|Asia News Digest
Media Efforts To Prevent Eradication of Afghan Opium
Feb. 2 (EIRNS)After years of explosive growth in opium production in Afghanistan, in tandem with the rise of insurgency within Afghanistan and bordering Pakistan, a serious discussion has begun in Washington to prioritize policies that would identify opium as the key stimulant to terrorism in the region. This, however, does not please either George Soros, or some of U.S. allies engaged in the war in Afghanistan.
After the British-fueled outburst in Europe against U.S. Supreme Allied Commander Gen. John Craddock, who had emphasized to the NATO commanders the necessity of annihilating the "Narco-Khans" of Afghanistan, the Washington Post carried an op-ed today by Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, which called for a four-pronged approach to Afghanistan: Do counterinsurgency; make the Afghan government credible; talk to the Taliban; and solve the crisis in Pakistan. The article avoided the opium issue altogether.
In the Financial Times of London today, Anatol Lieven, eager to find a way for the Americans to exit from Afghanistan, said the "new plan should include legitimation of political forces representing the Taliban, as with Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland." Although Sinn Fein and the Taliban are not comparable forces, Lieven interested in resolving the issue without any attack on the sea of poppies in Afghanistan.
Karzai Makes Overtures to Moscow at Crucial Juncture
Feb. 4 (EIRNS)While the Obama Administration is in the process of formulating an Afghanistan strategy, President Hamid Karzai, speaking to the graduates of the National Military Academy in Kabul, said he will be sending high-level civil and military officials to Moscow to discuss expansion of bilateral military-technical cooperation. Meanwhile, the Afghan President published President Dmitri Medvedev's reply, indicating his readiness to help the Afghan armed forces.
In recent weeks, there had been a flood of media reports which suggest that Washington is considering not backing Karzai's nomination as President, for the Aug. 20 presidential election. Four Afghan presidential candidates visited Washington in late January. All were categorical in accusing President Karzai of running a corrupt and incompetent government.
President Karzai has crossed swords with certain Washington proposals on two major issues. To begin with, he opposes all suggestions of introducing another 20-30,000 American troops into Afghanistan this year. Karzai insists that the United States had promised training of more Afghan army personnel, and that that would be more effective than introducing foreign troops.
Karzai has also been a strong critic of the U.S. air strikes that have killed thousands of innocent Afghans, which, he said, "is strengthening the terrorists." Karzai recently sent to Washington and NATO headquarters a draft technical agreement seeking more control over the kinds of activities that U.S. and NATO forces are indulging in inside Afghanistan.
Stop Afghan Drugs, Says Russian Leader
Feb. 5 (EIRNS)"The U.S., Central Asia, Chinawe are all interested in an effective anti-terrorism campaign to prevent the transportation of drugs to Europe and on to the United States," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told journalists yesterday in Moscow, Itar-Tass reported.
Karasin said that Russia hopes for constructive talks with the U.S. on allowing the transit of non-military cargo via Russia to Afghanistan, and that Moscow had "in the last several days" given the United States a positive response on possible transit. "We hope that we [Russia] and the United States will hold special and professional talks on the issue in the near future," he said. "We will see how effectively we can cooperate." He also said Moscow is interested in a successful antiterrorism operation in Afghanistan.
Drought 'Red Alert' in North China Wheat Region
Feb. 2 (EIRNS)China's northern wheat-growing region is being hit by its worst drought in over 50 years, and over 60% of the wheat crop is affected. Henan province, China's major grain producer, declared a "red alert" on Jan. 29, with meteorologists reporting the worst drought since 1951. Anhui Province followed on Feb. 1, and said that over 60% of the crops north of the Huaihe River will be damaged if there is no rain by next week. In Shanxi Province, some 1 million people and 160,000 head of livestock face a water shortage, and Shaanxi, Shandong, Hebei, and Jiangsu are also hit by drought. The drought began in November 2008, and there has been no rainfall for 105 days; little rain is expected for the rest of this month.
Chinese farmers are already hard-hit by falling commodity prices and the mass layoffs of farm migrants to the cities, whose financial support gives their families in the countryside some 40% of their income.
Beijing announced Jan. 28 that the government will invest 21.3 billion yuan ($3.11 billion) in the huge "Move South Water North" water diversion program this year. This project will divert water from the huge Yangtze River, to the main rivers in the dry north: the Huaihe, Yellow, and Haihe rivers, via three canals. The first channel was begun in 2002, but will not be carrying water until 2013, and the entire project will take 40-50 years to complete.
LaRouche at the Center of Nuclear Fight in the Philippines
Feb. 3 (EIRNS)The effort to reopen the mothballed nuclear power plant in the Philippines has exploded into an open fight, in the Congress and in the press, between the Philippine LaRouche Society and the British dupes of Greenpeace and other malthusian outfits. Congressman Mark Cojuangco, whose bill to reopen the Westinghouse nuclear facility at Bataan, completed in 1985, but never used after the George Shultz-orchestrated coup against President Marcos in 1986, has now gathered 130 co-sponsors, called hearings, and invited leading members of the Atoms for Peace, Philippines, which was organized in 2008 by Philippine LaRouche Society director Butch Valdes, to testify. Co-founder Ramon Pedrosa read an Atoms for Peace statement to the Congress, denouncing the "fear-mongering, half-truths, and outright lies" of the anti-nuclear movement, countering with the scientific reality of the necessity for nuclear power on a vast scale for human survival, starting with undoing the crime committed in mothballing the Bataan plant. Science Prof. Carlo Arcilla of the University of the Philippines, another co-founder of Atoms for Peace, presented a slide show on nuclear power.
All the leading press covered the hearing, with the principal establishment newspaper leading with the "outright lies" quote from Atoms for Peace.