Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Obama & Rouhani: The historic handshake that never happened

As political leaders in Washington and Tehran signal they are in favor of diplomacy, is a genuine rapprochement between the two powers actually possible? The speeches at this week’s UN General Assembly by the leaders of Iran and the US, although each striking conciliatory tones, both envisage a vastly different international order. Recently-elected President Hassan Rouhani, in his first speech to the assembly, reiterated that the Iranian nuclear issue is essentially a red herring, while eloquently addressing the moral deficiencies of the international order as it exists today. He spoke of the human cost of sanctions that devastate communities and the most vulnerable members of society, the illogicality of militaristic pursuits of hegemony, and the need for an international order that rests upon nations existing on an equal footing and the primacy of international law. Rouhani called upon nations to form a peacemaking coalition that rejects extremism and warmonger coalitions. Rouhani’s words were not bellicose, but grounded in moderation and compassionate sensibilities that reflect a growing consensus of global opinion in favor of a truly multipolar world.

The Iranian president’s speech reflects a world view that Iranians themselves overwhelmingly favor, and those who voted him into office are the victors, as Rouhani has taken to the world stage and emerged as a true statesmen and a representative of his people. Unfortunately, this is the point where optimism turns into pessimism. President Barack Obama’s speech, although conciliatory in some respects, was spoken through the lens of unilateralism and the mythology of exceptionalism that has dominated decision-making in the US for decades. Substantial elements of his speech were attempts to justify existing US policy, which is viewed as increasingly unsustainable and narrow throughout many corners of the world. In his 40-minute speech, Obama’s words reverberated in an Orwellian echo chamber, as the orator attempted to dress reactionary positions in the clothing of morality.

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, 19 September 2013

Cold War redux: Washington turbo-militarizes China’s backyard

While the Middle East teeters on the brink of another prolonged conflict that would engender some form of US involvement, the Obama’s administration’s shift away from the region and toward East Asia is easier said than done. Though the “Pivot to Asia” policy of the Obama administration may not be stealing all the headlines, US military presence around the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca is quietly building up, giving rise to increased American muscle in Southeast Asia. Obama announced the pivot policy during a visit to Australia in 2011, declaring a fully equipped 2,500-strong Marine task force operating from Darwin by 2016. The pivot to Asia is anything but an empty catchphrase, as the US Air Force is beginning to bolster its presence in bases in Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, with plans to move 60 percent of US warships to the region by 2020. It’s no secret that these developments are the Pentagon’s response to China’s ever-increasing military and economic clout, and Uncle Sam is boldly sending the message that he’s coming to town.

Washington’s objective is to build a Cold War-style security ring around China by deepening military partnerships with American allies in Southeast Asia, while broadening its capacity to police vital trade and energy chokepoints. Around 80 percent of China’s oil imports pass through the Straits of Malacca in addition to much of its freight trade, and the deepening US presence being established by the Pentagon is designed to limit China’s access to energy and raw material in the event of a major conflict or political crisis. Washington also aims to rope Southeast Asia into its economic sphere through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a plurilateral free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the US and a handful of Pacific-rim states, with China distinctively excluded. Ongoing TPP trade negotiations have been hampered time and time again due to growing public disapproval and the reluctance of some participatory nations to accept broadened intellectual property rights legislation that would benefit US firms, as well as drastic deregulation of financial sectors and measures that would undermine existing laws in participating countries.

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, 12 September 2013

‘Expect everything’: A new pretext to justify bombing Syria?

While the Obama administration pays lip service to the Russian solution, there is no reason to believe that Washington will take its finger off the trigger. In a recent interview with CBS, Syrian President Bashar Assad warned that the United States should “expect everything” if it launches a military strike against Damascus, insinuating that the already highly combustible situation could genuinely spiral out of control if Washington escalated this war. The pictures coming out of Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11 speak for themselves. A year after the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was one of the principle coordinators of arms to the Libyan rebels (many of whom are now fighting in Syria on the side of the US), instability ensues in a chaotic post-regime change Libya. In the words of Hilary Clinton reflecting on last year’s attack, “How could this happen, how could this happen in a country we helped liberate?” It’s an easy question to answer – it happened as a result of unthinkably destructive and illegal US foreign policy that materially enabled terrorist groups to overthrow a government that Washington didn’t like.

The Obama administration clearly hasn’t learned its lesson, but as bombs rip through the Libyan city of Benghazi two years in a row, it's going to be even harder for Obama to sell this war not only to the public, but to his own government. Round two of Benghazi blowback raises numerous questions – we’re supposed to believe Washington’s intelligence that it knew Assad planned to use chemical weapons 3 days in advance and that its totally secret evidence, which it won’t reveal to anybody, is solid. It seems that US intelligence agencies are only adept at finding “evidence” that is amenable to their strategic foreign policy objectives, meanwhile they are totally incompetent when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks, from Benghazi to Boston. The Russian solution has succeed in getting warmonger Obama to backpedal on his bombs-for-peace proposal for the time being, even so, one should also “expect everything” from the rabid Washington regime that has poured enormous financial and diplomatic resources into bombing Syria and toppling Assad. In other words, expect a new pretext.

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.

Has questioning 9/11 become more acceptable?

Despite the media’s best efforts to dismiss 9/11 conspiracy theories, one in two Americans doubt the government’s narrative and skepticism is slowly seeping its way into the mainstream. Twelve years on from the events of September 11, 2001, and a seemingly nightmarish deja vu has gripped the United States and its war-weary citizens.

Again, the public is told that destructive weapons in faraway countries pose a critical danger, and that despite wearing the clothes of humanitarianism, a military solution that will inevitably harm civilians is the only meaningful response. The main difference today is that after an abstract decade-long ‘War on Terror’, Washington finds itself fighting in Syria on the same side as Al-Qaeda and those who are sympathetic to the alleged culprits of the 9/11 attacks.

The international relations landscape has changed dramatically over the past 12 years, and in the build-up to another US military intervention in West Asia, a handful of leaders are today more willing to ask common sense questions about the official line toed by Washington, such as: how can the Obama administration assert that Assad used chemical weapons before the UN team of experts on the ground has even published its findings?

World leaders have cast doubt on Washington’s stories before, but that the leaders of major countries have – ever so gently – insinuated that Washington may be complicit in a ‘false flag operation’ to justify military escalation in Syria is quite significant.

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.

Friday, 6 September 2013

No law will stop Obama's democracy-bombs over Syria

Regardless of how Congress votes, Obama is going to attack Syria. The president is doing his best to avoid constructive dialogue when the focus should be international law, not ‘international norms’ as defined by Washington.

As world leaders descend on the Russian city of St. Petersburg to discuss global tax regimes and international trade, this year’s G20 Summit is really a G20+1, with an extra seat allocated for the massive elephant in the room.

Many of the leaders attending have brought along their foreign ministers, as the summit will also informally serve as a global platform to discuss the sorry state of affairs in Syria. One can only speculate as to the substance of any exchanges between President Putin and his American counterpart and forced smiles will be in no short supply.

“He is lying and knows he is lying. It’s sad,” said Putin, of John Kerry’s address to the US Congress. That about sums it up – the lies and deceit of the Obama administration are so breathtaking, so innumerable, and they’re being trumpeted knowingly and shamelessly. Want a taste of highly moral and ethical narrative being championed in favor of “the Syrian people?” Look no further than the New York Times, with its recent headline “Bomb Syria, Even If It Is Illegal,” which argues that Obama and his poodles should “declare that international law has evolved and that they don’t need Security Council approval to intervene in Syria."

The establishment press is calling for blood, and they're claiming the moral high ground while doing it – slightly pathological? You bet. The insane are really running the asylum on this one.

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.