Meddling foreigners

Posted in cold war, democracy, foreign policy, history, politics, US by jrahman on October 18, 2015

Updated: 431pm 19 Oct 2015 BDT

As I try to get back to writing, I asked an old friend and longtime reader about potential topics.  Syria came up, hardly surprising given the recent news.  I have, however, been quite surprised with the way Bangladeshi cyberspace has been reasonably united in reaching the conclusion that Putin’s Russia is the ‘goodie’ in the conflict and America is responsible for everything that has gone wrong in that benighted country.

I have nothing particular to add on Syria except to observe that the United States and allies occupied a country to get Saddam Hussein, bombed another but stopped short of invasion to get Muammar Qaddafi, and did neither when it came to Bashar Assad, and yet Syria is just as much a mess as Iraq or Libya — so the ‘it’s all America’s’ fault line doesn’t really gel with me.  But hey, if it unites Shahbag revellers, Shapla Chattar mourners, and everyone in between and beyond, who am I to disagree.


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Dead presidents

Posted in cold war, history, music by jrahman on November 23, 2013

It’s the 50th anniversary of JFK assassination.  When he first became the president, JFK was viewed by many in a similar way as how people viewed George W Bush —a not-too-bright son of a political dynasty who got the top job through money and dirty deals.  Then, just like Bush, Kennedy’s stock rose because of an international crisis — the Cuban missile crisis was JFK’s 9/11 moment.  He was hailed as a great leader.  And then he was killed, and became a martyr.

His successor, LBJ, was far less charismatic.  While JFK was the suave Boston Brahmin, LBJ was an uncouth Texan.  Still, LBJ won a landslide — largely on JFK sympathy — and pushed through a lot of progressive legislation, including giving Black Americans the right to vote.  But then the Vietnam War escalated, US was gripped by race riots and cultural changes, and LBJ’s presidency ended in failure —he didn’t seek re-election in 1968. 


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Best and the brightest along the watchtower

Posted in cold war, history, music, rock by jrahman on May 8, 2012

My childhood was spent in a highly politicised and very much left-centre environment. Weekend breakfasts at our house involved shouting matches about Mujib’s decisions in 1971, or Khaled-Taher-Zia in 1975, or the Menon-Motia split in 1967, or about the best way to oppose Ershad, or the Soviet role in Afghanistan, or whether Bangladesh could have been a Vietnam had the Indians not intervened. 

I never paid much attention to the Vietnam War until we moved overseas.  Suddenly, Vietnam was everywhere.  Platoon, Rambo 1 and 2, Born on the 4th of July, and Full Metal Jacket came out within a few years of each other.  Tour of Duty was a big hit on the TV.  A -Team and MacGyver had Vietnam backstories.  There were lots of Vietnam related songs, from Born in the USA to Khe Sanh

I lapped up the pop culture, but somehow never got into the War itself.  I knew the broad outline of the conflict of course, from the Viet Minh and Dien Bien Bhu to the Tet Offensive and Agent Orange.  But somehow, until now, I hadn’t read a serious book on the conflict.  It’s changing now.  More on that, later.  For now, enjoy Jimmi. 

(Thanks NM for getting me interested)