SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
O P I N I O N S

Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Vanishing jobs
Despair is not the answer, action is
IN a first-of-its-kind survey the government has found that five lakh jobs were lost in three months between October and December, 2008. Shockingly, there is no reliable unemployment data in this country other than what the employment exchanges provide and that too is inadequate.

Tigers are not for killing
No one is coming to the help of the big cat
N
early a century ago, India’s tiger population stood at a reassuring 40,000. Today, it has dwindled to a little over 1400. Sadly, the issue becomes hot only when there are reports that more tigers have been killed. It happened, when a few years ago poachers killed nearly the entire population of tigers at Sarsika Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan.



EARLIER STORIES

Resignation as a farce
February 6, 2009
Shorter the better
February 5, 2009
Trouble in EC
February 4, 2009
Terror networks intact
February 3, 2009
EC in crisis
February 2, 2009
Crisis in higher education
February 1, 2009
Ekla Chalo
January 31, 2009
Kashmir is bilateral
January 30, 2009
Outrage in Mangalore
January 29, 2009
Have autonomy talks
January 28, 2009
Pin Pakistan down
January 26, 2009


For widows and disabled
They need every bit of support
T
he well-meaning proposal to grant pension to widows and disabled had remained stuck in sarkari files for several months, reportedly due to paucity of funds. Call it the election effect or whatever, the scheme has finally been cleared and widows in the age group of 40 to 64 and persons with severe and multiple disabilities between 18 and 64 years will be entitled to a monthly pension of Rs 200.

ARTICLE

In the arms bazaar
Politicians, not procedures, are to blame
by K. Subrahmanyam
Addressing the seminar on “Dominance of Air Power”, Defence Minister A. K. Antony said: “We need to cut down on unnecessary procedural delays, bottlenecks and redtapism in our procurement mechanism”. The minister also added: “If more changes in the present procedures were needed to optimise transparency, fairness and to ensure speedy procurement the government would do so”. These remarks would give the impression that the procurement delays are mostly procedural. But they are not in most cases procedural ones.

MIDDLE

Selfish callers
by Nonika Singh
H
ello! The voice on the other end is familiar but not quite welcome. We journalists more than anybody else have to deal with recognisable yet unwanted callers who pretend to be the best of our friends and wellwishers. Yet, time is our witness, they think of us at the precise opportune moment, when they want a favour. Never before, never after.

OPED

Globalisation in retreat
Protectionism would be the worst fate to befall the world
by Adrian Hamilton
O
ne by one the great and good of the land have stepped forward to pronounce on the wave of strikes over foreign workers and to condemn them. “Xenophobia” is the dread threat raised by Lord Mandelson. “Protectionism” and even the British National Party have been the spectres raised by his colleagues.

Terrorism as a crime against humanity
by Shruti Bedi
R
ichard Falk has said, “The concept of human rights is the mother’s milk of the international community. The problem is, these days human rights come in more flavours than coffee or soft drinks. Would you like the Asian, Islamic, indigenous, economic, European, or U.S. version? And how would you like your human rights served: with sanctions, regime change or  corporate window-dressing?”

North Korea heads for instability
by Paul B. Stares
N
orth Korean leader Kim Jong Il finally emerged late last month after reportedly suffering a major stroke six months ago. Although dispelling one rumor — he didn’t die — his appearance did nothing to stop speculation about his health and who will succeed him.


Top










 
EDITORIALS

Vanishing jobs
Despair is not the answer, action is

IN a first-of-its-kind survey the government has found that five lakh jobs were lost in three months between October and December, 2008. Shockingly, there is no reliable unemployment data in this country other than what the employment exchanges provide and that too is inadequate. It is common knowledge that all those on their rolls are not unemployed and all those unemployed are not registered. The slowdown in the GDP growth is the only indication of the shrinking domestic demand. The impact of the deepening recession in the US, Europe and elsewhere is quite visible in the country’s export sector. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations has estimated the likely job losses in this sector at as many as 40 lakh by the end of this fiscal.

The absence of unemployment data need not undermine the pain of the jobless. It can be safely assumed that in a country of India’s size with a fragile economy the number of those without work and those losing work is fairly large and it will give them little solace to know that the economic conditions elsewhere are no better or are even worse. China has recorded three times more unemployment among rural migrants at 20 million, but it has sufficient cash surplus to spend to ease its burden. In India, the government at the Centre faces a severe resource constraint and cash-strapped states too look up to it for a bailout.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, reports say, the UPA government may not just seek a vote-on-account as is the normal practice, but may go in for an interim budget on February 16, announcing a stimulus package and tax breaks in an attempt to shore up sagging growth, create rural jobs and boost exports. It should also speed up work on existing infrastructure projects by clearing legal, financial and bureaucratic hurdles at speed. Better governance can considerably make up for financial inadequacy, but it would require will and determined implementation of the projects.
Top

 

Tigers are not for killing
No one is coming to the help of the big cat

Nearly a century ago, India’s tiger population stood at a reassuring 40,000. Today, it has dwindled to a little over 1400. Sadly, the issue becomes hot only when there are reports that more tigers have been killed. It happened, when a few years ago poachers killed nearly the entire population of tigers at Sarsika Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan. Now, in the wake of news that more than ten tigers have died in the past three months, the Centre has sounded a red alert to 17 states across the country.

In order to protect the national animal, the ambitious Project Tiger was launched way back in 1973. Yet, the big cat is fighting for survival. Poaching is still going on in many states and no one is coming to help it. The Prime Minister, soon after taking over four years ago expressed concern about tiger killings, and said the governments — central and the state — should do everything possible to save the tiger. Yet, indiscriminate deforestation has virtually deprived tiger of its home. Despite wildlife protection laws, trading in tiger parts fuelled by international demand, continues unabated and poaching remains a lucrative illegal business. After the damning revelations of the 2008 census came to fore, the government pledged more money, set up Tiger Protection Force and relocated villages to protect the species. But, clearly much more needs to be done.

To begin with it must come down heavily upon poachers, perhaps equate poaching to murder. While it has to be realised that saving forests would translate into saving tigers, the existing tiger reserves need to be policed with greater alacrity and better equipment. Benefits of tiger tourism have to be driven home and participation of local community must be sought. Awareness about tiger’s crucial role in the ecosystem and the impending ecological catastrophe, if it disappears, has to be spread.
Top

 

For widows and disabled
They need every bit of support

The well-meaning proposal to grant pension to widows and disabled had remained stuck in sarkari files for several months, reportedly due to paucity of funds. Call it the election effect or whatever, the scheme has finally been cleared and widows in the age group of 40 to 64 and persons with severe and multiple disabilities between 18 and 64 years will be entitled to a monthly pension of Rs 200. What is to be noted is that the pension is only for those widows and the disabled who are below the poverty line. Nearly 1.57 crore persons who are 65 years and above are already getting this pension under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS). The widows would now be covered under the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) and those with disabilities under the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS).

Given the current prices, the amount is not much. But for the widows and the disabled, even one rupee can make the difference between life and death, especially among those who are unfortunate enough to live in extreme penury. Most of them are treated like a burden by their families and even this much money will go some way towards restoring their self-respect. The states should contribute more towards this effort which is essentially a rudimentary social security measure.

Even more important is the need to ensure that the amount reaches only the right beneficiaries and all of them. In the past, such benefits have been either salted away by those who don’t qualify for them or those who deserve them have been deprived of the facility. It is a harsh fact of life that even for getting this pittance, some have to pay a bribe. The government must ensure that no middleman comes in the way of the beneficiaries and the safety net that has been opened for them.
Top

 

Thought for the Day

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. — G. K. Chesterton
Top

 
ARTICLE

In the arms bazaar
Politicians, not procedures, are to blame
by K. Subrahmanyam

Addressing the seminar on “Dominance of Air Power”, Defence Minister A. K. Antony said: “We need to cut down on unnecessary procedural delays, bottlenecks and redtapism in our procurement mechanism”. The minister also added: “If more changes in the present procedures were needed to optimise transparency, fairness and to ensure speedy procurement the government would do so”. These remarks would give the impression that the procurement delays are mostly procedural. But they are not in most cases procedural ones.

They arise out of the fear of senior bureaucrats of having to face subsequent enquiries on corruption. Such fears dominate the thinking of honest officers who are aware of the fact that corruption in defence purchases is not related to bureaucratic procedure but to politicians, operating outside the procedures related to weapon selection and imports.

Corruption in all major government deals takes place outside the government or services decision-making. Invariably, such deals are between politicians and the supplying firms. India has now the unique reputation of having highest bank deposit of unaccounted for money in the world in the Swiss banks.

This is not to argue that all bureaucrats are above corruption. There
is often a nexus between the corrupt politician and the corrupt bureaucrat. The politicians select the bureaucrats and appoint them to their posts and not the other way around. We have had cases in which bureaucrats with well-publicised reputation for corruption were appointed to topmost posts superceding other honest officers. There have also been cases in which politicians and bureaucrats have been charged together as co-accused in corruption cases. If top bureaucrats are corrupt, they can continue to be so only with the permissiveness of the politicians who are in a position to initiate action against them, if they are themselves honest. Corrupt bureaucracy is not a bureaucratic problem. It is a political problem.

Corruption in defence procurement is a worldwide phenomenon. Recently the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair  stopped the investigation of the British Aerospace Company in respect of a case of bribe giving to a Saudi Prince to facilitate a multibillion dollar sale of equipment since the Prince is the progeny of the Saudi King and holds a key post in Saudi defence establishment. On the British side the son of the then Prime minister was the middleman.

Prince Bernhardt, the Prince Consort of Holland, Prime Minister Tanaka of Japan and Defence Minister Josef Strauss of Germany were all involved in defence bribery scandals. In our own country there are the HDW submarine deal, the Bofors deal and more recently some weapon purchases from Israel tainted  with bribery scandals. There has not so far been any proved instance of bribery having resulted in the purchase of substandard equipment.

I once asked an exceedingly upright secretary who was in charge of a department handling tens of crores of imports, with a minister who was a known fund collector for the party how he was managing it. He said he had no problem. He made his recommendations on merits. The minister never changed them. But he began his negotiations with the firms after the files reached his table. Since the transactions involved hundreds  of crores of rupees and delays meant huge reduction in profits to the firms they were prepared to pay for the minister’s expeditious approval of the file. But those were days before the HDW and Bofors scandals.

The corruption need not involve the minister in charge of procuring department. Often, as was brought out in the Tehelka disclosures middlemen make money claiming to be in a position to influence or expedite decisions. It is nobody’s contention that Defence Ministers made money out of HDW or Bofors deals. Yet it is undeniable money changed hands in those transactions.

Our political culture is a vindictive one. Even while our political parties would happily charge that most criminal cases against politicians are foisted by the police out of political instigation they will not agree to make the police and law enforcement autonomous and outside political interference. Every political party or coalition in power attempts to charge its predecessor opposition party or coalition of corruption. Many of them are no doubt vulnerable in this respect. Therefore the chances of large transactions ending up in the hands of vigilance commissioner or the CBI when there is a change of government are quite high.

There is also a long-established political and law-enforcement tradition in this country that no case involving politicians will ever be brought to a close. Our politicians who brush off even cases of murder as being foisted ones arising out of political motivation can take in their stride a few cases of corruption.

But it is more difficult for an honest bureaucrat to adopt that attitude. If he is dishonest he can go along with the politicians and can take things in his stride. But the honest bureaucrat is worried about his having to face enquiries after his retirement. Therefore, he tries to avoid contributing to a procurement decision which may pin some responsibility on him. His instinct is also to involve as many as possible in the decision making.

This is a country where cabinet ministers, judges of Supreme Court and high courts, and if the reports are correct, members of Central Information Commission are reluctant to disclose their assets. Given this culture of nontransparency  one cannot blame foreign armament manufacturing firms operating on the assumption that money will speed up decisions.

Our political parties and leaders with some exceptions are not above temptation. Our politicians are yet to realise that corruption allows terrorists to penetrate our borders, explosives to be landed on our shores, leads to misgovernance, slows down our development and economic growth and delays weapons and equipment procurement, vitally needed for our national security. Political corruption is as big a threat to our nation as jehadi terrorism. Greater transparency on procedures alone will not expedite procurement. But greater transparency of political party funding, assets of politicians and bureaucrats and making law-enforcement autonomous and transparent will.

The writer is a noted defence analyst and a former Secretary, Defence Production.
Top

 
MIDDLE

Selfish callers
by Nonika Singh

Hello! The voice on the other end is familiar but not quite welcome. We journalists more than anybody else have to deal with recognisable yet unwanted callers who pretend to be the best of our friends and wellwishers. Yet, time is our witness, they think of us at the precise opportune moment, when they want a favour. Never before, never after.

In fact, much before the RTI act came into being, this publicity hungry brigade out for a free slice of newspaper space had learnt the tricks of the trade — how to dig out journalists’ telephone numbers. Rather, scribes’ numbers are considered public property. To be known by all and sundry and to be used with impunity, by anyone, anytime and anywhere.

Like one comes to terms with many other annoying things of being a journalist, I too learnt to live with such pest callers, frequently doubling up as EPBX operator for their benefit too.

Yet learning to live with and not getting hassled are two different things. So often such callers have got a cold shoulder from me. In time I learnt to cut out the niceties and master the brusque reply “yes” with subtext clearly reading — off with it. Indeed my annoyance to these “cellfish” callers has been invariably visible and palpable, with no deterrent effect of course.

But only about a few weeks ago I was on the other side of the line calling up a man I hadn’t spoken to or let me be candid, even thought of for years. And my reasons for contacting him were very, very selfish too. Before this turns into a whodunit it mystery, let me reveal the secret and unveil the mystery man.

The person concerned was none other than my professor whom I had never bothered to enquire after in what should be close to two decades. But here in midst of a journalistic assignment, the first person I think of is him. As I murmur “Sir…”, there is no rebuke, no reprimand. Instead through the metallic mobile phone, I sense a great degree of warmth. Why I can almost see his genial face light up with affection.

That is not all. Not only does my teacher offer me valuable inputs but goes out of the way to help me with my story, even calls me up at his own expense to give me the right contacts.

Post write- up, I receive, one more call. What follows is fulsome praise with an indulgence and a sense of pride only a teacher can have in his student.

In life, they say there are many relationships one can take for granted. Parents one always knew were one of them. Now, I know for sure that teacher-taught bonding too is an eternal tie. Whether it has taught me to be a little more civil to all those nuisance callers… time alone will tell. But let me confess-I haven’t called my teacher, ever since.
Top

 
OPED

Globalisation in retreat
Protectionism would be the worst fate to befall the world
by Adrian Hamilton

One by one the great and good of the land have stepped forward to pronounce on the wave of strikes over foreign workers and to condemn them. “Xenophobia” is the dread threat raised by Lord Mandelson. “Protectionism” and even the British National Party have been the spectres raised by his colleagues.

And quite right too. Protectionism would be the worst fate to befall the world at this time. There is no reason to fear the EU in this context. The figures show that British workers have largely benefited from it. The political class is wise to warn of what could happen if the cause of these strikes were hijacked by the nationalists, the europhobes and the little Englanders.

But listening to the spokesmen of the workers involved I don’t get the feeling that the actions do arise from xenophobia or hatred of Europe (although there is precious little love of it in this country).

Indeed the leaders seem to be at pains to distance themselves from such causes, partly because the thrust of this dispute appears to come not from the unskilled, who have been most affected by immigrant labour, but from the skilled workers such as pipefitters who know the benefit of an open market.

If there is a broad resentment it comes from that British sense of fairness; the feeling that it isn’t a level playing field, that foreign firms have favoured their nationals in the better jobs.

Now you can argue until the jobs come back whether this amounts to a demand for protection and a call to tear up the rules of open market in Europe (Unison has come dangerously close to that in recent statements).

But what you shouldn’t do – although that is what ministers are doing – is simply to brush the concerns aside with airy statements about principles of free trade.

This recession, as Jeremy Warner says, is for real and no government, even authoritarian governments such as Russia and China (perhaps they least of all given the communist party’s eternal fear of anarchy and revolt) can afford not to reflect the fears and concerns of their own people.

Economists can talk of reflation and credit shortages. Ministers can argue the need for propping up the banks, guaranteeing bad loans and printing money. But out there in the real world, it is about losing jobs, having a house worth less than the mortgage, of being unable to afford the repayments.

They understand the global nature of the crisis. They understand the need to take measures to combat it. But they don’t understand why all the attention is being paid to the banks, whom they regard as the authors of their woes, and they want to feel government is on their side in the downturn.

And that is even more true of all those countries, from Brazil to China by way of Germany, who feel the victims not just of the banks but of the Anglo-Saxon approach to finance.

Given these sentiments, it’s surely pointless to keep talking about more globalisation through the Doha round of trade talks and to give out a load of platitutudes about how free trade is good for you.

The political reality is that globalisation is not just stalled, it’s on the retreat. In an economic downturn of this magnitude, every country is going to regard care for its own as the first priority.

You only had to listen to the speeches and comments of Prime Minister Putin of Russia in Davos and Wen Jiabao of China in London to know that the cash rich of yesterday are not going to ride to the rescue of the cash poor of today.

And yet you only had to read their remarks to know that this does not represent – as yet – a retreat to economic isolationism. The problem is less how to stem a thirties-style disastrous rush to trade barriers, than it is how to re-present, and indeed recast, internationalism in a post-credit crunch age.

Davos was no help, although it should have been. The Americans, on whom the world depends for a route out of this crisis, were notable by their absence.

The rest of the world, political leaders and businessmen, were still too stunned by the collapse of that vision of political, business and financial leaders marching happily together to the sunrise of a new age of free markets which Davos had done so much to promote and which now lay burned and shattered at their feet.

No, the political leaders of the world are going to have to start again to reforge an international consensus on trade and regulation. The internationalism of tomorrow – today indeed – will have to be recreated out of national concerns and a degree of national protection. The strikers of the Lindsey refinery are not the obstacle to progress, they are going to have to be the first port of call in achieving it.

— By arrangement with The Independent
Top

 

Terrorism as a crime against humanity
by Shruti Bedi

Richard Falk has said, “The concept of human rights is the mother’s milk of the international community. The problem is, these days human rights come in more flavours than coffee or soft drinks. Would you like the Asian, Islamic, indigenous, economic, European, or U.S. version? And how would you like your human rights served: with sanctions, regime change or corporate window-dressing?”

An internationally accepted code of human rights —economic, social, political and religious — has been developed. Most nations have not ratified that code, fewer nations implement those rights and in only one case, the Council of Europe, does an effective international appeals court exist.

But almost all nations pay lip-service to it, and many nations have signed treaties that accept at least a portion of the evolved code. Terrorism has assumed the features of a globalised criminal activity which is able to reach and hit any state and any population. Violations of human rights are a major causal factor of terrorism.

Two issues which arise in the context of terrorism are the problem of definition and that of providing jurisdiction to an international tribunal to deal with such a crime.

The definition of terrorism has eluded the academia in the world till date. This has been a hindrance to the formulation of specific legislation on the subject of terrorism.

As a suggestion, a viable definition of terrorism could be traceable from the League of the Nations Convention of 1937.

Lord Slynn of Hadley followed a similar reasoning, but was even clearer in elaborating a notion of terrorism giving priority to the humanitarian dimension, in that it applies to “acts of violence which are intended or likely to create a state of terror in the minds of persons whether particular persons or the general public and which cause, or are likely to cause, injury to persons who have no connection with the government of the state”.

To reach a consensus on a possible universal definition of terrorism the perspective that essential human rights should be the main consideration seems most practical. The rights to be protected could also embrace, together with life and the physical integrity of individuals, those of personal freedom and dignity at any time at which they are undermined by violent actions committed regardless of the identity of the victims.

Accordingly, terrorism becomes an absolute notion that is no longer linked with the preservation of a state system (and its governing bodies), but focuses on safeguarding the protection of innocent individuals and the interests of victims, and on the human values that these subjects embody.

Dealing with the jurisdictional aspect the only court at present in existence, which may be thought of as a competent tribunal to handle the crime of international terrorism, is the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The jurisdiction of the ICC covers four basic offences, including crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity comprise murder or inhumane acts of a similar character when knowingly committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.

However, to classify terrorist attacks as crimes against humanity, certain issues need to be addressed. First, it has been said that there is a requirement for a connection between acts constituting crimes and an armed conflict to meet the requirement of crimes against humanity.

Recent developments in international law show that there is no need for a nexus between crimes and an armed conflict.

Neither the Statute for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) not the Statute of the ICC contains any requirement for any such connection.

Only the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) maintains the nexus to an armed conflict.

However even here the Secretary-General’s commentary failed to define crimes as related to an armed conflict. Also, recent decisions by the ICTY have reaffirmed that crimes against humanity can be committed outside of an armed conflict.

Secondly, terrorist attacks are of such nature that they can be considered as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population. It is obvious that single isolated acts do not quantify as crimes against humanity.

Here “widespread” refers to the magnitude of single acts, while “systematic” means the repetition of similar acts, showing a consistent pattern of action.

Often, the two elements are present together, but the use of the alternative conjunction ‘or’ would mean that the repetition of acts with a small number of victims amounts to a crime against humanity (the systematic dimension) as well as a single act striking at a considerable number of victims ( widespread). The characteristics of terrorism seem satisfied inasmuch as the terrorising features are owed, inter alia, to the presence of an organisation, which is able to repeat similar acts targeting civilians.

Thirdly, do crimes against humanity include attacks carried out by private organisations? It is contended that crimes against humanity as defined under the ICC jurisdiction can be perpetrated only by an organisation with a formal legal status of a state or an agent of a state.

This, however, is not true, as the category of crimes against humanity embraces patterns of action carried out by private organisations, acting against or outside the context of a state organisation.

This becomes apparent from a reading of Article 7(2)(a) of the ICC Statute, which requires that crimes must be committed “pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organisational policy”. What this organisation can be is not specified in the Statute.

Terrorist acts should be judged by an international tribunal because they are committed against the world at large and thus amount to crimes against humanity.

Finally, if terrorism is classified as a crime against humanity, it could simply be included in the list under Article 7 of the ICC jurisdiction. This would, therefore, do away with any doubt as to the inhuman nature of such conduct.

The writer is a lecturer, University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Top

 

North Korea heads for instability
by Paul B. Stares

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il finally emerged late last month after reportedly suffering a major stroke six months ago. Although dispelling one rumor — he didn’t die — his appearance did nothing to stop speculation about his health and who will succeed him.

The temptation is to wait and see, but this would be unwise. The United States and its Asian allies must prepare for the possibility that the leadership of North Korea might change sooner rather than later, and not necessarily smoothly.

Mortality statistics suggest that nearly one-quarter of all men who have a stroke after age 65 — Kim will turn 68 on Feb. 16 — will die within a year. The odds of surviving five years are about 50-50.

For diabetics — and Kim is believed to be one — a 2008 Indiana University study reports that life expectancy is 15 percent lower. So, although his prognosis is not terrible, neither is it very good.

Why should we care? As a nuclear-weapons state and exporter of ballistic missiles, North Korea has long been a proliferation headache for Washington.

With one of the world’s largest armies in possession of long-range artillery and rockets, it also is capable of wreaking havoc on South Korea and Japan — America’s most important Asian allies.

With neighboring China and Russia also engaged in the Korean peninsula, there are few other places where the interests of so many great powers intersect and potentially collide. So who governs North Korea is not a trivial concern.

Were Kim to die suddenly or decide to relinquish power, one of his three sons could take over, as Kim did from his father. But given their young age or inexperience, a collective leadership made up of senior officials with perhaps one of the sons as a figurehead to promote regime legitimacy is widely considered more likely. It is by no means certain, however, that this would work or last very long.

Certain individuals or factions — not least from the army or intelligence services — might be tempted to seize power, resulting in a potentially disruptive and even violent leadership struggle that could put immense strain on the country.

Totalitarian states have proved to be remarkably brittle when stressed by internal pressures, and North Korea is likely to be no exception.

Should North Korea begin to collapse, the world could face a host of challenges, including huge outflows of refugees, military provocations, a breakdown in public order and, most ominous, uncertainties about the safety and security of its nuclear arsenal.

All this inevitably would put pressure on neighboring states to intervene to stabilize the situation. Given their competing interests, the potential for misunderstanding and conflict because of unilateral or uncoordinated actions is considerable.

For these reasons, the new U.S. administration must enhance its preparedness to manage destabilizing change in North Korea.

First, it must improve its capacity to better understand developments in North Korea while overhauling U.S. contingency plans to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated government-wide response. This should draw on the lessons from ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States also should work closely with South Korea and Japan to improve allied coordination and preparedness. Planning to date has been rudimentary and stymied by political differences between Seoul and Washington.

In particular, the military preparations need to be undergirded by an integrated political, diplomatic, economic and legal strategy. Tokyo must be brought into the process.

Lastly, the United States should pursue a quiet dialogue with China to reduce the risk of misunderstanding and friction in a crisis involving North Korea. The aim would be to anticipate potential concerns and provide mutual reassurance of each country’s intentions.

How long Kim stays in power is anyone’s guess, but the risks are too great and the stakes too high to rely on last-minute improvisation for the day after.

“Stares is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the co-author, with Joel S. Wit, of “Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea.”

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post
Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |