Oct 19, Pages. On the world maps common in America, the Western Hemisphere lies front and center, while the Indian Ocean region all but disappears. This convention reveals the geopolitical focus of the now-departed twentieth century, but in the twenty-first century that focus will fundamentally change. Kaplan shows how crucial this dynamic area has become to American power. 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 the United States is to remain relevant in an ever-changing world.
From the Horn of Africa to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond, Kaplan exposes the effects of population growth, climate change, and extremist politics on this unstable region, demonstrating why Americans can no longer afford to ignore this important area of the world. He… More about Robert D. The Indian Ocean and her more local adjacent waters are perhaps the world's greatest melting pot of potential issues and opportunities, at least as far as Robert Kaplan is concerned.
This thesis, however, is hard to reject given the compelling arguments that fill Monsoon. The Indian Ocean presents the problems of Islamist terror, energy politics, international trade and globalization, climate change, human movement, cultural exchange, piracy, and great power politics within a confined and increa The Indian Ocean and her more local adjacent waters are perhaps the world's greatest melting pot of potential issues and opportunities, at least as far as Robert Kaplan is concerned. The Indian Ocean presents the problems of Islamist terror, energy politics, international trade and globalization, climate change, human movement, cultural exchange, piracy, and great power politics within a confined and increasingly interconnected space.
And as Kaplan so capably explains, this is not a new phenomenon. The Indian Ocean and her littoral regions, given their relative size and consistent weather patterns was the most interconnected region on earth prior even to Age of Exploration-era European arrivals. As a region and political arena, its waters had flourished with limited Western involvement for quite some time, and the danger now is that as the region develops it will begin to push out these late arrivals.
In his characteristic style, Kaplan relays these trends and lessons through actually going to the places he describes. From Oman to India, Bangladesh, Burma, and beyond, Kaplan delivers a tangible exploration of how the Indian Ocean itself delivers so much opportunity and risk to its enveloping lands. The historical hinge of Oman meets the rising yet uneven rise of India. The great power ambitions of China interact with development in Africa and rebels in Burma. The power of the monsoon rains and the effects of climate instability threaten to wipe Bangladesh from the map, even as they brought trade in the past and necessary rains to millions in the present.
The Indian Ocean region is a region in flux as it continues to advance and as capitalism continues to lift tens of millions out of poverty. This, more than any other lesson, is the driving point of the story Kaplan has written. It is a region with a troublesome past and contentious present, but it is one with a nearly limitless future.
Whether or not the United States is able to profit from this will depend a great deal on how it nurtures relationships with countries and people groups both within the region and without the Indian Ocean realm. The diverse array of people that fill the countries around the Indian Ocean are in many places looking for the same thing: It would behoove the United States to contribute as it can to the fulfillment of both. Mar 01, Sreejith Pp rated it it was amazing.
An extremely enjoyable book which discusses the history and geopolitics of the regions bordering the Indian Ocean. The book proceeds clockwise, starting from east Africa, then traverses through the subcontinent before finally reaching southeast Asia. It was eye opening to read about the history of globalization and cosmopolitan cultures that existed in these regions through history, connected by seasonally regular monsoon-wind backed trade, now preserved only in architecture and language before An extremely enjoyable book which discusses the history and geopolitics of the regions bordering the Indian Ocean.
It was eye opening to read about the history of globalization and cosmopolitan cultures that existed in these regions through history, connected by seasonally regular monsoon-wind backed trade, now preserved only in architecture and language before the legacy of divide and rule colonialism scarred every single one of them.
Lest one forget, the Indian Ocean region was arguably the most colonized place on earth. Finally the book talks about the economic future of the Indian Ocean and its importance to American interests. Here's a passage when the author visits Zanzibar which I enjoyed reading about: I was renting two rooms from a friend above the cassava souk. My rooms featured the usual oriental carpets, a poster bed with mosquito netting, colored-glass windows, and furniture made of wood and brass and copper: The view was punctuated by Mughal-style minarets with their triple folio arches and the scabby, weather-beaten steeples of a late-nineteenth-century French cathedral.
There were, too, the pencil-thin cast-iron pillars of the House of Wonders, a palace built in for Omani Sultan Barghash bin Said in tropical Victorian industrial style. My eyes met the horizon with freighters, outriggers, dugouts, and plank-built dhows all plopped in the milk-turquoise water of the Indian Ocean, so unreal a shade that it conjured up a water color more than it did the sea itself.
Aug 24, Krishna rated it really liked it. Kaplan's book is a well-informed and entertaining exposition on the rising importance of the Indian Ocean region in global politics due to a confluence of factors: Kaplan's geopolitical sensibility is deeply influenced by history and geography, and the book brims with thought-provoking observations.
For example, though the state of Oman does not loom large in the present world, Kaplan points to it a a global trading power in the Indian Ocean region before the advent of Europeans. Who knew for instance that Gwadar in Pakistan was an Omani possession until 11 years after Pakistani independence , or that Omani trading communities existed in places as far apart as Zanzibar and Aceh.
The most interesting chapter in the book must be the one on Kolkata, where he contrasts Curzon and Tagore -- the former the arch-imperialist and the latter, the Indian nationalist icon.
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But in a brilliant inversion, Kaplan labels Curzon as the original proponent of the vision of Greater India who has inspired later generations of Indian strategic thinkers, and Tagore as the advocate of universal humanism who sought to transcend national boundaries. Similarly the chapter on Burma is finely informative, tracing that nation's current difficulties to the conflict between the majority Burman ethnic group residents of the central Irrawady valley and the various hill tribes that live on the periphery of the country.
The conflict over names -- Myanmar or Burma -- makes more sense when we remember that Myanmar was one of the three kingdoms the others being Arakan and Mon that were central to Burman history Burman being the ethnicity and Burmese the nationality. Cleverly, Kaplan ends the book with a chapter on Zanzibar, which before colonialism was a cosmopolitan melting pot and trading center. But in the years after independence, the island has descended into racial tensions, political conflict, and violence, much like the rest of the Indian Ocean region has.
Perhaps, Kaplan optimistically hopes, trade can once again restore peace to the region, just as it had in the past Apr 12, Jon rated it really liked it Shelves: What started off slow with me, gained in momentum. By the end of this book, I really enjoyed myself and appreciated that the author covered such a vast scope of landmass and provided such visual history. Essentially in the author's view the ocean of importance in the 21st century and on onward will be the Indian Ocean from East Africa to Indonesia.
His analysis is very erudite all the while lucid and thankfully not over the top scholarly. He provides the reader a virtual and very descriptive his What started off slow with me, gained in momentum. He provides the reader a virtual and very descriptive history of colonialism, conflict and trade since since the 's while taking opportunities to coalesce it to American's current position and future. He starts with Oman, sweeping then East in subsequent chapters to Indonesia and then works his way back to the east coast of Africa, particularly the anarchic horn of Africa.
All the while he essentially speaksof who will ultimately dominate or pry the Indian Ocean. He provides his opinion which is hard to argue against that it will be multilateral consisting of three essential powers which are India, China and the U. India and United States will partner to keep China in check but all the while the U.
Essentially each of these 3 countries goals are the same and should be preserved. What can destroy it are egos, radicalism and conflict. Partnering is the best solution and Kaplan feels this will be the case. Monsoon is essentially a metaphor for the sweeping winds occuring in the vast part of this world interlocked by the African continent and the archipelago of Malaca and Indonesia. It is truly fascinating all of the various interests, relgions and ethnicities in this part of the world. The end result is that Man as quoted towards the end of the book, "is meant to trade.
Mar 20, Barrett rated it really liked it. With a couple of his earlier books, I really enjoyed Robert Kaplan's mix of travelogue and political commentary. Unfortunately, that mix is a lot less present in Monsoon, with a few chapters feeling like they were taken straight from the lecture podium, possessing an overly academic air.
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The personal travel experiences he does reference in this book feel slight and more sheltered than his previous forays. This book also feels significantly more driven by a partisan political agenda than other ef With a couple of his earlier books, I really enjoyed Robert Kaplan's mix of travelogue and political commentary. This book also feels significantly more driven by a partisan political agenda than other efoorts of his. Judging from the inside jacket, his profile as a writer has allowed him into some of the inner circles of the beltway, and these connections seem to exert their influence on the "case" presented by Monsoon.
However, Kaplan still brings his paradigm of borders in the many ways they are and are not important to this collection, and in light of my very limited reading of similar writers, he still provides a very refreshing perspective on broader geographical relationships. Overall, I got a lot out of this book, and-as i have with previous Kaplan books-found myself adding a lot of his cited sources and background reading to my queue. Nov 20, Bongo Topi rated it did not like it. Horribly and pitifully Amero-centric. Written in total oblivion to pre-existing Indian Ocean scholarship.
Broad statements pronounced as fiats. Assumes total lack of African agency and involvement in the evolution, history and life of the Western Indian Ocean. Must assume this caused by ignorance rather than blinkered prejudice. The kind of narrative that generates further ignorance. Apr 14, David rated it really liked it Shelves: Some of the analysis is a little light but this is a very useful primer for a deeper investigation of the Indian Ocean region and the competing interests at work there.
Mar 20, Michael rated it really liked it. I had never thought of the Indian Ocean as a unifying geographic location, but this book makes a good case for it historically and in the future. Jul 29, Jennifer Aupke rated it really liked it. A thorough analysis of the cultural histories of the regions from Oman to Burma; the battles in the region, the economic competition and how it applies to the US and other modern powers. Jun 27, George Siehl rated it it was amazing Shelves: Kaplan here employs his observational skills to the Indian Ocean region and assesses how trends there are likely to affect the United States.
His primary emphasis is on maritime issues, particularly the changing strength assessments of the navies of India, China, and the United States He believes that America's dominance in that region has peaked. China continues to grow its fleet with the objective of having a blue water navy with power in both the Pacific and Indian oceans. India is building its fleet in order to protect the sea lanes critical to its increasing economic activity internationally.
Other smaller nations in the Indian Ocean region are likewise upgrading their naval capabilities. Kaplan notes that, in each case, there is a legitimate rationale for these increases. Protection of sea lines of communication is an imperative for nations that trade on a global scale. It is a concept laid out by American Admiral Alfred Mahan over a century ago, and one that many nations are now adopting. One can learn much from any Robert D. Kaplan book the D. His research includes travel to the areas he writes about, interviews with both important players and ordinary citizens, and through review of the relevant literature.
Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power
Surprisingly, he makes literature of many kinds relevant to his writing. In this book two of the unexpected treats are Lord Curzon's lecture at Oxford on "Frontiers," and a epic poem, "The Lusiads," published by the Portuguese poet Camoes in Kaplan discusses both in detail, returning to them repeatedly throughout the book. Curzon speaks of both geographic divisions, such as rivers, deserts, mountains, and seas, as well as those lines drawn by diplomats on maps.
Thus, frontiers and boundaries are used somewhat interchangeably. Kaplan notes that the geographic features can also be means of connecting people as well as separating them. He writes, "Indeed, the ways in which seas separate humanity are obvious. It is the ways in which they connect civilizations that are crucially revealing, particularly when assessing such a strategic and crowded arena as the Indian Ocean. The same holds true for deserts," adding, "The effect of deserts on the destiny of nations is more subtle than that of oceans. The poem, rich with description and atmospherics, lauds the voyages of Vasco de Gama around Africa into the Indian Ocean and on to India in The trade that developed between Europe and India marks an economic and cultural linkage that remains important today.
Kaplan profiles country after country around the Indian Ocean rim. He provides history, details of the populating of the countries, profiles of leaders, and indications of how the countries relate to one another. He is to be commended for the quality of the map that prefaces each country discussion. His description is often rich in detail, but also jeweled with nuance and insight. He notes, for instance, that "Bangladesh illustrates how the kind of government a state has is less important that the degree to which that state is governed--that is, a democracy that cannot control its own population may be worse for human rights than a dictatorship that can.
Our foreign aid emphasis is on democracy, human rights, and civil society; theirs is on massive infrastructure projects and authority, civil or not. He notes, "the challenges that most people in the Indian Ocean region face are only indirectly, if at all, related to Islamic terrorism and the military rise of China. It will have its own problems in expanding its maritime influence into the Indian Ocean. And in any case China is not necessarily America's adversary. May 22, Parth Agrawal rated it it was amazing.
A 5 star book after so many days!! Who would've wondered it would be coming in the form of a book based on geopolitics which, now, has single handedly improved my understanding of why countries are doing what they are doing, which country falls where, what are the important water bodies for a particular nation, self-interests of nations in break up or patch up of their neighboring states.
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I used to imagine that yeah to hell with that the 4 places are not exactly places, they are these huge countries- India, China, USA and Germany maybe? But to my utter surprise these aren't the ones. The four places are: Energy needs is one of the primary ones and by design or coincidence, energy hungry nations have been creeping up in Asia. This book is not only about the political and geopolitical shenanigans. It is also about how religion, Islamic extremism to be in particular, will play out in the foreign policy calculations of the nations.
Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power by Robert D. Kaplan
Apart from this, there a lot of interesting instances of imperialism and colonialism and their contribution in the engendering of native cultures of the former colonies "Circumstances will determine the nature of struggle that will pan out in the Indian Ocean" Nov 28, Bob Newman rated it it was amazing. He travels through Oman, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma and a bit of Indonesia, touches on Zanzibar and then sets out his estimate of what the US should or should not do over the next century.
I would say that the sections vary in their depth, with India, Pakistan and Bangladesh much better than the others. He establishes that the Indian Ocean has long ser optimistic oracle opines on ocean This is the third book of Kaplan's I've read, and I must say it's just as good as the others. He establishes that the Indian Ocean has long served as a connector rather than a barrier to trade, culture, religion and politics, and warns that the USA will ignore this at its peril. The USA, without direct colonies in the region, still established naval power in the Indian Ocean after the s, during the Vietnam War.
He says that such power will be as crucial to America in the 21st century as Atlantic and Pacific power were to the 20th. And, the author puts it all together in an informative and engaging way. This convention reveals the geopolitical focus of the now-departed twentieth century, On the world maps common in America, the Indian Ocean all but disappears. 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 all.
But in the twenty-first century this will fundamentally change. Kaplan deftly shows how crucial this dynamic area has become to American power in the twenty-first century.