It used to be that aggression was a problem with aggressor nations - Germany, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq. No more. The aggressions that have concerned us the last two decades are almost all within nation-states - Nigeria and Biafra, Rwanda and Burundi, Yugoslavia and Kosovo, Spain and the Basque ETA, France and Corsica, Indonesia, East Timor and Acheh, Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers, Russia and Chechnya, Muslim Sudan and the Christian south. And there's more to come in the age of the mini-state.
In Rebels With a Cause: The Minds and Morality of Political Offenders (Westview Press, $35, 448 pages), Nicholas N. Kittrie, one of the world's leading authorities on internal violence, has done a monumental job in analyzing the sanguinary battles of rebels, revolutionaries and dissidents against existing governments. He estimates that almost half of the 190 or so countries in the world are trapped by ethnic, tribal, clannish and racial antagonisms, and the eternal problem of defining a "just cause." Mr. Kittrie presents a "Bill of Rights for Just Governance and Just Resistance" which he believes would, if adopted, lessen what he calls "political criminality," terrorism and counter-terrorism and transform domestic warfare into roundtable negotiation. This volume is, indeed, a major work for the 21st Century.
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It is quite possible that what happened in Iran with the 1979 overthrow of the Shah was not the last great revolution, as Robin Wright's book title, The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran (Knopf, $27.50, 352 pages) would have it. There is another last great revolution in the wings of history's stage, a modernizing counterrevolution against the reactionary rule of Iran's ayatollahs.
The author, one of our leading foreign correspondents specializing in Iranian affairs, predicts that the Islamic republic "is not likely to survive in its current form." Iran's theocracy has unwittingly sparked a battle for women's rights, the arts, social customs not only among the young but within Shi'ite Islam itself; in short, revolutions within the ayatollah revolution.
This book is exceptional in four respects: It is highly readable, full of fascinating interviews; it is a mine of useful information about the most important country in the Middle East. It has a laudable observance of scholarship. And in terms of price, it's a steal.
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"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood," wrote John Maynard Keynes. Ideas, good or bad, rule the world. Compare Mao's China to Deng Xiaoping's China three decades later when the Communists began another Long March, this time from Marxism-Leninism to Adam Smith and then compare it to today's China-in-transition as a fifth of the world's population prepares to enter the new millennium.
Min Lin with Maria Galikowski, the authors of this valuable treatise, The Search For Modernity: Chinese Intellectuals and Cultural Discourse in the post-Mao Era (St. Martin's, $49.95, 271 pages) are academics at New Zealand universities who are well-versed in Chinese and Western thought. What they have written is a report on the status and ambitions of mainland Chinese intellectuals. China's future hinges on what will be the regnant ideas in coming decades and the answers given. Where these ideas will come from is a mystery since, say the authors, "Chinese intellectuals are aware of the painful fact that the gradual loss of their central position and their role as `savior' and their replacement in that role by popular culture in an increasingly commercialized society, is the inevitable price to pay for the modern social transformation they worked so hard to bring about."
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The way things are developing there are going to be "head" nations, which design products, and "body" nations, which manufacture them, according to UCLA professor Richard Rosencrance in Rise of the Virtual State (Basic Books, $26, 287 pages). …