No exit, no strategy

No exit, no strategy
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First Published: Mon, Sep 17 2007. 12 03 AM IST

Updated: Mon, Sep 17 2007. 12 03 AM IST
This was the week in which Americans hoped they would get straight talk and clear thinking on Iraq. What they got was two exhausting days of Congressional testimony by the American military commander, hours of news conferences and interviews, clouds of cut-to-order statistics and a speech from the Oval Office—and none of it either straight or clear…
A strategy for ending the war would include real efforts to hold Iraq’s government to verifiable measures of political conciliation—and make clear to Iraq’s leaders that they cannot count on America’s indefinite and unquestioning protection…
If (George W.) Bush were serious about ending the war, rather than threatening Iran and Syria, he would make a serious effort to persuade them that they too have a lot to lose from a disintegrating Iraq. And he would enlist the help of the leaders of Britain, France and Germany for serious negotiations. Then, ...Bush’s promise from January to stanch the flow of men and weapons into Iraq from Iran and Syria would not have sounded so hollow.
Putin’s power play
Russia has a new Prime Minister who, according to the people who know him, hates public speaking. This is probably just as well because, as everyone knows, Vladimir Putin is the only person in Russian politics who matters…
The appointment of Viktor Zubkov had even seasoned Kremlinologists reaching for the who’s who. Zubkov had successfully spent his career as a bureaucrat avoiding the limelight…
For weeks, the cognoscenti had been tipping Sergei Ivanov—the hawkish but suave, English-speaking first deputy Prime Minister—for the post. He still remains the leading candidate to replace the President. Putin had repeatedly said he would honour the Constitution, which bars him from serving a third consecutive term… Putin may leave the Kremlin next year, but no one seriously believes he will stop pulling the strings…
The appointment of an unknown as Prime Minister ensures that no one, except Putin, knows what to expect.
Abe’s resignation
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chose a downright surprising time to announce his resignation (on) Wednesday. All we can say is that he literally abandoned the administration. Such behaviour is unheard of.
Just two days before his announcement, Abe delivered a policy speech in the Diet, telling the nation about his resolve and determination for the second act of his administration. But he stepped down from the stage on the very day he was to receive questions from party representatives in connection with his policy speech.
It is unthinkable for the top leader of a nation to be so irresponsible. At the news conference announcing his intention to resign, the Prime Minister cited the difficulty of extending the anti-terrorism special measures law, which is due to expire on 1 November, as the reason for his decision. He had previously said he would “put his job on the line” in order to continue the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean.
Economic uncertainties
A team of the International Monetary Fund is in Pakistan ahead of the publication of its annual country report. Officially, that is pretty much (what) the Fund’s activities pertaining to the country are limited to… However, advice is advice and it would be pertinent for the government to heed the prudent bits. The Fund has cautioned... that the effect of political uncertainty and a possible crisis can hit its economy worse than the other more frequently cited economic ills (such as) our rampant inflation and ...ever-swelling current account deficit… Equal attention should also, of course, be paid to the chronic problem of the current account deficit. The government’s policy of fixing the deficit in terms of percentage of GDP might have some credence, but how can it explain away the rampant inflation, that too primarily focused on food prices? It will hit the fixed and lower income groups the worst, who incidentally are the bulk of the voters, deepening political resentments.
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First Published: Mon, Sep 17 2007. 12 03 AM IST
More Topics: Iraq war | George Bush | Pakistan | Views | OtherView |