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Vijay Prashad

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Quick Thoughts: Vijay Prashad on India’s Parliamentary Elections

[Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and India's next prime minister Narendra Modi on 17 May 2014. Image by Altaf Qadri via Associated Press]

  [Between 7 April and 12 May 2014, more than half a billion Indians voted to elect 543 members of the sixteenth Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament. The result, announced on 16 May, stunned many observers. For the first time since 1984, a single party–the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi–achieved an outright majority. Modi’s party garnered 282 seats in the Lok Sabha, while the outgoing Congress Party managed to retain a mere ...

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India's Iran Policy: Between US Primacy and Regionalism

[World map showing Iran and India in green and orange, respectively. Image by Bazonka via Wikimedia Commons]

Abstract Standing at a press conference with Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Rashid Meredov on January 22, 2013, India’s President Pranab Mukherjee committed India once more to a natural gas pipeline to run from Central Asia to South Asia. “India is deficient in energy resources,” said the President, “whereas Turkmenistan is rich in hydrocarbons.” The economic complementari­ties are obvious, but not so clear are the political ramifications. The President said that ...

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Snatch and Render from Libya

[Still image taken from footage from an RAF Tornado GR4, showing the aircraft using Brimstone Missiles to destroy a Main Battle Tank in Libya during Operation Ellamy in 2011. Image from Wikimedia Commons.]

In 2004, the British government brokered the transfer of militants of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) from their “undisclosed locations” in the War on Terror to the Qaddafi regime. “This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years,” wrote Sir Mark Allen, head of Britain’s MI6 to Qaddafi’s aide Moussa Koussa on 18 March 2004. The specific matter here was the “safe arrival of Abu Abdallah ...

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Malaise Over Syria

[A Syrian child sits, in a neighbouring village to Kafr Nabuda, in the Idlib province countryside, Syria, 19 September 2013. Image via Associated Press]

  During the lead up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, we took a clear position against [imperialist] war and against dictatorships: la li-al-harb, la li-al-dictatoriyat. Today, no such simple slogan is possible. That slogan is old. We need new positions, new slogans. We need to find our way out of the confusion of today. -- Sahar Mandour, columnist for As-Safir and novelist, Beirut, 16 September. Death and displacement has begun to define Syria. The ...

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Letter to a Syrian Friend Who Said: ‘Your Opposition to the US Attack on Syria Means You Support the Asad Regime’

[Image from wikipedia.]

Dear Friend: You are in Syria, somewhere in Damascus. You have been involved in various protests to fight for more democratic space in Syria, and then, after the early months of 2011, to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Asad. I have learned a great deal from people like you, about your country and about the nature of the struggles that confront you. You have seen the tide go out in your disfavor on two fronts: first, an international environment that seemed to be in ...

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The Konyism of Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations

 “Foreign policy is an explicitly amoral enterprise,” Samantha Power, 2003. On 10 August, the newly appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, addressed the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit, an event of Invisible Children. This was Ambassador Power’s first public address since she took her seat at the United Nations. Invisible Children is the campaign group that has been behind several iterations of the “Stop Kony” video, which went viral in 2012. ...

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Pakistani Mercenaries Arrive in Bahrain

[General Zia ul-Haq in Jordan. Image from www.thefridaytimes.com]

News comes from Bahrain that a detachment of Jordanian troops has arrived in Manama to work alongside Bahraini forces. They plan to quell the Tamarod movement, which takes to the streets on 14 August, the forty-second anniversary of Bahrain’s independence from Britain. It is also one more bout in the long-running campaign for political rights in a principality run, since 1783, by the House of al-Khalifa. Generations have taken to the streets on behalf of liberal rights and ...

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Among the Thugs

[Image by Taslima Akhter.]

Delhi. “We are mere coolies working at the machines in these terrible times. We are mere dupes and fools to discover the diamond and to make a gift of it to the king, to adorn his crown.” – Nazrul Islam. Sohel Rana is a well-known figure in South Asia. He is the guy who, in my youth, would stand at the street-corner, holding court with a bunch of toughs, and offering his threatening ways as protection or intimidation for payment. As South Asian countries ...

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The Terror of Capitalism

[In the rubble of Rana Plaza. Image by Taslima Akhter.]

Delhi. On Wednesday, 24 April, a day after Bangladeshi authorities asked the owners to evacuate their garment factory that employed almost three thousand workers, the building collapsed. The building, Rana Plaza, located in the Dhaka suburb of Savar, produced garments for the commodity chain that stretches from the cotton fields of South Asia through Bangladesh’s machines and workers to the retail houses in the Atlantic world. Famous name brands were stitched here, as are ...

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New Texts Out Now: Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South

[Cover of Vijay Prashad,

Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South, with a preface from Boutros Boutros Ghali. London and New York: Verso and New Delhi: LeftWord, 2013. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Vijay Prashad (VP): When I finished The Darker Nations, I felt that the last section was not adequate. That book, published in 2007, told the story of the Third World Project from 1927-8 (the League Against Imperialism meeting in Brussels) to 1983 (the ...

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Habits of French Colonialism

[Map of West Africa. Image from News Click.]

“In other days France was the name of a country. We should take care that in 1961 it does not become the name of a nervous disease.” -- Jean Paul Sartre, preface to Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth.  In an early French film on the colonies, Enfants annamites ramassant des sépèques devant la Pagode des dames (Lumière Brothers, 1897), two French women smile condescendingly as they scatter coins to a group of Vietnamese children, who scramble to ...

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Will Brahimi Get a Breakthrough?

[A Syrian girl who fled her home with her family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels. AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen]

The killing has changed the city’s shape - This rock Is bone This smoke people breathing, Adonis, “The Desert,” 1982-83. On 20 December, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ independent commission of inquiry on Syria released its periodic update. The short report makes for frightful reading. The numbers of dead and affected have reached mythical proportions – more than forty thousand corpses, more than five hundred thousand refugees, and more than four million ...

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A Nation of Pain and Suffering: Syria (Part 3)

[Thawra Street, Damascus, closed by regime forces. 13 December 2012. Via Lens Young Dimashqi.]

[From Vijay Prashad's three-part series "A Nation of Pain and Suffering: Syria." See Part 1: Refugees here and Part 2 : Neighbors here.] Our enemies did not cross our borders They crept through our weakness like ants. -- Nizar Qabbani, “Footnotes to the Book of Setback” (‘ala Daftar al-Naksah), 1967. III. Western Plans.   On 12 December, the Friends of Syria (FoS) met for their fourth conference in Marrakech, Morocco. Hilary Clinton could not go ...

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A Nation of Pain and Suffering: Syria (Part 2)

[Syrian refugees cross from Syria to Turkey by the Orontes river, near the village of Hacipasa, Turkey, 8 December 2012. Image by Manu Brabo/AP Photo.]

Our enemies did not cross our borders They crept through our weakness like ants.    -- Nizar Qabbani, “Footnotes to the Book of Setback”                                (Hawamesh ‘ala Daftar al-Naksah), 1967. II. Neighbors. As the refugees pour into Syria’s neighbors, tensions come with them. The most thorough ...

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A Nation of Pain and Suffering: Syria (Part 1)

Our enemies did not cross our borders They crept through our weakness like ants.   -- Nizar Qabbani, “Footnotes to the Book of Setback”                                                        (Hawamesh ...

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Going from Pillar to Truce

[Remains of a Gaza home hit by an Israeli air strike. Image by Scott Bobb. From Wikimedia Commons.]

On the eighth day of the bombardment of Gaza, the Israeli government agreed to sit down with the Hamas leadership and the Egyptian government to come up with a ceasefire agreement. Hamas and Egypt had called for a ceasefire from early into the conflict, but the Israelis had refused. An early Israeli draft indicated that they wanted Hamas to accept a fifteen-year hudna or truce, which would be tantamount to asking the Palestinians to accept their occupation ...

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The Agonies of Susan Rice: Gaza and the Negroponte Doctrine

[Susan Rice in 2007, several years before she was appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations. Image from New America Foundation via Flickr]

In the dark of night, on 14 November, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. As elections in Israel are on the horizon, the Israeli Defense Force conducted an extra-judicial assassination of Hamas’ Ahmad Jabari, who only hours beforehand had received a draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel (according to Nir Hasson at Haaretz). A barrage of Israeli aircraft and warships followed Jabari’s assassination. A few rockets ...

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Inhale Reality, Exhale the Truth

[Political rally for US President Barack Obama on the Pentacrest of the University of Iowa. Image by Douglas Jones via Wikimedia Commons.]

Scattered are the lunatics, like rats, scurrying across the floor in panic when the lights are turned on. For forty years they have assumed that the cultural world of the United States is to their advantage. Hatred of the outsider and of women distinguished their social view. Theirs is the rhetoric of freedom and liberty papering over, lightly, a politics of suffocation. The main word was No: no to this, no to that, no to a woman’s right to dignity, no to the unfurling of ...

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Putting Palestine on the Map

[Cover of Sarah Schulman,

They want their homeland? They should fight for it. -- Ali Khaled, father of Leila Khaled, 1950s With the US embroiled in Afghanistan’s endless theater, the debate around insurgencies has once more taken hold. In 2007, Jeffery Record’s Beating Goliath detailed the story of how some insurgencies end up defeating their much more powerful adversaries. Three years later, the RAND Corporation published Ben Connable and Martin Libicki’s How Insurgencies End, which showed that ...

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The Southern Silk Road

[Chabahar port in Balochistan, Iran. Image from Flickr.]

1. Paralysis in Washington US policy on Iran is paralyzed. A report from mid-September by the Iran Project shows how the Obama agenda is poorly considered. This report, “Weighing the Costs of Military Action Against Iran,” comes with the imprimatur of Washington’s retired eminences: politicians (Republican Senator Chuck Hagel and Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton), ambassadors (Frank Wisner and Thomas Pickering), and military officers (Admiral William Fallon and General ...

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