Israel/Palestine: The Politics of a Two-State Solution

  • Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution
  • When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East

Sunday, December 29, 2013

India and Japan: Natural Allies

Vivek Sengupta has an article detailing the increasing economic and political ties between Japan and India.  The two are natural allies as they have a common enemy (China) and increasingly a common ally and superpower patron (the United States). They are also both rising naval powers with New Delhi and Tokyo both expanding their navies in order to better safeguard the sea lanes of communication and counter Beijing's expansionist claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea. India has a common land border with China, but as it is along the high-altitude Tibet plateau, it is not something that India can really use as a pressure point against China. But otherwise the Indian-Japanese partnership has much in common with the Entente Cordiale between France and Russia before World War I. And today Washington plays the same role that London played a century ago.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nuclear Arms Control for South Asia?

In 2012 veteran nuclear strategist and arms control theorist Paul Bracken wrote a book entitled The Second Nuclear Age dealing with the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the original five nuclear states grandfathered into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968. He discusses in some detail the problems created by nuclear proliferation efforts by Israel, Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, and North Korea and the problems and complications that these introduce into international relations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Northeast Asia. He claims that whereas the first nuclear age was bipolar and involved the superpowers the second nuclear age is multipolar and involves several regional powers. Furthermore, instead of following chronologically after the first nuclear age, the second nuclear age overlapped with it and could be said to have several different starting points ranging from 1964 when China acquired nuclear capacity to 1974 when India did so. 

Bracken suggested that a return to nuclear arms control for the Third World might be in order. Nuclear arms control began with a number of multilateral treaties in the early 1960s that prohibited above ground nuclear testing, prohibited nuclear weapons in Antarctica, on the ocean floor and in outer space--basically in all the places where the superpowers had no interest in stationing nuclear weapons. Then after the NPT in 1968 that prohibited the spread of nuclear weapons beyond those states that already were declared nuclear powers, nuclear arms control became a bilateral process between the two superpowers in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) and the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Was Mandela A Terrorist?

Watching the Sunday talk shows I heard a conservative (possibly Mary Matlin) refer to Mandela's "terrorist past" as one of the reasons why conservatives were so wary about him in the 1980s. Nelson Mandela was the founder and leader of the African National Congress's (ANC) armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation) or MK for short. MK began its sabotage campaign in December 1961 and it lasted for about 18 months before the South African Police managed to discover the headquarters of the organization at a farm in the Rivonia suburb of Johannesburg. During the sabotage campaign the MK attacked mainly symbolic targets such as electrical pylons, postboxes, and other infrastructure. Pro-German Afrikaner organizations carried out a similar campaign during World War II. At the Rivonia treason trial in 1964 Mandela and his comrades were sentenced to life in prison (except for a couple one of whom was white who received ten-year sentences). Mandela had actually been in prison since the second half of 1962 when, having been betrayed by the CIA, he was arrested for going abroad without a passport--which the government would not have issued him--and sentenced to five years.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mandela: A Cross Between Lenin and Tutu

I was not sad to hear of the passing of Nelson Mandela. Not that I had anything against him, but he was 95 and I never thought that he was immortal. I was sad when Chris Hani was assassinated in 1993--I thought that it might lead to serious consequences and it would have had Mandela not exercised his restraint and control over black public opinion in South Africa. I was very sad when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, but relieved to learn that his murderer was a Jew and not an Arab.

President Obama said that we will never see another person like him. I disagree. After Galileo, the great physicist and astronomer, came Newton, the great mathematician, physicist and astronomer. And then Einstein the great physicist. After Lincoln came Disraeli in Britain, Franklin Roosevelt in the United States, David Ben Gurion in Israel, and Mandela in South Africa. Mandela's greatness was that in a single person he combined the personal integrity and courage of a figure like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. or Archbishop Desmond Tutu with the political acumen of a great revolutionary leader like Lenin or Michael Collins of Ireland. It is rare to find these traits in a single individual. To be a great revolutionary requires an understanding of politics and history--and this requires detachment. Usually this detachment leads to moral remoteness and the tendency to see others as means and not ends, thus denying the principle of the great philosopher Immanuel Kant. Conversely getting too close to the subject usually compromises analytical ability. I respected and admired Tutu's personal courage in saving suspected informers from mob deaths, but I thought him a fool as a tactician.