Fabian Blog
December 16th, 2017

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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India’s diplomacy is textual, not contextual

Ambassador K.P. FabianUnderstanding the rationale behind India’s diplomatic decisions is essential for policymakers and citizens alike, so as to take better decisions in the future. Gateway House interviews former Ambassador to Italy, K. P. Fabian, to discuss how India’s assessment of policy values the spoken word over context.

In his book, ‘Diplomacy, Indian Style,’ Fabian writes that “according to Greek mythology, Athena came out of the head of Zeus, fully grown and fully armed. There is a popular notion that India’s foreign policy came out of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s head in a similar fashion. That notion is wrong.”

K. P. Fabian, former Indian Ambassador to Italy, shares his insights with Gateway House’s Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy on how the formulation of India’s foreign policies depends on the written word over circumstances.
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Handling terrorism, US style: The march of folly continues

Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests?

Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests?

CONTEMPLATING the ongoing US-led war on terror, one cannot help wondering whether Barbara Tuchman’s “The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam” should not be made compulsory reading for all policy-makers, including Heads of Government. She starts with a lamentation that has a contemporary resonance:

“A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place and time is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other activity. In this sphere, wisdom, which may be defined as the exercise of judgment acting on experience, common sense, and available information, is less operative and more frustrated than it should be. Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests? Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function?”
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March 18th,2012   category: International Affairs : Articles, Politics |    No Comments

Will Israel attack Iran? It cannot be ruled out.

The sad truth is that an Israeli attack on Iran cannot be ruled out.

The sad truth is that an Israeli attack on Iran cannot be ruled out.

NOBODY, not even Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, knows the answer to the question whether Israel will attack Iran. It is easier to answer another: Will it be wise and prudent on Israel’s part to attack Israel? The answer is “no”.

It is pertinent to recall Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”

The sad truth is that an Israeli attack on Iran cannot be ruled out. One comes to this conclusion going by Israel’s track record, the recent pronouncements made by its leaders, and the encouragement it is receiving from the US, not necessarily from the White House. The White House can be compelled to come to Israel’s rescue through a fait accompli.

In June 1981, Israel carried out a successful surgical strike at Iraq’s nuclear facility called Osirak, close to Baghdad. The idea of such a strike originated in the mid- 1970s. A full-scale model was built up for practice bombing. The Israeli jets over-flew the airspace of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. While over-flying Saudi Arabia, the crew pretended to be Jordanians and vice versa. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in no position to retaliate. Ten Iraqis and a French national were killed. It was only a research reactor supplied and closely monitored and controlled by the French. Israel was over-reacting. The reactor was designed to make it “unsuitable” to make bombs.
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March 7th,2012   category: International Affairs : Articles, Politics   | tags: |    No Comments

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March 20th, 2014

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February 20th, 2014

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September 12th, 2013

Book Review: AN UNCERTAIN GLORY


August 15th, 2013

Book Review: INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY


July 21st, 2013

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May 5th, 2013

Book Review: MANAGING INDIA’S NUCLEAR FORCES


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India’s diplomacy is textual, not contextual


March 18th, 2012

Handling terrorism, US style: The march of folly continues


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