Sunday 26 December 2021

India must act as a democracy (The Sunday Guardian)

 Prime Minister Narendra D. Modi fast tracked the Look East policy of P.V. Narasimha Rao by going forward with an Act East policy. During the 1990s, the economic size of India was not sufficient to achieve more than looking at the east of India with an intensity that had been absent during the period in office of his predecessors. Among the multiple “buses” that India missed boarding was membership of ASEAN, the offer of which was turned down by then Prime Minister, Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi, presumably on the advice of those around her who visibly favoured the Soviet line in matters of economic and foreign policy. This was a contrast to the eagerness shown to be a part of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 1969. Saudi Arabia and several other Muslim-majority countries wanted India to be a part of the grouping in 1969 when it convened at Rabat, but General Yahya Khan, the then dictator of Pakistan prevailed over New Delhi’s diplomacy and ensured that the invite given to India to join was withdrawn. It was only in 2019 that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was invited by the hosts of that year’s conference, the UAE, to be the Guest of Honour. The Prime Minister of Pakistan sought to replicate what Yahya Khan had earlier done, and threw what in colloquial terms is known as a “hissy fit”, demanding that the invite to Sushma Swaraj be withdrawn. Given that by then the Pakistan government had become an international beseecher of assistance from the prosperous GCC countries, this time around the OIC refused to bow to Rawalpindi’s dictates. EAM Swaraj attended as Guest of Honour and gave a memorable speech. The prestige of the OIC was boosted by the manner in which the organization stood up to GHQ Rawalpindi and its Hinduphobia. To the amateur sociologists in khaki at the ISI, any Muslim living in a country that does not have a Muslim majority has to be seen differently from those in countries with a Muslim majority. That Muslims usually do much better in countries where the majority of the population does not belong to that faith. The OIC would do well to recognize this, and to go forward in the direction taken by the UAE and more recently by Saudi Arabia, two countries where the rulers are completely devoted to the tenets revealed by the Prophet Mohammad more than 1,500 years ago. They understand the necessity of co-existence and mutual respect of faiths, the absence of which leaves a country in ruins after a while. The OIC has a responsibility towards the billion-plus Muslims of the globe, and this is to ensure that the extremism of Wahhabism and its cousin Khomeinism be rolled back, and the Ummah get returned to the path of harmony of all human beings given that each is the creation of the same Eternal Force. In such a context, it was a disappointment that Official India refused to openly back the Afghan people rather than remain silent at the Trump and Biden-assisted capture of Afghanistan by the Taliban. As Suhasini Haider has pointed out in a newspaper column, the Lutyens Zone refused to understand the inevitable outcome of the surrender to the Taliban at Doha by President Donald Trump in 2020. Rather than reverse such a disastrous course, the man who cast himself as the obverse of Trump meekly went along with the handing over of power to the Taliban. In this, Joe Biden has followed the example set by Bill Clinton in 1996, who was the US President who ensured that the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan in 1996.

This unfortunate decision of Clinton to hand over Afghanistan to the Taliban in 1996 was the precursor to the 9/11 attack of 2001, although former President Clinton has thus far escaped the responsibility for the act of terror that was perpetrated by Wahhabi hijackers who were sheltered by the Taliban and their sponsors across the Durand Line. That terror attack changed the world in the manner than the WHO-approved response of government to the virus that leaked from a Wuhan lab in 2019 did. Hundreds of millions have become poorer and more wretched as a consequence of WHO-mandated lockdowns that killed jobs and changed society on a scale unprecedented in human history. The number of those who are poor has shot up as a consequence of the lockdowns that were imposed by country after country on the prodding of the WHO in 2020. Statistics are the proof of science and the fact that Sweden has the lowest additional deaths in Europe despite its mild measures shows the fact that lockdowns hardly helped. During 2021, PM Modi refused to get stampeded into another crippling series of lockdowns once the Delta variant spread across India, and far from presiding over a disaster as was forecast by the usual doomsayers, the Prime Minister looks upon a country where the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 has gone down sharply after a sharp spike earlier in the year, and the economy appears set on the path towards recovery. India is the world’s most populous democracy, and even if the GDP of the country is barely larger than that of Amazon, the fact is that being a democracy and having a central position where the security and freedom of access into and out of the Indo-Pacific is concerned have given India the status of a major power. What is needed is to ensure that such a status is leveraged to advantage. A way of ensuring this would be to avoid the usual Lutyens Zone obfuscations in foreign policy, and clearly state that New Delhi stands on the side of those powers that seek a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Prime Minster Modi, assisted by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh have several times made this point publicly. Unless those countries seeking to shift manufacturing and other assets from the PRC to another location are convinced that India will under no circumstances fall under the domination of the PRC, they will hesitate in shifting the facilities they own from China to India. Another action that needs to be taken is to anchor India within an alliance system that would deter any attack by the Sino-Wahhabi alliance, or ensure the defeat of Sino-Wahhabi forces should such an attack be launched across the Himalayan massif or elsewhere. In the meantime, India need not be ambiguous about its commitment to the democracies. It is an error to not join in the diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics that has been agreed to by the other members of the Quad. The only outlier is India, and in case the other Quad partners regard it as desirable that India join them in a boycott, this should be done. It is welcome that Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla publicly asked the military in Myanmar to not ride roughshod over democracy but ensure justice to those it jailed during the coup less than a year ago. India needs to call for the release of a trusted friend, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, rather than avoid the subject of her illegal incarceration altogether. PM Modi is a leader defined not by words but by action. So must the policy of India be.


India must act as a democracy

Relook needed at responses to SARS2 (The Sunday Guardian)


Where is the science in shutting down entire economies?

Leni Riefenstahl was a German filmmaker who in the 1930s was entranced by Adolf Hitler and by implication his noxious prescriptions for society. She served as a propagandist for the Nazi Party, and in 1935 produced the “Triumph of the Will”, documenting the Nazi Party convention at Nuremberg the previous year. This had been held after Hitler had been given charge of the German government in 1933 by a cabal of highly placed influentials, who were nervous at the possibility of a seizure of power by the Communist Party. They regarded the “Austrian corporal” as easy to control, and did not take seriously his rantings about war, bloodshed and conquest. Within a year, Hitler and his henchmen had seized complete control of the government and had either cowed into submission or sent into concentration camps those who had opposed him. The German Communist Party, interestingly, had been following Stalin’s line that the Social Democrats and the Nazis were “not antipodes but twins”. The Social Democrats, who together with the Communists could have taken control of Germany and kept the Nazi Party at bay had they worked together. Instead, much of the aggression of the Communists were directed towards the Social Democrats, who had shown great courage in resisting Hitler and his psychotic agenda. By 1935, both the Communist as well as the Social Democratic Party had been broken up by Nazi thugs, many of whom had since 1933 become part of the machinery of the state. The infatuated Riefenstahl chose not to look at the underside of the rock that she fancied Hitler to be, and called his ascent to power the triumph of the will. That it was, accompanied by generous dollops of luck as well as the reality that the greater the misfortunes undergone by the German people, the greater was the appeal of Hitler and his simplistic slogans. Fortunately for the rest of the world, in Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, the UK and the US had a pair of leaders who early on had understood the menace that the Nazis represented to human civilisation. The Nazis dealt with the Dutch the way the latter had dealt with the Indonesians, the French in the manner that they had themselves treated the Vietnamese, and the British with the same superior condescension that Whitehall was treating the people of India. The mass killings and genocidal impulses of European colonisers in Asia, Africa and South America were replicated in 20th century Europe during the early phases of the 1939-45 war. This was before 1943, the year when the combination of American weaponry and Russian bravery had begun to prevail over the German armies that had earlier been swarming across Europe with apparent ease. In their wake was the SS and the Gestapo, killing machines that were put into use by Hitler and his associates, most harshly against the Jewish inhabitants of Europe and the Roma, who still suffer persecution and discrimination across Europe despite the decades that have gone past since the murderous sway of Hitler and a people, nearly a third of whom somehow were in thrall to an individual who had from the start of his career in public life made no secret of his intention to convert Europe into a slaughterhouse. That Hitler had the will to power and to implement his toxic plans was undoubted. What seems equally clear is that several of the present crop of heads of government (they cannot by any definition be called “leaders”) have lost any will that they may have had to ensure that the people they are presumed to serve be subjected to policies that generate progress rather than regression. That SARS2 was lab created seems difficult to deny, although the worthies in the US and Europe who assisted in the development of “gain of function” techniques in Wuhan and other locations in the PRC continue to do so, eager to escape blame for their role in the catastrophe that the combination of SARS2 and the WHO-approved responses of governments to the novel coronavirus has brought upon so many countries.
Science is based on fact, and statistical analysis indicates that the Omicron mutation that is now spreading across boundaries is much milder than its Delta predecessor. That those who catch the virus have either no or very mild symptoms. This has been pointed out most insistently by the South African experts, who first isolated the strain only to be punished for it rather than appreciated. Hospitalisations of those who have been afflicted by the Omicron mutation are much fewer than was the case with Delta. And yet there is a barrage of scary news about Omicron, and warnings of possible doom from the present leaders of the two countries that showed the wisdom and the moral courage to confront Hitler in the previous century. Among the reasons why Joe Biden is fast becoming the principal cause of the present downslide in the fortunes of the Democratic Party is his decision to retain Dr Anthony Fauci as his principal medical adviser, despite the latter’s role in supporting those in the US who funded and in other ways assisted the Wuhan virological facility to develop SARS2 from a harmless to humans natural form of the novel coronavirus. Outsourcing nuclear waste or noxious plants to other countries has long been a practice of some countries, although questions need to be asked about the morality and ethics of assisting research designed to make a virus more transmissible and deadly to humans than it previously was while still in its natural state. President Biden may not be upset that several of his medical assistants are complicit in the development of SARS2 although possibly not in its dissemination, but a goodly portion of voters in the US must be looking askance at such tolerance. There has been much talk of “following the science” where the unprecedented WHO-recommended response to SARS2 is concerned, but where is the science in shutting down entire economies, with several units closed down permanently as a consequence of the WHO-recommended shutdowns of entire countries? Vaccines have been shown to be less than a preventive to infections, while even in 2021, countries such as Germany that imposed severe lockdowns since the advent of the Omicron mutation have fared much worse than countries such as India, which refused to get stampeded into shutting down the economy and confining citizens to a form of house arrest in 2021 in the manner that had taken place the previous year. The obsession with vaccines has been led by those (including some leading lights in the Biden administration) who unsuccessfully had earlier attempted to develop a vaccine for AIDS but finally had to return to therapeutics. Had equal attention been given to therapeutics as was bestowed on vaccines almost entirely developed out of government-funded R&D, by now SARS2 would have been simply an irritant rather than the killer of so many people and many times more jobs. Science demands a relook at the strategies suggested in 2020 to fight the pandemic in the context of the immense collateral damage that these have caused. For a disease that is mild (certainly with Omicron) in almost all cases, is it better to accept the risk of infection in the manner that we do with colds or the flu, but continue working, or to punch huge gaps in the manpower required by making each person who has tested positive stay at home for two weeks? Such measures have plainly failed to halt the spread of the virus, despite their economic and societal cost. At least in the western world, fear seems to be the dominant emotion so far as SARS2 is concerned. Those in the PLA who factor in the Atlantic Alliance as a military rival will be pleased at the effect that SARS2 has had in substantial sections of society on both sides of the North Atlantic.

 Relook needed at responses to SARS2

Sunday 19 December 2021

Sino-Wahhabi lobby intensifies campaign against US and India (The Sunday Guardian)


India’s kinetic test on the country’s boundary may take place by 2023, before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Although not much is being shared in public, indications are that PM Modi, EAM Jaishankar and Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh are working energetically to ensure a favourable outcome in any such test.


New Delhi: The alliance of the PRC and Russia, and the other partnership of the PRC and the Wahhabi International, are confident that the efforts they have been making since the past eleven years to hollow out the societal and political framework of the US by covert means are generating visible results. Even the US Supreme Court has become an instrument of division as a consequence of its Republican majority, a transformation that was put on steroids by President Donald J. Trump. Within the US Congress, the implementation of policy under the two-party system has in effect broken down. Within the Democratic Party, the small number of DINOs (Democrats in Name Only) are ensuring that President Joe Biden’s essential reform measures get torpedoed, so that US society continues to fester as a consequence of societal inequalities in opportunity. Gun violence is multiplying, while law and order has broken down in a spreading number of locations, as has “living rough” and the opioid crisis that has been placed on a fast track by stimulants imported (or smuggled) from China. The hesitancy of President Biden to go forward with steps essential to stability such as an expansion of the US Supreme Court to 15 from 9 or working for a successful primary challenge in 2022 to leading DINOs such as Senator Joe Manchin is proving deadly to the 46th President’s stint in the White House. On the reverse side of the Manchins, President Biden and Speaker Pelosi have fawned rather than frowned on the Wahhabi impulses of Ilhan Omar, who is marching to a beat different from that which is best for her country and party. She follows Wahhabi doctrine in seeking to create a binary of Islam versus all others, including through introducing a bill against Islamophobia when such legislation should outlaw manifestations of hate against any faith, including the rants of some of Representative Omar’s contacts against Jews, Christians and Hindus, not to mention the moderate majority within the Muslim community. House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer have thus far imitated President Biden in lacking spine enough to ensure that hate against any religious group be subject to law, and not just a particular faith to the exclusion of others. Measures such as the Biden Social Justice bills are at risk of being torpedoed by the DINOs, although these are necessary in the context of the efforts at societal polarization and meltdown in the US. Small wonder that the external groups fuelling much of the toxins that are getting disseminated within the US polity and society consider themselves to be on the brink of success in Operation Meltdown. Their success in the US has to an extent lessened the disappointment they are experiencing at the failure thus far of engineering similar chaos in India, an operation that was put on steroids by the Sino-Wahhabi lobby after India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi signalled its determination during the 2017 Doklam crisis.



For close to two years, these columns have pointed out that the Sino-Wahhabi lobby is working at speed in its efforts at harnessing social media in particular to engineer a meltdown by stealth of the societal fabric that holds India together. Whether for old times’ sake or as a hedge against getting hopelessly dominated by the Peoples Republic of China, the Russian Federation has not joined in the attack on the vitals of the world’s most populous democracy. In Asia during much of the 20th century, the US followed in the wake of the European powers and sought to suppress nationalist instincts in Asia, Africa and South America. In the process, the US and its European allies facilitated the mushrooming of collaborative autocracies, and replaced to a worrisome extent by religious or ethno-supremacist ideologies that caused societies to be torn apart or lapse into a moribund state, ultimately harming even the interests of the Atlantic alliance. In the 21st century, the US is again the “dog” being wagged by the European “tail”, this time around in the matter of Russia. A country that during the first six years of the present century sought integration into European and Atlanticist structures has now perforce to serve as the junior partner in the Sino-Russian alliance, although Moscow has declined to follow the PRC lead and become a force multiplier for the Wahhabi International in the manner that China is, especially under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping. Parallel to the exertions of the Sino-Wahhabi alliance to diminish US resilience in particular, the Sino-Russian alliance is attacking the vitals of American democracy, principally through infiltration into social media. Efforts, whether real or feigned, of major social media platforms within the Atlantic Alliance to remove sites that are purveyors of the toxins released by the twin alliance systems in which the PRC plays the dominant role have had very limited effect, except for generating publicity that such efforts are proving a success when they are not. Just as terror groups soon regroup under new labels should they come under scrutiny or international censure, social media influencers and platforms of influence that funnel into societies the toxins created within the infolabs of the CCP, the Russian counter-intel network and well-funded Wahhabi cutouts change their names and addresses at speed, thereby rendering efforts at blocking them ineffective.



The principal targets of the Sino-Wahhabi lobby have been India and the US. In the latter, the Sino-Russian lobby is also active in Operation Meltdown, whereas in India, the activity of the Russian side is designed to (a) ensure that purchases of weapons systems from Russia by India continue as before, and (b) the US in particular be given a bad name within key elements of the policy community and the public in India, in both of which there have been successes for this lobby,but not enough to prevent PM Modi, assisted in this task by EAM Jaishankar and Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh, to constantly strengthen the security relationship with the US and other key components in the Atlantic Alliance, such as France, the UK and Germany, less in word as in deed. The accidental death of CDS General Bipin Rawat has been a shock but has not changed the upward trajectory of progress in securing the inner and outer defences of India against the Sino-Wahhabi alliance. In their actions against India, neither the Wahhabi International nor the PRC can count on the support of Iran and Russia, both of which maintain strong ties with India in contrast to their lack of rapport with the US.



Although the Sino-Wahhabi lobby believes that a defeat of the BJP in UP would serve as a booster for their efforts, such a setback (in the event it takes place in a context were CM Adityanath has done very well on a number of fronts) would not be sufficient to upset the trajectory being followed by the central government in India. 2021 has been a much more innovative and productive year for the world’s most populous democracy, in large part because of the fact that PM Modi has relied more on his own instincts and on outside counsel to fashion and implement policy, as opposed to the 100% civil service, 0% civil society involvement that has caused so many policy missteps in India. The IAS, IPS and IFS are an outstanding group of individuals, but in the complex world of the 21st century, all wisdom in domestic policy does not vest within the IAS, nor all wisdom in security policy with the IPS and all the knowledge of foreign policy with the IFS. Early in his term, Modi sought to bring in domain expertise into the administration in India, and this reform is expected to go on a fast track soon. In 2021, several initiatives have been taken by the Prime Minister to reduce the harrowing conditions for compliance that have been put in place by the bureaucracy over decades of efforts at micro-management and control of all elements of civil society. Minimum Government is finally emerging from the mists of a slogan into the sunshine of reality. Given the pressures on General Secretary Xi caused by his own rousing of the flames of exclusivist Han nationalism in China, it is more than probable that tensions will get created on the Sino-Indian border by a PLA that has been given freedom of action in a manner not seen since the Cultural Revolution of the Mao period, when Lin Biao was still the Defence Minister and Heir Apparent of the Great Helmsman. These will need to be met in a manner that is convincing, and a knetic test on the boundary is likely by 2023, before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Although not much is being shared in public, indications are that PM Modi, EAM Jaishankar and Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh are working energetically to ensure a favourable outcome in any such test of will and capability of Indian arms, together with strengthening defences against cyber infiltration and dissemination of societal toxins through use of channels that have become ubiquitous in modernising India. Together with India, the US is the anchor of security in the Indo-Pacific, while a possible Indo-Russian alliance may in time ensure that the Eurasian continent not come under the domination of any country. Single country dominance has brought misery, and needs to be prevented in future, a viewpoint shared by PM Modi, President Biden and President Putin.




Although on the surface matters seem to be going out of control in the US, even should Biden fail to get passed the transformative Biden Social Security Bills in the present US Congress, a primary upset over DINO Manchin and casting the 2022 midterm polls as a battle between Wall Street and Main Street should get the Democratic Party the majority needed to pass legislation before the 2024 polls. The visible (some would say risible) bias of the Roberts Court has made it a no brainer to begin even for a hesitant Biden to begin the process of expanding the bench strength of the US Supreme Court, and to ask for a verdict in the 2022 midterms that would ensure the passage of his agenda despite opposition from the Sino-Wahhabi and Sino-Russian lobbies and their covert manipulation through skewed algorithms in social media platforms. This has been a bad year for the US and for its principal security partner in the Indo-Pacific, India. However, New Delhi is visibly on an upward trajectory once again, and Washington is likely to follow, latest by 2023 after the Congressional midterms. President Biden is a political survivor, and these instincts ought to kick in to ensure that claims of the demise of democracy in the US are as premature as are similar claims being made by the same lobbies about that other very large democracy, the Republic of India.

Sino-Wahhabi lobby intensifies campaign against US and India

Liz Cheney is an American Hero (The Sunday Guardian)


She understands the danger that the Party of Trump poses to the future of her country, and is seeking to reclaim the GoP for what it was.

In a unisex world, to insist on separate terms (heroine and hero) for female and male heroes is unnecessary, hence the placing of Barely Republican US House of Representatives member Liz Cheney as an authentic American hero. The lady has shown the steel needed for leadership, even though the Party of Trump (sorry, the GoP) is looking away from her. Not that the worthies in that often admirable, sometimes contemptible, outfit can be blamed. For in looking at Representative Cheney, they would be seeing reflections of their own moral cowardice and what has often been called suppleness of the lumbar region. In other words, a lack of spine. The Republican Party has a much better record on relations with India than the Democrats (who are more loaded with Wahhabis in the way that Republicans had been with those in the pocketbooks—sorry, pockets—of the Chinese Communist Party. Not that the Democrats have been immune to such treats. Check the Clintons and several of their buddies. Whether it be Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, or even on occasion Lindsey Graham on the days when the Qatar connection is not at the top of his mind, they have stood by India in this age of intensification of Cold War 2.0 between China and the US in a manner that Democrats such as Pramila Jayapal or Ro Khanna have failed to do. Both seem in their own way as anxious to show their lack of feeling for the country of their ancestors as former Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal. His actual first name, Piyush, has long ago been forgotten. This stands in contrast to Nikki (Namrata) Haley, who has roots in India and makes no effort to conceal them. She would make an ideal running mate for whoever gets nominated as the Republican candidate for the Presidency in 2024. Politicians can be understood not only by the traits they flaunt but those they hide. Barack Obama, who in his second term was an outstanding President of the US including in much of foreign and domestic policy, emphasised his African heritage while seeking to distance himself from the fact that his mother was of European descent, and the grandparents who looked after him so tenderly were both of European descent. His father, on the other hand, escaped his paternal responsibilities early on, and never looked back in any noticeable way, including at the child prodigy that he had helped to bring into the world. Kamala Harris, in contrast, was unashamed of either her Indian or her Jamaican roots, and was brought up by her mother, whose only love was almost certainly the father of the present Vice-President of the US. The pathways to success in politics is problematic even to those gifted with immense luck, but if the Democratic Party truly believes that they need to adapt to their country in the 21st century, a Harris-Buttigieg ticket would be the best test of whether the majority of voters (and electors, given the quirks of the US system of electing a Head of State) are willing to accept the 21st century rather than continue to be anchored to the past. The Democratic Party, which during the Civil War favoured slavery, has indeed evolved, as witness the (almost entirely of European descent) electors of Ohio plumping for Obama in the 2008 party primaries, and later the entire country making history by electing the tanned and fit B.H. Obama to the White House. In the 2016 elections, about the only Democratic Party nominee who was certain to be defeated by Donald J. Trump was Hillary Clinton, yet so powerful was the hold of the Clinton machine that the lady was anointed as the nominee by the party elite and the White House given away to Trump, with momentous consequences for US society. Overt racism got legitimised during Trump’s tenure in a replay of the 1960s, although there were successes as well.
It was the Democratic Party under a Texan occupant of the White House, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who got passed comprehensive social security and civil rights legislation during his tenure. Kennedy holdovers such as Robert McNamara finished their boss off politically by doubling down on the thankless mission of replacing the French as the colonial power in Vietnam, but his own team (and a leader always needs to put in place his own team, rather than depend on holdovers and retreads from a failed past) but Johnson will be remembered not for Vietnam but for the domestic agenda he shepherded into reality. An agenda that first Reagan, then Clinton and after that Trump sought to dismantle. The Clintons by stealth, the other two openly. Trump may have helped the CCP to succeed in its mission of melting down US society through his selection of US Supreme Court justices, who have shown that they regard several of the changes wrought within society in a 21st century direction as needing to be reversed. By the time the 2022 midterms take place, the fork in the road will become clear. Assuming that President Biden shows the spine to go forward with pushing for social and economic justice in the manner that he has been doing the past year, US voters can decide whether they want a 21st century country or a country embedded in the culture wars of the previous century, a conflict personified by the DINOs and the followers of Trump in the Republican Party. While her father may have gone by the advice of the Pentagon and the CIA (of those years of innocence) and joined with President G.W. Bush to hand over the keys to their own security to the Pakistan military, his daughter shows better sense. She understands the danger that the PoT (Party of Trump) poses to the future of her country, and is seeking to reclaim the GoP for what it was, what it represented rather than a grotesque parody of a medieval court, with its genuflecting courtiers and a monarch who considers reality to be not just irrelevant but inexistent. Her party has almost a year to rediscover itself, and those who wish the US and its people (of which an increasing number are of Indian descent) well will be hoping that Liz Cheney’s courage and clear vision prevails over the present-day King of the Republicans and his fawning court. Much rides on that, and not just in the US. In a world where the easy way out is to flow with the tide, leadership is personified by those who defy this when it is shown to be harmful to the country. It is a measure of how far removed the people of Wyoming seem to be from reality that instead of wanting Liz Cheney as their Senator and a future contender for the White House, many seek the extinction of her career for the unpardonable crime of pointing out that the Emperor of the Party of Trump no longer has any clothes.

Liz Cheney is an American Hero

Saturday 18 December 2021

External India a reluctant democracy (The Sunday Guardian)

 While this may not be obvious to the New York Times or the Washington Post, nor certainly for the BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN, India is a functional democracy. It is not the fault of their bete-noire Narendra Modi that Rahul Gandhi has failed to dent the popularity of the Prime Minister, despite a daily stream of epithets aimed in his direction. What assists the Sino-Wahhabi lobby across the world in the task of presenting the world’s most populous democracy as the world’s second-most populous autocracy is the fact that Official India has long sent off confusing signals to the rest of the world about where the polity of the country is anchored. While the invasion of Suez in 1956 by France and Britain (joined by Israel) was correctly condemned as a colonial reflex by Paris and London, the invasion and occupation of Hungary in the same year by the USSR occasioned not a squeak from New Delhi. While the US stepping into the footwear of France in its efforts at preventing the Vietnamese from getting liberated from colonial fetters was condemned, the brutal suppression of freedoms in Czechoslovakia in 1968, again by troops from the USSR, took place without any discernible expression of discomfort from Official India. Apologists have later claimed that “strong” messages were “delivered in private to Moscow on both occasions by New Delhi”. Whether there actually were any expressions of unhappiness at the USSR acting as a colonial power in Hungary and Czechoslovakia is a matter of debate, and the low credibility of the “sarkari” historians of the period cast doubt that such moves took place at all. Small wonder that India’s sudden loss of its international voice during such crises convinced several across the world that the country was not a democracy, when it was. Where external signalling is concerned, India may be termed a democracy reluctant to advertise its democratic credentials in situations where such signalling is needed to show the world that India is not an autocracy but a democracy. Misleading signalling has been converted into an art form by Official India, and a recent example of this is the immediate endorsement by India of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, when at least two of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue partners had announced diplomatic boycotts, while in Japan those with a bit of spine were (and still are) trying to overcome the considerable influence of those in that country who are in the pocketbooks (sorry, pockets) of the Peoples Republic of China and join Australia and the US in what after all is only a symbolic gesture. Athletes from the US and Australia will compete, but the absence of high officials will rankle in a system that prides itself on having earned the respect of the globe for its success in becoming the second superpower. Should Japan and India be reluctant to advertise their democratic preferences so openly as to join Australia and the US in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 winter games in Beijing, the minimum they need to do to showcase their faith in democracy as a better system than authoritarianism is to send only their ambassadors to attend the Winter Olympics and not high officials from Tokyo and New Delhi. Should several democracies join the US in a diplomatic boycott of the games, it would assist Sino-Wahhabi lobby to double down on their efforts at seeking to falsely showcase India as being autocratic rather than democratic.

Official India has a habit of swallowing insults with just a token protest. The rush to confirm Official India’s presence at Beijing in 2022 (should visas be given, especially if the sporty Kiren Rijiju from Arunachal Pradesh were to lead the Indian delegation) indicates that the snub given to India by the PRC through its boycott of the 1982 Asian Games at New Delhi has been either forgotten or forgiven. Either the Ambassador of India in Beijing or Union Minister Kiren Rijuju should lead the official delegation of the Republic of India to the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Any other (high level) representation would be a repeat of Official India’s Hungary and Czechoslovakia fiascos, not to mention Afghanistan in 1979, when the Indian response was so low decibel as to be unheard, including by the Afghan people. In much the same way, the (lack of a) response by New Delhi to the military takeover in Myanmar and the gifting of Afghanistan to the Taliban by President Biden in 2021 has had a considerable impact on the goodwill felt by the Myanmarese and Afghan people towards the country they look up to as a vibrant democracy, India. The brutal manner in which Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of her party have been treated by a military that has long had close ties to the PRC is taking place without any obvious signs of disquiet by Official India. The global response to the Biden-facilitated takeover of Afghanistan on August 15 by the Taliban has damaged not just the international standing of the US (especially in the Middle East). It has caused a decline in the popularity of Joe Biden that may prove fatal to his party in 2022. The post-Afghan perception that Commander-in-Chief Biden lacks a backbone has ensured that more voters prefer Trump to him to lead their country. Swinging one way and then the other may be inappropriate for a country that began its modern journey into freedom in 1947 by ensuring universal suffrage, something that no other major democracy can boast of, certainly not the UK or the US, where women (and in the case of the latter, those of African descent) were denied suffrage. for a long period of time. Official India delights in what it terms a balancing act. Attending a meeting of the Quad and then joining hands almost the same week with countries that loathe not just the Quad but the very concept of the Indo-Pacific. They prefer Asia-Pacific, which has the PRC as the centrepoint, while the Indo-Pacific has India. In particular, Moscow should not expect Narendra Modi to surrender this advantage the way so many advantages were surrendered by past PMs. The people of India do not expect that Russia under Vladimir Putin will remain content even as CCP General Secretary Xi seeks to ensure leadership over the Eurasian continent in place of the natural choice, Russia. It is time that Official India’s external policy got reset in a manner that is unapologetic about the truth. That External India is not ambiguous or defensive about its democracy, but has no hesitation in making that clear to the rest of the world, including to the faint-hearted among the democracies and the authoritarians. Not just internally but externally, India must show that it stands by rather than ignoring the ideals and objectives of democracy.


External India a reluctant democracy

Sunday 12 December 2021

Biden needs to work on avoiding a two-front kinetic war (The Sunday Guardian)


It is folly for the US and its European allies to continue to regard Russia as the primary threat.

There is little doubt that Russia must have sought to influence the 2020 election, most likely in favour of an unstable Trump rather than an untested Biden. For Vladimir Putin would only be repaying the compliment paid to him by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she activated the operation designed to turf then President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich in 2014. This was when Yanukovich proved a bit too amenable to Russia for Hillary’s comfort or that of her friends in France and the UK. The Ukrainian Orange Revolution replaced an elected leader not through the ballot box or through the bullet but through the power of streets teeming with those who wanted Yanukovich out. As Mrs Clinton will remember from the “Lock her up” chants of Trump supporters during the 2016 US Presidential elections, in any democracy it is not difficult to find folks eager to turf out an incumbent. In the US, more than 40% of the population still believe the absurd claim that it was Trump and not Biden who won the 2020 polls. Drawing on his experience in the KGB, it would not have been difficult for President Putin to understand and replicate elsewhere the tactics used by the US during the time when the energetic change agent Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and together with Clintonites in the Obama administration, had a decisive role in policy. Such intervention took place in a variety of countries, including during the 2011 Arab Spring that rapidly morphed into a Wahhabi winter. In the Ukrainian case, not only did Yanukovich go but stability as well. That country teems with citizens who dislike the presence of Russian-speaking citizens and who have resorted in a multitude of ways to throw them out of Ukraine into the Russian Federation. Given such a history, it would occasion little surprise if Putin had looked with disfavour on another Clinton in the White House. It had been Bill Clinton who as President of the US sought to convert Russia into a pastoral state in the manner that Treasury Secretary Morgenthau sought for Germany once the war unleashed by that country got over in 1945. Neither Morgenthau nor Bill Clinton got their wish, although not for lack of effort. The Clintons have bought in its entirety the viewpoint of the European big powers that Russia remains a predator even after the collapse of the USSR by 1992, and is THE enemy to be fought, certainly not China, from which country their family, friends and donors get generous handouts in various ways and through multiple pathways. After Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, China never had it so good under a US President as was the situation under Bill Clinton. When he was chosen by those around Boris Yeltsin as the next President of the Russian Federation in 1999, Putin was an enthusiast of the “Common European Home” thesis of Mikhail Gorbachev, who destroyed the USSR in his efforts at placating a western world that refused to be placated even after the Soviet collapse, seeking nothing less than a further breakup of the now truncated Russian Federation and its conversion into a low tech power from a technological leader. It was improbable that France and Germany, not to mention the UK, would want Russia to join the EU and NATO, as the country would dominate all existing members with the exception of the US. Given the Eurocentric mindset of US Presidents and staff except for Barack Obama, it proved impossible for Putin to actualise the Gorbachev vision of integration into Europe. The fact is that Russia is a Eurasian power, neither Asian nor European, and hence stands alone, as do the PRC, India and the US. These are the 21st century’s Big Four, replacing the triumvirate that formed during Hitler’s 1938-45 war on civilisation, the USSR, the US and the UK. Battered by defeatism, France had succumbed to the Wehrmacht without resistance. This is the same defeatism that the info warriors of the Sino-Wahhabi alliance are seeking to cause within the coalition of countries intent on a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific as opposed to its waters becoming a PRC lake. The trajectory of the WHO-approved governmental response to SARS2 among the democracies rather than the virus itself is helping to create a situation where the will for a showdown with China is concerned.
The Russophobic section of the Ukrainian population has been encouraged in its antipathy towards Moscow by repeated promises of help against the Russian Federation. Thanks to the ouster of Yanukovich, Putin realised that Ukraine had become the handmaid of forces out to remove him from office and send his country down the path followed by Gorbachev and Yeltsin, of concession after concession with only further demands in return. After around six years of playing nice to the NATO member states in Europe, President Putin accepted that it was futile to make any further concessions, and moved to protect the interests of his country in vulnerable. pressure points such as Georgia and Ukraine. It came as a surprise only to Russophobes among the Georgians and the Ukrainians that NATO declined to put boots on the ground to carry out their promises to Tbilisi and Kiev. The reality is that the streets of any European capital that sends troops to do battle against Russia in Georgia or the Ukraine (or indeed in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) would seethe with protest even absent any encouragement from the Russian side. Given this, it is folly for the US and its European allies to continue to regard Russia as the primary threat. This must be welcome in the PRC as well as in the minds of Russophobes in Europe, but makes little geopolitical sense. It is obvious by now that there is an ongoing Cold War between the US and China, just as there was between the USSR and the US, and that this too is existential. One or the other side will see a meltdown of its governance system at the close of Cold War 2.0, just as Cold War 1.0 ushered in the demise of the USSR. Given that, the policy pursued by India under Narendra Modi needs to be followed rather than put aside, which is to try and make Russia a neutral country in an inevitable kinetic conflict with the Peoples Republic of China, the starting point of which will be either Taiwan or the Himalayan massif, not to mention a PLA effort to choke off access to the South China Sea. This belongs mostly to ASEAN where its waters are not part of the global commons, but are almost entirely claimed by China on grounds that would be laughable were they to figure not in real life but in a novel about Great Power jostling.
President Biden claimed that his scurrying away from Afghanistan was motivated by the need to concentrate on China, forgetting the reality of the Sino-Wahhabi alliance that General Bipin Rawat mentioned. And then he focuses obsessively on Russia, forgetting China just as much as George W. Bush did once the military wing of the Wahhabi International carried out the 9/11 attack. Since then, the PRC has gotten ever closer to the Wahhabis, seeing in them a useful diversion that could keep the US and NATO distracted and unmindful of the activities of a PLA turbocharged under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping. The hostility of NATO has given no option to Putin but to cosy up to Xi, a leader seeking ensure China displaces Russia as the Eurasian pivot. A two-front war in an existential conflict is folly. President Biden needs to learn from the example of Modi and work towards ensuring that Putin will in effect remain neutral in the future kinetic conflict between the PRC, India and the US.

Biden needs to work on avoiding a two-front kinetic war

China Has Not Changed. The Rest of The World Must. (The Chanakya Forum)

 Unlike India, which barred most US researchers from entering the country during the Cold War, China from the 1980s welcomed them, gave many of them tenured and other assignments, and went along with a few of their suggestions that were regarded as not threatening the Chinese Communist Party’s monopoly of power.  The consequence was that during the 1970s until the 1990s, India lost and the PRC gained acceptance within the west from this group.

Most scholars who had been to China, a country where hospitality has evolved into an art form by CCP outlets, became proponents of a policy of the west assisting China to grow. The assumption was that a growing China would simultaneously become closer to the US, not just in terms of strategy but values.

Ideology and policy in the PRC (or the body which controls it, the Party) has an iceberg quality, in that most of the fundamentals remain hidden from view, except for members who gain entry into the higher echelons of authority.  This has not happened. Even while the policy towards China changed completely, especially in the US, Japan and Taiwan, the PRC remained as inflexible as it had been from the 1950s as to its objectives.

Since Mao Zedong firmed up personal control over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the 1945 plenum, the objective of the CCP has been to once again realize the CCP dream of making China the centre-point of global gravity. The “Red Emperor” would restore the Middle Kingdom to its former glory. Mao succeeded by 1953 in establishing a country that had twice the territory of its predecessors, making the central authorities in Beijing the controlling power over not just China proper, but the add-ons of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Manchuria and finally Tibet. This happened with practically no blowback from the rest of the world.

Although a democracy, India in particular was even more enthusiastic than the Soviet Union in heralding such expansionism as signs of an Asian renaissance. The Cultural Revolution that raged across the PRC for a decade beginning 1966  spared Deng Xiaoping, although he had been vilified as a “capitalist roader” by Mao himself. Chairman Mao eliminated  the two most powerful future challengers to Deng within the CCP, Liu Shaoqi and Lin Biao, both of whom had a substantial role in the victory of the communist forces against the Kuomintang from 1945 to 1949.

A True Believer in the need to restore the Middle Kingdom to its former glory,  Deng had long ago understood that a country with a primitive economy had no chance of establishing its primacy in the international community. Unlike Mao, Deng from the start of his establishing supremacy over the Party (and therefore the country) at the 1981 plenum, concentrated on expanding not territory or the military but the economy. The PRC was puny in its GDP, had fought the Korean war against the US and helped the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Minh  to prevail over the US-led opposition to Ho Chi Minh’s efforts at unifying Vietnam under the communist banner.

Gutted of its higher ranks and paralysed by the blows the party had suffered during the Cultural Revolution, many of the survivors within the communist party leadership remained suspicious of all things foreign and especially “capitalist”. These were how large corporates from Taiwan, Europe, the US and Japan were described.

However, the conservatives who had been battered under Mao were unable to prevent Deng  from welcoming “foreign capitalists” into the PRC. The KMT, (which ruled Taiwan during the 1980s substantially unchallenged)  was still technically at war with the CCP, yet that did not stop Deng from encouraging Taiwanese corporates and citizens to relocate to the PRC.

Geopolitically, Paramount Leader Deng secured his flanks by ensuring that Beijing and Washington cooperated against the USSR, unlike “non-aligned” India which was unable to hide its tilt towards Moscow rather than Washington. Deng understood that countries in Asia that had bad relations with the US fared much worse in the economic sweepstakes than those who were friendly to Washington. The Paramount Leader for Life of China had no intention of losing any more time in growing the Chinese economy.

On top of the damage done by the civil war with the KMT, this had suffered under what may charitably be described as the economic policies of Mao, such as the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s. This was almost as much of a disaster for industry as the forced collectivisation of farms that enforced in the USSR  by Stalin from 1928 was for Soviet farmers. This was ended only in 1940, when the USSR was on the cusp of a war with Germany that would take away an additional thirty million lives before  ending in 1945 after four years.

The card Deng Xiaoping used to win support within the CCP was the need for a pause in the public display of the party’s geopolitical ambitions. This would continue until the PRC achieved an economic size sufficient to allow it to openly resume its drive towards global primacy. Mao had publicly challenged the USSR for leadership of the communist bloc from the 1960s, not just in Asia but in Europe and Africa.

Securing primacy over the Eurasian landmass and subsequently over the Indo-Pacific were central to the ambitions of the CCP from almost the start of its founding in 1921. Analysts of China have spent considerable time on statements and writings in the PRC from the top tier of scholars and policymakers. It may have been more accurate to search further down the chain, not at the major national media outlets that purvey information, nor even the large outlets in the provinces, but  much smaller publications brought out by local party units. These  are dotted across the country and are infrequently read by the outside world, although they give a much more accurate read on the actual (as distinct from declared) intentions and beliefs of the CCP than the larger outlets. These are aware of the external attention paid to what they write, and hence present views in a manner regarded by the CCP  leadership as best suited to ensuring that the reaction of such foreign viewers will be what is best suited to the interests of the PRC. Or in other words, the interests of the CCP, which in turn is controlled by the party leadership.

Deng adopted the playbook of Mao within the CCP core, casting himself as the individual best equipped to lead China during the next stage of its ascent to the top, which was through expanding the size of the economy. Once parity was achieved with the US in economic terms,  the “big stick” Deng spoke about could emerge from the screen of “speaking softly”, and thereafter get used with the newfound vigour acquired through economic progress. Such a belief in the indispensability of a leader towards the fulfilment of long-term goals is central to the retaining of control by the leader. Not to mention the maintenance under him of morale and motivation within the CCP ( which is now close to a hundred million strong and counting).

The next party leader to make full use of the hook that he is the individual best suited (or the only person suited) to go forward on the mission of enshrining the PRC as the dominant power in the Eurasian landmass is Xi Jinping. Both of the immediate successors to Deng, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, had less expansive visions of themselves, and were content with a sharing of authority, including at the top. Both were first among equals, with emphasis on “equals” and not just the “first”. With Xi, as with Mao, there were no “equals”, only himself as the  supremo.

Xi had been expected to carry forward the Deng tradition of avoiding a rerun of the style of Mao, especially as he himself, together with his family, had been victims of the Cultural Revolution. Instead, Xi put Mao Zedong Thought on steroids, casting himself as the irreplaceable leader who alone could carry the nation towards the glory of global primacy, overturning the hold of the US. The difference between Xi and Mao is that the present CCP General Secretary covets not just additional land space (as Mao did) but air and sea space as well.

Also, despite his attempted whitewashing of Mao’s often calamitous record in power, Xi is aware that the seven decades of CCP rule are not enough to secure towards himself the loyalty and obedience of the Chinese people. He has broken with Mao’s catechism by embracing “5000 years of Chinese history”, even rehabilitating Confucius, the philosopher from ancient times whom Mao had held to be the cause of much of China’s subsequent problems.

While Deng stabilised his role as the party supremo in the 1981 plenum as Mao had done for himself  in 1945, Xi expects to accomplish this in 2022, when the  Party nomenklatura gathers at the centenary celebrations of the CCP. He plans for this meeting to enshrine for life his supremacy over policy and personnel in the CCP and therefore his country. The PRC is now the world’s other superpower, even more powerful than the Soviet Union was during its postwar prime in the 1960s. As with Mao and Deng, the card Xi is playing to ensure fealty within his party and the nation at large is the argument that he is indispensable for the ascent to the peak of global authority by China, and hence needs to follow Mao and Deng in having a lifetime tenure.

The race to beat the US in technology began during the second term of Hu Jintao, as did the assertion of ownership of almost the entire South China Sea and much of the East China Sea. Hu was assisted in this by his under the radar policy of expansion through stealth, combined with the avoidance during the Obama administration to take countervailing action to prevent such a takeover. Huge swathes of the South China Sea that are part of the global commons or belong to members of ASEAN have fallen under the control of the PLA, which seeks to set up kinetic capabilities that would bring within reach any external sea, undersea or air platform inside its expanse, including those of a kinetic nature.

It is probable that some part of Taiwanese territory may get taken over and militarised during 2021, the centenary year of the CCP. This would be another lever to intimidate Taipei into accepting greater and faster absorption into the economic and security ecosystem of the PRC. The DPP led by President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan stands in the way of this, as does the hard business fact that a separation is taking place since 2020 of the global tech ecosystem into two segments, one PRC-led, the other US-led. The time is coming when any high-tech product made within the PRC gets blocked from US and allied markets, as has already happened to Huawei and its 5G mobile communication system. Many if not most Taiwanese companies prefer the US to the PRC ecosystem, and have begun to vote with their money and skills by searching for options located outside the PRC and its sphere of influence. The tectonic plates  of geopolitics is driving such a separation, and companies across the world are adjusting to it.

Xi Jinping is taking vigorous ( some would say extreme) steps since his takeover in 2012 to ensure what in Germany during the 1930s was called “Gleichschaltung”, or the coordination of all elements of national power under a central authority in furtherance of the national goal of primacy. Sector after sector of industry and productive activity in 1930s Germany, segment upon segment of civil society, including labour unions, NGOs and political parties, were “coordinated” or eliminated. Under Hitler, some of the most talented and productive citizens of what he termed “Greater Germany”, the Jewish community, were excluded from the rest of the community and finally exterminated. Those in the PRC who dare to question the axiom that Xi Jinping Thought is leading China to a Peoples Paradise are being isolated and excommunicated from productive work.

The effort now ongoing in the PRC is to ensure that manufacturing and technology in particular acquire the characteristics regarded as necessary for the kinetic and non-kinetic actions designed to prevail over any contingency in the contest between Washington and Beijing for global primacy. The earlier expansion by stealth has been replaced by overt takeover. Once carried out in the form of incremental gains that were each dismissed by the democracies as not important enough to warrant intervention, these days the salami slices have become too many and too big to ignore.

India finally warned in 2020 China that Beijing cannot expect to run up an $80 billion dollar trade surplus in a year while simultaneously nibbling away at the territory along the Himalayas that belongs to India. Xi is pushing at earlier boundaries in a manner unprecedented after Mao, such that the territorial gains made under his rule have been far from insignificant, especially within the Himalayan massif , the South China Sea, the sea and air space and very likely soon  portions of the land space of Taiwan.

The mantra being used by Xi to gain public acceptance of the control of the Office of the General Secretary over almost every segment of activity and society in the PRC is the same as was adopted by Mao and Deng. Which is that only such a leadership and its policies can ensure the fulfilment of the objective of replacing the US as the world’s primary power. This along the way is designed to result in the replacement of the US dollar with the RMB as the global reserve currency, and the collapse of the US-led alliance system together with the Atlanticist architecture of global practices and institutions created during the 1940s and the 1950s, and which has endured to the present.

Xi Jinping is bidding to ensure that 2022 will be the year when he achieves the Leader for Life status that Mao had since 1945, thereby freeing him to pursue what he sees as the China Dream, that of primacy over the globe and finally, dominance.  We are looking at interesting times.

China Has Not Changed. The Rest of The World Must.

Saturday 11 December 2021

US Supreme Court pines for a bygone America (The Sunday Guardian)

 Had Barack Obama been a bit more confident of himself rather than seek to remain on the periphery rather than atop the centre court of activity, he may have persuaded Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court to retire so that the vacancy could be filled when the President of the US still had the legislative strength needed to do so. That vacancy was filled by Amy Coney Barrett, whose brilliance is matched only by her tilt towards the social constructs favoured by the Trump wing of the Republican Party. Chief Justice John Roberts is a Republican at heart, although a lot more conscious of the emerging cleavages in US society than Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Neither the legal horsepower of the appointees nor their bias towards the New Right (and its philosophy of Winner Takes All) can be doubted. Because of the much greater transparency in proceedings of the US Supreme Court than is the case in several other countries, the public can get a glimpse into the dynamics at work in an institution that seems poised to roil US society to the glee of the Sino-Wahhabi alliance and the Russians, who since their exclusion from the G-7 have been given no option by the Atlanticist powers than to cosy up to the PRC. Had President Biden a bit more spine than his boss over two Presidential terms, Barack Obama, he may not have summarily set aside the advice to expand the Supreme Court to fifteen from its present nine. Going by the trajectory of the Roberts court in the matter of social justice and workers’ rights, the next domino to fall will be the right to terminate pregnancies safely of women resident in the US. That something as basic as this to gender equality is still a political and legal football in the US indicates how little segments of that society have evolved during the last four centuries of existence of the land that remains the world’s most influential country, although under severe challenge from a country across the shores of the Indo-Pacific, the People’s Republic of China. Whether it be Justice Barrett or Justice Kavanaugh, or indeed others on the bench, they wear their religious beliefs on their sleeves. Pope Francis may have softened the stand of the Vatican on many issues. His many years of work among Argentina’s poor have conscientised the Holy Father to the needs of society better than those cloistered in relative comfort from birth (and now guaranteed such a privilege for life, courtesy their entry into the US Supreme Court and its lifelong tenure). It is clear that many of the justices believe not in reincarnation as those in some other faiths do, but together with adherents of another Abrahamic faith believe in Hell and Heaven. If the path to heaven means trampling over the reproductive rights of women, that is a small price to pay for avoiding eternal hellfire. Texas in particular has gone to great lengths to ensure that the underprivileged women there have to get abortions in unsafe and risky circumstances rather than in safety. Prohibition in the US did not stop the drinking of alcohol, nor will the removal of the right to a safe termination of pregnancy before the foetus becomes viable result in a stoppage of such actions. Of course, those from circumstances of relative privilege, such as the carefully vetted Republican picks for the Supreme Court, cannot be expected to be aware of such a fate once they decide to choke Roe vs Wade entirely, after successive federal courts have begun the process of strangling to extinction the path-breaking judgments of the Warren Court. Rather than build on the rights established under Chief Justice Earl Warren, Chief Justice Roberts and his Republican majority in the Supreme Court are intent on whittling them down.

Joe Biden is a survivor, and by now may have understood that the clubby mutual backscratching that is so prevalent in the US Senate has no place in the present politics of the jungle that is being practised in the US. It speaks for the essential decency of Joe Biden and Jill Biden that they believed in converting Republican friends such as Mitch McConnell to a less unbalanced view than that of others in the Party of Trump. By now, that illusion may have evaporated. Unless President Biden uses the legislative legerdemain available to him to ensure passage of his Social & Economic Justice Bill through the US Congress, he is going to suffer the loss of legislation essential to stability in the US. Should the Democrats in Name Only (DINOs) such as Manchin and possibly Sinema succeed in helping the Republicans get the initiative on Voting Rights and Social & Economic Justice, President Biden and the non-DINO component of his party need to go before US voters and say that the only way forward would be for the party to defeat the Republicans handily in the 2022 midterms. The hesitancy and perceived pusillanimity of the President of the US is emboldening external enemies of the US into ramping up activities designed to cripple the US governance system, a work in progress that seems to be making good progress. What could come to the assistance of the Democratic Party is the US Supreme Court, which is now functioning as a wing of the ideological fringe of the Republican Party. That is, if Biden shows sufficient resolve to get behind rather than obstruct the move to raise the strength of the Supreme Court to 15, and to ask for a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate to ensure that this be done, especially if the Biden bills on voting rights and equal justice fail to get through the US Congress before the midterms. While they may have been misled by the extravagant promises of Donald Trump in 2016, underprivileged voters of all hues are likely to keep in mind the fact that only billionaires had it good during the years when Trump was in the White House. Societal change is taking place on a significant scale in the US, and it must be said that a majority (or close to a majority) of those of European descent are standing together with those having a deeper tan in battling for rights that were ignored by the Clinton Democrats and their closet fealty to Wall Street. At least Manchin is honest about his fealty to specific interests. In the case of the Clintons and the Clintonites, words uttered were the reverse of the effect of the policies brought in, including during the Clintonite filled Obama administration in its first term. In 2024 it may be a Trumpian or the superman himself that stands. It would be interesting to see what would happen were there to be a Harris-Buttigieg ticket. A “black” and a “gay”. The US accepted a black man as President in 2008. They could well ensure the victory of Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg in 2024


US Supreme Court pines for a bygone America