Tom Arms’ World Review

India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kicked off his election campaign with a prayer. And it was a prayer in the most controversial ethno-religious setting that he could find, thus further strengthening his ethno-religious claim to be the standard bearer of Hindu Nationalism.

The setting was the consecration of a partially-constructed Hindu temple in the town of Ayodha. It was controversial because the temple is being built on the site of a 16th century Muslim mosque which was torn down by Hindu nationalist rioters in 1992.

The destruction of the mosque led to nationwide religious riots which left 2,000 dead, most of them Muslims.

The Hindus tore down the mosque because they believed that it was built on the birthplace of Lord Ram, the chief deity in the Hindu pantheon of gods.

Modi made it one of his key election pledges that a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ram would be built on the site of the former mosque.

And to insure the maximum political return, Modi pulled out all the stops for the consecration of the temple and placed himself at centre stage. For a start, the Indian Prime Minister dressed in the saffron robes of a Hindu monk and publicly fasted for five days before the consecration.

Then he invited every possible Bollywood star, businessman and politician – except Muslims and the opposition Congress I Party – to the consecration.

A military helicopter was ordered to fly overheard during the consecration ceremony showering flower petals on the crowd. Modi, of course, led the prayers.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, was immensely proud of the fact that the Indian constitution declared India a secular nation. Modi is doing his best to reverse that.

NATO

NATO this week launched its biggest European military manoeuvres since the end of the Cold War.

Codenamed Exercise Steadfast Defender it involves 91,000 service personnel from 31 NATO countries and Sweden. It is the first time Finland will be participating as a full member of the Alliance.

Sweden’s NATO membership was finally approved by Turkey this week and is expected to get the final nod from the Hungarian parliament next month.

Steadfast Defender is meant to demonstrate NATO – and especially American – commitment to the defense of Europe. It involves all three branches of the military – army, navy and air force – and will focus on moving troops as fast as possible into the new frontline states of Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland and Slovakia.

The Russians have lodged the usual protests, but more importantly they have used their bases in Kaliningrad to jam military GPS devices in the Baltic Region.

Trump

Trump has won in New Hampshire. He was won in Iowa. He is expected to win in Nikki Haley’s home state of South Carolina.

The agenda for the Republican primaries is looking more and more like a rolling Trump coronation. But the pundits may be looking at the wrong agenda. They might need to spend more time examining the court calendars.

One of the several polls that was conducted during the Iowa caucus was whether the voter would vote for Donald Trump if he was convicted of a serious felony. A third of Iowans who caucused for Trump said a Trump conviction would make him unfit to be president.

If this figure were to be extrapolated nationwide then Trump would fail dismally.

There are four big cases which could result in a major felony conviction. But the odds are that for various reasons, three of them are unlikely to be heard before November. But the fourth case is the biggest and most damaging – the case brought by the Department of Justice and Special Prosecutor Jack Smith for attempted subversion of the 2020 presidential elections.

Trump’s lawyers are employing every legal trick in and out of the books to delay, delay, delay until after November when – if Trump wins – he can pardon himself.

The legal team is currently concentrating on arguing that the former president has absolute immunity for anything involving his election lie and the January 6 riots. The argument will almost certainly go all the way to the US Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Justices could hear arguments next, month or March, unless the conservative Trump-appointed Justices seek to delay. This is unlikely given the precarious reputation of the court at the moment.

If Trump’s immunity claims are heard by March then the Supreme Court should issue its ruling by late June or early July. This gives the DC court and Judge Tanya  Chutkan four months in which to schedule a trial date. Jack Smith reckons that the trial will last four to six weeks. It would be tight.  Trump’s lawyers will continue to delay, delay, delay. But Donald Trump could be found guilty (or not guilty) before the Americans troop to the polls in November.

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopedia of the War” and the recently published “America Made in Britain". He has a weekly podcast, Transatlantic Riff.

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4 Comments

  • Ukrainians will obviously be hoping Biden wins in November. Matthew Syed raises the point in today’s Sunday Times that Cameron has escaped a public reckoning over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 considering the guarantee given by the UK when Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons. What did the libdems do about this at the time? Genuine question as I don’t recall. Maybe you know Tom?

  • David Evans 28th Jan '24 - 8:15pm

    Also, speaking as someone who has Christian friends in all three countries, nowhere can be said to be safe from the evils of extremism.

  • Peter Hirst 5th Feb '24 - 3:47pm

    Outright war is unlikely. What is much likelier is an era of prolonged covert hostility without conflict. The big question is how China will respond to this. AI will alter the battle field enormously if it comes to that. Cyber security will be key.

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