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May 2004 Country Archive

PUBLISHERS OVERVIEW May'04

An Adolescent World

As one reviews the sad story of Iraq, it becomes obvious that in the twenty first century of the Christian era, we do not live in a grown-up world. The American people were understandably outraged by the unprovoked 9/11 attack on the cities of New York and Washington. How was it that the most powerful ruler in the world, served by the most sophisticated and expensive intelligence services could ordain that revenge should be visited specifically upon Iraq? Earlier, Afghanistan had been entirely credible as a US target, it's then government sheltering the al-Qaeda terror organization. It would have been unthinkable not to have moved against that government after they refused to expel these fanatical terrorists, but when their leadership melted into the mountainous maquis, they remained after all on the same planet. Instead of ratcheting up the expenditure and manpower and effort necessary to hunt them down in the tribal lands or wherever they sought refuge, a secondary target left over from an earlier geopolitical agenda was presented to the world as a necessary step in securing the safety of America. 

No one could deny that Iraq was one amongst ten or fifteen of our world's most unpleasant dictatorships, and that its ruler was a cruel and ruthless tyrant. It was however never remotely likely that he had any plans to attack the USA. Israel possibly, but at no time soon, demonstrably they can take care of themselves. But what means of delivery across the length of the MEDITERRANEAN and the width of the ATLANTIC, could this third world nation have had, with no airforce, or navy, or ICBMs, even had they possessed the WMDs, to threaten 'the safety of America'? Although Saddam's Iraq was the most secular of all the Arab states its people are Islamic, both Shia and Sunni, (but not of the Saudi-Arabian Wahabi sect that produced Osama bin Laden and most of the suicide hijackers of 9/11). As 'evidence,' this thin stuff seems to have been good enough, taken together with assurances that US intelligence was warning of weapons of mass destruction that UN observers were willfully failing to find, plus nods and winks about the future of the massive oil reserves, that populist editors and establishment media groups and just plain loyalists of "the President," were able to buy into and provide a patina of popular support. So the war waggons rolled and whatever happened to democracy's grown-up media watchdogs?
 
But only those with access to the secrets could or should have known where all of the pieces were, before launching the invasion. Now, with the absence of any links to the 9/11 terrorists, or WMDs, and no means of delivery, the causus belli are seen to have been spurious, which returns us to why did it happen? Are those critics correct that point to the (pre-9/11) agenda of the Project for the New American Century, which reads uncannily like a prophecy of these events and if so, does anybody believe that now the world is a safer place?

Our SPECIAL SHI'A REPORT and UPDATE on IRAQ tell the sorry story the month before government is due to be handed over like a hot potato, to …whom? 

And what kind of a grown-up world is this where in AFGHANISTAN, the Taleban government in 2001 had been able to reduce opium production to an annual harvest of 74 tonnes? Now that they (the bad guys), are safely expelled from the scene, an all time record harvest, estimated at 30% higher than the previous record of 4,600 tonnes, is being gathered in, with 300,000 acres now under production. All that heroin heading west, so that the warlords (the good guys), can arm their followers and swell their overseas bank accounts? 

Meanwhile In The Former Soviet Union……

The contagion spreads. UZBEKISTAN, the largest populated state of former Soviet central Asia, has used the Islamic card to repress its people for ten years past, wrongly identifying moderate Moslems of the post-communist opposition as violent fanatics, which they were not.  But if it is permissible to boil your Moslem opponents alive, then a real suicidal terror organization will be born, as has now violently emerged there. 

RUSSIA, after Putin's re-election is preparing for… what? We believe that a Greater Russia policy will now move up the agenda - to re-establish effective Russian hegemony over the nations of the former Soviet Union by whatever available means in each case, short of outright war.  KAZAKSTAN, a prime target for economic colonialism with its vast mineral wealth and large Russian population, is about to get oil piped through to China and more, thus to be independent for that market at least, of the existing Russian pipelines to the west.

US policy in central Asia is taking on larger geopolitical dimensions than just the need to maintain bases around Afghanistan. We observe the appointment of the new US Ambassador to TAJIKISTAN, an unexpected heavyweight diplomat for such a remote posting. That country borders on China as well as Afghanistan and is a major conduit for western bound narcotic drugs. 

We identify ARMENIA as a geopolitical place to watch. With GEORGIA effectively in thrall to Russia, who have the means by using proxy breakaways to make it ungovernable, the US must be looking at Armenia with a strong desire to end the stand-off of their illegally occupying the Lachin corridor, the territory of AZERBAIJAN, and thus bring Armenia back into play as a possible exit route to Turkey for Caspian oil.

Europe's last dictator, Alyksandr Lukashenka, has maybe bitten off more than he can chew, as it appears that the Kremlin is rapidly tiring of his posturing, particularly since he seems to have been stealing from their gas pipelines, by siphoning off gas flowing through BELARUS, on its way to cash customers in the west..

Good News For Some

In Europe, POLAND, LITHUANIA, LATVIA, ESTONIA, SLOVAKIA, CZECH REPUBLIC; HUNGARY and SLOVENIA all join the European Union this month, not without trepidation or worse, real political and leadership crises in some cases.  But consider the so-near-but-yet-so-far angst of those aspirant EU members BULGARIA and ROMANIA, and indeed CROATIA and ALBANIA.  Some other former communist countries are still too far back in development to even be in any queue for EU membership, but SERBIA alone seems set on such an unreconstructed nationalist course, that will exclude it not only from the EU and NATO, but from international friendships generally - unless it seeks to join the Russian Federation! 

Current Elections

We give a very full analysis of SOUTH AFRICA'S important elections.  INDIA's are phased and are not yet over but we do give you a full briefing - who's who, and what they are about.  The PHILIPPINES may still have the capacity to surprise, not least because an additional three million voters have now emerged as registered, above what was regarded as the electorate. It sounds like Tammany but not necessarily is that the case - this fifty year old democracy is very clearly still adolescent. The election in TAIWAN whilst over is not yet resolved with a recount slated for this month.

This issue then, has many details of the massive jigsaw puzzle that makes up the world geopolitical scene in May 2004. 

Clive Lindley - Publisher 

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