The Cuban Missile Crisis produced great scholarship. A classic of the period, 'Essence of A Decision' by Prof. Grahame Allison, is a study of decision making in the Kennedy administration during a crisis when the world came close to a nuclear collision. By that reckoning, research proposals must be in the process of being cleared as to who ordered the two ballistic missiles towards Syria which Russian intercepts brought down in the Mediterranean? The whole episode is frightening.
As I mentioned at the outset, the attack on Syria, should it happen, will be the umpteenth US-led military action against a Muslim country since the collapse of the Soviet Union. I mention the Soviet Union repeatedly because unprecedented military might in the possession of a nation in decline is a dangerous new global reality. New Delhi’s silence in such situations may be commended by those who place a value on cunning and craft. But cunning and craft towards what end? I like to imagine neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor Atal Behari Vajpayee would have remained silent if there any risk to Damascus, the world’s oldest, continuous habitation and the great civilization of which it is the capital.
Between American and Saudi diplomatic choreography the “hidden” is often more important than the “apparent”. American effigies being burnt in Cairo by anti-Morsi crowds shows the American hand is still in the hand of the Brothers. But Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel talking to coup leader Gen. Abdul Fatah al-Sissi on the phone, points to exactly the opposite. Heads I win, tails you lose. Don’t forget, Americans have lived with Egypt’s army for 50 years. That’s the important equation. So don’t worry, Americans and the Saudis are in bed under the same sheet.
To the various puzzles America pores over has been added one more: Iran’s President elect, Hassan Rouhani. As an opening gambit, he is being described as “moderate”. It is being speculated that he will be “moderate” on the nuclear issue even though he has deep roots in the country’s conservative establishment whose views on the issue are known and not liked. Years ago, “moderation” in all discourse concerning West Asia had a distinct meaning. It was an adjectival expression approving of states which were willing to tow the Western line on the Israeli-Palestinian question. The antonym for moderate those days was “rejectionist”.
After 70,000 Syrians have paid with their lives in the foreign induced conflict in Syria, why has the American perspective changed? Even so, it was nice to see Secretary of State, John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, embrace each other two weeks back in Moscow.
The United States cannot be confident that our critical Information Technology (IT) systems will work under attack from a sophisticated and well-resourced opponent utilizing cyber capabilities in combination with all of their military and intelligence capabilities (a "full spectrum" adversary), a new Pentagon report has stated. The report is prepared by a Defense Science Board (DSB) Task force of the US Department of Defense.
New Delhi is extremely skeptical of the US placing its eggs in the Taliban basket and leaving the basket in Pakistani care. This incidentally is not a new US approach. A steady stream of US policy makers have been meeting officials and opinions makers in New Delhi with variations on the same theme. They told New Delhi that the Afghan Taliban do not trust Pakistan, specifically because the ISI has been manipulating them for decades.
Syed Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani investigative journalist, was founded dead in a canal in North-East Pakistan in May-June 2011. There is still no clarity on who actually killed him.
In other words, the arrival of the French in Mali could well be the beginning of link ups across the oil and mineral rich regions stretching from Sudan across Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Western Sahara where the Polisario movement will derive strength from the reverberations.