I was interviewed by Radio Sputnik, Moscow, yesterday.
The audio clip is not very good, but I am attaching it here.
The transcript is below.
So, once again, as usual, Donald Trump when faced with allegations about Russian hacking in his election, quickly gave an interview to Fox News about Taiwan. That helped in diverting much of the traffic towards the issue, in a communication diversion strategy that Trump has mastered since he decided to stand for election. The interview itself was obviously incoherent, and Trumpian…as in he said a lot of things, half said even more, and almost all of them contradictory. Typical example being he claimed Obama’s policies were a failure, but simultaneously claimed that President Obama has been a terrific president. If any observer was watching for signs of Trump’s pivot towards centrism, this is as good as it gets.
However, the important part was his comments about One China policy. Trump said, he understands completely what a One China policy is, and why US governments have followed it for over forty years, but he fails to comprehend why it should be continued if there’s no deal with China. “I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” Trump told Fox, as reported by Reuters.
(For a Military comparison, check GlobalFirePower)
Well, that’s a bold statement, because for a start, he doesn’t understand One China policy. And, a deal is already in place. The deal is so the planet earth doesn’t look like a sequence from Fallout 4. But on the other hand, he cleverly didn’t say that he wants to topple the One China policy and chart a new US foreign policy towards China. It’s like an art of saying things, without saying things; kind of like thinking out aloud, wondering, what does it matter if the policy is overturned. If the Chinese administration was looking for hint, this is it. Let me explain.
I don’t want to pile you with cliches, but the unthinkable happened.
Now, I have decided to focus on some other areas of my expertise, and my research…just because there are so many interminable, paranoid, hot takes going on, like this one for example…with nothing concrete, just peddling fear.
Anyway, I wrote two articles…first one for Quillette Magazine, where I critique this hysteria after Trump’s win.
Second one for National Interest, where I chart the foreign policy course for Trump in the near future, and the structural limitations he might face.
Have a read and let me know what you think!
The population of Bangladesh has increased by 60% since 1990. Its capital Dhaka is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, expected to have a population the size of Shanghai’s current population within the next decade. This unstoppable growth is fueling an explosion in construction. Bangladesh isn’t alone. Countries throughout South Asia and South East Asia are growing at breakneck pace as well as urbanizing.
All of this construction needs massive amounts of concrete. And concrete needs sand. But where does the sand come from? Shahed Kayes is founder of the Subornogram Foundation, which established schools for poor and marginalized families like the fisherfolk who live on islands in the Meghna River. There, he found sand mining companies dredging sands from close to the islands, causing the islands to erode and disappear. When he began to protest the practice, getting Bangladesh to pass laws against it in 2012, he was met with threats–and nearly killed.
I met him in Gwangju, South Korea this summer, where he is working towards promoting democracy at the May 18 Memorial Foundation and studying at Chonnnam University, and then interviewed him. Following is an edited transcript and audio. The audio also includes conversation about South Korea’s historic democracy movement and the Gwangju Uprising of 1980, which was the impetus for the creation of the May 18 Memorial Foundation.
Here’s the audio:
Here’s the text:
Mitchell Blatt: Many people do not think of how much sand is used in the world. But when it comes to building towers or anything that uses concrete, it involves a lot of sand [also for glass, and expansion of landmass in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and China’s east coast]. Can you give an introduction as to why sand mining is important?
Editor’s Note: We usually follow a strict editorial line, of freedom of speech. The recent needless controversy regarding Lionel Shriver’s speech on Cultural Appropriation is phenomenal, and we at Bombs and Dollars believe therefore that it is our duty to repost and share the speech for everyone to read and share. (Source:The Telegraph, Photo Courtesy: Google Creative Commons.)
I hate to disappoint you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to breaking point this address will not be about “community and belonging.”
In fact, you have to hand it to this festival’s organizers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about “community and belonging” is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.
The topic I had submitted instead was “Fiction and Identity Politics,” which may sound on its face equally dreary.
But I’m afraid the bramble of thorny issues that cluster around “Identity Politics” has got all too interesting, particularly for people pursuing the occupation I share with many gathered in this hall: fiction writing.
Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all. Meanwhile, the kind of fiction we are “allowed” to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.
Let’s start with a tempest-in-a-teacup at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
I didn’t plan or expect to meet Laura this time when I was in London, infact I didn’t plan my second trip to London within a week anyway. Considering what is happening in the political circles in UK (and broadly, Europe) planning seemed to me an exercise in futility. So when I met her in the holga-ish Cafe Nero in Buckingham Palace road after two whole days of covering the coronation of the new UK PM, I was distinctly under-dressed as a classic political correspondent with shabby army green t-shirt, jacket, scarf and jeans, increasingly aware of the uncomfortable dark moist growing patch near my armpit. Thankfully I had deospray in my laptop bag, as the person who greeted me with a copy of her first published novel was in a proper burgundy dress, smelling fresh and soinding Oirish; capable of giving a seven hour Sun-dried man enough complex for the rest of the day. We proceeded, appropriately in my opinion, to talk about her novel and lead character Lisa (a working class, domestically abused, societally neglected early teen, on her way to drugs, larceny, prostitution and “freedom”), on a day Britain had her second Conservative female Prime Minister.
Her debut novel “Taste the Bright Lights” (which I read in the next twenty four hours on my way back to Nottingham) is contemporary urban drama, tracing fourteen year old Lisa “growing up” in Northern Ireland. Imagine Chetan Bhagat’s early writing, meeting “This is England”, just more gritty, grimy, and grainy…a jarring experience, like watching a slow quaint mutiny unfolding, being shot in sepia lens. It shares occasional debut novel characteristics, like overuse of certain typical urban colloquial words, and it’s not an easy read, and not only because of the sheer powerful narrative force, but because of the moral ambiguity that reigns within.
It is in spirit of that moral ambiguity, I asked Laura these questions for Bombs and Dollars, published below unaltered and unabridged.
I have agonised over this issue, and waited till the last instance to decide on the Bombs and Dollars endorsement.
I have also written extensively, on Obama’s Brexit intervention, on Nationalism and the Euro 2016 riots, and most recently on why EU in its current form is an abomination of what was intended and is indefensible.
Raging debates are online, and I have nothing to add than what have already been said. Major publications like Spectator, Telegraph, and Times are for Brexit; FT, Economist and predictably Guardian are for Remain. The British isles have never been split before, both emotionally and intellectually like this since I started covering politics.
The EU is a vile organisation, and I loathe a superstate, which throws its weight around, has blatant disregard for nation and borders and national interests, and is a Byzantine unelected technocracy, and I despise it as a Realist, a democrat and as a free market proponent. But the question that plagued me for so long is what after? I will be stable in my position, as an educated urban metropolitan elite. But do I want to live in a country ruled by the likes of Nigel Farage and Jayda Fransen? Where “expert” is a reviled word? Do I want break up of a union which has guaranteed the longest peace of our times?
I was in London over the weekend, on the eve of Sadiq Khan’s victory, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Sadiq Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants, charismatic, suave and secular, was elected the Mayor of London, after a grueling and ugly campaign against the former mayor Boris Johnson supported, Etonian Zac Goldsmith. Aristrocratic and uptight Goldsmith, started the campaign after accusing Khan of being an Islamist sympathizer. It wasn’t easy for Labour, being beset with internal squabbles and a bland leadership, which almost relegated the party to a sideshow and a mere spectator in the ongoing Brexit debate, where the biggest arguments are happening between and within the Tory ranks, between PM David Cameron who is supporting an In campaign, and the rebels led by Boris Johnson. Boris was also an extremely popular mayor, having overseen London turn to a financial capital of Europe beating Frankfurt, and host a tremendously successful Olympic games.
But Goldsmith, compared to the erudite Boris, was an obnoxious candidate, smug and cold and boorish, and that reflected in the campaign when he tried to gain on the xenophobic and anti-migrant sentiment with a streak of racism against Khan. It didn’t help the Tories as they are themselves in a civil war, and Goldsmith is in the Brexit rebel club, alongside Johnson, which means he didn’t have the full backing and support and groundwork help and effort from Tory volunteers.
In this toxic scenario, Sadiq Khan is a whiff of fresh air. Son of Pakistani immigrant of humble and modest origin, he is a brilliant speaker, and is considered an able administrator. He is also the modern pragmatic wing of Labour, and alongside Chuka Umunna and Liz Kendall, is considered as the future leadership contenders.
In case you thought it couldn’t get weirder in Russia…the Russian Embassy tagging Russian MOD just tweeted this.
It will inevitably be deleted, but we found some exclusive footage of our own.
Here’s Russian Spetsnaz securing Palmyra.
And here’s the exclusive Su-27 flight cam footage of a bombing run against ISIS.
If you find more such Russian action exclusive footage, tweet tagging @BombsAndDollars for sure!
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