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February 1, 2010

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Drone strikes are popular

FARHAT TAJ of the Center for Interdisciplinary Gender Research of the University of Oslo challenges Pakistani and US media reports about the civilian casualties in the drone attacks in Waziristan claiming that those estimates were fabricated by the pro-Taliban and pro Al-Qaeda elements in Pakistan as part of their propaganda against the US. In an op-ed in Pakistan’s The Daily Times, “Drone attacks: challenging some fabrications” she claims that the people of Waziristan had suffered under occupation by the Taliban and the al Qaeda and hence welcomed the drone attacks as a means of getting rid of their oppressors through the precision strikes.

US needs its nukes

FRANKLIN C MILLER of the Schlesinger Task Force for Nuclear Weapons Management argues that nuclear weapons would continue to have a role in US national security strategy and that the US would need to maintain a modern and credible nuclear deterrent. In a Lowy Institute Perspectives article, “The vital place of nuclear weapons in 21st century US national security strategy“, he writes that the US needed a credible deterrent that was always perceived as safe, secure, survivable, capable and should maintain strategic force levels over Russian and Chinese theatre arsenals that would enable US allies have confidence in US decision-making.

Schelling questions Zero

THOMAS C SCHELLING, Nobel laureate and eminent game theorist, expresses scepticism about global nuclear disarmament and argues that such an order would not necessarily be safer than the current nuclear deterrence based order. In an article in Daedalus, “A world without nuclear weapons?”, he states that global nuclear zero would mean a world wherein about a dozen countries would have hair-trigger mobilisation plans to rebuild nuclear weapons, commandeer delivery systems, and plans to target others’ nuclear facilities, with practice drills and secure emergency communications and that every crisis would be a nuclear crisis, and any war could become a nuclear war.

No more an oxymoron?

SHEN DINGLI,  of the Shanghai Association of International Studies proposes a programme of nuclear threat reduction entailing a vision of zero nuclear weapons as well as de-emphasis of the role of nuclear weapons in geopolitics  and an end to threatening nuclear postures in order to promote nonproliferation and global security. In a Lowy Institute Perspectives article, “Toward a nuclear weapons free world: a Chinese perspective“, he states that although China has shied away from its earlier statement about commencing nuclear disarmament when the strategic arsenals of the US and the Soviets were halved, he cites its stance on the CTBT and the FMCT as indications of its intentions to contribute as a responsible stakeholder.

Can coal be cleaned?

ANDREW DeWIT, professor at Rikkyo University declares that claims of “clean coal” as a sustainable source of energy by the coal lobby were patently false stating that ‘cleaning’ coal would raise its unit cost comparable to that of wind and solar energy and would also raise environmental pollution and groundwater damage along with health issues for mine-workers. In an article for the Asia-Pacific Journal, “The Mirage of Clean Coal and the Technological Alternatives“, he concludes that “clean coal” was inherently not a sustainable kind of energy economy and such claims were the desperate strategies of an industry whose time was now over.

New world economic order

JIM O’NEILL, chief economist at Goldman Sachs reviews the durability of the BRIC economies through the economic shock and examines how the crisis had benefited each of the BRIC economies and what they would need to do to further increase momentum. In an article in Newsweek, “BRICs are Still on top”, he predicts that the G20 would have a larger role in conflict reduction in the future and that a new multipolar global currency system would allow greater diversity in global trade and investment and mitigate the global imbalances that have arisen out of the dependency on the dollar.

With Great Power ….

DOMINIQUE MOISI, advisor of the French Institute of International Affairs (IFRI) and visiting professor at Harvard University asserts that if a G3 ever became a reality, the only serious contender to join the US and China was India and not the EU because of what he terms Europe’s Lilliputian instincts. In an article in the Japan Times, “Recognizing confident India as indispensable“, he states that the period when India was forgotten by the world and when India could forget the world was past. He also counsels India to take increasing responsibilities for regional and world security.

PakAf War

Frederick W Kagan, of American Enterprise Institute declares that the war against the network of Islamists in South Asia was now a two-front war wherein terrorist groups had to be fought in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. In an article for The Weekly Standard, “The Two-Front War“, he praises Pakistan for showing surprising determination and competence in its struggle against the Pakistani Islamists and calls upon the US to show similar determination in its struggle against the Afghan Taliban.

Military voice

MADHAVI BHASIN, visiting scholar at the Center for South Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley states that the recent media pronouncements by the Indian military chiefs suggested that the armed forces craved a voice in the national strategic dialogue, which has so far been denied to it. In an upcoming article, “Indian Military Seeks a Holistic Role” she highlights recent incidents to buttress her argument that the chiefs of the different military wings have discreetly found ways to counter the prevailing insulation of the Indian military from a holistic role in designing the national defence strategy.


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