Peace and Socialism

In 2016, Somalia was declared the most fragile state in the world – worse off than Syria. Famine struck yet again in 2017, compounded by President Trump's attempt to ban Somalis from entering the US. But for the first time since the 1991, when Somalia collapsed along with its one-time ally the Soviet Union, Somalia now has functioning political institutions.

Dual US-Somali citizen Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo became president in February 2017, approved by the US, refugees are returning from the US, Canada and Europe, and remittances from them buttress the economy. Just to make sure Farmajo knows who's really in charge, Trump ordered an air strike on suspected militant bases in April 2017, near the Bab el-Mandeb strait chokepoint separating Yemen from Eritrea, boasting it killed 150 Shabab fighters.

As the Trump administration replaces multinational trade treaties, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and North America Free Trade Treaty, with bilateral ones, US lawmakers are calling for an India-US bilateral trade treaty. Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, told a visiting delegation from Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi that India and the US agreed on liberalizing trade further, and a bilateral treaty could be the next step.

Soon after his inauguration, Trump began immediately exploring bilateral trade with Britain, Japan and Canada. India already has bilateral free trade agreements with ASEAN (ASEAN–India Free Trade Area). Negotiations with the European Free Trade Association and Canada are stalled over how to resolving commercial disputes, foreign companies demanding more flexibility and less government control.

The foundations for good economic relations with the US have been laid. India’s top exports to the US are manufactured goods, chemicals, textiles and information technology (IT) services. US-India bilateral trade grew rapidly along with India's economy after 1991, when India joined the West's neoliberal reform agenda, promoting private over public development and encouraged privatization, in line with US policy. Bilateral trade in goods and services increased from $29 billion in 2004 to $95 billion in 2013, stimulated by Obama's visit in 2010 to sign trade and investment deals, and promote great civilian nuclear cooperation. Bilateral trade crossed the $100 billion mark in 2014.

Last month, I wrote Review of 'The Way of Strangers': Spiritual cancer or spiritual diabetes? and also about the power that Islam has to help prisoners build a new life. ("Natives finding Islam"). Prison and Islam are closely linked in the West.

The world as prison

The only way the West knows to deal with the problem of radical Islam is to search out, arrest, and imprison suspects. John Walker Lindh, captured in Afghanistan in 1991, and Chaudary became icons of resistance in prison, though they did not carry out terrorism themselves. Similarly, Cerantonio and his four comrades are currently facing 10-year sentences for merely trying to go to Syria, though they never even launched their private motorboat, hoping somehow to miraculously arrive in Syria.

They represent the more famous, the tip of an iceberg of unsung hundreds imprisoned for just wanting something, be it mistaken. The underlying cause behind this ongoing tragedy, which Wood seems uninterested in pursuing, is of course the occupation of Muslim lands, the system of imperialism itself. Sending righteously angry young men to prison just confirms their belief in the injustice of the system.

To at least provide some value to their prison time, Michot told British prison authorities that the best way to deal with radicalization in its cellblocks was to make Arabic compulsory for all Muslim prisoners and provide balanced Islamic sources for study. "Islam has to be understood as a middle way between the spiritual cancer of ISIS and the spiritual diabetes of Hamza Yusuf."

Putting offenders in jail merely reinforces their belief, as John Walker Lindh's 20-year sentence shows. He has been immersed in Islamic and Arabic studies in prison, at taxpayers' expense. Georgelas also made good use of his three-year stint. No doubt Chaudary did the same. Prison is an appropriate place to find Islam, as history shows. You have nothing more to lose, lots of time, in need of solace and inspiration, humbled before all, equal to all. It only takes one articulate Muslim to reach out to his fellow inmates. Many Muslims have found Islam in prison, transforming their lives.

Biggest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations

The UN would be at a loss without India's staunch commitment to peacekeeping. India has been the largest troop contributor to UN missions since its inception.

So far, India has taken part in 43 Peacekeeping missions with a total contribution exceeding 180,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel. In 2014 India was the third largest troop contributor with 7,860 personnel deployed with ten UN Peacekeeping Missions.

India's current missions are: Lebanon (UNIFIL), Congo (MONUSCO), Sudan and South Sudan (UNMIS/UNMISS), Golan Heights (UNDOF), Ivory Coast (UNOCI), Haiti (MINUSTAH), Liberia (UNMIL). The Female Formed Police Unit there has become an inspiration for the women of the host nation and a harbinger of future such female units.

  interview starts at 1:20 mark

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcJisNVpuVU

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html