2004 Country Archive
SO WHAT IS NOW THE NEW WORLD
Arguably, this presidential election is the most significant
geopolitical event since the end of the Cold War. The big question now is what
IS the new world order? We thought we knew during the Clinton years, but after
four years of George.W. Bush, all previous bets are off. It seems to us outside
the US, primarily about the fear factor, not amongst America's perceived enemies
so much as its friends, that the leader of the free world may, by following a
unilateral doctrine of interventionism seek to lead them, free nations all,
where they cannot go, but to go there anyway even alone. Must we expect more of
The population of the US is about 4% of the world total but it's pre-eminence in
military and economic matters is clearly unquestioned. If America sneezes we all
catch cold. America's president is effectively president of all of us, but we in
the rest of the world are not enfranchised. Looking at the complexities of the
world scene and the very real terrorist threat excluding no-one, there is a
dismaying possibility that the identity of the commander-in-chief, for the next
four years the most powerful man in the world will have been determined by
issues like partial birth abortion, gay marriages, or safeguarding tax cuts for
the already rich, on top of a no-brainer accounting of the Iraq adventure.
The US's stance throughout the Cold War and since, had been been broadly
consistent with individual freedoms; democracy; the market economy and the rule
of law. - a skillful player internationally, in truth a worthy world leader, not
unblemished to be sure, but the very model of what a nation could become.
Under the George W Bush administration this benign perception of the nation was
rudely challenged with the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, for what then and now
were simply not good enough reasons. Together with some challenges to human
rights law, and a US election process which in 2000 was decided not by the
people but by politically appointed judges, has to put it mildly, shaken
confidence in the democratic integrity of the nation. Perhaps, whatever the
outcome, the 2004 elections will restore some faith in the fairness of the
process - it remains to be seen. Internationally, a dismayed world has witnessed
the breakdown and disappearance of the essential honest broker role played by
former administrations in the ghastly Palestine - Israel confrontation which
maintained some sort of balance, that at least kept the lid on in the middle
east. What now?
The US went to war on plain wrong information, which has been characterized as
'top-down faithbased' intelligence. When inconvenient seasoned experts like the
UN arms inspection teams and the US State Department's Iraq and Arab
specialists, were brushed aside, as also within the UK in its supporting role,
then what next in another four Bush years with a proclaimed belief in
pre-emptive military intervention? That is the dominant concern with the world's
waiting multitudes. Expectations pivot on whether there might be a return to an
America leading a world willing to be led, or, 'more of the same'.
UKRAINE is a big country, the biggest in
Europe. It is a prize eagerly looked for by Russia's Putin, because any chance
of Russia again exerting some of the power and scope of the FSU, depends on the
fifty million Slavic population of UKRAINE
moving once more into Moscow's sphere of influence. By the same token, with
democracy now cancelled back in the Russian Federation, the west can see that
the future shape and political style of Eurasia, no less, will depend on whether
the pro-western candidate can prevail. In the century ahead of us, it is obvious
that China and the EU, despite very different political philosophies, are
economic giants that may challenge, even overtake the USA. But will a resurgent
CIS under Moscow's command, with its amazing reserves of oil and gas and every
raw material known to man, become over time another aspirant to economic and
geopolitical superpower? The answer could pivot on how the elections in UKRAINE
turn out. With the pro-Moscow party being the current government and having
organised a dirty-tricks election, including the attempted poisoning of the only
candidate they fear, it is already an event that the first round still leaves
the contest open until the end of November. We report how a manifestly
fraudulent vote in neighbouring BELARUS
has ensured that Lukashenka, Europe's last dictator, will be able to rig another
vote to become president again in 2006.
THIS WAY PRAGMATISM
Through the novelty of an election, their first ever, AFGHANISTAN
has now legitimised its formerly acting president Karzai. Warlords who supported
him by 'delivering' their regions will get their rewards: governorships and
other appointments that can ensure their personal wealth. The world's future
supply of narcotic opiates is secure in their hands even though peace will
likely be a stranger for some time to come The Taleban chose not to disrupt the
elections in those regions where they are in effective control, reasoning that
they can perhaps do business with Karzai, a necessary calculation now that
Pakistan their former mentor, wants it that way… but they haven't gone away.
IRAQ is coming closer to the elections
which the Shia majority insist upon as soon as January, whilst the Sunni
minority are concentrated in the large area still under insurgent control. It is
not yet apparent how elections can be held there at all. What is shaping up is
that the more politically savvy Shia know that they will now, for the first time
in history, dominate IRAQ. The former
insurgent mullah the very young Mukhtada al Qadr, at the cost of quite a few
lives lost battling the Americans, has made himself the irreplaceable leader,
the coming man amongst the Shia, but look out world, there is already an
assumption that the movement he heads is another Taleban waiting to happen.
Democracy, which Bush Blair extolled as the coming system in Iraq, has little
appeal it seems for the Shia majority, who as always follow their political
priests; the Kurds who will elect their traditional aristocratic rulers; and the
Sunni minority, many of whom seem unlikely to be able to vote at all.
Our report on SYRIA offers a very
different perspective than that of the Israelis and the Bushies. The only
secular Arab nation left after the demise of Iraq's Baath and the post-Saddam
upsurge of Shi'ism, SYRIA's long borders
with Iraq, so hard to render impenetrable, constitute a grave danger to
Damascus, now that religious zealots are rampaging around IRAQ
and may spill over. Opportunity exists for new initiatives, it seems clear.
IRAN, waiting nervously for the outcome
in the US, is well aware that under Bush, a war party exists there with its most
prominent ally being Likud Israel. This is a highly political nation with well
defined wings reflecting all the normal economic and social theories, in the
practice of which they are constantly second-guessed by 'the religious,' whose
muscle is with the non-accountable shock troops of the Revolutionary Guard. The
outcome in the US will probably make little difference to the "death to
America" priestly fruitcakes.
TALES OF CORRUPTION
The PHILIPPINES hope for big things from
their recently elected Gloria Macapagal -Arroyo government, including an
alleviation of the corruption for which they are justly infamous. To their
credit, the courage has been found to charge a very senior army officer, the
major general responsible for military procurement, no less. Evidence is
abundant and it now remains to be seen if justice, which notoriously is not
blind here, will be delivered for such a high profile defendant. We review the
story and its implications for perhaps rolling back the notorious public
corruption of this nation. Read about how SOUTH
AFRICA, no slouch in these matters, has its own top-level corruption
case where the deputy president, Jacob Zuma, anticipated successor to Thabo
Mbeki in 2009, is embroiled through his former financial advisor - much money
changed hands - in another arms procurement scandal.
NORTH KOREA WAITING FOR WASHINGTON : We offer a comprehensive overview of the
situation waiting to be energized on the far side of the American election and
what awaits the incumbent of the White House. But why did Colin Powell so
hastily fly to Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul in late October, so close to election
day, not just to avoid Karl Rove surely?
MAN OF STEEL: INDIA this month draws
attention to Lakshmi Mittal, head of the world's largest steel company who says
he's only just starting. This is a veritable Andrew Carnegie on the world stage!
Even their defeated opponents of the Hindu Right taking stock as we report, and
heading towards a new more nationalist agenda, cannot accuse the Manmohan Singh
government of any major foul-ups so far. But coalitions have an inbuilt capacity
for shooting themselves in the foot.
Can the Leopard change his spots? When Big Oil is involved history can be
re-written even on the hoof.
The LIBYA story, the bad Arab nation
turned good, (long enough anyway for the election campaign), is taking a
downturn with the persistent problem that Colonel Ghadafi is accused of seeking
to assassinate his personal enemy, the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. The Saudis
hold his intelligence personnel, who naturally confessed along with other
plotters. Libyan oil is needed, but can the US treat with Ghadafi in such
RUSSIA has moved Beijing style, to a
Perestroika government having amputated Gorabachev's Glasnost. Like the Chinese
model, it has become effectively a single party capitalist state, with no
significant independent media, where business men are allowed, encouraged even
to get rich, but on the condition that they keep out of opposition politics.
Meanwhile the fate of Yukos, the giant oil company is ironic, except for small
investors, for whom it is tragic. Having been in the popular perception,
'stolen' in the privatization of the 1990's, the State is now stealing it back,
in a not very subtle way, which must rebound on any future hopes of FDI. We
describe all of this and how this authoritarian state shapes up now, and how it
resembles and differs from its communist forbears.
We also review five Central Asian 'stans; three Caucasians; update you on the
five FYR's and the five other Balkan republics; offer analyses of the three
Balts; four Visegrads; and still more…..
Altogether forty newnations in transition.
And STILL FREE!
Clive Lindley - Publisher
To November 2004 Reports now
Current Reports now