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Pakistan mourns school slaughter

Pakistan has begun three days of national mourning for the 132 children and nine school staff killed in an attack on an army-run school in northwest Peshawar city on Tuesday for which the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said this was "a decisive moment" in the country's fight against terrorism. (Dec 17, '14)

Go west, young Han
If everything happens according to plan (and according to the dreams of China's leaders), the "New Silk Road" will become the project of the new century and the greatest trade story in the world for the next decade. Washington may be intent on "pivoting to Asia", but Beijing has its own plan to pirouette to Europe across Eurasia.
- Pepe Escobar (Dec 17, '14)

US sees a torturer in the mirror
The reactions of some elements of the United States' ruling class and media to the CIA report on torture are perhaps as disturbing as its revelations on torture dungeons, rectal feeding and rape. The mindset of denial, from "this is not who we are", to "the United States of America is awesome" - fuels the misplaced sense of exceptionalism that has rung through the years. - Ramzy Baroud (Dec 17, '14)

Torture as American
as apple pie

Be shocked, be disgusted, be appalled, but don't be fooled. The Senate torture report, so many years and obstacles in the making, should only be the starting point for a discussion, not the final word on US torture. Practices revealed in the redacted executive summary of the report, remain as American as apple pie.
- Rebecca Gordon (Dec 17, '14)

Solutions trump ideology in India
Wide-ranging disquiet over inequality has in recent times converged with the electoral triumph of the economic right in two of the world's largest democracies, the United States and India. In South Asia at least, the result was down to Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering the practical-minded electorate solutions to the endless problems of inequality. Ideological alignment counted far less. - Abhirup Bhunia (Dec 17, '14)

Raining on the Umbrella Revolution

After two months of bitter argument and division, Hong Kong's streets are clearing as police tear down the last sites of pro-democracy protests that ultimately failed to capture the wider public's imagination. However, the collective mind of this city remains occupied by conflict and distrust, and that is not going to change any time soon.
- Kent Ewing (Dec 15, '14)

Drill, baby, drill in the South China Sea
The United States has quietly ditched its underperforming pretext for confrontation in the South China Sea - its strategic interest in freedom of navigation - and is sidestepping into a new justification. It is taking the position that China is improperly denying US interests their fair access to potential energy riches under the sea-bed. - Peter Lee (Dec 12, '14)

The cleansing of a nation
A "clean India" campaign that is being fervently supported by Narendra Modi seems an apt allegory for a cleansing underway in politics and education of any people or group that doesn't suit the Hindu nationalist revival agenda being pursued by his government. The mission to "regain national pride" could be glorious - if it wasn't based on an imagined history of India.
- Samir Nazareth (Dec 11, '14)

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Iran poised on a slippery slope

The Iranian government's portrayal of the extension of nuclear talks - which are set to resume on Wednesday - as a diplomatic victory is a deception to the Iranian people. Rather than put Iran on a firmer footing, President Hassan Rouhani and his negotiators have exposed the country to years of continued sanctions and tactics by the United States and its allies to avoid honoring their promises. - Ismael Hossein-zadeh (Dec 15, '14)

The view from Tehran
The extension to the timetable for Iranian nuclear talks at least buys time for both sides to better understand the other. Yet with Sunni militancy on the march and neoconservatism poised to reassert itself in US foreign policy, Tehran sees itself again in danger. Its nuclear program will remain based on its security assessments, not on the pressures of the international community.
- Brian M Downing (Dec 15, '14)

A deal is within grasp
The US-Iranian negotiations for a nuclear deal are slated to resume amid growing optimism that this could be the end of the year-long endgame, and an accord is in sight, finally. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently said that the effort will be to reach an accord even before the extended deadline of end-June.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Dec 15, '14)

CIA torture: the future starts here

A recently released CIA report repeats many facts about US torture that are already in the public domain, but unless the Obama administration uses it to prosecute those responsible as international law requires, there is little to prevent a future president from using torture again. - John Sifton (Dec 12, '14)

Pentagon: Obama's great white whale
President Barack Obama's dream of a world without nuclear weapons met its great white whale - the Pentagon - and was somehow transformed into the renewal of the American nuclear force. The hopes dashed, promise sunk, and the world set for another century on the road to "nuclear perdition" is a sad Christmas story.
- James Carroll (Dec 12, '14)

Northeast India needs a Yoda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled an investment plan to drive the development and connectivity of India's poor northeastern region as part of the vision of India as a "gateway to Asia". The immediate challenge is to provide personal leadership to resolve issues that have plagued the region. For that, Modi needs to build much more than a synthetic sense of unity. He needs a greater force to be with him.
- Namrata Goswami (Dec 11, '14)

Kurdistan stays its hand, for now
Kurdistan, after being on the brink of full independence a few months ago, now looks like it will stay within the Iraqi political framework. The threat posed by the Islamic State required cooperation, and plummeting energy prices have helped force an oil-revenue sharing deal with Baghdad that gives Kurds a stake in the south's exports. Still, rising Kurdish assertiveness brings the intriguing prospect of a "greater Kurdistan".
- Brian M Downing (Dec 11, '14)

Libya: Be careful what you wish for

The United States-led NATO blitz of aircraft and missile strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's government has been described as a "model intervention" that ushered in an era of unprecedented freedom for Libyans. What actually transpired was the unintended creation of a regional new epicenter for terror, where daily assassinations, kidnappings and militia conflict are ruining the lives of millions of people who had lived securely under Gaddafi.
- Brian Cloughley (Dec 11, '14)

South Asia faces tranquility - or turmoil
South Asia has a great potential to become one of the largest economic regions of the world if it decides to utilize its cultural similarities, deeply rooted in its historical legacies as they are, rather than its differences. Despite its failure to tackle deep-seated issues of conflict, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation offers potential to develop an effective regional trade system. - Qaisar Abbas (Dec 11, '14)

Xi and the end
of Zhou Yongkang

The expulsion from the Chinese Communist Party of Zhou Yongkang, a former security czar and Politburo Standing Committee member, signals the end of an era in which party officials could push regulations aside at their convenience and shape state institutions to fit their desires. President Xi Jinping's new path towards the rule of law has momentous consequences both for China and the party. - Francesco Sisci (Dec 8, '14)

Russia, Turkey
pivot across Eurasia

Russia's decision to use Turkey as a transit country for gas destined for Europe sends geopolitical shockwaves all across Eurasia. Turkey is the obvious gainer, but how the fragile Balkans will feel about being subordinated to the whims of Ankara for their energy supplies is one big unknown. - Pepe Escobar (Dec 8, '14)


Usmanov does good by Nobel laureate
Tycoon Alisher Usmanov has purchased US scientist James Watson's Nobel Prize gold medal - price $4.8 million - only to return it to the 86-year-old DNA researcher. The tycoon, who amassed his first fortune making plastic bags, has a thing or two that makes him stand out of the crowd of other oligarchs. - Farangis Najibullah

Oil free market is
bad news for US

For the first time since 1972, there is no cartel able to control the oil market. At first sight that looks like excellent news for America's consumers. However, it locks the US into being the world's high-cost producer of a major commodity, and its bonanza from fracking may be about to go into reverse.
- Martin Hutchinson

A (mild) thaw in US-Russia ties
Russia and the United States have found themselves on the same page regarding the new non-combat, training, advisory and assistance mission that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] proposes in Afghanistan. At a time when Russian-American relations are at a low point, agreement represents a moment of relative warmth.
- M K Bhadrakumar

[Re: Turning tables on North Korea, Nov 17, '14] Xi Jinping's haughty treatment of Barack Obama during the recent summit in Beijing should indicate that China is not interested in boxing in North Korea.
Junzo Nakamura
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Libya: Be careful what you wish for

2. Oil free market is bad news for US

3. Russia, Turkey pivot across Eurasia

4. 'Drill, baby, drill' in the South China Sea

5. The cleansing of India

6. Kurdistan stays its hand, for now

7. Northeast India needs a Yoda

8. Usmanov does good by Nobel laureate Watson

9. CIA torture: the future starts here

10. War by media and the end of truth

(Dec 12-14, 2014)


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