When India reassumes its engagement with successor states of the Safavid, Ottoman and European empires to its west up to the Nile and the Sahel in north Africa, it will renew dialogue with a region that has not had a good night’s sleep for at least two centuries. Analysis is not an advent of any blame game. The fault, as that crusty realist Shakespeare noted, may lie in ourselves, rather than our stars, but the destiny of men also has its profound cycles across the cartwheels of time. The past is littered with skeletons of nations which once ruled as much as the world as they could reach, and then imploded, leaving those who suffered colonisation to search for a new beginning within the debris. This search has never been easy, or short. All interventions disorient. Every collapse destabilises.
The one great incubation of the 20th century is that it has made the 21st a more egalitarian age. We should be careful, however, about how far we stretch the meaning of a more egalitarian spirit. It does not necessarily mean an equitable transformation towards democracy. But the era of acquisitive, or even domineering, empires is over. Great powers have to be more subtle in their manoeuvres, more guarded in their expectations. Only foolish powers, super or medium-sized, make non-negotiable demands. Continue reading “ISIS is a common threat”