Tag Archives: International Relations

Brokers of Deceit: Examining America’s Role in the Middle-East

Brokers of Deceit HC

By Rashid Khalidi, author of Brokers of Deceit (Beacon Press, March 2013).

I served as an advisor to the Madrid and Washington Palestinian-Israeli negotiations from 1991-1993, and long wanted to use documents that I collected then, but I never found an opportunity to do so. Then the research of one my graduate students on American Middle East policy revealed a trove of newly declassified American and Israeli materials that cast a fascinating light on what I had experienced in the early 1990’s. Together with my observations on the Obama administration’s failures in dealing with the Palestine issue, it inspired me to write this short book. This is not a comprehensive history of US Middle East policy, or of US policy on Palestine. Instead, it focuses on three “moments:” one is the period 1978-82, another is the 1991-93 negotiations, and the third is the last two years of Obama’s first term. I saw that the specific patterns of US bias in favor of inflexible Israeli positions that we had seen in our negotiations with the Israelis were precisely mirrored in earlier administrations, and that little or nothing has changed under this president.

The book addresses some of the common distortions of language that are so prevalent where the Palestine issue is concerned in Israeli-American official and media discourse. I deal with corrupted terms like “peace process,” “Palestinian autonomy,” “Israeli security,” and “terrorism,” all of which in this parlance have a heavily loaded meaning. I thus am challenging both those who use these terms in policy-making, political discourse and the media, and the vast literature that reproduces them without critical analysis of what they actually mean. As I suggest in the book, this is truly Orwellian, and this corrupt language has a profound impact on reality. Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Essays, Uncategorized

From Manhattan to Mumbai: Wrestling with the Issues of Our Time

BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS by Katherine Boo

by Katherine Boo, author of the forthcoming Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity (Random House, February 2012).

As jobs and capital whip around the planet, college students will graduate into a world where economic instability and social inequality are increasing and geographic boundaries matter less and less. Unfortunately, globalization and social inequality remain two of the most over-theorized, under-reported issues of our age. My book is an intimate investigative account of how this volatile new reality affects the young people of an Indian slum called Annawadi. Like young people elsewhere, the Annawadians are trying to figure out their place in a world where temp jobs are becoming the norm, adaptability is everything, and bewildering change is the one abiding constant.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers took me three hard years to report, and one thought that sustained me was that I had a unique opportunity to show American readers that the distance between themselves and, say, a teenaged boy in Mumbai who finds an entrepreneurial niche in other people’s garbage, is not nearly as great as they might think. In the two decades I’ve spent writing about poverty and how people get out of it, I’ve come to believe, viscerally, Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Author Essays

How to Run the World

HOW TO RUN THE WORLD by Parag Khanna

by Parag Khanna, author of How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance (Random House, 2011)

The past decade—from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the global financial meltdown—has taught us the dangers of interdependence and that outsourcing leadership is a recipe for disaster. Some now fear a breakdown of our global order, but isn’t it scarier to realize that the present order has already been broken for years? It’s the kind of moment the philosopher Karl Popper had in mind when he argued that tearing down our existing order and constructing a new one from scratch might lead to a more workable system.

How bad is it? Well, today the powers that are expected to keep the peace sell the most weapons, the banks that are supposed to encourage saving promote living beyond one’s means, and food arrives to hungry people after they’ve died. We are hurtling toward a perfect storm of energy consumption, population growth, and food and water scarcity that will spare no one, rich or poor. Our ever- growing list of crises includes financial instability, HIV/AIDS, terrorism, failed states, and more. Any one of these can magnify another, creating a downward spiral for individual nations and regions. Within just twenty years we could see proxy skirmishes escalate into major war between America and China, more weak states crumbling, conflicts over submerged oil and gas resources at sea, drought- starved refugees streaming out of central Africa, and sinking Pacific islands.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Author Essays

Why Africa is Poor, and What We Can Do About It

THE SHACKLED CONTINENT by Robert Guest

by Robert Guest, author of The Shackled Continent: Power, Corruption, and African Lives (Smithsonian Books, 2010)

I once hitched a ride on a truck through a West African rain forest. The journey was supposed to take less than a day, but it took four. The dirt roads were fine so long as it didn’t rain. But we were in a rain forest, so it rained often and hard, turning our route into a swamp. A collapsed bridge slowed us down, too. The worst delays, however, were caused by police road blocks, of which we met 47.

Every few miles, we’d see a couple of rusty oil drums and some barbed wire in the middle of the road, and we’d have to stop. A plump gendarme would check our axles and tail-lights and pick over our papers, hoping to find a fault he could demand a bribe to overlook. Sometimes, this took hours.

The pithiest explanation of why travelers in Cameroon have to endure such mistreatment came from the policeman at road block number 31. He had invented a new rule about not carrying passengers in beer trucks. When I put it to him that the law he was citing did not, in fact, exist, he patted his holster and replied: “Do you have a gun? No. I have a gun, so I know the rules.”

Africa is poor today for many reasons, Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Essays

The Enough Moment

THE ENOUGH MOMENT by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle

by John Prendergast, co-author of The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa’s Worst Human Rights Crimes  (Three Rivers Press, 2010)

Three of the most horrible scourges facing humanity are genocide (the destruction of people based on their identity), rape as a war weapon (the deliberate destruction of women through targeted sexual violence), and child slavery (children who are forcibly recruited to become killing machines or sex slaves).

All three seem overwhelming and intractable, but the reality is that there are specific and concrete solutions that can be implemented, if only there were the political and popular will to do so.

Help is indeed on the way. In the last five years, Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Author Essays

Why You’re Wrong About the Crusades

LOST TO THE WEST by Lars Brownworth

by Lars Brownworth, author of  Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization (Crown, 2009).

There are few words as controversial—or as misunderstood—as ‘crusade’.  Those who doubt that need only remember nine years ago when President George W. Bush casually used it to describe the War on Terror.  The ensuing firestorm caused frantic verbal backpedaling, and resulted in the President spending the next seven years repeatedly explaining that he was not waging a war against Islam. 

Yet for all the disbelief and outrage, most people today know only a few basic ‘facts’ about the Crusades.  They are largely regarded as an exercise in hypocrisy, an unprovoked assault into the Middle East by an expansionist West.  Goaded on by the Pope, the knights of Europe sewed crosses onto their shirts and smashed their way into Jerusalem, committing horrendous atrocities in the name of a supposedly peaceful religion.  The shocking events traumatized the Islamic world, poisoning relations and leading many Muslims to conclude that the West—and Christianity in particular—was out to destroy them.  The chance for peaceful co-existence was lost, and it has been war ever since. 

Like so many popularly accepted storylines, this one depends on a short view of history.  Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Author Essays

Do We Live in a Borderless World?

The Second World by Parag Khanna

The Second World by Parag Khanna

Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century, delivered a fascinating talk at this past summer’s TED Conference. 

At the crux of his speech, and the book, is a rejection of the notion of a borderless world ruled only by First World powers, and a re-examination of other growing hot spots and spheres of influence that we ignore at our peril.

Do we live in a borderless world?  If not, is creating a borderless world a noble goal, for that matter, even attainable?

You may view the video by clicking here, and then share your thoughts with us by posting a comment. 

To the visit the author’s website, click here.  You may also follow Parag via Twitter @paragkhanna.

Leave a comment

Filed under From the Moderator