How nice to read the American publications so full of the annual listings of celebrities in various fields. The New Republic has run a novel feature on the ten most “over-rated thinkers” in the Washington circuit. I can’t quarrel with the list on the whole. I’ve had a brief encounter in Beirut once with only one of them, though - Parag Khanna. I found his grasp of Central Asia quite unsatisfactory. Our brain-stormer in Beirut sponsored by the Heinrich Boll Foundation was about the Middle East, where unfortunately he didn’t speak.
I have never met Fareed Zakaria but I follow his writings and I completly agree that he lacks consistency. He espoused ideas close to the neo-concervative camp during the George W. Bush presidency but changed tack as Barack Obama walked in. But I go along with his thoughts on China. I liked his comparison of the ‘decentralisation’ in China and India respectively.
Again, I am an avid reader of the Leverett couple and I am not surprised that they are not particularly liked by the New Republic. Rather, I would have shifted the Leveretts altogether to another list, namely, a list of the 10 bravest Americans. It does need enormous grit and courage to do what they are doing, namely, introduce some measure of sanity into the US discourses over Iran - imagine how it would make the innocent, patriotic Indians furious if they read a decent word about China.
I’m sure the Leveretts get a lot of hate mail from imbeciles. But they carry on regardless. They were spot on flagging that the Iranian regime was in no real crisis and its social base remains substantial. Obama seems to comprehend this lately - no more talk of bringing Iran under the Arab Spring. By the way, it intrigues me that they actually were the “Iran hands” in the National Security Council in the Bush presidency.
Nor am I surprised that there is a vicious assault on Stephen Walt. He is sheer poison for the Jewish lobby which dominates America’s media and campus life. But his book on the Lobby will remain immortal for its masterly analysis of the impact of the Lobby on the US foreign-policy making. Again, like Leveretts, the New Republic’s dislike is ideological.
Finally, I am surprised that Newt Gingrich figures at all in a list of “thinkers”. Since he does, I can only conclude that the bar of high thinking is nowadays held low in America’s intellectual life. Another sign of the decline?
A tantalising thought remains. Would some in our media make a similar list of Indians? Assuming, of course, Central Delhi lives in an age of thinkers. The New Republic
listing is here
Posted in Uncategorized.
– October 20, 2011