The Ukraine Safari

I don’t usually write about cultural products from my own country, but I must make an exception for Slovenian filmmaker Miran Zupanič’s new documentary Sarajevo Safari, which details one of the most bizarre and pathological episodes of the 1992-96 siege


Degeneracy of New Right

A recent crisis in northern Kosovo came and went quickly, because nobody wanted an escalation. But it will return, because Russia is maneuvering in the Balkan shadows to stoke the tensions that gave rise to it. The mundane origin of the crisis shows how easily a spark can be fanned into a conflagration.

The Kosovo government had announced a measure requiring Serbs living in northern Kosovo to apply for local license plates, replacing their Serbian plates. But Serbs staged protests (with reports of gunfire) and road blockades at two border crossings, pushing Kosovo authorities to delay the measure for a month while they discuss next steps.

Serbia has long had a similar rule for Kosovar license-plate holders on its territory, and Kosovo was merely trying to apply the same standard. The problem, of course, is that Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo as an independent state, even though the United States and around 100 other countries do.

This would be a purely local story were it not implicated in the geopolitical dynamic triggered by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. But as Vladimir Đukanović, an MP from the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, channeling Russia’s rationale for invading Ukraine, recently mused, “Serbia might be forced to engage in the ‘denazification’ of the Balkans.” Even the expression “forced to engage” echoes the Kremlin’s farcical line about being provoked by NATO aggression to invade Ukraine.

Moreover, Đukanović’s reference to “the Balkans” follows the same logic as the Russian line, which implies that all of Europe, caught in the vortex of self-destructive degeneracy (LGBTQ+, same-sex marriage, no clear gender distinctions, and so forth), ultimately will have to be “denazified.” As Aleksandr Dugin, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s court philosopher, explains, “We are fighting the absolute evil, embodied in Western civilization, its liberal-totalitarian hegemony, in Ukrainian Nazism…”

According to this new conservativism, Nazism, Communism, and woke hedonism all amount to the same thing. But this corralling of opposites really is too much even for a hardline Hegelian. It reveals the glaring inconsistency not just of Kremlin propagandists but also of the pro-Russian US and European alt-right, which claim to embody traditional Christian values even as their words and actions countenance genocide and glorify sexual violence.

As a leading player in this culture war, the Kremlin has been intervening through its proxies not only in Kosovo but also in Bosnia, which it has warned against NATO membership. Unfortunately, the Western leftists and pacifists have chosen simply to ignore the geopolitical dimension of Putin’s “denazification” project. As Jeremy Corbyn, the former British Labour Party leader, recently complained, “Pouring arms in [to Ukraine] isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war. We might be in for years and years of a war in Ukraine.”

Implicit in this position is that Western governments should simply let Russia occupy Ukraine. Yet it is an odd “pacifism” that applies pressure on the victim (which must not defend itself too vigorously) and its supporters (which must not help the aggressor’s target too much), rather than on the attacker.

Western “pacifists” insist that we “de-demonize” Putin. There will have to be some kind of negotiation sooner or later, so we should treat him as a future partner. In fact, we should do the exact opposite: the attack on Ukraine compels us to re-demonize Putin, not personally but as an exponent of a dangerous geopolitical and ideological project.

There is mounting evidence that Russia is changing into something that is radically foreign to denizens of today’s Western democracies, but all too familiar to students of European history. Consider the Russian Liberal Democratic Party’s recent proposal to replace the term “president” with “pravitel” (“ruler”). The former, according to the party, has “always embarrassed us,” because it was first used in the US, spreading to the rest of the world only “much later.”

While the new right’s main ideological target is Western “degeneracy,” its fascination with strongman rule is permeated with obscenity. In a recent campaign appearance, Kari Lake, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, gushed that her fellow Republicans Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have “big dick energy.”

This is a necessary, rather than contingent, feature of the new right’s defense of Christianity. To attract enough followers, its leaders must provide the surplus enjoyment (“the pure surplus of enjoyment over standard satisfactions”) of the obscene. An ideology that allows its adherents to act on their worst impulses can mobilize millions.

To take another example, is Russia’s “peacemaking military intervention” in Ukraine not like the “legitimate rape” that US Representative Todd Akin, then the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, defined in 2012? According to Akin, abortion should be banned outright, because if a woman suffers “legitimate rape,” her body will somehow know not to get pregnant.

Facing outrage at the remark, Akin claimed that he had “misspoken.” What he meant was that there are “legitimate cases of rape” that police refer to “when they’re doing an investigation or whatever.” But his basic message remained: if a woman gets pregnant from rape, she must have secretly wanted it, because otherwise her body’s “stress” response would have prevented it.

It is telling that Putin has referred to Ukraine in the same way. At a press conference on February 7, he mocked the Ukraine government’s objections to the Minsk agreements, adding, “Like it or not, it’s your duty, my beauty.” The sexual connotations of that line are well known for Russians and Ukrainians from “Sleeping Beauty in a Coffin,” by the Soviet-era punk rock group Red Mold: “Sleeping beauty in a coffin, I crept up and fucked her. Like it, or dislike it, sleep my beauty.”

The implication is that the rape of a country sometimes is justified. The victim was asking for it. As with rape, what motivates the New Right is not love, but domination.

Copyright © Project Syndicate

Cost of China’s Miscalculation


Signals from China clearly indicate that the Chinese government has evolved a strategy and action plan, to be partly implemented in medium term and the rest to be implemented in long term and emerge as the most dominant country in the world.  Obviously, its aim is to emerge as the sole superpower in the world, effectively dislodging the USA from the present superpower status and significantly reducing the influence of Russia and the European Union in the world.

One cannot but miss the fact that China’s methodology for implementing its strategies have two approaches. One approach is to economically bring several underdeveloped and developing countries under its heels. The additional approach is to use its military force to invade the territories in the nearby regions to expand its territorial base

Territorial expansion plans under execution:

China occupied Tibet using its military force several decades back and China’s aggression was not challenged effectively by any country. This Tibet aggression gave confidence to China that there would not be any strong opposition to China’s aggressive military acts, so long as China would remain economically strong with a strong industrial and agricultural base.

When the United Kingdom meekly gave away Hong Kong to China, much against the wishes of the Hong Kong citizens, China’s confidence about achieving its territorial ambition increased multifold.

After the 1962 war with India, China is occupying thousands of kilometres of Indian territory and also is claiming Arunachal Pradesh province in India as its own. The fact that India is not talking anymore about recovering the thousands of kilometres of Indian territory occupied by China, has emboldened China more in implementing its territorial adventures.

Apart from China’s claim on Senkaku islands and the South China Sea where China has already established a military base without being challenged, China’s immediate target is to occupy Taiwan.

China is now ramping up its military, diplomatic and economic coercion of Taiwan. The Chinese military has staged air and sea exercises in the Taiwan Strait, without being challenged.  China entering and occupying Taiwan may soon happen and in all likelihood, the USA and West European countries may react to the situation only verbally and not wanting to risk war with China. This is what China really expects to happen.

Economic domination plans of weak countries under execution:

Since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, China’s total engagement in different countries is around $ 932 billion in construction contracts and the rest in other investments.

This year, China has signed BRI documents with 149 countries with an investment volume of over 1 trillion Yuan ( $ 147 billion), flagging the China –Laos railway, bridge in Serbia and Gwadar port as landmark projects that had been well implemented.

In the first half of 2022, China’s engagement through financial investments and contracts in 147 countries amounted to $ 28.3 billion, up by 47% from the previous year.  Of this, $ 11.8 billion was through investments and $16.5 billion through project contracts.

China’s short and medium-term assistance to countries, that are underdeveloped with weak economies and some of which are reeling with rising debt levels, is increasing.

The aim of BRI is clearly to bring down a large number of underdeveloped countries in China’s economic control and these countries together are located in a major part of world territory.  The clear trends of BRI are to ensure a growing role for Chinese state-owned enterprises and control the industrial and economic base of these countries, which are made to become debt-ridden to China.

In the past five years, China gave nearly $26 billion in short and medium-term loans to Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  With Economic Corridor Project and with a huge debt to China, Pakistan is now clearly under China’s control.  In the same way, by handing over the Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease by debt-ridden Sri Lanka, China is now firmly present in Sri Lanka and the ongoing visit of China’s dual-purpose research or spy ship Yuan Wang 5 docking at Hambantota Port clearly indicate that China would assert itself in dealing with the debt-ridden countries like Sri Lanka, in spite of Sri Lanka’s initial reluctance to permit it.

China’s miscalculation:

China seems to be under the impression that by economic domination and making the weak countries debt-ridden to China and ensuring that China will have a firm and inevitable place in the economic and industrial sphere of a large number of underdeveloped or developing countries, China would emerge as an economic superpower, with no other country matching it.

Further, by occupying the territory of nearby countries and regions using military force and with other countries such as the USA and European Union unwilling to risk a large-scale war with China, China would bring a large region under its control. The ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine and the unwillingness of USA and NATO countries to engage in a war with Russia to defend Ukraine clearly reassure China that its aggressive stance will not be met by an equally aggressive stance by the USA and European Union.

The question is whether China’s strategies would work in the way that China expects.

A few centuries back, countries like Britain, Belgium, France, and Portugal brought several countries in the world under their control by initially entering the countries as traders and in course of time becoming the rulers of these countries. Such strategies worked well at that time since most of these occupied regions were poor with little literacy and education amongst the people and under the rule of local chieftains.

However, at the present time, such conditions in many underdeveloped countries do not exist due to the spread of communication and people becoming aware of their rights and having an intense love for freedom.

While China can economically and militarily control the targeted countries, it cannot manage the protest from the local people who would not relish dominance by another country.  China is already seeing such conditions in Pakistan and a few African countries and it is said that China is now considering proposals to send its military to these countries to protect the interest of the Chinese people and Chinese investment.

Massive protests from the local people in countries, occupied by China economically or with military force, against China’s control, will force China to take several steps backwards.

Will become costly for China:

Today, China has a number of countries which are totally opposed to China or deeply suspicious about its objectives and aims of China.

China is now claiming the territories of Taiwan, and India and is already occupying Tibet. China is also challenging the claims of Japan in the Senkaku islands and that of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and a few other countries in the South China Sea.

China is increasingly creating an impression around the world that it believes in force and coercion to achieve its ends and often uses crude methods unbecoming of a developed country.

The internal situation in China also has a lot of issues such as human rights violations by China with regard to the Uyghur community where several thousands of Uyghurs are said to be under detention.  In Hong Kong, China is really controlling the region by using force against the protesters, The Tiananmen Square massacre is an indication of the state of things in China due to a totalitarian regime.

As the world is realising that China’s words and actions are deeply destabilizing, there is bound to emerge a scenario where protests by people in different countries that are sought to be occupied by China, would become too hot for China to handle.

With a totalitarian Chinese government in power in China and with people’s protests in a few countries opposing China’s domination and its military stretched out in defending territories occupied by China, it is likely that China will pay a big price for its miscalculation in the coming years.  Certainly, China will not have the last laugh.

Clumsy lies


Recently, Sri Lanka has experienced political turmoil and a change of government due to its domestic economic crisis. The so-called China “debt trap” narrative has emerged once again, becoming the focus of some US and western politicians and media. This is not a new topic. In recent years, they have been maliciously building a discourse system of “China’s debt trap theory”, which has also become the basis for endlessly slandering China and smearing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In fact, these statements are highly politicized and completely untenable, and they also seriously mislead the perception of the international community.

As we all know, the current crisis in Sri Lanka is mainly caused by the global economic and security crisis. It is also closely related to its small-sized economy, insufficient foreign exchange reserves, long-term debt accumulation and unbalanced domestic policies, and it is not directly related to China-funded infrastructure investment. For historical reasons, Sri Lanka has long relied on external borrowing bail and pursued a “double deficit” model, with a long-standing debt problem.

From 1965 to 2016, Sri Lanka has reached 15 loan agreements with the International Monetary Fund, and the ratio of foreign debt to GDP is more than 50 percent all the year round, which is a high debt country. Tourism is originally the mainstay of Sri Lanka to earn foreign exchange, accounting for 12 percent of its GDP. But with the impact of the COVID-19, the number of visitors to Sri Lanka has plunged from 2.3 million in 2018 to 510,000 in 2020. At the same time, the United States has long implemented a quantitative easing policy. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve, in order to maintain the hegemony of the US dollar, has first printed a large amount of money, and then continuously raised interest rates, resulting in the accelerated appreciation of the US dollar which has had a serious impact on the global economy and financial markets. Rising global energy and food prices caused by the conflict have also affected Sri Lanka, shrinking its previously insufficient foreign exchange reserves, falling to $1.854 billion in June 2022.

For Sri Lanka, China is only its fourth-largest creditor. According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in 2021, in terms of total external debt, 54 percent of its external loans come from the international capital markets, with China ranking behind the international financial markets, the Asian Development Bank and Japan, and its debt to China accounts for only about 10% of Sri Lanka’s total US dollar external debt. Fact speaks louder than eloquence. Japan has been the largest source of foreign debt for many years, so why doesn’t Western public opinion advertise that Sri Lanka has fallen into Japan’s “debt trap”? In the final analysis, they always see China with “tinted glasses”.

Some Sri Lankan scholars have said, “In the past, even if Sri Lanka sinks into the Indian Ocean, the United States would not care. “But now Sri Lanka is at the focus of Washington’s foreign policy because of the BRI. Since the advent of the BRI, some Western politicians and media have accused China of luring poor countries into accepting one loan after another, to build infrastructure they cannot afford and making little profit, falsely claiming that Beijing’s ultimate goal is to take control of property from struggling borrowers. By their logic, the BRI is not only pursuing geopolitical influence, but also an invisible weapon. Once a country is crushed by Chinese loans, it becomes a puppet of China.

How absurd! If they wish to incriminate China, they will meet no difficulty in finding a pretext. Take Hambantota Port as example. In 2018, former US Vice President Mike Pence publicly called it evidence of “debt diplomacy.” In terms of common sense, the trap means that one side intentionally sets it up for the other side, but in the whole development process of Hambantota Port, China has always upheld the principle of equality and mutual benefit, and the initiative has always been in the hands of Sri Lanka itself.

In 2005, the Sri Lankan government proposed a national development strategy of “two wings and one belt”, hoping to build it into another major commercial and shipping center besides the capital Colombo. The Sri Lankan government first approached the United States and India due to the lack of funds, but both countries refused, so it turned to China. For the sake of long term friendship and helping its development, China finally agreed to lend it to help with its construction and development. However, western public opinion deliberately claims that China is “taking the long line and catching the big fish”, which is completely ignoring the facts. Over the years, even though the Sri Lankan government, academia and local media have refuted the rumor, anti-China factions in the US and the West have always pretended not to hear it.

Sri Lanka’s debt structure is very fragile. All the time, China has provided mostly preferential loans, with low interest rates and long maturities, which have played a positive role in the improvement of infrastructure and people’s livelihood.

This year, after the Sri Lankan government announced the suspension of foreign debt repayment, Chinese financial institutions immediately took the initiative to negotiate with Sri Lanka to show a positive attitude on properly handling maturing China-related debt and helping Sri Lanka cope with the current difficulties. China also provided emergency humanitarian assistance in a timely manner, promised to continue to provide support within its capacity to help Sri Lanka achieve economic recovery and improve people’s livelihood.

It is widely believed that what is happening in Sri Lanka could be an ominous preview of what is coming in other low-and middle-income countries, as soaring inflation, high debt, excess currency issuance and shrinking currency reserves are the challenges that almost all emerging economies are facing. Debt risks are continuing to rise globally.

Faced with crisis and the reality, Washington should ask itself, what exactly has the US done for a developing country like Sri Lanka? How much harm has the unilateral economic and financial policies done to countries around the world? It is hoped that the US can sincerely help Sri Lanka cope with the current difficulties, ease its debt burden and achieve sustainable development, and will not use every opportunity to smear China and engage in geopolitical games without a bottom line.

The writer is a regular columnist for the Global Times, a Beijing-based daily. Views are personal

Why Lithium Power Politics Are Playing Out Very Differently in Chile and Bolivia


In late July, a large sinkhole appeared near the town of Tierra Amarilla in Chile’s Copiapó province in the Atacama salt flat. The crater, which has a diameter of more than 100 feet, emerged in one of Chile’s most lucrative regions for copper and lithium extraction. The nearby Candelaria mining complex—80 percent of the property is owned by Canada’s Lundin Mining Corporation and 20 percent is owned by Japan’s Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd. and Sumitomo Corporation—had to halt its operations in the area. On August 1, Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin) tweeted that it had assembled a team to investigate the sinkhole that appeared less than 2,000 feet away from human habitation. The mayor of Tierra Amarilla, Cristóbal Zúñiga, questioned why the earth had given way near the Alcaparrosa mine, and whether the appearance of the hole had something to do with the mining operations. “Today it happened on an agricultural property,” the mayor told Ciudadano ADN radio, “but our greatest fear is that this could happen in a populated place on a street, in a school, and protecting the integrity of our inhabitants is our greatest concern at the moment.”

Government officials traveled to Tierra Amarilla to investigate the sinkhole. On August 12, Marcela Hernando, the minister of mining, joined Cristóbal Zúñiga and others to tour the Alcaparrosa mine. Before the visit, Zúñiga called for the authorities to apply “maximum sanctions” to punish those responsible for the sinkhole, which seems to have been caused by underground mining activities carried out by the Candelaria mining complex. The government agency responsible for the investigation—Sernageomin—has suspended all mining activity in the area and is continuing with its forensic assessment to ascertain the reasons behind the earth collapsing near the mining complex.

Moratorium on Mining

“We should not be speaking of any kind of extraction in the Atacama salt flat,” Ramón Morales Balcázar told us a few days after the sinkhole was discovered. Morales Balcázar is the founder of Fundación Tantí, a nongovernmental organization in San Pedro de Atacama that is dedicated to the promotion of agroecology and socio-environmental sustainability. “The Atacama salt flat is exhausted, [and has been] deeply impacted by copper and lithium mining and tourism. We should be working to restore the ecosystem there,” said Morales Balcázar. The word “exhausted” is also the title of a new report coauthored by Morales Balcázar that offers a chilling portrait of the depletion of groundwater as a result of global lithium extractors. “Lithium extraction, the newest industry to the region [of the Atacama salt flat], is now yet another way the scarce water resources are being depleted,” stated the report.

Morales Balcázar is part of a team of researchers known as the Plurinational Observatory of Andean Salt Flats (OPSAL). These scholars are engaged in fine-grained research about what they see as the ecocide of the salt flat, which stretches across Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. A book written by these scholars in 2021—Andean Salt Flats: An Ecology of Knowledge for the Protection of Our Salt Flats and Wetlands—offers a detailed assessment of what they call “green extractivism” and “green growth.” Extractivism refers to the extraction of natural resources from the earth to make profits without any consideration for the earth being mined or for the people who live in the areas being mined. “Extraction and extractivism are not the same,” said Morales Balcázar. The former is the mere removal of natural resources, which can be done sustainably without harming the earth, and is carried out for the social well-being of the people who live near the mines.

“We have been holding conversations with Indigenous institutions and trade unions to imagine different regimes of extraction,” Morales Balcázar told us. When the workers at Albemarle—a U.S. mining company—went on strike in 2021, Morales Balcázar and other colleagues spoke with them about the possibility of thinking about new kinds of extraction techniques, although “it is really not something we can see in the near future,” said Morales Balcázar. One reason why miners at Albemarle and the Indigenous institutions (such as the Consejo de Pueblos Atacameños) cannot conceive of any alternative is that even if they get trinkets from the mining wealth, that is still seen as a better option than facing unemployment.

Bolivia’s Alternative

North of Chile, in Bolivia, the concept of “resource nationalism” has framed the debate around lithium extraction in the country. In 1992, the government of then-Bolivian President Jaime Paz Zamora signed an agreement with the U.S.-based company Lithium Corporation of America, now known as FMC Corporation, which “allowed the company to take all the lithium it could, giving Bolivia only eight percent of the profits. Many Bolivians were outraged over the deal,” according to a 2010 article in the New Yorker. This led to protests by the Potosí Civic Committee, which eventually ended the contract.

When Evo Morales took over as president of Bolivia in 2006, the residue of this battle shaped his “resource nationalism” approach to lithium and other minerals. “He vowed to ‘industrialize with dignity and sovereignty,’ promising that raw lithium would not be exploited by foreign corporations but instead processed by state-controlled entities in Bolivia and transformed into batteries,” noted a 2018 article in Bloomberg. In 2007, Bolivia developed a lithium industrialization policy. The Mining Corporation of Bolivia (Comibol), we learned from officials there at the time, encouraged Bolivian scientists to develop and patent traditional methods of extraction through evaporation (although this method has struggled due to the high levels of magnesium found in the Bolivian lithium). Morales’ government invested heavily in the lithium industrialization scheme, which led to Bolivia being able to develop its own batteries (including cathode production) and develop its own electric car through the state-owned Quantum Motors. To control and manage lithium production, a company called Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) was created in 2017 by the government.

“We were making great progress,” Evo Morales told us, “until the coup of 2019 and then the pandemic.” The coup eventually led to his ouster. “We will coup whoever we want,” wrote Elon Musk, whose company Tesla relies on lithium for its batteries and electric cars. Such is the anger against the possibilities of “resource nationalism.”

Developments in Bolivia show that new ways of extraction are being explored, even if these are not perfect. Environmental challenges in the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, and grumbles by people who live there continue to define lithium extraction. However, the lithium industrialization policy and the great care taken by the country for what the Bolivians callPachamama—the earth—during the extraction process offer some differences from the extraction work done by the large Canadian and U.S. mining companies. In Chile, Lester Calderón, a union leader in the city of Antofagasta, who ran for governor in 2021, wrote an article in January 2022 in which he argued that the Indigenous communities must decide about the way lithium is used and that the resources (including water) of Chile must be nationalized. These elements are in place in Bolivia, and yet there are challenges ahead for the people there.

Bolivia’s current President Luis Alberto Arce Catacora hopes to renew the state-led lithium industrialization policy but cannot find the resources domestically to do so. That is the reason why his government has embarked on a process of drawing in investment from outside (currently, six firms from China, Russia and the United States are still competing to secure the bid).

The center of the struggle in Bolivia is Potosí, where the Spaniards, who ruled the region, had for centuries hollowed out the earth to draw silver to export to Europe. “We were the center of [silver] exploitation but remained at the fringes of the country’s decision-making,” Potosí government official Juan Tellez told Reuters. “That is what we are trying to avoid now with lithium.” The people of Potosí, like the people of Tierra Amarilla in Chile, want to imagine a different kind of extraction: one that is controlled by those who live by the sources of the metal and one that does not destroy the earth, creating sinkholes everywhere.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Where is Russia now in Ukrainian war?


Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, turning an eight (8) year annexation of Crimea, into a full-scale war.

Almost six months later, what began as a provocation, an invasion in all but name, has created a refugee and humanitarian crisis, the impact of which is being felt as far as Sri Lanka.

The causes of this war and the historical relationship between the two countries, who are really Slav brothers, are pathetic.

I can remember Ukraine was part of the sprawling Soviet Union until the Iron Curtain fell and it has been an acknowledged independent state, since 1991.

But President Putin has maintained that history shows Ukraine has no tradition of genuine statehood.

What we are seeing now?

Linking past and present, we see how this war now connects with the United States and the West and their plan to drag on this war to cripple, if not destabilise Russia.

Ukrainian resistance goes back to Zaporozhe Cossack days. It is legendary. Ukraine is no doubt an independent country. It is no pushover. They are resilient people; no immediate surrender.

President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has literally left Russia, increasingly dependent on China, both economically and politically.

Does everyone know?

China as many knows has provided Russia with a market for Russian products, after sanctions made Russia severely restricted, to sell its wares/goods/exports around the world.

Now people in Russia are having to settle for poor quality substitutes, for imported, now banned Western goods amid the hefty sanctions. But sanctions, nobody will admit is a scissor grip. It is hurting the West as much, if not more than it is paralysing Russia.

Of course, global firms are pulling out of Russia. We are told, real wages in Russia have fallen by 6.1% and in April 2022 (the last authentic date of statistics) they had dropped to 7.2%. We are informed that Russia’s foreign exchange reserves blocked by Western nations is worth an estimated US$ 419 billion. The exit of foreign companies has resulted in less working hours and a lower average wage. It has anticipated a reduction in production in the automotive and transport industries. Substituted goods may be cheaper, but of lower quality.

This is nothing new, as Russians have over decades grown accustomed to shortages of goods. If anyone says, it will cause civil unrest, it is only they who hold this jaundiced view, are fooled. But, as the war drags on, the pain is felt more.

What can happen soon?

Another day, another week, another month, perhaps, another year could see another Ukrainian city falling to the Russian arms.

But, the latest news, within hours Turkish President Erdogan and the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres are to visit President Zelensky in a high-profile meeting to “discuss steps that can be taken to end the war.”

The latest attack by Ukraine on supply lines in Crimea

There are three particular aspects of the current phase of the war.

Kyiv is adapting quicker and more effectively than Moscow, in the last few days. Whereas until now, it has been through missile and rocket strikes, Mark Galeotti states, Ukraine has found Russia’s Achilles’ heel in Crimea. The number of explosions will increase and it will increase precisely in occupied Crimea.

Moscow, however, claims the latest explosion in Occupied Crimea was a result of sabotage at an electricity supply station and a fire near the town of Dzhankoi, in the north of the peninsula.

The other two phases are yet to reveal, in full but have to do with the morale of the reinforcements.

NATO’s Choice

At its founding in 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was understood as an inter-regional organization that took in countries washed by Atlantic waters. However, from the very beginning, Italy’s membership set an example of an anomaly. Several years later, when Greece and Turkey joined NATO, the organization further breached its geographical limitation. Ninety-seven percent of Turkey’s territory lies within Asia; thus, and without exaggeration, NATO became a transcontinental organization. The Soviet Union was regarded as the biggest security challenge for NATO during the Cold War. For more than 70 years, NATO has adjusted its tasks and approaches according to the changing international environment. NATO’s main operational objective during the Cold War, however, remained to defend collectively and deter the security threat from the Soviet Union.

The Soviet revisionist policy, to a large degree, stimulated NATO’s development and provided the rationale for NATO to operate actively in Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO published its 1991 Strategic Concept which stated, “The threat of a simultaneous, full-scale attack on all of NATO’s European fronts has effectively been removed and thus no longer provides the focus for Allied strategy.” NATO no longer had a convincing reason for its continued existence.

NATO began to urgently seek and formulate other types of threats/risks to rationalize its existence, including terrorism, ethnic conflicts, human rights abuses, political instability, economic fragility, and the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their means of delivery. The 1999 Strategic Concept stated that “[t]he security of the Alliance remains subject to a wide variety of military and non-military risks which are multi-directional and often difficult to predict. These risks include uncertainty and instability in and around the Euro-Atlantic area and the possibility of regional crises at the periphery of the Alliance, which could evolve rapidly.” By pointing out a litany of uncertain and unpredictable risks, NATO could both justify and maintain its necessity and continue operations in the post-Cold War era.

Whether the enumerated risks were convincing enough for NATO to continue to operate has remained disputed for more than two decades. NATO’s existence prompted reflections among the Europeans. Some argued that NATO should have been disbanded after the disintegration of the USSR. At the turn of the 21st century, British Guardian columnist Jonathan Steele wrote that “[w]e must go all the way, up to the termination of NATO” because it “serves almost entirely as a device for giving the U.S. an unfair and unreciprocated droit de regard over European foreign policy.” In 2019, French President Macron described NATO as “brain dead” because the U.S. failed to consult NATO before taking action.

 Paradoxically, the dissolution of the USSR injected new vitality into NATO. The collapse of the Soviet Union not only drastically improved the external environment for NATO but also created opportunities for NATO’s expansion. In the post-Cold War era, NATO entered into a new stage of development with the former members of the Warsaw Pact, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland becoming members in 1999. Since then, NATO has undergone several further rounds of enlargement. In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022, NATO members demonstrated unprecedented unity, and Finland and Sweden were invited to join NATO at the Madrid Summit in June 2022. Their admission would make NATO an organization with 30 European countries and two North American countries.

NATO has been one of the biggest beneficiaries since the end of the Cold War. Not only have most European countries become members, but NATO has successfully managed flexible responses to the changing international environment. In the post-Cold War period, NATO has adapted to external and internal changes by transforming from a primary defense organization into a more comprehensive organization that combines military, political, diplomatic, and economic missions. NATO also actively engages with international and regional organizations including the UN, the EU, and the African Union. Outside Europe, the concept of a Global NATO has manifested in cooperative arrangements with Asian countries including Japan (since the early 1990s), New Zealand (since 2001), and Australia and South Korea (since 2005). In December 2021, the four Asia-Pacific countries were invited for the first time to participate in a NATO foreign ministerial meeting to discuss how to deal with the rise of China. They also participated in the June 2022 Madrid Summit.

The close cooperation with these four Asia-Pacific countries is in strong contrast with NATO’s definition of the “China threat.” Yet, the question is whether NATO’s selected response to the changes in its security environment is wise. In the Cold War era, the 1967 Harmel Report on the future tasks of the Alliance initiated NATO’s first step toward a more cooperative approach to security issues, and was regarded as “a key political and strategic think piece.” It broadened NATO’s approach towards external players and helped break the deadlock between the East and the West. In a 1976 NATO ministers meeting, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that “China may be one of the most important NATO allies.” President Jimmy Carter received a proposal from his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski suggesting that NATO should be encouraged to “invite the PRC to send an observer to NATO, or conversely request the PRC to invite a NATO delegation to visit China.” In the post-Cold War era, despite ups and downs, NATOChina relations, although low-key, were generally positive in the period before Donald Trump became US President.

As the leader of NATO, the United States has designated China as a “longterm strategic competitor” in its official government strategy documents since 2017. The US 2022 National Defense Strategy states that China is “the most consequential strategic competitor and the pacing challenge.” The European Union, a close ally of the U.S., labeled China as a “systemic rival” in its China policy published in 2019. Affected by the US and EU policy changes toward China, NATO first mentioned in its London Declaration in 2019 that “China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance.” Yet, by 2022 in the released new Strategic Concept, NATO has shifted from its previously balanced approach and listed China as a challenge to its “interests, security and values” and adopted the term “systemic rival” to define NATO-China relations.

NATO in nature is a defensive organization with the mission of maintaining peace for the Alliance. China in history is a peace-loving nation that has never expanded militarily or taken territory from its neighbors by force. The rise of China has heightened the security concerns of the West, but Chinese leaders have stated on many occasions that China will never seek hegemony. China is the world’s second-largest economy and the second-largest trading partner of both the U.S. and the EU. The strong degree of interdependence lays a solid foundation for stable cooperation between China and its Western partners. Yet, the dangerous tendency of supply chain decoupling between the West and China would seriously weaken the basis of cooperation, and replace it with realist zero-sum calculations.

While it is true that China follows a different development path from those of NATO members, the differences in political systems should not serve as an excuse for competition and rivalry. NATO and China share common interests in maintaining world peace and stability. Based on this common sense, new identities can be constructed. If China is incorporated as a partner, it can work with NATO to address many global challenges including terrorism and climate change. If China is increasingly perceived as a rival, the world may enter a more uncertain and precarious geopolitical situation. Misunderstanding and miscalculation have led to bloody and costly historical lessons. NATO now stands at the crossroads of a strategic choice: to adopt a less ideologically motivated and less geopolitical stance and become more flexible and pragmatic, or to continue its expansion into Asia Pacific and be the primary disrupter of regional peace and stability.

Views expressed are personal. This article was originally published in TI Observer, a regular publication of Taihe Institute. Founded in 2013, Taihe Institute (TI) is a leading think tank headquartered in Beijing, with research centers in the United States and Germany.

Washington Wants a New Cold War—But That’s a Bad Idea


As China unleashed live-fire military exercises off the coast of Taiwan, simulating a real “reunification by force” operation in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ceremonial visit to the island last week, the bipartisan fervor for a new Cold War with China and Russia took greater hold in Washington.

“Leaders in both parties,” Post columnist Josh Rogin reports, “understand that the United States has a duty and an interest in … pushing back against America’s adversaries in both Europe and Asia.” The United States showed that it could take on both China and Russia at the same time, he adds. The Senate voted 95-1 to add Sweden and Finland to NATO. The Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act enjoys bipartisan support. And politicians in both parties scrambled to give the Pentagon even more money than it asked for.

Cold War is America’s comfort zone. We won the last one. We wear the white hats. It’s democracy against authoritarianism. And we’ve got the biggest and best military. Who could object?

But haunting questions remain. Does a new Cold War—taking on Russia and China at once—serve the real security of Americans? Does it further President Biden’s promised “foreign policy for the middle class?” Might most Americans prefer that this country curb our enthusiasm for foreign adventure while focusing on getting our own house in order?

The existential threat to our security now is the extreme weather caused by climate change, which is already costing lives and billions of dollars in destruction from wildfires, floods, plagues and drought. Monkeypox reminds us that the deadliest attacks have come from global pandemics. Throwing money at the Pentagon doesn’t help. Wouldn’t it be better if Special Presidential Envoy John F. Kerry’s journeys got as much attention as Pelosi’s Taiwan performance? Addressing climate change and pandemics can’t be done without Chinese and Russian cooperation, yet the Chinese officially terminated talks on these issues in the wake of Pelosi’s visit.

Biden’s foreign policy team has focused on lining up bases and allies to surround and contain Russia and China. But the Ukraine war has revealed Russia’s military weakness. Meanwhile, sanctions have cut off access to Russian food, fertilizers and minerals vital to countries worldwide and might contribute to a global recession.

China is a true “peer competitor,” as the Pentagon calls it. But its strength is its economy, not its military. It’s the leading trading partner for countries across the globe, from Latin America to Africa to Asia. When Pelosi stopped in South Korea after her visit to Taiwan, South Korea’s president did not receive her. President Yoon Suk-yeol, we learned, was on a “staycation,” attending a play. The snub by a loyal ally, home to nearly 30,000 U.S. troops, is surely a reflection of the fact that China is South Korea’s leading trading partner. The United States would be well advised to focus—as China does—on developing the new technologies that will define the markets of the future, rather than spending more than $1 trillion on items such as a new generation of nuclear weapons that can never be used.

The revived Cold Warriors assert that the U.S. deployment of forces around China and Russia is defensive. But as Stephen Walt notes in Foreign Policy, this ignores the “security dilemma”: What one country considers innocent measures to increase its security, another might see as threatening. U.S. administrations kept asserting Ukraine’s “right” to join NATO as security against the threat posed by Russia. Russia saw the possible basing of NATO forces and U.S. missiles in Ukraine as a threat. Biden’s comment that Putin “cannot remain in power,” echoed by U.S. politicians, and the history of U.S. support for regime change around the world, weren’t exactly reassuring.

Though Washington formally accepts that Taiwan is a province of China, it arms the island and deploys more forces to the Pacific. Pelosi described her visit as an “unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.” Beijing views this as an attack on its national sovereignty, a violation of our official position, and as a provocation designed to spur independence movements in Taiwan.

The Cold Warriors assume that most of the world stands with us. True, our NATO allies rallied against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, but two-thirds of the world’s population, according to the Economist, lives in countries that refuse to sanction Russia. Much of the developing world is skeptical or worse about U.S. claims regarding democracy or the rules-based order. This makes sanctions less effective—China’s purchases of Russian oil and gas, for example, have increased by 72 percent since the Ukraine invasion. It also reflects the growing strength of Chinese “soft power” and the declining currency of the U.S. military force.

Great powers decline largely because of internal weakness and the failure to adjust to new realities. In an era of dangerous partisan enmity, the reflexive bipartisan embrace of a new Cold War is a striking contrast. But the old habits don’t address the new challenges. This is hardly the way to build a vibrant American democracy.

This article is distributed by Globetrotter in partnership with The Nation.

Western ‘Naturalism’ Disrespects Nonhuman Animals and the Entire Natural World

One species has transformed into a material backdrop for its tribulations the 10 million other species that constitute its extended family, its giving environment, and its daily cohabitants. More specifically, it is one small population of this species that has done so, the bearer of a merely historical and local culture. Making all other living beings invisible is a provincial and late phenomenon—not the product of mankind as a whole. Imagine a people approaching a land populated by a myriad of other related peoples, and declaring that they don’t really exist, and that they are the stage and not the actors (ah yes, it’s not a fiction that requires a lot of imagination, as it also comprises vast swaths of our history). How did we accomplish this miracle of blindness toward the other creatures of the living world? We could hazard here—to exacerbate the strangeness of our heritage—a rapid history of the relations between our civilization and other species, a history which leads to the modern condition: Once nonhuman living beings were debased ontologically (that is to say, considered as endowed with a second-order existence, of lesser value and lesser consistency, and thus transformed into ‘things’), human beings came to believe that they alone truly existed in the universe.

It simply took Judeo-Christianity to expel God from ‘Nature’ (this is the hypothesis of the Egyptologist Jan Assmann), to make Nature profane, then the scientific and industrial revolutions to transform the nature that remained (the scholastic phusis) into a matter devoid of intelligence or of invisible influences, available to extractivism, for human beings to find themselves as solitary travelers in the cosmos, surrounded by dumb, evil matter. The last act involved killing off the last affiliation: Alone in the face of matter, human beings nevertheless remained in vertical contact with God, who sanctified it as his Creation (natural theology). The death of God entails a terrible and perfect loneliness, which we might call the anthropo-narcissistic prison.

This false lucidity about our cosmic solitude put the final seal on the serene exclusion of all nonhuman beings from the field of the ontologically relevant. It explains the ‘prison house’ of the philosophy and literature cultivated in the great European and Anglo-American capitals. My choice of this expression is not arbitrary: Not only are these fields now a prison house or ‘closed room’ in the sense of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit”—but also the prison house is the world itself, the universe, which is populated only by us and the pathological relationships with our fellow humans entailed by the disappearance of our plural, affective, and active affiliations with other living beings, nonhuman animals and environments.

This ubiquitous theme in 20th-century literature and philosophy, which foregrounds the cosmic solitude of human beings, a solitude elevated to grandeur by existentialism, is intriguingly violent. Under cover of the heroism of the absurd (as Albert Camus defined it), under cover of having the courage to face the truth, this violence is a form of blindness that refuses to learn how to see the forms of existence of others, negating their status as cohabitants, postulating that, in fact, they have no communication skills, no ‘native senses,’ no creative point of view, no aptitudes for finding a modus vivendi, no political promptings. And this is the great cunning, and therefore the hidden violence of Western naturalism, which in fact aims to justify exploiting all of nature as a raw material lying to hand for our project of civilization—it means treating others as matter ruled by biological laws, refusing to see their geopolitical promptings, their vital alliances, and all the ways in which we share with living beings a great diplomatic community in which we can learn anew how to live.

The human subject alone in an absurd universe, surrounded by pure matter lying to hand as a stock of resources, or a sanctuary for humans to recharge their batteries spiritually, is a phantasmal invention of modernity. From this point of view, those great thinkers of emancipation, Sartre and Camus, who have probably infused their ideas deeply into the French tradition, are the objective allies of extractivism and the ecological crisis. It is intriguing to reinterpret these discourses of emancipation as vectors of great violence. Yet it was they who transformed into a basic belief of late humanism the myth that we alone are free subjects in a world of inert and absurd objects, doomed to giving meaning through our consciousness to a living world devoid of it.

This myth took away from that world something it had always possessed. The shamanists and animists described by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and Philippe Descola know very well what this lost state had involved, namely complex social relations of reciprocity, exchange, and predation which are not peace-loving or pacific, and do not follow Isaiah’s prophecy, but are political in a still enigmatic sense, and call for forms of pacification and conciliation, of mutualist and considerate cohabitation. After all, there are meanings everywhere in the living world: They do not need to be projected, but to be found, with the means at our disposal—translation and interpretation. It’s all about diplomacy. We need interpreters, intermediaries, and in-betweens to do the job of starting to speak again with living beings, to overcome what we might call Claude Lévi-Strauss’s curse: the impossibility of communicating with the other species we share the Earth with. “For despite the ink spilled by the Judeo-Christian tradition to conceal it, no situation seems more tragic, more offensive to heart and mind, than that of a humanity coexisting and sharing the joys of a planet with other living species yet being unable to communicate with them,” Lévi-Strauss said in conversation with Didier Eribon.

But this impossibility is a fiction of the moderns—it helps to justify reducing living beings to commodities in order to sustain world economic exchanges. Communication is possible, it has always taken place; it is surrounded by mystery, by inexhaustible enigmas, by untranslatable aspects too, but ultimately by creative misunderstandings. It doesn’t have the fluidity of a café conversation, but it is nonetheless rich in meaning.

As an enigma among other enigmas, the human way of being alive only makes sense if it is woven into the countless other ways of being alive that the animals, plants, bacteria, and ecosystems all around us demand.

The ever-intact enigma of being a human is richer and more poignant when we share it with other life forms in our great family, when we pay attention to them, and when we do justice to their otherness. This interplay of kinship and otherness with other living beings, the common causes they foster in the politics of life, is part of what makes the ‘mystery of living,’ of being a human being, so inexhaustible.

This excerpt is adapted from Ways of Being Alive by Baptiste Morizot and was originally published in French by Editions Actes Sud © Actes Sud, 2020. It was translated into English by Andrew Brown and published by Polity Books in 2022. This excerpt was edited and produced for the web by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Israel once again slaughter Palestinians in Gaza


On Friday 5 August 2022, Israel, planted in Palestine in violation of all laws, norms, moral principles and by means of bribery, blackmail and massacres, launched its latest savage multiple air strikes on Gaza.
Within 72 hours 45 innocent Palestinians, including 15 children- one a five year old-were slaughtered, buildings bombed and destroyed, water and electricity supplies disconnected causing immeasurable hardships to the poverty-stricken Palestinians who survive on aid.

Israel’s stated target was senior Islamic Jihad commander Tayseer Al-Jaabari who was killed along with several civilians, including five-year-old Alaa Qaddoum and her father, who lived in the apartment next to Al-Jaabari’s.

Israel’s attack on Gaza was unprovoked and there was no evidence to support the contention that Jabari was preparing an attack on Israeli tanks. Narrating Israel’s heartlessness columnist Maha Hussaini said that ’Sixteen Palestinian children who were slaughtered were looking forward to a summer filled with joy. They planned to play football, head to the beach and attend summer camp.

Columnist Ahmed al Sammak cited an incident where Israel has lost all sense of human values;
“Mohammed’s family had their last dinner at 8.45pm on Saturday. Ahmed al-Nairab, 11, and his five-year-old brother Momen then asked their father, Mohammed, to take them to the small grocery store next to their house .At the shop they bought crisps and gum. Then Mohammed al-Nairab saw a huge ball of fire and heard a massive explosion. “I couldn’t see anything. When the smoke started to disappear, I found Momen lying on the ground, covered with blood,” the 38-year-old father told Middle East Eye. “I bore him quickly in my arms and started running to find a car or ambulance. After many metres, I found Ahmed also lying on the ground.

Israel could commit these crimes due to the blind support of US,UK and Europe besides the indifference of Arab dictators . The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco who have signed normalization pacts with Israel since 2020, have refused to condemn.

United Nations which created this Nazi style monster remain paralyzed due to super power pressure. In his s article British journalist David Hearst said there can be no clearer demonstration of the hollowness of western values than in the persistent, cynical and criminal failure to bring Israel to book for its actions.
US President Joe Biden’ said “ Israel has its right to defend itself .My support for Israel’s security is long-standing and unwavering — including its right to defend itself against attacks,” Instead of condemning British Prime Minister Boris Johnson too said Israel has the right to defend itself.

Britain’s prime minister to be, Liz Truss said: UK stands by Israel and its right to defend itself.” To rub salt into the wound, Truss promised to review the location of Britain’s embassy, which is currently in Tel Aviv – an act which would consign what small role the UK had as a peacemaker or mediator in this conflict to the ashes.

What they all fail to understand is that Palestinians cannot be wiped out. They are as globally connected as any other generation of youths around the world. What exactly is the message world leaders are giving them in their fact-free reactions to the latest bombardments?

Statistics tell a dire story of life in Gaza today:
*around two-thirds of the Palestinian population of Gaza are refugees, with over 500,000 living in eight refugee camps across the Gaza Strip, in some of the highest population densities in the world
*97% of Gaza’s water is undrinkable, and contaminated water is poisoning people
*people in Gaza receive a daily average of 12 hours of electricity supply and are subject to rolling power cuts
*healthcare services in Gaza are in perpetual crisis, starved of power, vital equipment, staff and essential medicines
*39% of patients needing specialist care in the West Bank or Israel were denied or delayed permission to leave Gaza by Israel.
*the unemployment rate is 46.6%, and over 62% for young people
*four in five children in Gaza report living with fear, grief and depression, often manifesting in self-harm
*tens of thousands are displaced within Gaza due to the bombardment and ruin of their homes.

Summing up the situation in an article titled “As Israel was killing civilians in Gaza, the hypocritical world stood by and watched” columnist Motasem A Dalloul
Abujomaa had this to state ;

The Gaza Strip does not pose any strategic threat to Israel’s security; it is a very small coastal enclave that can be — and is — controlled and choked very easily. This has been happening for sixteen years, with Israel and Egypt imposing a strict land, air and sea blockade; their intelligence agencies know everything going in or coming out.

It was no surprise, though, to see Israel pounding Gaza yet again in an endeavour to destroy infrastructure and kill civilians. This has become the norm. Innocent civilians are regarded as expendable in order to kill one or two key people.

Does anyone care? Obviously not. This didn’t, after all, happen in Ukraine. Where are the sanctions on Israel — for 70+ years of ethnic cleansing, massacres and violations of human rights — of the kind that were slapped on Russia within days of its invasion of Ukraine in February? The double standards are obvious. As Israel was killing civilians in Gaza, the hypocritical world just stood by and watched. And not for the first time.

“Every single escalation of violence in Gaza comes at the cost of ordinary people,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Middle East Regional Director Carsten Hansen. “…Innocent children and families have been caught up in the vicious circle of violence for as long as they can remember. Many in Gaza are still recovering— both psychologically and physically — from last year’s eleven-day crisis.”

However, the Biden administration in Washington, which has provided military and humanitarian aid worth billions of dollars to Ukraine, does not care about Gaza. Instead, it gives the apartheid state of Israel at least $3 billion in military aid every year.

Europe has largely remained silent in the face of Palestinian blood being spilt indiscriminately by Israel. It was as if there was nothing happening in Gaza. Are Europeans so inured to seeing Palestinians being slaughtered by Israel simply for rejecting the Zionist occupation of their land?

What about the Arab leaders? They profess “brotherhood” with the Palestinians, but either kept quiet or issued shy condemnation of the Israeli crimes. Nor did they pledge a penny for their new best friend’s victims. Only the Qatar Red Crescent Society has pledged humanitarian aid.

The not-so-hidden consensus in the international community appears to be that the Palestinian people must be eradicated in order to let Israel’s settler-colonial occupation take over all of historic Palestine: Greater Israel is Zionism’s objective and nothing must stand in its way. Those states which do raise their voices in support of the Palestinians, but take no action against the occupation state, are compounding their hypocrisy.

Latheef Farook began his journalistic career with the now defunct Independent Newspapers in 1966 before joining the Lake House Group of newspapers in 1971 where he worked with the Ceylon Daily News and the evening daily Ceylon Observer covering local politics and foreign affairs besides finance and economic sectors. Later he joined the Gulf Times and Khaleej Times where he covered contemporary issues in the region. He has authored and published several books including, India lost Kashmir and Foreign Presence in Sri Lanka.

India at 75: Indian I was born; Indian I shall die


India of 2022 is spectacularly different from the India of 1947. There is one vital element that has remained active, unchanged—democracy.

I am 18 years older than Independent India. I remember vividly keeping awake till midnight of 14/15 August 1947 to listen to Jawaharlal Nehru’s never to be forgotten speech.

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the World sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation long suppressed finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the larger cause of humanity…”

This was great and moving English, but 80% Indians did not understand it. Nehru also disregarded the fact that half of the world was wide awake. A majority of the members of the Constituent Assembly present in the Central Hall of Parliament understood English. The applause was thunderous. That speech of Nehru lives in our hearts and minds. India of 2022 is spectacularly different from the India of 1947. There is one vital element that has remained active, unchanged—democracy. That miracle has been endowed to the nation by the people of India, not by its elite.

The Indian Freedom Movement under the unique leadership of Mahatma Gandhi was one among the historical and unforgettable events of the 20th century.

India’s Freedom Movement inspired other countries under British, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Spain’s imperial/colonial rule.

In 1947, Africa had three independent countries, South of Sahara, Ethiopia, South Africa—dedicated to perpetual white rule, even though three fourth of the population was non-white. The third was Liberia. Several African leaders admired Gandhiji, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Chief Lithuli of South Africa. Ahmed Kathrada, a colleague of Mandela, all mention Gandhiji in their memoirs. Kathrada spent 27 years in jail with Mandela. He writes, “My own views on multiculturalism are best summed up in a passage by Gandhiji: I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to blown off my feet by any.”

Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana led the freedom struggle in his colonised country by following Gandhian methods, “I described Positive Action as the legitimate and constitutional means…. Non-cooperation based on the principle of absolute non-violence as used by Gandhi in India.”

Lech Walesa, the Polish leader of the movement called, “Solidarity” and future President mentions Gandhiji several times in his autobiography, “The Struggle and the Triumph”. I met him in Warsaw and in New Delhi, when he paid a state visit to India.

How do I see the future of India? Unlike the chronic pessimists and congenital grumblers, I am confident of a brighter future for our country. India will become a world power, working in a balanced way for the establishment of world peace and goodwill. Poverty will become a memory and so will joblessness. It goes to the credit of the Narendra Modi government that not a single serious communal riot has occurred in the past decade.

I do not have time for those of our countrymen and women who rush to the United States. After completing their education a majority accept the status of second class citizens. One or two make it to State Legislatures or House of Representatives. Some succeed in business, but Mother India is no longer a priority. They encounter not so subtle racism and put up with it.

Some even acquire various kinds of accents, which sound phoney and grating. They have made their choice. Good luck, but no respect from this corner. Indian I was born and Indian I shall die.