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Ey are of tragic places and times The book is loosely organized around the idea that the Indian Ocean is becoming a center of global activity as important as the Atlantic was in the 19th century This allows Kaplan to visit Oman a poor region of Pakistan called Baluchistan Sri Lanka Bengal Indonesia and other regions While some areas look bright Oman for example others look dangerous and dark Sri LankaOn the international affairs side Kaplan covers the impact of a decline in power of the US vs China in the region and the desire of India to counter balance China in the region On the decline side he notes that Sri Lanka was able to pursue its absolutely brutal destruction of the Tamil Tigers as the Chinese do not attach moral reuirements to their foreign relations He also shows the slow spread of China throughout the region including into Burma Sri Lanka and PakistanThe big news from an international affairs stand point is that navies are back Since the end of the Cold War navies really haven t had much to do The US Navy dominated everything and it reoriented towards striking land targets Critical sea lanes lines like the Straits of Malacca make navies matter again and Kaplan argues that the Chinese US Indian naval relationship will be a critical one to watch At its heart this is a travel not a policy book but it will certainly encourage exploring For anyone familiar with Robert D Kaplan s previous writings on the Indian Ocean in Foreign Affairs or the changing nature of geopolitics one would at first assume that this was merely an expansion of the aforementioned subjects However Kaplan s Monsoon is much than such an impersonal academic treatise it is both a journey through the history and the present of the Indian Ocean countriesThe central premise of Monsoon is that the Indian Ocean rather than the Pacific and Atlantic will be the new theatre of power rivalry in the 21st century as a result of the rise of China and India and the ever growing importance of commerce along this sea route At its heart is the continuing importance of Persian Gulf commerce coupled with the growth of the Hydrocarbon market in Central Asia and the desire of all powers to reach the sea Particular flash points Kaplan outlines are Burma where India and China are competing for influence with the regime for access to gas reserves and expanded trade routes and the strait of Malacca essentially the gateway between the Indian and Pacific Oceans In the 21st century world military power still counts and this is indispensable when faced with piracy off the horn of Africa and stability of commerce routes but so does economic power and economic interconnectednessWhile one would assume Monsoon to be a study of Globalization it is in fact a historical study that reveals globalization is much older than commonly assumed From the first chapter of the book studying Oman s far reaching sea faring activity to the final chapter exploring Zanzibar s microcosm of the global village Monsoon reveals that Globalization has featured many different incarnations whether it was the seafaring Omanis the crusade minded Portuguese the Dutch and later the English the Indian Ocean was paramount in the expansion of global power and will indeed return to pre eminenceRobert D Kaplan is by trade a travel writer and security analyst par excellence and his travel writing expertise is evinced within Monsoon as one is not simply recounted data upon the countries in uestion rather one is transported there in person through Kaplan s beautifully worded prose that fleshes out the various locations of his travelsMonsoon is not only a study of the changing face of geopolitics it is both a beautifully worded travel memoir and historical journey that is both a pleasure to the senses and a treat for the inuisitively minded A Very engaging political travelogue about a number of countries around the Indian Ocean I enjoyed the historical references juxtaposed with current issues affecting the various regions covered The two biggest power players besides America are India and China while the most modern Islamic country is Indonesia Both Pakistan and Burma are frontier states which along with Bangladesh have been branded as failed states The author predicts a gradual take over of the Indian Ocean by China slowly overtaking America as the main policeman of the sea The change is inevitable and irreversible Will it destabilize the region for the worst or the better China does not seem to have as much hubris as the Americans so I expect the change to be for the betterThe book is a great read for anyone interested in the politics of the region Again the high rating is for the scholarship and the presentation not for the views or the conclusions Full review might follow but my essential view on Kaplan s world vision can be found here. Ntire arc of Islam from the Sahara Desert to the Indonesian archipelago and it is here that the political future of Islam will most likely be determined Here is where the five hundred year reign of Western power is slowly being replaced by the influence of indigenous nations especially India and China and where a tense dialogue is taking place between Islam and the United States  With Kaplan’s incisive mix of policy analysis travel reportage sharp historical perspective and fluid writing Monsoon offers a thought provoking exploration of the Indian Ocean as a strategic and demographic hub and an in depth look at the issues that are most pressing for American interests both at home and abroad Exposing the effects of explosive population growth climate change and extremist politics on this unstable region and how they will affect our own interests Monsoon is a brilliant important work about an area of the world Americans can no longer afford to ignor.

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Another thorough and thought provoking book from Kaplan Monsoon had a very personal feel for me Although it is only very peripherally about the UAE it is also somehow ALL about the UAE The nations of the Indian Ocean Oman Pakistan Iran India Bangladesh Sri Lanka Indonesia Malaysia and to a lesser extent Burma are all heavily present in the p Late in Barack Obama s first term in the White House his administration began to execute a foreign policy strategy nown as the pivot to Asia The new policy was tacitly grounded in the realization that the US wars in Ira and Afghanistan and the long standing primacy of the Atlantic Alliance had distracted the country from the new emerging world order No longer could the United States reflexively command respect as the world s sole superpowerThe planet s center of gravity was inexorably moving toward Asia with the emergence of China and secondarily of India as regional powers both of them candidates for future superpower status And that is the reality the geopolitical theorist Robert D Kaplan explores in his thought provoking 2010 book Monsoon which anticipated Obama s pivot by two yearsSouth Asia holds the Alien Conquest key to the planet s futureThe themes that predominate in Monsoon as in much of Kaplan s other work are the profound impact of geography the enduring importance of history and realpolitik It s unsurprising that he would be so popular in the defense establishment which shares these preoccupations In his view Asia and most particularly South Asia holds theey to the future big power alignments of the twenty first century That future he believes will play itself out along the shores of the Indian Ocean which stretches from East Africa the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia and the Indonesian archipelago It s a future in which naval forces will be dominantThe success of the pivot to Asia will play out on the Indian OceanStrategically Kaplan sees the central uestion is whether China will truly succeed in building a two ocean navy to match that of the United States Writing before the pivot to Asia he lacked confidence that the US Navy would command the resources to maintain its hegemony in the Indian Ocean as well as the western Pacific At the time the Navy possessed fewer than 300 capital ships currently however that number has grown to than 490 But he sees competition coming not just from China India too is a naval power and as its economy continues its rapid growth Kaplan foresees its navy becoming formidable alsoAn excellent guide to the geopolitics of the 21st centuryIn Monsoon Kaplan blends accounts of his extended travels throughout the littoral of the Indian Ocean with historical and geographic commentary interviews with soldiers political leaders and activists and fine tuned geopolitical analysis Along the way he portrays some of the individuals past and present who have most deeply influenced the shape of the Indian Ocean world today His portraits of the Sultan of Oman the British imperialists Robert Clive and George Curzon and now Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi before he attained national office are especially revealingTo understand the pivot to Asia and grasp the stakes of the new grand game being played out in the waters of the Indian Ocean Monsoon is an excellent guideAbout the authorOver the years Robert D Kaplan 1952 has moved steadily in and out of the defense establishment As a thinker he has lately been most closely identified with the think tank the Center for a New American Security and the Defense Policy Board a federal advisory committee to the Pentagon He is however primarily a writer His nineteen books to date encompass foreign affairs and travel often between the same covers His work has also freuently appeared in the nation s leading newspapers and magazines This in intended to be a slightly useful review than my first pass belowKaplan presents a survey of the Indian Ocean littoral from Oman to Zanzibar moving clockwise about the Sea in conscious imitation of the ancient periplous which were descriptions of the Mediterranean originally as seen from the side of a ship moving clockwise around the Sea from the Straits of Gibraltar and back round again Kaplan focuses on the geographical aspects very much attuned to the relations between geography and history a la Braudel on the historical background of the Indian Ocean littoral from the Arabs the Mughals the Portugese up to modern times and the geopolitical aspects of this profoundly important regionKaplan s contention is that the Indian Ocean is about to replace the North Atlantic as the heart or center of the geopolitical realities of the 21st century The reason for this is the rise of India which is an Indian Ocean entity in large part and the rise of China whose energy needs given that China is literally wall.  On the world maps common in America the Indian Ocean all but disappears The Western Hemisphere lies front and center while the Indian Ocean region is relegated to the edges split up along the maps’ outer reaches This convention reveals the geopolitical focus of the now departed twentieth century for it was in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters that the great wars of that era were lost and won Thus many Americans are barely aware of the Indian Ocean at allBut in the twenty first century this will fundamentally change In Monsoon a pivotal examination of the Indian Ocean region and the countries nown as “Monsoon Asia” bestselling author Robert D Kaplan deftly shows how crucial this dynamic area has become to American power in the twenty first century Like the monsoon itself a cyclical weather system that is both destructive and essential for growth and prosperity the rise of these countries including India Pakistan China Indonesia Burma Oman Sri.

Ed in by the First Island Chain of US Allies Korea Japan Taiwan Phillippines will have to be satisfied by tankers that need to negotiate the Straits of Malacca among other sea lanes Moreover just as the Indian Ocean of the 13th 17th centuries was a circle without a center and without a geopolitical or power center but a broadly diffused series of trading networks that produced of necessity a uniue medieval cosmopolitanism and notably an Islamic medieval cosmopolitanism so Kaplan thinks the Indian Ocean of the coming years is set to play a similar roleHis account of a non arabic Islam expressed by al Jazeera at its best is uite fascinating and persuasiveThe ey of course is that the US play its role of elegant decline and not teeter off into the blood drenched fantasies of the Neoconservatives and their ilk and that China s nationalists of course whom Mark Leonard calls the neocomms are also ept in check Kaplan supported the Bush War in Ira but has evolved and frankly calls his earlier support a mistake The book also contains an important admixture of travelogue thoroughly integrated with the larger themes as Kaplan describes the actual tour that he took about the Indian Ocean and it is beautifully written almost hauntingly in places In addition to Oman there is much on Pakistan India Bangladesh Burma Indonesia with a final chapter on Zanzibar One of the most interesting chapters is number 15 on Chinese naval policyA thoroughly impressive and important book and a delight to read I can t recommend it highly enough Consider this a six star reviewThis is a stunning book Rich with travel observation geopolitical strategy poetry and vision both from above and from within Kaplan s tour of the Indian Ocean and the revival of the Muslim Hindic trading world emporium of the pre Portugese and Western entry symbolized by a rising China in the East and an America that one hopes will sanely play its role of elegant decline and by Al Jazeera reading this book is to hear the tectonic plates of history moving in our times Monsoon is a book about the geography and geopolitics of the Indian Ocean region It could be described as a travelogue but Kaplan is deeply interested in the politics of South Asia as well He travels from west to east from Yemen to Indonesia describing the histories current political climates and ambitions of the countries ringing this huge region Kaplan doesn t say so but I think he must be one of those scholars who think the Indian Ocean will become the most important body of water in the world Most of his focus is on the intensifying competition being created by trade and arms China floats 85% of its oil and gas across its waters uickly developing India juts into the ocean like a cowcatcher and thereby projects power over the trade routes China s financing port facilities in Pakistan and Burma while India develops Himalayan defenses It s anchored on its ends by a stable Oman and by an Islamic Indonesia tempered by Hindu and Buddhist influences but the region is essentially unstable Partly this is because the Cold War s understanding among great powers was a time of relative stability which is ending now as China India Indonesia and Japan become competitive but without the robust engagement of a now declining America to balance their energetic rise and provide the example of moral order This is a rich portrait of a region crowded with developing trade and increasing friction among rivals Eh it was ok Kaplan s views on imperialism feel dated and simplistic Too tired to read a longer reviewFun fact in the audiobook the narrator over pronounces things like uasi uay sai Most of the political economy books are very boring 300 pages to prove a point that can be explained in 5 pages are the standard I remember FZakaria s The Post American World was so boring I had to put it away after 50 pages Hence I took a gamble by picking up Monsoon and it proved to be the black swan 300 pages of entertaining and informative study of the geo political situation in countries surrouding the Indian oceanThis book is a study that takes the reader on a journey through a thriving region alive with desire for the future We see Oman Pakistan India Bangladesh Birma Indonesia and Zanzibar through the eyes of RK who has visited all countries something not all political commentators do and understand their role in the Big Game for w Robert Kaplan is the anti Thomas Friedman Where Friedman bounces around the globe looking at globalization and spins visions of future wonder Kaplan ambles down dark streets seeing the worst of globalization Both are travel writers with a strong interest in international affairs of course Kaplan is a far better travel writer than Friedman You really get a feel for the vistas he takes in from his perches His descriptions are wonderful even if th. Lanka Bangladesh and Tanzania represents a shift in the global balance that cannot be ignored The Indian Ocean area will be the true nexus of world power and conflict in the coming years It is here that the fight for democracy energy independence and religious freedom will be lost or won and it is here that American foreign policy must concentrate if America is to remain dominant in an ever changing world From the Horn of Africa to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond Monsoon explores the multilayered world behind the headlines Kaplan offers riveting insights into the economic and naval strategies of China and India and how they will affect US interests He provides an on the ground perspective on the volatile countries in the region plagued by weak infrastructures and young populations tempted by extremism This in one of the most nuclearized areas of the world is a dangerous mixThe map of this fascinating region contains multitudes Here lies the

Robert David Kaplan is an American journalist currently a National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly His writings have also been featured in The Washington Post The New York Times The New Republic The National Interest Foreign Affairs and The Wall Street Journal among other newspapers and publications and his controversial essays about the nature of US power have spurred debate

Robert D. Kaplan10 on Monsoon AUTHOR Robert D. Kaplan