Fabian Blog
September 21st, 2018

Israeli impunity and global helplessness

gaza-011-1It is difficult, almost impossible, to envisage an early negotiated ceasefire to put an end to the unconscionable carnage in Gaza. US Secretary of State John Kerry has been working hard, but with his hands tied. President Barack Obama has spoken more than once to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the need for a ceasefire, but always deferentially.

In his public statements, President Obama starts with an endorsement of Israel’s right to self-defence in a manner implying that Israel alone has that right, and not the Palestinians. The US gives enormous support to Israel, financially, militarily and diplomatically. One might have expected that such support would enable the US to have some influence on Israel. But, the truth is that the more the US gives, the more Israel’s clout to influence US policy, and the less the US’s influence over Israeli policy.

Students of international relations cannot find another instance of such an asymmetrical relationship between the recipient and the giver. Hence, the principal cause of the delay in arranging for a ceasefire to be followed by negotiations is the lack of leverage of the US vis-à-vis Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

July 28th,2014   category: International Affairs : Articles |    No Comments

Can Iraq’s disintegration be prevented?

iraq-sunni-sia-kurd-statesAt present (July 2, 2014), it is difficult to see how the ongoing implosion of Iraq can be stalled and reversed. The world  started taking note of ISIL and its leader Abu Bakri al-Baghdadi, 43, who has been declared as ‘caliph’ of an  ‘Islamic State’  claiming sovereignty over a stretch of territory from Aleppo in north western Syria to Diyala in north eastern Iraq only when Mosul fell on June 20th. But, his forces had taken over Raqqa in Syria March 2013; and Falluja in Iraq in January 2014.

ISIL, a breakaway group from Al Queida in Iraq, is basically a part of the Sunni Resistance to the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. US had made unsuccessful, half-hearted, and not always judicious attempts to build an Iraq that could accommodate the three groups there, namely, Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds. But, Prime Minister Maliki, who got his office in 2006 thanks to support from US and Iran carried out a policy of alienating the Sunnis and the Kurds. His reckless partisan policies created the conditions for the emergence of a formation called Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) to grow and derive support from the Sunni population.

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July 2nd,2014   category: International Affairs : Articles |    No Comments

V. K. Krishna Menon Memorial Lecture 2014

krishna_menon14It is indeed a high honor and privilege to be addressing this august audience assembled here to pay homage to Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon whose life and work reminds one of Thomas Carlyle’s dictums:

NO GREAT MAN LIVES IN VAIN…HISTORY OF THE WORLD IS BUT THE BIOGRAPHY OF GREAT MEN.

When Krishna Menon started speaking for India on the world stage, the establishment in the West started a cottage industry of demonizing him.

Some in India obediently joined the demonizing game.

Why did US want to demonize him?

Because, he was seen as ‘dangerously persuasive’

That is what the CIA told MI5.

The MI5 once seriously considered assassinating Krishna Menon when he was High Commissioner in London. Fortunately, the Agency reconsidered the matter.

This is revealed in the book Defence of the Realm, written by Professor Christopher Andrew of the Cambridge University, published in 2009. He was commissioned to write a history of MI5 at the time of its centennial. MI5 was set up in 1909.

Our IB (Intelligence Bureau) was established in 1887.  Did any one think of publishing its history in 1987?

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June 30th,2014   category: Speeches, Uncategorized |    No Comments

Chess Game over Crimea

Crimea Russia Ukraine Map

Crimea Russia Ukraine Map

Russia has won the chess game. President Putin played well. The other side consisting of the fledgling government in Kiev, President Obama, and the European Union could have played a better game. There was a significant failure on the part of Obama, his advisers such as Ambassador Samantha Power, the European Union, and the rest of the West in understanding the ground realities and grasping the big picture. For example, Obama and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seem to have believed that Russia was not serious about annexing Crimea and that by threatening dire consequences Putin could be made to change his course.

Part of the reason for West’s failure lies in their habit of ignoring history. The Russian Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol was established by Prince Potemkin in 1783. This is the only warm water base that Russia has. The 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine divided the fleet between them, 81.7% for Russia and 18.3% for Ukraine; Russia was given the right to use the port of Sevastopol for 20 years. In 2009, Ukraine sent out signals that the treaty would not be extended when it expires in 2017. Finally, an agreement was made in 2010 to extend the treaty by 25 years in 2017 with a provision for an additional 5 years taking it to 2047. Read the rest of this entry »

March 20th,2014   category: Uncategorized |    No Comments

Italy Erred in Dealing with Marines Case

“Masters of the art of diplomacy have failed to tackle the Indo-Italian imbroglio, emerging out of the killing of two fishermen of Kerala, in a mature way,” K P Fabian, former Indian Ambassador to Italy and the diplomat-in-residence of KPS Menon Chair for Diplomatic Studies, School of International Relations and Politics (SIRP) at Mahatma Gandhi University has said.

“Masters of the art of diplomacy have failed to tackle the Indo-Italian imbroglio, emerging out of the killing of two fishermen of Kerala, in a mature way,” K P Fabian, former Indian Ambassador to Italy and the diplomat-in-residence of KPS Menon Chair for Diplomatic Studies, School of International Relations and Politics (SIRP) at Mahatma Gandhi University has said.

He was delivering a special lecture on ‘Indo-Italian Imbroglio’ at the KPS Menon Chair here on Wednesday. Ambassador Fabian said the Italian government has erred in dealing with the marines case right from the day of the incident.
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March 6th,2014   category: Uncategorized |    No Comments

Where is Egypt going?

egypt-country-mapNow that three years have elapsed since the 2011 Revolution in Egypt, it is pertinent, nay, imperative, to ask the central question: Where is Egypt? Where is it going? On January 25, 2011 Egyptians shed fear of their repressive government that had deprived them of their human rights for decades and gathered in the world famous Tahrir Square to demand that President Hosni Mubarak resign. Mubarak, in office for thirty years, fell eighteen days later. Millions of Egyptians in Tahrir Square and elsewhere saw the exit of Mubarak as signaling the beginning of Egypt’s journey towards democracy. Three years later, it is painfully clear that Egypt has lost its way towards democracy; in fact, it is heading fast in the opposite direction. The police state under Mubarak is being restored; freedom of expression has been drastically abridged; dissent does provoke punishment; political prisoners total up to twenty one thousand; and political demonstrations need prior permission. Egypt is under military rule and a field marshal is soon going to be elected president. Read the rest of this entry »

February 20th,2014   category: International Affairs : Articles, Politics |    No Comments

Book Review: AN UNCERTAIN GLORY

An Uncertain Glory – India And Its Contradictions
by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen
Penguin Books, London
433 pages; Rs 503 

An Uncertain Glory

Tale of inequality

An Uncertain Glory is an indictment of the Indian state for failing the poor by not addressing the disparities between the privileged class and the rest despite its stated aim.

I found it difficult to put this book down. I read it with a unique mixture of pleasure and pain: pleasure, because the book is a study in lucid writing and public reasoning; pain, on seeing the pathetic picture of the human condition in India that emerged.

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September 12th,2013   category: Book Reviews, Uncategorized   | tags: , , , , , , |    No Comments

Book Review: INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY

India’s Foreign Policy - Coping with the Changing World
by Muchkund Dubey
Pearson, New Delhi, 2012
306 pages 

India's Foreign Policy

Foreign policy lessons

This book is refreshingly different from what most other retired diplomats have written. There is no sharing of personal experience or boasting of being present on momentous occasions. There is no attempt at esoteric theorising. The author shares with the reader his lucid thoughts on the evolution of India’s foreign policy. He also makes cogent recommendations for action. The title says it all. Is not foreign policy all about how the country copes with the changing world around it and takes care of its interests?

The author is much more than a retired diplomat. After retiring in 1991, he was Professor at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University for eight years. He is an economist and is quick to spot the economic considerations behind foreign policy decisions.

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August 15th,2013   category: Book Reviews, Uncategorized   | tags: , , , , |    No Comments

Book Review: SAMUDRA MANTHAN

Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific
By C. Raja Mohan

On the United States and the strategic rivalry between India and China in the Indo-Pacific region. samudra-manthan

This is an important contribution to strategic literature by an author whose credentials are well known. He invokes ancient mythology to explain what is happening in the Indo-Pacific. “In the Hindu fable of Samudra Manthan, angels and demons churn the ocean in search of an elixir that will give them immortality. Lord Vishnu intervenes at every stage to tilt the long quest in favour of the angels and ensure they emerge victorious in the end. The legend of Samudra Manthan lives again as the United States shapes and is shaped by the rivalry between China and India in the waters of Asia.”
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Book Review: MANAGING INDIA’S NUCLEAR FORCES

Managing India’s Nuclear Forces
by Verghese Koithara
Routledge New Delhi, 2012
294 pages; Rs.795

Managing India's Nuclear Forces

Managing India's Nuclear Forces

VICE-ADMIRAL Verghese Koithara examines, critically and with clinical thoroughness, India’s nuclear doctrine and the management of its nuclear forces. He points out the shortcomings and proposes remedial measures. His style, free from jargon, is a study in plain, robust English. His logic is sharp and he never misses the big picture. India acquired nuclear weapons primarily to take care of its security needs. The political leadership of the day might have wanted to make a political statement or to derive domestic political advantages. But, the primacy of the security consideration cannot be questioned. If the nuclear weapons in India’s possession are to add to its security, it should manage the nuclear forces more rationally and coherently. This is the fundamental message of the book. It should be read by those who are responsible for India’s nuclear policy. The strategic community and the general public interested in security questions will find in it much food for thought. Koithara does not practise circumlocution even for a moment. “For a variety of political and organisational reasons, India is saddled with a nuclear force management system that is seriously inadequate for the work it needs to do,” he writes (emphasis added throughout). The author mentions two reasons for such a state of affairs.
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Chess Game over Crimea


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