Tag: USA

Downgrade of US Treasury Bonds

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the rating of US Treasury Bonds from AAA to AA+ on 5/8/2011 (In India and some other countries 6/8/2011) and that shocked many. It is the first downgrade since 1917. The downgrade followed wrangling in US Congress over raising debt limit, which used to be a routine matter, from 14.3 trillion dollars. Since 1960 USA had raised debt limit 78 times without any problem but this time it was different. S&P stood out from Moody’s and Fitch which continued with AAA rating. Treasury Department criticized S&P. S&P justified its decision and said that if matters did not improve further downgrade to AA was possible.

China criticized USA and called for a new global reserve currency. China has US Treasury Bonds of more than one trillion dollars and foreign exchange reserves of more than three trillion dollars. China had not allowed yuan to appreciate to keep its exports to USA cheap. It has itself to blame. India and many other countries have done like China. For them the unthinkable has happened.

The downgrade should have happened in 2008 when the crash occurred and USA went on giving bailouts of billions of dollars. AIG alone had bailout of 163 billion dollars.

Many people blame Tea Party members in Republican Party for the prolonged negotiations. Tea stands for Taxes Enough Already and those members stood by their commitment to oppose new taxes. Deficit reduction is a problem but there was a solution in 2010 when Bush-era tax exemptions were to expire. Barack Obama wanted tax exemptions to continue for people with annual income upto 250000 dollars and the rich to pay taxes. Republicans did not agree. They wanted the rich to be exempt. So Barack Obama extended the exemptions to all for two years.

Some months back China and Russia had entered into an agreement to use each other’s currencies in mutual trade. Eurozone is in trouble and so euro is not desirable as global reserve currency. Following the example of China and Russia is an option for many countries.

Commando operation

Many Indians want India to send commandos to Pakistan to kill India’s Most Wanted in Pakistan. Operation Geronimo by USA is the inspiration. When asked by journalists army chief and air force chief have said that India is capable to commando operations.

The idea is fine but needs to be tested. India is not USA. India does not have the technology that USA has. In India’s case there is no room for error. Every commando operation is not a success. USA’s attempt to rescue hostages in Iran in 1979 was a disaster. Operation Geronimo was a success in that it achieved its aim of catching Osama Bin Laden dead or alive but one helicopter could not fly back and had to be destroyed. USA has inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can hit any country in the world. Pakistan does not have ICBMs. India and Pakistan do not need ICBMs to hit each other. India does not have stealth helicopters that can evade radar detection.

India can start by rescuing sailors held hostage by Somali pirates. That will test India’s capability to carry out commando operations and the probability of success. India can also carry out commando operations when various groups engage in abductions and hijackings in India.

There are various suggestions to deal with India’s Most Wanted in Pakistan. Announcing prizes to those who kill them or hiring Pakistanis to kill them are two of them.

Operation Geronimo was about one person. India’s wanted are 26. They are in different parts of Pakistan. Some lead secret lives. Others appear in public. A single operation to catch the 26 is difficult. It will need many commandos and helicopters and if something goes wrong in one place other places will be alerted. Separate operations by air, land or sea will mean each subsequent operation will be more difficult than previous one and there is danger of war after the first operation.

Americans do not give up. They get things done. They do it through UN. When UN does not oblige they do it through NATO. When NATO does not oblige they do it themselves with whoever is on their side. They persevere. Indian leaders suspend talks with Pakistan for some time. Then they give up saying there is no alternative to talks. Indian leaders do not get things done or persevere.

Some say a stable Pakistan is in India’s interest and India should not do anything that destabilizes Pakistan. A stable Pakistan that abets and shelters terrorists against India is not in India’s interest. After cricket diplomacy things were looking bright but Operation Geronimo has changed the mood in the country.

Death of Osama Bin Laden

The news of the death of Osama Bin Laden on 2/5/2011 (1/5/2011 in USA) in Abbottabad brought cheers to Americans and there were celebrations outside White House and Ground Zero. Barack Obama said it was a historic day for America and justice has been done. Osama Bin Laden was not hiding in some remote mountain but in a building next to military academy, or 500-800 metres away from military academy, in a city. America wanted Osama Bin Laden dead or alive for almost a decade. The building was a mansion without telephone or internet and with 12-16 feet walls built in 2005. For long Americans bombed Waziristan and some areas in Afghanistan hoping to kill Osama Bin Laden. Perhaps they were misled.

Osama Bin Laden could not have remained in Pakistan without Pakistani army’s support. Many terrorists are trained in Pakistan. Pakistan had denied that Osama Bin Laden was living in Pakistan. There were long periods when nothing was heard of Osama Bin Laden and sometimes it was thought that he was dead.

Did Pakistan know about the operation by Navy Seals and CIA against Osama Bin Laden? One view is that the operation could not have been carried out without some involvement of ISI or Pakistani armed forces. Pakistan has not claimed any credit to avoid repercussions from its people and terrorists. Another view is that if Pakistan knew about it Osama Bin Laden would have been tipped off. In the past USA had shared intelligence with Pakistan and Osama Bin Laden had escaped by the skin of teeth. When the helicopters took off USA jammed Pakistani radars. Osama Bin Laden was killed. His body was taken to Bagram. It is said that Saudi Arabia refused to accept his body. Osama Bin Laden was buried at sea to avoid his tomb becoming a shrine for his followers.

When USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979 many Arabs went there to fight the Russians. USA trained them. Osama Bin Laden was in Afghanistan. He founded Al Qaeda. In 1989 USSR withdrew from Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden started to target USA. Blowing up of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 invited retaliation from USA. He survived missile attack. When 9/11 happened Osama Bin Laden had celebrated. Americans bombed Afghanistan and deposed Taliban. They bombed Tora Bora to kill Osama Bin Laden but he had escaped, presumably with the help of Pakistani military. Over the years Al Qaeda was weakened.

Pervez Musharraf claims USA violated Pakistani sovereignty. When he was president he allowed USA to have bases in Pakistan.

India wants Pakistan to hand over terrorists wanted for 26/11 and so far Pakistan has not obliged. The terrorists are freely moving in Pakistan. It is unlikely that India will do what USA did. India’s policy has been inconsistent. Sometimes it is said no talks with Pakistan till cross border terrorism is stopped and people wanted in India are handed over to India. Sometimes it is said talks will go on irrespective of terrorism and there is no alternative to talks. There was cricket diplomacy. India is unable to act tough even with Somali pirates.

Breaking News is when the news breaks out during a bulletin and till the next headlines and can not be for more than one hour in any case. It is ridiculous to show something as Breaking News after 12 hours or more. NDTV 24×7, BBC, CNN, CNN-IBN and some other channels should take note of that.