Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Reading between the lines

From South Asia Daily for April 25:
Officials confirmed on Monday that the Indian government canceled the visa of Chinese dissident leader and Uighur activist Dolkun Isa on April 23 after pressure from Beijing (Reuters, Time, BBC). Isa is the chairman of the Germany-based World Uighur Congress and was due to attend a conference next week in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala. Uighurs are an ethnic minority community from China's western Xinjiang region and have a long history of discord with Beijing. They are Muslims and regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. Chinese authorities consider Isa as a terrorist and criticized India when the visa was issued. Previous media reports indicated that Delhi granted Isa a visa after China blocked India's bid to get the UN to put Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar on its terrorist list.
And why would China have blocked India's effort to put Azhar on the UN terrorist list? Presumably because Pakistan opposed the move, and China was doing Pakistan, in effect, a favor.  I can't imagine what other reason Beijing would have.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Ever had one of those "****, I haven't heard that song in ******* decades!" moments?  If you're of a certain age, you probably have, even if, like me, your connections to pop music are tenuous.  Anyway, I had such a moment this afternoon, when this
came on at the end of Fresh Air.  (The occasion was the death of Billy Paul, who sang it.)  I could do without all the strings in the recorded version, but it's a sufficiently good song that no orchestration can spoil it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chipping away at India's water problems

This NewsHour piece from several days ago is interesting.

Monday, April 18, 2016


Heard a talk today by the author of this.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

One (questionable) prescription for U.S. policy in the Mideast

I was just listening to a rebroadcast on C-Span radio of a panel discussion from earlier in the week at the Hudson Institute. Michael Doran [Wiki entry here], a senior fellow at Hudson Institute who served on G.W. Bush's National Security Council (and has a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton), argued that the U.S. is neglecting and/or dissing its traditional allies, e.g. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and that the Obama admin and the leading Repub candidates are perpetuating illusions about the Iranian and  Russian role in the region. 

In an analysis noteworthy for its complete candor about the presumptive desirability of American hegemony, Doran said that while the U.S. doesn't share the same values as the Saudi Arabian rulers or (increasingly) Erdogan of Turkey, they have shown themselves to be "status quo" powers (Doran's phrase) who accept a continuing American hegemonic (Doran's word) role in the Mideast, whereas Iran and Russia are "revisionist" powers who want to diminish America's influence and generally make trouble for the U.S.

His prescription? More support for and collaboration with the U.S.'s "traditional allies." He made no mention of Saudi Arabia's recent actions (i.e. fairly indiscriminate, from many reports, bombing) in Yemen, for which it's been widely criticized. No mention of the amount of military aid the U.S. gives to, and/or arms sales the U.S. conducts with, Saudi Arabia. Doran criticized what he said were the false assumptions underlying the Obama admin's policy in Syria and the region but didn't offer a specific alternative beyond (1) more support for 'traditional allies', (2) more support for 'moderate' groups in Syria, and (3) a focus on the area of jidahist activity stretching from Baghdad to Aleppo (his phrase) without a single-minded focus on ISIS.

The main strategic goal should not be the defeat of ISIS, he argued, but the countering of the Russian-Iranian combination and its "network of militias" so as to facilitate the groundwork for a new regional order (or words to that effect). Of course the '03 invasion of Iraq was also supposed to lay the groundwork for a new regional order. We know how that worked out.