20 May, 2022

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An Age Of Universal Cynicism

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

“Now is the worst not the best of times; an age of foolishness not wisdom; a season of darkness not light; more despair than hope” (with apologies to Dickens). Up till about three decades ago people took sides passionately. Aficionados of Soviet Communism were fervent in their defence of Stalin and admitted only minor peccadillos, while devotees of the “Free World” intoned that god spoke with an American accent. Loyalties were firm, confidences secure and leaders trusted. No longer. Every side is both accepted and rejected, leaders are doubted and a pall of distrust has befallen the world. Think Trump, hated by most Americans but worshiped by many; Biden is now thought incompetent by several of the 75 million who elected him; Putin, defender of Russian security, is dictator to domestic opponents; Boris is both colourful and clownish; Modi is a vengeful communalist and an aspirant to the Hindutva pantheon; Janus-faced Xi smiles on the economy but scowls at the Uighurs. At home, 69 lakhs in 2019, despised just three years on and now hanging-on upside down like a bat. Surely, we live in the strangest of times.

Interestingly, if you get together a set of three or four like-minded or so you thought, buddies with values you reckoned to be much the same and with social and political attitudes you imagined aligned, and initiated a mischievous chat on an assortment of topics, believe me the outcome will be a matrix of incongruities which cannot be rationalised by age, faith, community, ideology or education.

I have two objectives today, to prove this point and to suggest a minimal set for cohesion as otherwise we are but a cacophony of hyenas baying at the moon. Most of my readers know in which directions I point; very leftist, a bit populist, non-nationalist, pro Enlightenment, prepared to give liberalism its due and scandalously iconoclastic. You too can play this game, that is summarise your views on a few controversial topics of the day and then interrogate your friends; you will be surprised how much of a contrarian cross-matrix you come up with even among those you thought like mined.

Let me try an experiment and set down my views on four important topics of a general nature and see how many “agree”, “rubbish”, “well maybe” and “I don’t not agree” responses you, dear readers, tick off.

Ukraine-Russia-NATO: I am firmly of the view that NATO must not be allowed to expand further east, that is to include Ukraine, as this is a recipe for war in future years when circumstances change, unforeseen contradictions surface and new leaders arrive. I do not allege that Biden wants war, but any president is as transient as a noon day cloud. I firmly reject that Ukraine’s “right to self-determination” overrides other concerns. Yes, it is a nation whose independence must be recognised but this has to be constrained by the general good. The concern with averting future world-conflict must override specific rights. Maybe a parallel is this: Assume that the Sri Lankan state and its people earnestly desire a Chinese military base in Trinco, KKS or Hambantota, but it will almost certainly become casus belli for future war or invasion by India sometime down the line. Perhaps only a few readers will endorse this paragraph as a whole.

The rise of global right-extremism: Trump and his legions are a symptom more than a cause, but a symptom that like a sore spews puss once the abscess manifests. It is my view that such incongruities are an immanent property of the twenty-first century; a given of the world we live in that won’t go away when economic crises ease. There has been a transformation in the mind-set of big groups of social actors; ideologies have taken deep root; new technologies such as social media have created undreamt of fixities; money has filtered into the hands of millions of lowly actors and excess leisure has freed up opportunities. Even neo-Nazism will not evaporate. In a word, right-extremism has come to stay just as leftism, including at times left-extremism remained for centuries. Sure, they were driven by different class actors and goals. My view is not defeatism, it can be defeated; my point is that the enemy is stubborn and enduring.

Nationalism is bad, internationalism good: Marxists, broadly speaking, are of the view that the working people of the world have no nation and that cultural differences are used by oppressors to divide them. You are familiar with the old adage “Workers of the world unite; you have only your chains to lose and a world to win”. In modern times the need for internationalism goes well beyond the class struggle. Egypt and Sudan may attack Ethiopia’s multi-billion-dollar Grand Renaissance Dam as they fear being starved of adequate supplies of Nile waters. Chinese and Taiwanese nationalisms are deep and poised like cobra and mongoose. Faith does not open the road to salvation; language is as much a discordant pestilence as a tool of communication and literature. People celebrate their cultural diversity but these same people despise “the other”. I think it’s ok to be just a bit patriotic or nationalist but it had better be low key. Most important, we need to see ourselves as citizens of the world. Also think emissions and climate change.

The state: The state and its military are only to a small degree instruments of law and order acting on behalf of all of society and serving the people. The more vital role they play is serving the interests of the corrupt, protecting felons and bumming political sons of female dogs. Vide what the Court of Appeal did to 850 fabricated charges filed by the Sri Lankan State against the former Defence Secretary and former IGP. The state also held them in detention for nine months. No need to go ferreting out foreign dictatorships, there are scores of egregious cases on our doorstep. The argument I am making here is not damning the Rajapaksa regime, my point is that this is the nature of the state in general.

These four paras are an inventory of what I am deeply convinced of on four crucial topics without touching on what will surely be the most contentious of all – economic policy and orientation. Now dear reader if you cared to keep count of your ‘agree’, ‘disagree’ etc you will have before you a maze of ticks and crosses, scribbles and swear words. That’s my point, not your specific answers. We live in times of darkness not light, more despair than hope. It was not always so or to the same degree; it is the flavour of recent decades. I invite you to try it out, mentally picture your buddies and you too will arrive at a cross-matrix of contradictions. This piece is not a prank for your Sunday entertainment it has a serious purpose.

Then are we destined to impotency by infinite irresolution? Do “enterprises of great pith and moment with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action”? No, I think not. The solution lies in the specifics and facts of each case, the concrete. People vary in their abstract beliefs, the right philosophical approach to my four sample questions etc, but they may have no difficulty in agreeing what to do in a specific instance. You could have different theories about Putin, Europe, strategy etc but readily agree that a NATO creep to the Russian border is impermissible. People are proud of their cultural heritage and may deem internationalism an alien concept but be outraged by the treatment of Dr Shafi Shihabdeen by Sinhala-Buddhist extremists. Some Americans may vote for Trump but damn the extremist far-right as a cancer. Nearer home many who do not have faith in Sajith-SJB, Champika or the JVP-NPP will not hesitate to reject Gotabaya. In real life the concrete conjuncture trumps the abstract and the theoretical.

The abstract and the theoretical are of the utmost relevance to the scholar and the intellectual but the political realist must focus on amalgamation; for example, pulling together votes from many “abstract” quarters. Where and how does the transactional differ from the opportunist? Another question to which there is no abstract answer; the proof of the pudding is always in the eating. SWRD was an invertebrate and opportunist, Mrs B for all my differences with her I concede was shrewdly transactional.

The last time the global strategic map was redrawn was when the Soviet Union went up in smoke. It is now on the drawing board again. All-out war is impossible, neither Putin nor Biden want it. However no Russian leader who permits NATO to creep up to the Russian border can long survive in domestic politics and Biden will hugely lose face if he concedes this principle. The Russian people can never forget the tens upon tens of millions of souls they lost and the devastations of four huge invasions in the last three centuries. Putin’s remark “Russia’s security concerns are non-negotiable” is just what this column repeatedly predicted months ago. On the other side Biden and court jester Boris are playing to recoup domestic approval ratings. The fundamental and the immediate are in shrill conflict. How may it end? Maybe Putin will agree to let the UN replace his “peace keepers” by a battalion or two of the traditional UN type, but no way will he go back on recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent countries. Still a gross compromise has to be worked out, there is no other way in this age of dismal cynicism.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    3

    Sajith Premadasa is saying that this is Armageddon which will end up in cataclysmic disaster.

    • 8
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      Dr. GS
      “Sajith Premadasa is saying that this is Armageddon (Disaster) which will end up in cataclysmic (Disaster) disaster”!
      Armageddon X Cataclysmic X Disaster = Disaster3!!
      Trying to show the London School of Economics (LSE) language ability and the magnitude of the issue!!!
      Some sense of propensity showcase his ability and capability!!!!
      May be pardoned in view of the many contenders for the coveted position!!!!!
      No match to RP by any means

      • 10
        0

        Mahila, London School of Economics produced brilliant people like Karl Marx, not idiots like Sajith Premadasa who is actually a drop out, not taking up the final examination due to fear of failing and submitting a certificate saying that he is mentally unstable following the death of his father. This stupid behaviour may be either due to mental imbalance caused by that tragedy or due to poor coaching by his political advisor, Dayan Jayatilleke.

        • 6
          1

          Dr. GS,
          “This stupid behaviour may be either due to mental imbalance caused by that tragedy or due to poor coaching by his political advisor, Dayan Jayatilleke.”
          I think it is both!!
          Otherwise how does one explain that ‘sweet talking’ “Lamisi” Gamage, implanted by the “Master Messiah of Salvation”(!), to monitor activities of the SJB, being there in the inner party circles so long, unnoticed
          Dumb as ever!!

          • 1
            4

            Everyone knows about Sajith, he is due to mental imbalance as well as no kids also.

        • 2
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          Present ‘ANDARAY’ of Sri Lanka, Sajith, he is not good for the Rwanda also

      • 0
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        We are very fortunate that Sajith Prememdasa & the SJB got voted out. Had they been in the drivers’s seat at this crucial time it would have been a total disaster.

    • 10
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      An Age Of Universal Cynicism?
      I think it’s time we realised that there is nothing but cynicism.
      Take the Emperor Ashoka who erected pious Buddhist monuments, but only after wiping out his opponents. Ditto the Roman Emperor Constantine who institutionalised Christianity. There is doubt whether the Prophet Mohamed was a political creation.
      The tradition continues to this day. Churchill is revealed to be a racist. We know what actually happened in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and many other places.
      We can only feel sorry for idealists like Zelensky who take impractical decisions based on impractical promises. Or even the 6.9 million who are still waiting for prosperity and splendour.

      • 4
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        OC,
        ” Or even the 6.9 million who are still waiting for prosperity and splendour”
        Vistas of prosperity and splendour is due to realised in November 2024r,after Presidential elections after which the President will reassure his promise once again to be fulfilled by 2027, due to Covid pandemic and Ukraine problem was not achieved.

        • 7
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          Mahila, Gotabaya already has started promising. Sir Fail said , depletion of $ is not, his or his government’s mistake. Dinesh says CEB Engineers are responsible for current electricity shortage. Sir Fail also whined “Covid did not give him a chance to fulfill his promise of prosperity and splendor” and now how convenient they have Ukraine conflict to blame for the res t of his empty promises.. Basil reportedly has no choice other than going back to IMF and is waiting for the auspicious day SB/Tamil new year to visit U.S. Basil was planning to rush to India seeking more loans but they stopped him in the eleventh hour. 6.9 million will be very much satisfied with these excuses. DAN SEPADA.

          • 6
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            SW,says “govt is in a move to collect information on the public through youth volunteers to keep a tab on political, criminal and social activities”. This is highly concerning because most autocrats follow the same method where party supporters/goons/underworld functions as vigilantes. This in combination with PTA can suppress any dissent, rights, free media—. This replaces white vans where people are threatened and intimidated with prison without inquiries. SW is a born criminal hired for the same reason. His activities after finding grenades in church/hospital are well known.

      • 2
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        OC
        Realpolitik is cynical, I agree
        *
        “… idealists like Zelensky”
        Are you sure?
        What kind of idealism drove him to want to join the NATO?
        The whole issue is about the security of Russia.
        The West went back on its word to (perhaps a truer idealist) Gorbachev that NATO will not include countries of the former Soviet Union. No sooner his back was turned, they were up to mischief.
        Under Yeltsin Russia became a debtor nation and had no voice in world affairs.
        Putin put up with the nonsense until Georgia was induced to apply. We remember what happened.
        What was the coup of 2014 about? Why did the remove Russian as an official language? What were neo-Nazis doing in government?
        Putin will not gain much by occupying the whole of Ukraine. It will be more expensive than Afghanistan.
        Let us hope that the talks produce results.
        Have you seen Pat Buchanan’s comment “Did we provoke Putin’s war in Ukraine?”:
        https://www.unionleader.com/opinion/columnists/patrick-j-buchanan-/article_67d82795-4766-5667-b226-b70e5963535d.html

        • 4
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          SJ,

          The alleged promise to Gorbachev has been disputed, and it is said no ironclad promise was made. I haven’t had a chance to verify it, so I can’t take a strong position on this. But if Russia had leaders like Gorbachev, the former Soviet countries wouldn’t have felt the need to join NATO.

          Moreover, in 1994, when Ukraine agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons, the US gave a promise that it would back them in the event of a conflict. So if one should blame the US, it should be for not keeping that word.

          How come a Marxist like you is suddenly interested in what right-wing nativists and white supremacists like Pat Buchanan and Donald Trump had to say? Both Henry Kissinger and Prof. John Mearsheimer @Chicago had cautioned the West to be careful and not allow Ukraine to be part of NATO, based on their “realist” perspective, and there is some truth to it. It was due to this that the Obama administration didn’t provide lethal weapons to Ukraine. But by recklessly invading Ukraine and committing grave war crimes, Putin has become a modern-day Hitler and made it harder for even realists to be taken seriously.

          • 4
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            Agnos, isn’t it funny, more than Americans it’s our Lankans who follow Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul and Trump’s view on Ukraine invasion. Do you think Americans are following Johnston, Mahindananda and Keheliya to educate themselves on Chinese invasion of Lanka

        • 2
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          SJ,
          We must give Zelensky credit for standing and fighting. He didn’t run away unlike some who ran away after losing elections. He’s a young fellow, and probably doesn’t consider his past actions rash and provocative.

          • 0
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            OC remember the discussion on annexations/ dominance/puppet government, Putin used Belarus to enter Ukraine. But only after few days of war Belarus says it is joining Putin in fighting Ukraine . Now similar sanctions are being brought against Belarus.

    • 4
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      Dear Dr David,
      .
      “People are proud of their cultural heritage and may deem internationalism an alien concept but be outraged by the treatment of Dr Shafi Shihabdeen by Sinhala-Buddhist extremists. Some Americans may vote for Trump but damn the extremist far-right as a cancer. Nearer home many who do not have faith in Sajith-SJB, Champika or the JVP-NPP will not hesitate to reject Gotabaya. In real life the concrete conjuncture trumps the abstract and the theoretical.”

      I hardly believe that people would be proud of their cultural heritage, but the MLECHCHA media make them like that. If you woudl please interview hundreds coming from varioius walks of life ( educated and uneducated), there you would become closer to the truth – that many of them have no own opinions but their main primary info line has become ” HIRU and DERANA TV Channels” even if the aforementioned two channels sow ” blatant lies as their head line news”.
      .
      The main stream media of the day is to be charged for the entire mislead in this nation. As was the case in 80ties, not many in SL population collect their info through by reading news papers. Instead they sit before GOSSIPs TV channels to pick up their information. These TV channels abuse the average mind set as no other like minded countries would do.

    • 3
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      Dear old codger and nimal fernando,
      .
      If you have six minutes to spare, please listen to this, and note how “impressively” Sajith speaks English.
      .
      Please, whilst keeping you ears attuned to Sajith’s words, focus your eyes on the pretty face of Palki Sharma. If you have time left over after that, please look quickly at the comments below the youtube to see how earlier viewers (mostly Indians) have responded.
      .
      If other readers make comments on that, please keep in mind that nimal says that it is only oc who has a right to admire sexy Palki.

      • 1
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        SM,
        No, you’re mistaken. I like this little old lady better. Less beauty but more brains.
        https://youtu.be/4LgmaXQEyVQ

  • 8
    1

    KD, what is essential is to know the difference between right and wrong. ( though many falls into gray areas). This alone has now become a difficult task, given the complexity of issues and unlimited mostly unwanted information provided via social media, fake media, biased media, contradictory media , media to vonfuse —-etc.In fact Lankans who do not know their future are now trying to determine the future of Ukrainians.

  • 4
    6

    Do not worry about Ukraine fall out , our army is on stand by to meet any threat. We have a field marshal too. I don’t think either Russia or Ukraine has one.

  • 9
    1

    Dr. KD,

    You were among those who were arguing that Biden and Boris were talking up Ukraine in order to divert attention from domestic troubles. You have said nothing about it subsequently. How about showing some accountability by publicly conceding that you were wrong all along?

    And you continue to fail to grasp the fact that Putin’s attack on Ukraine has nothing to do with NATO expansion. Listen, Ukraine asked for NATO membership in 2008, but France and Germany were cautious, and there were no immediate plans for it to become part of NATO. What incensed Putin, a mafia leader used to genuflection from depraved Chechen bandits like Ramzan Kadyrov, was the Ukrainianians deposing a pro-Kremlin stooge and electing a democratically legitimate leader in Zelensky. He couldn’t accept ‘disloyalty’ from a state he considered his vassal. So your failure to recognize this is glaring.

    What is more, by invading Ukraine, Putin has scored his own goal: Russian aggression is an ever-present danger that Ukraine can defend only by being part of NATO. You have failed again to recognize this.

    [contd.]

    • 2
      4

      Hello Agnos,
      Both Biden and Boris have domestic problems –
      Biden’s approval ratings have dropped and the Democrats are not expected to do well in mid-term elections.
      Boris has to contend with the partygate saga.
      War in Ukraine is now the focus and both Biden and Boris are spared of increased scrutiny based on domestic considerations. The overenthusiastic response, particularly by Boris was to divert the attention away from the partygate. Hence, prof KD’s comments are valid.

      Ukraine becoming a member of NATO (with the associated siting of missiles) is certainly not acceptable to Russia just like the prospect of
      siting missiles in Cuba (remember JFK’s response) was not acceptable to the USA.
      The argument that a sovereign country is free to choose its military partners is not valid because such choices impact the security of a neighbour that happens to be a super power.
      A Russian military strategist for Russia is justified in concluding that Russia should have responded much earlier, well before the USA and the UK provided lethal arms, particularly in the context of the kind of arms that Ukrainian is currently deploying.

      • 6
        1

        Sunil,

        The implication from KD and others was that Putin wouldn’t actually start a war, that he was only applying pressure by massing the troops on the border, and that Biden and Boris were exaggerating that threat because of their domestic doldrums. But it has all been proven wrong. The war is real, and the Western intelligence was very accurate.

        I wasn’t a fan of Boris Johnson and his Brexit and party gate tantrums. Beyond that, I don’t follow British politics closely. Biden’s approval ratings have a lot to do with the polarization in the US that has created Congressional gridlock, not allowing Biden to accomplish much. Within the Democratic party, there is also a centrists vs. progressves split. The Covid crisis is another factor. The Federal Reserve’s poor management of the money supply has given rise to inflation, for which voters simply blame Biden, though it wasn’t Biden’s fault. The Ukraine conflict is another stressful crisis on top of all the others, so it isn’t accurate to say they are talking it up.

        The Cuban missile crisis happened at the height of the cold war. The USSR imploded. It is a new world since 1991. As for Western arms in Ukraine, the entire democratic world, except India which doesn’t want to antagonize Russia, has supported Ukraine.

        • 1
          2

          Agnos,
          Thanks.
          The situation is dynamic and has been changing rapidly since KD’s article.
          Your comment:
          ‘The implication from KD and others was that Putin wouldn’t actually start a war, that he was only applying pressure by massing the troops on the border, and that Biden and Boris were exaggerating that threat because of their domestic doldrums’
          represents what many analysts considered would happen.
          There were a number of meetings and NATO (essentially a military alliance) disregarded Russian concerns. We will never know the influence the USA had in the rejection of Russian concerns. What is clear is that both France and Germany attempted to avert this war.
          I do not agree with your comment ‘It is a new world since 1991’. The West led by the USA seeks to dominate the world. It would take a long essay to present the arguments to support such a view. As such, you may dismiss my view.
          India and China and the UAE have been neutral.
          The USA has won the propaganda war.
          I hope I am wrong in thinking that the logical conclusion is a war with nuclear weapons!

          • 1
            3

            Sunil
            There is a lot of post Cold War history that people choose to overlook.
            Start with the very basic question: Had NATO a genuine purpose after the Cold War?
            The US and partners used it to destroy Yugoslavia. Then to destroy an Asian country.
            What was the US pledge to Russia on NATO? Why was it breached?
            Trump was far more careful with Russia than Biden. He was even in Afghanistan. Biden started by personally insulting Putin. (Even JRJ used less hash words about Indira Gandhi.)
            COVID-19 pandemic in the election year caused him to pamic and he waged a trade war with China, which he lost, but Biden wants to continue by another name to his peril.
            The only hope is that Russia-Ukraine talks will return stability to the region.
            Nobody wins a nuclear war.

  • 9
    1

    While I am all for reforming the global capitalist system, even willing to go as far to the left as the Democratic Socialism of some European countries (and Bernie Sanders), I am squarely on the side of democracy and freedom. Ukraine represents democracy and freedom while Putin represents a depraved, mafia-style autocracy, and in the contest between the two, I am squarely and resolutely on the side of democracy.

    And suppose Russia is successful in annexing Ukraine; then the new greater Russia will border NATO countries like Poland and Romania. So what if Ukraine is free, becomes part of NATO, and the democracy vs. autocracy interface is the Russia/Ukraine border? As long as it is what the people of Ukraine want, it is the natural state of things.

    Ancient histories–often fanciful, contested, and unreliable–cannot be invoked to justify aggression against peaceful neighbors.

    • 7
      1

      Agnos, you said it bro. What you say are real facts. For typical stereotype Lankans it,s western media hysteria. KD is not alone ( but he seems genuine). People who live in the US know, usually during elections years public rally around the sitting President regardless of party differences during wars, because they want continuity and internal stability to wade off the foreign powers. So if at all it’s Putin who is helping Biden to lift some of his sagging popularity not other way as people parrot here.

  • 3
    3

    Gnana,
    It is not easy to predict where this will end.
    The present situation is no different from the Cuban crisis where Russia backed off and removed the missiles.
    The USA’s expectation is that Russia accepts being surrounded by NATO countries with missile batteries that threaten it.
    Regime change in Ukraine was just one element of a well-planned geopolitical strategy for global domination.
    It is a tragedy to see the deaths of both Ukrainians and Russians.
    Russia has never invaded another country apart from Afghanistan.
    The USA has.
    Examples are Iraq (pretext of looking for WMD with the support of Sir Blair!), Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Vietnam, successful regime change in Chile, attempted regime change in Venezuela (froze assets in the USA and the Bank of England holds Venezuelan gold).
    The Western press (The UK Telegraph, FT and BBC) failed to present the circumstances that led to this war. The sanctions may ultimately lead to the collapse of the USD centred financial system as we know it.

    • 7
      1

      Sunil,
      “Russia has never invaded another country apart from Afghanistan”
      You are sadly mistaken. Leave alone historically ( Siberia, Central Asia), Russia or the USSR invaded Poland , Finland and Iran under Stalin. Khrushchev invaded Hungary and Brezhnev Czechoslovakia.
      All empires do this, whether we like it or not. Self-interest is what matters.

      • 3
        0

        OC,
        Thanks.
        Yes, I am wrong.
        Now I remember, Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia.

        • 3
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          Sunil,
          Not to worry. Even I forget things. We aren’t getting any younger.

    • 2
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      Sunil, Cuba and Ukraine are different. Ukraine is in the backyard of Russia whereas Cuba is not. Russia cannot fight a war in Cuba and tactfully withdrew. Similarly USA cannot fight a war in Ukraine and is only firing verbal missiles, and urging European countries to step in. Have you heard that thugs do not like to be defeated. In a confrontation between gangs of two thugs, when one thug feels that he is going to lose, he will slowly vanish from the scene with his gang. This is the same with powerful countries. Whatever happens, final losers will be people of Ukraine. President of Ukraine did not have the wisdom to tackle Russia like what JR did in 1987.

      • 2
        1

        Ganna,
        Yes, I agree.
        Cuba does not share a border with the US whereas Ukraine and Russia do. Hence, the Russian situation is worse than what the USA experienced with the Cuban crisis.
        With modern weapon systems, such differences are of not great significance, apart from the ability to move military hardware directly across a border.
        What you note about JR is very true.

  • 4
    3

    “On the other side Biden and court jester Boris are playing to recoup domestic approval ratings.” Nice phrase. Faultless judgement.

  • 8
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    The trouble is Dr. Kumar, Ukraine, and especially her young people, WANT to modernize and be prosperous by joining NATO. They don’t want to be the stale, stagnant place under Russia’s beady eye, and/or give themselves up as a global sacrifice for Russia’s expansionist policies. It’s BORING to be under Russia. NATO is more fun.

    • 0
      3

      Everyone knows about Sajith, he is due to mental imbalance as well as no kids also.

  • 7
    3

    Dear Kumar,
    .
    Here’s good news:

    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rslRF5W55c
    .
    Just five minutes of it.
    .
    Kumar, you know international affairs so well, that it is with reluctance that I disagree with you strongly on one issue at least. However, I do grant that the tangible results of this are going to be seen only when we have quite different leaders.
    .
    I don’t think that Putin should be allowed to decide whether Ukraine should join NATO or not. Ukraine is a sovereign nation, and it now looks to me as though it is a more sophisticated one than I had earlier imagined. And in Zelensky they have a great leader.
    .
    I must give more thought to the issues that you have raised.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe

    • 3
      2

      I was wanting to express thoughts on Kumar’s questions, but it is difficult to formulate what one wants to say with all the heartbreaking news coming in.
      .
      I’m monitoring what many sites are saying, sometimes reading also a few comments, and making a brief comment myself.
      .
      7mintes of Tim Wilson; British, with extensive knowledge Eastern Europe, English Literature and Philosophy, etc. I hope that other readers also have mastered the art of viewing what’s on offer from Youtube:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JYRQ7R7ivk&t=329s
      .
      All this could become an obsession, I know. We must share our thoughts, but at this moment various insights are coming thick and fast.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe / Bandarawela

      .

      .

    • 2
      2

      Continuing stories of heroism from Ukraine:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9bEhTNgLVw
      .
      Six minutes there, if you want it.
      .
      Many sites are “live”.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-upyPouRrB8
      .
      Is this a new mental condition? Non-stop listening. We may not want to face upto the truth: This becomes a new form of entertainment.

    • 4
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      Sinhala_Man,
      If you think that Ukraine as a sovereign State should be allowed to decide whether to join NATO or not, do you think Putin will just keep quiet. Likewise if you think Sri Lanka as a sovereign State should be allowed to decide whether China to have its Naval Base either in Trincomalee or in Jaffna, do you think India will just keep quiet. The entire Sri Lanka will be conquered by India within minutes. It won’t be a surprise that there will be two independent Territories (derived from Sri Lanka) within he Union of India in accordance with the Constitution of India. Remember Ukraine did greater harm to India and also supplied dangerous bombs to sri Lanka to be dropped on the Tamils and their homes in 2009. Especially the Ukranian women pilots dropped dangerous chemical bombs on Tamils and in their homes. Because they were helpless they only prayed God. After 12 or 13 years God answered their prayers in the form of Russian attack on the Ukranians. This is Karma and is called Raja-Dharma in Hinduism. First try to realize that this is a complicated case where India has taken a wise decision asking Russia to halt the war. Russian respects Modi, Dr.Jaishankar and Nirmala Seetharaman as they abide by Dharma. I don’t think any of the Rajapaksas will ever be given such respect by a great leader.

      • 1
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        Dear AYATHURAY RAJASINGAM,
        .
        Before all else you, and other readers, should examine all the comments that I have posted below your own fine article:
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/stubborn-push-for-siege-of-hindu-temples-in-north-east-sri-lanka/
        .
        The parallels struck me a week ago when I first heard the “justifications” adduced by Putin, but I didn’t allow them to come on to these CT comments.
        .
        During my WhatsApp chat with “Human Touch” yesterday, he told me that most Lankans (he may have meant Sinhalese, but I now find some Tamils are talking about how Ukrainian arms were used against the LTTE & Tamil Civiians) are “on the side of Russia”. I attributed it to Sinhalese fear of the 65(?) million in Tamil Nadu.
        .
        Once more I remind you that this war is Civilised Life verses Vladimir Putin.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

        .

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      SM,
      “Ukraine is a sovereign nation, and it now looks to me as though it is a more sophisticated one than I had earlier imagined.”
      Sovereignty is highly over-rated. What do you think the US would do if Canada allied itself with Russia?
      It’s always difficult living next to a giant. The best strategy is to join them. That’s why I advocate that we should apply to join India before they decide to annex us. Screw Sovereignty. Electricity, milk, sugar, particularly, petrol are more important.

      • 2
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        OC
        Before our joining India, it has to put its house in order. India has made a mess of its affairs by joining QUAD (which after India’;s show of disloyalty risks becomin a Triad or a tripod). India always needed a patron to assert itself in South Asia.
        None of its neighbours seems to trust it.
        Even Male which India thought will be closer to it than to China, is now dragging its feet.

        • 1
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          OC,
          India is carefully handling the issue. It is following the Raj-Dharma diplomacy. Now it is giving aid to Ukraine on humanitarian grounds.

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          SJ,
          “India always needed a patron to assert itself in South Asia.None of its neighbours seems to trust it”
          If we were part of India, that wouldn’t matter.
          What matters is stability. We are too small, our politicians are incorrigible and economically foolish. Having a huge mass to counter-balance these tendencies would be useful. At the very least, we should set up a common currency so that half-baked accountants can’t play with it.
          The Sinhala Kings were much more integrated with India. Whole populations moved according to need. There were no passports or protectionist barriers. We need to think like them.

      • 0
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        OC,
        Good Morning.
        “That’s why I advocate that we should apply to join India before they decide to annex us. Screw Sovereignty. ELECTRICITY, MILK, SUGAR, particularly, PETROL are more important”
        You seem to have overlooked the good times with “KANDOS CHOCOLATES AND KIRI PANI AND KEKIRI”??!
        Also lot of Sri Lankans do well to recall, had the predominant view, (whether factual or not unable to vouch) in the past that Indian cities are filthy and reminisce to say, “full of human and animal excreta on every conceivable corner” and inhabitable squalor!
        They used to deride Indian cities, which seems to have changed and probably the factual status too has changed.
        The economic ‘Hyper Leap’, Chennai (Tamilnadu) and Bangalore (Karnataka) as centres of high technology industry last 2 decades and Employment opportunities, resulting in better living standards made them liveable!
        Not cosmetic, as infrastructure improvements, effected to change population lifestyle with changed demography, whilst retaining the charm and character of its ancient cities, rural and urban areas!
        That is economic emancipation and prosperity. Vistas or Not!!!
        Indians, equally as SL do, have disaffection for western influence, but definitely shown their liking to ‘Technology Transfer’ since independence.
        What CHANGE/EFFECT without “Vistas”??

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          Mahila,
          Parts of Mumbai and Delhi may not look as good as Colombo, yes. But we are the ones living from hand to mouth. As some have started asking,.”can we eat highways?”

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        I know that these are wise words from you.
        .
        Also, the respect that I have for you – despite your anonymity – is because of your consistency.
        .
        However, I’m conscious of two things: Russia has still, by far and away, the largest land area of any country on Planet Earth.
        .
        And this is not a war against Russia. It is a war against Vladimir Putin.
        .
        I used to be for World Government in my naive but idealistic teens. Neither the “League of Nations” nor the “United Nations Organisation” ever had teeth, but the concept of “One World” is still with me.
        .
        I hope that you’ll see these four minutes, and also many other short videos by this British Professor:
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIQtE4sYzt4
        .
        I’ve once more been writing till dawn!
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe

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      Sinhala_Man ,

      I am kind of tired of getting involved with comments that are taking us
      possibly nowhere ! But I do read them and occasionally feel like taking
      a dip with others . Coming to the point , “Ukraine is a Sovereign nation.”
      While giving due respect to your fully legitimate statement , I would
      like to draw your focus on certain historical facts and how certain norms
      are being looked at today. We all know that most valued part of Health
      care is Medicine ! One source sent me an email that said ” Food is health
      care and Medicine is Sick care ! A different way to look at things . And to
      one historical fact among a bunch of it : In the Arab history , there was a
      region called “Shaam” which is also called “Levant” , that borders Syria
      with Jordan , Lebanon , Palestine , Israel and some parts of Sinai and
      Mesopotamia ! Where is it now ? They were all Sovereign if the word
      Sovereignty existed then ! Same is the case with Kapilavasthu where
      Buddha was born . Was Buddha born in India ? Where were India , Pakistan
      and Bangladesh ? They are all Sovereign today but at each other’s throat !

    • 2
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      This is by the highly regarded historian, Professor Yuval Noah Harari

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/28/vladimir-putin-war-russia-ukraine
      .
      It’ll be a rewarding experience for readers to follow the links that he has given.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

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    Panini,

    “Should” is a moral question and the right to self determination (like free speech) is conditional as are all rights. But that’s not the point here.

    “Will” (be allowed) is a question of real-politics. Here is the truth about Great Powers.
    The US will never allow foreign nuclear bases on its doorstep (Monroe Doctrine, Cuba 1962)
    China will never allow nuclear (or any foreign) forces in Taiwan and and its close up waters
    India will never allow Chinese military bases in Sri Lanka
    Any Russian government that allows NATO bases (not EU membership) in Ukraine will not last long if the Russian people have their way. [This does not justify the invasion; please see m CT piece on Wed 2nd March].

    Ms Ramona, EU is fun, true. Not NATO. I think this is what you mean.

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      By the way KD, Putin threatened Austria, Finland and Sweden to not to join NATO. Now what may be the reason for that ??? As expected respective nation heads dismissed Putin’s empty threats stating “we have heard it before”. Did you hear, another clown from Russia saying “because of the sanctions, there is potential risk of a massive satellite of theirs, falling over India or China”. Is that a threat ???. Putin and his Foreign Minister boasted before invasion that ” Western sanctions have turned boring and does not excite them at all”. In that case there is no need to whine anymore.

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      “India will never allow Chinese military bases in Sri Lanka”
      Are you joking or what? they will not allow a Chinese solar panel to be installed in the Jaffna peninsula.
      *
      To China, Taiwan is part of China (as much as mainland China was once part (a rather big part) of the the Republic of China based in Taiwan. Can it do much about South Korea possessing them? Or for that matter Vietnam?
      *
      “Any Russian government that allows NATO bases (not EU membership) in Ukraine will not last long if the Russian people have their way.
      This does not justify the invasion;”
      What options were left before Russia with all the big talk by NATO?

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      eeakdavi,

      NATO structure and security….they work side by side.

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        NATO *gives EU* structure and security….they work side-by-side.

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    Vladimir Putin got it all wrong. He should have sent his troops to Srilanka. Had he done that all Srilankans would have greeted his soldiers lining up on both sides of the streets holding out red carnations and kavum to welcome them.

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      Important strategic thought unmatched by none

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        M
        “unmatched by none”
        Is it a compliment?

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          SJ,
          “Unmatched by none”
          Fully agree with your statement elsewhere as to the backwaters of major powers!
          Having India as the Neighbour and the relationship India has with Russia, since almost Indian independence, ‘that suggested/envisioned prospect’ could only remain a dream/vision.
          Nothing in reality!! So no one will match it in his sanity.
          Well, one may say “the prospect lacks pragmatism of thought”!!!
          I would not degrade the intelligence and thought process of the ‘Russian bear’, not that I fancy it!!!!

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    Poor Lanka’s shotguns are worthless in such a lawless world. SL should consider some chemical weapons and biological weapons at least. Just in case. Now SL will not get dollars for tea exports to Russia. Get weapons instead. Poor Putin will be happy to barter these for some tea.

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    KD could you please explain about the use of Russian Forex resrve amounting to more than 650 Billion. Now that banks , stock brokers. International transactions are suspended how good is the forex to prop up Ruble. Ruble has crashed and the stock markets were put on hold due to fears of panic and run on banks. Interest rates were raised to all time high 20% which is more than what was prior to Crimea invasion. With no one allowed to do international transactions how can Putin cash the foreign reserves. Putin,s own slush funds are freezed. With the new decree Putin like SirFail is forcing domestic traders and big lenders to part their $ for depreciated ruble.

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      When forex cannot be traded or exchanged in international markets it’s worthless isn’t it.

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        KD, Former PM of Russia Mikhail Kasyanov twittered” the West has disabled financial system by specifically targeting the central bank. There is nothing left to support the falling rubel. Hyper inflation and economic crisis are around the corner, get the machines out to print non stop “. Sounds familiar???

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