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Week of October 22, 2002

Program 0243


NATO Prague Preview | Transcript | MP3

Europe Leans Right | Transcript | MP3

Austrian Racism | Transcript | MP3

Beijing Talk Radio | Transcript | MP3

US-India Relations | Transcript | MP3

Security Council Reform | Transcript | MP3

El Congresso | Transcript | MP3

This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.

VACLAV HAVEL: I think there is a lot of new kind of evil in this world and it is necessary to face this evil and to face all who support it.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: This week on Common Ground, several former communist countries are lining up to join NATO.

KEITH PORTER: Plus, anti-immigration political parties gain strength in Europe.

DESMOND DINAN: Because unemployment in both France and Germany is in the low double digits, people are looking for remedies, and they’re also looking for explanations and causes, and one of the presumed explanations is immigration.

PORTER: And meet Beijing’s answer to Dr. Ruth.

NINA-MARIAPOTTS: Another listener called to say she no longer had anything in common with her childhood sweetheart.

MCHUGH: These stories, coming up next.

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NATO Prague Preview

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PORTER: Common Ground is radio’s weekly program on world affairs. I’m Keith Porter.

MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. When the leaders of NATO countries meet in the Czech capital Prague towards the end of November, they’re expected to agree to the largest single membership expansion in the alliance’s history. Up to nine nations could be invited to join the organization. The most likely to get the nod are the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Romania.

PORTER: The Prague summit will also decide on ways that NATO needs to change to counter what it calls “new threats and challenges”—notably terrorism, in the wake of 9/11. With some commentators casting doubt on the continued relevance of an alliance originally designed to defend against the old Soviet military, there’s a lot hanging on the outcome of Prague. Malcolm Brown reports.

MALCOLM BROWN: President Bush set out his vision for NATO in a speech at Warsaw University in Poland back in June 2001.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: [giving the aforementioned speech] All of Europe’s new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea and all that lie between, should have the same chance for security and freedom and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe as Europe’s old democracies have. I believe in NATO membership for all of Europe’s democracies that seek it and are ready to share the responsibility that NATO brings.

[The sound of applause.]

BROWN: The Bush administration still hasn’t indicated in public which of the nations up for consideration at Prague it favors for NATO membership, but a state department official HAS said that Washington is aiming for as many as possible. In addition to the membership issue, there’s also a drive to redefine the alliance in light of new threats—especially terrorism. On a recent visit to the White House, the Czech President Vaclav Havel said it was important for NATO to find its new identity in a post-9/11 world.

VACLAV HAVEL: I think there is a lot of new kind of evil in this world and it is necessary to face this evil and to face all who support it.

BROWN: This task is forcing NATO to take a hard look at its military capabilities. Michael Vickers is an expert on defense planning at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

MICHAEL VICKERS: NATO more and more is shifting to what is called out-of-area operations and, you know, it’s extended further eastward to the Balkans, but may eventually have to deal with things in Africa—sub-Saharan Africa, or in the Persian Gulf.

BROWN: This is one reason why the United States is pushing for a permanent NATO rapid reaction force, ready to deploy outside Europe and fight. Some though, are skeptical.

TED GALEN CARPENTER: If the US thinks it can transform NATO into an effective mechanism for waging the war on terrorism, I think US officials are engaging in self-delusion.

BROWN: Ted Galen Carpenter at the Cato Institute says the alliance will become less and less relevant, as the United States addresses the threats of the future.

GALEN CARPENTER: NATO has never been an effective vehicle for dealing with security problems outside of Europe. As a matter of fact, the European members of NATO and the United States frequently disagree sharply about what policy should be outside Europe. Policy towards Iraq and toward the Israeli-Palestinian dispute being just two major examples.

BROWN: But supporters of NATO expansion say that talks of rifts between Washington and its European allies needs to be kept in historical perspective.

BRUCE JACKSON: Every generation imagines that its dialogue across the Atlantic is the most painful and existential dialogue that has ever occurred. This actually happens every 10 years.

BROWN: Bruce Jackson is a leading supporter of an expanded NATO and has carved out a major role for himself, helping would-be member nations make their case. Jackson, the President of the US Committee on NATO, says that whatever the future holds, the military relationships forged in the alliance will be crucial.

JACKSON: I’m not sure that NATO is the right answer to areas outside of Europe. We’ve never discussed using NATO as a military structure beyond the European, the Euro-Atlantic framework. And frankly, I think we should talk about coalitions other than NATO. But nevertheless, the skills and capabilities and the dialogue that was learned inside NATO is the key to any success of any ad hoc coalition beyond NATO.

BROWN: But some critics of NATO SAY that the ad hoc coalition assembled for the conflict in Afghanistan effectively marked the demise of the alliance. Member nations sent troops and equipment, but it was not a NATO operation. In a scorching opinion piece earlier this year, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote that the victory over the Taliban, in his words “made clear America’s military dominance and Europe’s consequent military irrelevance.”

NATO supporters see it another way. They say the years of training helped allied troops get to Afghanistan quickly and hit the ground running. And the European Union’s foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana, a former NATO Secretary-General, doesn’t see the so called “capabilities gap” as a problem.

JAVIER SOLANA BITE: A gap will always exist. The question is how we can, we can be interoperable, so that Americans and Europeans can do military operations together.

BROWN: The argument goes that even smaller European militaries can bring something to the table. NATO supporter Bruce Jackson again.

JACKSON: Not all countries will have air forces and not all countries will have a thousand tanks. That world has passed. This will be a large community and that will allow them to specialize.

BROWN: With that community set to grow—perhaps to 26 nations—NATO supporters and detractors agree that the alliance is changing. The question seems to be whether it will remain primarily a military organization, or become some sort of political league of like-minded democracies. For Common Ground, I’m Malcolm Brown in Washington.

PORTER: Europe’s anti-immigration movement, next on Common Ground.

[Musical interlude]

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Europe Leans Right

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MCHUGH: Over the past two or three years, far-right parties have enjoyed increasing support in European countries, from Italy and Austria to Norway and Denmark. The trend has been personified by people like Austria’s Jorge Haider and France’s Jean-Marie LePen, who scored a shocking second place finish in the first round of presidential elections in May. Common Ground‘s Judith Smelser spoke about this rightward trend with Desmond Dinan, a professor at George Mason University who grew up in Ireland and has written extensively on European politics.

JUDITH SMELSER: Professor Dinan, Europe’s right-wing politicians, like Jorge Haider in Austria and Jean-Marie LePen in France, are best known for their anti-immigrant and anti-minority stances. What is it about these positions that Europeans find so appealing?

DESMOND DINAN: There are concerns in the United States about illegal immigration as well, but immigration has been a fact of life and has been the lifeblood of the construction of the United States, but that has not been the case in Europe. Indeed, there’s an interesting paradox in Europe now because on the one hand, there is serious concern about the social consequences of immigration, and yet, on the other, there’s a growing realization that because of demographic trends in Europe, because of declining birth rates, and because of the aging population, without immigration, European economies will not be able to sustain the burden of dependency in order to maintain their generous welfare states.

And yet, because unemployment in both France and Germany is in the low double digits, people are looking for remedies, and they’re also looking for explanations and causes, and one of the presumed explanations is immigration.

SMELSER: Recently we saw a resounding election victory for the left-leaning Social Democrats in Sweden, and the newly re-elected Prime Minister there says his party broke the trend of rightist victories in Europe. And also, of course, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder recently scored a narrow defeat over his conservative opponent as well. Do you think this represents a turning of the tide?

DINAN: I think we tend to exaggerate these swings of the pendulum, and I think we must distinguish, as we are here, between the far right, which has enjoyed some extraordinary successes due to extraordinary circumstances, and the mainstream right. And the fact of life in politics is that there are always swings between the right and the left. And it wasn’t just in Sweden that the left seemed to have reasserted its position, but after all in Hungary some weeks before that, and in Ireland as well some weeks before that, parties on the left or on the center-left were re-elected to government. So I think there’s a danger of focusing on the dramatic and extrapolating from the dramatic lessons which are not, in fact, valid.

MCHUGH: Professor Desmond Dinan teaches European politics at George Mason University.

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Austrian Racism

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PORTER: Austria’s far right Freedom Party won nearly 27 percent of the popular vote in 1999, enough to earn a spot in the country’s coalition government. The party’s success, under the leadership of Jorge Haider, alarmed Europe and the European Union briefly slapped sanctions on Austria in 2000.

MCHUGH: Haider’s anti-immigration stance also alarmed Austria’s immigrants and ethnic minorities. In early 2000, just months after the Freedom Party joined the country’s coalition government, correspondent Karen Engle filed this report on how minorities in Austria felt about the Freedom Party’s access to power.

JOHANN SZEGU: Good morning ladies and gentleman. And welcome to Vienna. My name is Johann…

KAREN ENGEL: One of Vienna’s most seasoned tourist guides, Johann Szegu, is leading a group of intrepid sightseers on a walking tour of the city. Szegu is not Viennese himself. In fact Szegu came to Austria as a Hungarian refugee in 1956 when Soviet troops put down the Hungarian Revolution.

SZEGU: I’m living in Austria for more than 42 years. And I haven’t felt anything about xenophobia; however. I came to Austria in 1956 as a refugee. And I think as a former refugee you can never accept xenophobia or xenophobic statements and speeches in any form. But if you ask me, I had absolutely no bad experiences.

ENGEL: But if you’re not a paying tourist, some Austrians don’t want you. Strict immigration laws are keeping non-EU citizens away. Those laws were only recently put into effect, not by the new government, but under the prior Social Democratic one. Rainer Munz is a demographer at the Humboldt University in Berlin and co-author of a recent study of xenophobia and migration in Austria.

RAINER MUNZ: I have my doubts as to whether we are witnessing a rising xenophobia; at least my own data and results show that there is no increase. It might have become more visible because we now have some 27 percent of the population supporting Mr. Haider’s Freedom party. And this is a party that has been more explicitly xenophobic in its electoral campaigns than the other two major parties, which are the Social Democrats and the Christian Conservatives.

ENGEL: A study based on interviews with thousands of residents concluded that Austrian views towards foreigners have hardly changed in the last 10 years. That xenophobia was always there and strong, not only among the ranks of the far right, but also among Social Democratic voters.

[A selection of radio announcers and programs from Austria and neighboring countries]

ENGEL: You only need to turn on your radio in Austria to realize how close you are to the border. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary are only an hour’s drive from Vienna; Slovenia just a skip across the border from the manufacturing centers of southern Austria and Graz. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, Austria experienced a wave of new immigration from Central Europe, who joined the ranks of older immigrants from ex-Yugoslavia and Turkey, who competed for unskilled jobs that are now disappearing. Although Austria is the third-richest country in Europe, with a low unemployment rate, many are afraid they will lose their jobs in a rapidly changing economy. Demographer Rainer Munz.

RAINER MUNZ: We tend to overlook that even within a rich society, there can be losers, there can be people who are poor, who are at least poorly educated, and have to fear technological and other changes in the future. It is the weaker segment of the society; it is more likely to be inclined to share xenophobic attitudes.

ENGEL: Aida Stavich didn’t come to Austria as a tourist or in search of a better income. She came here as a refugee nine years ago from Banja-Luka, in northern Bosnia, as nationalism started to flare up in former Yugoslavia. Austria took in more refugees per capita than any other European country. A Muslim from a well-integrated and educated family, Aida said that at first no one in Bosnia could imagine that the country would collapse into civil war. Although Austria isn’t like Yugoslavia, she says, it all sounds so familiar: the nationalistic rhetoric, the hefty debates in Parliament, the demonstrations. Now she has two small children of her own, and the new political climate in Austria makes her feel uncomfortable.

AIDA STAVICH: [via a translator] “I found a new home here,” she says. “And I personally feel very unsecure now. No one threatens. Maybe it’s my own problem because of experience in Bosnia.” “But,” she says, “I don’t want to go through something like that again. And I’m afraid I will.”

SZABO HORVATH: [speaks in German to his dance class]

ENGEL: Szabo Horvath is giving dance lessons to a young group of children. A specialist in dance and physiotherapy, Horvath has lived in Austria for 10 years and is an Austrian citizen. But he can’t get a regular job here, he says, because he’s still considered a foreigner.

SZABO HORVATH: [via a translator] “Szabo is my name,” he says, “and it’s not an Austrian or a German name, but a Hungarian name. And I’m not even considered for a job because, you see, right away from my resume that I’m a foreigner and that I have an accent. And that creates again, a negative action.”

[A vocalist singing a song with piano accompaniment]

ENGEL: The cantor of the Graz Jewish community, Richard Ames, joins Austrian jazz musicians here in an unusual recording called “Jewish Ethno Meets The Alps.” A former opera singer, Ames is very active in Jewish-Christian dialogue groups in Austria and Germany. Lately, Ames has been working with the local government to help rebuild the Graz synagogue, after it was burned down 60 years ago, a project financed by public funds. A resident of Graz for decades, Ames doesn’t feel that anti-Semitism is a problem here.

RICHARD AMES: In the entire building of our new synagogue here, not one anti-Semitic remark, not one anti-Semitic letter or bomb threat, or anything, neither anonymously nor up front.

ENGEL: But Ames agrees that racism is a problem in Austria.

AMES: What I fear very much is that with the amount of African students and Arab students, that they have become the new target. I’m not fearful as a Jewish person. I fear that they have replaced us as a target.

[The sound of African students singing native songs.]

ENGEL: For weeks now, a theater group from South Africa has been performing to sold out audiences at Vienna’s English Theater. The musical, Cat and the Kings, describes how apartheid thwarted the careers of the talented so-called “colored” rock group. Tertia Botha is one of the performers. She says race is an issue in Vienna offstage as well.

TERTIA BOTHA: When I get into the train everybody is staring. Like, I suppose they are thinking to themselves, “Where do you come from?” “Who are you?” “What are you doing here?” I mean, because I obviously don’t look Austrian.

ENGEL: You rarely see skinheads in Austria. No homes for asylum seekers have been burned, no paramilitary neo-Nazi groups march down city boulevards. But African residents in Austria say they experience racism in the everyday way people behave towards them. Veada Stoff is an Afro-American who has lived in Graz for 20 years. She works with many Nigerian and Ghana refugees who have problems dealing with bureaucracy, housing, visa, or job problems. When she first came to Graz, Veada says people were friendly and inquisitive. But as more black refugees came to the city, the attitudes of local residents changed.

VEADA STOFF: I’ve been hit in the stomach by an older woman who just told me to get out of her way and to get out of her country. I’ve had children throw stones at me and make remarks like I should go back to the jungle.

FRANZ FUCHS: [speaking German loudly and angrily]

ENGEL: The voice of Austrian letter bomber Franz Fuchs shouting racist slogans during his murder trial last year. Fuchs was found guilty of killing four Austrian gypsies with a pipe bomb in 1995, and of injuring dozens of people in a series of letter bombs between 1993 and 1996. It was one of the very few violent racist incidents in Austria, and it shook the country. Rudolph Sarcruzi is a spokesman for the Association of Austrian Roma Gypsies. He says Austrian Gypsies today are still marginalized, especially in the country. They have the poorest incomes and lowest educational levels. And thousands of Austrian Gypsies died in Nazi concentration camps. Rudolph Sarcruzi was born in one.

RUDOLF SARKOZI: [via a translator] “When I speak to someone who survived Auschwitz or Ravensbruck or Bergen-Belsen,” says Sarkozi, “those people are definitely afraid. They are afraid about the small group of former Nazis who are active in the Freedom Party. It may be a democratically elected party,” says Sarkozi, but he says, “it’s like a genie in a bottle that’s corked up. You never know when that genie is going to escape.”

ENGEL: The alarmed reaction of European leaders to the entry of the far-right Freedom party into the Austrian government was in part a warning to their own citizens. Far right parties in Belgium, Denmark, France, and other countries are gaining votes with xenophobic messages and calling for immigration bans. But as demographer Rainer Munz points out, immigration and multicultural societies are a reality Europe is going to have to accept.

RAINER MUNZ: When we look at demographic figures, a growing life expectancy, yet at the same time very low birth rates all over Europe, we see that things will never go back to normal as we have been used to, and immigration will become more constant, a more regular phenomenon. Now society as a whole has to adapt to this, not only by implementing mechanisms, how to deal with immigrants, but also by changing it’s self-perception.

ENGEL: That process has already begun in Austria, where one Austrian journalist quipped that the country had moved from being the heart of Europe to the ass of the world. Whatever one’s views, the Freedom party’s access to power has led many Austrians to reassess their social and political values. For Common Ground, this is Karen Engel in Austria.

PORTER: One month after Karen Engle’s report aired in April 2000, Jorge Haider stepped down from his Freedom Party leadership role. But his influence remained strong, and this past September, a conflict between Haider and Freedom Party leadership led to the collapse of the Austrian government. A new election is tentatively set for late November.

[Musical interlude]

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Beijing Talk Radio

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MCHUGH: Three years ago China’s slow opening to the West allowed one British DJ the chance to be the country’s first Dr. Ruth on live radio. Nina-Maria Potts quickly discovered that while China is a country like no other, broken hearts hurt the same in any language.

[The sound of the Easy FM “Love Hour” Jingle, in Chinese, followed by an American pop music tune.]

NINA-MARIA POTTS: If you think it’s hard being an unhappy teenager in America, just try being Chinese. It’s hard to keep a secret in a crowded country of 1.2 billion people, where family can be suffocatingly close, grown-ups are not shy to pry, and college students share tiny dorms, six to a room. Given the risks of sharing your troubles in this still highly controlled society, who do young urban Chinese turn to? The answer for many is the Internet and anonymous cyber friends. But for millions of others, a radio show broadcast on China’s only nationwide English-language station, has provided the solution.

[The sound of a high-energy, English-language radio promotional spot: “Welcome, to New Easy FM, with Nina-Maria.”

POTTS: For three years I was lucky enough to work on Chinese radio, as a DJ hosting a three-hour daily drive time show. A segment of the program, which began life as a forum for listeners’ love stories sponsored by a chocolate company, rapidly turned into something quite different.

POTTS: [a clip from her radio show] You’re listening to the Hour of Love on EasyFM, I’m Nina Maria, and this is where a problem aired is a problem shared, and where a problem shared is a problem solved. Or so we like to think. Thanks for tuning in. We have your love stories, love song dedications, and a little bit of love advice, coming right up…”

[An English-language love song plays.]

POTTS: I was expecting to hear typical teenage dating woes. But I also heard from listeners who were concerned they may be gay. A serious concern in a country where homosexuality was only struck off the list of psychiatric disorders last year. This listener, whose English name was Charles, called in to say his live-in partner planned to leave him and get married to a woman, as a cover for his homosexuality.

CHARLES: [speaking on the radio call-in show] I think it’s a little bit embarrassing, how to say, I love a man, you know. I am a man and I love another man. He’s thinking to have the normal life, you know, to get married soon, but I feel very depressed. You know, it hurts a lot, because he thinks that such kind of love, I mean between two men, is, I mean, is not, is abnormal.

POTTS: Another listener called to say she no longer had anything in common with her childhood sweetheart. Like many urban Chinese women today, she wanted to find a man who could cope with her professional development.

FEMALE CHINESE CALLER: I think I want a man who is more mature than me.

POTTS: Although their dilemmas were somewhat universal, listeners often expressed some uniquely Chinese problems. China is a country where marriage is still as much about financial security as love. But it’s also a country on the move, where ambitious children end up in the coastal boom towns, hundreds of miles away from their worried and often highly traditional parents. It was still a surprise when one listener, Li Qien, wrote in to say that she’d been divorced for three years, and hadn’t dared tell her mother.

LI QIEN: She still thinks that we’re married. She has no idea that he left me for his girlfriend. The shame is too great because I know my mother will think that it’s all my fault for being a bad wife. What should I do? The situation is driving me crazy.

POTTS: [advising Li Qien through her radio show] Li Qien, listen up, you’ve got to come clean, because your relationship at the moment with your mother is evolving into a living lie and a living nightmare.

POTTS: Though it was clear that a large part of the program’s appeal lay in the listeners’ assumption that a foreign woman would be much less judgmental and more liberal, it was not always straight forward, giving a western answer to a Chinese problem. Xiao Long wrote to say she was a lesbian living with her partner, and wondering whether to come out. Her dilemma was that in China it’s very common for young women to live together, even sharing beds, and to be extremely affectionate with each other. If she didn’t go out of her way to draw her parent’s attention to her gay lifestyle, the chances were she would keep her cover and would save herself from a spectacular family crisis.

Sometimes it wasn’t even about giving advice; people just needed to hear their problem read out, and realize that they were not completely freakish or troubled. Then there were the harder problems, some of which couldn’t be read out on air, such as gang rape. Easy FM may have brought western pop music to China, from Britney Spears to Pink, but like all media in China, it’s state-owned and censored. In case I forgot there was a soldier outside the studio door.

[The sound of Western pop music.]

POTTS: Blatant political censorship was rare, and at times slightly baffling. In all my time, only one pop song was banned on political grounds. My Communist Party overseer broached the subject in the corridor looking unhappy. “That song about the fall of the Soviet Union,” he said, “you can’t play it.” Under further prodding, he revealed that he meant Go West, by the Village People. I thought about telling him that this was not an anthem about defectors from the Communist block but a cheerful invitation to sample the gay delights of the West Coast. I decided to stay quiet.

[The sound of the Village People music clip, Go West.]

POTTS: For Common Ground, I’m Nina-Maria Potts.

PORTER: This is Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

[Musical interlude]

PORTER: I’m Keith Porter.

MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. Coming up this half hour on Common Ground, India demands more support in Washington.

SIMON MARKS: There is bewilderment and even some consternation over America’s new relationship with Pakistan—a country that is engaged in ongoing conflict with India.

MCHUGH: Plus, the debate surrounding the structure of the United Nations Security Council, and Simon and Garfunkel influence Chilean musicians.

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US-India Relations

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PORTER: Leading government figures in India are expressing concern over the ongoing US relationship with President Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler of Pakistan. Pakistan has played a critical role supporting the Bush administration’s military campaign against Afghanistan, and the Indian government is indicating its disappointment in Washington’s support for its neighbor.

MCHUGH: India and Pakistan are locked in a bitter dispute over the territory of Kashmir. Over the past decade, US-Indian relations have blossomed thanks to growing business ties between the two countries, and in large part because there are now 1.6 million Indians who call America home. As Simon Marks reports from Delhi, it’s a transformation in the relationship that few would have predicted just a short while ago.

[Street sounds from a busy Delhi slum.]

SIMON MARKS: Take a wander through one of Delhi’s impoverished slums, and it’s like stepping back in time. In this capital of a democracy one billion strong, you can still find ghettos of poverty at almost every turn.

[The sound of a sewing machine.]

MARKS: Artisans just steps from the city’s highways are eking out a living in any way they can. We watched as a local tailor hunched over a sewing machine dating from the 1950s. His feet works the pedals as he repaired clothes for his customers, sewing on buttons and patches, using machinery that in many parts of the world is already considered a museum piece. And yet even in some of the city’s slums there are subtle hints of the extraordinary changes underway—signs advertising Internet service and computer rentals hang over the streets.

They’re symbols of change that has seen India become a locomotive of high-tech development—an engine that completely redefined its relationship with the USA. Stop Indians on the streets today, and while they may not be America’s biggest fans, they’re certainly aware of the changing attitudes here.

INDIAN “MAN ON THE STREET” #1: Right now, you see, the United States comes along as a superpower. And I think anyone who is strong, anyone who is strong, you should be friends with it. Never be on the wrong side.

INDIAN “MAN ON THE STREET” #2: I’d give them 100, 60 out of 100 on the basis of trust. Five years from now there might be a good relationship.

MARKS: It might take that long because the US-Indian relationship is still emerging from the chill of the Cold War. Then, Delhi was officially a leading member of the independent non-aligned movement, but in reality it enjoyed close ties to—and support from—Moscow. L.K. Advani is India’s Deputy Prime Minister, and widely regarded as the most influential politician in the country.

L.K. ADVANI: The common man in the street in India often regards Russia as friendly, America as hostile. Recalling the days of the Cold War when America was supposed to be a supporter of Pakistan and India had a supporter in Russia. There has been a sea change in the relationship in the past few years. Though it’s somewhat late. We, many of us who always felt that the Cold War between the USSR and America had left an unreal relationship between the two greatest democracies in the world.

[The sound of a busy office at a high-tech Indian company.]

MARKS: Uniting those two great democracies today is commerce. The modern US-Indian relationship has been built on the bedrock of a high-tech explosion. Tata Consultancy Services is India’s largest IT company. And its Executive Vice President, Phiroz Vandrevala, now finds his largest export market is the United States.

PHIROZ VANDREVALA: Post 1991, when the whole climate of India changed, when we could bring computers in freely, telecom became available, everything just exploded. The ability for people to use Indian talent without them having to actually physically travel was when the boom actually took place. Because that’s when you could actually bring real cost productivity benefits to the table.

MARKS: Over the past 10 years, two-way trade between India and the USA has brought Indian software expertise to America.

[The sound of a busy Delhi street.]

MARKS: And US trademarks to downtown Delhi. The center of the city boasts TGI Fridays, Levi’s, and a variety of other trademarks instantly familiar to any American. Many US businesses have found that India has become a crucial offshoot of their operations, either as a client, or as a vendor. Today, India is home to the support operations—call centers, finance departments, and payroll offices—for some of America’s largest corporations, which have invested $12 billion in India since 1991. Phiroz Vandrevala of Tata Consultancy argues that industry took the lead in transforming US-Indian relations, where politicians were still wary to tread.

VANDREVALA: If you look at the early ’90s, we were still in the Cold War stage. Sure, the movement had started. But clearly American and Indian industry saw the advantage. And I personally would believe that our industry has played a critical role in the thawing of the relationship and the strategic relationship that we enjoy today.

MARKS: In addition to commercial ties, the two countries now enjoy a military relationship as well, engaging in joint naval exercises as part of President Bush’s war on terror. The US is also selling India $140 million worth of military radar, as Delhi starts to look further afield than Moscow, its traditional military supplier. Yashwant Sinha is India’s Foreign Minister. He says whatever the mistakes of yesterday, today’s generation of Indian leaders were just waiting for a change to forge a new bond with the USA.

YASHWANT SINHA: Well, I think certainly some of us did look at that possibility, and we were hoping that some day this kind of relationship will be developed. But we are very happy that there is now a richness to our relationship, as there should indeed be between two major democracies in the world.

MARKS: But while both sides agree the relationship between Washington and Delhi has been significantly transformed, there are still some very real irritants.

[The sound track from a film about India’s nuclear weapons program. A countdown, followed by this narration: “At 1545 hours, on 11th May, 1998, three devices were detonated simultaneously.”]

MARKS: In May 1998, the Indians conducted a series of nuclear tests—as did their neighbor and nemesis Pakistan. Both countries, which have been squaring off over the disputed territory of Kashmir, incurred the wrath of the United States, and for a while sanctions were imposed on both by Washington. In New Delhi today, there is bewilderment and even some consternation over America’s new relationship with Pakistan—a country that is engaged in ongoing conflict with India.

The Indians accuse Pakistan of sponsoring Islamic militants in Kashmir, who they say are launching terrorist attacks against Indian citizens. And Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani says America’s need for Pakistani support in its war on terror notwithstanding, he still doesn’t understand the US friendship toward Islamabad.

ADVANI: The people today are extremely distressed that the country which has been the source of all terrorism in India for two decades now, as a result of which we have lost not less than 60,000 persons—60,000—more than the number of people that we lost in the four wars that we had with Pakistan. And yet the main, principle country fighting against terrorism should have that as its ally.

[The sounds of a busy Delhi street.]

MARKS: But on the streets of India, there are indications that the government’s viewpoint may not be entirely mirrored by public concerns. People we spoke to in Delhi had a more nuanced view of US policy, and a sense that America’s relationship with Pakistan may be more pragmatic, and less long-lasting than its friendship with India.

INDIAN “MAN ON THE STREET” #3: America is playing a political game. They want Pakistan to get into Afghanistan, to get to Osama bin Laden. So long as Pakistan is helping out, they don’t care who is on their side. Even if Russia was helping out, they would have gone to Russia also. So, according to me, Pakistan is just for use. Just for use. They are just using it, Pakistan.

[The sound of chirping birds in a peaceful park setting.]

MARKS: In the center of Delhi lies Nehru Park—an expanse named after India’s first post-independence Prime Minister. And in a corner of the park, surrounded by young couples enjoying the sunshine of a late summer’s day, lies a statue of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution that brought Communism to power in Moscow. It’s becoming rare to see a Lenin statue even in Russia today. In India, it’s a symbol of how rapidly and completely globalized relations can change. For Common Ground, I’m Simon Marks in Delhi.

PORTER: Coming up next, debating UN Security Council reform. And later, music from Chile’s El Congreso.

MCHUGH: You’re listening to Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

[Musical interlude]

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Security Council Reform

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PORTER: When United Nations’ Secretary General Kofi Annan first stepped into his post, he proposed sweeping changes in the world body’s governmental structure. Although a number of improvements have been implemented, Annan recently issued his second blueprint to make the United Nations a more effective and efficient organization.

MCHUGH: But parts of the United Nations continue to resist change, including the powerful Security Council. Adolfo Aguilar Zinser is Mexico’s Permanent UN Representative. Mexico is one of the 15 non-permanent members currently serving on the Security Council, and Aguilar Zinser is taking advantage of the opportunity to push for reform.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER: This is a very substantial part of what we want to see happening in the Security Council. We want transformation of the methods of work of the Security Council. We want transparency. We want a larger responsibility. We want the Security Council to follow up, to evaluate it’s decisions, and to be able to engage all the members of the United Nations, and particularly other agencies of the United Nations in the pursuit of peace. In the prevention of conflict, in the establishment of conditions to sustainable peace after a conflict has outbreak. And in the capacity to anticipate events and respond to them responsibly.

MCHUGH: The Security Council is charged, as you mentioned, with promoting peace through peacekeeping missions. But how do you choose which missions to be involved with?

AGUILAR ZINSER: The question of how issues get to the Security Council is rather capricious. It depends on the agreements of the members. It depends on requests or vetoes, factual vetoes. If a member of the Security Council does not want an issue to be discussed, since most of the decisions regarding the agenda are taken by consensus, then a member can effectively block an issue to come. Or, other countries of the UN, with the support of some Council members, as is the case with India and Pakistan conflict, could prevent the Council from including it in its agenda. So there is an unresolved question on what is the criteria and the responsibility of the Security Council itself, vis-à-vis the positions, the national positions, of the countries.

And what we have been advocated is that the Security Council has to take decisions beyond the national decisions of individual countries. It has to take it as a body. With its own logic, with its own criteria, with its own life motive. And that countries that serve in the Security Council should compromise and should not impose unilaterally their own national agendas on the Council. And that decisions have to be reached looking at the interests of the collective interest of members and not at the individual interest of a particular country.

MCHUGH: And that goes to the heart of the debate of Security Council reform.

AGUILAR ZINSER: It goes to the heart of the debate because if a country decides that the Security Council should not move on an issue or it should move in a particular direction because that’s the national policy of that country, and that country does not yield to the considerations and arguments of others, then the Security Council will be paralyzed. Or will be making mistakes, will be doing something that we should not be doing. So this is a tension there. And we think that as the world goes to a more multilateral process of making decisions that affect international peace, the countries that have strong interest on foreign policy issues, such as the United States or the other four permanent members, should be more receptive—even if they have to make compromises—more receptive to the collective interest of the UN expressed in the views of the 15 members of the Security Council.

MCHUGH: And how do you break through the mold that has been there for the past several decades—actually since the beginning of the United Nations?

AGUILAR ZINSER: You don’t break the mold from day to night. I think we have to be consistent. I think that it has to be a vision. It has to be a clear message. And then you collect gradually the strength by bringing other countries into demand those changes to take place in the behavior of the Security Council. So I think that the international problems of war and peace, which are ultimately the responsibility according with the Charter of the UN of the Security Council, have to be approached in a much more multilateral way than has been the case so far.

MCHUGH: Adolfo Aguilar Zinser is Mexico’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Earlier this year, he completed a term in the Security Council’s rotating presidency.

[Musical interlude]

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El Congresso

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PORTER: Born in the struggle against dictatorship, many of Chile’s musical groups boast not only fine musical talent but social conscience as well. El Congreso is one of the country’s oldest and most respected groups to continue that tradition. It combines Andean, European classical, and pop elements to produce wonderful and unique South American sound. Reese Erlich met members of El Congreso in Vina del Mar, along Chile’s coast, about 100 miles west of Santiago.

[The sound of El Congreso singing their song, Para los arqueologos del futuro.]

REESE ERLICH: El Congreso is a most unusual group. The eight musicians have written biting songs against the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. They sing in favor of the poor and disenfranchised. They are a household name in Chile and play to sell-out crowds. But commercial radio stations refuse to play their records, according to Congreso saxophonist Hugo Pirovich.

HUGO PIROVICH: Congreso is popular in Chile but the radio don’t play our records.

ERLICH: Composer and lead singer Francisco “Poncho” Sazo says lack of radio air time isn’t so bad because when you become famous, the audience comes to expect the same songs. He says lack of air play allows for greater innovation.

PIROVICH: It’s a good thing. I think it’s better.

FRANCISCO “PANCHO” SAZO: You become popular and you become famous. And then you must content all your crowd, always.

ERLICH: You must please, you must please your audience.

SAZO: Yes, yes.

ERLICH: You know, you’re the first musician I’ve ever spoken to who was glad that his records are not played on the radio.

SAZO: You are more free.

[The sound of El Congreso singing their song, Para los arqueologos del futuro.]

ERLICH: Congreso formed back in the 1970s after General Augusto Pinochet, supported by the US, overthrew the democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende. Military censors had to approve all musical albums and went over every song before a concert, says Sazo.

SAZO: [via a translator] At the beginning of the dictatorship, it was very difficult. We played in small venues. We played wherever we could. The military censored all concerts. But they were looking for the typical terrorist. So we used metaphors. People could dance to our music but also read between the lines of our lyrics. A lot of messages were resistance songs. The people understood. But the censors didn’t understand. It was great.

ERLICH: Since 1989, Chile has had democratically elected governments and Congreso doesn’t face overt censorship. But the musicians do face fierce competition for young audiences.

[The sound of street music from a music store.]

ERLICH: Poncho Sazo takes me on a walk down the streets of Vina del Mar to illustrate the many new musical influences now hitting Chile.

SAZO: It’s an American song. I think it’s Britney Spears, something like that. That’s the world music, you know.

ERLICH: But Sazo admits with a smile that when he was a teenager, he only listened to American and British pop music. I asked him when he first heard Andean music.

SAZO: I think it was Simon and Garfunkel. (laughs) Yeah.

ERLICH: Simon and Garfunkel played Chilean music?

SAZO: The first time that when they played the Condor Pasa, you know, then it became popular.

[The sound of Simon and Garfunkel singing the Condor Pasa.]

ERLICH: Like the 1960s musicians who took a cue from Simon and Garfunkel to develop their own indigenous style, so Congreso in the new millennium incorporates lots of musical influences. In its most popular current tune, Congreso combines elements of Latin American protest music with rap in a song called The Crazy Girl Without Shoes.

[The sound of El Congreso singing their song, La Loca sin zapatos, Loca.]

SAZO: [via a translator] It’s a comical song dedicated to a girl who dances on TV and becomes famous. She dances with bare feet because she has no shoes. We’re writing music for people who aren’t at the center of society. We write about marginal people, people without shoes.

ERLICH: El Congreso has remained popular by continuing to write songs about the dispossessed while maintaining a modern musical sound. Although members of El Congreso are in their 50s and 60s now, they remain true Chilean rebels.

[The sound of El Congreso singing their song, La Loca sin zapatos, Loca.]

ERLICH: For Common Ground, I’m Reese Erlich in Vina del Mar, Chile.

Our theme music was created by B.J. Leiderman. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.

Copyright © Stanley Center for Peace and Security

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