Sri Lanka regulator aims to lift market's integrity

[EPILOGUE] Pax Indica

The Indian Subcontinent in 2050

A timeline of events in the Indian subcontinent between 2035 and 2050.

The Great Indian War (2033-2038)

Rise of DUSS and PRT
Beginning in 2033 and lasting until mid-2038, the Great Indian War was, without a doubt, the bloodiest continental conflict since the Second World War, resulting in the deaths of over sixty seven million people including military casualties and civilian deaths and over two trillion dollars in terms of property damage and instrumental in completely changing the face of both Indian and Asian geopolitics forever. What began as ethnic and socioeconomic strife back in the 20s would spiral into a full-fledged continental war within ten years and while most scholars and historians regard 2033, the year of the declaration of independence of the southern Dravidian states, as the start of the Great Indian War, some argue that the war had begun as early as 2027 in the manner of ethnic and religious pogroms in India, especially targeted towards southern Indians and Muslims. Reaching a wide audience and acquiring great popular support for their separation from India, both the Dravidian Union of Socialist States and the People's Republic of Telangana were successful in keeping their territories under control despite heavy assaults and slowly chipped away at more and more territory; the city of Bengaluru, the tech capital of India, would fall to the DUSS in November 2035, a massive blow to an already deprecated morale in the Indian Army. The fall of the city also led to the Congress, already having been elected by a thin margin, to be voted out and replaced by the BJP although this time under Amit Shah, the assassinated former Prime Minister Modi's personal friend and ally. The civil strife in Maharashtra finally finds a voice in the newly rejuvenated Republican Marathi Congress (formerly the Republican Party of India), championing Marathi nationalism, secularism, anti-casteism, and laissez-faire capitalism with a focus on creating a welfare state. The party does not take up arms, however, and continues with its stance of non-violent resistance. Negotiations regarding increased autonomy with Delhi fail as the Indian economy completely collapses and inflation goes sky high, further cementing the idea of secession among all active groups and in states that had previously remained pro-Delhi as the odds of a return to a 'normal India' shrink away.
Indian GDP (incl. secessionists) in 2035: $6.4 trillion
Indian GDP (incl. secessionists) in 2036: $4.9 trillion
Indian GDP (incl. secessionists) in 2037: $3.7 trillion
The Gandharan Spring
Elsewhere, however, the archrival looks on while lapping up new and old investments and local growth as foreign investment meant for India is siphoned away to Pakistan, Southeast Asia, and even Central America. While civil strife continues in India, an entirely different movement strikes Pakistan - one demanding change, equality, and justice for all. While the Islamic Republic had slowly shied away from its Islamic morals and assumed a more pragmatic approach to world affairs and had significantly benefited from this new policy, it hadn't anticipated a social revolution to begin within its own borders. The thousands of coffee cafes established in its major (and liberal) cities became a breeding ground for new thought while the newfound prosperity through rapid economic development and industrialization led to a mass wave of 'wokeness' among the population. The annual women's march, coffee shop discussions, the emergence of Latin Urdu, and a new wave of Urdu poetry in the newly standardized Latin script became a part of a newly emerging unitary culture that transcended the bounds of ethnic nationalism and culminated into a cultural renaissance as people found new ways to express themselves, their words, and their art. Marches and protests to reduce military spending and the establishment of proper universal healthcare and social security became a norm as the country dived deep into what came to be known as the Gandharan Spring - named so after the ancient scholarly state of Gandhara. Economically, the Pakistani GDP exceeds $1.5 trillion in 2037 as new investments pour in and local industry, both large and small, prosper and the newly built planned city of Şahinpur becomes a major hub of technological innovation in Asia.
Total Collapse
But back in India, war was the only thing on the minds of the common people. Mass migrations across state and international lines further impacted local economies and the Dravidian cause became further ignited with the BJP's return to power, once again sparking ethnic conflict between the citizenry. Pogroms and killings continue as almost every state is plunged into anarchy over hyperinflation, ethnic and religious tensions, and the collapse of the Indian federation. Courts and the judiciary became irrelevant as the Constitution devolved into nothing more than a piece of paper and civil rights eroded away in the name of security and 'national integrity'. The Indian military, by now the only functional organ of the Delhi-based Indian government, becomes plagued with deserters and a collapsed morale among all ranks with nearly all but the staunchest of (Hindu) nationalists unwilling to fight to 'preserve the union'. Popular support for the Indian government is limited only to the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar at this point with almost all other states in active revolt or too preoccupied with anarchy and ethnic, religious, or political unrest. Both the DUSS and PRT have gained strategically important and economically vital territory with the former gaining control of Madurai, Coimabatore, and Kochi port as well as large swathes of countryside in its claimed territory while the latter gained control over Hyderabad, the economic and political capital of Telangana.
But all was not rosy for the secessionists in the south either. With supplies running low and exhaustion high among its ranks, both the DUSS and PRT wanted, nay, needed, a quick end to this war. And that would come albeit not in a way they would've anticipated. In early July, Kashmir rose in uproar. While pro-Pakistani/independence militias had been active in the region since the departure of the British, this new uprising was far more organized and effective and an entire new front was opened up for the Indian government to worry about. This was also the first time the term 'Great Indian War' would be used to describe the civil strife going on in India. In response, the Indian military cracked down hard on the secessionists and news of continued war crimes in Kashmir would not be well-received by the neighbor to the west.
Here's Johnny!
True to its newfound commitment to 'neutrality', the Islamic Republic of Pakistan had remained neutral since the declaration of independence of the two southern secessionist groups. > On the eve of July 21, 2037 one of the few remaining squadrons of the Indian Navy intercepted an arms shipment from Djibouti en route to the southern port city of Kochi which had fallen into the hands of the DUSS and while it had been widely accepted that that country had been involved in this war in some capacity, the capture of the shipment finally sealed the deal for the hot-headed government of PM Amit Shah and the BJP. Although the shipment had decidedly come from Pakistan, the government in Islamabad wholly denied any involvement in the affair and called for 'peaceful dialog' between Delhi and the secessionists. Over the last two decades, the Islamic Republic had begun to care a lot about its international image, reflected in the permanent invitation it received from the United States to the G20, but the BJP, already seething with hatred for the country and holding it responsible for Narendra Modi's assassination all those years ago (that would ultimately snowball into the Great Indian War), would have none of it.
The very next day, the Indian military conducted a strategic surgical strike against a Pakistani military base in Gilgit-Baltistan which it defined as a 'warning shot' for its western neighbor to not interfere in its internal issues. All it did was ignite a national fervor that couldn't be extinguished even with the coldness of the deepest abyss. The three Pakistani soldiers killed in the strike were awarded the Nişan-i-Haider, the highest military award in the country, and Pakistan entered the Great Indian War with a declaration of war against the Republic of India on July 22, 2037.
The End
The initial Indian strike against Pakistan killed three Pakistani soldiers. The counterstrike conduced by the Pakistan Army as its first response killed forty seven Indian soldiers and disabled two Rafale fighter aircraft. But that was only the start.
During the kerfuffle between the two archrivals, major new developments would spring up across the rest of the subcontinent especially in the DUSS and Maharashtra. The Marathi Congress, beefed up with major donations (later revealed to be major Maharasthra-based businessmen such as Ambani and Tata as well as from anonymous accounts owned by REDACTED), took control of key buildings and locations in the state, including the very import Port of Mumbai, and declared independence from India as the Maratha Republic. In the south, ideological drift between the DUSS and PRT led to an end to an otherwise quite beneficial partnership between the two. The same ideological drift would begin to take hold within DUSS as well. Kerala, notable for its high standards of living and prosperity compared to other parts of India, began to wonder if it may be better off on its own just as Telangana had split to form a smaller but ultimately more manageable sovereign state. But the war had now escalated to a degree not initially imagined as the two competing megapowers of the region, India and Pakistan, finally came to a head.
While Pakistan had built up to a parity with its larger and traditionally stronger rival, it was the exhaustion of Indian forces that would give the smaller state the primary advantage early in the war as the fresh and qualitatively superior Pakistan Army blitzkrieged into Kashmir with its tank fleets of high-end Haider main battle tanks and state-of-the-art Griffin III IFVs, capturing Srinagar, Jammu, and the Siachen Glacier within twenty four hours of the declaration of war. Already exhausted in fighting the upstart rebels in the region, the Indian Army personnel stationed in Kashmir quickly resorted to defensive tactics as the invasive force rapidly captured town after town, putting sixty thousand of the ninety thousand strong Indian force under siege within just the first three days of conflict.
To the south, the Pakistan Navy destroyed the Indian naval bases in the state of Gujarat (the last pro-Delhi state on the western seaboard) and deploy a major submarine squadron in the region to deter any harassment from the massively depleted Indian Navy as it made its way south, breaking the blockade deployed against DUSS thus allowing relief aid (and weapons) to once again reach the rebels. But the actual intent of their move south would be revealed with the rapid landings of troops on the many tiny islands that made up the Lakshadweep union territory and the occupation of all government buildings and posts in the archipelago. By the end of the month, the Indian territories of Kashmir and the Lakshadweep islands had both been occupied by the invading Pakistani forces and a shockwave rocked the entire subcontinent to its core. The All India Trinamool Congress declared the independence of 'Kalinga Ganga' - a federation of the Indian states of West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh to 'oppose the fascist tendencies of the Delhi-based Hindi' with their capital in Kolkata. The Sikhs of Punjab declared the independence of the 'Khalsa' - the Sikh brotherhood worldwide - and called on all Sikhs to return home. In Delhi, Prime Minister Amit Shah handed power over to the military who declared martial law across the country, dissolved the Parliament, and declared the Constitution void. The Maratha Republic took this time to announce Pune, not Mumbai, as the capital of their nascent state.
At this time, cracks within the DUSS also began to show as the state of Kerala announced its separation from the socialist federation, declaring the People's Republic of Keralam, a social democratic state based on the principles established by the Self-Respect Movement and the original Dravidar Kazhagam rather than the European-derived ideology of the DUSS. Elsewhere, the Pakistan Navy crossed by Sri Lanka - where it refueled and restocked - and entered the Bay of Bengal to open up a brand new front in this massive continental war.
The Indian Army attempted five times to break the 'iron wall' - the Pakistan Army's three-thousand strong fleet of M1PK Matin tanks - but failed to make a dent, losing whatever was left of their morale and drive with every failed attempt. Indian formations were ripe targets for the Pakistan Air Force which maintained total air superiority in the war with its advanced aerial fleet of F-35s and AF-1 fifth generation plus fighter aircraft and this support allowed the Pakistanis to break into India proper on January 26, 2038 as they crossed the Punjab and seized control of the state for the newly declared Khalsa while the southern command crossed the Rann and captured all of the Kutch beyond the disputed border at Sir Creek. Already halved by personnel deserting and refusing to follow orders and to defections to the declared secessionist states, the defeated Indian Army was the first to capitulated following Pakistani landings on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the capture of Port Blair, Mayabunder, and Car Nicobar by Pakistani Marines.
The Indian Air Force was the next to follow. Having been defeated in the air, the IAF wouldn't find peace on the ground either as the enemy flew sortie after sortie, wrecking almost every airbase with its advanced platforms such as the F-35 and the AF-1. The defections to DUSS, PRT, Kerala, Maratha Republic, and Kalinga didn't help either and whatever was left of the Indian air fleets was lost in a final sortie over the city of Chandigarh as Pakistani troops crossed into the state of Haryana and came within two hundred kilometres of Delhi.
The last two states to secede from the Union were Goa and Garhwal, the latter of which claimed the northern Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand as their rightful territory while the former declared the small coastal state of Goa as its rightful sovereign territory. With two hundred thousand personnel in Kashmir, one hundred thousand in Gujarat, and about five thousand split between Lakshadeep and Andaman & Nicobar, the Pakistan Army entered Delhi on July 2, 2038 and forced the surrender of the final vestiges of the Indian military high command (and government) thus bringing the Great Indian War to a conclusion.
Treaty of Dharamsala
On August 14, 2038, exactly ninety one years after the independence of the subcontinent from British colonial rule, representatives from all belligerents of the Great Indian War met at the Himalayan capital of the newly-declared sovereign state of Garhwal to sign a treaty to decide the future of the Indian subcontinent and to ensure that this war would be the last of its kind, at least in the Indian subcontinent. The following are the salient features of the Treaty of Dharamsala.
  • The Republic of India will be dissolved and its membership in all international organizations voided.
  • All nuclear weapons and facilities to manufacture more nuclear weapons will be dismantled.
  • No new sovereign state in the subcontinent will be regarded as the lawful successor state to the Republic of India and will seek memberships on their own merit.
  • All new sovereign states will commit to the ideals of democracy, justice, and freedom.
Besides these salient points, all representatives set out to solve any territorial disputes that might cause tensions in the future. Pakistan claimed full sovereignty over the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as well as the Kutch region of the state of Gujarat. Garhwal claimed full sovereignty over the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Khalsa (Republic) claimed full sovereignty over the Indian state of Punjab and the union territory of Chandigarh. Kalinga Ganga claimed full sovereignty over the states of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Jharkhand. Kamarupa claimed full sovereignty over the Seven Sister States. The Maratha Republic claimed full sovereignty over the state of Maharashtra. The DUSS claimed full sovereignty over the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka as well as Puducherry, Karaikal, and Yanam districts of the union territory of Puducherry. Keralam claimed full sovereignty over the state of Kerala as well as the district of Mahe. PRT claimed full sovereignty over the state of Telangana. Nepal claimed sovereignty over the state of Sikkim. And finally, Gangarashtra claimed full sovereignty over the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar as well as the union territories of Delhi, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagarhaveli.
Helpful map of the Treaty of Dharamsala

Rebuilding and the Mandala (2039-2044)

The conclusion of the Great Indian War completely changed the face of the subcontinent and left a permanent mark on world history. The dissolution of India left its archrival Pakistan as the new regional power in South Asia, further contributing to its rise as a major power. Outmatching any of the successor states of its once powerful rival in all relevant terms, the leadership in Islamabad instead adopted a different approach towards cementing its role as the leader of a new subcontinent. Instead of going the route of Russia and forcing its less powerful partners into being subservient subjects as seen in the USSR, the leadership instead looked towards Germany's role in the European Union not just as a leadership role but as a bonafide future for the Indian subcontinent. But first, it had to solve the rapidly rising issue back home.
In 2039, the Pakistani economy crossed the $2 trillion mark, solidifying its position as the largest economy in South Asia and among the largest in all of Asia as it overtook the severely damaged economy of South Korea following the end of the Second Korean War. Already being a 'permanent invitee' to the G20, it was also awarded India's now-vacant seat in the forum. But the renaissance that had sprung up during the Great Indian War had now become more than a social idea to be amused by. This Gandharan Spring had become the most important issue at home, inviting comparisons to the civil rights and counter-culture movements of the United States in the twentieth century. Pakistani cinema and television turned away from romantic dramas and towards something of more substance, tackling complex issues in a conservative, Islamic society such as drug use and pre-martial sex, women's empowerment and feminism, anti-state and anti-government feature films, and even films and dramas openly based on the Hindu heritage of the nation. Urdu literature, this time in the Latin script, saw a renaissance of its own and several instances of prose and poetry saw global success, works based on heritage and social issues rather than Islamic glory and prestige. Madrasahs became empty as parents chose functional skill over Islamic jurisprudence, attracting the ire of the mullahs who denounced the 'ever increasing degeneration' of the nation. But this was much bigger than them. The newly annexed territories of Jammu and Kashmir and the Andamans had brought in a, albeit small, but influential population of Hindus into the fold and they assimilated into this new Gandharan culture with ease.
Elsewhere, the Great War had left the rest of the subcontinent in a sorry state. Mass immigration and uncontrolled inflation had broken local economies while warfare had taken a severe toll on infrastructure. As relief, Islamabad organized the Hindustan Fund - a locally raised sum to help the broken economies of post-war India to once again find their footing and become functional sovereign states instead of going the route of Afghanistan and becoming burdens. Of course, such a task could never be accomplished by Pakistan alone and while the state did deliver about $88 billion in aid to the post-war states of the subcontinent over five years, substantial aid from the European Union, the United States, and China was significant in rebuilding these broken states. It is estimated that the total aid offered to these economies was in excess of $500 billion, enough to lay a groundwork on which to build new foundations for new states.
In 2043, the Pakistani economy crossed $3 trillion and accounted for almost half of the entire economy of the Indian subcontinent. But the Gandharan Spring had reached it breakout point and soon enough, the state would need to make some very crucial decisions.
On January 1, 2044 about forty million people across the country conducted what would come to be known as the Great Gandhara March, this time demanding significant decreases in military spending, a strong and robust healthcare and social security system, equality and liberty regardless of race and religion or any other personal metric, and a full transparent democratic system, calls that were then addressed personally by the state leadership and would be answered in the following two months.
On March 21, 2044 the state conducted a mass referendum to answer a singular question, threatened by a mass exodus of the younger, more progressive caucus of the People's Party if the demands were not addressed.
"Should Pakistan retain Islam as its official religion?
The answer was a resounding seventy eight percent no with an almost eighty five percent turnout. But this would only open the floodgates to a complete and total overhaul of the country. A second referendum would be held the next month asking the question,
"What should Pakistan's official name be?"
[ ] Islamic Republic of Pakistan
[ ] People's Islamic Republic of Pakistan
[ ] Republic of Pakistan
With eighty four percent of all votes choosing the final option, the official name of the country was changed once again to the name it had been awarded with the Constitution of 1962: the Republic of Pakistan. More questions were asked in five more referendums as Sharia-inspired laws were removed the penal code including the hotly-contested and controversial blasphemy law (which was amended to include all religion with a dramatically lighter punishment rather than being completely removed). Laws made through the controversial Hudood Ordinance of former military dictator Zia ul-Haq were completely scrubbed and the death penalty finally abolished as the country came more and more into its form as a modern nation-state.
In the Indian subcontinent, the gracious foreign aid brought the broken economies of the new states back to life as life began to settle into a normal routine once again but everyone knew that things would never, ever be the same as they once were. Several monuments were erected to honor the sixty seven million killed in senseless warring and brutality and all Indian leaders vowed to never allow a repeat of what had occurred again. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was redefined and rebuilt from the ground up to allow a better and more productive platform to settle disputes and to deter any future wars between new or old Indian states. A new age of cooperation would take over the subcontinent as nearly all states, regardless of ideology, became willing allies or at least established warm and cordial relations with one another, especially Pakistan and Gangarashtra. With the latter still being seen by some as the natural (if not recognized) successor state of the Republic of India as well as the strongest among all new country in the subcontinent, it was natural for the two to work towards establishing a regional environment conductive towards peace and dialogue and lead by example. With Gangarashtra toeing the line, it became quite easy for the modern Pakistani state to ensure the loyalties of other new states both to itself and to one another as it formulated a new plan to formalize the future of the region and to guide it towards a vision of peaceful cooperation, development, and shared dignity.

Indian Union (2045-2050)

Treaty of Panjim (2041)
Post-war India was not that different from post-war Europe. Both destroyed by a dangerous ideology, it was necessary for all peoples to work together to ensure that such an event could never take place again. To accomplish this, the Europeans established several commissions and organizations to negate the extreme nationalism that had ravaged Europe. European integration was seen as the antidote to such an event occurring again and the same was done with post-war India. It was easy to point out the Hindu nationalist ideology as the force that tore the subcontinent to shreds and caused the deaths of almost seventy million people. To counter the ideology and to further promote, representatives from all successor states met at the Goan capital of Panjim in 2041 to discuss the future of the Indian subcontinent. It was identified that while being proud of your nation and heritage is no crime, its devolution into hatred for other peoples is an ideology that must be combated at all cost. As part of this treaty, all Indian states agreed to curb all extreme nationalist parties and groups and denounce unwarranted religious and ethnic aggression both publicly and in their actions, leading to major purges across the region but especially in Pakistan (which continued to weaken the military-mullah consortium), the DUSS, Gangarashtra, and the Maratha Republic.
Treaty of Kandy (2042)
An year after the conference at Panjim, the Indian leaders met once again to do something of more substance and significance, this time in the Sri Lankan city of Kandy. Discussing further integration in the Indian subcontinent, several proposals were put forward including a bid to host a major sports tournament together (recommended by Maharashtra), to invite all leaders of the G-20 to visit the Indian states (recommended by Kalinga Ganga), to create a legislative assembly - an Indian parliament, per se - to sign off on any new laws established by any Indian state (recommended by Pakistan) but finally it was a suggestion from the representatives of Keralam that all other attendees agreed upon. A university to be established anywhere in the subcontinent, ultimately agreed upon to be in the city of Alappuzha in Keralam, to focus entirely on Indian studies including history, geopolitics, economics, and to provide training to students who will embody the values of unity and peace among all Indian peoples. Funded by all Indian states (except for Garhwal and Kamarupa which cited financial issues), the university would be established later than year with construction on the urban campus completing in early 2044. The institute would train future leaders, diplomats, and bureaucrats from all corners of the Indian subcontinent.
Treaty of Lahore (2044)
With the College of Indian Studies in full swing and the economies of all Indian states now rebounding from the damage suffered during the Great Indian War, leaders from the Indian states met once again to discuss further integration, this time in the second largest city of Pakistan - Lahore. A historical capital of several empire that once spanned the entirety of the subcontinent, the millennia old history of the city offered a great insight into the long and varied history of the Indian peoples. This was also where the idea for an Indian Council, created to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the Indian subcontinent, would be conceived and later brought to fruition which would establish the foundations upon which the future Indian Union would be built.
The Indian Council would become an official United Nations Observer party in 2047, an year after its establishment with the following members.
Country Capital
Pakistan Islamabad
Gangarashtra New Delhi
Khalsa Chandigarh
Garhwal Dharamsala
Kalinga Ganga Kolkata
Nepal Kathmandu
Bhutan Thimphu
Bangladesh Dhaka
Kamarupa Guwahati
Maratha Pune
Telangana Hyderabad
Goa Panjim
DUSS Bengaluru
Keralam Thiruvananthapuram
Sri Lanka Colombo
Maldives Male
Treaty of Karachi (2046)
Meeting in the largest and wealthiest city in the Indian subcontinent, the conference at Karachi would establish what would become the Indian Union in 2049. At the conference, especially called by the leaders of Pakistan, Gangarashtra, and the Maratha Republic, all members of the Indian Council would decide to establish the Indian Cooperative Council (ICC) - a customs union between all members of the Indian Council to promote further economic cooperation between all Indian states. All major languages of the Indian subcontinent such as Hindustani, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, and Sindhi were recognized as official languages while English was declared the working language for all official business within the ICC. Two major organs of the council were established - the Indian Commission and the Indian Parliament. A third organ was created with the annexation of the Indian Council into the ICC with the first major amendment to the ICC charter through the Treaty of Delhi (2047).
Treaty of Kolkata (2049)
The second amendment to the ICC created (or brought back) the Indian Rupee, originally pegged to the Pakistani Rupee due it being the strongest currency among the sixteen member states of the ICC. The currency was adopted in Pakistan, Khalsa (Republic), Garhwal, Gangarashtra, Kalinga Ganga, Kamarupa, and the Maratha Republic the year it was introduced and by the Maldives and Telangana in 2050. Increased trade made possible through the single currency and the liberalization of trade between the Indian states led to rapid economic growth among all member states and further improvements in terms of HDI and per capita income.
Treaty of Visakhapatnam (2050)
The name of the Indian Cooperative Council was changed to the Indian Union (IU) and the three organs were located permanently instead of revolving annually. The Indian Council was relocated to the city of Dharamsala, the Indian Commission was relocated to the city of Panjim, while the Indian Parliament was relocated to the city of Alappuzha in Garhwal, Goa, and Keralam respectively. Encompassing agreements such as single market, common currency, customs union, free trade and movement, and a mutual defense treaty, the Indian Union has the potential to become one of the key players in global geopolitics and affairs if it manages to remain stable for at least the next ten years.

Peace in India (2050-?)

While it may seem like a little early to make such statements, the successful integration of post-war Indian subcontinent into a function Indian Union has led many to claim that we may finally have established peace in the most populous region in the world. But the sky's only the limit and there's quite a lot that is still to be done.
Future Milestones
To remain functional and retain its relevance, any organization must continue to evolve with time and conquer new frontiers for the prosperity of its stakeholders. While the Indian Union is a promising step towards a peace Indian subcontinent, many have already identified key milestones the union must tackle together including a unified space research organization that will be discussed at the special conference at Allapuzha in 2051, the expansion of the unified currency to all members of the Indian Union, and the possible expansion of the IU to include new members such as Myanmar and Afghanistan, both of whom have expressed strong interest in joining the union. But for now, Pax Indica has set in and how long that may last is anyone's guess.
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Sweden’s Famously Stealthy Submarine Is Now Even Quieter

Go Sweden! Thanks for that job done!
What's the difference inSweden and Switzerland. Switzerland has an economy more like The United States. They complain over there that the Franc is overvalued and they are not paid enough to live. Sweden has progressive taxation and income distribution and has a more stabler economy because of it. Stockholm is the Capital of Sweden since 1523 A.D. It shares the Scandinavian Peninsula with Norway. Coming up is the Difference between Norway and Normandy.
Here's a map of Sweden and Norway:

Location of Sweden Map from Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Encyclopedia Britannica States," The country has a 1,000-year-long continuous history as a sovereign state, but its territorial expanse changed often until 1809. Today it is a constitutional monarchy with a well-established parliamentary democracy that dates from 1917. Swedish society is ethnically and religiously very homogeneous, although recent immigration has created some social diversity. Historically, Sweden rose from backwardness and poverty into a highly developed postindustrial society and advanced welfare state with a standard of living and life expectancy that rank among the highest in the world. "
Here are the Facts of Sweden according to Merriam-Webster:
Official Name: Konungariket Sverige (Kingdom of Sweden)
Form Of Government: constitutional monarchy with one legislative house (Riksdag, or Parliament [349])
Head Of State: King: Carl XVI Gustaf
Head Of Government: Prime Minister: Stefan Löfven
Capital: Stockholm
Official Language: Swedish
Official Religion: none
Monetary Unit: Swedish krona (SEK)
Currency Exchange Rate:
1 USD equals 9.879 Swedish krona
Population:
(2019 est.) 10,284,000
Population Rank:
(2018) 89
Population Projection 2030:
11,261,000
Total Area (Sq Mi)**172,750
Total Area (Sq Km)**447,420
Density: Persons Per Sq Mi(2018) 64.7
Density: Persons Per Sq Km(2018) 25
Urban-Rural Population:
Urban: (2018) 87.4%
Rural: (2018) 12.6%
Life Expectancy At Birth:
Male: (2017) 80.7 years
Female: (2017) 84.1 years
Literacy: Percentage Of Population Age 15 And Over:
Male: 100%
Female: (2008) 100%
GNI (U.S.$ ’000,000)
(2017) 529,460
GNI Per Capita (U.S.$)
(2017) 52,590
Here's what The CIA World FactBook has to say about Sweden: (Here are some highlights):
Sweden’s small, open, and competitive economy has been thriving and Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living with its combination of free-market capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Sweden remains outside the euro zone largely out of concern that joining the European Economic and Monetary Union would diminish the country’s sovereignty over its welfare system.
Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of a manufacturing economy that relies heavily on foreign trade. Exports, including engines and other machines, motor vehicles, and telecommunications equipment, account for more than 44% of GDP. Sweden enjoys a current account surplus of about 5% of GDP, which is one of the highest margins in Europe.
GDP grew an estimated 3.3% in 2016 and 2017 driven largely by investment in the construction sector. Swedish economists expect economic growth to ease slightly in the coming years as this investment subsides. Global economic growth boosted exports of Swedish manufactures further, helping drive domestic economic growth in 2017. The Central Bank is keeping an eye on deflationary pressures and bank observers expect it to maintain an expansionary monetary policy in 2018. Swedish prices and wages have grown only slightly over the past few years, helping to support the country’s competitiveness.
In the short and medium term, Sweden’s economic challenges include providing affordable housing and successfully integrating migrants into the labor market.
Agriculture - products:
This entry is an ordered listing of major crops and products starting with the most important.
barley, wheat, sugar beets; meat, milk
Industries:
This entry provides a rank ordering of industries starting with the largest by value of annual output.
iron and steel, precision equipment (bearings, radio and telephone parts, armaments), wood pulp and paper products, processed foods, motor vehicles
Unemployment rate:This entry contains the percent of the labor force that is without jobs. Substantial underemployment might be noted.
6.7% (2017 est.)7% (2016 est.)country comparison to the world: 101
Population below poverty line:National estimates of the percentage of the population falling below the poverty line are based on surveys of sub-groups, with the results weighted by the number of people in each group. Definitions of poverty vary considerably among nations. For example, rich nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poor nations.
15% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:Data on household income or consumption come from household surveys, the results adjusted for household size. Nations use different standards and procedures in collecting and adjusting the data. Surveys based on income will normally show a more unequal distribution than surveys based on consumption. The quality of surveys is improving with time, yet caution is still necessary in making inter-country comparisons.
lowest 10%: 3.4%highest 10%: 24% (2012)
Budget:This entry includes revenues, expenditures, and capital expenditures. These figures are calculated on an exchange rate basis, i.e., not in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms.
revenues: 271.2 billion (2017 est.)expenditures: 264.4 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:This entry records total taxes and other revenues received by the national government during the time period indicated, expressed as a percent of GDP. Taxes include personal and corporate income taxes, value added taxes, excise taxes, and tariffs. Other revenues include social contributions - such as payments for social security and hospital insurance - grants, and net revenues from public enterprises. Normalizing the data, by dividing total revenues by GDP, enables easy comparisons acr . . . more
50.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Now for Switzerland:

Map of Switzerland
It's rights next to France and Austria and is the size of Half of Scotland according to Encyclopedia Britannica online; This map is from their page.
According to Merriam-Webster:
Dialing code: +41
Population: 8.57 million (2019)
Currency: Swiss franc
Swit·​zer·​land | \ ˈswit-sər-lənd \variants: or French Suisse \ ˈswʸēs \ or German Schweiz \ ˈshvīts \ or Italian Svizzera \ ˈzvēt-​tsā-​rä \ or Latin Helvetia \ hel-​ˈvē-​sh(ē-​)ə \

Definition of Switzerland

landlocked country (a federal republic) in western Europe in the Alps; capital Bern area 15,937 square miles (41,277 square kilometers), population 8,293,000
see also SWISS entry 1 sense 1
Britannica states: " For many outsiders, Switzerland also evokes a prosperous if rather staid and unexciting society, an image that is now dated. Switzerland remains wealthy and orderly, but its mountain-walled valleys are far more likely to echo the music of a local rock band than a yodel or an alphorn. Most Swiss live in towns and cities, not in the idyllic rural landscapes that captivated the world through Johanna Spyri’s Heidi (1880–81), the country’s best-known literary work. Switzerland’s cities have emerged as international centres of industry and commerce connected to the larger world, a very different tenor from Switzerland’s isolated, more inward-looking past. As a consequence of its remarkably long-lived stability and carefully guarded neutrality, Switzerland—Geneva, in particular—has been selected as headquarters for a wide array of governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including many associated with the United Nations (UN)—an organization the Swiss resisted joining until the early 21st century. "
According to CIA"S World Factbook. Switzerland's Economy is as such:
Switzerland, a country that espouses neutrality, is a prosperous and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world. Switzerland's economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry that specializes in high-technology, knowledge-based production. Its economic and political stability, transparent legal system, exceptional infrastructure, efficient capital markets, and low corporate tax rates also make Switzerland one of the world's most competitive economies.
The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to gain access to the Union’s Single Market and enhance the country’s international competitiveness. Some trade protectionism remains, however, particularly for its small agricultural sector. The fate of the Swiss economy is tightly linked to that of its neighbors in the euro zone, which purchases half of Swiss exports. The global financial crisis of 2008 and resulting economic downturn in 2009 stalled demand for Swiss exports and put Switzerland into a recession. During this period, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) implemented a zero-interest rate policy to boost the economy, as well as to prevent appreciation of the franc, and Switzerland's economy began to recover in 2010.
The sovereign debt crises unfolding in neighboring euro-zone countries, however, coupled with economic instability in Russia and other Eastern European economies drove up demand for the Swiss franc by investors seeking a safehaven currency. In January 2015, the SNB abandoned the Swiss franc’s peg to the euro, roiling global currency markets and making active SNB intervention a necessary hallmark of present-day Swiss monetary policy. The independent SNB has upheld its zero interest rate policy and conducted major market interventions to prevent further appreciation of the Swiss franc, but parliamentarians have urged it to do more to weaken the currency. The franc's strength has made Swiss exports less competitive and weakened the country's growth outlook; GDP growth fell below 2% per year from 2011 through 2017.
In recent years, Switzerland has responded to increasing pressure from neighboring countries and trading partners to reform its banking secrecy laws, by agreeing to conform to OECD regulations on administrative assistance in tax matters, including tax evasion. The Swiss Government has also renegotiated its double taxation agreements with numerous countries, including the US, to incorporate OECD standards.
GDP (purchasing power parity)
$523.1 billion (2017 est.)
$514.5 billion (2016 est.)
$506.5 billion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)
$679 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$62,100 (2017 est.)
$61,800 (2016 est.)
$61,500 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving:
33.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
32.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
33.9% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use: 53.7% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 12% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 24.5% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: -1.4% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 65.1% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -54% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 0.7% (2017 est.)
industry: 25.6% (2017 est.)
services: 73.7% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products: grains, fruits, vegetables; meat, eggs, dairy products
Industries: machinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, insurance, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate: 3.4% (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world:92
Labor force**:**5.159 million (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world:81
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 3.3%
industry: 19.8%
services: 76.9% (2015)
Unemployment rate:
3.2% (2017 est.)
3.3% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
Population below poverty line:
6.6% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 7.5%
highest 10%: 19% (2007)
Budget:
revenues: 242.1 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 234.4 billion (2017 est.)
note: includes federal, cantonal, and municipal budgets
Taxes and other revenues:
35.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
1.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
Public debt:
41.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
41.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
note: general government gross debt; gross debt consists of all liabilities that require payment or payments of interest and/or principal by the debtor to the creditor at a date or dates in the future; includes debt liabilities in the form of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), currency and deposits, debt securities, loans, insurance, pensions and standardized guarantee schemes, and other accounts payable; all liabilities in the GFSM (Government Financial Systems Manual) 2001 system are debt, except for equity and investment fund shares and financial derivatives and employee stock options
country comparison to the world: 119
Fiscal year:
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.5% (2017 est.)
-0.4% (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
Current account balance:
$66.55 billion (2017 est.)$63.16 billion (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
Exports:
$313.5 billion (2017 est.)
$318.1 billion (2016 est.)
note: trade data exclude trade with Switzerland
country comparison to the world: 17
Exports - partners:
Germany 15.2%
US 12.3%
China 8.2
%India 6.7%
France 5.7%
UK 5.7%
Hong Kong 5.4%
Italy 5.3%
(2017)
Exports - commodities:
machinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products
Imports:
$264.5 billion (2017 est.)
$266.3 billion (2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
Imports - commodities:
machinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles
Imports - partners:
Germany 20.9%, US 7.9%
Italy 7.6%, UK 7.3%
France 6.8%
China 5%
(2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$811.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$679.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
Debt - external:.
$1.664 trillion (31 March 2016 est.)
$1.663 trillion (31 March 2015 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
Exchange rates:
Swiss francs (CHF) per US dollar -0.9875 (2017 est.)
0.9852 (2016 est.)0.9852 (2015 est.)
0.9627 (2014 est.)
0.9152 (2013 est.)
And their Military is such as CIA states:
Military expenditures**:This entry gives spending on defense programs for the most recent year available as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP); the GDP is calculated on an exchange rate basis, i.e., not in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). For countries with no military forces, this figure can include expenditures on public security and police.
0.68% of GDP (2018)0.68% of GDP (2017)0.68% of GDP (2016)0.66% of GDP (2015)0.66% of GDP (2014)country comparison to the world: 138
Military and security forces**:This entry lists the military and security forces subordinate to defense ministries or the equivalent (typically ground, naval, air, and marine forces), as well as those belonging to interior ministries or the equivalent (typically gendarmeries, bordecoast guards, paramilitary police, and other internal security forces).
Swiss Armed Forces: Land Forces, Swiss Air Force (Schweizer Luftwaffe) (2019)
Military service age and obligation**:This entry gives the required ages for voluntary or conscript military service and the length of service obligation.
18-30 years of age generally for male compulsory military service; 18 years of age for voluntary male and female military service; every Swiss male has to serve at least 245 days in the armed forces; conscripts receive 18 weeks of mandatory training, followed by six 19-day intermittent recalls for training during the next 10 years (2019)
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin):
34,072 (Eritrea)
16,565 (Syria)
12,282 (Afghanistan)
5,744 (Sri Lanka) (2018)
stateless persons:
49 (2018)
Illicit drugs
a major international financial center vulnerable to the layering and integration stages of money laundering; despite significant legislation and reporting requirements, secrecy rules persist and nonresidents are permitted to conduct business through offshore entities and various intermediaries; transit country for and consumer of South American cocaine, Southwest Asian heroin, and Western European synthetics; domestic cannabis cultivation and limited ecstasy production.
Here's an article about an International Dispute with the European Union (EU): https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1283471/eu-news-switzerland-rejected-membership-bloc-twice-spt
When looking to solve problems with countries, look at their economy and study it.



submitted by jeskalana to u/jeskalana [link] [comments]

[Match Thread] Antigua and Barbuda vs Dominica | To Russia With Love (International Friendly)

To Russia With Love - Warm up friendly for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Second Round

Hello everyone, my name is pillock69. You may remember me from such match threads as Sri Lanka vs Bhutan and who could forget the classic Eastleigh vs Macclesfield Town? As part of my mission to bring interesting and unusual football to /Soccer, tonight I present you a full international match. With a legal stream and everything! No, no, please I won't take the credit. Please send your love notes and letters of appreciation to the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association. I will be continuing my (possibly unhealthy) obsession with non-league and international football tonight with a trip away to the beautiful sunny Caribbean island of Antigua as they take on the mighty Dominica in a warm up friendly for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Second Round.

Antigua and Barbuda

Formed in 1972, they lost their first match 11-1 away to Trinidad and Tobago. The twin-island nation have a population of just 90,000 but nevertheless, they can be a mighty force in the world of International Football. In the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, they astounded the world by finishing top of their group ahead of Haiti, Curacao and the US Virgin Islands to make it through to the third round of qualifying where they were placed in a group along with the United States, Jamaica and Guatemala. Despite only managing a 0-0 draw at home to Jamaica, they proved to themselves and their country that they could go further than expected. Still FIFA ranked in the top 100, they reached a highpoint of 70th back in October 2014. After the reshaping of the CONCACAF qualifying system this year, their Second Round match is a two-legged playoff against St. Lucia.

Dominica

Dominica have been playing football at international level since 1932 where a 1-0 victory over Martinique saw them kick off their national team in style. Currently ranked 181st, there is a large gulf between the two and as the away side they will not be getting any support from the crowd. Finishing bottom of their group in the World Cup qualifiers last time around, they failed to pick up a single point in a group with Panama and Nicaragua, scoring at least one goal might've helped. Due to their poor record, Dominica are low-ranked enough to be placed into the First Round of qualifying where they will play a two-legged playoff against the British Virgin Islands if they want to meet Canada in the Second Round.
Kick-off time is 6pm local which is UTC+something or other. It's basically on the hour from when I post this.
It's being played at the Antigua Recreation Ground, St. John's, Antigua which is a 12,000 seater multi-purpose ground which has test-Cricket status.
The teamsheet is here, I love you all dearly but I can't honestly be arsed to type all that out so the image will have to do. I know it says St. Lucia on the teamsheet but I promise you the opposition is Dominica and that the Antigua FA haven't retyped their template very well.
I do hope you can join me for a bit of International Football this evening! Something unusual to what you might normally see, it's bound to be a good bit of fun. Cheers!

Antigua and Barbuda 1 - 0 Dominica

Ziggy Thomas 34'

Stream Link: Should be streamed here if it all works as it should!

We're Live!!!
0: Kick Off, they're just starting the stream at the moment!
5: The stream is up but they seem to be having video problems so it's radio at the moment! I'm sure it'll be back up soon. Antigua starting off strong apparently!
7: Video up! Here we go! Dominica are in Green, Antigua in Yellow.
8: Gosh! A proper Premier League atmosphere as there are literally tens of people in the stands!
10: These accents are amazing, I'd love to trade mine in for something like that. Top notch commentating.
11: Stephens gets a corner for Antigua, can they make the most of it? Nope! Great save from the Dominica keeper who snatches a header clean from the air. Dominica on the attack.
12: WHAT A SAVE! Antigua keep a clean sheet a little longer, saved with his ankle! End to end stuff here!
13: Apparently there's a bloke called Eugene warming up, that's very significant from the tone of the commentators.
16: Dominica look the stronger team so far, impressive stuff from the Caribbean minnows.
17: The camera cuts to the stands where there are absolutely dozens of people! Another foul from Antigua, they need to regain control in this match because we all know how lethal Dominica can be.
20: The commentators are reminiscing about a bloke they used to know who could throw a ball long. If only we knew who this mysterious man was!
21: Fantastic long cross upfield for Antigua but they remain unselfish and Harriet is unselfish and passes it instead of taking a shot. Silly Harriet!
22: 2 on 1 from Dominica, what a great save but what an even better dribble! Antigua look very leaky at the back.
23: Ziggy Thomas is my man of the match so far. Purely based on his name.
25: Over halfway into the first half now, Dominica are playing aggressive football winning lots of 50/50s, they send a freekick into the box but it's soon cleared. Antigua on the counter, Ziggy has some serious pace!
26: The commentators are terribly worried about Antigua reverting to their old style, sounds like they have PTSD. The ball is in the net but is ruled out for offside, close from Dominica!
27: I bloody love Ziggy Thomas. The left-winger has some massive pace and cross a ball quite well.
28: Many fouls so far, Shavorn Phillip is just 16 years old for Antigua but has some composure about him.
31: The world is indeed smaller as the deep-voice bloke says, here I am in Oxford watching Antigua live. The greens are certainly looking the better of the two.
32: Antigua on the attack but it's given up easily and Dominica come think and fast. Antigua manage to scramble it away.
34: GOAL! ANTIGUA SCORE! ZIGGY THOMAS OF ALL PEOPLE! LOVELY STUFF! Coming from a freekick, the Dominica defence weren't quite awake and he ran straight through. Slightly against the run of play maybe but it's in the net! ZIGGY!
37: Antigua hold off some Dominican pressure and keep playing it at the back making the Green's run a bit. Ziggy Thomas makes a run through but the keeper collects calmly.
39: Ziggy with some tekkers to make a run through in the box. Once again the keeper collects well. Dominica throwing everything at the Antigua defence who are doing their best to make to half time. Freekick to the greens, didn't even make it over the first man.
40: Just a few minutes left until the break, Dominica looking hard for an equaliser. Getting windy over there too. Headed out for a corner for Dominica but there's a foul in the box and it's a freekick for Antigua.
41: Shouts for handball against Dominica but the ref disagrees. Harriett makes a great run and twists through to the box but fires high for Antigua.
43: Few more desperate fouls from Dominica. Almost half time now. Great save from Dominica! Almost a second for Antigua, keeper times his rush excellently to put it out for a corner.
45: Could've been 2-0 but Dominica could also have taken their chances. Fine margins so far as the one minute of injury time goes up. Without a doubt, the difference between the teams is Ziggy Thomas.
Half-Time: 1-0 to Antigua, Ziggy the difference. Lovely stuff. Going for a quick wee and to make a cup of tea ready for the second half, if you're watching post a comment below!
Right I'm back! Proper tunes going on at half time by the sounds of it. These two bring my total of International Teams seen this season up to 63.
PSA: The same time next week, Antigua will be hosting the British Virgin Islands for another friendly! Mark it in your diaries, hopefully I can match thread that one too.
46: Second Half is kicked off, quite a few changes as per usual in a friendly match. Aggressive start from Antigua, commit a foul straight away.
49: More pressure from both teams, the next goal could come from anywhere!
50: Great chance for Stephens to double the lead as he goes 1 on 1 but the keeper makes himself large and the 16 year old fires wide.
51: Commentators talking about the Cricket World Cup, Football definitely comes Second in the West Indies.
53: BIG DECISION! Antigua player booked for diving, was it a penalty?! Is there a campaign against Antigua?!
54: Dominica working very hard to get back into the game, with one goal between them it could certainly happen. Some good football from Antigua keep them back though.
56: Couple consecutive corners for Antigua as they search for a second. The circular pitch is quite confusing to look at as the lines aren't clear! MULTIBALL! There were two balls on the pitch at once there, cracking stuff. SHOCKER TACKLE, Stephens goes straight through a Dominican and he goes in the book.
59: Dominica have a good spell of possession, turning into quite a physical match in the second half.
61: Next goal could from either team. Swansea=Crystal Palace apparently.
63: Corner to Dominica, headed out for a throw in.
65: Dominica looking the better team so far but a bit of a botch job from the keeper who eventually stops an Antiguan counter.
68: Halfway into the second half now, Dominica looking better but can't quite get a good goalscoring chance. They go forward again but the cross isn't there.
70: Fancy skill from Antigua and he's bought down by a Dominican who also goes in the book. 20 minutes left, could go either way!
72: Dominica pushing very high up the pitch leaving themselves very open at the back. Looks like a do or die strategy.
73: There's a bloke with dreadlocks on Antigua's team being referred to as "The Dreadlock". Amazing stuff.
75: Close! Best chance so far for Dominica, almost get an equaliser but it's cleared by a defender. Looked like it was going in to me.
76: Bit of boos from the crowd as Dominica get awarded a throw in that might've gone the other way.
77: Eugene almost gets a second for Antigua but the Dominican keeper saves yet again!
80: I've lost track of time, I think it's the 80th minute but I cannot be sure.
81: Started raining now, it's all happening. Raining rats according to the commentator.
82: Not long left now, it's getting quite wet and quite windy!
86: Almost full time, a couple more substitutions being made. Dominica have looked the better team in the second half.
90+1: Into five minutes of added time now, Dominica with a freekick. Crossed in but cleared with ease.
90+4: Good chance for Antigua but Henry fires high and wide. Looks like it might be over now.

FULL TIME: Antigua 1 - 0 Dominica

Hopefully you've all enjoyed this match! Very entertaining from my perspective, if I can get a stream for Antigua's next friendly on Sunday vs British Virgin Islands, I'll Match Thread that too so keep your eyes peeled!
submitted by pillock69 to soccer [link] [comments]

Trump’s Generals Are Trying to Save the World. Starting With the White House.

Trump’s Generals Are Trying to Save the World. Starting With the White House.
by (James Kitfield) via POLITICO - TOP Stories
URL: http://ift.tt/2v52rq7
By the end of last week, even President Donald Trump had apparently had enough of the self-inflicted chaos swirling around his White House. And the person he turned to fix it—instinctively, it seems—was a retired Marine Corps general.
John Kelly, out of uniform for just a year after retiring as head of U.S. Southern Command, has been running the Department of Homeland Security since January. He’s a straight-talking and sometimes blunt man whose accent suggests his working-class Boston roots, and he enjoys a salty joke. Sources say Trump was already in the habit of asking him for advice on how to make the White House run more smoothly.
Not since the early days of the Ford administration has a general served as White House chief of staff—and arguably not since the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself a retired general, have senior military officers wielded such influence at the top levels of an administration. Kelly forms a nexus of power with three other generals: Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine general; Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a Marine general; and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, still a uniformed lieutenant general in the Army — and a replacement for retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was fired after less than a month in the job.
As the administration first took shape, the heavy military makeup of the administration’s national security and foreign affairs team — of its senior leadership, only Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a civilian — raised serious questions about the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. These concerns were exacerbated in February when Trump bragged his budget contained “one of the largest defense-spending increases in history,” and later when he handed a series of important new wartime authorities to the Pentagon, while proposing to slash the State Department budget by 30 percent.
But during the first seven months of his administration, the generals have emerged as a fairly coherent bloc of foreign-policy thinkers whose views have put at least the most extreme fears of critics to rest. Through both experience and military education, the generals are pragmatic realists and internationalists, committed to the United States’ leadership role in the world. Internally, they’ve been a strong counterweight to the nationalist/populist faction in the White House led by chief strategist Steve Bannon, which was behind controversial Trump policies like the initial immigration ban, the rejection of the Paris Climate Change Accords, and potential steel tariffs that could yet spark a global trade war.
Taken as a group, Trump’s generals have tended to see their mission as twofold: The first job is to correct what senior military officers see as the mistakes of the Obama administration, a hesitancy to use force or commit troops that many allies perceived as a retreat from traditional U.S. commitments in the world.
The second job—and the far riskier one—is to mitigate the damage caused by their boss.
An undisciplined and shoot-from-the-lip president, Trump has shown a proclivity for rattling allies with unexpected tweets and bullying phone calls. When he trumpets his “America first” foreign policy, it’s widely interpreted by allies as a fig leaf for isolationism and protectionism. The generals, with Tillerson as something of a junior partner—nicknamed the “axis of adults” by a number of establishment Republicans and conservative commentators—have become the reassurers-in-chief to the outside world. They’ve already persuaded Trump to back away from some of his most controversial foreign policy positions, including labeling NATO “obsolete,” moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, rescinding the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, and reconsidering the venerable “One China” policy.
And they’ve won some internal fights. McMaster, in particular, appears to be locked in battle with the nationalist faction: He has recently cleared out a number of senior national-security staffers associated with his predecessor Mike Flynn or seen as allied to Bannon; he’s fired Rich Higgins, the strategic-planning director who wrote a conspiracy-laced memo, as well as Intelligence Directorate head Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Bannon ally who earlier this year secretly shared intelligence with Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes. For his troubles, McMaster is now under attack by Bannon’s former website, Breitbart, which is covering his “purge” with blazing headlines—though he appears to be enjoying some protection from the arrival of Kelly. Which suggests that the more interesting internal fight may be the one Kelly is just beginning, trying to both corral a deeply disjointed White House staff and temper Trump’s erratic day-to-day impulses.
What’s at stake, in the minds of the generals, is something considerably larger than winning the internal Game of Thrones. In the back of his airplane returning from a recent trip to Asia, General Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told me that that the international order they were striving to protect was more volatile and unpredictable today than at any moment since World War II. “Today, we’re confronting simultaneous challenges posed by China, North Korea, Russia and Iran, as well as a natural disaster in Sri Lanka,” he said, referring to flooding that had recently displaced hundreds of thousands of people. “So, as I prepare for posture hearings in Congress, that’s a reminder that this is the world as it is, not the world as we might want it to be.”
The world as it is also includes a global Islamist insurgency, U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and growing instability and state failure around the world, from Yemen to South Sudan to Venezuela. The defense of what author Robert Kagan calls “The World America Made” now depends on the success of Trump’s generals in the twin objectives of shaping a more muscular national security posture, and limiting the international blowback from an “America First” foreign policy of naked nationalism and mercantilism —even as their own commander-in-chief projects that face to the world.
Why generals at all? Donald Trump, a flamboyant billionaire and reality-TV star who received multiple deferments from serving in Vietnam, might initially seem an unlikely boss for a clique of buttoned down military officers. But from his days at the New York Military Academy, Trump seems to have retained an innate respect for the uniform, and above all he likes tough guys. All of his top generals distinguished themselves in multiple combat tours, and Trump especially likes reminding Mattis of a former nickname he would just as soon retire, “Mad Dog.”
For their part, the generals were qualified to step into a Trump administration in a way that few other national-security experts were: Experienced and worldly without being partisan or political, and thus not part of the “Washington swamp” that candidate Trump constantly promised to drain. By training, they innately respect the position of the commander-in-chief and the institution of the presidency, regardless of who holds it. And unlike many of the Republican defense and foreign policy experts in the Republican establishment, they hadn’t put their names on “Never Trump” proclamations during the campaign.
Trump’s closest relationship was with none of his current generals, but with Flynn, a decorated combat veteran who served as the former intelligence chief for Joint Special Operations Command. The brash businessman and the maverick soldier had something in common: Both felt that America had lost the knack of “winning,” either in international trade or in the global fight against Islamist extremists. The two bonded on the campaign trail, and Flynn infamously spoke at the Republican National Convention, leading the crowd in chants of “Lock Her Up” in reference to Hillary Clinton. Flynn was eventually fired as Trump’s national security adviser for his entanglement with Russia, and is now a target of the FBI’s investigation—and his fall from grace presents a cautionary tale of the dangers military officers can face in entering the unfamiliar terrain of hyperpartisan politics, and the whirlpool of controversies constantly swirling around Trump.
Flynn’s replacement was a surprising choice for an ahistorical president who puts a premium on obsequiousness and loyalty in his subordinates: McMaster is a warrior-scholar who distinguished himself in combat, but also wrote a book called “Dereliction of Duty,” a critique of generals who didn’t speak honestly enough to their civilian bosses during the Vietnam War. He had made a career out of independent thought and speaking truth to power.
Mattis, similarly, has a scholarly reputation: a noted intellectual and keen student of history, Mattis sprinkles his conversations with references to Thucydides and the Peloponnesian war, Abraham Lincoln’s struggle to prepare the nation for the end of slavery, and the enduring lessons of the post-World War II Marshall Plan, fashioned by his predecessor George C. Marshall, the last retired general to serve as defense secretary. (Kelly reportedly caught the eye of Team Trump for reasons a little closer to the Trump campaign themes: In testimony, he gave before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2015, he argued that a porous southern border was a potentially “existential” national security threat.)
Given that the Marine Corps is the smallest of the four major armed services, the Marines that rise to the level of general form an especially tight-knit clique. Kelly and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joe Dunford served under Mattis multiple times in combat in Iraq, close aides say, and the three talk frequently and meet often at national security meetings and retirement ceremonies. It was General Dunford who personally delivered the heartbreaking news to Kelly that his son, 2nd Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011.
As a group, Trump’s generals are united by bonds of friendship, common experience and wartime sacrifice. By the nature of their military education—and the U.S. military’s constant overseas deployments of the past two decades—they’re also well steeped in international relations, and deeply committed to the global alliance structure that the U.S. military built and maintained after World War II. Their wartime experiences have also made them sensitive to looming threats, whether from Islamist extremists, a hegemonic Iran, and especially a revanchist Russia that has targeted Western democracies as its enemies.
They also have one more thing in common: Serious worries about the Obama Doctrine. Though in the broad sense, the generals are clearly embracing continuity in America’s relationship to the world, almost to a man they had taken positions in public opposition to aspects of Obama’s second-term foreign policy.
Mattis had been eased out as head of U.S. Central Command because of his harsh rhetoric about Iran at a time when the administration was negotiating an agreement to curtail Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. As head of U.S. Southern Command, Kelly got sideways with the Obama White House for calling attention to the threats posed by a porous southern border. McMaster was publicly critical of Obama’s precooked deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. And Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, thought Obama was severely underestimating the threat of Islamic extremism in the Middle East. He believed he was let go early as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency for pushing back on the notion that the threat from Islamist extremism had largely passed with the death of Osama bin Laden.
Senior uniformed leaders privately blame Obama’s decision to prematurely pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2011 for the rise of the Islamic State there, and they felt overly constrained by the White House’s extreme sensitivity to “boots on the ground” in the anti-ISIS campaign. Troop levels have thus been increased in Iraq and Syria under Trump, and the anti-ISIS campaign intensified. The request for additional authorities itself arose out of a widespread belief that Obama’s White House micromanaged military operations by insisting that military commanders constantly ask, “Mother, may I?”
The influence of their beliefs can be seen in Trump’s sometimes arbitrary-seeming foreign policy decisions. In the Obama administration’s eagerness to reach a deal curtailing Iran’s nuclear program, Mattis in particular felt that too little was done to reassure traditional Sunni Arab allies, and push back against Tehran’s support of terrorist proxies throughout the region. Trump thus traveled to Saudi Arabia earlier this year in one of his initial overseas trips, where he rallied the Sunni Arab states and announced a major weapons sale to Riyadh. After recently certifying that Iran was in compliance with the nuclear accord, the Trump administration nevertheless slapped new sanctions on Tehran for its support for terrorists and its meddling throughout the Middle East.
In a recent interview, Mattis referred to this belief that Obama failed to finish the job of destroying Al Qaeda and its offshoots. “I think under the Obama administration, there was a more accelerated campaign against terrorists than perhaps the administration was willing to sustain,” Mattis said in an interview with The Islander, the newspaper of the Mercer Island High School. As for Tehran, Mattis said, “Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East.”
U.S. military leaders like McMaster have also publicly faulted Obama for setting an artificial deadline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, and for setting too steep of a glide path for those withdrawals. The Pentagon and McMaster thus support the deployment of roughly 4,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to halt recent Taliban gains—a policy reportedly opposed by Bannon and his allies in the White House. Trump has yet to weigh in decisively on either side.
“We saw with the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, and the subsequent fall of Mosul, what can happen when you withdraw before making your military gains permanent,” McMaster said at a recent conference hosted by the Center for a New American Security.
Finally, U.S. military leaders almost uniformly believed it was a mistake for President Obama to draw a rhetorical red line against the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, and then fail to enforce it with military action when Assad gassed scores of civilians in 2013 with sarin nerve agent. When Assad crossed that line again last April, the Trump national security team responded with what looked like choreographed diplomacy backed by military muscle. Within days Secretary of Defense Mattis directed a missile strike against the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons against civilians, even as Trump held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago about putting increased pressure on North Korea over planned nuclear tests. The missile attack on the murderous Assad regime was applauded by Democrats and Republicans alike. Having generals running U.S. foreign policy still worried plenty of liberals, but more hawkish mainstream commentators began talking of Trump’s generals and Tillerson as a stabilizing force that had finally brought much-needed discipline and strategic coherence to the administration’s national security and foreign policies.
“The same President Trump who can be gruff and erratic in public tweets is a commander-in-chief who is deferential and attentive when he talks to a star-studded cast of his closest military advisers,” national security reporter Rowan Scarborough wrote at the time in the Washington Times. Chimed in Eric Fehrnstrom, a former Mitt Romney aide, in the Boston Globe: “Thank God for the generals. …President Trump’s senior military appointees are taking a leading role and acting as a restraining influence.”
Nowhere is the influence of Trump’s “axis of adults” felt more acutely than overseas, where worried allies look for reassurance that “America first” does not mean a U.S. retreat. With the administration approaching the six-month mark in June, for instance, Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson appeared together at a news conference for the very first time—not in the US, but in Australia. The briefing at the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) was a chance for a close ally to view Team Trump’s new power dynamic up close, and for American participants and observers to judge how the Trump administration’s “America first” foreign policy was playing overseas.
As partnerships go, the U.S.-Australian alliance is as rock solid as they come – but there are no more easy alliances for the United States. After Mattis, Tillerson and their Australian counterparts gave prepared remarks extolling their joint commitment to the “rules-based international order”—shorthand for a U.S.-backed system predicated on free trade and freedom from intimidation—that uneasiness was driven home by questions from the assembled press. Tillerson, who had made few public appearances, took a long, tough question from an American reporter about how the Trump administration has “tossed aside” free trade and climate change pacts, risking being seen as “America the Selfish,” or “America the Boorish.” “Do the president’s words no longer matter in international relations?” the reporter asked. By the end of the harangue Tillerson’s right hand was wagging in tight circles in an unmistakable gesture of wrap it up already.
“Are you sure you don’t have more?” Tillerson asked the reporter sarcastically, before launching into a defense of presidential policies and pronouncements that would be difficult for even the most seasoned diplomat to defend. Mattis took a stab and was equally unpersuasive. For her part, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop offered a defense of her guests that has become increasingly common for bewildered allies, one that attempts to sidestep the president’s preferred bully pulpit: We will react to what the administration does, and not what the president Tweets. “I understand Twitter has a maximum of 140 characters,” she said. “So we will deal with the president, with his cabinet, and with this administration on what they do, what they achieve, and what their strategies are.”
Just days earlier in Singapore I had watched as Mattis was similarly cornered at the Shangri-La Dialogue. During a speech to Asian leaders and national security experts, he gave a rousing defense of traditional U.S. leadership, referring to America’s “enduring commitment” to Asian-Pacific allies based on “strategic interests and on the shared values of free peoples and free markets.” He promised that the United States would continue to defend “the rules-based international order” constructed by the United States out of the wreckage of World War II.
The cognitive dissonance of the Trump administration’s messaging was just as confusing to the political leaders and security experts in Singapore as it was to the press scrum in Australia. In the question-and-answer session after Mattis’ speech, a delegate from Singapore wondered why the United States wasn’t more worried that China was aggressively filling the trade vacuum left by its rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. An Australian delegate questioned whether the administration’s rejection of TPP and the Paris Climate Accord, and its bruising treatment of NATO, meant that Trump really wanted to deconstruct the rules-based international order. A Japanese parliamentarian wondered whether her nation’s security alliance with the United States was still based on common values like free trade, environmental protection and human rights.
Mattis, typically, tried to place the current moment into a historic context, pointing out that there has long been a strain of isolationism in the American body politic, and a reluctance to serve as the world’s policeman. But after witnessing the carnage of tens of millions of people in World War II, Mattis noted, the “Greatest Generation” recognized the danger of countries once again retreating back inside their own borders—implying, without saying outright, that it would prevail over Trumpian “us first” nationalism. “Even for all the frustrations that are felt in America right now and the sense that at times we carry an inordinate burden, that sense of engagement with the world is still deeply rooted in the American psyche,” said Mattis. And then, and not for the last time, he paraphrased Britain’s World War II-era leader and statesman Winston Churchill to explain Washington’s wavering leadership. “Bear with us,” he told the Shangri-La Dialogue audience. “Once we’ve exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing.”
Afterward, on his aircraft flying home from Asia, Dunford told me that the president’s tweets never came up in the private meetings he and Mattis held with allied leaders. “I know there’s been noise about the United States supposedly walking away from our Asian allies. That narrative is real and it’s out there in the media,” he said. “But when you look at the facts, we have a pretty compelling story to tell. We are devoting 60 percent of our joint forces to U.S. Pacific Command, and we’ve overseen a significant increase in the volume of multilateral military exercises in Asia. We’ve deployed the newest and most capable weapons in the U.S. arsenal to the Pacific. So we’re matching our actions to the message that the United States remains committed to the Asia-Pacific.”
The message was meant as reassurance, and from my discussions with nervous Asian allies in Singapore extremely welcome. And yet everyone understands who ultimately calls the shots in the American system. Recently, Trump had gotten into a spat with the new leader of South Korea over who should pay for the deployment of a U.S. antimissile system to that treaty ally, which faces an existential threat from North Korea. Meanwhile, some of Trump’s advisers were pushing a new tariff on steel imports that could spark a global trade war. That reminded me of something else that Mattis had said during the question-and-answer session at the Shangri-La Dialogue.
“As for the rules-based order, obviously we have a new president in Washington, D.C. We’re all aware of that,” Mattis said. “And there are going to be fresh approaches taken.”
Since it emerged, the flaw in the “axis of adults” narrative is the assumption that Donald Trump himself is willing and able to fundamentally change. If generals like McMaster, Mattis, Dunford and Kelly and the other “adults” among his close advisers could just establish a disciplined decision-making process, the thinking goes, then surely the best arguments will win most of the time.
In reality, despite McMaster’s best efforts to instill a more orderly NSC process, knowledgeable sources say decision-making in the Trump White House still remains a much more fluid and informal affair, with competing factions frequently at odds, decisions discussed by Trump in ad hoc klatches over dinner or lunch, and freelance players like Bannon and son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner often circumventing the formal chain-of-authority by being the last person in the room to whisper into Trump’s ear.
The recent drama surrounding the firing or resignation of White House spokesman Sean Spicer and chief of Staff Reince Preibus suggests that John Kelly will face stiff odds in trying to wring order out of the chaos emanating from the Oval Office. His success in getting rid of 11-days-and-your-fired communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and assurances that he will be given authority to act as the gatekeeper to the Oval Office, were a start. In the end, however, the man inside the office will dictate the administration’s management style.
“Donald Trump learned about political infighting on ‘The Apprentice,’ where his management technique was to provoke fights between the different candidates and teams, and then decide who prevails by saying ‘You’re fired!’” Robert Bear, a former Middle East case officer for the CIA, told me. “I don’t see him changing that style in the White House. When was the last time you saw a 70-year-old man change for the better?”
The longer the disorder continues, the bigger the risk to the generals trying to keep the ship steady. The U.S. military remains by far the most respected institution in America, and current and former generals some of the most respected individuals in society, precisely because of a strict nonpartisan tradition and ability to stay above the political scrum. When the administration’s travel ban targeting people from seven Muslim-majority countries was initially unveiled by Steve Bannon and company with little consultation with Cabinet officials, for instance, then-DHS Director Kelly dutifully appeared before the press to insist he was in the loop in formulating the travel ban, when clearly, he was not.
“I think General Kelly took a hit for his commander-in-chief that day, but you can only do that once. The second time, you lose credibility,” former Secretary of Defense William Cohen said in an interview. “The larger point is, whether it’s Kelly, Mattis or McMaster, you can spend a lifetime building credibility, and loose it overnight.”
McMaster edged dangerously close to that line in defending Trump’s inexplicable meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office the day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, in part because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. When news quickly broke in the Washington Post that Trump had shared highly classified, “code word” intelligence with the Russians, Trump sent McMaster out to defend the action to the press. As a clearly uncomfortable McMaster dutifully walked out to the White House lawn to issue a brief statement calling the story “false,” he unexpectedly ran into a gaggle of reporters in the West Wing.
“This is the last place in the world I wanted to be,” McMaster confessed, and no one had reason to doubt it. The next morning Trump essentially undercut McMaster’s defense that the story was false by insisting in a Tweet that he had every right to share highly classified intelligence with the Russians.
Retired Army Lt. Col. John Nagl is a counterinsurgency expert and former president of the Center for a New American Security, and he has known McMaster for years. “I believe H.R. McMaster was given a direct order by Trump to go out and try and defend the indefensible, and his doing so is OK with me because I truly believe H.R. may one day be the person who saves the planet when the proverbial crap hits the fan,” Nagl said in an interview, noting that the incident was nevertheless a blow to McMaster’s hard-won reputation for honesty.
As for Mattis, who has had his own run-ins with the White House over personnel choices and other issues, knowledgeable sources say he is also increasingly frustrated. Mattis was reportedly “appalled” and surprised by the Trump tweet barring transgender persons from serving in uniform, and he continues to receive unsolicited suggestions from the White House. Recently, Steve Bannon tried to get Mattis to consider an idea hatched by the founder of Blackwater Worldwide to install an “American viceroy” in Afghanistan who would run the war through “private military units,” according to a report in the New York Times; Mattis “listened politely,” the story said, but declined to include the idea in his review of Afghanistan policy.
In June, McMaster was finally able to persuade President Trump to publicly reaffirm a U.S. commitment to NATO’s foundational Article V commitment, but not before his failure to do so at a NATO Summit the previous month badly rattled America’s closest democratic allies, even prompting Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel to publicly lament that “the times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over. …” POLITICO recently reported that McMaster is “increasingly a national security adviser out of sync with his mercurial president” on issues ranging from Russia, NATO, the Iran deal, and the Afghanistan strategy.
Before moving into his West Wing office, newly minted chief of staff John Kelly had seen his own relations with Congress grow increasingly testy. Those relationships will now be key to resurrecting Trump’s stalled agenda on Capitol Hill, which includes major tax reform and infrastructure initiatives. In late June, Kelly testified on Capitol Hill that he was “offended” by lawmakers who “often threaten me and my officers” for their stepped-up arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants. The criticism recalled Kelly’s earlier admonishment that Congress should pass new immigration laws if it didn’t like the way his department was enforcing the current ones, or else just “shut up.” Many lawmakers were not amused.
Meanwhile, the frequent disconnect between Trump’s controversial rhetoric and stances and the “axis of adults” involved in clean-up duty was evident in the ongoing crisis with Qatar, home to the major U.S. airbase involved in the anti-Islamic State campaign. Shortly after Trump visited Saudi Arabia in May—during which he bonded visibly with the Saudi royals and the other monarchs of the Persian Gulf—Riyadh and the other Gulf Cooperation Council members announced a blockade of Qatar over its alleged financing of terrorism. Trump publicly backed the Saudis, working at direct cross purposes with Tillerson, who was engaged in shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East trying to defuse the crisis.
“Tillerson’s shuttle diplomacy to try and solve the Qatar crisis was a reminder that, in terms of conflict management, there is no simple substitute for U.S. diplomacy, but the crisis erupted in large part because during his visit President Trump seemed to provoke Saudi Arabia to take a hard line with Qatar,” said Wolfgang Ischinger, the former German ambassador to the United States, and currently head of the Munich Security Conference. Similarly, European allies were relieved that McMaster and Mattis finally convinced Trump to publicly embrace Article V, he said, but lasting damage was done by Trump’s unwillingness to do so during the NATO Summit.
“Trump’s hesitancy on Article V and earlier talk of NATO being ‘obsolete’ have left a lingering sense of uncertainty and unpredictability about the United States’ commitment to the alliance,” said Ischinger. “Trump’s generals keep telling us to look at what they are doing, and not what the president is saying, but the trans-Atlantic boat has been severely rocked and there is a lingering concern in Europe that more waves and surprises are likely to come.”
No matter how hard they try, Trump’s generals cannot fully mitigate the lasting damage of an “American first” foreign policy that is often interpreted overseas as much loud boasting backed up with a military stick. Even in normal times, the United States’ superpower military threatens to overshadow its soft-power diplomacy, despite the fact that generals stationed overseas are technically outranked by U.S. ambassadors. Trump’s clear preference for the company of generals and his frequent military tough talk, combined with his administration’s steady marginalization of the State Department, sends an even stronger signal, and one that many allies find alarming.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates used to highlight the dangers in that vast dichotomy in funding and influence between the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom by noting that there are more people in military bands than in the entire Foreign Service—giving voice to the widespread unease among senior military leaders about being front and center in U.S. foreign policy. None of Trump’s generals have forgotten that’s exactly how they ended up isolated and stuck inside a broken Iraq, with little help from the State Department or a diplomatic corps that had been largely shut out of the decision-making surrounding the invasion.
While he conducts a yearlong review to rationalize deep cuts in the State Department budget, however, Tillerson has left whole management layers of undersecretaries and assistant secretaries vacant, and the seventh floor of Foggy Bottom where he works is said by insiders to resemble a “ghost town.” The vacancies nearly led the department to cancel the incoming class of Foreign Service officers, knowledgeable sources say, and there is a move by the White House to try and have management of refugee issues taken away from the soft power State Department and given to the hard power Department of Homeland Security.
Nicholas Burns is director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and the former third-ranking official at the State Department. “There is a real fear in the diplomatic community that the goal of the Bannon faction in the White House is to fundamentally weaken the State Department,” he said in an interview. Proposed draconian cuts in the budgets of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the wholesale failure to fill vacancies in the leadership ranks, and efforts to strip the department of key functions, he said, have all severely undercut morale in the Foreign Service. “Mattis, McMaster and Tillerson are all very solid people, but there is not one senior Trump adviser with diplomatic experience, which is a terrible mistake,” Burns said.
Aware of the danger of an overly militarized foreign policy, Defense Secretary Mattis has forged a close relationship with Tillerson, walking over to Foggy Bottom from his home on the Navy Annex once a week for breakfast, and speaking by phone two to three times a day with Tillerson. As a commander, Mattis once testified that if Congress was going to cut the budget of the diplomatic corps, then he was going to need to buy more ammunition. Unless Tillerson can somehow reverse the slow-motion strangulation of his State Department, Mattis might want to adjust his ammo budget sooner rather than later.
The problem, in the end, is that even the most thoughtful generals tend to represent just one instrument in a strategic toolbox that draws its strength from the collective capabilities of the U.S. government. As the old saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Michele Flournoy is co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, and previously the No. 3 official in the Pentagon, and worries about the lack of a bigger-picture approach. “There is certainly a danger of the White House becoming too disengaged from operations that put American troops in harm’s way,” she says. “Only the president and the White House can develop ‘whole of government’ strategies, coordinate all the tools of U.S. power to include diplomacy, and provide the necessary oversight to achieve successful outcomes. Because whether it’s the war in Afghanistan or the anti-ISIS campaign, none of these issues can be solved on the battlefield alone.”
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Right-Wing Reaction - Brazil Impeachment: Workers Have No Side - Break with the PT—For a Revolutionary Workers Party! (6 May 2016)

https://archive.is/CNdJF
Workers Vanguard No. 1089 6 May 2016
PT Popular Front Paved Way for Right-Wing Reaction
Brazil Impeachment: Workers Have No Side
Break with the PT—For a Revolutionary Workers Party!
With a widespread corruption scandal rocking the country, Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted last month to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. Since 2002, the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT—Workers Party), first under its founder, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and then under Rousseff, has governed Brazil in a series of class-collaborationist coalitions. Now, Rousseff is being accused of accounting gimmicks to cover up state budget deficits. The PT’s erstwhile coalition partners—many of whom are under investigation or face criminal charges for corruption—are among those leading the charge against Rousseff. This includes Vice President Michel Temer of the bourgeois PMDB, who would take over as president if she is suspended or deposed.
Brazil’s governing bloc is an example of a “popular front,” a class-collaborationist coalition in which one or more workers parties join bourgeois forces to govern on behalf of the capitalists. We oppose these bourgeois formations on principle. Reformist workers parties like the PT have a class contradiction between their proletarian base and their leaderships’ pro-capitalist program. However, when such parties enter a popular-front alliance, the class contradiction is suppressed in the bourgeoisie’s favor, a guarantee that while in power they will not exceed the bounds of what is acceptable to the ruling class. The experience of PT rule has once again confirmed this.
For over five years, Rousseff’s government has inflicted a litany of attacks on working people, from implementing austerity measures and cutting social spending to attacking workers on strike and peasants who protest land seizures. These attacks followed nearly a decade of harsh IMF-mandated strictures under former labor leader Lula who, as president, was a credible servant to both the imperialists and the Brazilian bourgeoisie. Lula’s PT used its authority over the workers movement to carry out neoliberal policies even its right-wing predecessors were not able to achieve. At the same time, the first era of PT rule coincided with a global boom in the price of raw materials, of which Brazil is a leading exporter. The PT was able to distribute some crumbs, such as cash payments to the poor (Bolsa Família) and increases to the minimum wage.
But the boom is long gone. During the past couple of years, Brazil has been undergoing its biggest economic decline in decades. Alongside the impeachment drive, Rousseff’s allies as well as her enemies are caught up in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation over graft and money-laundering schemes involving the state oil company, Petrobras. Much of the population views the country’s politicians as a nest of thieves. Against the backdrop of political instability and deepening immiseration, the PT is largely discredited within its working-class base. Such discontent was visible in the 2013 protests, initially sparked by transportation fare hikes and later spreading to include the government’s extravagant spending on World Cup stadiums, the dismal state of health care and education, and cop violence. The right-wing opposition parties seized on this popular dissatisfaction to lead a major anti-PT campaign.
With elections scheduled for the following year, Rousseff sought to mobilize support among the PT’s base by promising to improve living conditions for workers and the poor. Re-elected in 2014 by a narrow margin, she immediately reneged on her promises and imposed austerity as the country plunged further into recession. This served to demobilize and demoralize working people and the oppressed, further emboldening the right wing, including the PT’s own bloc partners. Today’s millions-strong anti-government protests are spearheaded by reactionary political factions backed by the media oligarchy and by pro-U.S. business groups.
Rousseff and PT loyalists decry the impeachment proceedings as a “violent act” against “democracy” and falsely present it as a coup d’état. Such claims are a potent scare tactic, conjuring up fears in a society where memories of the wounds inflicted by the bloody military regime ushered in by the 1964 coup remain vivid. Many working people, fearful of the right-wing forces coming to power, have mobilized in demonstrations against Rousseff’s ouster. These protests, replete with red flags and leftist and trade-union contingents—centrally the PT-associated CUT (Central Única dos Trabalhadores)—are being used by the PT to channel the workers’ anger back into support for the popular front. Meanwhile, PT leaders sought to head off the impeachment by offering ministerial posts to small bourgeois parties in exchange for a “no” vote in Congress.
At this point, Brazil is not facing a military coup to overthrow the government, but rather a series of sordid maneuvers within Congress to remove the president. To oppose Rousseff’s impeachment would mean a vote of confidence in—that is, political support to—the PT-led popular front. To favor impeachment would amount to support to the right-wing political forces mounted against Rousseff. As Marxists who stand for the political independence of the proletariat, we say the working class has no side in this conflict.
What the bourgeoisie can get away with in attacking the workers will be determined by the level of working-class resistance and struggle. The Brazilian proletariat is the only force with the social power to lead the struggle on behalf of all the oppressed, from the urban poor in the favelas, to women, to landless peasants. Such a perspective requires the forging of a revolutionary workers party, which would fight to break the proletarian base of the PT and the trade unions away from their current leadership as part of the struggle for socialist revolution and for workers rule.
Internationalist Group: Left Tail on Popular Front
Among the more militant versions of class collaborationism in Brazil is that put forward by the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil (LQB), affiliated with the U.S. Internationalist Group (IG). As with the bulk of the left in Brazil, their line is “No to Impeachment,” which is a vote of political support for Rousseff’s popular-front government (www.internationalist.org, April 2016). The IG/LQB, while not using the phrase, offers up a version of much of the left’s hype about a “judicial coup” by warning that a “bonapartist strong state dominated by courts and cops”—i.e., a military-police dictatorship—will come to power if Rousseff is removed from office. To obscure their defense of a bourgeois government, the IG/LQB throws around calls for factory occupations and a general strike, even claiming to politically oppose the government.
In reality, their position is no more than thinly disguised fight-the-right opportunism. While the IG/LQB cynically rants and raves about “bonapartism,” they admit that a coup in Brazil is unlikely “since with impeachment the right wing will have obtained its primary goal.” Ritually denouncing the popular front and calling not to vote for it, the centrist IG/LQB simply offers Marxist-sounding rationales to push the same line as much of the reformist left: save the Rousseff government.
The IG/LQB acknowledges that the PT has carried out attacks against the working class, “including some that even the military dictatorship did not dare undertake.” At the same time, they argue that a regime of parliamentary parties to the right of the PT would be qualitatively more dangerous than the popular front. The IG/LQB is, to the extent of its limited forces, helping to prop up the very class-collaborationist alliance that paved the way for right-wing reaction.
The IG/LQB intones that “if the bonapartist right wins, they will proceed with the entire weight of the judicial police apparatus behind them.” As if the PT popular-front government hasn’t mobilized, time and again, “the judicial police apparatus” against workers and the poor! Tell that to the impoverished and predominantly black masses in the favelas facing daily police terror. Earlier this year, Rousseff’s government passed a draconian anti-terrorism law that strengthens the repressive powers of the state against social protests.
The bourgeois state—consisting at its core of the army, police, prison system and courts—exists to defend the interests of the bourgeois rulers against working people and the oppressed. For its part, the LQB in 1996 had no compunction about inviting the capitalist state, through a series of lawsuits, to settle union affairs (see “Court Papers Prove They Sued the Union—IG’s Brazil Cover-Up: Dirty Hands, Cynical Lies,” WV No. 671, 11 July 1997).
The whole history of Leninism and Trotskyism has been a struggle against class collaboration and for the political independence of the working class. That is how the Bolshevik Party was able to lead the workers of Russia to power in October 1917. Following the February Revolution that overthrew the tsarist monarchy, the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries entered into a coalition government with bourgeois forces. V.I. Lenin’s Bolsheviks denounced this as a betrayal of the proletariat and refused to give any support to the government under Alexander Kerensky.
To provide an orthodox-sounding gloss for its position on the impeachment, the IG/LQB in a short article (currently available only in Portuguese) invokes one aspect of the Russian Revolution: the attempted military coup in August by General Kornilov to overthrow the bourgeois Kerensky government, sweep away the soviets and crush the revolution. The Bolsheviks responded by calling for a united front of all workers organizations to smash the counterrevolutionary offensive, fighting militarily alongside Kerensky’s troops while maintaining their opposition to the government.
The IG/LQB’s article on the Kornilov coup acknowledges the Bolsheviks’ position, but through a sleight of hand blurs the hard line of military defense versus political support in order to justify its own capitulation to the popular-front government in Brazil! Their article lists the ways that the situation in Brazil today is different from Russia in August 1917: Russia was at war, there was a revolutionary situation, there were soviets and a mass revolutionary party. But they deceitfully omit a significant difference: Russian workers were facing an actual military coup, whereas Brazilian workers are facing empty bluster about a coup intended to whip up support for a bourgeois government.
One year after the Stalinized Communist International enshrined the policy of the popular front (or “People’s Front”) at its 1935 Seventh Congress, Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky stressed:
“From February to October, the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries, who represent a very good parallel to the ‘Communists’ and Social Democrats, were in the closest alliance and in a permanent coalition with the bourgeois party of the Cadets, together with whom they formed a series of coalition governments. Under the sign of this People’s Front stood the whole mass of the people, including the workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ councils. To be sure, the Bolsheviks participated in the councils. But they did not make the slightest concession to the People’s Front. Their demand was to break this People’s Front, to destroy the alliance with the Cadets, and to create a genuine workers’ and peasants’ government.”
—Leon Trotsky, “The Dutch Section and the International” (July 1936)
For Marxists, the distinction between military defense and political support is of vital importance. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the popular front collaborated in the suppression of a workers revolution, paving the way for the victory of General Francisco Franco’s forces. At the time, the Trotskyists were giving military support to the Republican side against Franco and the Spanish fascists. In 1937, Max Shachtman, a senior member of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party, argued in favor of supporting war credits for the popular-front government under Socialist prime minister Juan Negrín. Shachtman asked: “How can we refuse to devote a million pesetas to the purchase of rifles for the front?”
In a 1937 letter, Trotsky insisted that the only correct position would be a “negative vote” on the military budget. He explained:
“A vote in parliament for the financial budget is not a ‘material’ aid, but an act of political solidarity....
“All the Negrín government does is done under the sign of war necessities. If we accept political responsibility for their management of the war necessities, we would politically vote for every serious governmental proposition.... How can we, under such conditions, prepare for the overthrow of the Negrín government?”
—“Letter to James P. Cannon” (21 September 1937)
In opposing impeachment, the IG buries the class line, buying into the reformists’ framework of “progressive vs. reactionary,” which has time and again been used to claim that Marxist opposition to left-bourgeois governments aids the right wing. Such an accusation was raised regarding a classic case of opposition to the popular front. In 1964, sometime Trotskyist leader Edmund Samarakkody and one of his comrades cast a parliamentary vote in favor of an amendment put forward by a right-wing politician that brought about the downfall of a popular-front government in Ceylon (today Sri Lanka). That principled and courageous action was debated at the First International Conference of the international Spartacist tendency in 1979. Earlier, Samarakkody had wrongly repudiated his 1964 vote. Our comrades defended his 1964 vote; a better option for Samarakkody would have been to denounce the parliamentary procedure and walk out of parliament. Against Samarakkody’s repudiation, current IG leader Jan Norden, then a leading member of our tendency, rightly stated in 1979:
“Another common objection to our policy of proletarian opposition to the popular front is the charge of aiding the right. But until you’re prepared to overthrow the existing government, any kind of opposition to a popular front in office will be open to the attack that it is aiding the right.”
—Spartacist (English-language edition) No. 27-28, Winter 1979‑80
But that was then. Since leading a small group of followers out of our organization two decades ago, Norden has moved steadily to the right while covering his tracks with pseudo-militant rhetoric.
The working class has no common interests with its capitalist exploiters and oppressors. Throughout the recent period of left-bourgeois governments in Latin America—whether popular-frontist in Brazil or populist in Venezuela and elsewhere—this is the understanding that the ICL has uniquely and consistently fought to bring to the proletariat. Over 13 years of PT rule provides a graphic example of the lesson Marx drew from the experience of the 1871 Paris Commune: The proletariat cannot wield the levers of the capitalist state for its own interests, but must smash it through a socialist revolution that establishes a workers state in its place.
To unchain the revolutionary potential of the Brazilian proletariat requires the forging of a revolutionary internationalist party, one that is based on a perspective of socialist revolution throughout the Americas and internationally, especially in the imperialist heartland of the U.S. Only world socialist revolution, laying the basis for international socialist planning, can ensure qualitative economic development for the countries which are today under the imperialist boot. The ICL fights to reforge Trotsky’s Fourth International as the necessary instrument to bring communist consciousness to the proletariat and to lead it to power at the head of all the oppressed.
http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1089/brazil.html
submitted by ShaunaDorothy to WorkersVanguard [link] [comments]

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NEW CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT 2020 RULES

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