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NightWatch 20091118

NightWatch

For the Night of 18 November 2009

India: Following a joint U.S.-Chinese statement calling for the improvement of Indian-Pakistani relations, India's Foreign Ministry released a statement 18 November, saying that the Indian government did not need a "third country" to help in its relations with Pakistan, Reuters reported. The statement said that the Indian government "is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through a peaceful bilateral dialogue."

There will be no world condominium agreement that India will respect. The Chinese motives in endorsing such an agreement with the US are fairly obvious. The US invests the Chinese with stature they do not have and can never obtain on their own in South Asia.

The more perplexing question is why and on who's advice a US President would do such a thing, after working for several years to win the confidence of the Indians. If the two greatest and largest democracies in the world do not stick together, what would induce a US President to treat the Chinese communists as allies against India or to agree to language that could be so misconstrued?

If members of the President's staff drafted or agreed to that language, a whole bunch of so-called Asian experts on the President's staff out to resign for incompetence and bad judgment in advising the President.

What would be the point in gratuitously offending the world's largest democracy which has shown as much restraint in dealing with Pakistan as the US has, perhaps more.

On 26 November next week, Indians will commemorate the anniversary of the Mumbai bombings and attacks. India chose not to go to war with Pakistan, though the evidence of official Pakistani support for the terrorists is overwhelming. Even Pakistani President Zardari admitted the attack originated from Pakistan. The Indians would seem to require no tutelage from the US or China in how to handle Pakistan.

India-Pakistan: India has handed Pakistan more information about the deadly Mumbai attacks ahead of the first anniversary of the carnage that killed 166 people, Islamabad said Wednesday.

"The dossier was handed over to our high commission in New Delhi by the Indian ministry of external affairs," Pakistan's foreign ministry said.

According to India's domestic news agency Press Trust of India, the latest dossier contains statements from key witnesses, including a magistrate and FBI officials, from the trial of the lone gunman captured by the police during the attacks. The gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, has confessed to his involvement in the attacks and testimony from a Mumbai magistrate who heard the admission has been included in the dossier, PTI said.

New Delhi has already handed over seven dossiers and has blamed Pakistani "official agencies" for abetting the 60-hour assault by 10 militant gunmen -- charges that Islamabad flatly denies.

Pakistan persist in wanting more information, instead of acting on what it already has been provided.

Pakistan: Security. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has not been defeated and instead has voluntarily retreated into the mountains, Reuters reported, citing TTP spokesman Azam Tariq. Tariq said the TTP is using a strategy to trap the Pakistani army in the area. He refuted claims that the army has seized control of most of the towns and said that the TTP has vacated them to trap the army. He added that Pakistan was doing this to appease the United States and vowed to continue the jihad in Afghanistan.

The challenge question that confronts US Army strategists is how come the Pakistan Army has done so well with straightforward infantry tactics against the relatives of the same Pashtun tribesmen who have held the US at bay for 8 years? The Pakistan Army did not apply US counter-insurgency strategy, they just opened and maintained the security of the roads and access to the towns.

South Waziristan is the size of a district in Afghanistan, not a province. Pakistan's success would seem to be a potential model for district-level control. It required 30,000 troops and every flyable helicopter in the Pakistan armed forces backed by artillery and fixed wing combat aircraft, just to control the roads and access to the towns.

The interesting point is the Pakistani tactics are now proven to work. The same cannot be said of the US Army's counter-insurgency doctrine which Pakistan eschewed.

Afghanistan: Inauguration day for President Karzai's next term of office is 19 November. If the anti-government legions intended to disrupt the inauguration, they failed pathetically. That is tonight's good news about Afghanistan.

Iran - International Atomic Energy Agency: Foreign Minister Mottaki announced today that Iran will not send its 3.5-percent-low-enriched uranium out of the country, but will consider exchanging "enriched uranium inside Iran" in response to the deal proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran's news agency ISNA reported.

Mottaki said Iran has responded to the IAEA-brokered proposal, and he added, "The notion that Iran has not yet responded to the proposal is mere propaganda." He also said Iran has called for the IAEA to set up a technical commission to review Tehran's "viewpoints," but no commission has been established.

For reasons not clear, a US State Department spokesman said Iran's rejection did not close the door on the proposal because it was not a formal, written rejection. Grasping at straws is not a policy.

Venezuela: Too good to omit. President Chavez said Wednesday he plans to come up with a new, socialist-friendly way of measuring economic growth, one day after gross domestic product data indicated his country is in recession.

Venezuela's economy shrank 4.5% in the third quarter, the country's central bank reported Tuesday. The economy shrank 2.4% in the second quarter.

"We simply can't permit that they continue calculating GDP with the old capitalist method," President Chavez said in a televised speech before members of his socialist party. "It's harmful."

Analysts say Venezuela's contracting GDP numbers reflect dwindling oil revenue, as global crude prices are well off their July 2008 record highs. Many analysts also attribute blame for the weak growth numbers to the Chavez government's push toward socialism, saying local and foreign businesses are pulling back on investment plans amid fears their company or entire industry may be nationalized. Private-sector economic activity dropped 5.8% last quarter, the data indicated, while manufacturing activity slid 9.2% from the year-earlier period.

But Chavez, in his speech Wednesday, said the weak economic growth numbers are mostly the result of "capitalist calculations" that don't give proper credit to economic activity in a socialist setting. Hmmm…. The economy is in the toilet and going down, but Chavez says that's because people are measuring the water level incorrectly.

Honduras: A US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State said Wednesday that Honduran elections are key to resolving the crisis set off by the June 28 coup. "The elections are an important part of the solution in order to advance," said US deputy assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere Craig Kelly, in comments to journalists 11 days before the presidential polls.

Kelly was in Honduras in the latest bid to revive a US-brokered deal to end the crisis, which has thrown the Central American nation into deeper poverty and polarization. The US State Department apparently has jettisoned Zelaya in its circuitous path towards discovering the wisdom of the Honduran voters.

The US stands for nothing if it does not stand for the principle that sovereignty resides in the people. Appointed US officials in the executive branch, such as ambassadors and the echelons of assistant and deputy secretaries, seem to lose their way. Their indoctrination should include the principle that education and ideas about brilliant policy are not as useful as a majority vote in a democracy.

End of NightWatch for 18 November.

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