War and Books

Submitted by admin on Sat, 07/15/2017 - 17:09


Dear Friends,

Mosul has been liberated. That is the headline. But what will this liberation mean. The picture above, taken by an AFP photographer, shows the extent of the devastation of the city. 'Our city is in ruins', says Ayman who lives in the western part of Mosul.

There is little press coverage of the brutal aerial bombardment of the city by the US-led Coalition. Amnesty International accused the United States of war crimes, which it has denied. But the evidence is quite shocking. AirWars has released an important report on the scale of the attacks, and the theory of 'annihilation' that drives them. Little of this makes its way into the global corporate media. It is content with the original headline.

At Alternet, I go over the evidence from Amnesty, from AirWars and from my own sources. It is striking that the way these wars are fought led inexorably to the next war, and then the next. This battle mimics the battles by the US in Fallujah and Ramadi - the original wars that engendered the creation of ISIS in 2006. This is the theme in my book The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. You can read my report for Alternet here.

A few days before I finished the report, I joined Aaron Mate of The Real News for a brief interview on the way in which the Western press reports the Syria war - and the heartbreaking violence that has devastated northern Syria and parts of north-central Iraq. It is, for instance, of note that the Western media has not put on its front-pages the fact that almost half a million Syrian refugees have returned to their homes as a consequence of the de-escalation zones negotiated between Russia, Iran and Turkey as well as between Iran and Qatar, not to speak of the negotiations on the ground between Syrian fighters who are exhausted by this fratricidal war. You could watch the interview here.

On this question of the neglect of human security, I joined Janine Jackson of FAIRon her radio show to talk - for twenty minutes - about the very poor way in which we understand the refugee crisis, and how dreary is the framework of 'security' when it is merely about the well-being of the West. When refugees 'inconvenience' the West, they get on the front page. But their own security is not in the picture. It is seen as irrelevant. You can listen to that radio interview here. The nub of the issue is in the last question that Janine asks, and which elicits this response:


So the question is, security for whom? The security frame, again, is security for the wealthy, it’s security for the West, not security for the migrants. Nobody is thinking about what are the rights of a migrant, what is the security of the migrant. I think that has disappeared from our public conversation. So occasionally there’s a scandal, people are scandalized by the fact that somebody who’s a refugee is mistreated. But the question isn’t that this refugee is mistreated in a one-off way. The entire system is constructed in such a way that abuse is normal. I think that’s how we need to understand this: The question of security is not about security in general, but it’s security in a very particular way, for those who are powerful and those who have means.


May Day Bookstore and Cafe


The picture above is from May Day Bookstore and Cafe - the home of LeftWord Books in Delhi. Many of you have not been to the bookstore, but have only visited us at our website. We hope that someday you can come to the bookstore - particularly on May 1st, when the celebration is raucous and fun. Anant Gupta, from The Citizen, has done a lovely little story on our cafe, on Studio Safdar and on LeftWord. Please read it here.

If you've been to our website, you'll have noticed our blog. At this space, Subhashini Ali - Politburo member of the CPI-M - has a fabulous speech that she delivered at the EMS Smrithi in Thrissur (Kerala) earlier this year. You can read her speech here. In this speech, Subhashini goes into the heart of the cruelties of modern India - namely the vicious hierarchy of caste and what it has come to mean in our times. She makes the case for the necessary unity between the Dalit struggles and the Left struggles, a point made as well in the introduction by Anand Teltumbde to Ambedkar's India and Communism (whose cover you can see in the image above). Anand's book was recently reviewed, by the way, at Countercurrents by S. V. Rajadurai. You can read that here.

We, at LeftWord, are hard at work with our next set of books. We encourage you to visit the website, if not May Day, and have a look at our offerings. We are doing a book by Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, which will be a full-scale assessment of the RSS-led government of Narendra Modi. Meanwhile, to thwart the rise of intolerance and violence in India, the Left and its allies took to the streets of my home city Calcutta. This, below, is our Red Wall against hopelessness, fear and despair. It is also my postcard to the people of Mosul.

Warmly, Vijay.


Red Wall