The Ukraine government, headed by Volodymyr Zelensky, has been using American taxpayers’ funds to pay dearly for the vitally needed diesel fuel that is keeping the Ukrainian army on the move inMore
The breach in the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnieper River in war-ravaged Ukraine on Tuesday is no doubt a catastrophe of colossal proportions, a veritable ecological and human disaster that may outlive the war itself.
However, the striking thing about the White House reaction to the event from John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, is that he tactfully avoided endorsing Ukraine President Vladimir Zelensky’s finger-pointing at the Russians.
Kirby said, “We’ve seen the reports that Russia was responsible… We’re doing the best we can to assess those reports. And we are working with the Ukrainians to gather more information. But we cannot say conclusively what happened at this point…”
Kirby wouldn’t be drawn onto a turf that fools only enter, where angels fear to tread. And, interestingly, his remark has been on similar lines as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s also — “it’s too early to say definitively.” Sunak, who was en route to Washington on June 6, said the UK defence intelligence is to “thoroughly investigate” with the aim of establishing who was responsible for the catastrophe.
Of course, it is entirely conceivable that Britain will eventually find a way to somehow put the blame on Russia. But for the present, it has nothing concrete in hand to vilify Moscow.
Indeed, what complicates matters is that by the classical Latin canon cui bono (for whose benefit?) about identifying crime suspects, both Ukraine and Russia can be deemed as “winners” or “losers” alike. This needs explaining.
Take Ukraine first. It is a winner as Russia apparently shot itself in the foot by destroying the dam, since the topography of the place is such that it is the lower eastern side of the Dnieper in the Kherson region, which the Russians held, that are more affected by the flood. Second, the flood has washed away the mines and much of the fortifications Russians had painstakingly prepared to prevent a large-scale Ukrainian offensive. The Ukrainian forces would now get an open path, arguably, when the flood abates.
Third, it is a huge propaganda stunt for Kiev to drum-beat, with able help from western media, that Russians committed a war crime. Zelensky wrote on Facebook: “Russian terrorists. The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land. Not a single meter should be left to them, because they use every meter for terror. It’s only Ukraine’s victory that will return security. And this victory will come. The terrorists will not be able to stop Ukraine with water, missiles or anything else.”
This big psychological victory also coincides with the launch of Kiev’s expected “spring offensive.” Besides, Kiev is a big-time winner if the destruction of the Kakhovka dam affects the cooling system of the reactor(s) in the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (which would make it a first-rate European crisis) and/or imperil water supply for the Crimean peninsula (which could alienate Russian public opinion.) Equally, Kakhovka dam was a hydro-electric plant, and there could be power shortage in the Russian-held areas.
But the biggest “win-win” for Kiev will be that there is nothing stopping its future amphibious assaults in the strategic Kherson region once the water levels out, since Russia has already used the trump card of engineering floods from the Kakhovka dam to wash away the Ukrainian landing forces on the eastern bank of the Dnieper.
On the other hand, when it comes to Russia, the big question that begs an answer is: Why would it want to destroy the dam when it always had the easier option to create huge floods to drown the Ukrainian deployments by simply lifting the floodgates at any point?
In a rare statement of its kind, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu offered an explanation that after having suffered very heavy losses in the first 2-3 days of the ongoing Ukrainian offensive in the Donetsk direction, Kiev has an urgent need to “redeploy the units and hardware from Kherson direction to its offensive area” in the north and resorted to the terrorist act to flood the region “to prevent Russia’s offensive actions.”
It is a logical explanation but there is a contradiction insofar as by thinning out the deployment in the Kherson front, especially the positions inside the marshy islands in the Dnieper river where force multipliers like drone repeaters and relays were deployed, Ukrainian forces have placed themselves at a disadvantage, which the Russian side can always take advantage of once the flood subsides.
Clearly, Russia is the winner if it decides to cross the Dnieper in Kherson Oblast and liberate the historic Odessa region (and link up just beyond with the Russian troops isolated in Transnistria, Moldova), now that there is no more dam for the Ukrainian side to flood the region and impede the Russian march westward!
Second, it is a net gain that the floods have submerged all the ammunition depots the Ukrainians had been building up in Kherson for an offensive in the southern region. Third, the current floods prevent any amphibious assaults by Ukrainian forces, which enables the Russian military to take its eyes off Kherson front and concentrate instead on the northern front where the main thrust of the Ukrainian offensive seems to be developing.
Meanwhile, according to Russian media reports citing expert opinion:
- Mass evacuation of Novaya Kakhovka town due to the destruction of the dam will not be necessary, as the bulk of the population had left the city in the fall during the regrouping of troops from the Kherson direction;
- The water level is expected to drop to normal within 72 hours;
- The water level in the North Crimean Canal is not affected in any way, thanks to additional reservoirs that had been built during the 2014-2022 period when Kiev had imposed a “water blockade” on Crimea;
- Russian military had anticipated the present events in Kherson and had prepared layered defence fortifications behind which the troops are now positioning.
A Russian military expert, Col. Vitaly Kiselyov said on TV: “Our guys, our experts, foresaw the risk that not only Kakhovka reservoir but also the Kiev one and some others may be prone to blasts and sabotage… As regards changes to our defensive fortifications, yes, to some extent, they will have to be moved. But this is not critical. It is also not critical that the enemy may try to attack in this area.”
Incredible as it may seem, in a meticulous, insightful “post-mortem” of the Kakhovka dam breach, the well-known blogger Simplicius the Thinker offers a novel “natural theory, which is that the dam collapsed on its own.”
Here is a dam that already took so much battering from Ukrainian and Russian militaries through the past year and was in serious disrepair, with satellite photos in the days leading up to the breach already showing that it was leaking massively at the centre. Perhaps, the dam, which had seen glorious days in the Soviet era, couldn’t take it anymore. The breach actually “looks like a clean break.”
The unkindest cut of all is that Kiev, which controls several other dams upriver — such as a hydro plant in Zaporozhye city and in Dnipro city — also began playing with their water levels and filling up the Kakhovka reservoir, putting immense pressure on the 67-year old dam. That is to say, “the dam collapsed on its own rather than direct fire or explosives sabotage, but it was still pushed into collapsing by direct action from the Kiev regime.” Read the masterly analysis here.
On June 3, 2023, naval vessels from the United States and Canada conducted a joint military exercise in the South China Sea. A Chinese warship (LY 132) overtook the U.S. guided-missile destroyer (USS Chung-Hoon) and speeded across its path. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command released a statement saying that the Chinese ship “executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner.” The spokesperson from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, responded that the United States “made provocations first and China responded,” and that the “actions taken by the Chinese military are completely justified, lawful, safe, and professional.” This incident is one of many in these waters, where the United States conducts what it calls Freedom of Navigation (FON) exercises. These FON actions are given legitimacy by Article 87(1)(a) of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea. China is a signatory to the Convention, but the United States has refused to ratify it. U.S. warships use the FON argument without legal rights or any United Nations Security Council authorization. The U.S. Freedom of Navigation Program was set up in 1979, before the Convention and separate from it.
Hours after this encounter in the South China Sea, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. The Shangri-La Dialogue, which has taken place annually at the Shangri-La Hotel since 2002, brings together military chiefs from around Asia with guests from countries such as the United States. At a press gaggle, Austin was asked about the recent incident. He called upon the Chinese government “to reign in that kind of conduct because I think accidents can happen that could cause things to spiral out of control.” That the incident took place because a U.S. and Canadian military exercise took place adjacent to Chinese territorial waters did not evoke any comment from Austin. He emphasized the role of the United States to ensure that any country can “sail the seas and fly the skies in international space.”
Austin’s pretense of innocence was challenged by his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister Li Shangfu. “Why did all these incidents happen in areas near China,” Li asked, “not in areas near other countries?” “The best way to prevent this from happening is that military vessels and aircraft not come close to our waters and airspace… Watch out for your own territorial waters and airspace, then there will not be any problems.” Li contested the idea that the U.S. navy and air force are merely conducting FON exercises. “They are not here for innocent passage,” he said. “They are here for provocation.”
Tighten the Net
When Austin was not talking to the press, he was busy in Singapore strengthening U.S. military alliances whose purpose is to tighten the net around China. He held two important meetings, the first a U.S.-Japan-Australia trilateral meeting and the second a meeting that included their counterpart from the Philippines. After the trilateral meeting, the ministers released a sharp statement that used words (“destabilizing” and “coercive”) that raised the temperature against China. Bringing in the Philippines to this dialogue, the U.S. egged on new military cooperation among Canberra, Manila, and Tokyo. This builds on the Japan-Philippines military agreement signed in Tokyo in February 2023, which has Japan pledging funds to the Philippines and the latter allowing the Japanese military to conduct drills in its islands and waters. It also draws on the Australia-Japan military alliance signed in October 2022, which—while it does not mention China—is focused on the “free and open Indo-Pacific,” a U.S. military phrase that is often used in the context of the FON exercises in and near Chinese waters.
Over the course of the past two decades, the United States has built a series of military alliances against China. The earliest of these alliances is the Quad, set up in 2008 and then revived after a renewed interest from India, in November 2017. The four powers in the Quad are Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. In 2018, the United States military renamed its Pacific Command (set up in 1947) to Indo-Pacific Command and developed an Indo-Pacific Strategy, whose main focus was on China. One of the reasons to rename the process was to draw India into the structure being built by the United States, emphasizing the India-China tensions around the Line of Actual Control. The document shows how the U.S. has attempted to inflame all conflicts in the region—some small, others large—and put itself forward as the defender of all Asian powers against the “bullying of neighbors.” Finding solutions to these disagreements is not on the agenda. The emphasis of the Indo-Pacific Strategy is for the U.S. to force China to subordinate itself to a new global alliance against it.
During the press gaggle in Singapore, Austin suggested that the Chinese government “should be interested in freedom of navigation as well because without that, I mean, it would affect them.” China is a major commercial power, he said, and “if there are no laws, if there are no rules, things will break down for them very quickly as well.”
China’s Defense Minister Li was very clear that his government was open to a dialogue with the United States, and he worried as well about the “breakdown” of communications between the major powers. However, Li put forward an important precondition for the dialogue. “Mutual respect,” he said, “should be the foundation of our communications.” Up to now, there is little evidence—even less in Singapore despite Austin’s jovial attitude—of respect from the United States for the sovereignty of China. The language from Washington gets more and more acrid, even when it pretends to be sweet.
The Chinese fishing boat “Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028” tragically capsized at the central part of the Indian Ocean on May 16, with 39 Chinese, Indonesian and Filipino crew members on board missing. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy caused by force majeure. May the deceased rest in peace and the living remain strong!
After the accident happened, Chinese President Xi Jinping attached great importance and made important instructions for all-out rescue efforts. Relevant vessels and rescue ships of the Chinese Navy as well as nearby distant-water fishing boats rushed to the site. In the mean time, the Chinese side immediately contacted Sri Lanka, Australia, India, Maldives, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries for joint search and rescue. The massive operation has covered a total area of nearly 20,000 square nautical miles, covering the maximum possible drift region of people in distress. As we all know, Sri Lankan friends immediately sent a naval vessel and a diving team to the accident site, which was more than 800 nautical miles away.The Sri Lankan divers were the first to dive into the water and enter the hull at the risk of their lives. The Chinese government, the Chinese people and all the families of the crew members of the fishing boat will always remember this special friendship.
On behalf of the Chinese side, I wish to take this opportunity to express oursincere gratitude to President Ranil Wickremesinghe for his decisive and timely decision to provide full assistance; our sincere gratitude to Honorable Sagala Rathnayake for the great coordination thatbought valuable rescue time. I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks totheMinistry of Defense of Sri Lanka, the tri-forces, and all the officers and sailors of Sri Lanka Navy ship Vijayabahu P627 for immediately responding to the order and coming to their aid despite the long distance.
Specially, on behalf of the Chinese side, I would like to pay our most sincere appreciation and highest tribute to the nine brave divers. They are Lieutenant Commander S.A.I.A Subhasinghe, Petty Officer K.P.A. Arunajith, Petty Officer E.M.D.A. Ekanayaka, Petty Officer D.D.N. Jayathissa, Leading Seaman H.D. Darshana, Leading Seaman N.M.C.L. Narayana, Able Seaman W.W.N.C. Sandaruwan, Able Seaman I.D.L.M. Dissanayaka, and Able Seaman R.S. Kumarage.
Finally, I would like to thank all the countries and agencies involved in the search and rescue operation for their timely help. This is not only a joint action to fulfill international obligations, but also a glorious mission to demonstrate the spirit of international humanitarianism.
The ruthless sea only highlights the compassion of humanity.Through this search and rescue operation, we once again feel the fraternal friendship of the government, the people, and the military of Sri Lanka towards China. We also feel deeply that every country and nation belongs tothe global village where we share weal and woe. At a time when global risks and challenges keep emerging, solidarity and cooperation is the only right way forward. Let us join hands to build a community with a shared future for mankind!
Thank you! Sthoo thi! Nandri! 谢谢！
On June 6 in the early morning, the Ukrainian artillery had shelled the dam of the Kakhovka Hydro Power Plant, that resulted in destruction of the named dam and technological disaster. Before explosion, Kiev junta using the hydraulic structures on the upper banks of Dnieper, filled the Kakhovka water tank to the critical maximum to escalate the disaster as much as possible.The vast area of the Kherson and Zaporozhie regions of the Russian Federation, including the districts, occupied by Ukrainian forces, is situated in the zone of flooding.
Moreover, the same day Ukrainian tanks destroyed ammonia pipeline on the border of Kharkov oblast and Lugansk People’s Republic of Russia. The wind is blowing to Kupyansk and Kramatorsk.
The Kiev junta announced ‘counter-offensive’ according to the templates of its Anglo-Saxon sponsors is to start with a huge terror act, say destruction of a high-leveled hazardous technological units. In impotent malice unable to fight with the regular army Nazis do their favorite thing – terrorism. Even in the past Ukrainian terrorists announced aloud the plans to explode the named dam, and now we are witnessing the fulfilment of them. Nevertheless the most of water will pass in few days, the settlements will be polluted with silt and biomass starting to rot, and itmay lead to worsening of the sanitary situation in the region.
On October 21, 2022, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzia, sent a letter to the UN SG regarding the named plans. The regular Ukrainian shelling of this plant and the Zaporozhie NPP together with western ‘concern on the Russian actions’ seems to be a mockery of the United Nations and the people living in Europe. The American ‘bigwigs’ are sure that the situation in Europe, especially in its Eastern part, is so far from their shores, so they encourage these terror acts, like previously did it in the Middle East with ISIS and other terror movements. Their moto is ‘divide et empera’.
These actions by the Kiev Nazi regime also underlines the essence of the “owners of Bankovaya street” in their greedy temptation to earn as much as they can on the death of the people and country they are declaring their motherland. They created an ecological disaster and are worthy to be commemorated in history as Eco-Nazi Terrorists.
As for the Western approaches, Russia attacked its own gas pipelines, miracle of the present – Crimean bridge, its own Zaporozhia NPP and the Kremlin, residence of the head of the State, as well. These ugly propaganda allegations provoke laughter from any adequate person.
We urge the International Community to condemn crimes of the Kiev Nazi regime.
We have no doubt that we will defeat this absolute evil and liberate our people from the captivity of these duplicitous monsters. Long live our warriors who are on the edge of the battle with the evil! Eternal memory for all those who had fallen!
A statement issued by Russian Embassy in Colombo
A vision. Set to become a reality in 2041. That is what the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Ms Sheikh Hasina, has embarked upon after achieving the successful tag of Digital Bangladesh. It is not merely a slogan, but a significant decision taken by the country.
Smart Bangladesh is an initiative taken up by the government to transform the country into a technically advanced and sustainable society with a high-income, developed country and with a per capita GDP of 12,500 US dollars.
Critics say though the government’s goal of setting up ‘Smart Bangladesh’ is a bold decision; its implementation is not easy and will be a major challenge.
In this respect, education, digital progress, and the economy will be important factors in its run for development.
Speaking to the Sri Lanka Guardianfrom Dhaka, one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs, investors, investment bankers and philanthropists, Dr Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat, said,” Smart initiatives have been taken by the government on several sectors including banking, insurance sector, coal sector and infrastructure among other sectors.”
“The Padma Setu (bridge), metro-rail, highways, Chittagong tunnel, are many such initiatives that have been fulfilled by the government and with still 18 years to go, much more will be achieved,” he said.
“There has been a great growth in the 7.5 percent GDP growth and without Covid and the Ukraine-Russia war, it could have climbed to 8.5-9 percent,” he also said.
Bangladesh aims to make information and communication technologies (ICT) one of its main pillars of revenue-generating pillars of success by 2041. Estimates say the government is aiming for a $50 billion US dollars in the ICT sector with several successful start-ups.
Speaking exclusively to the Sri Lanka Guardian, the Bangladesh State Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Mr Zunaid Ahmed Palak, said, “Our journey to Digital Bangladesh has been enlightening and we have witnessed the transformational potential of digital technology in various sectors of our nation. We are now envisioning a future where our country stands as a beacon of digital innovation in South Asia.”
He also said, “Our primary objective is to ensure that every citizen, irrespective of their location or socio-economic status, can harness the power of digital technologies and contribute to the nation’s growth.”
Regarding the progress of the digital sector, the Minister said, “We are emphasizing on strengthening our digital infrastructure which is a core foundation of ‘Smart Bangladesh’, where high speed internet connectivity reaches every corner of the country. We have already extended the fibre optic network to the union level. Now, our next phase involves partnering with the private sector to connect even the most remote villages. Our goal is not merely connectivity but high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet for all Bangladeshi citizens, enabling seamless access to digital services.”
The government has also created an enabling environment for the growth of e-commerce, digital banking, and mobile health services. Bangladesh provides 16% of the globalonline workforce, making Bangladesh the second largest source ofthe digital workforce.
“We see the future of our digital sector as a vibrant ecosystem of start-ups, tech giants, and digitally empowered citizens all working in harmony towards a prosperous Bangladesh,” he said.
Speaking regarding the digital advancements made in the country,Dr Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat, said, “The country is moving towards a cashless society. Apart from the Internet of Things, mass usage on secure net connectivity will be done. As an entrepreneur, I can say that this is shaping the future of the country in a very good way and strategically, it will be a digitalised future with generations to come. We lay importance on new ideas and creativity that empowers people to start their own businesses with an innovative mindset and develop their ideas into actual business.”
To achieve digital prowess and all the other smart initiatives, education is key. There is still a gap between the academia and the industry, which is being minimised with time. So, how exactly is Bangladesh getting ready for this?
Speaking in an exclusive chat with the Sri Lanka Guardian, the Minister for Fisheries and Livestock of Bangladesh, Mr SM Rezaul Karim, said, “Bangladesh has traversed a long distance in economic development under the Prime Minister, Ms Sheikh Hasina, and education has certainly been a key. We are giving good education in technical, digital and agricultural level to the youngsters with a practical view. A time will soon come when there will be no need for any doctor, engineer or agricultural specialist from abroad.”
Speaking on the same issue, the Bangladesh State Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Mr Zunaid Ahmed Palak, said, “When we talk about ‘Smart Education’, we envision an education system that leverages digital technology to its fullest potential. We are planning to integrate cutting-edge EdTech in our classrooms, ranging from digital textbooks to advanced learning platforms that provide interactive and personalized learning experiences. Our initiatives also include teacher training programs, where educators are equipped with the knowledge and skills to integrate digital tools into their teaching methods effectively.”
“We understand the importance of developing digital literacy from an early age. So, we are looking to introduce basic coding and digital skills into the curriculum, helping our youth to be well-prepared for a future increasingly dependent on technology. We are also building the Sheikh Hasina Institute of Frontier Technologies (SHIFT), to support the youth, especially from the 6th to the 12th grade, in developing their 4IR knowledge and skills. We have also rolled out various initiatives, such as 35,000 Sheikh Russel Digital Labs across the county, 300 Schools of the Future, in every parliamentary district of Bangladesh. Our vision is to create a future where every student, irrespective of their location, has access to quality education that can equip them with the necessary skills for the 21st century,” he added.
Dr Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Canadian University of Bangladesh, said,” There is an aim of having private universities in all districts in the country, where there will be good education in less prices. Education is key to development as per the vision of the Prime Minister.”
As Bangladesh moves forward, it aims to intertwine the growth of digital and education sectors. By promoting digital literacy and using technology to enhance education, the government plans to create a future-ready generation of individuals that can drive the nation’s digital revolution.
India has done more for Sri Lanka than the IMF — S. Jaishankar, Union Minister for External Affairs–Indian Express.
China will stand for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, economic development — Visiting Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Sun Weidong, when he called on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena last week.
These two statements by representatives of the two Asian giants taken at face value–prima facie as lawyers say — should make our people joyful and relaxed but in terms of realpolitik, should it be so?
The statement of Jaishankar was followed by the Indian High Commission the next day that following a request by Sri Lanka, the State Bank of India had extended the tenure of USD 1 billion credit facility till next year.
Lankans should indeed thank India for their continuing support but a significant difference between the statements of the two powers we noticed was the Chinese government giving priority in their statement for support of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty,
Jaishankar’s statement as reported said: The Modi government is working on developing an extended neighbourhood that involves the islands in the Indian Ocean, Gulf countries, and nations in South-East Asia.
“What we are trying to do is for a bigger, influential and ambitious India. We are trying to expand what should be our neighbourhood. We look at what this extended neighbourhood should be. It could be islands in the Indian Ocean, nations in South East Asia and Central Asia or Gulf countries. The relationship with the UAE and Saudi Arabia has undergone an enormous transformation.”
From traditionally a much more constricted view of our neighbourhood, we have undertaken something much more ambitious, he had said in his speech at Anant’s National University in Delhi.
“If you are the biggest in the neighbourhood, then it is in our interest that our other neighbours have a share in our prosperity, happiness and are linked to us, he had declared in a burst of Indian altruism, not ever witnessed before Lanka’s financial debacle and “gone forward in a way, we ourselves have never done for Sri Lanka” and added that it “is bigger than what the IMF has done for Sri Lanka”.
Jaishankar is indeed correct. Although friendship with its neighbours was supposed to be the cornerstone of Indian foreign policy, commencing with Congress governments, despite Lanka faithfully following the tilted Non-Aligned policy of the Gandhis towards the Soviet Union, massive assistance on the scale given by the Modi government — or any significant assistance — did not come Lanka’s way.
Rajiv Gandhi’s intervention in Lanka and the Indo-Lanka Agreement which the then president J.R. Jayewardene had no option but to accept (Remember his plea: ‘What could I do with no foreign power lifting a finger to help me’) and with the Modi government still calling for its full implementation, any reference by New Delhi to Sri Lankan sovereignty will sound hollow.
Narendra Modi has visions of making India a world power and becoming a world leader and in these endeavours he is bound to suffer setbacks such as in the diplomatic rapprochement brought about recently between Saudi Arabia and Iran by Chinese diplomacy, which is what Jaishankar is talking about when he refers to the relationship with the “UAE having undergone an enormous transformation”.
But we in Lanka are not concerned with all that but only about the Modi government working on “developing an extended neighbourhood” that involves islands in the Indian Ocean, Gulf countries and nations in South-East Asia. How would this “extended neighbourhood” apply to South Asian countries like Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives which have had long-standing contentious relationships with their giant neighbour resulting in the paralysis of SAARC?
Sri Lankans while appreciating the munificence of the Modi government have noticed that some massive Indian investment projects involve Lanka’s national security concerns. They include the construction of seaports, the Trinco Oil Tank Farm, the use of the Trinco port itself, and energy projects in projects in the Palk Strait. Many agreements have been signed with India by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government when Basil Rajapaksa was the Finance Minister and also after the Ranil-Rajapaksa regime took office. These agreements have not been presented to parliament for ratification making some doubt, especially the trade unions, whether national security has been bartered away for loans which have to be repaid.
Narendra Modi is in an ebullient mood having won two consecutive general elections and going for a third term driving his juggernaut of Hindutva through the Indian electorate, singling out minorities particularly India’s Muslims, the second largest Muslim population in the world. Most Indian opposition parties despite their myriad differences in religion, race, and caste are attempting to form a united opposition to defeat him at the next parliamentary elections. He is defying democratic practices, traditions and even constitutional provisions at the cost to his fellow Indians and for fair and democratic judgments to be expected in his proposed “Extended neighbourhood” would be the height of optimism.
At a ceremony in New Delhi, on Sunday, Modi inaugurated a new parliament complex built at an estimated cost of $ 120 million and called it the ‘cradle of empowerment’ but the ceremony was boycotted by most opposition parties. He sidelined President Droupaadi Murmu who is the head of state and the highest constitutional authority and inaugurated the building himself.
It is an attempt to revamp the British colonial architecture including the former parliament building although some were of the view that the old parliament is more Indian than Modi’s creation.
Rahul Gandhi, the Indian Congress party leader was in the United States last week meeting Indian expatriates and American legislators accusing Modi’s BJP and RSS of attacking the constitution and attempting to divide the country on caste and religious lines ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit at the invitation of President Joe Biden.
What is so attractive about Narendra Modi to Western leaders like Joe Biden? Modi’s human rights record as the Chief Minister of Gujarat was condemned by the Western world. Is this real politics at play — Modi and the BJP being the biggest and the only countervailing force against the superpower, China?
The Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta carried a report on the eve of the China-Central Asia summit at Xi’an titled “China is changing the format of cooperation with Central Asia.” It anticipated that the six heads of state gathering in Xi’an on May 18-19 would be discussing the “creation of a new mechanism for cooperation in various fields and sign important political documents.”
The report recalled that the Xi’an summit ought to be viewed in the context of a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and the five heads of Central Asian States in Moscow on May 9 (Russia’s Victory Day.) The daily flagged the expert opinion that “a new ‘5+2’ axis is being formed (Central Asia plus China and Russia).” Evidently, although Putin was not present at the event in Xi’an, Russia’s interests have been taken into account.
The new “5 Plus 2 axis” being formed will have its own mechanisms and projections, which differ from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) or the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union community. The Xi’an summit considered the possibility of institutionalising the Central Asia-China format through a Secretariat “in order to comprehensively promote cooperation… and the functioning of the relevant mechanisms.” Of course, given the top-down decision making characteristic of the Central Asian states, the mechanism of the Consultative Meetings of the Heads of State of the China-Central Asia format (to be held in alternate years) will be a key factor in ensuring security, stability and sustainable development of the region.
It is entirely conceivable that at a time when the SCO has tended to become more and more “abstract” after the induction of India into the grouping, and began meandering aimlessly, it stands to reason that China and the Central Asian states and Russia felt the need to create more effective mechanisms and plans in their common space so as to impart a new quality of cooperation, and supplement the SCO if need arises.
An element of rivalry has crept into the SCO’s functioning. India, in particular, needs to do some soul-searching here. Certainly, this was not what China and Russia had in mind in 2005 when they put together the Shanghai Five in 2005 (which later morphed into the SCO.) Consensus in decision-making was adopted as a core principle in the SCO’s functioning but lately, a competitive spirit to settle scores stemming out of bilateral differences and disputes crept in. The SCO foreign ministers meeting in Delhi recently witnessed an acrimonious India-Pakistan standoff that vitiated the “Shanghai Spirit,” even as the Central Asian states and Russia and China mutely watched.
There is the tragic example of SAARC which suffered a similar trauma during the recent decade that eventually rendered it a comatose ready for burial. But Russia and China cannot afford such a tragic fate visiting the SCO. The US’ double containment strategy toward Russia and China and the NATO’s imminent expansion to Asia make it critically important that a cohesive, motivated and well-coordinated regional cooperation process is available in their common space in Inner Asia.
So far, Russia was engaged in strengthening political integration, while China systematically and powerfully interacted with the governments of Central Asian countries for the development of energy and infrastructure projects within the framework of a full-fledged economic expansion. That division of labour worked rather well, but then, the regional security environment changed dramatically of late.
For example, it has become vital for Moscow in the context of the rupture of Russia’s energy ties with Europe to divert its oil and gas exports to the Chinese market, and that requires Central Asian infrastructure in transit mode — a novel idea altogether. Suffice to say, a high level of harmonisation and synchronisation of the national plans of the Central Asian countries is needed. Currently, there are no agreed common strategies in the Central Asian region, which has a population of 75 million. The Belt and Road project does not adequately take into account the interests of Russia and the interface with the Eurasian Economic Union projects cannot provide a sufficient level of interaction either, due to systemic weaknesses.
To be sure, in the run-up to the Xi’an summit, the heads of Central Asian countries carefully prepared for the event and have presented a significant package of proposals. Thus, the construction work on the highly strategic China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway, which will connect Xinjiang and Central Asia with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran is now poised to begin after a delay of some 20 years due to a squabble over the measurement of the width of rail tracks!
Unsurprisingly, aside regional security, the issue of connectivity was the one topic that received the greatest attention at the Xi’an summit, which involves improving the transport infrastructure along the China–Central Asia and China–Europe routes through Central Asia, as well as increasing the capacity of border checkpoints, all of which aim to create conditions for increasing cargo and passenger traffic.
A positive factor is that Kazakhstan’s engagement with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is deepening. China and Kazakhstan are effectively implementing a list of 52 BRI investment projects with a total amount of more than $21 billion, covering transportation and logistics, industry and agriculture, energy, tourism and other fields. Two of the six BRI corridors pass through Kazakhstan connecting China respectively to Europe and to Iran and West Asia. These BRI corridors are important for most of the Central Asian economies for whom China offers the closest sea port. That in turn makes Kazakhstan a potential hub for accessing Central Asia.
The summit at Xi’an also noted the importance of launching the Kazakh-Chinese railway Ayaguz – Tacheng and called for the accelerated construction of the fourth line of the Turkmenistan–China gas pipeline. There are many kinds of mineral resources and large reserves in Tacheng area — coal, granite, gold, copper, iron ore and other mineral resources in the area where the railway under construction crosses.
On the sideline of the Xi’an summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping held meetings with each of the five leaders of the Central Asian region. On the eve of the summit in Xi’an, Chinese media called Central Asia the “gateway” for the Belt and Road project, which Xi had originally unveiled from Kazakhstan in 2013. There has been a great deal of scare mongering over Belt and Road by the US and India in the information sphere but that doesn’t seem to have affected the Central Asian states. It is symbolic that Beijing took the initiative to hold the first China-Central Asia Summit on the 10th anniversary of Belt and Road Initiative.
Equally, China hopes to link Pakistan and Afghanistan with the BRI infrastructure projects in Central Asia. As a first step, China and Pakistan recently agreed to extend the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan. This has been the main achievement of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-China ministerial held in Islamabad on May 5, a fortnight before the China-Central Asia Summit in Xi’an. Quite obviously, the momentum of the China-Central Asia format will not be optimal unless China also doubles down on its engagement with the Taliban government in Kabul.
STATUS UNEASE FELT BY CHINA AND THUCYDIDES TRAP
Rohan Mukherji of the London School of Economics and Political Science believes that he writes in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine (China’s status anxiety May 19 2023) of the possibility of China being singled out by the US as its preeminent enemy should not be wished away. He writes and I quote “When the balance of power in geopolitics begins to shift, rising and established powers often find themselves on a collision course known colloquially as the “Thucydides trap.” By this logic, great powers rig the international order for their own benefit; rising powers seek a growing share of those benefits, which great powers are unwilling to provide. This sets the stage for large-scale conflict over the international order itself”. Mukherji adds “The rise of Athens may have provoked fear in Sparta, but Athens’s refusal to back down was driven by status anxiety and the sense of being treated unfairly. It is true that great powers rig the international order in their favour. But their focus is as much on maintaining their privileged position as rule-makers in world politics as it is on securing material benefits. The purpose of the exclusive clubs that great powers have formed throughout history—such as the Concert of Europe, the League of Nations Executive Council, and the UN Security Council—has been to entrench their privileges while regulating the conduct of other states.”
UNTRUE THAT CHINA DOES NOT WANT A RULE-BASED WORLD
It would be untrue that China does not want a rule-based world. China as mentioned earlier wants to sit at the table that makes the rules for the rest of the world as any rising power would want. More so with the disappearance of Western hegemony and the appearance of multipolarity China and the non-aligned nations would like to have their say on how the world should be guided. Harvard Luminary Stephen Walt in his article ( China Wants a ‘Rules-Based International Order,’ Too– March 31 2021) pointed out the difference between the US and Chinese conception of a ‘rules-based” world.
STEPHEN WALT ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AMERICAN AND CHINESE PERCEPTION ON WORLD ORDER
According to Stephen Walt, “The differences between the American and Chinese conceptions are relatively straightforward. The United States (generally) prefers a multilateral system (albeit one with special privileges for some states, especially itself) that is at least somewhat mindful of individual rights and certain core liberal values (democratic rule, individual freedom, rule of law, market-based economies, and so on). ..By contrast, China favours a more Westphalian conception of order, one where state sovereignty and noninterference are paramount and liberal notions of individual rights are downplayed if not entirely dismissed. This vision is no less “rules-based” than the United States. China is also a vocal defender of multilateralism, even if its actual behaviour sometimes violates existing multilateral norms. Nonetheless, a world in which China’s preferences prevailed would be different from one in which the U.S. vision proved to be more influential.”
US ATTEMPT TO SIDELINE RUSSIAN SECURITY CONCERNS
In our calculus, we seemed to have missed out on the most immediate global incendiary issue of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However much the US may wish to ignore Vladimir Putin’s repeated requests that Ukraine should not join either the Western bloc or the Russian side, an arrangement that would not affect Russian security interests, it would be unwise to forget that Russia remains a nuclear power and the world and that Russia too, does not want the extermination of humanity.
HENRY KISSINGER WARNED THAT THE WORLD IS ON THE PATH TO GREAT POWER CONFRONTATION
In a long conversation with the British magazine The Economist in April 2023 Henry Kissinger felt that the world is on the path to great power confrontation. And what makes it more worrisome is that both sides have convinced themselves that the other represents a strategic danger. And it is a strategic danger in a world in which the decisions of each can determine the likelihood of conflict. And in such a situation it is natural to attempt to be preeminent, technologically and materially. So a situation can arise in which an issue escalates into a confrontation about the overall relationship. That is the biggest problem, at the moment. And, when there isan issue like Taiwan, in which concessions become very difficult because it involves fundamental principles, the situation becomes even more dangerous. It is believed that US government officials have a dim view of the Chinese desire for a fruitful relationship with Washington. The people loyal to XI-JINPING who crowd the different arms of the Chinese Communist Party are there not for their expertise but for their unquestionable loyalty to the leader. They do not resemble as reminisced by Henry Kissinger in one of his meetings with Mao Tse Tung. According to Kissinger’s remembrance Mao Tse Tung on one occasion called back from the cold several high-ranking military officials whose families he had destroyed and asked for their advice on a particular issue and took their advice to get out of that particular jam. This was possible Kissinger thought because of the Chinese social norms which put loyalty to the country above vengeance. Those military officials had nothing more to lose had they chosen the path of disloyalty. These days Sino-Russian entente has ‘no limits” and Vladimir Putin and Xi-Jinping are determined to prove to the developing countries that their system is better suited to deliver goods to the needy more quickly than the developed countries who accuse China “unfairly” of debt trap though the case of Sri Lanka and refusal of Mahathir Mohammed of Chinese loan remain as examples for the world to see. As Stephen Walt perceives the issue is not the United States’ preference for a “rules-based” order and China’s alleged lack of interest in it; rather, the issue is who will determine which rules pertain where. Or as the Rand Corp.’s Michael Mazarr recently put it, “At its core, the United States and China are competing to shape the foundational global system—the essential ideas, habits, and expectations that govern international politics. It is ultimately a competition of norms, narratives, and legitimacy.”
RUSIA-CHINA SIGNING ECONOMIC DEALS
DEUTSCHE WELLE reports (25-05-2023) on Russia, and China signing economic deals despite Western criticism. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visited China where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as Premier Li Qiang. Xi-Jinping told the Russian Prime Minister that China and Russia would continue to offer each other “firm support on issues concerning each other’s core interests and strengthen collaboration in multilateral arenas.”He added that the two countries should “push cooperation in various fields to a higher level” and “raise the level of economic, trade, and investment cooperation.”Mikhail Mishustin said that “relations between Russia and China are at an unprecedented high level.””They are characterized by mutual respect of each other’s interests, the desire to jointly respond to challenges, which is associated with increased turbulence in the international arena and the pattern of sensational pressure from the collective West.”
RUSIA-CHINA DETERMINED TO BLOCK WESTERN SUZERAINTY ETCHED AT YALTA CONFERENCE
It is clear that China and Russia is not going to let the Western world get away with the system the bloc had put in place since the Yalta Conference which had gathered there to decide on the fate of post-war Germany. President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin attended the conference. By March 1945, it had become clear that Stalin had no intention of keeping his promises regarding political freedom in Poland. Instead, Soviet troops helped squash any opposition to the provisional government based in Lublin, Poland. When elections were finally held in 1947, they predictably solidified Poland as one of the first Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe. President Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, was far more suspicious of Stalin when the leaders of the Allied powers met again at the Potsdam Conference in Germany to hash out the final terms for ending World War II in Europe. But with his troops occupying much of Germany and Eastern Europe, Joseph Stalin was able to effectively ratify the concessions he won at Yalta, pressing his advantage over Truman and Churchill who was replaced mid-conference by Prime Minister Clement Atlee.In March 1946, barely a year after the Yalta Conference, Churchill delivered his famous speech declaring that an “iron curtain” had fallen across Eastern Europe, signaling a definitive end to cooperation between the Soviet Union and its Western allies, and the beginning of the Cold War.
CHINA’S CIVIL WAR FROM 1945-1949 AND THE SECOND JAPANESE WAR 1937-45
When all these things were happening China was engaged in a civil war that raged from 1945 to 1949. Then there was the Second Japanese War(1937–45), China was effectively divided into three regions—Nationalist China under the control of the government, Communist China, and the areas occupied by Japan. Each was essentially pitted against the other two, although Chinese military forces were ostensibly allied under the banner of the United Front. By the time Japan accepted the surrender terms of the Potsdam Declaration on August 14, 1945, China had endured decades of Japanese occupation and eight years of brutal warfare. Millions had perished in combat, and many millions more had died as a result of starvation or disease. The end of World War did not mark the end of the conflict in China, however.
US BELIEF OF CHINA AS ITS PREEMINENT ENEMY
This brief tour of history was necessary to highlight the rise of China and the ties that bind today the Sino-Russian friendship under Vladimir Putin and Xi-Jinping and their demonstration of the superiority of an illiberal regime versus democracy preached by the wealthy nations and its attraction to the third world countries. Whether in this conflict with the US believed to be sideling Russia and making China the preeminent enemy will continue to pursue its policy contributing to China’s unease remains to be seen. It would be foolhardy to believe that just because some countries possess nuclear weapons, they have the right to exterminate humanity as it exists today
On 27 May this year, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Diplomat Extraordinaire and former Secretary of State, known to be the most knowledgeable living expert on foreign relations, turns 100. He is known for his strategic wisdom and penetrating perspicacity, and his sage advice to leaders across the world over the past several decades has been chronicled in journalistic tomes around the world. Additionally, Dr. Kissinger’s book Diplomacy has acted as a beacon to the world of contentious international relations. At his age he is preparing his next two books – on artificial intelligence (ai) and the nature of alliances. Although his voice has slowed down, he remains as bright as a tick.
The latest issue of The Economist carries an excellent article on Dr. Kissinger on the subject of how to avoid a third world war. The Economist reports: “ Mr Kissinger is alarmed by China’s and America’s intensifying competition for technological and economic pre-eminence. Even as Russia tumbles into China’s orbit and war overshadows Europe’s eastern flank, he fears that AI is about to supercharge the Sino-American rivalry. Around the world, the balance of power and the technological basis of warfare are shifting so fast and in so many ways that countries lack any settled principle on which they can establish order. If they cannot find one, they may resort to force. “We’re in the classic pre-world war one situation,” he says, “where neither side has much margin of political concession and in which any disturbance of the equilibrium can lead to catastrophic consequences.”
Dr. Kissinger attempts to clarify perceived inadequacies of analyses of some academics and pundits who posit that China is intent on world domination and says: “They say China wants world domination…The answer is that they [in China] want to be powerful,” he says. “They’re not heading for world domination in a Hitlerian sense,” he says. “That is not how they think or have ever thought of world order.” To end the quotations from The Economist I must add “Mr Kissinger sees the Chinese system as more Confucian than Marxist. That teaches Chinese leaders to attain the maximum strength of which their country is capable and to seek to be respected for their accomplishments. Chinese leaders want to be recognised as the international system’s final judges of their own interests. “If they achieved superiority that can genuinely be used, would they drive it to the point of imposing Chinese culture?” he asks. “I don’t know. My instinct is No…[But] I believe it is in our capacity to prevent that situation from arising by a combination of diplomacy and force.”
Geopolitics in the context of the world powers is polarized and convoluted at best. China believes that the United States wants to put it down and The United States goes on the basis that China wishes to dominate the world and obviate the global influence of The United States. At the other end of the spectrum lies Russia and its invasion of Ukraine where Russia claims that NATO expansion to the East threatens Russia’s interests and that nothing is off the table, implying the possibility of tactical nuclear attacks which will in all probability escalate into a full-scale war. To this melting pot are vast technological strides including information technology which act as catalysts to a US-China confrontation and represent, in Dr. Kissinger’s words a “pre-world war situation”. The world is rife with politics without policy where in the Far East the issue of Taiwan looms, and in the West, the issue of how to reach a solution to the war in Ukraine is getting cloudier by the day.
The first step could be to start with Cicero’s ancient aphorism Inter arma enim silent leges – a maxim, which translates as “In times of war, the laws are silent”. In the 21st century, this maxim, which was purported to address the growing mob violence and thuggery of Cicero’s time, has taken on a different and more complex dimension, extending from the idealistic synergy between a rules-based international order and its adherence to established law in instances of confrontation to the overall power, called “prerogative” or “discretion” of sovereign States to violate established principles enunciated in the United Nations Charter.
The enduring conflict between misguided strategy, impulsive diplomacy and the rule of law is at the heart of this maxim. In modern usage it has become a watchword for the erosion of civil liberties during internal and external strife. The implication of Cicero’s aphorism is that civil liberties and freedoms are subservient to a nation’s integrity and sovereign right.
What seems to be required now is what Dr. Kissinger calls “hard diplomacy” coupled with coercive hard power that would likely obviate mutual destruction. In this context a hard look at history is essential, garnished with a strong dollop of collective leadership between a somewhat hapless but well meaning United Nations, a determined NATO and the countries concerned. The history of mankind has proved that it is part of human nature to learn from past experience. That having been said, we have also acted with foresight in situations where we could not build on past experience. When we look at the history of international relations, we see that we have acted with foresight, as a result of which we have brought about major changes to the international legal system by reacting to past disasters.
The United Nations was built on the failure of the League of Nations which was set up as a reaction to World War 1. The failure of the League of Nations was that its Covenant, although intended to prevent the recurrence of atrocities of 1914, failed to outlaw war but merely provided procedures for the peaceful settlement of disputes. Creators of the United Nations learnt from this mistake and wrote into the Charter of the UN the principle of collective security. The UN Security Council, on behalf of the entirety of UN member States, was empowered by the Charter to take decisive action against delinquents. However, this has never worked in practice when it was most needed. For example, the Security Council was literally impotent during the height of the Cold War. The Security Council has not taken or enforced military action against delinquent States nor has it received military assistance from member States to implement the powers ascribed to the Security Council by the UN Charter. The reactions of the Security Council have allegedly been sporadic and reactive, authorizing member States to take action on its behalf, which has prompted one commentator to say that the Council has not acted or functioned as a constitutional framework for a peaceful world but rather as a fire department reacting to emergencies as they rise.
Common ground must be discussed with an aim at compromise. At the heart of the goal must not be the triumph of hard power but the preservation of the principles of the United Nations Charter. Perhaps a new world order is needed, and we need giants such as Dr. Kissinger to live on and help us achieve it.
Many years ago I made a trip to New York to pitch publishers on a book about a murder case in South Vietnam involving the Green Berets and the CIA in Cambodia.
At one of my stops, a young assistant editor gushed, “I love your proposal! But there’s one thing in the story I don’t understand: How could we bomb Cambodia ‘in secret?’”
Well, I thought, that’s a stupid question: The Pentagon Papers, leaked decades earlier, had detailed all sorts of secret raids on North Vietnam. But the young person’s question, intentionally or not, dug at something more complex: How was it that both Cambodian ruler Prince Sihanouk and Hanoi, whose troops in Cambodia were the target of American B-52s, also saw reason to stay quiet about the devastating carpet bombing? I ended up devoting considerable space to the issue in my book, even though it provided only an introductory context to the case I was recounting, about the Green Berets’ murder of one of their own spies in Cambodia.
The 1969 covert bombing of Cambodia was the brainchild of Henry Kissinger and his padrón, Richard Nixon, both devotées of the dark arts. They knew that North Vietnam would not protest because it would require it to admit it had troops in Cambodia. Likewise, Sihanouk would stay mum because he’d allowed them to gather there.
Sounds clever until the butcher’s bill is added up. The bombing of Cambodia would not shorten the Vietnam War, but expand it, killing an estimated 150,000 civilians over four years, fueling the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge, toppling the Sihanouk regime and eventually prompting a North Vietnamese invasion that solidified communist control of Indochina.
Had Kissinger been more properly labeled a case officer than diplomat, his risk-versus-take record in this and other arenas would score him a walking disaster, no matter his heralded diplomatic skills in regard to China and Russia. At heart, he was a ruthless, amoral operator, no different in effect than his predecessors in the White House and CIA who engineered coup d’etats and assassination plots from Guatemala to Cuba, to the Congo and beyond.
Take Chile: In the autumn of 1970, “Kissinger supervised covert operations—codenamed FUBELT—to foment a military coup that led directly to the assassination of Chile’s commander-in-chief of the Army, General René Schneider,” according to CIA documents unearthed by the privately run National Security Archive. It flopped. After the socialist Salvador Allende was inaugurated, “Kissinger personally convinced Nixon … to authorize a clandestine intervention” to create the conditions for Allende’s overthrow. It succeeded on September 11, 1973, when a coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet ousted and killed Allende, but the widely suspected U.S. hand in the events further damaged U.S. standing in the world, handed Moscow and Beijing propaganda windfalls and hardened the determination of liberation movements from South Africa to El Salvador.
At home, revelations of Kissinger’s demand that the FBI illegally wiretap his own aides in a search for leakers—operating as his own counterintelligence agent—further despoiled him and the Nixon administration.
Abroad, his “realist” approach to backing despots over reformers led to setbacks and bloodbaths, from Cambodia to East Timor, East Pakistan to Iran, Egypt to Argentina, to the whole of Central America and onto the streets of Washington, D.C. itself, where Chile’s secret police brazenly assassinated a prominent opponent in exile, Orlando Letelier.
Some record that is. JFK fired Allen Dulles for far less. Yet Kissinger, the operator, is still with us, a “towering” figure in a crumbling Washington establishment that abides by his cynicism and relishes his bon mots. On Tuesday he turned 100, but his legacy remains very alive in the secret raids and drone strikes carried out by the U.S. from Syria to Somalia, Kabul and far beyond, unconstrained by a timorous Congress.
“You can trace a line from the bombing of Cambodia to the present,” Greg Grandin, author of Kissinger’s Shadow, recently told journalist Nick Turse, who’s carried out numerous investigations of Indochina atrocities. “The covert justifications for illegally bombing Cambodia became the framework for the justifications of drone strikes and forever war…”
All this gave me reason today to revisit my 1992 book, A Murder in Wartime. Its underlying theme was the thuggery that had infiltrated the minds of the men conducting the long war and turned U.S. troops into natural born killers. You can do that to a man with enough time, brutality and weapons. But it starts at the top.
God forbid that Henry Kissinger find a final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery. He deserves no rest at all.