Dear Friends, Human nature is strange. A new year begins. We wish each other a happy new year. Yet, we know full well that when 2022 ends, it will have the usual mix of achievements and disappointments. And possibly another year dragged down by COVID-19. 

Yet, this innate human desire for a better world has played a positive role, especially when we measure progress over the longer arc of human history. We have banished many barbaric human practices: slavery, serfdom, torture, child labour, oppression of women, to name a few. The record is not perfect. But the progress made in reducing human barbarism in our modern world is significant.  

Hence, it’s timely now to consider banishing another age-old barbaric practice: wars. Indeed, it’s shocking that, as we look ahead into 2022, the prospect of war is not zero, in places like Ukraine, Iran or Taiwan. We seem to accept wars as a natural element of the human condition. Frankly, we shouldn’t. We should just declare it as just another barbaric human practice that should be banned.  

It will not be easy. The war industry is better financed and endowed with far more resources than the peace industry (and some defence expenditures are legitimate). Yet we must not give up trying. This is why we have soldiered on with our Asian Peace Programme in 2021. It’s a pin-prick effort. But acupuncture is also a pin-prick effort. And it can make a significant difference.  

Hence, in the spirit of beginning each new year with hope, let me share with you three recent products of APP: first, a wonderful dialogue with three eminent souls in Singapore, Kanti Bajpai, Chan Heng Chee and Wang Gungwu (Youtube link); second, a podcast interview with the former Indonesian Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa (Spotify link to the podcast) and third,  an article by Professor Van Jackson advocating a wiser course for US policies in East Asia (link on Foreign Policy).

Many of you have been quietly supporting the modest efforts of APP, either by sharing its products or with financial support. We are truly grateful. And we hope you will continue to work with us as we try to eradicate another barbaric human practice: wars.  

With warm regards, 

11 January, 2022

* Reproduced with permission. Kishore Mahbubani is also the Chairman of Aggregate Asset Management.

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