September 18, 2003

The View from Bombay

MUMBAI (BOMBAY), India -- The Israeli government showed its great intelligence by making a move that gave Arafat perhaps his greatest career boost ever. It's an example of the idiocy of the Sharon-Bush concept that you can beat "terrorism" down with brute force, that is, more terrorism.

There is an instinct and an inherent understanding of justice in the human heart, and when you repeatedly violate that sense, placing force above all sense of right and wrong, it eventually catches up with you.

Here in India, where one fifth of the world's population live, and where the population is tech-savvy and business-savvy, the view is interesting indeed. It appears that to the rest of the world, the US administration is now past its zenith of power, it is entering eclipse, and is in disarray. After having gone to the UN, "hat in hand", the period of the "unipolar world" is now officially over.

An editorial in the Times of India today by Gautam Adhikari makes an interesting analogy. "A thermal power plant is known to have an installed capacity and a rated capacity. The former, which is a projection of potential generation given ideal conditions and inputs is always higher than the latter, which is an assessment of likely generating capacity in circumstances on the ground that may vary..." The US' potential power in the post-cold war world was undoubtably the greatest in the world, and remains so. A $10 trillion economy and "defense" spending greater than the next 25 countries assured it. But when the arrogant Bushies decided to put that power into play, to ignore all public opinion and do whatever it wanted, it moved from potential to actual exercise of power. And that is much less. The US has very quickly squandered what was tremendous when held in reserve.

At this point, to best preserve its world leadership, the US is going to have to fall back on a little more finesse, rely less on overt brute power. This is clear, but it may not have yet been comprehended by the old horses running the White House's foreign "policy". They may not be able to change so quickly.

In India, the collapse of the WTO talks in Cancun are also seen as a great victory for the India-led coalition of developing countries, who are beginning to understand their potential clout in world markets. The US and EU have increased their farm subsidies since the beginning of the WTO agreements in Uruguay only 10 years ago, while they preach "free trade" to the poor countries. In the long run, an international forum will benefit the poor countries too, but it must be based on fair play, not -- again -- on brute force, in this case economic force.

And in other news, Pepsi and Coke may be forced to put labels on their products saying "not for children" because of the high levels of pesticides in those lovely drinks.

And according to a study from the Lund University in Sweden, cell phones may cause premature senility.

And that's the way it is in Mumbai.

September 17, 2003

MUMBAI (BOMBAY) -- From over here we hear that the California recall election has been suspended, for the moment anyway, and the issue is voting machines, which is even a more important issue than the California recall. Exploring this issue in court could prove very interesting. Stay tuned.
  • Colin Powell on the news says, "We will find them. We will rout out these remnants of the old regime. We won't let terrorism deny the Iraqi people the right to a free and democratic Iraq." What lies. Always so careful to emphasize that the trouble is just coming from Hussein thugs. No one else is upset with the American occupation. Uh huh.
  • By the way, tell Dick Cheney our soldiers have "other priorities".

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