Nihal Singh


Nihal Singh

Europe had a dream

It is premature to sing dirges for the European Union (EU), but the path-breaking grouping that blazed a new trail after World War II and took a war-spattered Europe to a new trajectory of peace and prosperity is facing an existential crisis. What started as Greece’s financial meltdown impacting on the common euro currency has spawned an unprecedented soul-searching for answers.

A three-way game with no winner

April.10 : The sharp confrontation that has developed between Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration is a danger signal that could mark the beginning of the end of American — and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) — commitment to the war-ravaged country. To one who has covered America’s Vietnam War for five years in the 1960s, it is an eerie reminder of the fragility of relations between a power fighting someone’s war and the leader of the client state.

India or Pak: Time for US to choose

March.25 : Pakistan is not going to acquire a nuclear deal with the United States similar to India’s in a hurry, but the mood music coming out of Washington is an indication of the light years the two countries have travelled since the days the world sat agog soaking in details of the amazing nuclear arms bazar that A.Q. Khan had opened for business.

Can UN wrest control from US and Other 4?

July.09 : At the midway point of his term, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is facing a stern test, with murmurs in New York and world capitals growing about his eligibility for the traditional second term. The rebuff he received from the ruling military junta in Burma in turning down his request for a meeting with the Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi facing trial has done nothing to enhance his reputation.

EU’s problems: Russia and recession politics

March.26 : These are difficult days for the European Union. They are difficult for the rest of the world as well, with one striking difference. The most audacious and successful adventure in post-World War II history is foundering because the economic meltdown has accentuated the contradictions among member states and their views on the future.

The Lisbon treaty that would have given the EU a symbolic sense of unity and leadership with a high-profile President and one foreign minister was shot down by Ireland in a referendum after French and Dutch voters had earlier rejected the treaty’s original version. The result has been that the EU is still subjected to the rotating presidency, and the luck of the draw has the Czech Republic in the presidential seat, a new former Communist member that cannot be expected to lead the heavyweights and the rest to surmount the crisis.

Manmohan’s foreign policy coup almost rivals Indira’s

The arguments will continue till the cows come home, but the American success in swinging the Indo-US nuclear deal, with considerable Indian diplomatic help, in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will have two major consequences: It marks the beginning of a new phase of relations with the United States, and it is the one substantial legacy of the nearly five years of the Manmohan Singh government.

It is also significant that the deal approval comes at a particularly fractious time in domestic politics, reflected in the government’s inability to build a greater consensus around a landmark foreign

Emerging economies key to lifting financial gloom

Quite apart from the decisions the world economic summit of 20 nations took or did not take, the meeting represented a power shift that was impossible to miss. After knocking at the door of rich nations for years and lately being invited for "coffee breaks", as suggested by one, the so-called emerging economies were invited in as legitimate participants in resolving the most serious economic crisis the world has faced since the Great Depression.

Will a change of govt alter Japan’s politics?

July.23 : The world seems to have stopped paying attention to Japanese politics as Prime Ministers come and go in quick succession — the present holder of office, Taro Aso, is the fourth in three years — and the perennial ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), in office for five decades except for a short break in the mid-90s, staggers on. Yet Mr Aso’s travails have a new edge stemming from his decision to call a general election on August 30 after the LDP lost heavily in local elections.

A historic accord to open sealed borders

Oct.15 : Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accomplished a unique feat, with help from his Armenian counterpart Serge Sarkisian and Europe and the United States, in engineering an agreement with his neighbour burying the nearly century-old feud on whether the killing of Armenians towards the end of the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide. Historical memories run deep, and the commemoration of a tragic event had become a matter of faith and nationalism for Armenians and their powerful diaspora of 1,5 million in the United States. Turkish analysts are hailing the accord, signed in Switzerland, as an event of the century, but it is the most significant development since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

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