Tibetan dilemmas

On Shashi Tharoor, ‘India’s balancing act’, Guardian Comment, April 17, 2008

Mr Tharoor explains India’s dilemma over Tibet eloquently. However, the nature of such dilemmas is wider.

At times, I would prefer the country of my birth to be a little more outspoken on the behaviour of its neighbours, China and Burma in particular. Tibet has hit the headlines because of the coming Olympics in Beijing. The events in Burma and the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi are no less disturbing.

In my view, Suu Kyi is the bravest human being living today. However, the Indian leadership has to think of the consequences of rhetoric which cannot be followed through. It is uncomfortable, but India would justify its caution as necessary.

We have seen how short-lived Britain’s ‘ethical foreign policy’ under the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, was in the late 1990s. And the consequences of the encouragement President Bush Sr appeared to offer the Iraqis as America defeated Saddam Hussain in the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait in early 1991. More


In the mind of Robert Mugabe

On Gideon Rachman, ‘The mind of the dictator’, Financial Times International Affairs Blog, April 4, 2008

What must be going on in the mind of Robert Mugabe? An interesting question. The honest answer is that we do not exactly know. But speculation is a wonderful mental exercise. And what we have learned about people with a violent past (tyrants and guerrilla leaders alike) gives us some clues.

Mugabe secured power through violence and has kept it by violent means for almost three decades. He will be determined to cling onto power. No matter what comes in his way, his basic instinct will be to crush it. More