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How and Why the Taliban Won

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The prominent philosopher Slavoj Zizek stated the question well at RT, on August 17th: The Taliban’s 80,000 troops have retaken Afghanistan with cities falling like dominos while the 300,000-strong government forces, better equipped and trained, mostly melted and surrendered with no will to fight. Why did it happen?

The Western media tell us there can be several explanations for that. …

However, all these explanations seem to avoid a basic fact that is traumatic for the liberal Western view. That is the Taliban’s disregard for survival and the readiness of its fighters to assume “martyrdom,” to die not just in a battle but even in suicidal acts.

He compared this to the Marxists who were willing to risk their lives in order to conquer the ruling aristocratic regime in Russia a hundred years ago and succeeded against enormous odds. But, then, Zizek said “it is doubtful that traditional Marxism can provide a convincing account of the success of Taliban.” Philosophers (including not only the anti-Marxist philosopher Zizek but Marx himself) always have been and are accustomed to contradicting themselves like that, without even noticing that they are. Even self-contradiction is accepted by them, because — as a profession — they have no consistent epistemological standard that they’re required to meet. Instead, Zizek blithely assumed that Russia’s Revolutionists hadn’t won for the very same reason the Taliban did — they were willing to die for their cause, while the opposing soldiers were not. He simply assumed that because the Taliban fought for a different god, they didn’t win for the same reason that those Marxist ‘atheists’ did.

However, the question still remains open, and must be addressed, in the most general sense:

Why did the Taliban win against the Americans in Afghanistan?

Why did the communists win against the Americans in Vietnam?

Why did the communists win against the capitalists in the Russian Revolution?

Why did the American Revolutionists win against the British Empire?

I shall here propose an answer to all of them, because that answer applies to all such cases, as I shall explain:

When an imperialistic society is as corrupt as Britain has been since the creation of the British East India Company in the year 1600, and as America has been since the end of World War II in 1945, with its takeover and control by the MIC (military-industrial complex), which has inevitably produced the cancerous growth of America’s permanent-warfare state, what, then, is a reason to continue living by remaining merely as a colonist or vassal-regime (or even as the imperialist regime itself), which means — when the imposed regime is so profoundly corrupt as any imperialist power necessarily is — to accept such corruption, as this? There’s something that is worse than dying, and it is to continue living under a regime that one utterly despises. That’s a dragged-out death, instead of a quick death. A regime which is as corrupt as any imperialistic regime inevitably is, will be intolerable for a significant number of the residents in any one of its vassal-nations or “colonies.” Death, for them, isn’t such a bad choice, if it means that they will go down fighting to overthrow it. They are driven by the motivation, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” This is a motivation that few, if any, of the imperialistic regime’s hired soldiers (regardless of whether conscripted or not) can match. And when they are foreigners who are fighting on a foreign soil (instead of locals who are defending their land’s own locally determined rulers), they especially and certainly cannot match such motivation, because only the locals can be fighting with a patriotic spirit. This is an intrinsic weakness in any  empire. And imperialist leaders tend to ignore it, because they don’t want to understand how repulsive they are to virtually anyone but their own boot-lickers.

Ultimately, the demoralization of a hired soldier’s continuing to place his very existence in jeopardy so as to continue the war to enslave and control the resisting local subject-population will mount high enough to produce self-contempt, desertion, and sometimes even suicide, in the oppressing power’s forces, especially if that’s a foreign power. No longer will the rationalizations (that “We are protecting the residents here”) be able to continue fooling the invading-force’s soldier, and the imposed stooge-regime’s soldier. They both (the foreign regime, and its imposed local stooge-government or colony) are there really in order to control the local subject-population; and, ultimately, enough of the oppressor’s forces will know this so as to cause the imposed stooge-government to become conquered by the indigenous residents there — people who will be remembered as heroes by the other residents there. This is an advantage which any revolutionists have, against the imposed regime.

This is the real  meaning of “martyrs,” in the deeper sense than merely of a religious type — it is instead of the patriotic type; it concerns the land, and not necessarily any religion, such as Christianity, Islam, or Marxism. Their loyalty is to Afghanistan; or it is to Vietnam; or it is to Russia; or it is to China; or (before America became imperialistic) it was to America. And so forth. It is to the local land, not to any dictators. It is to the country that the foreign invader’s forces are occupying. The invader’s forces and their imposed stooge-regimes can’t match this motivation.

Similarly, when the American invaders were conquered by the residents of Vietnam, the winners were the Vietnamese, not really the communists; and, in fact, the Marxist philosophy (or ‘religion’) subsequently has waned there. America, in Vietnam, as in Afghanistan, was the invader, in a land which had not invaded their own. That similar situation exists in Afghanistan. The Sauds had invaded America on 9/11, with the assistance of G.W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and perhaps others in the Administration. And so, the U.S.-imposed soldiers in Afghanistan couldn’t even possibly have been fighting against Afghanistan for any authentically patriotic real (factually true) reason, at all. Therefore, lies were constantly needed by the U.S. regime — not only against Iraq, but even against Afghanistan. (Furthermore, if Bush’s objective had really been to identify whom and how was actually behind the 9/11 attacks, then he would have pursued that at the U.N. Security Council and would have gotten unanimous backing for it, which would quickly have isolated and led to the destruction of Al Qaeda. It could all have been done without any war between nations, and also fully in accord with international law. To the extent that 9/11 was state-sponsored terrorism, it was actually being sponsored by the Governments of U.S. and Saudi Arabia. George W. Bush, who was buddy-close with the Sauds, used 9/11 as an excuse to trash both the U.S. Constitution and international law so as to hoist yet higher his own tyranny, his own power — not only internationally but also within his own nation. An imperialist would, of course, like to trash both, and to hoist his personal power as high as possible. And GWB had the boldness to do it, and — because America has been imperialistic ever since 1945 (i.e., international aggressions have been America’s culture since 1945) — he has been able to enjoy the success of getting away with doing it. However, everyone else, and especially outside America’s MIC, suffers from it.

What have the mere soldiers of invading and occupying imperialist powers actually earned by having placed their own lives at risk? Maybe a tombstone back home, in the country that had invaded and occupied that colony.

By contrast, even if a defending soldier has died as a hero among the locals in a failed revolution against the imperialist power, any tombstone will be unnecessary to be that person’s memorial, because the true memorial is in the heart, and in the mind, of the locals there, not in anything that is in the land of the invading foreign power.

And, so, I propose that the answer, to the question here, is that, whereas America’s Founders were waging war as heroes (because their war was just), today’s Americans are waging war as villains (because our wars are unjust — imperialistic aggressions, instead of heroic defenses against an aggressor). Between America’s founding and the present time, America has switched from doing war against military occupiers, to doing war as military occupiers.

And this, I maintain, is the reason why: “The Taliban’s 80,000 troops have retaken Afghanistan with cities falling like dominos while the 300,000-strong government forces, better equipped and trained, mostly melted and surrendered with no will to fight.”

What today’s Taliban are to today’s Afghanistan is therefore what the 1776 American Revolutionists were to the America of that era. It’s not the ideology; it is the love of that land there, which has motivated the residents’ forces to victory, against the forces of the invading-and-occupying foreign power. This can happen in any land, at any time.

America went into Vietnam focused on the “body counts.” That’s how stupid America’s imperialistic leaders were, back then. The only motivation they really understood was fear: “body counts.” They’ve evidently learned nothing since. That is how corrupt America is. 

Right now in America, the ‘debate’ about Afghanistan is about Joe Biden, who is basically irrelevant. He wanted to end America’s military occupation there, just as Trump did, and just as Obama did. He acted on it, whereas they did not — they didn’t want to be accused by their political opponents of having ‘lost Afghanistan on their watch’, but Biden was evidently willing to risk it. His only failure in the matter is that he kept lying to the American people (and probably also to himself) about how chaotic the evacuation would inevitably be, and about how collapsed Afghanistan is and has been ever since the Soviets invaded there in 1979. Throughout America’s imperialistic era, the U.S. Government has routinely been lying to the American people. Imperialism isn’t as bad for the imperialistic nation’s public as it is for the conquered land’s people, but it is very bad, even for them. The only people who benefit from it are the billionaires, who control companies such as Lockheed Martin, and ExxonMobil, and Amazon. Those are the people (the owners) who hire the leading politicians, including the members of Congress, and the Presidents, to spread their empire, and their control. They also hire the ‘journalists’ who shape their nation’s public to support these invasions and military occupations. The Government officials of an imperialistic regime represent not the nation’s public, but its aristocracy, who hire and appoint millions of the rest, the many agents (employees, etc.) of the few billionaires. The billionaires really control their country. After all: America is a thoroughly corrupt country, just as any imperialistic country is. (All imperialistic countries are controlled by their aristocracy. And every aristocracy is corrupt.) The public in Afghanistan have long known this fact about America — that it is corrupt. And this is the main reason why the Taliban now rule that country. They represent that land. Not this land. It’s a different culture, and a different place. To most Afghans, America represents only corruption. There is nothing unique about what is now happening in Afghanistan. It has been happening for thousands of years, and it’s just replaying an ancient script, but in that particular location.

However, instead, the U.S.-and-allied media are focusing on Biden’s bit part (which was always in a supporting role) in America’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. So, probably nothing will be learned from America’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, just as nothing was learned from America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, and from America’s invasion and occupation of Vietnam, and from the many other such post-WW-II American foreign disasters. For America’s billionaires, these have all been great successes (very profitable); and, so, probably nothing that’s useful to the American people will be learned from history; and, instead, the myths will continue that have caused “The Military” to be either the highest-respected or the second-highest-respected of all of the 19 named institutions in America — the world’s permanent-warfare state. The American military wastes the most money and the most blood of any institution in America, but Americans nonetheless respect it enormously. That, too, is a mark of an imperialistic country. The way to control a public is to sustain the myths. U.S.-and-allied billionaires make sure that it is done — however much it costs.

As regards the future of Afghanistan itself: On August 19th, the most reliable geostrategic reporter and analyst, Alexander Mercouris, headlined at The Duran, “US Freezes Afghanistan Reserves, Threatens Economic Crisis. Russia Works to Establish New Government”, and he explained why the Taliban will either cooperate with Russia, China, and Iran, or else will degenerate yet further into a failed state, especially because the U.S. and its allies will do everything possible to strangle the fully looted Government of Afghanistan — the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. So: even after the U.S. and its allies have all left that land, the war against the people there will continue, in full force, from the same people, though with different methods.

PS: The philosopher Zizek headlined at RT on August 20th, “The true enemy for Islamists is not the West’s neocolonialism or military aggression, but our ‘immoral’ culture”, and he said “it was not neocons who boosted Islamic fundamentalism, this fundamentalism grew up in a reaction to the influence of Western liberal secularism and individualism.” He did not understand that though religious fundamentalists (including the Taliban) focus especially on sexual and gender issues, a person didn’t have to be at all religious in order to consider the financial and economic corruption of the imperialists and of their stooges to be disgusting. Americans didn’t invade and occupy Afghanistan in order to spread “liberal secularism and individualism,” but in order for U.S.-and-allied billionaires to expand their wealth, their empire, and their global control. Even if the Taliban and other religious persons might object only (or even just mainly) to the sexual and gender issues, a broader segment of the Afghan population were repelled by the rampant financial and economic corruption of the imperialists, and of their stooge-rulers. This was not a defeat for “secularism and individualism.” It was a rejection of imperialism — a rejection of it even by people who don’t understand what “imperialism” means.

Author’s note: first posted at Strategic Culture

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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South Asia

India’s Unclear Neighbourhood Policy: How to Overcome ?

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India has witnessed multiple trends with regards to its relations with its neighbours at a time vaccine diplomacy is gaining prominence and Beijing increasing the pace towards becoming an Asian superpower, whereby making these reasons valid for New Delhi to have a clear foreign policy with respect to its neighbourhood.

Introduction

The Covid Pandemic has led to increased uncertainty in the global order where it comes to power dynamics, role of international organisations. New Delhi has tried to leave no stone unturned when it comes to dealing with its immediate neighbours.  It has distributed medical aid and vaccines to smaller countries to enhance its image abroad at a time it has witnessed conflicts with China and a change in government in Myanmar. These developments make it imperative for New Delhi to increase its focus on regionalism and further international engagement where this opportunity could be used tactically amidst a pandemic by using economic and healthcare aid.

According to Dr. Arvind Gupta, New Delhi has to deal with threats coming from multiple fronts and different tactics where it is essential for New Delhi to save energy using soft means rather than coercive measures.. India under Vaccine Maitri has supplied many of COVAXIN doses to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka where many have appreciated this move. The urgency of ensuring humanitarian aid during these periods of unprecedented uncertainty are essential in PM Modi’s Security and Growth For All ( SAGAR) initiative, which focusses on initiating inclusive growth as well as cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region.

This pandemic witnessed various threats coming in India’s neighbourhood through multiple dimensions which include maritime, land, cyber as well as air threats where adversaries are using these to put pressure on New Delhi to settle land as well as marine disputes as per their terms.  These encirclement strategies have made it necessary for India to open up various options such as holding maritime joint exercises with like-minded countries, developing partnerships, providing economic as well as healthcare support to weaker countries plus having a clear insight about changing global dynamics and acting as per them.

This piece will discuss about various changing tactics, pros and cons which India has with respect to developing its national security vis-à-vis its neighbourhood, why should it prioritise its neighbourhood at the first place?

Background

India’s Neighbourhood is filled with many complexities and a lot of suspicion amongst countries, some viewing India because of its size and geography plus economic clout as a bully where it is wanting to dominate in the region putting others aside. This led to New Delhi play an increased role in nudging ties first with its neighbours with whom it had multiple conflicts as well as misunderstandings leading to the latter viewing Beijing as a good alternative in order to keep India under check.

Ever since PM Modi has taken charge at 7 RCR, India’s Neighbourhood First Policy has been followed increasingly to develop relations, to enhance understandings and ensure mutual cooperation as well as benefit with its neighbours. The relations with Islamabad have not seen so much improvement as compared to other leaders in the past. Even though former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was invited for PM Modi’s 1st Swearing In ceremony in 2014, terrorist activities have never stopped which could be seen through Pathankot, Uri and Pulwama terror attacks which killed many of the Indian soldiers. Even though surgical strikes were conducted on terror camps in retaliation to these bombardments, Islamabad has not changed its heart at all about its security or regional demands. New strategies and friendships are being developed where Beijing has played a major role in controlling power dynamics.

The Belt and Road initiative, first time mentioned during President Xi’s 2013 speech in Kazakhstan, then officially in 2015,  lays emphasis of achieving a Chinese Dream of bringing countries under one umbrella, ensuring their security, providing them with infrastructure projects such as ports, railways, pipelines, highways etc. The main bottleneck is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor when it comes to India’s security threats, passing through disputed boundaries of Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir till Gwadar. Other projects have been initiated in Chittagong, Hambantota, Gwadar , Kyapkyou. These projects form a String Of Pearls in the Indo Pacific where New Delhi is being balanced against through economic plus development incentives being given to the member countries under the project. That’s why in the recent past, New Delhi is asserting its influence in the region, looking at new dimensional threats where Beijing’s threats in the maritime domain in the islands in East as well as South China seas are not being seen favourably in many countries such as ASEAN, US, Australia and Japan which is giving India an opportunity to look towards countries with a common threat. Amidst this great power struggle between Washington and Beijing, New Delhi is stuck between a rock and hard place i.e., having a clear and strong foreign policy with its neighbours.

In this region, India has a sole threat which is mainly Beijing where the latter has achieved prowess technologically and militarily where New Delhi lags behind the latter twenty fold. So, there is a need for improvising military technology, increase economic activities with countries, reduce dependence on foreign aid, ensure self-reliance.

Situation

South Asia is backward when it comes to economic development, human development and is a home to majority of the world’s population which lives below poverty line. The colonial rule has left a never-ending impact on divisions based on communal, linguistic and ethnic grounds. Even, in terms of infrastructure and connectivity, New Delhi lags behind Beijing significantly in the neighbourhood because the latter is at an edge when it comes to bringing countries under the same umbrella. Due to these, many initiatives have been taken up by New Delhi on developing infrastructure, providing humanitarian aid to needy countries.

There have been numerous efforts made by India with respect to reaching out to the Neighbours in 2020 through setting up of the SAARC Covid Fund where many Neighbourhood countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka gave contributions to ensure cooperation, joint scientific research, sharing information, healthcare kits where the countries contributed USD $ 18 million jointly towards this fund where New Delhi made an initial offer of USD $ 10 million.

New Delhi has even mustered ties with the Association of Southeast Asian countries during the pandemic under its Act East Policy where proper connectivity through the Northeast could be useful in easing movement of goods but currently, the infrastructure in Northeast needs more improvement where issues such as unemployment, poor connectivity are prevalent whereby disconnecting it from rest of the other states. This region could play an important role in linking Bangladesh, Myanmar to New Delhi along with the proposed India-Thailand –Myanmar Trilateral Corridor. Focus has also been laid to develop inland waterways, rail links and pipelines to ease connections between countries, making trade free and more efficient.

India is focussing on developing the Sittwe and Paletwa ports in Myanmar under the Kaladan Development Corridor, at the cost of INR 517.9 Crore in order to provide an alternative e route beneficial for the Northeast for getting shipping access

Summing Up

 These above developments and power display by a strong adversary, give good reasons for New Delhi to adopt collective security mechanisms through QUAD, SIMBEX and JIMEX with a common perception of having safe and open waters through abiding to the UNCLOS which China isn’t showing too much interest in, seen through surveillance units, artificial islands being set up on disputed territories which countries likewise India are facing in context to territorial sovereignty and integrity. These developments make it important for India to look at strategic threats by coming together with countries based on similar interest’s vis-à-vis Chinese threat.

There is a need for India to develop and harness its strength through connectivity and its self reliance initiative ( Aatmanirbharta ) so that there is no dependence on any foreign power at times of need . Proper coordination between policy makers and government officials could make decision making even easier, which is not there completely because of ideological differences, different ideas which makes it important for the political leadership to coordinate with the military jointly during times of threats on borders. Self-reliance could only come through preparedness and strategy.

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India is in big trouble as UK stands for Kashmiris

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 A London-based law firm has filed an application with British police seeking the arrest of India’s army chief and a senior Indian government official over their alleged roles in war crimes in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Law firm Stoke White said it submitted extensive evidence to the Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit on Tuesday, documenting how Indian forces headed by General Manoj Mukund Naravane and Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah were responsible for the torture, kidnapping and killing of activists, journalists and civilians – particularly Muslim – in the region.

“There is strong reason to believe that Indian authorities are conducting war crimes and other violence against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir,” the report states, referring to the territory in the Himalayan region.

Based on more than 2,000 testimonies taken between 2020 and 2021, the report also accused eight unnamed senior Indian military officials of direct involvement in war crimes and torture in Kashmir.

The law firm’s investigation suggested that the abuse has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. It also included details about the arrest of Khurram Parvez, the region’s most prominent rights activist, by India’s counterterrorism authorities last year.

“This report is dedicated to the families who have lost loved ones without a trace, and who experience daily threats when trying to attain justice,” Khalil Dewan, author of the report and head of the SWI unit, said in a statement.

“The time has now come for victims to seek justice through other avenues, via a firmer application of international law.”

The request to London police was made under the principle of “universal jurisdiction”, which gives countries the authority to prosecute individuals accused of crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.

The international law firm in London said it believes its application is the first time that legal action has been initiated abroad against Indian authorities over alleged war crimes in Kashmir.

Hakan Camuz, director of international law at Stoke White, said he hoped the report would convince British police to open an investigation and ultimately arrest the officials when they set foot in the UK.

Some of the Indian officials have financial assets and other links to Britain.

“We are asking the UK government to do their duty and investigate and arrest them for what they did based on the evidence we supplied to them. We want them to be held accountable,” Camuz said.

The police application was made on behalf of the family of Pakistani prisoner Zia Mustafa, who, Camuz said, was the victim of extrajudicial killing by Indian authorities in 2021, and on behalf of human rights campaigner Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, who was allegedly tortured before his arrest last week.

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the past two decades in Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety.

Muslim Kashmiris mostly support rebels who want to unite the region, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Kashmiris and international rights groups have long accused Indian troops of carrying out systematic abuse and arrests of those who oppose rule from New Delhi.

Rights groups have also criticized the conduct of armed groups, accusing them of carrying out human rights violations against civilians.

In 2018, the United Nations human rights chief called for an independent international investigation into reports of rights violations in Kashmir, alleging “chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces”.

India’s government has denied the alleged rights violations and maintains such claims are separatist propaganda meant to demonize Indian troops in the region. It seems, India is in big trouble and may not be able to escape this time. A tough time for Modi-led extremist government and his discriminatory policies. The world opinion about India has been changed completely, and it has been realized that there is no longer a democratic and secular India. India has been hijacked by extremist political parties and heading toward further bias policies. Minorities may suffer further, unless the world exert pressure to rectify the deteriorating human rights records in India.

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S. Jaishankar’s ‘The India Way’, Is it a new vision of foreign policy?

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S. Jaishankar has had an illustrious Foreign Service career holding some of the highest and most prestigious positions such as ambassador to China and the US and as foreign secretary of India. Since 2019 he has served as India’s foreign minister. S. Jaishankar also has a Ph.D. in international relations from JNU and his academic background is reflected in this book.

His main argument is simplistic, yet the issues involved are complex. Jaishankar argues that the world is changing fundamentally, and the international environment is experiencing major shifts in power as well as processes. China is rising and western hegemony is declining. We are moving away from a unipolar system dominated by the US to a multipolar system. Globalization is waning and nationalism and polarization is on the rise (p. 29). The old order is going away but we cannot yet glimpse what the future will look like. This is the uncertain world that Dr. Jaishankar sees.

Dr. Jaishankar also argues that India too has changed, it is more capable and more assertive. The liberalization program that began in 1991 has made the Indian economy vibrant and globally competitive and it is well on track to becoming the third biggest economy in the world, after China and the US.  The war of 1971 that liberated Bangladesh, the liberalization of the economy after 1991, the nuclear tests in 1998 and the nuclear understanding with the US in 2005, Jaishankar argues are landmarks in India’s strategic evolution (p. 4). So given that both India and the system have changed, Jaishankar concludes, so should India’s foreign policy.

But his prescription for India’s foreign policy, in the grand scheme of things, is the same as before – India should remain nonaligned and not join the US in its efforts to contain China. India will try to play with both sides it seems in order to exploit the superpowers and maximize its own interests (p. 9). But he fails to highlight how India can find common ground with China other than to say the two nations must resolve things diplomatically. He also seems to think that the US has infinite tolerance for India’s coyness. In his imagination the US will keep making concessions and India will keep playing hard to get.

Jaishankar has a profound contradiction in his thinking. He argues that the future will be determined by what happens between the US and China. In a way he is postulating a bipolar future to global politics. But he then claims that the world is becoming multipolar and this he claims will increase the contests for regional hegemony. The world cannot be both bipolar and multipolar at the same time.

There is also a blind spot in Jaishankar’s book.  He is apparently unaware of the rise of Hindu nationalism and the demand for a Hindu state that is agitating and polarizing India’s domestic politics. The systematic marginalization and oppression of Muslim minorities at home and the growing awareness overseas of the dangers of Hindutva extremism do not exist in the world that he lives in. He misses all this even as he goes on to invoke the Mahabharata and argue how Krishna’s wisdom and the not so ethical choices during the war between Pandavas and Kauravas should be a guide for how India deals with this uncertain world – by balancing ethics with realism (p. 63). Methinks his little digression in discussing the ancient Hindu epic is more to signal his ideological predilections than to add any insights to understanding the world or India’s place in it.  

One aspect of his work that I found interesting is his awareness of the importance of democracy and pluralism. He states that India’s democracy garners respect and gives India a greater opportunity to be liked and admired by other nations in the world (p. 8). Yet recently when he was asked about the decline of India’s democratic credentials, his response was very defensive, and he showed visible signs of irritation. It is possible that he realizes India is losing ground internationally but is unwilling to acknowledge that his political party is responsible for the deterioration of India’s democracy.

This is also apparent when he talks about the importance of India improving its relations with its immediate neighbors. He calls the strategy as neighborhood first approach (pp. 9-10). What he does not explain is how an Islamophobic India will maintain good relations with Muslim majority neighbors like Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan.

The book is interesting, it has its limitations and both, what is addressed and what is left out, are clearly political choices and provide insights into how New Delhi thinks about foreign policy. So, coming to the question with which we started, does India have a new foreign policy vision? The answer is no. Dr. Jaishankar is right, there is indeed an India way, but it is the same old way, and it entails remaining nonaligned with some minor attitudinal adjustments.  

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