MANIPUR, India, April 26 (UPI) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other war planners in the Pentagon may bridle at the comparison, but the reality is that the U.S. military establishment follows the example set by the State Department in at least one crucially wrong assumption: the belief that European traditions and analytical models can suffice to analyze Asia.
After all, since Asia was carved up among different European countries until a few decades back, clearly that meant the Europeans knew their way around.
However, times have changed, and today's Asia is a fusion of local with Western mindstreams that paradoxically make the peoples of the world's biggest continent more difficult to understand by Western scholarship.
An example is Iraq. Several Asian scholars -- including the writer, in these columns -- had warned that the absence of involvement of local anti-Saddam Hussein militias and the prominence given to the British -- the former colonizers of Iraq and therefore a people the locals are understandably sensitive about -- by U.S. war planners was likely to lead to a bulge in support for the Saddam regime, fighting what is perceived as a new Western war of conquest.