Thursday, May 29, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
But the discovery of Rein Mullerson’s Central Asia : A Chessboard and Player in the New Great Game [Kegal Paul] has humbled me all the more. Mullerson displays a broad grasp of the literature of the region, including of course that in Russian, as well as a rich sophistication in the great works of the English speaking world. The price, however, is outrageous : $144.00. Such is the value of the dollar now.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
And now there is reason to worry about Lebanon -- again -- and as usual there isn't much reliable information about it. Or rather there isn't much analysis that would give outsiders a sense of how complex the issues are there now. Today's New York Times has an article about the disruptions in Beirut.
I am thankful that friends of ours have been willing to clue us occasionally to the slow tortuous decline toward another possible civil war. The note we got today was that the blog, "The Angry Arab News Service" by As'ad is a good summary of the situation there. Written hurredly and with verve, this site reveals how convoluted the alliances there are and how many crosscurrents are at work. And if not in his text itself then in the reactions to it by other Arabs, you can see how intense the opinions are. We need to be watching.
Click on the title for a link to that blog.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
[addenda and corrections 5/7/08, 5/15/08, 6/9/08]
Nicholas Kristof’s comment about prisoner abuse in our military facilities [NYTimes 5/4/08], notably in
- Kristof says, “On Thursday,
released Sami al-Hajj, a cameraman for Al Jazeera who had been held without charges for more than six years. … [He] was beaten…” Arrived “so frail when he arrived that he had to be carried off the plane and into an ambulance.” America
- Also: “Murat Kurnaz, a German citizen of Turkish descent, has just published a memoir of his nearly five years in Guantánamo. He describes prolonged torture that included interruptions by a doctor to ensure that he was well enough for the torture to continue.”
- Also: "Italian Trial of CIA Operatives Begins with Torture Testimony." [NYTimes 5/15/08] A Muslim cleric's wife testifies of the capture and "extraordinary rendition" of her husband to Egypt by the CIA, where he was tortured.
I went looking on the web for recent publications on torture. There are more than I thought. How many more books will have to be published before the American people internalize what has been done to other human beings in their name? None of us believes that torture is consistent with the ideals of our country and yet the practice persists -- and few voices have been raised about it. When our country realizes what has been done in its name, many of us will be tempted to feign ignorance.
The sad thing is that our country, like so many others, is enveloped in fairly sealed "information worlds.” Like people elsewhere -- many Germans during WW II, like the Serbs under Miloshivich and in fact the populations of most countries -- most Americans cannot believe that our people could have done what they did (our troops), or authorized what they authorized (e.g., John Yoo), organized what they organized (our generals), and carried out the abuses they carried out. Witness the attitude of the Serbs, many of whom to this day believe their people were not guilty of the well documented abuses during the recent wars in
One of our problems is that despite the presumed superiority of our media, the American people remain informed only of those events that are presentable on TV; what we know is limited to the moving images that someone has been able to get, and essentially only those that are current, of what is happening in the world.
In chronological order, from the newest to the oldest, I list here those works documenting instances of torture perpetrated by our government. This is what I could find easily; there must be more.
- Steven Wax. (June 3) 2008. Kafka Comes to
. Other Press. America
- Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris. 2008 [May 15]. Standard Operating Procedure. Penguin. [Reviewed, along with film of the same name, by Ian Buruma, New York Review June 26, 08, p 6,8]
- Eric Lichtblau. 2008. Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice. Pantheon.
- Philippe Sands. 2008 [May 13] Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. Palgrave.
- Mahvish Rukhsana Khan. 2008. My Guantánamo Diary. Public Affairs. [A pediatrician who returned to
in 2003 to help rebuild his country was then arrested by Americans, beaten, doused with icy water and paraded around naked. Finally, after three years, officials apparently decided he was innocent and sent him home.] Afghanistan
- Darius Rejali. 2007. Torture and Democracy.
. [880 pp. “the most compendious and the most rigorous treatment of the subject yet written.”] Princeton University
- Tony Lagouranis and Allen Mikaelian. 2007. Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey Through Iraq. NAL. [A developed version of a story widely available in the media and on the Internet. Lagouranis became a central figure to
war opponents by describing his role as an army interrogator at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.] Iraq
- Stephen F. Eisenman. 2007. The Abu Ghraib Effect. Reaktion Books. [“Scholarly, succinct, and flush with photos, Eisenman's analysis is art history at its most compelling.”]
- Tara McKelvey. 2007. Monstering: Inside
's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War. Basic Books. [[A]buses at Abu Ghraib, in particular the abuses visited upon women prisoners] America
- Bob Brecher. 2007. Torture and the Ticking Bomb (Blackwell Public Philosophy Series). Wiley-Blackwell.
- Jack L. Goldsmith. 2007. The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration. Norton.
- Joseph Margulies. 2007.
and the Abuse of Presidential Power. Simon & Schuster Guantanamo
- Alfred McCoy. 2006. A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Holt Metropolitan Books. [“From the start of the Cold War to the early nineteen-sixties, the C.I.A. spent billions of dollars developing psychological tools for interrogation. … [Documentation] from the Phoenix program in Vietnam—which was designed to ferret out high-level Vietcong, although of the more than twenty thousand people it killed most were civilians—to the actions of agency-trained secret police in Honduras in the nineteen-eighties, and the treatment of hooded detainees at Abu Ghraib.]
- Tara McKelvey (Editor). 2006. One of the Guys: Women as Aggressors and Torturers. Seal Press.
- Stephen Grey. 2006. Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program.
- Sanford Levinson (ed). 2006. Torture: A Collection.
Oxford University . [Sections on "Philosophical Considerations"; "Torture as Practiced"; "Contemporary Attempts to Abolish Torture Through Law"; and "Reflections on the Post 9-11 Debate About Legalizing Torture.] Press, USA
- Stephen Grey. 2006. Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program.
St Martin’s Press.
- Steven Miles. 2006. Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror. Random House. [ … the work of the Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (known as BSCTs, or "biscuits") active in Iraq and Guantanamo: groups of psychiatrists and psychologists who used detainees' medical charts and test data to devise "physically and psychologically coercive interrogation plans" designed to break their resistance. In at least one camp in
, all harsh interrogations reportedly were first approved by the medical team.] Iraq
- Jennifer K. Harbury. 2005. Truth, Torture, and the
American Way: The History and Consequences of Involvement in Torture. Beacon. [A "wink and nod" approach, sending clear signals to the Salvadoran team that the abductions, tortures, and kidnappings were to continue. ..."] U.S.
- Dianna Ortiz.2004.Blindfold's Eyes: My Journey From Torture To Truth.Orbis.["... going through the court proceedings mirrored the situation of the torture, perhaps asserting myself and having a team of people with me to support me would be a ..."]
- Karen J. Greenberg, Joshua L. Dratel, and Anthony Lewis (Eds). 2005. The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib.
Press. [Bush administration officials and top military brass continue to maintain that the well-documented abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib were the isolated actions of a few rogue guards. … [The editors] believe the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the claimed abuses at Cambridge University are the direct result of administration policies. … [A] compilation of administration documents … clearly reveal that, at the highest levels, the Bush administration sought legal justification to circumvent both the Geneva Convention and other international accepted norms regarding the interrogation and treatment of military detainees.] Guantanamo
- Karen J. Greenberg, ed. 2005. The Torture Debate in
. America . [The documents, memoranda, and reports that comprise the material in The Torture Papers.] Cambridge University
- Michael Ignatieff. 2004. The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror. Princeton University.
- John Conroy. 2001. Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture.
Press. [His question: How is it that otherwise normal people can become part of the institutionalized practice of torture? … He investigates the "five torture techniques" (hooding, noise bombardment, food deprivation, sleep deprivation and forced standing against a wall) inflicted on 12 Irish prisoners in 1971; a late 1980s round-up on the West Bank of Palestinians, who were bound, gagged and beaten; and Chicago's notorious John Burge case, in which police officers systematically beat and electrocuted (on the head, chest and genitals) a man suspected (and later convicted) of killing a police officer.] Universityof California
Jane Mayer. 2008. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. New York: Doubleday. "What Woodward and Bernstein's book "All the President's Men" did to the Nixon administration, Jane Mayer's book "The Dark Side" will do to George Bush's administration: blow away, like a piece of straw, the last sliver of credibility that the few remaining supporters of George Bush desperately cling to. "We don't torture", said the President, and Jane Mayer has responded with this book, as if to say: "That is a lie"."
Friday, May 02, 2008
The term Greater Central Asia seems to have caught on. I used the term in an article written as the
- “Restructuring in Greater
Central Asia: Changing Political Configurations,” Asian Survey, Vol. 32, No. 10 (Oct., 1992), pp. 875-887.
Two years later the Russian political scientist Vyacheslav Ya. Belokrenitsky used the term again in the same journal:
Russiaand Greater Central Asia” Asian Survey, Vol. 34, No. 12 (Dec., 1994), pp. 1093-1108.
The term seemed to me useful even though its meaning was at that point somewhat imprecise, including the several nations (different ones, depending on how you count) that were liable to link up together, once the Soviet Union had expired.
It's interesting to track what has happened to the term since then.
The term was used in a paper written in January, 1996, and published in 2000:
- “The New Great Game in Muslim
Central Asia,” by Mohammed E. Ahrari with James Beal. McNair Paper 47. January 1996. Institute for National Strategic Studies. . National Defense University Washington, D.C.http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=rd-OCF M4UEC&dq=%22mohammed+e+ahrari%22+central+asia&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=OAFEpedzOd&sig=oxmW4Xl3qrPjDWieUrdpZUSsuWo#PPP3,M1
The Environmental and Social Impacts Group used the term in 2002 in its proposal but they referred to a more easterly sector of the region (Xinjiang) than Belokrenitsky and I had in mind (see also their ESIG Alert # 1 report).
- “Development of a
Desert Affairs Centerin Western China,” ESIG Alert #2, November, 2002.
In 2003 Rajan Menon used the term in a sense more consistent with our usage:
· “The New Great Game in
Menon defined “Greater Central Asia” as “the region consisting of the five Central Asian states, plus Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Xinjiang, and Afghanistan” and he argued that it had been “strategically transformed” by the American commitment to the region after the attack of September 11, 2001. During that time the several authoritarian governments of the region were trying to take advantage of the new American interest in their neighborhood to escape the historic Russian hegemony. But they would be frightened by the “Rose Revolution” in
It was not long before the political exigencies and economic possibilities of the time were being recognized in the term “Greater Central Asia.” Now the term stood for a new region of geopolitical interest, to the
- "A ‘Greater Central Asia Partnership’ Partnership’ for Afghanistan and Its Neighbors,” in a publication of the Central Asia -Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program and in Foreign Affairs magazine (July / August, 2005) http://18.104.22.168/search?q=cache:lkrBqq2AldUJ:www.stimson.org/newcentury/pdf/Strategy.pdf+Greater+Central+Asia&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=firefox-a; http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050701faessay84412/s-frederick-starr/a-partnership-for-central-asia.html
Starr advocated the formation of a Greater Central Asia Partnership for Cooperation and Development in which, of course,
· “Faultlines of Conflict in Central Asia and the
The new American interest in the region worried the Chinese, as reflected in another publication in 2005 that used the term:
Chinaand Central Asia: A new Great Game or traditional vassal relations?” by Niklas Swanström. Journal of Contemporary 14(45, Nov.) 569-584. http://www.silkroadstudies.org/docs/publications/2005/JCC_Swanstrom.pdf (Also see People’s daily 8/4/06: http://english.people.com.cn/200608/03/eng20060803_289512.html.) China
And it had a similar impact on the Russians.
- “Russian foreign policy experts debate interaction with America in Greater Central Asia,” by Igor Torbakov, Volume 2, Number 196, Friday, October 21, 2005.
EurasiaDaily Monitor. [ Foundation.] http://www.jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2370378 Jamestown
- "Partnership, Trade, and Development in Greater Central Asia"
, April 1-2, 2006 updated April 25, 2006. http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/inside/forum/trade_kabul_description.html Kabul, Afghanistan
At this conference
KazakhstanCalls for a Greater Central Asia" news Bulletin [Embassy of Republic of Kazakhstan to theUSA and Candada] Vol. 6, No. 14. April 7, 2006. http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:xzBZAV1-UzEJ:www.kazakhembus.com/April_7.pdf+%22Greater+Central+Asia%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=14&gl=us&client=firefox-a Kazakhstan
Representatives of the United States government also participated and indicated an interest in “partnering” with the states of the region on matters of trade, and a panel discussion took place in Washington, DC, on July 18, titled “The New Silk Roads: Transport and Trade in Greater Central Asia.” It was sponsored by the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute (CACI). One wonders if the drug trade was given much attention in either of these conferences, but clearly it was already a powerful source of wealth for some of the countries of the region. In fact, Svante E. Cornell was sounding an alarm at about this time.
- “The Narcotics Threat in Greater
Central Asia: From Crime-Terror Nexus to State Infiltration?” Chinaand EurasiaForum Quarterly, Volume 4, No. 1 (2006) p. 37-67.
And Richard Weitz was warning that a “great game” was taking form like that of the nineteenth century.
- “Averting a New Great Game in
Central Asia.” The Quarterly • 29:3 pp. 155–167. 2006. Washington
And M. K. Bhadrakumar was suggesting that
- “'The Great Game' comes to
South Asia.” Asia Times, May 24, 06 http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/HE24Df04.html
Indeed it was clear that the Russians were bothered by American meddling in their backyard:
Moscowmaking Central Asiaits own.” M K Bhadrakumar. AsiaTimes Online, Aug 25, 2006. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/HH25Ag01.html
All of these articles referred to the region as “Greater Central Asia”.
The new geopolitical focus prompted research activity. In 2006 the Social Science Research Council announced that it would provide teaching tools on the history of Greater Central Asia.
- “Teaching Resource Tool: Histories of
Central Asia.” http://programs.ssrc.org/eurasia/TRT_CentralAsia/
In 2007 an important work was published, firmly anchoring the terminology for the region in the strategic discourse.
- The New Silk Roads: Transport and Trade in Greater
Central Asia. Edited by S. Frederick Starr. Washington, D.C.and Uppsala, Sweden: Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program. 2007. 514 pp. http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/inside/publications/GCA.html
With chapters by S. Frederick Starr (overview), Masood Aziz (Afghanistan), councilor at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, D.C., Aftab Kazi (Pakistan), professor of international and comparative politics at American University in Bishkek, Abbas Maleki (Iran), director general of the Institute for Caspian Studies in Tehran, Niklas Norling (China), project director of the Silk Roads Studies Program, Taleh Ziyadov (Azerbaijan), deputy executive director of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, and others.
Robert M. Cutler has delimited the region precisely, distinguishing “Central Asia” from “Greater Central Asia” from “
- “U.S.–Russian Strategic Relations and the Structuration of
Central Asia,” by Robert M. Cutler. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology Vol. 6, No. 1-3: 109-125. (2007). http://www.robertcutler.org/download/pdf/ar06pgdt.pdf
- “TAPI in the Asian Energy Space,” Powerpoint presentation, November 13, 2007. www.harrimaninstitute.org/MEDIA/01097.ppt and http://www.robertcutler.org — firstname.lastname@example.org
So the term “Greater Central Asia” is now a real place, having been reified by geopolitical policy and debate. Some recent works using the term are the following:
- “Political Development and Organized Crime: The Yin and Yang of Greater
Central Asia?” Niklas Swanström. Chinaand EurasiaForum Quarterly, Volume 5, No. 4 (2007) p. 83-101. http://www.isdp.eu/files/publications/cefq/07/ns07politicaldevelopment.pdf
- “Central Asia: Managing the delicate balance between the ‘discourse of danger,’ the ‘Great Game,’ and regional problem solving,” by Dennis J.D. Sandole. Communist and Post-Communist Studies. Vol 40 (1): 257-267. 2007. (Special Issue). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VGF-4NTHMYN-1&_user=741313&_coverDate=06%2F30%2F2007&_rdoc=11&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%236037%232007%23999599997%23660270%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=6037&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=11&_acct=C000041138&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=741313&md5=85deec427c4379e7b5f0bf96c2e19ce5
U.S. Aims in Central and South Asia Challenged by Russia and ,” by Richard Weitz World Politics Review Exclusive, 27 Jul 2007. http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/Article.aspx?id=964 China
· “Eurasian Trade And Transport: New Silk Roads Or Old Pipedreams? “
Richard Weitz. Eurasianet 7/24/07 http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav072407a.shtml
· “Americans Still Think All Stans Are Same,” Adam Kesher. Politics, Foreign Affairs, April 16th, 2008 http://kazakhstan.neweurasia.net/2008/04/16/americans-still-think-all-stans-are-same/
- [seminar proposal] Security in Greater Central Asia, Tensions and possibilities of destabilization from Astana to
. Didier Chaudet. Islamabad