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Book : Global Security Paradoxes: 2000-2020
(ISBN 81- 7049- 194- 0)

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Publisher : Manas Publications

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  Darya Ganj, New Delhi - 110 002
  Tel: 91-11-23260783, 23265523

In USA the book can be ordered from:

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  Tel : 973.725.6352
  Fax : 973.439.6818
  Ctc : Mr.Shinu Gupta
  Chairman & CEO

In UK the book can be ordered from:

  Ray McLennan, Director
  Motilal (UK) Books of India
  367 High Street. London Colney,
  St.Albans, Hertfordshire.
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  Tel. +44 (0)1727 761 677
  Fax.+44 (0)1727 761 357

In Singapore the book can be ordered from:

  #05-14/16 TOA PAYOH IND EST   SINGAPORE 318996
  Attn : UN WAI SUM
  Tel/Fax : (65) 6 3536682/(65) 6   3536683

In New Delhi all books can also be ordered from:

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Global Security Paradoxes:2000-2020 by Maj. Gen. (Retd) Vinod Saighal sets out a comprehensive agenda for resolution of some of the most intractable global issues of today - covering an amazing spectrum embracing the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. The chapters in the book bear testimony to the global reach of the issues covered. These include: A Critique of the Military Dimension of South Asian Security; China, Tibet, India: Status Quo or Reappraisal; Redefining Europe-Asia Security; Preventing a Repeat of Iraq in Iran; Resurgence of Russia in the 21st Century; The Futility of Theatre and National Missile Defences; The Demographic Dynamic of the 21st Century.- More importantly, the book could immediately contribute to the debate on the crisis in Iraq and the ongoing UN Security Council debates, the forthcoming presidential election in the USA, the referendum proposed by Tony Blair in the UK, the current debate on the European Union Constitution as also the tentative dialogues taking place elsewhere on the India-China-Japan axis as well as the India-Japan-China-Russia axis.- International Relations and Political Science departments of universities, think tanks, concerned ministries, social scientists and defence analysts around the world could benefit from a study of this book.


WORLD AFFAIRS, Volume Eight, Number Three, July-September 2004
Reviewed by AJOY BAGCHI

Security has been a primary human concern since the dawn of civilisation. In primeval times, human societies evolved because of a sense of security that an integrated collective imparted to individuals and familial groups. The security concerns primarily centred round the threat from hunger, the elements and predators, both human and animal. Security as a global concern is of somewhat recent origin. The twentieth century that saw some of the defining as well as cataclysmic events in human history brought global security concerns firmly on the international radar screen. The scientific and technological advancements led to what was for long thought to be impossible – splitting the atom. The success in atomic fission paved the way to what the eminent pacifist and scientist, Niels Bohr, described as “a weapon of an unparalleled power”. The successful US testing of the atomic bomb in 1945 was spectacularly the defining moment of the last century. But its deliberate use on the largely innocent people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the stated purpose of subduing an already near-defeated Japan was a highly immoral and criminal act.

With this weapon of mass destruction the US acquired the capability to threaten the security of any nation around the world. An entirely new element was introduced into the existing security paradigm by giving it a global militaristic dimension. After the Second World War, the world got polarised around two powerful nations espousing two opposing ideologies, and each seeking supremacy over the other by developing deadlier nuclear weapons with longer range delivery systems. Soviet Union’s disintegration into culturally distinctive constituent units that were held together for 70 years through oppression and suppression should have halted the nuclear arms race in its tracks. Instead, the conservative Reagan Administration came up with a concept borrowed, perhaps, from the film “Star Trek”, the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI). The SDI, if and when it comes to fruition, would further destabilize global security and equilibrium through the geopolitical asymmetry it would create. It is paradoxical that in giving itself a somewhat doubtful shield against imaginary missile attacks, the US should nonchalantly impair the security of its allies.

While the security analysts generally focus on the limited area of ballistic and counter-ballistic weaponry, Samuel P. Huntington propounded the thesis of threat from an unexpected source – the religio-cultural one. Many intellectuals around the world declared “open season” on Huntington and denounced him as a racist. Edward Said contemptuously dismissed Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” hypothesis as “clash of ignorance”. However, the episodic events of September 11, 2001 with its roots ramifying deep into Saudi Arabia’s religio-cultural matrix seem to reinforce Huntington’s worldview. With tacit US knowledge and support, the Saudi monarchy and the elites actively promoted “Wahabism”, a highly conservative and intolerant dimension of Islam, and exported it around the world. Having generously funded the creation of fundamentalist and militant Taliban and the dreaded Al Qaeda, the Saudi monarchy then made a handsome contribution to the humbling of the US arch-foe in Afghanistan.

The world was caught unawares when the World Trade Centre’s twin towers came crashing down in an act of unimagined terrorism. The Saudi monarchy had not anticipated that the majority of those involved in bringing these down would be Saudi nationals, from highly educated and affluent background but also deeply indoctrinated in Wahabi fundamentalism with a civilisational hatred for the West. By graduating into a fountainhead of terrorism, the Saudi elite has added a new dimension to the global security paradigm. The US invasion of Iraq on specious grounds has further accentuated the global insecurity with an emerging polarisation that has a strong religio-cultural rather than ideological or geo-economic dimension. The recent Al Qaeda linked acts of terrorism in Al Khobar show that the Saudi monarchy is hoist in its own petard. Some analysts believe that the Frankenstein monster it created will any day destroy the Ras Tanura oil terminal and shut down the major world oil-supply outlet. That would trigger a major threat to global economy. A regime change for the worse in Saudi Arabia is now considered to be a matter of time.

Global security has other dimensions than only the military and religio-cultural ones. UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan set up an eminent persons’ panel in November 2003 to examine, among other things, “today’s global threats” to international security. Though the focus is primarily on weapons of mass destruction, UN Global Security Initiative includes attention on terrorism and non-state actors and the threats to global security equilibrium from trade asymmetry, imbalanced development, ecological damage, and population dynamics. It is difficult to construct a hierarchy for these dimensions but it could be argued that all the other dimensions ultimately coalesce into a threat to the planet’s ecological security. That remains the gravest and most challenging dimension of global security.

From these perspectives this latest book of Major General Saighal is of great interest. The author says that “the most significant paradox” of our age is the counterpoise between non-violence and terrorism. There could be two views on it because of terrorism’s emerging texture and contours. The other paradox, as the author has rightly pointed out, is the US “setting in motion a chain of events that could see it dwindle to the same extent as its erstwhile opponent”. However, the most devastating paradox, as stated earlier, is that the man in his hubris is heedlessly destroying the planet’s ecological security that supports him and all other life forms.

In this collection of seven articles and lectures, the author has focused on an amazingly wide sweep of China, Russia, West Asia, Europe-Asia, the National Missile Defence strategy and population dynamics, and sets out a broadly inclusive global agenda. Starting with a critique of South Asian security’s military dimension, the author casts a critical eye on China, Tibet and Russia to contextualise the subcontinent’s security. There is no denying that the developments in these areas greatly influence South Asia’s security. The author has been deeply concerned for long about the militarisation of the Himalayas and the forced socio-cultural and ecological changes in Tibet. In spite of the immense strategic and ecological significance for our subcontinent’s security, the important landmass comprising the Himalayas and Tibet has received scant attention from strategic analysts. China grasped its significance and moved to consolidate its hegemony on it while India turned its back on Tibet. The world paid only lip sympathy to the Dalai Lama and his cause. The world appears oblivious that Tibet’s demographic composition is being steadily altered to the disadvantage of the Tibetans and their civilisational heritage. China’s attempts to push in a rail link and divert its rivers northwards intend to further integrate Tibet with the Chinese mainland. All these developments bode ill for our subcontinent’s future security from more angles than one. The drastic ecological changes in the Himalayas and Tibet will, in the long run, also affect world weather patterns and the availability of fresh water in large parts of the world.

Much has been said and written about the role of India and Pakistan in this subcontinent’s security. The present euphoria over the apparent détente between the two neighbours has encouraged many to see the light at the end of the long tunnel while others are not so sanguine. Much will depend on Pakistan’s future shape, whether it disintegrates into its ethnic constituents or consolidates into a cohesive and democratic entity. The present indications are full of forebodings. The author is perceptive in his analysis of the roles of a whole gamut of players including the US, China and Russia in South Asian security.

The chapter on Russia’s resurgence is interesting. The “implosion” of Soviet Union as a nation-state has no parallel in human history. But its reasons are complex and controversial. The socialist edifice under Stalin and his successors, has increasingly become hollow, diseased and pestilential. Its collapse was waiting to happen. The author holds that Vladimir Putin will redeem Russia out of the morass of corruption and criminality it has sunk into and restore its earlier glory. Despite Sri Aurobindo’s eulogy of the October Revolution, the jury is still out on that eventuality. The book is a treasure trove of thought provoking material that can contribute immensely to the ongoing debate in the high forums around the world on some of the most sensitive and complex global security issues. The author must be complimented for providing the leavening of an “Eastern” perspective to what has been largely a “Western” debate.

The Tribune on Sunday, 22 August 2004

Reviewed by SRIDHAR K. CHARI

INTERNATIONAL Relations (IR) as a social sciences discipline is notoriously resistant to exercises in projecting the future. One is on only slightly better ground if the exercise is undertaken in terms of strategic or security studies. This new book by Major General Vinod Saighal is titled Global Security Paradoxes 2000 to 2020, which makes one approach it with some trepidation, but the author has produced a genuine contribution to the literature in this field, grounding himself firmly in sound analysis of trends and issues.

The book is particularly valuable on two counts – one, it successfully highlights the increasingly important role likely to be played by environmental issues, especially as a fallout of the continuous militarisation of the Tibetan plateau by China, and the mega water projects that China is planning in the region.

Two, its analysis of the military dimension of the subcontinent has a telling list of successful Pakistani stratagems against India, delineated in the light of the question of “whether India is intrinsically weak or whether it has been artificially weakened through wrong policies, wrong military priorities and an inability to grasp the essentials of the threat that it faces from Pakistan and the manner in which it has to be handled.”

For India to be able to break free from the “whining giant” cul-de-sac that it has gotten into, he rightly stresses the need to explore new avenues and options in dealing with Pakistan, and fining a way to “tackle the radical Islamist threat from Pakistan adequately in the shortest possible time frame, without resorting to full-scale war,”

On the environmental front, he pays particular attention to the huge dam and river diversion projects that China is planning, especially at the famous “Great Bend” of the Brahmaputra in Tibet, known there as the Tsangpo or the Yarlung Zangbo, and the enormous consequences it will have for both India and Bangladesh. In countering it, he does not advocate a confrontationist approach, but suggests that in the current scenario, where both India and the US are essentially reconciled to a China-occupied Tibet, with even the Dalai Lama only pressing for autonomy, China can be persuaded to slowly demilitarize the region, which in itself will alleviate some of the environmental issues. One wonders how possible that will be though.

Saighal makes the situation very clear, and policy makers should better take notice-among the “greatest threats to the stability and survivability of the subcontinent are the long term effects of Chinese activities in Tibet” apart from population growth, growing fundamentalism and possibility of economic decline of some countries.

The book also devotes considerable space to other issues like the China-Russia-India equation (where he says, pithily, that only an “identity of views against US unilateralism” is possible rather than even a “remotely confrontationist structure” against the US as such), and a much-needed discussion of Europe-Asia issues, which tend to get missed out in mainstream US-centric IR discourse.

Other topics include the reemergence of Russia, preventing another Iraq in Iran, National Missile Defences and the demographic dynamics in the 21st century. Many of these pieces are based on talks given by the author at various venues. Overall, Major General Saighal’s offering is a well-written volume, to which both IR scholars and the laymen can turn to for insights and information.

The Journal of the United Service Institute of India, July- September 2004 USI
Reviewed by Major General LS Lehl, PVSM, VrC (Retd.)

The book portrays a picture of the geo-political and geo-strategic world in the coming 20 years. General Saighal visualises the US in a prime role in the world with an enlarged and United Europe moving increasingly towards an independent identity, military and economic self-reliance and freedom of action. Asia is forecasted to be developing economically with India, Japan and Russia becoming power centers and China aspiring to be a super power. The author, perhaps thinking wishfully, sees China, Russia, India and Japan helping geopolitical stability in Asia “as there need not be any insurmountable tensions between them.”

An excellent book, with a convincing exposition of the likely forecast of geopolitics up to 2020. The clarity of thought and the force and flow of expression carry the reader to a ready acceptance of the conclusions of the author. National policy makers, think tanks, political scientists, defence institutions, universities and intellectuals can benefit by a study of the book.

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