Friendship in a time of evil

The shooting of this family in Ukraine is all over the front pages. Many Americans bemoan the humanitarian disaster. Russian restaurants are being boycotted in the US (many of the staff and owners are Ukrainian!).

Below is a photo of a starving Yemeni child:

A bit under 100,000 children have starved in Yemen in the last 4 years due to a civil war, fueled in part by tacit American backing of the Saudi regime, which has been exacerbating and intervening in the conflict.

Why do we pay attention in one case and not the other?

  1. Nuclear war risks
  2. The Russian invasion of Ukraine violates longheld post-World War 2 norms
  3. Ukraine is in Europe, and the West cares about the West (or the aspirant West)

This is all fine. I’m very scared of #1 and horrified by the existential risks and economic havoc that Putin’s choice to actually invade has wrought on the world. But I find the arguments of a sui generis or exceptional humanitarian situation in Ukraine implausible. People don’t want to admit that their feelings are shaped by cultural or racial affinity, or that it is pure self-interest in relation to nuclear war or maintenance of world order. So they make this the “next Holocaust.”

A lot of non-Europeans are skeptical of this posturing. At my other blog, I put up a post about why Bangladeshis have a soft spot for Russia, which might explain their reluctance to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. The same obviously applies to India to a great extent.

15 thoughts on “Friendship in a time of evil”

  1. “Because the US was a staunch ally of Pakistan, the official government’s position was to ignore evidence of massive human rights atrocities being reported by their own diplomats. The Bengali civilian death toll is usually given to be in the range of ~100,000 to 2 million. The latter figure actually comes from Pravda, and I think there is reason to be skeptical that 1 out of 33 Bengalis in East Pakistan were killed. But the ~100,000 figure is possibly too low. In any case, it wouldn’t be a trivial death toll even if it was around 100,000, and the need for widespread abortion clinics after the war attests to mass rapes (the rape had a eugenic intent, a Pakistani general asserted that they would “change the race of this bastard nation”).”

    The real Nazis of S Asia. West Pak really took the Steppe:AASI relations to their worst possible conclusion. And they still love to brag about the “superior Muslim
    /Punjabi race.” Imran Khan’s Nazi critiques ring hollow for a reason. Yes the BJP has some bad actors. But in the same way that Trump is not the second Hitler, Richard Spencer is the leader of a far right race obsessed faction of the GOP and the Haridwar incident is like that for BJP. It is an anomoly.

    The BJP Nazi crap is so overblown. Yes some of the early leaders had a weird Hitler fetish. But so many leaders of political movements, especially leftist ones, have fetishes for even worse killers. Heck, one could argue that the fetishes many S Asian Muslim carry for genocidal conquerors, some of whom can be directly quoted looking down on S Asians racially, is equally insane.

    People are tribal and brutal throughout history. Both sides were in partition. But only one took things to a similar magnitude post partition. And still remains the worst place for minority rights in the subcontinent.

    India has its share of minority rights issues. But it pales in comparison to the level of horror Pak has inflicted. And all this is separate from the number one export commodity, religious terrorism…

  2. This war is much more intrusive to the European and American psyche because they are basically in a position of helplessness. That’s a raw primal feeling.

    Societies create complex countertransference mechanisms to assuage this helplessness. One is to delegate retribution to an individual level – withdrawing from markets, boycotting citizens etc. The West hits out at Bangladeshis because they can. Impotence manifests itself in aggression.

    The West has fallen too much in love with materialism – the visions of post-nuclear devastation without creature comforts is too much to bear.

    Not a single NATO country has mobilized – shiny advanced weapons suffering erectile dysfunction.

    Barely 60 years ago, the West successfully called the Soviet nuclear bluff in the Cuban Missile crisis. Such men have vanished in the West.

    There are only Vaishyas left now in Western societies , no more Kshatriyas or Brahmins. Russia has won the battle of the mind before the battle on the field.

    1. Lmfao even you espouse the bania hate. Among the most scapegoated people of S Asia. Truly jews of S Asia

      1. In recent times, i see a lot of woke baniya girls passing out of JNU and Ashoka University as well. So there is that.

      2. Why is it surprising that money lenders are hated in most human societies? A warrior can protect you, a scholar can teach you but a money lender will almost always loot you.

        1. It is obvious that Ugra didn’t mean that.


          But do continue thinking like this.
          Never change.


  3. A warrior can protect you, a scholar can teach you but a money lender will almost always loot you.

    warriors loot.

    anyway, the idea in modern societies is that finance is productive and invests.

    1. When warriors are your side, they loot for you, which is why a society would actually prefer warriors. Money lenders are mostly only self serving. Don’t mistake traders, business investors and entrepreneurs for money lenders, money lending even today is quite scummy whether those are banks that create money out of nothing, or private lenders that provide shark loans. No doubt they have a useful and essential role in modern society, but it’s not hard to see why they are disliked.

      1. The money lending dominated castes have always done all three. People envy wealth. They don’t hate Adani and Ambani for being money lenders. They also envy power but know the reaction will be violent from the warriors. And no one wants to be labeled as a heretic in traditional societies so the priests are covered by that. High status and high resource people are always envied. The ones who happen to be ridiculed either lack street power (like warriors have) or cultural capital (like priests have).

        Khatris have escaped this via warrior narrative. This is backed up by all Gurus being Khatris. There is also a racial component. Banias are the most AASI of the upper castes. They hatred of the “rich darkie” is part of it. And Khatris escape on that front too.

        1. No you are looking at it from a race/ethnic perspective again. Humans are tribal, and the warriors part of your tribe are there to protect you or loot for you. This is why people love authoritarian figures that speak their language, because they are seen powerful warrior figures that advocate for you, are going to protect you, are going to advance the cause of your tribe or nation from which you can derive benefit.

          Money lenders/traders do not capture that imagination. Traders at least were seen as tolerable because they benefited you and your tribe by trading and bringing in exotic goods and spices, or buying up what you wanted to sell in a mutually agreeable manner. Money lenders (the ones that lent gold, and charged usury) were usually operating behind the scene, they put self interest over your tribe, and were almost always as extracting from your savings if you borrowed from them (usually only in times of severe need). The practice of charging usury on commodity money was also seen as quite repugnant because its a rigged system by design that almost always benefits the money lender.

          This has nothing to do with race and the dislike for money lenders was the same in every society whether it’s Europe, Asia, India or China. Anyway, this is besides the topic. Don’t want to divert.

          1. @warlock,
            Both things can be true.
            1. The nw biradari castes have a superiority complex based on their higher steppe ancestry versus AASI high but rich Banias.
            2. Bania trading networks include(d) money lending at usurious rates + surplus transfer away from local economy. This attracts contempt from other peasant castes throughout India. The difference is that this contempt goes away when the exploitative element goes away.

    2. I think he has an idyllic view of noble Muhajadeen. The holy warrior is idolized, even cheered on when pillaging, raping, destroying, and enslaving. It appeals to the reptilian part of the brain quite well.

  4. Why do we pay attention in one case and not the other?

    Of the 3 suggested options, 1 isn’t really a significant driver since Ukraine is not a Nuclear state and Russia is a rational Nuclear State which the US has had decades of relationship on this domain. It’s only a risk if US/France/UK escalates on this aspect.

    2nd is also not convincing since Yugoslavia was carved up just in our lifetime not that far back (India and China still don’t recognize Kosovo). Non-UN sanctioned Wars like Iraq also happened.

    3rd option is closest, combined with possibly a variation of 2nd, whereby a loss of agency in being on the side which does the Attacking/Carving up of States if it ever were to happen. When someone else does it, this is the counter reaction, a How Dare You.

  5. I am a non European, I am sure if I went to the wrong part of the city in Kyiv, I may be beat up by neo-nazis. But having said that I am 1000% with the Ukrainians. As a national minority, I know how hard it was for the Ukrainians to establish their country and my sympathies are with them as they are a beacon for all of us national minorities.

    So not all brown people driven by racial considerations or second guess as to why Europeans and white Americans are feeling empathy for white Ukrainians, but infact I find it nauseating when some people of certain faith mention, what about Palestine, what about Somalia and what about Yemen. What about it ? So do something about it. It’s the bloody Saudis who are killing their fellow Arabs because they happen be the wrong kind of Muslims.

    One of my my closest friends, a Palestinian was wondering aloud when Jihadists killed Christians in terrorist church bombings in Sri Lanka, as to why the world was so shocked by it but not by the death of Palestinians. So even in the death of non Europeans, she couldn’t empathize without a bout of whataboutism.

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