June 18, 2011
June 17, 2011
'Those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it.' If ever there was a poetic affirmation of philosopher George Santayana's time-worn aphorism, it is the saga of United States policy toward Pakistan -- from its inception over 60 years ago until the death of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, says Harold A Gould.
It is a judgment that cuts both ways. Neither Pakistan nor the US ever learned from their past mistakes and the consequences are there for all to see; history has repeated itself -- not once, but several times.
Reggie Sinha has recently summed it all up in a single crisp sentence: 'When will the American leadership,' he declared, 'realise the true cost of (Pakistan's) double game?'
But the plea can equally be made in the opposite direction: When will the American leadership face the fact that it was US policies that put Pakistan in the position to play its double game?
The events which led up to Abbottabad did not happen yesterday or a decade ago or even two decades ago. They have their roots and their origins in the American decision following World War II to bring the emerging Cold War to South Asia.
Harold A Gould is a veteran South Asia expert
Can there be a revolt against Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), either by the subalterns or by senior officers due to their unhappiness over his perceived/alleged amenability to US pressure?
3. Anti-US anger in Pakistan---in the streets as well as in the barracks---is nothing new. It has always been there right from the 1950s when it enthusiastically joined the US-sponsored regional military pacts.
4. Pakistani leaders---civil as well as military--- had given a free play to this anger in order to extract more assistance from the US without letting this anger become uncontrollable. Using anti-US anger without letting themselves be burnt by it--this has become a fine art in Pakistan.
5.The anti-US anger being seen in Pakistan since the beginning of this year due to the surge in the US drone strikes in the tribal areas, the increase in the presence of US intelligence officers and Special Forces commandos in Pakistani territory and the unilateral and clandestine raid by the US Naval commandos at the residence of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad on May 2 is not a new phenomenon. It is a re-enactment of an old phenomenon.
6. The only thing new this time is that this anger has been accompanied by feelings of humiliation in the public as well as in the barracks over the perceived disregard by the US of Pakistani sensitivities relating to the repeated violations of its sovereignty.
7. Pakistani leaders have never had any qualms over letting themselves be used by the US in a manner designed to serve US interests provided the payment for such use was adequate.They had let themselves be used by the US for its U-2 flights over the USSR. They had let themselves be used by the US for monitoring Chinese nuclear tests in Lop Nor. They had let themselves be used by the US against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. They are letting themselves be used by the US in the post-9/11 war against terrorism emanating from the Af-Pak region.
8.Fears of public anger never inhibited the actions of the Pakistani military leadership in entering into a quid pro quo relationship with the US provided the compensation and benefit to Pakistan were adequate.
9. What is worrying the Pakistani military leadership this time are the feelings of national humiliation caused partly by the unilateral nature of some of the US decisions and operations. The frequency of such unilateral decisions and actions by the US has been dictated by the growing distrust of Pakistan’s sincerity in counter-terrorism.
10.Gen.Pervez Musharraf was more sensitive to the US interests and more accommodating to US demands than Kayani. He readily agreed ---without ever dragging his feet--- to many of the requests that emanated from the George Bush Administration.He shifted senior Lt.Gens and a chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence because the US viewed them with suspicion as close to the Afghan Taliban,he allowed the US Air Force to use Pakistani bases in Balochistan for mounting rescue operationsin Afghanistan, he permitted an immense increase in the US intelligence presence in Pakistani territory, he agreed to US intelligence and investigating officers accompanying joint teams of the ISI and the police when they raided suspected hide-outs of Al Qaeda operatives in places such as Faislabad, Karachi and Rawalpindi, he enforced restrictions on the admission of foreign students in the madrasas, he allowed the movement of logistic supplies to the NATO troops in Afghanistan through Pakistani territory, he facilitated the interrogation of two retired senior Pakistani nuclear scientists by the US, he placed A.Q.Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, under house arrest after the discovery of his proliferation activities by the US and he ordered his intelligence and investigating agencies to informally hand over hundreds of terrorism suspects to the US for rendition and interrogation in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre and other places without following the due process of the law.
11. These actions of Musharraf caused anger at the lower levels of the Pakistani Armed Forces which triggered off three unsuccessful attempts to kill him---once in Karachi through an explosive device which malfunctioned and twice in Rawalpindi through commando-style ambushes that failed. But the anger at the lower levels in the barracks was kept under control by the commissioned officers and core commanders who remained loyal to Musharraf despite whatever misgivings they might have had in their mind about the wisdom of his unreserved co-operation with the US. Even senior Lts-General whose promotion chances were stymied by Musharraf’s continuing to hold the post of the Chief of the Army Staff, never wavered in their loyalty to him.
12. A chief is a chief right or wrong for most in the Pakistan Army.There have been plots in the past, but these plots failed because of the failure of the plotters to enlist widespread support against the chief. Have things become different under Kayani? I find it difficult to accept this on the basis of the currently available information.
13. Yes, Kayani co-operated with the US, but not as extensively as Musharraf did. Yes, there is anger against Kayani at the lower levels, but he has never been the target of a serious assassination attempt as Musharraf repeatedly was. Yes, there is a feeling of humiliation in the Army as there never was when Musharraf was the chief, but there are no signs that this humiliation has reached a critical point or could do so.
14. Yes, Kayani could face threats of assassination, but could he face the threat of being overthrown by his own officers? I am doubtful in my mind for the present. We should resist the urge to over-assess Pakistan—positively or negatively. (18-6-11)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
From mysterious robotic space planes to giant spy satellites the size of school buses, space is teeming with secret American hardware meant to gaze down on insurgents, terrorists and, well, everybody on the third rock from the sun.
For mere proles like you and me, it can be hard to get a straight answer from the Air Force, NASA and other space-faring agencies about precisely what is up there, what it’s doing and where exactly it all is at a given moment.
Now a pair of enterprising Frenchmen have decided to answer at least one of those questions for themselves, using a modified consumer-grade telescope, a small motor, a hand-held controller and a video camera. The result is a do-it-yourself satellite tracker capable of recording the movements of America’s most secretive spacecraft.
Two years into their little science project, Thierry Legault and Emmanuel Rietsch have managed to record the International Space Station, the X-37B space plane and the Keyhole and Lacrosse spy satellites, the kind probably used to peer into Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound.
“In mid-2009, I have decided to adapt my Takahashi EM400 [telescope mount] for motorized satellite-tracking,” Legault, pictured above, wrote on his website. He fitted a Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain 10-inch telescope to the mount and teamed up with Rietsch to design a system for slowly and precisely rotating the mount to follow a distant, orbital object.
“More tricky than expected” is how Legault described the creation of the custom rotation system, which attaches a motor to the mount and, in the beginning, used a radio joystick for controlling the motor. Apparently cued by the global network of amateur satellite spotters, profiled by Wired in 2006, Legault would hunt for orbital objects using the telescope, switch on the video camera, and then use the joystick to keep the targeted spacecraft in the frame.
But there was a problem. “Despite this performing tracking system and hours of training on airplanes passing in the sky, keeping the spaceship inside a sensor of a few millimeters at a focal length of 5000mm and a speed over 1°/s needs a lot of concentration and training,” Legault wrote.
So last year Rietsch devised a new computer program, called Videos Sky, to move the telescope automatically. Now Legault uses a second telescope to “scout” for spacecraft, gets the 10-incher into place, peering at a spot the satellite is on course to pass through, and activates the computerized tracker once the target is in view. Legault has helpfully uploaded a video depicting the whole tracking process, as seen by the main telescope.
Plus, what Legault and Rietsch are doing is legally aboveboard. The effort is actually no more illegal than standing on a public street and looking around really carefully. But considering how hard the intelligence community works to keep details of its space arsenal under wraps, it’s not hard to imagine the two Frenchmen have pissed off a lot of spooks unaccustomed to having regular people spy back.
Photo: Thierry Legault
William C. RAMSAY
Edito Energie, juin 2011
OPEC has certainly gone out of its way to show how little relevance it has in today’s oil market. It has successfully imported all the political rhetoric and malaise of some of its most unstable members. To be dictated by the Bolivarian Revolution from Caracas or revolutionary light Ecuador is already bad enough. But combining that with the objections of some obscure Libyan functionary and a stand-in for lack of an Iranian oil minister as Chairman of the meeting is pretty much a formula for disaster. We have not been disappointed.
OPEC’s own analysis points to a tightening market through the year and a need for more oil, but too many of OPEC’s members are production constrained or cash short and need every dollar they can get for every barrel. As any cartel manager must know, the ability to remain in a position of strength in a commodity market is a function of not driving customers out of the market. There is in fact a price elasticity of demand for transportation fuels. There are ways to substitute alternative fuels into transportation. Many are reviewing the potential of CNG to contribute to transport given the surge in available gas – and its liquids.
OPEC refused to adjust upwards its quotas. Who cares? Its quotas have been meaningless for some time it is production that counts and all the price hawks are producing their maximum. Libya is applauded for having succeeded in retaining its quota. So what? When Libya calms one of these days, whoever is running the place will ramp up production as fast as they can because a lot of damage has been done to that country and its people – without regard for any quota.
Why should anyone care about quotas? Iraq plans to exceed its quota as soon as it can and will probably claim the right to catch up for years of lost production. Angola will soon bust its quota as will Nigeria. OPEC quotas have always been intended to restrain the other guy.
The real result of the meeting is that everyone will continue to produce all they can and those with surplus capacity will produce more. That is a pretty good outcome which everyone but the market should be able to realize. Wait for the buzz in the market to pass.
As pressure builds in consuming counties to respond to high prices, out of concern for developing countries, sluggish economic recovery and co-incidentally, political pressure before elections – the idea of taking matters into ones hands comes immediately to mind. Congressman Markey wasted hardly a minute to call for US SPR release. In the last Presidential campaign there were calls for use of the SPR and 8 years before President Clinton used the SPR to help Al Gore’s Presidential campaign. Students of the market will remember that using strategic stocks for market manipulation did not work then, nor did it have the desired political result.
The issue is the need for incremental oil. Surplus capacity producers are stepping up to the plate. Hopefully consuming countries won't do anything with strategic stocks that will discourage them.