"It's a safe investment. The United States has a well-deserved financial reputation," she told Chinese television stations at the end of her diplomatic tour of Asia.
"We are truly going to rise and fall together. Our economies are so intertwined, the Chinese know that to start exporting again to their biggest market the United States has to take some very drastic measures with this stimulus package, which means we have to incur more debt," she said.
Chinese media reports say Mrs Clinton has offered emphatic assurances to premier Wen Jiabao and President Ju Jintao that the Obama administration intends to restore the health of US public accounts and safeguard the interests of bondholders once the economy has begun to recover.
Asian investors have expressed concern over the flood of debt in the United States, fearing that it could tempt Washington to engineer a stealth default by allowing inflation to creep up. The Treasury says it needs to raise almost $500bn (£350bn) in debt in the first quarter alone. Estimates for 2009 reach as high as $2 trillion, a huge sum in a world starved of capital at a time almost all the major governments are launching fiscal rescue packages.
Yields on 10-year Treasuries have risen from just above 2pc before Christmas to 2.77pc last week. This has pushed up the cost of mortgages, undermining efforts by the Federal Reserve to stabilize the housing market. The Treasury's International Capital (TICS) data shows that foreigners sold a net $26bn on long-term Treasuries in November. This rebounded somewhat to plus $15bn in December, but China, Russia, and other big reserve powers have continued dumping their holdings of US agency mortgage bonds.
Mrs Clinton's plea for Beijing to keep buying US bonds comes in sharp contrast to comments during the presidential primaries when she said Chinese ownership of US government debt had become a threat to national security.
Fears that she would break with the Sinophile policies of the Bush administration and opt for a much tougher line against Beijing have so far proved unfounded.
Chinese officials said last week that Beijing had no plans to halt purchase of Treasuries, although just 25pc of its recent reserve accumulation has been going into dollar assets. China already owns $696bn of US government debt but it still needs to find a safe place to invest a monthly current account surplus reaching $40bn. There are very few AAA-rated assets to choose from.
If the Chinese falter, it looks increasingly likely that Japan will step into the breach. Albert Edwards, global strategist at Societe Generale, said Tokyo may be poised to intervene with massive purchases of US bonds to help drive down the yen. The currency has risen 30pc in trade-weighted terms over the last 18 months.
The Bank of Japan last launched a buying blitz in 2003 as an emergency measure to halt the downward spiral into deflation. This culminated in $150bn of US bond purchases in the first quarter of 2004, a move that stunned the markets and helped stabilize the Japanese economy.
The yen is a safe-haven currency, like the Swiss franc. It tends to appreciate in global economic downturns as Japanese investors bring home their vast overseas wealth. This exacerbates the industrial squeeze on Japanese exporters.
On this occasion the effect has been catastrophic, leading to a 12.7pc contraction in Japanese GDP in the fourth quarter on an annualized basis.
"Japan is clearly set to fall into depression. The yen is now massively vulnerable," said Mr Edwards.
Any move by Japan to force down its currency will put pressure on China to follow suit given the gravity of Asia's slump, creating the risk of a wave of beggar-thy-neighbour devaluations. While this would cause serious trade frictions, the side effect would at least be renewed appetite for US bonds, eurozone, and sterling, by Asian central banks.
We failed to address the underlying fundamental market distortions that skew the benefits toward the few while leaving the rest of the economy less well off. As George Soros, in a Bloomberg News interview on the financial crisis, recently said, the system, as it currently operates, is built on false premises. The premise on which our trade agreements are negotiated is at best flawed, if not broken.
to #5 Crazyf,
you're correct, she would drop Taiwan like its hot. Ironic, considering her hubby sent in the USS Nimitz to protect Taiwan from mainland in 1996. Bill, for the love of god, thats your wife, have a little talk with her.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would not qualify myself as a free man. Four and a half years ago I lost my freedom. Since then I am under 24-hour police protection. As if that is not enough, the most radical Dutch Imam claimed 55.000 euros in compensation for his hurt feelings because of Fitna. The State of Jordan is possibly going to issue a request for my extradition to stand trial in Amman. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ordered my criminal prosecution for making Fitna and for my political views on Islam. And last week the British government refused my entrance into the United Kingdom because me showing Fitna in the British House of Lords at the invitation of a British parliamentarian would be a threat to British public security. This is the alarming state of freedom of speech in todays Europe: Criticizing Islam has become a dangerous activity, criticizing Islam has apparently become a criminal act.
You just saw Fitna. My name is on the credit roll, but like you have seen, Fitna is actually not made by me, but is made by radical Muslims, the Koran and Islam itself. If Fitna is considered to be hate speech, then what is the Koran? If I am considered to be a threat to public security, then what is Islam?
Britain's best hope is that the rest of the royals back out of the way and let Harry be king. Then Parliament allows Harry some executive authority. The rest of the Britons do not have the stuff of great leaders that Harry has.
Posted by: Ho Chi Glusoque7625 ||
02/23/2009 10:16 Comments ||
Old-fashioned types might think that those Britons okay, make that "Britons" helping to manufacture bombs for the Taliban are engaged in an act of treason. But, as a current court case in Quebec helps clarify, giving support to the Queen's enemies in their attempts to kill your compatriots is now just another vibrant, colorful manifestation of cultural diversity.
As the International Free Press Society notes, Said Namouh is on trial up north for aiding and abetting terrorism. The Crown charges that Mr Namouh distributed jihadist snuff videos, offered advice on bomb-making, volunteered his expertise for a planned truck bombing, and threatened governnments (including Canada's) with troops in Afghanistan. Defense counsel René Duvall doesn't deny any of this, but says his client's enthusiasm for violent jihad is protected on grounds of freedom of religion and (mirthless chuckle from your humble typist) Canadians' cherished right to freedom of expression. As Maître Duvall put it outside the court, "Where do you draw the line?"
In fact, the line seems to be pretty clear: If a jihadist says he wants to kill Canadian troops, he's just exercising his right to freedom of religion. If I quote what he said in Canada's biggest-selling news weekly, we'll be charged with "flagrant Islamophobia" and hauled up in court.
Meanwhile, the genius jurists at the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal (which devoted one day of last June's show trial to examining the "tone" of my jokes) have rejected a "hate speech" complaint against the Koran. Fair enough, but the grounds for rejection are striking:
Humphreys dismissed the case after ruling that Simpsons complaint would not further the purposes of the Human Rights Code.
As Commissar Humphreys sees it, the "Human Rights" Code is not merely a set of laws to be applied to all citizens equally, but has ideological objectives which take precedence
(CNN) -- It has become one of MSNBC host Chris Matthew's most infamous lines of the 2008 presidential election:
"I felt this thrill going up my leg," Matthews said the night Obama resoundingly defeated rival Hillary Clinton in the Virginia and Maryland Democratic primaries.
And former CBS News Correspondent Bernard Goldberg, who has long alleged liberal bias in the media, highlighted that line as indicative of the media's "slobbering" press coverage of candidate Obama during his campaign for the White House.
"That's not commentary, that's a man-crush," Goldberg declared on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday.
Goldberg, the author of the new book "A Slobbering Love Affair," credits the media coverage of the 2008 presidential election for ultimately resulting in Barack Obama's victory. He specifically faulted coverage of the prolonged Democratic primary campaign, during which two historic candidates contentiously squared off. "I think in elite liberal circles, certainly inside the media, race trumps gender, and that's why they slobbered over Barack Obama, and took Hillary Clinton to the back room and beat her with a rubber hose," Goldberg said.
Goldberg also faulted political journalists for not digging up controversial sermons of the president's longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, until Obama had already effectively captured his party's nomination. "These tapes were available, you didn't have to be Woodward or Bernstein to dig them up," Goldberg said. "If those tapes had come out six months earlier, certainly a year earlier, I don't think Barack Obama would have been the nominee.
"I think Hillary Clinton would have been. And I think she would have been the president today," he continued. "And in that sense, she's the biggest loser in all of this."
Some countries are mistakes. Most of the mistakes are in Africa, where 19th Century European colonialists carved up the continent without regard to the settlement patterns of native tribes, or in the Middle East, where after World War I Britain and France carved up the corpse of the Ottoman Empire to suit their needs of the time. An example is Iraq, which cobbled together three groups will little in common and less fondness for each other to create a kingdom for a Saudi prince who had been useful during the Great War.
The colonists are long gone, but the consequences of their mistakes endure. Copious amounts of blood have been shed in civil wars between hostile tribes lumped together in the same artificial "country." The most egregious example is the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 in which up to a million people were killed.
The colonial mistakes in Africa and the Middle East were driven by arrogance and greed. But the most dangerous mistake was caused by an excess of political correctness.
Pakistan was created in 1947 when Britain granted independence to the crown jewel of its colonies, India. British India consisted of what are now the countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Muslims had ruled India for roughly 800 years before the arrival of the British, and did so brutally.
"The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history," wrote the historian Will Durant. "It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within."
Muslims feared the Hindu majority would treat them as badly as they'd treated the Hindus before the British came, so they insisted on a country of their own. The result was Pakistan, a collection of disparate groups who have nothing in common except their religion.
A clue to how big a mistake Pakistan is is its name. "Stan" is a suffix, which means "land of." Thus, Kazakhstan is the land of the Kazakhs, Uzbekistan is land of the Uzbeks, Turkmenistan is land of the Turkmen, and so on.
So who are the Paks? PAK is an acronym for Punjab, Afghan and Kashmir. The Punjabis are the largest ethnic group in Pakistan (45 percent). But the Afghans are in another country, and much of Kashmir is in India.
The divorce between India and Pakistan was acrimonious. Millions of Hindus fled from their homes in the Punjab and Bengal, while millions of Muslims fled from India. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed.
Since partition, Pakistan has started, and lost, two wars with India over Kashmir and in 1970, one over Bengal, then known as East Pakistan, now the independent country of Bangladesh.
Pakistan's politicians have put the acquisition of personal wealth ahead of any other consideration, making theirs the most corrupt democracy in the world.
"No matter their political allegiance, Pakistan's party bosses stole everything in sight, reducing the country to stinging poverty and stunning violence," wrote retired Army LtCol. Ralph Peters, who has traveled frequently in Pakistan.
The Muslims who insisted upon partition were wrong. India has been a parliamentary democracy since independence, and has treated its 160 million strong Muslim minority pretty well. India has become one of the world's great powers, while Pakistan has been sinking into a sea of corruption.
"If India had stayed in one piece with Hindus and Moslems democratically competing in political parties, it would be a superpower today, larger and stronger than China," said Jack Wheeler, a frequent visitor to both India and Pakistan, who publishes a popular newsletter on world affairs.
"But in place of an Asian superpower, we have two militaries at each other's throats, both armed with nuclear weapons, and presenting the world's best chance for nuclear war."
When Washington's long-time Pakisani punter Pervez Musharraf was eased out by the Bush administration in November 2007 and replaced by a little-known general who shared his first name, American spooks and spokesmen alike gushed about how the new-comer would be even more pro-US because of his hobbies (golf), habits (chain-smoker) and a military background that was partly minted in America.
They reeled off a resume that detailed repeated military education in the US He had received training in Fort Benning, Georgia, and graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He had attended a 13-week executive studies course at the Asia Pacific Center of Security Studies in Hawaii in the late 1990s. Heck, he was even the president of the Pakistan Golf Association, a post he retained for a second term last week.
"As he has risen through the military, General Kayani has impressed American military and intelligence officials as a professional, pro-Western moderate with few political ambitions," rhapsodized one report, with one small caveat. "But the elevation to army chief has been known to change Pakistani officers." Still, the fact that he spent Id al-Fitr with soldiers prompted American military officials to praise him as a "soldier's soldier," it said.
In recent weeks, US officials have been revisiting their notes and assumptions. Ahead of a week-long visit by Kayani to the US starting Monday, they are wondering if the Id attendance, combined with the freshly noticed fact of him being the first non-elite Pakistani military chief (his father was a mere naib havildar in the army) actually make him more hard-liner and ultra-nationalistic, rather than pro-American.
The suspicions have heightened over the 16 months since Kiyani (the alternative spelling used by some) took charge. Instead of being an ally, let alone a frontline ally, in the war on terror, Pakistan has come to be seen as a treacherous, two-faced country that has been milking US tax-payer dollars and American arms with false promises of fighting al-Qaida, while sharing the booty with its ally, the Taliban, and protecting it.
The Pakistani double-dealing has been detailed in several new books, none more graphically and extensively than in David Sanger's The Inheritance, which examines the world that confronts Barack Obama. In a particularly devastating expose, Sanger describes how the Bush administration, which held such high hopes on Kiyani, heard him in an intelligence intercept describing the Taliban warlord Jalalludin Haqqani, as Pakistan's "strategic asset." Sometime later, Haqqani's men, at the instance of ISI (which Kiyani headed before he became army chief), carried out the monstrous bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed 60 people including an Indian diplomat and a defense attache.
If the account is true, that would make Kiyani a terrorist accomplice, of not a mastermind. Yes, the same Kiyani now visiting Washington DC as a US guest.
The Pakistani army's terrorist ties may have come as a surprise a few credulous American interlocutors, but old time US and Indian officials have a good recollection of the intelligence intercepts during the Kargil war that nailed Kiyani's mentor Pervez Musharraf as he discussed the use of terrorist mujaheddin with his deputy Mohammed Aziz.
In fact, in his book, Sanger suggests that the Bush administration was aware of Pakistan's terrorist connections, but preferred to wink at it or even humour the Pakistanis because no purpose would have been served in confronting them since they served the larger US purpose.
In fact, writes Sanger, one such charade took place during the most recent high-level Pakistani visit. Shortly before Pakistan's Prime Minister Iftikhar Gilani visited Washington last year, Islamabad organized a phony raid on a Haqqani compound to give the claim of being a front-line ally some credibility. Islamabad went to the extent of telling the Haqqani crowd to leave a few weapons around so that the raid seemed genuine and warned them would be lot of smoke bombs. Although Bush was alerted to this duplicity before he met Gilani, who came across as slightly dim to Washington's power elite, he did not directly call the bluff in order not to embarrass his guest, according to Sanger's account. Sanger did not respond to messages seeking elaboration.
The Obama administration may be less inclined to give Pakistan's military a free pass, now that it is putting 17,000 more troops in harm's way. In fact, Kiyani, according to some sources, is virtually being summoned to US even as the White House is conducting a high-level review of its Af-Pak policy with the foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose blustering protests about US predator attacks have been shut up by the expose that it was being conducted from Pakistan with Islamabad's complicity, arrived in Washington separately from Kiyani on Sunday. In fact, Kiyani's visit to the US is attracting more attention in the strategic community than President Zardari's visit to China.
It also turns out that the Bush administration did not reimburse Pakistan to the tune of $1.35billion for services rendered in the war on terror, preferring to leave the clearance to the Obama government after allegations of fraud in the billing by Islamabad. Part of Kiyani's agenda, while seeking a fresh arms package for the war on terror, will be to collect the dues.
But more important than these relatively minor items, is the strategic review that many experts suggest is aimed at correcting the Bush administration's indulgence towards Pakistan. In the eyes of the Obama foreign policy team, Pakistan and not Iraq or North Korea or any other loose cannon is the most dangerous country on earth, and needs to be contained. "Pakistan is the country about which I have nightmares," Brent Scowcroft, one of the administration's strategic gurus, said last week. It has never been able to grapple successfully with democracy. It has a very weak government now. It's very fragile, with a lot of radicalism."
The unspoken element in the dangerous mix is Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Sanger's book details the Bush administration's edgy mission to get a fix on the Islamabad's strategic assets over the last several years since 9/11, an effort that he reports has met with little success. The Obama administration seems a little more focused on the task.
That ties in with the an unscheduled and unpublicized visit to Washington of another important visitor Khalid Kidwai, head of Pakistan's Strategic Command and Control and custodian of its crown jewels ahead of the Kiyani trip. While there was speculation that Kidwai had come to assure Washington about the relaxation of curbs on A Q Khan, there is growing clamour here for a greater oversight on the troubled nation's nuclear weapons given how fast it is spiraling out of control. Suddenly, Iraq is just a minor footnote in the Obama administration's foreign policy priorities.
The stupidity and self-delusion of American spooks and spokesmen alike never ceases to amaze me. The only relevant thing to know about Kiyani is that he was the head of the ISI. Who gives a sh*t whether he golfs? Cheez, any Rantburger could have called this in their sleep (and we did).
Those armchair warriors who are wringing their hands over the Swat accord should ask themselves whether the government had any alternative. Necessity, and iron necessity at that, is the mother of this accord. The authorities were left with no other option because the Swat Taleban under the command of Maulana Fazlullah had fought the army to a standstill.
In Pakistan, as indeed elsewhere, sending in the army is the option of last resort. We had tried this option in Swat and it hadn't worked. In fact the Taleban, far from being defeated, were in the ascendant, their grip on Swat tighter than before the operation began. The army was there, as it still is, taking distant artillery shots at the Taleban, and occasionally sending in helicopter gunships, but for all that confined largely to its bunkers.
Guerrilla insurgencies are not defeated by such long-range or long-distance tactics. So what was the ANP government in Peshawar to do?
It impressed upon the federal government and the army the need for declaring some kind of Shariah law for the Malakand division (of which Swat is a part) so as to take the wind out of the sails of the insurgency. This was the demand of Sufi Muhammad----Fazlullah's father-in-law and the founder of the Tanzim Nifaz-e-Shariat-i-Muhammadi (Movement for the imposition of Shariah)--- and if it was accepted Sufi Muhammad could be induced to call upon the Taleban to lay down their arms, something he is already trying to do.
Posted by: Steve White ||
02/23/2009 00:00 ||
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Great article. Very well written and argued. The winning strategy against jihad is to arm the people. When the people can defend their own homes and cities, no force of jihad or enslavement can crush their spirit. I hope that is what Pakistan's strategy for the tribal belt has become.
Posted by: Ho Chi Glusoque7625 ||
02/23/2009 10:28 Comments ||
In Pakistan, as indeed elsewhere, sending in the army is the option of last resort. We had tried this option in Swat and it hadn't worked.
This is not the first truce, I doubt it will be the last. I don't buy this crap about it being the right thing to do, they just gave up on the citizens who didn't want the militants there and now no more school for girls and the militants run the Islamic courts. Some victory!
Posted by: Omolugum Prince of the Platypi2692 ||
02/23/2009 13:33 Comments ||
the might Pak Army has been exposed for, what, the 37th time as a paper tiger?
Posted by: Frank G ||
02/23/2009 20:28 Comments ||
Claudia Rosett at The Corner
We're just over a month into the Obama administration, and already American politicians are so deep into "engagement" with Syria that maybe it's time to start wondering about the wedding date. Post-inauguration, four congressional delegations have gone to Damascus to call on Syrian President Bashar Assad, one at the end of January, and three in the past week.
The star engager of the moment is John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who dropped by Damascus on Saturday to sit in an inlaid chair and talk for more than an hour with Assad. Apparently they did find some common ground. They share an aversion to the policies of former President Bush--who had the audacity to try to lever Syria's Baathist tyranny out of Lebanon and impose penalties on Syria for such activities as providing illicit banking services for Saddam Hussein, suspected involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and harboring such major-league terrorists such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
But hey, with today's new "smart" diplomacy, there's nothing here that can't be cured by an extended hand from President Obama and a nice long chat with John Kerry. On Saturday, Kerry emerged his audience with Assad to gush about their talks as "very long, frank, candid and open." We have arrived, Kerry told CBS News, at "an important moment of change, a moment of potential transformation."
Right. Except it's America that's changing, not Syria--sidekick to Iran, and paragon of "smart" tyranny.
In tandem with the congressional stampede to Damascus, the Obama administration has already waived sanctions on Syria to allow for repair of Syrian state-owned Boeing airliners, allowed a transfer of funds from the U.S. to a Syrian charity, and is planning talks this coming week aimed at restoring the diplomatic ties that Bush broke off following the Hariri murder in 2005. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has talked up prospects of Syria becoming a "constructive regional actor."
It's a lovely notion, except that Syria's regime has survived for decades by facilitating mayhem in the region, and then offering its services as a broker to fix the problem. Sure, Syria will talk. Assad in his munificence granted an audience to Jimmy Carter in 2008, and to Nancy Pelosi when she arrived, scarf-on-head, to go nut-shopping in the Damascus souk in 2007.
But what is Syria doing to bring on this Obamavision of transformation? Better ask what Syria is not doing--starting with Assad's refusal to allow any further inspection of the site of Syria's clandestine nuclear reactor at Al-Kibar, built with North Korean help, and destroyed by an Israeli air strike in September, 2007. Buried at the bottom of an Agence France Presse account of Kerry's meeting was the fascinating footnote that the diplomatic flurry in Damascus has been "clouded" by the International Atomic Energy Agency's recent report confirming the discovery at Al Kibar of "unexplained uranium particles."
Unexplained uranium particles? Note to future U.S. delegations: "Transformation" takes many forms. When you pack your bags for talks in Syria, bring yer lead-lined underwear.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.