Humiliation in history


Deepak Tripathi (Potomac Books – University of Nebraska Press, 2013)

Since the age of Alexander the Great, waves of foreign armies have invaded the Middle East and South Asia to plunder their vast treasures. In Imperial Designs, Deepak Tripathi offers a powerful and unique analysis of how this volatile region has endured the manipulation and humiliation of such wars. He argues that these foreign invasions to gain access to others’ wealth and the consequent ignominy of the defeated peoples of the Middle East and South Asia have far-reaching consequences.

Over the centuries, again and again, the conquered peoples have been left helpless, their shame on open display. The victims’ collective frustration has strengthened their will to resist and avenge the wrongs done to them—all according to their own values and in their own time. Displaying a keen awareness of Middle Eastern and South Asian cultures, Tripathi argues that this enduring theme resonates throughout the region’s history and informs the present. Referring to declassified official documents and scholarly works, Imperial Designs offers an authoritative analysis of Middle Eastern history since the First World War and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Scholars, policymakers, and concerned citizens should read this book, for it tells us how the shame of defeat radicalizes nations and societies, and often makes future conflict inevitable.

DEEPAK TRIPATHI, PhD, FRHistS, FRAS, is a British historian whose interests include South Asia, the Middle East, the Cold War and the United States in the world. This is the third book in a trilogy that also encompasses Breeding Ground: Afghanistan and the Origins of Islamist Terrorism (2011) and Overcoming the Bush Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan (2010), published by Potomac Books, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press. He is an honorary research fellow at Roehampton University.

JOHAN GALTUNG founded the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo in 1959 and is the author of many essays and books on peace. Currently Professor of Peace Studies at six universities, he is the holder of the Right Livelihood Award 1987 and the Norwegian Humanist Prize, 1988.

Foreword by Johan Galtung

Choice Review

Historians have long noted the sense of loss due to conquest in the Middle East and South Asia; Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser’s redemption in the 1956 Suez crisis, for example, placed him as the first modern Arab political “winner.” Former BBC correspondent Tripathi (honorary research fellow, Univ. of Roehampton, UK) here completes his trilogy (Breeding Ground, CH, Nov’11, 49-1729; Overcoming the Bush Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2010) on regional violence, using a meandering yet readable approach to illuminate historical alienation for today’s Western audiences. The sense of humiliation persists in the plight of the Palestinians, the Jewish Holocaust remembrance, the suffering of prisoners under indecent American treatment at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, and among the region’s ethnic minorities. Yet humiliation as an all-encompassing explanation lacks precision; is every violent outburst due to long-standing trauma? Are Afghanis more or less humiliated than Iranians? Is west Asian humiliation more telling than African, Latin, or East Asian cases? This brief book, focused on contemporary policy, with illustrative appendixes, alerts readers to the problem, but affords few precise distinctions or clear remedies. Policy makers may yet learn from these experiences: show respect and, as consistently as possible, reverse the sense of victimization. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, undergraduate students, and professionals. F. S. Pearson Wayne State University  

Book News Inc. 

“Tripathi, a British historian and journalist, examines the dynamics of imperialism in the Middle East during the modern era. He focuses on humiliation as a tactic of inducing subservience that also has the tendency to provoke more radical reactions by the humiliated.” 

More Reviews 

“Tripathi’s excellent summation of past events in the Middle East and his cogent analysis of their continuing implications should be required reading for all who are dealing directly with this troubled region, as well as those seeking to understand it and its relations with the United States.” –Greta N. Morris, American Diplomacy 

“What Imperial Designs mainly offers [is] a realization that the history of other cultures can, and will, impact the result of our actions toward them as much as the employment of any other means of influence, including our most powerful and destructive foreign policy tools.” – Military Review (January-February 2015, p 143)

“More than a trenchant analysis of recent U.S. foreign policy disasters, this important book helps us understand the potent role of humiliation in international affairs.”– Mark Juergensmeyer, director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, professor of sociology, and affiliate professor of religious studies, University of California, Santa Barbara; and author of Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State

“Much we still need to learn about the social and psychological consequences of the globalized imperialism of the sort that the U.S. and its allies perform at unfathomable cost to human dignity and civilized life. Deepak Tripathi’s Imperial Designs: War, Humiliation and the Making of History is an excellent study in that critical direction. His knowledge of the terrain is vast and detailed, his perspective realist––his gaze irreducibly humanist.” Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University; and author of Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in Time of Terror

“This elegant and original tour de force reveals the often forgotten emotive and violent effect Western imperialism and colonialism had on the peoples of Western Asia. A must read for our times.”Ilan Pappe, professor of history, University of Exeter; and author of A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples

“A seminal book that shows how perilous it is to overlook dynamics of humiliation in politics, particularly in times of increasing global interdependence, when crises can only be overcome through cooperation. It is the very strategy that is undermined by the humiliation of arrogant domination.”Evelin Lindner, Dr. med., Dr. psychol., professor of social sciences and humanities; and author of Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict