A price worth paying    

Mahmudur Rahman   | Published: June 10, 2018 22:19:47 | Updated: June 11, 2018 21:15:35


If all goes along to noble plans of intent, a snuffing out of a major flash-point in world politics could be closer than that previously conceivable. Two men, much maligned by the world will sit across a table in Singapore not to trade insults but discuss peace. Nudging Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will be Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Moon Jae-In of South Korea. Omnipresent in their physical absence will be Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping of China. The reward for all the bravado displayed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Jong-Un will be an explosion, a welcome burst of economic activity that suits both sides. When peace comes, it will do so at a human, capital and philosophical cost. The repercussions on the rest of the world are not insignificant.

North Korea, blessed with natural riches and a diligent, well-drilled workforce is a haven for investment. Its leadership will be eager to give back to the people all that had to be denied in the country's isolation. And as the US, Russia, China, Japan and not the least, South Korea tot up the figures, the developing countries that are able to wring out investments will find there's a big crowd out there. The two key aspects that may have tempered Mr. Trump's gung-ho tactics seem to have been South Korea's willingness to douse the flames of friction and Japan's emphatic nudge to overlook inconsistencies.

Mr. Abe has more pressing matters to attend to than take a long plane journey to the US in place of the traditional phone call. But then, there are decisions and there are their visible manifestations. Mr. Trump is a different person when reading from a script rather than ad-libbing. For a man with his ego, eating even a piece of humble pie can't have been easy. As a business magnate he also knows when to refrain from verbal frolic.

Posterity will decide but the two leaders will have upnosed the staunchest of critics. Massaging bruised egos must have been difficult, almost excruciating. For their electorates the greater good of conciliation must be parroted loud and wide. The personal victories are worth contemplating over. Mr. Trump has now shown that appropriate economic pressure and diplomacy can work even when the enemy is an indirect one and much smaller in size.

Mr. Kim has reined in decades of defensive instincts based on ism. He has actually had the greatest world power in a bit of a pickle. And it was a master move to send an emissary known to the US with a personal letter. The famous 'Shock and awe' theory driving the Iraq invasion by the US certainly applies here. There was shock, there was awe and not a shot was fired.

The human cost has been horrific. Survivors and disabled veterans on both sides will be wondering whether their role will ever be truly evaluated. Worse is the fate of those who went to battle unofficially and could never be acknowledged, the intelligence and covert operators. Japan will be seeking details of their 'abducted' nationals.

There are pages to be filled and books to be published but the memories will shine brightest. In the area of liberal arts and scientific knowledge, there's a lot to update. Social engineering is required anew.

The capital perspective is as mammoth. All the money that went into the juggernaut of war and preparations for it should have gone elsewhere, to the benefit of citizens and the future generations. For many, including the US, it was an expensive proposition. When it comes to rebuilding and constructing for the future the opportunistic eagles will swirl and descend. Philosophically, communism's space will perforce shrink. What replaces it will be presumably the controlled liberalism that China and Russia are gradually putting in place.

Every major event produces possibilities. Sourcing of investments for Bangladesh and other developing countries will further dry up firstly, because we have moved out of the least developed country (LDC) bracket. Secondly, investment in new areas is more important than in growth areas. Myanmar is a classical example. Opportunity there was lucrative enough to have our neighbour not just overlook the tragedy but to put all blame on the Rohingya refugees.

Our major business partner simply had nothing to say, not even a visit to the camps was deemed necessary. And the snub by Mr. Trump when the issue was raised to him. It's not too late for the government to rethink sops for downright sloppiness and negligence and build a nest egg - a big one.

Success over adversity has a price too. It's called 'loneliness'.

mahmudrahman@gmail.com

 

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