Archive for October, 2006

Failure of diplomacy At last it has happened. Nor…

Failure of diplomacy

At last it has happened. North Korea tested a nuclear device early morning on Oct 9, 2006. This is yet another dismal failure of the US foreign policy.
After the end of Second World War, the US and now defunct USSR emerged as two supreme powers with vastly different ideologies. During the cold war era the USSR promoted communist philosophy by forming a Warsaw pact that included mostly Eastern European countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia. US countered this communist expansion by forming NATO with Western European countries like England, France and Turkey among many. The real victims of this cold war were Germany and Korea, which were unnaturally divided into East and West Germany and North and South Korea. After the end of Korean War in 1953 the world achieved a relative stability by resorting to diplomatic policy of nuclear deterrent. This was also termed as policy of restraint pursued by all US Presidents from Kennedy to Jimmy Carter.

After the invasion of Afghanistan by USSR, President Reagan changed the policy of restraint and became more aggressive in supporting the Afghan resistance with money, arms and training. It was during this period that Reagan termed USSR as an evil empire and embarked on a policy of roll back.

After the fall of USSR in 1991, the US became the sole superpower with unmatched economic, political and military power. US exercised this super power status during the Gulf War of 1991 when Iraq occupied Kuwait by force. Within days Iraqi forces were pushed back and Kuwait was liberated. This provided US an opportunity to form military bases in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. But the political situation in US changed when the then President Bush lost presidential elections to Bill Clinton. During the Clinton era, US focused inwards to improve the economy and quality of life. The only US international involvement came in Kosovo to prevent genocide of Bosnian Muslims. During this time the US amassed a record budget surplus of close to USD 300 billion. When the current President Bush took over the White House, the US enjoyed unmatched international influence with a treasure trove in its treasury to support that power.

Then 911 happened. It was a blow to the US image as well as a pretext for a new foreign policy. The new foreign policy initiated in this scenario ignored established international institutions like UN, GATT, and WTO. It also changed the policy from restrained to roll back which meant that US would pursue aggressively to fight the enemy militarily if required with or without international help. It was evident from the statement made by President Bush when he put the world on ultimatum that any country could be either “with us or against us” striking at the long established norms of international diplomacy by ignoring the sovereignty of any country. This created a rift between US and its NATO allies- especially France, Germany and Italy. President Bush taking a page from former President Reagan, in his 2002 state of the Union address, labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea as part of an axis of evil. The first country to face the US wrath in the axis was Iraq under the presumption that it was building weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It turns out that there were no WMD. The US attack on Iraq came at the price of thousands of innocent American and Iraqi lives.

The failure in Iraq has severely damaged the US credibility. This war has also produced record budget deficit damaging the economic might of the US considerably. But the ironical part is that on both sides of the isle i.e. Republican and Democratic, the attitude is that of a callousness. All political thinkers and strategist are non-apologetic about the mistake made by US to invade Iraq. The attitude of these policy makers is that since it has happened we should stay there and help unpopular Iraqi government. In diplomatic terms it means that US is still arrogant about being a sole superpower and not willing to accept the mistake and take a conciliatory tone. This insistence on staying the course has created a sense of insecurity among the weaker countries around the world especially the other two countries mentioned in the axis of evil Iran and North Korea. The only resort for them to prevent any US invasion was to create a high enough deterrent to prevent a regime change.

The other problem in the US foreign policy is the hypocrisy in its attitude. US declares democracy to be a source of freedom but that freedom is stressed upon only a few, mainly those who are not on good terms with the US like Iraq , Iran and North Korea but for the rest it is not important. This duality in the approach has created a sense of doubt among the people around the world about the intentions of US to help the oppressed.

US is also fueling the arms race in South Asia by signing a pact with India to develop nuclear technology while not considering the effect it could have on its friends like Pakistan. On the other hand China sees the US nuclear pact with India as a direct threat to its interest in the region. In this scenario it is not improbable that China is using the North Korean card to counter balance the US interest in the region. China is in no position to ignite any conflict with US but it is in its interest to have a proxy country like North Korea to wage this war. North Korea relies on China for its economic, social and political survival so it is unlikely that it pose any threat to the influence of China as suggested by many political analysts.

The incident of 911 destroyed the equilibrium of the world balance and that is still taking its course. The ultimate result of this entire international dynamo is formation of a multi-polar world that could once again be engaged in a cold war. Who will be those powers is yet to be decided but the likely candidates are Iran, China, India and Russia.

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An interview with Mayor Sugarland Texas David Wall…

An interview with Mayor Sugarland Texas David Wallace

Mayor Wallace is presently serving his third term as Mayor of Sugar Land. Previously, the Mayor served on the Sugar Land City Council representing Single Member District 4.
Mayor Wallace graduated from North Texas University earning a Bachelors degree in Real Estate Finance. Before becoming Mayor of Sugar Land his last private sector position was Chairman of Investment Committee of Perry Properties Realty Investment Fund & Perry Properties.

He and his wife, Kathy, have two daughters. The Wallace family has been proud Sugar Land residents since 1993.

Sugar Land, being part of greater Houston neighborhood, has a large number of Pakistani-American residents playing an important part in the social and economic progress of the city. Mayor Wallace has always supported Pakistani-American community and is a regular visitor to various programs organized by the community. We met with the Mayor in his City Hall office to discuss various issues confronted by South Asian immigrants as well as to understand his views on various international issues.

getPakistan.com (GPC): There has been speculation that when Mr. Tom Delay decided to quit the congressional race, President Bush called you to the White House to discuss future strategy for Texas. It was also said that you are the candidate of choice for the Republican Party. Can you shed some light on the events afterwards when Sheila Sekula Gibbs, a city council woman, was nominated as republican candidate and why you decided not to run in the congressional elections?

Mayor Wallace: Yes, I visited White House and met with members of National republican Congressional Committee. The national leadership told me that they would support my candidature but it is up to the precinct chairs to decide according to the local situation. Although I had support from the National leadership but some precinct chairs decided to nominate another candidate for this seat. It confirms the old adage that all politics is local.

GPC: The consensus in the media seems to be that Republicans might lose their Congressional and Senate majority. Please comment.

Mayor Wallace: Yes, I think the Republican Party might lose some seats in the upcoming congressional and senate elections. It seems the media is favoring the democratic platform and promoting a change. The Republican Party needs to put their act together and effectively communicate their plans to the community at large. For example, Congressional District 22, which was represented by Tom Delay, is a constituency of middle class people who are interested in reforms in healthcare, immigration and improvement in quality of life. They need a representative who can focus on these local issues.

GPC: During the recent arrest of suspected terrorists in England it has come to light that most of them are second and third generation immigrants born and raised in UK. How can we prevent the future generations of immigrants in US to be radicalized? How is the City of Sugar Land addressing integration of immigrants?

Mayor Wallace: Sugar Land is a diverse community both in terms of faith and ethnicity. It is human nature to hang on to long established cultural and traditional values. When these diverse cultures come together they add to the richness of the city of Sugar Land. To create a bridge between these communities I have created a multi-cultural sub-committee of 25 people which reach out to all communities and their leaders to sit around a table and discuss matters in detail. When the new City Hall was inaugurated couple of years ago, I invited people of all faiths to read prayers. To create a homogenous community I work with the education department to teach different cultures to our youth so that they have an appreciation for it. As our youth interact in class rooms and sports fields it helps creates understanding between them. We have also created a committee of youth leaders which now has 121 members.

GPC: there has been talk in favor of racial profiling to prevent future terrorist attacks. What is your view on this matter?

Mayor Wallace: I think terrorism is an important issue for all Americans regardless of their religious orientation. Timothy McVeigh was not a Muslim but he killed innocent people. Terrorism has no religion and we have to find ways to prevent it. I am co-chairman of Homeland Security’s Task Force and of US Conference of Mayors and I emphasize that we can not fight terrorism unless all citizens cooperate as one unit.

GPC: Do you think Patriotic Act has lived up to its expectations? Do you think Patriotic Act is anathema to the principles laid out by founding fathers of an egalitarian America with equal opportunity for all?

Mayor Wallace: Patriotic Act was a necessary evil in the aftermath of 911. Some of its elements certainly go too far and coincide with the principles laid out by our founding fathers and Bill of Rights. I am confident as we move forward our legislators will amend the act to eliminate those elements.

GPC: what kind of grants, funding and investments incentives are offered by the city of Sugar Land to minority businesses?

Mayor Wallace: City of Sugarland has initiated many programs in the form of tax abatement and direct incentives to attract businesses. As Board member of Governor’s Texas One Economic Development Corporation I work closely with SBA and banking community to help all businesses including minority owned.

GPC: Do you think US invasion of Iraq has damaged the American image in the world and especially in the Muslim World? How do you see the future of Iraq and US involvement in it?

Mayor Wallace: War on terrorism is a multilateral struggle and we have to work together as a global community to snuff out terrorism. The mission in Iraq was to fight terrorism where it was created and bred. It is imperative for US to support the Iraqi government to create the security apparatus for the safety of its people. I support President Bush’s policy in Iraq and consider our presence in Iraq an important step in strengthening democratic values there.

GPC: What are your views on immigration reforms specially related to illegal immigrants and quota for new immigrants?

Mayor Wallace: The US is a community of immigrants. It is in our roots. People from around the world come here to pursue the American Dream. We definitely need to address the issue of illegal immigrants. But I don’t support a carte blanche amnesty and grant citizenship to people who have broken the law. But since it is also a humanitarian issue, one solution is to grant guest worker visa to these people so they can become part of the process to become citizen after paying their dues.

GPC: Do you think police should be empowered to ask an individual’s immigration status during routine traffic stops?

Mayor Wallace: The Police Department has a lot on their hands to ensure the safety of our citizens. To ask them to enforce federal immigration laws is too much to ask for.

GPC: Pakistan has played an important role in fight against terrorism but the US media still casts doubts about the sincerity of the Pakistani government. What are your thoughts on this?

Mayor Wallace: Pakistani American community has worked shoulder to shoulder with other communities to ensure safety of our homeland. I believe all of us want to eradicate terrorism.

GPC: How can relations between the US and Pakistan be improved at grass roots level?

Mayor Wallace: We have to understand each other’s point of view at a national level. Leaders have to lead by example for the masses.

GPC: The US approval of a nuclear deal with India has created an environment of arms race in South Asia. How can Pakistan feel secure in this new shift in US policy?

Mayor Wallace: I agree that this shows a shift in US policy. A feel there is spirit of cooperation at the highest level and at some point there might be a civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan as well.

GPC: In the recent conflict between Israel and Lebanon, the world views Israel’s reaction to the Hezbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as unbalanced. This view is confirmed from the death toll on each side. How do you see the situation in Middle East and a probable solution to prevent future conflicts?

Mayor Wallace: I wish I had a solution to the Middle East problem. It is sad to have loss of life on both sides. I have been to the region many times and I wish I could formulate a lasting solution. A long term solution is only possible when people on both sides show appreciation and respect for the beliefs, values and rights of the other.

GPC: Do you believe UN is still relevant as an arbiter of conflicts between the nations when US is the sole superpower? If yes, why UN was sidelined to address the threat of Saddam?

Mayor Wallace: There is a genuine concern about the viability of UN. The latter should be a forum where nations can sit down and talk out various issues. I am concerned about the future of UN.

GPC: do you think adding a Muslim nation to get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council would help make it more effective?

Mayor Wallace: UN Security Council is composed of nations, not faiths. Muslims also live in countries that are permanent members.

GPC: What are your future plans?

Mayor Wallace: I love this position as Mayor of Sugarland -to have positive impact on people’s lives through promotion of education and sense of community. May aim in life is to impact larger number of people but in what position and station is something I don’t know whether it will be federal or state level. I will continue to explore those opportunities.

GPC: What is your message to the Pakistani-American Community?

Mayor Wallace: My message to all of you is one of engagement. To encourage your community to become part of the political process; to caste your votes, to run for elections and to serve on various boards formed at city, state and federal level. As we work together we tear down each and every barrier that exists.

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