Democracy doesn’t have to be Western-style, nor the development template

by Rashmee

Posted on September 19, 2020


Veteran foreign policywallah Kishore Mahbubani once wrote a piece for The New York Times titled ‘How Strongmen Co-opted Democracy’. He should know. Mr Mahbubani was, from 2004 to 2017, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (National University of Singapore). His country knows all about strongmen. That’s not to be snarky, just … Continue reading “Democracy doesn’t have to be Western-style, nor the development template”

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The great drama in Belarus is matched by the great indifference of Trump’s America

by Rashmee

Posted on August 11, 2020


  The great drama around elections in Belarus is matched only by the great indifference of the United States. Consider what’s happening. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the principal opposition candidate, has fled to Lithuania, along with her campaign manager Maria Moroz, who had been in detention for days. The head of Belarus’s secret police, which is still … Continue reading “The great drama in Belarus is matched by the great indifference of Trump’s America”

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Trump and Putin are caricatures from 19th century Russian literature

by Rashmee

Posted on July 27, 2020


  Nina L. Khrushcheva says Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are literary caricatures and just as absurd as a multitude of characters famous from American and Russian political satire. She should know. Not only is Ms Khrushcheva a PhD in Comparative Literature, she is the granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Anyway, she offers a … Continue reading “Trump and Putin are caricatures from 19th century Russian literature”

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This isn’t Trumpgate: here’s why

by Rashmee

Posted on July 1, 2020 / The Focus


Legendary Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein has a scoop of sorts. Using authoritative accounts of the contents of hundreds of Donald Trump’s highly classified phone calls with various world leaders he has shown that the US president routinely bowed before authoritarian “strong men”, berated the women and bad-mouthed his predecessors in the White House. This is … Continue reading “This isn’t Trumpgate: here’s why”

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Keeping up appearances: Putin leads Russia to tactical wins

by Rashmee

Posted on June 29, 2020 / The Focus


Russia’s week-long vote on constitutional changes is expected to end in a predictable manner on 1 July: with the people gladly permitting president Vladimir Putin to stay on in office until 2036, if he so chooses. Equally predictably, Putin’s opponents will continue to say the 67-year-old president has pulled off a constitutional coup. Putin has … Continue reading “Keeping up appearances: Putin leads Russia to tactical wins”

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Plato used the image of the political leader as a doctor. That is particularly true in a pandemic

by Rashmee

Posted on March 31, 2020


Taiwan’s remarkably effective response to the coronavirus pandemic is thought to be in some measure because it’s lucky enough to have an epidemiologist as vice president. (Click here for my blog from last week.) Technically speaking, the European Union should have the same advantage. After all, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, is a … Continue reading “Plato used the image of the political leader as a doctor. That is particularly true in a pandemic”

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Leaders for life are as creative as novelists. They engage in world-building

by Rashmee

Posted on January 17, 2020


On Wednesday (Jan. 15) Russia’s president Vladimir Putin offered an apparently new tactic of democratic deconstruction or what scholars call constitutional regression. He raised the profile of a previously little-known body, the State Council, and suggested Russian presidents shouldn’t have as much authority as once they did. This raises the possibility that Mr Putin will … Continue reading “Leaders for life are as creative as novelists. They engage in world-building”

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Russia has fair-weather friends and allies in the Middle East

by Rashmee

Posted on November 30, 2019


Former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami recently attempted to set everyone right on a crucial question: Is Russia the Middle East’s new hegemon? His answer was somewhat surprising. Russia is not the region’s new hegemon, he concluded. Never forget that its economy is the size of South Korea’s and its military capabilities significantly less that … Continue reading “Russia has fair-weather friends and allies in the Middle East”

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Does migration herald the demise of the liberal idea?

by Rashmee

Posted on July 7, 2019 / The Arab Weekly


Everywhere, the inoffensive liberal message is portrayed as a mortal threat to the greater common good. A German ship’s female captain was briefly detained in Italy for docking in an Italian port with a boat carrying migrants rescued off Zawiya, Libya. Was the captain a dangerous liberal? Was she pursuing an obsolete ideology that places … Continue reading “Does migration herald the demise of the liberal idea?”

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Donald Trump Vs the whole, wide world

by Rashmee

Posted on May 15, 2019


US President Donald Trump is waging war of one sort or the other against: China, Iran, Venezuela and Europe. And he’s looking for cooperation from an unlikely quarter – Russia. Mr Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, recently travelled there in search of “common ground.” That sounds hopeful until one considers the reality: Washington and … Continue reading “Donald Trump Vs the whole, wide world”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK