Without any warning, Philippine President Duterte has turned the security architecture of Southeast Asia on its head. It’s a severe blow to the US, and an extremely risky move for Manila, writes DW’s Thomas Latschan.
He actually did it. Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ unpredictable president, has declared his “separation” from his country’s longstanding ally and defense partner, the United States, during a state visit to China.
This can only be characterized as an unprecedented diplomatic affront, in that the Philippine president goes to China and while attending an economic forum there, he announces that Manila’s decade-long alliance with Washington is over.
“Your stay in my country was for your own benefit. So time to say goodbye, my friend,” he said, as if addressing the US. He also repeated his denunciation of Obama as a “son of a whore.” The remarks were packaged by Duterte as a gift to his new friends in Beijing, and what an astonishing turnaround in ties they represent!
Over the last 30 years, the Philippines has been one of the most important US allies in Asia. The bilateral relationship has served well not only American interests, but also those of the Southeast Asian nation. For instance, strong defense ties with the US have freed the Philippines of the need to build a powerful military of its own for the defense of the country. This has allowed Manila’s armed forces to focus primarily on fighting threats posed by internal actors such as rebel groups active in the country’s south.
DW’s Thomas Latschan
It seems doubtful that the ramshackle Philippine navy would have been able to defend the country from external threats all by itself.
But now the whole US strategy in the Asia Pacific, aimed at countering China’s growing power and influence in the region, is under threat of an imminent collapse. Duterte’s moves come at an inopportune time for Washington, where a “lame duck” President Barack Obama is spending his last days in office. Even after the presidential election in November, the US will need some time to reposition its strategy toward China and Southeast Asia.
Beijing, on the other hand, is likely to triumph. It’s such a rapid, sharp turn in fortunes. Just a few months ago, China and the Philippines were engaged in a bitter battle over their competing claims over islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Beijing even lost a lawsuit filed by Manila at an international tribunal in The Hague. China has never recognized the legitimacy of the court to tackle the case.
But now China has almost bought what it always wanted: bilateral talks instead of multilateral arrangements. Duterte granted this victory to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, in exchange for billions in economic aid, trade deals and infrastructure projects.
Duterte has touted his “independent” foreign policy as a great success, while ignoring the tremendous risks his strategy entails. He might be able to generate some short-term gains for his country, particularly in the economic arena, with the help of the money he might receive from China in return for his tilt away from the US.
But even within the Philippines, many analysts warn that Duterte’s policy shift is unlikely to translate into a “more independent” Philippines, but rather it would merely transform the country from being reliant on the US to one dependent on China. Nevertheless, Duterte doesn’t have any regard for such concerns. Instead, he places all his eggs in one basket when it comes to Philippine foreign policy.
It’s, however, a complete misreading on Duterte’s part if he believes his giant neighbor across the sea China perceives the Philippines as a partner on an equal footing. In Beijing, Duterte pushed at an open door, while violently slamming the back door to the US.
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Will Duterte’s China gamble pay off?
Since he became Philippine president, Duterte has adopted a conciliatory tone towards China and attempted to recalibrate Manila’s strained ties with the Asian giant. He is now in Beijing to give a fillip to his efforts. (18.10.2016)
China and Philippines agree to put territorial disputes aside
Chinese President Xi Jinping has praised his Philippines counterpart’s “milestone” visit to Beijing, as the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic and defence talks. This follows an escalation in the South China Sea. (20.10.2016)
Is Duterte presidency affecting the Philippine economy?
Financial experts remain optimistic about the Philippine economy, but investors are jittery and confused about President Rodrigo Duterte’s political agenda. Ana P. Santos reports from Manila. (10.10.2016)
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Metuh says he would not have responded to the allegations leveled against him – Describes allegations against him as sheer wickedness – Appeals to President Buhari to ensure the truth is unraveled
Chief Olisa Metuh, the former national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has addressed allegations that he is the sponsor of the Niger Delta Avengers. The ex-PDP strongman whose health is not steady at the moment is also embroiled in the Dasukigate scandal, denied ever sponsoring the militants and asked those involving him in the allegations to leave him alone. Metuh made this clarification on Sunday, August 7, via a press statement obtained by Vanguard, where he also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to get to the root of the matter and bring the culprits to book.
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Chief Olisa Metuh says he has nothing to do with sponsorship of Niger Delta Avengers.
“My attention has been drawn to a false and misleading report circulating in a section of the media, heinously listing my name as one of the sympathizers of the Niger-Delta Avengers. “Ordinarily, I would not have responded to this given that I have since chosen to conduct my affairs with the decency and comportment of someone involved in a well-celebrated trial and with a severe spinal problem.
“I am also not unaware of the series of false reports against my person in the past few months. However, on this occasion I have chosen to respond, as this particularly borders on matters affecting national security. “Indeed, I believe this is a wicked, cruel and devilish plot to link me with such activities and at this very time, especially as the claim is outrightly false.
READ ALSO: Why Olisa Metuh is offering to refund N400 million – Counsel
“For the avoidance of doubt, I hereby state categorically that I do not have any relationship or association whatsoever either as a sympathizer or sponsor of any militant group, including the Avengers,” the statement reads in part. The statement further read: “I therefore find it very cruel that any person would in any manner whatsoever attempt to associate my name with anything to do with this group or its operations and I still wonder what the motive behind this sinister plot is.
“While I restate my decision not to be drawn into any controversy at this time, it is pertinent that I reiterate that my only preoccupation now remains matters concerning my health and extant court trial as I continue to conduct my affairs with dignity and single-mindedness.
“Finally, I call on the Federal Government and security agencies to immediately investigate and arrest Cynthia Whyte, who purportedly circulated the report and ensure that they get to the root of this matter. This is a security issue and nobody should be allowed to play politics with it.”
Meanwhile, Metuh has also denied knowledge of a injunction filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja. Speaking to NAIJ.com on Wednesday, July 27, Metuh’s special assistant Richard Ihediwa said his principal was not aware of any attempt by the Ali Modu-Sheriff led group to stop the forthcoming national convention. “My principal is not even aware of any suit to stop the convention,” Ihediwa said.
I read somewhere that if the entire wealth of the world were to be shared equally between every man, woman and child the world over, it wouldn’t take more than a few months before the line between the poor and the rich would be redrawn. In other words, if one assumes that each individual would receive one million Dollars each if the assumed wealth is equally shared, within three months, one would find that while the net-worth of many would have dwindled to a few hundred thousand Dollars due to acquisitions and purchases they hardly need, a few others would have become billionaires by the same period of time.
In other words, there will always be poverty; the poor will never cease in the world. The Lord and Saviour of all mankind, Jesus Christ said so in confirmation of what the Word of God says in Deuteronomy, Chapter fifteen, and verse eleven.
God repeatedly commanded the children of Israel to take care of the poor and needy, because they were once collectively poor in the land of Egypt, and therefore know what it is like to be poor. At no time than the present has mankind neglected to take care of the poor, and this neglect has resulted in the festering of firstly, the ‘’1%/99%’’ phenomenon, and secondly, the current state of terrorism the world over, which was hitherto restricted to the Middle-East. The neglected poor have become ready and available tools in the hands of agents and purveyors of terror.
A recent study by either Forbes or Fortune shows that the collective net worth of the richest sixty-two individuals in the world is the same as that of the 3.5 billion at the lower end of the wealth spectrum. Obviously, this state of affair is blatantly unacceptable and condemn-able, and must be decried and condemned by all reasonable and just people the world over.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy of France shot the first salvo against this moral injustice when he remarked, at the height of the ‘’Sub-Prime Mortgage induced Global Economic Recession’’ of 2008/2009 that the Capitalist structure has failed, and that there was a crying need to evolve a new structure that would be fair to all. The new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May struck a more strident chord at the heart of the subject matter when she described the current state of poverty in Great Britain as a ‘’burning injustice.’’
The world didn’t just arrive at this juncture as an endorsement of man’s innate cruelty to fellow man; we basically got here because we neglected history and the unbridled selfishness which privilege creates. It took men who cared to give thought to the concepts, ideals and processes which enabled mankind to arrive at the 21st Century. One can’t help wondering what the world would be like if men like Montesquieu, John Locke, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, etc. had not given thought to how to regulate society. If Karl Marx had not penned ‘’The Communist Manifesto’’ and ‘’Das Capital,’’ with the system eventually tried out in the defunct USSR, the idea of trying that system as an alternative would have remained appealing.
Mankind sort of relapsed in thinking about the general good, and individualism became the mantra that has brought us, collectively to this present passé. As a consequence of such passivity and insouciance, mankind has found itself at a point where the wealth of the few are romanticized, and the penury of many neglected to its detriment, basically because the rich dictate what is read, seen, and heard in the press.
Montesquieu gave form to the molding of the Democratic construct by advocating the separation of the powers of government; and John Locke finally worked on the separation of the powers of the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. Adam Smith developed the principles by which Capitalism worked side by side in modern Democratic governmental structure via ‘’Free Trade’’ and ‘’Private Enterprise.’’ Unfortunately, while private enterprise has developed into unrelentingly crass capitalism, free trade has effectively nullified by protectionism and trade blocks which tended to exclude economies which are not within such trade blocks.
Primary to capitalism is the principle of the ‘’Invisible hand’’ which does good to all within an economy; despite the fact that the main beneficiary remains the owner of the means of production or entrepreneur. Obviously, the need for recourse to the Socialist/Communist ideal being unnecessary because of its failure in the defunct USSR remains a fait accompli, especially on account of the bestiality it birthed under Joseph Stalin.
It took the negligence of the humaneness and humanity in man; crass accumulation of wealth by the rich; neglect of the poor in the land; and neglect of history for the gulf of extreme wealth and extreme poverty to be conveniently installed.
With a few exceptions here and there worldwide, it has become crystal that one of the fastest ways to wealth is politics. Most ex-Presidents of States the world over are men of extreme wealth, irrespective of whether they got into office rich or poor. In Nigeria, for instance, it is arguable whether every ex-President is not a billionaire, with the exceptions of Dr. Yakubu Gowon and Alhaji Shehu Shagari, and late Murtala Mohammed. In essence, while some blatantly stole from the countries they governed, others allocated to themselves, friends and family members, State assets which guaranteed extreme wealth soon after at negligible cost. A few examples will surfice:
When the USSR broke up, the then President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin in his quest for Perestroika and privatization of State Assets, allocated the assets of the Oil and Petroleum company, Conoco to a few friends who became instant billionaires via the private companies created with such assets.
Similar development took place in Nigeria during the Presidency of General Olusegun Obasanjo actualized to see a few Nigerians among the super-rich of the world. And he achieved his wish.
While we believe at The Property Gazette that David Cameron, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a man of high caliber integrity (for calling for a referendum on whether the UK should leave or stay in the European Union, and quitting when the ‘leave’ campaign won), it took the incoming Prime Minister, Theresa May to observe that the unaddressed state of poverty in Britain was a ‘’burning injustice.’’ She said, among other things:
“That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. If you’re a white working class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately. If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand. If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home,” the new prime minister said:
May said there were many people who were “just managing” and that her mission was to make Britain a country that worked for everyone.
“If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realize. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school. If you’re one of those families, if you’re just managing, I want to address you directly. I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives,” May said.
While Prime Minister Theresa May has resolved that the rich would be compelled to share the profits from business by allowing employees to own part of the businesses they worked for, and be represented on the boards of those companies (a move we believe the rich would find disconcerting and unwelcome), leaders all over the world must join ranks with Theresa May to innovate ways and means of effecting some form of wealth sharing (not transfer) in their own countries.
The United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, one is compelled to posit, have very high stakes in ensuring a world where the majority is not continuously oppressed by a few, because that is a recipe for disaster. Again, we must not fail to reiterate that the current state of terrorism which has exacerbated world poverty was enhanced by the predominance of idle youths who became ready tools in the hands of recruiters of terror in the mold of Islamic extremists who are sworn to Islamize the entire world. A recent study shows that of the legion of foreign recruits by ISIS into their fighting force, Tunisian youths accounted for the highest; six thousands of those foreign fighters, and potential suicide bombers were Tunisians
While it would not be beneficial to continue to lament the current state of world poverty without doing anything about it, we urge all current and aspiring billionaires; all entrepreneurs and stake holders of businesses; Presidents and heads of governments; and members of the hallowed and exclusive ‘’one percent’’ the world over to urgently and sincerely embark on innovations to enhance wealth sharing, going forward, if anarchy and cataclysmic implosions must be avoided.
We at The Property Gazette and LandAssets Consult believe that one of the ways by which this ‘’Wealth Sharing’’ concept could be realized is through The LandAssets Plan. Simply defined, The LandAssets Plan is a concept which seeks to increase the volume of property insurance and use it to provide solutions to the world-wide problem of unemployment, and enhance poverty reduction, wealth creation, industrialization, manufacturing and housing provision. Put in a nut shell, the LandAssets Plan could be defined as the compulsory insurance of all urban and semi-urban based Real Estate within an economy, with a view to:
deepening insurance penetration;
increasing insurance volume and increasing appreciably, the Gross Annual
providing there from, the required funding for infrastructure provision and maintenance;
providing long term funding for the private sector of the economy;
reducing the cost of funds to single digit from the current, tortuous
Double digit rates; and,
jump-starting the economy from a recessive to a productive one
For detailed appreciation of the concept, click any of the following links:
The US is struggling to find peace. Once again, police officers were shot and again, people fear unrest. DW’s Ines Pohl looks at what is happening in America, and what it means for the presidential election campaign.
Things are looking ominous in the United States. The country is proof of how quickly democratic societies can get out of whack. The forces of globalization can tear apart the familiar political order. It is a world in which people seek refuge in national socialism and can no longer find peace in the frenzy of the digital world.
Cause and effect is no longer analyzed like it ought to be. Instead, a person to blame is quickly found, scapegoats are named. The world is split into “good and bad”, into “us and them.”
The rich world must share
Reality has become stressful, simple answers no longer exist and fair analysis will always come to the conclusion that the rich world must share. The underprivileged no longer want to peacefully watch what’s going on – that’s why the mood has become more aggressive between the different cultures, religions and colors of skin in the US, a country of immigration.
That’s why people are shot in broad daylight, students and police officers alike. Of course, the lenient weapons laws are part of it. And it’s true that racism, something many people had thought the country had overcome, still plays an enormous role.
The problem has yet another dimension. The country’s usual order is in danger of dissolving. The people are no longer prepared to accept the consequences of the new world order. Politicians – along with major institutions, unions, state officials and police officers – can’t seem to come up with credible solutions.
Setting the stage
Traveling across the US in 2016 reveals a country turning its back on reality. It is fitting that a man who was once very successful reality TV star is waiting in the wings to become the next US president.
People escape to the virtual world, posing for photos on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media. You can see one-year-olds making faces when they see a camera. Young people go to bars on a Saturday evening, but they don’t talk to each other. Instead they stand side-by-side, posing for photos that get posted immediately.
Modern reality is turning into a stage used to promote lives that often don’t measure up to the real world. Studies show that many people only feel they’ve had a restaurant experience, a walk on the beach or a family dinner if they’ve posted photos and videos online. The same is true for the memorial site at the Dallas police station where people hugged and cried only when filmed by a camera.
Donald Trump has opted for this staged reality, including the dream castles on his golf courses, the gold faucets in Trump Tower, the sprayed-on tan and the fake hair. He has to because he lacks substance. He knows how because he learned early on how to seduce people. And he’s so successful because so many people would much rather dream about the past than work for the future.
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Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has received an endorsement from her former rival Bernie Sanders.
The Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate appeared with Mrs Clinton at a campaign event in New Hampshire.
Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders have been negotiating since she all but guaranteed the nomination in June.
Mr Sanders hopes to have a large influence on the Democratic platform.
“She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States,” he said.
“This campaign is about the needs of the American people and addressing the very serious crises that we face. And there is no doubt in my mind that, as we head into November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that.”
Some Sanders supporters booed at the joint rally and Mr Sanders appeared to motion them to stop. At the end of Mrs Clinton’s remarks, the two shared a hug and smiled.
Analysis – Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America Reporter
Bernie Sanders – a man who would probably talk about income inequality and Wall Street corruption during a wedding toast – wrapped an endorsement of Hillary Clinton into his standard campaign stump speech on Tuesday.
His usual lines about minimum wage increases, rebuilding infrastructure, affordable college education, healthcare reform and increased environmental protection were simply prefaced by “Hillary Clinton understands” and “Hillary Clinton knows”.
Mr Sanders also asserted that his “revolution” will go on and that he will work to ensure that his success in pushing the Democratic Party platform to the left is reflected in the actions of Democratic officeholders going forward.
But Mrs Clinton got what she needed out of the event – an acknowledgment of her victory, a direct endorsement, a call for unity to defeat Republican Donald Trump, and a speech-ending hug between former adversaries.
There will continue to be some holdouts among Sanders supporters – a few walked out of the event early and at one point the Vermont senator motioned from the stage to quiet the angry shouts of a protestor – but New Hampshire’s sometimes awkward political embrace and the prospect of a Trump presidency should assure Democratic cohesion at least until the November general election.
Mr Sanders defeated Mrs Clinton in New Hampshire’s primary contest in February.
“Thank you for your lifetime of fighting injustice,” said Mrs Clinton, and credited Mr Sanders for bringing new Americans into the political process.
“I’m proud to be fighting behind you… it’s a time for all of us to stand together.”
DHAKA, Bangladesh — The cook was crouching in a washroom, taking refuge from the gunmen who had invaded the Holey Artisan Bakery, when he understood that there was a logic behind the killing: The people in the restaurant were being sorted.
“Bengali people, come out,” one gunman shouted. When the cook, Sumir Barai, and eight other men opened the bathroom door, trembling, they saw two young men, clean shaven and dressed in jeans and T-shirts.
“You don’t need to be so tense,” one of the men told them. “We will not kill Bengalis. We will only kill foreigners.” At that, Mr. Barai’s gaze flicked to the floor of the restaurant, where he could see six or seven bodies, apparently shot and then sliced with machetes. All appeared to be foreigners.
The gunmen, he said, seemed eager to see their actions amplified on social media: After killing the patrons, they asked the staff to turn on the restaurant’s wireless network. Then they used customers’ telephones to post images of the bodies on the internet.
Friday night’s assault on the Holey Artisan Bakery in the diplomatic district of Dhaka, in which at least 20 hostages and two police officers were killed, marks a scaling up of ambition and capacity for Bangladesh’s Islamist militancy, which has until now carried out pinpoint assassinations, mostly of critics of Islam and members of religious minorities.
Among the dead from Friday’s attack, the police said, were nine Italians, seven Japanese, two Bangladeshis, one American and one Indian.
The attack also suggests that Bangladesh’s militant networks are internationalizing, a key concern as the United States seeks to contain the growth of the Islamic State.
Bangladesh’s 160 million people are almost all Sunni Muslims, including a demographic bulge under the age of 25. This makes it valuable as a recruiting ground for the Islamic State, now under pressure in its core territory of Iraq and Syria. Western intelligence officials have been watching the organization pivot to missions elsewhere in the world, launching attacks on far-flung civilian targets that are difficult to deter with traditional military campaigns.
“We need to take serious stock of the overall threat,” said Shafqat Munir, a research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies. “There were all sorts of warnings and signs and everything. But I don’t think anyone expected anything as audacious and large-scale as this.”
It was a slow night at the restaurant. Eighteen people had reserved seats at the Holey Artisan Bakery, whose crusty flour-dusted loaves of bread and piles of homemade pasta offered a respite from the sticky, clamorous city that surrounded it.
Seven Italian friends had gathered around one table, and three or four at a second, recalled Diego Rossini, a chef who is from Argentina. Someone had just ordered an Italian pasta dish, and Mr. Rossini made his way to the kitchen, preparing for a much larger crowd that was expected at 9:30 p.m.
But at 8:45, a half-dozen young men entered, carrying heavy bags of weaponry, including grenades and long rifles. Mr. Rossini, the chef, fled to the roof. He heard screams, and shouts of “Allahu akbar,” as the gunmen sought out patrons who were hiding.
“There were a lot of foreigners,” he told Canal 5 Noticias, an Argentine cable news station. “That’s who they were particularly looking for.”
Even as they killed the foreigners, the attackers were unfailingly polite and solicitous with the restaurant staff and other Bangladeshis, Mr. Barai said.
They took the staff into their confidence, complaining that foreigners, with their skimpy clothes and taste for alcohol, were impeding the spread of Islam. “Their lifestyle is encouraging local people to do the same thing,” a militant said.
They asked the staff to make coffee and tea and serve it to the remaining hostages. At 3:30 a.m., when Muslims eat a predawn meal before fasting, they asked the kitchen staff to prepare and serve dishes of fish and shrimp, he said.
Mr. Barai recalls being puzzled by the attackers, who spoke cosmopolitan Bengali, and even some English, when conversing with the foreigners.
“They were all smart and handsome and educated,” he said. “If you look at those guys, nobody could believe they could do this.” In the predawn hours, the militants lectured their captives on religious practices, instructing the kitchen staff to say regular prayers and study the Quran.
Early in the morning, the gunmen released a group of women wearing hijabs and offered a young Bangladeshi man, Faraz Hossain, the opportunity to leave, too, said Hishaam Hossain, Mr. Hossain’s nephew, who had heard an account from the hostages who were freed.
Mr. Hossain, a student at Emory University, was accompanied by two women wearing Western clothes, however, and when the gunmen asked the women where they were from, they said India and the United States. The gunmen refused to release them, and Mr. Hossain refused to leave them behind, his relative said. He would be among those found dead on Saturday morning.
In the hours after the gunmen appeared, hundreds of police officers massed outside the restaurant compound’s walls, but an attempted raid was repulsed by a grenade, killing two officers and injuring more than 20. Mr. Rossini, who was on the roof, frantically texted his location over social media.
“It was practically impossible for the police to get in,” he said later. The restaurant was like a little fort, and the police had to wait for the army.
A senior police official, speaking to a reporter on the condition of anonymity, said that the police tried unsuccessfully to establish contact with the captors, who never passed on any demands.
The night crept on with painful slowness in the crowded washroom, where Mr. Barai and the eight other men were again locked in, this time by the gunmen. At 1:44 a.m. Mr. Barai messaged a cousin, who was only a few yards away, outside the police cordon.
“What is the news on the outside?” His cousin typed back that a Rapid Action Battalion, Bangladesh’s elite counterterrorism squad, was now involved in the operation. “They are not doing anything right now so you people don’t become victims,” he wrote.
Mr. Barai passed on the name of a co-worker who could lead authorities to the washroom. “We are here,” he typed. “If possible break the wall of the toilet and rescue us.”
As dawn approached, Mr. Barai feared that the men would suffocate in the cubicle, which measures about four feet by four feet. “Please come to the toilet quickly as it is very difficult inside the toilet.”
After that, when Mr. Barai’s cousin called his number, there was no answer; the cousin, seated on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, began to sob.
In an early-morning meeting at her residence, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had authorized a military raid, but that required transporting a team of commandos via C-130 from Sylhet, roughly 150 miles from the capital.
Shortly after sunrise, dozens of armed personnel carriers formed columns in the lanes around the restaurant.
Mr. Barai said the surviving hostages sensed that the siege was ending. During the long hours that passed inside the restaurant, the gunmen made it clear that they expected to die, Mr. Barai said. One of them calmly said as much. “You see what we did here,” the militant said, pointing to the bodies around. “The same thing is going to happen to us now.”
At 7:30 a.m., he said, the militants told them: “We are leaving. See you in heaven.”
They were getting ready to walk out the door, he said, when the commandos stormed the restaurant.
Correction: July 2, 2016
An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a cook at the restaurant who hid in a washroom with eight other men. He is Sumir Barai, not Soumir Roy.
Correction: July 2, 2016
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of the reporting credit with this article misstated the location of one of the reporters. Geeta Anand reported from Mumbai, not New Delhi.
These locations are never random. These targets aren’t accidental. They’re the very vocabulary in which assailants like the Orlando gunman speak, and he chose a place where there’s drinking. And dancing. And where L.G.B.T. people congregate, feeling a sense of welcome, of belonging.
That last detail is already in the foreground of the deadliest mass shooting in American history — and rightly so.
But let’s be clear: This was no more an attack just on L.G.B.T. people than the bloodshed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was an attack solely on satirists.
Both were attacks on freedom itself. Both took aim at societies that, at their best, integrate and celebrate diverse points of view, diverse systems of belief, diverse ways to love. And to speak of either massacre more narrowly than that is to miss the greater message, the more pervasive danger and the truest stakes.
We don’t yet know all that much about Omar Mateen, who pulled the trigger, again and again, in a nightclub whose name connotes life, not death: Pulse. We’ll be learning more in the hours and days to come, including just how potently homophobia in particular factored into his actions, how much ideological influence the Islamic State or other extremists had, how extensive his planning was, how far back he began plotting this, and how much he knew about Pulse itself and the specific composition of its crowd on different nights of the week.
But we can assume — no, we can be sure — that he was lashing out at an America at odds with his darker, smaller, more oppressive mind-set. The people inside Pulse were citizens of it. More to the point, they were emblems of it. In Pulse they found a refuge. In Pulse they found joy. To him they deserved neither. And he communicated that with an assault rifle and bullets.
The Islamic State and its ilk are brutal to gay people, whom they treat in unthinkable ways. They throw gay people from rooftops. The footage is posted online. It’s bloodcurdling, but it’s not unique. In countries throughout the world, to be gay is to be in mortal danger. To embrace love is to court death.
That’s crucial context for what happened in Orlando, and Orlando is an understandable prompt for questions about our own degrees of inclusion and fairness and whether we do all that we should to keep L.G.B.T. people safe. We don’t.
As Florida Gov. Rick Scott spoke publicly of his heartache on Sunday, I saw complaints on social media about his own lack of support for issues important to L.G.B.T. people. Those complaints have merit.
But this isn’t a moment for identity politics, which could muddle the significance of the carnage. Yes, that carnage exposed the special vulnerability of L.G.B.T. Americans to violent extremists, recommending special levels of security.
And there was a frightening coda to it on the opposite coast, in the Los Angeles area, where a man with an arsenal of weapons was arrested en route to gay pride festivities.
But the threat isn’t only to L.G.B.T. Americans, as past acts of terror have shown and as everyone today must recognize. All Americans are under attack, and not exclusively because of whom we drink, dance or sleep with, but because of our bedrock belief that we should not be subservient to any one ideology or any one religion. That offends and inflames the zealots of the world.
Often our politicians can’t find their voices. Sometimes their words are poignantly right.
President Obama, speaking about the victims on Sunday afternoon, said: “The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub. It is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights. So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.”
And this was Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles mayor, at a news conference: “Today we know that we are targeted as Americans, because this is a society where we love broadly and openly, because we have Jews and Christians and Muslims and atheists and Buddhists marching together, because we are white, black, brown, Asian, Native American. The whole spectrum and every hue and every culture is here.”
It was a perfect description of the country I love.
And it was an equally perfect description of what the Orlando gunman couldn’t bear.