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Vijay Prashad


Is Trump Going to Commit the Next Great US Catastrophe in Syria?

[The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry launches a Tomahawk cruise missile from the ships bow. Photo by DVIDSHUB via Flickr]

At the UN Security Council on 5 April 2017, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley held up pictures of children killed by a gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, south of the Syrian city of Idlib. Estimates suggest about fifty to sixty people died in this attack. The United States, the United Kingdom, and France placed a resolution before the Security Council condemning the attack and asking for an investigation of it. There is no call for armed action against anyone because ...

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Violence: Theirs and Ours

[Westminster Bridge Road, Westminster, London. Image by ktanaka via Wikimedia Commons]

“I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes. It would spread a lively terror.” -- Winston Churchill, 1920, with regard to the uprising in Iraq. London On 23 March 2017, Khalid Masood ploughed his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London, stabbed a police officer with a knife, and then was shot dead. He killed four people in the rampage, which injured an additional ...

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Turkey's Night of the Firebombs

[Turkish nationalists marching in Ankara, 8 September 2015. Image via al-Araby al-Jadeed.]

Across Turkey, coordinated attacks took place on 8 September against offices of the HDP—the People's Democratic Party. The HDP is not, strictly speaking, a Kurdish party—although that is how it is often described in the media. It was formed in 2012 when a group of left-leaning political organizations—all with firm pro-Kurdish views—decided to form an electoral coalition. The similarity with Greece's Syriza would not be unkind. The HDP holds fairly conventional ...

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New Texts Out Now: Vijay Prashad, Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation

[Cover of

Vijay Prashad, editor, Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation. London and New York: Verso, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you put together this collection? Vijay Prashad (VP): Slowly, surely, the apparent consensus around US support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine seems to be breaking. There was a time when it was impossible to have a rational conversation about Israeli policy in the US, with large sections of people taking the view that criticism ...

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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]

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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Vijay Prashad


Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College. He is the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books, where his most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (2015). His books include The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso); Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press); Uncle Swami: Being South Asian in America (New Press); and The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New Press), which won the 2009 Muzaffar Ahmed Book Prize.

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