By Kumar David –
I was concerned that the Muslim community worldwide, progressives debating the Palestinian imbroglio, those who are not acerbic pro-Israeli in the US and our own Muslim community here in Lanka would be distressed by Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate. “Where does Kamala Harris stand on Israel – in her own words” gives answers to many question. Regarding Lanka’s Muslims I was surprised to get a sober if resigned response from the Muslims I interacted with at a recent seminar. “A heavy pro-Israel bias is a pre-qualification any politician must have to run for office in the US” was their resigned response. That’s true though depressing but to get this softer line from Muslims was not what I was expecting.
So far as US international policy is concerned whether it’s the B-H team or the T-P team that wins will make only limited difference. There will be more significant domestic policy differences but don’t hold your breath. There will be zero difference in Middle East and trade policy, and very significantly China policy will be the same. There is bipartisan determination to slow down or roll back the rise of China. Both Dems and the GOP are fearful of the inevitable rise of China to global economic supremacy and to it’s climb up the strategic ladder. Pompeo may be a worst-case cold-war freak but there is bipartisan support for efforts to overthrow the Chinese state and to use Hong Kong as a Trojan Horse for striking deep. Remember how Berlin was used as a dagger to thrust into the heart of the USSR.
There will be differences in climate policy, repairing fences with Europe and some weak efforts to restore the Iran nuclear agreement though I am not sure of the last one. I expect significant revisions of domestic policy especially healthcare, but US domestic issues are not the concern of my column today. The gargantuan visible difference will be that an erratic, idiosyncratic, eccentric and narcissistic US president will be a thing of the past if the Dems win. America can wake up as though from a bad dream.
Returning to my Sri Lanka theme none of the local communities nor the bigger SL political picture will see any difference if Trump is defeated. The US has no real strategic interest in Lanka (modern technology has made Trincomalee and our location in the Indian Ocean militarily insignificant; the truly vital regional choke point is the Straits of Malacca) but the US will support India’s vital concerns. Any substantial strategic threat to India in the Island will be snuffed out promptly with US support and Chinese handwringing. But the US does have economic-strategic global interests all along the Chinese Belt-and-Road. China is forging ahead using its huge economic muscle to firm up its global clout. It knows it’s on course to becoming the economic superpower of this century and the US knows its response to the challenge has been too slow. Hence MMC etc is the US ‘belt-and-road’ answer. Our jokers over here will accept the $480 million, have no doubts about that.
Pushing the Muslims to the wall and provoking another 1983 is up to our benighted compatriots and leaders. In my view Gota does not hate Muslims in the way that JR loathed Tamils; his need is to mollycoddle saffron robes, Weera-Gamanpillars and the Viyathmaga racists. If rioting, arson and carnage starts, Gota may shoot; this is different from 1983. Certain classes of politicos and journalist will continue to irritate the Muslims of course but they will stay mostly indoors. Racists and rioters, including those in uniform are born-again cowards. If JR had allowed one battalion to let loose a single fusillade of grape shot in 1983, the riots would have fizzled out in half an hour. But he hated Tamils and wanted to teach them a lesson. Gota however does not want riots on his watch; it will finish off his image and undermine his mystique for keeps. Presumptive VP Kamala will be pleased because the US knows from bitter experience that tangling with the sons of the prophet is no cake walk.
The parents of KH’s newly minted Chief of Staff, Rohini Kosuglue (Koseoglu I understand is a name of Turkish origin), Wijeram and Shobhana Ravindran are of Jaffna origin. Wije was a few years senior to my buddy Jayantha at St Thomas and J is eagerly awaiting his invitation to tiffin at the White House – maybe masala vaddai and Jaffna coffee, you know the stuff that tastes like kothamali powder.