I have a review of Robert D. Kaplan’s new tome Monsoon up at The National UAE: Recall America’s imperial past, understand its present.
The policy readers of this book will find it sober reading. The empire, which does listen to Robert Kaplan, will surely invite him to speak to groups with shiny brass and shinier domes. The historians reading this book will have less cause to be charitable. The now-standard collapse of lived history from “Alexander the Great” to “us” would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.
Again and again, centuries disappear from Kaplan’s narrative as routinely elaborated customs and practices are relegated to either geographic determinism or something called “Desert Islam”. Those inhabitants of the climes in which Kaplan locates his narrative will have more than ample reason to be offended by his caricatures or by his invocations to the healing power of violence – be it Robert Clive or Sultan Qaboos. In this, however, Kaplan is neither unique nor exemplary in a pantheon of great American commentators which stretches from Thomas L Friedman to Fareed Zakaria.
Go Read and come back and tell me how you like it.