Islamist militants based in Pakistan have played a major role in terrorism around the world and pose a significant threat to regional and international security. Although the Pakistan-militant connection has received widespread attention only in recent years, it is not a new phenomenon. Pakistan has, since its inception in the wake of World War II, used Islamist militants to wage jihad in order to compensate for severe political and material weakness. This use of militancy has become so important that it is now a central component of Pakistani grand strategy; supporting jihad is one of the principal means by which the Pakistani state seeks to produce security for itself. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the strategy has not been wholly disastrous. It has achieved important domestic and international successes, enabling Pakistan to confront stronger adversaries and shape its strategic environment without the costs and risks of direct combat, and to help promote internal cohesion to compensate for its weak domestic political foundations. Recently, however, these successes of Pakistan's militant strategy have given way to serious problems. The militant organizations that Pakistan nurtured over the decades are increasingly exceeding its control; continued support for jihad diverts scarce resources from pressing domestic projects, impeding the country's internal development; and the militant campaign's repeated provocations have led India to adopt a more aggressive conventional military posture. As Paul Kapur shows in Jihad as Grand Strategy, these developments significantly undermine Pakistani interests, threatening to leave it less politically cohesive and externally secure than it was before. Thus, despite its past benefits, the strategy has outlived its utility, and Pakistan will have to abandon it in order to avoid catastrophe. This will require not simply a change of policy, but a thoroughgoing reconceptualization of the Pakistani state.
One day a few years ago, 300 migrants were kidnapped between the remote desert towns of Altar, Mexico, and Sasabe, Arizona. A local priest got 120 released, many with broken ankles and other marks of abuse, but the rest vanished. Óscar Martínez, a young writer from El Salvador, was in Altar soon after the abduction, and his account of the migrant disappearances is only one of the harrowing stories he garnered from two years spent traveling up and down the migrant trail from Central America and across the US border. More than a quarter of a million Central Americans make this increasingly dangerous journey each year, and each year as many as 20,000 of them are kidnapped. Martínez writes in powerful, unforgettable prose about clinging to the tops of freight trains; finding respite, work and hardship in shelters and brothels; and riding shotgun with the border patrol. Illustrated with stunning full-color photographs, The Beast is the first book to shed light on the harsh new reality of the migrant trail in the age of the narcotraficantes.
Secrets and Leaks examines the complex relationships among executive power, national security, and secrecy. State secrecy is vital for national security, but it can also be used to conceal wrongdoing. How then can we ensure that this power is used responsibly? Typically, the onus is put on lawmakers and judges, who are expected to oversee the executive. Yet because these actors lack access to the relevant information and the ability to determine the harm likely to be caused by its disclosure, they often defer to the executive's claims about the need for secrecy. As a result, potential abuses are more often exposed by unauthorized disclosures published in the press.
But should such disclosures, which violate the law, be condoned? Drawing on several cases, Rahul Sagar argues that though whistleblowing can be morally justified, the fear of retaliation usually prompts officials to act anonymously--that is, to "leak" information. As a result, it becomes difficult for the public to discern when an unauthorized disclosure is intended to further partisan interests. Because such disclosures are the only credible means of checking the executive, Sagar writes, they must be tolerated. However, the public should treat such disclosures skeptically and subject irresponsible journalism to concerted criticism.
‘The people want …’: the first part of the slogan chanted by millions of Arab protestors since 2011 revealed a long-repressed craving for democracy. But huge social and economic problems were also laid bare by the protesters’ demands. Although Islamist parties did not initiate the protest movement, they have benefitted the most from the power vacuum that followed the ousting of the rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
In this landmark work, Gilbert Achcar sheds light on the social, economic, historical and political background to the on-going Arab Uprising and assesses its future prospects. With incisive and invaluable insight, Achcar investigates why the liberals and the Left failed to capitalise on the initial momentum and assesses whether the Islamist parties will be able to steer their countries out of their present crisis.
Iron curtain : The crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56 / Ann Applebaum
London, Lane, 2012 613 p.
Once the Nazis were defeated in 1945, the people of Central and Eastern Europe expected to recover the lives they had led before 1939. Instead, they found themselves subjected to a tyranny that was in many ways as inhuman as the one which they had just escaped. This book explains how Communism was imposed on these previously free societies in the decade after the end of the Second World War. Applebaum describes, in calm but devastating detail, how political parties, the church, the media, young people's organisations - the institutions of civil society on every level - were all quickly eviscerated. Ranging widely across new archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists' tactics as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the rapid choices people had to make - to fight, to flee, or to collaborate.
Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinised. Iron Curtain is a brilliant history of a brutal period in European history, but also a reminder of how fragile free societies are, and how vulnerable they can be to the predations of determined and unscrupulous enemies.