September 12, 2012

The Courage to Jump in Indonesia

JAKARTA–Five years ago, one of the most respected soldiers in U.S. history died too soon. Wayne Downing was a West Point graduate and four-star general who served two tours in Vietnam and came out of retirement after 9/11 to serve as anti-terrorism advisor to President George W. Bush. Known as the father of the modern Rangers, Downing commanded America’s elite counter-terrorism teams in the 1990s and spent decades training foreign soldiers who came to Fort Bragg to learn about democracy. Not long before he died, I had lunch with General Downing at the White House. He told me that of all the foreign soldiers he ever trained, two stood out. One was Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, the reigning King of Jordan. The other was Prabowo Subianto, the former commander of Indonesia’s special forces, and the current front-runner to be Indonesia’s next president in 2014.

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May 1, 2012

Asia’s Quiet War

NEW DELHI, India—It is one of history’s great ironies that the Buddha grew up, attained enlightenment and taught in India, while Buddhism has gained its greatest number of adherents—nearly 40 percent of the population—in China. This discrepancy was on full display last December, with New Delhi and Beijing each jockeying to be the site of the new International Buddhist Confederation. Swayed by India’s status as Buddhism’s birthplace and displeased by China’s treatment of the Dalai Lama, 900 Buddhist delegates to a conference in India voted to establish Buddhism’s de facto world capital here in India’s capital.

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March 1, 2012

Imagining ‘Eastphalia’

It began in the Netherlands, as outraged Calvinists smashed statues to protest the wealth and excesses of Spain and the Catholic Church. In Germany, starving soldiers laid waste to entire regions. The ensuing war engulfed all of 17th-century Europe in 80 years of bloody religious conflict. After the assassination of generals and the death of kings, after nearly one-third of Germany’s population lay dead from the plague or the sword, Europe’s rulers finally came together. They intended only to end the wars; they did not expect to create a new global order. But when they finally signed the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Europe – and the world – was on its way to being transformed.

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September 22, 2011

Blessed are the Businessmen and Women

WASHINGTON— Sixty-four years ago today, one of the most prescient memos in American history was placed on the desk of George C. Marshall, the United States Secretary of State.  It was written by Loy Henderson, the director of the State Department’s Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs.  Coming less than a month after a special committee of the United Nations had recommended partitioning Palestine into two states—one Jewish and one Arab—it precisely predicted the violent future that partition would bring.

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June 13, 2011

The Peace Process That Matters Most

LONDON—When asked how he envisioned India and Pakistan’s relationship developing after their bloody partition in 1947, Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah would tell the story of two brothers who clashed over the division of their inheritance. Eventually, they went to court, and Jinnah represented one of the brothers through the bitter proceeding. Two years later, Jinnah met with his client and asked how he was getting along with his brother. He replied, “Oh, once the case was decided, we became the greatest friends.”

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May 20, 2011

Meet Burma’s First Billionaire

WASHINGTON—Every spring, Forbes publishes its ranking of the richest men and women on the planet. One person you won’t see on the list is Burmese business tycoon Tay Za. The charismatic Tay Za is chief executive of the Htoo Group of Companies, a business empire founded during Burma’s era of democratic rule that spans logging, gems and jade, palm oil, construction, hotels and tourism, mobile-phone services, an airline and more. At 46, he is widely believed to be Burma’s first billionaire.

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May 10, 2011

Ike’s Most Prescient Insight 50 Years Ago Went Unspoken

WASHINGTON—He was a West Point graduate, a four-star general, the hero of the allied assault on Adolf Hitler, and the first commander of NATO. During his eight-year presidency, he quadrupled America’s post-World War II military budget, increased the share of the federal budget spent on defense to more than 50 percent, ballooned America’s nuclear stockpile from 1,000 to 23,000 warheads, and oversaw a sitting army that was ten times larger than the military he first joined in 1911.

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May 4, 2011

The Other Nuclear Crisis

NEW DELHI—Thirty-one years ago this spring, the world was riveted by a tale of nuclear terrorism called The Fifth Horseman. In this best-selling novel, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi threatens to explode a three-megaton nuclear bomb hidden under New York City, unless an autonomous Palestinian state is immediately established. The book was so disturbing that French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing cancelled the sale of nuclear reactors to Libya, even though they were allegedly intended for peaceful purposes.

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March 17, 2011

Counterpoint on Myanmar’s Transition

YANGON—As demonstrators from Tunis to Cairo to Tripoli wonder if their revolutions will succeed, Myanmar remains an unfortunate poster child for what happens when revolutions go wrong. With a population equal in size to the United Kingdom, and a per capita income of less than two US dollars per day, Myanmar has suffered under military rule since 1962.

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December 16, 2010

Outside View: Before Obama, Conservatives Targeted Reagan

Washington, Dec. 16 (UPI) — As U.S. President Barack Obama battles Senate Republicans over ratification of the new U.S.-Russia START treaty, it’s worth remembering that the phrase at the heart of this treaty – “arms reduction”—was born 23 years ago this week, in a high-profile summit between the United States and the Soviet Union in Washington.

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