Sri Lanka and the Scars of War: A Review Article

Although the vainglorious war President Mahinda Rajapaksa has since failed to win reelection and his successor is, reputedly, a more moderate member of the same party, the process of rapprochement between the Singhalese Buddhist majority and the Tamil minority (to say nothing of the also victimized Christians and Muslims) remains far from complete. When the wounds of the savage American Civil War are not fully healed, how could anyone expect the mood of the island to be cheery and forgiving? Read more »

Twice Deceived: the U.S. by Pakistan’s I.S.I.

Now really, is it possible that Mullah Omar died in Pakistan’s largest city, only a few hours drive from Quetta, in Pakistan’s Baluchistan, where, it’s been suspected but never officially acknowledged, Afghanistan’s deposed Taliban rulers have been living in exile for lo! this past ten years or so, without the I.S.I. having the least hint of his demise there? Or of his initial disappearance from Quetta. Two years ago! This, too, is incredible. And knowing or strongly suspecting either, wouldn’t a trustworthy Pakistan have immediately informed the U.S., which has been hunting high and low for Mullah Omar? Read more »

Saudis Playing with Fire

Maybe, as we renegotiate our relations with Iran, we should also be asking why Saudi Arabia is not working to create a more peaceful world instead of stirring up sectarian animosity. Perhaps this relationship, too, needs to be renegotiated. A little more distance would seem to be in order. Read more »

The Truth is Out

Why do I write as if I believe that the version of the events surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden as put forth by Hersh is indeed true and reliable? For one thing, Hersh is a distinguished journalist and stubborn researcher. He isn’t going to tarnish a stellar reputation by publishing trash. Secondly, the London Review is not a tabloid surviving on scandal. It will have checked Hersh’s account very carefully before (gleefully, no doubt) publishing it. Thirdly, the official version of the Bin Laden assassination never did hold water, as I wrote when it first happened. At the time, I doubted the claim that the Pakistani military could have been unaware of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbotabad. I also thought it highly peculiar that the U.S. helicopters could have reached their target without being detected by Pakistani elements. Read more »

How English Keeps India Together

Hindi, to hundreds of millions of Indians is a foreign language. If it became the sole national language, non-Hindi speakers and their children would be severely disadvantaged in seeking out-of-state jobs and education. However, so long as all ambitious Indians must be able to handle English effectively, the playing ground is level for the entire population. It may be a tough hurdle, it may be an odd hurdle that has its roots in the colonial past, but it’s the same hurdle for everyone. Read more »

Religio-Cultural Nationalism & Valentine’s Day in Delhi: Not Really So Funny

At this point Narendra Modi still has wiggle room. He still has a choice. He can concentrate on the economy or he can nourish his right wing following by giving the Hindu revivalists free rein. So far India has been lucky. Indian Muslims have been fairly impervious to the blandishments of violent salafist Islam, but reasonable people can be pushed only so far, and religious war in India would make the blood-drenched unrest in the Middle East seem like foreplay. The good news is that India is indeed a democracy. Modi will be voted out if he can’t deliver the economic goods. Let’s hope that too much damage isn’t done before that happens—before he succeeds in creating a more vibrant economy, before the Hindu right does irreparable harm. Read more »

Narendra Modi: That Shocking Costume in New York

Outside provocateurs more vicious than Pakistan’s India-hating military intelligence unit have announced that they are ready to disrupt the relative communal harmony that's characterized India's secular state in recent years. A branch of Al Qaeda has declared its intention to provoke the Muslims of India into terrorism and rebellion. For Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give encouragement to divisive Hindu bigots under such circumstances is playing with political fire in the most reprehensible way. Read more »

Stress Test for Pakistan’s Judicial System

It’s fairly easy to ignore an honor killing in the tribal areas, but this one took place in front of innumerable witnesses right in front of a courthouse in the elegant city of Lahore. This, then, is a very important test case. Will this father be held responsible for killing his daughter in cold blood? Even if the father is charged with a crime, it will probably take years for the case to work its way through the system. Will anyone see that justice is done? Read more »

When Boring is Good: Indian Elections

Because Indians are eager for change, they held their noses and voted for Modi’s ideologically controversial party. But results are expected, and the clock is ticking. If Indian voters can throw out the Congress and the Gandhis, they can also cast Narendra Modi onto the dung heap of history. Read more »