False Dawn?

…..Suzuki Motor has shifted the technology
transfer paradigm into reverse, importing transmission technology
developed in India and installing it in the new Carry commercial vehicle in Japan……Auto Gear Shift…automated
manual transmission with an electro-hydraulic actuator…..Unlike computer-assisted automatic
transmissions, Suzuki’s relatively low-cost technology is structurally
simpler and improves fuel efficiency by around 5%……

The Indian economy is finally showing signs of life. After such a long time in coma, it will take a considerable amount of nursing to build things back up. We are not close to any industrialists but we see mostly relief at the end of …uncertainty. In that sense what Narendra Modi is to India, Pakistani Army is to Pakistan.  

The problem with dictatorships however is that …..in the words of one famous person….it creates a nation of cowards. The global system run by the elites would love to have countries filled with political cowards and economic consumers. The freedom to eat..but not to talk. Ask no questions and …Jiyo Life. What is not to like?
As another renowned person has commented…the peasants are rising everywhere (however the number of good jobs is small in comparison). The caste system (India’s gift to the world) will be entrenched firmer than ever. Right now the WASP Brahmins and Oxbridge Brahmins are in charge. Down the road there will be newer Brahmins from Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Ankara…..

We are optimistic that the axis from East Asia to South Asia will form durable alliances and grow together. India (and Indians) should look east and be learning Mandarin and other languages (as a suggestion why not try Vietnamese?). These are old ties between old cultures. A bit of chest thumping is OK but (we hope for the sake of global prosperity) there will be no hot wars in the China sea.

As far as the pernicious effects of religion goes…we are sick and tired of it. Stop killing people…in  the name of religion. Live and let live. Killing off the minorities will lead to a corruption of the majority….forever. We hope that all communities realize this soon (not soon enough for the millions of victims world-wide).
India’s economy grew
by a faster-than-expected 5.7 per cent in the three months through
June, its fastest pace in two-and-a-half years, helped by a rebound in
manufacturing and mining sectors,
government data showed on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast annual growth of 5.3 percent in the quarter.

Manufacturing expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent during the
April-June quarter compared with a contraction of 1.2 percent a year
ago. Mining sector grew 2.1 percent compared with a 3.9 percent annual
fall a year earlier, the data showed.


In a rare move, Suzuki Motor has shifted the technology
transfer paradigm into reverse, importing transmission technology
developed in India and installing it in the new Carry commercial vehicle
set to roll out in Japan later this month.

second-largest minicar manufacturer has a strong presence on the Indian
subcontinent, where it recently developed Auto Gear Shift, an automated
manual transmission with an electrohydraulic actuator that automatically
operates clutch and gearshift. Unlike computer-assisted automatic
transmissions, Suzuki’s relatively low-cost technology is structurally
simpler and improves fuel efficiency by around 5%.

However, shifting gears causes a slight vibration, an issue that still needs to be addressed.

The new Auto Gear-equipped Carry will be priced just under 900,000 yen
($8,574), the same as the current automatic transmission version. Suzuki
aims to install the transmission in other models and reduce its
production cost 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen below that of regular automatic

Suzuki released the Celerio
subcompact featuring the automated manual transmission technology in
India in February. Automatic cars account for a sliver of India’s
automobile market, representing less than 1% of all cars on the road

But nearly half of Celerio buyers, according to the automaker,
choose the affordable automatic model, pushing Suzuki’s management
toward a decision to apply the technology to domestic models.

The carmaker eventually plans to release subcompact models equipped
with automated manual transmissions in Europe as well. They will be also
showcased in Southeast Asia and other emerging markets.


Link (1): Economic-growth-hits-two-and-a-half-years-high-in-June-quarter

Link (2): asia.nikkei.com/Business/Suzuki-taps-India-developed-transmission-technology



Egypt shows the way

….Khan is unpredictable….proudly
calls his supporters junoonis — or “crazies”….The military might enjoy
the troubles Khan gives the prime minister, but
it is unlikely to tie its institutional fortunes to Khan..
..Pakistani democracy continue to muddle
along as it has in the past. Pakistan optimists will be disappointed….But things could

The American establishment and its paid interlocutors (not meant in a derogatory sense) have now responded to the soft coup in Pakistan. Short answer: after observing what happened in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, the focus is back to stability over anarchy. Shorter answer: “but things could be worse.”

We are not sure why the veil of modesty is required though. The whole world and his uncle knows now that Nawaz Sharif is finished. In Pakistan (just like in Egypt and in Thailand) it is clear that Army rule (as the most trusted institution) is preferred over mob rule (politicians are hated for cronyism, inefficiency,…).

One of the primary reasons for Army putting down Sharif is that he desired better relations with India (and acted on it by not meeting with Kashmiri separatists/nationalists). In this way Kashmir is shown up as the third rail of Pakistani politics, you touch it, you die. 
We are not sure what lessons India will need to learn from this, but the reality is there is no constituency (apart from the poor in both countries) that will benefit from a peace dividend. For now the best solution is status quo on the border and cold peace across South Asia. While “but things could be worse” may be true…..things could have been much better.

A silver lining amongst this mess: Indonesia. It is a pure miracle when poor countries also choose to be democratic. Indonesia has followed Thailand (ten years ago) in electing a populist to the top chair. We sincerely hope that it does not follow Thailand by deposing the government when things become too uncomfortable for the elites.


1960, president and field marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s first military dictator,
built the city of Islamabad almost from scratch. Pakistan’s original capital, Karachi,
was roughly 800 miles away from his headquarters in Rawalpindi, and Ayub Khan — as
the story goes — wanted to reduce his commute in order to more easily serve the
requirements of both his military office and the presidency of Pakistan. In relatively
short order, Rawalpindi had a new twin city and Pakistan had a new capital. Instead
of flying from one office to the next, Ayub Khan could now walk, jog, or drive.

That little slice
of Pakistania illustrates the most important rule of the decades-long contest between
Pakistan’s unruly civilian democrats and its unconstitutional military rulers: When
the Army wants something, it gets it.

Since Aug. 14, Islamabad
has been in a state of constant uncertainty and insecurity. Politicians opposed
to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have been leading a sit-in of thousands of
protesters demanding nothing less than the resignation of Sharif — who has
been prime minister twice before and deposed in coups both times.

Today in Pakistan,
there are two big questions: Is the military attempting to stage-manage Sharif’s
third exit? And is his political tormentor, the temperamental former cricket
star Imran Khan (unrelated to Ayub Khan), the Army’s choice as his replacement?

Two separate camps
are conducting the Islamabad protests against Sharif: Khan leads one,
and Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, an anti-Taliban cleric formerly based in
Canada, leads the other. The
two leaders are a study in contrasts, but they share one explicit
objective — to
oust Sharif. 

Pakistani fatigue with the saga has been growing, and on
the night
of Aug. 28, the Army became explicitly
as a guarantor of
talks between the opposition camps and the government. The announcement of the Army’s
role as the adult in the room is nothing new for Pakistan, and though
expectations are that the crisis is petering out, protests could continue as
long as Sharif stays in power.

Where did this
mess begin? The 2013 elections brought Sharif back to power for a third term and
saw Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice),
emerge as a major force in politics. Khan’s complaints that Sharif stole the
election received little attention until Qadri entered the picture. A colorful
cleric with a superb network of philanthropic activities and a politically
insignificant but deeply committed corps of disciples, Qadri has a history of
agitating against democratically elected governments. 

When Qadri announced his decision to return in June from his adopted home in Canada to Lahore
to launch yet another agitation, alarm bells went off for Sharif.

On June 17, things
took a tragic turn. Already exercised by the 100 degree-plus Fahrenheit heat and
smarting at the way senior leaders within Sharif’s government had spoken of
Qadri, supporters of the cleric clashed with police in Lahore’s tony Model
Town neighborhood. Fourteen people died, including a teenager and at least two
women, with much of the blame for the violence placed
on police
brutality. The Model Town tragedy galvanized Qadri’s supporters and stripped
Sharif of whatever moral high ground he had. The shifting national mood after the
affair buoyed the opposition’s spirits, and Khan could smell blood.

In July, Khan announced his decision to march on Islamabad — with the
objective of ousting Sharif — on Aug. 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day. On Aug.
10, Qadri announced that he would march on Islamabad as well. The
processions to Islamabad received wall-to-wall coverage from Pakistani media,
with some questioning whether the size and diversity of the protesters deserved
such lavish 24-hour exposure. As it has dragged on across two weeks,
the crisis has developed a momentum of its own. Khan has planted himself and
several thousand protesters in front of the Pakistani parliament building, insisting that he
will leave only when Sharif resigns.

Few, if any
Pakistanis, would argue against the substance of Khan’s complaints — that the
electoral process needs major reforms and that corruption throttles the
economy. Instead, most debate focuses on just why Khan is so confident that he
will succeed in dethroning Sharif — despite the prime minister’s nationwide support and Khan’s falling stock.

Khan’s bravado is,
on the surface, perplexing. His level of popular support has dropped significantly since the May 2013 election, and his
performance since then has been pedestrian, at best. His speeches at these
protests have been cavalier, even vulgar: He threatened to send his enemies to the Taliban so that the group could
“deal with them,” according to the New
York Times. He denigrates parliament and the prime minister; in one speech,
he proudly proclaimed that the fear of protesters has caused
Sharif to “wet his pants.” This is hardly the kind of leader whom soldiers from any
country would want to call boss — much less the ultraconservative ranks of
the Pakistan Army.

For some, this
kind of confidence only comes from the knowledge of having the support of
Pakistan’s military brass. Could it really be betting the house on Khan?

Probably not. Pakistan’s
military faces a hostile India on its eastern border and a dysfunctional peace
process in Afghanistan on its northwestern one. In between, it is trying to
stamp out the remarkably resilient and potent Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, also
known as the Pakistani Taliban, against which it recently launched a massive operation
in the remote Pakistani region of Waziristan. Now is not a good time for the Army to manage a chaotic political

And removing
Sharif would probably complicate the country’s fiscal situation. Pakistan is a
poor country with an even poorer record of fiscal management. Outside aid is
vital to the country — be it from the IMF and World
Bank or from friendly nations like the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia.
International lenders hate instability and coups, and they have a long-standing
man-crush on Sharif and his team because they are the big-business,
Barbarians-at-the-Gate-type capitalists who love to privatize things while
disproportionately taxing the poor instead of the rich. Khan, on the other hand,
is a wild man when it comes to economic policy. Just this week, he instructed Pakistanis living abroad to stop using
legal means of sending home remittances and once again start using the hundi
system — the preferred cash-mobility solution for
terrorists everywhere.

Finance Minister
Ishaq Dar, who unsurprisingly is a close relative of Sharif, is surprisingly
good at what he does: managing exchange rates, borrowing cheaply, and stamping
out dissenting views on the economy. While growth is still sluggish, Dar has convinced
lenders that Pakistan is becoming a less risky investment. Bureaucrats
from the World Bank and IMF love him because he is an old-school chartered
accountant. Sharif loves him because he is family. And though the Army may not
love him, they probably like Dar a lot more than they like the prospect of
dealing with Khan’s cuckoo ideas about how to get remittances to Pakistani

Many in the armed
forces think Sharif is being needlessly vindictive in pursuing legal cases
against Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the former chief of army staff who seized power from
Sharif in October 1999, imprisoning Sharif and later exiling him to Saudi Arabia. Now Sharif is
pursuing a case against Musharraf, who is stuck
in Pakistan
, unable to leave
because of a court injunction related to a treason case against him — though Sharif’s
people insist the motivation is rule of law and not revenge.

Additionally, Sharif’s
overtures to India, especially to its newly elected Hindu nationalist
prime minister, Narendra Modi, may make some of the generals deeply
nervous. Sharif accepted Modi’s invitation to his inauguration,
and in a break from Pakistani tradition, Sharif did not meet with separatist leaders
from Kashmir whom Pakistan supports. If Pakistan and India become normal
neighbors, the military’s influence in Pakistan automatically decreases. The
hawks clearly won’t go easily.

But the fears of
Sharif improving relations with New Delhi too quickly have likely been assuaged by
the rank incompetence with which he implements decisions. Even if he wanted to, Sharif cannot move
any faster than a bored glacier on a cold day. He is hamstrung by an obsession with
surrounding himself with loyal but inept advisors and bureaucrats.

Sharif has
severely undermined his own rule. His shambolic treatment of his own party
members, to say nothing of the opposition, is legendary — often ministers
can’t get meetings for weeks on end. The presence of his family members in
government grates all segments of Pakistani society: Dar’s son is married to Sharif’s
daughter, Asma Nawaz. Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif is his younger
brother; Water and Power Minister Chaudhry Abid Sher Ali is his nephew, as is prominent
parliamentarian Muhammad
Hamza Shahbaz Sharif. If only his strategic vision for the country were as
consistent as his nepotism.

On the other hand,
the best thing Sharif has going for him is the quality of his competition.
Pakistan with Khan at the helm would be a disaster of epic proportions — and
that’s even with the country’s extremely high tolerance for shambolic

Khan may be the
world’s oldest teenager, with a captive national audience. He thumbs his nose
at political niceties and employs an invective that dumbs down the discourse.
Like Justin Bieber, Khan focuses on electrifying the urban youth who genuinely
believe him to be a messianic solution to the disenchantment they feel about
their country. And Khan’s understanding of Pakistan’s problems is probably only
slightly more sophisticated than Bieber’s. Khan does not have the policy chops
to fix what ails Pakistan: The crux of his efforts during these few weeks has
been that he, not Sharif, should be prime minister.

Sharif is a known
entity and one easy to tame. Khan is wild and unpredictable. He proudly calls his supporters junoonis — or “crazies.” The military might enjoy the troubles Khan gives the prime minister, but
it is unlikely to tie its institutional fortunes to unstable and irresponsible
political actors like Khan. Pakistani democracy under Sharif will continue to muddle
along as it has in the past. Pakistan optimists will be disappointed, because
this crisis is unquestionably a setback for democrats. But things could be
worse. For now, the most Khan is likely to achieve in challenging Sharif is
further strengthening the military’s already strong hold on key decisions
guiding the country’s future.

As Americans watch
in horror as Syria, Libya, and Iraq come apart, perhaps they will warm to the idea
of a Pakistan managed by its highly disciplined and professional armed forces. That
would be exactly the wrong conclusion to draw from the political chaos in
Pakistan. Now more than ever, Pakistan needs the rest of the world to reiterate
its strong support for democracy.


Link: foreignpolicy.com/the_pretender_to_pakistans_throne_imran_khan_nawaz_sharif



Soft coup-

I think the Army has emerged as the comprehensive and legitimate winner of this Pakistani imbroglio.

Democracy has been defanged until the next election but at the same time the fiction of it’s legitimacy has been maintained.
Compared to the results of the Arab spring (Egypt, Libya, Syria); a stable military is very good for unsteady democracies. Kudos to GHQ for steering an optimal outcome for all parties concerned.

Zone One

In addition to a fairly exhausting travel schedule I’ve been consuming a fair few iBooks.

I’m currently trying to finish my trilogy of Zombie Apocalyptic novels (Zombie survival guide, World War Z & Zone One). Now of course the first two are written by the same author (Mel Brooks’s son, Max Brooks) and thankfully I saw the film before I read the book because that way I didn’t have to complain.
Nonetheless I came across Xone One in some tendentious article complaining about the lack of colored people in Sci-fi (right now the main divide being address is the gender one, my book club just had an interview with Ms. Leckie of Ancillary Justice) but while I simply zoomed through WWZ & even ZSG, Zone One tends to be less easier as a read. It’s simply more elaborate, less plot driven and doesn’t have the pace that Apocalyptic novels demand.
The age of Multi-culti is fast waning to an end, the hidden rise of Indo-China is soon shaking West out of its stupor and complacency as the World’s greatest hegemon (LA-LON is a good axis but it’s not insuperable) and so we pass an age where somehow the colour of ones skin someone incurs automatic advantages. Race will have a novelty factor but the counter-stereotyping of Hollywood (which is still stuck in a black-white dynamic as the only real operating one) sooner or later will have to align to reality..

Soft genocide?

……by the 1990s, genocide had a “super stigma,”
….as the international court
for Rwanda put it, it was the “crime of crimes”
…..When it came to the Khmer Rouge, this development was only
complicated by the peculiar political usage of “genocide” in Cambodia…..In 1999, the UN Group of Experts announced…not take a position on“whether the Khmer Rouge committed
genocide with respect to part of the Khmer national group.” ……


Cambodians are enthusiastic about play-acting to honor the memory of the victims of Pol-pot and company. We can sympathize as we sense that there will be a fuller sense of closure that way.  

As far as justice is concerned…unfortunately all we have (again) is a lot of play-acting and word-playing and a bit of fore-playing (but much more expensive to enact at $220 mil…all those lawyer fees….).

We love international law. Majority community killing their own is not considered genocide. However, majority community killing minorities is appropriate for the g-tag.

Thus Chicoms killing 45 mil Hans is not considered suitable for the worst of the worst tag. Neither is the 30mil killed by Stalin and company. Not even the 3 mil Khmers killed by Pol Pot qualifies as genocide.

As a saving grace the 20k Vietnamese and 90k Cambodian muslims (Cham) killed by the Khmer Rougue may finally see some justice. Regardless of definitions, evil men need to be taken down by other (righteous) men on earth, not any supernatural agency.

Incidentally something which aroused our curiosity is the Cambodian word for genocide: prolai pouch-sas. We are no linguists but “prolai” in Sanskrit (used in Bengali as well) denotes a state of crisis (at the end of times level). Perhaps a person who knows will step forward and clarify?
August 7 was supposed to be judgment day for the last two leaders of
the Khmer Rouge regime.

Thirty-five years after the end of Pol Pot’s
calamitous agrarian revolution, a United Nations-backed court in Phnom
Penh found the movement’s chief ideologue Nuon Chea and the former
president Khieu Samphan guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced
them to life in prison.

On the lawn in front of the courtroom on the outskirts of Phnom Penh,
the mood was self-congratulatory. Deputy Prime Minister Sok An called
the judgment “a milestone” for the court and for Cambodia, which rebuilt
itself “from scratch after liberation from the genocidal regime, the
regime of horror.” David Scheffer, the UN Secretary-General’s special
expert to the court, said, 

“Today, the winds of international justice
swept through the rice fields of Cambodia, through its cities, its
villages, its forests.”

 Finally, some were saying, the Khmer Rouge’s top echelon was being
held accountable for a utopian folly that killed as many as two million
people. For what the US Congress once described as “one of the clearest
examples of genocide in recent history.” For what various American
officials — Hillary Clinton, Steven Rapp, Samantha Power — have also
called a genocide.

Except that neither Nuon Chea nor Khieu Samphan was convicted of
genocide on August 7. And the tribunal will never even consider that
charge in connection with the vast majority of the Khmer Rouge’s
victims, the Khmer people, who make up 90 percent of the Cambodian
population today.

When the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of
Cambodia, as this tribunal is formally called, does address genocide in a
second phase of the leaders’ trial, it will do so only in relation to
two Cambodian minorities: the Vietnamese and the Cham, a Muslim group.

This is an awkward development. Some 20,000 Vietnamese and 90,000
Cham are believed to have died under Pol Pot — compared to well over 1.3
million Khmer, according to the most conservative estimates. 

One Khmer
woman, who lives in exile and travelled to Phnom Penh for the August 7
verdict, said that the court’s decision not to consider a genocide
charge on behalf of the Khmer left her feeling like victims were being
denied their “right to the precise term for what was done to us” — it
was as though “history had not been understood.” For Ung Billon, another
Khmer who is the president of a victims’ association in France called
Les Victimes du Génocide des Khmers Rouges and who also came for the
verdict, it was “an insult.”

And so even Cambodians who were relieved by the guilty verdicts and
especially the life sentences, like these two women, were left feeling
baffled, even betrayed, by the court’s handling of the genocide charge.
This is only natural. “Genocide” has been the term of choice in Cambodia
to describe Pol Pot’s regime for nearly four decades. It is the
characterization favored in schoolbooks and the local news, by
bureaucrats and lawyers.

In this respect at least, the ECCC is frustrating the very people to
whom it was supposed to bring resolution, recognition, and
reconciliation. Not only does the court’s narrow, technical definition
of genocide clash with the widespread popular understanding of the
crime, it also risks pitting different Cambodian communities against one

There is, in fact, a simple explanation for why most of the Khmer
Rouge’s crimes, though widely thought to be a paradigmatic example of
genocide, both inside and outside Cambodia, are not actually that: the
1948 Genocide Convention, which codified the concept into international
law, deliberately ruled out its application to political pogroms and
class war — the signal crimes of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

That treaty defines genocide as killings, among other acts, committed
with the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,
racial or religious group, as such.” This idea built on the word
“genocide” itself, a neologism combining genos (Greek for race or tribe) and cide
(Latin for killing), which the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin proposed in
1944, well into the Holocaust, to denote the deliberate “destruction of
a nation or of an ethnic group.” 

But the language adopted in the
convention was also a compromise reflecting the power dynamics of the
day. The Soviet Union, for example, opposed including “political” in the
list of protected groups in the definition, presumably because it was
wary of getting into trouble for purging its opponents back home.

The Khmer expression for genocide, prolai pouch-sas, seems
to have first appeared when Cambodia ratified the Genocide Convention in
1950. But then it hardly was used, even within the learned elite; it
appears neither in the 1956 Cambodian penal code nor in the 1966
reference dictionary of Khmer compiled by the scholarly monk Chuon Nath.
And when the term became common in Cambodia, at least in official and
formal written language, soon after the Vietnamese toppled the Khmer
Rouge, it took on a meaning different from Lemkin’s original.

The Vietnamese communists, previously the Khmer Rouge’s patrons,
marched into Cambodia in late 1978, after vicious incursions by Pol
Pot’s forces into Vietnam and amid mounting evidence that his regime was
self-destructing. The Khmer Rouge went underground, and in short order
the Vietnamese tried some of the movement’s leaders in absentia, holding
what they called “the trial of the genocide crime of the Pol Pot-Ieng
Sary clique.” (Ieng Sary was the Khmer Rouge’s foreign minister then –-
and a defendant at the ECCC until he died last year.)

They turned the S-21 detention and torture center in Phnom Penh into a
showroom of horrors, with advice from curators in Eastern Europe. A
large sign calling the former prison the “Genocide Museum” was placed at
its entrance and inmates’ clothes were displayed in mounds, an
iconographic touch inspired by Nazi concentration camps.

All this made good political sense. The Vietnamese needed to justify
their occupation of Cambodia, and they needed to do so while
distinguishing the virtues of their communist ideology from the
perversions of Pol Pot’s vision. What better way than to cast the Khmer
Rouge regime as an aberrant form of communism and accuse it of genocide,
the Nazis’ defining crime?

Propaganda became even more necessary as the Vietnamese’s lightning
liberation turned into a lengthy occupation; their continued presence
risked rekindling many Cambodians’ ancestral anxiety about Vietnamese
expansionism — an anxiety so deeply engrained it had long been the
fodder of terrifying children’s fairytales. Schools were supplied with
new textbooks short on pedagogy and long on hyperbole. “The Pol Pot-Ieng
Sary clique killed more than 3 million people and completely destroyed
everything in Cambodia,” read one book intended for the second grade.
“We are absolutely furious and strongly struggle against these
atrocities.” January 7, the day in 1979 that Vietnamese troops seized
Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge, became celebrated as Victory over
Genocide Day.

However heavy-handed, the effort caught on. Prolai pouch-sas
roughly means to eliminate the lineage of a people or a nation, and
that definition echoed many Cambodians’ personal experiences under the
Khmer Rouge, according to Muny Sothara, a psychiatrist at the
Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, an NGO in Phnom Penh that
provides mental-health services, who has worked since 2007 with Khmer
Rouge victims involved in the trials. Pol Pot’s minions had seemed
intent on weeding out their enemies by “pulling them out roots and all,”
as one creepy Khmer Rouge saying went. The movement often targeted a
suspect’s entire family, group of colleagues, or community.

And so it was that almost as soon as the Khmer phrase for “genocide”
came to mean anything to Cambodians, it meant something both broader and
more precise than the destruction of a nation, ethnicity, race, or
religion “as such”: it meant the Khmer Rouge’s attempt to exterminate
Cambodians, mostly Khmer — their own group. (Kong Sothanarith, a
forty-something news editor at Voice of America, told me recently, “It’s
when I went into journalism that I realized the word meant almost
exactly the opposite of what I had been taught.”) And the term took. The
horror of the Khmer Rouge “genocide” was a rare matter on which
Vietnamese occupiers and Cambodian occupied could agree.

On April 30, 1994 -– while a bona fide genocide was raging
in Rwanda — the US Congress passed the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act,
which created the Office of Cambodian Genocide Investigations in the US
State Department, which in turn created the Cambodian Genocide Program
at Yale. 

The idea was to document the Khmer Rouge’s crimes and at some
point prosecute them.

Very soon after that, the UN Security Council set up two tribunals to
judge abuses committed when Yugoslavia and Rwanda imploded — the first
international criminal courts since Nuremberg and the Tokyo trials. 

notion of genocide finally had its day in court. (It had not be properly
adjudicated before, not even at the “genocide” tribunal that had tried
Pol Pot and Ieng Sary in 1979, which had used a legal standard of its
own making.) Meanwhile, in France, Germany, Spain, and Ethiopia,
legislators and judges were expanding the concept, sometimes
specifically to cover the destruction of political groups. Some legal
scholars were also trying to apply it to Cambodia: Pol Pot’s regime had
committed a genocide against the so-called “new people,” those urbanites
who were the prime enemies in its class war; its general onslaught
against Cambodians, a national group, could be called an

That the concept of genocide was stretched this way is a measure of
the cachet and clout it had acquired by then. After all, there was no
legal gap that needed filling: the Khmer Rouge’s crimes readily fell
under other categories, like crimes against humanity (a widespread and
systematic attack against civilians) or war crimes (severe mistreatment
of certain combatants and civilians during a conflict). And most jurists
would agree that international law establishes no formal hierarchy
among mass crimes. 

But by the 1990s, genocide had a “super stigma,”
according to Patricia Wald, a US Court of Appeals judge who served at
the Yugoslavia tribunal. Or, as one chamber at the international court
for Rwanda put it, it was the “crime of crimes.”

When it came to the Khmer Rouge, this development was only
complicated by the peculiar political usage of “genocide” in Cambodia.
In 1999, the UN Group of Experts that had been asked to figure out how
best to try Pol Pot’s lieutenants — Pol Pot himself had died the year
before — announced that it would not take a position on the “complex
interpretive issues” surrounding “whether the Khmer Rouge committed
genocide with respect to part of the Khmer national group.” 

And so when
the ECCC came into being in 2006, genocide was included in its mandate
(along with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and violations of the
Cambodian penal code). And under the court’s civil law procedure, it
would be up to two investigating judges to lead a factual inquiry and
determine how to characterize any crimes they uncovered — a
technical-seeming task fraught with high-stakes symbolism.

The Khmer Rouge leaders were arrested in 2007, and at first were
charged only with crimes against humanity and war crimes. (There were
four leaders at the time, but since then Ieng Sary has died and his
wife, the Khmer Rouge minister for social affairs Ieng Thirith, has been
declared unfit to stand trial because of dementia.) Genocide charges
were brought two years later, and only in reference to the Vietnamese
and the Cham. 

Marcel Lemonde, who was the international investigating
judge back then, recently explained to me his office’s thinking on the
issue. He said that “troubling facts” unearthed during the investigation
suggested that the Khmer Rouge “may have intended to destroy the Cham
as Cham rather than as political opponents, and to destroy the
Vietnamese as Vietnamese rather than because the regime was at war with
Vietnam.” Not so with the Khmer population. “To establish that a
genocide occurred, a group needs to have been identified,” he explained,
“and that group cannot be the quasi entirety of the population –
otherwise the notion no longer makes sense.”

Still, it had been a difficult call. Lemonde and his Cambodian
counterpart, You Bunleng, feared that pursuing a genocide charge
exclusively on behalf of two small minorities would offend many
survivors and victims’ families. But Lemonde said that he and You
Bunleng, who was especially uncomfortable, decided they could not avoid
the issue by dismissing the genocide charge altogether at that stage.
Better to give it a full airing at trial and let the prosecution,
victims’ representatives, and the defense debate its merits and its
limits. Genocide, the ECCC’s marquee crime, had become a liability.

When the trial judges decided to segment the gigantic indictment into
smaller parts and stagger them, they postponed the genocide issue to a
later stage. (The recent verdict concerns only abuses pertaining to
various forced population transfers and the execution of officials from
the military government that the Khmer Rouge deposed in April 1975; the
next phase of the trial, which is expected to start later this year,
will include genocide, as well as crimes at certain work cooperatives
and security centers, internal purges, and forced marriage.) 

Nuon Chea’s
lawyers challenged that decision. In an appeal last year citing “the
sheer gravity” of the genocide charge and its “special and privileged
role” as “an encapsulation of the Khmer Rouge period in the public
mind,” they asked that it be included in the first part of the trial.
Whether they really saw an opportunity to win an acquittal or simply
wanted to kick up some dirt, you know something is amiss when a
defendant is clamoring to be prosecuted, and ASAP, for genocide.

The trial judges certainly face an awkward predicament, one more
awkward still than the investigating judges did. They are damned if they
rule there was no genocide against the Cham or the Vietnamese (meaning,
there was no genocide at all). And they are damned if they rule there
was a genocide (meaning, against some group other than the Khmer
majority). Whatever they do, this internationally sanctioned court —
which has cost some $220 million so far — will frustrate most Cambodian
victims’ sense of what happened to them.

Nor is it clear that the two minorities stand to gain much from the
special treatment. An eighty-four-year-old imam I met in 2011 in a small
Cham village in Kompong Chhnang, a few hours north of Phnom Penh,
complained that the Khmer Rouge had prohibited him from praying and
forced him to eat pork. Yet he also said, “When it came to the beatings
and the killings, no one suffered more than anyone else.” 

This view is
common, says So Farina, a researcher at the Documentation Center of
Cambodia, or DC-CAM, who has interviewed several thousand Cham over the
past decade. Most Vietnamese, for their part, have no desire to stand
out, especially against Khmer Cambodians, according to Long Danny,
another DC-CAM researcher. Many are poor, some are stateless, and most
would rather keep a low profile: anti-Vietnamese sentiment still runs
very deep in Cambodia.

The perils of these paradoxes haven’t surfaced yet because the ECCC
operates at a remove from daily life, and outside the court the same old
talk of that other, generic kind of genocide still prevails.
Educational and outreach efforts to parse the term’s legal and casual
uses have been modest and mixed. DC-CAM, which was originally set up by
Yale’s Cambodian Genocide Program to collect evidence of Khmer Rouge
crimes, is credited with putting together in 2007 the first history book
to describe the regime in any detail. 

The book largely forgoes the use
of “genocide,” preferring to focus on facts, but the accompanying
teacher’s manual uses the word liberally. And through its “Genocide
Education” program, DC-CAM has been distributing posters with
anti-“genocide” slogans to schools throughout the country. Even Muny
Sothara, the counselor from TPO, and some victims’ lawyers have favored
maintaining their clients in a state of constructive confusion.

How much longer can such obfuscating work? Thouch Féniés Phandarasar,
a Khmer refugee living in France who testified at the trial last year
and flew back to Phnom Penh for the judgment earlier this month, told me
she hadn’t realized how the court was handling the genocide charges
until the week before the verdict, when she was briefed on the second
phase of the trial. And then she was “outraged,” she said. 

For her,
“genocide” connotes extermination in a way that “crimes against
humanity” cannot, and so “if the tribunal refrains from using the term,
it must do so for everyone, rather than use it just for the Vietnamese
and the Cham.” Ung Billon, the head of the victims’ association in
France, told me, “This was a genocide between two political ethnicities:
The communists killed us because we weren’t communists. So to be told
that Khmer victims aren’t included in the genocide is unacceptable for

One could argue that the long-awaited trial of the “Khmer Rouge
genocide,” that oxymoron, will help clarify both the nature of communism
and the notion of genocide by confronting the essentially political
character of most of the Khmer Rouge’s crimes with the politically
expedient origins of the legal definition of genocide. But it is a
lesson that comes at a cost for the people the court was supposed to
help, the victims, especially those who are most involved in its work.

Many Cambodians, like other people who survive mass crimes, seem
haunted by that question with no answer: “Why?” But a moment after first
asking it they often repeat it with this characteristic twist: “Why did
the Khmer Rouge try to exterminate Cambodians?” If only the Khmer Rouge
had tried to exterminate an ethnic or national group other than their
own — if only their central purpose had been to commit a genocide –- then it might all make a bit more sense.


Link: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/aug/25/khmer-rouge-genocide-wasnt/



We have a deal!!!

…..as per the proposed agreement, the armed forces
would control strategic policy areas, such as relations with the United
States, Afghanistan and India…
promise of freedom for former president (retd) General Pervez Musharraf
and that Sharif’s government had secretly agreed to let Musharraf go
abroad after a symbolic indictment over treason……

When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said we are here to stay he was actually trying to convey a message.

Poor Imran Khan, Sharif senior has reportedly managed to strike a deal with the Army after all. Actually that is not quite correct, the Army has used Khan to soften up the Sharif brothers. Ayesha Siddiqui calls this  a “soft coup” and that Nawaz will remain a Prime Minister in Name Only (PiMNO, our words). The chance of PTI riding the protest horse to the throne now appears remote.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is close to making a deal with the
Pakistan Army, in the backdrop of the political events that are
unfolding in the federal capital, The Wall Street Journal reported.

report suggests that as per the proposed agreement, the armed forces
would control strategic policy areas, such as relations with the United
States, Afghanistan and India.

The military has extracted a
promise of freedom for former president (retd) General Pervez Musharraf
and that Sharif’s government had secretly agreed to let Musharraf go
abroad after a symbolic indictment over treason, which took place in

The Wall Street Journal says the government went back on
the deal as a result of which trust had eroded between the military and

Government aides said the military has seized on Sharif’s
weakened status during the political crisis and are now seeking
guarantees from the prime minister that he will follow through on the
agreement, the report suggests.

It also says that for the rest of his term, Sharif will be a ceremonial prime minister.
Nawaz Sharif survives, for the rest of his term, he will be a
ceremonial prime minister—the world will not take him seriously,” said
Ayesha Siddiqa, an analyst based in Islamabad. “A soft coup has already
taken place. The question is whether it will harden,” the report says.

Government aides said in the report that the administration was also
willing to let the prime minister’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, step down
as chief minister of Punjab.

Thousands of protesters led by cleric
Tahir-ul-Qadri and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan have
camped outside the parliament building in Islamabad to demand the
resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The two-week showdown
at the heart of the capital has rattled the country and shaken Sharif’s
government just 15 months into a five-year mandate.

Imran Khan
has remained defiant and refused to end his sit-in protest, saying he
was seeking “independence or death” and would not rest until both Sharif
brothers quit.

Khan has alleged massive cheating in the May 2013 poll, though international observers said the vote was largely free and fair.


Link: nawaz-close-to-reaching-deal-with-army



COPS. Oh America!

Another one. A producer of the show COPS is shot by….a trigger happy cop. 

 The rate at which cops kill unarmed people (mostly black people, but occasionally others as well, as in this case) is too damn high. In fact, the rate at which Black people get killed by cops is higher than the rate at which they were lynched by the klan in most years….. I avoid a lot of news stories because i have become irritable in my old age and for peace of mind I avoid news that tends to trigger elite left-lib bs, but even the paranoid can have real enemies and in this case the leftlibs have the right target…out of control copishness is an awful problem in this country. If someone could somehow dial that down and stop the war on drugs, this would be a great country. I wish I knew how to do it within my lifetime. On the other hand, I remain a man of faith….i think we will eventually get there. WHEN will we get there? that is the issue…probably not soon enough.

 Of course its not just cops. The fetishization of guns and the desire to shoot them extends well beyond militarized trigger-happy cops. 
If I was a hard hearted cynic, I might say this instructor had it coming, but imagine the burden this poor 9 year old girl will carry for the rest of her life. Her parents may be idiots for taking her to a gun range to shoot automatic weapons, but she is still a child and deserves sympathy…

Look at what police officer Sunil Dutta has to say about this topic...and weep.
btw, as some of the above links show, the libertarian magazine Reason has long had the right idea about the war on drugs, the prison mafia and militarized overbearing copishness in the land of the free…

Letter to India: what soldiers wrote in the first world war

A very interesting piece in caravan


To commemorate the centenary of India’s service in the First World War,
the British historian David Omissi collected the letters of Indian soldiers away
from home in
Indian Voices of the Great War, published this year by
Penguin. These eloquent letters offer a poignant glimpse into the lives of these
Indian soldiers, whom history forgot.


A wounded Sikh to his

Brighton Hospital
18th January 1915

Tell my mother not to go wandering madly because her son, my brother, is
dead. To be born and to die is God’s order. Some day we must die, sooner or
later, and if I die here, who will remember me? It is a fine thing to die far
from home. A saint said this, and, as he was a good man, it must be true.

Ram Prasad (Brahmin) to Manik Chand (c/o Sikander Ali, Bamba Debi
Bazar, Marwari Water Tank, Bombay)

Indian Hospital, Brighton
2nd September 1915

And send me fourteen or fifteen tolas of charas, and
understand that you must send it so that no one may know. First fill a round tin
box full of pickles and then in the middle of that put a smaller round box
carefully closed, so that no trace of the pickles can enter. And send a letter
to me four days before you send the parcel off. [Letter withheld]

The “Great” is no more in Great Britain

…..This week the British embassy in Washington decided to hark back to Blighty’s glory days….picture of a sparkler-bedecked cake “commemorating the 200th
anniversary of burning the White House”….embassy quickly retracted: “Apologies for earlier Tweet. We meant to mark an event in
history & celebrate our friendship today …. Today UK-US
celebrate #specialrelationship”…..

Whichever way the September 18th vote goes for Scottish independence, one thing is for sure:
after 112272 days (starting 01 May, 1707), Scotland will no longer count as a willing partner in
the Union.
Truth be told, this breakdown started during the Thatcher
years triggered by the hated poll tax. However from what we read in the
papers and based on accounts by friends, even most of Northern England (Yorkshire and even the Midlands)
is in a different planet compared to London and the South-East England.

There is essentially a sense that London- a truly global city and home of the super-affluent – does not care much about the poor cousins “oop north” and imposes out of touch policies and unwanted migration on the rest of the country. 

Thus while the upstart (and popular) parties are polar opposites – Scottish National Party (SNP) is left-liberal and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is libertarian-paleocon – they are in agreement that London is bad for the country and harmful for the future. In the words of the wag, there is no better-together (pro-union campaign slogan), only bitter together.

How should we feel about all this as Indians? We note that the article gives credit to the British for giving Indians the gift of democracy. There are other folks who would say that India would not even exist as a nation but for the British. Thing is, if you choose to take credit for the good things, you need to own up to  the bad things as well (the Victorian holocausts, the Bengal famine,…).

Also something which is almost never emphasized, it was the British-Indian army that helped maintain order in the far reaches of the empire and which also played a significant role in the World Wars and countless other wars. If Britain gave birth to a new India, the British empire was sustained through Indian blood, sweat and treasure. Not for nothing, India was known as the crown jewel of the empire. The moment Britain lost India, the empire gig was up.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Britain had dominion over so
many portions of the Earth it was said, famously, that “the sun never
set on the British Empire.” Since the end of World War II, however, that
sun has been steadily dipping toward the horizon. Today, sundown is
truly at hand.

On Sept. 18, the voters of Scotland will go to the polls to
determine whether their nation will declare independence from the United
Kingdom after 307 years of union with England. Polls over the last 18
months reported by the website What Scotland Thinks
show a gradually rising tide for independence even though advocates of
remaining in the U.K. still lead in the surveys. But many Scots have
said they are undecided—and thus they hold a key to the decision. 

Economist magazine has suggested
that Scots voting with their heads will choose to stay with England,
while those voting with their hearts will opt for independence, but “it
is the nationalists who have fire in their bellies.”

undecided Scots also hold the key to the final dissolution of one of the
greatest empires in history. The British Empire brought profound
changes to the world—but in the decades since its rapid decline after
World War II it has become a kind of a historical joke, sometimes in
poor taste. 

This week the British embassy in Washington decided, for
reasons only known to itself, to hark back to Blighty’s glory days and
tweet a picture of a sparkler-bedecked cake “commemorating the 200th
anniversary of burning the White House” during the War of 1812. 

newspapers got wind of the tweet, the embassy quickly retracted it,
tweeting: “Apologies for earlier Tweet. We meant to mark an event in
history & celebrate our strong friendship today …. Today UK-US
celebrate #specialrelationship & work together shoulder to shoulder
across the globe.”

But even that assessment is somewhat self-delusional. Since the
beginning of the Cold War, America has done the lion’s share of the
shouldering. Britain, the colonizer of America, has become in some ways
the colony (or lapdog, as some self-deprecating British wags put it).
And now it’s about to get even smaller.

The downsizing process
has been long and hard. At its most extensive, the British Empire
comprised 57 colonies, dominions, territories or protectorates from
Australia, Canada and India to Fiji, Western Samoa and Tonga. From
London, the British ruled about 20 percent of world’s population and
governed nearly 25 percent of the world’s land mass, according to
calculations by British researcher Stephen Luscombe. 

The spread of
British influence, including the English language, gave birth to the
United States, the world’s only superpower; the world’s largest
democracy in India; and, perhaps inadvertently, disseminated British
concepts of freedom, democracy and common law around the globe. On the
negative side, Britain once corrupted an entire nation, China, with
opium purely to extract drug revenues, and its haughty, racist dominance
of subjected peoples left generations of rage in its wake in many
countries (not least of which are some of those closest to home, like

Today that empire has been reduced to 14 scattered
islands such as the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean and Pitcairn
Island in the South Pacific. The Commonwealth of Nations founded before
World War II and revived after the war comprises 54 former British
territories but is little more than a monument to the empire. Now the
wave of dissolution is lapping up against the shores of the British
Isles themselves.

Of course it’s been many years since Britain has acted like
an empire, though some former provinces still experience “colonial
cringe” at the sound of upper-crust British English. London’s imperial
might began to crumble during World War II after Japanese armies marched
to gates of India and the shores of Australia, breaking the back of
Western colonialism before Japan was defeated in 1945. A nationalistic
surge ended the colonial era, beginning with the withdrawal from India
and Pakistan in 1947.

Some would say the empire officially came
to an end in February of that year when—utterly drained by the two world
wars—the British cabled Washington that they no longer had the money or
troops to defend Greece or Turkey as the Soviet Union threatened to
extend its influence in the early Cold War. …

“The British are finished,”
Dean Acheson, soon to be Harry Truman’s secretary of state, was said to
have remarked when he read the cable. The United States quickly
displaced the United Kingdom as the main stabilizing power in the West.

decline of British power hasn’t come without a fight. In 1942, Winston
Churchill was famously quoted saying: “We mean to hold our own. I have
not become the king’s first minister in order to preside over the
liquidation of the British Empire.” 

But his successors have been
liquidating ever since. Over several decades, Britain withdrew from East
of Suez and from their possessions in Africa; Hong Kong, the city-state
that reverted to China in 1997, was among the last to go. There has
been one exception: In 1982, in a desperate effort to hold onto the
miniscule Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, the U.K. fought a
brief war with Argentina—which it won as a kind of imperial consolation


Link: politico.com/the-sad-end-of-the-british-empire



“We are here to stay”

visited him (Imran Khan) in the hospital and he congratulated me….he will
play the role of a constructive opposition…Imran invited me to Bani
Gala…..assured me he is with the government in all steps taken in good
faith” ….. 

After a long, long wait….hopeful (wise) words for Pakistan (from Pakistan). We want to see a decisive leader, not a fire-breather, neither a passive observer.
Amid mounting pressure
from protesters to quit as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, a defiant Nawaz Sharif on
Wednesday refused to resign saying the country has survived “difficult
times” and the current political crisis too shall pass.

“We have survived difficult times. In the 2008 elections, our hands were
tied. But we campaigned and participated, we did not cry about rigging — and it
would have been a legitimate cry,” he said in his first major speech since
the crisis erupted two weeks ago.

“Because at that time there was a dictator that controlled the government.
He held those elections…But we said if PPP has got more seats than us then we
will accept that right of the PPP” he said in his address to the National

Political stalemate has continued for the last two weeks with Imran Khan-led
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami
Tehreek (PAT) refusing to budge from their demand of the Prime Minister’s
resignation over allegations of rigging in last year’s general election and
killing of 14 PAT supporters in Lahore on June 17.

Sharif expressed hope that this phase will pass and Pakistan will be steered
towards prosperity.

The Prime Minister in his address indicated in no uncertain terms that his
government and the present Parliament are here to stay, Dawn News reported.

“We are not going to be diverted by these things. The journey for the
supremacy of Constitution and law in Pakistan will continue with full
determination and God willing there will not be any interruption in it,”
he said.

Sharif said today would be remembered in the nation’s history as a great day
for democracy.

“This great display of strength will always be remembered. It makes me
happy to think that this is the voice of the 200 million people of the
country,” the premier said. Sharif said his PML-N for five years worked with the Pakistan People’s Party
government and supported it to complete its term.

“I visited him (Imran Khan) in the hospital when he was injured and he
congratulated me on winning the polls and said he will play the role of a
constructive opposition,” Sharif told the House. “Imran’s claims were published in the papers as well,” he said,
adding that PTI had reservations but accepted the results of the elections.  “Later, when Imran invited me to Bani Gala, I went and we had a pleasant
discussion. He assured me he is with the government in all steps taken in good
faith,” Sharif said.

The crisis escalated in the last week with thousands of supporters of Khan and
Qadri camping outside the Parliament, demanding the Prime Minister’s

Sharif said “if today, we correct ourselves for the way forward, that will
be positive for Pakistan.”

He pointed out that a committee had already been constituted for electoral
reforms and all political forces should sit together and give their opinions.

“This is the triumph of a vision…which is not about
individuals…governments come and go, prime ministers come and go but focusing
on the principle of democracy and Constitution is a victory of the system, of
democracy,” he said.

“I haven’t seen a similar example in the country’s history,” Sharif
told the House, adding that the fact that nine of out ten parties voted for the
resolution supporting democracy was a historic moment for Pakistan.

He also referred to the government’s developmental ventures in his address.

“Our energies should be directed towards Pakistan’s development instead of
what we have witnessed in the recent days,” Sharif said.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered PTI and PAT protesters to
clear the Constitution Avenue which also includes a road in front of the apex
court and the Parliament by Thursday.

A five-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice
Nasir-ul-Mulk, was hearing a set of identical petitions filed by bar
associations across the country against the PAT and PTI’s sit-ins on
Islamabad’s Constitution Avenue.

According to petitioners, protesters were breaching the rights of the common
citizen which ensure freedom of movement and right of assembly.

After making several observations, the court ordered PAT and PTI protesters to
clear the way in front of the Parliament by Thursday.

The protesters have been sitting in front of the Parliament House and the
Supreme Court building since August 19, making the road impassable for government

The order came as the clock ticked on a 48-hour ultimatum given by Qadri on
Monday for the Prime Minister to step down.

Back channel efforts to broker a settlement between the government and
protesters were on.


Link: Pakistan-survived-difficult-times-this-too-shall-pass-Nawaz-Sharif