India under Narendra Modi looks like it’s on a roll. From Eric S. Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
How fleeting is glory! Back in 1998, the South Asian Journalists Association proclaimed me ‘Journalist of the Year’ for a newspaper article I had written about India.
But the next year the award was angrily rescinded after I wrote that India should compromise with Pakistan over the festering Kashmir conflict. Prickly Indians didn’t like being criticized, even by an old friend like myself.
This week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition won a landslide electoral victory, gaining 302 of the 542 seats in parliament. The venerable Congress opposition party, that long led India, was crushed.
We should pay attention. India is more or less the world’s largest democracy and is expected to be the third largest economic power by 2020. It’s also an important nuclear state with land and sea-launched ICBM’s that can strike the United States and Canada, Europe, and its rival, China.
The Kashmir region between Pakistan and India may be the world’s most flammable tinder box. From Dilip Hero at nationalinterest.org:
And where billions of people die.
Undoubtedly, for nearly two decades the most dangerous place on Earth has been the Indian-Pakistani border in Kashmir. It’s possible that a small spark from artillery and rocket exchanges across that border might — given the known military doctrines of the two nuclear-armed neighbors — lead inexorably to an all-out nuclear conflagration. In that case the result would be catastrophic. Besides causing the deaths of millions of Indians and Pakistanis, such a war might bring on “nuclear winter” on a planetary scale, leading to levels of suffering and death that would be beyond our comprehension.
Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.
When it comes to Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country’s leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.
Trump’s slithering away from full sanctions on Iran because the US can’t enforce them and it would disrupt the oil market the year before the 2020 election. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
Sanctions on Iran have failed. The weakness of the U.S. position in the oil markets is now complete. Donald Trump’s Energy Dominance strategy has failed.
The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R – The Eschaton) that no more sanctions waivers will be granted to importers of Iranian oil. Those that do so will face sanctions.
But let’s look at what is actually on the table. Waivers will be extended to a year from now during a ‘wind-down’ period. But, I thought these past six months were the ‘wind down’ period Don?
I told you these would get extended the minute they were granted. Because three of these countries — India, Turkey and China — are in open revolt over the policy.
And they have built plenty of infrastructure to get around these sanctions when or if they are ever implemented.
Three of the eight countries granted waivers — Italy, Greece and Taiwan — do not need waiver extensions as they’ve already cut their imports to zero.
Kashmir is a powder keg that could set off a nuclear conflagaration between India and Pakistan. From Reese Erlich at antiwar.com:
On Feb. 14 a suicide bomber killed over 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir in what India claimed was a terrorist attack. India retaliated by bombing a terrorist training camp, which turned out to be an uninhabited mountain top. The Pakistani air force shot down an Indian jet fighter, and India shot down a Pakistani plane.
Diplomats and the mainstream media focused on the danger of another war between the two nuclear armed countries. But the major media provided less information about the flashpoint for the crisis: India’s brutal occupation of Kashmir.
Assistant Professor Junaid Ahmad, director of the Center for Global Dialogue at the University of Management and Technology in Lahore, Pakistan, said in a phone interview that the conflict reflects “the bitterness and anger that remains from the British partition of the region back in 1947.”
Why the conflict?
Years ago I reported from a farm near the Pakistani controlled part of Kashmir. It was only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicle or on foot. Kashmir is spectacularly beautiful with rolling hills and a lush valley. In years past it was tourist destination and could be again if the conflict is ever resolved.
But if you live near the border with India these days, you’re hunkering down in bomb shelters to avoid errant Indian artillery fire. Civilians on the Indian side of the border face the same danger when Pakistani guns overshoot their targets.
The US’s confederated empire is slip-sliding away. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
With the U.S.’s attempt at regime change in Venezuela going nowhere fast it’s becoming increasingly obvious that major
vassals allies aren’t scared of the consequences of defying us.
India, in particular, has been quite clear in its opposition to Trump’s edicts on who they can and cannot trade with. And with Prime Minister Narendra Modi reeling from a corruption scandal it’s clear he isn’t going to give Trump an inch on important trade issues, especially with Modi in full re-election mode.
Not only has India defied the U.S. over buying Iranian oil and Russian S-400 missile defense systems but now they continue to flaunt U.S. sanctions on Venezuela upping its purchases from 400,000 barrels per day to more than 600,000.
The quantity of exports to India has jumped 66 per cent to 620,000 barrels a day and the boost is being driven by refiners like Reliance Industries Ltd and Nayara Energy Ltd, backed by Rosneft, Russia.
Overall though, Venezuela’s crude exports have taken a dip as the US has intensified the sanctions against the Latin American nation’s oil company.
The response from the U.S. was the nearly inconsequential removing India from the Generalized System of Preferences which created tariff-free trade on a number of products between the U.S. and India.
The US just can’t stay out of the Middle East and central Asia. From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:
With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.
And, Why Now?
India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.
Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.
And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.
If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.
Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.
An expert on the subject says that nuclear war between Indian and Pakistan is not out of the question. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
While Americans were obsessing over a third-rate actor’s fake claims of a racial assault, old foes India and Pakistan were rattling their nuclear weapons in a very dangerous crisis over Kashmir. But hardly anyone noticed that nuclear war could break out in South Asia.
India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed, have fought four wars over divided Kashmir since 1947, the lovely mountain state of forests and lakes whose population is predominantly Muslim. India controls two thirds of Kashmir; Pakistan and China the rest. This bitter dispute, one of the world’s oldest confrontations, has defied all attempts to resolve it.
The United Nations called on India to hold a plebiscite to determine Kashmir’s future, but Delhi ignored this demand, knowing it would probably lose the vote.
Muslim Kashmiris have been in armed revolt against harsh Indian occupation since the 1980’s. Some 70,000 civilians, mostly Muslims, have died to date. Today, India stations a million soldiers and paramilitary forces in Kashmir to repress popular demands by Muslim Kashmiris for either union with neighboring Pakistan or an independent Kashmiri state.