New York Earthquake: City of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New York earthquake: City at risk of ‚dangerous shaking from far away‘
Joshua Nevett
Published 30th April 2018
SOME of New York City’s tallest skyscrapers are at risk of being shaken by seismic waves triggered by powerful earthquakes from miles outside the city, a natural disaster expert has warned.
Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.
A series of large fault lines that run underneath NYC’s five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, are capable of triggering large earthquakes.
Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.
The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.
Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.
EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors
But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.
The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.
What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.
The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.

THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City

RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS
“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher
This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.
“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.
Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.
But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.
“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.
In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.
“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.
On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.

FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.
“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.
“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

The Cost of the Nuclear Horns

When Nuclear Fallout Comes Home

Whether in New Mexico, Guam, or the Marshall Islands, the consequences of uranium mining, atmospheric testing, and nuclear weapons manufacturing continue to impact communities around the world, with little awareness from the international community.

“I know people who have been impacted by uranium mining, and by the fallout and nuclear testing, so this is not abstract,” said Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández of New Mexico’s 3rd District, who recently sat down for an interview with Press the Button. “These are people I know, these are families I know—you can’t ignore it.”

Leger Fernández is a leading advocate in Congress for the extension and expansion of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), reforms that would establish a more robust and easier to navigate compensation program for the victims of nuclear radiation in the United States and its territories.

RECA is a federal statute established in 1990 as a mechanism to compensate individuals whose health or livelihood was affected by unintended radiation exposure due to our nuclear weapons complex. To date, it has compensated over $2.2 billion to tens of thousands of claimants suffering from health ailments caused by exposure to radiation. These include atomic veterans, downwinders, and individuals working on atmospheric nuclear tests and in uranium mines.

Though many of these recipients have undoubtedly benefited from the program, Leger Fernández and her colleagues are recommending several improvements to the statute to expand its impact.

One such change she is championing is an increase in the amount of compensation provided per individual grant. “Right now, [RECA payments] are $50,000. That’s not sufficient, so we’re going to raise it to $150,000.” The legislation she will be co-sponsoring, if passed, would expand the limited scope of eligibility that RECA currently maintains to include geographic areas and age groups not currently covered by the statute.

When RECA was first designed, “it had a very limited area where, if you happen to be exposed in these certain counties, you got compensation. But we know that it’s not just a few counties that were impacted,” argues Leger Fernández, “we need to make sure they are all entitled to the compensation.”

Although this expansion would no doubt have a positive impact within her district, Leger Fernández views it as an issue that resonates well beyond her constituency: “I want to take on this fight because this impacts not just New Mexicans, but people elsewhere, who were exposed to radiation from testing, from the development of the weapons, through no fault of their own are now suffering the consequences. We as a government who inflicted this harm cannot stand back and say ‘too bad’—we must act.”

With RECA set to either expire or be reauthorized in July 2022, Leger Fernández views the year ahead as an important opportunity to reassess and refine RECA to ensure its continued effectiveness. “We need to take this moment and re-authorize the act,” she told guest host Lily Adams, “but also, when we look at it, ask ‘where is [RECA] efficient, and what do we need to do to make it better?”

Though Leger Fernández and her colleagues plan to introduce amendments to reauthorize and update RECA in the coming weeks, she recognized the need for broad constituent support and sustained advocacy. “If your heart is moved to address these issues, then call your Senators and your Representatives, and let them know that you’re supportive of addressing those people who are harmed by nuclear testing and uranium mining—that we need to do right by them. Let them know they have to support RECA.”

The entire interview with Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández is available here, on Press the Button.

Harry Tarpey is the Development and Operations Associate at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation.

Image: Reuters.

Nothing will stop the Bowls of Wrath: Revelation 16

A no-first-use policy won’t deter US’ use of nuclear weaponry to maintain its hegemony

Illustration: Liu Rui/GTA group of former US’ officials, including former defense secretary William Perry, and experts on nuclear disarmament sent an open letter on August 9 asking Japanese political parties not to oppose a “no-first-use” nuclear stance that may be announced by the US, according to Kyoto News.

The US has promised its role as a “nuclear umbrella” for many of its non-nuclear allies including Japan and South Korea. If the US does not reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first, its nuclear umbrella for allies won’t exist. The US’ consistent nuclear policy is to use nuclear weapons first to safeguard its global hegemony. In general, it will be difficult for Biden to discard this policy. 

The US now wants China to join in nuclear arms control talks with the US and Russia. By showing its interests in pursuing a “no-first-use” nuclear stance, the US may want to set a trap to urge China to immediately participate in the nuclear negotiations. In fact, whether the US remains to first use nuclear weapons or not, China will not negotiate the nuclear arms control with the US. 

There is an order-of-magnitude difference between the amount of China’s nuclear weaponry and that of the US and Russia. China merely has 350 nuclear weapons. But as of March 1, the US had 1,357 warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles and deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and nuclear warheads counted for deployed heavy bombers, according to figures by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Even if Washington proposes a “no-first-use” nuclear policy, it can also easily abandon it any time. It is only an excuse to serve its political purpose. 

In recent years, some in the US have called on the country to adopt no-first-use nuclear strategy. Van Jackson, former strategist and policy adviser in the Office of the US Secretary of Defense is one of them. In July he published an article entitled, “Time for US nuclear strategy to embrace no first use.”

But many Americans believe nuclear weapons are the trump card of the US and the US should not abandon its right to use them first. The Biden administration will encounter some resistance to officially announce its “no-first-use” position. The resistance will mainly come from within the country as well as from its allies.

If the Biden administration wants to announce a “no-first-use” policy, it should first get approval in the US Congress. This is because a change of nuclear policy is a crucial consideration which will heavily influence US’ overall strategy. The US’ conventional forces are not sufficient to support its competition with other great powers. Many political and military elites believe US’ biggest advantage lies in its nuclear weaponry. And by adopting “no-first-use” nuclear policy, the US’ nuclear deterrence strategy could collapse. This will put the US in a disadvantageous position. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether Congress can pass the potential proposal.

Furthermore, US’ allies will put more pressure on the country. As the open letter said, the Obama administration, which had advocated for global nuclear disarmament, abandoned a no-first-use policy in 2016 amid fears that opposition by some allies including Japan may push those allies to develop their own nuclear weapons.

With a no-first-use policy, US’ shield for its allies, especially non-nuclear ones, will be heavily reduced. It does not rule out the possibility that these countries may seek to protect themselves by developing their own nuclear weapons. Washington is concerned about this issue. Against this backdrop, the US has to persuade its allies including Japan to accept this proposal.

If the US declares its no-first-use nuclear position, it will heavily reduce its allies’ confidence in the US. As a result, the US alliance system will be heavily affected.

But it should be noted that US’ intent to use nuclear weaponry to maintain its global hegemony will not change.

The author is a Chinese military expert and commentator.

The Weak Arm of Babylon the Great

US soldiers arrive at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, 2002. Photo: AFP / Roslan Rahman

America once won its wars. Now it just leaves them

US used to finish its wars decisively with the complete surrender of enemy forces and a sense of total victory. No longer

by Thomas Alan Schwartz August 14, 2021

As headlines proclaim the “end” of “America’s longest war,” President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of the remaining US military personnel from Afghanistan is being covered by some in the news media as though it means the end of the conflict – or even means peace – in Afghanistan. It most certainly does not.

For one thing, the war is not actually ending, even if the US participation in it is dwindling. Afghan government forces, armed and equipped with US supplies – at least for the moment – will continue to fight the Taliban.

Disengagement from an armed conflict is common US practice in recent decades – since the 1970s, the country’s military has simply left Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan. But for much of the country’s history, Americans won their wars decisively, with the complete surrender of enemy forces and the home front’s perception of total victory.

A clear US victory in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 let Americans think they had won the War of 1812. Image: US Library of Congress / The Conversation

A history of triumph

The American Revolution, of course, was the country’s first successful war, creating the nation. 

The War of 1812, sometimes called the Second War of Independence, failed in both its goals, of ending the British practice of forcing American mariners into the Royal Navy and conquering Canada. But then-Major General Andrew Jackson’s overwhelming triumph at the Battle of New Orleans allowed Americans to think they had won that war.

In the 1840s, the US defeated Mexico and seized half its territory. In the 1860s, the US defeated and occupied the secessionist Confederate States of America. In 1898 the Americans drove the Spanish out of Cuba and the Philippines.

America’s late entry into World War I tipped the balance in favor of Allied victory, but the postwar acrimony over America’s refusal to enter the League of Nations, followed by the Great Depression and the rise of fascism, eventually soured Americans on the war’s outcome as well as any involvement in Europe’s problems.

That disillusionment led to the strident campaigns to prevent the US from intervening in World War II, with the slogan “America First.” When the US did enter the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt demanded the “unconditional surrender” of both Germany and Japan.

The discovery of the Nazi death camps gave the war its profound justification, while the Japanese surrender on the battleship Missouri in 1945 became a symbol of unparalleled American power and victory. It was perhaps captured best by the words of the American general who accepted that surrender, Douglas MacArthur: “In war there is no substitute for victory.”After the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri in August 1945, the U.S. occupied Japan. U.S. Navy, via Library of Congress / The Conversation

Lasting connections

After World War II, the United States kept substantial military presences in both Germany and Japan, and encouraged the creation of democratic governments and the development of what ultimately became economic powerhouses.

The US stayed in those defeated nations not with the express purpose of rebuilding them, but rather as part of the post-war effort to contain the expanding influence of its former ally, the Soviet Union.

Nuclear weapons on both sides made all-out war between the superpowers unthinkable, but more limited conflicts were possible. Over the five decades of the Cold War, the US fought at arm’s length against the Soviets in Korea and Vietnam, with outcomes shaped as much by domestic political pressures as by foreign policy concerns.

In Korea, the war between the communist-backed North and the US- and UN-backed South ended with a 1953 armistice that ended major combat, but was not a victory for either side. US troops remain in Korea to this day, providing security against a possible North Korean attack, which has helped allow the South Koreans to develop a prosperous democratic country.The evacuation of Saigon in 1975 after the North Vietnamese victory was an iconic embarrassment for the US. Photo: Bettmann via Getty Images / The Conversation

A humbling loss

In Vietnam, by contrast, the US ended its involvement with a treaty, the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, and pulled out all US troops. Richard Nixon had vowed early in his presidency that he would not be “the first American president to lose a war,” and used the treaty to proclaim that he had achieved “peace with honor.”

But all the peace agreement had really done was create what historians have called a “decent interval,” a two-year period in which South Vietnam could continue to exist as an independent country before North Vietnam rearmed and invaded. 

Nixon and his chief foreign policy adviser, Henry Kissinger, were focused on the enormous domestic pressure to end the war and get American prisoners of war released. They hoped South Vietnam’s inevitable collapse two years later would be blamed on the Vietnamese themselves.

But the speed of the North Vietnamese victory in 1975, symbolized by masses seeking helicopter evacuations from the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon, revealed the embarrassment of American defeat. 

The postwar flight of millions of Vietnamese made “peace with honor” an empty slogan, hollowed further by the millions murdered in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, who overthrew the US-supported government as troops withdrew from Southeast Asia.The U.S. is leaving Bagram Airfield, the country’s largest base, and other military installations in Afghanistan. Photo: Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / The Conversation

The choice to withdraw

President George H W Bush thought the decisive American victory in the Persian Gulf War in February 1991 “kicked the Vietnam syndrome,” meaning that Americans were overcoming their reluctance to use military force in defense of their interests.

However, Bush’s 90% popularity at the end of that war faded quickly, as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein remained in power and the US economic recession took the spotlight. One bumper sticker in the 1992 presidential campaign said, “Saddam Hussein has a job. Do you?

In 2003 President George W Bush sought to avoid his father’s mistake. He sent troops all the way to Baghdad and ousted Saddam, but this decision embroiled the United States in a frustrating counterinsurgency war whose popularity rapidly declined.

Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 in part on contrasting the bad “war of choice” in Iraq with the good “war of necessity” in Afghanistan, and then withdrew from Iraq in 2011 while boosting American forces in Afghanistan

However, the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq required Obama to send American forces back into that country, and the Afghanistan surge did not yield anything approaching a decisive result.

Now, Biden has decided to end America’s war in Afghanistan. Public opinion polls indicate widespread support for this, and Biden seems determined, despite the advice of the military and predictions of civil war. The fact that President Donald Trump also wanted to pull out of Afghanistan would seem to indicate there is little domestic political risk.Head of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, speaks during a press conference at the former Resolute Support headquarters in the US embassy compound in Kabul on July 25, 2021. Photo: AFP / Sajjad Hussain 

Nevertheless, history offers another possibility. 

A rapid takeover of the country by the Taliban, with the subsequent persecution of women and domestic opponents of the regime, may well produce a backlash among millions of Americans who follow foreign policy only episodically and when dramatic events occur.

Just as the brutality of Islamic State executions led US forces back into Iraq, a Taliban takeover could make the Biden withdrawal of the relatively small American force seem an unforced error and an expression of American weakness.

As much as it might seem that Americans today want to stop their “endless wars,” the humiliation, repression and carnage involved in a Taliban triumph may well cast a profound and damaging shadow over the entire Biden presidency.

The Upcoming Nuclear War With Iran: Daniel 7

Supporters of then-presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi hold his picture during a rally in Tehran, Iran, June 16, 2021. Mr. Raisi was sworn in as president on Aug. 5, putting hard-liners in control of all parts of the Islamic Republic’s civilian government.

Ebrahim Noroozi/AP/File

It’s a Middle East war nobody seems to want. But with regional tensions ratcheting up over recent days, the challenge now facing all sides is to find a way to keep it from happening.

And they’re working against the clock, because at the heart of the escalation is Iran’s accelerating progress toward being able to make a nuclear weapon. Israel says the Iranians’ “breakout point” – when they will have sufficient fissile material to make a bomb – is now around 10 weeks away.null

The potential for conflict is clear. Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a major threat, both to its own security and to the stability of the region. Yet Iran last week inaugurated a new, hard-line president, Ebrahim Raisi. And he has military leverage of his own: Iran’s Lebanese Shiite militia allies, Hezbollah, massed with tens of thousands of missiles across Israel’s northern border.

Iran’s nuclear program has long been a potent Middle East flashpoint. That is why, to avoid conflict amid new warnings, U.S. and European diplomatic machinery is again rumbling into gear.

Defusing the situation won’t be easy.

Yet the hope among key outside powers – especially the United States and its European allies – is that a mix of diplomacy and internal political constraints on all the potential combatants will avert outright war.Where there’s smoke, there’s fire – and political unity

And with prospects for any early compromise with Iran over its nuclear program looking slim, it’s likely to be careful, calibrated, and largely closed-door diplomacy. The hope will be to calm things down and, especially in contacts with Israel, find a way of at least slowing the pace of Iran’s nuclear program that stops short of military action.

Louder rumblings

The rumblings have been getting more worrying. In the past two weeks, a pair of attacks reportedly mounted by Iran have targeted tankers off the coast of Oman, apparently in reprisal for Israel’s interception of alleged Iranian arms shipments. And last week, Hezbollah fired 19 rockets into Israel and, for one of the first times since its last full-scale war with Israel in 2006, publicly claimed responsibility.

Until recently, hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran had actually been rising. Talks were held in June in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 international accord under which the Iranians agreed to limit their nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. After then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of that deal and imposed new sanctions, Iran abandoned the limits and began pushing ahead more quickly on its nuclear program.

The Vienna talks came in the wake of President Joe Biden’s decision to rejoin the nuclear agreement, and they seemed to be nearing a compromise under which Iran would revert to its terms in return for the removal of most sanctions.

Even after the Iranian election in June, negotiators for outgoing President Hassan Rouhani seemed confident they’d have the leeway to try to conclude an agreement. In fact, that was seen as a potential boon for Mr. Raisi: He’d be able to reap the benefits of sanctions relief for a badly struggling Iranian economy without the responsibility for concessions on the nuclear program.

But the talks never resumed. The Iranians have, meanwhile, been enriching uranium at higher levels of purity. They scrapped an agreement to keep international inspectors’ cameras and sensors operating after it lapsed in June. The range of facilities open to on-site inspectors has also been reduced over recent months.null

Mr. Raisi’s inaugural address did offer a glimmer of hope. He welcomed “any diplomatic solution” to lift the U.S. sanctions, a remark the State Department countered with a call for a return to the talks. But he made no mention of the nuclear side of a potential deal, leaving U.S. and European diplomats concerned that his negotiators would add new demands to the framework that seemed to be emerging before the talks broke off.

Diplomatic focus on Israel

The immediate diplomatic focus is now likely to center on Israel. Though it opposed the 2015 deal, especially unhappy over the fact it did not limit Iran’s program indefinitely, it shares deepening U.S. and European concern about the progress Tehran has since made toward being able to make a bomb.

Israel has mounted a series of unconventional attacks in the past few years to slow the Iranians’ progress: targeted killings of senior figures in the nuclear program and cyberattacks on key facilities. And while a direct military strike could present huge logistical difficulties, not least because critical parts of the nuclear program are well protected or underground, Israel has said that option remains on the table.

It’s against that background that Mr. Biden has this week sent his CIA director, William Burns, for talks in Jerusalem. The likely message: We, too, remain determined to keep the Iranians from becoming a nuclear-weapons state, and we’ll be closely monitoring their progress alongside you in the weeks ahead. But we’re not at present planning military action, and hope you’re not, either.

Still, Washington’s broader hope will be that not just Israel, but Iran and Hezbollah want to avoid a major confrontation.

Iran, already struggling under the sanctions, is being hit especially hard by the pandemic. Water shortages have also led to protests in a number of areas. Israel, after early successes in dealing with the pandemic, is now facing a sharp increase in cases, with prospects of new restrictions this month. Lebanon, where Hezbollah has become the leading political force, is facing pandemic pressures alongside a punishing economic meltdown.

And there’s a further possible disincentive: The last major Israel-Hezbollah war, a decade-and-a-half ago, raged for more than a month – with enormous damage and casualties on both sides, and, as a later Israeli inquiry concluded, no clear winner.

Still, the longer-term key to keeping the peace, however uneasy, is likely to lie in a process where all sides will want to be able to claim a measure of victory: the diplomacy to revive an Iran nuclear deal.

India’s fate is tied to the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

UNMISS troops from India in South Sudan. File

India’s fate is tied to the rest of the world

UNMISS troops from India in South Sudan. File | Photo Credit: APDhruva Jaishankar15 AUGUST 2021 01:20 ISTUPDATED: 15 AUGUST 2021 02:07 IST

It was through its global interactions that India defined itself throughout its history as an independent nation

Ever since Independence, India’s fate has been closely tied to the rest of the world. In some sense, it had no choice. A large, newly independent, impoverished, and impossibly diverse country required active engagement with a variety of partners for its survival, security, and development.

But a constantly evolving international environment presented India not just with opportunities but numerous challenges. India came to have two nuclear-armed neighbours with which it competed for territory. Its frontiers were poorly demarcated and poorly integrated. Several sources of domestic insecurity benefited from support from neighbouring countries. And India often found itself at odds with the great powers, ploughing a lonely furrow when it felt its greater interests were threatened, as on intervention in Bangladesh, nuclear non-proliferation, or trade.

Today, the troubles may seem plenty leading with the raging COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse effects on economic growth prospects, especially when coupled with intensifying competition with China and turmoil in Afghanistan. At the same time, India has greater means to tackle them: it is by some measures the sixth largest economy in the world, boasts a well-trained and professional military, and has a growing network of international strategic and economic partners. This brief overview suggests that India’s future, too, will remain intertwined with global affairs.

The long and winding road

India had to adopt a foreign and security posture even before August 15, 1947. Independence and Partition left behind a messy territorial legacy. India’s first leaders opted for flexible and friendly relations with both the U.S. and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. In fact, India initially received the bulk of development and military assistance from the West; it was only from the mid-1950s onwards that the Soviet Union extended support. India also played an activist role in the decolonising world, extending diplomatic and (in some cases) security assistance to independence movements in Asia and Africa and sending military missions to Korea and the Congo.

India’s early efforts were arguably successful in consolidating territorial gains, in accelerating economic growth, and in positioning itself in a leadership role in the post-colonial world. But all these efforts suffered following the 1962 war with China. Despite that immense setback, the world came knocking at India’s door throughout the 1960s. Pakistani military adventurism picked up, resulting in the 1965 war. The question of Indian nuclear weapons acquired greater urgency following China’s test, even as Indian forces pushed back against China in Sikkim in 1967. There were also important economic strides made, including the Green Revolution, undertaken with considerable foreign technical and financial assistance.

The 1970s and 1980s presented India with a more contained canvas. The Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation and the Bangladesh War altered India’s relations with both superpowers and shifted the dynamics of the rivalry with Pakistan. The Indian economy remained relatively closed at a time when other Asian economies had begun to liberalise. This period saw security challenges come closer to home: the peaceful nuclear explosion, the annexation of Sikkim, competition with Pakistan over Siachen, a stand-off with China, an intervention in Sri Lanka, and a countercoup in the Maldives. Domestic security challenges also assumed an external angle, whether in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, or the Northeast. Some efforts at resetting relations with the U.S., liberalising the economy, and pursuing the nuclear option were made, but the outcomes were inconclusive.

The post-Cold War era therefore presented India with a range of challenges. The 1991 Gulf War resulted in a balance of payments crisis and the liberalisation of the economy. India then adopted a range of reforms to liberalise the economy, but it faced more than just economic turmoil. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the 1993 Mumbai bombings, and the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir presented grave new security challenges. Yet the period that followed witnessed some important developments under the prime ministership of P.V. Narasimha Rao: the advent of the Look East Policy and relations with the ASEAN; the establishment of diplomatic ties with Israel; the signing of a border peace and tranquility agreement with China; initial military contacts with the U.S.; and preparations for nuclear tests.

The Vajpayee government built further upon these developments, conducting a series of tests in 1998, negotiating a return to normal relations with most major powers within two years, and concluding an important set of agreements with China in 2003. At the same time, efforts at normalising ties with Pakistan were frustrated by the Kargil War, the hijacking of IC-814 to Kandahar, and the 2001 attack on India’s Parliament. These years also witnessed a rapid growth of the Indian economy, fueled by a boom in information and communication technology companies, the services sector, and a rising consumer market.

After 2004, the Manmohan Singh government worked extensively to resolve the outstanding question of India’s nuclear status. By eliminating barriers to ‘dual use’ technologies and equipment, as well as a host of associated export controls, India had the opportunity to establish robust defence relations with the U.S. and its allies. Yet the global financial crisis in 2008-09 presaged a slight change in approach, whereby India sought to partner with China and other rising powers on institutional reform, financial lending, climate change, and sovereignty. Coupled with an economic deceleration after 2011, India’s relations with the U.S. and Europe grew more contentious over the next three years.

Beginning in 2013, a more assertive China began to test India on the border and undermine Indian interests in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region. After the second such border crisis in late 2014, a more competitive India-China relationship emerged. With further stand-offs at Doklam and Ladakh between 2017 and 2021, India opted to boycott China’s Belt and Road Initiative, raise barriers to Chinese investment, ban some Chinese technology, and consult more closely with other balancing powers in the Indo-Pacific. Security relations and understandings with the U.S. and its allies (Japan, France, Australia) accelerated after 2014. A greater emphasis on neighbourhood connectivity was adopted. While efforts were made to engage with Pakistan between 2014 and 2016, a series of Pakistani provocations resulted in a deep freeze in India-Pakistan relations, further reinforced by the terrorist attacks at Uri and Pulwama and Indian reprisals. Meanwhile, India’s relations with West Asian partners assumed greater importance.

An international India

India’s objectives have been broadly consistent: development, regional security, a balance of power, and the shaping of international consensus to be more amenable to Indian interests. At the same time, India’s means and the international landscape have changed, as have domestic political factors. This necessitated different approaches to international engagement between 1947 and 1962, between 1971 and 1991, and between 1991 and 2008.

As India enters its 75th year of independence, there are plenty of reasons for cautious optimism about its place in the world. Yet the ravages of COVID-19 and growing international competition also underscore the difficulties that India will likely face as it attempts to transform into a prosperous middle-income country, a secure polity, and a proactive shaper of international norms. What is certain is that India will not have the luxury to turn inwards. In fact, it was through its global interactions that India defined itself throughout its history as an independent nation.

Dhruva Jaishankar is Executive Director of ORF America in Washington D.C.

Antichrist may change mind on elections if reforms made, says member of Sadrist movement

Issam Hussein speaking to Rudaw on August 15, 2021. Photo: Rudaw

Sadr may change mind on elections if reforms made, says member of Sadrist movement

Layal Shakir

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Muqtada al-Sadr may reconsider withdrawing his movement from Iraq’s upcoming elections if demands, including the reform of political parties and blocs, are met, a member of the Sadrist movement told Rudaw on Sunday.

Sadr, who leads the Sairoon coalition – the parliament’s largest bloc – withdrew his movement from the upcoming elections “because he has demands, the demands are clear. It’s a matter of reform, the reform of the political system and political behavior of blocs and parties,” Issam Hussein told Rudaw’s Rozhan Abubakir.

Committees “have to take a convenient reform paper to Sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr, then there might be a different opinion on the withdrawal,” he added, noting that the “current situation” of blocs and parties doesn’t bode well in changing his mind.

The Sadrist movement was the first to announce its withdrawal from the elections. “I announce that I am withdrawing my hand from all those who are working with this government, the current and the upcoming, even if they had allegiance to us, the family of Sadr,” Sadr said in a televised speech.

Other parties soon jumped on the bandwagon, the most prominent of them being the Iraqi Communist Party, which allied with Sairoon in the 2018 election. The Iraqi Platform led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the National Dialogue Front led by Sunni leader Salih al-Mutlaq, the Iraqi National House, a party formed by a group of October protesters, and a number of other small parties also joined.

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) stated that blocs cannot withdraw their candidates, according to Hussein, who believes the elections won’t help improve the country “as long as the same blocs and parties of the past 18 years are running.”

“The case is not participating, boycotting [the elections]. Candidates of the Sadrist movement haven’t started campaigning,” he said. “No Sadrist will go to the elections on October 10.”

The Iraqi elections are two months away. Early elections were one of the key demands of protesters who took to the streets to condemn government corruption and a lack of services across central and southern Iraq in October 2019. All preparations have been made for the elections, the IHEC said on Sunday.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) on Saturday called on the Sadrist movement and other political parties that have withdrawn from the upcoming Iraqi elections to review their decision and participate in the elections “for the sake of the Iraqi people” and the country’s political process.

As of early July, more than 24 million people had been registered to vote in the elections, including 120,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).