|Asia News Digest
Obama Under More Pressure as Afghanistan Deteriorates
Sept. 7 (EIRNS)The Obama Administration's troubles are growing by the day as the Afghanistan situation worsens. In the wake of the deadly NATO bombing on Sept. 4, against hijacked gasoline trucks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai lashed out against what he called American manipulation to undermine his position. In an interview to the leading French daily Le Figaro, published today, Karzai, referring to himself in the third person, said: "The Americans attack Karzai in an underhanded fashion because they want him to be more tractable. They are wrong. It is in their interest ... that Afghanistan's people respect their President."
Karzai has come under increasing attack from the Obama Administration, led by the Af-Pak czar, Richard Holbrooke. Karzai had a facedown with Holbrooke last week in Kabul, when Holbrooke brought up the irregularities in the recent Presidential elections and virtually ordered him to form a national unity government. The vote is still being counted, but, based on current trends, observers point out that Karzai will be able to garner more than 50% of the vote and emerge as the outright winner, making a coalition unnecessary.
The Figaro interview makes clear that Karzai has begun the process of distancing himself from Washington. Besides the personal attacks against him, the bombing attack Sept. 4 by U.S. NATO forces, which led to the deaths of scores of Afghan civilians, is a major setback to the U.S. effort to "win the hearts and minds" of the Afghan people, allegedly, the policy of commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Karzai is responding both to the increasing anti-U.S./NATO sentiment among the Afghans, and the growing strength of the insurgents, who now control almost 55% of the country.
The deteriorating situation also forced Britain, France, and Germany to unveil proposals yesterday for an international conference on Afghanistan later this year, in order to press the Afghans to take more "responsibility" for their own country. "What is important, and this is our joint view, is to apply pressure in order to find a way to get the Afghans to appreciate that they have to take responsibility step by step," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a joint press briefing with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It is likely that the European Big Three may use the conference to express their growing dismay and eventually proceed towards setting a timetable for their departure from Afghanistanalthough that would still be long-term. No doubt President Karzai, NATO allies, and the ground realities in Afghanistan will mount more pressure on President Obama in the coming weeks.
It's Not Osama, or the Taliban; It's Just British Geopolitics
Sept. 12 (EIRNS)Those who believe that the foreign occupiers are laying down their lives in order to get Osama bin Laden and the Taliban and ensure security for U.S. citizens, or to win over the Afghan people, have been fooled again. In reality, first the Bush Administration, and now the Obama Administration, have pursued the old British geopolitical objective to establish control over Central Asia, and put in place a containment of Russia and China, in particular.
This "hidden" strategy became evident on Sept. 9, when Robert O. Blake, Jr., the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, detailed out the administration's strategy at the School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University, in Washington, D.C.
Acknowledging that "we have a long, long way to go," Blake argued that with "our strategy, the results will start to be seen, and so its a little bit early to start to make judgments about, for example, the strategy in Afghanistan." He emphasized that the Obama Administration is maintaining many of the policy goals in South and Central Asia established by the preceding Republican administration. But Obama was committed to using different means to achieve the same ends, Blake added. The current administration is now treating Afghanistan and Pakistan as a single theater of operations, with "immense strategic importance" for global security.
Webb Attacked by Suu Kyi Ally for Myanmar Diplomacy
Sept. 9 (EIRNS)Following U.S. diplomatic actions against British imperial policy in Asia during August, by Bill Clinton in North Korea and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in Myanmar, U Win Tin, a member of the executive committee of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), published an op-ed today in the Washington Post, denouncing Webb's call for Suu Kyi and the NLD to participate in the 2010 elections in Myanmar. In his meeting with Suu Kyi, Webb had advised her to stop supporting Western sanctions, as a policy which only harmed the Myanmar people, and strongly recommended that the NLD reverse its announced boycott of the election process, noting that some countries, including China and Vietnam, don't even allow opposition parties, and yet they are progressing economically and socially.
U Win Tin claimed the election will be a "sham," and rejected Webb's call to end the sanctions, saying they are "justified."
At the same time, others within the NLD leadershipperhaps even Suu Kyi herselfare considering Webb's proposals, and have acknowledged over the past year that the sanctions only harm the people, and that a voice in the new Parliament through the elections would be the best path.