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Personal contacts with top Burgher cops and other Public Servants of 50-years ago

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by Senior DIG (Rtd.) Edward Gunawardene

In recent weeks many interesting articles have appeared in the Sunday Island on the Burghers of Ceylon. The contributions by Godwin Perera, Laksman Ratnapala, A. J. Perera, Sumith de Silva and Manel Fonseka have rekindled in me memories of the many public figures of the Burgher community, particularly police officers at the time I joined the police in the late fifties of the last century. The mix-up in photos of Col. F. C. de Saram and Canon R. S. de Saram and the references to Burgher bits were indeed amusing.

When I joined the police, the induction process of new entrants to gazetted rank, required probationary ASPs to be introduced by appointment to senior public officers including the Governor General, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Attorney General etc. As such, with my batchmates before long I was able to meet several amiable public servants of the Burgher community.

It is with a sense of nostalgia that I recall memories of these Burgher stalwarts. Not many days after I first met Justice M. C. Sansoni I had the pleasure of playing a game of billiards with him at the Police Officer’s Mess. In l the mid-seventies I came to know him better as I was the main witness before the Sansoni Commission inquiring in to the communal riots of 1977 in Trincomalee.

Attorney General Douglas Budd Jansze remains unforgettable. In a 1961 murder case well known as the Pathiraja JP murder case of Kurikotuwa in the Veyangoda police area, being ASP Gampaha, I was the chief investigator together with crown counsel G.P.S.de Silva, later chief justice, who was my Marrs Hallmate at Peradeniya, and Ranjith Abeysuriya met AG Budd Jansze and suggested that one of the suspects be made a Crown Witness. After a prolonged discussion the AG was of the view that a conviction could be obtained without such a move. After a lengthy trial at the Negombo Assizes the accused were acquitted. The defence team of lawyers consisted of G.G.Ponnambalam Senior, A.C.M.Ameer, Dicey Kanagaratnem; Nihal Jayawickrama and Asoka Obeysekara were assigned counsel. Daya Perera Senior Crown Counsel prosecuted. Although the case failed, I was especially commended by the IGP S.A.Dissanayake.

Budd Jansze, the true gentleman that he was sent for me and apologized to me for not taking my advise of making a suspect a Crown Witness. Such admirable senior officers have become a rarity today. Senior Burgher officers Messrs Neville Jansze, R.L.Arnolda, David Loos and Travis Ludowyk were extremely helpful when I had to learn treasury procedures. Francis Pietersz my classmate at St.Joseph’s College, who as the AGA Kalutara when I was at the police training school was of great assistance in the sustenance of the thousands of Tamil refugees who had flocked to the police training school during the 1958 communal riots. Pietersz, who is today my immediate neighbour at Battaramulla, remains a dear friend.

Anton Mc Heyzer is remembered as the GA Trincomalee who hosted the three probationary ASPs when they rode 1,000cc Harley Devidson motor bikes to Trinco as learners with Sub Inspector Dudley Von Haght as the instructor. Von Haght rode an 800cc Triumph Thunderbird with a booming beat. Mc Heyzer, the dedicated sports promoter, hosted us to lunch at the Welcombe Hotel.

Justice Percy Collin Thome , whom I had met with my friends Prof. Lyn Ludowyk and senior dons Doric de Souza and Ian Van den Driesen at the university faculty club invited me on several occasions to his apartment close to the Regal Cinema. At one of these dinners that were catered by Pilawoos I had the pleasure of meeting Justice E.F.N. Graetien, easily one of the foremost Burgher public figures of 20th century Ceylon. Two Burgher police officers that used to meet with this elite group of officers were Tommy Kelaart and R.A.Stork. More of them later.

As I reminisce about my Burgher colleagues of the police of the fifties, it is with much pleasure that I remember MLD Caspersz, one of the most senior public servants of the time. I had met him before I joined the police, during my early days in the police and also living in retirement. I met him first when I worked as a temporary clerk in the Food Control Department after sitting the university entrance exam in 1952. He was the Food Controller; and my immediate boss was another Burgher, Brendon Joachim, Asst. Food Controller. I came to know him better in 1959 when I had a three weeks assignment as the ASP Harbour as ASP Royden Vanderwall, the incumbent, was on overseas leave. On my second day in office, to my surprise, it was the Principal Collector of Customs, M.L.D. Caspersz himself that walked in to my room saying “Good Morning”. After a pleasant chat he told me that I as the ASP will also enjoy the powers of an Asst. Collector especially in the detection of customs offences.

In later years, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr and Mrs Caspersz on the south west breakwater. They were both keen anglers who got me too interested in this profitable hobby.

By the time I had completed my Divisional Training in the Colombo Division and the CID I had come to know the bulk of the senior gazetted officers of the police. The total number was about 70. Living in the officers mess on Brownrigg Road, befriending most of these officers was by no means difficult but costly. The mess was a pleasant meeting place with a not too expensive ‘watering hole’!

When I commenced police life at the Kalutara Training School there were three DIGs C.C.Dissanayake who was acting IGP, Sydney de Zoysa and Willem Leembruggen, two Gr 1 SP’s (present day SSPs) 17 SPs and 65 ASPs. Of the total of these officers over 25 were Burgher officers ranging from DIGs to ASPs.

In fairness to the Burgher community at this stage I wish to mention the names of some of Inspectors of Police who held key positions. Derrik Christofelsz was perhaps the only Chief Inspector. He was the respected court officer of the Colombo Chief Magistrate Court. This tall and imposing officer was highly regarded by even the senior lawyers of the Magistrate Court of the time; Merril Pereira, Charles Vethacan, A.Mahesan, R.L.N de Soyza and Manoharan Nagaraja to mention few. Derrik’s brother Hague Christofelsz was attached to the Batticaloa Divition. Eric Van den Driesen, Vernon Dickman, Anton Joachim, Mervin Serpanchy and Hubert Bagot were senior Burgher Inspectors on the verge of promotion to the rank of ASP. Bagot who was the chief horse-riding insructor and head of the Mounted Police Div. was an excellent horseman who had been in the Ceylon mounted squad at the Coronation. Inspector Eddie Gray, also an outstanding horseman and boxer, had just retired and was living in the Inspector’s quarters at Bambalapitiya opposite the Officers Mess.

In 1960 when I was ASP Gampaha I was fortunate to have Inspector Mike Schokman as the OIC of Mirigama. With Divulapitiya MP Lakshman Jayakkody, the junior Minister of Defence, the ASP Gampaha had no problems as Jayakkody and Schokman had been cricketing mates and friends at Trinty College. It must be said that the police suffered a great loss when this outstanding officer decided to emigrate before his promotion to gazetted rank.

Other Burghers of the Inspectorate that I remember who served under me in the early sixties were Lyn Taylor, Petersz, Rosairo of the Police Training School, Vernon Elias, ‘Sweety’ Weber, B.Stave my senior at St.Joseph’s an excellent hockey player, Batholomeuz, Eddie Buultjens, Fred Barthelot and Gerry Paul.

The last named was the conductor of the prestigious Police Band and was popularly referred to as the Band Master. His father too had been the first Ceylonese Police Band master. Inspector Gerry Paul was an outstanding musician. His proudest moment had been when Sir Malcom Sergeant, the conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, having listened to a special rendition of classical music by the Police Band had written in the Officer’s Visiting Book “Mr. Gerry Paul is without doubt one of the finest conductors in the East”

As mentioned earlier in this essay when I joined the police in early 1958 the total number of officers of the rank of ASP and above was about 70. Of this number over 25 were Burgher Officers ranging from DIGs to Probationary ASPs. Willem Leembruggen as DIG Range 3 was the most senior of these Burgher officers.

An experience I had with him in 1960 when I was ASP Chilaw is worth recalling. ‘Lemba’ as he was better known by the Junior Officers was to pay me a surprise visit one morning. Having stopped his jeep by the beach with a girlfriend inside he walked in to my office in white shorts and a white cloth hat. He looked a tourist. After saluting I offered my seat. Saying, “Thank you” he sat on a chair in front of my desk. He then politely offered me a cigarette and lit it before lighting his. When I was smoking and chatting with the DIG, HQI Opatha peeped in to the room and hurriedly left. All officers present were moving about in excitement. When ‘Lemba’ left after thanking me he did not want me to accompany him to the jeep. The story that went round Chilaw Police circles was that the young ASP was seated and smoking in front of the DIG! This is what the HQI had seen when he peeped into the room. Indeed, a perfect example of perception.

When I underwent training in the CID towards the end of 1958, the head of this important Division was David Pate who had been just appointed as a DIG about two months earlier. He was a gentleman to his fingertips.

One evening when I walked in to the Mess after a game of tennis I saw him seated in the veranda with a middle aged gentleman who very much resembled him. There was a bottle of Gordon’s gin on the table. As I passed them, saying “wait a minute” he introduced me to his father who was seated with him. The older Pate was the reputed racing correspondent of the ‘Observer’

Cecil Wambeek was the most senior of the SPs. As ASP Nugegoda I was fortunate to have him as my superior. The HQI was M.B.Werapitiya the elder of the well-known Werapitiya brothers. Blue eyed and handsome Wambeek was an excellent horseman. He insisted that I join him on horseback on the many gravel paths leading to Diyavanna in the Kotte area.

Another Burgher officer, high up in seniority, Richard Arndt, was the SP Headquarters in 1958. He was thorough with all the rules and regulations; and the entire civilian staff came under him. Practical in outlook he once told me ‘’Never be guided by the minutes made by subject clerks. Learn to make your own decisions and take responsibility for such decisions’’. An excellent swimmer be spent much of his leisure in the sea.

Karl Van Rooyen, Tommy Kelaart, H.K.Van den Driesen, Herbert Toussaint and Jamie Rosmale-Koch were all accomplished senior officers. Van Rooyen was the descendant of a Boer prisoner who had been banished for not taking the oath of allegiance to the King. As the SP Kandy he was held in very high esteem. Tommy Kalaart was an excellent cricketer. H.K. Van den Driesen who was SP Colombo was a tactful officers who had earned the confidence of Prime Minister Bandaranaike. Aubrey Collette, the respected cartoonist, caricatured him as Hari Kattaya (HK). Collette a Burgher of the class of Lionel Wendt and Eric Swan enjoyed a place of importance in the Ceylonese social scene.

A considerable percentage of the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) were Burghers. Having become friends with them primarily by associating with them at the Officer’s Mess, I not only remember their names, but also visualize their behavioural peculiarities.

Some of the names I can easily recall are Jack Van Sanden, Rex Hepponstall, I.D.M. Van Twest, R.A.Stork, Fred Brohier, Royden Vanderwall, Louis Potger, Fred Zimsen, Leonard Conderlag, H.G.Boudewyn, Fred De Saram, Alan Falmer Caldera, COS Orr and Ainsely Batholomeuz.

Fred Brohier was the second in command to Stanley Senanayake at the Police Training School. Prior to joining the Police he had been a RAF Pilot who had been awarded the Burma Medal. Van Twest was a national football administrator. R.A. Stork as the ASP Colombo West supervised my training at the Pettah Police Station. He was a national putt shot champion. Alan Flamer Caldera, if he was in the Mess, could be heard from Brownrigg Road. His pretty daughter, Jilska, was an outstanding national athlete.

Fred de Saram nick named ‘Kukul’ Saram claimed he was a Goigama Sinhalese. One of his daughters, Srimani, married Lalith Athulathmudali. When I married in 1966, ‘Kukul’ Saram in retirement was the banquet manager of the GOH. He laid out the best that the hotel could offer when he came to know that Governor General Gopallawa and Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake were to be the attesting witnesses.

Before I conclude I cannot help but mention Rear Admiral, Victor Hunter who was the head of the Navy whom I met under fortuitous circumstances. On my way to Police Headquarters one morning I heard on police radio clatter that a navy rating guarding Radio Ceylon had shot himself dead inside the sentry box. An investigation was on and Rear Admiral Hunter was there as an observer. Being the senior officer present as an ASP, I got chatting with him. He casually asked me ‘’why do you think this fellow committed suicide?’’ My reply was ‘’A young man joins the Navy to see the world and not to stand in a sentry box day in and day out”! Hunter smiled in agreement and said ‘’you have a similar problem. Several young policemen wanting to join the Navy interviewed by me have confessed that they hated manning the gates of residences of politicians and saluting even family members and visitors!’’

Hunter and B.R.Heyn were perhaps the only burghers to head the Navy and Army respectively in post-independence Sri Lanka.



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Features

UNFORGIVING CONSEQUENCES OF DEFORESTATION

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By Eng. Thushara Dissanayake

A forest is much more than a group of trees. Clearing of forests for agriculture has been an age-old practice. We accepted chena cultivation as a traditional livelihood of the rural poor. Secondly, we had ample forestlands throughout the country. Another cause of deforestation is development activities, besides logging and gem mining in some cases. Because of these acts, either legal or illegal, our forest cover has fast dwindled posing many serious environmental issues.

According to the World Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), by 2015, the estimated forest area in the world equaled 31 per cent of the earth’s surface area, most of which was located in tropical areas such as Africa, South America, and Indonesia. Today, according to experts, we have only 17 per cent of the forest cover left in this country.

People are the ultimate managers of forests and the higher their level of knowledge and awareness, the better their ability to conserve forests. It is unfortunate that recent incidents prove that people are not serious about the environment.

We are living in an era where climate change has become a major challenge. Ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere, mainly by the burning of fossil fuels has caused global warming, which renders myriads of bitter consequences. In the meantime, deforestation has been identified as the second major driver of climate change. It is forests which can help us reduce the excessive amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere playing a leading role in the fight against global warming. Forests act as a carbon sink and probably the only entity that is capable of carbon regulation. On average, the amount of oxygen produced annually by an acre of trees is about 2,500 kg while the annual oxygen consumption of a person is 750 kg.

Trees relieve people from stress and make them more comfortable while enhancing their well-being. Without trees, the world would not be beautiful and appealing. The earth has millions of different varieties of trees. Many trees do not remain the same throughout the year. When we plant a tree, we are emotionally attached to it and keen to observe its growth day by day. Sometimes we plant a tree to mark a special event and it may be our birthday, the day of marriage, or the demise of a close relative. Bhutan introduced the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index, which is used to measure happiness and well-being of its people. One of the four pillars of GNH is environmental conservation.

Even our tourism industry, which is one of the main sectors that bring us foreign exchange, vastly depends on the natural beauty of this country. If we fail to maintain its unique natural beauty, the country will cease to be a tourist attraction, jeopardising the industry.

The contribution of trees to the ecosystem is massive. Trees improve air quality by trapping solid particles, retard rainfall-runoff and thereby mitigate floods, increase groundwater recharge, and preserve soil by preventing erosion. The sustenance of our river system largely depends on the central forest area being the source of water. Not only forests but even green areas such as shrubs and turfs inside forests also contribute to the ecosystem immensely. Although they receive less attention, they can filter air by removing dust and absorb many pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Forests are home to wildlife. The same is true of humans and the survival of humans is also dependent on forest conservation.

 

The way forward

If the concept of vertical development is followed, not only in major cities but also in other areas, the acquisition of forest areas for human settlements can be significantly minimised as high rise buildings will obviate the need for many acres of land. Modern technology has to be used in agriculture together with methods that could contribute to high water use efficiencies to increase productivity rather than expanding agricultural land areas. Human settlements in less developed rural areas should be discouraged. There are large amounts of barren lands, including abandoned paddy lands, that could be used for afforestation if a proper mechanism is put in place to compensate landowners. These are several effective strategies which should be implemented sooner than later as policy interventions on all fronts are required to protect our existing forests. If the country’s forest cover shrinks further, we will all have to face bitter consequences sooner than expected.

 

(Eng. Thushara Dissanayake is a Chartered Engineer specialising in water resources engineering with over 20 years of experience)

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HYPOCRICY OF OUR COLONIAL MASTER!

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By Dr Upul Wijayawardhana

Irrespective of what happens at the UNHRC, there is one thing we should never forget; the arrogance and hypocrisy of our colonial master! The behaviour of the British Government is despicable. The UK has taken from the ‘nouveau-evil empire’––the US––the task of pressuring member nations of the UNHRC to vote against Sri Lanka! All this for the crime of defeating terrorism! Is this what is expected of the so-called leader of the Commonwealth?

It is a shame that the British representatives have not read Mathias Keittle’s excellent, well-reasoned piece “A German Analyst’s View on the Eelam War in Sri Lanka” which appeared in The Island on 28 February.

Considering there are allegations that some friends of high-ranking politicians of the British government made a mint from Covid-19 epidemic, one begins to wonder whether the Tiger-rump has helped some of them line their pockets. After all, it cannot simply be for a few votes. It will be interesting to see if the British government can counter what Matias Keittle so emphatically stated:

“Sri Lanka eliminated a dreaded terrorist group, with intricate global links, but receives little credit for it. Unlike elsewhere in the world, Sri Lanka has succeeded in resettling 300,000 IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). There are no starving children for the NGOs to feed but this gets ignored. Sri Lanka has avoided mass misery, epidemics and starvation but the West takes no notice of this. Sri Lanka has attained enviable socio-economic standards for a developing country while eliminating terrorism but gets no acknowledgement. The government of Sri Lanka and its President continue to enjoy unprecedented popular approval through democratic elections but this is dismissed. The economy is functional, but remains not encouraged by the West.”

My concerns perhaps are confirmed by what Lord Naseby, a government peer sitting in the British House of Lords, has stated. The following from the statement by Lord Naseby published in The Island of 5 March under the title, ‘Lord Naseby asks why Adele not prosecuted in the UK for child recruitment’, surely, is an indictment on the British government:

“I am astounded how the UK or any other Member of the Core Group can possibly welcome the High Commissioner’s so called ‘detailed and most comprehensive report on Sri Lanka’ when it is riddled with totally unsubstantiated allegations and statements completely ignoring the huge effort to restore infrastructure and rehouse displaced Tamils and Muslims, who lost their homes due to the Tamil Tigers.

“Furthermore, I question how the UK government knowingly and apparently consciously withheld vital evidence from the despatches of the UK military attaché Col. Gash. Evidence I obtained from a Freedom of Information request, resisted by the Foreign Office at every stage for over two years. These dispatches from an experienced and dedicated senior British officer in the field makes it clear that the Sri Lankan armed forces at every level acted and behaved appropriately, trying hard not to harm any Tamil civilians who were held by the Tamil Tigers as hostages in a human shield.

“This conscious decision totally undermines the UK‘s standing as an objective Leader of the Core Group; made even worse by the impunity for not prosecuting the LTTE leader living in the UK, largely responsible for recruiting, training and deploying over 5,000 Child Soldiers – a real War Crime. It is time that the UK Government acknowledges and respects the recommendations of the Paranagama Commission, which involved several international expert advisers, including from the UK – Sir Desmond de Silva QC, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Rodney Dixon QC and Major General John Holmes.”

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has strived so hard to strengthen the Commonwealth of Nations so that the UK could successfully transform itself from a colonial master to a friend of the past colonies but Her Majesty’s Government seems to be behaving in a manner to undermine Her efforts. Her Majesty’s vision of friendship and cooperation seems to be countered by the bully-boy tactics of politicians.

The excellent editorial “Should SL follow UK?” in The Island on 24 February concluded with the following:

“Anything Westminster goes here. It is the considered opinion of the defenders of democracy that Sri Lanka should emulate the UK in protecting human rights. What if Sri Lanka takes a leaf out of the UK’s book in handling alleged war crimes? In November 2020, the British Parliament passed a bill to prevent ‘vexatious’ prosecutions of military personnel and veterans over war crimes allegations. This law seeks to grant the British military personnel, who have committed war crimes, an amnesty to all intents and purposes. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ascertained evidence of a pattern of war crimes perpetrated by British soldiers against Iraqi detainees, some of whom were even raped and beaten to death. Curiously, the ICC said in December 2020, it would not take action against the perpetrators! Too big to be caught?”

the UK may argue that it has to protect military personnel against vexatious prosecutions. If so, they should understand the position of Sri Lanka. We know that the US administrations, be it under Obama, Trump or Biden, run more on brawn than brain but we expect better from the UK. Why or why do they have to behave like a poodle of the US.

Is this not hypocrisy of the highest order? Shame on you, the British government!

 

 

 

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ASIAN DEMONSTRATORS AND THE AMERICAN DREAM

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The US was always a selective supporter of democracy, and now it is a diminished one. 

By Ian Buruma

One month ago, in Myanmar, protesters against the military coup gathered around the United States Embassy in Yangon. They called on President Joe Biden to make the generals go back to their barracks and free Aung San Suu Kyi from detention. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won a big victory in the 2020 general election, which is why the generals, afraid of losing their privileges, seized power.

But is the US Embassy the best place to protest? Can the US President do anything substantial apart from expressing disapproval of the coup? The protesters’ hope for a US intervention shows that America’s image as the champion of global freedom is not yet dead, even after four years of Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ isolationism.

Demonstrators in Hong Kong last year, protesting against China’s harsh crackdown on the territory’s autonomy, even regarded Trump as an ally. He was erratically hostile to China, so the protesters waved the stars and stripes, hoping that America would help to keep them free from Chinese communist authoritarianism.

America’s self-appointed mission to spread freedom around the world has a long history. Many foolish wars were fought as a result. But US democratic idealism has been an inspiration to many as well. America long saw itself, in John F Kennedy’s words, as a country ‘engaged in a world-wide struggle in which we bear a heavy burden to preserve and promote the ideals that we share with all mankind.’

As Hungarians found out when they rose up against the Soviet Union in 1956, words often prove to be empty. The Hungarian Revolution, encouraged by the US, was crushed after 17 days; the US did nothing to help those it had egged on.

Sometimes, however, freedom has been gained with American help, and not just against Hitler’s tyranny in Western Europe. During the 1980s, people in the Philippines and South Korea rebelled against dictatorships in huge demonstrations, not unlike those in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Myanmar in the last two years. So, of course, did people in the People’s Republic of China, where a 10-meter tall ‘Goddess of Democracy,’ modelled on the Statue of Liberty, was erected on Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The Chinese demonstrations ended in a bloody disaster, but pro-democracy forces toppled Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship in the Philippines and South Korea’s military regime. Support from the US was an important factor. In Taiwan, too, authoritarianism was replaced by democracy, again with some US assistance.

But what worked in the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan is unlikely to work in Thailand, Hong Kong, or Myanmar. The main reason is that the former three countries were what leftists called ‘client states’ during the Cold War. Their dictators were ‘our dictators,’ protected by the US as anti-communist allies.

Propped up by American money and military largesse, they could continue to oppress their people, so long as the US saw communism as a global threat. Once China opened for business and Soviet power waned, they suddenly became vulnerable. Marcos was pressed on American TV to promise to hold a free and fair election. When he tried to steal the result, a US senator told him to ‘cut and cut cleanly.’ Marcos duly ran for his helicopter and ended up in exile in Hawaii.

Similarly, when South Korean students, supported by much of the middle-class, poured into the streets, angry not only with their military government, but with its US backer, America finally came down on the side of democracy. Dependent on American military protection, the generals had to listen when the US urged them to step aside.

The generals in Thailand and Myanmar have no reason to do likewise. Biden can threaten sanctions and voice his outrage. But with China willing to step in as Myanmar’s patron, the junta has no reason to worry very much (though the military has been wary of China up to now).

Thailand’s rulers, too, benefit from Chinese influence, and the country has a long history of playing one great power against another. And because Hong Kong is officially part of China, there is little any outside power can do to protect its freedoms, no matter how many American flags people wave in the streets.

Dependence on the US in Europe and Asia, and the clout that Americans held as a result, was sustained by the Cold War. Now, a new cold war is looming, this time with China. But US power has been greatly diminished since its zenith in the 20th century. Trust in American democracy has been eroded by the election of an ignorant narcissist who bullied traditional allies, and China is a more formidable power than the Soviet Union ever was. It is also vastly richer.

Countries in East and Southeast Asia still need US support for their security. As long as Japan is hindered from playing a leading military role, because of a tainted past and a pacifist constitution, the US will continue to be the main counterweight to China’s increasing dominance. But as Thailand’s deft balancing of powers demonstrates, US allies are unlikely to become ‘client states’ in the way some were before. Even the South Koreans are careful not to upset their relations with China. The US is far; China is near.

This pattern is to be expected. US dominance can’t last forever, and Asian countries, as well as Europeans, should wean themselves from total dependence on a not-always-dependable power to protect them. Being a ‘client state’ can be humiliating. Yet, the day may come when some people, somewhere, might miss Pax Americana, when the US was powerful enough to push out the unwanted rascals.

 

(Buruma is the author, most recently, of The Churchill Complex: The Curse of Being Special, from Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit.)

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