From January 2013, FORCE starts a regular section on books. Though we review books from time to time, now onwards, even if we do not publish a book review, we will carry a list of FORCE recommended reading. We also invite readers to share with us and FORCE readers what books they feel must be read by all. The books need not be new or best-sellers. You could send in your recommendations to Please make sure that your recommendations do not exceed 300 words
MONSOON Long after the European colonisers packed their bags and returned home, the Asia-Pacific is once again beckoning the West, led by the United States. But this time, not as an underdeveloped region needing a civilising hand, but as challenger to the traditional global power structure. Central to this struggle is the Indian Ocean, which lends its name to the tagline of this book. In his preface, author Robert Kaplan explains the centrality of this ocean and the countries that line it to the new pecking order that is emerging in the 21st Century. He writes: ‘The Indian Ocean region is more than just a stimulating geography. It is an idea because it provides an insightful visual impression of Islam, and combines the centrality of Islam with global energy politics and the importance of world navies, in order to show us a multi-layered, multi-polar world above and beyond the headlines in Iraq and Afghanistan; it is also an idea because it allows us to see the world whole, within a very new and yet very old framework, complete with its own traditions and characteristics, without having to drift into bland nostrums about globalisation.’

At the centre of this new order is the Middle Kingdom, China, which is building a bloc of its own. In the very first chapter, imaginatively titled, China Expands Vertically, India Horizontally, Kaplan writes about the Chinese string-of-pearls policy as, ‘Instead of the hardened military bases of the Cold War and earlier epochs, there will be dual-use civilian-military facilities where basing arrangements will be implicit rather than explicit, and completely dependent on the health of the bilateral relationship in question.’

FORCE recommends Monsoon as a must read for all those who want a ringside view of how the power points are shifting. For Indian military strategists often restricted by the limitations of land, it provides valuable insights; and for others, it is a delightful read.
Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future if American Power
Robert D Kaplan
Random House
Rs 499, Pg 375

Shooting Star tells the tale of how China is gradually becoming an arms exporter from an arms importer in a short span of 60 years. Appropriately, the book has been produced by a Russian think-tank and published in the US. Clearly, who would know this better than the biggest exporter of arms to China! Listing the latest trends in Chinese defence procurement policy, the book writes that China is:

‘Reducing arms imports from Russia; Shifting its focus in buying entire weapons platforms to importing critical components such as engines and avionics, as well as airborne and shipborne weapons; Transitioning from buying weapons to importing technologies; Maintaining hope that the European arms embargo will be lifted; and Moving closer to becoming a net exporter of weapons once again, and potentially to emerging as a major competitor to Russian arms exporters.’

There are lessons in here, for the Indian government, the defence public sector units and the private sector. You cannot be a great power, if you don’t have military power; you cannot have military power, if you don’t have a military-industrial base.

Shooting Star: China’s Military Machine in the 21st Century
Mikhail Barabanov, Vasiliy Kashin & Konstantin Makienko (Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Moscow)
East View Press, Pg 176


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