Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011

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Book Review Folder - 2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014/2015

Postby ramana » 02 Jan 2008 09:59

As promised I have started a new thread for book reviews. Hope it becomes as fruitful as the older thread which lasted for three years.

Link to old thread:

Book Review Thread 2005/2006/2007

We should compile the best reviews of these books and have it as BR Book selections
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Postby ramana » 03 Jan 2008 00:04

Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World by Stephen O'Shea

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this elegant, fast-paced, and judicious cultural and religious history, journalist O'Shea, author of The Perfect Heresy, provides a remarkable glimpse into the origins of the conflicts between Christians and Muslims as well as their once peaceful coexistence. He focuses on seven military battles—Yarmuk A.D. 636), Poitiers (732), Manzikert (1071), Hattin (1187), Las Navas de Tolosa (1212), Constantinople (1453) and Malta (1565)—between Christians and Muslims as the high-water marks of their attempts to shape the Mediterranean ("sea of faith") world of the Middle Ages. O'Shea vividly captures and recreates not only the enmity between the two religions but also the sectarian rivalries and political intrigues within each religion. Yet the relationship between Christianity and Islam was marked not only by bloody Crusades and wars of conquest. As O'Shea so eloquently points out, Christians and Muslims also experienced long periods of rapprochement, signaled by the long peace at Córdoba in the early Middle Ages and in the intellectual and social flourishing at Toledo and Palermo in the 11th century. O'Shea's marvelous accomplishment offers an unparalleled glimpse of the struggles of each religion to establish dominance in the medieval world as well as at the strategies for living together that the religions enacted as they shared the same territory. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description

The long, shared history of Christianity and Islam began, shortly after Islam emerged in the early seventh century A.D., with a question: Who would inherit the Greco-Roman world of the Mediterranean? Sprung from the same source ”Abraham and the Revelation given to the Jews' the two faiths played out over the course of the next millennium what historian Stephen O'Shea calls a sibling rivalry writ very large.

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Postby ramana » 03 Jan 2008 22:37

A book review that gives an idea of the Turkish dilemma

Pioneer, 3 Jan., 2007

Neither East nor West

Pamuk underlines Dostoevsky's equal and opposite desires to belong to Europe and shun it, writes Ramesh Chandra Shah

Other Colours
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Price: Rs 495

Other Colours is a kind of book you are compelled to read from cover to cover and agree with the preface: "This is a book made of ideas, images and fragments of life that have still not found their way into one of my novels. I have put them together in a continuous narrative." But, then, Pamuk had also whispered to you in that preface that he had set these fragments inside a frame to suggest a centre that he had tried to hide. What is that centre?

'The Implied Author'? The daily dose of literature Pamuk is writing -- "The best cure of all and the greatest source of happiness"? Isn't that "the voice that urges him to go back for living to that room"? What does that mean? "As for living, our servants will do that for us," you suddenly remember. "Certainly not," you have yourself saying. This writer and his writings are made of sterner stuff. The voice that urges him to go back to that room -- for all the childish irresponsibility of its origins -- is, nevertheless, a responsible voice. Because, "its active ingredients are boredom, real life and another life of the imagination".

As readers of Snow and Istanbul, we do take seriously the sort of 'spiritual inspiration' which Pamuk speaks so persuasively in 'The Implied Author'. We agree that it's a special state of childlike innocence without which no novel is possible. It's only the ideologically-driven pseudo-writers who reject "the child's sprit of irresponsibility" -- as Pamuk has put it. That's simply because they are incapable of such innocence.

Maybe, the 'centre' Pamuk has tried to hide lies not in writing but reading. To see the world inspired by the author, one must bring one's imagination into play. By making us in part its creator, the book offers us creator's bliss in seclusion. Isn't it that 'bliss is seclusion' -- that centre then -- which makes reading so alluring to all and essential to the writer?

Or, who knows, the centre Pamuk implies in his preface is no other than 'My Father', who not only comes very early in the book, but also provides the most poignant and inevitable finale to it. "Everyman's death begins with the death of his father," he says. Do we accept that?

But no! The centre of the book is neither the father, nor the son, No, it's not the reader of books either, not the implied author as such. Could it then be the identity crisis -- the east-west question -- the existentially authentic dilemma of a Turkish writer in love with the European sense of the spirit as reflected in its great literature?

"It is the jealousy, anger and pride of a man who cannot make himself into a European," he says about the writer of 'Notes from the Underground', and adds this personal note as well: "Because, like all Westernised Turks, I liked to think of myself as more European than I really was." But, as he concludes later, "It was not Dostoevsky's personal despair; it was connected to his spiritual unease with Europe." Is that the case with Pamuk as well? He does underline Dostoevsky's equal and opposite desires to belong to Europe and shun it.

Pamuk is stunned, awed and utterly convinced by 'Demons'. And, as for Brothers Karamazov, it is in the course of discussing that novel that Pamuk says: "Along with orchestral music, the novel is Western civilisation's greatest art and so it is a notable irony that Dostoevsky, who wrote one of the greatest novels ever, hated West and Europe as much as today's provincial Islamists." Well if Pamuk thinks differently what is the source of his radical innocence -- his optimistic vision?

It's at this juncture that we remember the traveller of 'No Entry' and hark back to this persona of Pamuk as if he were the secret centre: "As he begins to feel as if he has stood longer than necessary in front of this door, our traveller sees how the sign has somehow divided the world in two. There are those who can enter and those who cannot... At this point, the traveller decides that all this talk of identity is really shameful boasting and self-aggrandisement. A great anger rises up from deep inside him... Now it has become important for him to know who and what he is. He must establish an identity that rejects all that the arrogant insiders stand for."

In fact, there is something more to it than the traveller is yet to realise and that sounds like the criterion he stands or falls by -- the measure of his pilgrim's progress. It's here -- in this final realisation -- one feels that the 'centre' exists. This is how the writer of 'No Entry' has chosen to express it: "We might say that he is not so much troubled by the sign as by his own nature, by things hidden deep in his soul. If we can entertain this thought, then he can too, and perhaps he is doing so at this very moment. But this is not the sort of thinking that comes easily -- for now the man outside the door is thinking that the people who hung up the signs foresaw that it would be insulting enough to stop someone like him in his tracks, and this makes the anger inside him grow stronger. But still he is thinking clearly enough to think that his anger is not wholly justified."

This is the common sense of the soul which makes us feel that Pamuk is as necessary a reading for us Indian writers and readers as VS Naipaul in his own very different manner is (and Salman Rushdie isn't). Both have rich insights to offer us in our cultural situation. The Western man -- as Pamuk says -- did not humiliate the Turk in the same way he humiliated the Arab or Indian.

But what about Turkey's project of self-renewal through self-imposed Westernisation? Hasn't it brought isolation, which is as problematic as the self-alienation suffered by Indian intellectuals? "Indians saw their oppressors face to face," says Pamuk; the author makes a very strong plea for Turkey's inclusion in the European Union.

Politically, it may be the right thing to do, but Pamuk's optimism must come from a deeper source. It is not the child-like vision of Charles Dickens; it is not even the Mitya-like vision of Dostoevsky. It has to be something more than the pre-modern and modern versions of optimism. It has to come to terms with the post-modern condition. One's instinct calls for immediate assent to whatever we have glimpsed of it in this book as well as in other works of Orhan Pamuk, the novelist.

The reviewer is an eminent litterateur, critic and thinker

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Postby Gerard » 06 Jan 2008 03:59

Radical Islam’s Threat to the Enlightenment.
By Lee Harris.
290 pp. Basic Books. $26.


Several authors have published books on radical Islam’s threat to the West since that shocking morning in September six years ago. With “The Suicide of Reason,â€
Last edited by Gerard on 06 Jan 2008 15:53, edited 1 time in total.


Postby Raju » 06 Jan 2008 07:16

F. William Engdahl's
'Seeds of Destruction'
Review By Stephen Lendman - Pt 1

Bill Engdahl is a leading researcher, economist and analyst of the New World Order who's written on issues of energy, politics and economics for over 30 years. He contributes regularly to publications like Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Foresight magazine, Grant's, European Banker and Business Banker International. He's also a frequent speaker at geopolitical, economic and energy related international conferences and is a distinguished Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization where he's a regular contributor.

Engdahl also wrote two important books - "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" in 2004. It's an essential history of geopolitics and the importance of oil. Engdahl explains that America's post-WW II dominance rests on two pillars and one commodity - unchallengeable military power and the dollar as the world's reserve currency combined with the quest to control global oil and other energy resources.

Engdahl's newest book is just out from the Centre for Research on Globalization. It's a sequel to his first one called "Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation" and subject of this review. It's the diabolical story of how Washington and four Anglo-American agribusiness giants plan world domination by patenting life forms to gain worldwide control of our food supply and why that prospect is chilling. The book's compelling contents are reviewed below in-depth so readers will know the type future Henry Kissinger had in mind in 1970 when he said: "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people."

Remember also, this cabal is one of many interconnected ones with fearsome power and ruthless intent to use it - Big Banks controlling the Federal Reserve and our money, Big Oil our world energy resources, Big Media our information, Big Pharma our health, Big Technology our state-of-the-art everything and watching us, Big Defense our wars, Big Pentagon waging them, and other corporate predators exploiting our lives for profit. Engdahl's book focuses brilliantly on one of them. To fully cover its vital contents, this review will be in three parts for more detail and to make it easily digestible.

Part I of "Seeds of Destruction"

In 2003, Jeffrey Smith's "Seeds of Deception" was published. It exposed the dangers of untested and unregulated genetically engineered foods most people eat every day with no knowledge of the potential health risks. Efforts to inform the public have been quashed, reliable science has been buried, and consider what happened to two distinguished scientists.

One was Ignatio Chapela, a microbial ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley. In September, 2001, he was invited to a carefully staged meeting with Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, Mexico's Director of the Commission of Biosafety in Mexico City. The experience left Chapela shaken and angry as he explained. Monasterio attacked him for over an hour. "First he trashed me. He let me know how damaging to the country and how problematic my information was to be."

Chapela referred to what he and a UC Berkeley graduate student, David Quist, discovered in 2000 about genetically engineered contamination of Mexican corn in violation of a government ban on these crops in 1998. Corn is sacred in Mexico, the country is home to hundreds of indigenous varieties that crossbreed naturally, and GM contamination is permanent and unthinkable - but it happened by design.

Chapela and Quist tested corn varieties in more than a dozen state of Oaxaca communities and discovered 6% of the plants contaminated with GM corn. Oaxaca is in the country's far South so Chapela knew if contamination spread there, it was widespread throughout Mexico. It's unavoidable because NAFTA allows imported US corn with 30% of it at the time genetically modified. Now it's heading for nearly double that amount, and if not contained, it soon could be all of it.

The prestigious journal Nature agreed to publish Chapela's findings, Monasterio wanted them quashed, but Chapela refused to comply. As a result, he was intimidated not to do it and threatened with being held responsible for all damages to Mexican agriculture and its economy.

He went ahead, nonetheless, and when his article appeared in the publication on November 29, 2001 the smear campaign against him began and intensified. It was later learned that Monsanto was behind it, and the Washington-based Bivings Group PR firm was hired to discredit his findings and get them retracted.

It worked because the campaign didn't focus on Chapela's contamination discovery, but on a second research conclusion even more serious. He learned the contaminated GM corn had as many as eight fragments of the CaMV promoter that creates an unstable "hotspot." It can cause plant genes to fragment, scatter throughout the plant's genome, and, if proved conclusively, would wreck efforts to introduce GM crops in the country. Without further evidence, there was still room for doubt if the second finding was valid, however, and the anti-Chapela campaign hammered him on it.

Because of the pressure, Nature took an unprecedented action in its 133 year history. It upheld Chapela's central finding but retracted the other one. That was all it took, and the major media pounced on it. They denounced Chapela's incompetence and tried to discredit everything he learned including his verified findings. They weren't reported, his vilification was highlighted, and Monsanto and the Mexican government scored a big victory.

Ironically, on April 18, 2002, two weeks after Nature's partial retraction, the Mexican government announced there was massive genetic contamination of traditional corn varieties in Oaxaca and the neighboring state of Puebla. It was horrifying as up to 95% of tested crops were genetically polluted and "at a speed never before predicted." The news made headlines in Europe and Mexico. It was ignored in the US and Canada.

The fallout for Chapela was UC Berkeley denied him tenure in 2003 because of his article and for criticizing university ties to the biotech industry. He then filed suit in April, 2004 asking remuneration for lost wages, earnings and benefits, compensatory damages for humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress and coverage of attorney fees and costs for his action. He won in May, 2005 but not in court when the university reversed its decision, granted him tenure and agreed to include retroactive pay back to 2003. The damage, however, was done and is an example of what's at stake when anyone dares challenge a powerful company like Monsanto.

The other man attacked was the world's leading lectins and plant genetic modification expert, UK-based Arpad Pusztai. He was vilified and fired from his research position at Scotland's Rowett Research Institute for publishing industry-unfriendly data he was commissioned to produce on the safety of GMO foods.

His Rowett Research study was the first ever independent one conducted on them anywhere. He undertook it believing in their promise but became alarmed by his findings. The Clinton and Blair governments were determined to suppress them because Washington was spending billions promoting GMO crops and a future biotech revolution. It wasn't about to let even the world's foremost expert in the field derail the effort. His results were startling and consider the implications for humans eating genetically engineered foods.

Rats fed GMO potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles and brains, damaged immune systems, and showed structural changes in their white blood cells making them more vulnerable to infection and disease compared to other rats fed non-GMO potatoes. It got worse. Thymus and spleen damage showed up; enlarged tissues, including the pancreas and intestines; and there were cases of liver atrophy as well as significant proliferation of stomach and intestines cells that could be a sign of greater future risk of cancer. Equally alarming - this all happened after 10 days of testing, and the changes persisted after 110 days that's the human equivalent of 10 years.

GM foods today saturate our diet. Over 80% of all supermarket processed foods contain them. Others include grains like rice, corn and wheat; legumes like soybeans and soy products; vegetable oils; soft drinks; salad dressings; vegetables and fruits; dairy products including eggs; meat and other animal products; and even infant formula plus a vast array of hidden additives and ingredients in processed foods (like in tomato sauce, ice cream and peanut butter). They're unrevealed to consumers because labeling is prohibited yet the more of them we eat, the greater the potential threat to our health.

Today, we're all lab rats in an uncontrolled, unregulated mass human experiment the results of which are unknown. The risks from it are beyond measure, it will take many years to learn them, and when they're finally revealed it will be too late to reverse the damage if it's proved GM products harm human health as independent experts strongly believe. Once GM seeds are introduced to an area, the genie is out of the bottle for keeps.

Despite the enormous risks, however, Washington and growing numbers of governments around the world in parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa now allow these products to be grown in their soil or imported. They're produced and sold to consumers because agribusiness giants like Monsanto, DuPont, Dow AgriSciences and Cargill have enormous clout to demand it and a potent partner supporting them - the US government and its agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture and State, FDA, EPA and even the defense establishment. World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) patent rules also back them along with industry-friendly WTO rulings like the February 7, 2006 one.

It favored a US challenge against European GMO regulatory policies in spite of strong consumer sentiment against these foods and ingredients on the continent. It also violated the Biosafety Protocol that should let nations regulate these products in the public interest, but it doesn't because WTO trade rules sabotaged it. Nonetheless, anti-GMO activism persists, consumers still have a say, and there are hundreds of GMO-free zones around the world, including in the US. That and more is needed to take on the agribusiness giants that so far have everything going their way.

In "Seeds of Deception," Jeffrey Smith did a masterful job explaining the dangers of GM foods and ingredients. Engdahl explains them as well but goes much further brilliantly in his blockbuster book on this topic. It's the story of a powerful family and a "small socio-political American elite (that) seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival" - future life through the food we eat. The book's introduction says it "reads (like) a crime story." It's also a nightmare but one that's very real and threatening.

This review covers the book in-depth because of its importance. It's an extraordinary work that "reveals a diabolical World of profit-driven political intrigue (and) government corruption and coercion" that's part of a decades-long global scheme for total world dominance. The book deserves vast exposure and must be read in full for the whole disturbing story. It's hoped the material below will encourage readers to do it in their own self-interest and to marshal mass consumer actions to place food safety above corporate profits.

Engdahl's book supplies the ammunition to do it and is also a sequel to his earlier one on war, oil politics and The New World Order and follows naturally from it. It covers the roots of the strategy to control "global food security" that goes back to the 1930s and the plans of a handful of American families to preserve their wealth and power. But it centers on one in particular that above the others "came to symbolize the hubris and arrogance of the emerging American century" that blossomed post-WW II. Its patriarch began in oil and then dominated it in his powerful Oil Trust. It was only the beginning as the family expanded into "education of youth, medicine and psychology," US foreign policy, and "the very science of life itself, biology, and its applications" in plants and agriculture.

The family's name is Rockefeller. The patriarch was John D., and four powerful later-generation brothers followed him - David, Nelson, Laurance, and John D. III. Engdahl says the GMO story covers "the evolution of power in the hands of an elite (led by this family), determined (above all) to bring the entire world under their sway." They and other elites already control most of it, including the nation's energy, the US Federal Reserve, and other key world central banks. Today, three brothers are gone, David alone remains, and he's still a force at age 92 although he no longer runs the family bank, JP Morgan Chase. He's active in family enterprises, however, including the Rockefeller Foundation to be discussed in Part II of this review.

F. William Engdahl is the author of Seeds of Destruction, the Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation just released by Global Research. He is also the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, Pluto Press Ltd.. To contact him by e-mail:

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on Mondays at noon US Central time.


Postby Raju » 06 Jan 2008 07:43

Reviewing F. William Engdahl's
'Seeds of Destruction' - Part 2
By Stephen Lendman

Washington Launches the GMO Revolution

The roots of the story go back decades, but Engdahl explains the science of "biological and genetic-modification of plants and other life forms first" came out of US research labs in the 1970s when no one noticed. They soon would because the Reagan administration was determined to make America dominant in this emerging field. The biotech agribusiness industry was especially favored, and companies in the early 1980s raced to develop GMO plants, livestock and GMO-based animal drugs. Washington made it easy for them with an unregulated, business-friendly climate that persisted ever since under Republicans and Democrats alike.

Food safety and public health issues aren't considered vital if they conflict with profits. So the entire population is being used as lab rats for these completely new, untested and potentially hazardous products. And leading the effort to develop them is a company with a "long record of fraud, cover-up, bribery," deceit and disdain for the public interest - Monsanto.

Its first product was saccharin that was later proved to be a carcinogen. It then got into chemicals, plastics and became notorious for Agent Orange that was used to defoliate Vietnam jungles in the 1960s and 1970s and exposed hundreds of thousands of civilians and US troops to deadly dioxin, one of the most toxic of all known compounds.

Along with others in the industry, Monsanto is also a shameless polluter. It has a history of secretly dumping some of the most lethal substances known in water and soil and getting away with it. Today on its web site, however, the company ignores its record and calls itself "an agricultural company (applying) innovation and technology to help farmers around the world be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture's impact on our environment." Engdahl proves otherwise in his thorough research that's covered below in detail.

In spite of its past, Monsanto and other GMO giants got unregulated free rein in the 1980s and especially after George HW Bush became president in 1989. His administration opened "Pandora's Box" so no "unnecessary regulations would hamper them. Thereafter, "not one single new regulatory law governing biotech or GMO products was passed then or later (despite all the) unknown risks and possible health dangers."

In a totally unfettered marketplace, foxes now guard the henhouse because the system was made self-regulatory. An elder Bush Executive Order assured it. It ruled GMO plants and foods were "substantially equivalent" to ordinary ones of the same variety like corn, wheat or rice. This established the principle of "substantial equivalence" as the "lynchpin of the whole GMO revolution." It was pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo, but was now law, and Engdahl equated it to a potential biologically catastrophic "Andromeda Strain," no longer the world of science fiction.

Monsanto chose milk as its first GMO product, genetically manipulated it with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), and marketed it under the trade name, Posilac. In 1993, the Clinton FDA declared it safe and approved it for sale before any consumer use information was available. It's now sold in every state and promoted as a way cows can produce up to 30% more milk. Problems, however, soon appeared. Farmers reported their stock burned out up to two years sooner than usual, serious infections developed, and some animals couldn't walk. Other problems included the udder inflammation mastitis as well as deformed calves being born.

The information was suppressed, and rBGH milk is unlabeled so there's no way consumers can know. They also weren't told this hormone causes leukemia and tumors in rats, and a European Commission committee concluded humans drinking rBGH milk risk breast and prostate cancer. The EU thus banned the product, but not the US. Despite clear safety issues, the FDA failed to act and allows hazardous milk to be sold below the radar. It was just the beginning.

The Fox Guards the Henhouse

Engdahl reviewed the Pusztai affair, the toll it took on his health, and the modest vindication he finally got. Already out of a job, the 300-year old British Royal Society attacked him in 1999 and claimed his research was "flawed in many aspects of design, execution and analysis and that no conclusions should be drawn from it." It was another blow to a distinguished man who deserved better than what Engdahl called a "recognizable political smear" that also tarnished the Royal Society's credibility for making it. It had no basis in fact and was done because Pusztai's bombshell threatened to derail Britain's hugely profitable GMO industry and do the same thing to its US counterpart.

As for Pusztai, after five years, several heart attacks, and a ruined career, he finally learned what happened after he announced his findings. Monsanto was the culprit. The company complained to Clinton who, in turn, alerted Tony Blair. Pusztai's findings had to be quashed and he discredited for making them. He was nonetheless able to reply with the help of the highly respected British scientific journal, The Lancet. In spite of Royal Society threats against him, it's editor published his article, but at a cost. After publication, the Society and biotech industry attacked The Lancet for its action. It was a further shameless act.

As a footnote, Pusztai now lectures around the world on his GMO research and is a consultant to start-up groups researching the health effects of these foods. Along with him and his wife, his co-author, Professor Stanley Ewen, also suffered. He lost his position at the University of Aberdeen, and Engdahl notes that the practice of suppressing unwanted truths and punishing whistleblowers is the rule, not the exception. Industry demands are powerful, especially when they affect the bottom line.

The Blair government went even further. It commissioned the private firm, Grainseed, to conduct a three-year study to prove GMO food safety. London's Observer newspaper later got UK Ministry of Agriculture documents on it that showed tests were rigged and produced "some strange science." At least one Grainseed researcher manipulated the data to "make certain seeds in the trials appear to perform better than they really did."

Nonetheless, the Ministry recommended a GMO corn variety be certified, and the Blair government issued a new code of conduct under which "any employee of a state-funded research institute who dared to speak out on (the) findings into GMO plants could face dismissal, be sued for breach of contract or face a court injunction." In other words, whisleblowing was now illegal even if public health was at stake. Nothing would be allowed to stop the agribusiness juggernaut from proceeding unimpeded.

The Rockefeller Plan - "Tricky" Dick Nixon and Trickier Rockefellers

Richard Nixon took office at a time of national crisis. Along with the Vietnam morass, the economy was in trouble after the "golden age of capitalism" peaked in 1965 and corporate profits were declining. The globalization phenomenon began at this time when American companies and the nation's wealthiest families found investing abroad more profitable than at home because more opportunities were available outside the country.

Food was one of them and was about to be renamed "agribusiness." Engdahl called it "a paradigm shift" with one man having the most decisive role - former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller "who deeply wanted to be President" but had to settle for number two under Gerald Ford.

He and his brothers ran the family's Rockefeller Foundation and various other tax-exempt entities like the Rockefeller Brothers Trust. Nelson and David were the most influential figures, and their power center was the exclusive New York Council on Foreign Relations. Engdahl states: "In the 1960s the Rockefellers were at the power center of the US establishment (and) Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (was) their hand-picked protege." It was a marriage made in hell.

Enter the "crisis of democracy" or as right wing Harvard professor, Samuel Huntington, called it, an "excess of democracy" at a time masses of ordinary citizens protested their government's policies. It captured media attention, posed a threat to the country's establishment, and had to be addressed. In 1973 it was at a meeting of 300 influential, hand-picked Rockefeller friends from North America, Europe and Japan. They founded a powerful new organization called the Trilateral Commission with easily recognizable member names.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was its first Executive Director, and other charter members included Jimmy Carter (who became David Rockefeller's favored 1976 presidential candidate over Gerald Ford), George HW Bush, Paul Volker (Carter's Fed Chairman) and Alan Greenspan who was then a Wall Street investment banker.

The new organization "laid the basis for a new global strategy for a network of interlinked international elites," many of whom were Rockefeller business partners. Combined, their financial, economic and political clout was unmatched. So was their ambition that George HW Bush later called a "new world order." Trilateralists laid the foundation for today's globalization. They also followed Huntington's advice about democracy's unreliability that had to be checked by "some measure of (public) apathy and non-involvement (combined with) secrecy and deception."

The Commission further advocated privatizing public enterprises along with deregulating industry. Trilateralist Jimmy Carter embraced the dogma enthusiastically as President. He began the process that Ronald Reagan continued in the 1980s almost without noticing its originator or placing blame where it's due.

In 1973, Nixon was in office with Kissinger his Svengali. One observer described him at the time as "like sludge out of a swamp without a spark of soul, a slip of life, a kind of ghoul (and) a sort of lubricant (to keep the ship of state running)." So he did by "tak(ing) complete control (of) US foreign policy" as both Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. Further, he "was to make food a centerpiece of his diplomacy along with oil geopolitics."

In the Cold War era, food became a strategic weapon by masquerading as "Food for Peace." It was cover for US agriculture to engineer the transformation of family farming into global agribusiness with food the tool and small farmers eliminated so it could be used most effectively. World agriculture domination was to be "one of the central pillars of post-war Washington policy, along with (controlling) world oil markets and non-communist world defense sales." The defining 1973 event was a world food crisis.

The shortage of grain staples along with the first of two 1970s oil shocks advanced a "significant new Washington policy turn." Oil and grains were rising three to fourfold in price when the US was the world's largest food surplus producer with the most power over prices and supply. It was an ideal time for a new alliance between US-based grain trading companies and the government. It "laid the groundwork for the later gene revolution."

Enter what Engdahl called the "great train robbery" with Kissinger the culprit. He decided US agriculture policy was "too important to be left in the hands of the Agriculture Department" so he took control of it himself. The world desperately needed grain, America had the greatest supply, and the scheme was to use this power to "radically change world food markets and food trade." The big winners were grain traders like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Continental Grain that were helped by Kissinger's "new food diplomacy (to create) a global agriculture market for the first time." Food would "reward friends and punish enemies," and ties between Washington and business lay at the heart of the strategy.

The global food market was being reorganized, corporate interests were favored, political advantage was exploited, and the 1990s "gene revolution" groundwork was laid. Rockefeller interests and its Foundation were to play the decisive role as events unfolded over the next two decades. It began under Nixon as the cornerstone of his farm policy, free trade was the mantra, corporate grain traders were the beneficiaries, and family farms had to go so agribusiness giants could take over.

Bankrupting them was the plan to remove an "excess (of) human resources." Engdahl called it a "thinly veiled form of food imperialism" as part of a scheme for the US to become "the world granary." The family farm was to become the "factory farm," and agriculture was to be "agribusiness" to be dominated by a few corporate giants with incestuous ties to Washington.

Dollar devaluation was also part of the scheme under Nixon's New Economic Plan (NEP) that included closing the gold window in 1971 to let the currency float freely. Developing nations were targeted as well with the idea that they forget about being food-sufficient in grains and beef, rely on America for key commodities, and concentrate instead on small fruits, sugar and vegetables for export. Earned foreign exchange could then buy US imports and repay IMF and World Bank loans that create a never-ending cycle of debt slavery. GATT was also used and later the WTO with corporate-written rules for their own bottom line interests.

A Secret National Security Memo

In the midst of a worldwide drought and stock market collapse, consider Henry Kissinger's classified memo in April, 1974. It was on a secret project called National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200) that was shaped by Rockefeller interests and aimed to adopt a "world population plan of action" for drastic global population control - meaning to reduce it. The US led the effort, and it worked like this - it made birth control in developing countries a prerequisite for US aid. Engdahl summed it up in blunt terms: "if these inferior races get in the way of our securing ample, cheap raw materials, then we must find ways to get rid of them."

Kissinger's scheme was "simpler contraceptive methods through bio-medical research" that almost sounds like DuPont's old slogan, "Better things for better living through chemistry." Later on, DuPont dropped "through chemistry" as evidence mounted on their toxic effects and a changing company in 1999 began using "The Miracles of Science" in their advertising. The Nazis also aimed big and sought control. Population culling was part of it that for them was called "eugenics" and their scheme was to target "inferior" races to preserve the "superior" one.

NSSM 200 was along the same idea and was tied to the agribusiness agenda that began with the 1950s and 1960s "Green Revolution" to control food production in targeted Latin American, Asian and African countries. Kissinger's plan had two aims - securing new US grain markets and population control with 13 "unlucky" countries chosen. Among them were India, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico and Indonesia, and exploiting their resources depended on drastic population reductions to reduce homegrown demand.

The scheme was ugly and pure Kissinger. It recommended forced population control and other measures to ensure strategic US aims. Kissinger wanted global numbers reduced by 500 million by the year 2000 and argued for doubling the 10 million annual death rate to 20 million going forward. Engdahl called it "genocide" according to the strict definition of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide statute that defines this crime legally. Kissinger was guilty under it for wanting to withhold food aid to "people who can't or won't control their population growth." In other words, if they won't do it, we'll do it for them.

The strategy included fertility control called "family planning" that was linked to the availability of key resources. The Rockefeller family backed it, Kissinger was their "hired hand," and he was well-rewarded for his efforts. It included keeping him from being prosecuted where he's wanted as a war criminal and could be arrested overseas like Pinochet was in the UK when he was placed under house arrest in 2006.

Besides his better-known crimes, consider what he did to poor Brazilian women through a policy of mass sterilization under NSSM 200. After 14 years of the program, the Brazilian Health Ministry discovered shocking reports of an estimated 44% of all Brazilian women between ages 14 and 55 permanently sterilized. Organizations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Family Health International were involved, and USAID directed the program. It has a long disturbing history backing US imperialism while claiming on its web site it extends "a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country."

Even more disturbing was an estimated 90% of Brazilian women of African descent sterilized in a nation with a black population second only to Nigeria's. Powerful figures backed the scheme but none more influential than the Rockefellers with John D. III having the most clout on population policy. Nixon appointed him head of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future in 1969. Its earlier work laid the ground for Kissinger's NSSM 200 and its policy of extermination through subterfuge that was based on a "decades old effort to breed human traits" by the Nazi "Eugenics" process.

The Brotherhood of Death

Long before Kissinger (and his assistant Brent Scowcroft) made population reduction official US foreign policy, the Rockefellers were experimenting on humans. JD III led the effort. In the 1950s, while Nelson exploited cheap Puerto Rican labor in New York and on the island, brother JD III conducted mass sterilization experiments on their women. By the mid-1960s, Puerto Rico's Public Health Department estimated the toll - one-third or more of them of child-bearing age (unsuspecting poor women) were permanently sterilized.

JD III expressed his views in a 1961 UN Food and Agriculture Organization lecture: "To my mind, population growth (and its reduction) is second only to control of atomic weapons as the paramount problem of the day." He meant, of course, its unwanted parts to preserve valuable resources for the privileged. He was also influenced by eugenicists, race theorists and Malthusians at the Rockefeller Foundation who believed they had the right to decide who lives or dies.

Powerful figures were behind the effort as well as leading American business families. So were notables in the UK then and earlier like Winston Churchill, John Maynard Keynes and others. Alan Gregg was as well as Rockefeller Foundation Medical Division chief for 34 years. Consider his views. He said "people pollute, so eliminate pollution by eliminating (undesirable) people." He compared city slums to cancerous tumors and called them "offensive to decency and beauty." Better to remove them and cleanse the landscape.

This was policy, and it was "key to understanding (the Foundation's later efforts) in the revolution in biotechnology and plant genetics." Its mission from inception was to "(cull) the herd, or systematically (reduce) populations of 'inferior breeds.' " The problem for supremacists is too many of a lesser element spells trouble when they demand more of what the privileged want for themselves. Solution - remove them with lots of ways to do it from birth control to sterilization to starvation to wars of extermination.

These ideas were American, they took root 100 years ago, noted names backed it like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Harriman, and they later influenced the Nazis. Hitler praised the practice in his 1924 book, "Mein Kampf," then used it as Fuhrer to breed a "master race." Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes also supported it, and consider his 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell. He ruled Virginia's forced sterilization program was constitutional and wrote: "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime....society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind....Three generations of imbeciles are enough." This from a noted Supreme Court Justice that would have horrific consequences still in play. It "opened the floodgates" for sterilizing many thousands of women considered "subhuman" detritus and in the way.

JD III was right in step with this thinking. He was nurtured on Malthusian pseudo-science and embraced the dogma. He joined the family Foundation in 1931 where he was influenced by eugenicists like Raymond Fosdick and Frederick Osborn. Both were founding members of the American Eugenics Society. In 1952, he used his own funds to found the New York-based Population Council in which he promoted studies on over-population dangers that were openly racist. For the next 25 years, the Council spent $173 million on global population reduction and became the world's most influential organization promoting these supremacist ideas.

But it avoided the term "eugenics" because of its Nazi association and instead used language like birth control, family planning and free choice. It was all the same, and before the war Rockefeller associate and family Foundation board member, Frederick Osborn, enthusiastically supported Nazi eugenics experiments that led to mass exterminations now vilified. Back then, he believed this was the "most important experiment that has ever been tried" and later wrote a book. It was called "The Future of Human Heredity" with "eugenics" in the subtitle. It stated women could be convinced to reduce their births voluntarily and began substituting the term "genetics" for the one now out of favor.

During the Cold War, culling the population drew supporters that included the cream of corporate America. They backed private population reduction initiatives like Margaret Sanger's International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The major media also spread the notion that "over-population in developing countries leads to hunger and more poverty (which, in turn, becomes) the fertile breeding ground for" international communism. American agribusiness would later get involved through a policy of global food control. Food is power. When used to cull the population, it's a weapon of mass destruction.

Consider the current situation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reporting sharply higher food prices along with severe shortages, and warned this condition is extreme, unprecendented and threatens billions with hunger and starvation. Prices are up 40% this year after a 9% rise in 2006, and it forced developing states to pay 25% more for imported food and be unable to afford enough of it.

Various explanations for the problem are cited that include growing demand, higher fuel and transportation costs, commodity speculation, the use of corn for ethanol production (taking one-third of the harvest that's more than what's exported for food) and extreme weather while ignoring the above implications - the power of agribusiness to manipulate supply for greater profits and "cull the herd" in targeted Third World countries. Affected ones are poor, and FAO cites 20 in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Latin America and two in Eastern Europe that in total represent 850 million endangered people now suffering from chronic hunger and related poverty. They depend on imports, and their diets rely heavily on the type grains agribusiness controls - wheat, corn and rice plus soybeans. If current prices stay high and shortages persist, millions will die - maybe by design.

Fateful War and Peace Studies

Engdahl reviewed how American elites in the late 1930s began planning an American century in the post-war world - a "Pax Americana" to succeed the fading British Empire. The New York Council of Foreign Relations War and Peace Studies Group led the effort, and Rockefeller Foundation money financed it. As Engdahl put it: they'd be paid back later "thousands-fold." First though, America had to achieve world dominance militarily and economically.

The US business establishment envisioned a "Grand Area" to encompass most of the world outside the communist bloc. To exploit it, they hid their imperial designs beneath a "liberal and benevolent garb" by defining themselves as "selfless advocates of freedom for colonial peoples (and) the enemy of imperialism." They would also "champion world peace through multinational control." Sound familiar?

Like today, it was just subterfuge for their real aims that were pursued under the banner of the United Nations, the new Bretton Woods framework, the IMF, World Bank and the GATT. They were established for one purpose - to integrate the developing world into the US-dominated Global North so its wealth could be transfered to powerful business interests, mostly in the US. The Rockefeller family led the effort, the four brothers were involved, and Nelson and David were the prime movers.

While JD III was plotting depopulation and racial purity schemes, Nelson worked "the other side of the a forward-looking international businessman" in the 1950s and 1960s. While preaching greater efficiency and production in targeted countries, he schemed, in fact, to open world markets for unrestricted US grain imports. It became the "Green Revolution."

Nelson concentrated on Latin America. During WW II, he coordinated US intelligence and covert operations there, and those efforts laid the groundwork for family interests post-war. They were tied to the region's military because friendly strongmen are the type leaders we prefer to guarantee a favorable business climate.

From the 1930s, Nelson Rockefeller had significant Latin American interests, especially in areas of oil and banking. In the early 1940s, he sought new opportunities and along with Laurance bought vast amounts of cheap, high-quality farmland so the family could get into agriculture. It wasn't for family farming, however. The Rockefellers wants global monopolies, and their scheme was to do in agriculture what the family patriarch did in oil along with using food and agricultural technology as Cold War weapons.

By 1954, PL 480, or "Food for Peace," established surplus food as a US foreign policy tool, and Nelson used his considerable influence on the State Department because every post-war Department Secretary, from 1952 through 1979, had ties to the family through its Foundation: namely, John Foster Dulles, Dean Rusk, Henry Kissinger and Cyrus Vance.

These men supported Rockefeller views on private business and knew the family saw agriculture the way it sees oil - commodities to be "traded, controlled, (and) made scarce or plentiful" to suit the foreign policy goals of dominant corporations controlling their trade.

The family got into agriculture in 1947 when Nelson founded the International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC). Through it, he introduced "mass-scale agribusiness in countries where US dollars could buy huge influence in the 1950s and 1960s." Nelson then allied with grain-trading giant Cargill in Brazil where they began developing hybrid corn seed varieties with big plans for them. They would make the country "the world's third largest producer of (these) crop(s) after the US and China." It was part of Rockefeller's "Green Revolution" that by the late 1950s "was rapidly becoming a strategic US economic strategy alongside oil and military hardware."

Latin America was the beginning of a food production revolution with big aims - to control the "basic necessities of the majority of the world's population." As agribusiness in the 1990s, it was "the perfect partner for the introduction....of genetically engineered food crops or GMO plants." This marriage masqueraded as "free market efficiency, modernization (and) feeding a malnourished world." In fact, it was nothing of the sort. It cleverly hid "the boldest coup over the destiny of entire nations ever attempted."

Creating Agribusiness - Rockefeller and Harvard Invent USA "Agribusiness"

The "Green Revolution began in Mexico and spread across Latin America during the 1950s and 1960s." It was then introduced in Asia, especially in India. It was at a time we claimed our aim was to help the world through free market efficiency. It was all one way, from them to us so corporate investors could profit. It gave US chemical giants and major grain traders new markets for their products. Agribusiness was going global, and Rockefeller interests were in the vanguard helping industry globalization take shape.

Nelson worked with his brother, JD III, who set up his own Agriculture Development Council in 1953. They shared a common goal - "cartelization of world agriculture and food supplies under their corporate hegemony." At its heart, it aimed to introduce modern agriculture techniques to increase crop yields under the false claim of wanting to reduce hunger. The same seduction was later used to promote the Gene Revolution with Rockefeller interests and the same agribusiness giants backing it.

In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson also used food as a weapon. He wanted recipient nations to agree to administration and Rockfeller preconditions that population control and opening their markets to US industry was part of the deal. It also involved training developing world agriculture scientists and agronomists in the latest production concepts so they could apply them at home. This "carefully constructed network later proved crucial" to the Rockefeller strategy to "spread the use of genetically-engineered crops around the world," helped along with USAID funding and CIA mischief.

"Green Revolution" tactics were painful and took a devastating toll on peasant farmers. They destroyed their livelihoods and forced them into shantytown slums that now surround large Third World cities. There they provide cheap exploitable labor from people desperate to survive and easy prey for any way to do it.

The "Revolution" also harmed the land. Monoculture displaces diversity, soil fertility and crop yields decrease over time, and indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides causes serious later health problems. Engdahl quoted an analyst calling the "Green Revolution" a "chemical revolution" developing states couldn't afford. That began the process of debt enslavement from IMF, World Bank and private bank loans. Large landowners can afford the latter. Small farmers can't and often, as a result, are bankrupted. That, of course, is the whole idea.

The "Green Revolution" was based on the "proliferation of new hybrid seeds in developing markets" that characteristically lack reproductive capacity. Declining yields meant farmers had to buy seeds every year from large multinational producers that control their parental seed lines in house. A handful of company giants held patents on them and used them to lay the groundwork for the later GMO revolution. Their scheme was soon evident. Tradition farming had to give way to High Yield Varieties (HYV) of hybrid wheat, corn and rice with major chemical inputs.

Initially, growth rates were impressive but not for long. In countries like India, agricultural output slowed and fell. They were losers so agribusiness giants could exploit large new markets for their chemicals, machinery and other product inputs. It was the beginning of "agribusiness," and it went hand-in-hand with the "Green Revolution" strategy that would later embrace plant genetic alterations.

Two Harvard Business School professors were involved early on - John Davis and Ray Goldberg. They teamed with Russian economist, Wassily Leontief, got Rockefeller and Ford Foundation funding, and initiated a four-decade revolution to dominate the food industry. It was based on "vertical integration" of the kind Congress outlawed when giant conglomerates or trusts like Standard Oil used them to monopolize entire sectors of key industries and crush competition.

It was revived under Trilateralist President Jimmy Carter disguised as "deregulation" to dismantle "decades of carefully, food safety and consumer protection laws." They would now give way under a new wave of industry-friendly vertical integration. Supported by a public campaign, it claimed that government was the problem, it encroached too much on our lives, and it had to be rolled back for greater personal "freedom."

Early in the 1970s, agribusiness producers controlled US food supplies. They'd now go global on a scale without precedent. The goal - "staggering profits" by "restructur(ing) the way Americans grew food to feed themselves and the world." Ronald Reagan continued Carter's policy and let the top four or five monopoly players control it. It led to an unprecedented "concentration and transformation of American agriculture" with independent family farmers driven off their land through forced sales and bankruptcies so "more efficient" agribusiness giants could move in with "Factory Farms." Remaining small producers became virtual serfs as "contract farmers." America's landscape was changing with people trampled on for profits.

Engdahl explained a gradual process of "wholesale merger(s) and consolidation....of American food production....into giant corporate global concentrations" with familiar names - Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Smithfield Foods and ConAgra. As they grew bigger, so did their bottom lines with annual equity returns rising from 13% in 1993 to 23% in 1999. Hundreds of thousands of small farmers lost out for it as their numbers dropped by 300,000 from 1979 to 1998 alone. It was even worse for hog farmers with a drop from 600,000 to 157,000 so 3% of producers could control 50% of the market.

The social costs were staggering and continue to be as "entire rural communities collapsed and rural towns became ghost towns." Consider the consequences:

-- by 2004, the four largest beef packers controlled 84% of steer and heifer slaughter - Tyson, Cargill, Swift and National Beef Packing;

-- four giants controlled 64% of hog production - Smithfield Foods, Tyson, Swift and Hormel;

-- three companies controlled 71% of soybean crushing - Cargill, ADM and Bunge;

-- three giants controlled 63% of all flour milling, and five companies controlled 90% of global grain trade;

-- four other companies controlled 89% of the breakfast cereal market - Kellogg, General Mills, Kraft Foods and Quaker Oats;

-- in 1998, Cargill acquired Continental Grain to control 40% of national grain elevator capacity;

-- four large agro-chemical/seed giants controlled over 75% of the nation's seed corn sales and 60% of it for soybeans while also having the largest share of the agricultural chemical market - Monsanto, Novartis, Dow Chemical and DuPont; six companies controlled three-fourths of the global pesticides market;

-- Monsanto and DuPont controlled 60% of the US corn and soybean seed market - all of it patented GMO seeds; and

-- 10 large food retailers controlled $649 billion in global sales in 2002, and the top 30 food retailers account for one-third of global grocery sales.

At the dawn of a new century, family farming was decimated by corporate agribusiness' vertically integrated powers that surpassed their earlier 1920s heyday dominance. The industry was now the second most profitable national one after pharmaceuticals with domestic annual sales exceeding $400 billion. The next aim was merging Big Pharma with Big food producing giants, and the Pentagon's National Defense University took note in a 2003-issued paper - "Agribusiness (now) is to the United States what oil is to the Middle East." It's now considered a "strategic weapon in the arsenal of the world's only superpower," but at a huge cost to consumers everywhere.

Engdahl reviewed the "revolution" in animal factory production that EarthSave International founder and Baskin-Robbins heir, John Robbins, covered honestly, thoroughly and compassionately in two explosive books on the subject - "Diet for A New America" in 1987 and "The Food Revolution" in 2001. They were both stinging indictments of corporate-produced foods - horrifying animal cruelty, unsafe foods, unsanitary conditions, rampant use of anti-biotics humans then ingest, massive environmental pollution, and new unknown dangers from genetic engineering - all allowed by supposed government watchdog regulatory agencies that ignore public health concerns.

Agribusiness was on a roll, government supports it with tens of billions in annual subsidies, and the 1996 Farm Bill suspended the Secretary of Agriculture's power to balance supply and demand so henceforth unrestricted production is allowed. Food producing giants took full advantage to control market forces. They crushed family farmers by over-producing and forcing down prices. They also pressured land values as small operators failed. It created opportunities for land acquisition on the cheap for greater concentration and dominance.

Next came integrating the Gene Revolution into agribusiness the way Harvard's Ray Goldberg saw it coming. Entire new sectors were to be created from genetic engineering. It would include GMO drugs from GMO plants in a new "argi-ceutical system." Goldberg predicted a "genetic revolution (through) an industrial convergence of food, health, medicine, fiber and energy businesses" - in a totally unregulated marketplace. Unmentioned was a threatening consumer nightmare hidden from view.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on The Mondays at noon US Central time.


Postby Raju » 06 Jan 2008 08:07

Reviewing F. William Engdahl's
"Seeds of Destruction" - Pt 3
By Stephen Lendman

Food is Power

Rockefeller Foundation funding was the Gene Revolution's catalyst in 1985 with big aims - to learn if GMO plants were commercially feasible and if so spread them everywhere. It was the "new eugenics" and the culmination of earlier research from the 1930s. It was also based on the idea that human problems can be "solved by genetic and chemical the ultimate means of social control and social engineering." Foundation scientists sought ways to do it by reducing infinite life complexities to "simple, deterministic and predictive models" under their diabolical scheme - mapping gene structures to "correct social and moral problems including crime, poverty, hunger and political instability." With the development of essential genetic engineering techniques in 1973, they were on their way.

They're based on what's called recombitant DNA (rDNA), and it works by genetically introducing foreign DNA into plants to create genetically modified organisms, but not without risks. London Institute of Science in Society chief biologist, Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, explained the dangers because the process is imprecise. "It is uncontrollable and unreliable, and typically ends up damaging and scrambling the host genome, with entirely unpredictable consequences" that might unleash a deadly unrecallable "Andromeda Strain." Research continued anyway amidst lies that risks were minimal and a promised future lay ahead. All that mattered were huge potential profits and geopolitical gain so let the good times roll and the chips fall where they may.

One project was to map the rice genome. It launched a 17 year effort to spread GMO rice around the world with Rockefeller Foundation money behind it. It spent millions funding 46 worldwide science labs. It also financed the training of hundreds of graduate students and developed an "elite fraternity" of top scientific researchers at Foundation-backed research institutes. It was a diabolical scheme aiming big - to control the staple food for 2.4 billion people and in the process destroy the biological diversity of over 140,000 developed varieties that can withstand droughts, pests and grow in every imaginable climate.

Asia was the prime target, and Engdahl explained the sinister tale of a Philippines-based Foundation-funded institute (IRRI). It had a gene bank with "every significant rice variety known" that comprised one-fifth of them all. IRRI let agribusiness giants illegally use the seeds for exclusive patented genetic modification so they could introduce them in markets and dominate them by requiring farmers be licensed and forced to pay annual royalty fees.

By 2000, a successful "Golden Rice" was developed that was beta-carotene (Vitamin A) enriched. It was marketed on the fraudulent claim that a daily bowl could prevent blindness and other Vitamin A deficiencies. It was a scam as other products are far better sources of this nutrient and to get enough of it from any type rice requires eating an impossible nine kilograms daily (about 20 pounds). Nonetheless, gene revolution backers were ready for their next move: "the consolidation of global control over humankind's food supply" with a new tool to do it - the WTO. Corporate giants wrote its rules favoring them at the expense of developing nations shut out.

Unleashing GMO Seeds - A Revolution in World Food Production Begins

Argentina became the first "guinea pig" nation in a reckless experiment with untested and potentially hazardous new foods. No matter, potential profits are enormous so concerns for public safety and human health are ignored. Let the revolution begin in real time.

By the end of the 1980s, a global network of genetically-trained molecular biologists were ready to kick it off, Argentina was their first test laboratory, and it was hailed as a "Second Green Revolution." Look what followed. From 1996 to 2004, worldwide GMO crop planting expanded to 167 million acres, a 40-fold increase using 25% of total worldwide arable land. An astonishing two-thirds of the acreage (106 million acres) was in the US. By 2004, Argentina was in second place with 34 million acres while production is expanding in Brazil, China, Canada, South Africa, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Colombia, Honduras, Spain and Eastern Europe (Poland, Romania and Bulgaria). The revolution was on a roll and looks unstoppable.

Argentina was an easy mark when Carlos Menem became President. He's a corporatist's dream, a willing Washington Consensus subject, and he even let David Rockefeller's New York and Washington friends draft his economic program with Chicago School dogma at its heart - privatizations, deregulation, local markets open to imports, and cuts in already reduced social services.

By the mid-1990s, Menem was "revolutioniz(ing) Argentina's traditional productive agriculture" to one based on monoculture for global export. He took office in July, 1989. By 1991, Argentina was already a "secret experimental laboratory for developing genetically engineered crops" with its people unknowing human guinea pigs. In effect, the country's agriculture was handed to Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and other GMO giants to exploit for profit with untested and potentially hazardous new products. Things would never be the same again.

In 1995, Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans with its special gene gun-inserted bacterium that allows the plant to survive being sprayed by the glyphosate herbicide, Roundup. GMO soybeans are thus protected from the same product used in Colombia to eradicate drugs that also harms legal crops and humans at the same time.

Foreign investors have large land holdings in Argentina, the late 1990s - early 2000s economic crisis made vast more amounts available, and bankrupted farmers had to give it up for pennies on the dollar. Corporate predators and Latifundista landholders took full advantage, but look what for.

After Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans were licensed in 1996, "a once-productive national family farm-based agriculture system (was turned into) a neo-feudal state system dominated by a handful of powerful, wealthy" owners to exploit for profit. Menem went along. In less than a decade, he allowed the nation's corn, wheat and cattle diversity to be replaced by corporate-controlled monoculture. It was a Faustian sellout, and it helped Monsanto's stock price hit an all-time high near year end 2007.

Earlier decades of diversity and crop rotation preserved the country's soil quality. That changed after soybean monoculture moved in with its heavy dependence on chemical fertilizers. Traditional Argentine crops vanished, and cattle were forced into cramped feedlots the way they are in the US. Engdahl quoted a leading country agro-ecologist predicting these practices will destroy the land in 50 years if they continue. Nothing suggests a stoppage, and by 2004, nearly half the nation's crop land was for soybeans and over 90% of it solely for Monsanto's Roundup Ready brand. Engdahl put it this way: "Argentina had become the world's largest uncontrolled experimental laboratory for GMO" and its people unwitting lab rats.

Mechanized GMO soybean monoculture took over, the country's dairy farms were reduced by half, and "hundreds of thousands of workers (were forced) off the land" into poverty. Monsanto was on a roll and used various exploitive schemes. Included were ploys to ignore Argentine law against collecting royalty payments. Smuggling Roundup soybean seeds illegally into Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay also went on sub rosa. In addition, the company got Menem to allow it to collect "extended royalties" in 1999 even though Argentine law prohibited the practice.

Monsanto then pressured the government to recognize its "technology license fee." A Technology Compensation Fund was established and managed by the Ministry of Agriculture. It forced farmers to pay a near-1% fee on GMO soybean sales. Monsanto and other GMO seed suppliers got the funds. By 2005, Brazil's government relented. It legalized GMO seeds for the first time, and by 2006, the US, Argentina and Brazil accounted for over 81% of world soybean production. It "ensure(s) that practically every animal in the world fed soymeal (is) eating genetically engineered soybeans." It also means everyone eating these animals does the same thing unwittingly.

Argentina experienced more fallout as well that threatens to spread. Its soybean monoculture affects the countryside hugely. Traditional farmers close to soybean ones are seriously harmed by aerial Roundup spraying. Their crops are destroyed as that's how this herbicide works. It kills all plants without gene-modified resistance. It also kills animals with farmers reporting their chickens died and horses were gravely harmed. Humans are affected as well and show violent symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and herbicide-inflicted skin lesions. Other reports claimed further fallout - animals born with severe organ deformities, deformed bananas and sweet potatoes, and lakes filled with dead fish. In addition, rural families said their children developed "grotesque blotches on their bodies."

Forest lands were also damaged as vast acreage was cleared for soybean planting. Their loss "created an explosion of medical problems because Roundup is toxic, kills every non-GMO plant that grows and, it harms animals and humans as well that come in contact with it.

As for higher promised yields, results showed reduced harvests of between 5% and 15% compared with traditional soybean crops plus "vicious new weeds" that need up to triple the amount of spraying to destroy. By the time farmers learn this, it's too late. By 2004, GMO soybean plantings spread across the country, they cost more to produce and yield less, and Engdahl summarized farmers' plight: "A more perfect scheme of human bondage would be hard to imagine," and it was even worse than that. Argentina was the first test case "in a global plan that was decades in the making and absolutely shocking and awesome in its scope."

Iraq Gets American Seeds of Democracy

Democracy for Iraq meant erasing the "cradle of civilization" for unfettered free market capitalism. Iraq was conquered for its oil but also to make the country a giant free trade paradise. The scheme was diabolical, elaborate and ugly - blitzkrieg "shock and awe," elaborate PsyOps, fear as a weapon, repressive occupation, mass detention and torture, and the fastest, most sweeping country remake in history. It happened in weeks, Iraq no longer exists, the country is a wasteland, its people are devastated, and a blank slate was created for unrestrained corporate pillage on a near- unimaginable scale.

Part of the scheme was for GMO agribusiness giants to have free reign over that part of the economy - to radically transform Iraq's food production system into a model for GMO seeds and plants. One hundred swiftly implemented Bremer laws mandated it, but Iraqis had no say about them as the country is now governed out of Washington and its branch office inside the heavily-fortified Green Zone in the largest US embassy in the world by far.

Bremer laws imposed the harshest ever Chicago School-style "shock therapy" of the kind that devastated countries around the world since first introduced in Chile under Pinochet in 1973. The formula was familiar - mass firings of state employees in the hundreds of thousands; unrestricted imports with no tariffs, duties, inspections or taxes; deregulation; and the largest state liquidation sale and privatization plan since the Soviet Union collapsed.

Corporate taxes were lowered as well from 40% to a flat 15%, and foreign investors could own 100% of Iraqi assets other than oil. They could also repatriate all their profits, had no obligation to reinvest in the country and wouldn't be taxed. They were further given 40 year leases, and the only Saddam era laws remaining were those restricting trade unions and collective bargaining. Foreign transnationals, mainly US ones, swooped in and devoured everything. Iraqis couldn't compete, and the occupation laws assured it.

Consider Bremer Order 81. It covered patents, their duration and stated: "Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety" the edict covered. It gave plant varieties patent holders absolute rights over farmers' using their seeds for 20 years. They'd be genetically engineered, owned by transnationals, and Iraqi farmers using them had to sign an agreement stipulating they'll pay a "technology fee" as well as an annual license fee.

Plant Variety Protection (PVP) was the core of this order. It made seed saving and reuse illegal. Even using "similar" seeds could result in severe fines and imprisonment. GMO seeds got protection to displace 10,000 years of developed plant varieties being sacrificed.

Iraq's fertile valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is ideal for crop planting. Since 8000 BC, farmers used it to develop "rich seeds of almost every variety of wheat used in the world today." They were erased through a GMO modernization and industrialization scheme so agribusiness can get a foothold in the region and supply the world market. While Iraqis suffer and starve, GMO giants run the country's agriculture for export. Iraqi farmers are now agribusiness serfs and are forced to grow products foreign to the native diet like wheat designed for pasta.

Bremer laws mandated it and are inviolable under Article 26 of the US-drafted constitution. It states that the Iraqi government is powerless to change laws a foreign occupier made. To assure it, US-sympathizers are in every ministry with those most trusted in key ones. Engdahl sums up the damage to agriculture: "The forced transformation of Iraq's food production into patented GMO crops is one of the clearest examples of (how) Monsanto and other GMO giants are forcing (these) crops onto an unwilling or unknowing world population." They're infesting the planet with them one country at a time so it's futile trying to undo the damage they cause.

Planting the "Garden of Earthly Delights"

On January 1, 1995, the WTO was officially established with powers to enforce its corporate-written laws on member states. US agribusiness was already dominant, but it now had a new unelected supranational body to advance its private agenda on a global scale. WTO is a "policeman" for global free trade and "a (predatory) battering ram for the trillion dollar annual world agribusiness" part of it for its giants. Its rules are written with teeth for "punitive leverage" to levy heavy financial and other penalties on rule violators. Under them, agriculture is a priority because American companies are dominant.

Cargill wrote the rules that Engdahl calls the "Cargill Plan." They:

-- ban all government farm programs and price supports worldwide (but wink and nod at massive US subsidies);

-- prohibit countries from imposing import controls to defend their own agricultural production;

-- ban agricultural export controls even in times of famine so Cargill can dominate world export grain trade; and

-- forbid countries from restricting trade through food safety laws called trade barriers; this demand also opens world markets to unrestricted GMO food imports with no need to prove their safety.

The International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council lobby (IPC) worked with Cargill and US agribusiness to advance this agenda. Four so-called Group of Four QUAD countries took the lead - the US, Canada, Japan and EU. Meeting in secret, they set policy for all 134 WTO members that for agriculture was drafted by US agribusiness giants like Cargill, Monsanto, ADM and DuPont along with EU giants, Nestle and Unilever. They were designed to erase national laws and safeguards in favor of unrestricted free markets favoring Global North countries.

Through patents, GMO giants control staple crop seeds and need WTO leverage to force them on a skeptical world. It's done through WTO's Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) along with its Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Until the advent of agribusiness, food production and its markets were local. That's now changed with corporate giants in control and able to set prices by manipulating supply.

AoA rules were established to help. They also enforce agribusiness' highest priority - "a free and integrated global market for its products." Included are GMO ones the senior Bush administration ruled are "substantially equivalent" to ordinary seeds and crops and need no government regulation.

That provision is written into WTO rules under its "Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS). It states that national laws banning GMO products are "unfair trade practices" even when they endanger human health. Other WTO rules (called "Technical Barriers to Trade") are in place as well. They prohibit GMO labeling so consumers don't know what they're eating and can't avoid these potentially hazardous foods.

The 1996 Biosafety Protocol was drafted to solve this problem, and it should be in place for that purpose. Developing country demands, however, were "ambushed by the powerful organized government and agribusiness lobby." It sabotaged talks and insisted biosafety measures be subordinate to WTO trade rules favoring developed states. As a result, talks collapsed, safety concerns are ignored, and the path was cleared for the unrestricted spread of GMO seeds worldwide.

Under WTO's TRIPS rules, all member states must pass patent-protecting intellectual property laws that make knowledge property. That, in turn, "open(s) the floodgates" nearly everywhere for the proliferation of GMO seeds and foods, even in violation of national food safety laws.

GMO giants have powerful friends in government backing their agenda. George Bush is one of them, and in 2003 he made the proliferation of GMO seeds his top priority after the Iraq war. With that support, GMO companies are pushing things to the limit with a brazen example Engdahl gave involving the Texas biotech company, RiceTec.

It schemed to patent Basmati rice, the dietary staple across Asia for thousands of years. With IRRI collusion, the company stole the seeds, patented them under Rockefeller Foundation-crafted rules, and the 2001 Supreme Court decision in Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred made it possible. It "enshrined the principle of allowing patents on plant forms and other forms of life in (this) groundbreaking case." Under the ruling, GMO plant breeds can be patented, and US government agencies are complicit in helping agribusiness giants ensure nothing stops them from doing it

As a result, the GMO monoculture onslaught threatens plant species diversity everywhere. With full Washington and WTO backing, major biotech companies are patenting every plant imaginable in GMO form. By the beginning of the new millennium, Engdahl referred to a "Gene Revolution (as a) monsoon force in world agriculture" with four dominant companies controlling GMOs and related agrichemical markets" - Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Agrisciences and Syngenta in Switzerland from the merger of the agriculture divisions of Novartis and AstraZeneca.

The "world's number one" is Monsanto. The company was discussed in Part I of this review, and Engdahl quoted its chairman saying his goal is a global fusion of "three of the largest industries in the world - agriculture, food and health - that now operate (separately, but) changes....will lead to their integration." That was over seven years ago. Now it's happening.

Engdahl covered pertinent information on the industry that might otherwise have gone unnoticed - that the three US GMO giants have a long sordid association with the Pentagon supplying massively destructive chemicals like Agent Orange, napalm and others. They now want to be trusted with the most important things we ingest - our food and drugs in the face of strong evidence their GMO varieties harm human health and their history of public safety concern is atrocious.

Like it or not, they're advancing their agenda, and a 2004 Rockefeller Foundation report shows it. GM crop production achieved nine consecutive double digit year increases since 1996. More than eight million farmers in 17 countries now plant them, over 90% in developing nations. Far and away, the US is the world's leader "with aggressive Government promotion, absence of labeling, and the domination of US farm production." Here, "genetically engineered crops (have) essentially taken over the American food chain." In 2004, over 85% of soybeans were genetically modified, 45% of corn, and since animal feed is mainly from these crops "the entire meat production of the nation (and exports) has been fed on genetically modified animal feed." What animals eat, so do humans.

It gets even worse. Wind and air proliferate GM seeds to adjacent fields, including organic ones that are now to some degree contaminated. Engdahl explained that "after just six years, an estimated 67% of all US farm acreage has been (irremedially) contaminated with genetically engineered seeds. The genie was out of the bottle" as nothing known to science can reverse this condition.

It renders the notion of pure organic impossible except from perhaps very isolated farms that comprise a small percent of the industry. Even so, organic crops are safer than chemically-treated ones and hugely preferable to any that are genetically modified. That said, as the Gene Revolution advances worldwide, the future of organic farming is imperiled to the horror of people like this writer dependent on them.

Consider further the way GMO giants gain market share with government and WTO backing. It's also helped by imposing rigid licensing and technology agreements on farmers who must pay annual fees. They're binding and enforced through Technology Use Agreements farmers have to sign, and by so doing, entrap themselves in a "new form of serfdom." Each year, they must buy new seeds, and they're forbidden to reuse any from previous years as was customary before GMO introductions. Failure to observe the agreements can result in severe legal damages or even imprisonment and possible loss of their land.

Complicit government agencies and clever marketing schemes aid the "Gene Revolution" through "lies and damn lies" that GMO crops have higher yields and can solve world hunger problems. The evidence proves otherwise. In addition, resistant "superweeds" develop over time, crop yields drop, farmers must use greater amounts of herbicides, they're locked into high user fees, and they end up losing money. Bottom line - the case for "genetically engineered seeds for agriculture had been based on a citadel of scientific fraud and corporate lies." This information is hidden from the public, and it's too late once unwary farmers learn they've been had.

Besides that, Russian science showed GMOs harm unborn babies as over half the rat offsring fed a genetically modified soybean diet died in their first three weeks of life - six times the normal rate. Evidence was growing on GMO dangers, and the industry was alarmed. In 1999, it "required an extraordinary intervention by its patron saint, the Rockefeller Foundation," to pull its fat out of the fire.

Population Control - Terminators, Traitors, Spermicidal Corn

Crucial to its strategy, GMO giants needed a "new technology which would allow them to sell seed that would not reproduce." They developed one called GURTs (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies) that became known as "Terminator" seeds. The process is patented, it applies to all plant and seed species, and replanting them doesn't work. They won't grow. It's the industry's solution to controlling world food production and assuring themselves big profits as a result. What a discovery. Terminator corn, soybean and other seeds have been "genetically modified to 'commit suicide' after one harvest season" by a toxin-producing inbuilt gene.

A closely related technology is called T-GURT seeds, or second generation Terminators, nicknamed "Traitor." The technology relies on controlling both plant fertility and its genetic characteristics with "an inducible gene promoter" called a "gene switch." GMO pest and disease-resistant crops only work by using a specific chemical compound companies like Monsanto make. Farmers buying seeds illegally won't get the compound to "turn on" the resistant gene. Traitor technology thus creates a captive new market for the GMO giants, and Traitor is cheaper to produce than Terminator seeds.

Combined, these two technologies give agribusiness giants unprecedented powers. "For the first time in history, it (lets) three or four private multinational seed companies....dictate terms to world farmers for their seed." It's a biological warfare tool almost "too good to believe" in the face of open citizen opposition the industry and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) aim to quash.

Engdahl quoted USDA spokesman Willard Phelps from a June, 1998 interview saying the agency wanted Terminator technology to be "widely licensed and made expeditiously available to many seed companies." Hidden was the reason why - to introduce these seeds to the developing world as the prime Rockefeller Foundation strategy. Engdahl called it a "Trojan Horse for Western GMO seed giants to get control over Third World food supplies in areas with weak or non-existent patent laws." It became an urgent Foundation priority to spread the seeds worldwide to irreversibly capture world markets. USDA fully backed the scheme.

That kind of muscle (along with WTO rules) is overwhelming. It's the tactic used when the US departments of state and agriculture coordinate famine relief using genetically engineered US surplus commodities. Farmers getting GMO seeds aren't told what they are, they plant them unwittingly for the next harvest, get hooked, and the proliferation isn't restricted to Africa. Through coercion, bribery and other illegal tactics, the industry's goal is to introduce them everywhere but especially in highly indebted developing states. In the case of Poland, it was in a country with some of the richest European soil that's now spoiled by genetic contamination.

Consider how the scheme ties in with Rockefeller Foundation population control strategy. In 2001, it was aided when the privately-owned biotech company, Epicyte, announced it successfully developed the "ultimate GMO crop" - contraceptive corn. It was called a solution to world "over-population," but news about it vanished after Biolex acquired the company.

One way or other, the Rockefeller Foundation aims to reduce population through human reproduction by spreading GMO seeds. It's doing it cooperatively with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) by quietly funding its "reproductive health" program through the use of an innovative tetanus vaccine. Combined with hCG natural hormones, it's an abortion agent preventing pregnancies, but women getting it aren't told. Neither is anything said about the Pentagon viewing population reduction as a sophisticated form of "biological warfare" (to) solve world hunger."

Avian Flu Panic and GMO Chickens

In 2005, George Bush duped the public into believing a so-called Avian (bird flu) epidemic threatened a pandemic if not addressed. The solution as always is turn to the private sector and reward his friends. In this case, he asked Congress to appropriate an emergency $1 billion taxpayer dollars for a drug Tamiflu. Unmentioned was a key fact. It was developed and patented by Gilead Science and, that prior to becoming Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld was its chairman and still a major stockholder.

The scare combined with government funding and a rising stock price stood to make him a fortune just as Dick Cheney profited as Vice-President from his Halliburton ties. Engdahl asked: "Was the avian flu scare another Pentagon hoax" with an unknown aim? Based on known and suppressed past government actions, "a supposedly deadly" new flu strain "had to be treated with more than a little suspicion."

It was being used to advance global agribusiness and poultry factory farm interests "along the model of Arkansas-based Tyson Foods." Consider the facts. Factory farms are breeding grounds for potential disease proliferation because of their cramped, overcrowded conditions, but this was never mentioned as a threat. Instead, small family-run free-ranging chicken farmers were cited as culprits, especially in Asia, when, in fact, that notion is at least very unlikely.

Small farms like these are the safest, but an industry-government propaganda campaign claimed otherwise. The scheme is clear. Five multinational giants dominate US chicken meat production and processing - Tyson (the largest), Gold Kist, Pilgrim's Pride, ConAgra Poultry and Perdue Farms. They produce chicken meat under "atrocious health and safety conditions." According to the GAO, these plants had "one of the highest rates of injury and illness of any industry."

Cited was exposure to "dangerous chemicals, blood, fecal matter, exacerbated by poor ventilation and often extreme temperatures....(In addition, chickens are tightly cramped and) prevented from moving or getting any exercise on factory farms (so they can) grow....much larger (and faster) than ever before." Growth boosters are also used, they create health problems, and growing numbers of animal experts believe these farms, not small Asian ones, are the real source of dangerous new diseases like avian flu. That information is suppressed in the mainstream so the public is duped.

It's so chicken processing giants can globalize world production with the avian flu scare "gift from heaven" to help them. If small Asian chicken farmers can be squeezed out, Tyson and the others can access the huge Asian poultry market. That's their aim and removing competition their method with help from friends in high places.

Creating the first GMO animal population is also part of the scheme with the prospect of transforming world chickens into GMO birds. Engdahl put it this way: "By 2006, riding the fear of an avian flu human epidemic, the GMO or Gene Revolution players were clearly aiming to conquer the world's most important source of meat protein, poultry." But another scheme to dominate world food production also lay ahead. "Terminator was about to come into the control of the world's largest GMO agribusiness seed giant."

Genetic Armageddon: Terminator and Patents on Pigs

In 2007, Monsanto acquired Delta & Pine Land (D&PL)to complete its aborted 1999 takeover attempt. D&PL had global Terminator patent rights and successfully extended them on GURTs. The deal made Monsanto "the overwhelming monopolist of agricultural seeds of nearly every variety" that includes fruits and vegetables from the company's acquisition of Seminis a year earlier. With that company, Monsanto is now first in vegetables and fruits, second in agronomic crops, and the world's third largest agrochemical company. With D&PL, the company has absolute control over the majority of plant agricultural seeds as well. In addition, they're getting into the genetic engineering and patenting of animal seeds.

In 2005, Monsanto applied to the WTO for international patent rights for its claimed genetic engineering of a means to identify pig genes derived from patented male swine semen. The company also wants patents and the right to collect license fees for particular farm animals and livestock herds. If granted, "Any pigs that would be produced using this reproductive technique would be covered by these patents." Several techniques are being used and patented as fast as GMO lawyers can submit applications to lock up animal life as intellectual property.

Companies like Monsanto and Cargill have invested huge amounts to genetically modify animals for profit. They thus want patent and licensing rights to the results even though this represents a controversial goal to patent life itself. A 1980 Supreme Court decision in Diamond v. Chakrabarty, however, gave them an opening by ruling "anything under the sun that is made by man" is patentable. It paved the way for a landmark patent of the "Harvard mouse" that was genetically engineered to be susceptible to cancer.

Engdahl explained how four agribusiness giants used "stealth, system, and a well-supported campaign of lies and distortion" to progress toward Henry Kissinger's ultimate goal - controlling oil to control nations and food to control people. The pursuit of both are ongoing with little public knowledge of how far advanced things are and how reckless the scheme is - to genetically engineer all plants and life forms and to control world population by culling its "unwanted" parts.


A September, 2006 WTO tribunal ruled for the US and against the EU. In so doing, it threatens to open this important agricultural region to the "forced introduction (of) genetically-manipulated plants and food products." It recommended the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) require the EU to conform with its obligations under WTO's SPS Agreement that lets agribusiness ignore national laws and rights to protect public health and safety. Failure to comply can cost EU countries hundreds of millions of dollars in annual fines, so this issue is crucial to both sides.

At the time of Engdahl's writing, it was unclear if the "GMO juggernaut would be stopped globally." It's still uncertain, but as of December, only nine biotech products are authorized for sale in the EU. So far, most US corn exports are blocked and trade in other products is hindered in spite of dozens of applications pending in the pipeline with their fate undecided.

Several EU countries, including France, Germany, Austria and Denmark, even ban some EU-approved biotech products to further cloud the outlook. Polls show why with European public opinion strongly opposed to GMO foods and ingredients with hostility levels in France as high as 89% and 79% wanting governments to ban them. This shows European consumers are far ahead of Americans and much better protected (so far) by their overall exclusion as well as having labeling requirements for those allowed to be sold. That provision is crucial as it empowers consumers to use or avoid eating these foods. If enough people abstain, food outlets won't carry them.

Engdahl ends on a high note by observing how vulnerable GMO giants are to criticism. Thrusting untested products down consumer throats is "grounds for organizing a global ban or moratorium on them" if enough vocal opposition can be marshaled. Throughout his book, he sounds the alarm with reams of carefully documented facts on the industry, its products and goals. Converting world agriculture to GMOs, allowing agribusiness free reign over them, and combining that scheme with a diabolical population culling agenda adds up to solving world hunger through genocide and endangering the rest of us in the process.

So far, Washington and the industry are on a roll toward controlling oil and food. Hundreds of millions around the world stand opposed, but it's unclear if that's enough. Engdahl's book is a wake-up call for every friend of the earth to understand issues this crucial can't be left in the hands of unscrupulous business giants and their supportive friends in high places everywhere. The book has reams of ammunition against them. It needs to be thoroughly read and used. The stakes are much too high - human health and safety must never be compromised for profit.

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Postby Gerard » 06 Jan 2008 15:52

The Art of War on Terror: Triumphing over Political Islam and the Axis of Jihad
By Moorthy Muthuswamy
Paperback, 2007
236 pp., $21.95.

The Other Jihad: Islam's War on the Hindus
By Janet Levy

Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal catastrophically may fall into the hands of jihadists. But the South Asian version of jihad is a less familiar but no less fearsome variant of the war directed at the Great Satan America, and the Little Satan, Israel.

At one billion people, Hindus, the majority of whom live in the Indian sub-continent, constitute the third largest religion in the world after two billion Christians and 1.5 billion Muslims. Yet, their numbers have not spared Hindus from ongoing, systematic Muslim attacks in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Indeed, the jihad against India's non-Muslims has accelerated within the last few decades. The Indian government and international human rights organizations have done little to address human rights violations and have stood idle despite constant attacks on Hindus. Meanwhile, the media rarely mentions the desecration of Hindu religious sites and the constant intimidation of Hindus. While special concessions have been granted for Muslims in India, the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh have long supported a policy, based on Islamic law, of religious discrimination against non-believers. Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh are unable to obtain positions of power, have great difficulty procuring business loans, are subjected to spurious blasphemy claims for defaming the prophet Mohammed and are specifically identified as non-Muslims on their passports.

In his recent book, The Art of War on Terror: Triumphing over Political Islam and the Axis of Jihad, Moorthy Muthuswamy explores this little-known and vastly under-reported Muslim campaign against Hindus. Muthuswamy addresses the methodology and ideological basis of political Islam, illuminates the 60-year history of jihad in India, specifies the roles played by the countries he identifies as being part of the "axis of jihad," and sets forth potential solutions to the jihadist threat.

The roots of this jihad on the Indian sub-continent began in 1947, when the British departed South Asia and granted independence to the sovereign states of India and Pakistan. India chose to establish a secular democracy and a legal system based on English Common and Statutory Law. Pakistan, however, was founded under the leadership of the Muslim League, later renamed the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and based its governance on Islamic law. At the time, the Hindu minority in West Pakistan constituted 29% of the new nation's population and 23% of the population of West Pakistan. But, by the start of the India-Pakistan War of 1971, some 2.5 million Hindu citizens of Pakistan had been massacred. Soon thereafter, when East Pakistan was established as the People's Republic of Bangladesh, 10 million Hindu refugees fled to India.

In the summary of a 1971 report to a U.S. Senate judiciary committee investigating the problem of refugees and settlement in South Asia, U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy wrote of the situation,

"Field reports to the U.S. Government, countless eye-witness journalistic accounts, reports of International agencies such as World Bank and additional information available to the subcommittee document the reign of terror which grips East Bengal (East Pakistan). Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered, and in some places, painted with yellow patches marked ‘H.' All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad."[1]

On April 23, 1977, Bangladesh amended its constitution, renounced secularism and dedicated itself to Islamic solidarity. In 1988, Islam became the state religion and sharia the law of the land. Meanwhile, an insurgency by Muslims of almost 20 years duration in the Indian Kashmir Valley is part of an ongoing attempt to Islamicize the region and expand Pakistan by incorporating the valley. Toward that end, Muslims have expelled 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus and have murdered, raped and kidnapped them.

In his book, Muthuswamy explains how Islamic religious beliefs and systems function to fuel and, even demand, constant efforts to annihilate all non-Muslim populations. The mosques and madrassas form the power base and central pillar of Islamic life, regulating, influencing and shaping daily Islamic existence. Total control is achieved by blocking progress and wealth creation and enforcing the dictates of the Islamic trilogy: the Koran, Hadith and the Sira. Muslim clerics renounce modern education and exclusively endorse Koranic study and the "noble" pursuit of jihad. The result is a populace kept ignorant, unworldly, impoverished and easily indoctrinated. This engenders dependence on religious leadership and Islamic organizations for subsistence services. It also makes Muslims susceptible to manipulation and fosters feelings of victimization and resentment, which are skillfully directed toward non-believers.

Islamic doctrine also plays a central role in the promulgation and advancement of a comprehensive political ideology that requires religious war and establishes the objective of achieving a worldwide Islamic caliphate under Islamic law, Muthuswamy writes. This ideology is based on the Islamic trilogy, scripture that is immutable and contains the word of Allah (Koran), the biography of Mohammed (Sira) and the rules governing life or the traditions of Mohammed (Hadith). The concept of the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," a prominent belief in most religions, is absent in Islam, as is the notion of a "human being." The Muslim world is simply divided into "believers" and "non-believers." The closest parallel to the Golden Rule is a prohibition against cheating, lying or killing other Muslims. However, such behavior is permissible against non-believers because it is accepted as necessary to conquer the Dar-al-Harb, the infidel world of war, in pursuit of the Dar-al-Islam, the world of Islam.

Muthuswamy cites research on the Koran, conducted by the Center for Political Islam, which illustrates the Islamic focus on conformist behavior and beliefs. According to the Center's analysis of the Koran, the Sira, and the Hadith, only 17% of the Islamic trilogy deals with the words of Allah. The remaining 83% refers to the words and deeds of Mohammed. Of all of the references to "hell" in the trilogy, 6% are for moral failings, while 94% are for the transgression of disagreeing with Mohammed. Statistical analysis of the trilogy revealed that 97% of references to "jihad" relate to war and a mere 3% to the concept of "inner struggle." [2]

It is instructive that in India, a non-white, non-Christian developing nation with a secular democracy, no moderate or reformed Islam exists. In India, the self-inflicted problems of Moslem society are projected onto non-Muslim "oppressors" in the very same way that Arab Palestinians focus their efforts on jihad rather than economic development and education and blame Israel for their own failures. Thus, for the last six decades, India's history has been characterized by the ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims, frequent terrorist attacks, special concessions to Muslims and a tolerated bias against Hindus.

Muslims in India wield considerable power as they exploit their self-imposed, victim status and demand special privileges under threats of uncontrollable violence. In South India, Muslims have extracted set asides in education and employment, based on a government study that found they didn't meet job and education expectations. Legislation to help fight escalating terrorism, the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002, was rescinded in 2006 following pressure by Muslims who deemed it anti-Muslim. Recently, in Kashmir, the Indian constitution and Indian law was withdrawn and sharia law established as the law of the land. Muslims typically claim they are victims while, at the same time victimizing Indian non-Muslims with terrorist acts. Such claims by Indian Muslims are similar to charges of apartheid against Israel for its erecting of a security fence and checkpoints to prevent Islamic suicide bombers from infiltrating the country. Muslims achieve political power by attaining majority status demographically; demanding special compensation, laws and conditions; and driving out non-Muslims.

The long-festering situation in India argues powerfully for the case that no possibility of coexistence with Islam exists and containment is not viable. Muslim conquest is scripturally driven and Islam's frontiers have been extended by gradually overtaking the land of non-believers and ethnically cleansing their territory. Unbeliever genocide has gradually swept through Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of India. Muslim population growth is 1.5 times that of non-Muslims and physical threats and political correctness conspire to further the Muslim takeover.

Little hope exists for the reformation of Islam in the same way that religious reform is traditionally carried out: by religious institutions accompanied with the lessening influence of clergy. Currently, Islam is becoming more regressive, sharia courts and Wahhabism are spreading, and no tradition of tolerance for other religions has been established. No moderate or alternative versions of the religion are being offered because such alternative mosques would be threatened and would suffer from a lack of funding. The Islamic focus on indoctrination, high population growth, fomenting of insurgencies, and infiltration is part of the global jihad, a full-on religious war against infidel nations and an attempted land conquest.

Muthuswamy advances the notion that America's focus on the axis of evil has been misguided and that the United States must turn its attention instead to the axis of jihad: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran. He writes that both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan formally recognized the Taliban government. Saudi oil money has funded the growth of fanaticism worldwide and the Saudis have infectiously spread Wahhabism through mosques and madrassas across the globe and franchised the training of radical imams. The Saudis have also funded the worldwide terrorist group, Jamaat-e-Islami, the majority party in Pakistan and a major political force in Bangladesh. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have financed terrorist training camps, and Riyadh has helped set up terror bases for jihad in India and aided the Islamic siege of Turkey. Money from Saudi Arabia and Iran funds mosques, schools, and social and jihad networks in Muslim communities, including powerful terrorist proxies such as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban.

The United States is hampered by its belief in Islam as a conventional faith and not a political ideology, Muthuswamy writes. This belief mistakenly frames the situation as a freedom-of-religion issue, he says. The author feels that America is weakened by its strong religious outlook and needs to refocus its priorities on scientific and technological development. "Information-based societies," such as China and India, have an advantage over theologically-based ones, Muthuswamy says. He adds that religion restricts effective functioning in the modern world and needs to be supplanted by common sense and science.

In a final "Policy Response" section of his book, Muthuswamy suggests a multi-pronged plan of action for America. He advocates the potential weakening of political Islam through the discrediting of its theological foundation and manufactured Muslim grievances. He recommends a change in focus away from individual terrorist groups and the axis of evil to the axis of jihad, even to the point of formally charging Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran with crimes against humanity. Muthuswamy further contends that the strengthening of India, as well as a coalition between India and Israel, could act as a counterforce to political Islam and the axis of jihad. Recognizing the physical threat of the global jihad, he acknowledges the necessity of developing a comprehensive allied nuclear retaliatory strategy to fight jihadist nations.


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Postby Gerard » 06 Jan 2008 17:29

The NY Times
Sunday Book Review: The Islam Issue

'The Suicide of Reason'
Arguing that the West’s “fanaticism of reasonâ€

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Postby svinayak » 06 Jan 2008 22:04

The Western Tradition

A video instructional series on Western civilization for college and high school classrooms and adult learners; 52 half-hour video programs and coordinated books

Now on DVD
Covering the ancient world through the age of technology, this illustrated lecture by Eugen Weber presents a tapestry of political and social events woven with many strands — religion, industry, agriculture, demography, government, economics, and art. A visual feast of over 2,700 images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art portrays key events that shaped the development of Western thought, culture, and tradition. This series is also valuable for teachers seeking to review the subject matter.

Produced by WGBH Boston. 1989.

1. The Dawn of History
The origins of the human race are traced from anthropoid ancestors to the agricultural revolution.

VOD2. The Ancient Egyptians
Egyptian irrigation created one of the first great civilizations.

VOD3. Mesopotamia
Settlements in the Fertile Crescent gave rise to the great river civilizations of the Middle East.

VOD4. From Bronze to Iron
Metals revolutionized tools, as well as societies, in the empires of Assyria, Persia, and Neo-Babylonia.

VOD5. The Rise of Greek Civilization
Democracy and philosophy arose from Greek cities at the edge of the civilized world.

VOD6. Greek Thought
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle laid the foundation of Western intellectual thought.

VOD7. Alexander the Great
Alexander's conquests quadrupled the size of the world known to the Greeks.

VOD8. The Hellenistic Age
Hellenistic kingdoms extended Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean.

VOD9. The Rise of Rome
Through its army, Rome built an empire that shaped the West.

VOD10. The Roman Empire
Rome's civil engineering contributed as much to the empire as did its weapons.

VOD11. Early Christianity
Christianity spread despite contempt and persecution from Rome.

VOD12. The Rise of the Church
The old heresy became the Roman empire's official religion under the Emperor Constantine.

VOD13. The Decline of Rome
While enemies slashed at Rome's borders, civil war and economic collapse destroyed the empire from within.

VOD14. The Fall of Rome
Despite the success of emperors such as Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, Rome fell victim to barbarian invasions.

VOD15. The Byzantine Empire
From Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire carried on the traditions of Greece and Rome.

VOD16. The Fall of Byzantium
Nearly a thousand years after Rome's fall, Constantinople was conquered by the forces of Islam.

VOD17. The Dark Ages
Barbarian kingdoms took possession of the fragments of the Roman Empire.

VOD18. The Age of Charlemagne
Charlemagne revived hopes for a new empire in Western Europe.

VOD19. The Middle Ages
Amid invasion and civil disorder, a military aristocracy dominated the kingdoms of Europe.

VOD20. The Feudal Order
Bishop, knight, and peasant exemplified some of the social divisions of the year 1000 A.D.

VOD21. Common Life in the Middle Ages
Famine, disease, and short life expectancies were the conditions that shaped medieval beliefs.

VOD22. Cities and Cathedrals of the Middle Ages
The great churches embodied the material and spiritual ambitions of the age.

VOD23. The Late Middle Ages
Two hundred years of war and plague debilitated Europe.

VOD24. The National Monarchies
A new urban middle class emerged, while dynastic marriages established centralized monarchies.

VOD25. The Renaissance and the Age of Discovery
Renaissance humanists made man "the measure of all things." Europe was possessed by a new passion for knowledge.

VOD26. The Renaissance and the New World
The discovery of America challenged Europe.

VOD27. The Reformation
Voiced by Martin Luther, Protestantism shattered the unity of the Catholic Church.

VOD28. The Rise of the Middle Class
As the cities grew, new middle-class mores had an impact on religious life.

VOD29. The Wars of Religion
For more than a century, the quarrels of Protestants and Catholics tore Europe apart.

VOD30. The Rise of the Trading Cities
Amid religious wars, a few cities learned that tolerance increased their prosperity.

VOD31. The Age of Absolutism
Exhausted by war and civil strife, many Europeans exchanged earlier liberties and anarchies for greater peace.

VOD32. Absolutism and the Social Contract
Arguments about the legitimate source of political power centered on divine right versus natural law.

VOD33. The Enlightened Despots
Monarchs considered reforms in order to create more efficient societies, but not at the expense of their own power.

VOD34. The Enlightenment
Intellectual theories about the nature of man and his potential came to the fore.

VOD35. The Enlightenment and Society
Scientists and social reformers battled for universal human rights during a peaceful and prosperous period.

VOD36. The Modern Philosophers
Freedom of thought and expression opened new vistas explored by French, English, and American thinkers.

VOD37. The American Revolution
The British colonists created a society that tested Enlightenment ideas and resisted restrictions imposed by England.

VOD38. The American Republic
A new republic, the compromise of radicals and conservatives, was founded on universal freedoms.

VOD39. The Death of the Old Regime
In France the old order collapsed under revolutionaries' attacks and the monarchy's own weakness.

VOD40. The French Revolution
Liberty, equality, and fraternity skidded into a reign of Terror.

VOD41. The Industrial Revolution
Technology and mass production reduced famine and ushered in higher standards of living.

VOD42. The Industrial World
A consumer revolution was fueled by coal, public transportation, and new city services.

VOD43. Revolution and Romantics
Leaders in the arts, literature, and political theory argued for social justice and national liberation.

VOD44. The Age of the Nation-States
The great powers cooperated to quell internal revolts, yet competed to acquire colonies.

VOD45. A New Public
Public education and mass communications created a new political life and leisure time.

VOD46. Fin de Siècle
Everyday life of the working class was transformed by leisure, prompting the birth of an elite avant-garde movement.

VOD47. The First World War and the Rise of Fascism
Old empires crumbled during World War I to be replaced by right-wing dictatorships in Italy, Spain, and Germany.

VOD48. The Second World War
World War II was a war of new tactics and strategies. Civilian populations became targets as the Nazi holocaust exterminated millions of people.

VOD49. The Cold War
The U.S. and Soviet Union dominated Europe and confronted each other in Korea.

VOD50. Europe and the Third World
Burdened with the legacy of colonial imperialism, the Third World rushed development to catch up with its Western counterparts.

VOD51. The Technological Revolution
Keeping up with the ever-increasing pace of change became the standard of the day.

VOD52. Toward the Future
Modern medicine, atomic energy, computers, and new concepts of time, energy, and matter all have an important effect on life in the 20th century.

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Postby mandrake » 06 Jan 2008 22:31

Ramana saar, i hope the old thread is archived, it was gem of a thread. Can you put the link in your first post to the old thread?

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Postby svinayak » 08 Jan 2008 06:46

Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy
by Stephen M. Walt (Author)

# Paperback: 320 pages
# Publisher: W. W. Norton (September 11, 2006)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0393329194
# ISBN-13: 978-0393329193

"A brilliant contribution to the American foreign policy debate."—Anatol Lieven, New York Times Book Review

At a time when America's dominance abroad was being tested like never before, Taming American Power provided for the first time a "rigorous critique of current U.S. strategy" (Washington Post Book World) from the vantage point of its fiercest opponents. Stephen M. Walt examines America's place as the world's singular superpower and the strategies that rival states have devised to counter it. Hailed as a "landmark book" by Foreign Affairs, Taming American Power makes the case that this ever-increasing tide of opposition not only could threaten America's ability to achieve its foreign policy goals today but also may undermine its dominant position in years to come.

About the Author
Stephen M. Walt is the academic dean and the Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Walt is a long-time proponent of Realism in international relations, publishing especially in the journal International Relations. This is his latest brief for U.S. foreign policy, and not only is it a rebuke of the Bush Administration's disastrous war on Iraq, "GWOT," and "preemptive war doctrine," which of course is really *preventive*, offensive war, but it outlines a more sensible course of action -- a strategy based on Realist principles.

The bulk of the book examines how the rest of the world is actually responding to U.S. primacy, and why, from the eminently logical point of view that countries pursue their own interests, not ours. Walt looks at examples of the whole range of possibilities, from balancing (including asymmetric strategies), to "balking" (footdragging), "binding" (to alliances, institutions and norms), and delegitimation (what we call in sociology a "framing" strategy), in the cases of Europe, China, Russia, Arab states, and the whole cast of characters on the world stage.

Only at the end, based on this primer on Realist analysis, does Walt turn to his eminently sensible prognosis for U.S. foreign policy. He indicts the failed Global Hegemony strategy of the Bush Administration, which has led to active attempts by virtually everyone else to counter the U.S. After a brief survey of the Selective Engagement strategy of the Bush Sr. and Clinton Administrations, he recommends a return to Offshore Balancing, which was U.S. strategy through most of its history, and which Walt says is perfectly suited to this (no doubt temporary) period of U.S. primacy. Offshore Balancing is not isolationism, but it would minimize permanent commitments and bases in places like Europe and Asia where our allies should take up their share of the common burden, and will in their own interest if forced to, according to Realist theory.

In lamenting the feckless Bush Administration policies that have put the U.S. in a deep hole in terms of its international standing and alliances, Walt observes that the U.S. is "a remarkably immature Great Power," and that "Americans remain remarkably ignorant of the world"
(p. 245). In contrast to the spate of immature, ignorant books currently flooding the market, calling for a global War on Islam, among other amazing hare-brained ideas, TAMING AMERICAN POWER is a refreshing voice of sanity.

Ask folks outside the US if there is something wrong with it and what that is, and chances are that you'll get a good many little piece of the big puzzle characterizing the relationship between the US and the World. Since the "mission accomplished" moment, similar pieces have made it in the US media taxonomy, as high up as editorials. It is the merit of Stephen Walt's, to have been gathered a lot of little pieces in a framework that would capture the situation like this: 1) Why other states fear the US primacy? 2) What strategies can states pursue in response to US primacy? 3) What can the US do about #2? If not much can be debated about points #1 and #2 in Walt's framework, point #3 comes along the lines of a growing conversation meant to supplant the neocon doctrine, as the latter one loses steam by the day.It should be briefly noted that the answer to point #3 had preoccupied the US foreign policy makers even before the neocon doctrine - recall Clinton's 'indispensable nation.'

The relative novelty Professor Walt brings into consideration, when looking for answers to point #3, is the need for openness and public debate about the activity of political lobbies - especially those steering the US foreign policy. Michael Scheuer might have been the first one, in this round, to raise awareness about political lobbies as factor influencing the US foreign policy. However, it is only now that we have a proposal on how to deal with the shortcomings of what, Walt reminds us, is a fundamental feature of the American democracy - interest groups. It should also be added that, in a recent report on overall nations' business competitiveness, released by The World Economic Forum, the US occupies only the second place due also to the perceived negative influence of business lobbies on government policy. So, here we have a complementary instance where interest groups, the same ones Tocqueville was first to write about, are exacting their price on the American system.

I would sum up the value of this book in terms of: (a) Taking a snapshot of the world's perception of the US through the lens of the American foreign policy; (b) Building a framework of the relationships between the US and the other nations; (c) Bringing to public attention several prescriptions for maintaining US primacy while addressing (some of) the world's concerns. As for Walt's prescriptions for US foreign policy, the part of the book that's open widest to debate, only time will tell what and how. Somehow, I have a feeling, the next executive is taking notice.

For those still undecided customers, have a look at "Taming American Power," an article the author published in Sept/Oct issue of Foreign Affairs.

As the failures of the "Bush Doctrine" of preventative war become more obvious by the day, the foreign-policy elite - except for a few neocon holdouts - are already looking to steer foreign policy back towards America's traditional grand strategy - namely, the realist approach. Neocons will argue that the realist approach is no longer viable since 9/11, but as we can see the neocon strategy has had many shortcomings. Proponent of the realist school, Professor Stephen M. Walt has written a very sober analysis of our current situation and points to where we should go from here.

After 9/11, the Bush administration conducted foreign policy as if American power was the only thing that counted in the international arena. In responding to this "imperial hubris," other countries adopted a variety of strategies to counter this power, strategies ranging from opposition to accomodation. As more and more countries became uncomfortable with American power, they will either try to coalition against it or try to cozy up to it in order to influence it. In either case, the American strategy of "global hegemony," as Walt calls it, is not working.

The strategy that Walt outlines for America in this book is called "offshore balancing." According to Walt, America should only be concerned with the security of regions of vital interest: namely, Europe, the Persian Gulf, and East Asia. This approach recognizes that the US cannot control these areas directly, rather it would partner with friendly local powers. This is not isolationist since the US would also be engaged through international organizations such as the UN, NATO, and the WTO. Also, significantly, this strategy would not seek to impose democracy on other countries. It is basically a strategy of minding our own business and acting less threatening to others.

The problems with this strategy are numerous. How do we disarm nuclear proliferation, counter the terrorism of non-state actors, or how do we stop genocide or mass murder? The answer, according to Walt, is through multilateral institutions and regional allies. Not only would this reduce the need for the American military, it would, more importantly, preserve the legitimacy of American actions. This may be troublesome for those who still cherish the unencumbered excercise of American power, but it should not be forgotten - nor mentioned too often - that unilateralism is always an option when our vital interests are threatened. Walt has presented us with a foreign policy that will make us not only more popular, but also more powerful.

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Postby svinayak » 08 Jan 2008 07:12

American National Security
by Amos A. Jordan (Author), William J., Jr. Taylor (Author), Michael J. Mazarr (Author), Sam Nunn (Foreword)

# Paperback: 640 pages
# Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press; fifth edition edition (November 17, 1998)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0801859840
# ISBN-13: 978-0801859847

"A classic text, widely used in universities... It does an exemplary job of explaining the process of defining and implementing national security objectives. Hardly any significant subject is omitted from this very rich and readable volume." -- Foreign Affairs
National Security is a marvelously elastic term that has been stretched at times to cover a multitude of different issues

Book Description

This fifth edition of American National Security is a timely update of a classic classroom text, providing contemporary perspectives on limited war, economic challenges to national security, and research and development. It reviews the changing security environment in key regions of the world: Russia, East Asia, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Europe. And it identifies the issues that the United States must face in the next century: peace operations, conflict and arms control, and the widening array of missions undertaken by U.S. armed forces.

"We have chosen to emphasize 'power,' broadly defined, as the central dimension of international and national security. This is not to deny that various trends and forces are increasingly pressing states toward more cooperative, less confrontational behavior; rather it is to focus on the fact that on important issues many states -- including all the great powers -- apply a power calculus in dealing with other international actors." -- from the fifth edition of American National Security

Praise for previous editions:

"A classic text, widely used in universities... It does an exemplary job of explaining the process of defining and implementing national security objectives. Hardly any significant subject is omitted from this very rich and readable volume." -- Foreign Affairs


Foreword by Senator Sam Nunn

Part I -- National Security Policy: What Is It, and How Have Americans Approached It?

1. National Security: The International Setting

2. Military Power and the Role of Force in the Post-Cold War Era

3. Traditional American Approaches to National Security

4. The Evolution of American National Security Policy

Part II -- National Security Policy

5. Presidential Leadership and the Executive Branch in National Security

6. The Impact of Congress on National Security Policy

7. Intelligence and National Security

8. The Role of Military in the National Security Policy Process

9. Defense Planning, Budgeting, and Management

10. The National Security Decision-making Process: Putting the Pieces Together

Part III -- Issues of National Strategy

11. Low-level Conflict

12. Limited War

13. Nuclear Strategy

Economic Challenges to National Security

15. Research and Development

Part IV -- International and Regional Security Issues

16. Russia

17. East Asia

18. The Middle East

19. Sun-Sarahan Africa

20. Latin America

21. Europe

Part V: Approaches to National Security for the Early Twenty-first Century

22. Peace Operations

23. Conflict and Arms Control

24. National Security Perspectives for the Early Twenty-first Century

This book serves its purpose well. It clearly walks the reader through elements of national security, the actors, processes, and how Americans have traditionally approached it. With a unique perspective on the military element of power, the book also covers regional security issues and early twenty first century topics. As a senior level undergraduate text or as a basis to launch into discussion in graduate level seminars, American National Security conveys the fundamentals of U.S. security policy in a clear, articulate manner.

Jordan and Taylor both taught in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point in the early 1970's. Mazaar joined them for the 5th edition after directing the Millennium Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The book was designed to convey the basics of policy and process in American national security. The fifth edition is currently in use at the Army's Command & General Staff College for officers at the rank of major enrolled in strategic studies. It serves well as a foundation to discuss national security strategy and policy.

The book has two weaknesses. It is due for a revision given the dynamic nature of the post Cold War environment, especially since 9/11. It also lacks the standard amount of pictures, graphs and charts that normally accompany today's college texts. The book contains all black and white text with limited charts, maps and cartoons. Although this has not been a problem at the master's level, it could be perceived as a drawback to generating undergraduate interest in the subject matter.

Notwithstanding the above criticism, Taylor, Jordan and Mazaar have created a text that lays out the basics of national security policy, actors and institutions. Highly recommended.

In times of living in a dangerous world torn apart by hatred and mistrust and terrorism it is the responsibility of the government to protect the life of its individual citizens as well go out of the way to honor and provide benefits to those brave souls who put themselves and their families on the line for the common good of their fellow citizens. The approach to terrorism should be at least two-pronged:
1.Zero tolerance of any identified and confirmed terrorist targets and complete sealing of the borders. It is the responsibility of the government to provide ample resources to the border states for police patrolling along with technology for closely watching and preventing infiltration of illegal aliens. "Neighborhood watches", though well intended and entrenched in values of patriotism and love of the nation and the noble cause of looking out for fellow citizens, can sometimes go horribly wrong. If one believes in sanctity of every human life (grounded in both American values as well as religious values) then the risk of such an endeavor going awry is probably unacceptably high though debatable. The government must be directly (or indirectly by way of state governments) take in its own hands this enormous responsibility. A fiscally conservative government must accomplish this at all costs - no cost of protecting the lives of its citizens is too high.
2.Identify the sources of terrorism - the breeding ground for extreme religious ideologies in developing or socially narrow minded nations - which when combined with hunger and poverty and misinformation by some media and government sponsored propaganda available to them is a dangerous and potentially a volatile source of terrorism. This can be approached by providing humanitarian aid to those organizations in such areas of the world which provide a culture of trust towards the developed world and encourage growth of educational institutions in these countries as well. Also "friendly" countries in volatile areas of the world have a responsibility to allow media from the developed world to provide an alternate viewpoint on controversial issues - that is the least they can do towards bringing people of the world together. Also it is critically important to revamp the national intelligence gathering agencies that should directly communicate with a given office within homeland security and can get quick approval in cases where preemption against terrorist targets could be justified. Further the infrastructure of these intelligence agencies should be absolutely and totally under the direct control of the government agencies and not be potentially vulnerable to foreign influences. A healthy discussion on these issues is long overdue.

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Postby svinayak » 09 Jan 2008 11:14

The Politics of Heaven: America in Fearful Times
by Earl Shorris (Author)

# Hardcover: 352 pages
# Publisher: W. W. Norton (August 6, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0393059634
# ISBN-13: 978-0393059632

The way we understand death—and the possibilities of an afterlife—are at the center of an inchoate movement that started after World War II and, without a leader or a formal structure, has grown to influence every aspect of American life, from religion to politics to economics. Although this "movement" is generally regarded as Christian Fundamentalist, Shorris argues that it is far more widespread. He offers a historical perspective on religion in the U.S., from Calvinist doctrine marrying religion and capitalism to the conservative modern-day gospels as preached by Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell. Drawing on research and interviews with political figures and advisors, academics, and theologians, Shorris examines the confluence of history, philosophy, experiences, and "elemental feelings" that have gained enough momentum to become a movement of the fearful. Fear has led to a pessimism that is driving decisions about who we elect to the presidency, how we approach global warming, and how we view the poor. Shorris eloquently offers a penetrating and unsettling look at American fear birthed by the horrors of the atom bomb and nurtured by 9/11 that promises to have an enduring impact on global and domestic policy for generations to come. Bush, Vanessa

Book Description
An unsettling account of the events, ideas, and minds behind the nameless political movement that governs America today.

The movement transcends political parties, has no formal structure, no acknowledged leaders, and no sworn loyalty except to God, whose will it interprets according to its fears and desires. Yet it is not an abstraction. It elects our presidents and legislatures and informs their decisions while in office.

The movement started at the end of World War II when nuclear weapons, the Holocaust, and then the Cold War led to the fear of mass death that infected American views of justice, ethics, and global politics. It gradually replaced the New Deal.

As conversations with religious and political leaders, churchgoers, and pollsters make clear, after 9/11 the nation became increasingly pessimistic. Americans more than ever embraced simplistic, self-serving solutions to questions of personal and national destiny.

To regain the best in the American character, we must recognize the existence of a new national movement, define it, and learn how it grows. This book is a first step.

The role of religion in politics is a subject whose time has come. Of the several books treating it that have come out this year, Earl Shorris' "The Politics of Heaven: America in Fearful Times" is the most comprehensive and rewarding. Even those who are most conscientious about doing their political homework will gain new insights from the meticulous research and trustworthy analysis of this beautifully written treatise.

Many have written and commented on the present state of America, one in which much pessimism reigns about the future of this republic in the face of terrorism, imperial misadventure, and sheer incompetence in its leaders. Many have also remarked on the seeming turn to religion and apocalypticism both as a solution and a cause of the malaise. But Earl Shorris believes that every problem has a distant intellectual cause and he discovers the cause of our present danger in the thought of Plato, Leon Strauss, and Alasdair MacIntyre. The last two thinkers are little known, Strauss the supposed godfather of neoconservatism and MacIntyre a convert to the outmoded thought and faith of Thomas Aquinas. You might have thought Plato would have been good enough as a target.

Shorris is an accomplished student of the classics but in his attempt to find in the classics an explanation of the current climate of opinion, which he labels without a real name THE MOVEMENT, he demonstrates yet again how far from reality an intellectual can get when he refuses to leave his study and his books.

Shorris correctly finds much hypocrisy and false religion in the Evangelical stranglehold on the politics of both political parties but he naively thinks that a return to the Social Gospel can lead to a proper place for Christianity in the life of the American Republic. Little does he understand that the appeal of Christian fundamentalism owes its power to the lack of real education in America about what Christianity was at its outset and how it became the greatest hoax of civilization. Emancipation from religion is the answer, not a renewed perusal of outdated eschatological dicta and insights. Americans need to be weaned from Christianity, not given new opium potions laced with social religion.

I have truly never read a book so misguided, so confused, and so wrong-headed than this one, despite the credentials of its author. It is an example of how our current malaise can totally disorient even someone with intellectual powers above the average, way above the average.

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Postby Murugan » 09 Jan 2008 11:33

The Case for India
by Will Durant

Reprint of 1930

Publishers : Strand, Mumbai


Price 250, Strand Price: 230

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Postby Neela » 09 Jan 2008 17:18

I tried at but couldnt f ind these books:

. Weapons of Peace R.Chengappa
. Hindusim an Introduction - Shakuntala Jagannathan
. Integration of states - VP menon

CVan someone guid me to some online books stores from where I can order.


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Postby svinayak » 10 Jan 2008 00:38

Right Turn: American Life in the Reagan-Bush Era, 1980-1992
by Michael Schaller (Author)

# Paperback: 208 pages
# Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (March 3, 2006)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0195172574
# ISBN-13: 978-0195172577
An entire generation has passed since the election that installed Ronald Reagan into the White House. This brisk narrative fills a significant gap in the literature on recent U.S. history, making use of diverse memoir material, journalistic accounts, biographies, and specialized policy studies, including those produced recently. Rather than focusing solely on the Reagan and Bush administrations or presidencies, Right Turn addresses the various policy, cultural, social, economic, and technological issues that made the 1980s and early 1990s such an interesting product of the events that proceeded it--and such a vital force in American life that followed. Beginning in the late 1970s and concluding in the early 1990s, this book examines how conservative ideas and organizations reemerged from the shadows of the Great Depression and the New Deal.

It describes national politics and public policies implemented by conservative Republicans, the dramatic climax of the Cold War, and the ways in which economic, legal, social, and cultural developments affected ordinary Americans in all their diversity. Featuring numerous photographs throughout and detailed guides to specialized readings at the end of each chapter, Right Turn is ideal for history and political science courses that cover post-1945 America as well as the 1980s and 1990s.

About the Author
Michael Schaller is at University of Arizona.

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Postby svinayak » 11 Jan 2008 08:13

God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World
by Walter Russell Mead (Author)

# Hardcover: 464 pages
# Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 9, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0375414037
# ISBN-13: 978-0375414039

On first glance God and Gold might seem to be a typical triumphalist school of history production about the glorious rise of the Anglo-Americans and their victories over lesser peoples. However, the reader who takes a second look will recognize that Walter Russell Mead has created a wide-ranging and fascinating examination of world history over the last three hundred years or so that, while it does praise the strengths of the Anglophones or Wasps, is not blind to their short comings or to the achievements of other peoples.

I found this book fascinating on many levels. Its a superb work of history, making deft comparisons and drawing excellent and elaborate parallels. The analogies are clear and highly illuminating. Mead is thought provoking and astute in his assessments. I appreciated the attention paid to the role played by organized religions and the reassessment and validation of earlier historians' theses on Protestantism and Christianity. Most of all, I enjoyed the many literary references and analogies, particularly the Carrollian theme of the Walrus and the Carpenter that runs through the book.

Mead can be harsh in his criticisms, particularly of the foolish vainglory of the Bush Administration over the last few years, but overall the book is hopeful and optimistic in its assessment of the past and predictions for the future.

“Persuasively optimistic . . . he knows more theology and church than do most public intellectuals, and more Anglo-American history than do many of the more theologically learned; this makes for an interesting combination.â€

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Postby svinayak » 11 Jan 2008 08:20

The American Idea: The Best of the Atlantic Monthly
by Robert Vare (Editor)

# Hardcover: 688 pages
# Publisher: Doubleday (October 16, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0385521081
# ISBN-13: 978-0385521086
"The American Idea" anthology represents compiled writings of the times by major writers and thinkers in the Atlantic Monthly magazine over a period of 150 years. The contributions by writers like W.E.B. Du Bois, Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Helen Keller, Ernest Hemingway, John F. Kennedy, William Langewiesche serve to paint a more meaningful portrayal of our history than those publisher written tomes used in our schools.
The Atlantic Monthly and its editor Robert Vare should be applauded for compiling this important anthology! If one wants to really appreciate the evolution of our country, "The American Idea" should become the new standard for understanding our true history as seen by these important writers and reporters of the time.
"This is a glorious collection. The Atlantic has been at the fore of America's intellectual and literary life for 150 years, and these pieces show how the spirit of Twain and Holmes has remained alive. It's an addictive offering."
-- Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

"From the Civil War through the War on Terror, The Atlantic Monthly has moderated a civilized and intelligent debate over what it means to be an American. This anthology expertly guides the reader through that conversation with headnotes that provide invaluable context to each piece. Reading The American Idea one marvels at the vital role The Atlantic has played not only in the history of American magazines, but in the history of the country itself."
--Robert S. Boynton, author of The New New Journalism and director of the magazine writing program at New York University's Department of Journalism

"This scintillating, infinitely varied and irresistibly readable collection of the best writing published in The Atlantic Monthly over the last 150 years is a revelation – of the quality of writing that a magazine can aspire to, and achieve, with stunning frequency; and of the power of words, occasional and otherwise, to make you think, laugh, shudder, wonder, and feel. The effect of browsing through this astonishing collection is to have one’s faith in American culture and the republic of letters restored. The introductory headnotes briefly sketching how and in what context each piece came to press are invaluable."
-- Ric Burns, documentary filmmaker

"Readers can see the nation through the eyes of its finest writers, such as Mark Twain, Henry James, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Walt Whitman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Helen Keller and, from more recent days, William Least Heat-Moon, Garrison Keillor and William Langewiesche, all of whose work shows up in this remarkable anthology."
--Julia Keller, The Chicago Tribune

Book Description

“What is ‘the American idea’? It is the fractious, maddening approach to the conduct of human affairs that values equality despite its elusiveness, that values democracy despite its debasement, that values pluralism despite its messiness, that values the institutions of civic culture despite their flaws, and that values public life as something higher and greater than the sum of all our private lives. The founders of the magazine valued these things—and they valued the immense amount of effort it takes to preserve them from generation to generation.â€

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Postby svinayak » 11 Jan 2008 08:26

Download link
Church and State in the United States

The American Idea of Religious Freedom

This essay, a defense of separation of church and state, was written in 1888 by Philip Schaff, a Christian historian and theological scholar thought by some to have been the most learned Protestant Theologian and scholar who taught, wrote, etc. in America in the nineteenth century. The essay also presents a glimpse of how 19th century America defined the relationship between religious liberty and civil governments.

Schaff wrote Church and State in the United States (1888) for the American Historical Society.

Researched and edited by Jim Allison

WHAT is the distinctive character of American Christianity in its organized social aspect and its relation to the national life, as compared with the Christianity of Europe?

It is a free church in a free state, or a self-supporting and self-governing Christianity in independent but friendly relation to the civil government.

This relationship of church and state marks an epoch. It is a new chapter in the history, of Christianity, and the most important one which America has so far contributed. It lies at the base of our religious institutions and operations, and they cannot be understood without it. . . .

The relationship of church and state in the United States secures full liberty of religious thought, speech, and action, within the limits of the public peace and order. It makes persecution impossible.

Religion and liberty are inseparable. Religion is voluntary, and cannot and ought not to be forced.

This is a fundamental article of the American creed, without distinction of sect or party. Liberty, both civil and religious, is an American instinct. All natives suck it in with the mother's milk; all immigrants accept it as a happy boon, especially those who flee from oppression and persecution abroad. Even those who reject the modern theory of liberty enjoy the practice, and would defend it in their own interest against any attempt to overthrow it.

Such liberty is impossible on the basis of a union of church and state, where the one of necessity restricts or controls the other. It requires a friendly separation, where each power is entirely independent in its own sphere. The church, as such, has nothing to do with the state except to obey its laws and to strengthen its moral foundations; the state has nothing to do with the church except to protect her in her property and liberty; and the state must be equally just to all forms of belief and unbelief which do not endanger the public safety.

The family, the church, and the state are divine institutions demanding alike our obedience, in their proper sphere of jurisdiction. The family is the oldest institution, and the source of church and state. The patriarchs were priests and kings of their households. Church and state are equally necessary, and as inseparable as soul and body, and yet as distinct as soul and body. The church is instituted for the religious interests and eternal welfare of man; the state for his secular interests and temporal welfare. The one looks to heaven as the final home of immortal spirits, the other upon our mother earth. The church is the reign of love; the state is the reign of justice. The former is governed by the gospel, the latter by the law. The church exhorts, and uses moral suasion; the state commands, and enforces obedience. The church punishes by rebuke, suspension, and excommunication; the state by fines, imprisonment, and death. Both meet on questions of public morals, and both together constitute civilized human Society and ensure its prosperity.

The root of this theory we find in the New Testament.

In the ancient world religion and politics were blended. Among the Jews religion ruled the state, which was a theocracy. Among the heathen the state ruled religion; the Roman emperor was the supreme pontiff (pontifex maximus), the gods were national, and the priests were servants of the state.
Christianity had at first no official connection with the state. . . .

For three hundred years the Christian church kept aloof from politics, and, while obeying the civil laws and paying tribute, maintained at the same time the higher law of conscience in refusing to comply with idolatrous customs and in professing the faith in the face of death. The early Apologists-Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius -- boldly claimed the freedom of religion as a natural right.


The American relationship of church and state differs from all previous relationships in Europe and in the colonial period of our history; and yet it rests upon them and reaps the benefit of them all. For history is an organic unit, and American history has its roots in Europe.

1. The American system differs from the ante-Nicene or pre-Constantinian separation of church and state, when the church was indeed, as with us, self-supporting and self-governing, and so far free within, but under persecution from without, being treated as a forbidden religion by the then heathen state. In America the government protects the church in her property and rights without interfering with her internal affairs. By the power of truth and the moral heroism of martyrdom the church converted the Roman Empire and became the mother of Christian states.

2. The American system differs from the hierarchical control of the church over the state, or from priest government, which prevailed in the Middle Ages down to the Reformation, and reached its culmination in the Papacy. It confines the church to her proper spiritual vocation, and leaves the state independent in all the temporal affairs of the nation. The hierarchical theory was suited to the times after the fall of the Roman Empire and the ancient civilization, when the state was a rude military despotism, when the church was the refuge of the people, when the Christian priesthood was in sole possession of learning and had to civilize as well as to evangelize the barbarians of northern and western Europe. By her influence over legislation the church abolished bad laws and customs, introduced benevolent institutions, and created a Christian state controlled by the spirit of justice and humanity, and fit for self-government.

3. The American system differs from the Erastian or C saro-Papal control of the state over the church, which obtained in the old Byzantine Empire, and prevails in modern Russia, and in the Protestant states of Europe, where the civil government protects and supports the church, but at the expense of her dignity and independence, and deprives her of the power of self-government. The Erastian system was based on the assumption that all citizens are also Christians of one creed, but is abnormal in the mixed character of government and people in the modern state. In America, the state has no right whatever to interfere with the affairs of the church, her doctrine, discipline, and worship, and the appointment of ministers. It would be a great calamity if religion were to become subject to our ever-changing politics.

4. The American system differs from the system of toleration, which began in Germany with the Westphalia Treaty, 1648; in England with the Act of Toleration, 1689, and which now prevails over nearly all Europe; of late years, nominally at least, even in Roman Catholic countries, to the very gates of the Vatican, in spite of the protest of the Pope. Toleration exists where the government supports one or more churches, and permits other religious communities under the name of sects (as on the continent), or dissenters and nonconformists (as in England), under certain conditions. In America there are no such distinctions, but only churches or denominations on a footing of perfect equality before the law. To talk about any particular denomination as the church, or the American church, has no meaning, and betrays ignorance or conceit. Such exclusiveness is natural and logical in Romanism, but unnatural, illogical, and contemptible in any other church. The American laws know no such institution as "the church," but only separate and independent organizations.

Toleration is an important step from state-churchism to free-churchism. But it is only a step. There is a very great difference between toleration and liberty. Toleration is a concession, which may be withdrawn; it implies a preference for the ruling form of faith and worship, and a practical disapproval of all other forms. It may be coupled with many restrictions and disabilities. We tolerate what we dislike but cannot alter; we tolerate even a nuisance, if we must. Acts of toleration are wrung from a government by the force of circumstances and the power of a minority too influential to be disregarded.

In our country we ask no toleration for religion and its free exercise, but we claim it as an inalienable right. "It is not toleration," says Judge Cooley, "which is established in our system, but religious equality." Freedom of religion is one of the greatest gifts of God to man, without distinction of race and color. He is the author and lord of conscience, and no power on earth has a right to stand between God and the conscience. A violation of this divine law written in the heart is an assault upon the majesty of God and the image of God in man. Granting the freedom of conscience, we must, by logical necessity, also grant the freedom of its manifestation and exercise in public worship. To concede the first and to deny the second, after the manner of despotic governments, is to imprison the conscience. To be just, the state must either support all or none of the religions of its citizens. Our government supports none, but protects all.

5. Finally-and this we would emphasize as especially important in our time,-the American system differs radically and fundamentally from the infidel and red-republican theory of religious freedom. The word freedom is one of the most abused words in the vocabulary. True liberty, is a positive force, regulated by law; false liberty is a negative force, a release from restraint. True liberty is the moral power of self-government; the liberty of infidels and anarchists is carnal licentiousness. The American separation of church and state rests on respect for the church; the infidel separation, on indifference and hatred of the church, and of religion itself.

The infidel theory was tried and failed in the first Revolution of France. It began with toleration, and ended with the abolition of Christianity, and with the reign of terror, which in turn prepared the way for military despotism as the only means of saving society from anarchy and ruin. Our infidels and anarchists would reenact this tragedy if they should ever get the power. They openly profess their hatred and contempt of our Sunday-laws, our Sabbaths, our churches, and all our religious institutions and societies. Let us beware of them! The American system grants freedom also to irreligion and infidelity, but only within the limits of the order and safety of society. The destruction of religion would be the destruction of morality and the ruin of the state. Civil liberty requires for its support religious liberty, and cannot prosper without it. Religious liberty is not an empty Sound, but an orderly exercise of religious duties and enjoyment of all its privileges. It is freedom in religion, not freedom from religion; as true civil liberty is freedom in law, and not freedom from law. Says Goethe:

"In der Beschr nkung erst zeigt sich der Meister,
Und das Gesetz nur kann dir Freiheit geben."

Republican institutions in the hands of a virtuous and God-fearing nation are the very best in the world, but in the hands of a corrupt and irreligious people they are the very worst, and the most effective weapons of destruction. An indignant people may rise in rebellion against a cruel tyrant; but who will rise against the tyranny of the people in possession of the ballot-box and the whole machinery of government? Here lies our great danger, and it is increasing every year.

Destroy our churches, close our Sunday-schools, abolish the Lord's Day, and our republic would become an empty shell, and our people would tend to heathenism and barbarism. Christianity is the most powerful factor in our society and the pillar of our institutions. It regulates the family; it enjoins private and public virtue; it builds up moral character; it teaches us to
love God supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves; it makes good men and useful citizens; it denounces every vice; it encourages every virtue; it promotes and serves the public welfare; it upholds peace and order. Christianity is the only possible religion for the American people, and with Christianity are bound up all our hopes for the future.

This was strongly felt by Washington, the father of his country, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen"; and no passage in his immortal Farewell Address is more truthful, wise, and worthy of constant remembrance by every American statesman and citizen than that in which he affirms the inseparable connection of religion with morality and national prosperity.

Source of Information:

"The American Idea of Religious Freedom", by Philip Schaff.

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Postby ramana » 12 Jan 2008 04:07

India & the United States : Politics the Sixties

Kalyani Shankar

Macmillan and Co.,

LINK To order the book

Download Chap I

About the Book

This book provides fascinating insights into the Indo-US relations during the sixties. It deals with the ups and downs in the Indo-US relations from 1963 to 1969 – during the Lyndon Johnson presidency. The political manoeuvrings of Johnson come through the secret and confidential documents reproduced for the first time in this book. Delicate subjects ranging from food crisis, nuclear development, Vietnam issue, to Stalin’s daughter Svetlana’s escape have been carefully scrutinised with the help of documents. There are also references to the state visits of Nehru and Indira Gandhi which brings out the subtlety in the diplomatic relations. The book is supported by documentary evidences mostly from Lyndon Johnson Library. It provides sensitive complexities between Lyndon Johnson and Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi on various issues. This book will prove to be a rich resource material to scholars.
In the sixties Americans wanted India to be a model third world country as it was the most populous and largest democracy in the world. The Americans were very impressed by the smooth transition of power from Jawaharlal Nehru to Lal Bahadur Shastri and from Shastri to Indira Gandhi. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's visit to America during 1966 was one of the turning points in Indo-US relationship. There was an issuance of a joint communiqué in 1966 relating to many ticklish issues including military aid, food crisis; economic and nuclear. Indira Gandhi and Lyndon Johnson developed warm family ties and state dinners honouring the Indian Prime Minister were hosted. Lyndon Johnson and the US Congressman and Senators were completely bowled over by Indira Gandhi’s charm and personality. In 1967 nuclear arms and the Vietnam war were among the two sensitive issues that Deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai discussed with President Johnson. To get over the food crisis in India in the sixties, America not only offered food aid to India but also offered new developments in agricultural science. India set itself to achieving the Green Revolution. In 1965 the Indian Agricultural Minister C. Subramaniam visited the US and briefed President Johnson that India was well on its way to achieving the Green Revolution.

About Author(s)
Kalyani Shankar is a political commentator based in New Delhi. She began her career as a journalist with the Indian Express followed by a long stint at the United News of India. During her career spanning over three decades, she was the Washington correspondent and later the Political Editor of the Hindustan Times. She was a Nuffield Press Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge. She is also the vice president of the Press Association, vice president of the Forum of Financial writers and founder, and vice president of the Indian Women Press Corps. Presently she is a syndicated columnist writing for Hindi and English newspapers, apart from doing a weekly current affairs programme on All India Radio. She has also authored Gods of Power.


Understanding America of the Sixties(Article)

By I.Ramamohan Rao

New Delhi, Oct.30:At a time when Indo-US relations are going through a churning process, it is good that we have a book that details the relations between the two countries during the years when Lyndon B. Johnson was the President.

The book "India and The United States - Politics of the Sixties" is based on official documents, including reports from the Central Intelligence Agency, and gives the reader an insight into the way in which the US administration worked and how decisions were taken. .

Senior columnist Kalyani Shankar has based her book on the secret and classified documents available now in the Lyndon Johnson Library.

In the fifties and sixties, India wondered why the United States, which was a major supporter of the country's struggle for independence, changed its attitude and became critical of the policies followed by newly independent India.

President Franklin D Roosvelt was outspoken in his support of Indian independence. He applied pressure on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to grant independence to India. But once India became independent, the warmth was missing. There was pressure on India to join the US camp against the Soviet Union. When it did not, the attitude towards India became lukewarm.

The non-aligned policy followed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during the Cold War years and the efforts to establish a socialist pattern by independent India, was not appreciated in the United States. John Foster Dulles, the U.S. Secretary of State in the fifties, termed non-alignment 'immoral'

India faced an unhelpful United States at the United Nations, particularly on the Kashmir issue. After Pakistan became a member of treaty organizations lined up against the Soviet Union - like the Middle East Treaty Organisation and the South East Asia Treaty Organisation - it received arms from the United States, ostensibly to defend itself against any attack from the Soviet Union.

The attitude towards India worsened after the visit to India of Soviet leaders Bulganin and Krushchev in 1956.The massive crowds that lined the route from Palam Airport to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan and in other cities overwhelmed the Soviet leaders. The Soviet leaders declared during their visit that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India. India then needed a veto in the Security Council to block any move supported by the United States and Britain to Pakistan's case at the United Nations.

Truly, as Dennis Kux the noted US diplomat and author wrote, United States and India became "Estranged Democracies". Adding to the estrangement was the presence in Indian Cabinet of Krishna Menon. Chester Bowles, the US Ambassador to India in the sixties, said: "Jawaharlal clung to Krishna as a French monarch might have clung to his favorite mistress."

The book points out that even a sympathetic leader like John F. Kennedy could not establish rapport with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. When Communist China attacked India on October 26, 1962, and India asked for US assistance, Kennedy remarked to B.K. Nehru, India's Ambassador: "Did India ask Russian leader Khrushchev for help? You should ask him, you would know who your real friends are and who are just content to talk. Tell Khrushchev to put up or shut up."

India received military help from the United States which helped in raising new mountain divisions. United States also helped in providing India the C-130 aircraft, which flew sorties from Delhi to Leh and Chandigarh to Leh.

I had the privilege of traveling by the Charlie giant transporters to cover events in Ladakh. They were flown by US crew, many of whom told me that they were surprised why the fighting was taking place over such barren hills that extended from Punjab to Ladakh. The Charlies had to land in the Leh airfield which had a poor runway located in a bowl.

The Chinese declared a unilateral cease-fire on 28 November 1962. They also withdrew from many of the areas captured by them in the North-East Frontier Agency. But the Aksai Chin area in Ladakh and some areas in NEFA still remain in the possession of China and the border issue is still not resolved.

With the assassination of John Kennedy, his Vice-President Lyndon Johnson became the President. The documents disclose that the United States wished India well, but tried to persuade India to solve the Kashmir problem, and the sympathies lay with its ally, Pakistan.

With the passing away of Nehru in May 1964, the feeling in the United States was that the leadership in the region was being taken over by Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the President of Pakistan.

When Lal Bahadur Shastri took over as Prime Minister, a formal invitation was sent to him to visit the United States. The visit was planned for June 1965, but an invitation was also sent to Field Marshal Ayub Khan.

Because of President Johnson's preoccupations with Vietnam, the visit was postponed. But the surprising part of it is - which pained Lal Bahadur Shastri - was that India came to know of the postponement through a bulletin from a radio station in Pakistan, announcing that Ayub Khan's visit was postponed and so was Shastri's. There was not even the courtesy of a telephone call or a message from President Johnson to Lal Bahadur Shastri.

One can compare this with the recent telephone call made to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in South Africa, by President George Bush. It is an indication of how much Indo-US relations have traveled during the last four decades.

The book gives a graphic account of the warmth that developed between Indira Gandhi and President Johnson. Initially there was a sense of arrogance towards India in the United States. The note that was put up by the Central Intelligence Agency , prior to the visit of Indira Gandhi to the US said: " She (Indira Gandhi) knows and we know that without tangible and continuing American interest, the future of the Indian Union, that Union does not have much of a future."

A note put up on the eve of Indira Gandhi's visit in March 1966 by the NSC staffer Komer says: "We finally have the Indians where you 'have wanted them ever since last April - with the slate wiped clean of previous commitments and India coming to us asking for a re relationship on the terms we want."

The documents reveal how Indira Gandhi was able to establish a rapport with President Johnson, and was able to get the wheat loan.

The documents reveal how closely the United States was monitoring the Indian nuclear development programmes right from the days of Homi Bhabha, the first head of the Atomic Energy Agency.

There was sympathy for India when the first Chinese nuclear test was conducted on 14 October 1964. A number of US officials became interested in providing nuclear technology to India after the Chinese nuclear tests. But the sympathy soon dried up and the US started making efforts to get India sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The book also contains documents pertaining to India-Pakistan relations. The CIA followed the developments commencing from Pakistani intrusions in Kutch, followed by the sending of infiltrators to the Kashmir valley and the actual outbreak of the 22-day war.

Initially, the impression in the United States was that Pakistan was winning the war. Going through the documents one gets the feeling that there was sympathy for Pakistan's efforts. The poor performance of the Pakistan armoured Corps even though it had modern US Patton tanks had its effect on the US.

The final assessment of the CIA was that "although Rawalpindi succeeded in focusing the attention of the world on the Kashmir problem, the costs were unexpectedly high and the rewards uncertain"

The CIA was clear that in military terms India won the September war with Pakistan.

Going through the documents, one gets an idea of how the US system worked in the sixties. India's diplomacy those days was also confined to dealing with the State Department.

The situation has changed and both India and the United States are exchanging messages not exclusively confined to diplomatic channels.

The United States today is the lone Super Power, but the system in that country is still the same as it was four decades ago. The 'Politics of the Sixties' and the documents provide us valuable insights. One only wishes that we also have access to documents in Delhi.

I. Ramamohan Rao, former Principal Information Officer, Government of India.

Copyright Asian News International

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Postby svinayak » 12 Jan 2008 04:28

The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800
by Jay Winik (Author)

# Hardcover: 688 pages
# Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (September 11, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0060083131
# ISBN-13: 978-0060083137
Fresh and brilliant, this is the book that completely redefines the founding era. As the 1790s began, America was struggling to survive at home and abroad, and the world was gripped by an arc of revolutionary fervor stretching from Philadelphia and Paris to St. Petersburg and Cairo--with fatal results. While a fragile United States teetered on the brink of oblivion, Russia towered as a vast imperial power, the Islamic peoples were gearing for war, and France plunged into monumental revolution. In The Great Upheaval, acclaimed historian Jay Winik masterfully illuminates how their fates combined in one extraordinary moment to change the course of civilization and bequeath us the nation--indeed, the world--we've inherited. Below we see a brief taste of the incredible events and people who shaped this most memorable of decades.

A Timeline of The Great Upheaval
1787 George Washington and the founders gather in Philadelphia to create the Constitution. Meanwhile, Russia's Empress Catherine the Great prepares her bloody assault on the Islamic Ottoman Empire, thus unleashing the first modern holy war between Islam and Christianity.
1789 When the Bastille falls, it is a sound heard around the world: George Washington is sent the key to the fortress, while upon the hearing the news, Russians dance in the streets. King Louis XVI asks, "Is this a revolt?" and is told, "No sire, it's a revolution."
1791-92 Having helped midwife the American rebels to independence, an outraged Catherine seeks to stamp out the French Revolutionary menace. Undaunted, a radicalized France soon declares, "war on the castles, peace on the cottages," triggering a savage world war that lasts 21 years and costs millions of lives.

President George Washington
1793 George Washington receives Revolutionary France's new envoy, Citizen Genet, who audaciously seeks to foment insurrection at America's borders, pitting American against American.

An ocean away, the French king, who had been America's staunchest ally, is beheaded.
1794 The Whiskey Rebellion begins, threatening civil war in America. To Washington's chagrin, as the Terror heats up in France, the Whiskey Rebels in Pennsylvania carry mock guillotines, shoot up likenesses of George Washington, and threaten to march on Philadelphia. Washington frantically assembles a force larger than used at Yorktown.

The excecution of King Louis XVI
1795 Catherine's armies carve up the ancient kingdom of Poland, where the rebellion was led by a hero of the American revolution, Thaddeus Kosiusko, sending a dire signal to the infant American Republic about the perils of military weakness.
1797-98 As Napoleon's armies ominously devour Europe "leaf by leaf," president John Adams fears the young republic will be invaded next. With war fever gripping the country, the administration harshly represses civil liberties.
1800 In the most contested election in U.S. history, military forces are mobilized and the nation again hangs on the precipice of civil war. But unlike in France and Russia, America manages an unprecedented first--a peaceful transfer of power between antagonists, making Thomas Jefferson America's third president.

Empress Catherine the Great

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The years 1788 to 1800 must be numbered among the most tumultuous in history, as bestselling author Winik (April 1865) magnificently demonstrates in this aptly titled book. The nascent United States, tormented by three rebellions of its own, tottered as France descended into bloody terror and imperial Russia fought the Ottomans. Republicanism, liberalism, democracy, nationalism, as well as authoritarianism: all these potent ideologies, whose effects remain with us, sprouted from this fertile soil.The emphasis on Russian and French affairs marks Winik as being in the forefront of a growing campaign to globalize America's national history: to view the larger age and frame the story as one continuous, interlocking narrative rather than to focus myopically on events in the United States. The world then was far more interconnected than we realize, Winik writes. [G]reat nations and leaders were acutely conscious of one another.In this version, Washington, Jefferson and Adams no longer receive exclusive star billing, but instead share the stage with such greats as the Empress Catherine, the doomed Louis XVI, Robespierre, Napoleon and Kosciuszko. If there is a criticism to be made of this approach, it is that Winik has greatly underplayed the importance of Britain in the struggle for global mastery and the quest for international order.Buttressed by impeccable research, vividly narrated and deftly organized, this is popular history of the highest order and is sure to create a stir in the fall market. 16 pages of b&w photos, 3 maps. (Sept. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This is a history of the last 12 years of the 18th century, which, according to historian Jay Winik, was a period which set the world firmly on the path of human rights, human equality, freedom, and representative government. Beginning in fits and starts with the American Revolution, it the moves east to France, and finally to Poland, which at the time was under Russian control. Of the three, the American Revolution was the most successful; the French Revolution succeeded in overthrowing the ancien regime and lasted for about a decade, but was eventually put down by Napoleon; and the liberal experiment in Poland was suppressed before it even got started by Catherine the Great.

We have long been aware of the kinship between the French and American Revolutions; both were born of Enlightenment ideas put into practice. Many of the main players - Jefferson, Lafayette, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin - participated on both sides of the Atlantic. What is new and novel about this work is that Winik shows how these two revolutions were more interconnected than previously thought, and how they were connected with the events in Poland and points east. The world that Winik describes is one in which people and ideas "freely crossed and recrossed borders." The beginnings of globalization, one might say.

In 1789 the American Constitution was ratified, although contentious at the time, it remains our founding and governing document to this day. It was a success by anyone's standards. As these events were unfolding, the European continent was looking on with bated breath. They were waiting to see if the masses would rise up and demand their rights as citizens. The French, during this same year, were storming the Bastille. This affair turned out to be much more bloody than its American counterpart. Americans had the good fortune of being able to start with a clean slate on a new continent. They also had very good leadership from some outstanding individuals such as George Washington. The French had none of the above. They were bogged down with a long history of strife and violence. The Declaration of the Rights of Man, written by Lafayette and Jefferson, was an admirable document and it guided the revolutionary struggle for almost a decade. But with Napoleon's coup d'etat its ideals, along with the Revolution, fell by the wayside.

The next ripple of the revolutionary wave moving eastward is in Poland. Being under Russia's control, it was anxious to break free and establish a republic of its own. The leader of this revolt was Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a hero of the American Revolution. Kosciuszko thought he could finesse a peaceful American-style transformation of Poland. Catherine the Great, purportedly an enlightened monarch, saw things differently. She fretted a bloody French-style upheaval would take place, given that the circumstances in Poland were similar to those in France. She decided to crush the Polish revolt and take that country as well as Russia in an autocrtic direction. Russia remain backward and oppressed until the its violent revolution of 1917.

This is a very long book (695 pages) and there are long sections that have no obvious connection to the theme of revolutions. For example, there is a lengthy account of Russia's war with the Ottoman Empire. It is interesting if one is studying imperial conquests, but not relevant to the subject at hand. Nevertheless, this is an interesting work that suggests how interconnected the world was even before our globalized era.
This book is riveting. Just as Jay Winik changed the way we see the end of the Civil War in April 1865, he's done it again for the Founding period in The Great Upheaval. America was never isolated from the rest of the world--from the moment of its birth it was enmeshed in events in Revolutionary France and far-off Russia. Winik exquisitely recreates this world--from the tortured in-fighting of our nation's founders, to the bloodshed of the French Terror, to Catherine the Great's Russian armies making (ultimately futile) war on Islam. Woven into these events is also a heart-breaking history of slavery and a fantastic look inside the heart of the Islamic Ottoman empire. I was engrossed by Winik's renditions of not just the Americans, like Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Adams and their epic struggles to build a nation, but also his depictions of Catherine the Great--so vital to these times and so often ignored, as well as the Louis XVI and Marie Antionette, Napoleon, and Robespierre. Unike too many books, which are great only for the first 50 pages, this one builds with drama--the French Revolutionaries actually sought to start a rebellion on American soil and George Washington believed that America's envoys to France had been guillotined. But beyond the incredible story of holy war, revolution, and fierce rebellion inside the U.S., the lessons from this book stay with you: In Russia, imperial hubris drove flawed crusades against the Islamic world. In France, the political opposition guillotined their opponents. In America, George Washington learned to tolerate them--and taught others to do the same. This lesson of tolerance, of respecting divergent views, of balance and compromise in the face of the most bitter disputes is one the nation can desperately use again today. But these lessons can also give us hope. The Great Upheaval is a masterpiece, and it couldn't have arrived at a better time.

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Postby svinayak » 12 Jan 2008 10:11

The god of the desert:
Jerusalem and the ecology of monotheism

TYPE Article
BY Richard Rodriguez
PUBLISHED January 2008

in Harper's by Richard Rodriguez, January 2008
The desert surrounding Jerusalem is empty, beautiful, and haunting, as Rodriguez describes it in this poetic mediation on his recent visit to the Holy City, a landmark dear to adherents of three desert religions. He wanders by the usual tourist sites within the city, travels to a Greek Orthodox monastery, and even climbs to Cave Number One in Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Rodriguez wonders about the impact the desert spaces must have had on the early days of these religions, remarking unexpectedly that "Jerusalem is as condensed, as self-referential, as Rubik's Cube."
Posted 10:53, 26 December 2007

The Many Faces of Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Muslim World
by Mohammed Ayoob (Author)

# Paperback: 232 pages
# Publisher: University of Michigan Press (November 19, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0472069713
# ISBN-13: 978-0472069712
Mr. Ayoob has just done readers in the U.S. a great service by writing this book. This book is essential reading for policy makers, students and anyone who really wants to understand what's going on in the Islamic world.

The main problem with many books from the West on Islam and "Islamism" (political Islam) is that they are written from a Western perspective, and so they have inherent biases within them. This is of course a big part of the misunderstandings we have with this part of the world, the fact that we only see these societies and groups through the prism of our own standards and values which is not always concurrent with their own values. Indeed we seem to rarely ever be in synch with the realities of the area. This book puts political Islam into a vernacular that is ready for consumption by a U.S. audience.

One of the most interesting things I found was the author's discussion of the affects that contact with democracy, no matter how limited the democracy, has had on Islamic political groups. The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hizbullah and many other groups have had contact with some forms of democratic participation with varying degrees of success. The Muslim Brotherhood went from being a group that was suppressed to being allowed limited participation in elected government. When it became clear how much support they had they were once again violently suppressed. The question becomes will they continue down the path of moderation and participation or will their suppression lead to frustration and a recurrence of violence. The Mubarak and U.S. governments have a lot to say about what happens in the future to this group, if they decide that this group is to dangerous and must be suppressed there is a good chance that parts of the organization will become disillusioned and may resort to violence, but if they are allowed to become an active participant there is a real possibility that participation will have a further moderating affect.

Of course when one looks at the example of how Hamas was treated the prospects do not look good. One of the main points from Mr. Ayoob's is just how much of a moderating affect democratic participation can have on Islamic groups as evidenced by Turkey's AKP party. In a strange twist it is now the secularists in Turkey who have become authoritarian while it is the moderate conservative Islamic parties that have become ingrained in the political system that seems to be the voice of reason and moderation. Unfortunately Hamas' experiment in democracy seems to be heading toward abject failure due to circumstances beyond their control. They have not been given the opportunity to really join in the democratic process since they have been assailed from outside from the very beginning of their electoral victory.

This hypocrisy of the West has not gone unnoticed by the Muslim world. How the West purports to advocate democratization but only as long as the right groups get elected. The U.S. especially is generating ill will from this part of the world while at the same time pursuing policies that inhibit moderation. The rhetoric that comes from the U.S. about the moderating influence of democracy may well be true, but until we honestly pursue democratic change, no matter what the outcome for us, then we will be stuck with the same illegitimate, authoritarian regimes that are breeding grounds for disenchanted and potentially violent people. Islam is not inherently violent as some would have us believe, but just like all human beings given the right circumstances they can be forced into lashing out against the objects of their torment, whether that is authoritarian regimes or governments that back those regimes.

Mr. Ayoob does an excellent in job with very few pages detailing for the reader just how divergent political Islam really is. The author speaks of how we in the West tend to think of political Islam as being a "monolith", and he does an excellent job dispelling that myth and showing how each brand of Islamism, while many times espousing a universalistic agenda, is unique to its on context. Each Islamic group incorporates different aspects and theories of Islam to suit their unique situations. While there may be some violent, extremist elements they are a small minority. Many of these groups such as the AKP have shown themselves ready to join in the representative process and attempt to achieve their aims within the system. The author has given us plenty of examples of how democracy has a pronounced moderating affect on these Islamic organizations. It is up to us to focus our attention from the vocal and violent minority and focus our attention on helping the moderate majority, even when this help seems to be in contradiction to our own interests because in the end when these groups join the democratic process we all win.

This is a fantastic book that needs to be read and reread. I am eagerly awaiting the next publishing from this author.

Last edited by svinayak on 16 Jan 2008 03:35, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby svinayak » 15 Jan 2008 03:32

Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
by James Piereson (Author)

# Hardcover: 250 pages
# Publisher: Encounter Books (May 21, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1594031886
# ISBN-13: 978-1594031885

James Piereson has written an idiosyncratic, provocative, and quite brilliant book. He puts the Kennedy assasination--or, rather, the left's rewriting of history occasioned by the Kennedy assassination--at the center of liberalism's crackup in the 1960s in a way that no one, so far as I know, has done before. I'll go so far as to say this: Piereson's study will be indispensable to anyone, from now on, who seriously tries to come to grips with the last half-century of our history.

William F. Buckley Jr.
Mr. Piereson shows that the assassination of Kennedy was more than a shot heard round the world. It was a shot that blasted into the liberal Weltanschauung, bringing on the enormities of the sixties and seventies. Mr. Piereson earns the gratitude of curious people, whom he fascinates.

James Pierson convincingly argues that a deceitful left wing campaign turned John F. Kennedy's death into a martyrdom on behalf of fighting racism. This was the exact opposite of the truth. Kennedy was first, last, and foremost an opponent of Communism. He was, at best, mildly interested in racial integration. This unjust situation could not be allowed to become our number one priority. We were perceived to be in an existential fight to the death against Communist totalitarianism. We had to make sure our priorities were kept straight. A committed pro-Castro Marxist, Lee Harvey Oswald, and not a reactionary racist murdered Kennedy. Our national sins had nothing to do with it. Regrettably, however, a large majority of Americans bought into this con game perpetuated by the Communists and their fellow travelers---and some very well meaning individuals close to the assassinated president. Jacqueline Kennedy, adds the author, unwittingly did enormous damage. These efforts to distort the truth resulted in pervasive American self-hating by many members of the Democratic Party. Our nation is allegedly vile and a real threat to peace on this planet. We should be deeply ashamed of ourselves. How could we legitimately oppose Communist tyranny when the United States itself is so morally bankrupt?

Is the author exaggerating even slightly? No, he is not. The Democrats today are among our biggest obstacles in the current struggle against worldwide Islamic nihilism. They are inclined towards national suicide and have even essentially excommunicated Connecticut U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman from their ranks. You should immediately order James Pierson's book. Understanding the mindset of these self-hating Democrats is mandatory. Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism must be on your summer reading list. It is that important of a book.

The premise of this work is that while assasinating President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald put American liberalism in its grave. The contortions that liberals had to go through to avoid the idea that their hero had been killed by a communist transformed them, in the end, from the optimistic, future oriented people they were in 1963 to the hateful and hating maniacs that they are today. The irony is that if JFK were to be brought back to life today, he would shortly be drummed out of the modern, Democrat Party.

The founding of the new world coincided with slavery, the death of hordes of Indians, and, eventually, the internment of Japanese citizens during the Second World War. The punitive liberal believes that we deserve a comeuppance for what we have done.

Piereson destroys this emotive reasoning with aplomb. Blaming America for the slaughter of the Kennedy brothers is entirely irrational. The punitive liberal hates everything about his homeland, but becomes outraged whenever this is pointed out to him. For some reason, conservatives allow the left to frame the debate on this issue. Many timidly retreat from coming out and saying that left is unpatriotic. This is puzzling because their anti-Americanism is blatantly obvious. When they gaze at Old Glory "jingoism and vengeance and war" come to mind.

Mr. Piereson's concise account is a tour de force and not merely a historical study. It is a theoretical work which increases our understanding of both the past and present. Of a book we can ask for nothing more.

Over the years, I have heard many Left-wing people explain that it was the Kennedy assassination of 1963 that destroyed their faith in the system, and radicalized their politics. In this fascinating book, author and political thinker James Piereson examines the mythology that surrounds the Kennedy administration, how it was created, and the strange, unhinging effect it had on the American Left.

This book came highly recommend to me, and I can see why. The author does an excellent job of showing how we got from the intelligent Left of the immediate post-War era to the loony Left of today. In the 50s, the loonies were on the Right, finding Communists under their beds, and fighting such devious plots as fluoride in the water. And now we have Fahrenheit 911 and Leftists seeing a "vast Republican-wing conspiracy." Want to know how we got here? Then read this book and find out!

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Postby svinayak » 15 Jan 2008 03:37

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
by Jonah Goldberg (Author)

# Hardcover: 496 pages
# Publisher: Doubleday (January 8, 2008)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0385511841
# ISBN-13: 978-0385511841


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Postby ramana » 16 Jan 2008 04:33

I have posted earlier reviews of this book but this one is a good one.

From Pioneer, 16 Jan., 2008

How Random Events Shape Us

We spend our lives engaged in small talks, focussing on the known, while Black Swans -- dramatic, unpredictable events -- shape the course of history, writes NS Rajaram

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Publisher: Allen Lane
Price: £20

In 1907, EJ Smith was the captain of a ship which he proudly declared was unsinkable. Five years later it sank and its name, the Titanic, became a byword for complacency. Ninety years later, a group of financial experts described as 'geniuses' by their colleagues offered to the world their newly created methodology for risk management called Long Term Capital Management (LTMC). So great was their reputation and influence that the entire US financial establishment followed their advice. The result was the near meltdown of the US financial system, including the banks.

The key figures behind this economic version of the Titanic were 'Nobel economists' Myron Scholes and Robert Merton. They were among the founders of a financial orthodoxy called Modern Portfolio Theory of Finance. Following in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor, Merton too had proclaimed that before he and his colleagues of LTMC revealed to the world their portfolio theory, finance was a "collection of anecdotes, rules of thumb, and manipulation of accounting data", while his creation "allowed the subsequent evolution from this conceptual potpourri to a rigorous economic theory".

Their claim was punctured with a vengeance when in the summer of 1998 a combination of large events, triggered by a Russian financial crisis, almost sank the financial system built on portfolio theory. In their hands, mathematics was little more than a façade of formidable looking formulas that gave an illusion of rigour but were irrelevant to the problem at hand. Their self-heralded rigorous economic theory, built on false premises, was totally unprepared for the events that sank it.

The culprit in this and a hundred other human follies is what the mathematician and Wall Street trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls a 'Black Swan', the title also of his latest book. It is the name he gives to events that lie outside the conception of the experts who create a theory and its belief system, in this case the portfolio theory. It was built on false premises. They were like the French strategists who had created the formidable looking Maginot Line only to have German tanks outflank it, making it wholly irrelevant.

The author is a student of probability theory and its closely allied discipline of statistics. The creators of portfolio theory also claim to be using probability theory, but as the author points out, they are looking at the wrong kind of probability, one that is useful in situations where the randomness is less extreme than in situations subject to catastrophic events - or Black Swans. Worse, they try to predict the future based on their not-so-random models while totally ignoring the possibility of highly improbable but catastrophic events. They are like the French Generals of World War II who felt secure sitting behind the Maginot Line.

We have to deal with randomness every day, but most professionals deal only with randomness of the first kind, the one that ignores Black Swans. This allows one to predict the average behaviour of an entity, say the annual rainfall. For example, the annual rainfall in Chennai may be about 80 centimetres, but there are years of more or less rainfall. Nonetheless we can say that over several years, the average works out to 80, which can be predicted within a margin of error. However, this method fails when hit by a very rare but catastrophic event like a tsunami. Unlike rainfall, tsunamis don't average out with less and more. The rainfall data painstakingly collected over a century is useless in predicting their impact. That makes it a Black Swan.

Why call it Black Swan? It is because naturalists at one time believed that swans could only be white until they came upon the black variety following Captain James Cook's discovery of Australia. This upset their theories and classifications. The term has now entered the scientific lexicon and the book, The Black Swan, like the author's previous book, Fooled by Randomness, has acquired a cult-like following.

Portfolio theory, like much of modern quantitative methods, rests on the classical probability theory founded by French mathematical physicist Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749-1827). He and his successor Karl Friederich Gauss (1777-1855) introduced the well-known bell shaped curve in their study of errors arising in astronomical data. Laplace was a believer in the Newtonian or the mechanistic model of the universe. In this world view, uncertainty is due to our incomplete knowledge and errors of observation while the universe itself is unfailingly mechanistic.

Underlying this approach is the belief that once we learn to control the errors we can discern the truth. As Laplace saw it, given "an intelligence sufficiently vast... nothing would be uncertain and the future, as the past, would be present to its eyes". Or as the Persian poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam put it: "The first Morning of Creation wrote what the last Dawn of Reckoning shall read."

Laplace and Gauss, however, were concerned entirely with systems in which probability was needed to estimate and control errors. Another feature of their work was that they demand large numbers of observations (samples) to predict the average, like the average rainfall. This led them to the Gaussian or the bell-shaped probability curve which allows one to set limits on errors using what is known as standard deviation. Their work proved to be invaluable in physics, especially in statistical mechanics.

These methods work where randomness is small and ups and downs cancel out over time. This is not true of economics or finance where uncertainty is an integral part of the system. This inherent randomness can be seen in price fluctuations in the stock and commodity markets. But economists, in their attempts to make their subject mathematically rigorous, borrowed wholesale from physics and created entities like portfolio theory that bore no resemblance to reality. It gave rise to a false sense of security - an intellectual Maginot Line. This leaves their theories highly vulnerable to unexpected jolts or Black Swans.

A surprising conclusion of his study is that uncertainty clouds not only the future, but also our understanding of the past. Historians largely ignore the major influence Black Swans. This is true to an even greater extent of political scientists. How many historians, let alone political scientists, consider the influence of Black Swans like the assassinations of Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi? What would have been the future of the Congress had Sanjay Gandhi not died in a plane crash?

There is a serious case for historiography and political science to include Black Swans as part of their discipline. Often they are far more influential than elections and peaceful changes of Governments, and even coups.

In summary, in The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb has produced a profound work that should be studied by all serious thinkers, including academics.

-- The reviewer, a scientist and historian, has written, with David Frawley, Hidden Horizons: 10,000 Years of Indian Civilisation

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Postby svinayak » 16 Jan 2008 04:50

The Predictors : How a Band of Maverick Physicists Used Chaos Theory to Trade Their Way to a Fortune on Wall Street
by Thomas A. Bass (Author)

# Paperback: 320 pages
# Publisher: Amazon Remainders Account; Reprint edition (November 1, 2000)
# ISBN-10: 0805057579
Using a computer to beat Wall Street from afar is, arguably, the new American dream. While it will remain just that for most of us, an offbeat gang of academics turned financial wizards is showing it can be done. Led by acclaimed physicists Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard, the Santa Fe-based Prediction Company has proven since its 1991 founding in an adobe bungalow furnished with plastic lawn chairs and top-of-the-line Sun workstations that it is indeed possible to make millions in the world's financial markets by anticipating trends and developing software that automatically capitalizes on them. In The Predictors, Thomas A. Bass colorfully relates their tale of fiscal triumph--and reveals in the process how even an unorthodox group of antibusiness intellectuals in far-off New Mexico can make the world's biggest institutions sit up and take notice.

Long esteemed in the scientific community, Farmer and Packard have become legendary in hacker circles since their failed attempt to beat the roulette tables in Las Vegas with toe-operated computers was chronicled in Bass's well-regarded 1985 book called The Eudaemonic Pie. This time, though, the two hit the jackpot with their cutting-edge computer programs and the company they created to trade German marks, Chicago commodities, Japanese treasury bonds, Texas oil futures, and New York securities. Bass's prose is a bit flowery at times, but his perceptive you-are-there account is nonetheless entertaining and sure to cement the pair's reputation as today's ultimate masters of "phynance," the successful, and now oft-copied, merger of physics and finance. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal
In 1991, physicists Doyne Farmer, Norman Packard, and Jim McGill established the Prediction Company in Santa Fe, NM, intending to use their knowledge of chaos theory (the study of complex systems) to develop predictive models and automated black-box systems for beating financial markets worldwide. That they succeeded is only part of the story, the more interesting part of this tale being its human side. In Wired contributor Bass's account, we see the primary characters deal with a broad array of charlatans and geniuses, learn from their successes and failures, grow to appreciate the problems inherent in traditional economic theory, and become adept businessmen and managers. Useful as a primer in chaos theory as well as the various challenges that face start-up firms and the complexity of financial markets, this marvelous story should interest readers in both public and academic libraries.
-ANorman B. Hutcherson, Kern Cty. Lib., Bakersfield, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

What Farmer and his crew have accomplished is simply finding a set of adequate engineering models which can cut through the emotional fog of human traders and barely come out ahead, sometimes. It isn't chaos theory at all, and I am surprised that none of the critics or reviewers have mentioned this fact: Farmer (admitted) that his methods were simply engineering model-fitting with some trendy glue...they never got to the level of applying truely sophisticated ecological or evolutionary models to the market as a whole....You might say they made a mystery out of playing both ends against the middle, and were able to find someone to pay to see them do it.

The real problem of modelling real world systems was swept under the rug by the author with a throw-away reference to "the monster of dimensionality". The complexity of models increases geometrically or hypergeometrically with the addition of each variable, depending on how richly connected the model is. A model of the financial world running a few hundred variables would not come close to processing in real time--the reason that massively parallel supercomputers can render navier-stokes equations for the weather or hydrodynamic turbulence at all is because the node inputs do not require real world data...they keep riffing on data feed back from neighbors played against fairly simple transfer functions. To do a state space diagram with half a dozen variables defies the capabilities of any visualization method known to science at this time...and it takes more than science to distill the behavior of the world's financial community into fewer than two or three variables. It simply can't be done.

For the technically curious, the technologies that Farmer used were variants of methods that Hebbs set forth in the seventies and eighties which are capable of doing set-theoretical analysis of directed networks state changes using fairly basic logical inference. THe output is given in a few rules of if-then and probabilites, which must be tested against common sense. The book does mention this in some casual comments which can get away from the uninitiated pretty easily.

There are probably 10,000 living engineers with the savvy to adapt some algorithyms Byte Magazine published in the 80s as well as Farmer. Farmer was The Chosen One (with apologies to the Matrix) simply because he was famous, and he was famous because he had no problem taking credit for a field of novelty that dozens or hundreds of others had made viable (and he was the star of a readable book by a familiar author).

Reading the book brought back intense memories of the discomfort I felt in Santa Fe, where the divide between the haves and the have-nots was wide enough to swallow up the whole history of technically advanced invaders scamming their native victims. SOme kind of fractal symmetry here...but since I am asking Doyne for money now don't make me spell it out.

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Postby Neshant » 16 Jan 2008 09:27

Sounds like they created a random number generator and just got lucky.

Somehow i don't think anyone can predict the future given the number of unpredictable variables involved.

The result is I tend to see 'wealth managers', 'financial advisors' and other economics gurus as little more than charlatans.

I don't know if my view is accurate or I'm seriously off the mark but I tend to be wary.

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Postby svinayak » 16 Jan 2008 10:12

My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance
by Emanuel Derman (Author)

# Hardcover: 304 pages
# Publisher: Wiley (September 16, 2004)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0471394203
# ISBN-13: 978-0471394204
Emanuel Derman was one of the first physicists to move to Wall Street, and his career paralleled the growth of quantitative trading over the past twenty years. In My Life as a Quant, he traces his transformation from ambitious young scientist to managing director and head of the renowned Quantitative Strategies group at Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Derman’s tale recounts his adventures with quants, traders and other high fliers on Wall Street as he became the best-known quant in the business. He describes the struggles of research and his interactions with an assorted cast of famous scientists. He relates his impressions of some of the most creative minds on Wall Street, including Fischer Black, with whom he collaborated on the widely used Black-Derman-Toy model of interest rates. Throughout his story he reflects on the appropriate way to apply the refined methods of physics to the hurly-burly world of markets and the people that inhabit them.

The book commences with a history of physics that is reminiscent of "The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene. From Newton to Maxwell to Einstein and beyond, Derman discovers the great theories of yesterday and finds himself in the middle of a seven year marathon to a PhD and the launch of his academic career.

The struggle for intellectual purity and the distain for applied work abound in Derman's academic environment and the pressures of achieving greatness are pronounced in a place where genius is a commodity.

In a leap of faith, Derman decides to return to New York to spend more time with his family and to surrender to what he considered a less dignified job.

Lost in the Dilbert-esque hierarchies of the Bell Labs, Derman discovers the joy of programming, while submerged in office politics. After numerous attempts of beating the currents, Derman finally reaches the shores of Wall Street and is relieved to find an avant-garde environment, where meritocracy is no longer a foreign word.

The initial period of awakening takes place at Goldman Sachs, where he is mentored by Fischer Black, one of the great financial practitioners of our time. Derman is immediately impressed by Black's pragmatic style and intuitive quest for simplicity.

Black's influence becomes evident in the lucid and accessible description of the famous Black-Derman-Toy interest rate model and the subsequent elaborations on local volatility models that are at the foundation of more exotic instruments (which cannot be accurately priced using the overly simplistic implied volatility provided by the Black-Scholes-Merton model).

The author discusses the process of deriving original models and emphasizes that the elegant stochastic calculus derivations of these models are deceptively simple and make it difficult for students to fully appreciate the amount of effort that went into developing the initial embodiments -- what seems obvious now was once heavily debated.

Armed with the recently acquired knowledge, Derman accepts a new challenge at Salomon Brothers, doubling his compensation in the process. Unfortunately, the unhealthy competitiveness at Salomon forces him to reconsider quickly and he returns to Goldman after an undeserved layoff. The roundtrip allows Derman to develop an appreciation for the collaborative environment at Goldman.

Throughout the book, the interactions with family members, professors, bosses, traders, programmers and sales people are both amusing and enlightening. Derman succeeds in blending physics, finance, and human emotion in this masterful and entertaining autobiography.

A great book for anyone with an interest in Physics, Programming, or Finance. You will accompany Emanuel Derman in his journey to NYC as a young, enthusiastic PhD student, wander around the US and UK with him as he jumps from one postdoc position to another, have a feel of what is like to abandon a research career for a "business" job at Bell Labs "penal colony" and finally enter the secret doors of the money temples in Wall Street. You will find interesting remarks and reflections on the life of academics, programmers , quants and traders and get a glimpse of interesting characters like the nobel prize winner and Columbia Physics dept Emperor T.D. Lee and Wall Street legend Fisher Black. (yes, the Black-Scholes equation guy).
It is a fascinating read, but still quite cannot avoid the question: "why didn't Dr. Derman manage to stay in Academia"? Watching the steady decline of his enthusiasm and the gradual curbing of his hopes while he progresses through his PhD and postdocs makes a clear pictures of how helpful and nurturing academic life can be to the ones who dare to choose it. Isolation, extreme competition, lack of decent working opportunities and conditions and the need to "produce something" to sustain his academic career slowly disoriented and disgusted a truly passionate, talented and enthusiastic young physicist to the point that he found the business, money crunching world more intersting and pleasant! This paradox clearly and sadly illustrates how the "publish or perish" routine has deformed the beauty of research and academic life.
While Derman trained and practiced as a professional physicist for many years before entering finance, he reminds his readers that financial analysis is not a precise science the way physics is. It is more of an art. Physicists, writes Derman, are reductionists, meaning they simplify the world to astonishingly successful models describing its behaviour. Quants on the other hand must never forget that all financial models are wrong and naive. The questions for them, writes Derman, are how wrong and how naive. The problems of finance are the problems of modeling human behaviour and so should not be reduced too far. In this light he his especially critical of VaR (Value-at-Risk) a single figure measure of the riskiness of a portfolio.

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Postby hnair » 17 Jan 2008 22:20

Ramana, has there been a review of Will Durant's slim volume, 'A Case for India' here? A friend of mine give me a few copies for free to spread around amongst "doubting Indians". Interesting story behind its reprint that he was narrating. Later saw this report in The Hindu

The book went out of print or was banned it seems. I ordered a first edition(1930 edition) for a substantial amount from an antiquarian booksite, after I read the first chapter!

My esteem for Shree Pai have grown tremendously. And kudos to Shree Shanbhag too. BTW, my friend is an avid Sufi researcher and not a raging Nagpur Daisy Duker as dear Anand K would have put it :)

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Postby ramana » 17 Jan 2008 22:26

Oh he is Tonse Ananth Pai (of Syndicate Bank and Manipal complex)'s son! No wonder he helped to get the reprint out.
Do you have a copy to send me in US? Will pay postage.

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Postby svinayak » 17 Jan 2008 22:30

ramana wrote:Oh he is Tonse Ananth Pai (of Syndicate Bank and Manipal complex)'s son! No wonder he helped to get the reprint out.
Do you have a copy to send me in US? Will pay postage.

I have Will Durants History of World Civilization. One big chapter is only on India.

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Postby ShibaPJ » 17 Jan 2008 22:30

Hnair/ Ramana,
Is it possible to create an e-book or maybe a scanned copy for personal reading? Assuming this would not be breaking rules/IPRs.

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Postby hnair » 18 Jan 2008 05:02

ShibaPJ wrote:Hnair/ Ramana,
Is it possible to create an e-book or maybe a scanned copy for personal reading? Assuming this would not be breaking rules/IPRs.

ShibaPJ, that approach is solely for any offerings from the terror loving leaders of Pakistan Army's crapfest that are their sorry-ass biographies. Just to ensure that not even a cent goes into any terror ventures. ;)

But this book costs only 250 Rs and IMO needs to be bought giving the full amount. I dont think the late Will Durant or his estate will get any money and he would appreciate Strand's efforts, if he was alive. So inorder to show our appreciation as well as provide an incentive for Shree Shanbhag and Smt Virkar, to take up printing of such long lost treasures about pre-1947 India, I feel we should all pitch in. Particularly the jingoratti (and highly creative jingorazzis like Singha too)

That said, Ramana and ShibaPJ, sent a mail to, for I have two remaning copies that I can try to send across.

Hasten to add I do not have any connection to Strand nor do I get any monetary benefit :)

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Postby ramana » 18 Jan 2008 07:08

HNair check your e-mail.

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Postby ShibaPJ » 18 Jan 2008 07:53

The purpose was to spread the mesg far and wide. It seems, the book is not widely available. Please check your mail, will take it from there.

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Postby svinayak » 18 Jan 2008 08:15

He has an entire section on India going nuclear.
He says there is no real threat for India going nuclear.

The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger (American Empire Project)
by Jonathan Schell (Author)

# Hardcover: 272 pages
# Publisher: Metropolitan Books (November 13, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0805081291
# ISBN-13: 978-0805081299
“Jonathan Schell has been warning us about the dangers of nuclear weapons since his seminal book, The Fate of the Earth. The Seventh Decade shows how pressing this issue still is. Schell offers a provocative analysis of the current dangers and puts them in the context of history. It's a fascinating and important book.â€

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Postby svinayak » 18 Jan 2008 09:54

Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race
by Richard Rhodes (Author)

# Hardcover: 400 pages
# Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 9, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0375414134
# ISBN-13: 978-0375414138
This is the third volume in a history of nuclear weaponry that began with the award-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb, but despite its subtitle, this installment might also be described as a chronicle of the unmaking of the arms race. Paralleling the careers of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, Rhodes builds up to a detailed account of the 1986 Reykjavik summit, at which the two leaders—both eager to achieve peace—nearly came to an agreement on eliminating their nuclear arsenals, before the accord, he says, was sabotaged by then-assistant secretary of defense Richard Perle. The insistence of Perle and other advisers that the U.S. required a strong deterrent against the Soviet Union is held up for particular contempt. There has never been a realistic military justification for accumulating large, expensive stockpiles of nuclear arms, Rhodes argues. Far from keeping America strong, decades of nuclear arms production have seriously eroded the nation's domestic infrastructure and diminished its citizens' quality of life, he believes. The clarity of the historical record reinforces Rhodes's fiercely held political convictions, ensuring widespread attention as he returns to this critically and commercially successful subject. (Oct. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine
Richard Rhodes digs deep into the workings of the Cold War to explain how and why, between 1949 and 1991, apocalyptic nuclear war could easily have occurredâ€"and how and why it was avoided. Through dramatic narrative and readable prose, Rhodes reveals the disjointed policies, bureaucratic infighting, and paranoia that marked this era, while profiling Soviet and American leaders (including Richard Perle, who nearly derailed the summit talks). Rhodes portrays Gorbachev, who advocated mutual security, as the era’s hero; Reagan, while sympathetic, comes across as more naïve. While a few critics noted some sections of the book as repetitive and slow and others described Rhodes’s first two volumes as more magisterial, Arsenals of Folly provides an important, timely lesson: the cost of the nuclear arms race was a waste of resources, Rhodes concludes, and since then, there has been "no reasonable gain in security."

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes jumps back into the fire of nuclear physics with his latest book "Arsenals of Folly: The Making of The Nuclear Arms Race". Here Rhodes tackles the history of the nuclear arms race from the explosion of "Joe" the first Soviet atomic bomb to the arms escalation and he documents how close we have come on a number of occasions to use these weapons of mass destruction. To give a better overview of the time Rhodes also focuses on the various peace treaties, the development of "Star Wars" (no, not the movie)and Reagan's obsession with trying to engage Gorbachov in trying to defuse the arms race.

Beginning with the accident at Chernobyl in 1986 and covering the history of both the United States and Russia as they became involved in their nuclear war dance throughout the latter part of the 20th century, Rhodes uses information demonstrating that the disinformation that we've seen within government recently to shape public opinion has been going on for the last 40 years (big surprise!) creating circumstances that allowed the arms race to escalate out of control. Rhodes begins with Chernobyl (later covering the history of detente and the roles of various presidents before Reagan and Gorbachov sat down to try and rid the world of nuclear arms)because the plant itself was designed to do dual duty as both a reactor and a source of plutonium for weapons. The accident changed Gorbachov's perspective on the destruction that could result from a nuclear device simply because the damage to the environment and human life from Chernobyl was life a small nuclear device going off. This opened the way for more open and honest discussion on how to reduce the world's nuclear arsenal.

Rhodes also provides a fair balanced look at various leaders, government officals and scientists who have shifted public policy for their own political ends and agendas. It's a fascinating and involving book that you'll have a hard time putting down. For example, he gives a brief biography for each of the major players to help reader's understand what motivated those involved in both escalating and easing the arms race.

He also documents what motivated Reagan to approach Gorbachov (who had already seen the damage that could be done), dispells the "myth" that Reagan brought the Soviet government to its knees by outspending them on defense(the economy of the Soviet giant was already in deep trouble)and discusses why Reagan became obsessed with "Star Wars" (or the SDI)sticking to his guns (pardon the pun)about developing the technology. With a deft analysis of Reagan's personality he points out that SDI and the concept of eliminating the threat of nuclear war truly began after the assassination attempt on the President. It caused him to have an epiphany abandoning the idea that nuclear war and the end of the world was something that couldn't be avoided.

The book concludes with a discussion about the fragmenting of the USSR into individual countries and the concerns that the Bush administration had about the safety of the nuclear devices overseas. Finally Rhodes starkly points out what the arms race truly has cost us as a society.

Rhodes who wrote the terrific "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" and "Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb" both of which documented the various attempts crack the atom and create the first atomic and, later, hydrogen bombs at Los Alamos, provides a fascinating glimpse into the politics, science and mindset that influence policy on the arms race. Both are exhaustive and authorative books that take us behind-the-scenes focusing on the politics within the science that nudged along the unleasing of the most destructive force on Earth and the destruction/creation of careers of those involved.

Be aware that at the end of the book Rhodes does put on his editorial hat and comments about the cost of the arms race to society and the individual. So while the book is pretty fair balanced at the end he states his opinions. You may or may not agree with him but either way his comments are thought provoking.

Don't be intimiated by the fact that this is a history book. It is as fascinating as any novel. Rhodes breezy style and thoughtful observations make "Arsenals of Folly" an essential book to undertstand the arms race and its impact on the post 9/11 world we live in today.

JE Menon
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Postby JE Menon » 18 Jan 2008 12:43

Guys, am desperately in need of Durant's

Case for India

and the Civilization book with the chapter of India.

Have tried high and low to get them with no success...

Any way of forwarding to me will be much appreciated, will pay.

jmarvind at yahoo

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