23 May, 2024

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Bold Buddhists & Progressive Tamils Must Interface: A Second Trump Term Poses Intrinsic Dangers Everywhere

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

If ethnic confrontation (the national-question, Sinhala-Tamil animosity, call it what you will) is ever going to be checked and reversed there is no force that can do it except the Buddhist clergy. Progressive Buddhism alone has the persuasive power and moral clout to impact the masses and transform the nation’s history. Imagine my delight when I heard that discussions have taken place between bold monks and Tamils in Europe, and if my information is reliable in the US, on the theme, pardon my slang, “This shit must stop; we must repair Lanka”. It’s the Buddhist side that for obvious reasons is crucial; the Tamil component does not call the shots. The Tamil participants included elements of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and Tamil groups that opine that Eelam-Talk is infeasible bullshit (pardon my slang one last time) and that a solution must be found within an undivided Sri Lanka.

The monks appreciate that a few bold young activists alone are not enough; discussions must penetrate all three ‘nikayas’. Secrecy is counter-productive; information must and will spill out – the sooner the better. Good news unlike good wine does not improve with keeping; I do hope I am not getting excited by a mere storm in a tea cup. In popular perception the Kandy based Malwatte and Asgiriya ‘nikayas’ (churches for want of a better word) are Govigama, while Amarapura, people say, is open to others. If I am wrong it shows how ignorant of everyman’s knowledge everyday Buddhism. My main point however is not this; it is that the discourse I have refered to must penetrate the Buddhist masses if it is to have political impact. 

The Tamil participants included Tamils who though cautious (once bitten twice shy) would be happy to see Sri Lanka return to a multi-ethnic democratic state. The indispensable condition above all else is that the state guarantees the physical security of its citizens from rape, murder, arson and violence. A national minority for which the state cannot provide physical security must seek secession or separation I urge. What on earth is the use of language, education, juridical recognition, and promotion rights if physical safety of life and limb is absent? In the case of Lanka the state can provide this guarantee only if it ceases to be the agent of Sinhala-Buddhism and the only force that can achieve such a transformation is a bold section of the Buddhist clergy. The DS, SWRD, Sirima, JR and Premedasa led governments were dismal failures on this score. This is the challenge a discourse within Buddhism must have the courage to take on. I am in turn enthusiastic and cautious about the outcome of the current process. If a significant section of the Buddhist clergy is unable to measure up to this challenge no one else can. 

The other force that has accomplished similar feats elsewhere are the Enlightenment that accompanied the French Revolution, and the left in Twentieth Century revolutions. The latter’s zeitgeist in Lanka, the JVP, is as yet unready to come forward on this matter. It seems confused about how to break the stranglehold of Sinhala-Buddhism on state power. 

A left perspective

If the discussions I have spoken of are to be meaningful the discourse must enter the public domain. It is not possible and it is undesirable to keep these initiatives hush hush. To have an effect among the Sinhalese people and in order to influence the Tamils, statements have to be issued, at the appropriate time by both sides. After that others like this commentator can enter the debate.

I am now going to make two comments that coming from a hard-core Samasamajist like me may sound sacrilegious. First, the Colvin-Sirima constitution was defective in that Chapter 2 made Buddhism the state religion but this turned out to be a retrogressive (NM disliked it but held his peace because he couldn’t oppose a Republic). Thankfully the monks in the discourse that this essay adverts to are willing to be rid of it.      

The second comment is one that I must word carefully if I am not to be misunderstood. Colvin in his enthusiasm to reverse centuries of feudal and colonial rule was enthusiastic in locating sovereignty in the people not in officials of the state. Therefore the Republican Constitution endowed the elected representative of the people (the MPs) with power over the unelected public service. The Minister at last took precedence over the Permanent Secretary. It was three decades later, after the fall of Coalition Government and the coming into office of the Rajapaksa hoodlum-regime that the power of racketeering MPs over the public service struck disaster into the heart of country’s administrative system. Colvin is not responsible for the economic crisis that caused the fall of the Coalition – that’s a topic in its own right – nor is he responsible for flagrant corruption of Rajapaksa-era MPs who took their que from their boss and his family. It is only that the high democratic principle that Colvin had championed in 1972 turned out to be a disaster in a different epoch and context, that is, in the epoch after 2005. That’s not his liability.

The International Context

This brings up the need to place these developments within a rapidly changing international context. There are many international developments that will influence this country. I will discuss just one of them here, Trump’s possible re-election because it will have far ranging global influences as I will explain. 

Plans are afoot to make the unelected administrative officials and military subservient to the “elected” US President.  The July 15-21, 2023 Economist magazine devotes a three page briefing (“Chaos meets preparation”) about the planning for a second trump term which I summarise in two paras – even the Economist is becoming verbose The American Heritage Foundation, one of think-tanks that stood behind Regan and an outfit called the America First Policy Institute are in the forefront planning to ‘deconstruct’ the administration and take it over from the inside so that a re-elected Trump will have a pliant instrument in his hands. Known as Schedule-F, three to four thousand administrative officers are being readied as shock troops to “take-over” the state and the 300 administrative offices that issue and interpret federal regulations. It will be an invasion with the clout of the Marine landing on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day. An authoritarian administration that brooks no opposition will only accelerate from the inside the already visible unravelling of American democracy. 

Other contingent losers will be global warming, green energy (the US is already the world’s largest producer of oil), countries that “do not contribute enough” to defence spending and Ukraine’s opponents in the war that Putin foolishly unleashed. India which is buying cheap Russian oil with gusto will also come into America’s cross-hairs. Inevitably relations with China will head steeply downward. The setback for limiting global warming and for the environment as a whole as Trump’s Schedule-F team push a pro-business agenda will be hefty. 

Take for example the world’s most cherished national parks, Virunga in Eastern Congo (the only remaining habitat of the mountain gorilla) and the numerous Tiger reserves such a Ranthambore that dot India, Both will be erased by commercial-market inroads, alias Capitalism. I cannot resist using a quotation from Jim Corbert: “The tiger is a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage and if he is exterminated—as exterminated he will be unless public opinion rallies to his support—India will be the poorer, for having lost the finest of her fauna.” The irony is that public opinion all over the world has rallied to the support of wildlife and wilderness, it is capitalism’s thirst for minerals, lumber, gold and rare-earth materials that is raping the environment. (Of course it is society’s responsibility to protect the livelihood and homes of adjacent communities but this can be done with minimal resource commitments). 

A Trump second-term presages a dangerous and different world. The Economist fondly imagines that a second term will be the last as the constitutional limitation on two presidential terms will kick in. I opine differently. With shady characters like Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court unless impeachment or death delivers salvation anything is possible. In a worst case scenario the court could hold that a Trump victory in 2020 was “stolen” and to compensate for this loss he is eligible to stand again in 2028. The land of the free and the home of the brave may, paradoxically, be destined to live in “interesting times” fulfilling an ancient Chinese curse.  

I also feaa’ that second Trump poses dangers for the Buddhist-Tamil reconciliation efforts that I have thus far been so starry-eyed about. A Thucydidean Trap between China and the US is emerging and we will be sucked into these gigantic currents. Neither the Gautama nor Elephant Headed Ganesh can defend us from these gigantic conflicts. For about five decades America championed globalisation, world trade, unrestricted foreign investment especially in China (thank you Deng Xiao Ping) and unregulated currencies. Now the Thucydides Trap has snapped shut for two reasons. First China’s growing dominance in world trade, its real-estate crisis notwithstanding, and Chinese advancement in cutting edge technology such as AI; robotics and green energy technologies. America is losing the global free trade and investment battle. 

The second reason is that China is a far greater military threat than it was 50 years ago especially in the Far Eastern, Taiwan, Pacific and Indian Ocean theatres. These are very general comments but surely Sri Lanka is alive to the deadly implications of aggressive Trump incited foreign policy to our survival. I am sure I can leave it at that. That a Trump second term will be extremely uncomfortable for Sri Lanka, the countries of the Himalayan north-east, Southeast-Asia including Taiwan and the Indian Ocean is obvious.  

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Latest comments

  • 16
    1

    trump will not get a second term kumar.In case youhave not noticed the demographics in the US has changed considerably since the advent of the 21st century.In the 20th century white women have been having one to two chldren and many none at all while the blacks and hispanic women have had more than 5 on average.So now in the 21st century the tree has started to bear the fruits called votes.

    That is why the rattled whites are now rethinking about democracy and attacking capital hill.

  • 8
    1

    ‘… a solution must be found within an undivided Sri Lanka’.
    We cannot give up the hope that one fine day there will be a solution acceptable to both the antagonists.
    The current impasse is the outcome of a desire to resolve a thorny situation, in a hurry.
    There is no band-aid solution for a festering wound.

  • 26
    0

    Thank you Dr KD for the article.
    We criticise poor and their mindset in developing coutnries, but so called police of the world dont set examples by their behaviours. No lawful verdicts regarding former president Trump yet today in america which is still the powerful country in the world.

    This world is not at all lawbound for everyone equally.. Even with 4 indictments, Trump is not yet arrested or remanded, in America aka most powerful COUNTRY, where democracy rules, but they are considered the world’s police.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5k0pPklpto

    That means, political power and the wealthy standards of a person violates the law and order in public. The joke is that these men are offered impunity in public.

  • 2
    19

    As usual Kumar sees the World through his distorted Marxist lens. The fact that Marxism has a 100% failure rate doesn’t bother him – we need more Marxism!
    *
    This is also why Kumar continues to be wrong on so many issues.
    *
    There is no “Climate Emergency”. It is a huge scam. None of the predictions made by the IPCC have come true. Please research it – these predictions go back to the late 1960s. Perhaps we need to stop listening to the IPCC.
    *
    Carbon Dioxide is NOT a pollutant Kumar – no reputable scientist will claim that.
    *
    Populism = Fascism according to Kumar’s worldview. Populism = the will of the people. That’s called Democracy where I come from.
    *
    Kumar’s Trump Derangement Syndrome is on full display once again. Trump is none of the things that the media (and Kumar) claims that he is.
    *
    The charges they keep bringing against him are ridiculous – it’s an effort to de-rail his re-election bid.
    *
    Yes – the 2020 election was stolen by the Democrats. There is no way Biden (who spent most of the election campaign in his basement) got more votes than Obama. One of the unexpected consequences of prosecuting Trump is that this may finally be revealed in court – there is plenty of evidence.

    • 10
      1

      Readers,
      .
      A UK citizen may be biased. His attitudes are pro-Republican. How can anyone who has studied how TRUMP the clown killed millions through COVID-19 be pro-Republican?
      He couldn’t sort it all out – it can be compared to how our former petrol shed assistant (Gotabaya) couldn’t even sort out that cooking gas issue. Remember?
      .
      What is a pollutant?
      .
      An excess of anything in a place can be a pollutant, as any school-going child knows. Some people may say, CO2 is not a pollutant, but it is. I know some papers classify it as others but that’s not true.

      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/greenhouse-gases

    • 8
      0

      UK Citizen

      I don’t know if you really live in UK but I do, so I am surprised that you are unaware of the climate change issue that most UK citizens are concerned about. As a Trump supporter, I can understand you being a climate change denier & believe all those current forest fires raging in Canada, Hawaii & Europe are probably normal acts of nature, maybe even the wrath of god. However, you are wrong about Co2, which can be called a pollutant as an abundance of Co2 that cannot be absorbed by plants will contribute to greenhouse gas trapping heat in the atmosphere, leading to a hotter climate . I work in the motor industry & Co2 as exhaust gas emissions are a big issue, As a result, the Govt. is banning all internal combustion engine vehicles from 2030.

      No doubt, as a Trump believer, you must be believing that SL’s answer to Trump, MR too, is falsely accused of mega crimes. After all, they both want to make their respective countries ‘great’, despite Trump dodging tax all his life (because he is ‘smart’) or MR pocketing Tsunami funds so that he can distribute the money personally.

      • 5
        3

        “As a Trump supporter”
        I thought that you were more intelligent than that!

        • 2
          1

          SJ
          I was referring to UK Citizen, not me. I assumed he is a Trump supporter because he seems to be believing Trump that climate change is a conspiracy & coming to his defence.
          I think it’s not intelligence but racism that binds Trump supporters. The Middle Christian white vote base has our Sinhala Buddhist supremacist mentality. He seems to be a Us Citizen than a UK citizen because, as far as I am aware, most Brits consider Trump as a joker, just like his look alike mate, Boris J.

    • 9
      3

      UKC
      One does not need the help of Marxism to be wrong on any matter.
      You do it better than Kumar without such help.

    • 6
      0

      UK Citizen,

      “Yes – the 2020 election was stolen by the Democrats.”

      Any evidence?

      “One of the unexpected consequences of prosecuting Trump is that this may finally be revealed in court – there is plenty of evidence.”

      Why did all the other cases of “election fraud” brought in by Giuliani, Powell and others get thrown out – some even by Trump appointed judges? ……. So, only Trump has the real evidence and will only present it when he is dragged into a court room?


      “The charges they keep bringing against him are ridiculous – it’s an effort to de-rail his re-election bid.”

      So, let us have, in your own words …….. what the DOJ should do with the person who conspired to attack Capitol Hill …… and the shenanigans with the state-electors? Do nothing?

      When Trump/MAGA/Republicans try to steal elections the DOJ should do nothing …….. but when nutters/whackos/loonies accuse their opponents of stealing elections without any evidence, it should stick, eh? ……… Others should be as deluded as they are, eh? :))


      Interesting reading you ……. you are one dude who can brilliantly articulate your stupidity! …….. That’s a rare talent!!!

      • 3
        0

        Nimal,
        “you are one dude who can brilliantly articulate your stupidity! …….. That’s a rare talent!!!”
        Another talent you missed…….He’s got you, SJ, LM, Raj, all against him. Only Sinhala Man pretends not to know.

        • 3
          0

          OC,

          He looks like a troll trying to wind people up. ……… That’s what I’ve tried to do all my time in the forum. :))

          SM is pure natural-born! :)))

          • 0
            1

            NF,
            .
            For some reasons SM is silent these days. He as a NPP promoter owes us an explanation on the following issue.
            .
            Dear OC, NV and all other logical thinkers,
            .
            I wonder why Janata Vimukthi Peramuna did not raise a voice against the person called “Horu Dostara Tambugala” who is the convener of a platform for all artists in Sri Lanka.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKezEgRjWb8

            This Tamugala is said to give each artist 50K per month irrespective of their performance hours per month. JVPs are their motto to be impartial to anyone who points the finger, however JVP is one good example that proves their behavior does not change.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnhOrDk_79c

            The most senior singer in the Sri Lankan music industry, T.M. Jayaratne and many others are keeping public in favor of this fake doctor only by sending money to their account. Some publicly said that Tambugala must be like a god. Even if the drug traffickers transfer money to these artists, they fold like rubber in front of them. So-called artists do not respect any truth.
            .
            At the same time, singer T.M. Jayaratne is a popular public speaker of JVP and perhaps JVP’s silence on this scam depends on TM’s blind faith in JVP.
            :
            What do you think of this doctor?

        • 3
          0

          If you gentlemen have an opportunity to access Netflix, I recommend you watch a documentary called ‘Get me Roger Stone’, it’s about the man who moulded Trump’s political career.

          • 3
            0

            Roger Stone is a throwback to the Nixon era …….. he should be in jail if Trump didn’t pardon him.

            Stone, Bannon, and a few others took credit for Trump’s win …….. but Trump was always a hustler ……. who could have many people in the palm of his hand.

            A lot of credit was given to George Martin for the success of The Beatles …… until Paul McCartney asked “Where are his other successful acts/musicians?” …….. It was The Beatles that were responsible for their own success more than Martin. The same should be asked of Stone, Bannon et al.

            Trump’s behaviour is shaped more by the early influence Roy Cohn had on him. ……. Cohn was a throwback to the McCarthy era and ruined many lives during the witch hunts. ……. Got some poetic justice in his last stages: all his “friends” forsook him.


            Ranil “influencer” OC – who ruined SM’s life – will suffer no such fate ……. his beloved will always be by his side! …… Fortune always walk along some guys ……… :))

  • 16
    4

    “This s**t must stop; we must repair Lanka”
    If it is from the US, the word Lanka should be changed to ‘the US’.
    *
    The US is in deep s**t on all fronts, and a second Trump term is bad but will a second Biden term be any good?

  • 27
    5

    “China is a far greater military threat”
    China is strong militarily, but it is not a threat yet to anyone.
    The biggest threat this far has been the US. And China is well place to stand up to the US.

  • 6
    4

    It was under Trump that the US was disengaging from global conflicts, not under Biden, who has drawn the US into more conflicts.
    If Trump is a threat to peace in this little piece of land surrounded by sea water, Biden will if at all be a worse threat. It will be good to remember that the US foreign policy is not decided by any elected primate however intelligent.

  • 4
    1

    Remnants of old school of socialists have become bold and energized since 2022. Not only Trump, Pol Pot is equally dangerous too. In fact he poses the greatest intrinsic danger every where. Hopefully bold Buddhists and progressive Tamils understand the current situation well.

  • 3
    5

    Prof. Kumar David
    You say, “… a solution must be found within an undivided Sri Lanka.” For what? And, how do you propose to appease Tamil separatist MPs, who now carry the baton dropped by LTTE terrorists, “within an undivided Sri Lanka”.
    You are an LTTE terrorist sympathizer, but you should be able to think by yourself. Any solution to separatism will divide Sri Lanka and in no time exiled LTTE members will land in North and East and take control of the two provinces. In the past, you yourself praised LTTE’s capability of (illegally) possessing airplanes and ships. Have you ever thought your so-called “solution” will be a return ticket to exiled LTTE terrorists?
    Even the full implementation of the 13th Amendment will provide the separatists the right to demarcate territories that were previously occupied by the Sinhalaese farmers, and also the ancient temple lands. It will pave the way for an unceasing border dispute between Tamils and the Sinhalese. What will happen? Our Sinhalese ancestors fought against three powerful Settler Colonists for 443 years to protect our Sinhala Buddhist heritage. As proved by our Sinhalese history, we will never give up.

    • 1
      4

      Champa dear,
      “Our Sinhalese ancestors fought against three powerful Settler Colonists for 443 years to protect our Sinhala Buddhist heritage. As proved by our Sinhalese history, we will never give up.”
      Who was that guy Gandhi, who went around half-naked, and never asked for a knighthood, or dubbed himself Anagarika?

  • 3
    0

    Dear Nathan, you had questioned it somewhere else. I am afraid, I could not find your post again as I was about to post the following. . So I added it below for your information.
    .
    The ceremonial presidency and its role in a country torn by unnecessary wars:

    As you know whole lot our people are like poisonous reptiles. South Asia has more of such people living in poverty than any other geographical regions in the entire world. Experts say it amounts to be 25% of world s population.

    Researchers believe that if humans are not guided by strict law and order enforcement, they are no different from non-human animals. I fully agree with that. If you wander around the metropolis of Colombo, it become even obvious. I did my homework again last month for a period of 3 weeks. So I really know what I’m talking about.

    • 2
      0

      Dear leelagemalli,
      If you were referring to the following,
      ‘Sinhala_Man,
      non-executive = ceremonial.
      What is the need for a ceremonial President’.
      My comment appears under,
      Reform Prospects: Missing Middle, Last Chance, Aragalaya-2?

  • 1
    1

    Talking about Donal Trump is a waste of time. He or the GOP has absolutely no chance of winning the 2024 US Presidential Election.
    Then, there was a debate among the GOP presidential-hopefuls yesterday. One may wonder whether they took a leaf out of Sri Lanka’s Parliament!
    During Trump’s first term, he has mainly focused on the business and corporate sector. He is business savvy, but Mr. Joe Biden is smarter than him. I made a list of Mr. Biden’s achievements for the last 2.5 years.
    The Ukraine crisis will play a major role in the upcoming US Presidential Election. As I said before, Mr. Biden’s best bet is peace, not war.
    Contd’……..

    • 3
      1

      The latest news from Russia is the death of the Wagner boss who was said to be in the passenger list of the private jet that crashed with him. There is only one surprise, which is, why didn’t Ukraine or the CIA take the credit of eliminating the Wagner boss? They have all the reasons to do that. After all, the Wagner boss was instrumental in decimating a large number of Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut. He even took pride in doing so, including committing some war crimes-made-to-order so that Ukraine can give wide publicity to them. I am surprised that Ukraine, White House and western media are not celebrating Wagner boss’s death.

      • 3
        4

        C
        Cannot you see? There is opportunity to pin it on Putin.

      • 0
        0

        Actually I should have mentioned Prigozhin as the “former Wagner boss”, because soon after his short-lived mutiny, his leadership in the group was discontinued and the Wagner fighters were placed under the direction of someone else. That means, the group will continue its work as usual, wherever they are deployed.
        I believe that Wagner fighters were pardoned because they had no clue that they were taking part in an anti-government coup orchestrated by their boss. (Source: an interview with one of Wagner fighters published in BBC news). Apparently, Wagner fighters had been ordered to return to Russia upon completion of their services in Ukraine and Prigozhin had tried to portray that they were taking part in his mutiny. If Prigozhin had succeeded, there would have been a large number of high profile assassinations that destabilized Russia. If this happened in a western country, the armed coup leader and the coupists would have been killed within minutes to restore “democracy, and law and order”. But, Mr. Putin’s approach was different. Within hours, he quelled Prigozhin’s mutiny without deploying a single soldier!!!

        • 0
          0

          Who killed Prigozhin? The available information is not sufficient to accuse anyone. Ukraine’s former Interior Minister, his deputy and senior Ministry officials were also killed in a similar manner. In both cases, there were no sounds of explosions and both aircraft had come down very fast and crashed onto the ground. As anyone can plainly see, the jet where Prigozhin was on board was not on fire until it crashed onto the ground, which invalidates the US military theories that the jet may have been attacked by a Russian surface-to-air-missile or a bomb that exploded inside the jet. I am sure the CIA can come up with a convincing narrative of the incident.

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