Tagged: World Thoughts

The Zookeeper’s Wife


I continue to have a fascination for the Second World War and its stories. I might have seen many war movies over the years, and especially like the ones which show the miseries of war, the sufferings of the people, the utter insanity of war, and the cruelty displayed by the average man in all his barbaric manner when he belongs to the winning side (not always though).

In my recent flight, I chose to see The Zookeeper’s Wife after I read the brief description of the movie – nothing much, but enough to kindle my interest. I browsed through a lot of movie briefs on the screen, but eventually came back to this one because it was set in wartime Poland, which was probably the most bombarded and affected country in the Second World War and also in its aftermath.

I am not going to recount a summary of the movie here in this post. In a nutshell, the movie is about the Director of the Warsaw Zoo and his wife (Jan and Antonina Zabinski), who managed to save 300 Jews from sure death during the German occupation of Poland from 1939 onwards. It tells their story of warmth, kindness, compassion towards the Jews, whose Ghetto was under attack by the German soldiers and eventually burnt down. It also shows the cruelty and barbarism of Nazi German soldiers, who were anyway under orders to murder Jews.

Imagine if Germans had discovered the fact that Jan and Antonina were hiding hundreds of Jews in their zoo. They would have been executed without mercy for an act of human kindness – an act of saving other people from the cruelty of Germans, and also an act of saving them from torture and death (which was impending as the Germans rounded up the Jews in the Ghetto and packed them off to the concentration camps – it was heart-breaking to see the small kids as young as 5 years old pleading to be taken off the train and saved). It is still sometimes difficult to believe that such cruelty existed in this world (unfortunately in continues to exist in several nations as we know for sure now).

While the story revolves around Antonina, the real hero of the story is Dr Jan Zabinski, the Director of the Warsaw Zoo. He displayed a strong sense of humanity and justice (remember this is a true story) towards the Jews. He secretly participated in the Polish underground, and was always working against the occupying German forces. Jan said “My deeds were and are a consequence of a certain psychological composition, a result of a progressive-humanistic upbringing, which I received at home as well as in Kreczmar High School. Many times I wished to analyze the causes for dislike for Jews and I could not find any, besides artificially formed ones.”

As a lover of animals and believing that every living creature was important, Antonina played an indispensable role in saving hundreds of Jewish lives. “I looked at them with despair,” she said. “Their appearance and the way they spoke left no illusions. … I felt an overwhelming sense of shame for my own helplessness and fear.”

[The quotes above from Dr Jan and Antonina Zabinski are from Biography.com – please see Zookeeper’s Wife True Story].

Out of the 300 people the Zabinskis saved, only two died during the war; all the others remarkably found refuge and safe passage elsewhere.

In 1968 the state of Israel honored the Zabinskis with the title “Righteous Among the Nations,” a recognition that was given to all those brave citizens who helped save Jews during the Holocaust.

I liked the movie though it was not a big commercial success. I understand that the Polish people liked the movie. In my opinion, the movie shows that human kindness and civility have a big role to play even in today’s highly commercialized world. During the Second World War, the situation was vastly different from today, especially in the countries occupied by Germans who were on a mission to eliminate Jews. Poland was hugely affected. We cannot forget the fact that Adolf Hitler managed to murder 6M innocent Jews in Europe, and movies such as these show the small, yet critical kindness that was required on a humanitarian basis to save people of any kind. After all, what is the difference between one human and another? The brutality of Germans has been depicted in some savagery in this movie, though much less than in some of the other movies.

Let us not forget that human kindness, compassion and civility form the crux of human life on this planet. And, powerful nations cannot keep silent in the face of ethnic cleansing, brutality and murder of innocent civilians, irrespective of their race, religion, colour or ethnicity. I have written about other such instances (the expulsion of Rohingyas of Myanmar is a strong example, and the Syrian War – both are going on currently).

As highly educated and well-to-do people, we owe it to this world to do the right thing instead of keeping quiet in the face of atrocities unleashed on civilians by brutal dictatorships. We should push our own governments and multilateral agencies to act to save people.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

12th November 2017

Advertisements

Make the Best of the Rest


I was having a chat with one of my close personal and family friends yesterday. It was a casual chat, but as always it turned into a deep discussion on several matters which have always been close to my heart, and I am sure, to his heart as well.

While we meandered around issues and challenges of mutual interest, we finally landed on the most important and critical issue that should dominate every discussion that people over 50 years of age are having, and that is, how to make the best out of the rest of our lives.

Yes, it is something that we should not shy away from. Discussing potential death timeline, and how to deal with it in advance, and understanding how others would deal with your death, is something that is direly needed. We do not discuss such matters. Period. Don’t you agree? It is considered inauspicious to even think of such things.

While discussing death could be seriously challenging, what about discussing about how to make things better for others while we are all on the firm and unchangeable path to our respective deaths? In a nutshell, how to make the best out of the rest of our lives? How can the rest of our lives be useful to not only the people closest to us, but also to people in the society we live in?

While my friend and I discussed this matter briefly, it was clear in our minds that this was something that is going to dominate our thoughts and actions in the coming months and years. Again, let us think about our legacy. Who will remember us, year after year, outside of our very close relatives and family friends? Is there someone out in the open world who would recognize your contributions to the society that you had lived in before you passed away – someone not related to you, someone not your friend? You do not have to be famous or a big philanthropist to have that kind of recall.

As we plough through our conscience, our entire life till now, our close family members and friends, it becomes very clear that there are very few people outside our circle who have been impacted by your presence in this world (let us say over 50 years, could go on to a 100 years!).

Did we ask the right questions to figure out who needs our help? Did we consciously feel that we could have been of service to those in need? Did we do public service? Did we mentor people who are not related to us or not friends of us? Did we donate to charity every year? Did we give out time to people who would have benefited? Did we even ask our own close personal and family friends if they need any assistance?

Very few people do these things. Just touch your heart and respond. We want to have a drink and relax, or we want to attend parties and network, or we go for movies. We worry about our financial position all the time. We worry about the condition of our car, yes, we “feel” for our car, or our apartment. We worry about tons of mundane things. But we do not worry about how to make the best use of our time to help others in need.

Money and material things dominate our conversations, even those within our own family network. There is no spirituality in almost everything we do. We should not confuse religious affiliation or temple visits or prayers or rituals with spirituality. This is a common mistake we all make. You attain spiritual well-being when the Super Power (not the U.S.) determines that you are (a) devoid of material desires; and (b) you have rendered help to several poor folks who would vouch for your generosity, kindness, time and assistance. It is not going to be based on how many times a month you visited temples or prayed for your own material success.

I think if you are reading this blog post, you are going to probably ring me. You would want to discuss more. Yes, I think there is a lot more to this topic than what I have written thus far. Let us discuss. I strongly believe our times are limited, and we have to contribute urgently. No one can predict how long we are going to live. Why bother about the lifespan if you can focus on things which help others? Not that it would assure a place in heaven, but that is the best thing that you can do.

Think about it, and let us talk soon!

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

5th November 2017

 

 

Life is all about sharing


We see lot of wealth around when we live in developed countries.

For instance, in Singapore, we see lots of very expensive cars on the roads. For the uninitiated readers, Singapore is the most expensive place to buy a car. Period. But then, we see lots of BMWs, Mercedez, Maseratis, Porsches, some Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and big SUVs on any major road, speeding past. Such cars cost a lot of money, and some of these cars could cost as much as an apartment.

Of course, one sees a lot of cars in the U.S. and other major developed nations such as Germany. However, relative to median per capita income, Singapore still continues to have the most expensive cars on the road, despite strong discouragement from the government in terms of taxes on cars (foreigners always get shocked when they find out that a piece of paper called the certificate of entitlement to drive a car costs as much as a car). Further, housing prices are rising in Singapore again, putting condominiums out of the reach of the average buyer (a typical freehold or even leasehold apartment of 1,300 Sq Ft area could cost as much as SGD 1.8M and upwards). Forget houses, which could cost upwards of SGD 3M.

Well, the point of mentioning all this stuff is that developed countries are moving fast forward in per capita incomes and cost of living. The poorer folks get marginalized in almost all developed countries. As we now know for sure, Capitalism holds sway in all developed nations, there are very few countries which are socialistic and still well developed (like the Nordic countries).

Governments make attempts to be inclusive. For example, the Singapore government raised the income tax rate a few years ago to provide more funding for social programs. Other governments also try to do similar things. At the end of the day, people who are left behind by capitalism are exactly the people who need help from the government. Unfortunately, the richer people do not encounter poverty in most countries, and do not feel the compulsion to help their compatriots benefit from the spoils of capitalism. In the U.S., we hear the usual refrain that the poor folks do not work hard enough to uplift themselves out of their poverty. It is all their fault, and what could others do that possibly they cannot do themselves?

It is ridiculous to expect all people to be at the forefront of an economic surge. The U.S. is a USD 19T economy with 320M people. However, 46% of U.S. households live from paycheck to paycheck. There are millions of Americans who are technically “poor”.

So, now I come to the key issue of this blog post. Life is all about sharing and donating to the less fortunate folks around us (or even in other countries). I only talked about developed countries, can you imagine the status of the less developed or developing countries – vastly worse, as we can ourselves see. What can the most fortunate people do to this world? Make even more money (as many or most of them are doing anyway), or share their wealth in a coordinated manner with the less fortunate?

The argument here is clear. If rich people are making more money, it is because there are people who make the goods or deliver the services which make the rich people richer by the day. If the government (like in the U.S. currently) cuts the taxes via a major tax reform, what does that mean? It reduces the tax on corporations and richer individuals in a bigger proportion, and increases the value of their equities on the stock market, making them richer. Does it do the same to middle class households or the poorer sections of society? The jury is out, and let us see what happens.

In a nutshell, if you do not share a single dollar or rupee with poor folks, there is something seriously wrong in the way you look at your own life. No one is going to forcibly take that dollar or rupee from you, but you will have to answer your own conscience when folks are suffering and sometimes dying on the streets. Share your wealth, like what Mark Zuckerburg or Bill Gates is trying to do. You will depart this world with a better “feeling” and a sanguine conscience.

It will help this world.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

4th November 2017

 

Not a Partner one can TRUST


Take a guess.

What is this blog post about?

For a long time, I had wanted to write about this topic.

But then, what is this topic about?

Is it a philosophical post? Is it about trust in human relations, and the big role it plays in cementing relationships and partnerships? Is it about wanting to do things for your partner?

Or, is this about all of the above?

This post is about CHINA.

China has always suffered from a trust deficit, especially when it comes to its neighbours. Even in trade matters, global buyers have had a trust issue with China and its manufacturers.

Now, it has come to centre stage.

In a short 10 to 15 years (may be faster), China will overtake the U.S. as the country with #1 GDP in the world. It is likely to be of the order of USD 25T or more in size by around 2032, growing at an average of 7% per annum. Of course, the U.S. will still continue to have a much higher GDP per Capita compared to China for the foreseeable future, given that the population of China is more than 4 times that of the U.S. The U.S. will also continue to have the strongest military and a far better technological prowess.

But then, China cannot be treated as anything less than a powerful global superpower, and the U.S. will not just have to contend with Russia in terms of military strength, but it has to cope with the economic and military might of China as well. So, the U.S. gets two powerful adversaries (they both already are), and just two allies who will get weaker as time goes on (the U.K. and France). Germany and other European powers will try to take a neutral stance. Japan will continue to remain as a close ally of the U.S., but it has a fast declining population, and a pacifist constitution put in place after its disastrous role in the Second World War.

INDIA will never fully trust CHINA, given that both have gone to war in 1962, and both continue to have serious border skirmishes on an ongoing basis along their shared border that is 3,000 miles long. Further, China does not support India’s aspirations to be a U.N. Security Council Member, and generally tries to side with India’s arch enemy, Pakistan, on most defence and border matters. China mistakenly believes that Pakistan can be trusted. China continues to treat India as its geopolitical rival and a threat to be contained.

India rightfully rejected China’s overtures about its “One Belt One Road” initiative. I think this initiative will eventually succeed for China, given the number of countries which have signed up. India will try to set up a parallel initiative, and for China, that will be a loss as India is the biggest country in South Asia that it desires to have as its partner for this initiative.

But then, China cannot be trusted. China has a habit of stirring up old controversies, assailing the Dalai Lama and India’s positive treatment of him, needling and testing India’s border defences, and strongly pushing for its own interests in all matters.

South East Asian countries have seen such behaviour as well. However, except Vietnam, all the rest of ASEAN countries have acquiesced meekly to China, and have tentatively accepted it as the next superpower at their doorsteps, and have come to the conclusion that they cannot afford to mess with it. This has created a docile community of nations, which will dare not contest China, and is even afraid to mention any dissonance factor in joint communiqes after their collective gatherings.

And, even the U.S., under a rather challenging President Trump, is finding it difficult to deal with China. While President Trump did make several noises about China on his campaign trail and as President, he has been seen to be conciliatory over the past few months. His position is not clear vis-a-vis China on many matters, including North Korea, trade, currency manipulation, South China aggression, and so on and so forth.

In a nutshell, the world is witnessing the emergence of a new superpower, which bristles with centuries-old pride and arrogance, with an economic and military might that would be difficult to ignore any longer. And, it is going to be a trouble-maker, not a trouble-solver, around the world, as it snaps up entire countries and their economies. It will be hard to challenge its cheque-book diplomacy, as Sri Lanka discovered, and several African countries are finding out. We continue to learn about China’s intransigency and obstinacy. We continue to learn about China’s bellicosity and aggression. We continue to learn about many other things about China and its behaviour as we navigate the turbulent waters around China.

It is going to be rather tough for India, that is for sure. And, the trust deficit will only swell after the recently concluded Peoples’ Congress in China when President Xi Jinping asserted about the supremacy of China and its vision for a world to be subjected to its influence. The 21st Century domination by China will not be like that of the U.S. domination of the 20th Century.

It is going to be rougher. Belt yourself up for a shaky ride.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

28th October 2017

Food for Further Thoughts and Analysis


I have almost completely forgotten my Electronics & Communication Engineering.

I have forgotten all the equations that were necessary to understand how the theory of electro-magnetism works in practice, and how do electrons and neutrons struggle within an atom. Complex equations, stochastic processes, integration and differentiation, Fourier Transforms, linear differential equations, and what not?

I have not applied a single one of those equations in my engineering/business life, even in companies which depend on some of these theories to make and sell their stuff to customers. Of course, when you look at a boiler, a turbine, a rocket, a power generation plant, a refinery, or any other engineering driven plant or business, there is some recognition in my mind that I “used” to know something about all these at some earlier point in my life.

Did any of these matter to me in my life? The real answer is a clear NO.

Let me now come to my coveted MBA. I enjoyed working through my MBA Program, no doubt. I liked the intense discussions which went on in the class on various topics of importance to corporate life.

Did I enjoy my MBA? Ofcourse, it is a YES.

Did I get to use my MBA learning in my corporate life? Not really. May be a bit of Marketing, a bit of Finance, but I would say that I would have picked it up anyway during the course of my business life.

All these education focus, is it really necessary?

May not be required for the future of our children. Things are changing so rapidly as we navigate an already very complex life, and the skills that we learnt are no longer in use or needed in business life. Did we really keep up with what is transforming the world as at this moment? The answer is also a NO, as we have a wrong and incorrect belief system (in most of us) that persuades us all to take a rather casual approach to the emerging challenges, and that is rooted on our seniority and experiences over several decades.

We continue to operate on generalities and general knowledge which have seen us through till now in our lives.

But, these tools may not be adequate or even recognized by our employers any more.

Our education, experience, expertise, and insight may no longer be required in the new completely digital and Artificial Intelligence-driven life that is fast becoming a reality. Most of us can be replaced by machine learning and AI systems.

We are all lucky we got through most of our corporate lives unscathed (apart from the usual restructuring) till now.

Now, the challenge is not from within ourselves or our corporations. The challenge is from outside, and it may not even be related to your current business.

Think about it for a moment.

We are “used” cars. In a new world, we may easily be replaced by newer models, and faster cars. Our education is now totally irrelevant. I am no longer interacting with my elite MBA institution or its representatives in Singapore.

I am trying to meet folks with “new” and “radical” ideas to transform our business going forward. Most of the people we meet in our corporate life deserve no more than a “B” rating. Few people are a “B+”, and very few are a “A”.

As we course through our life, we see that the “B+” and “A” folks are much younger, sharper, incisive, intellectual, and operate entirely on data, not on qualitative stuff and not on perceptions. Relationships are no longer sacrosanct. The “B”s and “C”s are generally people whose profiles are similar to ours. Of course, there are exceptions.

So, in a nutshell, we need to mingle not just amongst ourselves or with our colleagues in our office or in other offices, but with young people who don’t give a damn about age, seniority, experience or old expertise. We need fresh thinking, and they will provide it all the time. Further, they will take risks which we cannot. So, they will go on to create new value, while we ruminate on “how great it was during our time”.

So, I took some actions –

  1. Subscribe to few digital courses at MIT Online Courses
  2. Visit Block 71 in Singapore and meet with young startup founders
  3. Invest in the stocks of few new companies that you believe in – can be in Technology, Bio-tech, or whatever you are interested in – the good outcome is you understand what is happening
  4. See CNBC every night – they talk about the markets and the new companies ringing the bell on listing
  5. Change your mind, your thinking, your interactions, your friends/acquaintances
  6. Do a business plan for a new company that you would like to start – I did this and it was not just informative, it was completely transformative. I even set up a website and validated the business plan
  7. List out options on what you would like to do after quitting your current corporate life – this will be tough if you are so used to the routine for a long time
  8. Offer your services as an unpaid mentor either to startup individuals or to startups themselves – they may or may not accept, but it is worth trying
  9. Read up on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, how these technologies which have been there for a long time have now taken on new avatars in combination with Big Data Analytics and Cloud technologies and platforms

I am dropping point #10, not all lists have to have ten points!

Don’t you think the above is interesting? May not work for everyone, or you might have your own approach depending on your area of specialization or the industry you are from.

I am already excited and feeling younger in mood, spirit and attitude. I am trying to drop all my old baggage that I have learnt or am carrying with me. It is time to completely “unlearn” everything we know.

The world is, and will, no longer be the same one that we had known all these years.

Time to learn new things and get going.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

22nd October 2017

Our Life is not Religious anymore


What kind of topic is that?

I have been thinking of what to write this weekend in my Blog, and I was deluged with a number of potential topics. In fact, there were so many topics, I just could not decide during the course of today on the specific topic which would be of interest to me. Yes, to me. After all, my Blog exists for the pure purpose of satisfying my writing and literary skills, and nothing else/nobody else. If others read my Blog, that is fine, but that is not a pre-requisite for the existence of my Blog. I love writing and writing on a wide variety of topics which interest me. I am constantly on the prowl for issues which are of importance to me, and by extension, to other people! I am sure my readers see the relevance. It is not my intention or desire to conform to prevailing norms or practices. It is my desire to think and think deep and well, for my own benefit.

When I started my life, I was very religious and prayed everyday. My mom taught me that it is important to pray to God everyday, and especially to the Elephant God (Ganesha as we call Him in Hinduism) as He is the greatest remover of obstacles in one’s life.

So, I was religious for almost three decades. It was good, as I had some “hold” on the Hindu faith and God(s) in general, though I was not a big temple visitor, or follower of religious rituals. I believed in the power of one God and its influence for the good of mankind. I never asked God to grant me anything. In that sense, I was a man without “material” wishes. I knew that what I need for life has to come through my own hard work, and not because God decided to give me something by granting my wishes.

Since I was on my own from the age of 17 (my father died at that age of mine), I built my life on my own. People around me used to say that God always helped me, and at that time I believed in a power bigger than mine guiding my actions. I used to go to the temple near my house every week (and sometimes twice a week), and thought that it was the most appropriate thing to do. Since I had many critical responsibilities at a young age, it kind of helped me to think about God sometimes. I did very well in my studies, and in fulfilling my family responsibilities, by my sheer hard work and personal commitment and drive. I declined to marry a rich girl as I thought such a marriage would be incompatible with my socialist views and adherence to a frugal philosophy in my life (several close friends of mine know about my life and behaviour during those formative years). I went against my mom’s wishes, and told her that I was not ready for a huge marriage commitment, based purely on economic betterment.

So, life went on, and slowly but surely I discovered myself.

It is very important for each one of us to “discover” ourselves.

I began to visualize my own contributions to my own life and to the lives of my siblings and immediate family circle. I understood that nothing would have happened had it not been for my vision and hard work. Yes, it was very very hard work at a very very young age. I sacrificed many things, which I would not have done if my father had been alive.

Slowly, I stepped away from blind faith.

Slowly, I stepped away from following others.

Slowly, I stepped away from the thought that God provided guidance and help.

Slowly, I became an agnostic.

I began to question everything in life.

I kept my views private. Only my wife knew about my thought processes. However, she remained and continues to remain a devout religious person, despite the influence of my own wandering ideological thoughts and philosophy.

She always respects me for who I am. She never challenged me. She only pointed out what I was leaving on the table. Yes, of course, I was leaving several things on the table. My significant connections to a private circle of relatives. My strong connections to a religious community. My double standards when it came to very close relations, from who I have to partially hide my views (like my own mom, uncles, etc.,). However, I knew how to keep my private views away from table top discussions, it was never my intention to offend anyone for their own beliefs or faiths.

So, it has gone on for the past 15 years or so…………….I am still strongly beholden to my own religious views. I think that religions have divided rather than unified mankind. I believe (I think it is true) that religious wars have killed millions of people around the world. I think religions provoke unnecessary tensions, wars and passions. I think we can do well without all this stuff, and direct our collective energies towards the betterment of humankind.

Some folks I know think that I am idealistic. I am not pragmatic. I am not a model human. I am not a person that falls in line. I could be a trouble monger. I am not a human being that understands how other humans work. And, so on and so forth.

The issue, of course, has always been the same – people have been endowed with enormous brain power. Why are they not using it for improving the livelihood of poor people? Why are they spending so much money on religions, temples, and faiths? Why are they allowing religions to be misunderstood and crucified by gurus who are no messengers of God? Why are they allowing rape, killings and house burnings of non-conforming folks (like in the latest example of Rohingya Muslims who are being driven out of Myanmar by practicing Buddhists, Buddhism being the most pacific religion of all)? Why are injustice and inequity not being called out by religious followers? Why is there a deafening silence from “good” folks?

Well, my conclusion has been the same for the past 15 years. That is, God is a Socialist and never a Capitalist or a Communist. He wants us to help the poor. He wants us to share our wealth and savings. If He exists, He would insist that we cause no harm to others. He would emphasize the importance of Love and Peace.

I am not going to follow any religion because I was born into one, or because I was directed into another, or I was forced into one. Man and Woman have the power to think, conceptualize, contribute and improve the society. That effort is not going to happen because God asked us to do that. It happens because WE want to do that. We look out for one another. We realize the importance of LIFE. We conclude that all lives are equal and same.

So, my life is no longer religious. My life is going to be human. Just going to temples is not going to absolve us of our irresponsibility and collective darkness. The LIGHT is within us. It is up to us to discover and light it.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

21st October 2017

Against International Agreements


President Donald Trump de-certified the Iran Nuclear Agreement yesterday.

This is one of the very few times that the U.S. has walked out of an international agreement that it had signed. In this case, there were several parties to the Agreement (called JCPOA or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) – all the five of the U.N. Security Council Members, Germany and the European Union, all aligned on one side, and Iran on the other side. The JCPOA was the result of tortuous negotiations conducted over many years with the objective of containing Iran’s nuclear program and ambitions to become a nuclear power.

The case of Iran has always been different as compared to Israel, India or even Pakistan. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and so has always been bound by the terms of that Treaty. The other countries mentioned here did not sign the NPT as it was considered to be favouring the Nuclear “Haves” – basically the Security Council Members.

So, Iran had no choice – it had to honour the NPT which it signed off.

But then, Iran’s King was overthrown in 1979 and Iran entered a long period of antagonism towards the U.S. That story has been well documented and so I am not covering the same in this post.

Having successfully contained Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it was expected that Iran would comply with the terms of the JCPOA, and it did over the past two years (the JCPOA was signed in 2015). Under U.S. requirements, the President of the U.S. has to certify to the U.S. Congress that Iran has complied with the JCPOA terms every 90 days.

But then, President Trump had long been cursing and complaining about the Iran nuclear deal, and it was widely expected that he would do something against it, and he finally did. Now it is up to the U.S. Congress to either declare that Iran is indeed complying with the JCPOA terms, or it has not been complying. There are many Iran hawks in the U.S. Congress who are itching to declare Iran’s non-compliance (bringing other non-deal issues to the table) and impose sanctions.

There has been widespread opposition to President Trump’s unilateral move to de-certify the deal, by the other signatories to the JCPOA.

It is now expected that the deal will fall into disarray, and probably Iran will walk out of the Agreement, which would be a disaster. The U.S. will of course, be blamed all around the world.

But what concerns me the most is the impunity with which a global signatory to a legally binding agreement is tearing the same and throwing it into the dustbin (though technically, the U.S. will still remain in the deal). The U.S. is setting a bad precedence here from which it may not be able to recover. No country is going to believe the U.S. in an international treaty negotiation. Other major allies may not include the U.S. in future discussions or negotiations. There is a distinct possibility of a Security Council Veto on issues which matters the most to the U.S. There will be far less cooperation within the Security Council.

The bond between Russia and China will strengthen even further. Both countries will now try to protect North Korea from the same fate as Iran. North Korea will never trust the U.S. and is likely to ridicule the international community in the aftermath of the failure of the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

Is this a desirable outcome?

Not at all.

Legal agreements should be respected in letter and spirit.

Will the U.S. impose additional sanctions on Iran now? Highly likely.

Will Iran walk out of the JCPOA? Highly likely.

Will IAEA inspectors be thrown out of Iran? Likely.

Will the other JCPOA signatories re-negotiate the JCPOA under pressure from the U.S.? Highly unlikely.

Will Iran retaliate against U.S. sanctions? Yes, likely………in their own way.

Will the influence of Iran increase in the Middle East? It has already increased in the past three years.

Will the international community believe in the words and actions of the U.S.? Well, I don’t know, but there is increasing frustration.

What should the U.S. Congress do? Certify the JCPOA for Iran’s verified compliance as other allies have done, while passing a resolution which can criticize Iran for other acts of potential conflicts, such as ICBM testing, and suggesting that the JCPOA should be reviewed at the end of the first five years.

Let us avoid yet another war in the already suffering Middle East. In my opinion, all foreign armies should withdraw from all Middle Eastern and African countries immediately. Any conflict in which civilians are dying should be brought under the auspices of the U.N. Peace Keeping Force.

Time to stop the killings and rebuild the Middle East.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

14th October 2017