|Asia News Digest
McCaffrey: No Afghan Victory Without Opium Eradication
Dec. 8 (EIRNS)Gen. Barry McCaffrey (USA-ret.) delivered a blunt assessment of the Afghan policy just announced by President Barack Obama, in a widely circulating "After Action Report" on his Nov. 10-18 visit to Kuwait and Afghanistan, where he met with scores of American military officers, Afghan government officials, and U.S. diplomats. McCaffrey's Dec. 5 report, available on his website, www.mccaffreyassociates.com, and delivered to the Department of Social Sciences at West Point, began by dismissing any notion that the U.S. will withdraw from Afghanistan beginning in 18 months. "This will," he warned, "inevitably become a three- to ten-year strategy to build a viable Afghan state with their own security force that can allow us to withdraw. It may well cost us an additional $300 billion and we are likely to suffer thousands more U.S. casualties."
General McCaffrey's report, while supporting the need for a sustained U.S. and NATO presence, painted a very stark picture of the challenges facing the occupation forces. He made one crucial point that has been otherwise missing from the entire Afghan "policy review" and Congressional debate, so far: You cannot succeed in Afghanistan without eradication of the opium crop. "The $3.4 billion opium crop of 7,700 metric tons (2008)," he wrote, "produces weapons and supplies for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, corrupts the police and civil authorities, diverts land from food (2 million drug workers), and has addicted a significant percentage of the population. Left unaddressedthe heroin menace will defeat our strategic goals in this campaign. Afghanistan is now the most damaged narco-state on the face of the earth. There are at least 920,000 drug users.... A new UN study will soon suggest there may be as many as two million drug users." McCaffrey concludes: You must destroy the opium crop. "Without [that], nothing will work. Other nations have successfully addressed the drug issue: Thailand, Pakistan, Bolivia (until Morales), Peru, and to some extent Colombia (the traffic moved south to non-government controlled areas.)."
From 1996-2001, McCaffrey was President Bill Clinton's Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, from which position he pressed for an aggressive war on drugs, and publicly opposed the efforts of dope legalizer George Soros.
China Tests World's Fastest, Longest High-Speed Rail Line
Dec. 10 (EIRNS)China's railways yesterday ran a successful test of the new 1,000-km Wuhan to Guangzhou high-speed rail line, the longest and fastest, at close to 400/km per hour, in the world.
This is more than a technological breakthrough for China: It could become a breakthrough also for the U.S., Russia, and India. "A successful operation of the high-speed railway of more than 1,000 km will help demonstrate China's technological strength ... and appeal to countries like Russia, India and the United States, which also have broad territories and a plan for building high-speed railways," Yang Hao, professor in railway transport at Beijing Jiaotong University, was quoted by China Daily today.
China Daily also cited a railway technology expert saying that the railway is more demanding on train manufacturing technologies than China's first, 120-km, high-speed rail link between Beijing and Tianjin.
Japan, which, after China, has the longest high-speed network, has some 2,500 km of line altogether. China plans to build 13,000 km by 2012, of which 8,000 km will run at average of 350 km/hour. By 2020, China will have 16,000 km of high-speed rail lines. The network will link 70% of China's cities.
Already, airlines are growing worried that they will not be able to compete with the more convenient, city-centered, and less expensive rail lines, although Prof. Zhang Ning of Beijing University told Global Times that the two transport sectors will, in the longer term, integrate planning to optimize national transport in China.
During the test run, the trip from Wuhan, through three cities which are the industrial and technology capital of central China, and to Guangzhou on the southeast coast, took only three hours, down from over ten. It should open to the public before the end of December.
Not only has China signed an agreement to build high-speed rail lines in Russia, but from the United States, GE signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Rail Ministry on Nov. 18, for the two sides to jointly develop technology to build high-speed rail lines in the United States. This would enable the U.S. to become competitive with both Japan and Europe.
China and India Expand United Front Against Copenhagen Insanity
Dec. 10 (EIRNS)China and India are coordinating policy on the Copenhagen climate-change lunacy, in the closest international cooperation on a major issue that these two nations have achieved in 45 years. As pressure from the advanced sector and the British Commonwealth increase, the two nations, representing 2.4 billion people, have stepped up their cooperation.
Today, after a public fight in Copenhagen between Obama's representative Todd Stern, and chief Chinese negotiator Yu Qingtai, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao telephoned Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and, separately, Brazilian President Lula da Silva. "The three leaders all expressed willingness to enhance coordination and cooperation to deal with climate change," Xinhua reported.
The Indian press was more direct. "Amidst talks of divisions in the G-77, over demands from the small island nations, India and China today closed ranks," the Hindustan Times reported. "The two leaders will press ahead with a joint strategy." The Indian Prime Minister's Office (PMO) announced that "the two leaders agreed that the two sides would keep in touch with each other." A PMO source told The Hindu, referring to the Danish text of the proposed agreement: "The host seems to be playing some game as it is reflected in the draft text that they have prepared. The two leaders discussed strategies to strengthen cooperation among developing nations on the eve of the meet."
The Hindustan Times added that "members of the two negotiating teams hold bilateral meetings at regular intervals to work out a joint strategy."
New China-Kazakstan-Turkmenistan Pipeline Started
Dec. 12 (EIRNS)Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Kazakstan today, and joined by Kazakstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, symbolically pushed the start button of the Kazakstan section of a pipeline that will deliver Turkmen natural gas to China's western Xinjiang province. "This pipeline will be beneficial for all of our countries. It is a promising, strategic project," Nazarbayev said at the ceremony. "With the launch of this pipeline, the ancient Silk Road has been restored," he added. On Dec. 14, Hu, Nazarbayev, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, and Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov will attend the official opening of the 7,000-km pipeline in Turkmenistan.