Book Review Folder - 2005/2006/2007

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

Postby svinayak » 27 Feb 2007 06:11

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900
by Andrew Roberts

# Hardcover: 752 pages
# Publisher: HarperCollins (February 6, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0060875984
# ISBN-13: 978-0060875985

The English-speaking century
By Keith Windschuttle
The New Criterion
February 2007

"In the past one hundred years, four successive political movements--Prussian militarism, German Nazism, Japanese imperialism, and international Communism-- mounted military campaigns to conquer Europe, Asia, and the world. Had any of them prevailed, it would have been a profound loss for civilization as we know it. Yet over the course of these bids for power, a coalition headed first by Britain and then by the United States emerged not just to oppose but to destroy them utterly"

"The great achievement of British historian Andrew Roberts's new book, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, is to put the significance of these feats into their proper perspective. Instead of emulating other historians who have portrayed the twentieth century as a cesspit of almost uninterrupted warfare, slaughter, and misery, Roberts snubs reproach and defeatism. His tale is of the triumph of light over the forces of darkness. He is even more at odds with his peers by identifying the common culture of the victors as the principal reason they prevailed."

"Robert's book will drive his inevitable academic critics to distraction. This is especially so in his use of the historical record to defend current American foreign policy. The English-speaking peoples did not actively support the extension of representative institutions throughout the world out of sentimentality or naïve utopianism. It was hard-headed self-interest. George W. Bush did not invent anything new with his unilateralism, pre-emptive warfare, and regime change. Rather, he adapted old tactics to new and ominous circumstances.

The so-called neoconservative drive to export liberal democracy actuated British statesmen such as George Canning and Lord Palmerston in the nineteenth century. Palmerston imposed regime change on Spain, Portugal, and Belgium, using the power of the Royal Navy to force liberal constitutions on countries that balked at first but later came to value them."

The academic-media hegemony desperately wishes to suppress or disapprove the thesis of the book. If the book is true then American involvement in Iraq is possibly justified. If the organ of the academic-media hegemony, the Democratic Party implements a pull out and retreat from Iraq, the resulting bloodbath would the Democratic Party's responsibility and not a moral failing of the USA, just as in Vietnam.

The English-speaking nations—America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies—are a "decent, honest, generous, fair-minded and self-sacrificing imperium" and "the last, best hope for Mankind," argues this jingoistic peroration.
Roberts (Napoleon and Wellington) treats them as a political-cultural unity, thriving on respect for law and property, laissez-faire capitalism and the Protestant ethic, and standing together against Nazism, communism and Islamic terrorism. (Ireland is the black sheep—backward, unruly, pro-fascist and Catholic.) His rambling, disjointed survey celebrates their achievements in science, technology, sports and Big Macs, but the book is mainly an apologia for an allegedly benign Anglo-American imperialism. The author defends virtually every 20th-century British or American military adventure, from the conquest of the Philippines to the Vietnam War, finishing with a lengthy justification of the invasion of Iraq; his villains are domestic critics and leftist intellectuals whom he calls "appeasers" and who sap the English-speaking peoples' resolve by propagandizing for totalitarianism (also Mel Gibson, whose anti-British movies sabotage English-speaking peoples' solidarity). Roberts writes in a bluff, Tory style, mixing bombast with jocular Briticisms like a running leitmotif of whimsical geopolitical wagers placed at London clubs. Lively but unsystematic, sometimes insightful but always one-sided, this is less a history than a chest-thumping conservative polemic. 16 pages of b&w photos, 2 maps. (Feb. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Roberts has written a lengthy, ambitious, and interesting but flawed work intended as a sequel to Winston Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples,which ended with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. Robert eschews straight narrative history. Instead, he provides a series of vignettes covering various topics that range across the English-speaking world. He offers descriptions of the Boer War in South Africa, the role of capitalism in promoting economic development, and the American-supported coup that overthrew the Allende government in Chile. Roberts strains to show the fundamental unity of English-speaking peoples. He is somewhat convincing when dealing with Britain, New Zealand, and Australia. When he includes the U.S., he often goes to ludicrous lengths to find commonality. For example, he equates American neoconservatives with Britain's "empire men" in their supposed desire to spread civilization. In conflicts from the Boer War to the American suppression of the Philippine insurrection, Roberts consistently sees only the purest motives of "Anglo-Saxons." Still, this is a useful, if slanted, look at some key events of the twentieth century. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

This book is admittingly imperfect. Like the revisionist histories he refutes, the author does not develop his thesis so much as prove it. But unlike all those "post-colonial" histories that gave us two generations of feeble and trivial misinterpretations guided by self-loathing and misplaced guilt, Roberts gives us a genuine narrative in the grand tradition - or tries to.

Roberts' literary shortcomings should not completely eclipse the validity of its thesis: the English-speaking world since 1900 has been, when all the chips are counted, a monumentally positive force for human good. The level of economic success required to produce a typical New Yorker is vindication enough: i.e. someone completely beholden to material wealth, rarified and removed from nature, working on abstract projects, unable to fix a leaky faucet; the recipient of tremendous blood sacrifices and military/technological might who nevertheless believes America is essentially "rascist," Bush a "fascist," capitalism and business "evil," global warming "real," etc. The existence of such a being, and our regimes' ability to absorb so, so much internal criticism and self-reflection and hucksterism, point to the uniqueness and success of the Anglo-American project. At this level, most hate is envy.

Last edited by svinayak on 29 Mar 2007 21:07, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby svinayak » 28 Feb 2007 03:40

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

# Paperback: 288 pages
# Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (September 1, 1998)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0060929871
# ISBN-13: 978-0060929879

"Community, Identity, Stability" is the motto of Aldous Huxley's utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a "Feelie," a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today--let's hope the sterility and absence of individuality he predicted aren't yet to come. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a classic science fiction work that continues to be a significant warning to our society today. Tony Britton, the reader, does an excellent job of portraying clinical detachment as the true nature of the human incubators is revealed. The tone lightens during the vacation to the wilderness and the contrast is even more striking. Each character is given a separate personality by Britton's voices. As the story moves from clinical detachment to the human interest of Bernard, the nonconformist, and John, the "Savage," listeners are drawn more deeply into the plot. Finally, the reasoned tones of the Controller explain away all of John's arguments against the civilization, leading to John's death as he cannot reconcile his beliefs to theirs.The abridgement is very well done, and the overall message of the novel is clearly presented. The advanced vocabulary and complex themes lend themselves to class discussion and further research. There is sure to be demand for this classic in schools and public libraries.

As critic and best-selling author Neil Postman points out so well in the introduction to his book "Amusing Ourselves To Death", we have congratulated ourselves prematurely by figuring we made it past the totalitarian nightmare state depicted in George Orwell's gripping cautionary tale "1984". Perhaps, Postman suggest, we should remember another visionary totalitarian nightmare scenario and use it to critically examine the contemporary state of social and psychological well-being. Of course he was referring to Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World, written before Orwell's by 15 or so years, and even more frightening in its own way in the world it describes. More and more, that frightening vision looks like our contemporary world.

Picture his ironic portrait of a populace doped into Nirvana on "soma" (read Prozac and Zoloft), isolated and diverted by petty preoccupations in mindless trivial pursuits (read video games and internet surfing to all the ***** sites), oblivious to anything not directly pertaining to themselves and totally unaware of the degree to which they are being socially, economically, and politically co-opted. Beginning to sound more familiar? Remember, says Huxley, brute force is not the only method an oligarchy can use to influence, manage, and finally control our hard-won freedoms and liberties; it can be done with over-indulgence and the deliberate fertilization and promulgation of apathy through self-absorption, as well.

Even Huxley says (circa 1960, almost 30 years after the original publication) in the preface of the revised version of the book that he is alarmed as to how quickly the sort of events he figured might take a hundred years such as the appearance of political internationalism and transnational corporate entities are already arising and beginning to control more and more of the substance of our social, economic, and political lives. Just how much do we know other than what we hear and see on television, for example? Yet the electronic media is owned and managed by transnational corporations. Ever wonder why we never heard much muckraking news coverage of the NAFTA or GATT deals even though many recogized the two bills would radically change the nature of international trade? Perhaps the transnationals didn't want too much hype or fuss. Starting to feel uncomfortable yet? Still, people keep insisting this was just a whimsical work of fiction, that it was a parable, that he really wasn't serious.

Want to find out more? Read this book, but do so slowly, taking notes, recognizing how many contemporary parallels there are to each of the "whimsical details" he conjures up, and then figure out in your own mind how very close he was to prognosticating just how far we have come toward the "Brave New World" in which everyone's soul and awareness is for sale. The kids are wowed by the recent movie The Matrix", yet few appreciate just how much of a fabled existence we are already living in. No pain, no sorrow, no trouble of any kind. Instead, we have our individual and collective consciousness "managed" pharmaceutically; our psyches eased into blithering bliss with "soma", our diminishing attention spans sidetracked and occupied by petty diversions and endless entertainments. Pass me the corndogs, honey!

But, hey! Don't touch that dial; Regis is on! They may retry OJ! What did Bill Clinton really do with that cigar? Have you seen the latest news about the stock market? Did you get any of that new beer they're advertising? it's supposed to make me a real ladies man....What's the latest gadget? Can I buy one on-line? By the way, where are the kids? Hell, never mind, just turn up the volume; I think I know the answer to that question Regis just asked... Meanwhile, folks, our awareness of what is going on around us, our rights and our liberties are being power-washed away, obliterated, and we cannot even see it happening in front of us. We are diverted, distracted, content in our own little worlds. So welcome to our nightmare. Better beware; it just looks like Nirvana. It's really another "Brave New World".

It's really scary to think Aldous Huxley wrote about a fictional world in the early-1930s that was considered really far out when this book was first published, but that is quickly becoming reality everyday. He expressed surprise in a later edition of this book at how quickly that fictional world was materializing during his own lifetime. If only he stuck around a while longer (although physically impossible), he would have seen that world fully materialize even quicker than he could have ever imagined.

I was really freaked out the more I got into the book. Much emphasis is placed on the "Community, Identity, Stability" motto (that was mentioned less than a handful of times in the book), as well as the over-dependence on drugs (soma) to make everything all right, but not enough emphasis is placed on the sexual promiscuity that permeated the fictional, futuristic London. (Hey, I love sex just like the next person, but not with everyone I look at!) Also, not enough attention is paid to the fact that "feelies" (movies where the audience gets a first-hand experience into the "action" experienced by the characters), along with the soma, and everything else in this future society were all designed to take peoples' minds off the fact that they were being controlled. Is that not how it is nowadays?

Instead of feelies, we have Internet *****, E! (a 24 hour cable channel devoted to celebrity gossip), completely mindless, brain-numbing "reality" shows, the idiot box in general, and an American philosophy of having to "keep with the Joneses" (as the saying goes) - choosing to live a lifetime of debt in order to have the biggest and most current of everything. It leaves little time to worry about the more important things in life such as how your government is wasting your money everyday, the incompetence of your government as a whole, how your votes really don't count (unless you vote for the candidate the machine favors), etc. Then again, anything political has always been considered "boring" (just like in the "Brave New World").

This is not to say this is everyone, but I find that too many people look at books with disdain like the people in Huxley's fictional world (especially younger people, who actually proclaim that "reading sucks") - using the same reasoning Mustapha Mond did as to why books are useless. And let's see a show of hands (or, in this case, posts) as to how many people would rather buy a brand new shirt or pair of pants rather than try to repair that rip or sew a button? (And I have been guilty of that in the past).

The thing that shocked me the most was the popular mindset (brainwashing) in the "Brave New World" that being alone is equal to being a weirdo. I'm seeing more and more of that "reasoning" in the mass media nowadays. If someone is a "loner," something is automatically "wrong" with them (I went through the same thing during my school days in the 80s and 90s). If someone's shy they're "stuck up," being aloof is always cause for alarm, and don't even think about wearing a trench coat!

In the "Brave New World," being together with people all the time takes your mind off of all potential problems. Any problems that do come up are to be avoided with a healthy dose of soma and, better yet, with a soma vacation. And, in the end, only certain people can perform certain tasks in life.

I liked the way Huxley didn't tie things up in the end. It's a shame the "Savage" was continually tortured by the hip and happening populace of London up until the very end. The Savage could be anyone who doesn't subscribe to the popular mindset, someone who dares goes against the grain and doesn't back down.

It can't be stressed enough that Huxley was a prophet. "Brave New World," whether people like this or not, *is* the America of 2007. We have the power to reverse that trend, but people (except a few) just don't seem to want to.

Along with George Orwell's "1984" and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451," this is an excellent trilogy of a blissfully ignorant future that is fast becoming reality. - Donna Di Giacomo

Aldous Huxley's novel "Brave New World" is both one of the best science fiction books and one of the most brilliant pieces of satire ever written. BNW takes place on a future Earth where human beings are mass-produced and conditioned for lives in a rigid caste system. As the story progresses, we learn some of the disturbing secrets that lie underneath the bright, shiny facade of this highly-ordered world.

Huxley opens the book by allowing the reader to eavesdrop on a tour of the Fertilizing Room of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, where the high-tech reproduction takes place. Into this seemingly advanced civilization is introduced John, a "savage" from a reservation where old human culture still survives. Thus, BNW is also a tale of "culture shock" and conflict.

Huxley creates a compelling blend of bizarre comedy, serious character study, futuristic extrapolation, and philosophical discussion. His writing style is crisp and witty, and cleverly incorporates references to canonical works of literature. Probably the scariest thing about BNW is the fact that, in many ways, humanity seems to be moving closer to Huxley's dystopian vision.

C a s t e - b o u n d
In BNW, genetic engineering isn't used straightforwardly to pre-code happiness. Instead, it underwrites the subordination and inferiority of the lower orders. In essence, Brave New World is a global caste society. Social stratification is institutionalised in a five-way genetic split. There is no social mobility. Alphas invariably rule, Epsilons invariably toil. Genetic differences are reinforced by systematic conditioning.

Historically, dominance and winning have been associated with good, even manically euphoric, mood; losing and submission are associated with subdued spirits and depression. Rank theory suggests that the far greater incidence of the internalised correlate of the yielding sub-routine, depression, reflects how low spirits were frequently more adaptive among group-living organisms than manic self-assertion. But in Brave New World, the correlation vanishes or is even inverted. The lower orders are at least as happy as the Alphas thanks to soma, childhood conditioning and their brain-damaged incapacity for original thought. Thus in sleep-lessons on class consciousness, for instance, juvenile Betas learn to love being Betas. They learn to respect Alphas who "work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever." But they also learn to take pleasure in not being Gammas, Deltas, or the even more witless Epsilons. "Oh no," the hypnopedia tapes suggest, "I don't want to play with Delta children."

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

Postby svinayak » 01 Mar 2007 06:22

Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600-1850
by Linda Colley
438pp, Cape, £20
However embarrassed we may be by our former Raj heroes - those Havelocks and Napiers swaggering imperiously on their plinths in Trafalgar Square or staring portentously, ossified and khaki-clad, all the way up Whitehall - we still tend to think of them as rather manly men: the sort of outdoor types who would not flinch from a 500-mile route march in the midsummer tropical heat, and who would know what to do with a Gatling gun when faced with hordes of marauding Others. Yet according to Linda Colley's brilliant, subtle and important new book, Captives, there was a time when Indians looked on their would-be British rulers in a very different and much less flattering manner; when they thought of the British military as effeminate, indeed as little better than eunuchs.
Colley's thesis is that the unprecedented military success and world political and economic domination achieved by the Victorian British has blinded us to the smallness and vulnerability of Britain in the preceding two and a half centuries: after all, she points out, as late as 1715 the British army was no larger than that commanded by the king of Sardinia, while at the same period there were at least 20,000 British civilians enslaved in the Barbary sultanates of north Africa.
It is significant that this surprises us as much as it does: it is as if the Victorians colonised not just one quarter of the globe, but also, more permanently, our imaginations, to the exclusion of all other images of the British encounter and collision with the wider world, from the Elizabethan period onwards. Colley shows the extent to which tales of British weakness and defeat at the hands of sophisticated Muslim states in north Africa, the Middle East and India have been consciously edited out of the historical record.
So, for example, we remember our various military triumphs in and around Bombay but have performed a collective act of amnesia about another far more important colony gained at the same time (1661) - Tangier, part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza, with its bowling greens, pubs and Anglican churches. It was once the pride of Britain's intended Mediterranean empire, but was humiliatingly lost to the Moroccans in 1684, despite unprecedented investment by the crown in its defences.
Hence also our failure to remember many other British military defeats and losses such as the catastrophic defeat of the armies of the East India Company by Tipu Sultan at Pollilur in 1780, only a few months before the equally disastrous surrender of Yorktown and the loss of America.
Pollilur led to the slaughter of an entire army and the capture of one in five of all the British soldiers in India. No fewer than 7,000 British men, along with an unknown number of women, were held captive by Tipu in his sophisticated fortress of Seringapatam. Of these more than 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes. Even more humiliatingly, several British regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the Mysore court as nautch girls.
At the end of 10 years' captivity, one of these prisoners, James Scurry, found that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair or use a knife and fork; his English was "broken and confused, having lost all its vernacular idiom", his skin had darkened to the "swarthy complexion of Negroes" and he found he actively disliked wearing European clothes. This was the ultimate colonial nightmare, and in its most unpalatable form: the captive preferring the ways of his captors, the coloniser colonised.
The image of the British defeat at Pollilur, painted on the walls of Tipu's summer palace at Seringapatam, is brilliantly interpreted by Colley as showing how Mysore's victors viewed the surrounded and defeated British at the moment the British defeat became certain: "The white soldiers all appear in uniform jackets of red, a colour associated in India with eunuchs and women," writes Colley. Moreover the British are "conspicuously and invariably clean shaven. Neatly side-burned, with doe-like eyes, raised eyebrows and pretty pink lips, they have been painted to look like girls, or at least creatures that are not fully male."
Colley is certainly on to something here: a few years later, another British soldier of the time, General Charles "Hindoo" Stuart, campaigned for British troops to be encouraged to grow extensive facial hair as otherwise their masculinity would not be taken seriously by their Indian enemies, noting that until he himself grew a beard, "mendicants supplicated me, for charity, by the appellation of Beeby Saheb [Great Lady], mistaking my sex from the smoothness of my face."
Captives is at once a human tale of the forgotten and marginal individuals - "common seamen and private soldiers, itinerants and exiles, convicts and assorted womenfolk" - involved in a succession of little-known British defeats and captivities, and a wider meditation on the character and diversity of Britain's incipient empire. Using the rich and revealing source of captivity narratives as a way of unlocking some of the central truths about British weakness, smallness and vulnerability, she shows how the British rise to world domination was neither smooth nor inevitable.
She also dramatically highlights the human cost of that expansion. The lives of ordinary British men and women were completely disrupted in the process of imperial adventures overseas: men like John Rutherford, captured in North America, who for a while became a Chippewa warrior; or Sarah Shade, an East India Company camp follower, who became one of Tipu's captives at Seringapatam.
Colley is especially good on those who after capture fell hopelessly under the spell of India or Islamic north Africa, and entered what in those days must have seemed like a parallel universe, responding to their travels and captivities with a profound alteration of the self, slowly shedding their Britishness and Christianity like an unwanted skin, and adopting Islamic dress, studying Islamic teachings and taking on the ways of the Moroccan or Mughal governing classes they would in time come to replace. In particular, she shows how many British captives converted to Islam in India and north Africa: both the Moroccans and the Mughals were able to field entire regiments of European renegade converts to Islam.
It is at this point perhaps that Colley's methodology limits her vision. By concentrating principally on captivity narratives (a genre much studied in American universities but relatively neglected in Europe) she misses the possibly more interesting point that until the mid-19th century many Europeans chose of their own free will to convert to Islam and take on eastern ways, without necessarily becoming captives first.
This had always been the case: as early as the mid-17th century, the English ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, Sir Thomas Shirley, complained about the large number of "roagues, & the skumme of people whyche are fledde to the Turke for succour & releyffe". The fact was, as Shirley pointed out in one of his dispatches, that the more time Englishmen spent in the east, the closer they moved to adopting the manners of the Muslims: "conuersation with infidelles doeth mutch corrupte," he wrote. "Many wylde youthes... in euerye 3 yeere that they staye in Turkye they loose one article of theyre faythe."
Islam overcame the English as much by its sophistication and power of attraction as by its power to seize and enslave. In 1606 even the English consul in Egypt, Benjamin Bishop, converted and promptly disappeared from public records. The same was true in Mughal India: within a few years of the East India Company establishing itself in Agra, the company's most senior official in India had to break the news of "ye damned apostacy of one of your servants, Josua Blackwelle", who had "privately conveighed himselfe to the Governor of ye citty, who, being prepaired, with the Qazi and others attended his comeing; before whome hee most wickedly and desperately renounced his Christian faith... and is irrecoverably lost".
Nor was it just Islam that lured the British out of their sola topees: "Hindoo" Stuart (he of the smooth cheeks) firmly believed he had become a Hindu (though it is technically impossible to convert to Hinduism) and took to travelling around the country with a team of Brahmins who used to attend his idols and dress his food, to the astonishment of at least one memsahib recently arrived from England
: "There was here an Englishman, born and educated in a Christian land," wrote Elizabeth Fenton in her journal, "who has become the wretched and degraded partaker of this heathen worship, a General S- who has for some years adopted the habits and religion, if religion it be named, of these people; and he is generally believed to be in a sane mind."
Despite the occasional errors and inaccuracies, especially in the Indian section (there was, for example, no such person as the Begum Sumru Sardhana - Sardhana was the begum's capital, not her name), Captives is a major work: a complete reappraisal of a period, strikingly original in both theme and form, mixing narrative and fine descriptive prose with analysis in an entirely fresh and gripping way. It is at once clever and perceptive, making you look afresh at themes and subjects you took completely for granted. It will undoubtedly confirm Colley's reputation not only as one of the most exciting and original historians of her generation, but also one of the most interesting writers of non-fiction around.
• William Dalrymple's book, White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in 18th-Century India is published by HarperCollins

BRF Oldie
Posts: 2173
Joined: 19 Jan 2006 03:44
Location: Dark side of the moon

Postby vsudhir » 02 Mar 2007 21:43

In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India
In his new book, In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India, Edward Luce describes modern India in the manner one might write about one's in-laws: They are family and thus intimately familiar, but the ties are not blood ties, the observations are made from a slightly greater distance, and there is always the possibility of divorce if things don't work out.

That this comparison seems figuratively apt is buttressed by the fact that it is literally true: Luce has married into an Indian family. It flits now and then on the periphery of the narrative, and in the concluding section, he uses his wedding in New Delhi as a metaphor for how things in India can go wrong and how they can go right. In his preface, he cites his wife as, "in many ways, a cause of this book."

Luce has had ample opportunity to consider India from a professional vantage point as well. From 2001 to 2006, based in New Delhi, he served as South Asia bureau chief for the Financial Times; he currently serves as that paper's Washington bureau chief. During the latter years of the Clinton administration, he was a speech writer for Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

Given this background, it comes as no surprise that the core animating questions Luce seeks to address are about both economic and political development: "My aim in this book," he writes in the introduction, "is to provide an unsentimental evaluation of contemporary India against the backdrop of its widely expected ascent to great power status in the twenty-first century."

Luce does a superb, nuanced job of looking at contemporary India -- from north to south, rich to poor, illiterate to highly educated -- and he also provides rich layers of history, backtracking a few centuries or a few millennia, as needed, to provide context both for what he observes and for what he argues. While he succeeds in approaching his topic unsentimentally -- he gives us, unflinchingly, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful -- his work is leavened with humor. And he maintains the journalist's habit of documentation. If you take issue with his statistics, you can go back and check his sources. The book is well footnoted.

JE Menon
Forum Moderator
Posts: 7052
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby JE Menon » 02 Mar 2007 22:14

Its a good book, worth reading. Sort of Tully lite, but despite some gripes I think this guy's heart is in the right place...

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

Postby svinayak » 05 Mar 2007 06:22

The Indians: Portrait of a People
by Sudhir Kakar and Katharina Kakar

The Indians: Portrait of a People

• Published by Penguin Books India
• Published: March 2007
• Imprint: Viking
• Special Price: Rs 395.00
• Cover Price: Rs 395.00
• ISBN: 0670999237
• Edition: Hardback
• Format: Demy
• Extent: 232pp
• Classification: Non Fiction
• Rights: Indian Subcontinent and Singapore only

In this bold, illuminating and superbly readable study, India’s foremost psychoanalyst and cultural commentator Sudhir Kakar and anthropologist Katharina Kakar investigate the nature of ‘Indian-ness’. What makes an Indian recognizably so to the rest of the world, and, more importantly, to his or her fellow Indians? For, as the authors point out, despite ethnic differences that are characteristic more of past empires than modern nation states, there is an underlying unity in the great diversity of India that needs to be recognized.

Looking at what constitutes a common Indian identity, the authors examine in detail the predominance of family, community and caste in our everyday lives, our attitudes to sex and marriage, our prejudices, our ideas of the other (explored in a brilliant chapter on Hindu-Muslim conflict), and our understanding of health, right and wrong, and death. In the final chapter, they provide fascinating insights into the Indian mind, shaped largely by the culture’s dominant, Hindu world-view.

Drawing upon three decades of original research and sources as varied the Mahabharata, the Kamasutra, the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Bollywood movies and popular folklore, Sudhir and Katharina Kakar have produced a rich and revealing portrait of the Indian people.

‘[Sudhir Kakar is] our foremost psychoanalyst, who will remain indispensable to our understanding of Indian men and women.’—The Hindu

‘[Sudhir Kakar’s] books have laid bare the Indian psyche, and shown how Indian culture, society and family structure condition our behaviour.’—The Indian Express

‘In the history of India’s cultural awakening in the twentieth century…some books will stand out as seminal. Among these Sudhir Kakar’s will certainly find a place.’ —Indian Book Chronicle

BRF Oldie
Posts: 2326
Joined: 29 Jul 2003 11:31
Location: dishum-bishum

Postby Airavat » 16 Mar 2007 07:10

Interview with the above author in Businessworld:

You have been accused of being ‘too gloomy’ about the Indian manufacturing sector’s ability to drive the economy, like it has done in China.

In the book, I don’t understate India’s manufacturing potential. So, if that was a criticism it might be based on a misreading. We really get back here to the social nature of India’s growth. India has had very real successes in the sector over the past few years, but they are not spreading their benefits in terms of employment or in terms of wealth distribution to a wide enough group of people.

Compare the number of Indians employed in the formal manufacturing sector with that in China. There is a multiple difference — 7 million in India and 100 million in China. India’s services sector is just not going to be able to employ that many Indians. It is going to be able to generate lots of revenues — as it already is. But to soak up India’s surplus labour force, it would be desirable to see and necessary to achieve labour-intensive, relatively low, value-added manufacturing.

[b]Your book warns that India suffers from “a premature spirit of triumphalism, believing it is destined to achieve greatness in the 21st century without having to do very much to assist the processâ€

BRF Oldie
Posts: 6916
Joined: 08 Aug 2006 18:43

Postby shyamd » 19 Mar 2007 01:35

The truth about WMD


An account of the way the Central Intelligence Agency undermined UNSCOM's operations

IRAQ CONFIDENTIAL — The Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy: Scott Ritter; I.B.Tauris, London, distributed by Viva Books Pvt. Ltd., 4737/23, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002. Rs. 495.

The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), the body mandated to dismantle Iraq 's weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile capability, would occasionally hold briefings in Bahrain in the 1990s. At the end of these press conferences, representatives of the media attending it would usually mutter, "What's the point in giving publicity to the CIA's stories?" The stories would of course be carried, but the belief that UNSCOM was actually fulfilling the objectives of the United States could never be erased.

Weapons inspections

In his book Iraq Confidential Scott Ritter tries to show that such perceptions about UNSCOM were partly true but not entirely so. He does not quite succeed. Ritter does provide a detailed account of the ways by which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other arms of the U.S. government took control of UNSCOM's operations and ultimately suborned and subverted it. Ritter can also be given a pass for his assertion that he— the most famous or, more accurately, the most notorious of the weapons inspectors— strove hard to keep the U.N. body free and focussed on the job of dismantling the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. As UNSCOM depended almost solely on western intelligence agencies for carrying out its work, only the naïve could have believed that it would be able to function independently. Since he played along even when it was obvious that UNSCOM was mainly serving the political purposes of the U. S., his long overdue expose of the so-called inspection process lacks impact and value. If this expose had been made when the process was still underway, it could have buttressed the arguments of the other permanent members of the Security Council who were trying to get the sanctions lifted.


Ritter's personal behaviour in that period only strengthened the impression that UNSCOM was working at the behest of the U.S. This former Marine intelligence officer spearheaded a slew of provocative inspections that led to confrontations between the U.N. Security Council and the regime of Saddam Hussein. On almost every occasion when such clashes occurred, the impression was created that UNSCOM was deliberately prodding the Iraqi government to cease cooperating with the inspections; if Baghdad had taken recourse to such a step it would have provided a justification for the Security Council to sanction military measures against it. A fact that might have been overlooked in the wake of the 2003 invasion is that, throughout the 1990s, Iraq was always in danger of being attacked since "regime change" was a major item in the administration of President Bill Clinton as well.

To his credit, Ritter subsequently turned into a critic of the U.S. policy towards Iraq. Although this book is far from a mea culpa, the author does atone for past sins in a way. He does so by detailing how the CIA and associated agencies — deliberately, wantonly and sometimes stupidly — worked to undermine UNSCOM. These efforts were directed at ensuring that the U.N. body would never be able to certify that Iraq no longer possessed a WMD capability. So long as UNSCOM did not issue such certification, the economic sanctions — or the containment policy — could continue to be enforced. He also shows how the CIA, working on a parallel track, used UNSCOM as cover for its information gathering operations in Iraq and as a shield behind which it could work, sometimes comically, on efforts to stage a coup.

Signals intelligence

Among the interesting episodes that he narrates is the one concerning the efforts to collect signals intelligence (SIGINT). About five years after the inspections got underway Iraq revealed that it had destroyed its WMD capability soon after the end of the 1991 Gulf War. However, for some inexplicable reason, the Saddam regime refused to come clean and produce the documentary evidence that would prove the destruction.

UNSCOM believed that it would be able to gather information on Iraq's efforts to conceal the documents (or any remnant of the proscribed programme) if it could monitor the communications between Iraqi security agencies. Since it lacked the capacity, it had to draw on the expertise of the intelligence services of the U.S., Britain and Israel.

The U. S. gave signal interception equipment to UNSCOM and trained British operatives to use it. However, the CIA ensured that it kept control of the bulk of SIGINT gathered by means of the listening devices. UNSCOM realised much later on that the equipment provided to the British operatives was of such poor quality that it could hardly crack the secure communications networks of the Iraqi agencies. What had happened was that the CIA was running its own signals monitoring operations with superior equipment and its efforts were directed solely towards tracking other functions being performed by Iraqi security agencies — including presidential protection.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 3342
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

Postby Rony » 19 Mar 2007 23:15

Interview with the above author in Businessworld:

[b]Your book warns that India suffers from “a premature spirit of triumphalism, believing it is destined to achieve greatness in the 21st century without having to do very much to assist the processâ€

BRF Oldie
Posts: 3342
Joined: 14 Jul 2006 23:29

Postby Rony » 19 Mar 2007 23:16

Interview with the above author in Businessworld:

[b]Your book warns that India suffers from “a premature spirit of triumphalism, believing it is destined to achieve greatness in the 21st century without having to do very much to assist the processâ€

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

Postby svinayak » 19 Mar 2007 23:43

Rony wrote:
This is exactly what i am worried about.premature trimphalism

Because of the poor understanding of the world/other races and their histories by the Indian Elite this sense of triumphalism clouds their judgment.


Postby Raju » 20 Mar 2007 00:13

Rony wrote:
This is exactly what i am worried about.premature trimphalism

They are gaining back confidence as a society and in themselves. This process will continue for atleast 5 more years after which there will be a solidification of the social confidence built upon.

This is about India alone, other races and rest of the world are peripheral to this process.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 29 Mar 2007 20:21

Related to the first post on this thread!! From Deccan Chronicle, 29 March 2007
Name-dropper’s DIARY
By Andrew Roberts
Off to the US for a book tour, trying to plug my A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. Prepare yourself for a veritable carpet-bombing of name-dropping. The Chaos Club in New York radiates reactionary chic. Flanked by Tom Wolfe and Norman Podhoretz, I set out my argument. Next stop a speech and dinner given by the wonderfully counter-counter-cultural magazine The New Criterion at the Cosmopolitan Club. Then a dinner thrown for my wife Susan Gilchrist and me at Le Grenouille restaurant by Jayne Wrightsman, one of America’s foremost philanthropists and the trustee emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum. On my other side was Barbara Walters, whom I asked what question she was most often asked, hoping it was about kings, presidents or Moshe Dayan. The answer: "What’s Monica like?" Susan sat between the editor of the New York Review of Books, Robert Silvers, and the chairman of the NY Public Library, Paul Le Clerc.

The next night Harry Evans and Tina Brown gave a dinner for 50 at their apartment on the Upper East Side. After the main course I was interviewed for half an hour or so by Harry, then came polite but tough questioning from Jon Meacham (editor of Newsweek), 9/11 Commission member John Lehman, the columnists Fareed Zakaria, Adam Gopnik, and others. When Joe Klein (author of Primary Colours) said: "There are so many things I want to take issue with in your thesis that I don’t know where to begin," I suggested he go for either alphabetical or chronological.

The following night Henry and Nancy Kissinger gave a dinner party at their apartment only five blocks from Tina and Harold geographically, but hundreds of miles away politically. Mayor Bloomberg said the Kissingers had tracked down the last 20 Republicans in New York (who included George F. Will, Peggy Noonan and the New York Sun proprietor Roger Hertog). Rupert Murdoch turned out to have precisely the opposite of the personality caricatured in the left-liberal media; he was charming, witty, good-natured and even slightly retiring. If that wins me Private Eye’s OBN, it’s still true. I asked Bloomberg whether any of the rumours that he might be standing for president were true. "You’re the historian, Andrew," he replied. "Remind me the last time that a 5ft 7in Jewish billionaire from New York got to the White House?"

Flew to Washington and stayed at the elegant Willard Hotel, which resonates with history in every brick. Saw ex-UN ambassador John Bolton in the lobby, who said he was enjoying the book. That night the economist Irwin Stelzer gave a big party at the Metropolitan Club for me, and his friends Irving and Bea Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle and Charles Murray stayed for dinner afterwards. Then there were more speeches at the Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute and Anglosphere Institute, and an American Spectator party given in the Kalorama Circle palace of Bill Walton, chairman and CEO of Allied Capital. It was there that Lucky Roosevelt, Reagan’s chief of protocol, told me to address the President the next day only as either "Mr President" or "Sir."

The next morning, after my lecture to White House staffers and Agency officials, we were asked if we’d like to spend some time before lunch in the Oval Office with "the reviewer-in-chief." My original thought was the same as Churchill’s when Baldwin offered him the chancellorship in 1924 — "Does the bloody duck swim?" — but I confined myself to saying yes please. When the door opened and we were ushered in, the President called out in mock surprise: "Andrew Roberts!" So I adopted the same surprised tone, crying: "George W. Bush!" (Lucky wouldn’t have approved.) Then Susan and I had 40 minutes alone with the Leader of the Free World, talking about the war on terror. He was full of resilience and fortitude — as I’d taken for granted he would be — but he was also thoughtful, charming and widely read. If he wasn’t the most powerful man in the world, he’d be the sort of chap you’d have as a mate.

Lunch in the rarely-used Old Family Dining Room included Karl Rove, national security adviser Steve Hadley, White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and a small group of distinguished journalists and proprietors. I sat next to Dick Cheney (who had been photographed holding my book the previous day while getting on to his plane after a suicide bomber blew himself up at Bagram air base in Pakistan). The President inaugurated a discussion about my book and its themes, and when I left the White House three hours later, I hugged myself with Mr Toad-like glee at having had such a fascinating and memorable fortnight.

Flew on to Paris for an intimate dinner with Nicolas and Cecilia Sarkozy at the home of Robert and Mathilde Agostinelli, still in my reverie. Brought down to earth next day at the launch of Allan Mallinson’s latest bestseller, Man of War. Charles Moore: "Clever of Cheney to carry your big fat book for protection in case of another assassination attempt, Andrew." Simon Heffer: "Actually, I’m told it was to help him sleep on the plane."

The ruling elite needs assurance about being on the right track from the British author.

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

Postby svinayak » 02 Apr 2007 23:45


Kautilya for the 21st century

By M.V. Kamath

Relevance of Kautilya for Today: Dr K.S. Narayanacharya; preface by S. Gurumurthy; Kautilya Institute of National Studies, Mysore, pp 146, Rs 150.00

One of the saddest aspects of our educational system today is the near total neglect of our ancient history and the deliberate disconnect with our thinkers and philosophers. It is as if our “secularâ€

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 09 Apr 2007 23:29

From Pioneer, 9 April, 2007
Colonial delusion of Indian ignorance

BB Kumar

Education and Social Change in South Asia, Krishna Kumar and Joachim Oesterheld (ed), Orient Longman, Rs 795

The volume, Education and Social Change In South Asia, edited by Krishna Kumar and Jaochim Oesterheld, is the compilation of 16 essays written by as many scholars from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, France, Great Britain, Germany and the US, evenly grouped under four headings. The idea originated from a project conducted at the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies (CMO) in Berlin. In 2002, there was a conference organised in Berlin in which scholars deliberated on various aspects of Indian education, and the idea to publish a book on educational issues in modern South Asia emerged. The panels were convened by CMO fellows at the 16th and 17th European Conferences on Modern South Asian Studies and the second International Conference of Asian Studies held during 2000-02. Their contributions make this book.

The first four papers under the section, 'Education under Colonial Rule', deal with various theoretical and practical aspects of education, with focus on diverse educational efforts of the British colonial Government and the missionaries. It was widely believed by the British that Western education imparted since the mid-19th century would undermine Hinduism, resulting in greater converts to Christianity. This, however, did not happen despite an influential section of the Hindu community drifting away from its tradition. The colonial Government, henceforth, took neutral stand on the issue and allowed instruction in Indian religions outside school hours, Sanjay Sheth asserts in the chapter, 'Secular enlightenment and Christian conversion'.

Haike Liebau mainly focuses on Protestant Christian colleges and a report of the 1930s on the role of Christian educational institutions. The papers of Margret Frenz and George Oommen are written from Christian angle covering parts of Kerala. Oommen discusses the activities of the Church Missionary Society in educating and converting the Pulaya community of Kerala.

Linkenbach Fuchs, in her paper under section 'Education and Cultural Change', discusses education and nation-building in colonial India in overall theoretical frameworks of the developments in Europe. She discusses identity crisis due to discrepancy between school and home, new (modern, rational, Christian) and traditional, and the emancipatory potential of colonial education.

Jaochim Oesterheld elaborates Muslim/Muslim League opposition of the Wardha Scheme of colonial education. Krishna Kumar examines the role of education in strengthening secular creed and its inability in preventing the spread of communal ideas. Basing on the articles published in the popular press, Sonia Nishat Amin discusses the conservative, centrist and liberal Muslim views, including the views of the women writers, on education for Muslim girls of Bengal between 1890 and 1930.

Two of the papers under section 'Education and Nation Building' by Martha Caddell and Rubina Saigol deal with education in Nepal and Pakistan respectively in historical perspective. Saigol massively relies on Ayub Khan's speeches and the report of the Sharif Commission. She limits her analysis of the policy covering the brief period of the Ayub era (1958-64).

Technical and professional education was highly neglected during the colonial era in India, as Padmini Swaminathan brings to focus. Perhaps the British did not need it. Anne Vaugier-Chatterji, while distinguishing between European and Indian idea of language, suggests that in a multi-lingual country like India, there is a need to promote different languages for different purposes.

The last section of the book on 'Education and Development' begins with ST Hettige's paper on education in Sri Lanka. It discusses spread of education and public sector, unemployment, frustration and youth uprising, conflict between modern and traditional, and swabasa education policy leading to monolingualism, ethno-centrism and ultimately Simhala Tamil conflict.

Sadhna Saxena discusses various aspects of mass literacy programmes and their inadequacies. Roger Jeffery et el see 'a crumbling welfare state' syndrome in their paper on privatisation of secondary schooling in Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh. To them, it was a sign of disillusionment with Government schools by parents. There have been recent developments in administration and functioning of primary schools in Madhya Pradesh, as discussed by Francois Leclercq, in the last paper of the book.

The book, as its name suggests, was supposed to provide macro-perception of education in South Asia. Contrary to that, it is full of micro-case studies with narrow focus, colonial and Christian obsolete views and perspective, obsession with caste and anti-Hindu rhetoric. It does not mention the indigenous education system thriving across the sub-continent, which was later thoroughly destroyed by the British colonial Government. Anti-Hindu, anti-culture and anti-tradition bias during the colonial days needed to be exposed in the book.

Throughout the pages of the book, one encounters several colonial myths prevailing today as the popular notions - the segregation and denial of education to so-called lower castes, Brahmin monopoly of education, the British and missionaries as promoters of literacy and education, etc.

It is pertinent to mention that massive data is available to disprove the same. The scholars have not made use of the evidences made available by Adam (One Teacher, One School: The Adam Reports on Indigenous Education in 19th Century India), GW Leitner (History of the Indigenous Education in the Punjab Since Annexation and in 1882) and Dharampal (The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century). W Adam's A Report on the State of Education in Bengal (1835, 1836, 1838), the report by Sir Thomas Munro, Governor of Madras Presidency, Survey of Indigenous Education in the Province of Bombay and many other reports show that education was quite widespread in the pre-British India than during the colonial era. Also, the avenue of education was open to all, including the untouchables.

Even in Malabar (in Kerala), out of 1,588 scholars of higher learning, there were 639 Brahmins, 23 Vaishyas, 254 Shudras and 672 "other castes". In Bengal, Presidency, the students and teachers came from every caste.

In spite of their hollow claims, the missionary did no better for the 'low caste' students. Thirteen missionary schools of Burdwan, as Adam writes, had one Chandal, three Doms and no Mochi students, whereas indigenous schools had 60, 58 and 16 respectively. In Bengal and Bihar, Brahmin teachers and students constituted only 11 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. The studies mentioned above show that there was massive indigenous education among all the castes across the country before the British destroyed the same to a large extent.

The selection of the panel of scholars and the subjects covered in the book clearly show the inadequacy of the European understanding of India.

-- The reviewer, an academician, is editor, Dialogue Quarterly

BRF Oldie
Posts: 6916
Joined: 08 Aug 2006 18:43

Postby shyamd » 11 Apr 2007 03:39

Roots of suicide terrorism

Nationalism, and not religious fundamentalism, drives suicide bombers, as this book shows with the help of detailed research.

A point is reached in the development of any social system where men will refuse to accept longer a burden they find too great to bear; and in that moment, if they cannot mitigate, they will at least destroy.

IT is not fashionable to quote Harold J. Laski but what he wrote in his mini-classic Communism in 1927 remains true. He did not stop at diagnosis. His prescription for justice as a precondition for legitimacy is as valid. He proceeded immediately to add: "The condition, in fact, upon which a state may hope to endure is its capacity for making freedom more widespread and more intense. It is not easy to achieve that end. Men prefer sacrifice by others to the surrender of their own desires" - and their vested interests, he might have added.

Frantz Fanon's seminal work The Wretched of the Earth (1963) exposed the degradation of imperialism and pointed the way forward - by violence, if necessary, which helps, in turn, to heighten national consciousness and strengthens the resolve to resist and overthrow. "The repressions, far from calling a halt to the forward rush of national consciousness, urge it on. Mass slaughter in the colonies at a certain stage of the embryonic development of consciousness increases the consciousness, for the hecatombs are an indication that between oppressors and oppressed everything can be solved by force."

In 1978 the United Nations General Assembly recognised "the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence ... from ... foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle". Palestinian Arabs see in Israel a "foreign occupation" of a country that was theirs for centuries and was grabbed by Zionists with the help of British imperialism (1919-1948). The conquest was consolidated with the help, mainly, of American imperialism. Six decades are nothing in national consciousness, especially if a people's readiness to accept a state of their own on 22 per cent of their country is spurned with yet greater repression.

Iraqis rightly see the United States and the United Kingdom as foreign overlords. Haifa Zangana, a novelist, was formerly a prisoner of Saddam Hussein. But he loathes the imperialists who came to "liberate" Iraq. His article on the Iraqis' right to rule themselves is a documented indictment of foreign occupation and a powerful endorsement of the Iraqi resistance movement. (The Hindu, November 21, 2005: "Thousands have been kept for more than a year without charge or trial, including the writer Muhsin al-Khafaji, who was arrested in May 2003. Women are taken as hostages by U.S. soldiers to persuade fugitive male relatives to surrender or confess to terrorist acts.")

"There were no jihadists in Iraq before we invaded," said David Benjamin, who served on Bill Clinton's National Security Council. "There are now thousands, Iraqi and foreign, and they're going to be an enduring problem because many have embraced the global jihadist agenda."

This is typical of Western comment, official, academic and in the media. They do not notice - do not wish to notice - the surge of nationalism, only "jihadism" or "fundamentalism" to which they shut their eyes when they exploited both in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Jimmy Carter is denounced when he draws attention to the giant walls and fences Israel began building since 2001, cutting deep into the West Bank, grabbing more land in the process, all to defeat the suicide bomber.

But very few care to ask what it is that drives a human being to give up his own life as a contribution to a political movement. Since Fanon wrote, the might of the modern state has increased; so have the wrongs. Terror is the weapon of the weak against the might of the state; the suicide bomber is a terrorist whose desperation and sense of injustice are so great that he is prepared for the ultimate sacrifice. It is disgusting to read an American columnist - toast of some New Delhi journalists - ask for a "moral surge" among the victim when he lacks the basic sense to identify the root cause of terror and the integrity and courage to denounce it. "The Arab-Muslim village today is largely silent," he moans. But he does not pause to ask "why"? Accepting the national agenda, his concern is to denounce, not to understand.

Curiously, few in the West care to recall that Israel itself is a product of terrorism; not by the weak against the mighty but by the well-equipped, united Zionists against weak and divided Arabs. The Hindu reported (March 6, 2006) Richard Norton-Taylor's report in The Guardian on disclosures from declassified MI5 files: Jewish terrorists planned to assassinate members of Clement Attlee's post-War British Labour government. Menachem Begin, then leader of the extremist Irgun Zvai Leumi resistance group and a future Prime Minister of Israel, had tried to trick it by having cosmetic surgery to disguise his identity.

The files include a telegram dated February 12, 1946, from Palestine saying that a reliable source claimed the Stern Gang was "training members to go to England to assassinate members of His Majesty's Government, especially Mr. Bevin" (British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin). The Stern Gang, in common with Irgun, was fighting against the British Mandate of Palestine and murdered Britain's Minister Resident in the Middle East (West Asia), Lord Moyne, in Cairo in 1944. A memo from the Officer Administering the Government of Palestine to the Secretary of State for the Colonies the following day warned: "The Stern Group have decided to assassinate both the High Commissioner and the General Officer Commanding. In addition, a number of CID officers are to be assassinated as well as police officers and any high government officials who are thought to be anti-Semitic."

In 1946, Irgun blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and attacked the British embassy in Rome. A year later, MI5 received a report about a rumour that Begin had "undergone a plastic facial operation and that his appearance is totally different from that displayed on police photographs".

In 1948, Begin founded the Herut party. He was appointed Prime Minister in 1977 and was awarded the Nobel Peace prize with Egypt's President Anwar Sadat after signing the Camp David Accords. The U.N. Mediator Count Bernadotte of Sweden was murdered by Israelis. Since the West was sympathetic to the Zionist plan to plant a Jewish state on Arab soil, it condoned the wrongs.

In the wake of 9/11, Western discourse was transformed. Not nationalism but "Islamic fundamentalism" was the root of terrorism in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. British Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on August 1, 2006 waxed eloquent on "a clash about civilisation". There is a "Global Islamist network", he said. Scholars like Olivier Roy refute this assertion as false. To Blair, "This is war, but of a completely unconventional kind. 9/11 in the U.S., 7/7 in the U.K., 11/3 in Madrid, the countless terrorist attacks in countries as disparate as Indonesia or Algeria, what is now happening in Afghanistan and in Indonesia, the continuing conflict in Lebanon and Palestine, it is all part of the same thing. It resembles in many ways early revolutionary Communism."

His recipe is clear. "We committed ourselves to supporting Moderate Mainstream Islam." None so blind as those who refuse to see. The "moderate" Muslim differs with the "extremist" on the techniques of resistance, but neither on his perceptions of injustice nor the need to resist wrong. This perception has influenced the British Muslim and European Muslims also.

Michael Jay, the Foreign Office Under-Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull, warned him in a letter of May 18, 2004: "Other colleagues have flagged up some of the potential underlying causes of extremism that can affect the Muslim community, such as discrimination, disadvantage and exclusion. But another recurring theme is the issue of British foreign policy, especially in the context of the Middle East Peace Process and Iraq. Experience of both Ministers and officials working in this area suggests that the issue of British foreign policy and the perception of its negative effect on Muslims globally plays a significant role in creating a feeling of anger and impotence amongst especially the younger generation of British Muslims. The concept of the `Ummah', i.e. that the Believers are one `nation', had led to HMG's [Her Majesty's Government] policies towards the Muslim world having a very personal resonance for young British Muslims, many of whom are taking on the burden both of the perceived injustices and of the responsibility of putting them right, but without the legitimate tools to do so. This seems to be a key driver behind recruitment by extremist organisations [e.g. recruitment drives by groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir and al- Muhajiroon]."

Blair could not have been ignorant of this professional assessment. But then, more than any predecessor, he has undermined the civil service.

However, one of the world's foremost authorities on the subject holds that "the taproot of suicide terrorism is nationalism" and "at bottom suicide terrorism is a strategy for national liberation from foreign occupation by a democratic state". Therefore, "the West's strategy for the war on terrorism is fundamentally flawed. Right now, our strategy for this war presumes that suicide terrorism is mainly a product of an evil ideology called Islamic fundamentalism and that this ideology will produce campaigns of suicide terrorism wherever it exists and regardless of our military policies. This presumption is wrong and is leading toward foreign policies that are making our situation worse."

Resistance, not religion


The body of an LTTE suicide bomber a few feet away from the wreckage of a Sri Lankan Airline A-340 Airbus that he blew up, at the Bandaranaike international airport in Colombo.

Professor Robert A. Pape teaches international relations at the University of Chicago and is the Director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism. Researching his book, which covered all 462 suicide bombings around the globe, he had his colleagues scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and biographies of the Hizbollah bombers. "Of the 41, we identified the names, birthplaces, and other personal data for 38. We were shocked to find that only eight were Islamist fundamentalists; 27 were from Leftist political groups such as the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union; three were Christians, including a woman secondary school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon. What these suicide attackers - their heirs today - shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation."

The author assembled a team of advanced graduate students associated with the University of Chicago who were fluent in the main relevant languages - Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Tamil - for an intensive survey of regional newspapers, broadcast transcripts, and other materials not currently translated into English. This project also gathered literature documenting individual martyrs from the main suicide terrorist groups themselves - such as Hizbollah, Hamas, and the Tamil Tigers - as well as all publicly available lists of suicide attacks from the main organisations in target countries that collect such data (such as the Israel Defence Forces, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the U.S. Department of State). In addition, it also amassed all the relevant data that could be found in English. All information is based on public sources and the raw data are available at the archive for the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism housed at the University of Chicago.

Judging by the articles they have written after retirement, alumni of the Intelligence Bureau (I.B.) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) share the "Islamic fundamentalism" phobia of Western hacks, albeit for different reasons, not hard to discern. They should study those archives and this book, one of the ablest to be published. It covers the Khalistanis as well as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The book demolishes conventional wisdom on the strength of a formidable database, using charts, tables and statistics. Religion adds fuel to fire but the fire is lit by foreign occupation. Jihad provides a convenient battle cry.

"The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world's religions. In fact, the leading instigators of suicide attacks are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion. This group committed 76 of the 315 incidents, more suicide attacks than Hamas.

"Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal; to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations, in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the border strategic objective."

General patterns

Three general patterns emerge. First, nearly all suicide terrorist attacks occur as part of organised campaigns, not as isolated or random incidents. Second, democratic states are uniquely vulnerable to suicide terrorists. The U.S., France, India, Israel, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the U.K. have been the targets of almost all suicide attacks of the past two decades. Third, suicide terrorist campaigns are directed toward a strategic objective. "From Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya, the sponsors of every campaign have been terrorist groups trying to establish or maintain political self-determination by compelling a democratic power to withdraw from the territories they claim."

While terrorist incidents of all types have declined by nearly half from a peak of 666 in 1987 to 348 in 2001, suicide terrorism has grown and the trend is continuing. Many Americans hoped that Al Qaeda had been badly weakened by U.S. efforts since September 11, 2001. The data show otherwise. In 2002 and 2003, Al Qaeda conducted 15 suicide terrorist attacks, more than in all the years before September 11 combined, killing 439 people.

"Since September 11, 2001, the United States has responded to the growing threat of suicide terrorism by embarking on a policy to conquer Muslim countries - not simply rooting out existing havens for terrorists in Afghanistan but going further to remake Muslim societies in the Persian Gulf. To be sure, the United States must be ready to use force to protect Americans and their allies and must do so when necessary. However, the close association between foreign military occupations and the growth of suicide terrorist movements in the occupied regions should make us hesitate over any strategy centering on the transformation of Muslim societies by means of heavy military power. Although there may still be good reasons for such a strategy, we should recognise that the sustained presence of heavy American combat forces in Muslim countries is likely to increase the odds of the next 9/11."

There is another factor. Terrorists, even if aided by a state, perform in their own right. "Modern suicide terrorist groups may receive material assistance from states that share some of their political aspirations, but they are independent actors who rarely follow the dictates of others blindly."

For over 30 years, from 1945 to 1980, suicide attacks had disappeared. Their perpetrators of today have been to college. They are educated ones. Poverty is a poor explanation for their conduct. It is a three-stage process, which Pape analyses by posing three principal questions: what is the strategic logic of suicide terrorism; its political aim; its social logic. "Why does suicide attack receive mass support in some societies and not others? Without social support from the terrorists' national community, suicide terrorist campaigns could not be sustained." Sri Lanka and Kashmir supports this finding.

Community support

"Community support enables a suicide terrorist group to replenish its membership. Other kinds of terrorists can try to husband their human resources by hiding from society, but suicide terrorist organisations cannot operate without losses. Most suicide attackers are walk-in volunteers. Second, community support is essential to enable a suicide terrorist group to avoid detection, surveillance, and elimination by the security forces of the target society. Given that recruitment needs oblige them to keep a relatively high profile, suicide terrorist groups cannot prevent many members of the local community from gaining basic information that would be useful to the enemy (for instance, the identity of recruiters, common locations for recruitment, and even locations of frequently used safehouses, means of communication, and other logistics). As a result, without broad sympathy among the local population, suicide terrorist groups would be especially vulnerable to penetration, defection, and informants. They must therefore be popular enough that society as a whole would be willing to silence potential informants. Everyone may know who the terrorists are. No one must tell." Why do Kashmiri women wail at the windows as funeral processions of slain militants pass by? The individual logic is important. What drives the individual action?

These questions are answered in detail in each chapter with the support of massive data. The suicide terrorist is the weaker actor, a desperate one who uses the weapon of last resort. His target is far stronger; but is vulnerable if it is a democracy. Hence the gains reaped by the bomber. It pays. Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, a spiritual leader of Hizbollah, stressed the coercive value of suicide attack: "We believe that suicide operations should only be carried out if they can bring about a political or military change in proportion to the passions that incite a person to make of his body an explosive bomb." Abdel Karim, a leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, said the goal of his group was "to increase losses in Israel to a point at which the Israeli public would demand a withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip". Or, as a Hizbollah leader in Lebanon, Daud, said: "Since we cannot fight the enemy with weapons, we have to sacrifice our lives." An LTTE leader put it tersely: "to ensure maximum damage done with minimum loss of life". It is dramatic; causes panic in the state; and raises the morale of the movement.

Nationalism, not religion, is the recurring thread. "Comparison of target selection for Hamas and al-Qaeda shows that combating foreign military occupation is more central than religious motives for both groups. If religious hostility were paramount, one would expect both Hamas and al-Qaeda to attack both Christians and Jews. Similarly, if revenge for perceived injuries were a central motive, one would expect both groups to attack both the United States and Israel. However, each group in fact concentrates its efforts against the opponent that actually has troops stationed on what it sees as its homeland territory. Hamas concentrates almost all of its effort against Israel and has not attacked the United States or American citizens outside of Israel and Palestine. Al-Qaeda's main effort has been against the United States and against American allies that have deployed troops in Afghanistan and Iraq; al-Qaeda has never attacked Israel and has rarely attacked Jewish targets elsewhere."

Why did Hamas and al Jihad adopt this desperate course? Palestine provides a good case study. In the June 1967 war, Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem was immediately annexed to Israel, while the West Bank and Gaza have remained under Israeli occupation since then. As of 2001, there were about 2.7 million Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories. Although the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories detest Israel's occupation, and although strikes, protests, and other forms of non-violent resistance began as early as 1972, for many years most of the Palestinian population preferred to accept the benefits of the economic modernisation that occurred under Israeli rule rather than support violent rebellion. Beginning in 1987, however, Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation grew progressively from violent (but unarmed) rebellion in the first Intifada from 1987 to 1992, to protracted guerilla war and suicide terrorism in the 1990s, to large-scale suicide terrorism since the start of the second Intifada in September 2000.

During the first 13 years of the occupation (1967 to 1980), only about 12,000 Jewish settlers resided in the Occupied Territories. From 1980 to 1995, this number increased more than tenfold, to 146,000 and by a further 50 per cent from 1995 to 2002, to 226,000. The growth of Jewish settlements not only consumed more land and water, but also required progressive expansion of the Israeli military presence in the West Bank and Gaza, including more and more checkpoints that made it difficult for Palestinians to travel or even carry out ordinary business. The second Intifada was a response to the failure of the Oslo peace process to lead to full Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, and especially the failure of the Camp David negotiations in August 2000. The growing number of Jewish settlers contributed to this sense of failure.

Palestinian suicide terrorist attacks began in April 1994 and continued at a rate of about three a year until the start of the second Intifada, when the number rose to over 20 a year. Although two Islamist organisations, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have conducted the majority of Palestinian suicide attacks (79 out of 110 attacks between 1994 to 2003), there is strong evidence that Islamic fundamentalism has not been the driving force behind Palestinian suicide terrorism.


Israeli rescue workers remove bodies from the scene of a Palestinian suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem in November 2002. The suicide bomber killed at least 10 people when he blew himself up in a crowded bus.

It was nationalism; the deep sense of frustration, the sheer desperation that explains the popular support for Hamas, which won the elections last year. The Oslo Accords of September 13, 1993, are a wreck. They bound Israel to withdraw its military forces from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho, beginning from December 13, 1993, to April 13, 1994. Both deadlines were missed. Hamas launched suicide attacks on April 6 and 13. The Knesset voted to withdraw on April 18.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said on April 13: "I can't recall in the past any suicidal terror acts by the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation]. We have seen by now at least six acts of this type by Hamas and Islamic Jihad... The only response to them and the enemies of peace on the part of Israel is to accelerate the negotiations." On April 18, 1994, he went further, in a major speech in the Knesset explaining why the withdrawal was necessary: "Members of the Knesset: I want to tell the truth. For 27 years we have been dominating another people against its will. For 27 years Palestinians in the territories... got up in the morning harbouring a fierce hatred for us, as Israelis and Jews. Each morning they get up to a hard life, for which we are also, but not solely responsible. We cannot deny that our continuing control over a foreign people who do not want us exacts a painful price... For two or three years we have been facing a phenomenon of extremist Islamic terrorism, which recalls Hizbollah, which surfaced in Lebanon and perpetrated attacks, including suicide missions. ... There is no end to the targets Hamas and other terrorist organisations have among us." Each Israeli became a target. It was a new game, altogether different from the PLO's tactics.

The survey in Lebanon identified 38 of the 41 attackers. Thirty of them were affiliated to groups opposed to Islamic fundamentalism. Three were not clearly associated with ideology. All 38 were native Lebanese. The book contains pictures of four women suicide attackers; all are dressed in Western clothes with stylish haircuts and even make-up. One was a Christian highschool teacher. Nothing bound them together but a common and deep commitment to end Israeli occupation.

Role of U.S. military policy

Al Qaeda also comes in for detailed analysis. It does not act in concert with Hamas or Hizbollah. "Each is driven by essentially nationalist goals." In Pape's view, "American military policy in the Persian Gulf was most likely the pivotal factor leading to September 11. Although Islamic fundamentalism mattered, the stationing of tens of thousands of American combat troops on the Arabian Peninsula from 1990 to 2001 probably made al-Qaeda suicide attacks against Americans, including the horrible crimes committed on September 11, 2001, from ten to twenty times more likely. This finding also sheds new light on al-Qaeda's mobilisation appeals."

Examination of Al Qaeda's mobilisation rhetoric suggests a picture of the organisation that is at variance with the conventional wisdom. "Al-Qaeda is less a transnational network of like-minded ideologues brought together from across the globe via the Internet than a cross-national military alliance of national liberation movements working together against what they see as a common imperial threat. For al-Qaeda, religion matters, but mainly in the context of national resistance to foreign occupation."

Pape adds: "Overall, examination of the nationalities of al-Qaeda's suicide terrorists from 1995 to 2003 shows that American military policy in the Persian Gulf was most likely the pivotal factor leading to September 11. This is not to say that al-Qaeda is not committed to Islamic fundamentalism or that it draws no important transnational support. The fact that we can assume that al-Qaeda's suicide attackers have been committed Islamists is sufficient reason to think that Islamic fundamentalism is at least a weak force driving the movement, even if this is not borne out by the statistics. However, it is important to recognise the fundamental role played by American military policy.

There is a most informative chapter on suicide terrorist organisations around the world; the LTTE receives detailed study. The U.S.' strategy is self-defeating. "Proponents claim that Islamic fundamentalism is the principal cause of suicide terrorism and that this radical ideology is spreading through Muslim societies, dramatically increasing the prospects for a new, larger generation of anti-American terrorists in the future. Hence, the United States should install new governments in Muslim countries in order to transform and diminish the role of radical Islam in their societies. This logic led to widespread support for the conquest of Iraq and is promoted as the principal reason for regime change in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Persian Gulf states in the future." There is a subtext - U.S. policy would help Israel to crush Palestinians; another reason for domestic public support in U.S. elections.

The author's policy prescription is withdrawal of U.S. troops from the entire Gulf while ensuring the maintenance of the "critical infrastructure" for their rapid return, if need be. The name of the game is "off-shore balancing" - alliances plus troops deployment on the seas to facilitate return. It is doubtful if this will suffice given the inflamed wrath in the region. Besides, as the author hints, amends are called for in Palestine. Unless the peace process is invigorated, there is little hope for peace. The Palestine question has an appeal that moves the entire West Asia and spreads far beyond it.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 13 Apr 2007 22:17

A book review from The Telegraph, 13 April, 2007

The Peacock throne

A nation on the cusp of innocence and experience

“Son of man,/ You cannot say, or guess, for you know only/ A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,/ And the dead tree gives no shelter.../ And the dry stone no sound of water...â€


Postby ChandraS » 14 Apr 2007 21:32

Has anyone read 'Shameful Flight' by Stanley Wolpert detailing the last days of the British rule of India? I would like to know what people think about it and if there are other material that need to be read in conjunction with the same?

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 25 Apr 2007 21:39

Two book reviews from Pioneer, 24 April, 2007

Clearing haze over Valley

The book enumerates several incidents that will help analyse political developments in Jammu & Kashmir, says Sanjoy Bagchi

Jammu & Kashmir 1949-64: Select Correspondence Between Jawaharlal Nehru And Karan Singh, Jawaid Alam(ed), Penguin Viking, Rs 595

Karan Singh has made a significant contribution to contemporary history by publishing his personal archive of letters exchanged with Jawaharlal Nehru shortly after the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Indian Union. It is a unique decision in the Indian context because no other politician of the post-Independence era has dared to reveal his correspondence during his lifetime.

Personal correspondence between political heads was not unknown to Indian administration. During the colonial days the Secretary of State for India in London was always in regular contact with the Viceroy. The India Office Library in London has a record of letters exchanged between the two. Being personal communications, their authors could be frank and candid, sharing their views without restraint, avoiding the opacity of 'officialese'.

Karan Singh's correspondence with Nehru began when he became the Regent of Jammu & Kashmir in 1949 and continued until the latter's death in 1964. It deals with the period's major events - political changes, international developments relating to Jammu & Kashmir, domestic situation, impressions of travels abroad, etc.

When he became the Regent, Karan Singh was only 18. Yet, having gone through a traumatic time, he was called upon to serve Sheikh Abdullah. But, later, he was exiled from the State with his privy purse reduced on specious grounds. Such treatment had not been meted out to any other prince on his accession, not even to Hyderabad's Nizam who had engaged in armed conflict with India. But there is no trace of bitterness or rancour, not even suppressed resentment in his letters.

Karan Singh showed exceptional maturity, unusual balance and exemplary loyalty at that early age - qualities that would distinguish his future career as a politician, Minister and diplomat.

In order to severe the dynastic link, Abdullah had insisted on Karan Singh's election as Sadr-i-Riyasat under a new Constitution that was yet to adopted. While recognising the absurdity of the move, Nehru was not inclined to upset his crony's applecart. He merely advised Singh to get on the cart even though it was placed before the horse.

There was another instance of the national flag that revealed the attitude of the ruling clique. Karan Singh had repeatedly insisted on flying the national flag on Government buildings, but Abdullah persistently ignored it. Nehru again turned a blind eye to it. Abdullah's incarceration for treason resolved the issue.

It was Karan Singh who had reported to Nehru in 1959 about the kidnapping of an Indian patrol inside Indian border by the Chinese Army which had built roads, check-posts and other fortifications on our land. He believed that it was more than 'cartographical aggression' and required adequate measures to prevent China from consolidating its position within India. He had warned that the opening of the Chinese Embassy in Nepal and stepping up their economic aid to it would undermine Indian position there. Nehru's response to these developments remains unknown.

Karan Singh had extensively toured Jammu and Ladakh regions of the State. His detailed reports reveal his incisive observations and astute perceptions of the local problems. Ladakh was uneasy with the current arrangement that did not provide adequate popular representation in the State Assembly. Apparently it did not have faith in the State Government and wanted an administrator from the Centre.

Similarly Jammu felt frustrated at the neglect of the local Government to its needs and resentment was building up. Sheikh Abdullah was obviously catering only to his support base in the Valley to the detriment of the outlying regions.

Karan Singh's travels in the Soviet Union reveal the warm response he had evoked by his pleasant personality, innate charm and sympathetic understanding. In Nepal too, he had frank talks with the King and his Prime Minister. The latter unreservedly shared his impressions of China that he had recently visited.

By nature Karan Singh is eminently suited for diplomatic assignments where he could clinically analyse the developments, particularly in the context of India's geopolitical interests. It was a pity that he became Ambassador rather late in life and that too for a short period.

The letters describe numerous incidents that would be of great help in analysing the political developments in Jammu & Kashmir by future historians. The appendix contains the letters of Maharaja Hari Singh to the top Indian leadership of the time, which have never been published before. Dealing with the accession to India and its aftermath, the book is of immense historical interest. The only other authentic account of those tumultuous days is in the book, Story of the Integration of the Indian States, by VP Menon.
-- The reviewer, a former IAS officer, is a Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society


Tragic partitions

Amrit Kapur

The Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts, Smita T Jassal & E Ben-Ari, Sage Publications, Rs 480

The book, based on the proceedings of the Conference on Memory and the Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts at the historical setting of Halle in July 2005, provides a fascinating dimension to our understanding of divided societies. Regions selected for the study are India-Pakistan, East-West Germany, Israel-Palestine and North-South Korea. These regions, in particular, saw worst of human tragedies in the name of partition.

The book vividly explores the implications of partition motif for resolving contemporary conflicts. It also analyses post-partition transition of societies. The backdrop, of course, is the division of India and Pakistan.

The conflict resolution based on communal pattern in India under the British rule had traumatic outcome. Partition as motif for conflict resolution has never been a workable solution, but will hover in the continuum of cause and effect.

The book is a conversation across cultures on the issue of partition and its far-reaching sociological implications for communal patterns, generational dynamics and individual lives. The authors have based their work on the partition of India under the colonial rule, creation of the Berlin Wall leading to splitting of Germany into two, division of Koreas along 36 parallel and the never-ending Israel-Palestine intransigence with focus on socio-economic and political implications.

The book explains how societies that have experienced the trauma of partition are integrated and how they deploy their understanding of the past to reconstruct their present and future. It inquires into ways in which local communities as well as wider national entities use their knowledge of the past. At the same time, the writers have succeeded in highlighting how such separations were of significance not only in the strict political sense but also in the formation of long-term processes of politico-cultural identity, memory and inspiration.

The book serves two purposes: First, development of comparative perspective, thus refuting the uniqueness of the subcontinent's experience and, second, an exploration of how partition influences social processes.

This book is a must read for the policy-makers as well as intellectuals, if not for lay readers who may find it a bit too pedantic to comprehend in totality. It also serves as a useful document on divided societies and their sense of rootlessness.

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

Postby svinayak » 30 Apr 2007 22:36

Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security
by Joel Mowbray (Author)

The indubitable Lord Acton commented in his classic, Essays on Church and State, that: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Journalist and author, Joel Mowbray, may very well agree with the prescient Lord Acton's comments if they are applied to the "corruption by authority" of a significant portion of the State Department's nomenklatura. In his first book, Dangerous Diplomacy, Mowbray begins his revelations by detailing the corrupt association between Saudi Arabia and the State Department. He prefaces his comments with a short history of the relationship between the House of Saud and the Wahhabist clerics that run the country, including the operation of Wahhabist schools that guarantee the generational perpetuation of hatred and murder. Disdaining the popular media (and Bush Administration) myth that "Islam is not a religion of hate," Mowbray opines that, "Modern-day Wahhabists hate nothing more—aside from Christians, Jews, and other infidels—than Muslims practicing non-Wahhabist Islam."

It is from the fertile seedbed of the Wahhabist sect of Sunni Muslims that the terrorist organization, al Qaeda, originated. The "oil-for-protection" relationship between the American government and Saudi Arabia dates back to 1945 (PAKISTAN!), but the Saudi's brought the State Department to heel during the 1973 oil crisis.
It was during this crisis that the Saudis clearly illustrated to the Arabists at "Foggy Bottom" that "it really is about oil." Mowbray points out that following the massacre of American citizens on Sept. 11, 2001, government investigators discovered that 15 of the al Qaeda terrorists involved in the cowardly sneak attacks came from Saudi Arabia. It was also determined that three of these terrorists had utilized a three-month-old State Department program known as Visa Express to gain access to the United States. Because of this ignominious program, designed primarily to appease the House of Saud, the State Department is responsible for permitting al Qaeda terrorists to make an abattoir out of downtown New York, the Pentagon, and a field in southwestern Pennsylvania. Incredibly, "Foggy Bottom" continued the Visa Express program for ten more months before terminating it under a great deal of public pressure generated in large measure by the author's expose. Mowbray provides abundant examples by members of the Saudi royal family as well as Saudi nationals including: funneling money to retired State Department officials ensconced in "think tanks" that "promote the Saudi agenda," the suppression of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, the enslavement of third world domestics employed by Saudi nationals living in the United States, the State Department's protection of Saudi royals who break the law in this country, and the abduction of American children by their Saudi parent. And, Saudi Arabia is not the only terrorist-infested Middle Eastern country that the State Department abides.

Syria, Libya, Iran, and the Taliban have all been accorded diplomatic forbearance even though each has funded, trained, housed, and encouraged terrorist organizations from al Quaeda to Hezbollah that have claimed responsibility for murdering thousands of American citizens over the past 20 years. I have referred to only a scintilla of the information in Dangerous Diplomacy. Mowbray's book is compelling in its review of the efficacy of Foggy Bottom's myopic vision for American diplomacy: stability at any price, and the conscious decision to avoid confrontation by "engaging" every foreign tyrant practicable. It is not encouraging to know that a department of the federal government enables fanatical 12th Century desert dwellers whose vocation is executing the meticulously planned murders of American citizens. Neither is it especially heartening to know that this same maladroit policy is applied to State's dealings with China, Brazil, North Korea, to name just a few. As any good book must, Joel Mowbray's Dangerous Diplomacy, makes the reader think. "Either as an occupational hazard, or because they joined State with these beliefs," Mowbray writes, "Foggy Bottom officials are typically infected with extreme moral relativism." Moral relativism may explain the hubris of State's managerial elite but it doesn't explain contravening the President's directives, undermining American prestige overseas, or providing potential belligerents with aid and assistance. No, these are the actions of agents acting on behest of a foreign power, or statist ideology—agents every bit as threatening as that old Comintern spy and high-ranking State Department apparatchik, Alger Hiss. Mowbray has uncovered damaging facts about the State Department that require executive action and a good purge, which is why his book, Dangerous Diplomacy, is a must read!

Most of the facts Mr. Mowbray mentions about treasonous acts committed by State Department officials are true. No doubts about that. Now, by failing to mention that the U.S. State Department has been for the last 50 years a tool of the Council on Foreign Relations, his book becomes pure and simple disinformation.
For example, his depiction of how "State Department bureaucrats" mislead Colin Powell about the need to give Scud missiles to Yemen is pure hogwash. Both the "State Department bureaucras" and Mr. Powell get their orders from the same source: the CFR.
Mowbray is a typical example of the "ritghtist" counterpart to "leftists" like Noam Chomski, whose criticism of things bad in America stops in the CIA and the Pentagon -- organizations also penetrated and controlled by the CFR.
Both these "leftist" and "rightist" critics apparently share the stochastic view of history, by which things just happen by chance. This is the view advanced by the mainstream media and hammered to the children in the government's schools.
These are the ones who have brainwashing the American people for so many years to believe that the Republican and Democratic parties are different entities, and that just by changing the faction of the Repucratic party in power things will change for the better.
But lately, more and more people are realizing, thanks maily to the information appearing in the Internet, that only the conspiratory view of history can satisfactorily explain the unexplainable -- including the September 11th events.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 01 May 2007 20:16

Pioneer, 1 May 2007

Benedict goes Bolshie

In his first book as Pope, he denounces capitalism. Nicole Winfield reports from Rome

Pope Benedict XVI offers a very personal meditation on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ in his first book as Pope in which he criticises the "cruelty" of capitalism's exploitation of the poor but also the absence of god in Marxism. In Jesus of Nazareth, which was recently released, Pope Benedict touches on themes that have begun to emerge in his two-year-old papacy: What he considers the spiritual weaknesses of modern materialistic life in which people seem to think they can do without god.

Elements of the book also point to a concern of Pope Benedict from his days as Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, when he sought to stem support for "liberation theology" - the theology of salvation as liberation from injustice that has been popular in Latin America.

Pope Benedict opens the book by stressing that his work, which he began writing in 2003 when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is an expression of his "personal search for the face of the Lord" and is by no means an official part of Roman Catholic Church doctrine. "Everyone is free, then, to contradict me," he says. But Pope Benedict, a prolific and well-known theologian well before he took charge of the papacy, then sets out to give a thorough examination of the Gospel accounts of Jesus' public ministry to arrive at the foundation of the Christian faith: That "Jesus is god".

The 448-page book has been published in German, Italian and Polish and its release marked Pope Benedict's 80th birthday. The English-language edition is set for release on May 15 and translations are planned for 16 other languages. The book is the first of two volumes.

Jesus of Nazareth covers several key points of Jesus' public life and ministry, including an entire chapter on his Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus praises the poor, the meek and the hungry in the "Beatitudes." Pope Benedict then reflects on how the sermon is relevant in today's world.

"After the experiences of totalitarian regimes, after the brutal way in which they trampled on men, mocked, enslaved and beat the weak, we understand anew those who hunger and thirst for justice," he writes, "Confronted with the abuse of economic power, with the cruelty of capitalism that degrades man into merchandise, we have begun to see more clearly the dangers of wealth and we understand in a new way what Jesus intended in warning us about wealth."

Pope Benedict continues that message in another chapter on the key Biblical parable, the Good Samaritan, and the need to love one's neighbour. In it, he decries how the wealthy have "plundered" Africa and the Third World, both materially and spiritually, through colonialism. He criticises the lifestyle of the wealthy, citing "victims of drugs, of human-trafficking, of sexual tourism, people destroyed on the inside, who are empty despite the abundance of their material goods."

Rich countries continue to do harm to the Third World by giving aid that is purely technical in nature, he says. "This aid has set apart religious, moral and social structures that existed and introduced their technical mentality in the void," he writes. In another chapter, however, Pope Benedict sharply criticises Marxism, saying it excluded god from life. "Where god is considered only a secondary greatness that you can temporarily or permanently put aside for the sake of more important things, those important things fail," he writes. "The negative outcome of the Marxist experience demonstrates that."

But despite Pope Benedict's praise of Jesus's social justice teachings, it would be wrong to conclude that he was endorsing the view of Jesus as a "social reformer" as he is often portrayed in "liberation theology," said Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna and a friend of the Pope.

Some versions of "liberation theology" are at variance with church teaching because they view Christ as a mere social liberator. The Vatican has objected to liberation theology, citing its basis in Marxist analysis of society - particularly the idea of class struggle in the promotion of social, political and economic justice for the poor.

Cardinal Schoenborn referred to Pope Benedict's tough stance on "liberation theology" during a Vatican presentation of the book, in which he said: "The innumerable fanciful images of Jesus as a revolutionary, as a moderate social reformer, as the secret lover of Mary Magdalene, etc ... can be calmly deposited in the ossuary of history."

While Jesus of Nazareth is Pope Benedict's first book as Pope, he has written dozens of books on all aspects of theology and Catholic teaching.

Last edited by ramana on 02 May 2007 20:52, edited 1 time in total.


Postby Raju » 02 May 2007 20:49


NAME OF COLUMNIST : Atul Chaturvedi
DATE : 2 Feb 2007


Indian universities before independence owed their existence to the colonial regime—except in the unique case of the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) and the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). While the official universities churned out fodder for government service, these two were typified by their creativity, offering education to those who may otherwise have been shut out, and their intense involvement in the politics of the day.

After having been discreetly shunned by scholar in recent years, both are once again making a comeback in the groves of academe. Following hard on the heels of Leah Renol’s recent study of BHU, Aligarh-based journalist Tariq Hasan has made a welcome addition to the unfortunately small number of books on the city’s university, which try to do more than just scratch the surface.

Hasan’s purpose is not to just trace the history of AMU—it is to explore the origin of the university in its 19th century milieu, how it was shaped by the vision of its acknowledged founder, the Muslim educationist, jurist and writer Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan; the origins of that particular vision; its impact, the battle of ideas which raged—and continues apace even today, when the great institution has been brought to its knees by the very people who are expected to defend it against all comers.

What exactly, was the Aligarh Movement? It roots lie in the fall of the Mughals and the failure of the revolt of 1857, and the consequent decline of Muslims from positions of power to a situation where they had to rely on the new Imperial dispensation for succor. The lesson that Sir Sayyid and his sympathizers learnt was two-fold: in modern education lay salvation, and they had to ally themselves to the British. The result was a remarkable series of educational initiatives culminating in the Muslim Anglo Oriental College in 1877.

Under the leadership of Mohamad Ali, those who chose non-cooperation with the British broke away to form the Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. This was a modernist institution, with links to both the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress. Hasan chronicles the division that set in between those who gravitated towards the League’s separate nation, and those who linked their Islamic heritage to an Indian national identity. These pages make for compulsive reading, largely because much of the information is unfortunately not widely-known. After 1947, a series of crises ensured the crippling of AMU. Hasan unflinchingly records the decline of AMU into parochial insularity, and lays the blame squarely on a timid, dormant, and uncreative leadership, which acquiesced in AMU slipping into the hands of power brokers.
Tariq Hasan has written an exceptional book on the Aligarh Moveemnt and its legacy. The details of the twists and turns of the Aligarh story that he gives us comes as a surprise to many (including this reviewer), for whom Aligarh is simply a synonym for Muslim separatism before independence, and Muslim exclusiveness after it. Hasan’s lament for the current situation of exceptional intellectual decrepitude and slovenly leadership provides an edge to a simple postulate: To try and save the Aligarh experiment in Muslim modernism from the revanchists and time pushers, and put it firmly back on the path of modernism, is a worthy cause. Any takers?

Partition Revisited

DATE : 26 January 2007

It is not dry history. It recalls men of flesh and blood, full of human frailties, enacting a Greek tragedy of immeasurable magnitude. The book really needs to be read widely.
Rajinder Puri

Several books have been written on the 1947 Partition of British India. Historians are still grappling with its causes. Shashi Joshi’s new book deals with the subject differently. It is set apart from other books on two counts. First, it is based exclusively on the private papers of Lord Mountbatten, which have not so far been accessed in their entirety by other historians. Secondly, the book is written not as conventional history but as drama: the dialogue among

by Shashi Joshi

various participants presents in fact statements and events recorded in the Mountbatten archive. In fictionalizing the settings in which the conversations occur, the author has not deviated from the archival record.

This makes the book fascinating for both, the young seeking information about that momentous event, and for serious historians still searching for the truth behind it. The dramatized form makes it easy reading which leaves its indelible mark on memory. For serious historians the book contains a wealth of information. Its slender look is deceptive: the 190 odd pages are packed with recorded statements as dialogue . The statements sometimes offer clues to what was left unsaid. Lord Mountbatten was of course the central figure of the Partition. The Last Durbar, then, is based on his record of words and views, which obviously cannot be considered all inclusive. There is little doubt that the archive records faithfully the statements made, and that it reflects therefore the truth. But it cannot be considered the whole truth. We know what many of the actors in that drama said. We must fathom what they thought. And that perhaps holds true most of all for Lord Mountbatten himself.

Lord Mountbatten’s appointment itself as India’s last Viceroy was something of a mystery. British Prime Minister Attlee was advised by the King to appoint him. It should be recalled that British Intelligence, MI5 and MI6, are accountable ultimately to the Sovereign, and not the PM. British Central Intelligence had advised the British Secretary of State, as early as 1939, to partition India. The script of the Partition, then, may well have been written elsewhere. Mountbatten read his lines with great panache. Perhaps this is what renowned British journalist James Cameron was hinting at in a BBC programme on India:

"Mountbatten did an extraordinary job of political manipulation without knowing anything about politics. Very, very interesting. He had this strange intuition that he got the information and somehow or other he computerized it and came up with the right answer. But I don’t think he could have ever told you how he came to that conclusion. Very, very, very interesting."

Mountbatten describing his appointment to an interviewer long after his departure from India said that he had long wanted "to be Viceroy. Always had. I spoke about it once or twice to my wife and then it happened." Lady Mountbatten was the grand-daughter of Sir Ernest Cassels, personal banker of King Edward the Seventh. Sir Ernest was an extremely powerful and influential figure behind the scenes.
The popular belief is that Mountbatten guided Nehru. But from remarks in the book it would seem that he himself often took key decisions only after clearance from Nehru. The political aspect of their relationship appeared to be therefore of two equal officers serving the same establishment—not necessarily a relationship of mentor and disciple. One might recall in this context Lord Wavell’s complaint to an aide during his tenure as Viceroy, that often Nehru got information from Whitehall before he himself did.

The implications of this are chilling. Wavell must have known what was going on. Was that what Lady Wavell meant when she is quoted in the book telling her husband on the eve of their departure: "Stop worrying about India now. You heard what Churchill said—‘This is Operation Scuttle’."

Jinnah of course had a distinctly uneasy relationship with Mountbatten. But he had secret interaction with Churchill through letters written to a lady who passed them on to Churchill. There has been no satisfactory explanation up to now about this curious mode of communication, or of what was being communicated. Not surprisingly, Mountbatten turned to Churchill for help to make Jinnah accept dominion status in the Commonwealth. In London , an ailing Churchill told Mountbatten: "Give a message from me—tell him: This is a matter of life and death for Pakistan if you do not accept this offer with both hands." Pakistan, of course, did join the Commonwealth as a dominion. Should it surprise us then that a pork-eating, whiskey drinking brown Englishman, Jinnah, represented the Muslims, and that a Harrow and Cambridge educated brown Englishman, Nehru, spoke for the Hindus? It was not required of the Brits to give them orders. Generally, gentle advice in "the old boy network" sufficed. They were suitably ‘programmed’.

The crucial component that made Partition inevitable was of course the bloody riots. When sworn in as Viceroy, on 24 March 1947, Mountbatten declared that the British would quit India by June 1948. He accomplished it actually within five months of taking his oath. The riots facilitated it. When Mountbatten arrived, a great deal of tension existed, created by Congress-Muslim League acrimony. On arrival Mountbatten asked Nehru what was the most pressing problem. Nehru mentioned the economic situation. Mountbatten demurred. "Isn’t the problem of communalism more serious . . . the situation in Punjab cannot wait—the deadlock between the three communities is increasingly grave." Grave, yes, but there were no riots to speak of in March-April, when this conversation took place, were there? The riots flared with Mountbatten’s arrival. Much later, Sardar Patel told Mountbatten: "Since you have come out here, things have got much worse. There is a civil war on and you are doing nothing to stop it. You won’t govern yourself, and you won’t let the central government govern. . . . If you will not act yourself, then turn over full authority to the central government." Indeed, observers have commented on Mountbatten’s inexplicably maladroit deployment of troops, given his military experience: the maladroit deployment of troops facilitated riots. Describing the riots to British officials John Christie and Penderel Moon, Patel’s confidant VP Menon complained: "Not a shot (by the police) was fired, Christie. I have even heard that several British officers, who were appealed to for help by panic-stricken Hindus, told them to seek protection from Gandhi, Nehru and Patel."

One may go on and on and on. The book really needs to be read widely. It offers, on page after page, a rude reminder of the sheer absurdity of Partition. The Congress partitioned the assemblies of Bengal and Punjab even before the Partition of India had been fully decided. Sovereign India and Pakistan were created even before their boundaries had been determined. The farcical handling of Kashmir, Junagadh, Hyderabad and other princely states comes out vividly.

After the Kashmir ceasefire Sheikh Abdullah told Mountbatten: "I have been thinking Lord Mountbatten about the suggestion you made to me when I had dinner with you in October, that Kashmir should stand independent but have close relations with both India and Pakistan. Do you still think independence is feasible?"

Mountbatten: "I am afraid true independence is not feasible. But I am trying to expand the Joint Defence Council and through it Kashmir can be dealt with as a state acceding to both dominions rather than to only one." (Are you listening Dr Manmohan Singh and President Musharraf? After 60 years perhaps the time for that to happen has come?)

In effect, the record of all the statements leaves three lasting impressions.

First, about how effectively Mountbatten manipulated all the Indian leaders. After planting an idea in a leader’s mind, Mountbatten would advise him not to mention that they had met.

Secondly, the almost servile deference with which the Indian leaders dealt with him. Even Gandhi sought Mountbatten’s advice about whether he should go to Punjab or Noakhali to defuse communal tension. Mountbatten refused to proffer advice. Years later, in a post-retirement interview, Mountbatten had said: "Krishna Menon and VP Menon were my . . . spies is the wrong word; they were my contacts, my links." Perhaps the word he searched for was "agents". The conversations of the two with Nehru and Patel in this book tend to vindicate this. Incidentally, Nehru and Krishna Menon were the only two to address Mountbatten in private as Dickie.

And thirdly, the conversations of the Congress leaders repeatedly make clear that they were fully aware of reneging on their assurances to the Indian public. In other words, that they were perpetrating a conscious betrayal.
One fervently hopes this book is prescribed in every university of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is not dry history. It recalls men of flesh and blood, full of human frailties, enacting a Greek tragedy of immeasurable magnitude. Young people should know what we were and what we have become. How close we were and how far apart we have drifted. Hopefully, they might then reflect on what went wrong, and what must be done to set it right

JE Menon
Forum Moderator
Posts: 7052
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby JE Menon » 02 May 2007 22:28

>>It is not dry history. It recalls men of flesh and blood, full of human frailties, enacting a Greek tragedy of immeasurable magnitude.

Indian tragedies not dramatic enough for Mr. Puri?

>>Young people should know what we were and what we have become.


>>How close we were and how far apart we have drifted. Hopefully, they might then reflect on what went wrong, and what must be done to set it right

What is he talking about? Another wank about how we should have stayed united at all costs?

The review above is bordering on the ridiculous: check this out:

"The script of the Partition, then, may well have been written elsewhere. Mountbatten read his lines with great panache. Perhaps this is what renowned British journalist James Cameron was hinting at in a BBC programme on India:

And we're still re-examining what some old cross-dresser like Mountbatten did and said, while Nehru laid his wife - something which definitely helped lubricate the path towards the Instrument of Accession - wonder whether the brits are re-examining that though...

The review suggests, if it is accurate in its portrayal of the book, that what we have is another traitor-hunt - someone to blame, someone who betrayed, someone who did not have 20-20 foresight, someone who did not do quite what the author wanted...

Whether we like it or not, these are the men who got us the India that we got in 1947 and they certainly helped shape what we are today. Net result, I think, is cause for celebration not for picking at dried scabs.

A good question to ask, however, would be what would anyone else have done in their place...

More later if I feel like it...

BRF Oldie
Posts: 6916
Joined: 08 Aug 2006 18:43

Postby shyamd » 04 May 2007 20:13

[url=]The longest jihad
India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad by Praveen Swami[/url]

Reviewed by Sreeram Chaulia

Non-specialist writings on modern jihad as a form of organized political violence usually commence with the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the 1980s. However, decades before those two events, a secret jihad in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) had been kick-started by Pakistan that rages on to this day. For sheer longevity, it is second to none in the contemporary annals of Islamism.

In India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad, a revisionist history based on classified Indian intelligence data, Praveen Swami, senior journalist of Frontline magazine, highlights the ignored narrative thread of covert warfare in J&K. The author's counterintuitive proposition is that the sub-conventional war in J&K after 1989 was not the first but the fifth phase of a jihad of attrition that began as soon as Pakistan was created in 1947.

Phase 1: The informal war
At the dawn of independence, despite its ostensible military superiority, India's intelligence apparatus was in ruins. Qurban Ali, the senior-most officer, chose Pakistani citizenship and transferred every file of importance to his new home. In 1948, Gul Hasan Khan, the commander-in-chief of the Pakistani armed forces, candidly admitted that an "elder statesman" of his country arranged covert supplies of weapons to Islamist gangs battling the accession of Hyderabad to India.

In 1951, the first major low-grade terrorist initiative by Pakistan was calibrated destruction of telephone lines, bridges and guesthouses in J&K. The goal was to disrupt elections to the Constituent Assembly that was steering the state toward full-scale integration into India.

In the late 1950s, Pakistan's police intelligence trained covert operatives in guerrilla combat skills under the banner of "Mujahid Force". There were striking resemblances between the fundamentalist Islamist beliefs of these pioneers and those of a successor generation of jihadis. Besides sabotage, the early brigades bombed temples and mosques in 1957 to incite Hindu-Muslim violence in J&K.

Success was hard to come by and the Pakistan Intelligence Bureau's essentialist myths of Indian "submission and servility" were mercilessly exposed. Indian authorities charged a popular Kashmiri politician, Sheikh Abdullah, with colluding with the covert Pakistani agenda in 1958, but the evidence was inconclusive in what was known as the "Kashmir Conspiracy Case".

Phase 2: The master cell
India's humiliating defeat by China in 1962 opened the door of opportunity for a new round of clandestine war. Several in Pakistan's policy establishment were convinced that conditions in J&K were ripe for a mass uprising against India. Orders went out to "intensify the firecracker type of activity that was already current" and to "arm the locals against the Indian army of occupation" (p 55).

A central organization named "Master Cell" was set up in Srinagar to supervise several subsidiary groups assigned to conduct strikes and demonstrations in colleges, issue incendiary posters, train cadres in the use of weapons, and guide Pakistani irregular forces to government depots during the 1965 war with India.

In the event of Pakistan's defeat in the war, these cells were to facilitate the work of "stay-back agents" who would remain in J&K to carry out missions. One key cell member, Fazl-ul Haq Qureshi, stated that his group was "a nodal agency for freedom fighters who had come from Pakistan" (p 65).

Although India and Pakistan signed a ceasefire in September 1965, the undercover war went on. A terror campaign of lobbing grenades in commercial hubs and burning prominent buildings in Srinagar was kept up. Assassination threats were issued to pro-India politicians and rumors were spread about the presence an "execution list".

To whip up public emotions, religious propaganda continued apace in important shrines and mosques, and repeated allegations were made that the police harassed members of Muslim congregations. Swami notes that "the Master Cell was mired in communal politics and a right-wing vision of Islam" (p 71). Police raids eventually broke the cell up, and many of its members went on to reconcile with India, joining the government in high-ranking posts.

Phase 3: Al-Fatah
In the late 1960s, Pakistan's covert agencies turned to Algeria and Palestine for inspiration. The growing interest of Pakistan's officer corps in doctrines of non-conventional war led a new bunch of jihadis to derive tactical inspiration from left-wing anti-imperialist struggles. Swami comments that "the means of praxis of left [wing] insurgencies were dyed with the deep-green color of Islam" in a new outfit, al-Fatah (p 87).

In 1969, its recruits received clear instructions during a visit to Pakistan to launch intense attacks on government offices, banks and treasuries in J&K. Records indicate that al-Fatah succeeded
in gathering 20 discrete sets of intelligence, including restricted Indian army documents, and passed them on to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.

A daring heist opened the trail of the organization to Indian police, and it was shut down in 1971 well before much damage could be caused. In 1975, the bulk of its cadres went "mainstream" to endorse the agreement between Sheikh Abdullah and Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi on limited autonomy for J&K.

Phase 4: The war of many fronts
The creation of Bangladesh clogged the military pipeline of the secret jihad because Pakistan was racked by internal turmoil. Only in the early 1980s did the contours of a map for reviving the jihad become apparent.

This coincided with the elevation of Islam in Pakistan's military strategy and fresh confidence that "it could do to India what it had done to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan" (p 145). The assuring factor for Islamabad was that it energetically pursued a nuclear-weapons program as a "shield behind which the jihad could be pursued without inviting Indian retaliation" (p 141).

While J&K was still quiescent, Pakistan opened a new front by abetting terrorism in Indian Punjab. Swami furnishes considerable evidence of the direct involvement of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence in training and sheltering leaders of the Khalistan movement. The decision to arm and infiltrate massive numbers of mujahideen to fight in J&K was made "because of the success of Pakistan's low-cost, low-risk, high-return investment in Punjab" (p 153).

In 1987, the superficially secular Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and the chauvinist Jamaat-e-Islami received wholehearted authorization from Pakistan for a joint offensive in J&K. The dividing lines between Kashmiri nationalism and religious fundamentalism were, as always, exceedingly thin. Independence and Islam were interchangeable slogans in the minds of Pakistani planners. The gruesome killings, deportations and moral policing that ensued in J&K were "the outcome of the organic ideology of jihad, not the aberrant actions of marginal groups" (p 168).

Phase 5: The nuclear jihad
By 1992-93, Pakistan had thrown its weight behind the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and decimated the JKLF. To manage the covert war more thoroughly, from 1994 Islamabad pumped in more of its own nationals and those from the Middle East into J&K. Newer Pakistani terror groups saw Kashmir as "one battlefield in a larger war between Islam and kufr", or unbelief (p 180).

The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, for instance, called upon its cadres to "capture Hindu temples, destroy the idols and then hoist the flag of Islam on them" (p 181). Such ideological venom was not a discontinuity but a natural advancement built on the views of jihadis of previous decades.

As India once again began to wear the jihad down, Pakistan planned the Kargil invasion to revitalize it in 1999. Even when this move boomeranged because of US fears of nuclear escalation, jihadis mounted serious pressure on India through a wave of terrorist attacks on civilians. Delhi faced "better armed and trained terrorist cadre than prior to the Kargil war, and in greater numbers" (p 193). The scale, frequency and geographical dispersion of fedayeen (daredevil but non-suicidal) attacks rose steadily, with regular bomb explosions in Indian cities, and jihadis vowed that "all of India's states will become Kashmir" (p 199).

As the set pattern would predict, by 2005, another ebb tide set in for the jihad, which lost its bite because of centrifugal tendencies. Violence in Kashmir reached its lowest levels since the late 1980s and infiltration across the Line of Control fell. Swami speculates that US pressure on President General Pervez Musharraf's regime and realization in Islamabad that the proxy war was bleeding Pakistan's economy may explain the lull. What is certain, though, is that jihadis' capabilities are untrammeled even if their intentions have been somewhat "worked on by Pakistan's covert services" (p 216).

The unmistakable lesson from Swami's account is that peace in Kashmir is chimerical unless the jihad is permanently interred. Too often in the past, it would lie low for a few years and then resurrect with greater firepower and viciousness. The late Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's promise of waging a "thousand-year war on India", if unbroken, forecasts Phases 6, 7, 8 and so on of this longest jihad, well into the future.

India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad: The Covert War in Kashmir, 1947-2004 by Praveen Swami. Routledge, New York, 2007. ISBN: 9780415404594. Price: US$96, 258 pages.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 04 May 2007 22:40

Book Review:

The Telegraph, Kolkota, 4 May 2007

The Penguin 1857 Reader

Old story in a new light


Casting a fresh look
The Penguin 1857 reader Edited by Pramod K. Nayar, Rs 295

The year, 1857, proved to be a milestone in the history of both Britain and India. In May, the Bengal army turned against its colonial masters. In the subsequent violence, some parts of the subcontinent became liberated from British rule for a period of time. Only in January 1859, after a gruelling campaign, did the British forces succeed in re-establishing their authority over Hindustan. This year, scholars and publishing houses in Britain as well as in India are commemorating this episode by organizing seminars and by publishing books. The Penguin 1857 Reader is one such publication that has come out in recent times.

Edited by Pramod K. Nayar, this book brings together short excerpts from articles published in newspapers, magazines as well as excerpts from books that were printed in the aftermath of the event. Cynics might argue that the sahibs authored many of these articles. However, it needs to be pointed out that scholars working on the revolt have no choice but to depend on British sources. Most of the writing on the Mutiny had been done by the British and for a predominantly British audience. This is primarily because the ‘rebels’ were largely illiterate. Further, the Indian aristocrats, unlike the British elite, were not in the habit of maintaining private papers which could be passed from one generation to another. The Indian gentry were afraid of retaining documents which might incriminate them in the eyes of the colonial State. The rebel governments in Lucknow and in Delhi generated some documents in Urdu. But most of these have not been translated yet.

Nayar has divided his selection into three categories: causes, experiences and the European response. Contrary to the established belief that all European writers were critical of the mutineers and justified the brutal reprisal on the part of the British, Nayar’s book shows that American, British and other European writers differed in their responses to the uprising. On September 17, 1857, the French newspaper, Le Siecle, criticized the “barbaricâ€

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 04 May 2007 22:54

Book Review, Pioneer, 4 may 2007
Theocons and theocrats

According to Phillips, the United States faces three major perils in the 21st century: Reckless dependence on shrinking oil supplies, reliance on borrowed money and religion getting increasingly radicalised. Americans are slowly moving towards Christian theocracy, writes MV Kamath

American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips, Viking, $26.95

It is fashionable among intellectuals, mostly Hindus, to damn Hindus and Hinduism, the religion of their forefathers, in no uncertain terms. One cannot speak of Hindutva without being called a fascist, communalist and fundamentalist, in stinging terms. The White man - forget the Islamic countries which are beyond the pale of criticism - is secular, free of religious extremism and, therefore, commanding instant respect. The only despicable people for our secularists are Hindus, unless they openly swear by secularism and bid goodbye to their past.

But now we are told that Americans are no better, and that not only are they "recklessly dependent" on a milieu of "radicalised religion" and "religious fundamentalism" but "the rapture, end-times and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shia ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in US history".

Worse, Phillips writes that his book sums up "a potent change... in the country's domestic and foreign policy-making" and "religion's new political prowess and its role in the projection of military power in the Middle Eastern Bible lands".

According to Phillips, the US's pre-occupation with West Asia has two dimensions, in addition to oil and terrorism. He says "The White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the holy lands are already a battleground of Christian destiny". In what way, then, are Christian fundamentalists of the US different from Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and other similar Islamic fundamentalist - and terrorist - outfits?

Phillips asserts that the Bush legacy has "added close ties to evangelical and fundamentalist power brokers of many persuasions". Further, he adds, "For the first time in our history, ideology holds a monopoly of power in Washington."

As Phillips sees it there are three major "perils" to the Union States in the 21st century: Reckless dependence on shrinking oil supplies, a reliance on borrowed money and a milieu of radicalised (and such too influential) religion. How does it meet these three 'perils'?

To meet oil needs, efforts are made to seize militarily portions of West Asia expected by 2020 to have two-thirds of the world's remaining oil reserves. By 1950 Americans were consuming more than one-third of the world's energy output and nearly half of its oil. Now, world oil production is expected to peak in only two or three decades. So Ford and General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) are going in not into enhanced production of cars, but in loan services. Says Phillips, "Without that financial backstop, the two firms might have become historical artefacts by the end of the 20th century"

As for radicalised religion, Phillips says that it is as "American as apple pie". According to him, religious extremism has now become common in the US. He notes, "In its recent practice, the radical side of US religion has embraced cultural anti-modernism, war-hawkishness, Armageddon prophecy and, in the case of conservative fundamentalists, a demand for Governments by literal Biblical interpretation."

Indeed, Phillips adds: "Evangelical fundamentalist and Pentecostal demonstration began the new millennium verging on the juggernaut status." It is not that secularism is disappearing in the US. The author says that a "large and growing secular culture" is to be seen and that among northern university graduates and cultural elites, it is dominant. But he also adds, quoting from David Domke's God Willing (2001) that the "Bush Administration's worldview is one grounded in religious fundamentalism - that is, it emphasises absolutes, authority and tradition and a divine hand in history and upon the United States".

Still later he writes, "Since 1980 religious Americans of all faiths - fundamentalist Protestants, observant Catholics, even orthodox Jews - have been moving towards the Republican Party. This is something new in American politics. We have never had a religious party in this country." Now, apparently, it has. To cite examples, the author says that between 1977 and Ronald reagan's first year in office, half-a-dozen national organisations linked to religious conservatives emerged - the National Federation of Decency (1977), evangelist Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority (1979), the Religious Roundtable (1979), the Christian Voice (1979), The National Affairs Briefing (1980), the Council on Revival (1980) and the Council for National Policy (1981). By 2004, Some 43 to 46 per cent of Americans described themselves as born-again in Christian faith. But everything is being kept secret. As Phillips puts it, "The Christian Right usually does not like to acknowledge what it is doing or where."

The point is to minimise public attention to its influence and back-stage power (at least the RSS or the Bajrang Dal does not resort to such tactics). No less than Bill Moyers has been quoted as saying: "One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come from the fringe to sit down in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington."

The essential political preconditions fell into place in the late 1980s and 1990s with the emergence of the Republican Party as a powerful vehicle for religiosity and church influence, while State Republican parties, most conspicuously in the south and south-west, endorsed so-called Christian nation platforms.

To read this book is to get a fresh idea of what politics and religion in the United States are all about. America today is a vastly changed nation. Phillips calls the new development as "American Theocracy".

The crusade against Islam is a fact of life. According to national public poll, evangelicals and their leaders far exceed other Americans in their disapproval of Islam. Which may explain the cruelty imposed in Iraq. Antagonism to Islam is fast replacing hatred for the Soviet Union. Today, the enemy is Islam. But India must take precaution. Who knows it could be the next in line for attacks from American fundamentalists.

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

Postby svinayak » 05 May 2007 03:57

Planet India
How the Fastest Growing Democracy is
Transforming America and the World
Author: Mira Kamdar
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date of Publication: February 2007
ISBN: 0743296850
No. of Pages: 336


About The Author:
Mira Kamdar is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute and an Associate Fellow of
the Asia Society. She has written for such publications as the International Herald
Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. She also provides expert
commentary on India for CNN, the BBC, and NPR.
General Overview:
India is the world’s largest democracy, with 1.2 billion people. Millions live in poverty,
but the middle and upper classes are growing and Indian companies are at the top of their
industries, including in biotechnology, services, and manufacturing. With its large
population and rapid economic growth, India faces the challenges of global warming,
pandemic disease, terrorism, the energy crisis, and a disparity between rich and poor head
on and with much more urgency than people in the industrialized world.
The urgency of these challenges for India is spurring innovative solutions, which will
catapult it to the top of the new world order. Kamdar asserts that if India succeeds, it will
not only save itself, it will save us all. If it fails, we will all suffer. “As goes India, so
goes the world.â€

ashish raval
Posts: 1390
Joined: 10 Aug 2006 00:49
Location: London

Postby ashish raval » 05 May 2007 04:11

What i really dont understand is how people are excessively bullish about India, which infact has not produced a single brand which we can be proud of except poverty and Tajmahal. Moreover we are disasterous in infrastructure, road, social security almost every sector. IT is our only commendable area. I still dont see many india based scientists in international journals like nature, new scientist. etc.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 05 May 2007 04:35

ashish, please ask your question in a relevant thread and do not de-rail this thread. Thanks, ramana

ashish raval
Posts: 1390
Joined: 10 Aug 2006 00:49
Location: London

Postby ashish raval » 05 May 2007 05:02

Hi ramana,
I just got carried away by the article. Thanks for it.

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

Postby svinayak » 06 May 2007 09:51

Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century.
Codevilla, Angelo.

New York: The Free Press, 1992. 491 pages.

# Hardcover: 350 pages
# Publisher: Free Pr (March 1992)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0029119154
# ISBN-13: 978-0029119150

Angelo Codevilla, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, presents the conservative argument for major reform of the U.S. intelligence community. It's not because he has ethical objections to spying or covert action -- on the contrary, Codevilla is an admirer of Machiavelli. It's just that the taxpayers are not getting much more than incompetence and a self-serving bureaucracy for their $31 billion per year. To put it indelicately, U.S. intelligence is a boondoggle.

Over half of this budget figure is for expensive snooper satellites, many of which are focused so narrowly that they produce little that's useful. The rest is a combination of military and the CIA (the CIA gets $3.5 billion), and includes both technical and human intelligence. Counter- intelligence, mainly through the FBI, ends up with very little. To the extent that the CIA pretends to do counterintelligence at all, Codevilla feels that they're doing it all wrong. Moreover, the CIA's officers stationed in U.S. embassies throughout the world are useless, and the CIA should be stripped down to a clearinghouse. Unfortunately for his detractors, Codevilla is not just another professor with a new book: as a senior staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee from 1977 to 1985, he learned where all the billions are buried.
ISBN 0-02-911915-4

The fruit of many years' experience of intelligence service, this is a masterful exploration of the field, its critical role in statecraft and the principles underlying its use and misuse. Codevilla, senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, argues that the American apparatus for collecting information, countering hostile intelligence, analyzing information and conducting covert operations developed in a random fashion without reference to underlying precepts. He contends that with notable exceptions U.S. intelligence has "usually failed," and he expresses astonishment at how unreflective those in charge of policy have been. In this closely reasoned, authoritative study, Codevilla conveys skepticism about the usefulness of spies, the efficacy of the CIA and the value of secret operations: "American covert action has made little difference in the world."
Compared to some of the recent books on U.S. intelligence and the CIA--e.g., David Wise's Molehunt ( LJ 2/15/92)--this at times dense study lacks some of the flair, drama, and cloak-and-dagger elements that we might expect. It is an exceptionally well-informed introduction to the nitty-gritty of intelligence--collection, counterintelligence, covert action, analysis--filled to the brim with examples, lessons, and instruction. Codevilla is not sparing on the mistakes and foolishness of U.S. intelligence errors, but do not look for expose "now it can be told" stories and gossip. He is shrewdly aware that intelligence serves statecraft (or what might pass for it), and citizens must look to the character of basic policy, not the spooks, for the basic drives--especially in the "new world order" that lies ahead.

Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century is relentlessly critical of the blundering past performance of various administrations, e.g., "Note well that liberals in America, when in charge of government at any level, of university faculties, or of CIA directorates, take care to hire and award contracts to likeminded folk and to exclude others." P 231.

And, yes the aphorisms are authentic, fascinating, and call for radical reformation e.g., "Sound knowledge of a disorderly world, rather than faith in a trouble free, post-end-of-history `new world order,' will best fit nations to thrive in the twenty-first century." P 72. "There is never enough intelligence to guarantee instant success at no cost and never enough to overcome entrenched prejudice." P 213. "It is more important to define what any particular job, e.g., espionage, is to accomplish, how it is to be accomplished, and to hire the right kinds of people to do it, than it is to decide for which bureaucracy these people will work." P 293.

But the roots of this work lie deep in lessons that humankind desperately needs to understand now at the beginning of the new millennium: the mystery of foreign lands and the mystery of the language, culture, and people integral to them.
o Despite superficial signs of a uniform world culture (cassette recorders, jeans, soda pop, burgers, rock groups), Africans are becoming more African, Asians more Asian, Russians more Russian, etc. The often astonishingly good English spoken by young people from Moscow to Mecca - never mind the Indian subcontinent, where it is the lingua franca - has led many U.S. analysts to the disastrous conclusion that foreigners can be understood in terms of what they say in English. On the contrary, their English words are our symbols, to which they do not necessarily attach the same meaning or convictions we attach. P 239.
o The characteristics of the person sent to gather information often make the difference between information that is useful and information that is worse than useless. P 301.
o The network is most important. Closed terrorist cells in the Middle East are part of the semiopen entourages of terrorist chieftains who are part of overt Palestinian politics in which Arab governments take major parts. P 311.
o Among the most effective forms of propaganda is the propaganda of the deed-the sight of a corpse, and the feeling that one may be next. Nothing so cements a movement for the long run as martyrs, nor changes a government so definitively as killing its members or supporters. P 375.

After my first reading of Informing Statecraft, I read it at random, and find that no matter where I pick up the thread, it produces a comprehensively researched and unrivaled account of the intelligence industry. As always, Codevilla navigates the shoals of this information with great skill and dexterity.

"It is not too gross an exaggeration that when considering any given threat, DIA will overestimate, CIA will underestimate, and INR will blame the U.S. for it." From his opening chapter and his distinction between static, dynamic, and technical facts, on through a brilliant summary of the post-war spy on page 103 and lengthy sections on how we've gotten it wrong, how we can get it right, and what is needed in the way of reform, I found this book worthy of study. An analyst and political staffer by nature, the strength of this book rests on the premise in the title: that intelligence should be about informing policy, not about collecting secrets for secrets' sake.
The best book on intelliegnce out there, a beautiful sythesis of general principles and historical examples. In particular, Codevilla has grasped James Jesus Angleton's seemingly simple insight -- that our enemies, as thinking, breathing human beings, may actually go out of their way to feed us false intelligence, so that we will believe things that aren't true -- which has been totally lost to CIA for almost 30 years. Instead, it has been replaced with a naive faith that CIA is simply too smart and professional to be fooled.
Codevilla, from years as a Senate intelligence staffer, knows otherwise, and he chronicles one blunder after another. The lesson: since few if any of Codevilla's proposals were implemented, when CIA says something does or doesn't exist, you should be very, very skeptical. CIA has secret intelligence right? They know things we don't, right? Wrong.

Page 103

Kautilya's principle is the basis of common sense of espionage everywhere.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 07 May 2007 19:58

Book review: The West and Islam

Fair warning its by Norrani.

The West & Islam


Until the Crusades, there was considerable intellectual and cultural exchange between Islam and Christianity.

THE Crusades were one of the formative episodes in world history and a defining moment in the relations between the Christian and Muslim worlds. They were never the same again thereafter. Two facts are often overlooked. Europe's antipathy towards Islam and its Prophet, Muhammad, long preceded the Crusades. Earlier, there was considerable intellectual and cultural exchange between the two civilisations. It continued in significant respects thereafter but the Crusades left deep scars, aggravating the antipathy of old.

Books on the Crusades can make a large library. Steven Runciman's three-volume A History of the Crusades, published half a century ago, dominated the field. Christopher Tyerman of Oxford has written a tome that can justly claim companionship with it. It draws on the most recent scholarship and offers fresh insights, demolishing myths galore. It has a certain political relevance now that the United States is trying to mould West Asia into a region of pliable satellites. From 1096 to 1500, European Christians fought to recreate the region and failed. It began in 1095 as a call for the reconquest of Jerusalem. Francis Bacon described it as a "rendezvous of cracked brains that wore their feather in their head instead of their hat".

In the author's view: "The crusade did not disappear from European culture because it was discredited but because the religious and social value systems that had sustained it were abandoned. Pragmatically, as a way of managing international relations it no longer suited the politics, diplomacy and war of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Fundamentally, the western Christian church lost its attempt to control civil society. Christianity thrived; Christendom was dead. With it died one of its most distinctive features, the crusade." Imperialism replaced religious crusade. We now witness crusades of a different kind.

Oleg Grabar, Professor Emeritus of Islamic Art and Architecture at Princeton, first went to the Dome of the Rock, a masterpiece of world architecture, in 1953 and continued to write on it for five decades. In this excellently illustrated and erudite book, he places art in its historical and religious context, emphasising the inscription on the monument rather than the biased opinions of the chronicles; he makes the building itself speak in the several successive dialects it employed - construction, decoration, architectural or urban setting.


The Dome of the Rock mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Dome of the Rock is a beautiful Muslim shrine in the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It consists of two sections imbricated into each other. The first is a tall cylinder (20 metres in diameter and 25 m in hight) set over a large natural rocky outcrop, topped nowadays by a gilded dome made of aluminium alloy. The second is an octagonal ring (about 48 m in diameter) of two ambulatories on piers and columns around the central rock. The building is lavishly decorated both inside and outside.

The interior displays artfully composed panels of veined marble, an astounding variety of mosaic compositions (primarily Arabic writing and vegetal motifs), gilt wooden beams, and a ceiling of leather embossed with ornament. On the exterior are additional marble panels and a spectacular array of faience tiles with writing as well as vegetal or geometric ornament.

The rocky outcrop under the Dome is usually abbreviated as the Rock, the vast surrounding space as the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). Muslims regard it as the Qibla-e-Awwal, (the first kaaba) before they turned to the Kaaba at Mecca for prayer.

"The Dome of the Rock belongs to a unique series of monuments in the history of art that includes the Pantheon in Rome, the Alhambra in Granada, the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and the Taj Mahal. All of these monuments survived conquests and major changes in the surrounding culture and yet continued to flourish with their new associations. But this aesthetic judgement is not sufficient to explain the wealth of associations that accrued to the Dome of the Rock over twelve centuries of Islamic rule. A further reason can be found in the rich texture of Islamic culture during these centuries."

Jerusalem is truly unique as a city invested with sanctity in the eyes of Jewish, Christian and Muslim worshippers alike. Young historian Zachary Karabell's recall of the period of cooperation and coexistence between the faiths is timely.

Spain expelled Jews after the defeat of the Muslim Kingdom of Granada. They were shunned in Europe but were accepted by the Ottomans and flourished in Turkey, "a warm embrace that contrasted sharply with what they had left behind". The narrative begins with the birth of Islam and ends with the American occupation of Iraq. It tends to be sweeping and the comments also are superficial at places. The author's aim is to teach. It is history with a noble purpose, but a purpose, nonetheless.

The last chapter "Is Dubai the Future?" testifies to the superficiality. "Muslims, Christians, and Jews have been so enmeshed in a framework of conflict and so determined to view not only history but the present through that lens that they risk missing the next wave of history. Many parts of the world that are emerging in the twenty-first century have not been party to that history, and are neither interested in nor constrained by it, China most of all. ... Peace is woven into our collective past; it is there to be seen in our messy present; and it will be there in our shared future." He notes the wound the creation of Israel inflicted, yet underestimates its consequences and those of Western policies since then to this day. Another historian Richard Fletcher's chronicle is confined to the earliest encounters between Christians and Muslims. He largely confines his conclusions to the Epilogue.

"Christians first encountered Muslims as conquerors: it is readily intelligible that they should have perceived Islam as inherently martial. Given the intellectual and religious climate of the age, the only manner in which Christians could explain Islam in a fashion convincing to themselves was an ... aberrant form of Christianity... Seen from Baghdad in, say, the year 900, the Christian world was a jumble of confused sects and petty monarchies squirming about in an unappealing environment. The Islamic community had no rival in its wealth, its technology, its learning and its culture as well as in its faith. A lofty disdain was the only intelligible attitude for Muslims to adopt towards Christians... Attitudes laid down like rocks long ago continue to shape their moral environment for many centuries thereafter."

But Europe changed. The Muslim world stagnated. Muslim aloofness had the effect of obscuring from view what was afoot. "If travellers like Ibn Batutah had visited Christendom they might have observed what was going forward; but they didn't. If Ibn Khaldun had turned the piercing beam of his intelligence upon the societies of Western Europe he would have found much to ponder; but he didn't. The rise of the West took the world of Islam by surprise. Given Islamic disdain for the West, perhaps it had to happen thus." Fletcher rightly attributes the decline of the Muslim world to its insularity and neglect of the West. This thought-provoking book should be read by those who are obsessed with only one side of the tragic history.

Fair warning its by Norrani.

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

Postby svinayak » 09 May 2007 04:36

Becoming American, Being Indian: An Immigrant Community in New York City (The Anthropology of Contemporary Issues)
by Madhulika S. Khandelwal (Author)

Since the 1960s the number of Indian immigrants and their descendants living in the United States has grown dramatically. During the same period, the make-up of this community has also changed-the highly educated professional elite who came to this country from the subcontinent in the 1960s has given way to a population encompassing many from the working and middle classes. In her fascinating account of Indian immigrants in New York City, Madhulika S. Khandelwal explores the ways in which their world has evolved over four decades.

How did this highly diverse ethnic group form an identity and community? Drawing on her extensive interviews with immigrants, Khandelwal examines the transplanting of Indian culture onto the Manhattan and Queens landscapes. She considers festivals and media, food and dress, religious activities of followers of different faiths, work and class, gender and generational differences, and the emergence of a variety of associations.

Khandelwal analyzes how this growing ethnic community has gradually become "more Indian," with a stronger religious focus, larger family networks, and increasingly traditional marriage patterns. She discusses as well the ways in which the American experience has altered the lives of her subjects. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Description
Since the 1960s the number of Indian immigrants and their descendants living in the United States has grown dramatically. During the same period, the make-up of this community has also changed-the highly educated professional elite who came to this country from the subcontinent in the 1960s has given way to a population encompassing many from the working and middle classes. In her fascinating account of Indian immigrants in New York City, Madhulika S. Khandelwal explores the ways in which their world has evolved over four decades.

How did this highly diverse ethnic group form an identity and community? Drawing on her extensive interviews with immigrants, Khandelwal examines the transplanting of Indian culture onto the Manhattan and Queens landscapes. She considers festivals and media, food and dress, religious activities of followers of different faiths, work and class, gender and generational differences, and the emergence of a variety of associations.

Khandelwal analyzes how this growing ethnic community has gradually become "more Indian," with a stronger religious focus, larger family networks, and increasingly traditional marriage patterns. She discusses as well the ways in which the American experience has altered the lives of her subjects.

Namaste America : Indian Immigrants in an American Metropolis
by Padma Rangaswamy (Author)

This is a very good book to understand lhe new wave of immigation from India. She puts forth a balanced and understandable view of the new immigrations.

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

Postby svinayak » 13 May 2007 23:13

Setting the East Ablaze: Lenins Dream of an Empire in Asia (Kodansha Globe)
by Peter Hopkirk

# Paperback: 272 pages
# Publisher: Kodansha Globe; Reprint edition (July 8, 1997)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1568361025
# ISBN-13: 978-1568361024


Hopkirk, a former soldier and newsman for ITN and the Times, has been studying Central Asia for years and has made the shadow war between the British and Russian empires in the region his particular subject.

His earlier book, The Great Game, covered the period up until the signing of the “spheres of influenceâ€

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 14 May 2007 23:15

Pioneer, May13, 2007

Book review

Much awaited and deserved

YS Rajan

Technology at the Core, Ashok Parthasarathi, Pearson, Longman, Rs 695

It is an unusual book. A meticulously kept diary transforming into a story with glimpses of history. It opens up a few windows, albeit with some curtains, into the secretive world of the working of the Indian science and technology establishments. The book comes through as iconoclastic even while it creates some icons.

Though the book is mainly written from the details available to the author during his stint between 1970 and 1975 as Special Assistant (Science & Technology) to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and his tenure with Department of Electronics thereafter, it gives background on some establishments and programmes even dating back to pre-Independence era and in many cases beyond 1975.

The book is an attempt to fill an important vacuum in the public domain about the information available on Indian Science & Technology (S&T) establishments. Mostly what are available, are the statements by the official spokespersons, often the top boss at a given period. Whatever were (are) told by them were (are) taken as the authentic version.

Against this background, Ashok Parthasarathi has taken a bold and unusual step of bringing together many items as he was privy to some matters through files and discussions with those who were in power. It is an important contribution, as it throws light on the inner workings of S&T systems. On the whole it can lead to a better understanding as trained historians start taking interest in an important facet of modern Indian institutions.

A large part of the book covers the workings of the Atomic Energy department. The overall picture given by the book regarding the evolution and conduct of our nuclear programme is somewhat grim. While describing Homi J Bhabha's strategy for the development of nuclear power in the country, he describes the desperate attempts to get foreign technology. It explodes many popular myths about the origins of our nuclear power programme with full self-reliance.

While describing the efforts of study team on the Scientific Departments of Administrative Reforms Commission, the author describes some situations and states that it was a case of 'you don't step on my toes and I won't step on yours'. The reviewer has been a close witness to such turf protections and unscientific silence. Such an attitude has been a great bottleneck for evolving and execution of result-oriented S&T programmes to address the social, economic and commercial requirements of the country.

The author has covered most aspects of S&T ranging from Space, Industrial Technology, Agriculture, Electronics and Defence. In view of the overall methodology of writing of the book, starting from his personal knowledge, some parts have been elaborately dealt with while others are totally missing out. For example, in the field of Space, there are considerable gaps. The entire process of manned space programme resulting in Rakesh Sharma's flight is missed out. It was during Indira Gandhi period. First SLV-3 launch is given as 1981; it was in 1980.

For some readers, it may perhaps be a little disquieting that there is a number of personal references about the author's own role. But it has to be understood that the present working of S&T system does not bring out the major contributions by a person like Ashok Parthasarathi. He has fought many battles to establish various S&T departments and programmes. He has helped many scientists who have later become powerful bosses. Many scientific edifices existing today would not have come about without his persistent and bold interventions. One should, therefore, be happy that such historically important facts have come out in the public domain.

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 16 May 2007 07:19

[url=]Human Accomplishment from 800BC to 1950]

From The Washington Post's Book World/

Consider this claim: that the greatest human accomplishments require mastery of rigorous constraints first achieved almost exclusively by white Western European males. One might guess that it would be Charles Murray making such an argument. In his latest book, Human Accomplishment, Murray steps back up to the plate after Losing Ground and The Bell Curve with a thesis sure to irritate most of America's thinking class.

Yet the book is, more often than not, brilliant. In lucid prose, Murray methodically addresses and refutes most of the predictable counterarguments to his thesis. Taking local biases into account, he assesses various regions' contributions to human accomplishment by tabulating how many figures from a specific part of the world are cited in 50 percent or more of standard encyclopedic compendia, including Islamic and Far Eastern sources.

Murray begins his survey at 800 B.C., arguing that innovation before then had been more species-wide than individual, and had tended largely to evanesce rather than become established, other than in China. Summarizing the work of Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs and Steel fame), he shows that serious innovation requires advanced civilizations of the sort that geography helped bring about earlier in the Middle East and elsewhere than, for example, in Africa. Murray argues that, with the leisure and specialization that agricultural surpluses allowed, China and the Islamic world gave the West a run for its money at first but that ultimately an efflorescence in a few Western European countries after 1400 turned the world upside down. Linear perspective, polyphonic music, the novel, mathematical proof and the scientific method are largely the product of the Dead White Males whom we are taught to assume have been celebrated at the expense of subalterns written out of the history books.

This is no survey of the lives and works themselves à la Jacques Barzun's masterful From Dawn to Decadence; Murray spends more than half of the book justifying his epistemology. But that he must do this is a sign of our times, when reflexive relativism exerts such a hold on so many and qualifies as responsible scholarship. While I find it sobering that none of his milestones springs from Togo or New Guinea, I also share Murray's lack of enthusiasm for the critics who respond to such omissions by questioning the very value of Western technology; he is correct in his skeptical view of those who would make that disparagement while talking on their cell phones on the way to the airport. Nevertheless, he has to craft his argumentation to the terms of present-day cultural debate, and this makes the book something of a trudge. Hundreds of pages of throat-clearing lead to final chapters adopting the Weberian argument that Protestantism encourages individuality and a sense of purpose in secular life, qualities that spur innovation. That point is, after all, hardly new.

Nor, however, is it chauvinistic, as opposed to simply a product of historical contingency. As Murray has it, "highly familistic, consensual cultures have been the norm throughout history and the world. Modern Europe has been the oddball." Where he does display bias is in his 1950 cutoff. Ostensibly stopping here because expert consensus has yet to jell, Murray elsewhere pronounces that "it is hard to imagine that the last half-century will be seen as producing an abundance of timeless work." Murray believes that the 20th century witnessed a decline in artistic accomplishment, as artists and intellectuals rejected religious conviction and Western norms. But will two centuries of sifting really leave "La Dolce Vita," "Raging Bull," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "Sweeney Todd," Mama Day and Herzog on the same scrapheap as the works of Thackeray? There is more awesome craft and inspiration in such works than Murray, with his classical leanings, appears willing to seek.

He also has an idealistic sense of how most human beings process accomplishment. Murray makes the surprising assumption that humans are universally awed by complexity, so that the fashion must eventually swing back to all thinking people's readily acknowledging that the Venus de Milo exceeds in sophistication the carving of an indigenous tribesman. When he charges that to equate "How Much is That Doggy in the Window?" with Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is to make "a sweeping judgment of the capacity of the human mind to assess information," he considers it a deft point, supposedly revealing a stark qualitative distinction that few would contest.

But for more than a few readers, the distinction Murray draws between sentimental response and critical assessment will be not only counterintuitive but offputting. Few people have trouble with the extremes -- one can like hot dogs without considering them the equal of high Thai cuisine. But many intelligent people today do not spontaneously revere Renee Fleming over Aretha Franklin even though Fleming's art is more complex and based on more training, or regard Bach's achievement as greater than Radiohead's. "Funk" and "attitude" reign as pillars of artistic evaluation, and for more people than Murray seems to be aware of, just why we put "Stairway to Heaven" in quotes and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik in italics wound not, I suspect, be readily clear.

The reason for this has less to do with lapsed faith in higher ideals than in how more complex artistic forms, such as the novel and classical music, are products of technological developments such as writing, which allow art forms much longer, more intricate and memory-unfriendly than those humans have evolved to appreciate intuitively. All humans have music, for example, but indigenous peoples need no music-appreciation training to embrace their unwritten songs and dance accompaniments. Beethoven's Seventh, with its several instruments sustaining precise melodies and harmonies through complex developments over 30-plus minutes and not based on cyclic repetition or easy remembering, could not exist without writing, and many require tutelage to appreciate it.

Time was that familiarity with classical music was tied to education and middle-class membership, but the hold it exerted was always fragile. Today, recording technology combines with the multiculturalist imperative to allow constant access to forms that are more immediately appealing. Unsurprisingly, both creators and listeners now hearken more to those forms. Murray attempts to cut through relativism by designating worthiest those accomplishments that elicit the response "How could a human being have done that?" But more than a few today are sincerely moved to ask that question of Sting's latest album.

Murray's cultural predilections leave him unable to address that frame of mind conclusively. And thus, for all of its cogency, Human Accomplishment will never reach readers who recoil at any claim that "The Marriage of Figaro" occupies a higher plane than The Who's "Tommy."

Reviewed by John McWhorter

Forum Moderator
Posts: 55217
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Postby ramana » 16 May 2007 21:16

The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans

Part IV has a good section on History of History and is of relevance to the post modern age.

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

Postby svinayak » 27 May 2007 03:20

The Assault on Reason
by Al Gore (Author)

# Hardcover: 320 pages
# Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (May 22, 2007)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1594201226
# ISBN-13: 978-1594201226

The first question many people ask when hearing of a new book from Al Gore is, "Is it about the environment?" The answer is yes, but it's not (or, rather, not only) the kind of environment he wrote about in Earth in the Balance and of course painted such a vivid picture of in his Oscar-winning documentary (and companion book), An Inconvenient Truth. It's the political environment he's concerned about in The Assault on Reason: the way we debate and decide on the critical issues of the day. In an account that balances theoretical discussion of the foundations of democracy with a lacerating critique of the Bush administration, Gore argues that the marketplace of reasoned debate our country was founded on is being endangered by a variety of allied forces: the use of fear and the misuse of faith, the distractions of our entertainment culture, and the concentrations of power in the national media and the executive branch. In his essay and answers to our questions below, he introduces the crisis he sees, as well as the opportunity for its solution he envisions in the open forums of the Internet.

A Message from Al Gore to Readers

I've dedicated my book, The Assault on Reason, to my father, Senator Albert Gore Sr., the bravest politician I've ever known. In the 1970 mid-term elections, President Richard Nixon relied on a campaign of fear to consolidate his power. I was in the military at the time, on my way to Vietnam as an army journalist, and I watched as my father was accused of being unpatriotic because he was steadfast in his opposition to the War--and as he was labeled an atheist because he dared to oppose a constitutional amendment to foster government-sponsored prayer in the public schools. The 1970 campaign is now regarded by political historians as a watershed, marking a sharp decline in the tone of our national discourse--a decline that has only worsened in recent years as fear has become a more powerful political tool than trust, public consumption of entertainment has dramatically surpassed that of serious news, and blind faith has proven more potent than truth.

We are at a pivotal moment in American democracy. The persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, has reached levels that were previously unimaginable.
It's too easy and too partisan to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes.

Reasoned, focused discourse is vital to our democracy to ensure a well-informed citizenry. But this is difficult in an environment in which we are experiencing a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time--from the O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson trials to Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith.

Never has it been more vital for us to face the reality of our long-term challenges, from the climate crisis to the war in Iraq to the deficits and health and social welfare. Today, reason is under assault by forces using sophisticated techniques such as propaganda, psychology, and electronic mass media. Yet, democracy's advocates are beginning to use their own sophisticated techniques: the Internet, online organizing, blogs, and wikis. Although the challenges we face are great, I am more confident than ever before that democracy will prevail and that the American people are rising to the challenge of reinvigorating self-government. It is my great hope that those who read my book will choose to become part of a new movement to rekindle the true spirit of America.

Questions for Al Gore all I've read and seen on climate change, I don't think anything has had quite the impact on me that those vivid maps of shrinking coastlines did in An Inconvenient Truth. You've spent years trying to communicate the threat of climate change and you've learned how to use compelling images to tell that story, but in this book you're very wary of the power of visual images to overwhelm reason with fear. How do you spur people to action in a crisis like this without using fear?

Gore: I often open the slideshow by talking about the "climate crisis." The English meaning of the word "crisis" conveys alarm, but the Chinese and Japanese expressions use two characters together: the first means danger, but the second means opportunity. The animations do help to convey some of that sense of danger--but the opportunities are enormous. We are beginning to see companies taking advantage of the new markets that are emerging as they innovate and put to market the technologies that we need to solve this crisis. Some have become ubiquitous, like the hybrid electric engine and compact fluorescent light bulb. There are thousands of opportunities like this all around us if governments will show the type of bold leadership that we need--and work with industry to exploit these opportunities. You describe two problems with television culture: it's a top-down system in which, as you say, "Individuals receive, but they cannot send," and its physiological vividness allows it to bypass our reason. The user-created communities that seem so promising on the Internet would seem to solve the first problem, but what about the second?

Gore: There are a number of barriers for individuals who want to communicate over TV. The major networks won't give average Americans a voice, and it is virtually impossible to start a channel. One solution, that I have worked on with my partner, Joel Hyatt, is the creation of Current TV, where viewers can submit content over the Internet to air on the channel.

With regards to the Internet, anyone with access to a computer and broadband can create a website or blog and post content. They can send information into the public forum. Of course, we need to continue to work to bridge the digital divide, to ensure that we expand the access of people to the Internet, but the threshold for entry is much lower than that of television. You're the chairman of Current TV, the interactive cable channel aimed at young people. Can you talk about the challenges of constructing a platform where the kind of substantive dialogue you are looking for can take place?

Gore: One of the things I talk about in the book is infotainment--the "well-amused" audience that is bombarded with the latest programming about O.J. Simpson, or JonBenet Ramsey, or Anna Nicole Smith. What we are trying to do, in part, is to provide a public forum for viewers to submit content about issues of concern to them. And they have, by the thousands, on issues from the war in Iraq to the environment to education and others. I am continually amazed by both the quality of the submissions and the breadth and depth of the subject matter. You have a chapter on the importance of checks and balances in government (in a sense, that's what the whole book is about), and we're seeing the effect that active oversight from Congress is having right now. For most of your eight years in office, you and Bill Clinton had to work with a Republican Congress. I'm sure that at times (say, 1998) that had its frustrations, but do you think it was valuable to have that balance, or did it prevent you from doing what you came into office to do?

Gore: Checks and balances are vital to the functioning of our system of government. Of course it can have its frustrations, but the Founders intended that we have a system whereby no one branch has too much control over the others. Ultimately, it is up to voters to decide the control of Congress and the White House and then for elected officials to work to serve the public interest and to try to implement policies that serve the country. These are core values that are at the heart of who we are as a nation. I wanted to ask about the Office of the Vice President. I think it's safe to say that the last two vice presidents, you and Dick Cheney, have been the most powerful and influential in our history. Why do you think that is?

Gore: I think the answer is very different in the two administrations, but in a world that is truly globalized, with a broader information ecology, with challenges ranging from a more complex system of international issues ranging from the climate crisis to asymmetric attacks, it is not a surprise that a President might choose to draw upon more advice from the office of the vice president than in the past. This is a trend that I would expect to continue under future presidents, as the range of the demands on the presidency will not diminish over time.

Book Description
A visionary analysis of how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism, and blind faith has combined with the degradation of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason

At the time George W. Bush ordered American forces to invade Iraq, 70 percent of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11. Voters in Ohio, when asked by pollsters to list what stuck in their minds about the campaign, most frequently named two Bush television ads that played to fears of terrorism.

We live in an age when the thirty-second television spot is the most powerful force shaping the electorate's thinking, and America is in the hands of an administration less interested than any previous administration in sharing the truth with the citizenry. Related to this and of even greater concern is this administration's disinterest in the process by which the truth is ascertained, the tenets of fact-based reasoning-first among them an embrace of open inquiry in which unexpected and even inconvenient facts can lead to unexpected conclusions.

How did we get here? How much damage has been done to the functioning of our democracy and its role as steward of our security? Never has there been a worse time for us to lose the capacity to face the reality of our long-term challenges, from national security to the economy, from issues of health and social welfare to the environment. As The Assault on Reason shows us, we have precious little time to waste.

Gore's larger goal in this book is to explain how the public sphere itself has evolved into a place hospitable to reason's enemies, to make us more aware of the forces at work on our own minds, and to lead us to an understanding of what we can do, individually and collectively, to restore the rule of reason and safeguard our future.
Drawing on a life's work in politics as well as on the work of experts across a broad range of disciplines, Al Gore has written a farsighted and powerful manifesto for clear thinking.

Here's a radical idea: Americans can govern themselves best by having clear-headed, reasoned public discussions on the important topics of the day. A thought from Thomas Paine? Your high school civics teacher? No, Al Gore. That's the theme of this clear-headed, reasoned, and yes, even passionate argument on what's wrong with our country and how we can fix it.

Yes, it bashes Bush, but how can it not? It's impossible to argue against the chatterbox shrillness of today's public debate without mentioning the subjects being debated. And if you're going to seriously examine Iraq, Katrina and the other issues of the last six years, how can our current President come out looking good?

Gore doesn't mince his words. He calls Bush a liar and an irresponsible leader. But he backs up these assertions with a 90-minute Powerpoint presentation worth of clear-headed, reasoned and well-documented argument -- complete with hundreds of footnotes.

Divided into three parts, the book's simple structure makes it easy to follow. The opening identifies what Gore contends are the five enemies of reason -- fear, superstition, ideology, deception and intolerance. Middle chapters examine the damage those things have caused, and the last 30 pages offer a few solutions.

And just what is that damage? Gore breaks it down into five areas:

* The squandering of international goodwill over Iraq has caused a threat to our national security, as the world now fears us instead of respects us.

* Ignoring the rational arguments of scientists has weakened our environmental security, as shown by the failure to be ready for the known problems Katrina and global warming would cause.

* Our excessive dependence on imported oil continues to weaken our energy security.

* Our liberty is threatened when our government uses fear and raw power -- instead of reasoned argument -- to get what it wants domestically.

* And finally, Gore says our general welfare is threatened when our government stops serving all its people, and instead skews its policies toward the wealthy and privileged.

As for solutions, the book offers only one: Gore in '08!

OK, not really. Just wanted to see if you were still with me.

Actually, the book closes by arguing that, now more than ever, our citizens must be well informed and must feel like they are part of the political process. It holds out hope that the internet is the key, and that television could play a part by doing things like scheduling Congressional debates in prime time. Gore also claims that we need additional campaign reform, including making contributions more transparent.

My favorite part of the book is early on, when Gore argues that the main cause of the decline of reasoned political thought is television. He contends that when more Americans started getting their news from TV instead of newspapers, the emphasis changed from reading, an activity that by its nature activates the parts of the brain involved with reasoning, to watching, which elicits emotion but not thought. Recalling the words of Thomas Jefferson, Gore writes: "The 'well-informed citizenry' is in danger of becoming the 'well-amused audience.'"

In my work, I spend many evenings at Walt Disney World, which concludes each day with a gigantic fireworks show. Called Wishes, it closes with children singing "If you keep on believing, a wish that you make will come true." I know it sounds trite, but perhaps those prerecorded kids have a point. Reading this book, I felt like I was back in my 1970s high school civics class, a time when the present had its problems, but the future seemed so bright. Maybe it can still be. If not for me, at least for my daughter.

-- By Julie Neal, author of The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World.

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

Postby svinayak » 27 May 2007 07:08

Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What It Needs to Do to Recover It
by Alan Wolfe (Author)

# Hardcover: 224 pages
# Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 31, 2005)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0691119333
# ISBN-13: 978-0691119335

This is a wonderful book, clear, concise, logical and properly infuriating for anyone concerned about the current state of the nation.

It's based on a simple premise: liberals believe government authority, policies and incentives have guided America's destiny into greatness. The neoconservative rebuttal is that America's destiny is based on not meddling in the lives of ciizens and not becoming involved in foreign nation building.

Wolfe doesn't endorse the neoconservative view. He writes, "As it takes the personal courage of a Teddy Roosevelt or a John McCain to become a great American leader, itr takes intellectual courage to propose great ideas for Amerca, such as the courage to insist that sometimes government is necessary and the taxes to finance its activities a small price to pay for the results it can achieve or the courage to do what is right for future generations rather than what is most likely to garner votes in the very next election."

It's based on an assumption that people are either basically evil or good. Liberals believe in basic goodness; conservatives believe in basic evil and punishment to instill respect and morality. Wolfe writes "The hope-filled language of the Reagan and Kennedy administrations finds no place among men like Vice President Dick Cheney, who are convinced that forces of darkness rule the world and must be met head-on with iron resolve. Suspicion and fear guide this administration, not confidence and generosity."

True enough. Do you trust the government? If so, this book outlines in chilling detail the intellectual underpinnings of how and why the Bush administration wants to reverse almost everything the US government has achieved since 1860.

If you don't trust the government, this book outlines heart-warming reasons of how and why "Bush is the first Republican president to make libertarianism the centerpiece of his presidency." The express goal of massive budget and trade deficits is to make sure the US "is unlikely to possess for decades the financial wherewithal to achieve any of the objectives its leaders set out to realize."

To understand this antiu-government attitude, it's worth understanding the "Old Confederacy" was born the moment Gen. Robert E. Lee offered his sword to Gen. U.S. Grant at Appomattox; thus began the legend of states' rights. As Wolfe explains, "A hundred years ago, Southerners voted overwhelmingly for a party that stood against the idea of a strong America. Now they continue to do exactly that."

The result, Wolfe writes, is "the stronger American conservativism becomes, the weaker America will be." In this wonderfully liberal view of conservative ideas, a strong state dominates and controls its citizens, taxing them heavily to finance its domestic experiments, foreign adventures and imperial greatness. Does the powerful national unity and sense of purpose implied by the slogal "Ein volk, ein reich, ein fuhrer" ring a bell?

It's been said of John Milton, who wrote 'Paradise Lost' to praise God and condemn Satan, that he inadvertently created a heroic Devil because of Milton emphasized his very human insistence on individuality instead of meek submission to God.

In his praise of America, Wolfe likewise writes, "Greatness, which has always been the exception rather than the rule in the American experience, must be willed into being over the objections of all those forces that benefit from the individualistic culture, decentralized political structure, and profit-seeking opportunities that dominate everyday American life." Take your choice . . . . individuality or greatness.

It puts Wolfe right up there with Milton.

BRF Oldie
Posts: 6916
Joined: 08 Aug 2006 18:43

Postby shyamd » 28 May 2007 16:34

ISI has launched anti-India operation: book
New Delhi, May 28 (PTI): A former Indian army officer has claimed that Pakistan's ISI has launched a "new" anti-India operation through Bangladesh, while Chinese support to insurgency in the Northeast has "not fully dried up".

"The Chinese stopped supporting insurgency in the Northeast in 1979. But intelligence reports indicate that the Chinese support has not fully dried up", retired Brig Dr S P Sinha, who was commissioned in the 9 Gorkha Rifles and served the region for decades, said in a recent book.

Regarding Pakistan's role, he said Bangladesh was being developed as a new base for its "anti-India operations" and Pakistan has reportedly "shifted almost 200 terrorist training camps from Pak-occupied Kashmir to Bangladesh".

The book 'Lost Opportunities: 50 years of Insurgency in the Northeast and India's Response', brought out by Lancer Publishers, deals with insurgency -- ranging from Manipur and Nagaland to Assam and covers all states of the regions, including the present peace processes.

Painting a grim picture on the Naga issue, Sinha said "the ongoing peace process is already faltering" on the issue of creation of Greater Nagaland or Nagalim.

"The army has been warning that the Naga rebels are using the ceasefire for consolidating their position. In many parts of Nagaland and Manipur, the insurgents run a parallel government and have levied household taxes," besides even advertising in newspapers for recruitment in the underground government.

"The government will do well to prepare to cope with such a situation, if the talks fail," the former army officer warned.

Return to “Strategic & Security Issues Archive”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests