Book Review Folder - 2005/2006/2007

svinayak
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Postby svinayak » 20 Nov 2005 13:00

Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (American Empire Project) (Hardcover)
by Robert Dreyfuss





Readers are in for quite a lively and insightful narrative. While describing the long historical developments that created the right-wing fundamentalism of the Islamist movement, Dreyfuss reminds us of the more mainstream secular, religious, and political currents in the Arab/Muslim world-and why U.S. policy chose to ignore or oust more moderate but "less reliable" leaders from power.

He vividly shows us how a Cold War "maginot line" strategy of extreme Islamist regimes from Turkey through Pakistan was meant to hold and even destabilize the Soviet empire.


Dreyfuss details how successive U.S. administrations directly or indirectly supported the numerous fanatical fundamentalist Islamist organizations: the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Wahabbis-empowering Frankenstein monsters throughout a region that U.S. policy makers understood primarily through a prism of fictional or prejudicial images.

Devil's Game also shows how the demise of Iraq strengthened, not weakened, the Islamist fundamentalist fanatics and how ignoring the remaining Arabists in the U.S. left the planning for the Iraq war to "be carried out by know-nothings."

The lively narration of the Introduction of Devil's Game alone is worth the full cover price, but the book gives much more.



Starred Review. One of the CIA's first great moments of institutional reflection occurred in 1953, after American covert operatives helped overthrow Iran's left-leaning government and restored the Shah to power. The agency, then only six years old, had funded ayatollahs, mobilized the religious right and engineered a sophisticated propaganda campaign to successfully further its aims, and it wanted to know how it could reapply such tradecraft elsewhere, so it commissioned an internal report. Half a century later, the most prescient line from that report is one of caution, not optimism. "Possibilities of blowback against the United States should always be in the back of the minds of all CIA officers," the document warned. Since this first known use of the term "blowback," countless journalists and scholars have chronicled the greatest blowback of all: how the staggering quantities of aid that America provided to anti-Marxist Islamic extremists during the Cold War inadvertently positioned those very same extremists to become America's next great enemy. (Indeed, Iran's religious leaders were among the first to turn against the United States.) Dreyfuss's volume reaches farther and deeper into the subject than most. He convincingly situates America's attempt to build an Islamic bulwark against Soviet expansion into Britain's history of imperialism in the region. And where other authors restrict their focus to the Afghan mujahideen, Dreyfuss details a history of American support—sometimes conducted with startling blindness, sometimes, tacitly through proxies—for Islamic radicals in Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Syria. At times, the assistance occurred openly through the American private sector, as Dreyfuss describes in a fascinating digression on Islamic banking. But ultimately, too few government officials were paying attention to the growth and dangers of political Islam. A CIA officer summarizes Dreyfuss's case when he says, "We saw it all in a short-term perspective"—the long-term consequences are what we're facing now. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description
The first complete account of America’s most
dangerous foreign policy miscalculation: sixty years of support for Islamic fundamentalism

Devil’s Game is the gripping story of America’s misguided efforts, stretching across decades, to dominate the strategically vital Middle East by courting and cultivating Islamic fundamentalism. Among all the books about Islam, this is the first comprehensive inquiry into the touchiest issue: How and why did the United States encourage and finance the spread of radical political Islam?

Backed by extensive archival research and interviews with dozens of policy makers and CIA, Pentagon, and foreign service officials, Robert Dreyfuss argues that this largely hidden relationship is greatly to blame for the global explosion of terrorism. He follows the trail of American collusion from support for the Muslim Brotherhood in 1950s Egypt to links with Khomeini and Afghani jihadists to cooperation with Hamas and Saudi Wahhabism. Dreyfuss also uncovers long-standing ties between radical Islamists and the leading banks of the West. The result is as tragic as it is paradoxical: originally deployed as pawns to foil nationalism and communism, extremist mullahs and ayatollahs now dominate the region, thundering against freedom of thought, science, women’s rights, secularism—and their former patron.

Wide-ranging and deeply informed, Devil’s Game reveals a history of double-dealing, cynical exploitation, and humiliating embarrassment. What emerges is a pattern that, far from furthering democracy or security, ensures a future of blunders and blowback.



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Postby ramana » 23 Nov 2005 02:12

Thanks Acharya for the above book review. kind of helps substantiate my ppt charts at BR mtg about Us role in fanning a declining civilization.

Meanwhile, Pioneer book review in 11/22/05
Yet another Pakistan theory

KR Phanda / Prafull Goradia

THE INDUS SAGA, BY AITZAZ AHSAN, ROLI BOOKS, RS 495

Ever since Pakistan was created by vivisecting India in 1947, a number of scholars, western, Indian and Pakistani, including bureaucrats and journalists, have written ad lib on the genesis of Pakistan. There is unanimity that the basis of Partition was religion and no other factor was allowed to override this factor. The Indus Saga by Aitzaz Ahsan, however, presents a new thesis.


In the bargain, he not only distorts facts but also asserts that Pakistan existed even before the advent of Islam. In the author's words: "Indus is presently the area that substantially comprises the state of Pakistan. Indus (Pakistan) has a rich and glorious cultural heritage, of a distinct and separate nation... During the last six thousand years, Indus has, indeed, remained independent of and separate from India for almost 5,500 years. For the remainder, from pre-history to the nineteenth century, Indus has been Pakistan. 1947 was only a reassertion of that reality."

{I think this is part of the new project to seek an identity and exisitence for TSP that is different from that created during the Partition}

Thus, according to Ahsan, India comprises the Gangetic plain and the southern peninsula whereas Indus and its tributaries constitute Pakistan. To say that present day Pakistan broadly consists of the Indus and its tributaries may sound reasonable but to argue therefrom that Pakistan existed 5500 years ago is arrant nonsense. Geographers and historians have, for ages, treated India as one integrated subcontinent.

The cultural and geographical unity that existed among the different sects of sanatan dharma in India began to be destroyed with the Muslim invasion of Sindh in 712 AD. Sir Stanley Lane-Poole, an eminent historian, in his book Medieval India (London, 1903), records: "Nine hundred years ago there were no Muhammedans east of Indus....For six centuries the Hindus submitted to the sovereignty of Muhammedan kings and when the great effort was made in 1857 to throw off the British yoke, it was round the Muhammedan emperor of Delhi. How the Muslim foreigners both in creed and face, came to occupy India and how this small but increasing minority imposed its will upon the greater part of the people of the land, is the subject of this book."

This is not the only instance wherein Ahsan takes liberty with facts. He writes: "Every Hindu temple was a treasurehouse of jewels and bullions. Some of the most prominent of these temples, those of Somnath, Mathura, Thanesar and Kannauj, later became the prime targets of the iconoclast, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni". In fact, to destroy idols was an Islamic duty. Other attractions like the loot of wealth were secondary. Prophet Mohammad was the first who destroyed idols at Mecca. Muslim invaders have followed this practice wherever they went.

India was no exception. To quote SR Sharma, "Nowhere else did Mahmud display more deliberate and atrocious vandalism than at Mathura and Brindaban. To admire, appreciate and then destroy is worse than never to have admired at all. Neither Alaric the Goth, nor Attila the Hun, nor even the Norman bandit Robert Guiscard, who sacked Rome in 1084 AD in league with the Muslims, indulged in such wanton crime against humanity and civilisation. Hence Mahmud's egregious conduct at Mathura is without parallel in history" (The Crescent in India, 1954).

Ahsan states: "Muslims often repeat the statement that Islam was not spread by the sword. That is, no doubt, largely true". This is false in the context of India. Prof TW Arnold in his book The Preaching of Islam (London, 1913), wrote: "For India has often been picked out as a typical instance of a country in which Islam owes its existence and continuance in existence to the settlement in it of foreign, conquering Muhammedan races, who have transmitted their faith to their descendents and only succeeded in spreading it beyond their own circle by means of persecution and forced conversions.

Thus the missionary spirit of Islam is supposed to show itself in its true light in the brutal massacres of Brahmins by Mahmud of Ghazna, in the persecutions of Aurangzeb, the forcible circumcisions affected by Haydar Ali, Tipu Sultan and the like."

Yet again, Ahsan asserts that "the Indus person (the Pakistani of today), with a liberal and tolerant frame of mind, by nature abhors dogmatic and fundamentalist politics." Facts do not support this contention. Hindus and Sikhs were ethnically cleansed out from Pakistan during 1947-48.

As reported in recent issues of the Dawn of Karachi, Hindu girls and women are frequently abducted in Sindh, forced to embrace Islam and never allowed to go back to their parents thereafter. Indus of Ahsan has become ajahannam/dozakh for non-Muslims.

Essentially, Ahsan's contention is that but for Jawaharlal Nehru India might have remained undivided. If only Nehru had kept his promise of giving two berths to Muslim League in the UP Government formed under the Government of India Act 1935, there might have been no Pakistan resolution. If only Nehru had not rejected the Cabinet Mission plan in July 1946, things would have been different. Fair enough, that is the author's view.

Evidently, Ahsan is not aware of the detailed negotiations that Gandhi and Jinnah undertook at the latter's Bombay residence during September 1944. Fortunately, each meeting was confirmed by both the leaders through regular exchange of letters which have been published. Therein Gandhi had conceded the principle of Partition based on a district by district plebiscite.

Jinnah's contention was that there was no need to ascertain the people's views since the Muslim League enjoyed monopoly over the voice of the Muslims. Gandhi, however, insisted that Partition could follow Independence and must neither precede nor be simultaneous. The Congress leader subsequently used the good offices of Rajagopalachari to disseminate his idea amongst his partymen.

Yet another view was that Dr BR Ambedkar saw no hope in Muslims ever happily coexisting with the Hindus. Moreover, the Muslim majority provinces were not raising sufficient revenue and their expenditure was subsidised by the Hindu majority provinces. At the same time, the armed forces had many more Muslims from their majority areas like Punjab.

Ambedkar had gone on to stress that Muslim soldiers could not be depended to fight for India in the event the adversary was a Muslim. This contention was consistent with the stand taken by the Khilafat Committee headed by Gandhi himself. Moreover, subsequently the Muslim League also endorsed this refusal of a Muslim to fight a Muslim. He therefore wholeheartedly recommended Partition.


Yet another view was that Partition could have been averted had Netaji Subhas returned after World War II. The Indian National Army had six seniormost officers of whom five, led by Maj Gen Kiyani, were Muslims. According to Kiyani, who has written a book on the INA, they were all admirers of Netaji. It is therefore quite possible that he would have been able to successfully contradict MA Jinnah and persuade the Muslims against the voice of Partition. There is little doubt that neither Gandhi nor Nehru understood the Muslim mind.

Had they done so, they would not have allowed Jinnah to become the sole leader of the Muslims by 1940. As is well known, he had little commitment to Islam or its practices. He was essentially a drawing room politician and had little mass contact. In fact, he had gone away to England when he saw the unfolding of mass politics at the hands of Gandhi. No doubt, he was a brilliant advocate but he addressed even mass meetings in English. The only other language he knew was Gujarati in which he was unable to deliver speeches.

Pakistan was a paradox for the Indian ummah. While it did provide a homeland for the community, too many Muslims were left behind in Hindustan. Had the country remained undivided, some 38 per cent of the total population would today have been Muslim. It is not impossible that an elected Sultan might have been ruling in Delhi.

Speaking to a Pakistani journalist in the early 1980s, Ayatollah Khomeini happened to pay a number of compliments to Qaid-e-Azam Jinnah. The only shortcoming of the Qaid, however, was, he is reported to have said, that the man lacked vision. Only if he had waited, the whole of India would have become a darul Islam in due course. Pakistan confined itself to only about two-fifths of the subcontinent!


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Postby Airavat » 27 Nov 2005 14:29

Bangladesh: The Next Afghanistan?

Image

My father would often tell me hair-raising stories of how, while fleeing from East Pakistan in 1947, he had to hide in paddy fields along with his widowed mother and younger siblings, the youngest a mere toddler, to escape blood-thirsty mobs screaming, "Allah-o-Akbar". Those must have been terrible moments for a 13-year-old. Many years later in 1971, while listening to radio broadcasts of the Mukti Bahini's heroic tales of resistance to Yahya Khan's rapacious army which had been deployed to crush the Bangladesh liberation struggle, I would wonder if my father had not been exaggerating.

Here was a country wanting to break free of Pakistan because its masses refused to accept Islam as a common denominator. Bangla culture and its liberal view defined the nascent nation. Mohammad Ali Jinnah's two-nation theory had been defeated, and liberalism had won over military dictatorship and khaki Islam.

Cut to 2005. The famed green of Bangladesh no longer stands for its fecund soil. It is the shade of political Islam which is supplanting, forcibly, Bangla liberalism with harsh Wahabi conservatism of Arabia. The lilting tunes of Rabindrasangeet have been replaced by chants of "Aamra shobai Taliban, Bangla hobey Afghanistan (We are all Taliban, Bangladesh shall become Afghanistan)".

A nation which till recently identified itself with India now unabashedly provides asylum to terrorists wanted in India. Terror camps in Bangladesh churn out jehadis to wage war against India. The terror unleashed on hapless Hindus after Begum Khaleda Zia's bnp-Jamaat Government came to power in 2001 now targets anybody who questions the Islamists. What went wrong? How did Bangladesh descend into a vortex of fundamentalism? Is it emerging as a net exporter of jehadi terror? Worse, is it the new epicentre of Islamist terrorism?

In Bangladesh: The Next Afghanistan?, veteran journalist Hiranmay Karlekar provides wholesome answers to these and many more questions. Meticulously researched and almost entirely based on Bangladeshi sources, the book lifts the veil on the ugly face of a rapidly talibanising Bangladesh. The author traces the birth and growth of the antediluvian forces represented by the tribe of Banglabhai of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh fame and exposes how Khaleda Zia's Government encouraged religious bigotry, mainly to annihilate the country's secular Opposition.

Karlekar evocatively recreates the coup of August 15, 1975, in which Mujibur Rahman and his family (barring Sheikh Hasina and her sister) were murdered, and the night of the long knives of November 3 that year when the top leadership of the Awami League were massacred. Zia-ur-Rahman, who pole-vaulted to the post of army chief after this and came to power, later died a dog's death.

His widow now rules Bangladesh and presides over its inexorable slide into disaster. In a replay of August 1975, Awami League leaders were brutally attacked in August 2004. Sheikh Hasina barely survived that attack, not so 22 of her senior colleagues. In today's Bangladesh, only the foolhardy will dare celebrate Poila Boishakh, the Bengali New Year's day. The distance between Bangladesh and Pakistan is only geographical; the razakars rule again through the Jamaat-e-Islami. Strangely, the government of India has failed to read the writing on the wall. A failed state is not desirable in the neighbourhood, especially when it is also a jehadi state. India is already burdened by unchecked illegal immigration from Bangladesh; which is adding to Islamic fundamentalism this side of the border.

This book should ring a warning bell for policymakers in South Block. If you do not agree, read Karlekar's chilling tale of the death of Mujibur's dream-and that of many others who naively believed in it.

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Postby svinayak » 02 Dec 2005 06:39

The Eagle and the Peacock: U.S. Foreign Policy Toward India Since Independence (Contributions in Political Science) (Hardcover)
by M. Srinivas Chary



Book Description
This work is a study of American foreign policy toward India since 1947. It examines the roles that the United States has played on the South Asian stage during the 45 years that constitute the history of the Cold War. In contrast to the interest that Cold War historians have displayed toward such areas as Europe and the Far East, little has been done with regard to India. Many Indian analyses consist largely of cliches and stereotypes and adopt an intensive tone of moral judgement. With the end of the Cold War in the 1990s the need for this study is more compelling since the politics of the Cold War had so greatly shaped Indo-American relations from the beginning of modern India's independence.

About the Author
M. SRINIVAS CHARY is Adjunct Professor at the New School of Social Research in New York.


THE EAGLE AND THE PEACOCK: U.S. Foreign Policy Toward India Since Independence. By M. Srinivas Chary. Westport (Connecticut): Greenwood Press. 1995. xii, 195 pp. (Maps, tables.) US$57.50, cloth. ISBNO-313-37602-1.

IN THIS BOOK which is primarily based on archival sources, the author analyzes U.S.-Indian relations from 1947 until the end of the cold war. Despite his claim of introducing new sources, there are few revelations presented. Chary's survey, however, leaves out many important events.

It is Chary's contention that because both the United States and India were so self-righteous, each thought it was a model to be emulated
. This caused them to have many disputes and misunderstandings. While I concur with that assumption, I am not convinced that America's relationship with India was intense enough to be depicted as typical of Washington's dealings with Third World countries or characterized as "the single most important aspect of the international role of the United States in modern times" (p. 9).

Chary finds the outstanding feature of Indo-American relations has been their "rollercoaster character" (p. 3), 'with the downs more apparent" than the ups. The same could be said about this study. Over half the book - the strongest part - deals with the decade of the 1940s. More contemporary developments are not given the treatment they require. Any in-depth discussion of bilateral relations ends in the mid-1950s. Because the focus is on Indo-American relations, other developments in the international system, including Khrushchev's initiative in India, are ignored.

For a book whose purpose is to fill gaps in the literature of Indo-American relations, this study contains more than its share of untreated incidents. Incredibly, there is no mention of America displeasure with India's role in the Hungarian crisis of 1956 or the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Although one of the subthemes of the book is the American attempt to influence Indian foreign policy through economic leverage, there is no discussion of the U.S. Congress's withdrawal of funding for a socialist steel mill at Bokaro in 1963. There is also a failure, when treating nuclear issues, to even mention the Pressler Amendment.


Chary claims that Indians saw the United States as partial over Kashmir, while Washington was displeased that India viewed the Chinese civil war and the Korean War as internal matters. It is his contention that Washington's unhappiness with New Delhi on these issues led the United States to bring Pakistan into the American alliance system (p. 85). This is his principal challenge to the conventional wisdom that Pakistan drew the United States into South Asian affairs.


The book is written in a confusing manner. Developments in 1966 are discussed before relevant matters referred to in the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War are covered. Similarly, the author implies that U.S. Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick wrote her "Dictatorships and Double Standards" article after a trip to India in 1981. In point of fact it came out in 1979. That article is miscited. The book contains many other errors. For instance, India's 1974 detonation of a nuclear device is said to have occurred in 1975 (p. 137); and Raju Thomas is identified as "Thomas Raju" (p. 155).

Because Chary relied mainly on primary materials, he failed to consult many relevant secondary sources. As a result, the book under review is more a study of the archival materials Chary examined than a comprehensive overview of bilateral relations.




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Postby Paul » 02 Dec 2005 07:14

http://www.the-week.com/25dec04/lifestyle_article4.htm

Bangladesh: The Next Afghanistan?
By Hiranmay Karlekar
Sage Publications. Price: Rs 320; pages: 311

Bangladesh has for long been troubling India’s conscience. The average Indian is puzzled and troubled by its attitude towards India. It is a country which India helped win freedom, not just with political support but by committing its armed forces. And in no time independent Bangladesh turned hostile to India. A case of crass ingratitude.

If this has been troubling India till recently, now the puzzle becomes bewilderment. India now sees Bangladesh cosying up to its former enslaver and helping the latter wage a proxy war against the liberator. Why?

The dynamics of strategic politics is far too complicated to offer simple answers. That is why a whole lot of books have been coming out recently on Bangladesh, but save a few—including the one by the departed veteran diplomat J.N. Dixit—none has been satisfactory. But Dixit dealt more with the formation of the state of Bangladesh and the problems in its emergence, till about the 90s.

Hiranmay Karlekar goes beyond that and reaches today, when the government in Dhaka is professedly hostile to India, and is acting as an eastern arm of Pakistan or at least its sinister intelligence agency, the ISI. If Pakistan is being forced to dismantle the terror structures in territories it controls, the same are now being rebuilt by the ISI in Bangladesh, where the rebels of Indian northeast are being trained.

Eagle-eyed: Indian soldier on the border with Bangladesh

Karlekar fears that Bangladesh could turn out to be the hub of terrorism and could become worse than the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. If Afghan terror was essentially directed at all ‘enemies of Islam’ spread across all continents, Bangla terror could be directed mainly at India, that too with a capability to penetrate into the heartland.

Karlekar has wisely left the much written about religious factor to a short half-chapter in the beginning, explains the socio-political setting in the remaining half and then proceeds to describe and analyse the recent developments in the next seven chapters. The book is extensively researched, and Karlekar is extremely careful in authenticating virtually every piece of information with footnotes. The book thus turns out to be a treasure-trove of information on Bangla politics.

Personally, this reviewer would have desired an additional chapter on the strategic implications to India. The implications are mentioned throughout the book, but a consolidated chapter on them would have helped the reader to quickly grasp them. Oh, yes, there is one more minor problem. The book jacket is a total put-off.

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Postby Prateek » 12 Dec 2005 06:58

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/GL10Df02.html

BOOK REVIEW
Indian vs American secularism
The Wheel of Law by Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn Buy this book


Reviewed by Aruni Mukherjee

In the first paperback edition of The Wheel of Law (originally written in 2003), Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn undertakes a substantial academic challenge - to compare and contrast Indian secularism with that of the United States and Israel in the constitutional context.

This "comparative trio" has developed three distinct avatars of secularism defined as assimilative, visionary and ameliorative, attributed to the US, Israel and India, respectively. Jacobsohn's essential aim is to gauge whether a defense of religious liberty can be reconciled with constitutional secularism.

When Gregory Johnson was burning the American flag in 1989, he breached the "wall of separation" that is enshrined in US polity between church and state. Such delineation is impossible, as the author argues, in Israel, where the Star of David epitomizes the Zionist inspiration behind the birth of the nation itself. As such, the US flag does not represent anything other than the "American way of life".

In a country such as India where "religion permeates everyday life and informs national identity" (although by no means a single religion), the flag is also a symbol of its constitutional mindset. While some commentators have made the grave error of associating the saffron on the Indian tricolor with the Hindus, the green with the Muslims and the white with the desire for peace between these communities, the author cites India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, addressing the Constitutional Assembly, arguing instead that the colors stood for revolution, industry, agriculture and commerce.

Emperor Ashoka's (273 BC to 232 BC) Rock Edict 12 states that the "essentials of dharma" (principles that order the universe) necessitate "restraint in regard to speech" - that "it should be moderate" and "the other sects should be duly honored". The chakra of Ashoka - the wheel of law - has spokes of equal length suggesting just this. The author traces this influence not only to the tricolor, but also to the Representation of the People Act (1951) enshrined in Indian jurisprudence.

The author focuses on the "Hindutva cases" (involving Indian nationalists) of the mid-1990s in the Indian Supreme Court after the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992. The central government's usage of Article 356 to dismiss three state governments was being challenged in the apex court.

The court upheld decisions of the government in Delhi based on its condemnation of the "corrupt practices" of cultural nationalism. Since this is a significant departure from the strict neutrality in such cases (for example, in defining cultural nationalism as corrupt practices rather than simply focussing on the resultant violence), it gives the judiciary's power a different contour in India vis-a-vis the US and Israel.

Article IV, Section 4 of the "guarantee clause" in the US constitution was evoked to deter the federal government from acting against the southern states' insistence on continuing slavery. This can be attributed to the liberal insistence on absolute neutrality. Similarly, a long-standing demand of the Hindutva supporters in India has been to establish a universal civic code, deterred thus far by India's ameliorative conception of secularism.

It is nearly 36 years since Amartya Sen (Indian economist best known for his work on famine, human development theory, welfare economics, the underlying mechanisms of poverty and political liberalism) built on the 1950 paradox outlined by American economist Kenneth Arrow to suggest that welfare and liberty doomed to an irreconcilable conflict in a society with multiple choices. The dilemma over secularism in India continues to vindicate this paradox.

The author criticizes some of the Hindutva ideologues of advocating a "slavish emulation" of the Israeli polity in India. However, as jurisprudence in each country is directly impacted by both the constitutional context and "ethnography", no one size can fit all. Contrast this with the complicated juxtaposition of innumerable religions and castes in India and a singular vision such as that of Israel becomes impossible to conceptualize.

The assimilative model of secularism in the US is also questioned by the author, when he suggests that political assimilation is increasingly being coupled with social assimilation, implying standardization. Invoking Employment Division v Smith (1990) - a US Supreme Court ruling that says the state can fire someone for violating a state prohibition on the use of peyote, even though the use of the drug was part of a religious ritual - the author argues that US jurisprudence has much to learn from the ameliorative model of India, which he considers to be apt for application in this case.

Certain arguments in the book can be readily questioned. First, Nehru agreed that religion was a "restraining influence on changes in civil society". Alexis de Tocqueville (the French political thinker and historian whose most famous works was titled Democracy in America), on the other hand, was favorable to a "peaceful dominion of religion".

But do religion and civil society need to be problematically intertwined? Indian journalist Romila Thapar has argued - and Jacobsohn agrees - that the wheel of dharma was essentially secular in its implication. However, the problem lies in the static visualization of religion, which is not the case in India, as the "ever-changing"definition of Sanatana (Hinduism) put forth by former Indian president Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan (who was credited with introducing the thinking of Western idealist philosophers into Indian thought) so vividly portrays.

Second, Jacobsohn quotes Seymour Martin Lipset (president of the American Political Science Association and the American Sociological Association) and agrees that "nations can be understood only in comparative perspective". Although it can be readily conceded that analyzing differences between polities can indeed yield fruitful answers, often to understand the essence of a nation, we need to refer to the famous phrase of the 19th century historian Leopold von Ranke - wie es eigentlich gewesen (how it essentially was).

Third, in what is supposedly a holistic analysis of the Indian constitutional field, a marked absence is that of a critique of the extremist Maoist and Islamist movements that have sprung up and gathered momentum in the 1990s, establishing "peoples' courts" and those following the Sharia (Islamic law), bypassing the laws enshrined in the Indian constitution.

The "crisis of secularism" can hardly be understood adequately with just one dimension in the author's analysis - the Hindutva movement. While it is perhaps unorthodox to classify the far left movements under the same umbrella as a religious movement, it too threatens the constitutional balance in Indian jurisprudence by attempting to forcibly include provisions alienating the so-called upper caste communities in many far flung rural areas.

Ultimately, Jacobsohn's analysis concludes at a rather persuasive argument. While impartial on the surface, American social and political life is impacted significantly by the role of the church on issues of public concern such as abortion and education, the latter also being hotly debated in India.

However, in India, there has been no attempt to artificially water down this impact by use of assimilation (which could lead to homogenization). On the contrary, the Sarva dharma sambhava principle (equal treatment of religions) is essentially impartial, although it involves including all religions in the jurisprudence, making matters more complicated, albeit more reflective of how society really is, but perhaps being more sensitive to the religious liberties of the individuals and communities concerned.

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Postby svinayak » 10 Jan 2006 04:24

India in the World Order : Searching for Major-Power Status (Contemporary South Asia) (Paperback)
by Baldev Raj Nayar,


Review
' ... a very good and well-written text. This book can be highly recommended both to undergraduate students of South Asian politics and international relations and to postgraduate students needing a book to set the context for this debate, which is surely one of the most crucial to international security in the early twenty-first century.' International Affairs
'... fluently written analysis ...' The Round Table

Book Description
Two highly regarded scholars come together to examine India's relationship with the world's major powers and its own search for a significant role in the international system. Central to the argument is Indiaas belief that the acquisition of an independent nuclear capability is key to obtaining such status. The book details the major constraints at the international, domestic and perceptual levels that India has faced in this endeavor. It concludes, through a detailed comparison of India's power capabilities, that India is indeed a rising power, but that significant systemic and domestic changes will be necessary before it can achieve its goal. The book examines the prospects and implications of India's integration into the major-power system in the twenty-first century. Given recent developments, the book is extremely timely. Its incisive analysis will be illuminating for students, policy makers, and for anyone wishing to understand the region in greater depth.

Download Description
This book examines India's relationship with the world's superpowers and its search for first-world status since independence in 1947. It asserts that India believes that the acquisition of an independent nuclear capability is a key factor in acquiring this status. The introductory chapters explore the early years of India's independence, and the book concludes with a penetrating analysis of the post-Cold War period and recent developments in the region.

About the Author
Baldev Raj Nayar is currently Emeritus Professor of Political Science at McGill University in Montreal. He is the author of over a dozen scholarly books dealing with international relations, political economy, comparative politics and South Asia. T.V. Paul is Professor of Political Science at McGill University. He also serves as the Director of the University of Montreal-McGill Research Group in International Security (REGIS). His publications include International Order and the Future of World Politics (with John A. Hall, 1999) and the Absolute Weapon Revisited: Nuclear Arms and the Emerging International Order (1998).



Table of contents

Nehrus Grand Strategy for a major power role - 1947 - 1964

Strategy in Hard Times - Long March for Capability - 1964 - 1990

After the Cold War - Adaptation, Persistence and Assertion - 1991- 2001

Conclusion - India and the Emerging International Order

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Postby svinayak » 13 Jan 2006 05:53


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Postby milindj » 13 Jan 2006 06:42

Can the people posting the reviews also post the ISBN number and other details about the book, if possible? That helps in getting the book from the local library, or ordering it if not available locally

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Postby Tilak » 14 Jan 2006 18:31

“Afghanistan: A Modern History”
By Angelo Rasanayagam;
Published by IB Tauris (2003);
Distributed by
Vanguard Books, Lahore;
Pp 311; Price Rs 995


The money behind the Taliban
Khaled Ahmed
TFT

Author Rasanayagam has written an informative and comprehensive book on Afghanistan, delving into old history and relying on the best authorities on the Afghan wars of our times to put before us a fuller picture than most other good books on the Taliban and Pakistan’s involvement with them. He has mined two authors that he trusts on the subject, Barnet Rubin of the US and Ahmed Rashid of Pakistan, adding to them the information he gathered as a United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) director in Peshawar after serving in Iran as UNHCR’s chief. With the kind of clear mind he possesses, he may actually have written a classic on the subject.

When General Zia grabbed power in Pakistan and embarked on what may be Pakistan’s terminal transformation into an unsustainable jihadi state, he was without money in the kitty. Bhutto, whom he had hanged, had come a cropper in his socialist programme, leaving the economy belly-up. When the Soviets walked in, he was in need of beefing up Pakistan’s defence against India. He bargained hard with the Americans who wanted him to join the covert, deniable war with them against the Soviet Union. For Washington it was a grudge match; for Zia, it was money for all sorts of purposes, including spoils for his supporters.

President Reagan gave him satisfaction with $3.2 billion for six years and an option to buy forty F-16s that would tip the air balance against India. But Washington and Zia had to cover up their tracks buying weapons for jihad. The CIA stepped in and began gathering all the weapons they could lay their hands on, provided they didn’t carry the made-in-the-US label. What could be better than the Soviet-made ones? The famous Kalashnikov (AK47) changed the world and made it more trigger-happy, but the Soviets had to face it first in Afghanistan. Later, of course, everybody and his uncle in Pakistan carried one and the target was the house that General Zia had built on the debris of what Jinnah had dreamed.

CIA chief Casey first went to Egypt where the Soviets had left behind a dump of Kalashnikovs, landmines, grenade launchers and anti-aircraft missiles in return for new US-made replacements. Israel provided the cache of Soviet weapons it had captured during the Six Day War in 1976. China earned its share of the booty – through the ISI that ran its Ojhri Camp near Islamabad as its dump – by putting its Soviet-origin ordnance factories on overdrive. Copies of Soviet-made weapons were also produced in the United States. Everyone made money in a covert war that was to end up killing over a million Afghans. The CIA made unprecedented handouts to the ISI – a record in its career – till in 1985, the annual figure was $280 million. Casey got Saudis to match the figure dollar for dollar and had Reagan give them the AWACS they wanted in return. Saudi money was funnelled to the CIA through shady offshore accounts; and the BCCI, whose boss Hassan Abedi was our first hero – the second one being Dr AQ Khan – got the other covert project going behind the shield of the Afghan war: the development of nuclear weapons.

Funny things kept happening to the arms trail. Around 100,000 that landed in Karachi for the Afghan jihad came from India and the Indians knew that they would be used against their friends, the Soviets! And ammunition for these rifles was actually from the POF Wah factory in Pakistan, shipped out secretly on a ship and then brought back as import from the global arms bazaar! When the boxes were opened, the made-in-Pakistan label was still there and the ISI had to rub it off post-haste in two days! Without money, the jihad didn’t move and everyone who was involved in it in Pakistan and Afghanistan had to be plied liberally with funds. The American taxpayer may have been taken for a ride but the price of defeating the Soviet Union was still okay; only Pakistan has still to do its moral audit of what it did during those years with the money it absorbed. By 1987, Pakistan was getting $630 million annually from the US alone; an equal, if not more, amount came from Saudi Arabia and its Arab friends.

But power knows no bounds and Afghan leaders like Hekmatyar, despite getting the lion’s share of weapons and money from a reverse-indoctrinated ISI, also sold heroin into the US market after growing opium in the Helmand Valley in Afghanistan. The US and the Saudis invested in Afghanistan for their separate reasons: the Americans wanted to defeat the Soviet Union in addition to checkmating an unusually temperamental Imam Khomeini; the Saudis simply wanted to prevent Imam Khomeini’s revolution from inspiring the Arab masses by making it vulnerable in Afghanistan. Pakistan, which was never anti-Shia, joined in and Zia emerged as the first anti-Shia leader in the country and could actually have been killed in the Shia-Sunni mayhem that ensued in Pakistan. Rasanayagam quotes from Rubin on how much money the Saudis deployed to keep the ISI on the anti-Iran path when it came to choosing a government in exile from among the Afghan mujahideen.

The Taliban appeared on the scene in 1994 after a period of civil war among the mujahideen, and people like Hameed Gul, hardly weaned from Hekmatyar, thought they were the Americans’ new puppets. Where did the Taliban get their funds from? Straight handouts ($10 million) by Pakistan out of its own half-empty coffers, from a 20 per cent levy on drugs and on the most lucrative smuggling related to ATT (Afghan Transit Trade). Later on, Osama bin Laden was there for them to shake down, Mullah Umar even giving his daughter to him as his fourth wife. The total smuggling into Pakistan through the Spin Boldak-Chaman border was $5 billion (in 1999) out of which the Taliban got $70 million to finance their $100 million war budget.

Pakistan’s loss through the smuggling of electronic goods and other manufactured items stood at $600 million annually in 1999, the kind of aid it gets from George Bush annually today. There is a calculation about how bad the black economy (51 per cent of the GDP) created by this smuggling is for Pakistan’s own industrial sector. Rubin’s term “rentier state” explaining the nature of Afghanistan may be sucking the life’s blood out of the already troubled state of Pakistan. Rasanayagam gets it right when he says that the real damage to Pakistan from the Taliban was in the shape of a process that most Pakistanis are intellectually incapable of grasping: talibanisation. This makes the entire population love dangerously and hate unwisely. Today, 90 per cent of Pakistanis love Osama bin Laden, are in denial about the existence of Al Qaeda, and hate President Musharraf for weaning them from the drugging effect of jihad and the terrorism attached to it.

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Postby Paul » 19 Jan 2006 00:06

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/7752 ... 180006.htm

An interesting article on how the Europeans jockeyed for influence in the Indian ocean in the 15th-18th century period. It makes one wonder though if the Brits reversed their muslim appeasement policy in South India as opposed to North India.

Did not know where else to post this very interesting article based on a book review. HT does not archive.




Rise and fall of Coromandel Muslims


Before the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English established themselves on the Coromandel or East Tamil Nadu coastline, maritime trade was entirely in the hands of Tamil-speaking Muslims of Arab-Tamil ancestry.

But once the pushy, ruthless, cunning and better organised European merchants entered the arena, the Coromandel Muslims began to lose ground rapidly.

And in their fight for survival, they got no help from the Indian rulers, writes Dr J Raja Mohamad, in his fascinating book entitled: Maritime History of the Coromandel Muslims (published by the Government Museum, Chennai, India, in 2004).

The local rulers were indifferent to the Muslims' plight because they were not interested in maritime trade and the Muslims had not cultivated them.

In the new era, when trade was inextricably tied to political and military power, the apolitical Coromandel Muslims found themselves completely outplayed by the more savvy Europeans, Raja Mohamad says.

The dominant Muslim communities on the Coromandel coast were the Marakkayars, also known as Maraikars, Marikkars or Marcars, and the Labbais, also known as Lebbe or Coromandel Moplahs. Maraikars and Labbais were found in Ceylon too.

These communities dominated trade with Ceylon and South East Asia. So much so, that English records describe the ports on the Coromandel coast as "Moor ports".

Cuddalore was known as Islamabad :D and Porto Novo or Parangipettai, as Mohammad Bandar.

The Tamil-speaking Muslims of Arab-Tamil ancestry had inherited their dominant position in South and South East Asian trade from the Arabs, who had acquired a virtual monopoly of Indian maritime commerce by 3rd Century BC.

The Arab and Tamil-speaking Muslim traders brought much prosperity to India. The 14th century Arab writer Ibn Fadbullah ul-Omari had written that in India the seas were pearls and the trees were perfumes!

According to Raja Mohamad, Arab contact with Tamil Nadu is mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature of 2nd Century AD.

He says that the "Yavana" in Sangam literature are not Greeks, as generally presumed, but Muslims from what is now Yemen.

He also says that the term "Sonaka" used to identify Coromandel and Ceylon Muslims of Indo-Arab descent is but a corruption of Yavana. He also points out that the Mapilla or Moplah Muslims of Kerala were known as Sonaka Mapillas.

The Arabs came to the Coromandel coast not as conquerors, but as traders.

Conversions to Islam took place through preaching to the under-privileged sections of the caste-ridden Hindu society, and marriage to Tamil women. Islam came to the Coromandel coast in its earliest days.

The oldest mosque in Tamil Nadu which is near the Kottai (Fort) Railway station in Tiruchi is dated 743 AD.

The native Hindu rulers of what is now Tamil Nadu and Kerala, encouraged the Arab-Muslims to settle down and trade.

The Zamorin of Calicut in Kerala needed Muslims to man his ships. He even decreed that the Arab traders should marry Malayali women and bring up at least one of their children as a Muslim.

The Rowthers, as the name suggests, had made a name for themselves as traders in Arab horses.

The Marakkayars (boat people) and Lebbais were expert mariners and traders. The Marakkayars claimed a higher social and economic status.

Arrival of Portuguese and end of free trade

Prior to the advent of the Portuguese in the early part of the 16th. Century, trade in South and South East Asia was free.

It was the Portuguese (followed by the Dutch and the English) who introduced the system of monopolies and unfair trade regimes based on military might and political clout, Raja Mohamad says.

Cooperation and peace were replaced by discord and war, he comments.

In bringing about this iniquitous system, the Indian rulers had a hand. Indian rulers at that time did not enter trade.

So they did not pitch for monopoly over trade in the Indian Ocean. They extended all facilities to the Portuguese to attract them to their ports, Raja Mohamad says.

He laments that the Indian rulers did nothing to protect the Muslims, who were the only Indian maritime traders operating shipping services to far-flung areas.

The Indian rulers declared that trade in spices, gold and silver were a Portuguese monopoly.

Being virulently anti- Muslim, the Portuguese told the Christians of Kerala not to sell their pepper to the Muslims.

By 1530, the Arabs lost their monopoly over trading in horses. This passed entirely into the hands of the Portuguese.

By 1537 they had converted to Christianity an oppressed fishing community on the Tamil Nadu coast called Paravas.

The rejuvenated Paravas were set up to compete with the Muslims in trade and pearl fishing.

Pearl fishing, which was entirely in the hands of the Muslims for a long time, went into the hands of the Paravas.

To control trade in the entire region, the Portuguese established their power over key points like Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, and Malacca in South East Asia. Ceylon passed into their hands.

Under the Cartaz system, only those ships with a Portuguese Cartaz (document or permit) could trade and enter ports in this region.

Indian rulers favoured Portuguese

To the misfortune of the Coromandel Muslims, the Nayak rulers of Thanjavur favoured the Portuguese, and the latter in turn favoured the Hindu Chettiar merchants, who were taken as local partners.

This affected the Muslims badly because their trade centre was the port of Nagapattinam in Thanjavur.

In Madurai too, the Nayak rulers favoured the Portuguese. This was because the Portuguese helped Thirumalai Nayak in a succession dispute.

Taking advantage of the Nayaks' lack of interest in seafaring and sea trading, the Portuguese took control of the Madurai Nayakdom's ports.

But the Portuguese ran into trouble with the Sethupathi Rajas of Ramanathapuram, who formed an alliance with the Dutch against the Portuguese.

As the Muslims too had complaints against the Portuguese, the Ramanathapuram Rajas helped the Muslims establish themselves on the Ramanathapuram coastline facing Ceylon.

With the local Rajas being generally indifferent, if not hostile, to the Muslims, the Portuguese were able to persecute the Muslim traders with impunity.

Their ships used to be disallowed in harbours even if they had the Cartaz and heavy bribes were demanded. It cost the Muslims a great deal more to get a Cartaz.

When the Portuguese acquired Colombo in Ceylon, they found a strong Muslim population there dominating trade.

Persecution was set in motion immediately. They were driven out of the maritime regions into the Kandyan region at the Centre.

From there they had to go to the Eastern and South Eastern Coast, where they became rice cultivators.

Dutch displace Portuguese

The Dutch set up their first factory in India in 1605, and by 1658, they had displaced the Portuguese from most places on the Coromandel coast.

The Indian princes welcomed the Dutch because they needed help to counter the Portuguese who had become rapacious.

The Dutch were given trade concessions in return for help to counter the Portuguese.

The Sethupathi of Ramanathapuram had borrowed money from the Dutch, and as repayment, he had to mortgage all his ports to them.

In Ceylon, the Dutch confiscated the vessels of the Sethupathi and his allies, the Muslims.

Heavy restrictions were put on the Muslims both in India and Ceylon. In Ceylon, after the Dutch had established themselves, government lands were not rented out to the Muslims and no government work was entrusted to them.

But the Dutch could not stand the pressure from the English who had also started forming alliances with native princes by exploiting differences between them.

By 1783-84, the Dutch East India Company was virtually bankrupt and before long, the Dutch had to quit India.

Muslims turn to smuggling

Raja Mohammad says that because of the restrictions put on them by the Portuguese and the Dutch, Muslim traders and mariners took to smuggling in a big way in the 17th and 18th centuries. Records tended to describe them as smugglers.

The French, who followed the Dutch, were more favourable to the Muslims. The French used Muslim mariners in their trade with Burma.

The Muslims began to operate from Pondicherry, where the customs rates were lower.

Impact of the British

The British changed the character of trade in peninsular India. They entered into deals with weavers and financed their production for export. Many of the weavers were Muslims from the Lebbe community.

But by the first half of the 19th century, all this changed, Raja Mohamad observes. The British began to export cotton from South India and import finished cloth made in Lancashire, England. South Indian cloth lost its market in England.

Muslim traders were disadvantaged by the growth of British Joint Stock Companies in the trading sector.

The system of advancing money to weavers had broken the back of the Muslim trader and exporter.

Local weavers sold their products to the British merchants not the Muslims. The British Indian government favoured British companies and discriminated against Muslim merchants.

Muslims who were in shipping and ship building were badly hit when the British restricted Indian shipping and ships having Indian crew.

A ship entering English waters had to have a White captain and at least 75 per cent of the crew had to be White, Raja Mohamad writes.

The British also preferred to work with the docile Hindu Chettiars rather than the Muslims, he says.

Muslim traders lost out to the Chettiars also because the financial clout of the latter was much greater.

After the revolt of 1857 in North India, British attitude towards the Muslims in general hardened.

Southern Tamil Nadu was the home ground of the Tamil Muslim trader and mariner.

When the British started developing Madras as the main port of the Coromandel coast, the Muslims were highly disadvantaged.

Ports on the southern coast like Kayal, Kilakarai, Devipattinam, Thondi, Adiramapattinam, Porto Novo, and Nagapattinam began to lose their importance.In which states exactly are these ports loocated?

These remained dominant only in Indo-Ceylon trade, in which of course, the Tamil Muslims had a big role to play till quite recently.

The heavy restrictions on Muslim maritime trade forced the Coromandel Muslims to leave this line and look for other trading opportunities further inland in India and abroad.

Migration to Ceylon, Malaya and other parts of British-held South East Asia began in a big way.

Muslim-owned ships began to take passengers rather than cargo. Many Muslims became traders, peddlers and contractors in South East Asia.

Reasons for the decline of the Coromandel Muslims

Raja Mohamad has identified several reasons for the decline of the Tamil-speaking Muslims of the Coromandel coast:

1) There was a sharp religious and economic conflict between the Portuguese and the Dutch on the one hand, and the Muslims on the other.

2) The Portuguese and the Dutch and later the British preferred to work with the Hindu Chettiar merchants rather than the Muslims.

3) Native Indian rulers, whether Hindu or Muslim, barring the Sethupathis of Ramnad, had no interest in maritime trade and therefore gave away their ports and maritime trading rights to the European powers in return for financial/political/ military help against their rivals.

In the process, the interest of the indigenous maritime trader, the Muslim, was sacrificed.

4) Unlike the Europeans, the Muslims showed no interest in the politics or political conflicts in the areas in which they lived, and therefore failed to take advantage of political currents.

5) Muslims did not modernise their business styles and practices. The British were more innovative and reaped huge benefits as a result.

6) Muslims did not have the financial resources of the Hindu Chettiars or the British merchants. They had to borrow from the Chettiars at high rates of interest.

7) Unlike the Chettiars, the Muslims were not united. And unlike the British merchants, they did not have the backing of the British Indian government.

The British Indian government placed such restrictions on overseas shipping and trade that it was impossible for Muslim overseas traders and shipping interests to survive.

Raja Mohamad ends his book on a somber note. He says that the Muslims of Coromandel, who were the "rulers of the waves, merchant princes at home and king makers and economic builders in far off countries", disappeared from the scene rapidly, because they could not match the strength and guile of the Europeans.

Sadly, the short-sighted Indian rulers had no use for the Muslims and ignored them.

Today, the Coromandel Muslims are a pale shadow of what they were even 200 years ago.

Though their deeds "glitter in the pages of history," they do not remember their past, Raja Mohamad observes.



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Postby ramana » 19 Jan 2006 21:11

The above book review should be in the Islamism thread for it offers nuggets that explain some facts.

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Postby svinayak » 29 Jan 2006 11:54

State of War : The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration (Hardcover)
by James Risen



There are three major scoops in this book that earn it five stars where the rest of the book might only merit four:

1) The obvious scoop now before Congress and the press, with respect to the National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping on citizens without a warrant.

2) The really really huge scoop, that Charlie Allen, then Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Collection, was able to guide the recruitment of no fewer than 30 Iraqis able to travel back to see their relatives and conclusively document that there was no nuclear program and no weapons of mass destruction--this information was evidently not provided to Congress, the President, or (naturally), the public.

3) Slightly less sensational, the book reveals for the first time that a CIA "bait" operation actually delivered to Iran completely useful plans for creating a nuclear bomb...the CIA "flaws" intended to render the plans unworkable were detected in one glance by a Russian courier scientist, and easily correctable by the Iranians.

Over-all the book renders an important public service by pulling together in one place the many tid-bits that are publicly known, but is distressingly weak on crediting those many other sources (e.g. Jim Bamford, the last word on NSA).

The cover of the book is quite revealing in that it has photos of Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Tenet--those who follow the politics of the Executive know that Cheney is the man pulling the puppet strings, generally without being detected, and it is Cheney that allowed Rumsfeld to blatantly ignore the President, steam-roll Condi Rice, disrespect Tenet, and sideline Colin Powell.

Other major points in the book that merit our attention and respect:

1) According to the author, but consistent with my own experience across three three of CIA's directorates, CIA consistently screws those that try to tell the truth, such as the Chief of Station in Iraq that wrote the report saying the insurgency was going to hurt us badly and we were not winning.

2) CIA developed a "poisonous culture" that sought to mollify the President, avoid conflict with the Pentagon, and generally not be serious about its mission {"ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free")

3) CIA did not blow the whistle on the ramping up of Afghan drug production, and allowed the Pentagon to ignore the urgent calls from the Department of State for aerial spraying and other eradication measures--today Afghanistan provides 80% of the opium on the market.

4) Israel's Mossad briefed the neo-conservatives along lines they were pleased to hear, going around and against the CIA.

There are several minor flaws in the book that would normally reduce my appreciation to four stars, but the above scoops more than compensate. However, they are worth noting:

1) The book seriously over-sells and exaggerates NSA's capabilities. While they can indeed do some wondrous things, on balance NSA is in the 1970's and not at all ready for the modern world of emails, web directories, and phone texting.

2) The book touches on New York Times stories based on "leaks" from the White House but avoids naming Judith Miller or exploring whether she was an Israeli agent of influence.

3) The book touches on torture and rendition, but does not discuss how many have been imprisoned erroneously (in the dozens according to some accounts) or died as a result of torture (as many as two dozen according to some accounts). CIA literally made people "disappear" making it no better than the Argentines or the Israelis or the Nazis. Most of CIA is honest; a small segment engaged in torture and renditions is out of control.

4) The book perpetuates the CIA field claims that the Northern Alliance allowed Bin Laden to escape, and fails to mention the well-documented fact that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, without consulting anyone, gave the Pakistanis an air corridor, ostensibly to evacuate a few of their "observers," that was used to actually evacuate over 3,000 Taliban and Al Qaeda personnel trapped by US forces in the Tora Bora area.

5) The book comments on the 9-11 Commission being contradicted by open records in many respects, but fails to examine the close relationship between the White House, the Bush Family, and the Saudis, who were complicit in Al Qaeda's global growth and unwilling to help the US until after 9/11 and even then, very marginally.

6) The book has a highly questionable allegation that a single error by a CIA communicator "blew" all CIA Iranian assets. My understanding is that the CIA has been equally incompetent in recruiting Iranians as it was in recruiting Iraqis. This smells like a fish story.

Over-all the book delivers two compelling indictments:

1) Of CIA for self-censorship, pandering to the President and the Vice President, and failing to cover the Middle East properly over a period of decades.

2) Of Cheney and Rumsfeld, for orchestrating a virtual coup in which the President could be ignored, the National Security Advisor steam-rolled, the Secretary of State side-lined, and the entire policy process set aside in favor of Cheney-Rumsfeld dictates.

This is quite an amazing book, and highly recommended.


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Postby Arun_S » 29 Jan 2006 12:31

4) The book perpetuates the CIA field claims that the Northern Alliance allowed Bin Laden to escape, and fails to mention the well-documented fact that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, without consulting anyone, gave the Pakistanis an air corridor, ostensibly to evacuate a few of their "observers," that was used to actually evacuate over 3,000 Taliban and Al Qaeda personnel trapped by US forces in the Tora Bora area.


The author's credibility take a irrepariable hit when he confuses "Khunduz" for "Tora Bora" :cry:

The author is confusing "Khunduz" evacuation mission where the Pakistani's evacuated 3,000 Talibans and Al-Queda on the pretext of evacuating it's own ISI operatives and suspected few Nukes it had safe in the "Strategic Depth" bastion of "Khunduz" which was surrounded by a NA and before it fell to Northern Alliance.

BTW Tora-Bora has no air-field and helicoptrs payload is cut to ~10% of normal at that altitude. And Pakistan does not have but a miniscule fleet of helicoptors to even attempt evacuating 3000 people. Not from Tora Bora.

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Postby Atish » 30 Jan 2006 12:02

Can somebody help me remember the name and author of a book written a few years ago (fairly recently) about indian culture.

I read a review that it said that Indians talk about other stuff but are singlemindedly devoted to pursuit of power and money. Interesting premise and soudned like an interesting book.

Unfortunately i have forgotten what the book was? Not very easily available when I tried to find it a couple of years ago.

Thanks in Advance.

Atish.

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Postby Singha » 30 Jan 2006 13:34

Atish, it is "Being indian" by pavan varma.

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Postby ramana » 03 Feb 2006 03:48

Link to Yale Journal of International Affairs

http://www.yale.edu/yjia/

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Postby ramana » 11 Feb 2006 02:31

Book Review in Pioneer, 10 Feb., 2006
The world is ours, if only we dream big

The following is an excerpt from Shonar's Of Past Dawns and Future Noons, published by UBSPD

OF PAST DAWNS AND FUTURE NOONS, BY SHONAR, UBSPD, RS 595
Ashes of Heroism

India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples. And that which must seek now to awake is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma."

When one is armed with such a history, there is something peculiar about its fount of knowledge, which is that it will not cease to give, nor dry up in the most adverse of circumstances. All one has to do is draw in with an extra breath and the fountain spews forth its wisdom like ever before.

Thus, even through the barbaric times, even in the midst of the bloodbath that wreaked havoc on her soil, India still emitted signs of her extraordinary courage and everlasting vitality. She stood her ground, albeit with bent knees, and although her scabbard of earlier days, her forces of protection, her people, her children, ran amuck hither and thither, she still did not give in.

Sometimes, there came short spurts of resurgence when an occasional child, having drunk the milk of her valour, would lead the nation once again into the battlefield, with the aim of removing the shackles that had wrapped devilishly around his Mother's soul.

It was no longer important to see if he succeeded or not, for just the fact that an attempt was made, was in itself a sign of hope that in time, all will once again be well, for so long as the soul of even one man awakens to the call of his Mother, the call of Truth, the call of Dharma, there is hope and certitude in the ultimate victory In her chequered history, she may seem to have plunged and extinguished her own light but the reality has something else to say.

"Invasion and foreign rule, the Greek, the Parthian and the Hun, the robust vigour of Islam, the levelling steam-roller heaviness of the British occupation and the British system, the enormous pressure of the Occident have not been able to drive or crush the ancient soul out of the body her Vedic Rishis made for her. At every step, under every calamity and attack and domination, she has been able to resist and survive either with an active or a passive resistance. And this she was able to do in her great days by her spiritual solidarity and power of assimilation and reaction, expelling all that would not be absorbed, absorbing all that could not be expelled, and even after the beginning of the decline she was still able to survive by the same force, abated but not slayable, retreating and maintaining for a time her ancient political system in the south, throwing up under the pressure of Islam and Rajput and Sikh and Mahratta to defend her ancient self and its idea, persisting passively where she could not resist actively, condemning to decay each empire that could not answer her riddle or make terms with her, awaiting always the day of her revival. And even now it is a similar phenomenon that we see in process before our eyes. And what shall we say then of the surpassing vitality of the civilisation that could accomplish this miracle and of the wisdom of those who built its foundation not on things external but on the spirit and the inner mind and made a spiritual and cultural oneness the root and stock of her existence and not solely its fragile flower, the eternal basis and not the perishable superstructure."

Such is the country that we have inherited. Such is the soil that we step on... on which once stood people like Bindusara and Chandragupta, Mahendravarman and Krishnadevaraya, Rajendra Chola and Rana Sangha, Shivaji and Nana Fadnavis, Baji Prabhu and Rani of Jhansi, Subhash Chandra Bose and Sri Aurobindo...

A Wake-up Call

When Politics becomes lifeless, the triple Veda sinks, all the dharmas (i.e., the bases of civilization) (howsoever) developed, completely decay. When traditional State-Ethics are departed from, all the bases of the divisions of individual life are shattered."

There is something extremely disconcerting about Bhishma's warning to Yudhisthira in which he says, "When our current cycle of time nears its end, the people of the country shall be reduced to the selling of food, the Brahmins to the selling of the Vedas, and women to the selling of their bodies... an all consuming fire shall burn all around. The travellers who seek shall not receive even food, water or shelter; and refused from all sides, they shall be seen lying all around on the roads."

Doesn't his vision seem familiar? In any event it is not hard to imagine, and that is what makes such a prophecy terrifying. If it has truly reached a point where it has begun to take shape, no longer nebulous and hypothetical, then it is time for us to wake up.

And this action will only be the beginning. For, even though India had enough foresight in the past to make up for all this lost time in the middle, she has now become habituated to moving ahead inch by inch instead of taking lengthy strides as was her nature.

Her politics today needs serious re-thinking and re-planning. To be labelled as the largest democracy is enough to inflate our hearts with pride, but little do we realize that only few are aware of what it means and the different connotation it has in the Indian context. In truth, it is something less synthetic and more in keeping with the thought that is so unique and peculiar to India alone.

"Her (India's) mission is to point back humanity to the true source of human liberty, human equality and human brotherhood. When man is free in spirit all other freedom is at his command.... When he is liberated from delusion, he perceives the divine equality of the world which fulfils itself through love and justice, and this perception transfuses itself into the law of government and society. "When he has perceived this divine equality, he is brother to the whole world, and in whatever position he is placed he serves all men as his brothers by the law of love, by the law of justice. When this perception becomes the basis of religion, of philosophy, of social speculation and political aspiration, then will liberty, equality and fraternity take place in the structure of society and the satyayuga returns. This is the Asiatic rendering of democracy which India must rediscover for herself before she can give it to the world."

Undoubtedly, our westernised and equally synthetic education is to blame for this lack of understanding, leaving only a minuscule minority that has comprehended the exalted goals of the past and seen through the short sighted vision of the present.

Unfortunately, they have as yet not attempted, or succeeded even if they have, in changing the dominating thought process.

The same goes for the politicians for, as long as ignorance keeps the masses shrouded, it would only serve them well, ensure the weight of their piggy banks and give them that sense of false superiority as well as an imaginary cause to fight.

'Nothing of the kind can be asserted of the modern politician in any part of the world; he does not represent the soul of a people or its aspirations. What he does usually represent is all the average pettiness, selfishness, egoism, self-deception that is about him and these he represents well enough as well as a great deal of mental incompetence and moral conventionality, timidity and pretence. Great issues often come to him for decision, but he does not deal with them greatly; high words and noble ideas are on his lips, but they become rapidly the claptrap of a party."

The parties, which are essentially a sign of live and conscious democracy, have today become a joke, and a poor one at that. Each is concerned only with the motive of bringing down the other, irrespective of the good that it may be hoping to do. Cutting each other's throat and tenure, maligning the good along with the bad, our politicians, it would seem, are left with not much time in hand to spend on the upliftment of the country. The diversity in opinion of the individual parties can only be healthy so long as the ultimate motive is common - in our case, the motive can only be in the protection and the progress of the people of India.

The ones who are still astute and persevering are quickly brought down so as to merge with the general body and not stand apart. That is what we have become - average, ordinary, no different, a mass.

But if we want, we can fish ourselves out of this situation as well. The oars are ours to take. The aims are ours to achieve. It has all been told to us, all been ingrained in us, and we have in us the strength of that indomitable past - a few centuries of a dark sun cannot stop us from being what we essentially are or believing in what we hold as true.


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Postby ramana » 13 Feb 2006 21:49

One more book review;
The sacredscape of Varanasi

Banaras: The City Revealed serves its stated purpose, namely to draw attention to the city's fragile architectural legacy and to show how its richly filigreed works of art are fast vanishing - Utpal K Banerjee

BANARAS: THE CITY REVEALED; ED GEORGE MICHELL & RANA PB SINGH; PHOTOGRAPHS BY CLARE ARNI; MARG PUBLICATIONS, RS 2500

Perched on the tip of Shiva's trident and beyond the pale of the material and mundane world is how Hindus have perceived Banaras for centuries, perhaps for millennia. Believed by geographers to be located at the confluence of Varuna and Asi - hence the ancient name Varanasi - the city serenely oversees the steady stream of gurus and sadhus, philosopher-teachers and their ardent students, widows and devout individuals of all possible hues who make it their home.

After endless tomes have been written and devoured about this sacred city, Marg has now come out with a volume - splendidly planned and superbly illustrated - that focuses on the physical aspects of its built-up space, to the exclusion of its religious convictions and practices. It is just as well, for, nowhere else have so many kings and queens, governors and commanders, patrons and public men invested on such a grand scale at a single site.

The magnificent riverside palaces and public monuments that these personages erected from the 16th century onwards stand as eloquent testimonies to a sustained tradition of munificence as well as an unwavering faith in Banaras as the pre-eminent spiritual site for Hindus. Many of the latter, often nameless, were responsible for sponsoring the numerous Mathas and monasteries, free dharmasalas and charitable dispensaries that dot the cityscape till today.

It is extraordinarily painful to recount, as the authors have done, that under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707), the greatest temples of Banaras - such as, Vishvanatha, Krittivasa and Bindu Madhava - were all razed to the ground in 1669. As a consequence, no Hindu sanctuary in the city of Banaras pre-dates the time of Aurangzeb. The much older city of Puranic glory and beauty, as it was known in the 12th century, had virtually disappeared by the end of the 17th century and only some traces remained.

The authors faithfully record that the redoubtable French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was present in Banaras in 1665 before the horrendous feat of destruction and did document the architectural beauty of the riverside temple of Bindu Madhava before its demolition, but deprive the readers from gaining an inkling into Tavernier's diary, so as to sample what that resplendent work of Hindu art in the then Banaras was like. Omission of such a gem in a book devoted to Banaras' architecture, is really unpardonable.

Having noted the fact of wanton destruction, let it be said that Banaras is also an abiding home to the Muslim faith, providing sanctuary to a series of commanding mosques and shrines of Muslim saints, most of them, thanks to the large-scale devastation by Aurangzeb, older than any surviving temple within the city. These Muslim monuments confirm the building interest of the Delhi Sultans when north India was under their control. Nor did constructions slow down when the Mughals began to lose power and Banaras was held by a local dynasty. It is to those later Hindu rulers and their chieftains that most of the city's now extant palaces and garden-residences can be ascribed.

Indeed, there is a continuing coexistence of mosques and tombs with the all-important Ghats and riverside palaces. Mosques of the Sultanate period distinctly go back to the 13th century and some dominant ones like Rajghat, easily the oldest, were fortified as citadels.

Interestingly, Bibi Raziyya Mosque (named after the famous queen of Delhi, who was perhaps involved in its construction) was erected over the dismantled Visvanatha Temple: an act that effectively 'Islamised' a site particularly holy to the Hindu psyche. Four mosques, constructed under the orders of Aurangzeb, were all built on sites of the most important temples of Banaras, dismantled under the imperial orders of 1669. As the authors point out, "By his act of destruction, Aurangzeb intended to eradicate Hinduism and attain a moral unity... by imposing his version of Sunni Islam."

Aurangzeb's mosques in Banaras are interpreted here "as expression of the personal political-religious idealism of an extremely ambitious monarch." He effectively obliterated the legacy of Akbar (15556-1605) whose religious tolerance had led to the building of two great temples, dedicated to Shiva (Vishvanatha) and Vishnu (Bindu Madhava). After much architectural speculation, it is a relief to turn to the first fully preserved Vishvanatha Temple of Banaras, standing next to the Bibi Raziyya Mosque and now called Adi Vishveshvara, presumably to distinguish it from the later Vishvanatha erected by Ahilyabai.

Among the Ghats, there are 84 clearly demarcated ones, out of which the oldest, and firmly dated, is Manikarnika Ghat, built in 1302. In many instances, there were separate owners for the top and the bottom parts of the Ghats. Little information has been garnered with regard to the architecture of other Ghats from before the 16th century.

On the whole, the book serves its stated purpose, namely to draw attention to the city's fragile architectural legacy and to show how its richly filigreed works of art are vanishing fast. It notes, "Even a short boat ride on the Ganga reveals deplorable assaults to the city's unique historical texture. Riverside palaces and Ghats are eroded by the destructive action of the river itself as well as by new structures that literally engulf older ones.

Religious monuments are disappearing under thick whitewash and insensitive additions." Where the book falters is by not depicting Banaras as a living city. Its catholicity of spirit - as evident on the Ghats - is equally matched by its enduring traditions that have a luminous cultural face. There is a sundry picture here of Amethi Temple on Manikarnika Ghat and its bracket details of exuberance of performing arts, of cymbals, veena, flute and drums, but not a mention of the famous Kabira Chowk that has been reverberating with the sounds of a dancer's anklets and a singer's lilting melodies late into the night.

Surely the highly culture-oriented Banaras citizens and art-conscious traders of the world-famous Banaras silk could be sensitised to their vanishing heritage, if only put across in a holistic way and not as a blueprint of dry lamentation.


Link to Tavernier's books: TRAVELS IN INDIA from Columbia Uty.

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A commentary on the peoples of India

Postby SriKumar » 12 Mar 2006 21:34

The Continent of Circe: An Essay on the Peoples of India, by Nirad C. Chaudhuri (NCC)

I haven't seen this book or author discussed much. So, I thought I'd mention a work of his that is relevant to the issues we discuss here. NCC authored several books, of which 'The Continent of Circe' deals with the people of India (Hindus, Muslims etc.) the British rule and several other topics. Below is an except from a chapter on Muslims and the creation of Pakistan (chapter 12). This was written in 1967:

"..... Pakistan, unfortunately, is not a flowing river and cannot be one, it has to be only a lagoon by the very circumstances of its creation and the strongest sentiment which is keeping it going, namely, the loyalty to Islam in a world in which Muslims no longer regard their old faith as the basis of their social life.....

Yet Pakistan cannot give up Islam, or even relegate it to a secondary position. It has nothing else to stand on........ Without its adherance to the lost cause, the country itself will be lost, for there is nothing in it besides Islam which can resist the gravitation of the great mass of India and re-absorption in that country."

A brief bio. for those not familiar: Nirad C. Chaudhuri was born in Kishorganj (in Bangladesh now) in the 1897 and lived in Bengal until his 1942 when he left for Dehli to work at All India Radio. He had a ring-side view of all the Bengal politics (including the Hindu-Muslim isssue). He also worked for Sarat Chandra Bose (elder brother of Netaji S.C. Bose), a prominent lawyer and political leader in his own right. NCC is most well-known for his book: Autobiography of an Unknown Indian. His acidic criticism spares no one, Indians, British, Muslims, Hindus and anyone else he comments on. For that reason and others, he is controversial. NCC died in Aug. 1999.

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Postby ramana » 16 Mar 2006 19:50

Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy
Economic and Political Origins

Daron Acemoglu
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
James A. Robinson
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Hardback (ISBN-13: 9780521855266 | ISBN-10: 0521855268)

Published December 2005 | 540 pages | 234 x 156 mm
Temporarily unavailable - no date available
$35.00 (G)
What forces lead to democracy's creation? Why does it sometimes consolidate only to collapse at other times? Written by two of the foremost authorities on this subject in the world, this volume develops a framework for analyzing the creation and consolidation of democracy. It revolutionizes scholarship on the factors underlying government and popular movements toward democracy or dictatorship. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue that different social groups prefer different political institutions because of the way they allocate political power and resources. Their book, the subject of a four-day seminar at Harvard's Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences, was also the basis for the Walras-Bowley lecture at the joint meetings of the European Economic Association and Econometric Society in 2003 and is the winner of the John Bates Clark Medal.

Contents
Part I. Questions and Answers: 1. Paths of political development: 1. Britain; 2. Argentina; 3. Singapore; 4. South Africa, 5. The agenda; 2. Our argument: 1. Democracy vs. nondemocracy; 2. Building blocks of our approach; 3. Towards our basic story; 4. Our theory of democratization; 5. Democratic consolidation; 6. Determinants of democracy; 7. Political identities and the nature of conflict; 8. Democracy in a picture; 9. Overview of the book; 3. What do we know about democracy?: 1. Measuring democracy; 2. Patterns of democracy; 3. Democracy, inequality and redistribution; 4. Crises and democracy; 5. Social unrest and democratization; 6. The literature; 7. Our contribution; Part II. Modelling Politics: 4. Democratic politics: 1. Introduction; 2. Aggregating individual preferences; 3. Single-peaked preferences and the median voter theorem; 4. Our workhorse models; 5. Democracy and political equality; 6. Conclusion; 5. Nondemocratic politics: 1. Introduction; 2. Power and constraints in nondemocratic politics; 3. Modeling preferences and constraints in nondemocracies; 4. Commitment problems; 5. A simple game of promises; 6. A dynamic model; 7. Incentive compatible promises; 8. Conclusion; Part III. The Creation and Consolidation of Democracy: 6. Democratization: 1. Introduction; 2. The role of political institutions; 3. Preferences over political institutions; 4. Political power and institutions; 5. A ‘static’ model of democratization; 6. Democratization or repression? 7. A dynamic model of democratization; 8. Subgame perfect equilibria; 9. Alternative political identities; 10. Targeted transfers; 11. Power of the elite in democracy; 12. Ideological preferences over regimes; 13. Democratization in pictures; 14. Equilibrium revolutions; 15. Conclusion; 7. Coups and consolidation: 1. Introduction; 2. Incentives for coups; 3. A static model of coups; 4. A dynamic model of the creation and consolidation of democracy; 5. Alternative political identities; 6. Targeted transfers; 7. Power in democracy and coups; 8. Consolidation in a picture; 9. Defensive coups; 10. Conclusion; Part IV. Putting the Models to Work: 8. The role of the middle class: 1. Introduction; 2. The three-class model; 3. Emergence of partial democracy; 4. From partial to full democracy; 5. Repression: the middle class as a buffer; 6. Repression: soft-liners vs. hard-liners; 7. The role of the middle class in consolidating democracy; 8. Conclusion; 9 Economic structure and democracy: 1. Introduction; 2. Economic structure and income distribution; 3. Political conflict; 4. Capital, land and the transition to democracy; 5. Financial integration; 6. Increased political integration; 7. Alternative assumptions about the nature of international trade; 8. Conclusion; Part V. Conclusion and The Future of Democracy: 11. Conclusion and the future of democracy: 1. Paths of political development revisited; 2. Extension and areas for future research; 3. The future of democracy; Part VI. Appendix: 12. Appendix to chapter 4: the distribution of power in democracy: 1. Introduction; 2. Probabilistic voting models; 3. Lobbying; 4. Partisan politics and political capture.

Prize Winner
2005 John Bates Clark Medal, American Economic Association






Reviews
"This path-breaking book is among the most ambitious, innovative, sweeping, and rigorous scholarly efforts in comparative political economy and political development. It offers a broad, substantial new account of the creation and consolidation of democracy. Why is the franchise extended? How do elites make reform believable and avoid expropriation? Why do revolutions nevertheless occur? Why do new democracies sometimes collapse into coups and repression? When is repression abandoned? Backed by a unified analytic model, historical insight, and extensive statistical analysis, the authors' case is compelling." James E. Alt, Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government, Harvard University

"This tour de force combines brilliant theoretical imagination and historical breadth to shine new light on issues that have long been central in social science. The book cannot be ignored by anybody wanting to link political and economic development. Its range is truly impressive. The same logical framework offers plausible predictions about revolution, repression, democratization, and coups. The book refreshingly includes as much Latin American experience as European experience, and as much Asian as North American. The authors offer new intellectual life to economics, political science, sociology, and history. Game theory gains a wider audience by being repeatedly applied to major historical issues for which commitment is indeed a key mechanism. Economists and political scientists gain more common ground on their political economy frontier.

"Sociologists are given a new template about class interactions in the political sphere, one that suggests both new tests and new ideas. And comparative historians, while fleeing from active involvement in game theory, have a new set of conjectures to support or be provoked by." Peter Lindert, University of California, Davis

"Acemoglu and Robinson have developed a coherent and flexible analytical framework that brings together many aspects of the comparative political economy of democratization and democratic consolidation. Beyond being an excellent work of synthesis, this framework also leads to insights that will pave the way for further theoretical and empirical investigation. The combination of theory and historical application make this a first-rate book for teaching, as well as a major research contribution." Thomas Romer, Princeton University

"This book is an immense achievement. Acemoglu and Robinson at once extend the frontiers of both economics and political science; they provide a new way of understanding why some countries are rich and some are poor; and they reinterpret the last 500 years of history." Barry Weingast, Stanford University

"A vast body of research in social science on the development of democracy offers detailed accounts of specific country events but few general lessons. Acemoglu and Robinson breathe new life into this field. Relying on a sequence of formal but parsimonious game-theoretic models and on penetrating historical analysis, they provide a common understanding of the diverse country histories observed during the last two centuries" - Torsten Persson, Director Institute for International Economics Studies, Stockholm University

Financial Times, FT Magazine, 21.01.06 "I expect Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy to be highly influential…Acemoglu and Robinson will deservedly win an audience. Students of economics will study this text as much for its methodical exposition and academic proofs as for its conclusions. They will find the effort well worthwhile." --Financial Times, FT Magazine

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Postby ramana » 18 Mar 2006 04:04

Another mathematical book Economic theory of World History

Lots of partial derivatives but has some interesting conclusions. See Chapter 5.

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Postby ramana » 20 Mar 2006 20:37

From Pioneer
Prime Minister extraordinaire

The book, written by an active politician is well-researched, takes into account every detail and has a clear feel of the cut and thrust of British politics, something a journalist or an academic might not have been able to convey - Prafull Goradia/ KR Phanda

WILLIAM PITT THE YOUNGER, BY WILLIAM HAGUE, HARPERCOLLINS, LONDON, £25

Except for students of British history, few will know that William Pitt dominated the country's politics for 22 years, from 1783 to 1805. Of these years, 19 were spent in the Prime Minister's office. No one has served as head of government for as long in England's history. He was called Pitt the Younger because his father, who was later made Earl of Chatham, had also served as Prime Minister. Pitt the Younger's outstanding distinction was that he became Prime Minister at the age of 24.

The book under review is particularly interesting because it is written by an active politician. William Hague has been a Conservative Member of Parliament since 1989 and for several years served as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. While the book is well-researched and takes into account minute details, it is written with a feel for the cut and thrust of politics, something a journalist or an academic might not have been able to accomplish. Remember that Pitt was an exceptionally astute politician, a secret behind his success in remaining at the peak of power for so long. When he assumed office, he was universally derided as a "schoolboy".

However, within months, he outwitted his opponents. Incidentally, he came to power on an Indian cause. Then Prime Minister Charles Fox had seized the opportunity of acquiring a stranglehold on East India Company which was passing through a financial crisis. The well-known Edmund Burke was also an accomplice and their intention was to "control patronage and wealth on a scale which could rival that of the rest of the Kingdom combined."

Fox and Burke's attempt was to nationalise the Company through the backdoor. Despite all the canvassing against the Government Bill, the Tories led by Pitt, lost the vote in the House of Commons by 229 votes to 120. Pitt, however, had the imagination to quietly appeal to King George III who, in turn, used his influence with the Lords and had the Bill defeated in the Upper House of Parliament.



The Whigs led by Fox were flabbergasted and did not take long to accept the King's dismissal of their Government for losing the confidence of Parliament. In those days, the House of Commons was not as powerful as it is today. The next thing that happened was that Pitt was invited to form the new government. The following year, he persuaded the monarch to dissolve Parliament and call for fresh elections which the Tones, led by Pitt won resoundingly.

To the extent Pitt ensured that East India Company was left alone to increase its influence in India, he could well claim credit for helping strengthen the frame for what eventually became the most resplendent jewel in the British Crown. The Company, if plagued by political interference, might not have delivered the goods as the successors of Warren Hastings were able to. But there were several other feathers in William Pitt's cap.

His years coincided with the earnest beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The spinning jenny was invented in 1764. Between that year and 1806, the year Pitt died, textile exports from Britain had rocketed from £2 lakh to nearly 1000 lakh. Steam engines and blast furnaces had begun to flourish in the decade before the turn of the century. And so on.

As the revolution spread, by 1800, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol became rich manufacturing centres as well as flourishing cities. Apart from political acumen, William Pitt's greatest strength was finance. He understood the economics of his day like the back of his palm. He, along with his colleague Lord Shellbume, was a follower of Adam Smith, the father of capitalism and free trade. They were so imbued with the value of trade that fighting a war made no sense.

Evidently, they were much ahead of their time for some of the worst wars were fought in the following two centuries. The futility of large scale wars took long for the world statesmen to realise. Today, of course, technology and trade between nations are considered the key to competition. Liberalisation and globalisation are, in many ways, back to Adam Smith, the finance guru whom Pitt followed.

Pitt's insight into finance and the widely known bankruptcy of the French economy had convinced him that there could be no major war. How could an impoverished and chaotic economy in the throes of the French Revolution pose a threat to European peace? In this context, Pitt must be faulted for having measured European affairs through the yardstick of finance. The phenomenon of Napoleon Bonaparte thrown up by the Revolution was beyond Pitt's imagination.

Nevertheless, the young British Prime Minister showed great vision in not neglecting the navy. The British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar under Admiral Horatio Nelson was proof. However, instead of preparing the Government for the Napoleonic war, Pitt's Government was busy developing a Sinking Fund. This concept was the opposite of deficit financing. The Fund was to be built with the help of surplus budgets. Plans were to eventually make it so large that the interest earned by it would suffice to pay for the British Government. There would then be no need for taxation.

In the initial years, the Fund accumulation gathered momentum with one surplus budget after another. Thereafter, it did not go far due to the raging Continental War which first broke out in 1793 and thereafter consumed more and more of the national budget. As a result, the Conservative Government had to, for the first time, print five pound notes as a means of increasing money supply a la deficit financing. Until then £10 was the smallest currency note.

Although capitalism has been accused of being associated with class exploitation, Adam Smith in his legendary magnum opus The Wealth of Nations, had argued that "slavery was an inefficient system of production, for slaves had no prospect of owning property and possessed no incentive to work". William Paley was another person whom Pitt admired. In 1785, he had published his Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, which rejected slavery on ethical grounds.

For two and a half centuries, ship owners, most of them English, had plied their trade in human cargoes across the Atlantic without any governmental interference. However, the Pitt Government did not hesitate to clash with vested interests in order to discourage the practice of slavery. Imagine in 1775, 74,000 blacks were recorded to have been taken from Africa to the Americas. The actual number might well have been higher. The cumulative number must be phenomenal.

William Wilburforce, duly encouraged by William Pitt and his friends was at the head of the anti-slave agitation. Acknowledged to be one of the finest speeches ever made in the House of Commons, even by his opponents like Charles Fox and Charles Grey, Pitt concluded, "May we hope that even Africa, though last of all the quarters of the globe, shall enjoy at length, in the evening other days, those blessings which have descended so plentifully upon us in a much earlier period of the world".

In many ways, Pitt the Younger laid the foundation of what would become the greatest empire in history. Just as Benjamin Disraeli is given credit for expanding the empire, Winston Churchill for saving it from Hitlerism, and Margaret Thatcher for reviving British prosperity. This is the most august gallery of British Prime Ministers with William Pitt clearly at the top.

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Postby svinayak » 24 Mar 2006 07:08

http://www.hebookservice.com/products/B ... 4#continue





The Life and Religion of Mohammed
by J.L. Menezes


Fr. J.L. Menezes knew Islam up close: as a priest in India, he devoted his priestly life to introducing that nation's tens of millions of Muslims to Christianity. With this life of Mohammed, he left us the record of his appeals: a frank, honest, and exhaustively researched exploration of the life of the "prophet" of Islam, the development and contents of the Koran, and an introduction to various Muslim sects.


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Postby svinayak » 24 Mar 2006 07:14


Defeating Jihad: How the War on Terror May Yet Be Won, in Spite of Ourselves

by Serge Trifkovic
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Four years after 9-11, the backbone of the Islamic terrorist network is far from broken. Al-Quaeda and its offshoots are fielding a second generation of terrorists -- many of them Muslim immigrants and their offspring in the West. "Bin Laden's network may have been damaged and disrupted," writes Serge Trifkovic in Defeating Jihad, "and his cause may in many places be in the hands of self-starters and amateurs, but he could never have dreamed that the world, years after 9-11, would look so favorable to his objectives." Now, in this follow-up to his bestselling exposé of Islam, The Sword of the Prophet, Trifkovic outlines a comprehensive new strategy to defend the West against an enemy that, increasingly, threatens us from within.


Eurabia

by Bat Ye'or
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That prediction -- by Middle East expert Bernard Lewis -- shocked Western politicians and intellectuals last year. But now another renowned historian explains why the Islamization of Europe will happen much sooner than even Lewis warned.

The Legacy of Jihad

by Andrew Bostom
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The next time a besotted Leftist multiculturalist tells you that Islam is a religion of peace, reach for Andrew Bostom's The Legacy of Jihad: an eye-opening collection of Islamic religious and legal texts (many never before translated into English) justifying bloody warfare against non-Muslims, and hair-raising accounts of Islamic jihad conquests around the world throughout history. This book gathers together an impressive range of primary and secondary source documents relating to the theory and practice of jihad and the oppression of the dhimmis -- non-Muslims living in Islamic countries. Its 700+ pages contain a huge range of material that for any fair-minded person makes it clear: Islam does not teach peace, but war, and always has regarded non-Muslims as actual or potential enemies.


The Myth of Islamic Tolerance

by Robert Spencer, ed.
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Turn on the TV these days and you're likely to bump into a talking head assuring you that Islam, despite its modern record of beheadings and mayhem, has a wonderful tradition of tolerance - a tradition that non-Muslims today would do well to emulate. Even the UN has jumped on the bandwagon, calling on nations to follow the allegedly pluralistic example of the last Islamic empire, the Ottoman Empire. The Myth of Islamic Tolerance shows these claims for what they are: anti-Christian, politically motivated, manipulative nonsense.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)

by Robert Spencer
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When PC propagandists assure us that jihadist terror doesn't reflect "true," "peaceful" Islam, they're not only wrong, they're dangerous -- because they lull America and the West into letting their guard down against their mortal enemy. And not only do self-appointed "experts" lie elaborately and persistently about Islam -- they have also replaced the truth about Christian Europe and the Crusades with an all-pervasive historical fantasy that is designed to make you ashamed of your own culture and heritage -- and thus less determined to defend it. But now there's a remedy: in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Robert Spencer reveals all the disturbing facts about Islam and its murderous hostility to the West that other books ignore, soft-pedal -- or simply lie about.

Between Pacificsm and Jihad

by J. Daryl Charles
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Is war ever justifiable for Christians? Doesn't Jesus require an ethic of nonviolence? In the midst of the War Against Terror, questions like these are once again on the minds of faithful Christians. But they are hardly new ones: great Christian thinkers have agonized over them for centuries, leading to a consensus known as the "Just War Tradition." Now, in Between Pacifism and Jihad, theologian and ethicist Daryl Charles mines that tradition in order to offer much-needed political-moral wisdom for our time.

Islamic Imperialism: A History

by Efraim Karsh
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The upsurge of Islamic jihad around the world has inspired two diametrically opposed -- yet equally false -- interpretations regarding its "root causes," writes Middle East expert Efraim Karsh in Islamic Imperialism. In one view, modern jihad represents a backlash by a deeply frustrated civilization reluctant to come to terms with its long-standing decline. In the other, it is a response to America's arrogant foreign policy by fringe extremists whose violent interpretation of Islam has little to do with the religion's actual spirit or teachings. But, as Professor Karsh demonstrates conclusively in this myth-busting book, the real "root cause" of Islamic jihad is the teachings and traditions of Islam itself.

The West's Last Chance

by Tony Blankley
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Islamic jihadists are far closer than most people realize to taking over Europe. If they do, they'll impose governments there that would threaten the United States far more than Nazi Germany ever did. But there is still hope to save both Europe and America: in The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?, Tony Blankley explains what we must do now in order to survive the jihadist infiltration and subversion that now threatens Europe's very life.

Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel

by Robert Ferrigno
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WARNING: Some profanity and sexual content

The liberals who run Hollywood are almost as afraid to offend Muslims as they are eager to offend Christians. That's why, for instance, the 2002 film of Tom Clancy's The Sum Of All Fears de-Islamicized its terrorists and turned them into German neo-Nazis. But there's no way to de-Islamicize Robert Ferrigno's Prayers for the Assassin - which imagines an Islamic Republic of America in the year 2040 -- so you'd better not wait for the film version. There won't be one.


Radical Islam's Rules

by Paul Marshall, ed.
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What happens to Western notions of human rights and democracy in countries that adopt the starkly repressive version of Islamic law, Shari'a, that is propagated today by Saudi Arabia and Iran? They die a hideous death, that's what -- as Radical Islam's Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Sharia Law makes plain. This is a little-noted sidelight to the war on terror and a crisis of ever-expanding proportions: over the last twenty-five years, extreme and explosive elements of Shari'a rule have spread to numerous regionally influential countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Besides destroying millions of lives, the spread of Shari'a law imperils Americans at home and abroad - and raises key foreign policy issues that American policymakers are doing their best to ignore.


Sucker Punch

by Cashill, Jack
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"To me," said young Olympic fighter Cassius Clay to a Soviet reporter in 1960, "the USA is the best country in the world, including yours." Yet within four years, Clay had become Muhammad Ali, a high-profile member of an organization whose angry deconstruction of the American ideal played into Leftist and even Soviet hands. Now, of course, over forty years later, he is an international icon, lionized everywhere. But does he really deserve the heroic status he now enjoys? In Sucker Punch: Ali, Islam, and the Betrayal of the Dream, Jack Cashill says no -- and introduces you to the real Ali, a craven opportunist and manipulator who has betrayed the dream of Martin Luther King, served as a wedge that deepened the alienation and mistrust between whites and blacks in America, and set the stage for major Leftward shifts in American politics and culture.


Countdown to Terror

by Curt Weldon
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If the explosive information revealed in this book had been collected by the Intelligence Community, it would be classified at the highest security level, above TOP SECRET, and would never be seen by the public. But Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA), the Vice Chairman of the House Armed Service Committee can share this information with you because he himself collected it -- and because he's trying to make the public aware of this threat that the intelligence community is ignoring before it's too late. That's why Weldon wrote Countdown to Terror. Never before has such "real time" war-related intelligence from an impeccable clandestine source been publicly disclosed.


The Sword of the Prophet
by Serge Trifkovic

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Since the attacks of September 11, dozens of books have been rushed to market purporting to "explain" the religion in whose name the terrorists acted. Most of them strike a common theme: "true" Islam -- as opposed to the "fundamentalist" variety of the hijackers -- is a "religion of peace" that promotes charity, tolerance, freedom, and culture no less than "true" Christianity. read more


The Great Divide

by Alvin J. Schmidt
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False. But you'd never know that from the legions of "experts" who, since 9/11, have strained to present Islam's cultural impact as no less positive (or at least no more negative) than Christianity's. Now, Alvin J. Schmidt, Ph.D., provides extensive documentation from history, the Koran, and the Bible that there are indeed chasm-wide differences between the two religions -- and between the societies where they hold sway.


Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West
by Robert Spencer

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We've won victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now is no time to rest on our laurels. This shocking new book by Robert Spencer reveals why jihad terrorism is still a potent threat to our nation and the world. Among its startling revelations: details about the numerous footholds that jihad warriors have already established right here in the U.S. (They've been an ominous presence in Europe for some time.) Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West exposes radical Muslims' open contempt for our free society -- and their plans to destroy it.

Holy War on the Home Front

by Harvey Kushner
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Fanatical Muslim jihadists aren't active just in Afghanistan and Iraq -- they're right here in the United States, conspiring right now to destroy our nation and kill as many Americans as they can. In Holy War on the Home Front, Harvey Kushner -- who has been a terrorism analyst for the FBI, the FAA, the INS, and other government agencies for over thirty years -- offers frightening new evidence of a unified Islamic terrorist network that is operating inside the United States right now, planning new opportunities to strike.


The Religions Next Door

by Marvin Olasky
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Aren't all religions fundamentally the same? Don't they teach the same basic ethical principles, and worship the same God? To the media, the answer is an obvious "yes" -- but the real answer is an emphatic "no." Now, in The Religions Next Door: What We Need to Know about Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam -- and What Reporters Are Missing, Marvin Olasky tells the truth about about non-Christian religions -- and the danger of believing that all religions hold different variations of the same tenets.


Perfect Soldiers

by Terry McDermott
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In the days after Sept. 11, a portrait of the attackers emerged with remarkable speed. In the frantic effort to comprehend their monstrous act, it was assumed that they must have been born killers and brilliant fanatics. But this, reveals Los Angeles Times reporter Terry McDermott, was based on "initial information that was either factually wrong or, more commonly, irrelevant and misconstrued." In reality, most of the 19 hijackers came from apolitical and only moderately religious backgrounds. As they matured, however, they were shaped by historical tides and personal circumstances, evolving into devout, pious Muslims who debated endlessly about how best to fulfill what they came to regard as their religious obligations. Now, In Perfect Soldiers: The Hijackers -- Who They Were, Why They Did It, McDermott traces these men's lives and the evolution of their beliefs, telling a disturbing story about the power of Islam to turn men into fanatical killers.
z
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The Life and Religion of Mohammed

by J.L. Menezes
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Fr. J.L. Menezes knew Islam up close: as a priest in India, he devoted his priestly life to introducing that nation's tens of millions of Muslims to Christianity. With this life of Mohammed, he left us the record of his appeals: a frank, honest, and exhaustively researched exploration of the life of the "prophet" of Islam, the development and contents of the Koran, and an introduction to various Muslim sects.


War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World
by Frank Gaffney

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Whether or not we care to admit it, America is in a fight to the death with Muslim extremists. But according to national security expert Frank Gaffney, founder-director of the esteemed Center for Security Policy, we have not been using the full resources we need to win this do-or-die struggle. Now, in War Footing, Gaffney takes the work of thirty-five distinguished U.S. foreign policy and defense analysts and melds it into a broad but coherent strategy for winning our war against Islamist jihadists. read more

Last edited by svinayak on 24 Mar 2006 07:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby svinayak » 24 Mar 2006 07:18



The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat
by Roger Scruton


Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, many attempts at explanation have been made -- but few if any have matched the analytical depth and original displayed by English philosopher and cultural commentator Roger Scruton. In The West and the Rest: Globalization and the Terrorist Threat, Scruton argues that to comprehend and combat Islamic terrorism, one must understand both the unique historical evolution of the state and the dynamic of globalization. Some highlights of his argument:


* How the different religious and philosophical roots of Western and Islamic societies have resulted in profoundly divergent beliefs about the nature of political order

* The fundamental gulf separates those nations that are in some sense the inheritors of the Roman-Christian political tradition and those that are not

* Why nations outside this tradition are not really "states" -- which are characterized by the rule of law and representative political processes -- but fiefdoms secured primarily by power

* Why most Islamic nations are thus non-states, because Islamic jurisprudence typically rejects the notion that secular government has its own legitimate sphere of authority


* How the idea of the social contract, crucial to the self-conception of Western nations, is entirely absent in Islamic societies

* Why the notions of territorial jurisdiction, citizenship, and the independent legitimacy of secular authority and law are both specifically Western -- and fundamentally antipathetic to Islamic thought

* How migration, modern communications, and the media have inexorably brought the formerly remote inhabitants of Islamic nations into constant contact with the images, products, and peoples of secular, liberal democracies

* Why, in light of this new reality, certain Western assumptions -- about consumption and prosperity, about borders and travel, about free trade and multinational corporations, and about multiculturalism -- need to be thoroughly re-evaluated



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Postby svinayak » 26 Mar 2006 10:06

America at the Crossroads:
Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy (Hardcover)
by Francis Fukuyama




When Francis Fukyama writes a book critiquing the war in Iraq and the neo conservatives who backed the policy, one must sit up and take notice. His previous book, "The End of History," with its positivist view and thesis that history is inexorably marching towards liberal democracy and capitalism formed a central text in describing the neo conservative world view. Given his background, Fukuyama's decision to write a book attacking the Bush administration's Iraq policy will surely not be easily lumped with many other books opposing the war, nor will he make as easy a target for lambasting by the White House press office.

Fukayama's book focuses on two critiques of the war, on practical and the other philosophical. The first offers no real surprises as it simply states facts now widely published and generally accepted by all but the most ardent supporters of the Iraq War. These include the lack of troops on the ground, the absurd idea that all Iraqis would welcome the US as liberators, failure to quickly quell looting and lawlessness after the fall of Saddam, general lack of interest in the specifics of Iraqi culture and history, bureaucratic sidelining of experts from the state department, and the list goes on. Again, the only thing that makes this particularly interesting is that this author cannot be simply dismissed with hollow phrases like "leftist" or "Bush Basher."

In the second category, Fukuyama's book truly stands out for both a unique approach and perspective. Yes, the author does believe that world history moves towards democracy, but he looks wearily at the idea that American power can hasten that march through military power. However, the neo cons at the White House believed exactly that idea; that if one simply removed the stones of totalitarianism in Iraq, democracy would blossom.
Accepting this given as an almost religious truism, the authors of the Iraq policy could simply ignore the cultural and historic realities that made it failure so tragically predictable. In an interesting connection, Fukuyama points to the simplistic idea held by many neo cons that the fall of the Soviet Union is almost entirely the result of the American military buildup in the 1980s, instead of one factor in a complex historical matrix. The author argues persuasively that, once having accepted the idea that military might led to this great historic sea change, one can easily conclude that military might can accomplish anything.

Fukuyama is not one who believes in shrinking from the use of American power. Instead, he argues it must be used judiciously or else risk a backlash. In particular, he examines the idea that American hegemony should not frighten the world because American policy is conducted with a high degree of morality, a concept near and dear to the hearts of the neo conservative movement. Fukuyama does not reject this premise, but rightly points out that it only can be meaningful if the rest of the world believes the US is moving from a point of high minded principles. Lamenting that America now stands near alone in the world, having squandered the great outpouring of international sympathy that came after 9/11 and led to the world standing almost united in the war in Afghanistan, Fukuyama offers powerful arguments about the value of diplomacy and cooperation.

In the end this more than anything else stands at this book's heart. When an American government takes a "with us or against us" approach, resentment and anger will follow as night follows day. Policy conducted based on high minded ideals may be all to the good, but one cannot simply dismiss real world concerns and expertise as "old thinking." While Fukuyama's belief in the importance of so-called "soft power," (economic aid, cultural connections, and diplomatic resources) clearly fell on deaf ears in this White House one can only hope future administrations will take such ideas more seriously. In any case, citizens wishing to formulate a post-Bush foreign policy would do well to spend time with this excellent work.

Review at New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/ ... crbo_books


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Postby vishnua » 07 Apr 2006 23:48

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5325069

Excerpt: 'Overthrow'
by Stephen Kinzer

Introduction

Why does a strong nation strike against a weaker one? Usually because it seeks to impose its ideology, increase its power, or gain control of valuable resources. Shifting combinations of these three factors motivated the United States as it extended its global reach over the past century and more. This book examines the most direct form of American intervention, the overthrow of foreign governments.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not an isolated episode. It was the culmination of a 110-year period during which Americans overthrew fourteen governments that displeased them for various ideological, political, and economic reasons. Like each of these operations, the "regime change" in Iraq seemed for a time -- a very short time -- to have worked. It is now clear, however, that this operation has had terrible unintended consequences. So have most of the other coups, revolutions, and invasions that the United States has mounted to depose governments it feared or mistrusted.

The United States uses a variety of means to persuade other countries to do its bidding. In many cases it relies on time-honored tactics of diplomacy, offering rewards to governments that support American interests and threatening retaliation against those that refuse. Sometimes it defends friendly regimes against popular anger or uprisings. In more than a few places, it has quietly supported coups or revolutions organized by others. Twice, in the context of world wars, it helped to wipe away old ruling orders and impose new ones.

This book is not about any of those ways Americans have shaped the modern world. It focuses only on the most extreme set of cases: those in which the United States arranged to depose foreign leaders. No nation in modern history has done this so often, in so many places so far from its own shores.

The stories of these "regime change" operations are dazzlingly exciting. They tell of patriots and scoundrels, high motives and low cynicism, extreme courage and cruel betrayal. This book brings them together for the first time, but it seeks to do more than simply tell what happened. By considering these operations as a continuum rather than as a series of unrelated incidents, it seeks to find what they have in common. It poses and tries to answer two fundamental questions. First, why did the United States carry out these operations? Second, what have been their long-term consequences?

Drawing up a list of countries whose governments the United States has overthrown is not as simple as it sounds. This book treats only cases in which Americans played the decisive role in deposing a regime. Chile, for example, makes the list because, although many factors led to the 1973 coup there, the American role was decisive. Indonesia, Brazil, and the Congo do not, because American agents played only subsidiary roles in the overthrow of their governments during the 1960s. Nor do Mexico, Haiti, or the Dominican Republic, countries the United States invaded but whose leaders it did not depose.

America’s long "regime change" century dawned in 1893 with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. This was a tentative, awkward piece of work, a cultural tragedy staged as comic opera. It was not a military operation, but without the landing of American troops, it probably would not have succeeded. The president of the United States approved of it, but soon after it happened, a new president took office and denounced it. Americans were already divided over whether it is a good idea to depose foreign regimes.

The overthrow of Hawaii’s queen reignited a political debate that had first flared during the Mexican War half a century before. That debate, which in essence is about what role the United States should play in the world, rages to this day. It burst back onto the front pages after the invasion of Iraq.

No grand vision of American power lay behind the Hawaiian revolution of 1893. Just the opposite was true of the Spanish-American War, which broke out five years later. This was actually two wars, one in which the United States came to the aid of patriots fighting against Spanish colonialism, and then a second in which it repressed those patriots to assure that their newly liberated nations would be American protectorates rather than truly independent. A radically new idea of America, much more globally ambitious than any earlier one, emerged from these conflicts. They marked the beginning of an era in which the United States has assumed the right to intervene anywhere in the world, not simply by influencing or coercing foreign governments but also by overthrowing them.

In Hawaii and the countries that rose against Spain in 1898, American presidents tested and developed their new interventionist policy. There, however, they were reacting to circumstances created by others. The first time a president acted on his own to depose a foreign leader was in 1909, when William Howard Taft ordered the overthrow of Nicaraguan president José Santos Zelaya. Taft claimed he was acting to protect American security and promote democratic principles. His true aim was to defend the right of American companies to operate as they wished in Nicaragua. In a larger sense, he was asserting the right of the United States to impose its preferred form of stability on foreign countries.

This set a pattern. Throughout the twentieth century and into the beginning of the twenty-first, the United States repeatedly used its military power, and that of its clandestine services, to overthrow governments that refused to protect American interests. Each time, it cloaked its intervention in the rhetoric of national security and liberation. In most cases, however, it acted mainly for economic reasons -- specifically, to establish, promote, and defend the right of Americans to do business around the world without interference.

Huge forces reshaped the world during the twentieth century. One of the most profound was the emergence of multinational corporations, businesses based in one country that made much of their profit overseas. These corporations and the people who ran them accumulated great wealth and political influence. Civic movements, trade unions, and political parties arose to counterbalance them, but in the United States, these were never able even to approach the power that corporations wielded. Corporations identified themselves in the public mind with the ideals of free enterprise, hard work, and individual achievement. They also maneuvered their friends and supporters into important positions in Washington.

By a quirk of history, the United States rose to great power at the same time multinational corporations were emerging as a decisive force in world affairs. These corporations came to expect government to act on their behalf abroad, even to the extreme of overthrowing uncooperative foreign leaders. Successive presidents have agreed that this is a good way to promote American interests.

Defending corporate power is hardly the only reason the United States overthrows foreign governments. Strong tribes and nations have been attacking weak ones since the beginning of history. They do so for the most elemental reason, which is to get more of whatever is good to have. In the modern world, corporations are the institutions that countries use to capture wealth. They have become the vanguard of American power, and defying them has become tantamount to defying the United States. When Americans depose a foreign leader who dares such defiance, they not only assert their rights in one country but also send a clear message to others.

The influence that economic power exercises over American foreign policy has grown tremendously since the days when ambitious planters in Hawaii realized that by bringing their islands into the United States, they would be able to send their sugar to markets on the mainland without paying import duties. As the twentieth century progressed, titans of industry and their advocates went a step beyond influencing policy makers; they became the policy makers. The figure who most perfectly embodied this merging of political and economic interests was John Foster Dulles, who spent decades working for some of the world’s most powerful corporations and then became secretary of state. It was Dulles who ordered the 1953 coup in Iran, which was intended in part to make the Middle East safe for American oil companies. A year later he ordered another coup, in Guatemala, where a nationalist government had challenged the power of United Fruit, a company his old law firm represented.

Having marshaled so much public and political support, American corporations found it relatively easy to call upon the military or the Central Intelligence Agency to defend their privileges in countries where they ran into trouble. They might not have been able to do so if they and the presidents who cooperated with them had candidly presented their cases to the American people. Americans have always been idealists. They want their country to act for pure motives, and might have refused to support foreign interventions that were forthrightly described as defenses of corporate power. Presidents have used two strategies to assure that these interventions would be carried out with a minimum of protest. Sometimes they obscured the real reasons they overthrew foreign governments, insisting that they were acting only to protect American security and liberate suffering natives. At other times they simply denied that the United States was involved in these operations at all.

The history of American overthrows of foreign governments can be divided into three parts. First came the imperial phase, when Americans deposed regimes more or less openly. None of the men who overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy tried to hide their involvement. The Spanish-American War was fought in full view of the world, and President Taft announced exactly what he was doing when he moved to overthrow the governments of Nicaragua and Honduras. The men who directed these "regime change" operations may not have forthrightly explained why they were acting, but they took responsibility for their acts.

After World War II, with the world political situation infinitely more complex than it had been at the dawn of the century, American presidents found a new way to overthrow foreign governments. They could no longer simply demand that unfriendly foreign leaders accept the reality of American power and step down, nor could they send troops to land on foreign shores without worrying about the consequences. This was because for the first time, there was a force in the world that limited their freedom of action: the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, any direct American intervention risked provoking a reaction from the Soviets, possibly a cataclysmic one. To adjust to this new reality, the United States began using a more subtle technique, the clandestine coup d’état, to depose foreign governments. In Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam, and Chile, diplomats and intelligence agents replaced generals as the instruments of American intervention.

By the end of the twentieth century, it had become more difficult for Americans to stage coups because foreign leaders had learned how to resist them. Coups had also become unnecessary. The decline and collapse of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the Red Army meant that there was no longer any military constraint on the United States. That left it free to return to its habit of landing troops on foreign shores.

Both of the small countries Americans invaded in the 1980s, Grenada and Panama, are in what the United States has traditionally considered its sphere of influence, and both were already in turmoil when American troops landed. The two invasions that came later, in Afghanistan and Iraq, were far larger in scale and historical importance. Many Americans supported the operation in Afghanistan because they saw it as an appropriate reaction to the presence of terrorists there. A smaller but still substantial number supported the operation in Iraq after being told that Iraq also posed an imminent threat to world peace. American invasions left both of these countries in violent turmoil.

Most "regime change" operations have achieved their short-term goals. Before the CIA deposed the government of Guatemala in 1954, for example, United Fruit was not free to operate as it wished in that country; afterward it was. From the vantage point of history, however, it is clear that most of these operations actually weakened American security. They cast whole regions of the world into upheaval, creating whirlpools of instability from which undreamed-of threats arose years later.

History does not repeat itself, but it delights in patterns and symmetries. When the stories of American "regime change" operations are taken together, they reveal much about why the United States overthrows foreign governments and what consequences it brings on itself by doing so. They also teach lessons for the future.

From the book Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer. Reprinted by arrangement with Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Copyright (c) 2006 by Stephen Kinzer

Dulles (Secretary of State to D Eishnower) GrandFather was missionary in India

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Postby svinayak » 10 Apr 2006 01:59


The Battle for Peace : A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose (Hardcover)
by Tony Zinni, Tony Koltz



The intellectual complement to Zinni and Clancy's bestselling Battle Ready (2004), a narrative memoir salted with specific policy recommendations, this volume provides the former U.S. Central Command chief's analysis of America's current global position. Zinni begins by asserting that America's status as "the most powerful nation in the history of the planet" has created a de facto empire. The U.S. has no choice: if it fails to take the lead, nothing significant happens. At the same time, Americans must recognize that, in a global age, there can be no zero-sum games: when someone loses, no one wins in any but the shortest term, he argues. The bulk of the book critiques what Zinni describes as the current U.S. emphasis on unilateral action and calls instead for working with others toward the goals of worldwide stability and development. "[N]egotiation, mediation and facilitation" should be our favored approaches, Zinni writes. And the post–Cold War pattern of ad hoc improvisation in foreign affairs should give way to systematic, in-depth planning. While fans of Battle Ready may grow frustrated with the abstractions in this volume, Zinni's pragmatic, low-key approach merits serious consideration. (Apr. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description
Tony Zinni has served on the frontlines of war and peace--as a Marine in Vietnam, commander of troops in the Middle East, and diplomatic envoy. His wealth of experience provides fascinating insight into how the world works and a sweeping vision of America's role in it. Zinni argues that the roots of the world's growing turmoil are not being addressed and that America's aggressive confidence is making it worse--with potentially devastating implications for the safety of Americans. From the foxhole to the White House, Zinni's first-hand experience informs his view of how America can promote a more stable and peaceful world through realism and pragmatic cooperation with other peoples and states.




Zinni, whose credentials are impeccable, clearly describes how not conduct foreign policy. Taking his oath of service, even though he is retired, seriously, he does not come out and openly critisize the Bush administraion, even though the implications are there. This might irk some opponens of the present Bush doctrine, but it also gives the book credence, and does not alienate Bush supporters. Zinni does not call for anything radical anyway, he just calls for moderation, consideration and proper planning. In many ways the situation the US is in today is very similar to situation the UK found itself in the nineteenth century. The British Empire was not planned - suddenly the Brits found themselves involved in all corners of the world fighting enemies, protecting allies, spreading Christianity, internal policing and taking themselves whereever business opportunities took them. Their technological superiority very soon made them end up with colonies in places they had never dreamt of! A situation very similar to the one US finds itself in today in the post-cold war era. This is one of the first US books that I know of that actually acknowledge this fact, British historians have pointed out this long ago, and urges the administration to tread carefully: too many Irags will not help the situation, and it can quickly spiral out of control. If there is a weakness in the book it is that he does not clearly address the complex issue of big oil, neocons, and evangelicals, and their influence on the US foreign policy.
I was impressed by Zinni on Jon Stewart, how he refused to be goaded by Stewar and kept his integrity at all times.


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Postby Gerard » 15 Apr 2006 02:17


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Postby Anindya » 15 Apr 2006 05:59

Does anybody know how to buy books published by India First Foundation, in the US - I'm refering to books like Namboodri's book on Bengal; RNP Singh's on Riots etc.

Any help will be appreciated...

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Postby Tim » 15 Apr 2006 06:48

Cobra II by Michael Gordon and Gen. (rtd). Bernard Trainor is worth a read, for those interested in the Iraq War. Andrew Krepinevich recently had an interesting book review of it, that you can get through google.

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Postby svinayak » 16 Apr 2006 09:22


The Corporation : The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (Paperback)
by Joel Bakan


"Over the last 150 years the corporation has risen from relative obscurity to become the world's dominant economic institution




*Starred Review* Bakan, an internationally recognized legal scholar and professor of law at the University of British Columbia, takes a powerful stab at the most influential institution of our time, the corporation. As a legal entity, a corporation has as its edict one and only one goal, to create profits for its shareholders, without legal or moral obligation to the welfare of workers, the environment, or the well-being of society as a whole. Corporations have successfully hijacked governments, promoting free-market solutions to virtually all of the concerns of human endeavor. Competition and self-interest dominate, and other aspects of human nature, such as creativity, empathy, and the ability to live in harmony with the earth, are suppressed and even ridiculed. Bakan believes that, like Communism, this ideological order cannot last and that corporate rule must be challenged to bring balance and revive the values of democracy, social justice, equality, and compassion. This eye-opening look at a system "programmed to exploit others for profit" has been made into a provocative film documentary that could be the next Bowling for Columbine. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review
"Bakan does such a good job of creating awareness that [The Corporation] can't help but be a call to action."

-- USA Today


"The corporation, according to Joel Bakan, is the monster that can swallow civilization -- greedy, exploitive, and unstoppable. We are all its potential victims, which is why we must all understand how the corporate form makes it so difficult to control its abuses."

-- Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix


"This incisive study should be read carefully and pondered. And it should be a stimulus to constructive action."

-- Noam Chomsky, Ph.D., professor of linguistics, MIT, and author of 9-11




The modern corporation, according to law professor Joel Bakan, is "singularly self-interested and unable to feel genuine concern for others in any context." (p. 56) From this Bakan concludes that the corporation is a "pathological" entity.

This is a striking conclusion. The so-called pathological personality in humans is well documented and includes serial killers and others who have no regard for the life and welfare of anyone but themselves. But is it really fair to label the corporation, managed and owned by normal caring and loving people, in this way?

Bakan thinks so. He begins with a little history showing how the corporation developed and how it came to occupy the dominate position that it enjoys today. He recalls a time before "limited liability" when shareholders were legally responsible for the actions of the corporation, a time when corporations could not own stock in other companies, a time when corporations could not acquire or merge with other corporations, a time when shareholders could more closely control corporate management.

Next he shows what corporations have become, and finally what can be done about it.

Bakan's argument includes the point that the corporation's sole reason for being is to enhance the profits and power of the corporation. He shows by citing court cases that it is the duty of management to make money and that any compromise with that duty is dereliction of duty.

Another point is that "corporations are designed to externalize their costs." The corporation is "deliberately programmed, indeed legally compelled, to externalize costs without regard for the harm it may cause to people, communities, and the natural environment. Every cost it can unload onto someone else is a benefit to itself, a direct route to profit." (pp. 72-73)

And herein lies the paradox of the corporation. Designed to turn labor and raw materials efficiently into goods and services and to thereby raise our standard of living, it has been a very effective tool for humans to use. On the other hand, because it is blind to anything but its own welfare, the corporation uses humans and the resources of the planet in ways that can be and often are detrimental to people and the environment. Corporations, to put it bluntly, foul the environment with their wastes and will not clean up unless forced to. (Fouling the environment and leaving the mess for somebody else to clean up is exactly what "externalizing costs" is all about.)

Furthermore, corporations are amoral toward the law. "Compliance...is a matter of costs and benefits," Bakan writes. ( p. 79) He quotes businessman Robert Monks as saying, "...whether corporations obey the law or not is a matter of whether it's cost effective... If the chance of getting caught and the penalty are less than it costs to comply, our people think of it as being just a business decision." (p. 80)

The result is a nearly constant bending and breaking of the law. They pay the fine and then break the law again. The corporation, after all, has no conscience and feels no remorse. Bakan cites 42 "major legal breaches" by General Electric between 1990 and 2001 on pages 75-79 as an example. The fines for maleficence are usually so small relative to the gain that it's cost effective to break the law.

Bakan disagrees with the notion that corporations can be responsible citizens and that corporate managers can act in the public good. He believes that corporations can and sometimes do act in the public interest, but only when that coincides with their interests or because they feel the public relations value of acting in the public interest is greater than the cost of not doing so. He adds "business is all about taking advantage of circumstances. Corporate social responsibility is an oxymoron...as is the related notion that corporations can...be relied upon to promote the public interest." (p. 109)

As for corporations regulating themselves, Bakan writes, "No one would seriously suggest that individuals should regulate themselves, that laws against murder, assault, and theft are unnecessary because people are socially responsible. Yet oddly, we are asked to believe that corporate persons--institutional psychopaths who lack any sense of moral conviction and who have the power and motivation to cause harm and devastation in the world--should be left free to govern themselves." (p. 110)

Bakan even argues (and I think he is substantially right) that "Deregulation is really a form of dedemocratization" because it takes power away from a government, elected by the people, and gives it to corporations which are elected by nobody.

Some of the book is devoted to advertizing by corporations, especially to children, and the effect of such advertizing. Beyond advertizing is pro-corporate and anti-government propaganda. Bakan quotes Noam Chomsky as saying, "One of the reasons why propaganda tries to get you to hate government is because it's the one existing institution in which people can participate to some extent and constrain tyrannical unaccountable power." (p. 152)

What to do? Well, for starters, make the fines large enough to change corporate behavior. Make management responsible--criminally if necessary--for the actions of the corporation. Bakan includes these among his remedies on pages 161-164. He also wants the charters of flagrant and persistent violators to be suspended. He writes that corporations are the creations of government and should be subject to governmental control and should NOT (as we often hear) be "partners" with government.

He would also like to see elections publically financed and an end to corporate political donations.
Indeed if we could take the money out of elections, our representatives would not be beholden to the corporate structure and would act more consistently in the broader public interest. I think this is one of the most important challenges facing our country today, that of lessening the influence of money on the democratic process.

Bottom line: a seminal book about one of the most important issues facing us today.



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Postby ramana » 29 Apr 2006 01:07

This is a lanmark book by Amartya Sen and has implications far and wide once we figure out its meaning.

[quote]
IN A BIND
- Miniaturization of the self


Beyond boundaries
Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny By Amartya Sen, Viking, Rs 295

Identity and Violence is a characteristically lucid, cogent and humane critique of the concept of identity and the violence it generates. The link between identity and violence is intimate and plays itself out at many levels. Collectively, identity is sustained by a series of exclusions: to have an identity is to be one thing rather than another. But the importance we give to identity can easily slip into the more contentious claim that the world must recognize and acknowledge our identity as we do. But this claim issues in a desire to make the world conform to our identity, to expunge it of all that complicates our identity or is alien to it. Identity is like a pitiless sovereign: it demands that its claims be primary. But inwardly directed, the claims of identity can mutilate the self: it can abridge its possibilities, it confines it to being something less than it can be, it can bind its possibilities by restricting change. [b]The argument of this book can be expressed well in two sentences of Nietzsche. The first is that “Love of just one thing is bad; even God.â€

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Postby ramana » 29 Apr 2006 01:26

Caroline Finkel the author of Osman's dream: The history of the Ottoman Empire was on bootv last week. She looks at the Empire throughits owneyes and presents a different portrait than opne painted by Western historians.


In my opinion the passing of the Ottoman Empire is the begining of a new era in Isalm sort of the 'Third age of Islam'which has not found its roots yet.

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Postby ramana » 04 May 2006 00:05

New book: Global Rivalries from the Cold War to Iraq by Kees Van Der Pijl

This is a groundbreaking new work from a leading scholar in the field of international relations. Offering a highly original analysis of world events, especially in the light of the Iraq War, Kees van der Pijl explores the history and development of relations between major countries in the international community, and the impact that successive wars and changes in the global political economy have had on the way states relate to each other today.

Tracing the liberal state structure back to the closing stages of the English Civil War and settlement in North America, he argues that the rise of the English-speaking West has created rivalries between contender states that are never entirely put to rest. With each round of Western expansion, new rivalries are created. Offering a truly global analysis that covers every area of the world—from Europe and America to China, the Middle East, Latin America and Russia—he analyses the development of international relations after World War II, and questions whether the neoliberal project and its human rights ideology have collapsed back into authoritarianism under the guise of the "war on terror."

Kees Van der Pijl is Professor of International Relations at the School of European Studies, University of Sussex. His books include The Making of the Atlantic Ruling Class (Verso, 1984) and Transnational Classes and International Relations (Routledge, 1998).



Published by Pluto Press. Distributed in the United States by the University of Michigan Press.


Amazon.uk review
Reviews

Synopsis
This book, a major and groundbreaking new work of IR, deals with an aspect of the globalisation debate that has been thrown into relief by the Iraq War: the question of rivalry versus unity in the 'international community'. It argues that this question goes back to the maritime-commercial primacy and liberal state structure established by the English-speaking West (Britain and its North American settler colonies) in the three centuries following the Glorious Revolution. In the process, this Western constellation, or 'Lockean heartland', had to meet the challenge of successive contender states, beginning with France, then unified Germany, and so on. With each round of expansion, new contenders had to be confronted, old ones integrated - without ever completely overcoming the faultlines left by past rivalries. The book introduces the general argument and the overall historical picture, and then takes the reader through a detailed analysis of the post-WWII historical process in terms of the evolving heartland/contender state divide and its legacies. It throws new light on European integration, from the early days of the 'American Plan for Europe' to the Lisbon challenge to the United States. Likewise it pays detailed attention to rivalries in the Middle East, from US wartime association with the Arabs to the wars in Iraq. A separate chapter deals with the Soviet Union as a contender state and how it activated rifts within the West, and on the new quality of the rivalries engendered by the turn to neoliberal globalisation taken by the West in the 1980s and '90s. Further chapters give detailed accounts of the evolution of the heartland/contender divide in Latin America, the rise of China against the backdrop of the 'Asian Crisis', and the struggles over Central Asia and the resurgence of a strong state in Russia. A final chapter raises the question whether the liberal globalising project and its human rights ideology have not collapsed back to authoritarianism hiding behind the War on Terror.



You can get this in India for Rs. 650 from NDTV bookstore.

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Postby ramana » 06 May 2006 00:53

Book reveiw in The Telegraph, 5 may 2006

A STUDY IN SCARLET


Up in arms
Global Jihad: Current Patterns and Future Trends
By Rajeev Sharma,
Kaveri, Rs 495

India has been one of the worst victims of terrorism. Since independence, the country has witnessed different kinds of terror — religious, ethnic, ideological and externally-sponsored strife. Ironically, there is a dearth of literature on terrorism in a country that has been a victim of this menace for a long time. Rajeev Sharma’s book, however, is a welcome addition to the scarce body of work on this subject.

Sharma analyses the concept of jihad, both in its theocratic and empirical form, and delves into the organizational structures of terrorist groups in different parts of the globe. However, while referring to terrorism in India, Sharma covers only those outfits that operate from outside the country. The book is well-written with titles that are relevant and logical. Unfortunately, the text often shifts its focus to peripheral issues. Dissension in the global jihadi movement, its content, alignments, emerging trends and implications do not find a place in Sharma’s book. Moreover, the thematic unity of the subject has been broken by issues that are not strictly relevant. It would have been better if the author had identified the basic parameters of terrorism and its manifestations in the opening chapters of the book.

Sharma also alludes to subjects that are important in their own right, but have little to do with jihad. Issues like China’s emergence as a major power and its relations with America, Pakistan’s diplomatic initiatives and the country’s internal affairs, bus diplomacy with India, and so on are of secondary importance while discussing international terrorism. Very little has changed in the jihadi movement in Pakistan since Musharraf assumed power. The president’s carrot and stick approach to deal with different terror outfits and constant changes in his views on terrorism find no mention in this book. The author has also desisted from mentioning the Kargil episode and its integral association with a Pakistan-sponsored covert military offensive.

There is another problem with Sharma’s book. The author develops an idea, but jumps on to a new one without concluding his previous line of thought. This leaves the readers confused and makes the book appear like an amalgamation of disjointed ideas and facts.

Sharma’s analysis of the future of jihad is quite interesting. However, it would have been more rewarding if the author had assessed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s personality and interpreted the writings of Ayman al-Zawahri instead of digressing to the London blasts. Sharma also fails to incorporate a number of important issues — the ideological rift between the moderate and extremist elements in Islamic society, the consequences of America’s possible withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, the implications of Hamas assuming power in Palestine, and the effects of Iran entering into conflict with America.

The limitations notwithstanding, Sharma provides crucial information about the various terrorist organizations operating in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and southeast and central Asia. This will prove to be useful to the lay reader, helping him to understand the ideologies, strategies, activities and the inter-connectivity of various terrorist groups. By and large, the author has done a good job of presenting the various dimensions of terrorism and readers will discover little-known facts about this global malaise in these pages.

A.K. DOVAL

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Postby Airavat » 10 May 2006 23:02

The true face of jehadis - Amir Mir

WHAT PRICE FREEDOM?
Beena Sarwar
“The media in Pakistan has never been freer.â€

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Postby ramana » 11 May 2006 00:31

A treasure trove: OUP India -Medieval India

Digital Book Index E-Texts Digital e-books on Ancient India

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Postby Rangudu » 17 May 2006 01:40

[quote]Peter John Brobst. - The Future of the Great Game: Sir Olaf Caroe, India’s Independence, and the Defense of Asia. The University of Akron Press, Akron, OH, 2005. pp. 199. Maps. Index. Hb. $39.95. ISBN 1 9319 6810 1

For almost a century the world’s two most extensive empires – those of Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia – waged a secret war of espionage, intelligence and counterintelligence in the remote and bleak passes and deserts of central Asia. Those engaged in this shadowy struggle called it “the Great Gameâ€


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