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Global Fault Lines

With a predominant focus on U.S. policies, is Iraq really the only security threat the world is faced with?

November 27, 2002

With a predominant focus on U.S. policies, is Iraq really the only security threat the world is faced with?

The real future of the 21st century — the building of the alliance to contain China — was on display in New Delhi recently, when two of Beijing's most belligerent critics got together.

One is India's Defense Minister George Fernandes, who says India's nukes are aimed at Beijing, not Pakistan. His guest was Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, author of that anti-American best-seller 'A Japan That Can Say No.'

Mr. Ishihara called for an India-Japan strategic alliance against the “looming threat” of China. He also proposed to symbolize the new partnership with joint India-Japan ventures to build and launch satellites and warplanes in order to construct Asia's first aerospace industry.

Mr. Fernandes invited Governor Ishihara to lecture on ‘India and Japan in the Changing World’ at New Delhi's Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

As ISDA President, India's Defense Minister told the meeting that he was impressed by Mr. Ishihara’s “candid observations”, particularly the prediction that China would split into “five or six countries in 15 years’ time”.

Minister Fernandes then took his fiery Japanese guest on a tour of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the high-tech Infosys showcase at Bangalore. The Tokyo Governor returned the favor with another speech that said China's threats to take over Taiwan were akin to Adolf Hitler's occupation of Austria in 1938.

Call it the insult that keeps on giving. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will be paying for his anti-Bush remarks during his re-election campaign for years to come.

Mr. Schröder agreed in late November — despite his election vows to give no support to a U.S.-led operation against Iraq — to open German airspace and bases for it.

The latest favor is his agreement to a U.S. request that he send three Patriot missile batteries to reinforce Israeli defenses against the threat of Iraqi missile attacks.

What's really interesting is the implication that the U.S. is running short of these munitions — even though the Pentagon and the manufacturers (Raytheon) have had months of warning to accelerate the production schedule.

Either there really is an embarrassing shortage of Patriots, or the U.S. just wanted to rub Mr. Schröder's nose in it.

Maybe there won't be a war after all. The Paris-based al-Watan al-Arabi is claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his old colleagues in the KGB to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by a military coupe or a "mokrie dielo" (literally 'wet job' or assassination) in order to protect the Russian interests in Iraq and the region — and to preclude any American occupation of Iraq.

The operation would be based on the decades of experience and contacts that Russian intelligence has acquired in Iraq through four decades of cooperation.

Al-Watan al-Arabi goes on to say that the plan has the full approval of Russian equivalent of the National Security Council as the only way to guarantee Russian interests after what they see as the inevitable fall of Saddam.