South Asia’s Geography of Conflict

Our patron saint Robert D. Kaplan has been quiet as of late, but those of us who know his pattern of speaking, publishing articles, and writing books know what to expect — Kaplan’s recent speeches, interviews and articles on geography and South Asia are just warm-ups to a new book soon to be out on India–Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.

As a prelude to that book, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has released a new report on South Asia written by Kaplan. It’s more like a long article, with 16 pages of text, and you can read the entire pdf here, with the highlight:

“If Americans do not come to grasp with India’s age-old, highly unstable geopolitics, especially as it concerns Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, they will badly mishandle the relationship.”

You can also watch a CNAS interview with Kaplan here, and embedded below:

Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power is available for pre-order online now and in book stores in the US on October 19.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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4 Responses to South Asia’s Geography of Conflict

  1. kurt9 says:

    Its a good paper. However, I disagreed with him on one point early in the paper. Kaplan describes the idea that the Chinese and Europeans being more “organized” historically than the Sub-continental people due to climate ( cold weather people are forced to plan and organize their lives around the seasons whereas tropical and sub-tropic people do not) as “too deterministic”. I don’t this is too deterministic at all. I think this is actually the correct explanation for human evolution over the past 10,000 years.

    Kaplan has difficulty accepting human biodiversity because he, like the rest of us, has been inculcated since childhood in the PC orthodoxy that all humans are alike. Anyone who has traveled as extensively as he has (or as I have) should realize that this is obviously not true.

  2. elambend says:

    Even after partition, the idea of India as a single entity is the single most significant legacy of the British Empire. There is precious little that says that this must be so. What is now India has coalesced well, but there are some sever centrifugal forces withing the political state of India, particularly Kasmir and Assam.
    What makes Assam Indian? What makes India more stable than the Austro-Hungarian empire?
    These issues and the deep hang-over from its feudalistic past (and present?) are a sever hindrance vis-a-vis China.

  3. Curzon says:

    India’s future as a lasting nation is by no means secured. Interestingly, the Austrian and then the Austro-Hungarian was very stable through the 19th century, and had a successful 100 years, and it wasn’t until the explosion of ethnic nationalism at the end of the 19th century that things started to fall apart.

  4. Indyan says:

    (at) Curzon

    The main factor of stability of modern Indian state is because of its diversity. It is too diverse. When the people of Assam starts to fight and say they want to “go,” the rest of India says, “No, we can’t let you go. We already lost Northern and Eastern parts + some mumbo jumbo about unity in diversity” (Pakistan and Bangladesh)

    Like you said, it is less than half a century. We’ve to wait and watch!

    It is not South Asia, it is Subcontinent or Indian Subcontinent. The biggest asset the Indian state got was the name India, and this made Jinnah mad (laughs) Maybe you can write a post about this sudden change in naming convention.

    Nitin Pai had written about it in his Yahoo! Coloumn : http://in.news.yahoo.com/columnist/nitin_pai/9/we-are-not-south-asian