அரசியல் பிரச்சாரத்தின் ஆதாரக் கோட்பாடு

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அரசியல் பிரச்சாரத்தின் ஆதாரக் கோட்பாடு.

'' நீதி, மதம், அரசியல், சமுதாயம் சம்பந்தமான எல்லாவித சொல்லடுக்குகளுக்கும் பிரகடனங்களுக்கும் வாக்குறுதிகளுக்கும் பின்னே ஏதாவதொரு வர்க்கத்தின் நலன்கள் ஒழிந்து நிற்பதைக் கண்டுகொள்ள மக்கள் தெரிந்துகொள்ளாத வரையில் அரசியலில் அவர்கள் முட்டாள்தனமான ஏமாளிகளாகவும் தம்மைத் தாமே ஏமாற்றிக்கொள்வோராகவும் இருந்தனர், எப்போதும் இருப்பார்கள். பழைய ஏற்பாடு ஒவ்வொன்றும் எவ்வளவுதான் காட்டு மிராண்டித் தனமாகவும் அழுகிப் போனதாகவும் தோன்றிய போதிலும் ஏதாவது ஒரு ஆளும்வர்க்கத்தின் சக்தியைக் கொண்டு அது நிலைநிறுத்தப்பட்டு வருகிறது. சீர்திருத்தங்கள், அபிவிருத்திகள் ஆகியவற்றின் ஆதரவாளர்கள் இதை உணராத வரையில் பழைய அமைப்பு முறையின் பாதுகாவலர்கள் அவர்களை என்றென்றும் முட்டாளாக்கிக் கொண்டே இருப்பார்கள். இந்த வர்க்கங்களின் எதிர்ப்பைத் தகர்த்து ஒழிப்பதற்கு ஒரே ஒரு வழிதான் உண்டு. அது என்ன?

பழைமையைத் துடைத்தெறியவும் புதுமையைச் சிருக்ஷ்டிக்கவும் திறன் பெற்றவையும், சமுதாயத்தில் தாங்கள் வகிக்கும் ஸ்தானத்தின் காரணமாக அப்படிச் சிருக்ஷ்டித்துக் தீரவேண்டிய நிர்ப்பந்தத்திலிருக்கிறவையுமான சக்திகளை, நம்மைச் சூழ்ந்துள்ள இதே சமுதாயத்துக்குள்ளேயே நாம் கண்டுபிடித்து, அந்தச் சக்திகளுக்கு ஞானமூட்டிப் போராட்டத்துக்கு ஸ்தாபன ரீதியாகத் திரட்ட வேண்டும். இது ஒன்றேதான் வழி. ''

மாமேதை தோழர் லெனின்
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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Full Text: Obama-Modi joint editorial in the Washington Post


A renewed U.S.-India partnership for the 21st century
By Narendra Modi and Barack Obama September 30 at 8:00 AM

Narendra Modi is prime minister of India. Barack Obama is president of the United States.

As nations committed to democracy, liberty, diversity and enterprise, India and the United States are bound by common values and mutual interests. We have each shaped the positive trajectory of human history, and through our joint efforts, our natural and unique partnership can help shape international security and peace for years to come.

Ties between the United States and India are rooted in the shared desire of our citizens for justice and equality. When Swami Vivekananda presented Hinduism as a world religion, he did so at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. When Martin Luther King Jr. sought to end discrimination and prejudice against African Americans, he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent teachings. Gandhiji himself drew upon the writings of Henry David Thoreau.

As nations, we've partnered over the decades to deliver progress to our people. The people of India remember the strong foundations of our cooperation. The food production increases of the Green Revolution and the Indian Institutes of Technology are among the many products of our collaboration.

Today our partnership is robust, reliable and enduring, and it is expanding. Our relationship involves more bilateral collaboration than ever before — not just at the federal level but also at the state and local levels, between our two militaries, private sectors and civil society. Indeed, so much has happened that, in 2000, then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee could declare that we are natural allies.

After many years of growing cooperation since, on any given day, our students work together on research projects, our scientists develop cutting-edge technology and senior officials consult closely on global issues. Our militaries conduct joint exercises in air, on land and at sea, and our space programs engage in unprecedented areas of cooperation, leading us from Earth to Mars. And in this partnership, the Indian American community has been a vibrant, living bridge between us. Its success has been the truest reflection of the vitality of our people, the value of America’s open society and the strength of what we can do when we join together.

Still, the true potential of our relationship has yet to be fully realized. The advent of a new government in India is a natural opportunity to broaden and deepen our relationship. With a reinvigorated level of ambition and greater confidence, we can go beyond modest and conventional goals. It is time to set a new agenda, one that realizes concrete benefits for our citizens.

This will be an agenda that enables us to find mutually rewarding ways to expand our collaboration in trade, investment and technology that harmonize with India’s ambitious development agenda, while sustaining the United States as the global engine of growth. When we meet today in Washington, we will discuss ways in which we can boost manufacturing and expand affordable renewable energy, while sustainably securing the future of our common environment.

We will discuss ways in which our businesses, scientists and governments can partner as India works to improve the quality, reliability and availability of basic services, especially for the poorest of citizens. In this, the United States stands ready to assist. An immediate area of concrete support is the “Clean India” campaign, where we will leverage private and civil society innovation, expertise and technology to improve sanitation and hygiene throughout India.

While our shared efforts will benefit our own people, our partnership aspires to be larger than merely the sum of its parts. As nations, as people, we aspire to a better future for all; one in which our strategic partnership also produces benefits for the world at large. While India benefits from the growth generated by U.S. investment and technical partnerships, the United States benefits from a stronger, more prosperous India. In turn, the region and the world benefit from the greater stability and security that our friendship creates. We remain committed to the larger effort to integrate South Asia and connect it with markets and people in Central and Southeast Asia.

As global partners, we are committed to enhancing our homeland security by sharing intelligence, through counterterrorism and law-enforcement cooperation, while we jointly work to maintain freedom of navigation and lawful commerce across the seas. Our health collaboration will help us tackle the toughest of challenges, whether combating the spread of Ebola, researching cancer cures or conquering diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and dengue. And we intend to expand our recent tradition of working together to empower women, build capacity and improve food security in Afghanistan and Africa.

The exploration of space will continue to fire our imaginations and challenge us to raise our ambitions. That we both have satellites orbiting Mars tells its own story. The promise of a better tomorrow is not solely for Indians and Americans: It also beckons us to move forward together for a better world. This is the central premise of our defining partnership for the 21st century. Forward together we go — chalein saath saath.

ஜெயா கும்பல் இழைத்த குற்றம்.

53 கோடியே 60 லட்சம் ரூபாய் முறைகேடாக சம்பாதிக்கப்பட்டது!
கணக்குச் சொன்ன நீதிபதி குன்ஹா!

ஆயிரத்துக்கும் மேற்பட்ட பக்கங்கள் கொண்ட தீர்ப்பின் 'ஆபரேட்டிவ் போர்ஷன்’ என்று சொல்லப்படும் தீர்ப்பின் சாராம்சத்தை நீதிபதி குன்ஹா இப்படித்தான் தொடங்கினார்...

''66 கோடி ரூபாய் சொத்துக் குவிப்பு வழக்கில் 53 (53,60,49,954 ரூபாய்) கோடி ரூபாய் வருமானம் முறைகேடான வழிகளில் சம்பாதிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது என்பது இந்த வழக்கில் சந்தேகத்துக்கு இடமின்றி நிரூபணமாகி உள்ளது.  இந்த வழக்கின் முதல் குற்றவாளியாகச் சேர்க்கப்பட்டு உள்ளவர், பொது ஊழியராகப் பொறுப்பில் இருந்த காலத்தில், இந்தக் குற்றத்தில் ஈடுபட்டுள்ளார். வருமானத்துக்கு அதிகமாகச் சொத்து சேர்த்துள்ளது சந்தேகத்துக்கு இடமின்றி நிரூபணமாகி உள்ளது. அவருடைய இந்தச் செயல் ஊழல் தடுப்புச் சட்டம் 13 (i)(e)-ன் படி தண்டனைக்குரிய குற்றம். முதல் குற்றவாளியாகச் சேர்க்கப்பட்டுள்ளவர், இரண்டாவது (சசிகலா),  மூன்றாவது ( சுதாகரன்), நான்காவது (இளவரசி) குற்றவாளிகளாகச் சேர்க்கப்பட்டுள்ளவர்களுடன் சேர்ந்து கூட்டுச்சதியில் ஈடுபட்டு குற்றம் புரிந்துள்ளதும் நிரூபணமாகி உள்ளது. இந்தியத் தண்டனைச் சட்டம், பிரிவு 120 (b)-ன் படி 'கூட்டுச்சதி (criminal conspiracy)’  செய்தல் குற்றமாகும்.
இந்த வழக்கில் இரண்டாவது, மூன்றாவது, நான்காவது குற்றவாளிகளாகச் சேர்க்கப்பட்டு உள்ளவர்கள், முதல் குற்றவாளி செய்த குற்றங்களுக்கு உடந்தையாக இருந்துள்ளனர். இந்தியத் தண்டனைச் சட்டம் 109-ன் படி 'குற்றத்துக்கு உடந்தை (aiding and abet)’  என்பதும் குற்றமாகிறது. எனவே, நான்கு பேரும் குற்றவாளிகள் என்று இந்த நீதிமன்றம் அறிவிக்கிறது. 

ஒவ்வொருவருக்குமான தண்டனை விவரங்களைப் பிறகு அறிவிக்கிறேன். நீங்கள் ஏதாவது சொல்ல விரும்பினால் சொல்லலாம்.''- நீதிபதி ஜான் மைக்கேல் டி.குன்ஹா இப்படி வாசித்து முடித்ததும் ஜெயலலிதா, சசிகலா, இளவரசி, சுதாகரன் ஆகியோரோடு அவர்களுடைய வழக்கறிஞர்களின் முகமும் இருண்டு போனது. அப்போது நேரம் 11.30 மணி!

அப்போதே ஜெயலலிதாவின் காரில் இருந்த தேசியக் கொடி அகற்றப்பட்டது. அந்த ஒரு நிகழ்வே நீதிமன்ற அறைக்கு வெளியில் நின்றுகொண்டிருந்த அ.தி.மு.க-வைச் சேர்ந்த அமைச்சர்கள் மற்றும் எம்.எல்.ஏ-க்களுக்கு நிலைமையை உணர்த்திவிட்டது. அனைவரும் சோகத்தில் மரத்தடியில் அமர்ந்துவிட்டனர்.

மீண்டும் வாதங்கள்!

மாலையில் நீதிபதி குன்ஹா தண்டனை விவரத்தை வாசித்தார்.

''குற்றவாளிகள் மீது சுமத்தப்பட்ட குற்றங்களுக்குத் தண்டனையாக ஒவ்வொருவருக்கும் தலா நான்கு வருடங்கள் சிறைத் தண்டனை அளிக்கிறேன். அதுபோல, முதல் குற்றவாளிக்கு அபராதத் தொகையாக 100 கோடி ரூபாய் விதிக்கிறேன். வழக்குத் தொடரப்பட்டபோது வழக்கில் தவறான வழிகளில் சேர்க்கப்பட்டு நீதிமன்றத்தோடு இணைக்கப்பட்ட சொத்து மதிப்பு 66 கோடி ரூபாய். அது அரசாங்க மதிப்பீட்டின்படி கணக்கிடப்பட்டுள்ளது. தற்போது அதன் மதிப்பு 5 மடங்காக அதிகரித்துள்ளது. எனவே, அபராதத் தொகை அதற்கேற்றவாறு கணக்கிடப்பட்டு நூறு கோடி ரூபாய் என்று அறிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. முதல் குற்றவாளி, இந்த அபராதத்தைக் கட்டாத நிலையில் கூடுதலாக ஒரு வருடம் சிறைத் தண்டனை அனுபவிக்க வேண்டும். அதுபோல, மற்ற குற்றவாளிகள் தங்களது அபராதத்தைச் செலுத்தத் தவறினால் கூடுதலாக ஆறுமாதங்கள் சிறைத் தண்டனை அனுபவிக்க வேண்டும்'' என்று முடித்தார்.

'பல லட்சம் கோடி ரூபாய் ஊழல்களை மிகச் சாதாரணமாகச் சாதித்துவிடும் எந்த அரசியல்வாதிக்கும் இதுவரை 100 கோடி ரூபாய் அபராதம்’ என்று விதிக்கப்பட்டது இல்லை. இத்தனை பெரிய தொகையை அபராதமாகச் செலுத்த அறிவுறுத்தப்பட்ட முதல் அரசியல்வாதி, முதல் முதலமைச்சர் ஜெயலலிதாதான்.

''இப்போது இந்த அபராதம் பற்றி தவறான தகவல்கள் வருகின்றன. அதாவது, ஏற்கெனவே பறிமுதல் செய்யப்பட்ட 66 கோடி ரூபாய் சொத்துகள் போக, மீதம் 34 கோடி ரூபாய் மட்டும் அபராதமாக செலுத்தினால் போதும் என்று சொல்கின்றனர். ஆனால், தீர்ப்பில் நீதிபதி அப்படிச் சொல்லவில்லை. 100 கோடி ரூபாய் அபராதம் என்பது தனியானது. பறிமுதல் செய்யப்பட்ட சொத்துகளுக்கும் இதற்கும் எந்தச் சம்பந்தமும் இல்லை. ஏனென்றால், பறிமுதல் செய்யப்பட்ட சொத்துகள் அனைத்தும் அரசாங்கத்தினுடையவை.

ஒருவர் முதலமைச்சராக இருக்கும்போது அவருடைய வருமானத்தைத் தாண்டி அவருக்குக் கொடுக்கப்படும் அன்பளிப்புகள் மற்றும் வருவாய்கள் அனைத்தும் அரசாங்கத்தின் கருவூலத்தில் சேர்க்கப்பட வேண்டும் என்பது விதிமுறை. அதன்படி ஜெயலலிதாவின் வருமானத்துக்கு அதிகமாக சேர்க்கப்பட்டு இருந்த சொத்துகள் அனைத்தும் அரசாங்கக் கருவூலத்தில் சேர்க்கப்படும். அது தவிர்த்து, தனியாக 100 கோடி ரூபாயை அபராதமாக ஜெயலலிதா கட்ட வேண்டும். அதுவும் முறையான கணக்கு வழக்கு காட்டப்பட்ட பணத்தில் கட்ட வேண்டும். அந்த அபராதத்தைச் செலுத்தி அதற்கான ரசீதை நீதிமன்றத்தில் சமர்ப்பித்தால் மட்டுமே அவர் மேல்முறையீட்டுக்கோ அல்லது ஜாமீன் கேட்டோ விண்ணப்பிக்க முடியும்'' என்று நீதித்துறை வல்லுநர்கள் சொல்கிறார்கள்.

மேல் முறையீடும் அப்பீலும்!

இந்த வழக்கில் மேல்முறையீடும் (அப்பீல்) ஜாமீனும் தனித்தனியாகக் கிடையாது. மேல்முறையீடு செய்யும்போது, 'நான் இந்த வழக்கில் மேல்முறையீடு செய்கிறேன். எனக்கு ஜாமீனும் வழங்க வேண்டும்’ என்று மனுச்செய்ய வேண்டும். ஆனால், தீர்ப்பின் நகல் இவர்கள் கையில் கிடைக்கும் வரை அவர்கள் மேல்முறையீடு செய்ய முடியாது. மேலும் மேல்முறையீடு செய்யும்போது அவர்கள் அபராதத் தொகையைச் செலுத்தி அதற்கான ரசீதை இணைத்திருக்க வேண்டும். அப்போதுதான் அந்த மனு விசாரணைக்கே ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளப்படும். இந்தத் தொகை அதிகம் என்றும் கட்டுவதில் சிரமம் என்றும் சொன்னால், அதற்காகத் தனியாக கர்நாடகா உயர் நீதிமன்றத்தில் வழக்குத் தாக்கல் செய்ய வேண்டும். அதில், தீர்ப்பு வரும் வரை சொத்துக் குவிப்பு வழக்கில் மேல்முறையீடுக்கும் ஜாமீனுக்கும் விண்ணப்பிக்க முடியாது.

வழக்குச் செலவை யார் கொடுப்பது?

சொத்துக் குவிப்பு வழக்கை தமிழகத்தில் இருந்து பெங்களூருக்கு மாற்றியது முதல், அந்த வழக்கை நடத்த இதுவரை 5 கோடி ரூபாய் செலவாகியுள்ளது. அந்தச் செலவை கர்நாடக அரசுக்கு தமிழக அரசு கொடுக்க வேண்டும். அந்தத் தொகையை தமிழக அரசு கட்டத் தவறினால், ஜெயலலிதா 1991-க்கு முன்பாக தனக்கு இருந்ததாகக் காட்டியுள்ள சொத்துகளை விற்று அந்த ஐந்து கோடியைக் கட்ட வேண்டும்.

போயஸ் கார்டன்!

போயஸ் கார்டன் வீட்டுக்கு ஏதாவது பிரச்னை வருமா? என்ற சந்தேகம் கிளப்பப்படுகிறது. ''அந்த வீடு ஜெயலலிதா முதன்முறையாக முதலமைச்சராவதற்கு முன்பாகக் கட்டப்பட்டது. ஆனால், அதற்குப் பிறகு அவர் அந்த வீட்டில் கூடுதலாகக் கட்டப்பட்ட பகுதிகள், செய்யப்பட்ட ஆடம்பர வேலைப்பாடுகள், அலங்காரப் பொருட்கள் அரசுடைமையாகும்'' என்று சொல்லப்படுகிறது.

காவல் துறையிடம் ஜெயலலிதாவின் கார்!

ஜெயலலிதாவுக்கு பரப்பன அக்ரஹாரா சிறையில் மருத்துவர்கள் உடல் நிலையை பரிசோதித்தனர். அப்போது அவருக்கு ரத்த அழுத்தம் சீரற்ற நிலையில் இருந்தது. அதற்கான சிகிச்சை அளித்தனர். அரை மணி நேரத்தில் ரத்த அழுத்தம் சீரானது. அதன்பிறகு, நான்கு பேரையும் சிறைக்கு அனுப்ப நீதிபதி குன்ஹா உத்தரவு பிறப்பித்தார்.

சசிகலா, சுதாகரன், இளவரசி ஆகியோர் சிறைக்கு அனுப்பப்பட்டனர். ஆனால், ஜெயலலிதாவுக்கு இசட் பிளஸ் பாதுகாப்பு இருப்பதால், அவரை அவர்கள் பொறுப்பில் இருந்து தங்கள் கஸ்டடியில் எடுப்பதற்குள் கர்நாடக மாநில காவலர்களுக்குப் பெரும்பாடாகிவிட்டது.  இசட் பிளஸ் பாதுகாப்பில் உள்ள தேசிய பாதுகாப்புப் படையினர், 'எழுத்துப்பூர்வமாக எழுதிக் கொடுத்தால்தான், நாங்கள் அவரை அனுப்புவோம்’ என்றனர். இதில் டென்ஷனான கர்நாடக மாநில போலீஸார், 'நீதிமன்ற உத்தரவைக் கேட்டீர்கள் அல்லவா? மக்கள் பிரதிநிதித்துவச் சட்டப்படி அவர் குற்றவாளி என்று அறிவிக்கப்பட்டவுடன் அவர் பதவி உட்பட அவருக்குரிய சலுகைகள் அனைத்தையும் இழந்தவராகிறார். நாங்கள் எழுத்துப்பூர்வமாக கொடுப்பதற்கு எந்த அவசியமும் இல்லை’ என்றனர். அதன்பிறகு ஜெயலலிதாவை கர்நாடக காவல் துறையிடம் ஒப்படைத்தனர்.

அதன் பிறகு, ஜெயலலிதாவின் காரில் அவரை அழைத்துச் சென்று பரப்பன அக்ரஹாரா சிறையில், எண் 7402 அறைக்கு அழைத்துச் சென்றனர். அப்போது மணி சரியாக இரவு 8.20.

- ஜோ.ஸ்டாலின்
விகடன்

Many Missteps in Assessment of ISIS Threat

MIDDLE EAST
Many Missteps in Assessment of ISIS Threat
By PETER BAKER and ERIC SCHMITTSEPT. 29, 2014 NYT

WASHINGTON — By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq.

But the reports, they said, generated little attention in a White House consumed with multiple brush fires and reluctant to be drawn back into Iraq. “Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.”

President Obama fueled the debate in an interview broadcast over the weekend when he said that intelligence agencies had underestimated the peril posed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Mr. Obama accurately quoted James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, acknowledging that he and his analysts did not foresee the stunning success of Islamic State forces or the catastrophic collapse of the Iraqi Army.

But by pointing to the agencies without mentioning any misjudgments of his own, Mr. Obama left intelligence officials bristling about being made into scapegoats and critics complaining that he was trying to avoid responsibility.

“This was not an intelligence community failure, but a failure by policy makers to confront the threat,” said Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

A spokesman denied on Monday that Mr. Obama was blaming intelligence agencies in his interview on “60 Minutes” on CBS News. “That is not what the president’s intent was,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “What the president was trying to make clear” was “how difficult it is to predict the will of security forces that are based in another country to fight.”

Mr. Earnest added that “the president’s commander in chief and he’s the one who takes responsibility” for ensuring the national security based on the information provided by intelligence analysts. “And the president continues to have the highest degree of confidence in our intelligence community to continue to provide that advice,” he said.

Caught Off Guard

A reconstruction of the past year suggests a number of pivotal moments when both the White House and the intelligence community misjudged the Islamic State. Even after the group’s fighters stormed across the border into Iraq at the start of the year to capture the city of Falluja and parts of Ramadi, the White House considered it a problem that could be contained.


Intelligence agencies were caught off guard by the speed of the extremists’ subsequent advance across northern Iraq. And the government as a whole was largely focused on the group as a source of foreign fighters who might pose a terrorism threat when they returned home, not as a force intent on seizing territory.

“I’m not suggesting anyone was asleep at the switch necessarily, but the organization definitely achieved strategic surprise when it rolled into Iraq,” said Frederic C. Hof, who previously handled Syria policy for the State Department under Mr. Obama and is now at the Atlantic Council.

In interviews in recent weeks, administration officials privately agreed that they had not focused enough on the Islamic State’s territorial ambitions but said they were hamstrung in responding by an Iraqi government that was fanning the sectarian divide that helped give rise to the Sunni extremists in the first place.

While Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki asked for American weaponry and airstrikes, both Mr. Obama and Congress reacted negatively. The White House resisted being seen by Sunnis as “Maliki’s air force,” as a number of officials put it. Instead, they pressed Mr. Maliki not only to respond militarily but also to create a more inclusive government that would undercut support for the Islamic State even as the country headed toward elections.

“It was frustrating because we recognized that there was a need to do more and do it more quickly, but the Iraqi go-slow approach made that a challenge,” said a senior administration official, who like others insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “That was something we were constantly pushing up against.”

The Islamic State was born out of the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was crippled by the time Mr. Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq at the end of 2011. The civil war that erupted in neighboring Syria pitting President Bashar al-Assad against a variety of rebel organizations provided a haven for the Qaeda affiliate to reconstitute itself with an influx of foreign fighters.

“To anyone watching developments in Iraq from mid-2010 and Syria from early 2011, the recovery and rise of ISIS should have been starkly clear,” said Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. “The organization itself was also carrying out an explicitly clear step-by-step strategy aimed at engendering the conditions that would feed its accelerated rise.”

Iraqi Resistance

Administration officials said that they tried to “get our foot back in the door” in Iraq after the troop withdrawal, as one put it, to create a joint counterterrorism effort, but that Baghdad was eager to be rid of the Americans and resisted. In 2012, when there were roughly five suicide bombings in Iraq a month, that did not seem to be a major issue. But a year later, there were as many as 50 a month as the Syrian war increasingly spilled over the border.

“There were a lot of us saying this is a real massive problem,” said another senior official. “The Syria policy people are so focused on taking down Assad, they were blind to this problem.”

The United States resumed surveillance flights in Iraq in 2013 but flew them only occasionally because of Iraqi sensibilities. “It was a walk instead of a run,” a different official said. An effort to create a joint intelligence center to share information proved modest. Mr. Maliki asked for F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, but Congress was hesitant.

Mr. Obama pushed Mr. Maliki to modify his own autocratic governing style. “The president really hammered him,” the official said.

By late December, alarm over deteriorating security in Iraq was growing and the United States quietly rushed dozens of Hellfire missiles and low-tech surveillance drones to help Baghdad combat an explosion of violence. Intelligence officials were warning in classified reports at the time that the Islamic State had become a potent force in northern and western Iraq, with armed convoys intimidating towns, assassinating local officials and using explosives to kill Iraqi soldiers.

On New Year’s Day, convoys of up to 100 trucks flying the black flag of Al Qaeda and armed with mounted heavy machine guns and antiaircraft guns stormed into Falluja and Ramadi as they sought to establish an Islamic caliphate stretching across national borders. Their victories sent a chill through the American military, which had fought some of its bloodiest battles in that part of Iraq.

“Falluja and Ramadi had huge emotional resonance for our veterans, and now the Iraqis were losing it,” said a senior Defense Department official.

And yet American officials said there was no serious talk of intervening directly at the time. Since Falluja and Ramadi had long been hotbeds of Sunni extremist sentiment, American officials assumed the Islamic State could be checked there and eventually rolled back.

Intelligence agencies warned against such an assumption. “ISIL probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Falluja,” Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in his annual threat assessment to Congress on Feb. 11.

Even so, Mr. Obama was determined not to let the United States be dragged back into a war that he had opposed from the start and that he had promised during his first campaign for the White House to end. After five years in office, aides said, Mr. Obama was convinced that the United States was too quick to pull the military lever whenever it confronted a foreign crisis. He would not repeat what he considered the mistake of his predecessor President George W. Bush.

While he would help Iraq’s government, he would not use American military force nor would he escalate involvement in Syria’s brutal civil war after having decided the previous fall to call off a plan to launch a missile strike against Mr. Assad’s government in retaliation for using chemical weapons on civilians. Government officials referred to that as the “nonstrike incident” and told foreign policy experts last spring that the president would take a “minimalist approach” to Syria.

By spring, Iraqi forces had reached a stalemate against Islamic State forces in the west, and Mr. Maliki reversed course and asked the Obama administration to intervene directly. In a May 11 meeting with Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III and American diplomats, Mr. Maliki asked that Iraq be provided the ability to operate drones; if the United States was unwilling to do that, then he indicated he was prepared for the United States to carry out strikes itself. He later made the same point to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and sent a written request.

At the time, Mr. Obama was not open to such a move. He gave a speech at West Point eschewing what he deemed the overuse of American force to solve world problems. But he promised more aid to moderate Syrian rebels. The White House sent a proposal for a $500 million program to train and equip the rebels back to the Pentagon several times, but the president eventually announced it.

By then, though, it was too late. On June 10, thousands of Sunni militants poured over the border from Syria and seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Armed gunmen then headed south toward Baghdad and east toward the autonomous region of Kurdistan. The Iraqi Army crumbled in the face of the assault, as soldiers dropped their weapons, shed their uniforms and fled.

“We were surprised by their regional ambitions, the speed of their advance into Mosul and the collapse of the Iraqi security forces,” said a senior Army general with combat experience in Iraq.

The Turning Point

Speaking at a symposium months later, Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, suggested that the intelligence community had underestimated the Islamic State’s transformation “from an insurgency to an organization that was now also focused on holding ground territory.

“It’s an area we talked about,” he said, “but in hindsight, I wish we had been a little — I’ll only speak for me and for N.S.A. — I wish we’d been a little stronger about.”

The Mosul takeover proved to be the turning point for Mr. Obama. He began to consider intervening directly to prevent Baghdad itself from falling. “That was a very galvanizing moment for us,” a senior official said.

Further complicating the situation were the American hostages held by the Islamic State. Even as Mr. Obama began contemplating airstrikes in Iraq, he authorized a secret Special Forces operation into Syria in July to try to rescue the hostages. His top aides watched the operation unfold from the Situation Room, only to be deflated when the troops found no hostages. “Dry hole,” came the dispiriting news over the radio.

As Islamic State forces continued to march across Iraq and threatened civilian massacres, Mr. Obama ordered American airstrikes. He had largely concluded, his aides said, that he would have to do the same on the other side of the border in Syria as well even before two of the hostages were killed on grisly videos.

“I don’t know if Obama’s fully switched or not,” said Andrew Tabler, a Syria specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “But he had to fundamentally make changes in his approach.”

For Mr. Obama, the question now is whether this approach works any better than the last one.

Fighting the fires they lit


Fighting the fires they lit



The carefully worded motion seeking approval for armed intervention promises that British aircraft will not bomb Syria, and there will be no British "boots on the ground".

Armed with an overwhelming parliamentary endorsement, the British government has joined the United States-led coalition of countries that have been conducting aerial bombings of regions in Syria and Iraq under the control of the Islamic State (IS). The territorial expansion of the regime in Iraq appears to have been halted, at least for the present. Last August the very same Parliament had roundly rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal that Britain intervene militarily in Syria in retaliation for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against anti-government Syrian forces. Clearly, much has changed in the space of a year.

The frenetic growth of the latest and most fierce avatar of jihadist terrorism in the Iraq-Syria region, the rapid export of its ideology to the young and disaffected in Britain and Europe who are joining its fighting forces in droves, the barbaric forms of punishment it employs against its critics, and its access to staggering financial resources — through oil from captured oilfields, and even the plunder and sale of a vast reservoir of antiquities in northern Syria — has given it a presence and strength that poses a direct threat to the region and beyond. Indeed, the protection of the United Kingdom from IS-sponsored acts of terrorism topped the list of reasons Mr. Cameron advanced in his speech to Parliament in justification of British air strikes against IS bases in Iraq. Crafted to win the support of the Labour opposition, the carefully worded motion seeking approval for armed intervention promises that British aircraft will not bomb Syria, and there will be no British “boots on the ground”.

Of a well-considered military plan, a mission-aim, a pullout strategy and a timeframe there was little evidence in Mr. Cameron’s speech; even less so the signs of any political and diplomatic vision of positive intervention. The brutal instances of beheading by IS activists of western journalists and aid workers captured on video and circulated on social media might well turn out to have been a bait by IS to draw the West into a war which in turn could feed an even more virulent brand of jihadism.

However, Version 2014 of the Iraq story is an outcrop of Version 2003, when the western alliance declared war against Iraq on the concocted premise of the presence of weapons of mass destruction, destroying a once-prosperous society. This fanned sectarian and religious divides in the country, and created a bubbling groundswell of popular hatred of western governments. Today the same military alliance is struggling to douse the fires that it set 11 years ago — and it may end up stoking them.

The Hindu

“We Will Not Forget Gujarat 2002.” Modi protesters.

The Opinion Pages

The Indian Diaspora Mostly Embraces Mr. Modi Without Reservations
SEPT. 28, 2014 NYT

Editorial Observer
By VIKAS BAJAJ

After Mr. Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, won a decisive victory in parliamentary elections in May, posters congratulating Mr. Modi could be seen in many Indian stores and restaurants in New York and New Jersey.

For his supporters, Mr. Modi represents a rejection of the plodding domestic and foreign policies of Indian governments that have hindered economic growth, reduced poverty far too slowly and, as Mr. Modi said on Sunday, had left the rest of the world with the embarrassing impression that India was a “land of snake charmers.” That line drew laughs and applause from the crowd of about 19,000.

Among them was Khandu Patel, a Long Island businessman who came to the United States more than 30 years ago and worked for years as a pharmacist and now owns five hotels in New York. Mr. Patel believes Mr. Modi will bring India’s different, and often combative, communities together. But it is hard to know how Mr. Modi might unite different religious groups since many Muslims remain fearful that his Hindu nationalist party does not care about them and believe he has inflamed sectarian tensions for political gain.

“In 10 years, India will be No. 1,” Mr. Patel predicted just before Mr. Modi stepped onto the stage, “economically, professionally, politically.”

Mr. Patel’s kind of enthusiasm filled the arena. When Mr. Modi said India had three strengths — democracy, the country’s young population and its strong consumer demand — that would help it grow fast, many in the crowd shouted back “We have Modi!” before he could say much more.

Earlier in the afternoon after a series of song and dance performances, a video introducing Mr. Modi claimed in all seriousness that “India has witnessed a century of change in his first 100 days” as prime minister. Yet even among of his supporters there has been frustration that he is taking too long to enact policy changes, like lifting restrictions on foreign investment, that he promised during the campaign.

Addressing a nearly full house, Mr. Modi, who spoke from a rotating platform, mesmerized the crowd, and offered the words people wanted to hear. For example, he promised to make it easier for Indian immigrants who are naturalized American citizens to get lifetime visas and to streamline the notoriously cumbersome application process for Americans visiting India.

Instead of using the formal Hindi that he used when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, he spoke in the conversational Hindi that many middle-class Indians speak at home. In some ways, Mr. Modi was received like a local politician by the crowd at Madison Square Garden; he comes from the western state of Gujarat, the home region of many Indian immigrants in the United States.

Of course, many Indian-Americans do not belong to the cult of Modi. In 2005, the State Department revoked Mr. Modi’s visa because of his handling of sectarian riots in 2002, when he was chief minister; more than 1,000 people were killed, most of them Muslims. On Thursday, the federal court in New York issued a summons to Mr. Modi asking him to respond to a lawsuit filed by a nonprofit group accusing him of human rights abuses during the riots. The summons, however, is unlikely to affect his visit because he has diplomatic immunity as a visiting head of state.

Several hundred anti-Modi protesters were outside Madison Square Garden holding up signs like “We Will Not Forget Gujarat 2002.” But Mr. Modi made no reference to them or the sectarian killings that made him unwelcome in the United States. He had not come to talk about those issues.

Afghanistan and U.S. Sign Bilateral Security Agreement


ASIA PACIFIC

Afghanistan and U.S. Sign Bilateral Security Agreement
By DECLAN WALSHSEPT. 30, 2014 NYT

KABUL, Afghanistan — Nearly a year after a long-term deal to keep American troops in Afghanistan was suddenly derailed amid worsening relations, Afghanistan and the United States signed the security pact on Tuesday.

The agreement allows 9,800 American and about 2,000 NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan after the international combat mission formally ends on Dec. 31. Their role will be to train and support Afghan security forces, but the pact also allows for American Special Operations forces to conduct counterterrorism missions in the country.

The signing, in a televised ceremony at the presidential palace, fulfilled a campaign promise by the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, who was inaugurated just a day before. As Mr. Ghani watched, Ambassador James B. Cunningham signed for the United States, and the new Afghan national security adviser, Hanif Atmar, signed for Afghanistan.

After months of wrangling on the terms of the bilateral security agreement last year, President Hamid Karzai ultimately refused to sign it, souring relations between the two countries.

In his inauguration speech on Monday, Mr. Ghani called for the healing of that relationship, and for a new era of cooperation. On Tuesday, however, he was more focused on the Afghan interest, emphasizing that the agreement had been signed “in accordance with our national interests,” and that it would open the doors for a continuation of civilian and military aid to his hist government.

Pointedly noting that Western donors had promised Afghanistan $16 billion in economic aid, he said that Afghanistan and the West had “shared dangers and shared interests.”

But he also addressed lingering Afghan sovereignty concerns, stressing that international forces would not be allowed to raid mosques or other sacred sites; foreign contractors would be subject to strict government regulation; and that both countries have the right to withdraw from the pact in two years.

American officials, for their part, appeared simply relieved that an episode that had stirred much rancor — and multiple diplomatic interventions by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry — had finally come to an end.

After signing the pact in Kabul, Mr. Cunningham smiled and firmly embraced Mr. Atmar. Speaking later, he called it a historic agreement, and said that the endorsement of Afghan tribal leaders, who met to approve the pact last December, showed that “the people of Afghanistan placed a great stake in our enduring partnership.”

In Washington, Mr. Obama hailed the agreement and said the United States was committed to supporting Afghanistan.

“The B.S.A. reflects our continued commitment to support the new Afghan Unity Government, and we look forward to working with this new government to cement an enduring partnership that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability, unity, and prosperity, and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating Al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates,” he said in a statement released by the White House.

Mr. Ghani was joined onstage by his chief executive officer, Abdullah Abdullah. The two men spent the summer embroiled in a bitter dispute over the results of last June’s presidential vote. But one of their few points of agreement was that the American security deal should be signed.

On Tuesday, Mr. Atmar also signed an agreement with NATO to provide for the continued presence of non-American NATO troops after 2014.

Afghanistan urgently needs to bolster its security forces to fend off a muscular threat from Taliban insurgents, who have aggressively attacked vulnerable districts this summer and badly bloodied the Afghan security forces who have taken over security duties from foreign troops.

In his inauguration speech on Monday, President Ghani called on the Taliban to join peace talks. But he also warned that the invitation should not be taken as a sign of weakness, and that his government would respond forcefully to any attacks on civilians.

The Taliban denounced the security pact as a “sinister” plot by the United States, and used it to launch its first propaganda assault on the new Ghani administration.

“With this action, the new staff of the presidential palace have proved their disloyalty to the religion and history of Afghanistan,” said a Pashto-language statement posted on Twitter. The following post read: “Death to America!”

Massive US Protests Send Clear Message to Modi

Massive US Protests Send Clear Message to Modi: End Suppression of Minorities


The Alliance for Justice and Accountability has demanded justice for the victims of Gujarat 2002 pogrom

NEW YORK – The Alliance for Justice and Accountability, a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, announced that the Sunday rally in New York City during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much publicized event at Madison Square Garden, was a huge success.

Hundreds of people, including human rights activists, professionals, students and people from all walks of life attended the rally. Protesters were a large and spirited group of Indian Americans comprising of people of all faiths and ideological persuasions, with one thing in common: they were demanding justice and accountability in the case of Modi in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom and an end to repression of minorities and crony capitalism in India.


 “The protests have demonstrated the rejection of a leader who represents a hateful and divisive agenda, ” said Robindra Deb, a key AJA organizer of protest on September 28. “We represent the 70% of Indians that did not vote for Mr. Modi,” added Mr. Deb.

AJA protesters were required by law to share protest space with all other groups protesting at MSG. “While we share human rights concerns, AJA does not endorse separatist calls by other groups protesting outside of MSG. These groups were not part of the Alliance” said Dr Shaik Ubaid, a spokesperson for the Alliance.


“The first 100 days of Modi’s tenure as the Prime Minister have shown to the world the grave dangers posed by the Hindu nationalist ideology to pluralism and the rule of law. Since the national elections that brought Modi’s party to power, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh alone has witnessed over 600 incidents against the Muslim minority. Mr. Modi has imposed severe restrictions on civil society institutions including world-renowned organizations like Amnesty International and Greenpeace, and is using India’s Intelligence Bureau to tarnish reputed NGOs in India and the diaspora as “anti-national groups,” said a statement by AJA.

Placards could be seen in the large crowd, demanding that Mr. Modi himself be brought to justice and demanding an end to the sectarian agenda of the Hindutva ideology he espouses. Protesters also expressed determination that they would not let the victims of the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, or the subsequent extra-judicial killings and illegal detentions in Gujarat be forgotten.

The anti-conversion agenda espoused by Modi’s party has now spiraled into major polarization campaigns led by Hindu nationalist militias to restrict the religious freedoms of minority communities.

Modi was banned from entering the US by the State Department, under the International Religious Freedom Act for his “egregious violations of religious freedom.” With his election to the post of Prime Minister, the US decided to lift the travel ban, an exemption often given to heads of state.


Massive-protests-send-clear-demands-to-Indian-PM-Modi Protesters also referred to the report released by the Ghadar Alliance (a constituent of AJA) that evaluated Modi’s first 100 days in office. The meticulously researched report details the ways in which the new government has increased repression of minorities through brazen violations of human rights and religious freedom, dismantled democratic protections, while increasing corporate giveaways. The full report can be found at: http://www.modifacts.org/

“The protests have sent a clear message. The so-called ‘welcome’ given to Mr. Modi by the Indian diaspora is far from being uniform,” said Sonia Joseph, an organizer with SASI in NYC. “On the contrary, a large section of the diaspora has decided its time to stand up and be counted among those who will defend secularism and pluralism in India against the onslaught of Hindutva,” she added.

“Economic development on the graveyard of human rights and rule of law can never go right” said Parchi Patankar, another spokesperson for the Alliance.

Protesters came from all over the US, with the majority having arrived through chartered buses from New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia.

The Alliance for Justice and Accountability is a US-based coalition of a diverse range of Indian/South Asian organizations and individuals.

http://caravandaily.com/portal/massive-us-protests-send-clear-message-to-modi-end-suppression-of-minorities/
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Minorities, victims to protest on Modi-Obama meeting
APP
September 29, 2014, 10:45 pm

WASHINGTON – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House, amidst protests from India’s religious minorities against his party's extremist views and the Gujarat government's alleged collusion in the 2002 massacre of Muslims.

Modi, whose US visa was revoked on grounds of religious intolerance in 2005, is in Washington for his first visit since he assumed charge as the prime minister after his party’s victory in national elections in May. He is scheduled to attend a private dinner with President Obama on Monday evening. On Tuesday, President Obama will hold formal Oval Office talks with Modi on advancing US-India relations.

According to a White House statement, President Obama looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi. Besides discussing bilateral relations, Obama and Modi will also focus on regional issues, including current developments in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, where India and the US can work together with partners towards a positive outcome.

Human rights groups and minorities have stepped up a drive to speak out against the Indian leader’s human rights record and his disregard for excesses committed against the minority communities. Modi is a lifelong member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a militant Hindu group. Critics say he represents a threat of Hindu extremism, rather than a promise of modernization, The Washington Post newspaper noted. The Indian leader is drawing both cheers and criticism from Indian Diaspora.

Modi began his visit with an address to the UN General Assembly and drew cheering crowds in a Madison Square rally in New York. But the rally was also marred by protests and display of banners condemning his human rights record. The series of protests against Modi will culminate with displays of concerns outside the White House on Tuesday.

The protests and the White House talks coincide with a reminder of Modi's dark past chapter in Gujarat, where 140 people were arrested following outbreak of Hindu-Muslim violence in the state on Sunday. Modi was chief minister of Gujarat when religious riots killed more than 1,000 Muslims, provoking widespread international condemnation.

In an open letter to Obama last week, members of US House of Representatives Keith Ellison and Joe Pitts asked the president to raise the issue of protection of religious minorities in his meetings with Modi, noting that attacks on Christians and Muslims in India have increased since Modi took office in June. Modi may claim to have reinvented himself, but he has not changed his violent supremacist ideology, said Ubaid Shaikh, 52, an Indian Muslim neurologist in New York who heads a group that pressed for the 2005 visa denial.

Modi's religious agenda, Shaik said, is very dangerous for any country, especially a huge rising power like India. In Manhattan, a federal court on Friday issued a summons for Modi, for failing to stop the 2002 riots. A human rights group in New York is seeking damages from the prime minister on behalf of riot victims for crimes against humanity and other abuses.

Sikh for Justice, a human rights advocacy group, has planned a Citizens Court to indicate Modi at a park in front of the White House on Tuesday when Modi would be meeting with President Obama. The indictment proceedings, which organisers say will be attended in large numbers, will be telecasted live throughout the US, according to the group’s Facebook page.

The Kashmiris based in the United States will also hold a candle light vigil to remind President Obama of his promise to push for a resolution of the decades-old Jammu Kashmir conflict. An advertisement by the Kashmiri-American Council published in The Washington Times drew attention to the urgency of alleviating the sufferings of the people in the disputed state where the people are struggling for their UN-recognized right to self-determination.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/foreign/29-Sep-2014/minorities-victims-to-protest-on-modi-obama-meeting

Monday, 29 September 2014

AFTER SCOTLAND, CATALONIA PUSHES VOTE FOR INDEPENDENCE FROM SPAIN


Candles, arranged in shape of Catalan's flag and Scottish flag, are seen in front of St Gilles Cathedral by the Catalonia activists for supporting Scotland's independence in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Sept. 18, 2014.

IMAGE: YUNUS KAYMAZ/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES


After Scotland, Catalonia Pushes Vote for Independence From Spain

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Sep 19, 2014

Scotland's decision to stay within the United Kingdom cost separatists across Europe political momentum they could have gained for their own independence ambitions. But the regional parliament in Spain's Catalonia was still expected Friday to grant its leader the power to call a secession referendum denounced as illegal by the central government in Madrid.

The prospect of an independent Scotland would have served as an example of how to build a new nation, captivating European separatists in addition to Catalans who want to carve out their own Mediterranean nation.

They include pro-independence Basques in northern Spain; Corsicans who want to break away from France; Italians from several northern regions; and Flemish speakers in Belgium demanding more autonomy, independence or union with the Netherlands.

Scotland's independence rejection is a disappointment for the European separatists, but "does not mean the end of nationalist aspirations," said Marc Hooghe, a political science professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

"There is no decisive outcome at all. You might compare (it) with a soccer game (that) ends in a draw, and we go to extra time," he said. "But the nationalists have missed their once in a lifetime opportunity ... the Scots could have led the way for other regions."

In Catalonia's regional capital of Barcelona, regional president Artur Mas said he was rooting for a "Yes" vote in Scotland but stressed Catalans simply want the same chance as Scots who were given the right to vote. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has repeatedly said he will block a vote for Catalans in the wealthy northeastern region of 7.5 million people.

" What happened in Scotland and the United Kingdom is not a setback for us because what we really want in Catalonia is to have the chance to vote, What happened in Scotland and the United Kingdom is not a setback for us because what we really want in Catalonia is to have the chance to vote, the same possibility," Mas told reporters.

Later Friday, the Catalan parliament was expected to debate and approve by a wide margin a measure giving Mas the power to call a referendum despite vows by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to block planned Nov. 9 vote. He said he would then sign a decree authorizing the Catalonia referendum, but did not say when.

Retired hospital director and economist Lluis Enric Florenca was disappointed with the outcome of the Scotland vote and "would have liked the Yes to have won because we would have seen how Europe would have reacted" to a new nation outside of the European Union that would have most likely wanted to rejoin.

But Florenca said Scottish voters got a victory by getting their vote and settling the question of whether they wanted independence or not.

Britain-Scotland-Catalonia

Two men from Catalonia visiting Scotland to support the referendum on Sept. 18, 2014. Their T-shirts are printed with a design showing an "estelada" Catalan pro-independence flag, left, next to a Scottish Saltire flag.

"If we win in Catalonia, all the better," "If we win in Catalonia, all the better," Florenca said. "If we lose, then at least we know once and for all. What bothers me are the doubts," he said.

Rajoy didn't mention the situation in Catalonia in taped remarks Friday with his response to Scotland's vote, but congratulated "Scottish citizens who yesterday decided in a clear an unequivocal manner to continue being part of the United Kingdom, and consequently, the European Union."



Spain's constitution doesn't allow referendums that don't include all Spaniards and experts say Spain's Constitutional Court would rule the vote illegal if Rajoy's administration heads there to have the Catalan vote declared illegal.

Unlike the Scotland vote, the referendum in Catalonia wouldn't result in secession. It would ask Catalans whether they favor secession. If the answer is Yes, Catalan regional leader Artur Mas has said that would give him a political mandate to negotiate a path toward independence.

Despite sharing cultural traits with the rest of Spain, many Catalans take pride in the deep differences based on their language, which is spoken side-by-side with Spanish in the economically important region that is key to helping Spain emerge from its financial crisis.

Polls indicate Catalans are roughly evenly split on independence — but that figure drops significantly when people are asked if they favor an independent Catalonia outside the European Union.

Italy's secession-minded Northern League party sent a half-dozen observers to Scotland in hopes of sharing in a Yes victory that would have boosted the League's own push for greater autonomy — if not independence — for Italy's northern Veneto and Lombard regions.

These regions, home to some of Italy's financial powerhouses, resent that so much of their tax euros are diverted by the federal government in Rome to be spent on Italy's poorer south.

"We had hoped for a victory of the 'yes' votes, but at least the Scots went to the polls," said Matteo Mognaschi, one of the League observers in Edinburgh. "They won't even let us vote here."

Narendra Modi Outlines Goals for India on Eve of a Visit With Obama

ASIA PACIFIC


Narendra Modi Outlines Goals for India on Eve of a Visit With Obama
By SOMINI SENGUPTASEPT. 28, 2014

Over 19,000 people at Madison Square Garden in New York chanted and roared for Narendra Modi, who was elected in May. Some wore white Modi T-shirts over their clothes.
Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, sold himself on Sunday as a onetime tea vendor who wanted to lift India to glory by cleaning up the country, clearing the way for business and preparing its young citizens to be the work force of an aging world. His speech at Madison Square Garden telegraphed a wish list on the eve of his first meeting with President Obama, while also deftly rallying an influential diaspora to his side.

Mr. Modi addressed a wildly enthusiastic audience that was largely made up of Indian-Americans, and played skillfully to their sentiments. He reminded the crowd of the taunts they had heard for years that India was a land of snake charmers, and he offered lavish praise for their success in the United States.

His remarks were directed equally at the folks back home, where Mr. Modi won a sweeping electoral victory in May, and at American officials and investors he is wooing.

Over 19,000 people at Madison Square Garden in New York chanted and roared for Narendra Modi, who was elected in May. Some wore white Modi T-shirts over their clothes.At Madison Square Garden, Chants, Cheers and Roars for ModiSEPT. 28, 2014

In an hourlong speech that was signature Modi, complete with rhetorical flourishes, soaring arms, and a good deal of snarkiness, the prime minister made fun of those who say he lacks “big vision.”

The Times asked Indian-Americans what Mr. Modi's trip to the U.S. means to them.

Manisha Verma, who lives in San Jose, Calif., has family from Ranchi, Jharkhand.
“Modi's upcoming trip brings a ray of hope for American Indians like me who face a conflicting reality of being part of one of the most successful and prosperous communities in the United States, and yet we carry the legacy of a poor third-world country and face biases in our adopted homeland. Modi brings hope of change in India which will help Indians have better self-esteem and image in the United States.”

Arun Gupta, who lives in New York, has family from Amritsar, Punjab.
“It's a visit by a head of state of a second-tier power that Washington is courting in terms of economic and political opportunities not the least of which is as a counterweight to China. In other words, it's business as usual.”

Vivek Pai, who lives in New York, has family from Bangalore, Karnataka.
“Today, thanks to the political expressions of 550 million Indians in the largest democratic electoral exercise in human history, the U.S. is being forced to eat the humble pie and welcome Mr. Modi as the leader of India. The greatest military and economic power on Earth had to bow to the democratic wishes of a half billion people. That represents the greatest triumph of democratic ideals during our times.”

Sheetal Ranjan, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., has family from Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
“It means that the U.S. now looks at India as a pivotal strategic partner in the world. And I am glad to be living in a nation where my origins are of value.”

Nikhil Desai, who lives in San Francisco, has family from Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
“Modi has not satisfactorily addressed the failure by his government to prevent the riots in Gujarat; presumably he has not done so because of his complicity in those events. His actions need to be scrutinized at the international level - his trip to the U.S. will likely suggest that the U.S. is with open-arms embracing Modi and won't press further into the charges.”

Sant Gupta, who lives in Lorton, Va., has family from New Delhi.
“Mr. Modi's trip will jump start the process of restoring respect and in fact admiration for Indian civilization, history, heritage and acceptance.”

Tenaz H. Dubash, who lives in New York, has family from Delhi.
“I have mixed feelings about Mr. Modi's trip to the U.S. His treatment of the minorities in Gujarat was deplorable. He is supposed to have a stellar grip on economic issues. Hopefully he can deliver economically while working tirelessly to make sure that India remains a secular democracy where all minorities are protected.”

Kayhan Irank, who lives in Jackson Heights, N.Y., has family from Mumbai.
“It means that America and Indian-Americans are actively denying the genocide that took place in Gujarat and are re-writing history regarding Modi's role in carrying it out.”

Saad Mohammad, who lives in Evanston, Ill., has family from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.
“I am appalled that the U.S. government is sponsoring this criminal who has been complicit in pogroms. There are still hundreds of millions throughout India and millions in the diaspora that refuse to go along with the Modi and BJP agenda.”

Asokan Vengassery Krishnan, who lives in Philadelphia, has family from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
“The Modi visit is expected to strengthen the ties between the most powerful and the largest democratic nations. It will also be a sweet revenge for Modi who was long being treated as a pariah by the U.S. In turn, it is also the victory of the Indian identity and might in a post-colonial, post-Cold War era. Modi will prove that India has a dignified role to play in the new world order.”

Rama Krishna Ambati, who lives in Victor, N.Y., has family from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
“I believe India has so much potential but has been waiting for a dynamic leader to lead the nation. It happened now.”

Raghu C. Mudumbai, M.D., who lives in Seattle, has family from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
“Mr. Modi's trip lays the ground work for Indian-American relations over the next 10 years at a time when the world economy continues to recover, when democratic nations seek the proper balance between security and protection of its citizens (and learn from each others experience), and when the world's largest democracy and the world's most powerful democracy seek to define their place in the new world order.”

“I tell them, ‘My friends, I came here selling tea,’ ” he said, and paused, as the audience leapt to its feet and clapped. “I’m a small man. My mind is busy doing small things.”

Mr. Modi is visiting at a time when India and the United States are each seeking big things from the other. Theirs was supposed to be what Mr. Obama once called the defining “partnership” of the 21st century. The relationship has withered since then, though, and both Washington and Delhi are trying urgently now to repair it, showering each other with the diplomatic equivalent of Champagne and roses during Mr. Modi’s five-day visit to America.

He has met with two mayors and three governors, and more than two dozen members of Congress attended his event at the Garden. He is scheduled to meet on Monday with 11 chief executives from companies like Boeing, Google and Goldman Sachs, and then to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Modi is here to sell a new New India, with himself as the man who can be trusted to deliver on its promise. But it remains to be seen whether he is willing or able to bridge India’s wide differences with the United States on tax policy, climate change, outsourcing, intellectual property rights and other issues. Nor has India proved to be a trusted partner (India avoids the word “ally”) on American foreign policy priorities, including the conflict in Syria.

R. Nicholas Burns, who was a top State Department official in the administration of George W. Bush, put the question this way: “Can we reset, reboot, revive — use your word — this relationship? We have to.”

An administration official cast Mr. Modi’s visit as a chance to “reinvigorate” relations. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said the new government in Delhi offered a fresh chance, not least because Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party won enough seats in Parliament to govern alone, without coalition partners. “We think this will be a pivotal moment and an opportunity for us to define how we can work together,” the official said.

Mr. Modi seems eager to establish something of a brain trust among influential Indian-Americans. He met Saturday evening with a dozen of them, including venture capitalists, technology executives, a college president and a former aide to Mrs. Clinton.

“You guys have achieved a lot here,” the prime minister told the group, according to one of the attendees. “I want to duplicate your success. What do we do to duplicate that success?”

On Sunday evening, he spoke to 700 Indian-Americans at a dinner at the Pierre Hotel. He said he did not need their dollars; he wanted every Indian-American to send five non-Indian friends to visit the country. Tourism, he said, can generate income for cabbies, auto-rickshaw drivers — “even tea sellers.”

Mr. Modi is keen to attract business deals that will create jobs in India, one of his main campaign promises in a nation where every month a million people turn 18 and join the labor force. For their part, American officials and executives want Mr. Modi to remove many of the obstacles that foreign companies face in doing business in India.

“The biggest thing the prime minister can do is to re-establish trust,” said Ajay Banga, chief executive of MasterCard, who has championed the cause of American business in India.

Stephen Ezell of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said that Mr. Modi seemed to be the most business-friendly prime minister in India’s recent history, but that he had yet to take action on matters like trade policy and taxes. “If he is truly going to deliver on that vision, then he is going to have to make some very difficult decisions,” Mr. Ezell said.

Mr. Modi received resounding applause on Sunday for a promise to clear away red tape facing new businesses.

The stated purpose of Mr. Modi’s trip was to address the United Nations General Assembly, but every stop he has made in New York has been tailored to send messages to specific audiences. One of his first was at the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan, signaling India’s commitment to combating extremist groups. He has not said whether India supports the American-led airstrikes against insurgents in Iraq and Syria, but that issue is certain to come up in his meetings in Washington, administration officials have said.

India has not taken a side in the war in Syria, and it continues to do business with Iran. But in steps that American officials have noted, Mr. Modi has improved ties with Japan, cautioned China against expansionism and signaled that he can be trusted as a friend to the United States in fighting terrorism. He met with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

Both publicly and privately, Mr. Modi has listed his own priorities for India: building toilets, expanding Internet broadband access in the countryside, training young people for work and cleaning up the Ganges, a holy river in Hindu scripture.

“He is projecting an image of India that we haven’t seen in a while — that is, an India as a global player,” said Vishakha Desai, a former president of the Asia Society, who attended the Madison Square Garden speech on Sunday.

Mr. Modi’s emphasis on prosperity and cleanliness appealed to Rohit Sehgal of Secaucus, N.J. He said he hoped the changes Mr. Modi was promising would get his daughter’s generation to stop complaining about the roads and the garbage in India. “I want my daughter to want to go back to her country,” he said.

Not everyone was impressed. Outside the arena, a small group of protesters held banners denouncing Mr. Modi, who was chief minister of Gujarat in 2002 when sectarian rioting racked the state. He could not get a visa to visit the United States for nearly 10 years because of accusations that he had done too little to stop the violence.

Rekha Malhotra, 43, a popular disc jockey who was among the protesters, said she had turned down passes that she had been offered to see Mr. Modi speak. “I said thanks but no thanks — I’ll be outside,” she explained.

Sherry Hundal, 46, said she had come from Denville, N.J., to raise her voice against the prime minister. “I’m glad to be on the right side of history,” she said.

A version of this article appears in print on September 29, 2014, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Premier Outlines Goals for India on Eve of a Visit With Obama. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

British Parliament Backs Airstrikes Against ISIS in Iraq



British Parliament Backs Airstrikes Against ISIS in Iraq
By STEPHEN CASTLE and ALAN COWELLSEPT. 26, 2014

LONDON — The British Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Friday to approve airstrikes in Iraq against the militants of the Islamic State. The vote brought a country weary of international engagements belatedly into the American-led campaign against Sunni extremists.

Prime Minister David Cameron called Parliament back from recess to consider the motion, which authorizes the government to conduct air operations over Iraq. It does not authorize the deployment of ground troops, nor does it authorize action in Syria.

The decision was seen as significant, after British lawmakers voted last year not to join proposed strikes against Syria over its use of chemical weapons.

The vote last year dented Britain’s reputation as America’s closest ally in the fight against extremism, and the debate on Friday was seen as a test of Britain’s stomach for further military intervention after unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“In military terms, the vote has no significance whatsoever, but politically it has more importance,” said James Strong, a foreign policy expert at the London School of Economics and Political Science. “There is a sense in the United States that if even Britain thinks it is a bad idea, then it probably is.”

Among America’s European allies, France and the Netherlands have already said that they would take part in the bombing campaign in Iraq, and Denmark and Belgium did the same on Friday.

Wary of a defeat in Parliament and eager to avert opposition from the Labour Party, Mr. Cameron said on Friday that Britain would not, at present, join the United States in attacking targets in Syria, and would not commit ground forces to fight the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Mr. Cameron said that while he did not believe there was a legal barrier to Britain conducting airstrikes in Syria, he was proposing action exclusively in Iraq for the sake of political consensus.

As he outlined his case for intervention, Mr. Cameron faced persistent questioning from lawmakers about the campaign’s objectives, the risk that the mission could expand beyond its initial scope, and the readiness of Iraqi forces to take advantage of air support. But some lawmakers also argued that the motion did not go far enough.

“We would want to see a stable Iraq and — over time — a stable Syria too; ISIL degraded and then destroyed as a serious terrorist organization,” Mr. Cameron said in Parliament. “But let me be frank: we should not expect this to happen quickly. The hallmarks of this campaign will be patience and persistence, not shock and awe.”

Mr. Cameron said the militant group had “already murdered one British hostage and is threatening the lives of two more,” adding that, for Britain, there “isn’t a walk-on-by option.”

Supporting the call for airstrikes, Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said that he understood the unease in parts of Britain about another military engagement. “Let us be clear at the outset what is the proposition: airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq,” Mr. Miliband said. “Not about ground troops, nor about U.K. military action elsewhere. And it is a mission specifically aimed at ISIL.”

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He added that a “dismembered Iraq” would be more dangerous to Britain than taking military action now, and that Britain should pride itself on its “tradition of internationalism.”

Western nations hope that Iraqi government troops can be bolstered sufficiently to defeat the Islamic State’s fighters on the ground. In Syria, where the Islamic State is battling both with the government of President Bashar al-Assad and with other rebel groups, some of which have Western backing, the picture is more complicated. Western governments want to avoid any appearance that they are aligning with Mr. Assad or supporting his brutal efforts to crush the revolt against him.

Mr. Miliband said of the Syria situation that “when we are not talking about being invited in by a democratic state, it would be better — I put it no higher than that — it would be better to seek a U.N. Security Council resolution.”

In preparation, the Royal Air Force has had six Tornado warplanes flying surveillance missions over Iraq for several weeks, ostensibly as part of humanitarian efforts to help minorities threatened by the Islamic State.

Kenneth Clarke, the former Conservative cabinet minister, said Britain’s participation in the air campaign would be “almost symbolic,” but would help London to press other capitals to take steps against the Islamic State.

In the debate on Friday, several members of Parliament, mainly Conservatives, criticized the motion for not authorizing action in Syria, arguing that the Islamic State was based there and had all but erased the Syria-Iraq border. But others had different concerns, including John Baron, also a Conservative, who warned of a “real danger that we are going into a cul-de-sac” without “an exit strategy.”