In Conversation With A Well-Known Author: A Discussion On Future Of West Asia With Bill Kirkman

Obama: Trying To Change The Approach!

Obama: Trying To Change The Approach!

Not much has changed in Middle East since my last conversation with Bill Kirkman in 2006. Israel and Palestine relations continue to remain tense even as US has given way to tactical shift in its policies aimed at bringing stability in that region. It has become more people oriented than relying absolutely on state-to-state negotiations.

Obama’s words make that aspect very clear– “Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see…..Look to the future that you want for your own children – a future in which a Jewish, democratic state is protected and accepted, for this time and for all time. … There will be many voices that say this change is not possible. But remember this: Israel is the most powerful country in this region. Israel has the unshakeable support of the most powerful country in the world. Israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but also the courage to see the world as it should be.” 

It would be interesting to know the views which flowed between us as we discussed this very sensitive issue seven years back.


My Viewpoint:

This has reference to Bill Kirkman’s article A war that is morally indefensible published in The Hindu on August 06, 2006. Well, the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers by the Hamas and brutal murder of some of its soldiers by Hizballah were enough to fan the suppressed desires of Israeli. It’s time to acknowledge the fact that in war both the sides end up as losers. Let’s not intercept it as clash of civilization but clash of religious ideologies. However, it’s a harsh reality that none of the religious ideologies advocate violence but the fallacious interpretation of them by their followers leads to volcanic atmosphere. A situation which is cashed-in-on by the US and its like-minded allies to serve their vested interests. Unless the followers come to elevate their consciousness, it would be nothing sort of foolhardiness to expect miraculous changes in the future. 

President Bush must heed to the words of Churchill: ” The statesman who yields to war fever ….is no longer the master of policy but the slave of  unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” Surely, the way events have taken shape in Iraq, shattering American hopes one after another, should be enough for the US to intercept the dangers in pursuing imperialist designs in the name of restoration of human rights. 

However, Americans love to ignore the lessons offered by past debacle. Had US remembered setback it received in Vietnam, it would have certainly curtailed its habit of pulling the strings of weaker nation on one pretext or another.


Words Of Bill Kirkman: 

Thank you for writing. I was interested in your comments. I agree that in war both sides end up as losers. I take a very gloomy view of the future of West Asia.


About Bill Kirkman: 

” He began his career as a journalist on the Wolverhampton Express & Star, which he joined on graduating from Oxford. Bill then moved on to The Times, where he was Africa Correspondent and Commonwealth Staff Correspondent in the early 1960s, covering the period of rapid de-colonisation. He is the author of Unscrambling an Empire (Chatto & Windus 1966) and has been a columnist for The Hindu since 1994. He was a frequent broadcaster with the BBC World Service and Africa Service in the 1960s, and with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in the 1990s. In 1983 Bill was awarded the MBE for services to journalism…..Bill was Head of the University Careers Service from his arrival in Cambridge in 1968 until 1992 (following four years as Careers Advisor at Oxford) and University Advisor on Public Relations 1992-1996.” 

Source: Wolfson College Cambridge


A War Takes Its Toll On Innocents!

A War Takes Its Toll On Innocents!

Suggested Reading:

Bill Kirkman: A war that is morally indefensible; The Hindu, Aug 06, 2006.

Max Fisher: How Obama just reframed the Israel-Palestine conflict;  The Washington Post, March 21, 2013.

Pics Credit:

Pic One

Pic Two

11 responses

  1. Many thanks to these readers for registering their presence on this post…

    Yogesh Pandey, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh; Himanshu B.Pandey, Siwan, Bihar; Pitamber Dutt Sharma; Inderjit Kaur, Writer, Jalandhar, Punjab; Dubeyji, Ranchi, Jharkhand; Satyanarayan Misra, Guwahati, Assam, and Sandeep Pandey, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

  2. Chandrapal S Bhasker, United Kingdom, said:

    So in the colonization of India both sides – Britain and India – ended up as losers?

    Author’s Response:

    Colonization is altogether a different aspect…I was mainly focused on immediate and direct consequences of war. For instance, the LTTE-Sri Lankan army conflicts!

  3. Radhakrishna Lambu, Bangalore, Karnataka, said:

    Wars are done to establish the supremacy, the victor turns out to be ruler and superior, the loser as servant/slave..

    Author’s Response:

    The most simplistic assertion!

  4. Chandrapal S Bhasker, United Kingdom, said:

    “Israel” and Palestine conflict is a conflict between colonisers and the colonised. Bill Kirkman doesn’t either have a basic historical knowledge or like most liberal/conservative western ideologues/writers he is on the neo-colonial bandwangon singing the songs of “democracy”, “civilisation”, freedom etc to the barbarians. [albeit depending upon their expressed political inclination in varying tones]

    Author’s Response:

    “The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the early 20th century.[2] The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between the Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman and then British rule. It forms part of the wider Arab–Israeli conflict. The remaining key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements,[3] Palestinian freedom of movement[4] and finding a resolution to the refugee question.”…



    The conflicts, it appeared, began during the Ottoman empire…..It manifested into different shapes with the advent of time…

  5. Chandrapal S Bhasker, United Kingdom, said:

    Chandrapal S Bhasker Arvind bhai, there is no Israel as there was no British India but an India colonised by Britain. Zionists are European colonisers who were planted in Palestine by the Brits. Wikipedia is beginner’s guide to politics as seen by the western ruling discourses. Try any books by people who have some research in the matter. Anything by Ilan Pappé, Finkelstein, Edward Said, Chomsky, Shlomo Sand, M Shahid Alam, etc will be a good start….


    Author’s Response:

    Chomsky and Edward Said are familiar names for my ears …Anyway, I will definitely heed to your desires …Just now found an article on par with your findings, which confirm the authenticity of what you just said…

    “The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists’ intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (Over 1200 years)”….


    Just read Gandhi’s View On The whole Issue:

    Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs… As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.” Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in “A Land of Two Peoples” ed. Mendes-Flohr. (1938)

  6. Chandrapal S Bhasker, United Kingdom, said:

    I have read Gandhi ji on Palestine and I agree with his support of Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.

  7. “However, Americans love to ignore the lessons offered by past debacle. Had US remembered setback it received in Vietnam, it would have certainly curtailed its habit of pulling the strings of weaker nation on one pretext or another.”

    The pretext in the case of the middle east is, and has always been, securing the oil supply. Not all Americans agree with this policy, so let’s say “American leadership”. It has been so for Bush (1&2) and so for Obama. Viet Nam was practice for the US and the lessons have been learned, and are being exploited in the middle east.

    The apparent retreat by Obama from a policy of dual states to a more grass-roots approach, putting the onus on the ctizens of Israel and the Palestinian Athourity is destined to fail because those citizens have elected Hamas and the government of Netanyahu.

    Hamas has continually stated that Israel’s presence is not acceptable and they will not rest until the country is obliterated. For his part, Netanyahu has been open to negotiate, but he will not roll over and allow the destruction of Israel.

    The citizens have spoken. They are more for the status quo than supporting a progress toward peace.

    1. @ Ian Shalapata….

      A very interesting take on the whole issue…You are right that governance in the hands of extremist forces like Hamas and the ambiguous approach of US have made the situation murkier there…It would also not be out of tune to suggest that wherever Britishers came to settle, they gave rise to complex set of issues and then left that place without resolving them…

      Hope that Middle East does not become a nightmare for innocent souls..In Kashmir also the same thing has happened, albeit in a different way..Today the natives- the Kashmiri Pandits- have been driven away from their motherland to live like nomads in other parts of India. Now the extremists demand a referendum, knowing very well that absence of Kashmiri Pandits means an absolute majority in their favour.

      1. To be fair to the British, a lot of times they were “asked to leave” before the issues could be properly resolved. As well, in Canada, as in India, we’ve developed a number of home-grown issues, since the departure of the British, that still need resolution.

      2. @ Ian Shalapata…

        They were pretty diabolical in their approach…Before leaving, they gifted us the Pandora’s Box 😦

  8. That’s what Bill Kirkman said after reading my article:

    Dear Arvind

    It was good to hear from you again. I read with great interest your ‘In conversation’ article – and was flattered that you find my opinions of interest.

    As a writer yourself, you can, I am sure, recognise how encouraging it is when a reader responds as you have done.

    With warm regards



    Author’s Response:

    Dear Sir,

    Thanks for your feedback. I treat the conversations with writers like you a prize possession. They occurred in period when I was new in the world of writing. I needed such encouraging words to keep moving ahead. Now having travelled certain distance, I feel others wannabe writers need to have glimpse of these conversations so that they do not lose hope as they come to play with words.. Going by the exchange of views in the comment section of this article, it’s quite clear that our conversation has a staying power. That makes me feel that I did the right thing by making our conversation public…

    Thanks for being part of my journey of life as a writer…

    Yours sincerely,

    Arvind K. Pandey


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