Author: Maitra (Page 1 of 15)

A Conservative reading of Pinker’s new book

Review: ‘Enlightenment Now,’ by Steven Pinker

I was made to read Steve Pinker’s new tome, by someone very close to me.

To start with, I don’t disagree with his data, or his stance against Post-modernism, for example. But, here’s my review of his attempted, ahistoric Nate Silver-isation of Renaissance.

It’s a good book, even though I disagree with it, gigantic dataset compilation that will provide joy to optimists. True Conservatives, such as yours truly, are however, rarely optimistic. Simply because we don’t believe history is inexorably progressive or teleological.


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Before anyone sells you a “short war” with North Korea…

On November 28th, amidst a relative calm, North Korea tested its intercontinental ballistic missile. It was a matter of time, before North Korea managed to develop a system which is capable to reach mainland US. Regardless of whatever Washington might say, North Korea did what it intended to do. They have now successfully demonstrated that their weapons system is capable, and has achieved what we call the minimum credible deterrence, vis a vis an adversary.

There has been a misconception about what North Korea wanted to do. What, for all practical purposes, is the aim of North Korea. The reality has always been, that North Korea wants to survive. The Westphalian state system which ran from the 19th century to 1991, was upended with unipolarity. North Korea internalized the lessons of Saddam, Kosovo, and most importantly Gaddafi. The toppling of these regimes, and the resultant chaos, and the inability of these states to deter any foreign invasion, often at the cost of destruction and personal deaths of the leaders are a stark reminder that there’s no such thing as international order, but simply great power whims. And the recent experience of unipolarity was not uniform.

North Korea’s missile flew around 1000 KM, but went to an altitude of 4500 KM, and stayed up for over 50 mins. The missile trajectory, straight up to the sky instead of angled path shows that it is capable of withstanding enormous atmospheric pressure on reentry. In a normal ballistic missile trajectory, it would cover the continental United States.

The reality has not dawned in Washington, perhaps. Beijing and Moscow understand the fait accompli, but DC is still on with the basest of talking points. That North Korea will never be accepted as a nuclear power (it is), or the fact that North Korean nuclear weapons provide a ready deterrence (it does). The latest salvo comes from Nikki Haley in the United Nations. While she started with long-standing US position of no war with North Korea, she also mentioned that the “North Korean regime would be utterly destroyed” if there were a war between it and the US.

This is not going to happen.

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My Holiday reading list suggestions

I took the final revision class at the University, wished the students good luck, and came out thinking what a year it had been! My PhD is halfway through, all the theoretical chapters are done, and now I’m moving on to the empirical chapters. I almost got back to full-time column writing for so many different publications as well! Not quite my old journalism life, but close enough.

So what now? A month of peace, to say the least. No teaching, but focusing on research, writing, and some casual reading as well. Bliss.

I was talking to a friend of mine across the pond, and showed her my reading list suggestions for the holidays, and she was a tad surprised that there were no fiction in it. Had me questioning, do we need fiction anymore in life, after the last couple of years or is life already strange enough?

I’m a prosaic man almost reaching my mid-thirties, stiff upper lip and all that, but in light of the trend lines in our planet, here’s my Holiday reading list suggestions for the readers. You lot be the judge!

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Dual toxicity of intersectionality and Islamism

Apologies for I have been busy, with some big publications which are out.

The first one, is a result of a thorough case study, where I highlight how the institutions of media, academia and even armed forces are under the attack from the forces of intersectionality. The operational tactics are Infiltration, Subversion and Coercion.

Read it here. “Intersectionality and Popper’s Paradox“. In Quilette.

The second essay deals the flawed priorities of Western Conservatives, as they neglect the two most sacred duties of any conservative government, security of the realm and law and order in the streets.

Read it here. “Jihadist Insurgencies and Conservative Priorities“. In American Greatness.

The third essay is in the same publication, highlighting the changing character of EU and the imperial dilemma it faces.

Read, “Europe’s Imperial Dilemma“.

Finally, in my first essay for Claremont Review of Books, I talk about something which I have been writing about for a while, on how Islamism is now morphing to a simmering insurgency.

Read here. “The Character of Insurgency“. Claremont Institute, CRB.

That’s enough to keep you occupied for a while!

Until next time.




Three major lessons from recent referendums in Kurdistan and Catalonia

International Relations theorists don’t have the opportunity to conduct lab experiments like scientists. They have to rely on natural experiments, or in other words, deduce and infer from events that shape and transform in front of our eyes, happening in real time.

Recent events on the Catalan crisis and the Kurdistan referendum are important case studies for a few ideas that IR theorists have talked for, for a while.

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Let’s be prudent about Myanmar

I wrote a recent piece in The Federalist on the hysteric Western liberal media coverage of the Rohingya crisis is looking very similar to the ones during the early days of Libyan and Syrian civil wars. Naturally, the reaction to that, was…let’s say…quite extreme.

Anyway, here’s what we are seeing now. the same appeal to emotions, same arguments of ethnic cleansing, and genocide, without any understanding of the history and context of the crisis. It will soon lead to arguments of regime change, and sanctions, if UN peacekeepers. And it is specifically for that reason, every neighbouring country should be wary of the situation in Myanmar.

With more than 310,000 people having fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks, there are daily reports of violence in Myanmar border. The UNHRC, which bizarrely had Saudi Arabia as a chair, of all countries, noted that Myanmar is apparently having an ethnic cleansing. An official was quoted by Guardian, saying, “I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population.”

The Rohingya issue is not new. It originates from the forced demographic change during the British times, when the northern Myanmar was socially engineered by the British colonial governance, to provide for cheap labour. It created centuries of sectarian tension and separatism, and worse, anti-Burmese violence in the 40s and 50s. Over 50000 Myanmar Buddhists were killed in the 1940s, a wound that still lives in Myanmar. Recently, since the 1980s, the Rohingya separatism, acquired an Islamist character. It is important to note that there’s a huge connection between Islamists in North India, and Xinjiang, and Rohingya and the Moro Liberation front. While most of these groups started with political or economic demands, over time, they have acquired a religious character which cannot be negotiated with.

It is in this time, the latest Rohingya crisis started.

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Game of Thrones and IR Theory


Here you go. My second long essays in a day. This one’s more fun, of course.

Yours truly, for Acculturated.


” Daenerys Targaryen’s journey which turned her from humanitarian interventionist to overstretched hegemon who ultimately failed to keep peace is similarly instructive. You can invade a region and try to establish a rule of law, but you cannot win wars, establish long lasting peace, and transform an alien society in a matter of days with only kindness and norms. If any established order is overthrown, there will inevitably be insurgency, and counterinsurgency is rarely achieved by winning hearts and minds (or merely breaking chains). Modern Realist research on Counterinsurgency corroborates what ancient Romans understood, and what Dany, as well as our current policy makers refuse to believe: Carthago Delenda est.

This is a Machiavellian paradox. Fear didn’t help Robert keep the throne, but honor didn’t help Ned (or his son Robb) survive either; benevolent rule of law didn’t help Dany to secure order. A sovereign cannot rule only through norms; he or she needs to balance it with fear—or at least the threat of severe repercussions. A society that is too liberal and free turns degenerate, just as a society that is too repressed eventually rebels. In the first scenario, it is invaded and destroyed by external, disciplined, cohesive, martial forces; in the latter case a Leviathan rises to bring back order amidst chaos. 

Let me know what you think?

The defining culture war of our times is just starting

The debate about Transgenders in military is complicated unlike any others. 

My essay in The Federalist.

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Not the bloody trade war talk again

As the talks of trade war heat up from across the pond again, it is time to highlight some home truths. A beleaguered US Presidency, completely sabotaged by opposing domestic interests between several differing factions, found a rare bipartisan point of solidarity, as hawkish Democrats urged on Trump to be stern in face of a possible trade war. The argument lies like this. Chinese economic prowess has coerced several American companies, to start joint ventures or lose Chinese markets. That led to diffusion of technology, and sharing of intellectual property. Technology and Intellectual property is now proving to be new battleground, as Bob Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, is apparently now preparing a trade case against extensive misuse of IP.

That’s, however, easier said than done.

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Takedown of Post-Modernism by Shermer

An article in the esteemed Scientific American, quotes me and my Quillette piece and ties it to the original sin, the capture of the academy by the Post-modernists and the causation of race based arguments.

Everything that we see around us, including the cyclical tit-for-tat violence, is a direct result of our academics teaching students to see everything from the lens of race, and nothing else.

The original piece was written after the Berkeley riots.

Read them both, and let me know what you think!



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