is a coalition of minorities - all of whose rights have to be respected by meticulous linguistic descriptions - or whether it represents a set of universal moral propositions about justice, has offered it many targets. By ridiculing liberalism's 'politically correct' nostrums, conservatives are able to ridicule the whole liberal enterprise. Thus, any tiny faculty of a university that maintains that Shakespeare is racist, any honest-to-god guy involved in a sexual harassment case, or any environmentalist seeking to protect unspoiled land can all be portrayed as victims or exponents of irrational political correctness. Plain-talking conservatives who want to get 'issues out into the open and debated' would never fall prey to such liberal idiocies.
Copyright 2001, Gloria R. Lalumia
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otherwise noted, all original