India’s RCEP Refusal: Geopolitical Blunder or Pro-American Pivot? – Global Research

07-11-19 07:48:00,

The popular observation that India’s refusal to join RCEP amounts to a geopolitical blunder overlooks the very distinct possibility that this probably wasn’t a mistake at all, but a preplanned move to justify the country’s ongoing pro-American pivot, albeit at the expense of its regional influence though with the added “benefit” of becoming the US’ strategic beachhead in the South Eurasian Rimland.

Modi’s Blunder?

The globally renowned Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei published a thought-provoking analysis on India’s refusal to join RCEP earlier this week. “India makes historic blunder in abandoning RCEP trade deal“, written by James Crabtree, an associate professor in practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and author of “The Billionaire Raj”, made the case that the country surrendered its regional influence in ASEAN to China by capitulating to intense public opposition against the deal which he says wouldn’t have made much of a difference anyhow had it entered into practice since “it is shallow in its ambition, acting mostly to tidy up existing bilateral agreements.” In his opinion, “Modi’s decision makes China the overwhelmingly dominant voice in a new deal” and “sends alarming signals about India’s commitment to both trade and domestic economic reform more broadly.” All of this is true, but it misses the point that this probably wasn’t a mistake at all, but a preplanned move to justify the country’s ongoing pro-American pivot.

Debunking The Economic “Balancing” Narrative

The argument can be made that it would have “been better” from an American perspective for India to “balance” China within the bloc, during which time it could seek to expand its influence in ASEAN together with Japan through their joint “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” (AAGC) in order to provide a credible alternative to Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). That viewpoint, however “theoretically sound” it may be, fails to take into account the reality that neither India, Japan, nor their combined economic potentials are capable of competing with China, and that the ASEAN states’ decision to go ahead with RCEP without India’s participation as a so-called “counterbalance” proves that they’re keenly aware of this and would rather “bandwagon” with China than “balance” against it.

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US Government’s Refusal to Confirm or Deny It Put American Journalist on Drone Kill List Called ‘Chilling’

17-05-19 07:36:00,

Lawyers for an American journalist who believes he was placed on the government’s infamous “kill list” warned Tuesday that the rights of all U.S. citizens are at stake if the country’s drone assassination program is allowed to continue.

The organization’s comments came as part of a response to the U.S. government’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit regarding its use of the list. Reprieve is representing Bilal Abdul Kareem, a journalist and U.S. citizen who claims he was repeatedly targeted —and nearly killed on five separate occasions—by drone and missile attacks in 2016 when he was reporting on the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Kareem joined an Al Jazeera journalist in 2017 in a lawsuit against the government, demanding that the Trump administration remove their names from the “kill list” of potential targets for the U.S. drone program.

If the government manages to have the lawsuit dismissed, legal experts warn it would allow the Trump administration and future presidents to secretly place any American on a kill list without telling them why, therefore stripping them of their constitutional right to due process.  

“The government’s assertion that it has the right to mark its own citizens for death, based on secret information, without affording them the legal protections offered by the Constitution, is chilling.” —Jennifer Gibson, Reprieve“The right to due process has been a bedrock of the judicial system, and one of the pillars that support a free society going back eight centuries to the Magna Carta,” wrote Tom Emswiler and Will Isenberg in the Boston Globe last summer. “It is the birthright of every American. Gaining a tactical advantage is not worth losing that heritage.”

As Common Dreams reported at the time of the filing, Kareem believes the Obama administration placed him on the kill list and wants President Donald Trump to remove his name, asserting that his inclusion “is the result of arbitrary and capricious agency action, accomplished without due process, and in violation of the United States Constitution and U.S. and international law.”

The government responded that if those included on the U.S. kill list were to be informed and given a trial, national security could be jeopardized during the court case.

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