Global Crisis and Ethical Imperative of Our Time



Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Associate Editor, Barta24.com
Joseph Camilleri, Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University.

Joseph Camilleri, Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University.

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"Momentous challenges are pressing in on us on all sides. One day it is Covid, the next day Ukraine, the day after the ravages of climate change, then the many ugly faces of racism. The list goes on", worte Joseph Camilleri, Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and convener of the initiative Conversation at the Crossroads.

In an article tittled 'The Best of Times, The Worst of Times' published by 'Toda Peace Institute' of Japan, Joseph Camilleri raised five crucial questions in the context of onging global situation and consequently suggested  six-step process which are very important for peace building and conflict resolution.

Against the backdrop of the contemporary crisis, look at the questions raised by Professor Joseph Camilleri, who has authored or edited over thirty books and written over 120 book chapters and journal articles, covering issues of security, dialogue and conflict resolution, theories of international relations, the role of religion and culture in the contemporary world, and the politics of the Asia-Pacific region and has convened several major international dialogues and conferences, most recently Towards a Just and Ecologically Sustainable Peace (2019):

  1. Are these just unconnected afflictions, or symptoms of a deeper ailment?
  2. How do we make sense of it all?
  3. Can we go beyond political spin, propaganda, platitudes?
  4. How do we communicate with others about all this?
  5. How can we respond?

According to Professor Joseph Camilleri, "we are witnessing Russia’s military thrust into Ukraine, and its appalling consequences, with no resolution of the conflict yet in sight. It graphically encapsulates the turbulence of our age. At the end of the fourth week of fighting, UN estimates suggest some 1,200 civilian lives lost, and close to 2,000 injured, not to mention the thousands of military casualties on both sides.To this gruesome scorecard must be added the wholesale destruction of infrastructure, some 6.5 million internally displaced people, and close to 4 million forced to flee the country."

Professor Joseph Camilleri pointed out the the Russia no doubt has legitimate grievances fuelled by successive waves of NATO expansion that have brought the US-led military alliance right to Russia’s doorstep. The coming to power of a government in neighbouring Ukraine intent on joining NATO has added fuel to the fire. Many Russians, not just Putin, feel they have been subjected to relentless provocation and humiliation, and the Russian minority in Ukraine to intimidation and harassment. But none of this justifies the use of force, or the terrible suffering to which the people of Ukraine have been subjected.

"The imposition of hefty sanctions by the United States and its allies is more likely to hurt ordinary Russians than the oligarchs. Freezing the assets of Russian Central Banks and Russian sovereign funds, excluding Russia from the SWIFT messaging system, suspending the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and a host of other poorly thought out measures will adversely impact other economies and an already fragile global financial system", Professor Joseph Camilleri added.

He also mentioned, "as for the vitriol levelled against Putin by the United States and some of its more boisterous allies, it will do little to facilitate a negotiated settlement of the conflict. Accusations of war crimes would carry greater moral authority, if they had been levelled with equal force against Western leaders responsible for the destruction showered upon the people of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Professor Joseph Camilleri observed the role of mainstream Western media has been less than helpful. Alleged facts and interpretations offered by the Ukrainian military and political elite are headline news, while Russian voices, including those of independent Russian scholars, are barely heard. As for US military and intelligence sources (often unnamed) and their acolytes in think tanks with loud voices, their assessments are taken as gospel.

"The cumulative toll of half truths, disinformation and outright deception—political, cultural and psychological—will be felt for years to come", he stated.

The most respected Political Scientist warned that the most distressing casualty is the possible, perhaps probable, return to a full-scale Cold War. Senseless talk of no-fly zones, the escalating delivery of lethal military aid to the Ukraine, the foolhardy damage done to nuclear power plants, and the foolish use of nuclear threats have made this one of the most perilous moments since WWII.

'How might we get out of this mess?' according to Professor Joseph Camilleri "the short answer is: with great difficulty." But as a contribution to the conversation, he proposed a six-step processl based on two principles: that the silencing of guns is crucial, but not enough; and that key issues are invariably interlinked, and must be approached holistically.  He outlined the steps as follows:

  1. Immediate ceasefire (ideally a UN monitored ceasefire) which can be sustained only when each side gains something and concedes something: Moscow stops the use of force and Kyiv enters into substantive negotiation on Russia’s legitimate grievances.
  2. No further delivery of lethal military aid to Ukraine and a massive international programme to deal with the humanitarian crisis.
  3. Phased withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory once negotiations on Russia’s longstanding concerns make substantial headway.
  4. Use of good offices: the UN Secretary-General and key governments with effective access to either or both sides (e.g. China, France, Turkey, South Africa, India) can all play an important role in different ways and at different stages of the negotiating process.
  5. Establishment of a sizeable UN peacekeeping forceonce Russian forces have withdrawn. Such a peacekeeping operation may be needed for some considerable time (US, Russian and allied forces should not form part of part of this operation).
  6. These arrangements should make way for a longer-term series of negotiations between Russia, the United States and their European allies with a view to advancing nuclear disarmament agreements as well as significant steps towards demilitarisation. These arrangements would form part of a new European wide framework of common, cooperative and comprehensive security that encompasses climate change and other critical environmental issues.

"None of this will happen overnight or without a massive global awakening of human wisdom and energy. Possibilities for renewal are discernible. Intellectuals, artists and scientists around the world, religious leaders, small media outlets, countless advocates and engaged citizens toiling away on different fronts offer an inspiring alternative to what is", he said with importance.

"At the same time", he said, "our capacities to communicate and connect with others, not just in our personal networks but nationally and internationally, are expanding almost exponentially. These possibilities, however, remain embryonic. We are witnessing a growing awareness of the multifaceted ailment which afflicts the human condition at this time. But it is not enough."

"If the public conversation is to rise to the challenge and generate more insightful and energetic engagement, we must go beyond symptoms and explore what lies behind the ailment. Nor can we stop there. We must think through what a healthier condition, a preferable state of affairs might actually look like" he noted.

Professor Joseph also said, "If substantial change is envisaged—let’s say a substantial shift in current security policies, or effective media regulation, or a climate friendly energy policy—one thing is clear: the way ahead is strewn with roadblocks. Many are content to point the finger at short sighted, incompetent or corrupt leaders. If only it were that simple. Powerful interests are often hidden from public view. Deeply entrenched community mindsets are often resistant to change. Some of our institutions may no longer be fit for purpose. How are these roadblocks to be overcome?"

He concluded with an optimistic view that these are issues that call for a sustained and wide-ranging public conversation within and between countries. But such an ambitious exploration cannot rely on the knowledge or insights of a few. The ethical imperative of our time is to enhance our collective capacity to make a difference."

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Political Science, University of Chittagong and Associate Editor, Barta24.com.

Flourishing Democracy in Ukraine is Putin's Real Fear



Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Associate Editor, Barta24. com
Flourishing Democracy in Ukraine is Putin's Fear

Flourishing Democracy in Ukraine is Putin's Fear

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'The Journal of Democracy' has been covering Putin’s war on Ukraine since the invasion began. In an article tittled 'What Putin Fears Most' published in 'The Journal of Democracy' on April 2022, VOLUME 33, ISSUE 2, and jointly written by Rob Person and Michael McFaul mentioned, "Putin is terrified of the prospect of a flourishing democracy in Ukraine."

The article is highly appreciated for its academic values and received global attentions. The authors of the article, however, are well known for their skills, expertise and wisdom.

The lead author Robert Person is associate professor of international relations at the U.S. Military Academy, director of its international affairs curriculum, and faculty affiliate at its Modern War Institute. His next book, 'Russia’s Grand Strategy in the 21st Century', is forthcoming.

The co-author Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, is professor of political science at Stanford University, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His most recent book is 'From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia' (2018).

In their lucid and analytical article, the authors categorically claimed that the
Russian president Vladimir Putin wants you to believe that NATO is responsible for his February 24 invasion of Ukraine—that rounds of NATO enlargement made Russia insecure, forcing Putin to lash out.

This argument has two key flaws. First, NATO has been a variable and not a constant source of tension between Russia and the West. Moscow has in the past acknowledged Ukraine’s right to join NATO; the Kremlin’s complaints about the alliance spike in a clear pattern after democratic breakthroughs in the post-Soviet space.

This highlights a second flaw: Since Putin fears democracy and the threat that it poses to his regime, and not expanded NATO membership, taking the latter off the table will not quell his insecurity. His declared goal of the invasion, the “denazification” of Ukraine, is a code for his real aim: antidemocratic regime change.

Putin may dislike NATO expansion, but he is not genuinely frightened by it. Russia has the largest army in Europe, engorged by two decades of lavish spending. NATO is a defensive alliance. It has never attacked the Soviet Union or Russia, and it never will. Putin knows that.

But Putin is threatened by a flourishing democracy in Ukraine. He cannot tolerate a successful and democratic Ukraine on Russia’s border, especially if the Ukrainian people also begin to prosper economically.

That would undermine the Kremlin’s own regime stability and proposed rationale for autocratic state leadership. Just as Putin cannot allow the will of the Russian people to guide Russia’s future, he cannot allow the people of Ukraine, who have a shared culture and history, to realize the prosperous, independent, and free future that they have voted and fought for.

Although the chance of a stable ceasefire seems remote today, unprecedented sanctions and growing public dissent within Russia could, in theory, force Putin to the negotiating table. The fog of war is dense. But regardless of where the Russian invaders are stopped—be it Luhansk and Donetsk or Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson, Odesa, Kyiv, or Lviv—the Kremlin will remain committed to undermining Ukrainian (and Georgian, Moldovan, Armenian, and the list goes on) democracy and sovereignty for as long as Putin remains in power and maybe longer if Russian autocracy continues.

And the Ukrainian people have already proved their mettle: They will fight for their democracy until the day Russian forces leave Ukraine.

This is the essence of the article, with which many disagree, but its evaluation cannot be ignored. No doubt, further analysis of Russia's aggression in Ukraine will continue. The various parties will investigate the cause of the conflict from different angles. But in all discussions, the impact of Ukraine's democracy and independence-mindedness will be the major focul point that really Putin fears most.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Political Science, University of Chittagong and Associate Editor, www.barta24.com

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Malaysia: New Destination of Healthcare



Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Associate Editor, Barta24.com
Sunway Medical Centre (SMC), Malaysia

Sunway Medical Centre (SMC), Malaysia

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Generally India has been the first destination for Bangladeshis seeking treatment due to many factors including cost, quality, facilities, doctors, culture etc. It is also statistically true that a large number of patients are going from Bangladesh to other countries.  However, their experience is not always good. It is reported that in many cases, the quality of healthcare is declining and patients are suffering due to lack of proper attention, facilities and transparency in terms of billings.

In this context, Malaysia is emerging as a suitable option. Malaysia is fast becoming a strong competitor in the global health and medical tourism sector. Given the potential of health tourism as a foreign exchange earner, the Malaysian government has taken a series of proactive measures to enhance Malaysia as a preferred health tourism destination.

According to official policy, Health tourism in Malaysia consists of two main categories which are medical tourism and wellness programme. Patients can opt for medical treatments in one of Malaysia's internationally recognised hospitals, and stay on during the convalescence or recovery period. Or they can come for a holiday by exploring the various forms of wellness programmes that are available in Malaysia.

Global medical newspapers describe competitive medical fees and modern medical facilities are two vital factors that make Malaysia a popular destination among health tourists. Patients can undergo treatment and recuperate in any part of the country for much less than what it would cost them for a treatment in other countries. For example, a normal cardiac bypass surgery (CABG) in Malaysia would cost only between US$6,000 and US$7,000 equal to Bangladeshi Taka 5 to 6 lakhs.

Malaysia offers a wide choice of state-of-the-art private medical centres boasting an impressive array of sophisticated diagnosis, therapeutic and in-patient facilities. These establishments are well-equipped and staffed to ensure the highest level of professionalism, safety and care to patients. Most private medical centres have certifications for internationally recognized quality standards such as MS ISO 9002 or have been given accreditation by the Malaysian Society for Quality of Health.

Besides, Malaysia is not too much in terms of medical expenses.  Moreover, due to the many places of Muslim culture, modern facilities and trave destinations, Malaysia may be a suitable place for complex patients or health check-ups purposes.

However, not many people in Bangladesh know about Malaysian medical tourism due to lack of information and publicity. In fact, more than 500,000 people travel out to India, Thailand and Singapore for treatment due to unavailable service, misdiagnosis and improper treatments in Bangladesh. Thus, it is important for Bangladeshi patients to consider Malaysia as an lucrative option of seeking medical treatment.

When contacted,  Ms Nurul Hasyikin binti Adanan of Sunway Medical Centre (SMC), the largest private hospital in Malaysia told barta24.com, with 29 centres of excellence, 617 licensed beds, more than 60 specialities & sub-specialties and more than 200 specialists, SMC provides a comprehensive range of medical and surgical solutions. As a quaternary hospital, SMC specialises in the areas of cancer, blood diseases, nuclear medicine, orthopaedic, robotic assisted surgeries, gastroenterology, neurology, neurosurgery, cardiac and vascular, women and children. Kidney transplant, paediatric cardiac surgery, bone marrow transplant are also available in Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City. We also equipped with the latest technologies like Radixact-X9 Tomotherapy, Mako SmartRobotics, Leksell Gamma Knife Icon, Varian TrueBeam Stx, Philips Biplane Azurion 7 B12 (Angiographic System), Philips Biplane Azurion 7 I-Q Clarity B20/15 (Angiography System), 4-D PET/CT Scanner, da Vinci® Si Surgical System (3rd generation), da Vinci® Xi Surgical System (4th generation), Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), SPECT-CT Scan, Brachytherapy and many others.

Sunway Medical Centre also is the biggest private hospital in Malaysia having sub-specialties like Paediatric in Dermatology, Neurology, Hematology & Oncology, ENT, Respiratory, Orthopaedic, Gastroenterology etc., she added.

Moreover, Malaysia offers a wide choice of state-of-the-art private medical centres boasting an impressive array of sophisticated diagnosis, therapeutic and in-patient facilities. These establishments are well-equipped and staffed to ensure the highest level of professionalism, safety and care to patients. Most private medical centres have certifications for internationally recognized quality standards such as MS ISO 9002 or have been given accreditation by the Malaysian Society for Quality of Health.

Most private medical centres in Malaysia also offer comfortable accommodation ranging from private rooms to suites for single occupancy or more. Room charges, inclusive of meals, vary at medical centres but are attractively priced. Some medical centres even provide highly qualified and trained private nurses and personal butlers at a reasonable cost.

In brief, factors that contribute to making Malaysia a centre of medical excellence in the region are listed below:

  1. a) Safe and politically stable country
  2. b) Wide choice of world class infrastructure facilities e.g. National Heart Institute and Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital, Sunway Medical Center (SMC).
  3. c) Competitive and affordable pricing and favourable exchange rate
  4. d) Highly qualified, experienced and skilled consultants with internationally recognised qualifications
  5. e) Tolerant multi-cultural and multi-racial Malaysian society accommodates patients of different cultures and religions
  6. f) Communication is easy - English speaking medical staffs
  7. g) State-of-the-art technology, such as MRI, 64-Slice CT Scan, PET Scanner for early detection of cancer and other diseases, cyberknife which is able to radiate tumours without damaging adjacent vital structures
  8. h) Quality and safety system in place, such as ISO and accreditation by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH)
  9. i) Recently, the Ministry of Health, Malaysia has set up a Corporate Policy and Health Industry Division to promote medical tourism and related healthcare products including traditional medicine, etc. As such, the Ministry's promotional efforts are more focused with the support from relevant government agencies and private sector
  10. j) Attractive and affordable packages during recuperation period.

To ease entry formalities for patients, the Immigration Department of Malaysia has implements the Green Lane System at main entry points which expedites custom clearance for medical travellers. Accompanying family members or friends of the patient can take advantage of their visit to sample Malaysia's various interesting tourist attractions. Cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang offer a truly comprehensive range of both health and tourism services, all within easy reach.

Interested person can find more information in  Sunway Medical Centre (SMC) website at

https://www.sunwaymedical.com

or write to ([email protected]).

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The War in Ukraine Will Not End Soon



News Desk, Barta24.com
The War in Ukraine Will Not End Soon

The War in Ukraine Will Not End Soon

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Analysts expect the war in Ukraine to continue at a high level of intensity through 2022, and at a greater or lesser tempo for years to come. According to many experts the war is still at a relatively early stage, and they envisage several possible outcomes, including Russia’s annexation of more territory, a further rout of Russian forces and a negotiated settlement.

However, war specialists expect several factors to prolong the war. The first is that the issues at stake for Ukraine and Russia are existential and are not susceptible to compromise. Ukraine is fighting for its right to self-determination. Its government and people have shown that they are prepared to make great sacrifices to defend their national sovereignty. As long as Russia is occupying Ukrainian land, it will be difficult for any Ukrainian government to make concessions on this fundamental issue.

Meanwhile, Russia has presented its invasion as a “special military operation” to protect Russians in Ukraine against a Nazi-type regime. Backing off from completing what it presents as an existential mission is almost impossible. Putting aside its outlandish claims, Russia’s real aim appears to be to put a stop to Ukraine’s integration into Western institutions such as NATO, which it regards as a security threat. For Vladimir Putin’s regime, winning the war in Ukraine, or being seen to win, has become vital to its future survival.

Besides, the war in Ukraine is not just a regional conflict: it has become a much larger confrontation between the West and Russia. In this sense, it has some of the characteristics of a proxy war, with the West standing four-square behind Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Western leaders have said that they will not become directly involved in the war, but their provision of military aid and intelligence to Ukraine carries the risk of their being drawn inadvertently into the conflict. The longer the war drags on, the greater the risk of the West being pulled in, either as a result of a military miscalculation by either side or of the war accidentally spilling over into a NATO member state. Such an unplanned event would pose the risk of a much more serious global conflict.

Even if such a scenario is avoided, the war marks a geopolitical watershed. It will result in Russia’s exclusion from the Western economic and political order. Sanctions will remain in place indefinitely, and Russia will become a no-go area for Western businesses. The Kremlin will come to rely increasingly on China and the developing world. The West will have to reorganise its global supply chains, including for commodities supplied by Russia. Ukraine and the wider region will remain a zone of instability for many years to come.

The war could very well turn into a protracted stalemate because neither side is capable of defeating the other. Having suffered major setbacks in the first months of the war, it is unlikely that Russia will succeed in subjugating Ukraine. Russia’s invasion has turned the Ukrainian population irrevocably against it, including in areas in the east that were traditionally pro-Russian. This means that even its lesser aims, such as forcing neutrality on Ukraine and obtaining Ukrainian consent to territorial losses, will be very difficult to achieve unless the course of the war changes dramatically.

Despite its undoubted military superiority over Ukraine, several factors have undermined Russia’s ability to press home this advantage. Its war planners badly miscalculated the willingness of Ukrainians to fight and the preparedness of their army. Ukraine has mobilised the entire country behind its war effort, whereas Russia is suffering from a manpower shortage and has so far eschewed a full mobilisation.

In addition, Russia’s army is fighting on hostile terrain, appears to be badly led and trained and suffers from low morale.

Finally, Russia’s military may be technologically superior to that of Ukraine, but it has proved no match for NATO’s advanced weapons systems, which Ukraine now has at its disposal.

In contrast, Ukraine’s army is fighting on its own territory against a foreign invader, is strongly motivated to fight and appears to be well-led. It can draw on advantages such as the support of the population and knowledge of the terrain.

In addition, Ukraine is receiving considerable intelligence, logistical, military, political and financial support from the West. Nevertheless, even with Western weapons, Ukraine is unlikely to be able to inflict a decisive defeat on Russia. Ukrainian forces have already routed the Russians in their attempted advance on Kiev. Large number of experts suggest that Ukraine could inflict a similar defeat on Russia’s army in the Donbas. However, Russian forces are well-established and better supplied in the east, and it will be difficult for Ukraine to drive them out. This cannot be ruled out entirely, but, given the Kremlin’s determination to do whatever it takes to obtain a result that can be framed as a victory, Ukraine is unlikely to be able to deliver a knock-out blow to Russia’s military.

In this context, the war in Ukraine will not end soon, according to a large number of experts.

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Joe Biden Arrives in Asia



News Desk, Barta24.com
Joe Biden Arrives in Asia

Joe Biden Arrives in Asia

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U.S. President Joe Biden arrives in Asia for the first time as president. He’s traveling to South Korea and Japan, but the subtext of the trip is that it’s all about China.

Joe Biden touched down in Asia on May 20 for the first time in his presidency, kicking off a high-profile trip meant to bolster ties with regional allies and launch a new trade initiative.

During the four-day long tour, Biden will have a key opportunity to reinforce partnerships with South Korea and Japan and reaffirm the region’s longstanding importance to U.S. foreign policy—especially with regard to China.

“China fits into this as a primary target, there’s really no better way to put it,” said Yun Sun, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center, who noted that Beijing has remained a top priority on Washington’s national security agenda. The “U.S. is trying to strengthen its coordination and cooperation with allies and partners in order to deal with China more effectively,” she said.

Biden’s first stop is Seoul, where he will meet with the new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol; from there, he will head to Japan for meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The tour will culminate with a Quad summit in Tokyo, convening Biden, Kishida, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the winner of Australia’s Saturday election.

In Tokyo, Biden is also expected to officially unveil the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a new U.S.-led initiative that would be designed to strengthen trade and supply chains in the region.

“The message we’re trying to send on this trip is a message of an affirmative vision of what the world can look like if the democracies and open societies of the world stand together to shape the rules of the road,” said U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan. “We think that message will be heard everywhere. We think

Jake Sullivan. “We think that message will be heard everywhere. We think it will be heard in Beijing.” 

But neighboring North Korea could disrupt hopes for a smooth trip. Both U.S. and South Korean officials have warned that Pyongyang could be plotting to conduct a nuclear or missile test to coincide with the tour, and Sullivan said the White House is bracing for the worst-case scenarios. “We are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that such a provocation would occur while we are in Korea or in Japan,” he said.

If Pyongyang conducted a test during the trip, it “will add another layer of urgency,” said Sun. But at the same time, she added, “a North Korea provocation is not going to be a big surprise because even before the Biden administration, I think people were anticipating that North Korea is going to act out.”

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