Book Review Folder - 2005/2006/2007

ramana
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Postby ramana » 12 Dec 2006 23:19

A, The Wilfrid Blunt referred to in the book review is our famous "Future of Islam" guy. Read about him in wiki.

svinayak
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Postby svinayak » 12 Dec 2006 23:27

Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America (Hardcover)
by Eric Rauchway



[quote]
American exceptionalism is an old idea, but in at least one respect, historian Rauchway (Murdering McKinley) argues, it reflects a geopolitical truth that remains relevant to current trends in globalization. From the Civil War to WWI, he finds, the country's unique position in the global economy-unmatched flow of foreign capital and labor to its shores, expansive opportunities on the Western frontier-meant that the U.S., unlike European countries, was not forced to develop complex federal agencies to regulate commerce, assemble statistics, and provide for the unemployed. The small steps the U.S. did take in this direction, Rauchway contends, were distinctively shaped by the country's relationship to globalization. Efforts to regulate credit and monopolies, he says, arose not in response to Socialist agitation but out of distrust of foreign bankers among recent migrants in the West. Lacking strong, centralized government institutions experienced in large-scale economic matters, the U.S. was unprepared after WWI to take the leading role in the global economy, a failure that, he argues, led to the Great Depression and would eventually scare Americans into supporting international financial organizations after World War II. Rauchway notes with concern that in the decades since the 1960's, as the U.S. has shifted from international creditor to debtor, the country has again begun "edging away from its commitments to globalization" and leaving the international economy to take care of itself. Though he leaves the implications of his innovative historical analysis on the present largely implicit, he provides valuable perspective for the debate about American's proper role in the world today.

Review
"Written by an accomplished, imaginative historian who well understands those beginnings of modern America -- the years of the Progressive Era -- this book on one level suggests why socialism never took root in the United States, and why the supposed melting pot and the early Federal Reserve System worked as they did, but on quite another level develops a highly revealing argument how Americans' faith in their "empire" and their exceptionalism shaped in often unexpected ways what we now call globalization and their part in it." —Walter LaFeber, Tisch University Professor, Cornell University

“I can always depend on Eric Rauchway to display the meticulousness of a careful historian with the literary flair of a fine novelist. Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America adds to this admixture a powerful public voice as well; a tour de force.â€

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Postby svinayak » 12 Dec 2006 23:32

The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (Hardcover)
by Niall Ferguson





Niall Ferguson is a remarkably inventive and productive historian, who in the last decade has produced a number of major works including a largely favorable analysis of the British Empire, and one of the reluctant empire of the twentieth century, the American Colossus. Now in his latest book, an expanded version of a British Channel Four Television series, he surveys the history of the twentieth century, which he claims to be the bloodiest century in modern history. This century had `the greatest man- made catastrophe of all time' the Second World War. His thesis is that one major reason for the disasters of the century is the decline of the great multinational Empires which existed before the First World War- and the conflict brought about through `the emergence of new empire- states in Turkey, Russia, Japan and Germany.'

In explaining the violence of this most violent of centuries he also invokes two other major factors. The first is the ethnic conflict in which advanced processes of assimilation (as with the Jews in Germany) broke down. The second is the `economic volatility, the frequency and amplitude of changes in the rate of economic growth, prices, interest rates and employment" which bring with them intense social stresses and strain.

These theoretical elements outlined clearly in the first chapter of the book serve as basis for his panoramic survey of the century's great disasters. But as his masterly narrative of international diplomacy and military history unfolds the theoretical elements somehow fade before the careful massing of evidence, the detailed analysis of what happened in Central and Eastern Europe, in China, Manchuria, Korea and Japan, in the vast stretches of the Russian Empire, in Cambodia and East Asia, in conflicts where incredible cruelties are done again and again by empires in demise suffering from ethnic conflict and radical economic change. .

The evidence for the Jewish reader is especially agonizing when it comes to his chronicling events of the Shoah, and too of some of the particularly horrific crimes committed against the Jews which occurred before and after it. These were perpetrated by a variety of Central and Eastern European people, Ukranians, Lithuanians, Croatians, Rumanians, Poles, Hungarians.

A vast human gallery are also victims of most horrible cruelties .Whether it is the slaughter of the Armenians by the Turks, or the Japanese wholesale rape of Chinese women,(The Rape of Nanking) , the slaughter of Tutsi by Hutus in Rwanda Ferguson provides a despairing picture of human cruelty and suffering..

In analyzing the perpetrators of the Holocaust he is especially instructive when examines not simply the ordinary `willing executioners' but the intellectual elite of the society then considered the most cultured in the world. Ferguson examines the Nazi appeal to `those with university degrees so vital to the smooth running of a modern state and civil society', and shows how Nazism provided a kind of political religion which came to replace declining traditional faiths. The new faith inspired by the magnetism of the Fuhrer captivated German intellectuals and deprived them of all sense of human decency.

Another theme of Ferguson is his belief that the wars of the twentieth century resulted in a shift in the world balance- of- power towards the East. As he understands it from 1500 to 1900 the West reigned supreme, but new centers of power have emerged which deprive it of its exclusivity.


Ferguson in some of his most recent journalism has addressed the question of which area of the world most likely to set off a new conflagration. He writes of the great Shiite and Sunnite divide. But alarmingly he also makes a parallel between the rise of a charismatic dictator in the thirties, and the rise of the Iranian Ahmadinejad today. He speculates about the rise of a nuclear Iran the West has tried to appease, and speculates about it compelling a nuclear exchange with Israel which brings about the twilight of the West...

Clearly Ferguson would like Western leaders to take responsibility now and by responsible action avert the new Disasters which may already be at our gate.



Just as importantly, the author NAILS THE TOPIC. You can always tell when an author or a speaker truly knows his stuff. Paul Johnson the historian is one such writer. David Kaye, the UN weapons inspector is another such speaker. These are people that when they impart information to you, you are compelled to listen because you are in the presence of something rare.

This is why you must read this book. Most likely, you are living in America. We live in a country on a comparative level with such abundance, such freedom, that we owe it to the 100 million people who died in the 20th century to understand why they died, and what can be done in the future to avoid such needless death.

We owe it to history to understand that there were animals disguised as human beings like Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung, who were Hitler's equal for winning the award for man's inhumanity to man. There are almost 15 million Jews in the world, and they have been very successful at keeping the memory of the Holocaust front and center in people's minds, as they should. Tragedies like the Holocaust should be remembered forever.

There are no other groups that are keeping the memories of other Holocausts alive. Stalin killed far more people than Hitler, yet not a word, nor has any movie been made by Hollywood about this topic. Mao in China killed tens of millions of people, nobody saying much about that one either. We have just lived through a century of the greatest volunatary violence in 12,000 years of civilization according to the author, and the silence in the media on this topic is deafening.

You will remember the Harvard philosopher George Santayana when he said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Here we are in the beginning of the 21st century stuck in a quagmire in Iraq with a group of people that place less value on human life than we do on recycling newspapers.

After reading this compelling book, I have a feeling that this new century is not shaping up to be a walk in the park. We have Arabs striving to create nuclear weapons, whose living practices are just short of cannibalism. In this country we have politicians on both sides of the aisle that are clearly not up to the task that is required, and that is the most frightening thing of all.

Before he died, I had a relationship with Herman Kahn, one of the great minds of the 20th century. He was the successor to a man named John Von Neumann, a preeminent 20th century mathematician, and arguably the father of artificial intelligence. Kahn and Von Neumann, were both men that the government called in at the highest levels to help figure out nuclear strategies for war with the Soviet Union. Their IQ's probably dwarfed Einstein.

I asked Kahn one day why our government didn't seem to be up to snuff compared to the gents that founded the Republic in the 1700's. His eyes lit up, and he said, "You know, we could never duplicate that group of guys. They were unique in history. Extremely well read, brilliant thinkers, courageous, those people just don't exist in government today, and they were very young, most of them in their 30's."

Yes, we are in for some ride in the 21st century. It's all in the book. You will understand what took place in China in the 1920's and 30's in their power struggle against Japan. You will see what happened in World War I that led to the destruction of the 1930's and 40's. Ferguson is at his best in describing things that you just won't read about in other books.

An example is the way prisoners of war were treated by all sides during the Second World War. I had no idea that Americans were executing prisoners of war as Germans surrendered. If you were an officer captured by the British, you were four times more likely to survive the war than if you were captured by the Americans.

We all know there is an argument raging among historians about whether or not the United States should have employed the atomic bomb against Japan at the end of World War II. The book lays it out. The Japanese had created a plan called "Operation Decision". This involved deploying 2.35 million troops along the Japanese coast. The troops would be reinforced by 4 million civilian employees of the armed forces. There was also a civilian militia of 28 million men ready and armed to fight.

The atomic bombings killed over time 140,000 in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki. Just a few months earlier, beginning in March of 1945, the Tokyo fire bombings killed something approaching a 100,000 people. It becomes obvious, the atomic bomb probably saved a million American casualties and you know we would have killed two or three Japanese for every American casualty. Those bombs saved a couple of million lives, but historians like to build castles in the sky, and then we have to read about them.

You'll want to read the author's version of the Cuban Missile Crisis. You'll also want to think about the things Ferguson doesn't talk about but hints at. Why did John Kennedy go public on the Russian buildup of missiles in Cuba? Why didn't he negotiate with Khrushchev in private? By going public he put the Russian Premier in a corner, leaving him very little leeway to work his way out.

You'll also understand a great myth that economists have pushed on us to this day. They argue that trade is good; because countries don't go to war against countries they trade with. Ferguson points out that war after war is being fought by trading partners. In the 1930's, over a 30% of Japan's imported goods came from the United States. Germany was a major trading partner of the United States up until the beginning of World War II. Economic trading partners have gone to war against each other for the last 500 years. France and England have constantly fought for the last five or six centuries, and are each other's biggest trading partners during that period.

Read this book, tell your friends about it. We can not afford to replicate the 20th century with the 21st century. The stakes are higher, our knowledge is greater, our wisdom, who knows? We owe it to the unnecessary tens of millions who died in the last century, and the billions of those poor souls in this century who are basically living in slave like conditions, to live the best of all possible lives. Only knowledge can help us do that. This book has that knowledge.



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Postby svinayak » 12 Dec 2006 23:55

Running The World: the Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power (Hardcover)
by David J. Rothkopf





The NSC is a semi-defined group—the president, vice president, secretaries of defense and state, national security adviser and staff, and other officials as needed—with the open-ended mission of helping the president decide and coordinate military and foreign policy. Its institutional vagueness makes it an ill-chosen framework for this engaging but unfocused study of postwar American policy making. Working from interviews with NSC members, Rothkopf, an academic and Clinton administration commerce official, examines the NSC's history from its 1947 inception onward, reviewing its performance in major foreign policy crises and tracing the rising influence of the NSA post. He delves into bureaucratic minutiae, but focuses on such "Shakespearean" human factors as the character and managerial style of the president and the personal "chemistry" and patronage networks among his cabinet and advisers. Rothkopf prefers a centrist, internationalist security policy, with experienced hands restraining ideologues; he therefore gives high marks to the NSC under Nixon, Carter and Bush 41, while castigating the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations. He presents a wealth of information, but the NSC's ad hoc purview, unstable structure and personality-driven dynamics make it hard to discern a coherent outline of American policy among its wranglings.

For this new book by David J. Rothkopf, one can ignore the cover and title as sales hype for the book for this is a solid history and analysis of the NSC from around 1945 to the present day; it is a 550 page book in small font so it is fairly detailed and lengthy, generally an impressive book in terms of volume of information, detail, and scope; the book is mainly text and notes but it has a few pictures. It gives an up close look at the workings of the NSC for various administrations going back to approximately 1945 - 46, and The National Security Act of July 26, 1947, which was used to create the National Security Council under Truman. The early role of the NSC was to coordinate other departments and act mostly in an advisory role to the preseident.

The NSC was started under Truman but became much more important under Eisenhower, who as a former general, appreciated good preparation, research, and security planning of foreign policy. The NSC included the President who was the chairman, the Vice President, Secretaries of State and Defense, and Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization. Also, other cabinet members participated including the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the JCS, and the Director of Central Intelligence. This form of the NSC, refined by Ike, has continued through to the present day, with the formality and impact of the NSC rising and falling, from one administration to the next, depending on the president and how he viewed and utilized his advisers. Kennedy did water down Eisenhower's NSC a bit and changed the NSC to permit the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to in effect run the committe, but the overall impotance of the NSC was restored somewhat by Kissinger working for Nixon.

I guess what I found interesting about the book was the idea that the author belives that Kissinger, especially in the time just before the Nixon resignation, changed the importance of the NSC as a body. It is generally well know Kissinger was involved in both policy-making and implementation. In the early days of the Nixon administration, Kissinger kept a low public profile at the NSC - before the Nixon visit to China - but he emerged after that trip as a media star - and continued that during his famous Middle East shuttle diplomacy. In a very interesting section of the book, we learn how Kissinger convened a meeting of the NSC while Nixon slept prior to his resignation and Kissinger on his own, but chairing the NSC as an assistant to the president or in effect acting as the president, put the US armed forces on a high DEFCON alert status - something that normally only the president would do. Similarly, after Nixon's resignation, Gerald Ford was not comfortable with Kissinger but opted to keep him on for the sake of continuity. In addition, and as an example, the author gives us some insight into the Kissinger - Arthur Schlesinger rivavlry, that was won out by Kissinger, but Kissiger was sometimes outmanoeuvered by Rumsfeld in the Ford administration.

The book goes on to outline the long Kissinger legacity at the NSC where many subsequent advisers and members had direct and indirect ties to Kissinger. It chronicles the changes under Carter and the use of the NSC by Clinton, but Kissinger dominates a large central section of the book. The importance of the NSC rose and fell with subsequent administrations including the Reagan and Bush Republican administrations, but the ghost of Kissiger lingered on through people such as Cheney and Rumsfeld, and other advisers, who have direct and indirect links back to the Kissinger era.

This is an impressive and a detailed look into the workings, the history, the people, the internal politics, the accomplishments, and the mistakes made by the National Security Council. Most readers of American history and politics will enjoy and appreciate the book. Incidentally, the author himself has ties to Kissinger through Kissinger Associates. Also, he is a well known author of five other books, and has lectured at Columbia.
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Postby svinayak » 13 Dec 2006 03:05

Restless Giant: From Watergate to Bush V Gore (Oxford History of the United States) (Hardcover)


Restless Giant is a magisterial interpretation of American history between 1974, when the crisis of Watergate imperiled the nation, and November 2000, when the bitterly contested presidential election marked an all-time low in confidence in the electoral process. James T. Patterson, whose earlier contribution to the Oxford History of the United States, Grand Expectations (1996), won a Bancroft Prize for History, offers in this follow-up volume a vivid narrative of this quarter
century which did so much to shape American life today. A host of memorable characters, notably Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, sought to transform the nation. Conservatives, including a resurgent Religious Right, battled liberals in 'culture wars' that appeared to cut the country in two. The frightening Cold War finally ended, whereupon Americans faced bewildering new developments in international relations. Though a military colossus, the United States discovered-in Panama, Somalia, Bosnia,
Iraq-that it was far from easy to direct the outcome of overseas events. Restless Giant explores a wide range of cultural, social, and economic concerns. Many of these-abiding racial tensions, rising income inequality, dismal inner-city schools, tasteless popular entertainment, an ever more exuberant materialism-drove critics to label these years as an 'Era of Conflict', an 'Age of Limits', and an 'Era of Decline'. Patterson, highlighting the buoyancy of American culture, is not so pessimistic.
The economy, having wallowed in 'stagflation' between 1974 and 1982, later surged ahead. By 2000, most Americans lived far more comfortably than they had in the 1970s. Thanks to rising tolerance and a powerful rights consciousness, many groups-racial and ethnic minorities, Catholics and Jews, women, the handicapped, senior citizens, gay people-encountered considerably less bigotry and discrimination than they had in the past.

Restless Giant is a good recent history of the USA written from a internal point of view by a liberal (that's not to say it's a bad thing just saying it isn't a book that focuses mostly on domestic matters). The read is actually enjoyable and flows well. The chapters aren't strictly chronological but vaguely follow this. Many history books focus on the presidents, this one though focuses on issues a lot; education, gay rights, the religious right, abortion etc.

A sample of the book. In the 70s a lot is about education and rights, desegregation and busing. It's actually quite interesting to read too. The late 70s focuses on the hostages and the rise of the right. The 80s has a good right up in this book domestically and the author makes a good attempt at Iran-Contra. The 90s focuses on the deadlock in government and the lack of things done in the 90s and the personality of Bill Clinton. The '92 election and Waco and O.J. are also covered.

The flaws in this book are small but are mostly on foreign policy where the author shows a level of naivity, relying on a few robust books but mostly on paper journalism in liberal newspapers. For example at the time the Oslo accords were hailed as a huge stepforward in middle east peace and commentators were waxing lyrical about Bill Clinton and the peace effort, true there's little talk about it today but for many years after there was and for most of this book the author writes about what people thought of at the time, but in this case he glossed over it and wrote about it from todays viewpoint almost as an afterthought. In this case 2 paragraphs! Apart from the stereotypical Serb bashing as root of all evil by American Liberals many of the other glitches are minor ones.

The later years have long sections on the Monica Lewinsky affair and the final part of the book on the 2000 election. Apart from the stereotypical Nader bashing that the author even joins in a little bit, this section was good and made a strong end to the book.



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Postby svinayak » 13 Dec 2006 08:14

Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (Paperback)
by Walter Russell Mead, Richard C. Leone





America is perceived as not having a foreign policy tradition, contends Mead (Mortal Splendor: The American Empire in Transition), a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. In fact, Mead contends, there are actually four contrasting schools of foreign policy: a "Hamiltonian" concern with U.S. economic well-being at home and abroad; a "Wilsonian" impulse to promulgate U.S. values throughout the world; a "Jeffersonian" focus on protecting American democracy in a perilous world; and a bellicose, populist "Jacksonian" commitment to preserving U.S. interests and honor in the world. As Mead's detailed historical analysis of the origin and development of these schools shows, each has its strengths and faults if Wilsonians are too idealistic, Jacksonians are too suspicious of the world but each keeps the other in check, assuring no single school will dominate and that a basic consensus among them will be achieved, as was the case during the Cold War. As the Cold War ended, however, and the world became more complex, consensus ended. Hamiltonians and Wilsonians saw the opportunity to mold the economy and morality of the world in the U.S. image, but Jeffersonian doubt about foreign action in places like Bosnia, and Jacksonian popular suspicions of organizations like the WTO soon challenged such grandiose plans. Mead worries that U.S. foreign policy is too unfocused today and suggests we could learn much from the interactions in the past of the four schools, a complex history he ably unfolds. 8 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Nov. 8) Forecast: With foreign policy at the forefront after September 11, this could help shape discussions of U.S. response; expect serious interest.

A senior fellow for foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mead (Mortal Splendor: The American Empire in Transition) follows in the footsteps of Walter McDougall in Promised Land, Crusader State (Houghton, 1997). Like McDougall, he points out that the United States contrary to the received wisdom was awash in diplomacy from its birth throughout the supposedly isolationist 19th century. But Mead sets himself a broader task. Why, he asks, does the United States still suffer from a reputation for na?vet? despite its meteoric ascent to world power? The author traces European puzzlement at Americans' stubborn independence, aversion to state power, and obsession with commerce. Like other historians, Mead discerns several schools of thought that vie for supremacy within the American diplomatic tradition: Hamilton's preoccupation with commerce, Jefferson's watchfulness over the Republic's founding principles, Jackson's obsession with military strength, and Wilson's pursuit of a just world order. The beneficial interplay of these principles, says Mead, has yielded the most successful foreign policy in history. Largely celebratory and sure to be controversial, this work belongs in all library collections. James R. Holmes, Ph.D. Candidate, Fletcher Sch. of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts Univ., Medford, MA

First, Mead risks little actual analysis and advice regarding real-world foreign policy. His main point about the outside world is that U.S. foreign policy is easier to formulate and implement when the world is simple. Humorist Richard Armour made a similar point when he concluded one of his historical reviews with the observation that the American people of the 1950s were "secure in the knowledge of whom to hate." This continues to be an important point: it helps illustrate the current usefulness the Arab Muslim image in building a broad U.S. political movement.

Second, Mead has something for everyone -- at least, for every American. With malice toward none, with charity for all, he has praise for all four of the U.S. schools. He has obviously struggled with his presentation of the Jacksonian school (the militant fundamentalists), which is the one that seems farthest from Mead's roots as an intellectual. Mead credits Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. with helping him be positive about Andrew Jackson himself.

But although Mead disclaims triumphalism, he implicitly evaluates foreign policy in nationalistic terms: gains of territory and other wealth for the U.S., with low U.S. casualties, is the measure of U.S. foreign policy achievement. While he regrets non-U.S. casualties, he warns against trying to make too much of the rest of the world.

By these standards, Mead proclaims U.S. foreign policy a success and thus well conceived, even in the period before the First World War, when traditionally the U.S. was not supposed to be paying much attention to foreign affairs.

This seeming paradox is partly explained by a factor that Mead does not emphasize sufficiently: the private sector's role in expanding U.S. territory. Private American colonization went ahead of the U.S. Government into a large part of what became U.S. lands: the trans-Appalachian area, West Florida, Texas, California, Utah, and Hawaii, among the successful cases.

Mead does note briefly that "before the Civil War Southerners looked to Texas, Central America, and Cuba for more slave states," but he does not tell in any detail the story of private U.S. adventurers' attempted conquests in such areas, or of the U.S. Government's official actions for and against these efforts. The case of the Philippines provides a contrasting example, where the U.S. Government took the initiative in conquering the territory without private American colonization. However, the non-governmental pattern resumed in the 1900s with private Americans' participation in Israeli colonization, creating a Texas-type, lone-star republic, which, although not annexed, has a "special relationship" with the U.S.

These examples illustrate a mechanism by which the U.S. expanded its territory with low U.S. Government troop casualties, and thus had a successful foreign policy by Mead's standard, without the U.S. Government paying as much attention to foreign policy as that success might imply.

Obviously, territorial expansion has generated blowback, which the U.S. Government has often anticipated and tried to avoid or limit. Mead also recognizes the need to deal with this downside of expansionary foreign policy. He describes very effectively how the Hamiltonian and Wilsonian schools offer alternatives for succeeding in the larger world.

We in the U.S. have family, friends, homes, businesses, and cultural interests outside our borders, which we will not want to neglect. Mead's clarifying work is a substantial contribution to helping us think about our approach.



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Postby svinayak » 19 Dec 2006 00:36


Circle in the Sand: Why We Went Back to Iraq
by Christian Alfonsi



Alfonsi's "Circle in the Sand" reveals a number of parallels between Bush '41 and Bush '43 vs. Iraq. Both had major problems with CIA information (Bush I was told Iraq would not cross into Kuwait; Bush II heard that the proposition that Iraq had WMD was a "slam dunk"), achieved military triumph easily, incurred serious post-war problems due to lack of planning, utilized Secretary Baker to attempt to bail themselves out of the ensuing problems, had Dick Cheney play a key role in putting positive spin on the outcome, and subsequently endured serious questioning regarding the rationale for beginning hostilities (Bush '41's pre-war messages to Hussein have never been revealed - detractors believe he had "approved" Hussein's initial incursion into Kuwait; regardless, the much-hyped claim that Iraqi soldiers evicting newborns from incubators was proven to be fabricated).

9/11 offered a chance for the frustrated leaders of Gulf War I (Saddam continued to flaunt the U.S., while the sanctions we sponsored irritated the entire Arab world and possibly even strenghtened Saddam's control as he now had greater control over food, etc.) to take eliminate these problems forever. And so, the U.S. returned to Iraq and repeated many of the same mistakes.

The most serious blunder was Bush I's post-war encouragement of Iraqis to overthrow Saddam. This initially led to a bloodbath of Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north, then the rationalization for no-fly zones in both areas to protect those peoples, and then the retention of thousands of American forces in Saudi Arabia to support no-fly efforts. The latter, in turn, became Osama bin Laden's main motivation for attacking the WTC on 9/11. In addition, Alfonsi states that Bush's call for Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands may even have saved Saddam - Iraqi generals (almost all Sunni) preferred more of the same to rule even shared with Kurds and Shiites.

The final post-war error was the U.S.'s decision, announced by then Secretary of Defense Cheney, to reduce our armed forces by 25% as part of an effort to address a growing budget deficit. This act later fed into the need to short-staff the following Gulf War II by Bush II.

Interesting Sidelines: Both Bush I and II also bungled the response to major hurricanes (Andrew, Katrina), and the contrast between V.P. Quayle and Cheney could not be more extreme - Quayle played almost no role whatsoever in Alfonsi's account of Gulf War I, while Cheney's role in the Gulf War II was enormous. Finally, Richard Hass (formerly head of policy planning at the State Department) points out that the first war in Iraq marked the beginning of the American era in the Middle East, while the second precipitated its end.

hristian Alfonsi is either brilliant, extremely lucky or both. This book is unique to other recent releases such as "Fiasco" and "Hubris" in that it is evenly divided in covering both Iraq-related conflicts. Mr. Alfonsi's timing couldn't be better considering the sudden influx of old school George H.W. Bush advisors/cabinent members brought aboard to redirect the current conflict. The first half of this book takes a well balanced look at the planning and execution of the first Gulf War. Names that have been in recent headlines such as James Baker, Robert Gates, Richard Hass and Brent Scowcroft appear prominently in the account of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
The contrast between the two adminstration's handling of the situation couldn't be clearer. While the first Bush administration used their own elements of deception to engage Saddam Hussein, it is clear that his administration was working with a very realist approach that included detailed planning and input from other nations. This is in great contrast to the "cowboy diplomacy" seen coming from George W. Bush and the neoconservative architects of the second war.


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Postby svinayak » 19 Dec 2006 01:00



The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape the World for the Next 5, 10, and 20 Years
by James Canton





Canton's background in future-planning consultancy began when he studied under Alvin Toffler in the 1970s—and it shows in this big-picture take on the world of tomorrow. Taken individually, none of the trends Canton believes will shape the upcoming decades are surprising: major crises brought on by energy shortages and climate change; economic transformation wrought by globalization; and the "war on terror" has barely started. But he recognizes that the future is created by a "convergence" in which these developments interact. Canton's imagination runs in a dozen directions at once, peppering the margins of his vision with media headlines and short vignettes from a science-fictional future. Some of these are more believable than others—hydrogen-based energy systems by 2040, sure, but drugs that will keep us from even thinking antigovernment thoughts? Canton's goal, however, isn't predicting, it's convincing Americans to take a more active role in envisioning and safeguarding the 21st century before somebody else does. His lively scenarios are designed to spark debates, and they surely will. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Canton, global futurist and business advisor, offers a forecasting road map for the twenty-first century that includes 10 top trends of the extreme future. These trends are the critical role of energy; information technology and networks; biotechnology; the manipulation of matter at the atomic scale (producing new drugs, fuels, materials, and machines); and the use of devices, drugs, and materials to heal and enhance mental performance. Other trends are the emerging workforce, which will be more multicultural, female, and Hispanic; longer and healthier lives; the critical importance of science; major threats, including hackers, terrorists, and mind control; and the new realities of global trade and competition. Finally, he cites preparation for increased global warming, the struggle for human rights and individual freedom, and the consequences of future interaction between America and China. Canton is optimistic about the future and believes Americans in general are, too. He observes, "They inspire change and innovation, creating a vision that suggests what is coming next will be good." Important and fascinating perspective!


Dr. Canton breaks down his forecasts into ten areas. Some of them I find very good. Some of them I find OK. Some of them I disagree with. Some of them I'd replace with others.

His view of the future of the individual, Chapter 10, I find totally agreeable. He says that protecting the freedom and rights of the individual is going to be difficult. I absolutely agree. There will be a great deal of pressure to restrict rights (the so called Patriot's Act) in the name of security. The Democrats would like to impose gun control. The Republicans would like to impose abortion control.

His view on energy I find half right. He is right that we are running out of energy. Oil will get progressively more expensive. Then he says, 'Hydrogen is the most plentiful gas in the universe...It's abundant, reliable, renewable, clean and secure because hydrogen is everywhere, America wouldn't have to rely on foreign suppliers.' Yes, but hydrogen isn't a fuel, it's a way to store energy. You have to put more energy into separating hydrogen from oxygen (where it's mostly found, i.e. water) than you get back when you burn it. Nuclear power is the only forseeable place to get the energy to put into hydrogen, and we still have problems of where to store the old fuel rods, do you want them in your back yard?

He sees medicine making all kinds of advances that will lead to longer and healthier lives. I'm not so sure. AIDS is likely to move up to #3 in killing people in the next few years, and there's no cure in sight. Drug resistent forms of TB, malaria, etc. are spreading. New potential diseases like avian flu. If you're interested I'd recommend 'The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance' by Laurie Garrett. It's a bit old, but still the best on the subject.

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Postby svinayak » 21 Dec 2006 01:35

Bangalore Tiger
by Steve Hamm


Image

While the book focuses on WIPRO (an Indian high tech company), it really is an insightful description of a major global economic shift. While the book focuses on a particular Indian company, it carries significant messages for North American companies - not only what we need to learn to be competitive, but also how we need to adjust to take advantage of the things that "WIPRO" brings to our businesses. I discovered that these Indian companies provide much more than low-cost labor for things like programming or phone services. They are building a whole new infrastructure to engage in the full gamut of development and innovation in high tech.
Thoroughly readable and comprehensive, Bangalore Tiger is a must read for those of us who care about staying competitive as this economic shift evolves.

One of the most significant effects of the Internet has been the outsourcing of technology jobs. Nowhere has the effect been as great as in India, where the minds of millions of highly skilled workers have been made available to Western businesses. Although plenty of Indian "tech tigers" have experienced explosive growth, the number-three player stands out from the pack. Business Week senior writer Hamm, who has focused on the emergence of India and China as global economic powers, chose to profile Wipro to tell the story of India's rising technology industry. Founder Azim Premji built the company from a failing vegetable oil company into a high-tech engineering lab serving clients such as Aviva and Texas Instruments. Premji (who has been called the Bill Gates of India) pioneered the "Wipro Way," which, much like the famed HP Way, emphasizes ethical values, process excellence, and a central focus on customer relations. On track to become the Wal-Mart of IT services, Wipro is already a fierce global competitor and will be a company to keep an eye on. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Book Description

Of all the tech tigers in India, Wipro is one of a handful that stands out from the pack. In the past five years, it has become one of the most accomplished tech services providers in the world, delivering business value through a combination of process excellence, quality frameworks, and service delivery innovation. Totally dedicated to customer satisfaction, Wipro is known to go above and beyond to make customers happy. It’s a move that’s paid off handsomely, with a 24 percent operating profit in its tech services division—more than twice the industry average.

Bangalore Tiger is the story of Wipro’s transformation and its impact on the tech services industry and the rules of global competition. BusinessWeek senior writer Steve Hamm takes you inside the halls of this transnational phenomenon to reveal the true secrets of Wipro’s superior business: its people, principles, and core competencies.

From Wipro’s triumphs to its missteps, Hamm mines a treasure of business lessons, explaining how and, more important, why it is necessary to:

* Expand quickly without stumbling
* Follow the new rules for outsourcers
* Innovate every day—or else
* Be obsessive about customers
* Motivate employees the Wipro way
* Plan three years ahead to prepare for rapid growth

Hamm also gives you a rare glimpse into the mind of Wipro’s charismatic chairman and thought leader, Azim Premji. Guiding Wipro’s growth every step of the way, Premji was one of the first business leaders in India to decree that his company would not pay bribes. You’ll see how his adoption of world-class business processes helped Wipro thrive—and how Wipro is helping to fulfill his dream of a better educated, more prosperous India. Removing the shroud of secrecy around Indian management principles, Hamm provides a real-world blueprint for operating a successful transnational organization, as viewed through the eye of the Bangalore Tiger.

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Postby svinayak » 31 Dec 2006 09:27



Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond
by Rahul Mahajan

# Paperback: 208 pages
# Publisher: Open Media; 1st edition (March 21, 2003)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1583225781
# ISBN-13: 978-1583225783



The high point of "Full Spectrum Dominance" is chapter 2, in which Rahul Mahajan examines the Bush administration's National Security Strategy. This public document outlines the basic contours of a new Cold War, a perpetual war fought against terrorists instead of communists. Mahajan reviews the important points of the NSS, then spends the rest of the book backing up his analysis with a brief history of US imperialism, attacks on Iraqi civilians during the 1990s, US disregard for international law, the drive to war in Iraq, and the oil cartels.

That's a lot of information for a 200-page, heavily-footnoted book. But Mahajan makes it work. This book packs a lot of important facts and insights into a small package. I recommend it to anyone who wants background on US foreign policy and the current war in Iraq, especially for those people who don't read a lot about politics and need a good place to start.


Mahajan notes that the U.S. from Bush Sr. through Clinton and George the dumber gave Saddam every reason not to fully comply with the disarmament provisions of UN resolution 687 by stating that contrary to that resolution, it would keep sanctions on Iraq and seek to overthrow Saddam even if Iraq was certified to be completely disarmed. The U.S. engaged in heavy spying of Iraqi government institutions about matters nothing to do with WMD, as noted by former Inspections head Rolf Eakus in his Financial Times interview. In Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, he notes, only 11 of 97 targets were WMD related. The rest were Republican guard and secret police facilities, command and control centers. He notes that the U.S. likely decided to invade Iraq in August 2002 when Rumsfeld started bombing command and control centers and non-active air defenses in the illegal "no-fly zones" whose bombings were causing hundreds of civilian casualties according to former UN humanitarian coordinator Hans Von Sponek.

The U.S. got the security council to pass UN resolution 706, in September 1991, the original "Oil for Food ," which after "reparations" to go in large part to oil companies harmed by Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, left Iraq a maximum of only 930,000 dollars of oil to sell over a trial period of several months. This was well below the proposal of UN undersecretary Aga Khan that called for Iraq to be able to sell enough oil to be able to partially repair its vital civilian infrastructure destroyed by the U.S. in 1991. When the program started about $15 per capita got in, only about 26 out of the 41 billion directed for Iraq, and the Iraqi economy remained collapsed, unable to generate income. He quotes UN under secretary general Martti Ahtissaari from 1991, left Iraq in a "near-apocalyptic state." Through 2002 the U.S. placed holds on billions of dollars worth of material needed to repair vitally needed civilian infrastructure as well as hospital equipment and vaccines, claiming absurdly that basic vaccines could be transmuted into biological weapons. He notes how the head of U.S. AID claimed in April 2003 that the vile Saddam had not repaired Basra's water/sanitation facilities. He said this after the British had gallantly knocked out Basra's electricity thus once again shutting down what remained of Basra's water treatment facilities. This of course is a vile lie, the U.S. had been blocking the importation of parts for their repair on the sanctions committee. Iraq's oil for food revenue was placed in a Bank in New York and directly dispersed to companies whose contracts with Iraq were approved. Saddam couldn't get at it so he could build palaces.

After the first Gulf war, the U.S. did all it could to impede the Iraqi rebellion. Brent Scowcroft who allowed that at that point he would have preferred the Iraqi military to retain in control rather than the rebels. The U.S. feared the rebels would not follow orders from the U.S. so they preferred to keep Saddam in power for the moment. Thomas Friedman, that shameless voice for the powerful on the New York Times explained that the U.S. hoped that eventually Saddam would be replaced by "an iron fisted junta" that would rule Iraq the same way Saddam did when the U.S. was giving him all he needed to "gas his own people," blocking condemnation of him in congress and blaming the Halabja massacre on Iran.

He notes that the U.S. will continue to support as much as possible the brutal dictatorships governing the region, who give oil companies huge profits in extracting their oil and then spend the massive revenues they get not for the most part on their own people but buying weapons in the West to repress those people, treasury bonds, etc. This capital flight is contrasted with the lack of spending by these oligarchs on increasing production capacity to meet the huge increase in demand for ME oil. Getting a client state with such awesome untapped reserves as Iraq that can support oil production policies the U.S. wants against OPEC is important. But getting rid of rivals for political domination of the region is what U.S. policy in the ME is first and foremost about.

He notes how the U.S. played something of a role in the coup against Hugo Chavez in April 2002 and how they refused the Taliban's offer to extradite Bin Laden to Pakistan. It has refused repeatedly since 1995 Sudan's offers of its files on Bin Laden and dismissed the Sudanese arrest of two people after the 1998 embassy bombings.The U.S. destroyed the factory producing the majority of Sudan's most needed medicines in August 1998, claiming falsely it was producing precursors to BCW. Who knows how many thousands have died as a result of that attack. The U.S. of course always supports violations of UN resolutions and does it a lot itself. For example it provided arms for Indonesia to slaughter East Timorese for twenty-four years. It has supports Morocco's looting of the Western Sahara. It supports Israel's severe violations of the fourth Geneva Convention. It has never paid the 17 billion dollars to Nicaragua ordered by the World Court in 1986, which told it to stop using the contras to terrorize that country. Shortly after it vetoed a UN resolution calling on all states to observe international law.

He starts off with some good stuff about the foreign policy of the neocons and how these maniacs argue that the U.S. should use mini-nukes against non-nuclear countries and that the affects of such mini-nukes can be contained. He points out the absurdity of even the "strongest evidence" advanced for the Bin Laden-Saddam intimate alliance. For example the supposed medical treatment received in Baghdad by the number two leader of the extremist Ansar Al Islam which operated in Kurdish-U.S. controlled Northern Iraq and whose leader was probably telling the truth when he denied any connection with Al Qaida. Then there was Colin Powell his slimy way at the UN claiming that a video, in which Bin Laden denounced Saddam as a socialist infidel but said he was in solidarity with the people of Iraq, was proof of an intimate Saddam-OBL connection.



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Postby svinayak » 31 Dec 2006 09:41

Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors (Hardcover)
by Charles S. Maier


# Hardcover: 384 pages
# Publisher: Harvard University Press (April 24, 2006)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0674021894
# ISBN-13: 978-0674021891




Harvard historian Maier's brilliant study of the nature of imperial power throughout history offers a glimpse not only at the character of empire but also at how the current American political regime measures up to past empires. Maier distinguishes between "being" an empire (such as Rome) and "having" an empire (such as Britain); in the latter, power is exercised from afar and colonies are treated in ways that the imperial power's own citizens wouldn't accept. All empires require military supremacy as well as a class of elite rulers who seek to control human and natural resources. Violence is a component of empires, both on the part of those who resist empire and on the part of the ruling class. Empires, according to Maier, set out to mark out their frontiers, in order to control the movement of people and to settle colonists in defined areas. Finally, every empire in history has experienced a decline and fall. Modern America contains many, but not all, of these seeds of empire, writes Maier; for instance, the U.S. dominates through consumer capitalism rather than violence. America acts much like an empire in its quest to make the world more like itself. Maier's subtle study brooks no rivals in its assessment of American empire. 4 b&w illus. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review
This is a truly masterly essay, which brilliantly succeeds in setting the phenomenon of American ascendancy in its proper historical context--as the one of many forms of imperial organization. Much has been written of late on the subject of American empire. In its multi-faceted erudition and its scrupulous ambivalence,Among Empires is in a league of its own. I cannot praise it too highly. I envy its author's scholarship and the wonderful subtlety of his analysis.
--Niall Ferguson, author of Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power
Many of us wonder in what ways our country is--and is not--like the empires of the past. We wonder, too, if we can profit from their triumphs or learn from their failures. In this elegantly written tour de force of fair-minded comparative history, Charles Maier provides us with the materials for answering these questions for ourselves.
--Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of The Ethics of Identity
Charles Maier's explorations of imperial predicaments are both broad and deep. His historically rich and analytically focused approach illuminates America's ascendancy in world affairs. This elegant book is a gem of circumspect wisdom.
--Peter J. Katzenstein, author of A World of Regions: Asia and Europe in the American Imperium
Powerful in analysis, rich in learning, dazzling in historical sweep and elegant in style, Among Empires will become a modern classic, indispensable to our understanding of the powerful forces that govern our world.
--Ronald Steel, author of Temptations of a Superpower


Professor Maier's "Among Empires" may be the most careful and balanced look yet at the similarities between late 20th and early 21st century America and the heights of both the Roman and British empires. Unlike his fellow Harvard colleague Niall Ferguson's "The Roman Predicament" (which I also favorably reviewed), Maier does not assume American imperialism, but rather "compares some of the recurring elements of empires and asks to what extent the United States shares these attributes and what are some of the possible consequences for our current political choices."

Maier looks at these possible consequences and political choices both abroad and at home, arguing that the transnational structure of empire both depends on and consolidates "social cleavages throughout its domain," which seems to define the operative political mode in the U.S.

Whether or not the growing American hegemony benefits more than simply the powerful and well-connected, or even the citizens at home, Maier adduces many economic criteria, but the damage to cultures, ethnic identities, and values other than consumerism must be balanced against the potential for greater, though not always equitable, economic prosperity. If we are to continue the spread of American dominance, then discussions like these must be part of the public dialogue, because individual citizens can no longer simply ignore the rest of the world when making political choices. We have already seen the consequences of such complacency.

With the demise of the former Soviet Union in 19991-92 and the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq in the post- 9/11 period there has been an inordinate among of ink spilled in academic circles over the question of whether the United States has become the latest empire. In fact, this question has created something of a cottage industry. Professor Maier's book is a contribution, and not the worst, to this controversy. Militants of this generation who understand what is wrong with the drift of American society must confront the question of the imperialistic nature of the United States head-on. For my generation, the generation of 68, the imperialistic nature of the United States was a given. The question then really centered on what to do about it. For a variety of reasons we were not successful in taming the monster. Each generation must come to an understanding of the nature of imperialist society in its own way. And fight it. Thus, this book is a good place to start to understand that question.

A lot of the current controversy in academic circles (government and military circles have no such difficulties) about whether there is an American Empire gets tangled up in comparisons with past empires. True, the American Empire does not look like previous empires. The real problem is trying to pigeonhole the contours of empire based on past experiences. As if the builders of each empire doe not learn something from the mistakes of previous empires. Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin long ago analyzed the basis contours of modern imperialism in his seminal work Imperialism- The Highest Stage of Capitalism. That outline, although in need of updating to reflect various, mainly technological, in the global capitalist structure remains an important document for militants today. By his or virtually any other definition the United States gets the nod.

But let's get down to brass tasks. Hell, the American Empire, is the mightiest military machine the world has ever known defending a nationally-based global economic infrastructure. Previous empires, like the Roman and British, are punk bush league operations in comparison. Academics can afford to have an agnostic view about whether an empire exists or the effects of imperial power. However, when one's door is kicked in by a foreign, heavily armed soldier in some god forsaken village in Iraq or Vietnam, or your city is flattened in order to `save' it a ready definition of imperialism comes to mind. And a good one.

One of the issues that cloud the question of the American Empire is that there is no readily apparent imperialist ideology. In fact, it is argued, for historical reasons, that there is some kind of popular anti-imperialist ideology in America that has always countered the trend toward empire. I take exception to that notion. While there has always been a section of the chattering classes that has held this position it has never really taken popular root. What is really the dominating popular theme is more like-don't tread on me. That is a very different proposition. And it can be seen most unequivocally when a war, any war, comes along and virtually everyone- from the groves of academia to the local barroom- gets on board. Then the imperialist fist is bared for all to see.

With that caveat, this writer recommends this book. Agnostism on the question of empire in acceptable in the academy. It is the nature of such an institution-unless that heavily-armed soldier mentioned about comes kicking down those doors.








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Postby svinayak » 31 Dec 2006 11:10

A World of Regions: Asia And Europe in the American Imperium (Cornell Studies in Political Economy)
by Peter J. Katzenstein



# Hardcover: 297 pages
# Publisher: Cornell University Press (September 2005)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0801443598
# ISBN-13: 978-0801443596


Observing the dramatic shift in world politics since the end of the Cold War, Peter J. Katzenstein argues that regions have become critical to contemporary world politics. This view is in stark contrast to those who focus on the purportedly stubborn persistence of the nation-state or the inevitable march of globalization. In detailed studies of technology and foreign investment, domestic and international security, and cultural diplomacy and popular culture, Katzenstein examines the changing regional dynamics of Europe and Asia, which are linked to the United States through Germany and Japan.

Regions, Katzenstein contends, are interacting closely with an American imperium that combines territorial and non-territorial powers. Katzenstein argues that globalization and internationalization create open or porous regions. Regions may provide solutions to the contradictions between states and markets, security and insecurity, nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Embedded in the American imperium, regions are now central to world politics.

From the Inside Flap
"In its breadth, erudition, and insightfulness this is a truly monumental work in political science (not merely international relations). Peter J. Katzenstein's carefully crafted comparative framework builds on the experiences of Germany and Japan--in Western Europe and Asia respectively--to establish that regional institutions have important effects, over and beyond the effects of globalization and internationalization. Katzenstein's favored explanation is that formal--Weberian--domestic arrangements in Germany versus informal ones in Japan shape regional politics in their respective images. The evidence for the workings of Japanese and German capitalism and culture in their respective regions is robust, convincing, comprehensive, and skillfully deployed."—Etel Solingen, University of California, Irvine

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Postby svinayak » 01 Jan 2007 08:33

http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0 ... ent_view0/

America, Russia, and the Cold War 1945 - 2002: Updated, 9/e
Walter LaFeber
, Cornell University
Student Center

Contents:
Chapter 1: Open Doors, Iron Curtains (1941-1945)
Chapter 2: Only Two Declarations of Cold War (1946)
Chapter 3: Two Halves of the Same Walnut (1947-1948)
Chapter 4: The 'Different World' of NSC-68 (1948-1950)
Chapter 5: Korea: The War for Both Asia and Europe (1950-1951)
Chapter 6: New Issues, New Faces (1951-1953)
Chapter 7: A Different Cold War (1953-1955)
Chapter 8: East and West of Suez (1954-1957)
Chapter 9: New Frontiers and Old Dilemmas (1957-1962)
Chapter 10: Southeast Asia - and Elsewhere (1962-1966)
Chapter 11: A New Containment: The Rise and Fall of Detente (1966-1976)
Chapter 12: From Cold War to Old War: Reagan and Gorbachev (1977-1989)
Chapter 13: A New World Order - Or the Age of Fragmentation?
Chapter 14: The Post-Cold-War Era: Clinton, Yeltsin, and back to a Bush (1993-)
Chapter 15: The World Turned Upside Down (2001)

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Postby ramana » 03 Jan 2007 00:22


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Postby svinayak » 03 Jan 2007 02:24

Diplomacy by Deception (Paperback)
by John Coleman


# Paperback: 272 pages
# Publisher: Joseph Holding Corp (August 15, 1998)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0964010488
# ISBN-13: 978-0964010482

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The Inheritance of Loss

Postby negi » 03 Jan 2007 18:15

The Inheritance of Loss
Author: Kiran Desai
Country: United Kingdom
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Released: 31 August 2006
Pages 336 hardback edition); 357 p. (paperback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-241-14348-9 (hardback) & ISBN 0-8021-4281-8 (paperback)

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Postby ramana » 05 Jan 2007 21:16

Pioneer, 4 jan., 2007
Deciphering Mahatma

Each commentator in the book relates a different account of Gandhi but Weber does a commendable job in compiling all those facets of the Mahatma with sound algorithm, writes Sudhir Kumar

Gandhi, Gandhism and the Gandhians, Thomas Weber; Roli Books, Rs 395

Call it Gandhigiri or concocted satyagraha or an intelligent citizen's guide to experiments with (un)truth and (non-)violence, the charisma of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lives on. It will not be an exaggeration to say that there are many versions of Gandhi today. To the billions of Indians, he is an important coordinate of their collective cultural and mythical consciousness. This mythical, folklore-like and commonplace Gandhi has a more powerful hold over people's worldviews than the almost ineffectual, textbookish one - the officially advertised mascot of Indian nationalism and a convenient political toy to peddle the crassly un-Gandhian policies to further vested interests. It is in this context that Gandhi, the proverbial politico-spiritual enigma, is the bunny of the global publishing industry - a perennial source of the inexhaustible grist to the print-mills worldwide to reproduce and rediscover newer and newer versions of Gandhi to fulfil people's perpetual eagerness to understand this "half-naked fakir".

Thomas Weber's Gandhi, Gandhism and the Gandhians is a welcome addition to the ever-increasing list of books on Gandhi. It aims at analysing some of the hitherto unexplored aspects of the Mahatma's politico-cultural actions and their subsequent appropriation by later-day Gandhians. Though most essays included in the volume have already been published in various journals, these are put together so well here that there is no discontinuity in the book.

Weber, an acclaimed Australian scholar on Gandhi, reinforces the need to reinterpret the Mahatma's philosophy of truth (satya) and non-violence (ahimsa) in the vastly changed circumstances of today. Rajmohan Gandhi, in his foreword to the book, stresses the obvious when he refers to the efficacy of Gandhi's non-violent satyagraha in troubled West Asia and its proven impact on Nelson Mandela's anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

Some of the essays, however, can disappoint readers. For example, "Kharag Bahadur Singh: The Eightieth Marcher" seems a non-starter for the reputation of the book, as it adds nothing to the central issue - the Dandi March. Moreover, the second essay, "Historiography and the Dandi March: The Other Myths of Gandhi's Salt March", aptly foregrounds the dynamics of the word of mouth and mythical imagination that played a crucial role in transforming a political event like the Dandi March into a historical milestone, thus unleashing the hitherto dormant political consciousness.

The Salt Satyagraha, in spite of its political failure, turned out to be a metonymic representation of the will of Indian people. Weber writes, "The march and the ensuing campaign also had several less tangible successes that the critics and the myth-makers ignore. The revolution Gandhi sought to achieve was not merely political, it was also social... The Salt March was about empowerment... It was about reforming society and about the self-reformation of the individual. For Gandhi, the two were inextricably linked - reform yourself and you have started to reform the world, reform the world non-violently and you have reformed the self." (p 23).

The popular perception of the Salt Satyagraha is based on the playful pulls of memory, imagination and desire producing and circulating, as Weber says, "as many Gandhis as there are people who write about him" (p 35). Responding to the critics of Gandhian experiment with truth during the Salt March, Weber writes, "While some people stress the myth of the total success of the Dandi March, care must be taken that an even bigger myth - that the Salt March failed - does not take its place" (p 41).

The next two chapters, "Gandhi Moves" and "Gandhi and the Nobel Peace Prize" are more archival than analytical in nature. Weber, however, succeeds in describing the significance of Polak and Kallenbach in setting up the Phoenix Settlement and the Tolstoy Ashram in South Africa and the sacrifices made by Maganlal Gandhi and Jamnalal Bajaj in establishing the Sabarmati and the Sevagram Ashrams in India. Why Gandhi was not given a Nobel Peace Prize is only of academic interest as a man of his stature could never be measured by a medallion, however prestigious it may have been.

The sixth chapter, "Gandhian Philosophy, Conflict Resolution Theory and Practical Approach to Negotiation," puts in context Gandhi's insistence on truth and non-violence in order to use satyagraha to end conflicts.

Weber discusses at length Bondurant's famous work, Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, which inter alia proposes how a satyagrahi involves himself in an "ethical existence" in which "the operation of non-violent action and truth as judged by the fulfilment of human needs will emerge in the form of a mutually satisfactory and agreed upon solution" (p 147). Weber also delineates how Arne Naess, the Norwegian philosopher and conflict-resolution theorist, in his book Gandhi and Group Conflict, candidly employs Gandhian satyagraha as a sound strategy to abolish hatred and hostility among the warring groups or nations.

Similarly, Naess's ex-pupil and founder of modern peace research, Johan Galtung, in his seminal work, The Way is the Goal, underlines Gandhian satyagraha as a spiritual alternative to resolve human conflicts in a realm of peace and mutual understanding.

Weber rightly argues that for the Mahatma, "the process was about the achievement of self-realisation, nothing less. For him, the fundamental principle was that of the unity of existence. People are related to each other in a way that has a transcendental nature and conflict should be seen as a gift providing a rich opportunity, potentially to the benefit of all to realise a higher goal" (p 167-168).

Weber also scrutinises the reasons why Gandhism waned after Jayaprakash Narain and Vinoba Bhave passed away. He highlights certain glaring contradictions in Gandhi's notion of satyagraha or non-violent resistance.

First, Gandhi's satyagraha presupposes an enlightened other party that is amenable to spiritual persuasion. His logic falls flat when it confronts Al Qaeda brand of Islamist terrorism, or LTTE's vicious bloodbaths.

Second, satyagraha, at times, coerces the other party that signifies a kind of violence. Even Gandhian fasting is tantamount to inflicting injury on one's own body.

Third, the spiritual significance of satyagraha is ruined once it is used for purely political gains. In the post-colonial contexts, it degenerates into frequent bandhs, hartals and strikes.

Fourth, the idea of a shanti sena replacing the armed forces to manage India's national security has no link with ground realities. Such ideas have reduced the relevance of Gandhism in the contemporary world.


Weber should also have used the Gandhi-Ambedkar dialogue and Lohia's reconstruction of Gandhi in order to supplement Gandhi-Vinoba and Gandhi-JP discursive interfaces to look into the causes of the decline of the Gandhian legacy of political and cultural action.

Weber's book is a commendable effort to package many facets of Gandhi in a relatively constricted space. At the same time, it brings together some of his stimulating essays on the application of Gandhian theory to such deeply interrelated areas as neo-environmentalism, conflict resolution theories, deep ecology, and Buddhist economics.

The reviewer teaches in Punjab University, Chandigarh


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Postby Babui » 06 Jan 2007 02:13

I definitely recommend "War Made New" by Max Boot. It discusses how technological and strategic revolutions on the battlefield have shaped the rise and fall of nations/empires. Unlike other books that deal with similar material and are 'dry' reads; this book brings to 'life' various battles that illustrate his theories. A very interesting chapter is on the Battle of Assaye (Marathas v British). It describes the battle and the reasons for the defeat of the Marathas....and the reasons are very interesting...and different from what we have learn't from our history books. I'm not going to mention the reasons as that would spoil your reading pleasure. Pick this book up if you get a chance.

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Postby svinayak » 06 Jan 2007 03:50


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Postby vsudhir » 12 Jan 2007 23:01


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Postby ramana » 25 Jan 2007 21:00

Acharya wrote:http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072849037/student_view0/

America, Russia, and the Cold War 1945 - 2002: Updated, 9/e
Walter LaFeber
, Cornell University
Student Center

Contents:
Chapter 1: Open Doors, Iron Curtains (1941-1945)
Chapter 2: Only Two Declarations of Cold War (1946)
Chapter 3: Two Halves of the Same Walnut (1947-1948)
Chapter 4: The 'Different World' of NSC-68 (1948-1950)
Chapter 5: Korea: The War for Both Asia and Europe (1950-1951)
Chapter 6: New Issues, New Faces (1951-1953)
Chapter 7: A Different Cold War (1953-1955)
Chapter 8: East and West of Suez (1954-1957)
Chapter 9: New Frontiers and Old Dilemmas (1957-1962)
Chapter 10: Southeast Asia - and Elsewhere (1962-1966)
Chapter 11: A New Containment: The Rise and Fall of Detente (1966-1976)
Chapter 12: From Cold War to Old War: Reagan and Gorbachev (1977-1989)
Chapter 13: A New World Order - Or the Age of Fragmentation?
Chapter 14: The Post-Cold-War Era: Clinton, Yeltsin, and back to a Bush (1993-)
Chapter 15: The World Turned Upside Down (2001)


This book is being used at many East Coast colleges as text for course on US Foreign Policy after 1945. Would be nice for BR members to at least go thru the book chapters.

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Postby Gerard » 27 Jan 2007 06:02

The Corporation That Changed the World by Nick Robins
The British East India Company was more than a commercial enterprise. With its own army, navy and civil service, it was a law unto itself. Nick Robins' new history paints a hard-nosed picture, devoid of even a scintilla of nostalgia for the Raj
The British East India Company was a colossus responsible for the creation of the iniquitous modern world. Historian Nick Robins' trenchant new history of this giant re-examines the world's most powerful corporation during the Age of the Enlightenment in terms of its shadow over the global economy of today

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Postby svinayak » 27 Jan 2007 07:05

Image

This book should be read along with
ASIA AND WESTERN DOMINANCE
A Survey of the Vasco Da Gama Epoch of Asian History
1498-1945

BY
K. M. PANIKKAR - ONLINE BOOK FREE


These two books are required reading for every Indian.


[quote]

The Corporation that Changed The World



Book Author - Nick Robins
Abstract:
In “The Corporation That Changed The World,â€

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Book Review: The One Percent Doctrine, by Ron Suskind

Postby Nayak » 27 Jan 2007 23:11

Book Review: The One Percent Doctrine, by Ron Suskind

Image
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11
By Ron Suskind
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006, 367 pages

Of late, investigative journalists have written a veritable tidal wave of tomes dissecting the blunders and missteps of the Bush Administration. Bob Woodward, and Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post have been among the most prominent but there are so many others that one quipster observed that bookstores will soon have to construct an entire section comprised of anti-Bush books.

Certainly, the author of the book at hand deserves to have his worthy work placed in this section for this is one of the more insightful explorations of the misrule that has characterized Washington of late. The provocative title is ascribed to the new "Prince of Darkness," the man from the "dark side" himself: Dick Cheney: "’If there’s a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response….It’s not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence…..It’s about our response.’" Suspicion—no matter how ill-founded—therefore became the basis for action, according to the Vice-President.

This bizarre promulgation reached its zenith during the illegal and ill-fated invasion of Iraq, which proceeded on the ostensible basis of the regime’s possession of weapons of mass destruction—weapons that remain undiscovered. This has culminated in a bloody occupation that is stretching the U.S. military to the breaking point and compromising the nation’s ability to confront pressing and nagging problems of poverty and disease.

But even if there was something to this rather grotesque doctrine, it would be vitiated by other policies of the White House. So-called moderate Republicans like former Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired General Brent Scowcroft have been treated like pariahs. Instead, Washington has relied heavily on Pakistan, whose vaunted intelligence service is riddled with Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers. This has also meant reliance on the utterly unreliable supposed ally of Saudi Arabia, the nation that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in September 2001, not to mention Osama bin Laden himself. The animosity and distrust that permeates the relationship between the FBI and the CIA is reminiscent of what befell the Hatfields and the McCoys. Their lack of coordination and reluctance to share intelligence is jeopardizing national security.

This is all compounded by a chilling thesis argued by the author. As he sees it, the U.S. is "undefendable." This nation, as the Pentagon might put it, is a "target rich environment." As the author sees it, this realization underpins the obvious hysteria that has driven Washington’s wacky and weird policies.


The apotheosis of this misguided Administration approach came when the U.S. security services detained suspected "terrorist," Abu Zubaydah. Bush, Cheney and their minions all trumpeted the allegation that he was one of the key sergeants of Osama bin Laden himself and that his arrest was another victory for Washington. But this was far from true. In fact, according to one insider, he was "‘insane, certifiable, split personality.’" They proceeded to torture him in order to compel him to talk. And he proceeded to make ever wilder allegations about supposed demonic plots against U.S. interests globally—which sent U.S. agents fleeing in all directions in order to forestall these "plots." The specter of a mentally unbalanced man being tortured then "revealing" various devilish schemes that then send U.S. agents into a frenzied and frantic dither, scurrying hither and yon as if their hair was on fire, is the reigning metaphor for this incompetently conceived "war on terror." Suggestive of the hysteria driving Washington policy was the stunning event of April 2003 when "the head of the FBI’s unit on Hezbollah and radical Shiite fundamentalists took his own life with his bureau-issue revolver."

In short, the author suggests that the Bush regime has been driven mad by the press of events. Certainly it was unwise for the White House to focus before September 2001 on toppling the regime in Iraq rather than confronting the plans of al Qaeda, which the author suggests was one of their primary flaws. After all, Iraq had oil and was an antagonist of Israel, while al Qaeda controlled no petroleum. Strikingly, the author argues that al Qaeda desperately desired to see Bush re-elected on the premise that their diabolical plans were more likely to be attained with him steering the ship of state and the White House’s stunningly ill-timed and disastrous maneuvers have appeared as the realization of bin Laden’s most coveted dream.

Just as Pentagon chief, Donald Rumsfield, is the villain of Bob Woodward’s best-seller, here the source of evil is Cheney. "The Iraq war was launched, in large measure, from the left brain of the Vice-President," writes the author. His nickname at the CIA was "Edgar" as in the ventriloquist, "Bergen"—which meant that Bush was his dummy, Charlie McCarthy.

In sum, this book is well worth reading and deserves the plaudits it has received.

--Gerald Horne is a contributing editor of Political Affairs. Send your remarks to pa-letters@politicalaffairs.net

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Postby svinayak » 16 Feb 2007 02:49

The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050
by MacGregor Knox


# Hardcover: 208 pages
# Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 27, 2001)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 052180079X
# ISBN-13: 978-0521800792



The Dynamics of Military Revolution bridges a major gap in the emerging literature on revolutions in military affairs. It suggests that two very different phenomena have been at work over the past centuries: "military revolutions," which are driven by vast social and political changes, and "revolutions in military affairs," which military institutions have directed, although usually with great difficulty and ambiguous results. MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray provide a conceptual framework and historical context for understanding the patterns of change, innovation, and adaptation that have marked war in the Western world since the fourteenth century--beginning with Edward III's revolution in medieval warfare, through the development of modern military institutions in seventeenth-century France, to the military impact of mass politics in the French Revolution, the cataclysmic military-industrial struggle of 1914-1918, and the German Blitzkrieg victories of 1940. Case studies and a conceptual overview offer an indispensible introduction to revolutionary military change,--which is as inevitable as it is difficult to predict. Macgregor Knox is the Stevenson Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of Common Destiny (Cambridge, 2000) and Hitler's Italian Allies (Cambridge, 2000). Knox and Murray are co-editors of Making of Strategy (Cambridge, 1996). Willamson Murray is Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analysis. He is the co-editor of Military Innovation in the Interwar Period (Cambridge, 1996) and author of A War to Be Won (Harvard University Press, 2000).

This book contains an awful lot of wisdom for such a slim volume (it clocks in at just under 200 pages).

The authors examine the natures of military revolutions and RMA (a very hot topic that has arguably produced more hot air than substance) and provide a number of case studies examining the issues and testing the authors' views through history.

The case studies are;

- The English in the 14th century
- 17th century France
- The French Revolution
- The American Civil War
- The Prussian RMA, 1840-1871
- The Battlefleet Revolution
- The First World War
- Blitzkrieg 1940

The various case studies are backed up by an extremely satisfying introduction and a thorough, well argued conclusion which fires one or two shots across the bows of those residents of the Pentagon who may be suffering from technology-centric tunnel vision. The authors (very distinguished bunch, it should be said) warn against the idea that Clausewitzian truths regarding such issues as friction can be discounted thanks to the wonders of technology and indeed make clear that they are as important as ever.

The various case studies work extremely well as concise stand-alone works on their various historical periods, even if RMA is not your hot topic. Especially good are the chapters on the English in the 14th century and on the Battlefleet Revolution (and the inner workings of the Imperial German Navy and the Royal Navy during this period).

This is a well written, interesting book which should annoy all the right people.

This is the only serious book I have been able to find that addresses revolutions in military affairs with useful case studies, a specific focus on whether asymmetric advantages do or do not result, and a very satisfactory executive conclusion. This book is strongly recommended for both military professionals, and the executive and congressional authorities who persist in sharing the fiction that technology is of itself an asymmetric advantage.


It merits emphasis that the author's first conclusion, spanning a diversity of case studies, is that technology may be a catalyst but it rarely drives a revolution in military affairs--concepts are revolutionary, it is ideas that break out of the box.


Their second conclusion is both counter-intuitive (but based on case studies) and in perfect alignment with Peter Drucker's conclusions on successful entrepreneurship: the best revolutions are incremental (evolutionary) and based on solutions to actual opponents and actual conditions, rather than hypothetical and delusional scenarios of what we think the future will bring us. In this the authors mesh well with Andrew Gordon's masterpiece on the rules of the game and Jutland: we may be best drawing down on our investments in peacetime, emphasizing the education of our future warfighters, and then be prepared for massive rapid agile investments in scaling up experimental initiatives as they prove successful in actual battle.


The book is noteworthy for its assault on fictional scenarios and its emphasis on realism in planning--especially valuable is the authors' staunch insistence that only honesty, open discussion among all ranks, and the wide dissemination of lessons learned, will lead to improvements.


Finally, the authors are in whole-hearted agreement with Colin Gray, author of Modern Strategy, in stating out-right that revolutions in military affairs are not a substitute for strategy as so often assumed by utopian planners, but merely an operational or tactical means.


This is a brilliant, carefully documented work that should scare the daylights out of every taxpayer--it is nothing short of an indictment of our entire current approach to military spending and organization. As the author's quaintly note in their understated way, in the last paragraph of the book, "the present trend is far from promising, as the American government and armed forces procure enormous arsenals only distantly related to specific strategic needs and operational and tactical employment concepts, while continu[ing], in the immortal words of Kiffin Rockwell, a pilot in the legendary First World War Lafayette Escadrille, to 'fly along, blissfully ignorant, hoping for the best.'"


Lest the above be greeted with some skepticism, let us note the 26 October 2001 award of $200 billion to Lockheed for the new Joint Strike Fighter calls into serious question whether the leadership in the Pentagon understands the real world--the real world conflicts of today--all 282 of them (counting 178 internal conflicts) will require the Joint Strike Fighter only 10% of the time--the other 90% of our challenges demand capabilities and insights the Pentagon is not only not capable of fielding, it simply refuses to consider them to be "real war." Omar Bin Laden beat the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, and he (and others who follow in his footsteps) will continue to do so until we find a military leadership that can lead a real-world revolution in military affairs.... rather than a continuing fantasy in which the military-industrial complex lives on regardless of how many homeland attacks we suffer.



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Postby svinayak » 16 Feb 2007 02:55

The Economics of World War II : Six Great Powers in International Comparison (Studies in Macroeconomic History)


# Paperback: 332 pages
# Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (December 23, 2004)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0521785030
# ISBN-13: 978-0521785037
Cambridge University Press 1998

This book is a very learned overview of the macro-economic factors affecting the WWII war economies of major combatants. A certain degree of acquaintance with economic monetary theory is advisable. The fact that it includes all the major players is valuable (any article on Italys war efforts is always welcome!), but the emphasis some of the articles give to econometric treatment is, frankly, irrelevant to understanding most of the war effort, especially when one is talking of survival. The book also tries to analyse how wartime experience helped shape the post war economy, a field in which it it quite successful. It is worth noting, by the way, that generally speaking all the authors seem to agree that wartime investment in capital formation and technical training schemes paid off for the vanquished, whilst in the case of the USSR, the amount of war destruction and the political predominance of the "industrial-military complex" led, ultimately, to economic stagnation.

The Economics of World War II is a high level overview of the economies of the major participants in the Second World War, and of the effects of the war on their subsequent history. An introduction by Harrison provides an overview and a comparative survey of the six countries covered, the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Separate chapters by specialists then analyse the wartime economies of those countries, looking at their military potentials, their mobilisation, their constraints, and their management; they also examine the long-term costs of the war, the structural changes it brought, and the implications for the post-war period. The focus in this is quantitative, with extensive tables of statistics, but the analysis and interpretation is discursive and readable and The Economics of World War II is accessible to non-specialists with a basic grasp of economics.

Harrison's introduction begins with an overview of the war at the level of GDP, population, land area, and level of development. Obviously one wouldn't want to read too much into summary numbers such as 1.9 and 1.2 (the Allied/Axis population ratios in 1942, with and without China), but they are nevertheless interesting. When Harrison turns to discussing the "quality" of armed forces, some of his generalisations seem dubious, for example, "the fighting power of the Red Army meant that they could beat Germany with a smaller quantitative edge than the western Allies required". And in a truly bizarre inclusion, there are six pages of tables with technical specifications for selected weapon systems — such facts as that a T-V Panther tank weighed 45 tons and had a 79 round magazine, while a Spitfire IX had a maximum speed of 657 km/hour! Looking at the post-war economies, Harrison takes some relatively simple statistics (GDP figures for 1938, 1950, 1973, and 1987, for each of the six countries) and applies measures of sigma- and beta-convergence to them — in an excellent example of the use of mathematics to obfuscate rather than enlighten.

Stephen Broadberry and Peter Howlett follow a traditional Keynesian perspective in their analysis of the wartime economy of the United Kingdom, though they suggest that an alternative "classical" view deserves attention. They look at the implementation and extent of mobilisation (which peaked at around 55% of GDP in 1943), fiscal and monetary policy, government and national deficits, and industrial output. Net wartime loses amounted to around 20% of prewar wealth. (They base human capital losses on the cost of raising and educating a worker from birth.)

The United States economic surge started in 1940 and 1941, a prelude to the wartime "production miracle" which managed to maintain civilian consumption while growing the overall economy. Contributions to this came from increasing labour force participation and reducing private investment, while war financing followed the traditional approach of deficit spending until tax increases caught up. In evaluating the cost of the war to the United States, Hugh Rockoff takes a counterfactual approach, attempting to calculate what would have happened without the war. And he argues that the change in macroeconomic regime may have been the most important contribution of the war to subsequent prosperity.

Werner Abelshauser's chapter on Germany goes back to 1933, arguing that the "economic miracle" preceded Keynesianism and exploring the financing of rearmament. Spending to prevent social unrest, delays in rationalisation, and excessive attention to job creation and training were among the factors hindering full war mobilisation, which really only started under Speer in 1942, reaching around 70% of nominal GNP in 1943. The introduction of new methods of management and production laid the groundwork for growth in the 1950s. Pre-war attempts to increase autonomy by increasing trade with Southeastern Europe (much of it in inconvertible, blocked currencies) had limited success; and during the war the occupied countries of western Europe were the most significant source of external resources.

In "How to lose the war but win the peace" Vera Zamagni describes how Italy never effectively mobilised, devoting at peak around 20% of GDP to military expenditure. Italian industry was hampered by materials shortages (most importantly of coal, oil, and steel), organisational weaknesses, and a net flow of resources to Germany. But wartime investment in heavy industry laid the basis for the post-war expansion in manufacturing. The overall cost of the war and the damage done to the Italian economy were relatively slight.

In Japan, the war brought a steady increase in government controls on the economy, with an emphasis on heavy industrialization. During the China war (1937 to 1941) the major constraint on the economy was the availability of materials; during the Pacific war (1941 to 1945) the shortage of shipping became critical. Japan's war effort was sustained only by drastic diversion from civilian consumption and reduction in living standards — hence the "guns before rice" title of Akira Hara's chapter. The social and organisational changes brought by the war — in areas such as wages, health insurance, trade unions, corporate structures, and rice policy — were to play an important role in the post-war economic system.

Mark Harrison contributes the chapter on the Soviet Union himself. To some extent Soviet military mobilisation preceded the war; it later came close to destroying the civilian economy on which it depended. In the end the Soviet Union managed to mobilise as high a fraction of its GDP (around 50% in 1943, even omitting foreign aid) as much more developed countries (though there are measurement problems, with reductions in the price of weapons producing differences between constant and current price figures). The immense physical and especially human losses sustained by the Soviet Union during the war left it "the defeated victor" — and the institutional legacy was the entrenchment of the military-industrial system and the leaders that had won the war.

Focused on macroeconomics, The Economics of World War II makes no attempt to cover economic history more broadly. There is almost nothing, for example, on specific regions or the interaction of economics and logistics with particular campaigns. How much did the German need for oil contribute to their decision to push south during the invasion of Russia? How close did submarine attacks on shipping in the Atlantic come to crippling Britain? Those are questions for a different book.



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Postby svinayak » 16 Feb 2007 03:08

The Balkans: Nationalism, War & the Great Powers, 1804-1999
by Misha Glenny

# Paperback: 752 pages
# Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (August 28, 2001)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0140233776
# ISBN-13: 978-0140233773
Granta Books 1999

The Balkans
Mark Mazower
Phoenix 2001
A book review by Danny Yee © 2002 http://dannyreviews.com/
Misha Glenny and Mark Mazower take very different approaches to the modern history of the Balkans. Glenny, a journalist, offers a long but lively narrative of war, politics and people, with generalisations used to help make sense of that. Mazower, a historian, offers a short but insightful account of long-term processes and trends, with details used to illustrate those. Both seem reasonably objective — neither is himself in the grip of any nationalist fervour — and both provide references, an index, and an excellent selection of maps (essential for following the complexities of border changes). Which you prefer will depend on what you are looking for; I found reading one after the other rather instructive.

In The Balkans 1804-1999 Glenny provides a lively narrative account of the last two centuries of Balkan history. The focus is on wars and political conflicts, but he also includes biographical material, with portraits of key individuals, and he quotes from contemporary documents and sources to give the reader some idea how people thought and felt at the time. The approach is chronological, with Glenny trying "to avoid reading or refracting Balkan history through the prism of the 1990s", and covers separate episodes in often largely self-contained sections. The following is a selection of highlights rather than a comprehensive summary.

A six-page introduction takes 1999 Kosovo as a starting point. Glenny then launches straight into narrative history: the Serbian uprisings and the creation of an effectively autonomous Serbian state, the Greek war of Independence, the 1848 Hungarian Revolution and the complex politics of the Slavs within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the unification of Wallachia and Moldavia to form Romania. The second chapter focuses on the Ottoman Empire down to 1878, covering such topics as the millet system (where communities were organised by religion and given considerable autonomy), the Tanzimat and other reform movements, and the growth of Ottomanism and Turkish nationalism. The end of the period saw the first confessional cleansings, the Russian defeat of the Ottomans and the resulting treaties of San Stefano and Berlin, which created Bulgaria.

Two parallel chapters cover the period from 1878 to 1914 — the first focusing on the Ottoman Empire and the Macedonian question, the second on the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the complexities of its internal Slav politics. To give you an idea of the level of detail Glenny provides, there are fifteen pages on the First and Second Balkan Wars, with narrative such as:

"Despite facing the weakest opposition in their thrust north to Epirus and east to Salonika, the Greeks were unable to take Ioannina, which was fiercely defended by a Turkish garrison. As they pushed north through Macedonia in the direction of Bitola, which according to the Serb-Greek understanding the Greeks were supposed to occupy, they became the only army in the Balkan Alliance to suffer a serious military reverse at the hands of the Ottomans. For this reason, and much to the irritation of the Serbian command, it was the Serbs who had to push on to confront the Ottoman army at its last stand near Bitola.

The battle for this small town, the inglorious end of Turkish rule in Macedonia, was the largest single confrontation of the Balkan Wars. ..."

The World Wars take on a different appearance when viewed from the Balkans. It was the collapse of the Bulgarian army on the Salonika front which forced the Germans to sue for peace in the First World War, while the Balkans played a critical part in the execution and timing of Hitler's attack on Russia in the Second, as well as being central to German economic planning. The First World War saw bloody battles across the region and forced population exchanges; the Second saw the genocidal destruction of Jewish communities throughout the region, with those in Salonika and Serbia almost completely destroyed, while almost all the Bulgarian Jews survived. And neither war ended "with the whistle" in the Balkans: the war between Greece and Turkey (inspired by Wilson and Lloyd-George) didn't end until 1923, while the Greek civil war lasted until 1949.


The treatment of the post-war period is particularly patchy. Romania and Ceausescu are covered in detail but Bulgaria gets only a few paragraphs, while the chapter on the ten years from 1989 to 1999 only covers the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Glenny does touch on social and economic history, but usually only where it is relevant to understanding the politics. Little or no ethnographic background is provided: there is no attempt, for example, to describe the linguistics of the region. And even where he goes into detail, Glenny's approach is descriptive, offering some generalisations but making little use of broader theory. There is no attempt to deploy a model of nationalism, for example, or to connect with peasant studies. Though his research seems solid enough and he provides references, it remains obvious that Glenny is a journalist rather than a historian.

Glenny also focuses almost exclusively on negative features of Balkan history — on the nationalisms, wars, and Great Power interventions of his subtitle along with coups, civil wars, assassinations, genocides, and every other kind of violence. In his conclusion he complains that the Balkans are only reported to the outside world in times of terror and trouble and otherwise ignored, but he himself hardly sets a good example here.

Mazower takes a complete different approach, in a work which is barely a fifth the length but which in some ways covers more. The Balkans opens with an introduction that explores the history of the term "Balkan" and of European attitudes to the region and to the Ottoman Empire. A chapter "The Land and its Inhabitants" begins with Balkan geography and its consequences for communications and trade. After a broad demographic history, Mazower then introduces the region's peasants (who until quite recently formed the vast bulk of the inhabitants), rural elites, pastoralists and brigands. He also looks at town dwellers and economic changes, in particular the growth in trade and the spread of a cash economy, and the effects this and political independence had on peasant life.

Chapter two surveys the social and political background to Balkan nationalisms. Mazower begins by describing the linguistic mosaic of the region and the complexities of its religious beliefs, where local practice tended to be more concerned with pragmatics than with doctrinal questions, often blurring the borders even between Christianity and Islam. Ottoman policy and administration (notably the millet system) provided the political context for nascent nationalisms, along with external interventions. At some distance from peasant beliefs were debates over religious doctrines and Enlightenment ideas, largely the province of a Greek-speaking intellectual elite.

Having devoted more than half the volume to background, Mazower turns in chapter three to an account of "the unpredictable process of Ottoman decline and national insurgence", the international management of which was "the Eastern Question". This covers events down to 1923: the Greek and Serbian uprisings, the union of Wallachia and Moldavia to form Romania, the creation (and immediate reduction in size) of Bulgaria, the role of the Great Powers, Macedonia and the First and Second Balkan Wars, the First World War, and the Greek-Turkish war and resulting population exchange. Mazower makes no attempt at a detailed narration of events: the following paragraph, for example, is all he has on the course of the Balkan Wars:

"In the First Balkan War of 1912-13 Ottoman power in Europe vanished in a matter of weeks. Serbia and Greece were the main victors, both acquiring huge new territories. Bulgaria won much less, and was soon even worse off after she declared war on her former allies in the Second Balkan War and was defeated by them. An independent Albania was recognised by the Powers, and defended against its hungry neighbours. The biggest loser in many ways — apart from the Ottoman Empire — was Austria-Hungary, which now faced a successful and expansionist Serbia. Austria tried to build up Albania as a counter-weight but could not prevent Kosovo and neighbouring lands being assigned to Serbia and Montenegro."


Chapter four covers the consolidation of nation-states over the last three-quarters of the 20th century. Mazower starts by looking at the treatment of minorities, with assimilation and ethnic repression driven by nationalism but taking on new forms during the Nazi-controlled interval of the Second World War. He outlines the political shifts over the period, from royal dictators in the 1920s to fascist and communist regimes and democracies, and the long-term economic trends, notably agrarian reform and urbanisation, and touches on the accompanying social changes. Mazower sees the ethnic conflicts of the last decade in Yugoslavia as the final phase in the creation of nation-states rather than the harbinger of more violence: few in the Balkans now dream irredentist dreams and the main problem facing states in the region is not minorities but engagement with the international economy.

In an epilogue "On Violence" Mazower traces the history of Western perceptions of Balkan bloodthirstiness. This cements the excellent job the work as a whole does of making us rethink stereotypes of the region.


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Postby ramana » 16 Feb 2007 21:00

The Making and Unmaking of Empires
Britain, India and America c. 1750-1783


Author(s) : P.J. Marshall

9780195678321, Hardback
October 2005
Rs. 695

Description

"The losses of the British Empire in North America and the creation of a new territorial empire in Eastern India are conventionally seen as unconnected events in world history. Marshall argues that these developments were part of a single phase of Britain's imperial history, rather than marking the closing of a 'first' Atlantic empire and the rise of a 'second' eastern one. This book brings together findings of the rich historical writing on both post-Mughal India and late colonial America to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the empire in different parts of the world. The author analyses the forces of expansion in British society and links them with Britain's imperial policies. He examines in great depth the debate about British imperial objectives and the making and unmaking of the empire in India and North America. The author points out that in India, despite failures in Madras and Bombay, the British achieved a modus vivendi with seemingly alien groups which enabled them to build a secure base for future subjugation of the subcontinent. In North America, however, potential allies who were closely linked to Britain in beliefs, culture, and economic interest were ultimately alienated by Britain's political pretensions.

Readership
This book will be a valuable resource for students, scholars, and teachers of British, American, and Indian history and those interested in the growth of the British Empire."

Author Details
P.J. Marshall Retired Rhodes Professor of Imperial History, Kings College, London.



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Postby svinayak » 16 Feb 2007 21:48

ramana wrote:
The Making and Unmaking of Empires
Britain, India and America c. 1750-1783

In North America, however, potential allies who were closely linked to Britain in beliefs, culture, and economic interest were ultimately alienated by Britain's political pretensions.






They understood British political pretensions which Indians could not understand.

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Postby svinayak » 19 Feb 2007 08:32

Ancient China and its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History
by Nicola Di Cosmo


Ancient China And Its Enemies: The Rise Of Nomadic Power In East Asian History by Nicola Di Cosmo (Senior Lecturer in Chinese History at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand) is a carefully researched and superbly presented history of the northern frontier of China from 900 to 1000 B.C., combining both Chinese historical texts and archaeological evidence. From the rise of pastoral nomadism in Eurasia, to the first contacts between horse-riding nomads and Chinese states, to a large-scale political shift in China from appeasement to military engagement, Ancient China And Its Enemies is a fascinating, detailed, scholarly, and very strongly recommended historical survey and analysis.

This comprehensive history of the northern frontier of China through the first millennium B.C. details the formation of two increasingly distinct cultural areas: the sedentary Chinese and the northern nomads. Nicola Di Cosmo explores the tensions existing between these two worlds as they became progressively more polarized, with the eventual creation of the nomadic Hsiung-nu empire in the north, and of the Chinese empire in the south. Di Cosmo investigates the origins of the antagonism between early China and its "barbarian" neighbors.
Product Details

Review
"Throughout the second century B.C., the world of East Asia was divided between two great superpowers, the Han Chinese and the Hsiung-nu, facing off against each other sometimes peaceably and sometimes antagonistically. In Ancient China and Its Enemies, Nicola Di Cosmo provides a magisterial survey of the rise of the lesser known of these two powers, the nomadic Hsiung-nu. This book is invaluable not only for understanding the relations between ancient China and its major enemy, but also for understanding either of the powers individually." Edward Shaughnessy, University of Chicago

"...the author deserves praise and gratitude for producing and invaluable piece of work. This book is a masterpiece of scholarship. It will rank as an indispensable tool for anyone studying foreign relationships in ancient China and beyond for years to come." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies

"...I am certain that anthropologists, political scientists, and others will find much here of interest. Di Cosmo writes well and offers fascinating anecdotes at just the right times." History

"...a carefully researched and superbly presented history of the northern frontier of China from 900 to 100 B.C...a fascinating, detailed, scholarly, and very strongly recommended historical survery and analysis." Library Bookwatch

"This outstanding work of scholarship demonstrates a magisterial command of the sources, asks important questions, and provides measured, finely nuanced answers."
Peter B. Golden, The International History Review

About the Author
Nicola Di Cosmo is Senior Lecturer in Chinese History at the University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand).
Customer Reviews

A carefully researched and superbly presented history5
Ancient China And Its Enemies: The Rise Of Nomadic Power In East Asian History by Nicola Di Cosmo (Senior Lecturer in Chinese History at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand) is a carefully researched and superbly presented history of the northern frontier of China from 900 to 1000 B.C., combining both Chinese historical texts and archaeological evidence. From the rise of pastoral nomadism in Eurasia, to the first contacts between horse-riding nomads and Chinese states, to a large-scale political shift in China from appeasement to military engagement, Ancient China And Its Enemies is a fascinating, detaile

svinayak
BRF Oldie
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Postby svinayak » 19 Feb 2007 08:45

The Rise of China: How Economic Reform Is Creating a New Superpower
By William H. Overholt

# Paperback: 432 pages
# Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (October 1994)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0393312453
# ISBN-13: 978-0393312454


There's just one thing seriously wrong with this book: it needs an up-to-date edition. Overholt, a Harvard grad with a Yale PhD, now at RAND in Santa Monica, CA, wrote this book almost a decade ago, and much has happened since. I would gladly give a second edition the 6 stars it almost certainly deserves.

After Germany's unification, the Father of Modern Germany Prince Otto von Bismarck (1815-98) told the Reichstag in a speech on Feb. 6, 1888: "We Germans fear God, but nothing else in the world." Well, the Chinese today fear nothing AT ALL and absolutely no one, not even the Iron Chancellor's God. More down to earth, they don't fear his Germans - or for that matter the British, the Russians, etc.

Overholt explains why this is so, and he does his job well. At times he seems to go overboard in his praises and optimism. Although events since the book's publication have amply confirmed his predictions, there is always room for caution. No one can predict the future. (Suppose a giant meteor from outer space falls into China, then even the best estimates are in vain.) In his memoirs Jack Welch of General Electric put it very well: predictions are often unreliable. He cited the prices of oil and the Japan "threat" as examples. (But Welch too makes a number of predictions at the end of his book, and the first is a bullish forecast of China!)

I think Overholt is right to put his faith in the Chinese people. A country's greatest resources are its people. They are the true source of wealth. Compared to America, China is actually very poor in natural resources - not as poor as Japan, but still very poor. But Japan has shown what it could do when a young, educated, intelligent, and determined people are well governed in a stable and enterprising system. By contrast, countries supposedly rich in natural resources like some in Africa and the Middle East fail to develop because their people lack these qualities. (When they run out of oil, etc., God help them....)

Nor is the Rise of China confined to the homeland. I think that ALL Chinese today are rising together, wherever they live. But the homebase is crucial. Overseas Chinese numbering in the tens of millions help fuel, catalyse and stimulate the growth in China with money and know-how, and benefit in turn from the boom.

It is now fashionable to be bullish on China. But it has not always been the case. Even today there are skeptics, like Bill Emmott of the Economist, who claims China is still "a modest country at best." (How the world's second largest economy, with 13% of the world's total and by far the fastest growth rate, can be described this way is beyond me.) Overholt was one of the first intelligent observers with both excellent academic credentials and plenty of field experience to write a credible book full of accurate facts and figures and penetrating analysis. (The late Jim Rohwer of Fortune magazine was another.)

One thousand years ago China was the greatest power in the world, richer than the rest of the world combined.
This was about 1000 A.D. Then the crown passed on to the Mongols, who took it by force. But it didn't last. More recently America held a similar if less dominant position in 1945. (Today America's dominance is actually even less than it was at the end of the war, when it held 50% of the industrial capacity of the whole world.) It will take China centuries from now to regain its former position. But long before then, perhaps in our lifetime, China will rival America and Europe in power. The Rise of China has begun, and this book explains how it all began.


China, the world's fastest growing economy, is eliminating poverty while achieving huge trade surpluses and creating a vast new class of consumers open to liberal ideas, reports Overholt, managing director of Bankers Trust in Hong Kong. His detailed economic and political analysis portrays Deng Xiaoping as a master strategist who is using rapid economic growth and gradual privatization to build a consensus around stability, arguing that an immediate move towards a Western market-style economy would likely be disastrous for the People's Republic. Overholt, who cofounded the journal Global Political Assessment with Zbigniew Brzezinski, maintains that the U.S. should pressure China for reforms of its trade policy, arms sales and human rights abuses but still grant the country most-favored-nation trade status. Continuing along this path of economic development will create an educated citizenry and wider freedoms, contends Overholt, and provide the best hope for transforming authoritarian China into a democracy.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Many Americans believe China will collapse just like the regimes of Eastern Europe. All Communist economies are fundamentally flawed, aren't they? Overholt, the director of a Hong Kong bank, argues that, to the contrary, China is on the verge of economic explosion. He believes that the Chinese economic reform under communism will succeed where similar Soviet efforts failed because the Chinese are proceeding with reforms slowly, which brings stability, while Gorbachev tried to change the Soviet Union all at once. In Poland's Jump to the Market Economy ( LJ 10/15/93), Jeffrey Sachs presents the opposite view, advising the new Eastern European leaders to "jumpstart" their economies quickly. Both viewpoints have their supporters. Whichever is eventually proven correct, Overholt's book (as well as Sachs's) belongs in any academic collection as representative of current thought.
- Kris Swank, American Graduate Sch. of International Management Lib., Glendale, Ariz.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews
A bullish report on China's explosively growing economy, predicting that the development of Chinese capitalism will effectively end Chinese Marxism. Overholt (manager director of Bankers Trust Company in Hong Kong) notes that ever since economic reform was introduced in 1979, China's economy has grown at a rate of 9.3 percent annually despite the country's lip service to Marxism--and that at the same time, former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries, which renounced Marx and introduced democracy rapidly, have veered dizzyingly close to economic catastrophe. In Russia, he says, the competing demands of pressure groups have paralyzed the central government and made it impossible for the country's leaders to make the hard decisions necessary to permit economic growth. In China, though, economic reform had the support of the military, who emerged from the 1979 war with Vietnam intent on acquiring Western military technology- -and so, like other Pacific Rim autocrats but unlike Western politicians, Chinese leaders didn't link economic reform with representative democracy or progress in human rights. But contrary to what Deng Xiaoping may have intended, Overholt says, the quick increase in national wealth perforce led to gradual liberalization. The author foresees a bright future for China as its people (who constitute one fifth of the human race) begin to vie with Japan for economic supremacy in Asia--a development, Overholt argues, that ``is transforming the political structure of the entire globe.'' The author also notes the critical significance of the US-China relationship for world peace, and recommends that US leaders bring to it both understanding and pragmatism. A timely report on the growth of the world's most dynamic economy, as well as a forceful argument that, often, successful political reform can follow only in the wake of--or alongside with- -economic reform. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Customer Reviews

An Amazing Book5
This is one of the most amazing books that examines and describes China's strategies from an economic and global view.

The author compares China to the economic and political transformation of Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. And several lessor comparisons to other countries.

I picked this book up in a book store in a sort of random fashion. As I started reading it, I thought this book is fascinating. Then I looked at the publication date and saw how old it is, and I started to put it back. But then I took another look and saw that the described cause and effect, and strategies expalined still apply and that the predictions made then had come true, and that further predictions were well explained.

I would really like to see an updated second edition. But until then this edition is a great read. The author has both the education and experience to write this book, and does a great job.

For anyone that wants to understand China from an ecnomic, strategicall, or wordly point of view; I highly recommend reading this book. When the movie the "Da Vinci Code" was banned in China I thought to myself, this book presents a reasonable explaination of why it was banned.

I highly recommend taking a look at this book.

Prophetic5
There's just one thing seriously wrong with this book: it needs an up-to-date edition. Overholt, a Harvard grad with a Yale PhD, now at RAND in Santa Monica, CA, wrote this book almost a decade ago, and much has happened since. I would gladly give a second edition the 6 stars it almost certainly deserves.

After Germany's unification, the Father of Modern Germany Prince Otto von Bismarck (1815-98) told the Reichstag in a speech on Feb. 6, 1888: "We Germans fear God, but nothing else in the world." Well, the Chinese today fear nothing AT ALL and absolutely no one, not even the Iron Chancellor's God. More down to earth, they don't fear his Germans - or for that matter the British, the Russians, etc.

Overholt explains why this is so, and he does his job well. At times he seems to go overboard in his praises and optimism. Although events since the book's publication have amply confirmed his predictions, there is always room for caution. No one can predict the future. (Suppose a giant meteor from outer space falls into China, then even the best estimates are in vain.) In his memoirs Jack Welch of General Electric put it very well: predictions are often unreliable. He cited the prices of oil and the Japan "threat" as examples. (But Welch too makes a number of predictions at the end of his book, and the first is a bullish forecast of China!)

I think Overholt is right to put his faith in the Chinese people. A country's greatest resources are its people. They are the true source of wealth. Compared to America, China is actually very poor in natural resources - not as poor as Japan, but still very poor. But Japan has shown what it could do when a young, educated, intelligent, and determined people are well governed in a stable and enterprising system. By contrast, countries supposedly rich in natural resources like some in Africa and the Middle East fail to develop because their people lack these qualities. (When they run out of oil, etc., God help them....)

Nor is the Rise of China confined to the homeland. I think that ALL Chinese today are rising together, wherever they live. But the homebase is crucial. Overseas Chinese numbering in the tens of millions help fuel, catalyse and stimulate the growth in China with money and know-how, and benefit in turn from the boom.

It is now fashionable to be bullish on China. But it has not always been the case. Even today there are skeptics, like Bill Emmott of the Economist, who claims China is still "a modest country at best." (How the world's second largest economy, with 13% of the world's total and by far the fastest growth rate, can be described this way is beyond me.) Overholt was one of the first intelligent observers with both excellent academic credentials and plenty of field experience to write a credible book full of accurate facts and figures and penetrating analysis. (The late Jim Rohwer of Fortune magazine was another.)

One thousand years ago China was the greatest power in the world, richer than the rest of the world combined. This was about 1000 A.D. Then the crown passed on to the Mongols, who took it by force. But it didn't last. More recently America held a similar if less dominant position in 1945. (Today America's dominance is actually even less than it was at the end of the war, when it held 50% of the industrial capacity of the whole world.) It will take China centuries from now to regain its former position. But long before then, perhaps in our lifetime, China will rival America and Europe in power. The Rise of China has begun, and this book explains how it all began.

Hong Kong - Capitalism 1015
Hong Kong is the world leader in capitalism. This in the center of the worlds largest (socialist) country. As a former Hong Kong resident, I can assure you that this book gives an excellent, and easily read explination why the US will soon become the second largest economy in the world. If your a history buff, an economic enthusiest, or want to know the future, this is recommended reading.

svinayak
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14223
Joined: 09 Feb 1999 12:31

Postby svinayak » 19 Feb 2007 08:51

China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future -- and the Challenge for America
By James Kynge


# Hardcover: 288 pages
# Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (September 27, 2006)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0618705643
# ISBN-13: 978-0618705641



James Kynge, Financial Times bureau chief in Beijing, discusses not only the challenges faced by America in this excellent new book, but those faced by China itself. One of these challenges is the enormous demographic and economic growth that China has experienced in the last 20 years. Today there are 40 cities with populations of over a million and another 53 with populations between 500,000 and a million. The city of Chongking is growing by about 300,000 a year. In 2005, 400 million people were urban and by 2050 another 600 to 700 million will be urbanized. The accompanying challenge is sustaining the 10% annual economic rate to support this population surge.

China has probably broken every record in the history of economic development and Kynge goes over many of the statistics that other China-watchers have already enumerated. What is unique about this book is that it gives equal time to the dark underside of this story. Front and center is the problem of pollution and environmental degradation. Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 16 can be found in China. A majority of the largest cities - 400 of the 668 largest - are experiencing water shortages. By 2050, two-thirds of China's ice field will have melted due to global warming. China is already the second largest producer of greenhouse gases after the US. The challenge will be growing without doing irreparable damage to the environment.

China a major and growing importer of natural resources and driving up global commodity prices. With their growing appetite for raw materials such as lumber, many of the world's rainforests in Indonesia, Myanmar, Central Africa, and Brazil are being logged - illegaly - to be sold in China. An area of rainforest about the size of Belgium disappears every year. Kynge's anecdote about missing manhole covers in surrounding countries illustrates the demand for steel. And no one should be surprised that the recent increase in global oil prices is a result of Chinese demand.

Kynge points out that as a developing country, not quite yet a superpower, and as a not fully capitalistic country, since the government still controls many of the levers of the economy; China has been able to evade superpower responsibility. In the case of Iran, China has been very reticent about halting nuclear development, only a reluctant supporter of sanctions for fear of disrupting their oil supply. Likewise, in the case of Sudan, China has looked the other way while ethnic cleansing is being conducted in Darfur. Worse yet, China is powerful enough as a manufacturer and lender to prevent anyone else from intervening as well, the US included.


China's growing size and influence will be one of the greatest challenges faced by the US and the rest of the world in the new century. In what Kynge calls the "compression of developmental time," Chinese workers are using the latest high-tech manufacturing technology and the most modern infrastructure, yet the average industial wage is only about $.50 an hour. Neither the West nor other countries can compete with this combination. How long this can be sustained is an open question. Kynge points out that they have an unbeatable advantage at the moment but that it cannot last.

China's rise has inspired fear at least since the time of Napoleon who originally uttered the phrase about China shaking the world. Kynge tells us that most of the Chinese he knows wish nothing more than to make a better life for themselves and do not see China as a superpower, let alone a threat to the world order. I agree, the Chinese are more aware of thei shortcomings and also more aware that superpower status is still elusive. Kynge is good at articulating the obstacles that the Chinese still face as they modernize their economy. In Napoleon's time China represented about one-third of the world's economy as opposed to 5% today. If they are going to achieve their former market share they still have a whole lot of shakin' to do.




Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, binding its billion-plus population more tightly to the global economic system, the Asian giant's prodigious appetite for food, technology and natural resources has dramatically accelerated profound changes already well underway across the planet. Kynge, the Financial Times's former Beijing bureau chief, makes the voracious "appetites" of the new China his constant concern, as he uncovers the sources of and limitations on the giant country's epochal growth. Beginning with a scene in Germany's postindustrial Ruhr—where a steel mill is sold, deconstructed and shipped more than 5,000 miles for reassembly near the banks of the Yangtze River—Kynge assesses the socioeconomic transformations of China's low "Industrial Revolution–era" labor costs and modern production technology at home and abroad. But for all its world-shaking potential, notes Kynge, "China's endowments are deeply lopsided." Key weaknesses—such as a shortage of arable land, serious environmental devastation and pollution, systemic corruption and a dearth of resources—are conversely helping to ensure that China will have to manage its growing hegemony in a symbiotic manner with partners on the economic and geopolitical playing fields. Despite the subtitle, and a chapter devoted to China's acquisition of U.S. technologies, Kynge focuses at least as much on China's significance for Western Europe. Overall, Kynge's crisp assessment of the dynamics involved is both authoritative and eye-opening. (Sept. 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
A former bureau chief of the Financial Times in Beijing, Kynge demonstrates how China's thirst for jobs, raw materials, energy, and new markets--and its export of goods, workers, and investments--will dramatically reshape world trade and politics. China's appetite, though unpremeditated and inarticulate, has become a source of major change in the world. Napoleon said, "Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world." In the early days of the twenty-first century, China has started shaking the world with its prowess in manufacturing. Not all is rosy, however, because China has serious problems with its environmental resources, severe pollution, and institutionalized corruption within the government, the legal system, the police force, and the media. The question Kynge offers answers to is how the world will cope with China's extremes of both strength and weakness. Gail Whitcomb
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review
Publishers Weekly : Kynge's crisp assessment of the dynamics involved is both authoritative and eye-opening.

Kirkus Reviews : Should the U.S. worry about China? Most definitely—but, by Kynge's account, for different reasons from the ones being raised on Capitol Hill.
Customer Reviews

The China Challenge5
James Kynge, Financial Times bureau chief in Beijing, discusses not only the challenges faced by America in this excellent new book, but those faced by China itself. One of these challenges is the enormous demographic and economic growth that China has experienced in the last 20 years. Today there are 40 cities with populations of over a million and another 53 with populations between 500,000 and a million. The city of Chongking is growing by about 300,000 a year. In 2005, 400 million people were urban and by 2050 another 600 to 700 million will be urbanized. The accompanying challenge is sustaining the 10% annual economic rate to support this population surge.

China has probably broken every record in the history of economic development and Kynge goes over many of the statistics that other China-watchers have already enumerated. What is unique about this book is that it gives equal time to the dark underside of this story. Front and center is the problem of pollution and environmental degradation. Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 16 can be found in China. A majority of the largest cities - 400 of the 668 largest - are experiencing water shortages. By 2050, two-thirds of China's ice field will have melted due to global warming. China is already the second largest producer of greenhouse gases after the US. The challenge will be growing without doing irreparable damage to the environment.

China a major and growing importer of natural resources and driving up global commodity prices. With their growing appetite for raw materials such as lumber, many of the world's rainforests in Indonesia, Myanmar, Central Africa, and Brazil are being logged - illegaly - to be sold in China. An area of rainforest about the size of Belgium disappears every year. Kynge's anecdote about missing manhole covers in surrounding countries illustrates the demand for steel. And no one should be surprised that the recent increase in global oil prices is a result of Chinese demand.

Kynge points out that as a developing country, not quite yet a superpower, and as a not fully capitalistic country, since the government still controls many of the levers of the economy; China has been able to evade superpower responsibility. In the case of Iran, China has been very reticent about halting nuclear development, only a reluctant supporter of sanctions for fear of disrupting their oil supply. Likewise, in the case of Sudan, China has looked the other way while ethnic cleansing is being conducted in Darfur. Worse yet, China is powerful enough as a manufacturer and lender to prevent anyone else from intervening as well, the US included.

China's growing size and influence will be one of the greatest challenges faced by the US and the rest of the world in the new century. In what Kynge calls the "compression of developmental time," Chinese workers are using the latest high-tech manufacturing technology and the most modern infrastructure, yet the average industial wage is only about $.50 an hour. Neither the West nor other countries can compete with this combination. How long this can be sustained is an open question. Kynge points out that they have an unbeatable advantage at the moment but that it cannot last.

China's rise has inspired fear at least since the time of Napoleon who originally uttered the phrase about China shaking the world. Kynge tells us that most of the Chinese he knows wish nothing more than to make a better life for themselves and do not see China as a superpower, let alone a threat to the world order. I agree, the Chinese are more aware of thei shortcomings and also more aware that superpower status is still elusive. Kynge is good at articulating the obstacles that the Chinese still face as they modernize their economy. In Napoleon's time China represented about one-third of the world's economy as opposed to 5% today. If they are going to achieve their former market share they still have a whole lot of shakin' to do.


A balanced account and assessment 4
This book is well written and presents a reasonably balanced account of the current situation. It covers both the developments in China and the effects of those developments on China's trading partners, including the United States and Europe. It's definitely worthwhile reading.

Highly Recommend 4
Noticed the book review in the Financial Times and ordered it. Very quick and easy read concerning the problematic issues China faces over the next several decades (financial, energy, environmental, population, civil unrest, etc...) as well as how the rest of the world will have to increasingly adapt to the country's rising power and influence (both positively/negatively). As expected, Kynge does not paint a pretty picture for those in the manufacturing sector (outside of China) as quality, which was once the differentiating factor, is now there.

svinayak
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14223
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Postby svinayak » 19 Feb 2007 09:13

"China and the New World Order: How Entrepreneurship,Globalization, and Borderless Business Are Reshaping China and the World"
by George, Zhibin Gu (Author), William, Ratliff (Foreword)


# Paperback: 248 pages
# Publisher: Fultus Corporation (October 18, 2006)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1596821078
Base on the number of book in relation to this matter so far I believe that no one has come close to capturing "new China's" spirit and meaning as Gu. After reading his second volume I found it to be hugely insightful on the current events of China and global affairs. It greatly explores the key factors that shape Chinese and global development in the next stages. It gives tremendous info and analysis on the Chinese government, politics, business and economy for any one's interest.

There's a huge amount of info on foreign businesses inside China. You will be able to see about twenty five American and global multinationals inside of China that are studied. In the meantime it gives us a very provocative analysis on China's new role in the world. Gu details this general picture of how China is walking away from a practical society and embracing an open, restless and dynamic society. It claims that an overextended, self-appointed bureaucracy remains the key problem for China. To overcome countless technical barriers, greater openness, entrepreneurship and global involvement is all needed. Again, it's very insightful on the issues between China, Taiwan, Japan, India and West. I will add that his analyses on Japan-China line up are very interesting as well as Taiwan. There' a tremendous amount of info and analysis on China's financial, banking, insurance and stock market.

Author George Zhibin Gu is a very outspoken and a well known Chinese journalist who has generally covered mergers and acquisitions, capital activities, business expansion, and restructuring. He's an insider who gives us scrupulous examination on current China and global affairs which is more than a reason why you should grab hold to this book.

This new book from Dr. George Zhibin Gu is a geo-economics and geopolitical masterpiece from an insider, someone that thrives his consulting work and daily life inside China, not writing or comment from a comfortable chair in London or New York paid by a western think tank, or only for academic proposals. His challenge is to write for a broad audience out of China. I must refer his clever suggestions about Taiwan - a political proposal for a a federation - and the way he sees the go global from Chinese emergent multinationals. It is needed a lot of courage for an insider to be so clear in his proposals and to identify the old Chinese problem - bureaucracy, the same that stopped admiral Cheng Ho and the Discoveries in the XV Century, that closed China for so many centuries and gave an opportunity for foreign powers to humiliate China, hyper-bureaucracy that in the Mao period pulled China for chaos and economic and social distress. China and the New World Order is a must reading. Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues, editor of www.gurusonline.tv and translator of Made in China (published in Portuguese language).

For the international investor community, "Investing in China" in the new century is more or less a one-way investment and capital flow. Mr. Gu's book, however, looks one step further to explore how all these interactions would reshape the global horizon, both for China and the rest of the world.

In fact, China's outward influence is increasingly obvious. For instance, whether China would diversify its foreign currency reserve -- and consequently whether China will enter into the gold market to hedge its US dollar exposure -- has profound implications in the global financial markets.

Comparing to many other books on China, Mr. Gu's book has a truly "authentic Chinese" flavor. The reason is obvious: He is an INSIDER. As a native Chinese, he captures the spirit of China's latest developments in its not-too-short historic context.

svinayak
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14223
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Postby svinayak » 20 Feb 2007 11:21


The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia:
A History of the Struggle for Great Power among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese during the Early Middle Ages

Christopher I. Beckwith

Princeton University Press 1987
A book review by Danny Yee © 2005 http://dannyreviews.com/
A millennium before the Great Game between the British and Russians, earlier great powers competed for control and influence in Central Asia. In The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia, Beckwith provides a narrative of events running from around 600 to 850 CE, with the greatest detail in the first half of the 8th century. He presents a Tibetan perspective, but uses Chinese and Arab sources and gives what is effectively a general history of the Tarim basin and surrounding areas.

The origins of the Yarlung dynasty are mirky; a historical narrative commences around 600. The 7th century saw a three-way struggle over the Tarim basin between the Tibetans, the Chinese, and a Mongolic-speaking people called the `Aza or T'u-yü-hun. A Tibetan defeat of the Tang in 670 "marked the end of two decades of Chinese domination of the Tarim Basin", under the name "the Pacified West".

A seesawing balance of power ensued, which also involved the Eastern Turks and Western Turks (the On oq). The Tibetans had the ascendancy until internal collapse allowed the Chinese to retake the "Four Garrisons" — Khotan, Kashgar, Kucha, and probably Agni — in 692.

The early 8th century saw the Tibetans turn their attention to the "Western Regions" in the Pamirs and Tukharistan. The Arabs under general Qutayba fought the Western Turks, with interference from both Tibetan and Chinese. In 715 the Arabs took Ferghana and a raiding party reached Kashgar, bringing them to the borders of the Tang Empire, but the significance of the event was not understood by either party at the time.

Conflict between China and Tibet continued, with the Tibetans allying with the Türgis confederation of the Western Turks. Tibetan client states in the west defected to the Chinese, with Chinese troops defeating the Tibetans in Little Balur (probably the Hunza valley) and blocking their route to the west. Meanwhile the Arabs subdued a Sogdian revolt.

The Tibetan-Türgis alliance fought both Chinese and Arabs, but the period saw increasing Chinese power, with 750 "the acme of Chinese military and political power in Central Asia". The Chinese also had a run of successes against the Tibetans in the east. But their success brought the Tang into conflict with the Arabs, who defeated them in the battle of Talas in 751.

An Lu-shan's rebellion in 755 and ensuing dynastic conflicts weakened the Tang and gave the Tibetans the ascendancy, though they didn't take Khotan until the early 790s. Other key players included the Qarluq confederation and the Uyghurs, while the Tibetans became involved in a protracted conflict with the Arabs. Beckwith's narrative continues in less detail (the Old Tibetan Annals end in 765) down to 866, when only bits and pieces remained of the once powerful Tibetan Empire.

In an epilogue Beckwith situates the early medieval Tibetan Empire in the context of broader Eurasian history, stressing the importance of Central Asia and international trade during the period. He is highly critical of Pirenne and others who have dismissed the Franks and Tibetans as "barbarians" and downplayed their achievements — and he makes a reasonable case here, though he goes too far the other way in putting down Tang China, the Byzantine Empire and the early Arab caliphate. (Beckwith takes other idiosyncratic positions: his prologue, for example, includes a rant about there being no evidence for a Sino-Tibetan language family. In other places, however, he is up front about his limitations: an inability to scan Arabic for names and a lack of familiarity with the South Asian sources.)

The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia presents a near-continuous narrative of military and political events, with no attempt to cover culture and religion as well. It is dense with the names of people and places, but the main text is readable, with discussions of historiography, sources, epigraphy, links to archaeology, and so forth relegated to the footnotes, which take up around a third of most pages. The one map provided is decent but too small; readers not already familiar with the geography of the region will have trouble following events. And there's a useful fifteen page bibliographical essay discussing the sources for the period.

As the only general history of the region during the early medieval period, The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia will be essential reading for area specialists. Its layout also makes it accessible to lay readers with some background in the area.

23 December 2005

svinayak
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Postby svinayak » 20 Feb 2007 11:39

Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade:
The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations, 600-1400

Tansen Sen
University of Hawaii Press 2003

A book review by Danny Yee © 2005 http://dannyreviews.com/
There were military and strategic motivations for early links between China and South Asia, with a geopolitical balance involving Tibet and the Arabs. But it was Buddhism that underpinned links during the 7th through 9th centuries, through the movement of or trade in monks, relics, manuscripts, and longevity physicians. This is where Tansen Sen's Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade starts.

Dependent on Indian relics and teachings, Chinese clergy faced a "borderland" complex, but China developed as a Buddhist centre in its own right by the 8th century. Some key developments included relic worship at the Famen monastery and its role in Tang dynastic politics, Mount Wutai as the abode of the bodhisattva Manjusri, and, drawing on ideas of Buddhist decline in India and regeneration in China, the cult of Maitreya. The latter culminated in Wu Zetian's adoption of the title; her reign was "arguably the most vibrant era in the history of Sino-Indian interactions, and ... perhaps marked the highest point in Indic influences on Chinese society".

Buddhist links between India and China persisted after the 9th century: monks and relics moved in both directions and during the Song dynasty there was an official translation project, though it was plagued by a shortage of translators and reused older work. But,

"by the end of the tenth century, Buddhism in India and China had taken two very different paths. While Indian Buddhism developed its own philosophical and ritualistic (esoteric) traditions, the Chinese clergy formulated and propagated their own indigenous teachings. This divergence ... ended the millennium-long epoch of a vigorous Sino-Indian intercourse stimulated by the transmission of Buddhist doctrines and pilgrimage activity."


This was one factor in the reconfiguration of Sino-Indian trade. Others were a possible decline in urbanism in North India, the movement of sugar-making technology to China, the spread of Islam, and the more mercantile outlook of late Tang and Song China and of South Indian kingdoms such as the Cholas.

"Prior to the tenth century, Sino-India trade was founded on and supported by the network of mercantile groups that either adhered or were sympathetic to the Buddhist teachings. ...

By the mid-eleventh century, traders from Muslim diasporas dominated almost every circuit of Indian Ocean commerce from the Chinese coast to India and beyond."


In a wider context, long-term changes in Sino-Indian trade can be connected to the global networks studied by world systems theorists, the stability of Central Asia, Chola raids on Southeast Asia, Chinese foreign policy under the Ming, and the spread of trading diasporas in both directions.

This summary does little justice to the wealth of detail Tansen Sen provides in Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade. It is not a narrow monograph, however: the more technical material is left to eighty pages of endnotes and the approach is broad. This is a work which will make details of Buddhist doctrine interesting to economic historians and trade links interesting to students of religion.

3 April 2005

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Postby Cezanne » 23 Feb 2007 11:55

Games Indians Play
V Raghunathan

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1076527


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[quote]Too smart for our own good

R Jagannathan


Some time in 1931, Gandhi, then in London for a conference on the future of India, was asked by a journalist what he thought of Western civilisation. His tart reply: “I think it would be a good idea.â€

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Postby svinayak » 25 Feb 2007 04:42

Book Review

Parsons, Timothy H.

The British Imperial Century, 1815-1914: A World History Perspective


(Rowman and Littlefield, New York and Oxford, 1999). 154 pp, $16.95.


The last few years have seen a renewed interest in the British Empire. Popular books and television programs by Niall Ferguson and Simon Schama have been joined by a wide variety of scholarly monographs that have highlighted the impact of the Empire on both Britain and the world. Discussions of a United States Empire, and historical examinations of the roots of modern conflicts in the Middle East, India and Ireland, have added to the interest in the British Empire. The subject has, however, engendered controversy. Critics point out that racism, the subjugation of indigenous peoples, and slavery were at the center of the imperial enterprise while others suggest that, on balance, British rule was beneficial as it led to the spread of trade, technology and democratic institutions. 1
In this short, well-written, introduction to the British Empire from the early nineteenth century to the beginning of World War I, Timothy Parsons, a professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis and a specialist in African colonial history, examines the imperial experience from a global perspective. The British Imperial Century concentrates less on the causes of imperialism than on how the indigenous peoples influenced Britain and helped them to maintain their rule in the colonies. He focuses on India, Africa, China and the Ottoman Empire during the period which saw the largest expansion of the Empire as Britain gained new colonies and consolidated its control over its informal empire. The book is a useful guide to undergraduate students but not one that would generally interest serious scholars of the field. 2
The bulk of the book chronicles the expansion of the British Empire and the role indigenous people played in shaping British rule. Parsons argues that Britain extended its empire because of domestic economic changes, regional tensions, and competition from European rivals in the late nineteenth century. British rule depended on a degree of local support, and their control of territories was never total. In India, the vastly outnumbered British had to grant the indigenous people a role in government and allow the population to continue their traditional way of life. This system of indirect rule was exported from India to Africa in the late nineteenth century where African interpreters, civil servants, and commercial agents acted as intermediaries between the Africans and the British. Indians and Africans maintained their pre-colonial institutions and religious practices or adapted them to meet new circumstances. Many also used the economic, educational and political opportunities of colonial rule to advance their own agendas. 3
In contrast to experiences in India and Africa, Parsons suggests that the Chinese and Ottoman Empires retained a degree of sovereignty by resisting formal British colonization. The greater social cohesion and economic vitality of the Chinese and Ottoman Empires meant fewer of their subjects had the inclination to cooperate with the British. With no local partners to help them subjugate the people, the British relied on informal influence to protect their interests. British merchants had to be content with the trading posts in China from which the Chinese government gained substantial financial tariffs. In the Ottoman Empire, the British established tax-exempt commercial enclaves. 4
Parsons makes clear that British and indigenous people influenced one another. The British presence caused environmental and biological changes including the diffusion of infectious diseases that proved fatal to indigenous people and severely disrupted their societies. The British Empire provided an extension of global trade, and the diffusion of the English language as well as Christianity. Subject peoples did not simply adopt British cultural patterns but adapted them and merged them with their own cultures. The British also adopted cultural practices from their colonies and transferred them from one part of the empire to other parts. Parsons further claims that many British administrators adopted cuisine, dress and religion from the colonial peoples and continued to practice them when they returned home. Moreover, some subject people worked and studied in Britain and further influenced the popular culture of Britain over the course of the imperial century. The British adopted new products like tea and sugar, hundred of English words had Indian origins, and the art, literature and music of Britain betrayed colonial influences. 5
The brevity of the book has led to a few shortcomings. Although Parsons engages some of the main historiographical debates surrounding the British imperial enterprise, he does not provide footnotes, name historians, or tackle historical arguments in any depth. Therefore the book will appeal less to academics and graduate students and more to undergraduates and general readers. Furthermore, and disappointingly, the book is not richly illustrated and only includes six black and white maps and no photos or cartoons from nineteenth-century publications to illustrate some of Parsons' claims of cultural diffusion. 6

The book could have benefited from a concluding section on contemporary Britain to support Parsons' assertion of the cultural impact of the colonies on Britain. Surely the greatest influence these Asian and African countries has had on Britain was not in the nineteenth century but in the post World War II era. British cities have been transformed by the Indian curry houses, Muslim mosques, and African influenced music that immigrants from former colonies brought to Britain. Moreover, a major example of the cultural exchange between Britain and its colonies, sport, is never mentioned by Parsons. The British gave the world team games such as football (soccer), cricket, and rugby, but these sports in Britain and abroad are now becoming increasingly dominated by the former colonies and the ancestors of the colonial immigrants.
7
The British Imperial Century will prove useful to teachers of world history. Parsons synthesizes a vast array of literature on the British Empire that will help overworked instructors. He adds a "further reading" section at the end of each chapter for those interested in additional research. Most usefully, Parsons neither ignores the oppressive nature of British rule nor downplays the significance of expanding global trade, technology and education in his narrative. Instead, Parsons restores the agency of non Western peoples and shows how they influenced the development of the British Empire. The emphasis Parsons places on the transmission of cultural practices and economic goods between different peoples is particularly useful for world history classes. Overall, this book is highly recommended for classroom use.

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Postby svinayak » 25 Feb 2007 21:39

The American Way of Strategy
by Michael Lind (Author)





Since the first Gulf War, American foreign policy has undergone a dangerous shift against its tradition of preserving "the American way of life"—the civil liberties assured by a system of democratic republican liberalism—argues author and journalist Lind. The strategy has changed in style over time, from the "isolationism" of the first hundred years to 20th-century global alliances and "temporary alliance hegemony" against mounting empires. But keeping security costs down while "promoting a less dangerous international environment" has largely permitted the public to avoid trading liberty for security in moments of crisis, he argues. By contrast, the emergence of a post–Cold War bipartisan consensus around permanent U.S. global dominance (championed by neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney) is a perilous anomaly, says Lind (The Radical Center). His lucid if sometimes reductive focus on international strategy and power politics as a primary engine of history can obscure as much as it clarifies. But Lind's advocacy of a "concert of power" or shared primacy among several nations gains a persuasive momentum, exposing the folly of the current imperial strategy while forcefully examining the neglected role of foreign policy in the shaping of American politics and society. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com
Amid the chaos of Iraq, America is entering into a new period of intellectual ferment over its national security strategy. What are our goals and interests overseas? How should we pursue them? What sort of military do we need?

In a sense, we have come full circle: This country had a comparable debate three decades ago, spurred by Vietnam. One response, symbolized by Sen. George McGovern's famous 1972 slogan "Come Home America," was to try to reduce U.S. involvements and troop deployments overseas. An opposite school of thought, embraced by the rising young Ford administration officials Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, held that the United States should respond to Vietnam by rebuilding its military strength so that it could be used -- even for wars of choice -- to assert American preeminence in the world. Now that we have rediscovered the costs and limits of the use of force, it's again time to reevaluate how we deal with the world.

Michael Lind's The American Way of Strategy represents an early and thoughtful attempt to sketch a post-Iraq foreign policy. The virtue of Lind's book is its sweeping ambition. He writes in evident outrage over the policies of the Bush administration, but his book is not about the debacle in Iraq or how to respond to Islamist terrorism. It is not even about the renewed dispute between the great foreign policy traditions of realism (a la Henry Kissinger) and idealism (a la Woodrow Wilson). Instead, Lind, a fellow at the New America Foundation, scours history for tenets that have guided U.S. foreign policy in the past and that should be applied in the future. The result is uneven; Lind is sometimes brilliant and occasionally silly. But his ideas are insightful, and he provides a fresh perspective on a wide range of issues, from regime change to globalization.

Lind's central thesis is that the United States went astray after the end of the Cold War by seeking to dominate the world in a way that is both overly expensive and unnecessary. Historically, he asserts, the goal of U.S. strategy has been to preserve "the American way of life." This is a vague phrase, reminiscent of Fourth of July speeches; Lind turns out to mean not motherhood and apple pie but civil liberties, separation of powers and, more broadly, a free, educated citizenry and a prosperous middle class. He argues that our greatest security threat is not any particular country or foreign force but the prospect that, in overreacting to dangers such as al-Qaeda, we will destroy our way of life. He sketches several dour possibilities -- for example, a garrison state in which Americans hand over their freedoms in exchange for security, or a "castle society" in which the wealthy give up on government and instead buy private protection.

Lind argues that instead of trying to dominate the globe, the United States should wield its influence in a "concert of powers," including China, India, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. The single biggest failing of the book is that it doesn't explore this model of cooperation further or acknowledge that, in practice, things are not so simple. After all, the Clinton administration initially attempted to let European governments take the lead in stopping ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and was virtually begged by the Europeans to stop being so modest; the second-term Bush administration has tried intermittently to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions through a concert of powers, but so far without much success.

Lind interprets virtually everything the United States does overseas these days as an outgrowth of its eagerness to prevent the emergence of rival superpowers. In the most questionable section of the book, he views with utter cynicism America's attempt to stop North Korea's nuclear program. "U.S. fear of an independent Japan, more than the unlikely prospect that North Korean weapons would make their way into the hands of Muslim jihadist terrorists, was the major, if seldom acknowledged, reason for the repeated war scares in Washington over the prospect of North Korea's acquisition of nuclear weapons," he writes. War scares? In fact, the Bush administration has (fairly) been criticized for saying too little about North Korea's nuclear advances, in order to cover up for Washington's failure to stop them. Later on, when Lind describes what his concert of powers might do, one goal is preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. So is it worthwhile to try to stop the North Korean nuclear program, or isn't it?

What makes Lind's views so unusual is that while denouncing the U.S. intervention in Iraq, he remains a defender of the Vietnam War. One of his previous books was entitled Vietnam: The Necessary War, and Lind here again defends the conflict, which cost some 58,000 American lives. "The stakes for the United States during the Cold War conflicts in Asia were far higher than the stakes in Kosovo or in Iraq," he explains. So Lind emerges as both a determined Cold War hawk and an equally passionate post-Cold War dove. It takes quite a bit of theorizing to explain how he arrived at these positions. His book is not always persuasive, but he deserves credit for some unconventional thinking.

The author is clearly lacking in military experience or understanding, in strategic understanding, in contextual understanding such as can be found in books such as Derek Leebaert's "The Fifty-Year Wound," Chalmers Johnson's "The Sorrows of Empire," Jonathan Schell's "Unconquerable World," or any of the hundreds of non-fiction books I have reviewed here at Amazon pertinent to devising and executing holistic national security and national competitiveness strategies.

Among other things, he naively assumes that most national security decisions have actually been intended to serve the public interest; he does not calculate in full measure the costs of unnecessary wars or unnecessarily oppressive wars; and he accepts at face value--for lack of broader reading--the conventional wisdom on why America entered specific wars. The author is, for example, sharply at odds with Gore Vidal, author of "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace," among many other works, and Vidal's documentation of the many undeclared wars that America has undertaken in the pursuit of empire. For a really comprehensive understanding of the varied reasons "Why We Fight," see the DVD by that name, and first read the many many reviews of its content and meaning.

Among many subtle but telling errors, the author confuses the cost, size, and weight of the U.S. military with strength. The reality is that today we have a hollow military, and our heavy-metal military is relevant to only ten percent of the high-level threats to our security, and completely irrelevant to our more profound vulnerabilities with respect to national competitiveness and sustainability.

He makes a pass at including trade with security, and cites one book by my fellow moderate Republican, Clyde Prestowitz ("Three Billion Capitalists") but neglects the more important work, "ROGUE NATION: The Failure of Good Intentions." This book ("The American Way of Strategy") is a review of history desperate to find good intentions and leverage them for the future, but so lacking in coherent detail about the substance of reality and strategy as to fail to be truly useful--and it is most certainly not even close actual reality, at least at the strategic level.

There are some gems and I certainly recommend the book for purchase and reading, but on balance I put it down as too replete with idealistic platitudes.

The four jacket blurbs (Nye, Hart, Kupchan, and Walt) would certainly carry weight with me if I were buying the book in a bookstore, but after actually reading it, I find that each praises the book for the one or two sentences that stand out (e.g. nurture democracy by example, not force). These are platitudes. Saying that we consistently fight for "the American way of life" is about as moronic as young Bush's saying that billions around the world hate us for our ideals and our morality and our "way of life." Get real. This may be used to mobilize our youth and it may be why THEY fight, but it most certainly is NOT why our political and financial elites PICK fights.

Grand strategy, which Colin Gray discusses so ably in "Modern Strategy," requires a realistic appraisal of both domestic and foreign factors; it requires a balanced and transpartisan establishment of a national agenda, national goals, ways and means, and an explicit identification of desired outcomes. Its implementation requires a coherent inter-agency policy that is heard by both the public and the White House; endorsed by an activist Congress with the power of both the purse and the law, and executed by inter-agency leaders skilled at dealing with coalition leaders and at keeping the public informed, educated, and engaged.

This book is, in short, an appetizer, not the main course. The main course would require a full appraisal of the ten high-level threats identified by the High-Level Threat Panel of the United Nations (LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft as the US member); a coherent and reality-based budget plan for the next ten years across the twelve policies; and a deeply insightful understanding of the eight challengers (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, India, Russia, Venezuela, Wild Cards) such that our national security & competitiveness policies, budgets, and behaviors can both protect America in isolation, and also help those challengers avoid our grotesque mistakes that today consume one third of the world's energy and create one third of the world's waste. That level of strategic thinking is not to be found in this book.

I would endorse this book as a starting point, but urge the interested reader to consider using my lists (which Amazon does allow us to organize) and my reviews (which sadly can only be viewed chronologically) as a map to the thoughts of others. The next President does not need and will not benefit from a single advisor full of platitudes--the next President not only needs a robust team light on egos and armed with global rolodexes, but they need a team that can brief tradeoff decisions among the <ten threats, twelve policies, and eight challengers>.

The American way of strategy is yet to be defined at the strategic level (at the operational level it has tended to be about mass, at the tactical level hey diddle diddle up the middle). When it is defined, at a proper strategic plane, it will combine access to all information in all languages all the time; serious games for change that can project alternative scenarios based on real-budgets in relation to one another; and coherent inter-agency and coalition campaign plans that wage peace rather than war, with war being the exception. Intelligence & Information Operations (I2O) will be the foundation for that strategy, which will have three objectives:

1) The restoration of the middle class and unionized blue-collar labor;
2) The revitalization of civic duty, infrastructure, and English; and
3) The provision of free universal access to education in all languages, as the fastest means to elevate and harness both our own working poor (see the book by that title), and to elevate and energize the five billion poor at the bottom of the pyramid--each of whom we could have given a free cell phone to, for the cost of the Iraq war to date.

The war metaphor DOES NOT WORK. We must wage peace, coherently, affordably, morally, and constantly.



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Postby SRoy » 26 Feb 2007 15:58

Not a book review, but interesting conclusions by Darlymple

‘In 1857 a largely Hindu army found a symbol in the Mughal emperor. The contrast with the Babri demolition in ’92 is striking’

...
• Eighty-five per cent upper-caste Hindus who need a symbol, and this symbol for them is the Mughal emperor in Delhi. No matter how decrepit he is, but they want that symbol and they have no problem with the fact that he is a Muslim. Right?

Sure. What it implies is that the big division with the two great religions took place after 1857. Took place in the second half of the 19th century and not before. And I think that’s really important.

• It is said the British figured it and they figured that their future lay in pushing ahead that divide. If not creating a divide, then widening the divide. And divide and rule begins then, leading to the partition.


Well, you have references to divide and rule earlier, but what I think really is the case is that you get much more self-consciousness of Hindus and Muslim identities. Among Muslims, you have Deoband growing up. Among Hindus, you have the Arya Samaj.

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Postby ramana » 26 Feb 2007 20:19

S Roy post in the Indian interests thread also as it is relevant.


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