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A win in Scotland, a Republican debate, and Pakistan

Posted by on May 13th, 2011

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By Steve Hynd

For those of you who don't yet listen, I thought maybe I should summarize last night's Polizeros Radio. It was one of our widest ranging discussions yet, with a lot packed into 60 minutes. Our host Josh Mull dived straight in with the Scottish National Party's landmark win in the elections there and its possible impact. As my co-panellist Bob Morris puts it:

The SNP describes itself as center-left, which by US standards would be considered far left. They favor no fees at universities and have already instituted free prescriptions for drugs. Scotland has huge mostly untapped wind, wave, and tidal power and could easily support itself should it vote for independence, something the SNP plans on bringing to referendum within five years.

The SNP, who have been around for decades, won because they a) never gave up, b) clearly stand for something. This is how to win in America too.

The SNP's members, as lefties, could have decided to be a part of the larger UK Labour Party but didn't because they had that one agenda item – greater representation and eventual independence for Scotland – that Labour was never going to have. Over the years, and especially under Blair, the Labour Party moved towards the center and that left the SNP's members with a realization: they were now the only party advocating the rest of their democratic socialist agenda too. The lesson for American lefties should be obvious. Why vote for a party that will only ever enact a small portion of your agenda? You deserve to have a party to vote for that will represent you 100%. If that party doesn't exist, form it and build it, even if it takes decades.

From there, we moved the discussion to the first Republican debate. I didn't watch it but Josh was struck by both the amount of antiwar and anti-drug war views coming from the podium and the amount of cheering those views were getting. The Republican leadership are now more anti-war than Democratic leaders. The tea party seems to be waning in power and saner (paleocon) Republican views seem to be resurgent. That's a good thing in my opinion but there's also a certain amount of "lets do to them what they did to Bush" going on, I think. Neither party seems to be particularly anti-war when it's in office. Still, we're seeing a Republican race which isn't anywhere as crazilly wingnut (yet) as many expected. I repeated my prediction from a Polizeros Radio show weeks ago – we're going to see the Right elect a grey, uninspiring, compromise candidate this cycle, basically "doing a Kerry" as the Dems did in 2004.

All this talk of Republicans being anti-war led us to Pakistan. After all, the way in which Osama Bin Laden's death and hiding place have highlighted the fact that the Afghan war can never be won by the US. If Pakistan is aiding and directing militants and terror groups, offering them safe haven, then no amount of "clear, hold, build" will be effective. Maybe Republicans in opposition are just faster to get that than Democrats cheerleading their president for right or wrong – especially when it tallies nicely with the Right's "zomg the deficit!" schtick.

But Pakistan may have finally bitten off more than it can chew at a regional level. Two weeks ago, it was the consensus that the Afghan government had finally decided to offer Pakistan whatever it wanted just to get the violence to stop. But now we see a new Afghan intransigence, a sense of vindication that what they'd been saying about Pakistan's double-dealing has finally been brought out in the open by the OBL raid where US officials can't pretend any more. And India has been quick to step into the breach, with a strategic trade agreement and an increase of around 25% (some $500 million) in its aid to Afghanistan.

I'll go waaaay out on a limb and suggest that we may see the residual force in Afghanistan after 2014 now not be Americans or NATO but Indians in UN blue hats. For India, its a move in their cold war with China – one in which Pakistan is already firmly in the Chinese camp. So far, that cold war has been entirely waged by economic leveraging and a bit of proxy feuding but there's always a chance of it turning hot in future as both regional powers bid for economic superpowerdom the only way there is – maritime trade.

In fact, i wonder if analysts in the US are missing a key Chinese motivation when they look at the Chinese military/industrial complex through glasses that say it always has to be about the US. For instance, China's anti-carrier ballistic missile is supposedly incredibly innacurate and unlikely to break through a US carrier group's AEGIS defenses. But if it is aimed at India's future single carrier then it makes far more sense – because then a dozen missiles only have to score a hit once. It may be that the Chinese are as focussed on India as the Indians are on them. In which case the US is peculiarly irrelevant, if China has no intention of competing with American military might. It's not always about us.

Anyway, as I say it was one of our most wide-ranging shows. You can listen to the whole thing here and please, join us next week.

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  1. retarded white supremacists says:

    Very creative article, I hope you’ll post more often :)

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