War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet

War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet

War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet

War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet

Synopsis

In this stunning read, veteran foreign correspondent Eric Margolis presents a revelatory history of the complicated and volatile conflicts that entangle one of the most beautiful and remote parts of the world.

Excerpt

In the nineteenth century the British Empire and the expanding power of Czarist Russia came into conflict as the Russians moved south toward India. the rivalry was fierce and hard fought. Kipling called it the “Great Game.”

A new Great Game is afoot at the top of the world. the chain of mountain ranges, plateaus, and valleys that begins in Afghanistan and Kashmir, and then sweeps 2,500 miles (4,000 km) across the Indian subcontinent to Burma (now Myanmar), is fast becoming one of the globe's most volatile and dangerous geopolitical fault zones. Along that line four nuclear-armed powers-China, India, Pakistan, and Russia-are locked in a long-term rivalry that may erupt into the first major international conflict of the twenty-first century.

This assertion may come as a surprise, since most people are accustomed to regarding South-Central Asia and the Himalayas as an exotic, remote, backward part of the world, whose unstable societies and bitter disputes are of little concern to the rest of mankind.

Such may have been the case a century ago, when the first Great Game was played out on India's wild Northwest Frontier and in Central Asia between the British and Russian Empires. Today, however, the region known as South Asia, which contains a full quarter of humanity, is being shaken by a confluence of strategic, political, and economic tensions that threatens to ignite a series of interlocking conflicts whose effects may be felt around the globe.

According to a 1993 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) study, the border of disputed Jammu and Kashmir, along which Indian and Pakistani forces have skirmished almost daily for the last half-century, is now considered the most likely place for a nuclear war to begin. Studies conducted by the Rand Corporation estimate such a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would initially kill 2 million people, cause 100 million casualties, and contaminate South and Central Asia, as well as much of the globe, with radioactive fallout.

In May 1998, India shocked the world by detonating five nuclear devices, and testing intermediate-range missiles in an unmistakable assertion of its new, self-proclaimed status as a superpower. India's

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