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October 2004

John Kerry 's narrow view of terrorism

John Kerry wants to deal with terrorism the way we have dealth with illegal gambling and prostitution! My wife brought a good point: prostitution and illegal gambling are mostly domestic problems. Therefore, law enforcement can deal with them effectively if they decide to make it a priority. We will never have to worry about invading other countries in order to stop gambling in our own country.

But the terrorists operate freely in many places around the world (we all know them)!

So, are we going to wait till terrorists cross into our borders even as they plan mass murders in various safe-havens? How are we going to deal with terrorism when terrorists can acquire weapons of mass destruction from rogue states?

That's why President Bush's policy of being on the offensive is great! It promises to deal with terrorism before it becomes a significant threat! It takes the war to them, where it belongs!

Update: Arthur has more on this. Also, more analysis at Justoneminute blog.


Will this how Iraq and Afghanistan look 50 years from now

Robert Lawson takes a look at Korea then and now. From the barely subsisting agricultural economy in mid-1950s South Korea has managed to reach per capital income of $17,800 today. The description of South Korea in mid-1950s resembles that of Iraq and Afghanistan today. Let's hope both countries go the South Korea way.

Update: Welcome InstaReaders! I hope you will take a look around my blog and read my other posts too!


Bush won the debate on National Security

I always sensed that Sept. 11 changed many people in US. I know because I was one of those who changed! The TV scenes of the collapsing towers took my breath away. The speech delivered by Bush on Sept. 20th, 2001 had a tremendous impact on me. I developed a tremendous respect for him which continues to this day. I think he has a good long-term vision and patience and determination to carry through that inspite of short-term difficulties.

US presidential debate on foriegn policy between Bush and Kerry illustrated contrasting philosophies: old popularity and consensus based traditional approach and bold new vision to take the fight to the terrorists. And Bush showed he desevered a special place in history.

The points made their are applicable not just to US situation but also to India and rest of the democratic world. Because far too many people wish believe wrongly that root cause of terrorism lies in tyranny of western imperalism or zionism and so on. They fail to understand the real nature of terrorism and how yesteryears strategies designed to fight wars between nations in a previous era cannot be reused now. Most imporantly, if we stick to the same old mindset we stand to lose this war on terrorism spectacularly. Deterrence, national soverignty, accomodation with dictators and appeasement will bring us short-term peace but it will also give terrorists enough dark place to breed and equip themselves.


The essay Eject! Eject! Eject!: DETERRENCE, Part 1 by Bill Whittle expresses similar sentiments but in much more eloquent way! Read the whole thing!


Digi-distribution revolutionizes the world of entertainment

Via Marginal Revolution: Making money from niche demand, Chris Anderson writes in the Wired Magazine:
Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.

The traditional channels like bookstores, retail stores (such as WalMart) meanwhile have high fixed costs and hence can afford to keep only few "hit" items. The digital distribution of music and books do not require high-level of fixed costs. Plus online retailers such as Amazon.com have done a fine job of utilizing the interactive nature of the web to guide the customers to the items that they might like. Customer recommendations and comments, features such as "People who bought this also bought:" and so on, allow customer to discover the items of their liking. Customers are not forced to buy entire albums if they just liked a single track. The low-fixed costs and ease of discovery makes it easier for Amazon and other online retailers to carry huge inventory of even non-hit items. The profit from selling many non-hit is comparable to selling a few hit items.

Read the whole article. It is full of good analysis of the revolution brought by Amazon, Netflix, iTunes and others. I cannot even begin to summarize so many good points and many many excellent examples given there.


Is India an useful idiot?

This post was sparked by a post on Madhoo's blog about India's involvement in Sudan's oil business.

As usual, any mention of our unethical behavior has to somehow end-up with discussion on US hypocrisy!

The US did actually support many dictators, both before and after the Cold War and even today it supports some! However, there is difference between support of dictators and actually opposing liberation of people under dictatorial rule. We opposed liberation of Iraqi people, atleast symbolically! So citing US support of dictators does not help. The correct response is that US opposed liberation of Bangladesh from dictatorial Pakistan!

The difference between US opposition of Bangladesh liberation and India's opposition to liberation of Iraq is that atleast US did it because of her self-interest. There is a logic for US support of dictators, a logic of self-interest! US support of dictators benefitted US: either in monetory terms (Saudi Arabia) or in fight against USSR. Or atleast that was the plan at the point of time! What did we gain by opposing US liberation of Iraq? We went against US (although benignly but symbollically) emotionally and were just following rest of the world blindly. France and Russia atleast benefitted by dealing with Saddam.

When I look at India's support of dictators it looks purely emotional or symbolic to me! The benefit that we are getting is negligible but we end up legitimising dictators. Heck, Nehru even rubbed shoulders with Egypt's Naseer.

Our policy has been to support any dictator who thumbs his nose against "imperalism" or Capitalism! Many on the left had been (atleast during Cold War) convinced that socialism (or communism) will win over Capitalism and Western imperalism. The belief was very strong (afterall Karl Marx "proved" "scientifically" that Capitalism cannot sustain itself)! I bet when we refused to support Israel during her formative years we were sure that Israel will not last long enough! Did Nehru invest in building NAM without believing that we will have to atleast live side-by-side with Communism? Just try to understand the logic behind NAM! As if Communism was morally and strengthwise equivalent with Western capitalism!

Even today, the belief is that terrorism (and especially Islamic terrorism) will last forever. So, it is better to accomodate with the reality. US is working with Pakistan in short-term because Musharraf is atleast helping them fight terrorism. I am not defending US here but stating their own arguments. We may not agree with those reasons but atleast they are valid from US point of view. Long-term goal of US policy is to get rid of dictators (atleast stated). Bush has made spread of democracy and freedom his administration's official policy in order to prevent terrorism from taking roots. Is our long-term goal to get rid of dictators like Fidel Castro, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabhe, Iran's mullah's (heck, we invited their President for our Independence Day) and so on? Was our long-term goal the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein (after our short-term beneficial relationship with him was over)? Does our official policy includes the spread of democracy and freedom? How we intend to fight terrorism in the long-run?

Either we should gain from unethical relationships or oppose such things based on principles! I prefer the second option! We are doing exactly reverse! We are not gaining anything significant from dictators but nevertheless support them on an ideological basis! I remember having read somewhere that Fidel Castro calls such people or institutions as useful idiots! That's what we have been!


FY2005 H-1B Cap Reached!!!

On the evening of October 1, 2004 - the first day of the 2005 fiscal year (FY2005) - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a Press Release: USCIS Announces New H-1B Procedures - Reaches Cap.

In the Press Release, USCIS announced that enough H-1B petitions have been received to meet the annual H-1B cap (65,000) for FY2005. Included in the 65,000 H-1B petitions allowed for the fiscal year are 6,800 set aside for the Free Trade Agreements between the U.S. and Chile and Singapore - effectively reducing the cap to 58,200.

After October 1, 2004, USCIS will not accept any new H-1B petitions that are subject to the FY2005 annual cap.

How come people claim that offshoring is causing job losses in US when H1 VISAS (employment visas used by high-tech immigrants) are getting completely booked one year in advance?


Arundhati Roy does it again

Via Madhoo, Left-wing Facism Watch points to Arundhati Roy's defense of terrorism:
Personally I’m not prepared to pick up arms now. But maybe I can afford not to, at whatever place I am in now. I think violence really marginalizes and brutalizes women. It depoliticizes things. It’s undemocratic in so many ways. But at the same time, when you look at the massive amount of violence that America is perpetrating in Iraq, I don’t know that I’m in a position to tell Iraqis that you must fight a pristine, feminist, democratic, secular, non-violent war. I can’t say. I just feel that that resistance in Iraq is our battle too and we have to support it. And we can’t be looking for pristine struggles in which to invest our purity.
But again, she has done it before:
"Now, as adults and rulers, the Taliban beat, stone, rape and brutalize women, they don't seem to know what else to do with them."

John Kerry's Global Test and UNSCAM

In the first presidential debate on Thursday, John Kerry said that US must pass a global test before attempting a preemptive action against an enemy:
Kerry: No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.


Already the stupid remarks are biting back.

Bush should have asked him whether the condition of passing a global test still applies if some of the countries have been bribed by the enemy.

Here is more thoughts on UNSCAM and the Kerry's Global Test.

Also, will John Kerry insist that the same Global Test will be applied to other nations? will France, India, China, all agree to subject themselves to same or similar Global Test before undertaking a preemptive strike? Such kind of test may be meaningful if everybody follows it! Somehow, I doubt the Global Test will appeal other countries.

Update: JustOneMinute has a roundup of posts related to the "Global test".