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A Vietnam in the Making?

K.P. Fabian

Edited by Sreedhar and S.N. Malakar
Academic Excellence, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 244, Rs. 595.00


America’s war on Iraq has generated a thriving cottage industry producing books in such numbers that it is no longer easy to keep track of all of them except to note that only a few are worth reading. Though America’s war on Iraq has profound implications and consequences for India’s security, there has been a disturbing tendency in India to look at the whole question through the distorting prism of Indo-American relations, partly conditioned by the belief that in the so-called unipolar world obedience to the hegemon is a virtue in itself and that the best one might expect is reward from the hegemon in terms of contracts in Iraq and otherwise.   The Second Coming provides a refreshing contrast to the tendency mentioned above. There are in all seven essays put together by two editors, Professor Sreedhar and Dr. S.N. Malakar, both from the Gulf Studies Programme, a part of the Centre of West Asian and African Studies in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. In their introduction, the editors speak of four possible scenarios: Under the first scenario, the resistance against the American occupation might taper off. The second scenario envisages the break-up of Iraq and under the third one, America proves herself to be incapable of defeating Iraqi nationalism and a prolonged Iraq-America confrontation, perhaps similar to the Israeli-Palestinian variety. The fourth scenario foresees America’s running away from Iraq leading to severe turbulence in the oil market. “With the oil factor playing a dominant role, the US is highly unlikely to allow this to happen. But at this point of history nothing can be ruled out”(p. 10). This was written in December 2003. With the advantage of hindsight, one might say that Sreedhar and Malakar have not been far off the mark. At the time they were writing, the ‘patriotic’ American media were highlighting Sunni-Shia-Kurd divide as part of successful a disinformation campaign.   Pinaki Bhattacharya’s ‘Bush’s War: Pre-emptive Thought Process’ traces the origins of the theory of pre-emption to Levi-Strauss, a refugee from Nazi Germany who came to America in 1937. A professor at the University of Chicago, he propagated the argument that the works of ancient philosophers contain esoteric meanings accessible only to a select few, but not to the masses. He, no doubt, considered himself among the elect. “Strauss believed that good statesmen have powers of judgment and must rely on an inner ...

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