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The crisis at the southern border

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by Vijaya Chandrasoma

Returning violence for violence only serves to multiply violence, adding darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Today, the United States is shrouded in darkness, fighting crises on several fronts: a global pandemic which has already claimed 175,000 lives; a national plague of incompetent, immoral and ignorant leadership; an economic recession with unemployment at levels of the Great Depression; and an immigration crisis at its Southern border, the consequence of centuries of aggressive European colonization.

This humanitarian crisis at the Southern border no longer makes news. The American people have become inured to this injustice, this cruelty, just like the German people became inured to the Nazi treatment of the Jews.

The US will continue to wallow in this darkness with four more years of Trump. As Michelle Obama said at the Democratic National Convention last Monday, “If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

Were there only one light to illuminate the darkness that envelopes the nation today, that will be the election, on November 3, of competent, civil leadership we have not enjoyed since January 21, 2017.

The United States is hardly the only country to have made its fortunes on the backs of “uncivilized” peoples. Wealth creation in many of the richest countries of the world today has been achieved through invasion, genocide, slavery and continuing violence.

Harping on history is a futile exercise. What matters is today. The developed nations in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States act as magnets for those seeking escape from political and ethnic strife which continues to plague many of these former colonies. The US is still the lodestar beckoning seekers of opportunity and prosperity for themselves, and education and a bright future for their children. The melting pot, the nation of immigrants, where 98% of its citizens are immigrants.

The conviction of European superiority has never been in doubt, especially in the minds of Europeans. As Cecil Rhodes wrote in his last will and testatement, referring to the Anglo-Saxon race: “I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race”.

Echoes of Hitler’s fascism in the Germany of the 1930s, when he promulgated the concept of the Master Race, the purity of Nordic or Aryan races among Germans and other Northern European peoples.

The Germans made a straightforward move towards the achievement of a pure race in the 1930s. They decided that the inferior, or impure races, like the Jews, Romanians (Gypsies) and the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe, should be eliminated to hasten the evolution of a perfect race. Jews took pride of place as a particularly venomous race, parasites who enervated the purity of humanity. So the Nazis devolved the Final Solution, and just murdered them. If not all, then at least six million of them.

The colonizers of the Americas were perhaps the cruelest of an abysmal lot. In the years after systematic European colonization of the Americas began in 1492, they provided the blueprint for white supremacy, the precursor to Hitler’s Final Solution. They murdered the indigenous peoples to the point of near extinction. They forcibly kidnapped Africans and brought them to work in the cotton plantations in the Southern states of the US and the pineapple fields in the Caribbean. These unfortunates were treated as a species closer to animals than humans, against whom the most despicable forms of abuse and torture, rape, even murder for sport were considered moral, lawful, even expected of them. Indeed, it was the contention of some white Christian Americans that such abuse is mandated by the Bible. Unfortunately, after 250 years since Emancipation, this contention is still shared by some Americans, notably the KKK, White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis and the Trump “Base” of the US.

The English put a unique spin on subjugation and slavery. They proved themselves to be at least as equal to other Europeans in their physical cruelty to the inhabitants of the nations they colonized, but they tempered it with a distinctive brand of psychological cruelty which was far more effective. A brand which, while plundering the resources of the colonies, they made the natives feel that they should be grateful for being the recipients of a great and superior culture. The genius of the English colonizers in the Indian subcontinent and Africa is that they made their victims feel ashamed of their nationality. They questioned their culture, mocked their attire, and ridiculed their languages and religions. They made us ashamed of our darker, richer skin colours, proved even today by the fact that the best-selling cosmetic east of Suez is skin-whitening cream.

The native ruling classes in Ceylon before independence were more British than the British themselves. They wore three-piece suits with a tie in the scorching heat; they went to church every Sunday; they knew their Shakespeare and Chaucer and spoke with an Oxford accent; resplendent in cream flannels, they played cricket in the midday sun, like Noel Coward’s mad dogs and Englishmen; and their drink of choice was whisky with a splash.

I remember when I was in secondary school, it was almost a boast to say, “I say, my Sinhalese (or Tamil) is very poor”. Failing an examination in the vernacular (I am reluctant to say “mother tongue” because, in the ruling elite, our mothers spoke English) was almost a badge of honor. Knowledge of the English language is the kaduwa (sword) that keeps the lower orders ostensibly content with their lot even today.

Even after they granted self-rule and independence to the natives, the Europeans retained economic and emotional control in many of the colonies, some until the 1970s. It took a few decades for the natives to rid themselves of the manacles of colonial subjugation. But for a few notable exceptions like Singapore, this refreshing change gave the natives unfettered freedom and licence to ruin their own countries without any foreign help. At least their wealth and resources were stolen by their own.

Sadly, the inferiority complex and self-flagellation of their hateful black and brown pigmentation persist to the present day among some colonials. There are brown-skinned natives in sovereign nations who yearn for the “good old days”, when they were ruled by the superior white man.

Perhaps this is the reason, this sense of inferiority, that significant numbers of coloured peoples, who hail from Trump’s notion of “shithole countries”, support the white supremacist policies of the Trump administration. As do even some Sri Lankans living in the USA, where overt governmental racism discriminates against their own best interests.

As I said, harping on the past is an exercise in futility. Complaining about the evils of colonialism, after several decades of ruining our countries all by ourselves without any foreign help, is like a middle-aged man blaming his parents for the crimes he has committed.

The immigration laws of the US and other countries of the First World were liberal enough after World War II to invite immigrants to the “mother country”, in the face of a labour shortage in Europe and the Americas after World War II.

 

The influx of refugees is the greatest problem facing the First World today. There is a reluctance, even a fear, to welcome these refugees, fleeing from poverty, violence and strife often initiated, paradoxically, by the very countries to which they are appealing for refuge.

Applications for asylum to the US have exploded and reached a breaking point, threatening its prosperity. An invasion of brown refugees also feeds the threat to its white majority and white privilege, a fear that is being strategically exploited by the Trump administration.

According to current US immigration laws, anyone seeking asylum in the United States has to be accepted until his case for asylum is heard by an immigration judge. These hearings are delayed, causing a backlog and a waiting period for asylum cases, during which the asylum seeker was allowed to remain and legally work in the country until his case is called. The problem is, many asylum seekers never appear for the immigration hearing, often scheduled months after arrival. They disappear into a twilight zone, creating a vast community of undocumented immigrants, who numbered an estimated 11 million in 2017.

This problem was addressed by the Trump administration with typically inhuman measures. Trump has been stoking the white American fear of illegal immigration from Mexico and other Hispanic countries. He made it the core of his successful 2016 election campaign.

Asylum seekers are now not released pending hearing of their cases for asylum, as mandated by law; they are either deported indiscriminately, or detained at the border in the most inhumane conditions, in Nazi-style concentration camps. Children are separated from their parents, and either caged in terrible conditions in camps at the border, or worse, become prey to a thriving business of sexual trafficking and slavery. Many of these kids simply disappear, and the administration, in whose custody they were, has no idea of their whereabouts.

The American Dream is farthest away from the aspirations of these tortured souls. Their only goal is survival, which they will not achieve if they are deported to their own countries and/or are denied asylum by the inhuman immigration policies of the Trump administration. Unless, of course, you are an aspiring white immigrant from Europe; then the rules change dramatically. As Trump once famously wailed, and I paraphrase, “why can’t we get immigrants from countries like Norway, (the whitest nation in the world) instead of people from shithole countries in Africa and Asia?”

Trump longs for the USA to be nation of whites like the Scandinavian countries, with economic, racial and social prosperity. He does not understand that these countries have no history of colonial and racial cruelty caused by invasion and colonization. Immigrants to these nations are few, and largely welcomed regardless of pigmentation. As an example, Sweden has under 400,000 immigrants from Asian and African nations in a total population of 10.23 million (4%) in 2019, compared to the 90 million (28%) immigrants from Asia and Africa in the USA, also in 2019.

If Trump is allowed to continue his racist policies, the US will not end up like a democratic, socialist nation of Scandinavia. He will transform the greatest democracy in the world to an authoritarian dictatorship like Russia.

For Trump, the secret of a prosperous nation is in the blending, as long as the main ingredient in the recipe is vanilla.

(The writer is the second son of Tissa Chndrasoma, a well-known Civil Servant of his day, and Mrs. Gertie Chandrsoma. He emigrated to the US at age 49 as his elder boy had won a scholarship to Yale and he decided to get the rest of the family to the US after the 1991 explosion at the Joint Operations Command. Then working for the late Gamini Dissanayake, who had lost favour with the Premadasa government and had himself taken a sabbatical at Cambridge, Dissanayake’s trusted aides, like their boss, thought it best to duck out of sight for a while. A Mahaweli colleague helped him to get started in Los Angeles where he and his wife first did low level jobs. He thereafter lived in Phoenix when his company relocated there and worked on the Clinton campaign in LA and Obama’s in Phoenix. His children seized the opportunities America offered and did very well. He has not regretted his decision to retire to Sri Lanka when peace returned in 2009. He says “I have always loved writing, but my raw hatred of Trump, who is ruining what was a beautiful, compassionate nation which gave me  second chance in life, has give me an incentive to vent and expose him as best I can.”)



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Features

Whither the rules-based order?

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by Andrew Sheng
for Asia News Network

Every day, we are told we must defend the rules-based order. But whose order? What rules? Why should we defend an order if we did not have a say in shaping?

All this is in the realm of politics and geo-politics. The biggest thinker who shaped the current neoliberal order was Austrian philosopher Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), whose ideas of classical liberalism of freedom, democracy and self-order of markets dominated global relations. Neoliberalism was put into practice in the 1980s, when US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pushed through the free market philosophy that swept away Keynesian state intervention of the 1950-1970s.

The deeper thinker on the whole question of constitutional law, politics and international order was German jurist Carl Schmitt (1888-1985), whose influence on conservative political circles in almost all the Big Powers has been growing. I only became aware of Schmitt’s work when Noema magazine wrote an editorial on Schmitt’s Nomos of the Earth (1950). Schmitt is controversial, because he essentially wrote the legal basis for Nazism in the 1920s, which accounts for his ostracization (in today’s language “cancelled”) from academic circles for decades.

Schmitt was a brutally realist thinker who explored the legal foundations of European political theory. Schmitt argues that no order can function without a sovereign authority. A state is legally constituted when the politics distinguishes between friend and enemy and when the citizens are willing to fight and die for its identity. The state alone is given the power of violence (and enforcement) by the citizens to enforce the law.

Schmitt is considered an authoritarian supporter, because he saw sovereign power resting ultimately in the Executive (rather than the Legislature or Judiciary) because the sovereign (i.e. the President) decides on the exceptional situation, where he/she must suspend the law because of war or assume emergency powers in order to restore order. Decisions by the Executive are either bound by law or bounded by his or her moral bearings.

The world is today watching on TV whether former President Trump is morally culpable for causing the January 6, 2021 riots, or legally culpable. The Ukraine war is being supported by NATO on a matter of moral principle for a non-member, but if the war escalates to nuclear global destruction that kills all, how do we trade off the individual rights with the collective right of everyone else to survive?

Schmitt dissected the European constitutional laws and international order, dividing them into three phases: pre-1500, 1648 to 1919 (World War I) and thereafter. Before the discovery of America, European powers fought each other under a religious cloak, since the Pope decided on disputes of rights on moral grounds. Indeed, it was the Papal Bulls of 1455 and 1493 that authorized the Portuguese and Spaniards to conquer all lands and seize and enslave Saracens and non-Christians in the Americas, Africa and Asia. The religious rationales comprised the Domination Code whereby Christians can rule over non-Christians and possess their property, as well as the Discovery Code, whereby lands owned by non-believers are treated as terra nullius (empty land), meaning non-Christian indigenous peoples do not have rights.

But when the Dutch and English started fighting with the Portuguese and Spaniards over overseas territories, what was the legal justification? Dutch jurist Grotius (1583-1645) provided the secular rationalisation that discovery alone is not enough, but since there was freedom in the seas, occupation by a sovereign state confirms rights seized through war. Schmitt argued that Jus Publicum Europaeum (European Public Law) emerged after the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia to allow sovereign countries to have the right to go to war based on their own judgement of justice and necessity without interference in each other’s domestic affairs. This changed after the end of the First World War, when the 1919 Treaty of Versailles treated the losing side as criminals, with their rights cancelled or confiscated.

Whilst the Europeans were busily fighting each other, the United States rose in global power and imposed her 1823 Monroe Doctrine that asserted that she has her own sphere of influence, with the right to intervene in Central and South American states. That sphere of influence would spatially cover cultural, economic, military, political and today technology exclusivity beyond legal sovereign borders.

Schmitt was prescient in seeing that where war is fought on the basis of “good versus evil”, in which all rights of the other side are “cancelled” (like the foreign exchange assets of Afghanistan and Russia are frozen or seized), the situation may be an unstable equilibrium. The unstable European security architecture was settled decisively by the United States in two World Wars because of her overwhelming military, economic and industrial power. But in today’s multipolar situation, who decides on the rules of the international order? If both sides accuse the other side as evil and illegitimate, who decides other than the use of arms?

To cut a complex story short, the NATO military alliance, comprising nearly one billion people and 47.3 percent of world GDP (2020), assumes its status quo role as the final arbiter of the “rules-based order”. The problem is that BRICS countries, plus Indonesia have 3.5 billion population with one quarter of world GDP in market terms (25.6%). However, on GDP PPP terms, they are near parity with NATO and therefore may have their own views on the international order. What if the larger non-Western countries want their own version of the Monroe Doctrine?

The moral principle that all of us should live peacefully on one planet should override sovereign nations fighting over power and ego from turf to space, when humanity could be burned by climate warming or nuclear war. For Nomos (or order) of the Planet, rather than the Earth, we should all rationally cooperate. If we truly believe in democracy, can the eight billion people in the world vote on the rules-based order, or do we still leave it to G-7?

No order is stable without true legitimacy. How to achieve that order remains an open question.

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Scarcity, prices, hoarding and queuing

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By Usvatte-aratchi

We live in a scarcity economy and will do so well into 2024, past the next Presidential elections if it comes then; it may not. (The new minister may open bets.) All economies are scarcity economies; otherwise, there would be no prices. We also live in plentiful economies; look at the streets of Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, Paris or San Francisco during day or night. Scarcity is a relative term, as most terms are. A scarcity economy is one where prices rise relentlessly, where cigarettes are more expensive in the evening than they were the same morning. Scarcity economies will have two or more sets of prices: one official, others in markets in varying shades of grey until black. Scarcity economies are where everyone (producers, traders, households) hoards commodities, hoards everything that can be hoarded, at reasonable cost. Scarcity economy is one where productivity is lower than it was earlier, where both labour and capital idle. Scarcity itself may push down productivity. Observe thousands of people standing in queues to buy all kinds of things whilst producing nothing. That is labour idling. Others hang on to dear life in crowded trains arriving in office late to leave early, to get to ill lit homes where to cook each evening they repeat what their ancestors did millions of years ago to light a fire. Money is one commodity that can be hoarded at little cost, if there was no inflation. The million rupees you had in your savings account in 2019 is now worth a mere 500,000, because prices have risen. That is how a government taxes you outside the law: debase the currency. In an inflation afflicted economy, hoarding money is a fool’s game.

The smart game to play is to borrow to the limit, a kind of dishoarding (- negative hoarding) money. You borrow ten million now and five years later you pay 500 million because the value of money has fallen. US dollars are scarce in this economy. It is hoarded where it can wait until its price in Sri Lanka rises. Some politicians who seem to have been schooled in corruption to perfection have them stored elsewhere, as we have learnt from revelations in the international press. Electricity is not hoarded in large quantities because it is expensive to hoard. Petrol is not hoarded very much in households because it evaporates fast and is highly flammable. That does not prevent vehicle owners from keeping their tanks full in contrast to the earlier practice when they had kept tanks half empty (full). Consequently, drivers now hoard twice as much fuel in their tanks as earlier. Until drivers feel relaxed as to when they get the next fill, there will be queues. That should also answer the conundrum of the minister for energy who daily sent out more bowser loads out than earlier, but queues did not shorten.

As an aside, it is necessary to note that the scarcity economy, which has been brought about by stupid policies 2019-2022, and massive thieving from 2005 is partly a consequence of the fall in total output (GDP) in the economy. Workers in queues do not produce. The capital they normally use in production (e.g. motor cars, machines that they would otherwise would have worked at) lie idle. Both capital and labour idle and deny their usual contribution to GDP. Agriculture, industries, wholesale and retail trade, public administration, manufacturing and construction all of which have been adversely affected in various ways contribute more than 75% of total GDP. Maha (winter crop) 2021-22, Yala (spring crop) 2022 and Maha 2022-23 and fishing are all likely to have yielded (and yield) poor harvests. Manufacturing including construction are victims of severe shortages in energy and imported inputs. Wholesale and retail trade which depend directly on imports of commodities have been hit by the sharp drop in imports. Tourism, which is more significant in providing employment and foreign exchange, collapsed dreadfully since late 2019 and has not recovered yet. About 16 percent of our labour force work in the public sector. They have failed to contribute to GDP because they did not engage in productive work due to variegated reasons. Teachers were on strike for two months in 2021. In 2022, so far government employees have worked off and on. Wages of government employees are counted as contributions to GDP, by those that make GDP estimates. However, here is an instance where labour was paid but there was no output equal to the value of those wages. Such payments are rightly counted as transfers and do not count to GDP. For these reasons estimates of GDP for 2021 must be well below the 2020 level. The 3.6 growth in official estimates is unlikely. The likely drop in 2022 will be roughly of the same magnitude as in 2021. These declines are not dissonant with misery one sees in towns and the countryside: empty supermarket shelves, scant supplies of produce in country fares, scarce fish supplies, buses idling in parks and roads empty of traffic. There have been warnings from our paediatricians as well as from international organisations of wasting and probable higher rates of child mortality. It is this sort of sharp fall in wellbeing that engenders the desperation driving young and ambitious people to obtain passports to seek a living overseas. You can see those from mezzo-America amassed on the southern border of US. Will our young men and women end up beyond the wall of China?

Of this lowered supply of goods and services, this society is expected to pay a massive accumulated foreign debt. (Remember the reparation payments in the Versailles Treaty). In real terms it will mean that we forego a part of our lower incomes. Do not miss this reality behind veils of jargon woven by financial analysts. It is not something that we have a choice about. That is where international help may kick in. Gotabaya Rajapaksa government after much senseless dilly dallying has started negotiations with the IMF. There is nobody compelling our government to seek support from IMF. They are free go elsewhere as some who recently were in their government still urge. Examine alternatives and hit upon an arrangement not because it permits the family grows richer but because it will make life for the average person a little less unbearable.

If prices are expected to rise people will seek resources to hoard: money to buy commodities, space and facilities to hoard, security services to protect the property and much more. Rice producers cannot hoard their product because animals large as elephants and small as rodents eat them up. Because of the unequal distribution of resources to hoard, the poor cannot hoard. In a scarcity economy, the poor cannot hoard and famines usually victimise the poor, first and most. If prices are expected to fall, stocks are dishoarded to the market and prices fall faster and deeper. In either direction, the rate at which prices change and the height/depth of the rise/fall depends on the speed at which expectations of change in prices take place. A largescale rice miller claims he can control the price of rice at a level that the government cannot. His success/failure will tell us the extent of his monopoly power.

When commodities are scarce, in the absence of a sensible system of coupons to regulate the distribution, consumers will form queues. A queue is rarely a straight here, nor a dog’s tail (queue, in French, is a dog’s tail which most often crooked). Assembled consumers stagnate, make puddles and sometimes spread out like the Ganges, with Meghna, disgorges itself to the Bay of Bengal. They sometimes swirl and make whirlpools and then there is trouble, occasionally serious. There is order in a queue that people make automatically. To break that order is somehow iniquitous in the human mind. That is why breaking the order in a queue is enraging. For a queue to be disobeyed by anyone is infuriating, and for a politician to do so now in this country is dangerously injurious to his physical wellbeing.

The first cause of rising prices, hoarding and queues is the scarcity of goods and services in relation to the income and savings in the hands of the people.

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Terror figuring increasingly in Russian invasion of Ukraine

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In yet another mind-numbing manifestation of the sheer savagery marking the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a shopping mall in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kremenchuk was razed to the ground recently in a Russian missile strike. Reportedly more than a hundred civilian lives were lost in the chilling attack.

If the unconscionable killing of civilians is a definition of terrorism, then the above attack is unalloyed terrorism and should be forthrightly condemned by all sections that consider themselves civilized. Will these sections condemn this most recent instance of blood-curdling barbarism by the Putin regime in the Ukrainian theatre and thereby provide proof that the collective moral conscience of the world continues to tick? Could progressive opinion be reassured on this score without further delay or prevarication?

These issues need to be addressed with the utmost urgency by the world community. May be, the UN General Assembly could meet in emergency session for the purpose and speak out loud and clear in one voice against such wanton brutality by the Putin regime which seems to be spilling the blood of Ukrainian civilians as a matter of habit. The majority of UNGA members did well to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine close on the heels of it occurring a few months back but the Putin regime seems to be continuing the civilian bloodletting in Ukraine with a degree of impunity that signals to the international community that the latter could no longer remain passive in the face of the aggravating tragedy in Ukraine.

The deafening silence, on this question, on the part of those sections the world over that very rightly condemn terror, from whichever quarter it may emanate, is itself most intriguing. There cannot be double standards on this problem. If the claiming of the lives of civilians by militant organizations fighting governments is terror, so are the Putin regime’s targeted actions in Ukraine which result in the wanton spilling of civilian blood. The international community needs to break free of its inner paralysis.

While most Western democracies are bound to decry the Russian-inspired atrocities in Ukraine, more or less unambiguously, the same does not go for the remaining democracies of the South. Increasing economic pressures, stemming from high energy and oil prices in particular, are likely to render them tongue-tied.

Such is the case with Sri Lanka, today reduced to absolute beggary. These states could be expected ‘to look the other way’, lest they be penalized on the economic front by Russia. One wonders what those quarters in Sri Lanka that have been projecting themselves as ‘progressives’ over the years have to say to the increasing atrocities against civilians in Ukraine. Aren’t these excesses instances of state terror that call for condemnation?

However, ignoring the Putin regime’s terror acts is tantamount to condoning them. Among other things, the failure on the part of the world community to condemn the Putin government’s commissioning of war crimes sends out the message that the international community is gladly accommodative of these violations of International Law. An eventual result from such international complacency could be the further aggravation of world disorder and lawlessness.

The Putin regime’s latest civilian atrocities in Ukraine are being seen by the Western media in particular as the Russian strongman’s answer to the further closing of ranks among the G7 states to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the issues growing out of it. There is a considerable amount of truth in this position but the brazen unleashing of civilian atrocities by the Russian state also points to mounting impatience on the part of the latter for more positive results from its invasion.

Right now, the invasion could be described as having reached a stalemate for Russia. Having been beaten back by the robust and spirited Ukrainian resistance in Kyiv, the Russian forces are directing their fire power at present on Eastern Ukraine. Their intentions have narrowed down to carving out the Donbas region from the rest of Ukraine; the aim being to establish the region as a Russian sphere of influence and buffer state against perceived NATO encirclement.

On the other hand, having failed to the break the back thus far of the Ukraine resistance the Putin regime seems to be intent on demoralizing the resistance by targeting Ukraine civilians and their cities. Right now, most of Eastern Ukraine has been reduced to rubble. The regime’s broad strategy seems to be to capture the region by bombing it out. This strategy was tried out by Western imperialist powers, such as the US and France, in South East Asia some decades back, quite unsuccessfully.

However, by targeting civilians the Putin regime seems to be also banking on the US and its allies committing what could come to be seen as indiscretions, such as, getting more fully militarily and physically involved in the conflict.

To be sure, Russia’s rulers know quite well that it cannot afford to get into a full-blown armed conflict with the West and it also knows that the West would doing its uttermost to avoid an international armed confrontation of this kind that could lead to a Third World War. Both sides could be banked on to be cautious about creating concrete conditions that could lead to another Europe-wide armed conflict, considering its wide-ranging dire consequences.

However, by grossly violating the norms and laws of war in Ukraine Russia could tempt the West into putting more and more of its financial and material resources into strengthening the military capability of the Ukraine resistance and thereby weaken its economies through excessive military expenditure.

That is, the Western military-industrial complex would be further bolstered at the expense of the relevant civilian publics, who would be deprived of much needed welfare expenditure. This is a prospect no Western government could afford to countenance at the present juncture when the West too is beginning to weaken in economic terms. Discontented publics, growing out of shrinking welfare budgets, could only aggravate the worries of Western governments.

Accordingly, Putin’s game plan could very well be to subject the West to a ‘slow death’ through his merciless onslaught on the Ukraine. At the time of writing US President Joe Biden is emphatic about the need for united and firm ‘Transatlantic’ security in the face of the Russian invasion but it is open to question whether Western military muscle could be consistently bolstered amid rising, wide-ranging economic pressures.

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