Archive for December, 2016

John McCain Salutes the Man Next Door …

Posted on December 31, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Not many Americans younger than 70 know much about the Lincoln Brigade. It became the designation given to the nearly 3,000 mostly American volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and 1938. They fought on the Republican side, in defense of the democratically elected leftist government of Spain, and against the Nationalists, the military rebels led by Gen. Francisco Franco.

The Nationalists claimed their cause was anti-Communism and the restoration of the monarchy, and the Republicans professed to fight for the preservation of democracy. Fascists led the former, while Communists, both the cynical and naïve varieties, sought control of the latter. And into the Republican camp came idealistic freedom fighters from abroad.

The Lincoln Brigade was originally called a battalion, one of several volunteer units that were part of the International Brigades, the name given the tens of thousands of foreign volunteers who came from dozens of countries, and were organized and largely led by the Comintern, the international Communist organization controlled by the Soviets. Franco’s Nationalists were supported by Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy.

Spain became the theater where the three most powerful ideologies of the 20th century — Communism, fascism and self-determination — began the war that would continue, in some form or another, for more than half the century until the advocates of liberty, and their champion, the United States, prevailed.

Not all the Americans who fought in the Lincoln Brigade were Communists. Many were, including Delmer Berg. Others, though, had just come to fight fascists and defend a democracy. Even many of the Communists, like Mr. Berg, believed they were freedom fighters first, sacrificing life and limb in a country they knew little about, for a people they had never met.

You might consider them romantics, fighting in a doomed cause for something greater than their self-interest. And even though men like Mr. Berg would identify with a cause, Communism, that inflicted far more misery than it ever alleviated — and rendered human dignity subservient to the state — I have always harbored admiration for their courage and sacrifice in Spain.

I have felt that way since I was boy of 12, reading Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in my father’s study. It is my favorite novel, and its hero, Robert Jordan, the Midwestern teacher who fought and died in Spain, became my favorite literary hero. In the novel, Jordan had begun to see the cause as futile. He was cynical about its leadership, and distrustful of the Soviet cadres who tried to suborn it.

But in the final scene of the book, a wounded Jordan chooses to die to save the poor Spanish souls he fought beside and for. And Jordan’s cause wasn’t a clash of ideologies any longer, but a noble sacrifice for love.

“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for,” Jordan thinks as he waits to die, “and I hate very much to leave it.” But he did leave it. Willingly.

Mr. Berg went to Spain when he was a very young man. He fought in some of the biggest and most consequential battles of the war. He sustained wounds. He watched friends die. He knew he had ransomed his life to a lost cause, for a people who were strangers to him, but to whom he felt an obligation, and he did not quit on them. Then he came home, started a cement and stonemasonry business and fought for the things he believed in for the rest of his long life.

I don’t believe in most of the things that Mr. Berg did, except this. I believe, as Donne wrote, “no man is an island, entire of itself.” He is “part of the main.” And I believe “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

So was Mr. Berg. He didn’t need to know for whom the bell tolls. He knew it tolled for him. And I salute him. Rest in peace.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Gen Prem Bhagat VC – Eternally Great …

Posted on December 27, 2016. Filed under: Personalities |

As a RIMC Cadet, I had the privilege of playing table tennis with a jovial Brig Prem Bhagat VC  –  and of course, genuinely Losing!

Much much later I was a wide eyed listener when Gen Ranjit Dayal narrated an encounter between his old CO, Inder Gill,  who was then the Para Brigade Commander and Gen Bhagat who was if I remember rightly GOC 9 Div. There was this Sand Model Discussion and Brig Inder Gill’s plan was on the Mat.

The discussion had become heated with temperatures rising when Gen Bhagat makes some comment and Inder in his cool measured tone says, “Sir – You are talking Cock!” To this the eternally Great Bhagat retorts, “Gentle men, lets adjourn for Lunch.”

The next day, Inder requests an interview with Bhagat and in the latter’s Office, hands over a hand written request for premature retirement from Service as he regretted stepping out of the bounds of propriety. Gen Bhagat peruses the hand written letter and looks at Brig IS Gill and thunders, “Yesterday perhaps I may have been talking Charlie but there is not a shadow of doubt that you are taking Charlie Now!”

And he was famed for his ‘Chotta, on the larger Side’! ……..

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

This Wonderful English Language …

Posted on December 24, 2016. Filed under: Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, The English, Uncategorized |

C. N. Annadurai was a prominent Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, India,  known for his proficiency in English. Once at Yale University he was asked to mention a hundred words which did not have any of the letters –  A, B, C or D.

He promptly recited ‘One to Ninety Nine’ ………….. and then shouted ‘STOP’ – thus completing the one hundred words without any  of the Four Letters !

The next request was to  construct a sentence repeating ‘because’ three times contiguously.

After a moments thought, he says, “A sentence never ends with ‘because,’ because ‘because’ is a conjunction”.

Over to Messrs Shakespeare and Milton!

 

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Kamal Ataturk – Greatness …

Posted on December 13, 2016. Filed under: Personalities, Uncategorized |

Kamal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish Republic, laments the half million Allies and Turks killed in the Gallipoli campaign  of  the First War!

“Those heroes that shed their blood And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore, rest in peace.

There is no difference between the Johnnies And the Mehmets, to us where they lie side by side Here in this country of ours.

You, the mothers, Who sent their sons from far away countries Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom And are in peace

After having lost their lives on this land they have Become our sons as well”.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

US – China Relations under Trump …

Posted on December 6, 2016. Filed under: American Thinkers, Business, Chinese Wisdom |

Shasank Nayak in Quora –

The economic relations between China and the US is remarkably similar to the relations between Japan and the United States. Japan and China both are State Capitalist market economies with export orientation and “strategic” use of Foreign Direct Investment and markets to improve economic growth. Both are heavily dependent on trade and are the chief Capitalist competitors to the United States. Both markets however, remain largely closed to domination by foreign companies.

The United States had up until 1980’s taken a fairly lax view on Japan’s economic policy despite it’s fairly negative impact on American economy especially it’s Industry. Japan used Industrial policy to develop it’s export oriented Industry that had created vast imbalances in form of excess savings in Japan, heavy trade surplus for Japan that made it one of the largest capital exporters in form of foreign direct investment in other countries, over investment and weak domestic demand. The US was becoming very critical of this as this entire policy depended on Japan being a weak country and the US being unquestionably stronger. It was becoming clear that this was no longer the case. The persistent trade surplus had as I mentioned earlier turned Japan into the world’s largest creditor nation in 1985 and the US into the largest debtor nation with it’s liabilities increasing from $81 Billion to $831 Billion. This was economically untenable. The Japanese had been the key exporters of excess goods and capital to their trading partners.

Well, the Japanese were getting very worried that their core strengths were being recognized and that many people were learning too much of it’s secret. Japan employed a trick that Russia would use later (as they did during the recent elections). Use American domestic agenda to influence foreign policy in it’s favor. In case of Japan it was the stressing upon racism in American public whereas for Russia it is isolationist tendency on both left and the right. Whenever any article started occurring that stressed upon Japanese differences, the consulate of Japan would respond very quickly stressing that it was racist and exclusionary to differentiate them from the West. They criticized that “revisionist” writers who were “Japan-bashers,” a barely disguised euphemism for anti-Japanese racists. The local Japanese consul would keep on denying the charges and claim that there were no structural differences in Japan’s economy.This campaign succeeded in silencing many critics. Japan even threatened to sell weapons to China and Russia and this worked until the mid 1980’s.

Nonetheless, the United States then forced Japan to strengthen the Yen (Plaza Accord) which proved disastrous for Japan. The Japanese Central bank cut interest rates which worsened the excess capacity and sent much of the capital into local construction industry and real estate speculation leading ultimately to the bubble burst from which Japan never recovered.

Another important point. When the US stock market crashed in 1987, Japan directly assisted the US by buying a large amount of stocks stabilizing the financial system. This made the US implicitly dependent on the Japanese government. In 1995, the Japanese government succeeded in forcing the US to allow for weakening of yuan to boost it’s exports. There was an implicit threat that Japan would pull out the support that it was providing the US by buying government bonds and other forms of investment. Japan’s low-cost financing replaced America’s virtual dearth of domestic savings and allowed the United States to run huge external deficits without paying any of the usual costs, particularly a catastrophic loss in value of the dollar, while keeping inflation low and American financial markets buoyant. The US agreed and that had a devastating impact on South Asia leading to the East Asian crisis because many of those countries had their currency pegged to US dollar and were also export dependent. Worse, they had carelessly liberalized their currency markets leading to a disaster.

This relation was taken over by China which has replaced Japan as America’s largest trade partner, biggest source of job losses particularly in blue collar areas, biggest investor in American economy in form of buying government bonds and just like Japan, it’s companies are buying American ones which has raised eyebrows during the Obama administration.

There is one major difference however, Japan was an American ally while China is becoming America’s real competitor for geopolitical influence. China has been building very close relations with Latin America (including countries like Cuba) and Africa. This means the same crisis we saw in 1980’s when there was a strong anti Japanese sentiment in the US (see the burning of Japan made cars), we have a strong anti China sentiment.

The policy that President elect Trump is pursuing is in some ways continuation of President Obama’s policy. They have recognized that the United States cannot fight all it’s rivals i.e Russia in Europe, Iran in Middle East and China in Asia at the same time. Obama’s attempt to improve relations with Iran was an acknowledgment of this and one of the reasons why the US has not taken a more muscular approach to Syria that France and Germany have been demanding is precisely because the American “establishment” believes that China is a real threat. Obama attempted to solve this by supporting TPP which was an attempt to improve the competitiveness of American Corporations and business in Asia and Europe.

Trump has changed this in some ways. He wants to improve relations with Russia so as to focus better on threatening and combating Iran and China better. His rejection of TPP leaves only the militaristic threat in the arsenal of the United States. It is in this context, we must view his phone call to Taiwan’s President and “anti China” policy.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Supreme Court …

Posted on December 5, 2016. Filed under: Indian Thought, Uncategorized |

Gen KM Bhimaya writes ……

Recently, the Muslim Rajya Sabha member Shri Asadudin Owaisi made an emphatic point: ” There is a world of difference between patriotism and nationalism.” These words aroused a great deal of resentment among many “nationalists”, including myself.

On further reflection, however, I discovered that Shri Owaisi, MP, was right. His penetrating remarks have been eloquently supported by the views expressed by various writers.  . As asserted by Shri Owaisi, the difference between patriotism and nationalism is not one of semantics, but one of substance.

Tavleen Singh writes –

When the Supreme Court made it compulsory last week for cinemas to play the national anthem before every show to “instill committed patriotism and nationalism”, I nearly fainted with horror. If this amounts to contempt your lordships, then so be it, but what on earth were you thinking? Have you not noticed the difference between real patriotism and the plastic kind? And if cinemas must follow your orders out of ‘love and respect for the motherland’ then why not malls, restaurants, bars and shops?

Nationalism happened to be the flavor of the India Foundation conclave in Goa this year. My humble contribution to the discourse was that nationalism must never be enforced by political leaders. The Supreme Court had not spoken then or I would have put judges in the same category. Nationalism and patriotism come naturally when they are not decreed by people arrogant enough to believe they have a right to dictate such things.

So we are now all ordered to make this display of meaningless patriotism when we go to the cinema, but what will this achieve? The short answer is nothing. Real patriotism and nationalism is what we feel every time a young soldier dies defending India’s borders.

It is what we feel when India shows that it has the ability to produce great scientists, musicians and entrepreneurs. It is what we feel when the Indian economy grows faster than any other and it is what we will feel when our cities stop looking like slums and when our villages stop looking like wastelands.

When India looks good, patriotism and nationalism do not need to be ordained by political leaders or judges. It comes spontaneously, and this is the kind of nationalism that will make a real difference and not the synthetic kind.

Gautam Bhatia a Lawyer writes in the HINDU
Three recent instances invite disturbing questions about the transformation of the Supreme Court
Sixty-seven years ago, the framers of our Constitution made a simple — yet radical — choice. They decided to trust the Indian people. The Indian Constitution, with its guarantee of universal adult suffrage, transformed colonial subjects into free and independent citizens, who were to use their own reason in governing themselves.
Our Constitution’s framers also made another important choice. Having fought so long against a repressive government, they were aware of how easily power is used to crush free thought, open discussion, and civil rights. While they trusted the Indian people, they did not trust their rulers. And so, in the Constitution, they guaranteed to all citizens fundamental rights, including the fundamental right to the freedom of speech and expression, subject only to specified restrictions.
Two Safeguards
The framers were careful about the language they used: restrictions upon a fundamental right could be imposed only by law. Only an elected legislature, after careful deliberation, could decide to restrict some speech in the interests of an overwhelmingly important public goal. This could then be challenged before independent courts. Thus, the Constitution protected citizens’ rights through two layers of safeguards: the legislature had to make a law, and then the courts could be called upon to test its constitutionality.
In the years after Independence, the framers’ delicate balancing act — between State and citizen, between rights and public goals, between legislatures and courts — has sometimes come under immense strain, but has survived more or less intact.
In recent months, however, that balance is once again under stress. Only this time, it is not because of an overbearing Executive or a pliant Parliament. It is because of the Supreme Court.
In the course of its history, the Supreme Court has performed its role as the guardian of our fundamental rights with a debatable degree of success: upholding the law of sedition while striking down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, upholding the law of obscenity while gradually liberalising it over the years, and so on.
 However, what is happening now is more serious: Of late, the Court has begun to redefine its own role under the Constitution, transforming itself from the guardian of civil rights to a great, overarching moral and political censor. This is a role that the framers never envisaged.
Given that there is nobody to guard the guardians, it is a role that vests great power — without any accompanying responsibility — in the Court. And it is a role that runs contrary to the very spirit of our Constitution, and specifically to its structuring principle of autonomous, thinking citizens.
Three recent instances have accelerated this nascent trend.
Recently, the High Court of Bombay found that certain scenes in the film Jolly LLB 2 “defame” the legal profession. Despite the fact that the film had been cleared by the Censor Board, the Court set up an entirely fresh committee to “review” the film, and ordered four “cuts” to be made. The producers moved the Supreme Court, arguing that while the High Court could, admittedly, review the decision of the Censor Board, it could not create an entirely new censoring mechanism. However, the Supreme Court refused to intervene or to hear the producers on the merits of their case until the High Court had passed its final orders.
When the Bombay High Court finally mandated cuts, the producers — understandably — saw little point in going back to the Supreme Court. Facing huge commercial losses (the film was set to release in four days), they managed to bargain and reduce the number of cuts. The film was released. The precedent that it set, however, is disturbing.
While the Supreme Court saw nothing wrong with the Bombay High Court’s invention of a parallel censorship mechanism, it saw everything wrong with the fact that cinema halls were not playing the national anthem before every film. Acting upon a “public interest litigation”, and without any basis in existing law, in November 2016, the Court passed an “interim order” compelling all cinema halls to play the anthem.
For a moment, forget about whether this is a good or a bad thing. Instead, consider the following: is it legal? It is constitutional? Is this kind of compelled performance of patriotism something India’s Supreme Court can impose upon India’s free and independent citizens? Somewhere, drowned underneath the drumbeats of patriotism, these crucial questions are going unanswered.
And lastly, only last week, the Supreme Court passed yet more interim orders, in a case involving sex-determination tests. Ostensibly, the Court was acting under the authority of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act of 1994, which prohibits advertisements regarding pre-natal sex determination.
However, fuelled by a sense of moral outrage, the Court had been passing a series of “interim orders” (eventually likely to become final) that were progressively increasing censorship; in the latest order, it directed search engines such as Google to constitute in-house committees to “block” access to such websites, and (in continuation of previous orders) to do so by blocking search “keywords”.
In one stroke, the Supreme Court vested vast censorship powers in unaccountable private committees, something that Internet scholars and activists all over the world have repeatedly warned against.
More worryingly, however, the Court’s orders amount to making entire swathes of the Internet off-limits for everyone, no matter what the purpose: research, investigation, or even simple curiosity. Or, to put it even more simply: because advertising for sex determination is illegal in India, the Court will make any attempt to look it up on the Internet also illegal.
That is how totalitarian societies react to the Internet. It is not how the Supreme Court of India is expected to react.
The implications of these orders are frightening. Today, the Court wants Google to block access to search results involving the word “gender selection”. What will it be tomorrow? “Secession”? “Terrorism”? Or just about anything that the courts, in their wisdom, feel that Indian citizens cannot be trusted to read about?
Now, Supreme Censor?
There are a few unifying features about these three cases. All of them were brought to the Court as “public interest litigation”.
There is a tragic irony here: public interest litigation began as a movement to democratize access to courts. It discarded traditional rules of evidence, and vested vast powers in courts to “do justice”. In 2017, the very dilution of rules and the existence of vast powers have become weapons in the hands of courts to cut down rights.
More importantly, however, in all these cases, do the Court’s censorial actions bear a tenuous connection — if any — to “law”.
In the Jolly LLB 2 and National Anthem cases, the courts do not even attempt to demonstrate that what they are doing is within the legal framework.
In the Sex Determination case, vague references are made to the IT Act, but that law simply does not contemplate judicial orders that make the Internet off limits.
In short, the Court’s actions have upended the careful balance that the framers sought to achieve in the Constitution: instead of our elected representatives making laws, which the Court then tests for constitutionality, the Court has now begun to make its own laws limiting, restricting, and suffocating speech.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg: the Supreme Court is currently hearing petitions seeking to ban pornography, order a keyword-block for rape videos, and ban racy pictures on condom packets. The Court’s jurisprudence also has an impact downwards: last year, the Madras High Court ordered that the teaching of the Tamil epic Thirukkural be made compulsory in all schools — again, in the absence of any law whatsoever.
In 2017, the Supreme Court has reduced us to passive subjects instead of active, thinking citizens. The Supreme Court tells us what we can watch and what we can’t watch. The Supreme Court tells us what we can search on the Internet, and what we can’t search. The Supreme Court tells us that we must be patriotic, and how, where, and when, we must be patriotic.
To the framers of our Constitution, who fought for political independence from colonial rule on the Enlightenment principle of “have courage to use your reason”, and who trusted the Indian people to make that most important of all decisions — the decision to choose their own rulers — we can only say that the transformation of the Supreme Court into the Supreme Censor would have come as an unpleasant shock.

 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Colin Powell’s Lesson for the Officer Corps …

Posted on December 2, 2016. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts, Uncategorized |

It ain’t as bad as you think  – Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier –  Get mad, then get over it.

It can be done  – Be careful what you choose. You may get it.

Check small things – Share credit – Remain calm – Be kind.

Have vision –  Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.

Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.

Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.

Ah Dear Colin –  AT THE END ….   You so very tragically COMPROMISED the GREATNESS YOU had so DILIGENTLY WON!!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...