Monday, March 27, 2017

Review. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

From Dr Hamid Hussain. 

Recently came across a great book about an officer and gentleman of a bygone era.  Quite a timely reminder.  In the environment of general deteriorating standards of both Pakistani and Indian societies, armed forces cannot  be removed from their environment.  Many officers are simply foraging in the same pastures.  A pause and looking at the conduct of upright officers and gentlemen may provide a different set of role models for young officers.  Respect is earned by the character and not by the amount of brass on one’s shoulders. Enjoy the reading.


Book Review

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw: The Man and His Times by Brigadier ® Behram M. Panthaki and Zenobia Panthaki

This book by the husband and wife team provides a window to the personality of an officer and genetleman Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.  Brigadier ® Behram Panthaki served as ADC to Sam and Behram and Zanobia had a life long association with Sam and his family.  This gives authors a unique vantage point.  They have done an excellent job of introducing the readers to the human side of Sam.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Few Questions re Trumpistan..

Now that we are living in the age of Trump, I have a few random thoughts and questions and I hope some of you will answer with comments (here or on social media).

A. It seems to me that Trump (and his truly trusted advisers, Bannon, Coulter etc) were not just cynically using the "coming war with Islam", they really truly believe that the United States (the most powerful nation on earth) is in a fight to the death with "Islamdom" (the weakest and least coherent "civilization" on the planet; well, maybe stronger than Hindu Rashtra, but not by much) and that Putin is their great ally in this world war, which otherwise teeters on the edge of being lost. This is the most economical explanation for their obsession with Putin and their hatred of fellow NATO allies (well, as long as you discount the golden shower tape as being a fantasy; otherwise that too is a pretty economical explanation).
This whole notion is a joke to the intelligence establishment, the great capitalist corporations, the Western European powers and yes, also to China and Russia; though some of them (Putin, maybe even China) have good reasons to encourage Bannonists on this path. Long before conquering Islamdom, Putin has more important things to do in the Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus, even Poland...
I would add as an aside that there are probably Hindus and Middle Eastern Christians who DO face a real battle with Islamists and who may regard him (and/or Bannon) as potential saviors. I think they are wrong (not because they face no threat from Islamists, but because their faith in Trump will prove to be a mistake) but that is an argument for another day. For now we are talking about the United States and the threats it realistically faces (or does not face). Also, some commentators below have pointed out that Western Civ does face very serious problems and the Democrats (or mainstream Republicans for that matter) seem to want to paper over the problems and continue with business as usual and so on. True. But again, that you have problem X, does not mean Y is the solution. An incompetent conman is not the answer
Anyway, here is the thing, IF the Western elites all shared the Bannonist view (even if it was wrong), the US would remain their leader, but given how little this view is shared in the world, it can only be carried forward by undermining existing elites and alliances. Bannon is probably ready for whatever that leads to, but even Trump may not be up for it. The rest of the Western elite is even less likely to join in. Yet, here we are. So my questions:

1. Can Trump and company establish control over the existing resources of the Western powers AND then use them to prosecute this war to the finish (whatever that means in their minds) OR

2. Can the old elites (the so-called deep state, though I dont think that is a good term for this loosely organized elite and their even looser ideological meme-cluster) manage to get rid of Trump without too much damage being done? OR

3. Will the infighting, incompetence and confusion proceed apace and where will that lead to in four years?

Anticipating some objections, I would add that:

1. I think Islamist insurgencies are real and reflect widespread desire for an "Islamic civilization" that is a coherent and powerful presence on the planet. But I dont think they have much of a chance of getting anywhere. See my article here for some background.

2. I think Muslim migrants in Europe are and will remain a headache for the host populations, but not an unmanageable one. The high point of airy-fairy European multiculturalism has long passed. Without electing any Wilders or Le Pens, the European states will still reduce Muslim immigration and will force (with varying success) increasing degrees of assimilation. They will be troubled, but they will not be over-run. They may overshoot in the other direction, but they will not be over-run. 

3. The Islamicate world will see much anti-American sentiment and some anti-American actions but more important will be wars on the borders. Some of the borders (Nigeria? Sudan? India??) may even see non-Muslim populations being overrun. And non-Muslim populations within Islamic states will continue to face major threats and maybe extinction in some cases. None of that will be enough to conquer Europe or invade America. And in the midst of all this, all major Islamic countries will remain dependent on outside powers (USA, China, Russia) or will face internal and border problems (Turkey) that will overwhelm any dream of leading the new caliphate. Bannonism and Coulterism are still a joke.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The INA (Indian National Army)

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Forgotten Chapter of Indian Army: Indian National Army
Hamid Hussain

Indian National Army (INA) was formed during Second World War from Indian Prisoners of Wars (POWs) captured by Japanese. Later, it was re-named Free Indian Army (FIA) but it remained known by INA name.  Second World War saw rapid expansion of Indian Army to participate in another global conflict.  On the eve of Second World War, the strength of Indian army was 189’000.  During the war, it expanded to 2.3 million men. On the eve of Second World War, there were less than five hundred Indian commissioned officers and by the end of the war there were 9540 Indian officers. Nine thousand Indian officers were Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECOs) with only six months of training.

In Malayan theatre, British command quickly collapsed under Japanese assault.  More than 60’000 British and Indian officers and soldiers were captured by Japanese. British officers were separated from Indian officers and soldiers and kept in a separate camp.  A number of Indian officers and soldiers joined INA.  Some volunteered for INA while others were coerced to join it to avoid hardships of captivity. Japanese soldiers wrote new chapters of barbarity for inhumane torture and execution of thousands of POWs.