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A Bleak Century Ahead?

Ali Ahmed

By Taj Hashmi
Sage Publications, Delhi, 2014, pp. 322, Rs. 995.00


Taj Hashmi evidently utilized his four year stint at the US Department of Defence, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, very well. He mentions conversations with student practitioners with service in theatres of the myriad and ongoing American wars. This lends a degree of authenticity to the book; in particular, its vehement critique of the manner the US has conducted its wars. While not being an apologist for the ‘enemy’, the Jihadists of various hues, the author’s thesis is that these wars have fuelled their own counter in the form of Jihad. This explains his pessimistic title about a world already in a hundred-year war.  Hashmi brings to bear his considerable knowledge of Islam, languages including Arabic, and South Asia to forcefully argue that there are no ‘good guys’ in this war. Just as there is no ‘good Taliban’, there are no ‘good Marines’ either. He does justice to the inspiration of the book, the victims of ‘unjust wars and terrorism’, writing with passion against both: unjust wars waged by the US and its many coalitions of the willing and terrorism perpetrated by Muslim extremists. While he outlines the problem many have suspected all along, he runs out of space to dwell on remedies, preventive measures that could potentially transform the bleak century ahead.  There are two villains in his book: the US and the Jihadists. He presents the US as a political system that feeds on violence. After being born in violence and expanding to its current borders by violence, it set the standards of modern wars with its civil war. Its political economy is one impelled by the military-industrial complex. Its capitalist oil guzzling economy ties it in an imperial embrace to the Middle East. The system of lobbies that runs Capitol Hill, and the salience of the Jewish lobby in American politics, ensures that US actions belie its professions of benign intent. American ‘exceptionalism’, to Hashmi, is a myth amounting to a propaganda tool. Even if Obama seeks to disengage, the ISIS led spike in the conflict in the Levant indicates that the flotsam and jetsam of the Bush years will continue to create geopolitical eddies into the future.  This creates the context that sustains and empowers the Jihadists. Whereas the ideological currents in Islam would have inevitably played out with the onset of modernity in postcolonial Arab and Muslim lands, their violent turn owes ...

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