Monday 25 November 2002

The Clash of Civilizations (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

MANIPAL, India, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Our new 21st century is seeing religion-based extremism and authoritarian attempts at hegemony over democratic entities emerge as the twin threats to international stability, the way Japan and Germany challenged the Western democracies in the 1930s. Deeper than politics, even economics, it is civilisational currents that are determining the likely alliances in this conflict. Each of the four broad streams now extant on the planet has its own characteristics.

These four civilisational streams are: first, Euro-Indic; second, Arabian; third, Sinic; and fourth, African. Each is further divided into tributaries. The Euro-Indic has the most offshoots,including those dominant in India, Russia, France, the Spanish Peninsula, Britain, Turkey, Iran and Germany.
Several earlier manifestations,such as the Greek and the Roman, have effectively disappeared, as have those from other streams, such as the Egyptian. Each tributary contains elements of the others, and indeed significant strands of other streams. For example, African culture has gone deep into European music and dance.
Next in importance to the Euro-Indic is the Sinic,which again is divided into tributaries based in China itself. There are at least three major variants based ton the south, north and north-west of China itself: Korea, Vietnam and Japan. Several other countries, such as Cambodia, Thailand and Laos have a fusion of the Euro-Indic with the Sinic, while Malaysia and Indonesia have evolved a separate tributary based substantially on the Euro-Indic, but incorporating elements from the Arabian.

Monday 11 November 2002

Mind Wars and Iraq (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

MANIPAL, India, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- After World War I, the great powers imposed a peace on Germany that led to a fresh conflagration just two decades later, one far more virulent in its scope and effects. The coming military campaign against Iraq promises to be a duck shoot, given that country's eviscerated war machine. However, unless equal attention is paid to the "chemistry" of the campaign -- its "mind" factor -- as well as its "mechanics" -- the straightforward military aspects -- the very victory over Iraq may create the conditions for an intensification of the terror war against secular democracies.
This would affect the strategic interests of the democracies worldwide. To paraphrase a phrase from the 1992 Clinton campaign," It's the Mind, Stupid!" Defeating the Iraqi armed forces and toppling Saddam Hussein needs to be complemented by the creation of an atmosphere within the Muslim world that accepts such a success to be in their interests as well.
In other words, the strategy against Saddam needs to be a fusion of mechanics and chemistry .While the first deals with field mechanics and hardware, the second concentrates on the atmospherics and the psychological effects of such actions.
Islamic radicals have attempted to overcome their deficiencies in the "mechanical" with emphasis on the "chemical" in their war against modern civilization. This strategy has thus far been neglected by Western military planners.
In Afghanistan, it was not the air-dropping of peanut butter but the entry of fellow-Afghans into the battle against the Taliban that dried up support for that regime. In a similar way, there needs to be very visible -- and voluble -- Iraqi faces in the campaign against Saddam alongside President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.