|Asia News Digest
Afghanistan: Brzezinski Sees Parallel to Soviet Failure
Sept. 13 (EIRNS)Former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, speaking on Sept. 11 at a conference in Geneva on global strategy, sponsored by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), said the U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan was reaching levels similar to the Soviet occupation of the 1980s.
Brzezinski, who was one of the architects of the anti-Soviet mujahideen-led resistance following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, spoke after the U.S. troop deaths for the month of August were announced. August was the deadliest month for the U.S. military in the nearly eight-year war, with 52 fatalities. So far in September, 25 coalition troops have been killed, including 14 Americans, according to CNN figures compiled from coalition reports.
Brzezinski recognized that there had already been a significant shift away from some of the unrealizable objectives for Afghanistan of the George W. Bush agenda. Brzezinski, who allegedly helped Barack Obama develop his own foreign policy positions during his Presidential campaign, insisted that further change was still needed to defuse the crises in the country. Brzezinski issued a stark warning, not just for Obama's Administration, but for the West as a whole: "We went into Afghanistan almost eight years ago, and we overthrew the Taliban with 300 soldiers," he said. "Eight years later, we are beginning to move to a level of military force which is beginning to approximate the Soviet engagement and already our top generals are saying we are not winning militarily." Yet, other alternatives, the non-war options for finding peace and stability in that part of the world, remain unexplored, he pointed out.
Zardari: Extremism Created for Strategic Objectives
Sept. 19 (EIRNS)Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said, yesterday, that the extremists and militants were created in Pakistan decades ago by a deliberate policy to employ religious fanaticism for the achievement of strategic objectives. Zardari made this comment in his address and discourse with British intelligentsia gathered at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). "Militants and militancy were not created in a vacuum," the President said. "They have been the product of a deliberate policy to fight the rival ideology."
"The free world adopted a novel strategy that was based on the exploitation of religion to motivate Muslims around the world to wage jihad," stated Zardari. He reminded the audience that Afghan jihadi leaders were described by President Reagan as the "moral equivalents of George Washington."
New Japanese Government's Anti-Development Program Is Implemented
Sep. 18 (EIRNS)The new government in Japan took office on Sept. 16, and immediately showed its green colors. The government run by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which is the first government not run by the Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) since the 1950s (other than a coalition in 1993 that ruled for less than a year), on its first day in office, began tearing down many of the policies associated with the LDP. While they are particularly targeting the globalization/privatization/ deregulation policies of the Koizumi government (2001-06), which nearly destroyed the former dirigist policies of the LDP, their green fanaticism is making any positive benefits of overthrowing the Koizumi reforms extremely unlikely.
Public works are being eliminated, under the slogan that this is wasteful spending of taxpayers' money. Not only is the new Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, Seiji Maehara, shutting down two huge dam projects which were ready to begin, but he will review 143 other dam and aqueduct projects, suspending those "opposed by local residents," according to the government news service NHK.
Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii announced the abolition of the provisional gasoline tax rate, taxes which were used for road construction and maintenance.
Prime Minister Yokio Hatoyama is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 25% by 2020, and seems intent on doing it by shutting down economic development.
On the positive side, the DPJ has announced that it will immediately reverse the disastrous Postal System privatization implemented by Koizumi. The Postal Savings Bank provided billions of dollars annually from personal savings for low-interest investment in domestic infrastructure development, and re-nationalizing this system would be of huge potential benefitif the new government intended to again use it for infrastructure. This is evidently not the case.
Certain parts of the $164 billion stimulus package implemented by the last LDP government in response to the global crisis, are to be suspended. It is not yet clear whether this will be the portion which was directed to real physical development, but that is likely, given the rest of their program. The new government's solution to the crisis is to provide huge subsidies to the population, at the expense of any real development.
On the strategic side, the new Foreign Minister, Katsuya Okada, told the London Financial Times that he would require a revision of the agreements with the U.S. military, especially in regard to the relocation of the U.S. Marines base in Okinawa. He also indicated that they will carry out their election pledge to end the Japanese support for the U.S. Afghan War, in the form of providing oil to U.S. ships in the Indian Ocean, when the contract ends in January. Also, the secret military agreements allowing the United States to bring nuclear weapons into Japanlong acknowledged, but always deniedare to be fully investigated and made public. This may be more damaging to the Japanese governments which denied them, than to the United States.
Another Ratchet in Breakdown Process Hits Japan's Government
Sept. 18 (EIRNS)Shares in Japan's second largest consumer-finance company, Aiful Corp., were in free-fall today in the Tokyo market, as the company asked its creditors if it can delay payment of nearly $3 billion in loans. There were no buyers of the stock, only sellers. The shares fell the maximum amount allowed, 27%.
The newly installed Financial Services Minister, Shizuka Kamei, had stated after his appointment Sept. 16 that lenders are too reluctant to make loans, and that he wants to help small companies by allowing them to extend loan payments by three years to help them get through the credit crunch.
The previous government had put massive amounts of money into circulation, but "Japan's situation now is like a body in which blood isn't flowing to all the parts," Kamei noted. He added: "We wouldn't have to do this kind of thing if the financial industry had a sense of social and moral responsibility."
Like the other major economies, Japan has supported the large banks and financial institutions with massive stimulus measures. This has helped keep the appearance of the disaster less dire, but the small and medium-sized enterprises, and average citizens, have benefited little, or not at all, from these measures.
Aiful's problems are not particular to it, since all lenders to Japan's consumer market are being hit hard. Two of Aiful's rivals, which have capital ties with major banking groups, trimmed or erased earlier stock losses, after probably having been supported by those groups. But, the Aiful failure just points out how rotten the quality those larger banks' assets are. And when they go, it truly will be an awful day.
Insurgents Win Back Base in Northern Afghanistan
Sept. 18 (EIRNS)Israeli counter-terrorism sources report that about 2,500 battle-hardened Uzbek fighters and members of the terrorist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), have taken control of northern Afghanistan town of Kunduz. Kunduz stands in the way of the northern supply lines coming in from Central Asia, and was opened recently by the U.S. and NATO troops. This former northern headquarters of the Taliban, was the last northern Afghanistan town they relinquished.
The United States and NATO realized the importance of keeping Kunduz free of the insurgents, and had posted 4,200 U.S. and German agents to keep on eye on the situation. Why did such a massive intelligence failure occur?
One answer comes from Lt.-Gen. Hadi Khalid, who was the Afghan Deputy Minister of the Interior for Security from May 2006 to June 2008. He told the media: "I personally think the ISI [Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence] must be behind these renewed theaters of insurgency. By creating trouble near the borders with our Central Asian neighbors, Pakistanis can say, 'Look, you see, there is instability all over Afghanistan, not just along the Durand Line.' By stirring up instability in formerly stable areas, it may make the new NATO negotiations with CIS [former Soviet] countries seem less appealing. Again, Pakistan does not want to lose the revenue from the Western military freight that transits through its territory. It also does not want to seem less of a crucial ally of the United States because Pakistan is deathly afraid of India, as we all know."