- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 13, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812979206
- ISBN-13: 978-0812979206
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 140 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power Paperback – September 13, 2011
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“A sweeping narrative [that] deftly weaves history, reportage, and grand strategy . . . into a coherent portrait of an undercovered region whose importance will only grow in the decades to come.”—Foreign Policy
“Few books can be considered indispensable, but Monsoon is one of them. . . . An essential primer for this new century’s evolving politics.”—The Dallas Morning News
“A special blend of first-person travel writing, brief historical sketches and wide-ranging strategic analysis.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Compelling . . . Kaplan’s breadth of travel and learning leads to intriguing insights.”—The Washington Post
“[Kaplan] has a gift for geopolitical imagination.”—The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of sixteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including Asia’s Cauldron, The Revenge of Geography, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, where his work has appeared for three decades. He was chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor, a visiting professor at the United States Naval Academy, and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. Foreign Policy magazine has twice named him one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Oman is a wonderful example of an alternative to democracy that has worked out for the best of the country. While Kaplan points out that this is not always the answer, it is refreshing to see an American who admits that, for some societies, democracy might not be the best option.
On Islam in Indonesia, Kaplan points out that traditional and conservative Islamic groups are more inclusive and secure since they have a stable basis in centuries of Islamic thought and do not feel threatened by other influences (which are many: Indonesia has Christian, Buddhist and HIndu communities) or define itself through enemies. It is the modern Islamic groups that tend to be more radical. "The conversion of religion to radical ideology doesn't happen because people doubt God, but because they have come to doubt themselves, which, in turn, is something that goes back to their own fear of modernization." He further quotes Giora Eliraz who says that "radical fundamentalists need worthy adversaries.".
All of this makes me think of what has been happening in Europe in the past several years. It is not the Islam that Europe should fear, but the people who are frightened, people who feel that they cannot - for whatever reason - integrate into the modern day society, the ones that feel excluded. And the cure to the current situation is not rage or increased antagonism, but acceptance of all, respect for the different sets of beliefs, and promotion of economic development throughout the world, the kind of development that will make people feel secure about their job prospects and the ability to feed their families and realize their full human potential without the necessity to resort to violence. It is fear and insecurity that breed violence. And there need not be fear in a world that is more supporting and accepting. Sadly, we are a long way from that word as of yet, but we can start on the way there by at least remembering that fear and rage is not the answer.
I would recommend reading Monsoon by Robert Kaplan to everyone!
As in all his books, Kaplan makes wide and deep use of history and culture to reinforce his theses. His analysis begins in Oman, that strange and peaceful Sultanate, a model of benevolent and illustrated despotism, and throws the first stone: is necessarily Western democracy the right model for all peoples? Is it the best one? He, of course, doesn't offer definitive answers, but sows doubt. Then he goes on to recover the memory of Colonialism: the astonishing and sudden retreat of the Chinese, in the XV Century, just when they were about to make the Indian their Mare Nostrum, changed history forever, by leaving the way free for the Portuguese invasions that started the Western expansion (told in fascinating detail by Camoes in "Os Lusiadas"). Kaplan goes on then to tell about the complex events taking place in Pakistan and India, with the Chinese struggle to find supply lines as alternatives to Malacca. From Bangladesh and Kolkata to Sri Lanka, Burma and Indonesia, he examines every region's history and shows how it is related with current events.
It is there, in the Indian Ocean and its littorals, to which the Monsoon gave their commercial and military calendar, where the new winds of change will determine the world's shape. It will be the theater of war (hopefully only commercial and strategic), the chessboard for the governments of billions of people in flux. Islam, the new middle classes, huge infrastructure projects, trade and energy routes, and ideological and practical clashes, will make the Indian Ocean again the matrix of the world.
As always, a fascinating reflection, a mix of in-depth reporting, geostrategic, economic, and political analysis, and narrative, that raises the relevant questions and examines them without prejudices to try and find the future of the world.