Racing ahead..

I have many swirling thoughts I want to write on but little time to write on them.

However the above graph is mesmerising to watch as they’ve cleverly made it into a race track competition. The story of China, Japan, US and Germany are the ones to watch.

It would have perhaps been better to aggregate the EU as a singular entity to give a better perspective on its relative size & importance.

Muslims have always known how weird Saudi Arabia is

I’m not a big fan of Hasan Minhaj’s “Millennial smug” style of comedy. What it really reminds me is Brad Stine’s “Christian comedy.” It’s aimed toward ingroups and comes off as tone-deaf and stupid to outgroups. So you know what you’re getting into.

That being said, as someone who is Muslim Minhaj has always “gotten” the issue with Saudi Arabia. Most Muslims I have known, from very conservative Salafi types to irreligious cultural varieties, have strange and strong attitudes toward Saudi Arabia. Even the most conservative often have mixed attitudes, because Saudi Arabia may sponsor Salafism worldwide, but no one can deny that the ruling family are hypocrites in their private practice.

Believing Muslims though have to admit that the Saudis are currently the guardians of Islam’s holy sites, and, the kingdom provides a great deal of money for various Muslim causes as well as Muslims more generally. And of course, Saudi Arabia has been a source of employment for many Muslims from outside the kingdom for many decades.

The fact that we are “having a discussion” about Saudi Arabia as if there is a discussion to have is a testament to the power of money in public discourse, and how one can buy elite complicity.

Great job to India

I’m of the belief that Leadership drives everything. There is of course historical trends because of geography and deep-set cultural patterns however organisational and national success is often reliant on getting the best to the top.

At the end of Ancien Regime in Europe it was the mixed monarchy of the Hanoverians and the sustained + inspired leadership of the Prussians that really set the stage for Europe’s turbulent centuries ahead.

While Spain & Austria under the Hapsburg tottered on; the French under their Sun King eventually exhausted themselves into 2 centuries of Revolutions and Republics.

To tie it back into this piece; having inspirational school principals can obviously lift results. Also this program happens to be run by Isha Ambanis father-in-law so this could probably be a puff piece.

I do think that for India; Modi seems to be the best leader. Celibate, non-dynastic and ruthlessly focussed on the future of the country. I don’t like the man on a personal level but I respect him on a professional one.

I hold the inverse to be true for Imran Khan. I find him amusing and I’m sure he would be a charming dinner guest but I don’t think he has the ability to really lead Pakistan out of these choppy waters.

Some Random Rants

(1.) I’m really tired of racism. It just seems a constant witch hunt; I don’t know what Megan Kelly actually said but constantly policing white people is leading to major pushback.

(2.) It’s really a civil war among white people themselves; as Razib notes white liberals lead very vanilla lives. I’m sad that Apu will be phased out, he was a problematic but key character.

(3.) I’m increasingly convinced that white liberals are priming “model minorities” to constantly whine and complain. The whole point about banter (in Britain at least) is the piss-taking aspect of it. WASPs do it all the time and admittedly it’s not part of the culture (it was something I didn’t understand when I first got here; Persianate traditions are particularly hyper-sensitive).

(4.) I have gotten into Twitter and am getting quite good at it. I get bored when no-one writes to me but then I get stressed when I see lots of notifications. I’ve always tried to avoid controversy (unsuccessfully) but then it’s only when one is controversial that one stirs chatter etc. It’s a meditation on what the NewsCycle is like.

(5.) I see the Tiber foaming with much blood if model minorities in the West (Hindus, Chinese) start getting on the SJW act. Political correctness is simply going mad and everyone realises that the point of immigration is simply to alter the political landscape. Personally I think it’s in very bad taste when immigrants try to transform the political landscape of their host society.

I’ll expand on this post as time goes on..

Review: Raiders of the China Coast

Raiders of the China Coast is the account of a little known CIA operation that trained and managed anti-communist guerrillas and agents on the various islands that were retained by the Taiwanese regime (the “Republic of China”) after the Chinese mainland was captured by the Chinese communists. The author, Frank Holober, spent his life in the CIA and later in several academic institutions teaching about China. The book is one of the few memoirs written by people who personally took part in various CIA covert operations on the “hot” fringes of the cold war and has been vetted by the agency to ensure that no secrets are spilled (the author thanks some in the agency for approving it, and criticizes others for needless bureaucratic obstruction and “security theater”, but he got a foreword from General Robert Barrow, USMC, who had served with Frank (and the CIA) in the 1950s, so it is all good).

The book is mostly a fond look back at the author’s male-bonding days, not a detailed history of CIA covert operations during the Korean war (which is the somewhat misleading subtitle of the book). As the author relates in the first chapter (“Old Haunts Beckon”), the idea of the book came to him after he retired and revisited Taiwan after a gap of 40 years and was reminded of the days of youthful adventure and excitement he had spent there with his CIA comrades in “Western Enterprises Inc”; that nostalgia is clearly the main driver of the book. Which is fine, because while his family and friends (and those of the other adventurers he mentions in the book) will no doubt get an extra-special thrill from reading the book, other readers can also learn about an interesting aspect of the early cold war, about CIA covert operations in general, about the colorful characters who took part in these events, about China and it’s fascinating recent history, and of course, about male-bonding, buddy movies and all that jazz.  Continue reading Review: Raiders of the China Coast

oh do keep quiet you overprivileged Pars..

Personally I disagree with the SC decision on Saribmala Court.

I hadn’t heard of Justice Nariman, the only famous lawyer I knew about in India is the Sindhi chap of whom Vidhi is particularly proud of.

At any rate I googled him a bit further and immediately stumbled on this drivel:

I’m sufficiently woke enough to spot humble bragging and the below is as good an example of it as one can find:

“There is no caste in the mother country of my religion. But here, we have it. It doesn’t matter there, where you are born, but here you have to take birth in a priestly family to become a priest. I couldn’t have become a priest, if I was not born in a priestly family,” Justice Rohinton Nariman said.

A quick google search of Caste in Sassania yielded this:

The estates. The Avestan concept of four estates (see i, above) persisted in Sasanian times under the designations āsrōnīh, the estate of the priests (āsrōns); artēštārīh, the estate of the warriors (artēštār); wāstaryōšīh, the estate of the husbandmen (wāstaryōš); and hutuxšīh, the estate of the artisans (hutuxš, lit. “who strives well”;Dēnkard, ed. Madan, II, p. 595; ed. Dresden, p. 360; tr. Molé, chap. 1.22, pp. 6-7). Ohrmazd is said to have personally taught the theory and practice of the four estates to Zarathustra (ed. Madan, II, p. 599, cf. p. 623; ed. Dresden, p. 357, cf. p. 337; tr. Molé, chap. 1.41 pp. 12-13, cf. 3.48 pp. 38-39). 
Sounds suspiciously like Caste to me! It seems he’s using Pars privilege (which is Parsi in the Hindu community and Shi’ite Persian in the Muslims community) to pontificate and exploit the host society.

The Axis of Autocrats. China & Saudi; Pakistan’s evergreen friends

The recent news that Imran Khan has been able to prise 6bn USD in aid from a distressed Saudi Arabia reflects many things:

(1.) the Axis is going to be Saudi-Pak-China with Pakistan emerging as a sort of lynchpin. As with any Great Power in decline the US is going to try and throw its weight around.

(2.) while Trump is an astonishingly effective orator; his latest tweet on the bombing scare scandal at once rouses his base and inflames his enemies, it’s hard to see how he can effectively project American influence.

(3.) 9-11 is probably the most successful attack on the US not because of the actual attack but because of the botched response. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have delegitimised American foreign policy (to some extent) and also show the American reluctance to project troops abroad.

(4.) How does all of this relate to modern South Asia? Well the US-Pakistan relationship simply isn’t what it once was since the US doesn’t have as much use for Pakistan. As a power in general retreat from Asia, the US conceivably has much more in common (and points of vexation especially in relation to H1B1) with India than Pakistan.

(5.) Saudi Arabia and China are counter-cultural power; one espouses hereditary monarchy and the other communism with Confucian characteristics. Like Pakistan they are fundamentally “out of sorts” with the modern world and the ongoing cult (?) of liberal democracies.

(6.) This “Axis of Autocracy” may individually have competing interests (Saudi will ALWAYS maintain a strong relationship with the US, the China has some interest in Iran) but Pakistan binds them as the weakest member (sort of the Italy in the WW2 Axis).

(7.) Pakistan is the most likely stumble from crisis to crisis and especially in the latest “begging bowl incident” Imran was spurned away from both Saudi & China to go to the IMF. Khashoggi’s murder was serendipitous for Pakistan (are we sure it’s not an ISI false flag) as an isolated and under attack Saudi had to immediately shore up its alliance.

(8.) with the renewed impetus from a successful negotiation Imran can now play his hand against the Chinese. Though Pakistan’s foreign policy agenda is destructive (more Habsburg than Prussia); survival can focus the mind.

(9.) The only real way this Axis would be shattered if the “people” rose up and all three nations seem to have inoculated their citizens from the Western winds of liberal democracy. In some ways the Sabrimala Temple incident shows that Modern India is more an enemy of traditional Hinduism than anyone else.

Brown Pundits