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A lot of people never expected to hear Bush mention Iraq and Vietnam in the same sentence, but the comparison is apt. Whatever the reasons for invading in the first place, and the fudged approach to the aftermath, withdrawal now would spell disaster for the region and for the wider world. This is what the many voices who protest the war don't understand - a US withdrawal would simply make things worse than they already are.
Iraq and Vietnam | Fearing a bloody exit | Economist.com
The reason why Mr Bush's comparison was interesting as well as frank is that he put his finger on the most important question that now confronts American foreign-policymakers: beyond the question of whether it was right to invade Iraq, what are the likely consequences of getting out now? The disasters that followed America's withdrawal from Vietnam after the Paris peace accords of 1973 were accurately cited by Mr Bush. North Vietnam failed to keep its promises and, backed by China, swiftly over-ran the south. Millions were sent to “re-education” camps and around 1m people were so terrified that they fled the country in leaky boats. Communists took over Cambodia and Laos as well as Vietnam. In Cambodia, the Khmers Rouges established “Year Zero”, a barbaric programme of Maoist repression that left around 1.7m people dead (although it was the Vietnamese who eventually removed the murderous Cambodian regime in 1979). As Mr Bush might have said, but didn't, America's foes around the word were emboldened by its humiliation: four years after the fall of Saigon, the Russians invaded Afghanistan.
Mr Bush is right to give warning that terrible consequences may flow from an American withdrawal. Sectarian violence, which Mr Bush's “surge” of 30,000 additional troops into Baghdad and its environs has had some success in dampening, would surely worsen. In the absence of a political accord between Shias and Sunnis, a full-blown civil war would be a real possibility.
Reading the timeline below really joins the dots about what's been going on in Pakistan this year. Today the plot unravelled further, with signs that as well as Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif is also planning a comeback. It's clear that the whole debacle over the sacking of Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice, is linked to this point.
However, for all Musharraf's faults, he has done at least one thing - he has held Pakistan together under immense pressure from the Islamists on one side and the US on the other. The entry of both the 'democrats', not just Bhutto alone, will fracture the political scene even further. Neither Bhutto not Sharif have much to be proud of, other than being civilians, and indeed it was they that oversaw Pakistan's steady slide. Democract alone is not going to solve Pakistan's problems, and if the populace goes to the streets in favour of either Musharraf, Bhutto, Sharif, Chaudhry or Shar'ia, it'll set the scene for some bloody four-way clashes.
What it could mean for Afghanistan is anyone's guess.
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Exiled Pakistani PM 'to go home'
9 March: Musharraf suspends chief justice for "abuse of power". Lawyers protest
April: Protests grow, amid clashes with police
12 May: 34 people die as rival political groups clash in Karachi
11 July: 102 people die when army storms radical Red Mosque in Islamabad
July-Aug: Sharp rise in suicide attacks by pro-Taleban militants
20 July: Supreme Court reinstates chief justice
9 Aug: Musharraf rejects emergency rule
23 Aug: Supreme Court says exiled ex-PM Nawaz Sharif can return
A lengthy but useful summary of everything that's important in the world right now pertaining to the linkages between geopolitics and energy. Must look out for this Dilip Hiro guy's book.
We can now probably add to this list of Bush's errors America's disruption of the world financial system via subprime loans, not to mention high oil prices and a feeble dollar but hey.
Asia Times Online :: Middle East News - US in their sights: The rising powers
...with not even a decade of this century behind us, we are already witnessing the rise of a multipolar world in which new powers are challenging different aspects of US supremacy - Russia and China in the forefront, with regional powers Venezuela and Iran forming the second rank. These emergent powers are primed to erode US hegemony, not confront it, singly or jointly.
How and why has the world evolved in this way so soon? The George W Bush administration's debacle in Iraq is certainly a major factor in this transformation, a classic example of an imperialist power, brimming with hubris, overextending itself...
Yet there are other explanations - unrelated to Washington's glaring misadventures - for the current transformation in international affairs. These include, above all, the tightening market in oil and natural gas, which has enhanced the power of hydrocarbon-rich nations as never before; the rapid economic expansion of the mega-nations China and India; the transformation of China into the globe's leading manufacturing base; and the end of the Anglo-American duopoly in international television news.
I'm not sure how much I trust Pakistan's APP news agency, so this is to be taken with a pinch of salt. I can also find no reference to a US "International Oil Company" - unless indeed it is an anonymous one for now. I can, however, find the "Indian Oil Corporation Limited" (IOCL) and the "International Oil Company Limited", based in Hong Kong and thus perhaps a Chinese front. I did discover "Interoil", which is stockmarket listed as IOC, but its main drive is Papua New Guinea.
So the plot thickens. Who, if anyone, is pulling the strings here?
Associated Press of Pakistan - IOC to construct Turkmenistan-Pakistan oil, gas pipeline
The US International Oil Company (IOC) would construct 2,200 km long Turkmenistan-Pakistan oil and gas pipeline project in a period of three years. Geo News quoting the details released from IOC liaison office reported that the government has awarded the estimated $10 billion project to the IOC.
Two oil refineries and four thermal powerhouses of 1,000 megawatt each would also be set up under the project.
The pipeline with a capacity of supplying 2 million barrel of oil and 4 billion cubic feet of gas would be constructed up to Gawadar, where one refinery would also be constructed at a cost of $3.5 billion, IOC said.
The project also envisages construction of hydro-cracker for the production of JP 1 and JP 4, for the first time in Pakistan.
IOC said that the matters relating to the security in Afghanistan and insurance guarantee have been finalized and the ceremony of the mega-project agreement inking would soon be held.
In July 2007, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation agreed on the foundation of an 'energy club'. In August it will hold its annual summit, and this author considers whether that means another step towards an Asian NATO.
PINR - S.C.O. Summit Demonstrates its Growing Cohesion
...the last couple of years the S.C.O. has taken steps in intensified cooperation in a wide scope of security dimensions. This has occurred to such an extent that development toward a genuine security organization can no longer be excluded, although this still might take a considerable number of years. Although the West at present does not have anything to fear from the S.C.O., current developments might encourage the West to closely observe further activities of the grouping. In any case, the time has gone that Western security experts could depict the S.C.O. as simply one of many insignificant organizations in the Asia-Pacific region.
As China's commitment in Pakistan, especially through Gwadar increases, so too does their interest in the nation's internal security.
Protection of Chinese national
ISLAMABAD: Secretary Interior Syed Kamal Shah and Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Luo Zhaohi signed an MoU to form a joint task force for the safety and security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan at a ceremony held here on Monday.
The MoU is the first of its kind signed against the backdrop of the rising number of kidnapping incidents and attacks on the Chinese people who are engaged on various development projects in the country. A number of Chinese nationals have also lost their lives in these attacks.