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January 2, 2010

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US-Pakistan strains

STEPHEN P COHEN of the Brookings Institution traces the history of the fluctuating relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. since the inception of Pakistan over 60 years ago. In his book, “Superpower Rivalry and Conflict: The long shadow of the Cold War on the 21st century” he states that this relationship has resulted in the transformation of the Pakistani self-image from that of a staunch, reliable and strong moderate Muslim ally to that of a state that has suffered on behalf of the West and which has not being adequately compensated for its suffering.

Computing insurgencies

AARON MANNES and V S SUBRAHMANIAN of the University of Maryland claim that policymakers could build computer models to analyse and predict behaviours of insurgent groups in complex geopolitical situations such as the Middle East. In an article in Foreign Policy, “Calculated Terror – How a computer model predicts the future in some of the world’s most volatile hotspots“, they state that models could be built using historical data to not only predict the actions of insurgent groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas but also provide insight into their behaviour and priorities.

Swinging into focus

JOHN LEE of the Center of Independent Studies in Sydney opines that the developing bilateral partnership between Washington and New Delhi could turn out to be the swing factor in the “Asian Century”. In an op-ed in the Korea Herald “India Fast Becoming Asia’s Swing State”, he states that the combination of a booming economy, a large military, positive perceptions in other key Asian states, a growing military supply relationship with the West had the ingredients to entrench New Delhi’s status as a major power center within Asia.

Australia’s strategic options

ROD LYON, Program Director at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute reviews the nuclear implications of the shifting Asian security environment in the backdrop of limited applicability of the Cold-War nuclear order and states that US allies like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan could go in for vigorous nuclear hedging and might even be tempted to cross the nuclear rubicon. In a report for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, “A delicate issue: Asia’s nuclear future” he states that Canberra could pursue a course allowing it to retain future options including strategies such as ‘ordering’ involving strengthened nuclear safeguards and ‘hedging’ involving enhancement of Australian capabilities in enrichment and reprocessing.

G20 and non-proliferation

GREGORY SCHULTE proposes the adoption of the G20 as a forum to advance non-proliferation and claims that an endorsement from G20 would carry greater diplomatic weight than that of the G8. In an article for Proliferation Analysis, “Fighting Nuclear Proliferation at 20“, he argues that despite the G20 being more unwieldy than the G8, it would prove a better forum to start laying the framework for future initiatives on non-proliferation.

Playing fair in Stockholm?

S GANESAN, Chairman of the International Treaties Expert Committee at the Indian Chemical Council states that the EU was increasingly using the Stockholm Convention to apply trade restrictive measures on low-priced generics manufactured outside the EU and used its dominance in the decision-making committees to make unfair decisions disregarding due process. In a report “Deceitful Decisions at the Subsidiary Body of the Stockholm Convention”, he chronicles how the EU dominance in the decision-making process flouted the rules of the Stockholm convention and cautions that accountability and due process had to be restored to ensure the survival of the Stockholm Convention.

Credit crunch at al-Qaeda

MICHAEL JACOBSON and MATTHEW LEVITT investigate how operational setbacks have affected al-Qaeda’s long-term funding efforts in the wake of declining popularity of the group. In a Jane’s Strategic Advisory Services article, “Staying solvent – Assessing al-Qaeda’s financial portfolio“, they argue that if the trends of financial stresses in Al-Qaeda continued, it could further degenerate the core of al-Qaeda and devolve the internationalised insurgency embodied by al-Qaeda into a more localised, and less lethal terrorist threat.

A future for water

PETER GLEICK argues that heightened risk of violent conflicts over water shortages, contamination, and allocations across the globe calls for fundamental changes in the way we manage and use the precious commodity. In an article in the World Policy Journal, “Facing Down the Hydro-Crisis“, he calls for a Third Water Era incorporating a Soft Path, a fundamental re-evaluation of water planning, policy and management utilising technology, environmental science, economics and new institutional approaches to address unresolved water challenges and climate change.

On Chinese hegemony

MINXIN PEI expresses skepticism at conventional wisdom that the Great Recession helped China more than any other state pointing out that the Chinese themselves were not impressed about predictions of their dominance. In a Newsweek article, “Why China Won’t Rule the World”, he points to inefficient lending, projected delinquencies, over-capacities, rising ethnic separatism and lack of leadership in global fora to assert that there is still a wide gap between Western and Chinese perceptions of the Chinese century.

Reviving nuclear energy

MATTHEW BUNN and MARTIN MALIN opine that global nuclear capacity had to be tripled by 2050 to make a meaningful contribution to the mitigation of carbon emissions and that would entail an increase in the pace of addition of nuclear plants from 4 currently to 25 annually. In an article for Innovations, the MIT Press Quarterly, “Enabling a Nuclear Revival—And Managing Its Risks“, they call for increased levels of international co-operation and stronger international institutions to achieve nuclear safety, security, non-proliferation, and waste management which were essential enablers for large-scale  nuclear energy growth.


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