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tv   Book Discussion Midnights Furies  CSPAN  May 21, 2016 9:00am-10:01am EDT

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around the country. today we are live from gaithersburg, maryland for the annual book festival featuring fox news host juan williams and washington post columnist ej dionne. the chronicle hosting the bay area book festival in downtown berkeley, california on the first weekend of june. later we head to chicago for live coverage of the 32 annual printers rowlett fest featuring seymour hersh, amy goodman and sebastian younger. .. >> good morning. welcome and good morning. my name is sarwar kashmeri. i'm on the faculty of the
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political science department here at the university and also a research fellow at the peace corps center. so it is my great pleasure and honor to have this conversation with mr. nisid hajari, the 2016 winner of the recipient and winner of the famed norwich colby award. what we are going to do today is have a conversation. you have read his bio i'm sure. you should take a look at the pamphlet that was handed out. he's a very famous journalist. he helped set up by magazines asia edition. he lives now in singapore and works or bloomberg. and he's written this book
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called "midnight's furies," and what we wanted to do today is unpacked this book. and nisid, i have not intentionally not read the entire bio because i think it would be of more interesteintereste d audience for us to have a conversation and put the book in perspective. so this book deals with events that happened in countries far away, over 70 some odd years ago but i would contend that the book is so timely and some of the to where we are today. it connects with headline issues that you see in the newspapers every day. the war in afghanistan. the war in iraq. america's engagement with the world. america's leadership and transforming or have tried to ill bring inuntries, what the asia, the role of religion and complex and if i might say how important it is for politicians
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when they run for office or otherwise to be very careful in what they say. someone to take you back, if you will, a few centuries. i was more a long time ago, not that long ago by want to take you back a few centuries to india, right where for hundreds and hundreds of years there existed this cosmopolitan multicultural civilization with hindus and muslims and christians, all living together, worshiping at each others' shrines, right, and this is especially true of muslims and hindus who did that. even today you can go virtually to any village in pakistan or in india and you will find hindus worshiping at muslim shrines and muslims worshiping at hindus and shrines. that are intermarriages. when the partition of india took
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place, after 150 years, british presence in india, and another 300 years of another empire before that, when the partition to place it was a hugely significant event. but the point i want to bring out before we get to conversation is nothing as simple as it looks. this was not strictly a religious conflict, and i will give you a personal example. and uncle of mine wrote to me, his family like many muslim families did not leave india because they thought it was home. so in the pakistani wars, here's what i'll go leading the indian air force against the pakistan air force. muslim to muslim, you know, patriots on both sides, both owing allegiance to their own countries. so that they point i want to
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make is that as important as religion seems to appear, that is not always the case. so i want to start, nisid, but asking you, for hundreds and hundreds of years these people of the together, hindus and muslims. in 1947 millions get injured or killed. why? i'm glad you started with an easy one. [laughter] i'll give you one word answer. power. what changed in 1947, was different from previous 150 years was that for the first time power was -- the british were leaving. they made clear they were headed out, that didn't have the money to maintain their empire. they didn't have the political will to do it and they were not wanted. hindus and muslims have lived together. that had always been tensions but they were very limited and local. you would have small riots break
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out in a particular city and villages last a day or two but you didn't have that sort of masculine of violence that you met in 1947. what happened was because the british were leaving, muslim community in india, the political leaders in india saw a future in which they would be a permanent minority, that would be cut out of power in india. under a parliamentary system the congress party led by a hot mug on the and jawaharlal nehru would always win. -- van gundy. they would get the majority of votes so the muslim parties would be confined to impotence. into system they feared it was almost a winner-take-all system where if you and the government, your friends and family and would get the contracts. you would like the textbooks and school. you would write the rules of worship and so when. and citizenship. and so the political leaders,
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mohammad ali jinnah argued the only way muslims could be safe after the british left was if they had a state of the own, whatever a majority, where they ran the government. and that was at the very top level. but what happened, political leaders come as you said you'd be very careful about how you talk about these things, what you say. they would paint these pictures for their followers of the terrible things that were going to happen if they didn't get their own state. not only would you be forced to convert, but her daughters would be kidnapped and raped, your grandfathers would be killed and so one. this filters down from the top level from the political leadership in new delhi. want to get down to the ground level, the message becomes very simple anti-becomes kill or be killed. about a year before partition some terrible riots broke out in calcutta and it is still unclear
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exactly who started them but it's something around 10, 15,000 people were killed over the span of four days and this gave indians of all stripes a vision of what they thought would happen if they didn't defend themselves. so they started to arm themselves, started to organize. you have to remember this was just after world war ii so we have a lot of young men who had been trained in the military, had fought in africa, europe, asia. and a lot of them still had weapons. so unlike previous riots when violence broke out after the british left, these organized squads, you could almost call them death squads, were much more effective, much more deadly than previous -- they were not fighting with this denies. they were using machine guns. >> that such an interesting series of dots that you've tried
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to connect. so let me ask you that, a lot of the trouble, i grew up in bombay, so i family and i went through the partition but there was starts with a whimper there. but i wanted to ask you was if you could unpack a part of your book where you talk about the killings. why woul were they localized? why didn't it happen all over india? >> i think a lot of people have the idea that the british left and all of a sudden violence, riots broke out. people were killing each other. it wasn't that at all. my father was also a child in bombay at the time. no memory of any violence. it was most of india was unaffected by this. there was one particular province which is now split between india and pakistan. it's on the western side of india, and this is where the board was going to go. they decided to draw the border to divide areas where muslims are the majority, and hindus was
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majority. the paint job was about split halhappen after a newborn was gg to be drawn. the problem was it was a third community known as the sikhs who were very small community, just a 5 million people but they were concentrated in the middle of the province. the board was going to split the commute in half of historically there was a struggle memory of the sikhs had suffered under muslim rulers centuries ago. much more recently in the spring of 1946 as part of a scrolling series of riots muslim mobs had massacred several thousand seat. within a few months of memory they had this vision of what would happen to them if the british to this board and themselves on the wrong side of the line. and also the sikhs were overrepresented in the army so there also fairly heavy militarized. so their death squads as it were started after the border was drawn, and that's what it spread very quickly.
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it was a very concentrated in this area. it was muslims on the indian side of the job were pushed out and hindus and sikhs were pushed out from the other side. a dash of this movement of people, something like 14 million people cross site of the board or the span of a few months, united miles long convoys of refugees, 250,000 people in a convoy essentially defenseless. there were some soldier trying to guard them but these death squads would come swooping and able to massacred several hundred thousand people at a time. but it was the combination of communities in the punjab with a new border that provoked of them. >> that's so interesting. by the way i wanted to commend you and your dad probably for still calling it bombay. a lot of us has ever grown used to bombay. but i was going to say, so this hindu-muslim issue came to
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prominence along the border areas. but it didn't spread the to the rest of the country. does that tell us anything about how deeply embedded in religion this was, or whether it was a local fact having to do more with territory and vantage and revenge? >> i think that's right. again it's easy to think of this as a hindu-muslim conflict but should remember, the leaders of india and pakistan, neighbors and jennifer completely secular men. they were not religious at all. jenne barely knew the chiron. he drank alcohol, forbidden by islam. he was a man of fine taste. very dapper. and nehru was a cambridge socialist. he didn't believe in any of this hindu mumbo-jumbo as he saw it. so he wasn't, it wasn't about religion for them. it was a kid about territory.
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it was about community. it was fear that driving under the sikhs were afraid that they were going to be, that their candidate was going to be massacred. the other thing interesting to remember is that the strongest drive to create pakistan was not in the areas that eventually became pakistan. because in northwest and north eastern india muslims are a majority they were a majority. they were in power. they didn't have to fear what would happen after the british left. it was muslims in central india, southern india, other places who really pushed the idea of pakistan. some of them moved when it was created, many others did not. and many, many indian muslims never wanted pakistan to be treated at all and live in india now. >> it suggests a quick personal anecdote on this issue of how important a lot of muslims felt about not creating another country called pakistan.
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so my dad at the time was an up-and-coming screenwriter, and he hadn't yet made a big movie, and he was having a hard time and he got an offer after partition from pakistan to produce a movie. and he said great, this is going to be my big opportunity, and my mother of course was a freedom fighter and so o on in india, ad she said not on your life. you are not going to that horrible country to start a movie. he said we don't have any money, we have two children. he went out for his walk to think about editing back and told me when we're going up, as my mother had her suitcases packed and he said what are you doing? she said you go to pakistan to make money. i'm going back to my mother. so that's how intensely a lot of comof, as you point out, muslim families felt. but the question i have for you then now is, i want to focus on, therefore, the importance of leaders in the importance of the british.
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do you think that if the british had stuck it out and said no, we're going to work this out, as they had many times over 200 years, or if the leaders themselves have stuck it out? do you think there's a feeling on the leaders of side come on the british side for partition job and? >> i think there were mistakes made on all sides. there were failures. there's guilt to be assigned to everyone. you can't prove a counterfactual. even if our titia kitchen had nt happened, there is no proof that india, unified india would have stayed a unified. these pressures still would've been there. is possible five years later, 10 years later they could've broken up along different lines. the other thing to remember is that in 47 the british only directly control about half the subcontinent. the other half were independent kingdoms ruled by monarchs who legally were independent and
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could choose to join india or pakistan, but if the british had just left can unified and have decided to declare independence. but all the leaders make mistakes. they did try to compromise. the british, for a year, had tried to bring the two sides together, and almost a year earlier and the spring of 46 they had come up with a compromise, a very complicated, with a compromise where you would have a unified india with a very weak central government and the muslim areas would have a certain degree of autonomy and then the individual provinces would have other powers. it was a face saving way for everybody to agree, and they did agree. jinnah, neighbor, everybody did agree to this. but then almost everybody after they agreed to it, nehru, the congress party leader, said a press conference and he was being pressured by people from within his own party say what are you giving up all the
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autonomy to the muslim areas? we have fought for decades to get the british out, and this is our time to rule. and he said something stupid like don't worry, we are just saying this know. once the british league will do whatever we want. of course for any muslim doing this you have to think how can we trust these people? they will sign this document now once the british leave, they will be in power and they will turn on us. so jinnah then backed out of the agreement. naruc backed out of the agreement and then it became virtually impossible to bring them back together again. they did try to bridge kept right up until the summer of 47, they can try to get back to that cover my spirit the are putting heavy pressure on both sides to come back to that compromise. they were very worried at the beginning of the cold war they wanted a united india to held in the defense against the soviet union. they didn't want it to be broken up.
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fitted with the army to be broken up. but between the time that they struck a compromise in the summer of 47 that's when these riots started to spread across the country. so feelings were getting embittered at the ground level and the tensions and divisions between communities were growing and they grew between the leaders themselves. you have to remember nehru and jen had known each other for 30 years. name is father had been good friends with jinnah. they argued with each other. they had friends in common. you would think they could've found common ground, but even their personal relations view -- grew brittle spirit in a moment i'm going to open it up and let people ask questions but i want is now too close this part of the conversation to think about history. and i had the pleasure of interviewing general gordon sullivan, the chair of the board of trustees at norwich
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university a few weeks ago, and he impressed on me how important was for him and norwich to get this history major in a huge liberal, underused the word liberal in the classical sense, education. he said without an understanding of history, there's very little you can do as far as making sound decisions at the top levels of any chain of command. and so i wanted to take us forward now, we spend trillions of dollars, the strongest army in the world, has taken every field that we wanted to do, we've not been able to prevail against an enemy, the taliban, that has no gdp. we have 15 trillion total to the same in iraq and you can carry that through. so my question to you is, that in america we have a saying, that's history, right? when someone says something that you think is irrelevant decide that's history. i think we are to do away with
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that saying. i want you to take know what happened in 1947. and as you would, at ticketmaster and in your book, i'm raising preciously buy multiple copies of this book. christmas is not that far away. you need to buy six gauge. so i wanted to say can you now take us forward and connect this to what's happening in afghanistan, especially at the importance of history? >> it's important in two ways i think. for americans in particular, you mention afghanistan. the reason we are still fighting in afghanistan 15 years later almost is only because the taliban have had a safe haven to retreat to across the border in pakistan. they get a certain degree of support from the pakistani military covertly. they are tolerated, sort of allowed to regroup intimate and leadership is safe and so when. that's allowed them to keep the insurgency a live and they can
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keep it alive for ever as long as they have that safe haven. why does pakistan do this? why did it take billions in aid from the u.s. and support the taliban? why do they support what you would call terrorist groups that fight the indians in kashmir but also conduct attacks like the mumbai attacks in 2008? why are the building up their nuclear arsenal so rapidly in creating small battlefield nuclear weapons and so on? they do all this because they view india as a mortal threat. still 70 years later they don't live, the pakistani military still treats india as an existential threat, a country that doesn't believe in their existence, doesn't want them to survive and would like to see them fail and be we absorbed within india. so that mentality is nothing you. backing out of just a few months in 1947, that mentality was cemented within the pakistani strategic establishment among ordinary pakistanis. it's why the pakistani military
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has been able to will the country for half of its existence because every time they take power they say you need us to defend you against india. we are going to protect the country. they have blended this with islam and used other excuses, but that is their justification, the justification for drawing the majority of the budget for the military is you need is to defend you against india. for americans and for any outside powers it's important to understand the roots of this mentality. understand where it comes from. we need to understand how it is changed over the decades, how it is developed. but you can't start to unwind into you know where it came from. and you accept penalties when it was created as a certain degree of legitimacy to it. they were indian leaders who didn't want pakistan to be created or to exist and it would've been happy to see fail within a year or two and berate absorbed. so it's not entirely crazy. it is not the truth now the
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indians have no interest in taking over pakistan. quite the opposite. but it did come out of something real that we have to accept and understand. for indians come it's interesting you bring that doesn't about americans about its history. i agree with you innocents. on the other hand, americans also have a very else the ability to examine their own history and to be self-critical and not to feel like they have to hide things or sugarcoat them or ignore them. they can't admit what happened in the civil war, shelves and shelves of books about this. and then they can move forward. indians and pakistanis still have trouble with this and i've given lots of readings in india, and the majority of the population is younger they were born after partition. they shouldn't have any personal connection to this. yeyet the phrases figures, the y to did talk about pakistanis come and vice versa, is no different than 1947.
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still the sense of paranoia and suspicion. it's because they are taught a version of history, it's very different than this. the indians get one version, the pakistanis get one version at their mutually incompatible. neither side really wants to admit they could've partly been at fault, that maybe ghani was entirely passing. maybe he did make mistakes. pakistani, maybe jinnah was not such a nice guy and maybe he was a little power hungry and so when. until they do that and can come up with some kind of joint narrative that assigns a plan to all sides, i don't think they're going to be able to move forward either. that is dangerous for the rest of us so we have to hope they will get to that spirit before it opened to questions i wanted to give an opportunity, nisid, was there a time that you wrote the book or after that you step back and you said, you know, this really came out well and i'm glad i did it. [laughter]
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besides when you were told about speech i is going to say, the only moment that happened was when i got my first review in ththe new york review books and they call it super. that was the only moment. >> tell us, let's say a personal thought at some point you thought about this for so long to go to this book. >> was a long process. i started working on this book exactly five years ago in the spring of 2011. i've been working "newsweek" magazine in new york for about 10 years, and quit, left my job to my wife and i sold our apartment in new york and we put all of our stuff and my in-laws basement and then took off and let out of a suitcase for a year while i did research in india and london, and i had no idea whether this was going. i had an idea of what i wanted to accomplish but imagine you in a library 10 hours a day just pouring through painstakingly telegrams, paperthin telegrams
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that churchill signed and personal diaries and letters, and you vacuum it all up and to try and see patterns. but at the time you read a just and get as much material as possible. and that i said that i tried to make sense of it all. what was important to me with this book was to write it for a general audience. this isn't meant for professors. i hope they find a scholarship in if i wanted to find narrative that would be appealing to everyone and to try and find a narrative in this great mass of material. i cannot say that there was a moment while i was doing it that i was fully confident that i succeeded until it was published and somebody else told me it was all right. >> we have a few minutes left to take a few questions. if anyone would like to -- just tell us who you are. >> go to the microphones first. >> the microphone will come to you. >> i have a question about craft
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and some of the choices you made. may be a way to open this up a little bit, what was maybe one of the harder things you've struggled with and how did you work through that? or alternately, what was the best advice you got from an outside reader, either an editor or just a friendly reader that will help you take something that wasn't quite working spent the best i advice i got early on was to make a timeline. it sounds so simple but i literally did, the book takes place in a fairly short two year period from 46-48. i did tha a day by day timelinef those two years. once you do that that's when you start to see these patterns emerging. what's incredible is these leaders especially in the much right after partition, there were a million things going on. they were not just focus on the riots in the punjab. there was an uprising in kashmir. moving toward independence.
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these things were all happening in the same day. most accounts treat the the most simply. is a chapter in kashmir, you don't realize that when nehru woke up that morning he went to one thing about this and another meeting about that. that. he was operating on two. he was operating on two hours of sleep and then he got this letter from his girlfriend and so on. it's only once is worth the wait out that you kind of get into that fold more and understand the pressures they were under and why it would've made certain decisions. there certain decisions ginnie mae i've never seen explained for them to realize, oh, he made a decision at the end of this three-hour meeting with a talked about ask the forehead, that i can imagine -- the hardest part for me was making a narrative because you have many, many characters, huge forces at play, and it was chaos at the time. so it's hard to know what's real real, what's not to a lot of
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people's memories afterwards were not all that trustworthy. if you're the same story over and over again that my aunt was on a train and everybody was killed by terror. i heard this story dozens of times and it's generally not true. you have to sort of see the records at the time, just know, no, they were not any train massacres and so on. so we did the major and finding a way to make it a chronological narrative which i did through using two characters. i did jinnah and nehru, the personal relationship gave me a vehicle in which the work the larger force into politics, the history that really count that through the day by day account of what they're going through at the time. >> did you do most of the research in india or pakistan
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speak as i did of it in london actually. up until august 15 when the british left all those records were british records. they exist in india but in india company work in the a little difficult. you have to sort of fill out request forms sent in every letter you get a no faxing we can't find the file and so on. it's more straightforward in the british library. in london to get a lot more material quickly and there's a lot of personal papers. so i spent about three months in india, went back in for a few weeks and almost a year in london. >> if you would taken the time on research versus righty come is there a division? >> it was about half and half in the end. >> until the first draft? >> right. about a year researching, i wrote the first draft between may and december. and then i accepted a job, moved to singapore and than ever the
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first driver realized there's still some more work to be done and it took me another year but that was just to work on weekends to polish it up. >> class of 68. when you are researching the book, was there an aha moment for you that changed your mind or understanding the history? my understanding was wrong and it was this way. can you share that with us speak with there wasn't a single moment. there were individual moments. there were days when you do this over you. and what isn't go to the library and with all the archives and you, and you know you do nothing. everything you read that they have been read by somebody else. then there are days when you find that nugget, that illuminates a particular angle. in the combination of those leads to the sort of new
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narrative that you create. so for instance, some of the best material i found was in the state department archives in college park, maryland. nobody ever looks at the. the american diplomats of the time in new delhi were fairly well-connected. they knew the americans were the rising power in the world. so they had great details. this was a moment, the british ambassador in london, the data bridge disintegrate pakistan in june of 1947 he called into u.s. ambassador to explain the decision to ambassador by speculation and says we're going to do this, create pakistan, they are going to hand over power possible as soon as august to india. but then of pakistan is not ready yet. they will hand over power later, maybe a few months, maybe a year. hasn't been worked out yet. that brings hope you come understand why the left so fast to how good he thought this was a good idea. it's because they have not thought it through.
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they thought some of the pakistanis will want us to stick around to help them set up the government's evidence will be okay. we don't need to worry about the details. there are certain moments like that where i.t. decision why did the british decide to leave so quickly? it seem so crazy and so stupid. we realize it's because they didn't think they were leaving that quickly. >> i'm a student. pakistan is providing for the taliban, and the past couple years -- [inaudible] even the current president of afghanistan been trying vigorously to bring taliban, pakistan and all the parties to the negotiations with peace talks, but it never worked out. afghanistan even doesn't have the capability to provide security inside the country or at its borders. what do you think is the solution left for afghanistan?
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what do you think they continued to fight taliban? the think they can bring this part of power inside the country? >> a nobel peace prize is riding on this last night. >> exactly. my 10 years at "newsweek" oversaw the war in afghanistan i wish i had a good answer. i think you're right that has be negotiated solution. i think all the parties are right to work towards that. i do believe that pakistan is genuinely want the taliban to come to the peace table. they are not able to do it. on the other hand, if they said will not give you any more safe haven whatsoever and were taking out all the leaders were we will arrest you, then i think they might change their mind to the pakistanis are not ready to do that yet. the only thing, ma the one positive developer i've seen so far, and it's not a breakthrough
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yet come is the fact that china is now involved. china has much more interest in stability in afghanistan now than ever did before, partly for economic reasons because they want to develop minerals of their and so on. but also because they're worried about islamic extremism coming across the border into western china. china is the one power that has influence over the pakistanis. they have more influence over the pakistanis that we do. they are the ones leaning on the pakistanis trying to bring them to the peace table. they often host talks. it's going to be a long process but if they sustained pressure come if recorded within. within. it's important number to our attention between the u.s. and china overtake of all these other issues. remember the big picture. we need to help on north korea, on afghanistan. 's we have to sort of, even as we compete in some areas we have to work with them in others. i don't anticipate a breakthrough anytime soon but if
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pakistan and china keep pressuring them, if the afghans can hold their own at least, if they keep losing territory and the taliban have less incentive to come to the peace table but if they can hold their own maybe we'll get to a point where you can bring them in a little bit the what adequate will look like india i don't know because you have to reserve the liberties that have been created in afghanistan. know what is going to give those up now. so you can't go back to the taliban days but there would have to be some part of the solution, for short. >> do you think the american presence, continued presence helps, or do you think if we left the country they would strike a balance within themselves the? >> i think we are still needed their now. i think the afghan army is not able to hold its own against the taliban without our logistical help and intelligence and so on. so i think our presence there,
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we can't solve this for them, sending more troops. i don't think there's a surge that can happen that can turn things around but i also don't think we should necessarily rush to draw down to zero. >> you recognize a summit in the back? we can come back to you. who is in the back? go ahead. >> ghani as such an iconic figure for americans its early indians. can you talk briefly about any things, how your perception may have changed in the writing of this book? i know he's a figure but can you talk of it about that? were you surprised by the things you about and six another might affect our memories of him speak was i really was picked investing. you have to write about him carefully obviously. especially for an indian audience. but gandhi was much more of a politician than people give them credit for. of all the people, it seems like
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this saintly figure that sort of spouts proverbs for some great and is for peace and so one and hates violence. he was a very shrewd politician. to use nonviolence against the british because it worked. he knew that the indians didn't have the weapons to challenge the british army. this was the advantage they have over them. he had great success in the '20s and '30s, but he was also fairly vain man and he was surrounded by admirers telling them what a great are his me was and how infallible he was. even indian leaders like nehru would come to for advice and said he was a true. first, he never understood the way muslims like jinnah saw him. he thought i'm a pair person can i have no prejudice, i have nothing against muslims. of course, they must embrace my message. he couldn't understand that for many muslims they would seek
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gandhi dressed up like a hindu sage, hindu chants and so on, stories, the parables years were all into parables using hindu gods. he never understood that that energy was projecting to a lot of muslims was fairly frightening. they saw him as a religious leader, not as a secular democratic. anthony also didn't understand the impact of his words. by the time partition came around he was in his mid to late '70s, and he was a little cup i don't want to use of the word senile, but he was not as sharp as he had been before. know what amounted would tell them that. everybody would still act as if everything he said was gospel. so he would do things like when these riots were starting to spread, there were reports, rumors about riots in far eastern india, which no anglerfish. rumors that riots are going to massacre inches, raping and women. he brought this up at a prayer
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meeting in delhi and second is trying to say don't retaliate, don't use violence, don't fight back. instead, for all of you tens of thousands of hindu women who are at risk of being raped, you should kill yourself instead. he hadn't thought this through at all. the way this message was heard out of the provinces, hindu women are being raped. people, vocal politicians at a much, much lower level used this message and rallied hindu mobs and went out and committed and occur over several weeks of several thousand muslims. it's something that he can and leaders like jinnah plain gandhi fofour and said look, you're spouting this stuff and people are warping and it's causing this violence. he wouldn't acknowledge that. he thought his beard was pure. his meaning, his intentions were good, and they were, but he
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didn't understand the impact of his words. they were also times, this compromise got a mention, he fought against it the most and dragged out the negotiations. i think if it accepted much earlier, the compromise might of the. the remote in the process where he would've been good as a spiritual figure, as a moral figure but should not have been involved in politics because he found it very hard to make compromises. >> norwich class of 1970. i was intrigued after watching the news for the last month that in the book, jinnah and nehru and others were very egotistical, narcissistic to some degree, and seemed not to catch on to things that a more practical or humble person might see. it just reminded me of today.
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there are some -- these three men have huge egos. they were a great statesman in their own ways as welcome as part of that is may be part of the reason why they rose to the topic you have to have a certain degree of self-confidence in order to do this, but, remember, they're in a system, a british system we are combined with the indian feudal caste system where nehru with a political rally, it was surrounded by worshipers. he would give these beaches in english, talking about socialism and this and that. and these farmers had no idea what he was talking about. they just knew he was this godlike figure to come down from delhi and was up on stage, and they were just very to be in his presence. they would want to touch his feet or sheikh his hand or this or that. nehru knew this was a danger to gets interesting, about 10 years before in 1937 when he was a
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younger man and was receiving all this adulation, he wrote an essay for a magazine under a pseudonym that warned against the danger of a leader like him becoming a dictator, leading to stuff into his head at the party needed to be wary of this, the country need to be wary of us cannot allow this to happen. he knew it was a danger buddies to let it happen. jinnah, same way. jinnah had been fighting for recognition for years and years and all of a sudden once he started promoting pakistan, hundreds of thousands people would come to his rallies and he was surrounded by guards waving swords in uniform and he loved it. he actually loved it. he counted every little ribbon on his uniform. spent most of the summer when these death squads were forming sort of working out with the flags would look like they would use on independence day and so on.
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kind of pomp and circumstance up with was what he wanted when he was there. you do have to worry. if you are a leader you have a responsibility. you can't just sort of let this stuff ago. >> friend of norwich. two quick things. what i thought was fascinating about how the normal indian folk, the muslim it is the to leave. i would be interesting to get insight into why that is such a deep feeling of unity instead of separation? secondly the flipside of what really happens speculative have the two leaders been mor religious, maybe they would have differendifferent perspective ad not have been something. any thoughts about that? in other words, in a sense of deep secularism which wasn't evident, could that have actually led to sort of the failing? and thirdly, as a sleep physician can do two hours of sleep deprivation was legally impaired, he would be more than
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legally intoxicated by alcohol. for fascinating subject for us. how these were leaders are making decisions while they are impaired. and he was at the last so that's a cool thing that you uncover for us. >> working backwards from the last one, it was fascinating to see. these guys did everything themselves. they had never run a government. nehru and politician but really just a leader, a street leader in a way. he had never been an executive, never run anything. he tried to run everything himself. the reason he only got two hours of sleep is because he was both dealing with negotiation and sending out invitations to a conference, and when the riots broke out they spread to new delhi, and hindus are going out to massacre of muslims there. a friend of his came to his house and said there's a bridge between old and new delhi were muslims, refugees to come across the bridge into being killed when they come across because these games are waiting for them. nehru is that the prime minister abe country of 400 million people.
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he runs upstairs, gets out of the drawer this dusty giant revolver that used to belong to his father that had not been fired in 30 years. says we'll dress up like refugees, you and die and go out there and we're going to walk across the bridge and with the tried to attack us we will shoot them. and his friend says, no, you are going to tell the police to go there and do this. that was the mentality that they had. the religious question is really interesting. i never thought about that before, whether that would've made them more humble. gandhi was fairly religious and not all the couples that don't know it would've been to guarantee against attack. and would've been a problem in other ways because, because after these riots broke out there was a real, a lot of people who didn't want muslims to stay, you want them to be all sent across the border including some top politicians. it was nehru and gandhi about against the answer will be a multiethnic society, everyone supports us and we will not
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allow this. it was not a popular decision to this is why gandhi was a faceted because he was fighting for the rights of muslims. i have forgotten the first question. spent why such a deep -- >> right. over centuries, most of these places religion wasn't all that organized. you have a village shrine, a village mosque but if you're living in close quarters together, you have basically the same food. some people don't eat beef but the use of the same spices. you dress the same way. relations between men and women are very similar. your children will go to school together in many cases. most people generally want to get a long. [inaudible] spent the day generally work. muslims had legitimate fears politically about what would happen but they were solvable i think the there could've been a compromise that would have solved that fear. if you had to dodge if your second the notion african everything is great, everybody loves each other.
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they were real tensions there. >> i've never thought of this issue myself but there's another piece to this. had there been more religious, india is a very religious country. what these people were really like, i won't draw your debt into this conversation, but they're all these stories about mr. nehru and ladies on patent and everyone knew what these people were about. so the other side of the coin is it didn't seem to make any difference, that all these very religious people knew what these people are, right? >> right. no, i think no muslims really believe jinnah was a true fashion if they've ever seen him. it's interesting and some of these local elections, muslim organized go and try to get votes. one of them i found a letter one of them wrote back to headquarters in delhi and said, you know, it's great these people, they think jinnah is a this kind of long bearded imam who is very religious, stops the
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quran or this or that. that's the image that will train if it. they had never seen them. they were able to manipulate ordinary folks spin let's go back to the audience. >> i'm a friend of norwich. you mentioned that one of the major flaws if not the major flaw of the british role in the partition was at the exit to quit and left a lot of details undone. any other major flaws in hindsight now speak with the were a bunch. i will say though that i am less critical of the british than many writers or. properly because i feel -- partly because i feel indians and pakistanis wanted independence. the responsibility was theirs to prepare for it and they were the ones that have influence over these death squads, over, they were not ordering it themselves, but at lower levels of the parties people were involved in
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procuring weapons and organizing and so on. it was their responsibility to stop this before have i eventually broke out. but in the long run they conceded two dividing these communities. in 1909 they decided that they would create a special seats for muslims to run for provincial legislatures, and only muslims could vote for those particular people. then you got parties break into a long religious life. they did this of course to divide and weaken the opposition and so when. but that was earlier on. during world war ii there was a moment at which fdr and the u.s. pressured the british very heavily connected fortitude to give india, to granted independence so that they would join the fight against the nazis and the japanese. churchill single-handedly resisted the rest of the british government was ready to do this, but churchill was not anti-threatened to resign if fdr
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kept pressing him. so they backed off. if they granted independence didn't i think this would have happened or i think there was no real momentum for pakistan and 94 to at all. you could've had the power to unify government. the british would have stayed. nobody wanted to kick them out in the middle of the workers he would've had a longer transition. in addition to leaving too fast, they underestimated the threat of violence. it wasn't a surprise. people were telling him, the provincial government in punjab was sending daily cables and this is happening, i need more troops, need more troops, i did more troops. on paper they created a peacekeeping force that was supposed to go to this province. but he wasn't fussy with the details but he was busy drawing his flagstick the supposedly 50,000 member army force that went there ended up being less than 2000 people with actual rifles. so they were not able to suppress the violence quickly.
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the only way to stop this would've been a massive application of force very, very quickly and they didn't have the troops in place. that was the british responsibility they were responsible for law and order up to that point so there were mistakes made by think it's important for indians and pakistanis to take responsible as well. it's too easy. you could india today, you go to pakistan today, it's far too easy for people to say it isn't their fault. they did this to us. the british were not helpful in some ways but they are not entirely to blame. >> so you've been a wonderful book. you don't have any limits to how many you sign per person, do you? >> not at all. the more the better. >> thank you for writing this book and thank you for the intellectual exercise, the time you spent connecting with our students, faculty and classrooms. somewhat to congratulate you and thank you all for coming and best of luck. >> thank you very much. [applause]
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>> thanks very much for coming. >> you will be here to speak yes. if there are other questions i can answer them individually. >> you can all get up now. [inaudible conversations] >> here's a look at some authors recently featured on booktv's "after words," our work hundred and -- our weekly author program.
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>> what i try to get people listing from this book isn't about to make excuses for the decisions i made it is really about explaining what is happening to so many young men and women into movies we don't
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talk about child abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse and the things that lead to us taking a path that would take its i really wanted to declare that this isn't about making excuses and i don't blame my mother over the i was the person who pulled the trigger that night. >> "after words" errs on booktv every weekend. you can watch all previous "after words" programs on our website, booktv.org. >> i often get asked you to by law students can not lost to an undergraduate comp that's fun for me. i get to talk to undergraduates and they want to be -- that we are, there we are. they want to be lawyers and they say what should i stay as an undergrad? they were doing what you were just saying, how do we get up on this latter? and i say, you don't have to study something leading to law.
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i can't tell you what to study but i will tell you one thing, you have one life, want to you and know that life and you know your friend. you will know your family. but that's very, very few. and if you go into the humanities for those four short years if you learned some other languages, if you read a few books, you will learn about lives that are not your own. but they are out there. every kind of person. so i recommend that. and it comes back to help me. just a few weeks ago we heard about a fellow, it's been playing and all fellow, -- is a really such a person? he is a real serious around and could there be a person like that? that? and i happen to see a movie, a classic french movie on television, no, i saw on an airplane. children of the gods, fabulous movie.
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great movie. there's a character in it, a real criminal, and he is an egomaniac. i mean, he is a rotten person but diaz very high opinion of himself. very high. and he cares about nobody else, no emotional reaction to anybody else. it's him, the greatest in the world, and the only person that he will fight is the person who insults in and suggest he is not the greatest person in the world, and at the end of that film he goes into a turkish bath where there's an aristocrat who did look down on him, shoots him dead and wind. wins but he goes and sits down calmly on the shelf, pulls the cord and wait for the police to come. what has he proved? that he is the greatest person in the world. to him? himself. now ask yourself, and asked myself, why at the end of a
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fellow when they say why did you do this to this man? why had he really didn't killed him? why? no answer. he has proved it to himself. somewhat insults them, he's got to prove he is the greatest person in the world. that's one way of looking at it. shakespeare told me that there are such people and helps explain the plight, at least to me. and if, in fact, you see groundhog day which is one of the great movies in the world, what does it make me think of? it makes me think of roslyn. it makes me think of orlando when she says hey, you're going to do this until you get it right. you better understand. isn't that right? and my goodness, there are problems of intelligent women that they have some special problems to this day. you want to know what they are? go look at beatrice. go look at beatrice and benedict commented that are. so it's all over the place, all over the world, what i tell the
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high school student, college student, lost school student. you better understand what this world is like. and if you have that desire, and i surely hope you do, you can do worse than start with william shakespeare. [applause] >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> booktv is live today from maryland with the seventh annual gaithersburg book festival. you will hear from authors e.j. dionne, annette gordon-reed, juan williams anymore. but first up christian green talks about her book, something must be done about prince edward county. booktv on c-span2 live from the gaithersburg book festival.
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