Putin’s War And Modi’s Peace

The French poet and philosopher, Paul Valery, noting the fragility of civilizations and the possibility that they “can perish by accident” wrote, “the abyss of history is deep enough to hold us all.”  Valery had seen the slaughter of the First World War. 

It is a hundred years later and Russia is making loud noises around Ukraine.  That alone throws suspicion on its intentions, for stealth is often the handmaiden of war.  The latest in this Kabuki dance are joint exercises with Belarus.  As in chess, the threat from a move is sometimes more effective than the move itself as the latter breaks the tension.  Also an all-out war with Russia has the potential to throw us into Valery’s abyss, and Putin is a savvy leader. 

We hope good sense prevails but accidents can happen.  Again, the First World War is an example.  It changed the map of Europe for the Austro-Hungarian Empire disappeared, and the punitive peace set the stage for the deaths of millions in a second World War. 

It is difficult to foresee gains for anyone in a Ukraine war other than some face-saving.  Russia can end up with an insurgency in Ukraine, and memories of Afghanistan should make it think twice.  Gone also will be its hopes of an economic accord with Europe.

Furthermore, the threatened economic sanctions will undermine the Russian economy.  The Chinese will help of course but only up to a point because their ties with the West are crucial to the sustained growth of their economy.

There are indications now that off-the-ramp talks might pave the way to a deal.  The trouble with formal meetings is that they are laden with appearances, prestige, and stated expectations.  All of which makes necessary concessions difficult for both sides. 

If Ukraine has the latent possibilities of war, Modi’s peace in India embeds the triggers for violence.  For example, two BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) supporters had been posting photos of Muslim women on YouTube with Islamaphobic and derogatory comments until their channel was removed.

Muslim women were also put up for mock auction.  These apps were eventually closed but before that could happen, hundreds had viewed them and the women felt humiliated.  Following complaints, police are investigating.

In the Indian state of Karnataka, young girls trying to attend class wearing a hijab led to pro and con protests across the country.  The six girls began their protest on the last day of 2021 saying they had not been permitted to attend class for 15 days.  Apparently they can wear a hijab in the playground but not in class. 

The roots of these rules lie in local legislative assembly members (here BJP people for Udupi, the district involved) who often head college development committees that can force a dress code like banning hijabs.  The case has wound its way to the Karnataka High Court and is expected to end up in India’s Supreme Court.

Racism, oppressing minorities, particularly Muslim and Christian, has always been a vote getter for the BJP.  No surprise then that 2022 is an election year.

Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King's College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for Antiwar.com, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.