Thank you for including a report on The Democracy Forum’s November 2017 seminar on Afghanistan at London University. I would like to particularly applaud Professor Thomas H. Johnson, one of the panellists, who openly accused Pakistan of being a ‘duplicit enemy’ of the US. As long as the US tolerates the terrorist-harbouring state of Pakistan, I do not see any hope of change in Afghanistan’s future. I believe that the first step should be taken by the US, and that should be to impose sanctions on Islamabad. This could solve a number of problems that are currently being witnessed by this region in Asia.
I wish The Forum all luck for their work and look forward to more such seminars from the organisation so that experts and members of the public can debate and draw attention to these important issues.
Can Cambodia hope to heal?
Cambodia is a survivor nation. It has to some extent overcome the horrors of being crushed under the heel of the Khmer Rouge and set itself on the pathway to peace and democracy with the UN’s huge post-Cold War nation-building project of the 1990s. How gloomy, then, to read Chris Pritchard’s excellent but cautionary article onwhat appears to be the country’sbackward slide under the dictatorial rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who holds the dubious accolade of being the world’s longest serving prime minister.
He is even presenting himself as some kind of reincarnation of the mythical, magical Cambodian king Sdech Kan, erecting statues of the 16th century ruler with faces that look suspiciously similar to Hun Sen’s.
It has been seen too many times that no good ever comes of political leaders conflating the state with their personal rule. Hun Sen has been in power too long and too strong. He is not a mythical ruler, and he is not the embodiment of the Cambodian nation. I hope he goes, one way or another. It would be a tragedy ifdemocracy well and truly diedin this beleaguered country and, as Mr Pritchard so eloquently put it, Hun Sen is‘at the bedside’.
Two sides of the Rakhine crisis
Richard Cockett’s ‘Boxed in by the old guard’ (Asian Affairs, December 2017) is a reminder of how the crisis in Rakhine state has harmedMyanmar’s once great hope, Aung San Suu Kyi.But China, in particular, has an eye on exploiting thissituation, offering to mediate and extend fencing along Rakhine state’s border with Bangladesh, even as the West threatens sanctions. One man’s meat, as they say…
Blind to the dangers?
Concerning President Trump’s Asian tour as recorded in last month’s Asian Affairs, he seems to be appallingly intemperate in his choice of language when dealing with grave matters of state. Many people were dismayed when this egotistical showman was elected president of the world’s most powerful country; the interventionist Hillary Clinton was far from ideal but at least she was the lesser of two evils. Can the world be regarded as safe with Trump in the White House?
He seems to be intent in provoking the North Koreans into responding to a tit-for-tat slanging match rather than the measured responses one would expect of any statesman, let alone the leader of the planet’s most powerful nuclear armed state. Undoubtedly the North Koreans are being highly provocative in shooting missiles around Japan and the Pacific, but rather than continuing to goad them with threats of ‘fire and fury’ and ‘total destruction’, specifically hinting at nuclear war, why does Trump not seek to reassure this nervous Stalinist state that the US is not preparing to launch another regime-change invasion? Or perhaps that was what was intended? We must remember that the Korean War of the early 1950s was never concluded.
It was ended by an armistice, which is a long way short of a peace settlement. Given America’s recent military adventures in different parts of the world, maybe Kim Jong-un sees a real threat to which the rest of us are blind.