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How many people would die in a war between the US and Russia?
Andre Damon
 
THE AMERICAN ruling class is locked in a ferocious internal conflict centered on issues of foreign policy and war. The Democratic Party, along with a section of Republicans and most of the media, is conducting a hysterical campaign against Donald Trump for his supposed conciliatory attitude towards Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. These forces are fronting for the intelligence establishment, which is determined to prevent any retreat from the policy of aggressive confrontation with Moscow carried out by the Obama administration.
Trump, for his part, speaks for elements in the ruling elite and the state who view Iran and China to be the more immediate targets for US provocation and preparations for war, and would like to tamp down the conflict with Russia for now so as to peel it away from Tehran and Beijing.
There is not an ounce of democratic content on either side of this struggle between reactionary and war-mongering factions of US imperialism. The Democrats, however, are seeking to use unsubstantiated allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election to hijack popular opposition to the Trump administration and corral it behind the drive to war with Russia.
For months, the front pages of leading newspapers have featured “news” stories, based on the alleged statements of unnamed officials, about supposed meddling by Russia in the political affairs of the US and other countries. Nationally syndicated columnists have denounced Putin as a dictator, tyrant and murderer bent on dominating Europe and subverting American democracy.
 
Russia’s intervention an “act of war”
Members of congress have declared Russia’s alleged intervention in the US election an “act of war” (in the words of John McCain, the senior United States Senator from Arizona) and vowed to “kick Russia’s ass”.
This campaign takes place in the context of a major buildup of US and NATO military forces—troops, tanks, heavy weapons—on Russia’s western border, and an imminent military escalation in Syria, where US-backed “rebel” militias are fighting Syrian government forces supported by Iranian troops and Russian war planes and military advisors.
Whether in the Baltics or the Middle East, conditions are present for a clash between US and Russian forces, even if unintentional, to spark a full-scale war between the world’s two biggest nuclear-armed powers.
 
Result of war between the US and Russia
Yet neither the media nor the politicians agitating for a more aggressive posture towards Moscow discuss where their policy is leading, much less the likely consequences of a war between the US and Russia.
How many people would die in such a war? What are the odds that it would involve the use of nuclear weapons? On these life-and-death questions, the commentators and politicians, who drone on endlessly about Trump’s supposed softness toward Putin, are silent.
Behind the scenes, however, the intelligence agencies and Pentagon, along with their allied geo-strategic think tanks, are engaged in intense discussions and detailed planning premised on the possibility, indeed inevitability, of a major war with Russia. Plans are being laid and preparations made to wage and “win” such a war, including through the use of nuclear weapons.
One does not have to look far to find the people who are heading up the war planning. On 20 February 2017, President Trump appointed Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, an army strategist, as his new national security advisor.
 
McMaster’s call for high-intensity war 
The selection of McMaster is broadly seen as a concession to Trump’s anti-Russia critics in the political and intelligence establishment. He is the leading figure in an Army project called the Russia New Generation Warfare study, whose participants have made repeated trips to the battlefields of eastern Ukraine to study Russia’s military capabilities and devise strategies and weapons systems to defeat them. McMaster has called on the US to prepare for high-intensity conventional war with Russia, involving not only long-range missile systems and stealth aircraft, but also “close” combat.
Beyond conventional warfare, US think tank strategists are discussing what it would take to “win” a nuclear war. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) recently put out a 140- page report, “Preserving the Balance: A US Eurasia Defence Strategy,” which discusses this issue in detail. The CSBA is headed by Andrew Krepinevich, the report’s author, and includes on its Board of Directors figures such as former Under Secretary of the Army Nelson Ford, former CIA Director James Woolsey and retired general Jack Keane.
“There is a need to rethink the problem of limited nuclear war in which the United States is a direct participant, or between other parties where the United States has a major security interest,” Krepinevich writes. “As opposed to the global apocalypse envisioned in the wake of a superpower nuclear exchange during the Cold War, there will very likely be a functioning world after a war between minor nuclear powers, or even between the United States and a nuclear-armed Iran or North Korea. US forces must, therefore, be prepared to respond to a range of strategic warfare contingencies along the Eurasian periphery.”
In an earlier report entitled “Rethinking Armageddon,” Krepinevich argued that the use of a “small number” of battlefield nuclear weapons should be included among the appropriate responses by a US president to conventional threats from Russia.
 
Destruction of the planet
During the Cold War, the “limited” use of nuclear weapons was seen as an invitation for a full-scale nuclear exchange and the destruction of the planet. Now such discussions are considered “respectable” and prudent.
These plans are being realized in the US military arsenal. The US is currently in the midst of a $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization programme commissioned under Obama. The program centers on the procurement of lower-yield, maneuverable nuclear weapons that are more likely to be used in combat. However, the Defense Science Board, a committee appointed to advise the Pentagon, recently called on the Trump administration to do more to develop weapons suitable for a “tailored nuclear option for limited use.”
What would be the human toll from such an exchange? Numerous Pentagon war games conducted during the Cold War concluded that the “limited” use of nuclear weapons would not only cause millions of civilian casualties, but quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear exchange that would destroy major cities.
A 1955  war game titled Carte Blanche, which was responding to a Russian invasion of German territory with the use of a “small” number of battlefield nuclear weapons, resulted in the immediate deaths of 1.7 million Germans, the wounding of 3.5 million more, and millions more dead as a result of fallout radiation.
In one 1983 war game code-named Proud Prophet, NATO initiated a limited nuclear first strike on Soviet military targets. But rather than backing down, the USSR initiated a full-scale nuclear retaliation, prompting the US to reply in kind. When the proverbial dust had settled, half a billion people were dead and European civilization destroyed.
 
IPPNW: A billion people may die
More contemporary studies have shown similarly disastrous outcomes. A 2007 report by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) suggested that a “limited” nuclear exchange could lead to the deaths of over a billion people, mostly as a result of widespread climate disruption. The US National Academy of Sciences concluded that a “large-scale nuclear war” would lead directly to the deaths of up to four billion people.
The eruption of such a war at the hands of the nuclear arsonists who preside over crisis-ridden American capitalism is a real and present danger. In fact, as the McCarthyite-style anti-Russia agitation indicates, absent the independent and revolutionary intervention of the working class in the US and around the world, it is an inevitability.
Such is the criminality and recklessness of the American ruling elite and its political representatives on both sides of the aisle. Escalating war is a conspiracy of the elites, into which the masses of people are to be dragged and sacrificed.
Anyone who doubts that the American ruling class is capable of such acts should look to the historical record. The United States dropped nuclear bombs, which today would be considered “low-yield” and even “tactical,” on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just to warn off the Soviet Union. Truman and company killed over 100,000 people on the day the bombs were dropped, and another 100,000 died from radioactive poisoning over the ensuing four months.
Today, when the United States faces economic and geopolitical challenges far greater than those of an earlier period, it will operate all the more ruthlessly and recklessly.
The growing movement in opposition to the Trump administration must be inured against any and all efforts of the Democratic Party to infect it with the virus of imperialist war-mongering. The ongoing protests against Trump’s billionaire cabinet and his attacks on immigrants and democratic rights are only the heralds of a movement of the working class. It is necessary to politically arm this emerging movement with the program of socialist internationalism and the understanding that the fight against war and dictatorship is the fight against capitalism.
—WSWS

Comment

Andre Damon
 
THE AMERICAN ruling class is locked in a ferocious internal conflict centered on issues of foreign policy and war. The Democratic Party, along with a section of Republicans and most of the media, is conducting a hysterical campaign against Donald Trump for his supposed conciliatory attitude towards Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. These forces are fronting for the intelligence establishment, which is determined to prevent any retreat from the policy of aggressive confrontation with Moscow carried out by the Obama administration.
Trump, for his part, speaks for elements in the ruling elite and the state who view Iran and China to be the more immediate targets for US provocation and preparations for war, and would like to tamp down the conflict with Russia for now so as to peel it away from Tehran and Beijing.
There is not an ounce of democratic content on either side of this struggle between reactionary and war-mongering factions of US imperialism. The Democrats, however, are seeking to use unsubstantiated allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election to hijack popular opposition to the Trump administration and corral it behind the drive to war with Russia.
For months, the front pages of leading newspapers have featured “news” stories, based on the alleged statements of unnamed officials, about supposed meddling by Russia in the political affairs of the US and other countries. Nationally syndicated columnists have denounced Putin as a dictator, tyrant and murderer bent on dominating Europe and subverting American democracy.
 
Russia’s intervention an “act of war”
Members of congress have declared Russia’s alleged intervention in the US election an “act of war” (in the words of John McCain, the senior United States Senator from Arizona) and vowed to “kick Russia’s ass”.
This campaign takes place in the context of a major buildup of US and NATO military forces—troops, tanks, heavy weapons—on Russia’s western border, and an imminent military escalation in Syria, where US-backed “rebel” militias are fighting Syrian government forces supported by Iranian troops and Russian war planes and military advisors.
Whether in the Baltics or the Middle East, conditions are present for a clash between US and Russian forces, even if unintentional, to spark a full-scale war between the world’s two biggest nuclear-armed powers.
 
Result of war between the US and Russia
Yet neither the media nor the politicians agitating for a more aggressive posture towards Moscow discuss where their policy is leading, much less the likely consequences of a war between the US and Russia.
How many people would die in such a war? What are the odds that it would involve the use of nuclear weapons? On these life-and-death questions, the commentators and politicians, who drone on endlessly about Trump’s supposed softness toward Putin, are silent.
Behind the scenes, however, the intelligence agencies and Pentagon, along with their allied geo-strategic think tanks, are engaged in intense discussions and detailed planning premised on the possibility, indeed inevitability, of a major war with Russia. Plans are being laid and preparations made to wage and “win” such a war, including through the use of nuclear weapons.
One does not have to look far to find the people who are heading up the war planning. On 20 February 2017, President Trump appointed Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, an army strategist, as his new national security advisor.
 
McMaster’s call for high-intensity war 
The selection of McMaster is broadly seen as a concession to Trump’s anti-Russia critics in the political and intelligence establishment. He is the leading figure in an Army project called the Russia New Generation Warfare study, whose participants have made repeated trips to the battlefields of eastern Ukraine to study Russia’s military capabilities and devise strategies and weapons systems to defeat them. McMaster has called on the US to prepare for high-intensity conventional war with Russia, involving not only long-range missile systems and stealth aircraft, but also “close” combat.
Beyond conventional warfare, US think tank strategists are discussing what it would take to “win” a nuclear war. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) recently put out a 140- page report, “Preserving the Balance: A US Eurasia Defence Strategy,” which discusses this issue in detail. The CSBA is headed by Andrew Krepinevich, the report’s author, and includes on its Board of Directors figures such as former Under Secretary of the Army Nelson Ford, former CIA Director James Woolsey and retired general Jack Keane.
“There is a need to rethink the problem of limited nuclear war in which the United States is a direct participant, or between other parties where the United States has a major security interest,” Krepinevich writes. “As opposed to the global apocalypse envisioned in the wake of a superpower nuclear exchange during the Cold War, there will very likely be a functioning world after a war between minor nuclear powers, or even between the United States and a nuclear-armed Iran or North Korea. US forces must, therefore, be prepared to respond to a range of strategic warfare contingencies along the Eurasian periphery.”
In an earlier report entitled “Rethinking Armageddon,” Krepinevich argued that the use of a “small number” of battlefield nuclear weapons should be included among the appropriate responses by a US president to conventional threats from Russia.
 
Destruction of the planet
During the Cold War, the “limited” use of nuclear weapons was seen as an invitation for a full-scale nuclear exchange and the destruction of the planet. Now such discussions are considered “respectable” and prudent.
These plans are being realized in the US military arsenal. The US is currently in the midst of a $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization programme commissioned under Obama. The program centers on the procurement of lower-yield, maneuverable nuclear weapons that are more likely to be used in combat. However, the Defense Science Board, a committee appointed to advise the Pentagon, recently called on the Trump administration to do more to develop weapons suitable for a “tailored nuclear option for limited use.”
What would be the human toll from such an exchange? Numerous Pentagon war games conducted during the Cold War concluded that the “limited” use of nuclear weapons would not only cause millions of civilian casualties, but quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear exchange that would destroy major cities.
A 1955  war game titled Carte Blanche, which was responding to a Russian invasion of German territory with the use of a “small” number of battlefield nuclear weapons, resulted in the immediate deaths of 1.7 million Germans, the wounding of 3.5 million more, and millions more dead as a result of fallout radiation.
In one 1983 war game code-named Proud Prophet, NATO initiated a limited nuclear first strike on Soviet military targets. But rather than backing down, the USSR initiated a full-scale nuclear retaliation, prompting the US to reply in kind. When the proverbial dust had settled, half a billion people were dead and European civilization destroyed.
 
IPPNW: A billion people may die
More contemporary studies have shown similarly disastrous outcomes. A 2007 report by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) suggested that a “limited” nuclear exchange could lead to the deaths of over a billion people, mostly as a result of widespread climate disruption. The US National Academy of Sciences concluded that a “large-scale nuclear war” would lead directly to the deaths of up to four billion people.
The eruption of such a war at the hands of the nuclear arsonists who preside over crisis-ridden American capitalism is a real and present danger. In fact, as the McCarthyite-style anti-Russia agitation indicates, absent the independent and revolutionary intervention of the working class in the US and around the world, it is an inevitability.
Such is the criminality and recklessness of the American ruling elite and its political representatives on both sides of the aisle. Escalating war is a conspiracy of the elites, into which the masses of people are to be dragged and sacrificed.
Anyone who doubts that the American ruling class is capable of such acts should look to the historical record. The United States dropped nuclear bombs, which today would be considered “low-yield” and even “tactical,” on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just to warn off the Soviet Union. Truman and company killed over 100,000 people on the day the bombs were dropped, and another 100,000 died from radioactive poisoning over the ensuing four months.
Today, when the United States faces economic and geopolitical challenges far greater than those of an earlier period, it will operate all the more ruthlessly and recklessly.
The growing movement in opposition to the Trump administration must be inured against any and all efforts of the Democratic Party to infect it with the virus of imperialist war-mongering. The ongoing protests against Trump’s billionaire cabinet and his attacks on immigrants and democratic rights are only the heralds of a movement of the working class. It is necessary to politically arm this emerging movement with the program of socialist internationalism and the understanding that the fight against war and dictatorship is the fight against capitalism.
—WSWS

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Renewed pledge needed to overcome crisis
Jehan Perera in Colombo
 
THE VICTORY of President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential elections of January 2015 was due to two main reasons.  Most of those who switched their allegiance away from the former government did so on account of their rampant corruption and their getting away with whatever wrong they did.   The ability of the former government leaders to champion the cause of Sinhalese nationalism was also high and remains so.  It brought them electoral victory after victory.  But at the presidential election, the issue of corruption trumped that of nationalism for a sufficient number of voters to give President Sirisena a narrow victory.  Accompanying corruption was impunity, the fearlessness to break the law knowing no consequence would follow.  The abduction, torture and near death of senior journalist Keith Noyahr in 2010, which has led to recent arrests, was symptomatic of the impunity that once prevailed.
In the Tamil and Muslim-majority parts of the country, however, it was not corruption that was the main factor determining the popular vote.  Rather it was impunity and sense of fear of state and non-state actors who might act lawlessly but against whom there could be no redress.  This type of impunity no longer exists so that people of all walks of life, and all communities, feel safer and freer to express their views than they have in a long while.  This gives both civil society and media groups the space to report on any abuse, which is the best safeguard against the past impunity and fear from returning to recapture the present.  However, the people in general and the Tamil people in particular want something more. They want accountability for criminal acts during times of war and outside the theatre of war and for economic crimes.
 
New elements
Unfortunately, today there is a sense of disillusionment with the government.  Its progress in delivering on the promises to be found in its election manifesto is much too slow.  The exception is giving the people freedom from fear and the space to protest.  However, the battle against corruption appears to be lost.  Little or nothing is heard anymore about the work of the Bribery and Corruption Commission which under its former head, Dilrukshi Wickremasinghe, actively engaged with civil society and took on high publicity cases to investigate and to prosecute.  She was willing to take risks and court danger.  But she did not receive the bipartisan support from both parties in government that she needed to tackle those guilty of corruption on both sides.  It was unfortunate that the appearance of partisanship was used to make her resign.  
The battle for transitional justice with regard to the ethnic conflict is also going very slow.  In October 2015, the government promised to the international community and to the Tamil people that it would set up four mechanisms to deal with issues of truth, missing persons, accountability and reparations.  But so far it is only legislation with regard to missing persons that has been passed into law, but even here the Office of Missing Persons has yet to be established.  After being in abeyance for nearly six months since the law was passed, it is now in the process of being amended.  There are efforts to reduce the scope of the legislation due to pressures from the defence authorities who fear that this mechanism will be used to gather information that will one day be used against them in a court of law.
The problem with regard to the country taking a new direction is akin to putting old wine into new bottles. Little or nothing is changing.  Those who held positions of responsibility in the past, when corruption and impunity prevailed, continue to hold high office in the present.  This is true of the two main constituent parties of the government and also of the security forces. The vested interests that prefer the status quo are extremely powerful.  The only thing new in the government is the bipartisan agreement that the UNP and SLFP have entered into which includes the formation of the National Unity Government.  It is this new element that needs to be utilized in the national interest.  It was this hitherto unprecedented coming together of the UNP and SLFP under the leaderships of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena that promised the dawn of a new era.
 
Sharp deterioration
However, at the present time there are indications of a sharp deterioration in relations within the National Unity Government.  The SLFP spokespersons in the government are openly expressing their unhappiness about the current arrangements and talking about reunifying with the dissident group headed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.  The SLFP Media Spokesperson has reportedly said that the two factions of the SLFP in the government and the Joint Opposition headed by the former president would definitely get together at the forthcoming local government elections.  He has also said that the two factions contested the last general election together even though the issues that divided them were much more than at present.  He assured that an SLFP government would be established in 2020 and the first step for it was to win the forthcoming local government election.
Members of the SLFP have also made a new argument.  They are claiming that the term of office of President Maithripala Sirisena is six years and not five years as mentioned in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.  Minister Faiszer Musthapha and State Minister Dilan Perera addressing a press conference at the SLFP headquarters said the term of office of President Sirisena was not curtailed by the 19th Amendment.  €œPresident Sirisena was elected before the 19th Amendment was passed. Therefore he is entitled to a term of six years€? Minister Musthapha said.  On these grounds, he said the next General Election would be held before the Presidential Election. The term of Parliament ends in 2020 and a General Election will have to be held first.  If the usual political trajectory is followed it is very likely that the UNP and SLFP will go their own ways before too long.  The members of both parties would wish to enjoy 100 percent of power and not share power.   Each side would believe that it will be better off on its own without the support of the other.  
President Sirisena becoming the joint opposition candidate and receiving the support of the UNP has led to the present and unique situation of a government of national unity.  The bipartisan government depends for its continuation on the commitment of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and their continuation in the positions of power they now hold.  When the country continues to be mired in corruption and potential ethnic conflict, it is better to have two parties at the helm than one, for one can check the other for the good of both. This is what is currently happening, but without the two of them working as closely together as they ought to.  With former President Rajapaksa and his nationalist allies of the Joint Opposition waiting in the wings, it is only a renewed partnership between the two of them that can lead to solutions to the problems of corruption and impunity and to the resolution of the ethnic conflict.

Comment

Jehan Perera in Colombo
 
THE VICTORY of President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential elections of January 2015 was due to two main reasons.  Most of those who switched their allegiance away from the former government did so on account of their rampant corruption and their getting away with whatever wrong they did.   The ability of the former government leaders to champion the cause of Sinhalese nationalism was also high and remains so.  It brought them electoral victory after victory.  But at the presidential election, the issue of corruption trumped that of nationalism for a sufficient number of voters to give President Sirisena a narrow victory.  Accompanying corruption was impunity, the fearlessness to break the law knowing no consequence would follow.  The abduction, torture and near death of senior journalist Keith Noyahr in 2010, which has led to recent arrests, was symptomatic of the impunity that once prevailed.
In the Tamil and Muslim-majority parts of the country, however, it was not corruption that was the main factor determining the popular vote.  Rather it was impunity and sense of fear of state and non-state actors who might act lawlessly but against whom there could be no redress.  This type of impunity no longer exists so that people of all walks of life, and all communities, feel safer and freer to express their views than they have in a long while.  This gives both civil society and media groups the space to report on any abuse, which is the best safeguard against the past impunity and fear from returning to recapture the present.  However, the people in general and the Tamil people in particular want something more. They want accountability for criminal acts during times of war and outside the theatre of war and for economic crimes.
 
New elements
Unfortunately, today there is a sense of disillusionment with the government.  Its progress in delivering on the promises to be found in its election manifesto is much too slow.  The exception is giving the people freedom from fear and the space to protest.  However, the battle against corruption appears to be lost.  Little or nothing is heard anymore about the work of the Bribery and Corruption Commission which under its former head, Dilrukshi Wickremasinghe, actively engaged with civil society and took on high publicity cases to investigate and to prosecute.  She was willing to take risks and court danger.  But she did not receive the bipartisan support from both parties in government that she needed to tackle those guilty of corruption on both sides.  It was unfortunate that the appearance of partisanship was used to make her resign.  
The battle for transitional justice with regard to the ethnic conflict is also going very slow.  In October 2015, the government promised to the international community and to the Tamil people that it would set up four mechanisms to deal with issues of truth, missing persons, accountability and reparations.  But so far it is only legislation with regard to missing persons that has been passed into law, but even here the Office of Missing Persons has yet to be established.  After being in abeyance for nearly six months since the law was passed, it is now in the process of being amended.  There are efforts to reduce the scope of the legislation due to pressures from the defence authorities who fear that this mechanism will be used to gather information that will one day be used against them in a court of law.
The problem with regard to the country taking a new direction is akin to putting old wine into new bottles. Little or nothing is changing.  Those who held positions of responsibility in the past, when corruption and impunity prevailed, continue to hold high office in the present.  This is true of the two main constituent parties of the government and also of the security forces. The vested interests that prefer the status quo are extremely powerful.  The only thing new in the government is the bipartisan agreement that the UNP and SLFP have entered into which includes the formation of the National Unity Government.  It is this new element that needs to be utilized in the national interest.  It was this hitherto unprecedented coming together of the UNP and SLFP under the leaderships of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena that promised the dawn of a new era.
 
Sharp deterioration
However, at the present time there are indications of a sharp deterioration in relations within the National Unity Government.  The SLFP spokespersons in the government are openly expressing their unhappiness about the current arrangements and talking about reunifying with the dissident group headed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.  The SLFP Media Spokesperson has reportedly said that the two factions of the SLFP in the government and the Joint Opposition headed by the former president would definitely get together at the forthcoming local government elections.  He has also said that the two factions contested the last general election together even though the issues that divided them were much more than at present.  He assured that an SLFP government would be established in 2020 and the first step for it was to win the forthcoming local government election.
Members of the SLFP have also made a new argument.  They are claiming that the term of office of President Maithripala Sirisena is six years and not five years as mentioned in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.  Minister Faiszer Musthapha and State Minister Dilan Perera addressing a press conference at the SLFP headquarters said the term of office of President Sirisena was not curtailed by the 19th Amendment.  €œPresident Sirisena was elected before the 19th Amendment was passed. Therefore he is entitled to a term of six years€? Minister Musthapha said.  On these grounds, he said the next General Election would be held before the Presidential Election. The term of Parliament ends in 2020 and a General Election will have to be held first.  If the usual political trajectory is followed it is very likely that the UNP and SLFP will go their own ways before too long.  The members of both parties would wish to enjoy 100 percent of power and not share power.   Each side would believe that it will be better off on its own without the support of the other.  
President Sirisena becoming the joint opposition candidate and receiving the support of the UNP has led to the present and unique situation of a government of national unity.  The bipartisan government depends for its continuation on the commitment of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and their continuation in the positions of power they now hold.  When the country continues to be mired in corruption and potential ethnic conflict, it is better to have two parties at the helm than one, for one can check the other for the good of both. This is what is currently happening, but without the two of them working as closely together as they ought to.  With former President Rajapaksa and his nationalist allies of the Joint Opposition waiting in the wings, it is only a renewed partnership between the two of them that can lead to solutions to the problems of corruption and impunity and to the resolution of the ethnic conflict.

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