INTERNATIONAL SCENE

 

Dr. Ms. Santhishree D. Pandit

 

In the international arena several events take place daily. Some of the events that made differences to the global systems ill this quarter are

 

 

All these events have to be analysed from a detailed and deeper perspective. West Asia has been a hot spot and vital to the interests of any global power. It is politics of oil that has made this region what it is. The attempt in recent years to get the Israelis and the Arabs to the negotiating table has been a Herculean task. There have been serious differences on the status of Jerusalem. Apart from the existing territorial dispute religiousity complicates the resolution of the vexed question about the future of Jerusalem. The city is Jewish in the centre and western suburbs and in the eastern and its suburbs Arab. The fight is who will control the city that houses the Mount of the Aqsa mosque, where the Jews believe was their holiest of holy temples. It is a visit to this Mount by Israeli right leader Ariel Sharon that enraged the Arabs. The suicidal attack on the naval ship off the shore of Yemen that killed several American sailors has also been further evidence of Islamic fundamentalism in West Asia. This was followed by the killing of two Israeli soldiers by the Arabs that brought an instant reaction from the Israeli military, which was swift and rather excessive.

 

The race of the White House has reached the climax. Both candidates look lacklustre. After the charismatic Bill Clinton it is difficult to choose between the two candidates. If the restriction for two terms was not there perhaps Bill Clinton would have run successfully for a third term. The race seems close alter the Democratic candidate Al Gore has narrowed the margin of victory between himself and the Republican candidate George Bush Jr. The Vice Presidential candidates are chosen with particular care to woo certain influential constituencies. The Democratic candidate is Joseph Liberman, a Jewish American, who has sought to reassure the party’s traditional supporters among the African-American by reaffirming his faith in the concept and practice of affirmative action for their benefit. It also underscores the Democrats minority - friendly politics. The Republican candidate, the formidable Dick Cheney has a lot of previous administrative experience with the Reagan and Bush Sr., administrations. The campaign has brought two facts - the reinforcement of perceptions of the candidates and two, the notion that the American voters are not only looking for substantive depth on issues, but also on things such as “likeability” and “trustworthiness”. As for India, it makes no difference which party or candidate wins. The US foreign policy works on its national interests and at present India is an important geopolitical player. By the time this issue comes out of the press the results will be known.

 

The Putin visit to India saw a reversal of roles. During the Cold war it was the mighty Soviet Union that dictated terms. After 1991 the break-up of the Soviet empire Russia made desperately a search for friends with the failure to get West’s help Russia is looking towards its traditional allies. India has realised that in a unipolar world, Russia is no longer useful in regional equations and the US cannot be antagonised. India needs military equipment. Hence it was a visit that suits each others convenience. The Kursk nuclear submarine tragedy, which killed all the sailors proves the danger of nuclear submarines. The message from the latest Kursk tragedy is that nuclear submarine technology is far from being fully grasped. In 1972 another Soviet submarine K-3 caught fire, a hundred miles from a Norwegian island.

 

The Korean peace process, is concerned with Taiwan and Indonesia and the future of trade liberalisation under the WTO obviously dominated the informal discussions at the summit. The earlier meeting at Bangkok in 1996 and London in 1998 has seen very little progress. Since the London meeting the two continents have been facing internal crisis. The preoccupation with human rights violations in East Asia has belied hopes of a vibrant partnership. When the EU insisted on incorporating a commitment to protect rights and freedom into the ASEM framework document, it has only to be expected that the leaders of China, Singapore and Malaysia should insist on specifying that there would be no interference in internal affairs. If trade liberlisation, the fight against international crime and the digital divide are the major concerns of the ASEM in the short term, the Seoul summit did little to advance those causes except calling for a fresh round or multilateral negotiations under WTO.

 

From the Indian perspective, where the SAARC has been too limiting, the ASEAN can be an opportunity to involve South Asia as well. But there has been no word about the expansion of ASEAN as the East Asian members are dragging their feet for two reasons. Firstly they do not want to enlarge and dilute the forum which is still to get a focus. Secondly it could become unwieldy. Thirdly there is the Pakistan factor. If India is admitted, Pakistan will also want to come in and its all weather friend and Big Brother China will also will see to it that India’s entry is tagged on to it. It is up to India to convince its eastern neighbours that it can add value and substance to the ASEAN and ensure its induction by 2002. SAARC has been a non-starter due to the differences between India and Pakistan.

 

The engagement with a rogue state like North Korea has indeed been quite successful. A totalitarian regime that China protected and gave it its nuclear secrets could not feed its population. But North Korea cleverly used its nuclear status, which made a country like the USA to negotiate with it. The US Secretary of State, Madline Albright had gone on a hurriedly planned two-day visit to North Korean capital Pyongyang and met the elusive leader Kim Jong II. The reason is its nuclear capability and its export programme of selling weapons to Pakistan and Iran. Most of the Ghauri missiles of Pakistan are from North Korean. The South Korean President Kim Dae-jung has got a lot of support for his sunshine policy of engaging North Korea and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

 

Now coming to our neigbhourhood that is South Asia. Sri Lanka went in for its parliamentary elections. No party got a clear majority. The ruling party of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the People’s Alliance was the single largest party. The Opposition United National Party many of whose leaders were targeted by the LTTE has been pushed to the second place. The death of Srimavo Bandarnaike, the first woman Prime Minister, ended an era.

 

The Denmark vote against the single Euro currency was a set back to the process of the European Union. The Kosovo elections are a referendum. In recent elections the people of Yugoslovia elected the opposition leader and clearly sent the message that they did not like the President who brought them so much misery.

 

 

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