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  • There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

A few stupid questions…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on June 30, 2014

A lot of media coverage lately has been focused on Iraq and the birth of a a Sunni militia that call themselves the ISIS. Hours of prime time television are being spent on how this menace developed and how it should be tackled. I have also seen a lot of analysts fret about the danger posed by home grown jihadists, Western citizens fighting the jihad in the middle east. This is one time I am happy that Indians cannot travel to Turkey(or most western countries) without a travel visa. If we could, there would be millions of Indian Jihadis battling it out in Syria and Iraq. Returning to the analysis of the current situation in Iraq, almost everything has been discussed as a solution to the threat posed by ISIS. Almost everything.

I find it extremely puzzling that no one seems to explore the option of cutting off the supply of arms and ammunition to ISIS. An army that big surely needs a lot of arsenal to fight such a long battle. Obviously, someone is supplying it to them. And this someone has to be rich because bullets are more expensive than human lives these days. So should I dare ask why the focus is on fighting ISIS on the streets of Iraq when the US and its allies (Saudis and Israel are you listening?) can easily block the supply of ammunition to ISIS. The Intelligence services know where the weapons come from and what route they take (Turks are you listening?). They also know the sources of funding for such lethal acquisitions. Wouldn’t it be easier to just target these and let the militia run out of ammunition?

Israel’s silence during this entire episode makes me uncomfortable. So does the indifference with which the Saudis are treating the matter. Turkey seems surprisingly quiet and relaxed for someone who’s neighborhood is being run over by militants considered worse than Al Qaeda. Arms dealers around the world are enjoying a booming market.

Conflicts continue because someone wants them to, not because we can’t stop them.

Am I just asking stupid questions?

Posted in News | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Part 2: Corporate Acquisition 101: Inspired by Niccolo Machiavelli

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 24, 2012

“When states are acquired in a country differing in language, customs, or laws, there are difficulties, and good fortune and great energy are needed to hold them, and one of the greatest and most real helps would be that he who has acquired them should go and reside there.”

Niccolo Machiveli, The Prince

I was reading one of my earliest posts and wondered how it would be if Machiavelli’s golden words could be applied in present day and age. Would it help if President Barack Obama sets up residence in Baghdad and spends three months in a year there? What if the probable next President Mitt Romney builds a million dollar mansion in Kabul and runs the American Empire from there? (no comments allowed on the use of “next president 🙂

I think they should. If the strategy worked in medieval times, I see no reason why it cannot now. Superpowers are capitalist empires driven by economic motives. American presence in Afghanistan and Iraq are examples of territorial conquests, and seeing how much tax payer money has been spent in these wars, it would only make sense to continue in these new acquisitions and get a worthy Return on Investment. I would not expect anything less from such a risky venture.

Below is an excerpt from my previous post. Replace “Corporate Acquisition” with “Territorial Acquisition”, “CEO” with “President” and “employees” with citizens and the message is clear.

Now here lies a lesson for all those consulting or undertaking Corporate Acquisition, especially one where entities from different countries or cultures are involved. Just replace “states” with “companies” in the above quote and the message is clear: The CEO or Chairman or Decision Maker of the company that makes an acquisition overseas, must move his office to the acquired company and run his business from there until Integration of the two entities is truly complete.

Further he wrote, “Because, if one is on the spot, disorders are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy them; but if one is not at hand, they are heard of only when they are great, and then one can no longer remedy them. Besides this, the country is not pillaged by your officials; the subjects are satisfied by prompt recourse to the prince; thus, wishing to be good, they have more cause to love him, and wishing to be otherwise, to fear him.”

Proximity to employees of the acquired company will go a long way in allaying their fears and insecurities. Needless to say, this is of utmost importance when you wish to leverage the resources of the acquired firm to the fullest.

As always, comments welcomed.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

A Beautiful Short Story: The Appointment in Samarra

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 23, 2012

This story appeared as an epigraph for the novel, “Appointment in Samarra” by John O’Hara. It is W. Somerset Maugham’s retelling of an old story. First, here’s an interesting historical fact about the meaning of Samarra. Medieval Islamic writers believed that the name “Samarra” is derived from the Arabic phrase “Sarra man ra’a”, which translates to “A joy for all who see”. Later when the city declined the name changed to “Sa’a man ra’a”, which translates to “A sadness for all who see”. Eventually the two names merged to its current form Samarra. (credit : Wikipedia)

The Appointment in Samarra

“A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Shortly, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, and she made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant’s horse, he flees at top speed to Samarra, a distance of about 75 miles, where he believes Death will not find him. The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture. She replies, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

A beautiful tale from a magical and mystical land. Alas, what have we done to Mesopotamia!

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Why Iraq will be won and Afghanistan lost

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on August 30, 2012

“…principalities of which one has record are found to be governed in two different ways; either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favour and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such barons have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords and hold them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him, and if they yield obedience to another they do it as to a minister and official, and they do not bear him any particular affection.

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turk and the King of France. The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the kingdom of the Turk are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons given above; for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who attacks the Turk must bear in mind that he will find him united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of others; but, if once the Turk has been conquered, and routed in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom, for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such men, for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render the victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are unable either to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost whenever time brings the opportunity.” – Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

In Iraq,  Saddam Hussein, along with his ministers ruled with a heavy hand and ruthless authority. Saddam’s reign over Iraq was total and complete. To topple him, the U.S relied solely on the might of its own alliance. It is evident, that people of Iraq, once they settle their own sectarian issues, will be more ready to accept American presence and dominance in their country. As Machiavelli suggested, Iraq is America’s for the keeping.

Image Courtesy Mikhail Evstafiev

Afghanistan, is equivalent to the “Kingdom of France” in the quotes above.The central Asian republic has always been an unnatural co-existence of several different tribes being ruled by their respective warlords. Every occupation of Afghanistan has been achieved by bribing these warlords towards oneself. The Soviets did it, and the U.S is doing the same. It is evident in the form of government which they have put together. It is a coalition of tribal leaders that helped the U.S fight the Taliban. Beyond this, the leaders have nothing in common. It is a state of affairs that is bound to collapse and Afghanistan, thanks to some medieval curse, is going to return to becoming what it always has been, the land of the dead.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

 
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