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Discovering The Road Back to Sanity in American Foreign Relations

Posted by intellisg on May 12, 2007

sanity.jpg“During the Cold War, we had the simplicity of bipolarity. After it ended, during the transitional phase, the US was the sole hyperpower but we are now seeing the limits of hard power.”

George Yeo, 13th March 2007

Since 1993, the disintegration of the Soviet Union left the US as the only super power. When the Republicans came into power under the banner of the Bush administration, 9/11 provided what seemed an unchallengeable opportunity to promulgate a new “Pax Americana” – a new order in world politics.

The “war on terror” was seen as a sort of “crusade” reborn again. Yet it was without a clear enemy except against a man who lived in a cave in Tora Bora and rode a donkey.

The US launched a series of military campaigns first against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Followed by a long and protracted military campaign to oust the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

5 years later after over 5,000 coalition troops have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The “war on terror” has achieved little – sectarian violence rages on in the streets in Baghdad – terrorist recruitment has never been higher before. The war on terror is looking like another Vietnam and the US is seen to have squandered all its moral currency on pursuing a lost cause which has seen it continually mired as it ambles like a drunkard trying to find his way out of the quagmire. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in B'hood, Politics, Strategic Studies, World | 1 Comment »

When the UN Simply Means – The United Nothing

Posted by intellisg on May 10, 2007

un1.jpgMENTION the United Nations in every major city in the world (especially in the US) and you will likely be greeted with an unending litany of woes – Anti Semitic, hobbling the United States, justifying tyranny, bribery, fat salaries, squander, unproductive meetings, lousy aid programs, waste of mythical proportions, failures which make the science of transmuting lead to gold look like the roaring success of the millennia. In these circles, the UN along with its various agencies, FAO, UNCITRAL, WHO, UNESCO, WIPO, and yes, even the WTO is frequently not spared the whip or the occasional burst of bird shot.

Even the paperbacks have joined the UN bashing wagon, notably a series of dooms day books that are starting to proliferate the shelves of Borders these days with catchy headliners like the “Lost Dream” or “The Blues.”

They sell amazingly well and they all have one thing in common. They all hate the UN often equating it with the devil or Satan – describing the actual power of the UN as exaggerated – an aging bureaucracy in need of an overhaul – a tool against freedom and democracy.

I mean, please you don’t expect me to believe all these do you? I know and you know the UN may not be Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Florence Nightingale or Britney Speers rolled up into one. But surely the idea of asserting that it’s satanic or even devilish is preposterous isn’t it? Besides name me one large institution that’s perfect? The UN agencies may not be entirely trouble-free, but I am sure somewhere in the heart of darkness in Central Africa some poor kid is getting his daily quota of dysentery tablets. Or in some far off refugee camp somewhere in Darfur a few UN blue helmeted troops are battling to keep planet and people safe by disarming gun totting militia bent on mayhem.

So what’s really wrong with the UN? How did it maneuver itself into this position where it’s like a fish in the bucket? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Strategic Studies, World | 7 Comments »

When A Good Idea Goes “Wrong”: The Iraqi Campaign and Southeast Asia

Posted by intellisg on May 9, 2007

good-idea.jpg“America has to take a firm position and if it leaves with its tail between its legs, it is going to be very damaging for America, very damaging for all of its friends… particularly in Southeast Asia, that we will all be greatly alarmed because our security will be greatly affected.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently on May 6, 2007 (AFP)

Nearly a week has passed since President Bush vetoed a bipartisan proposal in the senate that fully funded additional troops into the Iraqi theatre so that the US can responsibly end the war. At face value, the decision to undertake a “strategic retreat” signals a reversal of the White House’s position towards the proposals of the Baker-Hamilton report. It might seem even to be a tacit acknowledgment, that the shit has hit the fan and its time to slowly back track and go back into the car and drive somewhere any where except out of Iraq.

This article will paint in broad and long strokes what actually went wrong with the Iraqi campaign inspired by “the war on terror.” It will also explore what long and disturbing shadows the Iraqi campaign will cast against countries in South East Asia.

(1) Warning: Not using your brain is hazardous to your country’s health

One of the reasons accounting for the ineptitude of US foreign policy is the failure to reason. This followed directly from the intellectual failure to address itself to the practical necessities of sustaining such a complex military, social, political and economic campaign in Iraq before, during and after war. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Iraq, Politics, Sociology, Strategic Studies, World | 23 Comments »

Removing The Plank – Why Religion and Politics Don’t Mix.

Posted by inspir3d on February 5, 2007

“One muggy morning in late July many years ago, on a graveled stoned path flanked by cedar trees; two men walked towards the top of a hill. The man who had just turned forty paused, coughed and apologized to the preacher, who smiled on registering his companion’s lack of stamina. He (the younger man) had just given up the bottle less than two weeks ago, since then he had been trying to get into shape, but there was still much to be done.

When both men reached the top of the hill, they paused for a while and took a sweep of the Kennebunk-port compound. The taciturn yet convivial Billy Graham, spiritual mentor to the rich and famous, turned to the man and said,

“George, I want to talk to you about those moments when a booming voice in your head, just speaks to you.”

“Yeah Bill, I know that voice and it sure booms, like a jet plane splitting the sound barrier. I get that feeling every morning when I wake up.” The man shakes his head.

“No George, I am not talking about a hangover. I am talking about the voice from up there!” The preacher points up and smiles wryly turning to the younger man.

“Bill, you’ve seen them too…I’ve had this experience once, when…..”

“Shhhh George, I am talking about the old man upstairs, way up there. He told me last night in a dream, he has great plans for you George………great plans.”

Both men turned upwards to the skies and at that moment the sun broke through the clouds – it seemed that they were witnessing the beginning of a new dawn. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Religion, World | 6 Comments »

IMF/WB vs S’pore Govt: More News from Around the World

Posted by inspir3d on September 16, 2006

PODCAST: “Singapore stance shocks IMF, World Bank” (ABC) – Paul Wolfowitz, Alex Au, and Chee Soon Juan quoted, reporting by Karen Percy


“Singapore, rebuked, lifts ban on globalization foes” (IHT) “After a rebuke Friday from the World Bank president, the Singapore government reversed itself and agreed to allow more than 20 anti-globalization advocates into the country to attend the coming meetings of the bank and International Monetary Fund.”

“Singapore’s climbdown on activists too late: NGOs” (AFP) “Singapore acted too late in finally agreeing to admit 22 activists whose accreditation for World Bank and IMF meetings it had opposed, non-governmental organizations say.”

“Singapore police bar World Bank poverty protestors” (Independent) “The World Bank, Singapore and the International Monetary Fund need to apologise. We need Singapore to come its senses and open their arms to people who are trying to serve the poorest people in the world.”

“Singapore relents over ban on activists” (Financial Times) “Singapore bowed to international pressure on Friday and agreed to allow 22 of 27 banned activists to attend the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund/World Bank, after Paul Wolfowitz, World Bank president, said the bar on their entry was “unacceptable”.”

“Singapore’s reversal ‘too little too late'”(Bangkok Post) “The Singapore government’s willingness to admit 22 to 27 blacklisted activists to the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank was criticized as “too little too late” by civil society organizations (CSOs) Saturday.”

“NGOs reject Singapore offer to join IMF-WB dialogue” (Nation)

“Bank slams Singapore crackdown” (The Age)

“Singapore Rebuked for Actions at Meeting” (Washington Post)

More than 300 articles via Google


“Spotlight: Preparing Singapore for a globalized world” (IHT) “Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore can take comfort from the book on the dashboard of a local taxi: “Strategic Management, Concepts & Cases.” There is at least one taxi driver in the city-state who subscribes to his government’s mantra of reinvention, to train all Singaporeans to be able to compete better in a globalized world.”

Posted in World | Comments Off on IMF/WB vs S’pore Govt: More News from Around the World

Singapore Allows Entry to 22 of 27 Barred Activists

Posted by inspir3d on September 15, 2006

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) — Singapore will allow the entry of 22 of 27 activists it objected to earlier, responding to demands by World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz who said today the city suffered “enormous damage” for the restriction. Full Story

Posted in World | 1 Comment »

BBC: Singapore ‘breaks protest deal’

Posted by inspir3d on September 14, 2006

High impact2The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have accused Singapore of reneging on a deal to allow activists into their annual meeting.

The World Bank said it was “very displeased” with Singapore’s decision to bar 28 activists from the country.full story


“World Bank says Singapore Breached Deal” (Houston Chronicle) “Singapore breached an agreement by barring 28 activists from entering the country to attend the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the institutions said Thursday.”

“World Bank’s Wolfowitz says Singapore Backtracked on Agreement” (Bloomberg) “World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Singapore may have backtracked on an agreement to let all accredited members of civil society groups attend meetings of the bank and the International Monetary Fund in the city-state”

“World Bank says Singapore Breached Deal” (Associated Press) “The World Bank accused Singapore of breaching an agreement by barring 28 activists from entering the country to attend the group’s annual meeting, a newspaper reported Thursday.”

“Singapore has reneged on deal with activists: Wolfowitz” (AFP) – Note the comments by Lim Hng Kiang

“Singapore has reneged on deal with activists: Wolfowitz” (The Nation) “Singapore appears to have reneged on a deal over admission of activists accredited for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Thursday.

“The most unfortunate thing is what appears to be a going-back on an explicit agreement,” Wolfowitz told about 50 activists in Singapore ahead of annual meetings of the Bank and IMF here next week.

“So far we’ve had no satisfactory explanation why,” Wolfowitz said.”

“EU, W.Bank urge Singapore to Lift Protest Ban” (Reuters) “The European Union urged Singapore on Wednesday not to bar activists from entering the country to attend the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings this week.

A statement from the Finnish EU Presidency said the activists had been accredited by the World Bank and should have the right to participate.”

“Charities Threaten to Boycott IMF over Ban on Singapore Protests” (Independent) “The high-profile meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were in disarray yesterday after some of the world’s leading charities threatened to pull out of the event in protest at heavy-handed policing by the Singapore government.”


“Singapore Protests” (Wall Street Journal via TTT) “Protests in Singapore are a rare sight. That won’t change when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund come to town this week. From deporting aspiring nude animal-rights activists to refusing entry to certain known ruffians, the city-state has ensured that the annual meetings will run smoothly. But it’s missed a good opportunity to educate doubters about why globalization works, a lesson that Singapore, of all countries, can teach better than most.”

Posted in World | Comments Off on BBC: Singapore ‘breaks protest deal’

Monday: Rebuke, Smilies and A Rebuttal

Posted by inspir3d on September 11, 2006

“The Token Rebuke” Chemical Generation, “The IMF rebuke is all for show and part of the elaborate September opera between them and the Singapore government. Both are just moving their prearranged pieces. The Singapore government is making its anti-protest move and the IMF / WB are reading their prepared statements in response.”

“Schizophrenic Smilies” Xenoboy, “It is amusing to observe all the shennanigans leading up to the IMF/WB meetings.”

“A Rebuttal” altrerius, “The KTM wrote an entry in criticism of this entry, essentially stating that such a complaint as stated in the entry shows that Singaporeans are weak and unwilling to compete on a global level. … Being an NUS student myself; though not from the the faculty of either Engin nor Science, I tend to relate much better with the NUS Engin student than I do with KTM.”

Posted in Foreign Talent, Human Rights, World | Comments Off on Monday: Rebuke, Smilies and A Rebuttal

Disciplined, or Oppressed?

Posted by inspir3d on September 11, 2006

“Singapore clampdown casts a shadow over IMF-WB meet” Agence-France Presse “Lidy Nacpil, international director of Jubilee South, a non-government group campaigning for greater debt relief for poor countries, said “what this shows is that the Singapore government is afraid of democracy.”…

“By now, people know what the image of Singapore is, and they realize we are who we are,” said Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

“We’re one of the most disciplined societies in the world because the environment we live in is special,” he was quoted as saying in the local newspaper Today.”

“Singapore Snub Stings IMF and World Bank” The Age, “THE World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, two organisations that repeatedly praise the role of “civil society” activist groups in poor countries, have protested against a decision by Singapore to bar representatives of several such groups at their meeting with the leaders of poor countries next week.”


“Smile, Singapore!” Gayle Goh, “I returned from Bangkok yesterday afternoon to be greeted by striking banners that hailed the arrival of the IMF/WB delegates to Singapore. A huge panel filled with smiling faces scratched annoyingly at my peripheral vision. Tonight, returning home on the bus, I saw another double-decker bus decorated with nothing but smiles, smiles and smiles!

I’m sorry, but I’m quite disgusted. The whole affair is nothing but a cheap plastic, embarrassing multi-million-dollar scam.”

“The Protest Against No Protest” Mr Wang, “Sounds nasty, doesn’t it? So much for the Four Million Smiles project. It looks like out of this whole IMF/World Bank event, Singapore has succeeded in creating a bad reputation for itself – even before the event actually gets started.”

“Civil Protests Lead to Terrorism!!!” Ms Molly Meek “So, engagement is about coming up with some sound logic to stick to your stance…”

Posted in Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, World | Comments Off on Disciplined, or Oppressed?

IMF and World Bank Rebuke Singapore

Posted by inspir3d on September 9, 2006

High impact2“The International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Friday issued an unprecedented rebuke to Singapore over a ban on accredited activists invited to attend the annual meetings of the two financial institutions next week.

The IMF/World Bank suggested that Singapore had violated the terms of its agreement to host the event by blocking the entry of 19 civil society representatives, who allegedly posed a security threat.” Full Story (Financial Times) Original story at FT is now for subscribers only.

Official Announcement:

“Joint Statement from World Bank and IMF on CSO Participation in the Annual Meetings in Singapore” International Monetary Fund, “In the interest of good governance, transparency and accountability, we urge the Government of Singapore to allow all properly accredited civil society representatives to attend our meetings. We have consistently opposed any restrictions on full participation and peaceful expression of views. Open dialogue with civil society is also important for the effective operation of our institutions.”

Related News:

“World Bank, IMF urge Singapore not to bar accredited activists from annual meetings” (International Herald Tribune)”The World Bank and International Monetary Fund on Friday urged Singapore to allow all activists invited by the finance institutions to attend this month’s meetings in the city-state.”

“NGO Ban will Embarrass Singapore” (Bangkok Post)

“Singapore’s Barring of Some Activists Prompts a Protest” (New York Times)

“Singapore under fire as World Bank-IMF Protest” (AFP) “”While we understand and agree that security at the meetings is of paramount importance, Singapore’s authorities have not shared any information that would make us … consider these individuals as potential threats”

“Singapore Rapped over Protest Ban” (BBC News) “In an interview with BBC World Business Report, Mr Wolfowitz said Singapore had made a “bad” decision when it blocked activists that had been invited to the event.

“I hope Singapore’s authorities will change their minds and allow the people in that we have accredited as originally agreed,” he added.”

“Singapore Tightens the Cordon on Protest” (International Herald Tribune)  “It’s completely astonishing”

Posted in Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, World | 16 Comments »

Testing the Limits in Singapore

Posted by inspir3d on September 2, 2006

“SINGAPORE – When the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) open their week-long annual conferences in Singapore on September 12, the events will not be attended by the usual anti-globalization street protests, burning effigies or other anti-establishment antics. Singapore’s authoritarian government guarantees that.” …more (Asia Times)

Posted in Democracy, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Politics, World | Comments Off on Testing the Limits in Singapore

Smile For Them Too

Posted by inspir3d on August 29, 2006

“Its coming soon. The IMF/WB meetings in Singapore. The event has galvanised the country’s PR machine, road paving work, tree pruning activities and a massive phased campaign to bring out 4 million smiles for them rich folks coming into town.

The corresponding part of the travelling entourage, civil society groups and NGOs who protest against the IMF/WB have been warned off with the dreaded cane, well drilled riot troops, pepper spray and the gamut of enforcement activities which signal clearly that the protesters are not part of the 4-million smiles welcome package. Instead, these folks will be shunted off to Batam for their trouble-making activities.” …more (Xenoboy)

Posted in World | Comments Off on Smile For Them Too