Thursday, 27 June 2013

Qatar’s new, young emir won’t lose step with Washington

Doha’s bite can be felt hard in the foreign policy arena, particularly in Syria, where it has been the principle arms supplier to the Al-Qaeda-linked militants fighting Assad. How will Qatar policies shift as the Gulf’s youngest leader takes the throne?

If we judge leaders by their cutthroat survivalist credentials, Qatar’s outgoing Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is arguably the political equivalent of Bear Grylls. The deep-pocketed monarch came to power in 1995 after overthrowing his own father in a palace coup while the latter was vacationing in Switzerland, and promptly altered the kingdom’s economic policies, giving rise to a boom in the development of natural gas and rapid economic development.

Qataris, part of a citizen population of fewer than 250,000 people, went from living in Bedouin tents scattered across the searing desert landscape to futuristic glass skyscrapers that dominate the capital, Doha, after the gas-boom; they pay no taxes and receive free or highly - subsidized social services. Qatar has amassed enormous material wealth since Hamad took the throne; its economy has grown from $8 billion in 1995 to over $174 billion, but now he’s passing the torch down to his 33-year-old son, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, who officially inherited power on June 25.

Read the full story on RT.com

Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He also contributes to PressTV, Global Research, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

PRISM planet: Obama’s global cat & mouse game with Snowden

The unfolding situation around whistleblower Edward Snowden is perhaps the Obama administration’s most notable embarrassment, but how far will Washington go to get even with the countries offering safe haven to the man they view as a fugitive? The Snowden saga has it all: a stealthy former CIA employee turned principled whistleblower, passionate journalists bringing disclosures to light, and all the diplomatic twists and turns of a big government that hates losing face pressuring other countries to turnover their man. So, what does an Empire look like after its been poked in the eye? It would resemble that of Washington today, which is privately fuming and gritting teeth in-between White House press conferences, where the US is meting out strong statements slamming Beijing, and pressuring Russia to detain Snowden and send him back to the US for trial.

Read the full story on RT.com

Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He also contributes to PressTV, Global Research, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Trans-Pacific partnership: Neoliberal arm of Obama’s Asia-pivot

Washington’s secrecy on everything from the drone program to its Prism-style wire-tapping is seen again in an upcoming US trade deal with several Pacific Rim countries. And it’s not just secretive - it’s probably the scariest thing you’ve never heard.

So what makes the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal (TPP) so unsavory? To start, a few hundred representatives of major multinational corporations have designed the substance of the draft text, and most media outlets have imposed a near-total blackout on coverage of the successive rounds of negotiations that take place every few months in different parts of the world.

Members of the US Congress that should rightfully have jurisdiction over the draft text have so far been denied access to it, prompting Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon to introduce a bill calling for the US Trade Representative’s office to disclose its TPP text to Congress.

Read the full story on RT.com

Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He also contributes to PressTV, Global Research, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

China hacking vs. Pentagon whacking: An arms race in cyber-space?

Fresh allegations of hacking and cyber-theft between China and the United States as well as resources channeled into cyber-warfare and digital troops by both superpowers show uncertain diplomatic terrain ahead. As the Obama administration imposes gouging cuts on fundamental social spending, the White House is allocating $13 billion for the US Cyber Command, tasked with waging ‘offensive cyber strikes’ to defend the homeland. In 'Pentagonese' that translates to building malicious computer viruses designed to subvert disable, and destroy targets and their computer-controlled infrastructure. Gen. Keith Alexander, who leads both the Cyber Command and the NSA, even claimed that 13 of the 40 existing cyber battalions are tasked specifically with waging pre-emptive attacks against other countries.

In keeping with the logic of American exceptionalism, which supposes that the US maintain unrivalled supremacy in every tactical or military field, the Pentagon is now working in earnest to extend its dominance to cyberspace. It’s no secret that China has made the modernization of its armed forces a top priority. As Beijing develops new types of hardware, including aircraft carriers, strategic missile submarines and advanced aircraft, white papers issued by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) highlight the desire to digitalize the nation’s military by utilizing modern information technology. Washington is no stranger to scare tactics, and as establishment figures routinely warn of America’s power grids and financial systems being overtaken by e-terrorists, the US is positioning itself to enact that same scenario onto others under the guise of national defense.

Read the full story on RT.com

Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He also contributes to PressTV, Global Research, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.