Guest Post: Post-War (Liberal) Global Order

I am posting this recent twitter thread by the American writer Claire Berlinski, which I think is a fantastic exposition of the nature of the US-dominated post-War world order, and why it is so important to preserve it from the Trumpian onslaught within and the totalitarian Sino-Russian conspiracies without. I think it describes the nature of the Euro-American bargain very well and gives a context to the latest, and galactically mistaken, American preoccupation under President Trump with short-term deal-making at the expense of its long-standing solemn pacts or basic human morality. While the last word on the orange orangutan hasn’t been said yet, Trump is quite easily proving to be the worst POTUS in American post-War history.

(Trump’s rhetoric hasn’t yet pissed off the pro-US lobby within the Indian government, let alone scupper the strategic Indo-US partnership. However,  his trade-war and “reciprocal” tariffs tsunami will eventually hit the Indian shores too as the latest Economist piece argues.)

1) Modern Europe – liberal, democratic Europe – is the United States’ creation. This story was once known to every American, but as the generation responsible for this achievement dies, so too has the knowledge ceased to be passed down casually, within families.
2) The United States built this modern order upon an architecture of specific institutions0: the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the International Court of Justice, the World Economic Forum, and above all NATO and the US.
3) The global order we built is in effect an empire, but onr far more humane than European imperialism. It rests upon two beliefs, one idealistic and the other realistic: The first is the idea that certain moral values are universal [continued]
and that liberal democracies best reflect and cultivate those values. The second is that in international affairs; anarchy reigns: Power is the only currency that matters.
4) Europe was designed – by the United States – to be the other half of the West. Europe’s success is a global advertisement for liberal democracy. The collapse of liberal democracy in Europe would represent the failure of these ideals — upon which the United States also rests.
5. Neither Europe nor the US are wealthy or powerful enough, alone, to sustain and expand liberal democracy in a world growingly dominated by China, Russia, and anarchy. No European country alone, nor any of the American states alone, can now sustain the global liberal order.
6. A United Europe – and the United States – are together strong enough to sustain the liberal democratic tradition and Western values. This is precisely why the enemies of liberal democracy are trying to drive a stake through our seventy-year alliance.
7) The demilitarization and pacification of Germany was the greatest of American achievements. It made European peace and integration possible. Germany’s demilitarization ended the Franco-German rivalry that set the Continent alight and reduced it to ashes, again and again.
The wars that broke out in 1939 and 1914 were iterations of the wars fought by Bismarck, Napoleon and Louis XIV—Sedan, 1870; Leipzig, 1813; Jena, 1806; Valmy, 1792; Turckheim, 1675. The 20th centuries’ were bloodier for only one reason: a massive improvement in killing capability
9) Europe’s history was defined, for centuries, by unmitigated slaughter and butchery among the European peoples, a traditional only occasionally interrupted since the sack of Rome.
10 For centuries, as we discovered, Europe was the globe’s leading exporter of violence, and that is precisely why our postwar foreign policy was designed to ensure our permanent military hegemony over the Continent.
11) American power put an end to centuries of the same European war, and *only* American power, as we exercised it, could have ended this conflict. We ended it by credibly guaranteeing Germany’s security under the American nuclear umbrella.
12) Postwar Europe ceased to be the world’s leading exporter of violence because it was occupied, stripped of full sovereignty, and subordinated to outside hegemons—first the US and the USSR, then the US alone. The long peace is the direct consequence of our hegemony. (Cont.)
The benefits of this—to the US, Europe, and the world—are not just economic, though those are immense. The benefit is in the suppression of Europe’s inherent security conflicts: wars were not fought, lives were not squandered.
European free-riding isn’t a bug, as many Americans now seem to feel—it is the central feature of our postwar security strategy.
How is it, then, that suddenly, we’re consumed with rage that Europe is “taking advantage” of us? How have we forgotten that this is the point of the system? We designed it this way, and did so for overwhelmingly obvious historic reasons, learnt at incalculable cost.
13) Since World War II, we have been deployed in Eurasia to ensure it cannot be dominated by a single power capable of monopolizing, and turning against us, the resources of Europe or East Asia.
We do this by suppressing security competition in those regions. We build our own overwhelmingly massive military assets and locate them, strategically, as a warning: You cannot win. Don’t even try. By this means, we prevent local arms races before they begin
Simultaneously, we say, “But there is no need to try. Your safety is guaranteed. You need not worry about this.” And we regularly show, often at terrible risk to ourselves, that we mean this.” This has largely kept the peace in Europe for 74 years.
The US underwrites European security through forward engagement and security guarantees based on deterrence. In return, its Allies accept the leading role of the US in the international system and contribute towards meeting common challenges.
The polite fiction that allows Europeans to save face, is that this is a partnership, rather than subordination to US hegemony is a partnership, with each party contributing according to ability.
The truth is that the US does, of course, pay more than its fair share, and in exchange receives more than its fair of power. The arrangement liberates Europeans and Americans alike from the most dangerous force confronting them: the Europe’s ancient impulse to fratricide.
15. Americans died, suffered, and labored assiduously, for generations, to create of Europe what it had never been before: a zone of peaceful, prosperous, liberal, democracies—and the other half of the West. (con’t.)
The rescue and reconstruction of Europe was our greatest moral and political accomplishment, towering above any other in our country’s short history. Our grandparents destroyed the most monstrous and tyrannical regimes humanity has known ….
Then proved that our system of governance, or something much like it, could be built and made to work on that very soil. This is the story of the world we know, and the story of our country, too. This is the accomplishment now under threat.
The world we built is the only world any American alive now knows. We take it for granted. The United States seems so mammoth, so solid, so marmoreal that it requires immense imagination to realize that nothing about our system of governance is intuitive, natural, or typical;
or to recall that before we built this world, liberal democracy was a fragile and relatively untested experiment. It was our victory in the Second World War and our reconstruction of Europe and Japan that made us a global, norm-setting power–
–capable of defining the rules of international order, and this is what made liberal democracy a *global* aspiration—and in many places a reality. We take for granted, too, the security that comes with being a global hegemon. We *cannot imagine* what we’re putting at risk.


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88 thoughts on “Guest Post: Post-War (Liberal) Global Order”

  1. India just need to lie low during his presidency, give him some wins like Harley Davidson thing and prime plots for Trump Tower in Gurgaon. But being the most moralistic people on earth, i am not betting on India on doing the above.

    The other thing is, it would be exciting to live in a post US world, in a Sino dominated one and see the Left’s dream come true and simultaneously crash and burn.

  2. 1. US has replaced Europe as the world’s greatest exporter of violence. Not as bad as imperial Europe but still far worse than Russia or China if we’re counting since the end of the Cold War.
    2. Europe is responsible for most of the post-WW2 change of heart. The US/NATO has provided a good structural support for European peace, but Western Europeans haven’t shown any real inclination to go to war with each other since WW2, and at least until recently have worked on their own towards greater integration.
    3. It’s plausible that China would be a less aggressive global hegemon than the US. They don’t seem to be interested in exporting their ideology or form of government (= no Iraq or Libya style wars), and show no more propensity than the US to make deals with brutal dictatorships.
    4. I wouldn’t say that Russia or China are enemies of democracy. They certainly don’t care for it, but I don’t think they care about it either. They don’t want it at home, but they don’t care if another country, even a neighbor, has a healthy democratic government – provided that said government doesn’t work against Russia/China’s interests. E.G. Russia has no beef with Finland, and the only big stumbling block in China-South Korea relations is THAAD and the alliance with America.

    Of course, from a strictly American nationalist perspective, the current system is great. Europe is our bitch, and NATO + Japan and S. Korea will be more than enough to serve as a counter to China in the future, provided that the bloc stays united. But as a citizen of the world there’s a lot about the current system to be critical of, and cause for guarded optimism about a post-NATO world.

    1. I disagree on a few things (as usual :)). A few points:

      1. The US “export” of violence is not even a minuscule fraction of what the Europeans were doing to each other (let alone in their colonies) through the 19th and early 20th centuries. After all which country’s anthem speaks of irrigating its farmland with the impure blood of its neighbours other than the La Marseillaise?

      2. This is quite incorrect in my opinion. Recall that Europeans did not turn into lovey-dovey neighbours overnight after WW2 – half of Germany was a totalitarian regime until 1990. Portugal and Spain were Fascist dictatorships until the 70s. Heck! Northern Ireland was bloody mess well into the Thatcherite era (she was almost assassinated along with the entire UK cabinet in 1984). Less said of Eastern Europe (or the Balkans) the better. Without American help and security, Europe could’ve easily slid back into dystopia.

      3. If there’s one lesson about human beings and societies, it is that we should be very wary of predicting their future. I think the prophecies of Chinese hegemony are a little too simplistic. A bit of a pastime in the US these days (incl in Hollywood) but it says more about American insecurities than being a genuine explanatory model of reality.

      (PS: I’d rather Europe be America’s bitch than a Russian lackey. Leaving Europe to its Eurocrats may make it one: ).

      1. Even the UK’s national anthem has a second verse (rarely sung) which refers to “scatter[ing] her/his enemies and mak[ing] them fall.”

        “La Marseillaise” seems to be a particularly violent national anthem.

          1. The Star-Spangled Banner also has some very politically incorrect verses about “the bondsman and the slave” or something but luckily we just learn the first verse and don’t think too deeply about it.

            South Asian national anthems are generally less violent (Pak Sar Zameen, Jana Gana Mana). The best one I think is “Amar Shonar Bangla”, which is just about the beauty of the motherland.

          2. My point was that South Asian anthems (at least the ones I am familiar with) are not violent.

            I just like “Amar Shonar Bangla” better. I guess it’s a matter of taste. Also that the “Bharat bhagya vidhata” in the Indian National Anthem was supposed to be King George V, which seems a bit problematic. But “Jana Gana Mana” had to be picked if you didn’t want to make “Vande Mataram” the national anthem over the objections of the Muslim community. Since Allama Iqbal was the spiritual founder of Pakistan, “Saray jahan say acha Hindustan hamara” was out.

          3. Even more problematic is that Saray Jahan is of course Urdu..

            the irony of course is that Hindustani isn’t represented in any of the national anthems; Hindi has no real poetic tradition and Urdu suffers to Persian..

            The respective anthems of India & Pak highlights their “scriptural divide.” I must really write on Scriptural Civilisations..

          4. The way your worded your comment (“less violent” etc) suggested that you found an iota of violence in Jana Gana Mana, hence my question. I personally do not care which anthem anyone prefers over others, individual choice being entirely subjective. (I like La Marseillaise more than Jana Gana, and in fact I sing it to my toddler, who now loves it too.)

            Regarding George V, that’s an old (Hindu Rightwing) canard. Was going to explain the background but Janamajeya beat me to it.

            Finally, I don’t think “sarey jahan sey accha” was rejected as the anthem because it was composed by Iqbal. I believe it was rejected because a Hindostani anthem pisses off South Indians a LOT more than a Bangla anthem. And Rabin da was the first Asian Nobel Laureate after all, so that carries extra brownie points.

          5. Hello Slapstik,

            Lol about the possible (rather irrational) south Indian dislike of Hindustani part- it sounds true but I don’t know to what extent. I just wanted to add that the national anthem being written in what is called the Sadhu Bhasha and not Chalit Bhasha in the first place and also later modified in phonology to conform to the broad Sanskrit/Dravidian phonologies definitely helped (as basic Sanskrit is quite highly intelligible to speakers of three literary Dravidian languages out of four- I suspect many Tamil people also understand the basic Sanskrit words and names in that anthem which is what seems important given that even I as a Telugu did not really know what the Prakrit verbs like jAge, mAge, etc. mean (gAhe, ‘sing’ I always knew) while I was singing it in school everyday), otherwise I suspect singing that anthem with Bengali phonology and while it also having more intense Bengali nature to it would have undoubtedly been one of those other odd day-to-day things in schools in at least Telugu speaking regions- opposition or not (probably not).

            This brings me to this curiosity- are there any regional variations in the singing of the national anthem with regards to phonology, etc. such as Hindi areas having more of schwa deletion, Bengali areas having more of a Bengali phonological influence, etc.? I thought variations like these are probably very discouraged and might outright be illegal but I am just curious if in everyday practice, people’s native language influences creep up and become a sort of regional norm (am not having in mind the usual mistakes that children not knowledgeable in Sanskrit make- for example many of my classmates and me also (but only initially- you have to trust me when I say that I really corrected my pronunciation rather quickly lol) used to erroneously pronounce jaladhi tarangA as some silly “jalasitaranga” lol)

          6. There are many regional variations, even within people who speak Indo-Aryan Prakrits.

            E.g. As a kid I mistakenly thought that the Anthem was in Hindi or Urdu (wasn’t exposed to either much) and that “jaladhi taraMga” was “jaley nahin tiranga” (may the tricolour never burn) – beat that :D! Besides Hindi speakers would never say mAge, but mAMge (with the nasal M).

          7. Please never mind my above comment- it is full of mistakes (am embarrassed like hell and cringing like crazy as usual lol) and also Wikipedia seems to tells me that there are indeed some normal regional variations in the pronunciation of the national anthem.

          8. Slapstik,

            If the wording of my comment was unclear, I am sorry. I thought it was clear that the “less violent” was in comparison with the European anthems. La Marseillaise certainly has a much more attractive tune (being composed by Berlioz after all) but the words are even more violent than you point out . The refrain is “Aux armes, citoyens. Formez vos battaillons”. You can’t get more martial than that.

            I did not mean to spread any Hindu Rightwing canards.I hate the Hindu Right. I had however read that there was some controversy about whether this poem was written for King George V. I don’t recall exactly where I read this.

            It is an interesting question why an anthem in Hindustani should upset people more than one in Sankritized Bengali. Allama Iqbal being one of the prime advocates of Pakistan could not have helped.

          9. Bangla (even the sadhu register) is a neutral language for South Indians as opposed to Hindi. Bengalis have no history of imposing their language on others, unlike Urdu/Hindi-wallahs. Bangla wasn’t “sanskritized” in a way Hindostani/Urdu was to engender modern Hindi, its register is much more natural elite use.

          1. I wonder if there is any theory on how countries choose their national flag, as in does it give a insight on their nationalism etc?

          2. Pakistan’s national flag is very symbolic. Green is the color of Islam (don’t ask me why) and white represents the non-Muslims. The crescent and the star represent Islam.

            The US national flag has 50 stars (one for each state) and I think the stripes represent the original thirteen colonies.

          3. Kabir,

            Apparently the Mexican flag has a snake and an eagle on it.

            Symbols or words, which are worse.

            Lion with a sword, or words like
            They’re coming right into your arms
            To cut the throats of your sons, your women!

          4. Sbarrkum,

            I think “La Marseillaise” was written during the Franco-Prussian War or something so such militaristic words made sense in context. I noted above that the refrain “To arms citizens, form your battalions” is quite violent and that doesn’t even account for all the stuff about watering the fields with the enemy’s blood.

            But by this point, I don’t think French people are really taking the words of their national anthem seriously. It just is their national anthem and they trot it out on formal state occasions or at sporting events. I would guess most people in most countries don’t really take their anthems that seriously (which is not to say I don’t get a thrill when I hear “The Star Spangled Banner”).

      2. 1. US imperial policy has been responsible for millions of deaths since the end of WW2. It doesn’t come close to Britain’s body count, but I’d guess it at least matches that of any other European empire (depends on if we count famines against your own population, in which case Stalin’s Russia pushes the USA down to third place). I’m not counting WW1/2, as I don’t consider that an export. Non-European fighting by European powers was relatively limited, and defensive in the case of the East Asian theater of WW2.

        Just since the end of the Cold War, the US has destroyed, or played a key role in destroying, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen (and Afghanistan has been wracked by war for nearly 20 years with no end in sight). Up to a million died in Iraq alone, who knows how many hundreds of thousands have died due to the pointless prolongation of the civil war in Syria, and Yemen will have suffered at least as badly as Biafra did by the end of the current war. Possibly far worse.

        2. Half of Germany was a totalitarian regime because that regime was put in place by the Soviets. The USA was key in preventing a communist takeover of the entire continent, I’m not contesting that, but our primary goal after WW2 was over was not the preservation of liberal democracy, but halting the spread of communism. The USA supported every non-communist dictatorship in Europe, including the Greek junta after it overthrew a democratically elected government.

        Clinton played a small role in ending the Troubles but it was overwhelmingly an Irish/British thing. If anything we contributed to the chaos of the Years of Lead in Italy. And I don’t recall the existence of any popular revanchist movements that were quashed by the US. After 1945 Europeans seemed generally happy to get along with their neighbors, even if they experienced internal troubles.

        3. Chinese hegemony is inevitable as a mere byproduct of economics and demographics – and China is playing its cards very well on top of that. Whether or not we see a monopolar Chinese world is still up in the air, but barring state collapse and civil war (which in the near future is probably more likely to happen in America than China), China is going to be the single most powerful and influential country in the world.

        PS If the EU, with over 3 times Russia’s population and over 10 times its GDP, somehow manages to become Russia’s lackey, then they deserve it. However, all I really see from that article is that the EU wants closer relations with Russia. Why does that imply subordination?

        1. Attributing a death toll of millions to US “imperialism” is rather fashionable, but far from cogent. The death tolls in post-War conflicts (where the US played a substantive part) like the Korean War, Vietnam, Guatemala, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Kosovo etc cannot be squarely pinned on the US. You make it sound like the Koreans, Viet Cong, Iraqi militia, Afghan Taliban, Yugoslav militia etc were not people with agency and guns, but herds of sheep easily slaughtered.

          In fact many of these countries were little more than tribal oligarchies or brutal dictatorships (in some cases hastily put together by colonial Europeans) ruling over implacably hostile groups, with little or no semblance of a social contract and no established rule of law. Sure, you can argue that gung-ho American interventionism didn’t help matters (or probably made it worse in some cases), but that’s a far cry from pinning the responsibility for all the deaths on the Americans. And, mind you, I say this as a person who has personally borne the brunt of American-funded Islamist violence in Kashmir after the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan.

          Halting the spread of communism was a great moral service rendered to European welfare and comity. I don’t see it at odds with protection of the liberal democratic order – a visit to Berlin (East & West) will convince anyone that the Americans managed that very well. There’s a very good reason why the US embassy in Berlin (built in the 90s) has the pride of place right next to the Brandenburger Tor.

          but barring state collapse and civil war (which in the near future is probably more likely to happen in America than China), China is going to be the single most powerful and influential country in the world.

          I’d love to see how you (or anyone else, for that matter) can estimate that likelihood. In fact, I’d love to see a proof that such a likelihood is even estimable in principle.

          (PS: Maybe it wasn’t super clear in that DW article, but it is best if you google the contents of the letter – sent right after the poison attack in the UK – from Juncker to Putin. EU is not a single political state or a completely unified economy, and its member states, like Hungary, are vulnerable to Russian lackeyism.)

          1. Slapstik wrote: “China is going to be the single most powerful and influential country in the world.”
            China is about to cross the USA in total nominal GDP and nominal wealth. Soon Chinese nominal GDP and wealth will be far greater than US nominal GDP and wealth. Why do you think this Chinese economic power won’t translate into non economic power?

            I agree with you that Chinese non economic power is likely to significantly lag Chinese economic power; but would be curious to learn why you think this will happen.

            You are one of the smartest people I have encountered. And I have moved in many circles.

            “Non-European fighting by European powers was relatively limited, and defensive in the case of the East Asian theater of WW2.” Don’t understand what this means.

            “Afghanistan has been wracked by war for nearly 20 years with no end in sight” Afghanistan started falling apart in the mid 1970s. The post modernists and USSR started this destruction. But Islamists and GHQ Deep State joined in and were much worse.

            The US has not destroyed Yemen. Yemenese have harmed Yemen. Yemen has also been deeply harmed by their lovely brotherly neighbors.

            The US has not destroyed Syria. Assad and the Islamists have done that.

            The US has not destroyed Libya. The US did not put Qaddafi in power. Obama was deeply opposed to intervention in 2011. The Europeans, Arabs and Turks were willing to intervene without US help. The Europeans and Arabs started the intervention . . . publicly rebuking Obama in the process.

            Are you joking about Iraq? Saddam [or Jahannam Malik . . . king of the deepest of the seven Jahannam pits] was one of the most evil homo sapien sapien modern in the history of our species, and this statement is not made lightly. Saddam started destroying the Iraqi people in 1968 when he came to power. From 1968 to 1980 Saddam was allied with the USSR, France and India against the US. Saddam was a close ally of the Soviet Union, France, India, GCC, Arab League, Turkey 1980 to 1990. The whole world backed Saddam Hussein 1980-1988 against Khamenei with one lone exception. Only Israel was able to see Saddam’s true visage and alone in the world supported Iran against Saddam 1980-1988. Too bad the rest of the world was too stupid to follow the Israeli example.

            Of course it is unfair to call Saddam an Iraqi. To be Iraqi someone has to be a human being first. Wanna be Al-Masih ad-Dajjal and Shatan spawn doesn’t count. Well at least Saddam is enjoying Al-nar and jaheem.

            The first large Iraqi uprising against Saddam started in 1975, which Saddam brutally crushed. The great Iraqi civil war 1979-2016 represented the good Iraqi people fighting for their freedom. Yes the Iraqi people had major excesses in fighting Saddam, Saddamists, and later Al Qaeda/Daesh; but I would ask you to put yourself in their shoes. Would you have done better in Iraqi shoes?

            The only way to make sense of your Iraq comment is to believe that America backed Saddam 1968-2003 and backed Al Qaeda/Daesh against the Iraqi people. Many very intelligent, wise and great Iraqis think this. Including many lions serving in the great Iraqi Army. Is this your view? If it is, I understand. Otherwise your comment makes zero sense.

            No doubt you have seen my article series on how nonmuslims mistreat muslims; including by backing Islamists against reasonable muslims (Kabir doesn’t like the phrase “good muslim”). If this is driving your critique with respect to America, we agree. But wouldn’t it be more accurate to blame the vast majority of the world’s 6 billion nonmuslims for their perfidy?

          2. @AnAn

            Slapstik wrote: “China is going to be the single most powerful and influential country in the world.”

            I think you are mistakenly attributing that statement to me. I am in principle anti-Seldonian for certain epistemic reasons which are beyond the scope of this discussion thread.

          3. To the extent that a country starts a war, or significantly escalated and/or prolonged it, then to an extent you can pin all of the suffering of that war (or added suffering as a result of escalation/prolongation) on that country. To paraphrase Sherman, those who bring war into a country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.

            The hypothetical alternative which I’m comparing our reality to is one in which the US simply did not take any part in any of those wars. The Korean War would have ended in a few months, with very few casualties. Vietnam would have been united with little bloodshed. There would have been no long general insurgency in Iraq, no ISIS. The Syrian Civil War is a bit iffy, because the Gulf monarchies and Turkey would have tried to supply the rebels even without us, but we have played a major role in getting arms to the rebels and so have played a big role in pointlessly prolonging the war. The Saudi/UAE campaign in Yemen, especially the airstrikes which are responsible for most of the human suffering, are dependent upon constant US (and to a lesser extent British) supply and support. We could stop the war if we wanted, but instead we actively support a war effort which has probably killed over a hundred thousand already, and will very likely take over a million by the time the war is over. That’s not counting the millions of people who will be permanently stunted, mentally and physically, due to childhood starvation and cholera.

            I don’t think the US is uniquely evil, or is as bad as imperial Europe, or has never been a force for good anywhere. But Claire Berlinski paints an overly rosy view of the US empire, and this fearmongering about Russia/China is completely uncalled for considering that they have been less of a threat to the world at large than the US.

          4. @Fraxinicus

            I was writing a reply to you, but it turned rather longish. Besides I think this is a very important topic. So, I’m going to dedicate an entire post to the reply. Watch this space 🙂

          5. @Fraxinicus +1
            Leaders like HoChiMin or Castro weren’t communists to start with in government. The US policy of ‘if you are not with me, you are against me ‘ drove them to the other side. Even in Afghanistan, after 1988 when the last Soviet soldiers left, the original objective of containing USSR were over , still they kept supporting Mujahideen till Kabul fell to the rebels after terrible destruction of Kabul and the collapse of any authority in Afghanistan. US is still struggling with the consequences of that with even more blood and money.

      3. 1. The US “export” of violence is not even a minuscule fraction of what the Europeans were doing to each other (let alone in their colonies) through the 19th and early 20th centuries.

        Europe had a population (and resource) problem I would say pre 1500’s. Europe exported some of their problems (by emigration and resource extraction) to the Americas, Africa and Australia.
        In Europe, even with all the wealth extraction from the Colonies, and better life pre WW1 (not the Charles Dickens era) it was becoming harder to keep the populace happy.

        Specially in Germany pre WW1. As a landlocked country (no proper seafaring history) it did not have the colonies like the neighboring Dutch, French and England. So why not invade neighbors that have colonies.

        My personal opinion: What Germany did was invade other white people (European countries), a big no no. Maybe if they went to say India and fought the Brits for India it would have been OK.

        Back to slapstiks contention US “export” of violence is not even a minuscule fraction of what the Europeans

        First one should notice the uptick of US “export” of violence to the rest of the world, within the last few decades. Next the increase in population in the US (immigration, natural increase whatever). Decrease in standard of living (and stable employment and expectations) say compared to the 1960’s-70’s.

        So unless there is a gradual transition of lowered expectations in the US, expect increases of
        a) Export of violence
        b) Internal Violence (eg Baltimore)

        1. sbarrkum, Germany had colonies before WWI too. I don’t think the world wars were about colonies per say. WWI was a miscalculation and mistake. WWII was ideological. Hitler was trying to promote German Indology, nationalism, socialism. Tojo was also religiously motivated. Hitler and Tojo’s alliance was partly driven by shared ideology.

          “Maybe if they went to say India and fought the Brits for India it would have been OK.” It would not have been okay and it would have led to WWII. Hitler was deeply impressed, awed and inspired by Netaji. Hitler very much wanted to put his ally and fellow Nazi (or so Hitler thought) Netaji in power in India. Hitler appears to have believed that German culture came from Sanskrit and that Germany and India and Japan were natural allies.

          Hitler simultaneously thought India had been corrupted and lost her greatness over time. India had moved away from German Indology, Sanskrit, Vedas, Tibetan Buddism, martial war fighting, technology etc.

          “First one should notice the uptick of US “export” of violence to the rest of the world, within the last few decades.”
          Why do you think this? Do you think that the Arabist lobby (Gulf Deep State and Pakistani GHQ Deep State) control America? I think they have had a vast foul influence over DC for far, far too long. America needs to be rescued from them. This discussion can take place offline.

          “Next the increase in population in the US (immigration, natural increase whatever).” US population growth is quite slow and needs to increase. The US urgently needs more birth fertility and more immigration.

          “Decrease in standard of living (and stable employment and expectations) say compared to the 1960’s-70’s.”

          Intend to write a series of articles on this. Over 50% of Americans have seen rising living standards. However a large minority have seen growing socio economic challenges. Every other country is starting to experience similar challenges. The world has a “culture” challenge.

          The US is harmed by global violence and will generally try to contribute to the global commons to reduce global instability, unpredictability and violence. Much the way Asia (China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia etc.), Latin America, Australia and Europe will.

          Security is a global common. Everyone benefits, regardless of whether they contribute to it or not. About 82% of the benefits of US spending on global security accrues to foreigners. America benefits from Chinese and Indian spending on security too.

          “Internal Violence (eg Baltimore)” I want to write many articles on this subject. In research mode and e-mailing some other scholars for their thoughts first:

          I would be very curious to hear your thoughts too, since you have a heck of a lot of common sense. Thanks for your comments on:

  3. While Trump looks like a selfish oddball, there is a method to his madness. If you see his viewpoints on international matters from the 80s there’s a consistency. Trump is a throwback to 19th century isolationism. All 20th century experience and institutions have been bypassed by him.

    1. this is not really true. trump is some sort of jacksonian. not a jeffersonian isolationist. he has no no problem continuing wars, though thank god he has not started a new one.

      1. I think Trump continuing wars has to do with him not looking “weak” and his cabinet full of military generals. The whole point of making a deal with Putin, abandoning NATO et all points to same direction, that he is a isolationist, as much as possible in todays’ era. He would/could start a war if its against this pet villains islamists(Iran) but would like to make a deal with all foes who look like him(Russia).

        1. Well as a Bahai I believe in the teleological view of history; everything will culminate in Baha’u’llahs vision of a “Divine Civilisation”; made in Iran and centred on Israel (talk about bridging the divide).

          However I do want to start elaborating on My pet theory of “Scriptural” Civilisations; sort of a twist on Huntington’s theories

    1. The US withdrawal from post WW2 world order will be equivalent to the refusal of the US to join the League of Nations post WW1 which was advocated by President Wilson

      no it won’t. did you bother reading my post?

      post-ww1 the USA was the dominant superpower that refused to be. it’s economy was already as big as the large w. european economies combined. it had been the largest economy since the last quarter of the 19th century.

      in contrast, in the 2030s the usa will finally cede the status of the #1 (nominal) economy to china.

    1. Trump’s Iran policy is driven by Israeli lobby rather than US interests or cooperation with other strategic partners like India in the region. India has a broad cooperation with Iran on many matters.

      1. Trump’s Iran policy is driven by Israeli lobby rather than US interests or cooperation with other strategic partners like India in the region. India has a broad cooperation with Iran on many matters.

        i think trump is wrong on iran. but what the hell are you talking about ‘india’ and the ‘region’?

        saudi arabia is hardcore anti-iran, and on this israel & SA (and jordan and most of the gulf state except qatar) agree. india is not a strategic partner in the region, it’s in a different region.

        americans need to stop seeing everything from an american perspective. but perhaps you should stop seeing everything from an indian perspective.

        1. Forget Central Asia, the way India behaves it does not even deserve to be strategic partner in South Asia. Had there been any alternate power in South Asia who could have taken on China, I think US would have dropped India like a hot potato.

          1. Yes India is not a particularly magnanimous regional hegemon; Pakistan has a lot to blame for but the fact that it’s been spectacularly been able to counterbalance India especially on the NorthWestern flank demonstrates poor vision.

            India of course is the hound chasing its supper and Pakistan is the rabbit so survival does create some exigencies..

          2. Trump is temperamentally unsuited to take long term strategic decisions and finesse them with friends and foes. He is not a good team builder who could surround himself with knowledgeable or experienced or astute people. He acts in a selfish way for himself and the US (In his opinion) . Many talented people have already left the administration. He is quite insecure, petulant and vindictive.

          3. In the 50s, US thought it found such an alternative power in Pakistan for its military and strategic partner. Only now it is waking up to the fact that with such partners you don’t need enemies.

      1. The Ummah is a particularly difficult kettle to navigate.

        It’s interesting that most serious secessionist struggles are extra-civilisational.

        The Kurds being the major exception but even then Kurdish nationalism seems more opportunistic than determined. Contrast it with the Palis or Kashmiris who just wont go away..

        1. Zack, Kurds are the nicest people ever. They want to be everyone’s friend. Everyone should be friends with the Kurds.

          Kurds have greatly helped Iraq, Turkey Iran and Syria. Thank you Kurdistan! Thank you brave Yezidis! [Kurds were Yezidis until forced to convert by the sword . . . but muslim Kurds still love Yezidis].

          I could write a couple articles on Kurds and Yezidis; but too many other articles to get to first.

  4. Fraxinicus, you really believe this stuff?
    Americans greatly exaggerate US influence and greatly underestimate the influence of others. It is hillarious.

    “To the extent that a country starts a war, or significantly escalated and/or prolonged it, then to an extent you can pin all of the suffering of that war (or added suffering as a result of escalation/ prolongation) on that country. To paraphrase Sherman, those who bring war into a country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.”

    It is very hard to know what “country starts a war, or significantly escalated and/or prolonged it”. These need to be carefully analyzed on a case by case basis.

    “The Korean War would have ended in a few months, with very few casualties.” Stalin started the Korean war for his own malevolent reasons and partly tricked Mao.

    America had significantly pressured South Korea 1945 to 1950 to not arm and to be friends with North Korea and USSR. [To US didn’t firmly decide on the cold war until 1950]. South Koreans were correctly upset that the US didn’t want a strong South Korean military. South Koreans didn’t want to be ruled by communists and that was their right.

    South Korea is a global wonder. One of the most successful and greatest countries in the world. North Korea, well isn’t. Their people are 7 inches shorter, starved and dehydrated. North Koreans have no freedom. South Koreans have more freedom of thought than post modernist North European countries.

    Both North and South Korea were significantly poorer and less developed than India, Bangladesh and Pakistan 1945-1950.

    Don’t you celebrate the rise of South Korea?

    “Vietnam would have been united with little bloodshed.” We don’t agree at all. Rather the South Vietnamese would have allied with China against the North Vietnamese. South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, New Zealand would have still helped the South Vietnamese. The Vietnamese war would still have been fought and the outcome would have been uncertain. China might have been able to help the South Vietnamese win.

    The NVA was almost completely dependent on China and the USSR.

    “There would have been no long general insurgency in Iraq”
    The great Iraqi civil war started in 1979. It was already underway in 2003. The US involved herself in an ongoing multi-sided deeply complex civil war/regional war in 2003 without understanding what the heck was going on.

    “no ISIS. ”
    Fraxinicus, at this point I think you are trolling. You do realize of course that ISIS was part of Al Qaeda until 2011. When OBL died there was a war of succession. Some followed Zawahiri and some followed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is hard to see how OBL’s passing would not lead to a war of succession.

    The goal of extreme militant Islamists such as AQ and Daesh is to conquer and rule the world to make it perfect . . . so bunnies can play and cats can wink and whales can swim. To make the world a living heaven where God’s will is done; defined, interpreted and implemented by Islamists. The three greatest modern triggers of global Islamism were 1920, 1950s (Sayyid Qutb), and the late 1970s (USSR/Afghanistan and Zia). The US was blissfully ignorant of all three . . . caught up in America’s contemporary starlet gossip scandals.

    America did not create extreme Islamism in 632 AD or keep the Islamic civil war alive for 14 centuries. At best you can say that America very stupidly backs Islamists against reasonable muslims. But isn’t this also true for the large majority of the world’s nonmuslims?

    Friend, you have been brainwashed by post modernists. We need to free ourselves of all meta-narratives, universalist norms, concepts, thoughts and mind. Let us be free! 🙂

    1. “Americans greatly exaggerate US influence and greatly underestimate the influence of others. It is hillarious.”
      They do, but the US has been hugely influential across the world since WW2. For almost 30 years we’ve been the sole global hegemon. Where have I exaggerated America’s power and presence?

      “It is very hard to know what “country starts a war, or significantly escalated and/or prolonged it”. These need to be carefully analyzed on a case by case basis.”

      I agree.

      Korea: Started by Kim with support of Mao and Stalin. However, it was not a black vs. white war of evil commies against South Koreans struggling to preserve their freedom. Many NK leaders were freedom fighters against Japan; SK government was full of corruption and colonial collaborators, and was more violent towards its own citizens than the North in the early days. Many SK did actually want to be ruled by communists; a fair referendum would likely have resulted in the country being unified under a communist regime (likewise in Vietnam).

      In hindsight, keeping the commies out of power proved very good for the southern half of the peninsula, where much more people have always lived. For that reason I think it was better that we intervened. However, the short-term effects of intervention were millions of lost lives, and a completely devastated Korean peninsula. Seoul changed hands 4 times. Our indiscriminate terror bombing campaign against the North, on a scale unprecedented in warfare before or since, killed well over a million civilians and destroyed all NK industry. Along with the permanent division and militarization of the peninsula, it went a long way towards building up the paranoia and insanity of the Kim regime that has led to North Koreans being so poor off even by the standards of other communist countries.

      Vietnam: ARVN was always a corrupt POS military, and was steamrolled by the North as soon as the US pulled out of Vietnam. All we accomplished in the country was getting a lot of people killed for nothing. I don’t know why you think China would have propped up the South if we didn’t.

      Iraq: The collapse of Saddam’s government created the power vacuum and disenfranchised Sunni elite which led to the creation of ISIS. Violence in the country drastically increased following the ousting of Saddam’s regime, even if he was a horrible man.

      Syria: Assad’s government has had a natural advantage in the war from the beginning. Without external weapons the opposition would have collapsed long ago. The US has played a major role in getting weapons to the opposition. We are responsible (along with the Gulf states and Turkey) for turning what would have been a brief and relatively minor insurgency into a full-blown civil war… and the people we backed were even worse than the tyrannical government they were rebelling against, so you can’t even say it was for a good cause.

      Lybia: “We came, we saw, he died.” Obama, to his credit, was more cautious about foreign intervention than pretty much everyone else in his government, but the US still played a big role in the fall of Gaddafi.

      Yemen: Worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Read up on the history of the Biafra war – the same thing is happening in Yemen, in an area with even more people and less capability to grow its own crops. The US provides bombs and targets to the Saudis – and those targets have included hospitals and essential port facilities that bring in the majority of Yemen’s food.

      So taking it as a whole, if I could undo all of the effects of American interventionism since the end of WW2, I would. We’d lose first world South Korea, but likely also the uniquely horrible Kim regime that we saw in our own timeline (I’m somewhat skeptical of this, but this is the stance of Bruce Cumings, one of the best modern historians of Korea) – it’d probably be closer to communist Vietnam, which was poor, but always managed to feed its people, and is now on the path to rapid growth following the Chinese model.

      We’d also raise millions from their graves.

      Our imperial order is still better than that of the Brits. But that doesn’t mean it’s ideal. I think the Chinese model of imperialism that Razib brings up in his latest post on gnxp would be better for the world, and that’s why I’m not mourning the downfall of American monopolarity, or dreading the rise of China.

      1. I have to agree with you (Fraxinicus) on this one. Iraq was a war of choice. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was not a threat to the US. Yes, he was a brutal dictator but why should that be America’s problem? America was happy to support Saddam once upon a time. Removing Saddam and disempowering Sunnis created the conditions which led to ISIS. Anan’s “extreme Islamism” has not always existed since the birth of Islam, but is a distinctly modern phenomenon.

        You are right on Libya and Syria as well. Not America’s problems. I have no love lost for Qaddafi or Assad but the US arming rebels is not a smart thing to do. “We came, we saw, he died” is a pretty damning statement and was not Hillary’s finest hour.

        1. Kabir, from our past interactions you have been respectful of the Iraqi resistance to Saddam 1979-2003, which I greatly appreciate. The Iraqi resistance had the right to request and accept assistance from any country they chose. About 20 countries gave the Iraqi resistance substantial assistance, of which America was one.

          We don’t agree on how ISIS (technically Al Qaeda before 2011) came to be. About 18% of Iraqis are Sunni Arabs. Don’t the other 82% also deserve rights and freedom? [I am sure you will say yes.]

          America could not have stopped the Arabs, Turks and Europeans from intervening in Libya. If the US had stayed out the Libyan civil war/regional war would likely still be ongoing.

          Assad destroyed Syria. Assad’s own people have publicly acknowledged training, equipping and sending over 50,000 Syrians and tens of thousands of non Syrian non Iraqi foreigners to attack Iraq 2003-2008. [In 2008 Assad reached a de facto deal with the Iraqi government to pull back his forces.] These very same people that Assad had backed later attacked Assad. As did the “Iraqi resistance fighters” backed by Jordan, GCC, Egypt, Libya, Sudan etc.

          America did not back the Syrian resistance against Assad in any significant way. President Obama went against the advise of his cabinet, the Congress and America’s allies. However the Turks, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Europe did back the Syrian rebels. The US couldn’t have stopped them and shouldn’t have tried. [After the fall of Assad, many Libyans went to fight in Syria. So did many Hamas and Fatah fighters from Palestine.]

          Note that the Arab League backed the “Iraqi resistance” against the Iraqi Government and Iraqi Army 2003-2008 too. America was unable to persuade the Arabs to stop then either.

          ““We came, we saw, he died” is a pretty damning statement and was not Hillary’s finest hour.” We agree. I am not the biggest fan of Hillary.

          1. The details are not that important and I don’t feel like going into the whole thing again. The point is that Iraq is a Shia-majority country and Saddam was Sunni. Under his rule, Sunnis were ruling over Shia. When the US toppled him, they went to the other extreme and privileged Shia over Sunnis. The new Iraqi government also privileges Shia (understandable since they are getting their own back after the dictatorship). Sunni anger led to ISIS. Many very smart people make this argument. You don’t have to agree with them, but this is a real argument.

            The main thing is that I agree with Fraxinicus that it is not the role of the US to play world cop. The Arab/Muslim world is very messed up. This is the problem of Arabs themselves. US intervention arguably makes things worse and not better. The Americans don’t understand the first thing about Shia vs. Sunni and then they come up with a plan to basically partition Iraq into a Sunni area, a Shia area and a Kurdish area. How’s that working out for them? Saddam was terrible but he held the place together. Iran has gotten too much influence over Iraq and that is a big problem regionally.

            As an American citizen, I don’t want my country’s resources being used to fight battles abroad even if we think we are promoting “democracy” or saving Afghan women from burqas or whatever we are telling ourselves that week. We all know these wars are really about control of natural resources.

            Arabs have a right to make a mess of their own region. It is not the US’s job to clean it up. Especially when their policymakers don’t understand Muslims and Islam at all. We would be better served defending the homeland and minding our own business. I am not a “liberal interventionist” though I am a Democrat.

      2. “They do, but the US has been hugely influential across the world since WW2. For almost 30 years we’ve been the sole global hegemon. Where have I exaggerated America’s power and presence?” It is more that I felt your first comment underestimated the great power, capacity and wisdom of others. As you have figured out, I am very sensitive to that sort of thing. But your last two comments demonstrate greater respect for the wisdom and power of the rest, which is good. 🙂

        Thanks for your more respectful comment regarding the South Koreans and ROKA. I have a severe man crush on my main man Syngman Rhee. 😉 He might have done well in fair election in both the south and the north. You are correct that Kim also had a lot of support before invading the South. After Kim invaded the South, he became deeply unpopular in the South. In any case would Kim have allowed democracy or freedom? The point is moot.

        Yes the war was a terrible tragedy for the world. Over thirty countries bled their best and finest in Korea as part of the UN mission. I have read many books on that war and especially appreciate the ones not written by Americans. I am not diminishing the American contribution and sacrifice. But this was the ROKA’s war. They endured several orders of magnitude more casualties than the US. The Turks fought bravely in Korea . . . leading to a close military alliance between Turkey and South Korea that remains one of the world’s strongest. Joint Turkish/South Korean R&D proved that high end military R&D collaboration need not involve Europe, Russia and America. Many other countries also fought valiantly (Aussies, Kiwis, French, UK, many European countries). I can share the order of battles of these many countries. Americans need to show more respect for their large and valuable contributions.

        Stalin tricked Mao twice . . . the initial invasion and the Chinese offensive in late 1950. Stalin enjoyed watching China and the US (Stalin hated both) bleed themselves out. The USSR also partly bankrupted themselves funding the war (and sending advisors).

        Thanks again for your kind comments about the South Koreans! And thanks to the 320,000 Brave ROKA heroes of Tiger Corps for fighting in freedom’s cause in South Vietnam!

        I love me some ARVN man. You are killing me here 🙁 The ARVN had many high quality forces. We clearly disagree on the heroes of the ARVN and South Vietnam. [There were heroes in the NVA too.] You also discount the many military victories of the ARVN, including in 1972.

        Thanks for acknowledging that Saddam was bad and not disrespecting the Iraqi resistance that fought Saddam 1979-2003 and have led the Iraqi establishment from 2003 to the present. Your view is simplistic. Al Qaeda was created by the Pakistani Army and Gulf establishment in the 1980s and was not created in Iraq. The Iraqi people should have been magnanimous in victory in 2003 and again in 2007-2008 when the Iraqi Army militarily smashed their enemies. To use the words of Glenn Loury they should have shown some “Christian charity”. However, few people would have shown similar restraint under such circumstances.

        We don’t agree on Libya. The Europeans and Arabs intervened over Obama’s strong objections. And Obama felt forced to support them ex post. America did not lead in Libya.

        Yemen is a horrible crisis. Zaidi fivers have been terribly mistreated for over a millennia. The Arabs buy weapons from all over the world and give didley squat over what Americans think. Gulfies treat Americans like servants, called former President Obama Abeed [slave], and Americans have had it up to here with that mistreatment. As best as I can tell in private the US is applying a lot of pressure on the Arabs and being completely ignored as usual. My hope is that Trump will do something about Yemen. Let us see if he does. [Trump is trying to make a deal with Iran now.]

        You are naive about how the world works. The US has to do a better job collaborating with the rest of the world in providing global commons (investments with high externalities). But the US shouldn’t free ride on the rest of the world either.

  5. Zack says
    “Hindi has no real poetic tradition”

    This is not true. Hindi has a pretty good literary tradition in both prose and poetry for the last 150 years at least. The period from 1920 to 1960 can be considered as the golden period in Hindi literature which isn’t surprising since a lot of Hindi writers & poets were very active in the Indian independence movement & their writings provided scholarly & philosophical framework for the movement.

    A prime example is Suryakant Tripathi Nirala’s “Ram ki shakti puja” on which Pratap Bhanu Mehta had this to say:

    “One of the great modern poetic renditions of Ram’s predicament is Nirala’s “Ram Ki Shakti Puja”. No summary can do justice to its linguistic inventiveness. This short poem begins with the setting sun. The armies of Ram and Ravana have left the horrifying battlefield. Ram is overcome with doubt and despair. How can he possibly defeat Ravana? Vibhishana reminds Ram that Ravana’s power comes from Goddess Shakti. Ram is shocked and mystified: by what inscrutable logic is Shakti siding with Ravana? Ravana opposes dharma. Jambvan advises Ram to worship Shakti: to reveal his true nature to her. Hanuman is ordered to bring 108 lotuses. As Ram offers them one by one, Shakti steals the last one, and Ram realises he is one short. He despairs at the uncompleted offering. But then Ram recalls how his mother affectionately called him “lotus eyed”. Thus, he decides to complete his offering by substituting his eye in place of the lotus flower. At this moment of self-offering, Shakti intervenes and blesses Ram.”

    “Nirala’s poem takes on board the motifs of every retelling of Ramayana. First, the ethical message is rather more complicated than meets the eye. In a way, Nirala is saying what Gandhi said: sustaining dharma requires making your life itself the offering. Ram has to compose himself as the offering before he is recognised as righteous; the lotuses alone won’t do it. But there is this constant ambiguity: on whose side are the Gods? One of the ignorant clichés of Indian culture is to contrast the simplicity and rectitude of the Ramayana, with the shades of grey of the Mahabharata. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Even as pious a text as Ramcharitmanas describes good and evil as inextricably and complicatedly linked in creation. So the act of moral discernment is always more complicated than the simplistic pieties that are blinding us.”

    Before that rather than standardized Hindi, compositions exist in Khari Boli, Awadhi, Braj Bhojpuri etc which too can be considered to be the part of modern Hindi’s repository of texts since all of them are mutually intelligible.

    The amount of ignorant Hindi bashing which goes on here is hilarious to say the least.

      1. Yes, until the Hindi-wallas can produce a Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, they should really keep their mouths shut 🙂

        Though I do take the point that Braj Bhasha etc have a strong literary tradition. Most Hindustani Khayal compositions are in Braj.

        1. Even though i care two hoot about all this hindi urdu thing(its almost the *same* language), I would agree to a limited point that hindi literary tradition has been overshadowed by urdu’s Ghalib, Mir et all. And one of the reason is Bollywood popularizing urdu which lot of people think it as hindi. The hindi figures thought it was beneath them to work in a “low-class” industry and mostly concerned themselves with their own sittings(amitabh bacchan father is one of them). On the other hand urdu figures had no such airs on where they stood. Its post the success of urdu in bollywood which bestowed a certain halo/acceptance of urdu , at least in India. The galibs and mirs of hindi died a silent death then.

          1. Saurav,
            I totally agree with you (and disagree with Vikram) that Urdu-Hindi is basically one language. With the exception that if one is speaking of the *Literary* language, there are significant differences. Urdu poetry is very Persianized and I doubt that someone who speaks reasonably good Hindi will be able to understand a lot of it. Even a lot of Pakistanis don’t understand the nuances of Ghalib without a lot of help (just as people don’t understand the nuances of Shakespeare without help).

            This may reveal my own ignorance, but it does seem that “Hindi” literature is not as strong as Urdu literature. We have the Gita Govinda and Ramchritmanas but they are in Braj or Awadhi and from circa the 16th century. In the twentieth century, there is Munshi Premchand (and there continues to be debate about whether he was an Urdu writer or a Hindi writer). In contrast, the poetic tradition in Urdu goes back to at least the 17oos with Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Sauda etc. In the 20th century, we had Iqbal and Faiz. Of course, those who research such things say that the origins of Urdu (then called “Hindavi”) can be seen in the works of Hazrat Amir Khusrao which are from the 13th century. So Urdu-Hindi goes back at least to that time. Also Urdu is much stronger in poetry than in prose.

            Your point about Bollywood is interesting. But we have to remember that Ghalib and Mir have been famous since long before the cinema was invented. You make an interesting point whether the language of “Hindi” films is actually Urdu. This is debatable though because films use quite a few words that we don’t hear in Pakistan.

          2. “In contrast, the poetic tradition in Urdu goes back to at least the 17oos with Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Sauda etc. ”

            Thats true, but you are talking about a literary tradition which had strong state patronage(urdu) vs a language without one. Its comparing sanskrit vs prakrit where prakrit even though “more” commonly said does not have numbers of literary works than that of sanskrit. Similar to Persian vs Punjabi in Pakistani regions, where your folk figures like Ganjshakar work is still not seen as “refined” enough for the state. Thus the work in these language suffer.

            “But we have to remember that Ghalib and Mir have been famous since long before the cinema was invented. ”

            Yes and Ghalib and Mir work would have met the same fate of hindi works
            a) Had Pakistan not made “Urdu” national langauge
            b) Bollywood had taken Hindi over urdu.

            This would have reduced urdu poetry to a clique genre, similar to what hindi works are today, spoken and enjoyed only by their literalist in hindi groups.

            “You make an interesting point whether the language of “Hindi” films is actually Urdu. This is debatable though because films use quite a few words that we don’t hear in Pakistan.”

            Not making the point thats its pure Urdu, its closer to urdu than its to Hindi

            Below is the point made by Varun grover , writer of “Sacred Games”


            “With poetry by the likes of Mirza Ghalib, Bahadur Shah Zafar and Amir Khusro inspiring songwriters to date, and the works of lyricists like Sahir Ludhianvi, Jaan Nisar Akhtar, Kaifi Azmi, Gulzar and Javed Akhtar making sure that Urdu never goes out of fashion…..

            Varun says, “Hindi poets had a purist angst. A poem should not be part of a film, they thought. But Urdu poets didn’t mind such things. Even today, a romantic song would use Urdu words. But now, threatened by English and Hinglish, Hindi is regaining its lost value and more work is being done in the language.”

          3. Urdu poetry is a “clique genre” because–lets face it– you have to have education and class to understand Ghalib and Mir. If you are not educated about the nuances of the language, you can’t really be blamed for not getting it. Faiz is a bit different because almost everyone can understand “Hum Dekhingay” and he tends to be more overtly political.

            Yes I am an elitist and I’m not ashamed to admit it–at least when it comes to high culture.

  6. Razib, India is a large player in Iraq, Iran, Gulf, Afghanistan. India is a huge trading partner, investor and collaborater with all of them. India is the largest buyer of Iraqi and Gulf Oil.

    Probably a majority of all Iranian owned assets outside of Iran are owned in India. India completely dominates the Iranian financial system. India has enormous soft power cultural influence over Iran. Many of the most important and successful Iranians graduated from Indian universities. Including Iranian expats (including Iranian Americans), and Iranians in Iran. India has more twelvers than any country other than Iran and wields great influence over Quom and Najaf.

    Could add a thousand pages worth of additional information.

  7. “Also that the “Bharat bhagya vidhata” in the Indian National Anthem was supposed to be King George V, which seems a bit problematic.”

    This is a piece of calumny which refuses to die. You should know better than to go around spouting nonsense.

    “Bharat Bhagya Vidhata” refers to Almighty God who is the arbiter of India’s civilizational destiny not a two bit petty European king. Tagore was too great a poet to write a sycophantic poem.

    “Tagore was a premier literary figure when Emperor George V and Empress Mary came to the Delhi durbar of 1911. In this context a few royalists asked him to compose a song in praise of the monarch. In answer, Tagore wrote to his friend P.B. Sen thus: “…A certain high official in His Majesty’s service, who was also my friend, had requested that I write a song of felicitation towards the Emperor. The request simply amazed me. It caused a great stir in my heart. In response to that great mental turmoil, I pronounced the victory in Jana Gana Mana (abbreviated, JGM) of that Bhagyavidhata [god of destiny] of India who has from age after age held steadfast the reins of India’s chariot through rise and fall, through the straight path and the curved. That Lord of Destiny, that Reader of the Collective Mind of India, that Perennial Guide, could never be George V, George VI, or any other George. Even my official friend understood this about the song. After all, even if his admiration for the crown was excessive, he was not lacking in simple common sense…”

    “During his lifetime Tagore was asked more than once about JGM being written in praise of the emperor. His reply was: “I should only insult myself if I cared to answer those who consider me of such unbounded stupidity as to sing in praise of George IV or George V as the Eternal Charioteer leading the pilgrims on their journey through countless ages of the timeless history of mankind.”

    1. I don’t intend to spread “calumny” or “nonsense”. I simply know that there continues to be debate about whether the Indian National Anthem is a poem of praise for King George or for God. Tagore did accept a knighthood which he later returned.

      In any case, Hindu nationalists preferred “Vande Mataram” but that song is hugely offensive to the Muslim community. The whole idea of bowing before some “mother goddess” instead of Allah is just not on. (I like the song personally, but Islamic theology is quite clear that we bow to Allah alone). The bigger problem is that the song comes from a novel which is blatantly anti-Muslim.

      So the compromise reached by your leaders was that “Vande Mataram” is your “national song” and “Jana Gana Mana” is your national anthem. I personally don’t really care. I have two perfectly fine national anthems (Pak Sarzameen and The Star-Spangled Banner). But as I noted “Amar Shonar Bangla” is a better song and it has no problematic lyrics. The Bengalis simply celebrate the beauty of the motherland during various seasons.

      1. ” but that song is hugely offensive to the Muslim community.”

        Had more people read the book from which the song is lifted, the song would have seemed the least offensive thing to muslims 😛

  8. V.C.:
    “Even in Afghanistan, after 1988 when the last Soviet soldiers left, the original objective of containing USSR were over , still they kept supporting Mujahideen till Kabul fell to the rebels after terrible destruction of Kabul and the collapse of any authority in Afghanistan. US is still struggling with the consequences of that with even more blood and money.”

    The US did not intentionally support the Mujahideen after the Soviets left. The US almost completely ended all US aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan after 1988.

    US policy makers at the time were extremely uninformed, ignorant naive boy scouts. You should read some books about that time period.

    Castro was backed by powerful American factions. It was only after Castro came to power that Americans realized the extent of their mistake. Millions of Cubans fled, creating the powerful Cuban American community.

    Cuba use to be a rich first world country in the 1950s, not poor like today.

    1. AnAn
      I have heard from horse’s mouth i.e. US Admin official in South Asia Desk I think, in a BBC News some time in early 1990s, explaining and justifying the policy of supplying arms to Mujahideen who were fighting Najibullah govt.

      1. V.C., the US congress cut off foreign aid to Afghanistan in 1989 and to Pakistan in 1990 by invoking the Pressler amendment. But because of the vagaries in how the US system works and delays in how previously appropriated funds are spent . . . spending continued after the US congress cut off funds. This is what you are referring too.

        Yes a national unity government between Najibullah and the Mujahideen would have been best. However the Pakistani Army [let us be honest . . . Benazir, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and Nawaz had no power] didn’t let that happen.

  9. I have read probably 30 books or so on South East Asia. Yes the US and Ho could have potentially been allies.

    In 1963 Ho reached out to the South Vietnamese to negotiate peace. However in 1964 Lê Duẩn removed Ho from power and chose war. [NVA large units invaded the South in 1964.] If Ho had remained in power it is likely the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese would have made peace. Ho would also have negotiated with America.

    Lê Duẩn hated the South Vietnamese and wasn’t willing to negotiate with them. He was slightly willing to negotiate with the US; but only if the South Vietnamese were not present. No peace was possible under these conditions.

    South Vietnamese and American outreach to Ho in and after 1964 failed. Because Ho had no power.

    Ho understood the Soviets, China, South Vietnamese, America, and the other players better than Lê Duẩn did. Ho also knew that China was determined to keep North Vietnam weak and dependent on China.

  10. Fraxinicus:
    “The USA supported every non-communist dictatorship in Europe, including the Greek junta after it overthrew a democratically elected government.”

    Fraxinicus, can you give examples? The US did business with regimes that happen to be in power. What country in the world doesn’t? That isn’t the same thing as backing them. You are calling the Greek regime right wing. Wasn’t it an anti Soviet leftists socialist anti business anti globalization regime (that was considerably to the left of the regime that it replaced in 1967)? Since Greece was in NATO, all NATO countries de facto did business with Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos was also not exactly friendly to America.

    In general the US pushes for openness, freedom and democracy, albeit imperfectly. The large exception being the greater Arab world (including Pakistan) . . . where US policy seems to have been hijacked by the very powerful Arabist lobby–which is not America’s friend.

    What is wrong with freedom? Don’t muslims deserve freedom Fraxinicus? Why do post modernists fear freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling so much?

    1. Given that you’ve admitted that the US does not push for openness, freedom, and democracy in the greater Arab world, I don’t know why you think criticizing the American empire means opposing freedom for Muslims.

      1. ” I don’t know why you think criticizing the American empire means opposing freedom for Muslims.”

        I misunderstood your previous comment:
        “They don’t seem to be interested in exporting their ideology or form of government (= no Iraq or Libya style wars), and show no more propensity than the US to make deals with brutal dictatorships.”
        I thought you were implying that the international community should not encourage freedom. [I don’t want to detour, but China and Russia have far more of a propensity to make deals with brutal dictatorships than the free world does . . . North America, Mexico, Brazil, Europe, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Turkey etc.]

        If you support freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling for muslims, then hallelujah! We agree! To bad few nonmuslims appear to agree with us 🙁

        1. To clarify, I don’t support the spread of any form of government or ideology by war. However, the problem with any evangelical religion (including Western liberalism) is that its followers often resort war when they have trouble converting by other means. Spreading the faith also provides an easy justification for invading any infidel country that you want to conquer for more worldly reasons.

          1. Do you consider freedom to be an evangelical religion? Freedom is the basis of eastern philosophy and western enlightenment.

            Unless muslims have freedom of art and thought; how can there be dialogue? How can the fourteen century civil war end?

            “Spreading the faith also provides an easy justification for invading any infidel country that you want to conquer for more worldly reasons.” Post WWII who other than post modernists and Islamists have tried this? Would you at least agree that muslims who live in nonmuslim countries should enjoy freedom (they do not now)? And that nonmuslims should try to protect muslims from those who would kill muslims for their art, thoughts and feelings?

            To better understand, if someone tried to kill your sister would you try to protect her? If no, end of conversation. You are a pacifist and I love pacifists. But if you would try to protect your sister, isn’t every other female in this world also your sister in spirit. Shouldn’t you try to protect all your sisters equally. It is hypocrisy, and virtue signaling inauthenticity that I don’t understand.

            Who wants to rule others? This is a lot more rare than you appear to believe. Few want the trouble and responsibility to look after others. Generally ruling others involves giving the ruled a lot of foreign aid. This is why few countries (other than Manichean post modernists and Islamists) want to rule others.

          2. You need to let go of this “14 century civil war” thing. You have some very strange ideas about Islam.

            Who appointed you the guardian of the world’s Muslims? If you’ve appointed yourself to the task, I suggest backing off and focusing on those things that you can actually do something about. The Muslim world should really not be your problem. Arabs/Muslims are entitled to figure out how they want to run their own societies.

            I think when Fraxinicus refers to “more worldly reasons” he/she is talking about the fact that Iraq II was about control of Iraq’s oil rather than about Saddam Hussain or “democracy”.

    2. Pakistan is not part of the Arab World (much as some Pakistanis would like it to be). Bush II’s “Greater Middle East” stupidity needs to be put to rest forever.

      1. Is there a country in the world which does not have its own “greater…” of its nation? I am sure there would be something even called Greater Maldives as well, which would have parts of Kerala. 😛

        1. Iranians often speak of Afghanistan as part of “Greater Iran”.

          But Bush II’s “Greater Middle East” concept was in a class of stupidity all by itself. Pakistan is a South Asian country. We have nothing in common with the Middle East except for the fact that we practice Islam.

  11. @Santosh,

    I second you on those mis-pronunciations by Telugus. “Jaladhi taranga” was often “Jalaji taranga” in our case.

  12. In summary: “We are Exceptional! And because of this we must be in war non-stop with anyone, preferably, small and weak. By the way, we print green papers and replace this for hard-work produced goods from non-exceptional.”

    …May I suggest, at some stage, analysis of Paul Craig Roberts’ texts? Thanks.

    1. Are you referring to the Islamists?

      Isn’t everyone exceptional and great?

      Do you want police to protect you and your loved ones? If so, why should you get protection that others are denied?

      Kabir, Iraq’s oil belongs to Iraqis. They didn’t belong to Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was not the legitimate leader of Iraq. Mass murdering a bunch of people doesn’t make someone the legitimate leader of a country. What is wrong with saying that the Iraqi people have property rights over the hydrocarbon deposits inside Iraq? Don’t you believe in property rights?

      The new order that took over Iraq in 2004 had full complete international legitimacy and sovereignty including over Iraq’s oil reserves. This was certified by a unanimous vote in the UN.

      1. We’ll have to agree to disagree. The Iraq War 2003 was a war of choice and entered into under false pretenses. There were no “weapons of mass destruction” and Saddam was not a threat to the US homeland (which is what the US should care about rather than playing world cop). Colin Powell lied to the UN.

        “Iraq’s oil belongs to Iraqis”. I have no problem with that statement except that the war benefited Halliburton and other American companies. We all know “democracy” was only an excuse.

  13. I am not sure if your reply is referred to me. You did really good summary of the book and I summarized your summary in one sentence. What I mentioned was what Americans say. Obama, Hillary and now Pompeo said many times that US and Americans are exceptional and that everything they do is the God’s hand.

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