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Inconvenient truths

  • Published at 12:06 am June 10th, 2019
Photo: Bigstock

Political hegemony is alive and well

Though there were protests on the streets of London during the visit of US President Donald Trump, one has to say that the visit served a positive purpose since it pushed the Brexit fiasco among items of non-importance. 

It was quite evident that the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was not amused by the visit and the same sentiment was shown by many who took part in long processions holding placards with unflattering comments.

The visit of the US president comes when the US is locked in a trade rift with China and is experiencing a diplomatic face-off with Iran. In fact, in the case of Iran, the swords have been rattled, the military muscles flexed. At one point, the tensions seemed to be heading towards a military confrontation. 

But going into full-scale war now is tough because whatever the US says about a regime is usually taken with a pinch (or jars) of salt. The world has become far more intelligent than the time when US-UK intervened in Iraq and Libya. 

Both these countries were/are in disarray and the IS would not have been formed if such mindless invasion of other nations didn’t take place. Of course, no one will admit mistakes.

When the invasions were mounted, long-term repercussions were either not assessed or were simply ignored. 

Anyway, the common analysis of the recent trip states that the main purpose was trade, though other issues might have been discussed. 

Slamming Huawei

Since the core ingredient of the “special relationship” is taking a united stand on most international issues, there is every possibility that the US would want Britain to take a stern and critical stand against Iran.

Such united moves in vilifying another state are not new at all; before the Iraq invasion, a similar move was taken, with the then British PM Tony Blair assertively making a case, appealing to the world that a threat from Saddam was tangible and real. 

We know now that the invasion was on a spurious case, packaged meticulously, presented with essential vehemence and fallacious moral rhetoric. 

Then there is the curious case of developing paranoia about the Chinese IT and phone manufacturer -- Huawei. For some time, we have been hearing that unless Huawei is cornered, a wide Chinese espionage network will infiltrate Western societies to stealthily take vital information. 

Whether 5G network can be used to spy on others is something I cannot comment on, but mobile phone sales around the world show that, at present, three out of top four mobile brands in the world are Chinese.

To use Bangladesh as an example, the soaring sales of Chinese branded and non-branded phones resulted in the virtual disappearance of some top mobile names, which seemed to be in an unassailable position seven or eight years ago. 

If sales figures can be used as a popularity indicator then it’s safe to state that whether phones are used for evesdropping or not, the market’s main share will be under China.

This means the demise of all other brands or, at least, a steady decline.

For argument’s sake, if the US had such a phone and knew that it was capturing the global market, would she have used the device to listen to others? 

An inconvenient truth

The 75th anniversary of D-Day was held and once more the special relationship was highlighted and extolled.

As a viewer from a third world country in South Asia, it appears that whenever WW2 victories are celebrated, the deeply flawed imperial ideology of the period is never slated. In fact, the colonial oppression during the period is hushed up or airbrushed. 

As a student of history, I see WW2 as a united effort by countries exercising colonial rule to stave off the efforts of another group of nations willing to upend the existing power equation. Please correct me if my assessment is wrong.

Caught in between, millions of soldiers and civilians perished. There is nothing wrong in remembering the fallen because they gave their lives to defend a set of political principles upheld by their leaders.

The commonly used line that lives were given to ensure a free world is mere hyperbole because the world was hardly a free place in the early part of the 20th century. 

Britain, France, Belgium all had colonies and their soldiers were defending the colonial rule of the period. In simple language, they were championing the system by which a few countries controlled many others. 

As current-day D-Day celebrations were on, stage shows, bordering on melodrama, were held to give the modern generation a run-down of the events which led to the massive air, land, and sea campaign to free Europe from Nazi occupation. 

While the valiant sacrifices of the soldiers of WW1 and WW2 are remembered every year, the highly iniquitous political ideology of the period should also be analyzed by international broadcasters.

There are really macabre sides to the Allied war effort, one of which, with authorization from Winston Churchill, resulted in a grisly famine in Bengal. 

When rations were being stockpiled for soldiers heading perhaps towards Europe, millions were dying in Bengal because the government authorized a scorched earth policy and diverted ships carrying food grain.

Well, whether Trump will manage to give hell to Huawei or not and teach Iran a lesson or two, the focus in Britain now is on cricket. 

The Cricket World Cup is on and the Brexit conundrum is out of the media’s attention. Divorce from Europe may have been in complete disarray, but the England cricket team is showing remarkable cohesion -- a lesson for the politicians. 

So, fill the glass, put on the shades, and enjoy the cricket. 

Towheed Feroze is News Editor for Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.