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Dhaka Tribune

Are sub-continental elites batting for the wrong side?

In 2022, many sub-continental elites refuse to accept China and Russia could eject western power from Eurasia


Update : 25 Sep 2022, 06:12 PM

Biden blames Russia, just like Trump railed at China. This sums up the US political morass or cross-party consensus on combating opponents of American exceptionalism.

Democrats focus more on Moscow, while Bannon bottom feeders see China as the new unbelievers or infidels.

The congruence between two sections of the political establishment, joined at the hip, is highlighted by the outpouring of support for the incendiary visit of Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

Why now? When the prairie is on fire, why light a match? Which is probably what Xi Jinping was trying to explain to Joe Biden by referring to the perils of playing with fire.

Taiwan

I guess many do not know that Taiwan was conquered by Imperial Japan in the 1890s and only let go after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Shinzo Abe's grandfather was a leading member of the Japanese regime. Most would not be told that either.

When the fascist Guomindang forces of Chiang Kai Shek fled to Formosa (now Taiwan), with all the gold, they proclaimed the island was the Republic of China.

The US recognized this fiction.

The Guomindang ruled as a dictatorship for decades, and the US did not insist on democracy.

File photo: US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 Reuters

In 1971 and 1972, Nixon and Kissinger recognized Communist China on the mainland.

Taiwan was ditched, and Washington did (and still officially does) recognize that Taiwan belongs to China. That was then. Then, the US was top dog.

Today, the US elite is petrified that the Dragon is going to eat its breakfast. Before it does, why not use the war option later this decade before it is too late?

Cue Pelosi.

She has been particularly active against China for decades. Her latest stunt will probably merely accelerate the timetable of unification, even though in 1949, Mao had said China can wait a hundred years.

Tired of the charade?

The rest of the world (beyond the golden billion and elites in the south) has moved on from getting that excited any more about the political horse-trading and theatre in the “democratic” states of the North Atlantic.

What they worry about is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) which ignores its title and geography and goes global.

Vladimir Putin used this very phrase of the “golden billion” to make this point.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave to the media prior to the Quad meeting at the Kishida's office in Tokyo on May 24, 2022 AFP

We must remind ourselves that the Russian leadership is neither communist nor socialist, but full on conservative (economically and socially).

It offers a different take on the War of Civilizations espoused by the US neo-con Samuel Huntington.

This non-revolutionary Russian position would not normally elicit broad support in the Global South.

What does are the actions of a leadership which dares challenge western hegemony on the steppes near the Black Sea, in West Asia, increasingly in Africa, and soon enough in Latin America.

Which side are they batting for?

What many of the westernized elites on the sub-continent just do not understand is why the middle and working classes do not fall in line with them over Russia and China.

Being financially comfortable and seamlessly weaving in and out of a privileged cosmopolitan world, they do not see why the sub-continent hitching up to the western wagon isn't logical.

The enemy of the majority is poverty, not Putin or Xi Jin Ping.

The latter, China, has shown the world how to raise 800 million people out of poverty. The south wants more of that and they know the solution is not coming from Nato, QUAD, World Bank, or IMF.

It is more nuanced naturally. What we have is a chasm between classes, but also within the elites.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, meets with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at United Nations headquarters in New York on May 18, 2022 AFP

Some of these sub-continental elites do see the world is rapidly changing this decade. Most unfortunately absolutely refuse to accept this.

If you want to understand soft power, then look no further. 

This worldview of supporting a hegemon 10,000km away, yearning for the continuance of the current global order, comes from within.

Crucial, however, is the necessity of constant reinforcement by the bulk of corporate media from over there.

Unquestioned hegemony no longer exists. This decade has been a watershed and it is only just getting started.

There has been no successful removal of a regime by bombing and combat since Libya in 2011.

I understand the rationale of a Global Nato strategy of spiraling violence and widespread destruction. It makes sense, for the upper caste of western society.

What makes me wonder is why much of the sub-continental elite feels it is their duty to join in?

Looking to history

Are they like “non-violent” Gandhi who, while once penned an approving letter to Adolf Hitler, then later announced that Indians should take up arms on behalf of the very colonial state which had bled them dry over two centuries?

Do today's Gandhis imagine China is the new Japan of World War II?

Is that why we are supposed to line up against Russia and China? To save who from whom?

The fifteenth century and Zheng He's seven voyages should be required reading, juxtaposed with the arrival of Europe's Vasco Da Gama seventy years later.

Guess which one did not colonize while the other did.

There are alternative worldviews out there, grounded in history over a millennium or more. Just one click away.

Cosmopolitanism in a pure open sense can be a delightful idea, but not if it is against the majority of one's people or the Global South.

Perhaps some cannot stomach the thought of having to look to Shanghai rather than New York. That's the issue in a zero sum view of the world.

Some South Asians prefer to be ruled by the North Atlantic rather than the Western Pacific -- which, barring the Japan of Shinzo Abe's grandfather, would be a historical anomaly.

It will not be long for loyal sub-continental elites to be as disappointed as the Anglophiles of the late 1940s.

Loyalty is a bitch, when the ship sails away leaving you behind, despite everything you did for them.

Farid Erkizia Bakht is a political analyst.


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