HOW TRUMP’S POLITICS AFFECT US

Posted: February 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

FOR all intents and purposes, President Donald Trump sees every Muslim as an extremist or a potential terrorist and a security threat to the US.

This is despite the fact that many Muslims have fought and died for America and have also contributed much to the US economy. There are many more non-Muslim extremists and terrorists in the US and the West. Why was Trump silent when a white supremacist committed a gross act of terror on a Quebec mosque on Jan 29?

Not long ago in America, when racism was prevalent, many white people saw every black man as a rapist, mugger and violent criminal. The black movement in the US led by people such as Martin Luther King and the global anti-apartheid movement inspired by the late and legendary Nelson Mandela, provided the “equalisers” needed to counter racial injustices and bigotry, and made many people realise that it was wrong and dishonest to stereotype black people with negative traits.

With the election of Barack Obama as president in Nov 2008, social values seemed to have changed for the better with bigotry coming under attack and on the defensive, until Trump came along in 2016. He targeted another minority group (Muslims) as both the scapegoat and bogeyman for the social ills of the US.
My last piece about Donald Trump (entitled “Why should we all die for one man?”) provoked different kinds of responses from local and overseas readers.
While some supported my analysis in portraying Trump to be similar to Adolf Hitler in certain (but not all) ways, like Trump singling out the Muslims and Hitler singled out the Jews, there seems to be some sympathy for Trump and to some degree, latent support for Islamophobia as well.

Most of the support for Trump is based on the following arguments.

He has just taken over the presidency of the US, so we should give him a chance to perform and deliver on his promises. This is not a problem, since it is what he is doing that is more important.

Trump is doing exactly what he has promised, so what’s the problem?

Being democratically elected to be the US president is not a carte blanche to do things, which may be unconstitutional or unjust or oppressive. Adolf Hitler was elected in 1933 as chancellor of Germany on his fascist and anti-Jews platform and he actually did what he promised – by exterminating 6 million Jews. So is this right?

Some may argue that what Trump is doing is how democracy should work but this is an abuse of democracy to commit injustices. Democracy is more a means to an end and in a true democracy, there must be checks and balances (such as having an independent judiciary and free press and allowing peaceful protests) against tyranny and the oppression of minorities.

Before I continue, I wish to state that I am not an apologist for Islamic extremism and terrorism. I have written many articles in the past on how to deal resolutely with the likes of IS with military force, psychological warfare and education.

Trump’s executive order to bar the entry of Muslims from seven Muslim-majority countries (the US had a hand in creating the terrorist problem there) seems to be the most controversial of all his actions so far, which the US public, even his own government and diplomatic personnel, state governments and more than 100 big (mostly tech) companies, are opposed to.
Why are all the popular tech giants – Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, e-Bay, Intel, Uber and the list goes on – filing legal opposition to Trump’s immigration order? Because they have many productive, law-abiding, civil-minded and talented Muslim staff who have contributed to their success.
Trump and his aides have not shown how the immigration order on ordinary Muslims (who have been vetted by his consular and intelligence agencies before they can enter the US) can make America safer from terrorist attacks. Not a shred of evidence. The case to support the order is based on half-truths, misinformation and so-called “alternative facts”, a new term for lies coined by the president’s aides.
His disparaging remarks on the “so-called judge” US District Court Judge James Robart, who overturned his order based on a legal suit filed by the state governments of Washington and Minnesota, were unprecedented in US history.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal would be hearing soon the appeal by the White House to rescind the injunction by Judge Robart. Most analysts now expect the case to go to the US Supreme Court for a final ruling.

Even the president’s own Republican allies in Congress are distancing themselves from him. More states in the US are now joining in the legal challenges to the immigrant order.

Trump’s immigration order appears to be part of his grand “anti-Muslim global strategy”, which included a three-prong offensive against the right of the Palestinians to their homeland and the UN-sponsored peace process via:

his support of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank (which the whole world, including his predecessor Barack Obama, has condemned);

his questioning of a UN-sponsored two-state solution (which all his predecessors supported after the Palestinians agreed to a compromise for the sake of peace);

his outrageous idea of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump’s latest approval rating is 44%, the lowest for any president in US history for the first few weeks.

This is a good sign, which means that the US public is not so easily hoodwinked by his fanciful slogans.

Trump’s immigration order may only apply, for a start, to seven Muslim-majority countries. But if he gets his way, he is expected to extend the ban to cover all other Muslim-majority countries including Malaysia and if that happens, even non-Muslim Malaysians would be barred from entering the US.

Many Malaysians seem to think that Trump’s actions so far would not affect our country. There is also a sense of complacency among the non-Muslims that Trump’s policies would not impact them.

Extremist Muslims in Malaysia and elsewhere are doing exactly what Trump wants to achieve for his “self-fulfilling prophecy”, that every Muslim is a fanatic.
Trump’s unjust orders, if not checked, would create a world that is weak, divided and easier to exploit and bully. He is driving a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims.

If Trump finishes off (unchecked) with destroying the Muslim community, he would then target other ethnic and political groups, just like what Hitler did after he exterminated as many Jews as he could under his control.

The writer is a global political analyst who believes that Trump may not last a full term. Comment: kktan@thesundaily.com

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HARUSKAH BERKORBAN UNTUK TRUMP?

Posted: February 10, 2017 in Uncategorized
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PADA awal 1930-an, Jerman berada dalam kekalutan ekonomi yang teruk dan sedang merudum. Pada 1933, Adolph Hitler ‘membasuh otak’ dan mempengaruhi rakyat Jerman kelas pekerja yang kecewa, mengundi beliau menjadi canselor.

Hitler menggunakan kefahaman kebangsaan pro-fasis dan haluan kanan. Beliau mengatakan Yahudi sebagai ‘bermasalah’ dan punca utama pengangguran serta penyakit sosial. Beliau menggesa rakyat bangkit untuk menjadikan Jerman kembali hebat, jadi kuasa besar Eropah, muncul bersama sekutunya Jepun dan Itali supaya dapat menakluki dunia dan menjadikan mereka sebagai jajahan-jajahan perintah dunia baharu.

Hari ini, Amerika Syarikat kehilangan pengaruh global mereka dan sedang dilanda takungan ekonomi, di mana ramai kelas pekerja merasai mereka telah diabaikan dan kecewa dengan pihak berkuasa Washington.

Pada 2016, seorang wira di Amerika Syarikat muncul berjuang untuk kelas pekerja dan bersuara terhadap pengangguran, kemiskinan dan penurunan ekonomi.

Beliau membayangkan bahawa kaum Muslim yang sayang keamanan adalah pelaku dan penyebab keganasan. Beliau melihat kaum Muslim sebagai bermasalah, seperti mana Hitler melihat kaum Yahudi.

Seperti Hitler, Donald Trump dipilih secara demokratik untuk menjadi presiden dan ketua komander negara paling berkuasa di dunia. Beliau mempromosi Islamofobia dengan cara mengekalkan stereotaip dan mitos orang Islam berdasarkan ideologi haluan kanan yang dipakai Hitler.

Ada dua jenis semangat kebangsaan. Pertama adalah semangat progresif (atau pertahanan), iaitu berjuang untuk kebebasan, penentuan nasib sendiri dan kemerdekaan daripada penguasaan dan kawalan luar. Ia boleh menjadi ganas apabila kuasa penjajah atau luar menggunakan keganasan dan penindasan untuk menyunyi penduduk. Bagi negara-negara seperti India dan Malaysia, ia aman secara am.

Jenis lagi satu – semangat kebangsaan haluan kanan – adalah negatif, menindas dan selalunya pro-fasis, dan ia menyapu sebahagian besar dunia Barat. Ia berlandaskan kesombongan, kejahilan, ketaasuban dan perkauman, lebih-lebih lagi Islamofobia. Pelampau-pelampau kebangsaan ini menganut hak untuk menindas minoriti dan menyalahkan mereka yang menyebabkan masalah sosial.

Dalam beberapa hari sahaja mengambil alih sebagai presiden pada 20 Januari, Trump menandatangani perintah eksekutif untuk melarang orang dari Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia dan Sudan daripada memasuki Amerika Syarikat. Beliau menggantungkan program pelarian Syria. Dunia bertamadun, marah.

Ramai Muslim dilanda trauma daripada larangan ini. Alasan Trump ialah untuk menyekat pengganas Muslim daripada memasuki Amerika Syarikat tetapi beliau tidak pula menunjukkan fakta-fakta untuk menyokong dakwaannya itu. Tidak pula beliau menjelaskan mengapa larangan itu adalah memilih dan tidak termasuk Arab Saudi dan Pakistan.

Rakyat Palestin masih lagi berjuang untuk tanah air mereka dan sanggup berkompromi dengan penyelesaian dua negeri tajaan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (menerima kewujudan Israel) demi keamanan. Tetapi Trump, nampak gaya menentang penyelesaian dua negara itu tanpa menawarkan cadangan membina, lebih-lebih lagi, beliau menyokong penempatan haram Israel di Tebing Barat dan idea beliau memindahkan kedutaan Amerika Syarikat dari Tel Aviv ke Jerusalem mencetuskan kemarahan antarabangsa dan melemahkan proses keamanan.

Dasar Amerika Pertama beliau nampaknya menolak Amerika Syarikat untuk berbalah dengan seluruh dunia, termasuk Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu. Amerika Syarikat akan menarik diri dari perjanjian perdagangan Perkongsian Trans-Pasifik demi memihak pakatan perdagangan dua hala dan rantau, di mana Trump merasakan Amerika Syarikat mempunyai kuasa tawar-menawar yang lebih kuat.

Amerika Syarikat telah banyak memanfaatkan globalisasi, termasuk kemasukan pakar-pakar dari negara-negara lain yang membuat Amerika makmur. Bagi ekonomi yang terbesar di dunia menerima pakai dasar sempit ini adalah bodoh, sombong, mementingkan diri sendiri dan tidak bertanggungjawab. Ia akan kembali menghantui Amerika. Kemunculan perarakan raksasa menyokong wanita di Washington dan di seluruh dunia semasa perasmian Trump sebagai Presiden menunjukkan sentimen kuat terhadap kenyataan dan aksi Trump.

Tembok persempadanan beliau dengan Mexico adalah bertujuan bermain ke arah galeri xenofobia di dalam satu negara yang berlandaskan sejarah penghijrahan manusia dari Eropah dan lain-lain tempat.

Trump nampaknya menghalakan dunia untuk lebih rapat lagi ke pembunuhan beramai-ramai nuklear dengan dasar luar mencari gaduh dan untuk mengembangkan lagi keupayaan nuklear.

Mantan pemimpin Soviet, Mikhail Gorbachev telah memberi amaran bahawa dunia makin lama makin rapat kepada perang nuklear. Gorbachev bertanggungjawab mengakhiri era Perang Dingin.

‘Jam kiamat’ yang diselenggarakan oleh Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board baru sahaja dicepatkan dalam masa dua setengah minit kepada tengah malam (kiamat). Ia adalah isyarat simbolik yang dunia bertambah lebih dekat kepada malapetaka nuklear.

Trump juga bermain permainan ‘nyerempet bahaya’ dengan cara menyedapkan dirinya kepada Rusia, mungkin dengan matlamat untuk ‘mengkotakkan’ China. Trump juga mungkin mencuba merawat Rusia secara mana Hitler membuat pakatan bersama Jepun sebelum Perang Dunia Kedua. Trump juga melihat China sebagai ancaman utama kepada Amerika sekarang seperti mana Hitler melihat Britain ketika itu sebagai penghalang terbesar kepada rancangan peluasan hebat beliau. Trump nampaknya berniat mencetuskan kemarahan China.

Trump tidak kisah terhadap alam persekitaran. Beliau mencemuh sains pemanasan global dan membuat percubaan menarik keluar AS dari perjanjian Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu atas penukaran iklim. Beliau baru sahaja menandatangani perintah eksekutif memulihkan dua projek saluran paip minyak besar di AS, di mana pengkritik berhujah akan memburukkan alam sekitar.

Kesombongan, kedangkalan diri dan kecuaian Trump mungkin akan menyebabkan kejatuhan beliau. Beliau mungkin akan dicabar untuk melucutkan jawatannya di Kongres Amerika, mungkin atas ‘percanggahan kepentingannya’, di mana empayar perniagaan luas beliau mendapat kelebihan dari kedudukan eksekutifnya atau jika ada kes ‘pengkhianatan’ ke atas acara masa depan mengaitkan pemimpin luar.

Trump sudah pun bermusuh dengan masyarakat risikan yang berkuasa dan media berita besar AS. Kedua-duanya beliau serang dan memperkecilkan. Rakyat Amerika tidak menolak presiden mereka membuat keamanan berterusan atau bekerjasama dengan Rusia untuk melawan keganasan tetapi mereka tetap menolak mana-mana perjanjian rahsia yang akan mengkompromikan kepentingan jangka panjang AS dan rakan pakatan mereka dalam Pertubuhan Perjanjian Atlantik Utara (NATO).

Walaupun Trump telah bercakap besar yang beliau akan menang pada pilihan raya 2020, beliau mungkin tidak akan terus hidup terma pertama sehingga 2021.

Mari kita berdoa selagi beliau bertugas sebagai ketua komander Amerika, Trump tidak akan membuat apa jua yang boleh membinasakan kemanusiaan dan jika ia berlaku, beliau mesti tahu yang kemusnahan itu akan melibatkan beliau, keluarganya, saudara-maranya, rakan-rakannya dan empayar perniagaannya. Tetapi, mengapa harus kita berkorban untuk Donald Trump?

Penulis adalah penganalisis dan strategis politik bebas yang percaya bahawa keadilan akan selalunya menular. Komen: kktan@the sundaily.com

*Terbitan The Sun, 2 Februari 2017

 

IN the early thirties, Germany was in severe economic recession and in decline. In 1933, Adolph Hitler brainwashed and won over the disillusioned German working class to be elected as the chancellor.

Hitler adopted a pro-fascist and right-wing nationalist ideology. He singled out the Jews as the “problem” and a root cause of the unemployment and other social ills. He rallied the people to make Germany great again. He wanted Germany to be the emerging European superpower, with its allies, Japan and Italy, to conquer the rest of the world, to be their colonies of the new world order.

Today, the United States is losing its global influence and is facing a stagnant economy with many working class people feeling neglected and disillusioned by the establishment in Washington.

In 2016, a “hero” emerged in the United States to fight for its working class and speak out against unemployment, poverty and the economic decline. He wanted to make America great again.

He has implied that ordinary peace-loving Muslims are the culprits and cause of terrorism. He saw Muslims as the “problem”, like how Hitler saw the Jews.

Like Hitler, Donald Trump was democratically elected to be the president and commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation on earth.

He has been promoting Islamophobia by perpetuating stereotype myths about Muslims based on the same right-wing ideology that Hitler used.

There are two kinds of nationalism.

The first is Progressive (or Defensive) Nationalism, which is about fighting for freedom, self-determination and independence against foreign domination and control. It can be violent when the colonial or foreign power uses terror and repression to silence the population. For countries such as India and Malaysia, it was generally peaceful.

The other type – Right-Wing Nationalism – is negative, oppressive and often pro-fascist and is sweeping parts of the Western world. It is based on arrogance, ignorance, bigotry and racism, especially Islamophobia. These nationalist extremists profess the right to oppress minorities and blame them for causing social problems.

Within days of taking over as president on Jan 20, Trump signed an executive order to ban all ordinary people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan from entering the US. He suspended the Syrian refugee programme. The civilised world is outraged.

Many Muslims were traumatised by this ban. Trump’s excuse was to prevent Muslim terrorists from entering the US but he did not show any facts to support the case. Neither did he explain why the ban was selective and did not include Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Palestinians are still fighting for their homeland and are even prepared to compromise on a UN-sponsored two-state solution (accepting the existence of Israel) for the sake of peace. However, Trump seems to oppose the two-state solution without offering any constructive proposal. Furthermore, his support of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied West Bank and his idea on moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem are causing international outrage and undermining the peace process.

His “America First” policy seems to be pitting America against the world, including the United Nations.

The US is withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in favour of bilateral and regional trade pacts, which Trump feels that the US would have stronger bargaining power.

The US has been benefiting immensely from globalisation including the influx of talented and skilled people from other countries to make America prosper. For the world’s largest economy to adopt such an inward-looking policy is stupid, arrogant, selfish and irresponsible. It will come back to haunt America.

The huge turnouts in the marches in support of women in Washington and all over the world during Trump’s inauguration showed the strong sentiments against Trump’s remarks and acts.

Pushing for building his border wall with Mexico is aimed at playing to the gallery on xenophobia in a country based historically on migration of people from Europe and elsewhere.

Trump seems to be pushing the world closer to a nuclear holocaust with his hawkish foreign policy and to “greatly expand nuclear capabilities”.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has issued a warning that the world is getting closer to a nuclear war than before. Gorbachev was responsible for bringing an end to the Cold War era.

The “Doomsday Clock” maintained by the influential Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has just been moved to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight (Doomsday). It was an important symbolic gesture that the world is now closer to a nuclear catastrophe than ever before.

Trump may also be playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship by trying to cosy up to Russia, perhaps with the aim of trying to “contain” China. Trump may be trying to treat Russia in the same way that Hitler forged an alliance with Japan before World War II. Trump may also perceive China as the main threat to America now like how Hitler viewed Britain then as the biggest stumbling block to his grand expansionist plan. Trump seems intent to provoke and infuriate China.

Trump does not seem to care for the environment. He poured scorn over the science of global warming and is trying to get the US out of the latest UN treaty on climate change. He has just signed an executive order to revive two large oil pipeline projects in the US which critics argue are bad for the environment.

His arrogance, self-denial and carelessness may cause his own downfall. He may be impeached by Congress, probably over a “conflict of interest” matter which his vast business empire may have with his executive position or if there is a case of “betrayal” or “treason” over some future event involving a foreign leader.

He has made enemies of his own powerful intelligence community and the big US news media, both of which he vehemently attacked and disparaged earlier.

Americans are not opposed to their president making lasting peace with Russia or collaborating with Russia to fight terrorism but they would be against any secret deals which may compromise the long-term interests of the US and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

While Trump may have boasted about going for a second term, he may not even survive a full first term in office until 2021.

Let’s pray that while serving as the commander-in-chief of America, Trump will not do anything which would lead to the destruction of humanity and if it were to happen, (he must know) it will certainly include himself, his family, relatives, friends and his business empire.

But why should we all die for Donald Trump?

The writer is an independent political analyst and strategist who believes that justice will eventually prevail. Comments: kktan@the sundaily.com

FIFTY-four years ago, between Oct 14 and 28, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war. But sanity and the wisdom of US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev prevailed and the world was saved from annihilation.

With the advancement of technology and cyber warfare, a major concern today is on how terrorists and lunatics may be able to hack into the ICT security grid of nuclear weapons launch systems to trigger a massive missile launch on host country and the rest of the world.

There were two recent news reports which may have escaped the attention of many people and are likely to have an impact on world peace.

One was a BBC story on Nov 4 about a mysterious pinging noise over the last few months in the Arctic at a place called the Fury and Hecla Strait, which is a narrow channel of water in Nunavut, the newest, largest and least populous territory of Canada, next to Greenland. People living in the region reported that the noise had frightened away animals.

It must be a massive activity for the pinging sound to be driving away wildlife in the area of open water surrounded by ice that’s abundant with sea mammals. The area is normally a migratory route for bowhead whales and various kinds of seals. But this summer, they were missing.

The Canadian military has already investigated using sonar searches and for possible causes such as sonar survey by a mining company and military submarines but to date it has not been able to explain the cause of the “acoustic anomalies”.

This phenomenon may be a secret military project on a mega scale by a superpower, which if true, does not bode well for this world.

The other story, which may or may not be related to the above story, is from the CNN website on Nov 3 entitled “Could World War III start here?” and was written by David Andelman, editor emeritus of World Policy Journal and author of A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today.

Andelman believed that the most vulnerable spot of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (Nato) entire perimeter is the Suwalki Gap (remember this name), a 60-mile stretch of territory and a critical rail line separating Poland (member of EU and Nato) from Lithuania (also a member of EU and Nato), and linking Russian Kaliningrad with its ally Belarus. According to Andelman, it is here that any shootout between Nato and Russia could start a World War III.
So critical and tense is the region that US Vice-President Joe Biden paid an urgent trip to neighbouring Latvia in August 2016 to meet the presidents of all three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) to assure them that “we pledged our sacred honour … to the Nato treaty and Article 5”, which says that an attack on one Nato ally is an attack on all.

Russia, under Vladimir Putin, has been trying to flex its military muscles and re-assert itself as a formidable superpower since the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union.

It has taken back control of its old territories such as Crimea and part of Ukraine, raising tension with the West, which is imposing sanctions on it.

While the tension in another volatile region of the world, the South China Sea, over disputed islands and territories, has cooled somewhat with a pragmatic new president of the Philippines using a more “business-like” approach with the main player there, China, it is the rise of what many see as an “imperialistic” Russia that may be a serious cause of concern for world peace.

Russia’s most dangerous recent endeavour has been in the Middle East, where it made a pact with the Assad regime of Syria about a year ago to provide military support, arms and training to fight both the progressive rebels (in Aleppo) and the extremists (mostly IS) in other parts, especially Raqqa. Syria had become Moscow’s last toe-hold of influence in the region. Assad’s fortunes have been turned around by Russia’s intervention.

According to Michael Kofman of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, “Moscow had sought to steadily destroy the moderate Syrian opposition on the battlefield, leaving only jihadist forces in play, and lock the US into a political framework of negotiations that would serve beyond the shelf-life of this administration … leaving no viable alternatives for the West in this conflict come 2017.”

According to another analyst Roger McDermott, senior fellow in Eurasian studies at the Jamestown Foundation, the Russian General Staff also see the Syrian conflict as an opportunity to test new or modern weapon systems, experiment with network-centric warfare capability and to present the success of military technology.

And according to BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus, Russia’s active military role in the region has reshaped the relationship to its advantage with the key players – Israel, Iran and Turkey.

But it is the US-Russia relations that have been most profoundly influenced by Moscow’s intervention in Syria. This has forced Washington, distracted presently over its presidential election, to re-assess its own approach and has taken a more defensive position to develop some kind of partnership with Russia to seek a solution for Syria. A new US president may take a more hardline position.
The indiscriminate nature of Russian air bombardments in Syria has led to accusations by human rights groups and several governments on its barbarity and potentially committing war crimes. Almost 4,000 civilians have been killed in one year of Russian strikes.

With the US and most of the civilised world insisting that Assad must go and Russia totally against it, it would be difficult to find a sustainable resolution to the conflict.

Human casualties inside Syria are on a scale never seen in modern times. The nearly 5 million war refugees from Syria has also put tremendous social and financial strain on Germany and the rest of Europe coping with the humanitarian crisis of a gigantic scale.

On another front to illustrate Russia’s global ambitions, in an interview with The Guardiannewspaper published on Nov 1, the director-general of the British spy agency MI5 Andrew Parker, said that the covert threat from Russia was rising at a time when the threat of radical Islam drew the most attention.

Russia was “using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways – involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks. Russia is at work across Europe. Besides Russia’s high profile activities in Ukraine and Syria, it was also responsible for high volume activity out of sight with the cyber threat.”

He said that Moscow, with its growing military power, increasingly seems to define itself by opposition to the West and seems to act accordingly.

So is World War III imminent? The answer is “blowing in the wind”.

The writer is a CEO of an independent and strategic think-thank firm based in Kuala Lumpur. Comments: kktan@thesundaily.com

AT an event in New York last Friday to commemorate the International Day of Peace tomorrow, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and UN messengers of peace Leonardo DiCaprio, Stevie Wonder, Michael Douglas and other stars pleaded for peace and the survival of the planet which is said to be “closer to conflict than we may like to think”.

Wars and violent conflicts not only kill millions of people, they also destroy economies and the environment. They are responsible today for creating the world’s 21.3 million refugees, a terrible indictment on humanity which has failed miserably to look after its own species.

Peace is a state of tranquillity, civility, calm and harmony and the freedom from war, violence and conflict in a society, country, region or the world. There has not been much written on the subject and the basis of “sustainable peace”.

Sustainable peace is a prolonged and durable state of peace which can only be achieved by the application of the following seven principles:
» Practice and promotion of justice, fairness, moderation, liberalism and respect for other cultures, heritage, beliefs and non-intrusive ideologies.
» Addressing fairly the geo-political interests of the players involved.
» Opposition to all forms of extremism and discrimination.
» Support for self-determination and non-interference in the internal affairs of all countries.
» Acceptance that all humans are equal inhabitants of our small planet who have the right to harness its natural resources in an equitable and sustainable manner
» Recognition that humans from all corners of the world and of all ethnicities have much more in common than their differences.
» Acknowledgement that humans need each other to survive, conserve and protect our natural resources and we need an inclusive approach based on universal principles and rules to collaborate, co-operate and work together to share in the fruits of social, economic and technological development and progress for all.

It is difficult to have sustainable peace in any country if the country is in a region fraught with conflicts.

Achieving sustainable peace, especially in some regions of the world such as the Middle East, Korean Peninsula, Jammu and Kashmir and South China Sea, seems to be rather elusive. If one were to analyse any regional conflict, it is not hard to conclude that some of the above principles were missing.

The Nordic region (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Greenland) is perhaps the only region in the world which can be considered to be enjoying sustainable peace. You would find the seven principles thriving there.

The irony of our world is that to achieve sustainable peace, often non-peaceful means, such as waging a war of resistance or independence or against aggression, may be necessary. It is a case of taking one step back to move two steps forward.

It should be recognised that peace is the most important type of all charities. In a war-like situation, sponsoring and donating funds for poverty, education or housing may be meaningless. This is not to say that normal charities are wrong, in fact, any charitable act must be supported and commended.

It should also be recognised that promoting peace is practically non-existent in the corporate or private sector. It is assumed that such a role should be undertaken by the government, politicians and NGOs. Yet, business has a vested interest in peace as no business, except the arms producers, can survive or prosper in a war or armed conflict.

Therefore, peace philanthropy should be accorded greater urgency and priority.

There are many ways to promote sustainable peace for the public – via museums, galleries, sports, festivals, theatres, tourism, conferences, rallies, films, music, plays, joining peace NGOs and writing articles.

The promotion of the “culture of peace” has to be interesting and engaging, especially with the younger generations. If they find the content boring, dull or too academic, they will not be interested to learn about the evils of wars or the virtues of sustainable peace.

Children should be taught from young about the culture and principles of sustainable peace.

For peace to be effective and impactful, it also has to be global as far as possible, as most conflicts in this world have one or more super or regional powers involved.

It was the globalisation of the anti-war movement that forced the US government to end the Vietnam War (1955-1975).

Otherwise, Vietnam would have been bombed into oblivion. Much can be learnt from the peace movement against this terrible war which killed more than 1.3 million people. Popular anti-war music by legends such as John Lennon, played a major role here. So too, were demonstrations.

The Iraq War (2003-2011), its brutality and the global opposition to it, had similar characteristics.

Some of the biggest threats to world peace today are the IS “caliphate” and North Korea.Both are led by ideological lunatics and cold-blooded murderers, which may require a ruthless non-peaceful and resolute approach to achieve sustainable peace.

For years, I have written about the serious threat of IS. I have stressed that to eliminate the IS social cancer, besides the intelligence and co-ordinated military approach, is to use education and psychological warfare to win back the hearts and minds of disenchanted pro-IS Muslim youths.

An idea is to use pilotless aircraft or drones to drop well-written and “shock and awe” leaflets in the local languages in the areas controlled by IS in Syria, Iraq and Libya (and other regions of the world) about the evils, hypocrisy and anti-Islamic nature about the IS in simple words and images. The same approach and messages but via the internet and social media can also be used, to those targeted by the IS for its recruitment and financial support.

Some superpowers and several regimes are also responsible for stirring conflicts and wars and for inciting the culture of terrorism. Their leaders should be exposed and held to account by their own people.

More leaders and regimes, which are flouting UN rules against wars, should be referred to the International Criminal Court for war crimes and any judgments should be enforced resolutely.

The writer is a think tank analyst and CEO of a “Heritage for Peace” museum group based in Kuala Lumpur which would be setting up an innovative, world-class and story-based museum in Malaysia to promote multiculturalism, moderation and sustainable peace. Comments: kktan@thesundaily.com

THERE were two earth-shaking events that took place about the same time recently which have global significance – Brexit and ISexit.

The former, about Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) is more economic in nature and done on a democratic and voluntary basis while the latter is more political with the IS being blasted out of their illegally occupied “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.

The EU was formed in 1993, nearly five decades after World War II, as a political and economic union of 28 member states (currently) and with a population of over 500 million people.

Not only is the total population of the EU similar to that of Asean, the key objectives of its formation – preventing wars and promoting peace, synergising economic development and adopting greater neutrality from the superpowers – are similar to those of Asean.

After two world wars which originated in Europe, the key member states felt it necessary to forge a new union to prevent and pre-empt further wars arising out of Europe due to the latent and strong nationalism there (reinforced by centuries of colonial conquests and imperialism).

Herein lies the main reason why 52% of the voters supported Brexit.

A major complaint of many white British, was their country being “swamped” by people from the new EU members of the poorer eastern European states (such as Poland and Hungary) who are providing professional services at more affordable prices and taking up jobs which the British were not keen on.

This has resulted in a backlash and resentment against these “foreigners” by the “proud” British people who also fear their culture being diluted by the new arrivals.

In some ways, the situation now is similar to the post-WWII period when many coloured immigrants from former colonies were asked to come to Britain to help rebuild the ravaged economy.

Since then, whenever there were any signs of economic recession, the immigrant community, as the most vulnerable section, were often the first to be singled out for blame by racist politicians and NGOs.

If you look at Brexit from the economic angle, it does not make any sense at all, in fact, it’s suicidal.

But if you know the politics there, you would understand better. Britain has always been somehow a “reluctant” member of EU due to its right-wing nationalism and its close ties to its Anglo-Saxon big brother United States, while the rest of Europe may not feel the same way.

It is therefore, not surprising that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump welcomed Brexit so enthusiastically.

With Brexit, the future of Britain does not look bright at all in a competitive and hostile world. Hopefully, common sense would prevail soon for the British people to have a second referendum to re-join the EU for its greater good. God bless our old colonial master.

On the recent “IS exit”, the terrorists have been defeated by pro-government forces of Iraq and Syria, with the help of aerial bombardments by Russia.

Much of the land previously under the control of the IS “caliphate” has now been taken back. But to sustain the victories over the IS, the legitimate concerns of the Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq must be addressed in a just manner.

Intelligence and security analysts have warned that IS would now focus on orchestrating more terror attacks in the West as a diversion of its own failures and defeat.

For Asia, there is also a greater emphasis on setting up an IS “caliphate” in the southern Philippines as conditions there, such as extreme poverty and lawlessness, may be ripe for the IS to exploit.

In organising more terror attacks, especially in the West, IS would be doing what their former ally but now arch enemy Al Qaeda has always been doing but in a more selective manner. IS and Al Qaeda share similar extremist ideology, their only difference is on their modus operandi.

Our police force has repeatedly been warning about the national security and terrorist threat of IS in Malaysia. There are many IS supporters and sympathisers here and our police must have been monitoring their every move before pouncing on them. But the support of the public in providing relevant information to the police is crucial in ensuring their success.

IS’s biggest strategic mistake seems to be making more enemies than it needs to. It has angered powerful Muslim countries such as Turkey and Egypt and superpower Russia with its terror attacks on their territories and airlines.

So far, it has made an enemy of four (US, Russia, France and Britain) out of the five nuclear-powered permanent members of the UN Security Council. It’s only a matter of time before IS offends China and the “whole world” would be targeting IS in a co-ordinated manner. If only there were some consensus by these five powers on how to deal with the Assad regime of Syria, the fate of IS over there could be easily sealed.

The IS strategy appears to provoke and welcome a massive counter attack by the big powers on the territories they control (using Muslim people there as cannon fodder) to generate mass sympathy and anger by Muslims, instigate uprisings by Muslims everywhere and to have more supporters and followers to join its cause.

The PISS (provoke, instigate, subjugate to cause maximum suffering) strategy by IS is an extremely negative and self-destructive one caused by its own flawed and dishonest ideology, which would eventually lead to its own demise. But the challenge to humanity is how to minimise the collateral damage to civilians before the decimation of IS.

For comparison, the PISS strategy is different from MAD (mutually assured destruction) which was the prevalent strategy deployed by the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War era (and even now) which the superpowers hold each other to account.

A destruction of one power will lead to the destruction of all and the end of the world as we know it. MAD is preventive whereas the PISS is intent on causing wars and conflicts and sacrificing the lives of innocent people. The IS would rather destroy the entire world if it cannot have its way to impose and spread its murderous ideology.

The civilised world needs to deal with the IS menace by using education and psychological warfare to counter their vile ideology. IS is responsible for heightening Islamophobia and it wants non-Muslims to fear and hate Muslims and vice versa. IS thrives on hate, fear and conflict and it despises peace, goodwill and economic progress.

The most important message is to expose how IS has hijacked a religion of peace, justice and compassion and used legitimate causes such as the plight of the Palestinians, to turn this good religion into a cult to serve its own evil agenda.

Perhaps, the only direct link between Brexit and ISexit is that as a result of the recent defeat of IS and its plans to have more terror activities in Britain and Europe, IS would welcome Brexit or any kind of disunity in Europe.

IS would hope that such a scenario would isolate Britain or weaken the co-ordination of the intelligence and security agencies in dealing with any terror attacks.

The writer, a think-tank analyst, was a former student leader in Britain and did a course on “militant Islam”.

Comments: kktan@thesundaily.com

THE history of human civilisations, before the dawn of European colonialism, has been mostly about the rise and fall of mighty empires – Greek, Persian, Roman, Egyptian, Mongol, Indian (such as Maurya, Kushan and Gupta) Chinese (such as Chin, Han, Song and Ming) and Latin American (Incas, Maya, Aztecs).

Main causes of the eventual decimation of these empires were environmental degradation, diseases and epidemics, famines, natural calamities (such as earthquakes and volcanoes) and often, oppressive, unjust and divisive rule. Or a combination of these factors.

On the last cause, it was as though most humans by nature were born “being oppressive to others” and they needed to be cruel and ruthless in order to rule. Often, they made use of man-made beliefs, external bogeymen and religion to justify their rule. In cases of oppressive rule, the tolerance of their people would be tested to the limit. Having suffered enough, these people would then rise up and might even collaborate with external forces to bring down the empire concerned.

Not long (by historical time) after the fall of the old empires, the world was carved up by the more recent Western and Japanese colonial empires. The rivalries between them and for the control of resources in their colonies and for new ones, led to the two world wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945), the first two times that humanity went to war with itself, not to save the world but for global domination. Millions of people died and many more suffered unnecessarily. Mother-nature (environment) was also being battered mercilessly by the new firepower unleashed.

There have hardly been any studies on the negative effects of wars on our eco-system, which are more far-reaching than what arms’ manufacturers and some governments would like us to believe.

What is the point of trying so hard to fix ecological catastrophes such as climate change when another stupid global war can quickly destroy the very environment that we all depend on to survive?

Developments after World War II have led us today to a new world order. In terms of military superiority, there are four superpowers – United States, Russia, China and the European Union or EU (as a power block led by Britain, France and Germany). All the superpowers have nuclear weapons and each of them has the unilateral capability to destroy the planet. All of them (with EU represented by nuclear powers Britain and France) are also permanent members of the UN Security Council, the “untouchables”.

The lessons of the past empires should serve as warnings to the new superpowers. However, let’s not be too optimistic as the chorus of the classic pacifist song Where have all the flowers gone? goes: “When will they ever learn …”

Each superpower has its own sphere of influence. For example, the largest superpower today, the US, has its influence over Latin America, Europe, major parts of the Middle East and Asia (Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines).

For Russia, its sphere of influence would be over its former satellite states in central Asia and Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East. For China, it would be over parts of Asia and now Australia, Africa and Europe.

But spheres of influence are dynamic and fluid. Most of the conflicts in many regions of the world are caused by the constant rivalry for control and influence between the powers involved. This is eerily similar to the prelude to the two world wars.

For example, in Asia, the US is trying to defend its existing sphere of influence, while another emerging superpower, China, is expanding its influence, much to the dislike and anxiety of the existing “big brother” (US). China claims it is merely trying to re-assert itself and regain its old friendly non-colonial influence during the era of Admiral Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty, before it became a reclusive empire. Much of China’s growing influence comes from being the new economic powerhouse.

Russia, which has lost its old influence under the former Soviet Union, is now exerting itself to regain its influence in Eastern Europe (such as in the Russo-Georgian War, 2008 and Ukraine War, 2014) and the Middle East (forging a military alliance with Syria’s Assad regime in 2015 and the huge arms deal with Iran in February 2016 after the lifting of UN sanctions).

For EU, the focus is on economic survival of its members and integration. As a whole, EU has increasingly taken a more balanced role on issues such as the Middle East conflict and its commitment (led by Germany) to take in more than 1 million Muslim war refugees from Syria.

One significant and subtle way used by some superpowers now is the overseas promotion of “soft power” such as culture to win over the hearts and minds of people concerned.

The traditional ideologies (communism and capitalism) have to be adapted and “re-engineered” to be relevant to the realities of the 21st century, especially on economic development and profit-making but in a more sustainable, just and ethical manner.

There is a new “lunatic in town”, which is trying to challenge the status quo of the current imperfect world order. That’s fine, except that what these proponents are offering is a far worse alternative of living under a barbaric regime. The IS, the de facto successor of Al-Qaeda, is distorting a religion of peace and hijacking legitimate causes such as the Palestinians’ struggle, to achieve their plan of spreading their vile tentacles everywhere and hoping to be a new superpower.

Mad people are never stupid, in fact, the IS operatives are smart in their recruitment approach. They have been exploiting the internet and social media to recruit and win over many disenchanted youths in the Muslim world. In the same manner that religion was abused by some of the old empires to treat their people with satanic cruelty, the IS is far worse in treating people under their control.

After they take power in Muslim countries, they intend to conquer the rest of the world. If they cannot win, they are prepared to commit hara-kiri and destroy the entire world with them.

The Nuclear Security Summit in the US last month highlighted the danger of nuclear terrorism by the likes of IS. The 57-member summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on April 14, supported host country Turkey’s position that terrorism (by the likes of IS) is the largest problem confronting the Muslim world today and a special body be set up to deal with it.

The moderate Muslim world and the superpowers must collaborate to eliminate this enormous danger to world peace via rigorous education and using deadly force against their militants (massive ground offensive backed by air firepower).

As the rise of the superpowers has been rather recent, we have not seen the fall of any superpower yet. If and when that happens, it may even be dangerous to the rest of the world.

The global community, represented by the UN, must be able to manage the relationship between the superpowers in a judicious manner. Furthermore, the leaders of all superpowers have an unambiguous responsibility to humanity to prevent another global war, which the world CANNOT afford.

It is also pertinent to prevent warmongers and terrorists, such as the likes of IS, from taking a foothold in any part of the world.

The writer is an independent think-tank analyst and strategist. Comments: kktan@thesundaily.com