Kautilyan Kronicles | The Daily Star
  • Asia’s balancer, Bangladesh

    Remember those expansive aphorisms, “Britannia rules the waves” and the “empire where the sun never sets”?

  • Oscillating Anglo-American relations

    A rolling stone, as the cliché goes, gathers no moss. According to musician Robert Zimmerman, it is “like a complete unknown,” indeed, “with no direction home.” Under his more popular identity, Bob Dylan, he penned “Like a rolling stone,” often regarded the crème de la crème song in its genre. It might also be the swansong of a fabled bilateral relationship. Gone awry, that relationship arguably symbolises the upended global status of two partners.

  • A Giant Retreat for Mankind

    Remember those first words ever spoken from the moon? In the half-century since Neil Armstrong uttered them, the space race has invited many other countries—from the rich to the poor, from the developed to the developing—and even attracted private-sector

  • ‘Clash of civilisation’ or crash: Environmental doomsday?

    What do the following civilisations have in common: Mesopotamia four millennia ago; the 8th-century Viking Greenland settlement; Mayas from the 10th century; and the Khmer empire in the 15th century?

  • Angela Merkel’s legacy: ‘Holy Roman Empress’?

    Historians are often bemused by how the millennia-old Holy Roman Emperor was not holy, nor Roman, nor even an emperor.

  • GPA and beyond: Time to break out of old pedagogical models

    Grumpy” was her name. In the flower-filled month of May, the world’s most famous cat of the same name bid her ever-cheering audience a sad adieu. Perhaps not the best of analogies, but it highlights grumpiness in another area, that, fortunately, we can do something about.

  • Galloping Bangladesh: Emperor with no clothes?

    Don’t judge a book by its cover.” So goes a popular cliché, though appraisals become more sanguine the more one opens the volume. Recent (April) reports about the country’s top-flight economic growth-rates expose why heeding that message helps keep us on track.

  • Sri Lanka Blast

    There goes the neighbourhood: Sri Lankan spillovers

    "Tragedy” only mildly describes Sri Lanka’s bombing spate. It was heinous, stirring the wrong juices, pitting the wrong spiritual brethrens against each other. It was evil, not only fanning flames between two religious groups...

  • Of fires, fates and fortunes

    Fire,” Don McLean wrote in “American Pie”, “is the devil's only friend.” It must have been so for Roman Emperor Nero: he anecdotally “fiddled while Rome burned” in 64 AD.

  • 'Civilising' Dhaka

    Civil society cannot be built this way, upon the salacious preferences of home-builders, bus-drivers/conductors, and environment abusers.

  • Crusading children: Fault in our stars... or ourselves?

    At least two truisms can be said about children: every mother and father goes out of her/his way to build the best possible future for them; and the state does not have a choice but to follow suit.

  • Post-Christchurch social reconstruction: Global the message, local the onus

    Post-Christchurch social reconstruction: Global the message, local the onus

    It is not enough to alert the public of social cracks: how they can be repaired must be part and parcel of any de-constructing exercise.

  • 'Invasions' of a different breed

    Christchurch and 'social cracks'

    It was not, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted, “one of the darkest days,” in New Zealand's history, but “the darkest”. New Zealand

  • Back to a future jungle?

    Green is “the colour of nature and health,” according to Jacob Olesen, a Dane lover of colours.

  • Iconoclast Donald J Trump?

    To any question whether the US president and commander-in-chief is working against the country, Donald J Trump's tenure already supplied an overwhelming positive answer, even before he dramatised them all in Finland during mid-July 2018. We just preferred to look away.

  • Thinking the unthinkable: A 'Chinese' Century?

    Henry Luce deserves more than the credit he gets for predicting the “American Century” (in Life magazine, February 1941). That was after the League of Nations was unceremoniously buried, but before both the Pearl Harbor bombings, which awakened a slumberous and isolationist United States (that is but a slight exaggeration...

  • From Russia With Fatal Love

    Ian Fleming's trademark narrative has returned: Russia playing the same old game he wrote so much about (if one remembers James Bond, his boss, M, and their Soviet obsession).

  • Canada's US dilemma

    Every time Donald J Trump berates Canada, the friendliest neighbour any country could have, those Gerry Rafferty/Joe Egan lyrics from a Stealer's Wheel song rings through my mind.

  • Losing that IQ feeling?

    Homo sapiens could not have faced the erosion of their cutting-edge claims at a worse time.

  • Puff the plastic dragon

    Puff was a mythological dragon, made famous by one of the original, 1960s, folk-rock bands, consisting of Peter, Paul, and Mary. He lived “by the sea”, and would “frolic in the autumn mist” in a land they called Honah Lee.

  • World Cup and International Relations

    As one of the most widely watched human activity, soccer's World Cup Championship unleashes raw competition between countries, raising emotions that cover almost every stripe we know and triggering nationalism of even a guttural kind.

  • Mexican polls: The other soul

    Democracy is, by far, the most acclaimed historical form of government. It not only allows representation of all groups, but also permits every adult to exercise complete sovereignty at the polling booth. There might be nuances and variances here or there, particularly in the preceding campaigns and subsequent outcomes, but we have, by and large, managed to live with our differences, converse with adversaries, and bite the bullet so democracy strengthens itself.

  • Democratic regression: The “English” turn

    Gideon Rose made an astute observation in editing the May/June 2018 Foreign Affairs cover story on the current “democratic regression”. “We have seen this movie before,” he quoted a Latin friend of his on the concurrent predicament, “just never in English.”

  • Kissinger's rise and fall of enlightenment

    Henry Kissinger did not mince his words. As one of the most erudite commentators of global power rivalry, he was truly jolted to see the computer game, Go, a prototype of the more mesmerising AlphaGo game, capable of making strategic decisions far faster than human beings, and predicting the winner more accurately.

  • A Muslim Westphalia?

    Future historians might find it far easier navigating through this post-Cold War era to explain the Muslim predicament. Since 1990 or so, one sturdy Muslim state after another has bitten the bullet, to put it bluntly, devastated for good: Iraq, twice over (1991 with Operation Desert Storm for invading Kuwait, then the 2003 war for allegedly possessing weapons of mass destruction); Libya, simply because of the dramatic collapse of one person, Muammar

  • Trump's 'personal' foreign policy

    Donald J Trump's foreign policy weltanschauung may be better understood perceptually and through his personal relations than its claim to be practical and pragmatic. This seems to be the message from a purview of four of his policy pursuits: rebalancing trade with China, clipping Iran's wings, anchoring a bold Middle East policy approach upon recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and denuclearising North Korea. They do add up, and there may be something beyond a simple sum of all the parts, but constructing and construing them from unfolding events can also breed confusion.

  • The game of bluff and brinkmanship

    With 2018 being the first functional year of Donald Trump's foreign policy paradigm, a pattern seems to be emerging: brinkmanship as the starting point, as much to contrast his approach to his predecessor(s) as to reaffirm the relative strength of the United States that even US citizens were beginning to seriously doubt.

  • 'We are the world' lullabies in Windsor

    It was just what the increasingly divided world needed, a cementing force: Meghan Markle to sparkle the audience, and Prince Harry to carry the tone and torch of his mother, the “People's Princess”. Behind Bishop Michael Curry's fiery speech, it seems Michael Jackson's “We are the world” carried the Windsor wedding as a silent uninvited guest.

  • Forster's third democratic cheer: Mahathir (as a symbol)?

    EM Forster, almost a lone-wolf democracy crusader between the two world wars, confronted as unpalatable a European playground as many African, Asian, and Latin American countries striving to convince others of their democratic claims face today: an uphill battle in which the institutionalised forces against democracy, such as extreme rightists/leftists and militarism, were usually at least as strong as those

  • Jerusalem - “A day which will live in infamy” (. . . if history is any guide)

    US President Donald J Trump did not mince his words: President Harry S Truman, a Democrat, made the United States the first country to recognise Israel's statehood (May 14, 1948), yet his own December 6, 2017 decision to shift the US embassy to Jerusalem, the first country to do so, on May 14, 2018, may have converted the logical 1948 recognition decision into a 2018 conflict invitation.