Thursday, January 18, 2018

The core problem in this Trump mess

This is my understanding of the core issue.

But before I get into that -  let me talk of a different time - a time when I was growing up and learning about the hard nature of national security problems.

In the early 80s in India, Jarnail Singh Bhindran (a ka "Bhindranwale") had a larger than life presence on the national scene. His influence on the Damdami Takshal (a powerful Sikh religious school) was vast. In the minds of many Sikhs, Bhindranwale personified all the teachings of the Sikh Gurus*. However the Govt of India was convinced that he was committing treason. They tried at various levels to engage him in a constructive dialogue, but Bhindranwale came across as being disinterested or (worse) dishonest. A trust deficit built up between GoI and Bhindranwale. Eventually Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi decided that she was done talking to him. She ordered his arrest (regardless within reasonable limits of the human cost). We all know that the plan to capture him failed, the Indian intelligence services attempted to seize him using their allies inside the Golden Temple and when that attempt was defeated, the Indian Army has to attack the Golden Temple. The carnage that followed ignited the civil war that lasted for well over a decade afterwards. In the immediate aftermath of Operation Bluestar (which resulted in the death of Bhindranwale and his closest supporters), the Indian Army faced several defections in its ranks as Sikh soldiers and officers simply left their companies and joined the side of the militants. As the ranks of the militants swelled with police and military defectors, the Army had to launch the extremely brutal Operation Woodrose which resulted in the deaths of thousands. This further fanned the flames of a separatist rebellion and in the decade that followed tens of thousands of people lost their lives.

So - now - coming back to the Trump shithole we are all in right now.

We are facing a similar problem with Trump. It is increasingly clear that Trump has committed treason. Trump has been able to create a cult like following. If an attempt is made to arrest him, his cult which has penetrated the police departments and the military will attempt to protect him. This will create a situation exactly analogous to the Punjab situation and we will see very similar dynamics defection and betrayal as brother is ordered to fire on brother.

The Trumpers are as deluded and disconnected from reality as Bhindranwale's cultists were decades ago. Also like Bhindranwale's followers they are armed to the teeth and a very bloody confrontation is inevitable. Whatever we see of their views - the racism, the neo-Nazi sympathies etc... these are outward manifestations of a kind of moral dissonance with the current age and its egalitarian zeitgeist. This is very similar to extremely broad ranging issues that Bhindranwale followers asserted with the way India was being run back in 1980. Most of those grievances were rooted in political and economic realities of the time, but the broad desire expressed by Bhindranwale cultists was for a sweeping and essentially unsustainable change. This sounds extremely similar to what one hears from Trumpers. Frankly this is all extremely wearily familiar.

If my analysis is correct - the US is currently suffering from the same disease that ran through Indian Punjab in the 80s and it will go through similar pain and suffering. I do not know if I can call Trump the Bhindranwale of America yet. Bhindranwale was a very fit looking young man with a history of religious and upright conduct. Trump really isn't any of those things. That said both are very similar in the manner in which they can inspire people with their words**. In time I am sure the equivalence between them might become more obvious.

I cannot know exactly what is going through the minds of the current crop of US national security senior staff, but I do have a sense of what went through the Indian national security setup's mind in the Khalistan days.

There was a sense of failure in the intelligence community - the attempts to turn Jarnail Singh Bhindran into a productive national security asset had failed. There was a sense of desperation to find ways to limit the damage caused by this failure. In my opinion the options explored in this desperation were poorly thought out and these miracle cures and palliatives all proved in the final reckoning to be worse than the disease. Perhaps the only (unanticipated) benefit that came out of this was that as Indian intelligence scrambled to infiltrate the movement, they increased the incentive for criminals to participate in the Sikh movement. This criminal infiltration eventually degraded the standing of the movement in the eyes of the Sikh people and ultimately allowed the Govt of India to claim a sense of moral superiority. I doubt the Indian intelligence community did this in some grand strategic anticipation, it is IMHO just a weird and fortuitously beneficial side effect. They were able to salvage this situation by coupling the Khalistan militancy to a commercial insurgency tied to control over India bound drug trafficking routes from Pakistan and they got lucky in that regard. There were significant downsides as thousands of innocents were murdered. I doubt senior national security personalities were happy about what happened or even satisfied with the outcome. I (an outsider to all this) for one - am glad this dark chapter in India's history is over.

But it appears the first pages of this exact same chapter are now being penned in US history. Unless I am wrong, I appear to be cursed to see the same thing repeat over and over again in my life.

* This linkage to the teaching of the Sikh Gurus is important because a substantial fraction of what they said pertained to the corrupt and venal nature of Mughal administration. The Sikh Gurus objected to the misguided application of Islamic ideas and for that kind of dissonance with the rulers, the Gurus paid with their lives. By linking their martyrdom to the moral conflicts of political systems, the teachings of the Gurus formed a powerful template for many subsequent religious figures in the Haryana-Punjab belt to challenge local political structures. Bhindranwale was not outside the norm on these matters, what made him exceptional was the sheer strength of his appeal. This link to the teachings (and interpretation thereof) of the Sikh Gurus is what makes Bhindranwale a powerful figure in Punjab today. This is why you still see his face hanging from the walls of stores and restaurants around the Golden Temple Complex even today.

** I grew up fearing Bhindranwale and the ideas he espoused. I recall how influential he was, and how his words could even sway the judgement of seasoned undercover police officers detailed to spy on his gatherings. I also remember the manner in which high ranking GoI representatives would deferentially sit by his feet trying to prove Madam Gandhi's sincerity and willingness to enter into a political concord with him! The behavior of police officers and GOP political figures around Trump evokes similar imagery in my mind.


At 1:34 AM, Blogger Nanana said...

Does Rikhye have a point?

At 5:00 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Dear Nanana,

I agree with Ravi's sense of concern, what he is predicting is entirely possible.

This Doklam confrontation was hairy to begin with and now as Col. Bhat's research indicates it seems to have taken on a mind of it own.

Per the Sushant Singh article in IE, the entire episode was organized by Western District Commander Gen. Zhao Zongqi, a personally appointee of President Xi.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

......The behavior of police officers and GOP political figures around Trump evokes similar imagery in my mind.....

what behavior? you do realize who controls the purse of the USG? the executuve must operate under the law passed by the legislative AND THE BUDGET PASSED BY THE LEGiSLATIVE.

while true the executive can ignore the law like when Obama enacted things like DACA which which had no legislative authority, the chickens will come home to roost eventually.

what if trump decided to outsource social security to a private firm in China w/o legislative authority?

this is the same that obama did with DACA. so if the dems want to sink the budget over DACA they are welcomed to do so.

however there needs to be a heads up legislative vote on DACA. and mcconnell has promised there will be. before the next budget impasse.

it IS NOT TRUMP WHO IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL in his executive orders as president.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

like chuck schumer said to the progressive/immigration radicals about this latest budget compromise....."you don't like it? then get out and vote next time".

blunt words from the dem senate minority leader I would say.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger maverick said...

>> what behavior

The manner in which they all lie down like pet dogs before Trump. If it was anyone other than a GOP president of the right ethnicity - these very same men would have torn that President to shreds.

That is EXACTLY how GOI reps would behave in Bhindran's presence. It allowed him to leverage up. If they had cut him down to size when they had the chance, the entire mess would never have happened.

>> " who controls the purse of the USG? " - Err are you referring to the "problematic text" in the recent IC appropriations bill? because it is clear that is controlled by Stephen Feinberg, Trump's choice for Intelligence Czar.

Yes yes - I know how everything Obama did was illegal and corrupt and how he was a Kenyan Muslim and Michelle was a transvestite etc... and we also know that when Trump farts it is like God "Himself" has taken a shit on us. Please spare me the rest, I have heard it all, and it all sounds like "Hail Putin" to me.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

what problematic text?

At 10:35 AM, Blogger maverick said...

> what problematic text

This one

"The House version of the spending bill released last week contained a provision that allows the Trump administration to spend funds on intelligence activities that were not specifically authorized by Congress — sidestepping a longstanding law that requires congressional notification and authorization of such spending and activity."

At 10:44 AM, Blogger maverick said...


I am not imagining things here.

I really don't understand what the delay is.

Yes - he will have to sit before the inquisitor, but to my mind this is a formality. Whether he tells the truth or obfuscates is largely academic as the outcome is the same.

His doctor pronounced him mentally fit.

Why is this resolution taking this long? is it anything other that what I have pointed out?

I doubt it.

In Jarnail Singh Bhindran's case - the GoI reps would go out of the way to be deferential because they wanted to lull him into a false sense of security. Unfortunately it didn't have the effect they intended. In an interview the Mark Tully, months before Bluestar -
Bhindran remarked that "this bird has many hunters" (speaking about himself as the bird).

Jarnail Singh Bhindran knew what was coming - he knew Madam would unleash the wolfpack when she lost all patience. I don't think he was surprised when the wolves turned up at his door, though I feel he may have been surprised to see which of the sheep behind him turned out to be the leader of the wolfpack!

I guess there is always that moment of dawning comprehension when the one you have trusted the most and longest turns out to the Akela, King of the Seeonee.

At 6:07 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

I note with interest that while russia is guffawing that the us has no way to launch humans into space w/o the rodina........

the following happened......

while true the falcon heavy isn't scheduled for any manned launches, it certainly represents the new wave of rocketry for the us. its first launch will be a tesla sports car into a mars heliocentric orbit.......somewhat trashy in my opinion but hey, its elon musks money and not the us taxpayers.

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:24 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

the golden temple incident is somewhat comparable to waco and the david koresh messiah followers' killing except.....there was no mass us riots and killings like there was in India. it would be similar to mormon secret service agents killing the president. mind boggling but for india, not so mind boggling.

I bow to superior hindu morality that the forum bhakts espouse.....

At 5:07 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

these latest attacks in kabul show how desperate the taliban is getting. none of the attacks represent any tactical or strategic gains. just general terror and mayhem.

the resolve of my country is astounding me. i would have expected we would have cut and run years ago due to our cultural proclivities to short term goals and then exiting.

our involvement in afganistan, a shit hole country in the middle of a continent filled with boy raping pediphile savages with just 14,000 troops is for the record books..16 years..... i hope they continue to self destruct. they so richly deserve it.

At 4:27 AM, Blogger maverick said...

The current round of attacks seem to be a riposte for US led targeting of Taliban and IS friendly opium traffickers. It seems the Trump Admin wanted to be seen to be "tough on Islamic extremists", so they encouraged strikes on opiate operations. The massive bombings that followed are what Afghanistan got in return.

The spirit of the Afghan people is much stronger than the spirit of their self-appointed protector nations.

US Troops will remain there for the foreseeable future.


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