Sunday, 20 June, 2021; 10:46 pm
After the cold-war, mankind has ever entered into a complicated world. Accordingly, to duly apprehend the global politics, we need to focus myriad of aspects. Harun ur Rashid’s International Relations and Bangladesh, in this regard, helps us relatively easily unravel the puzzlements of the present international political system with a robust focus on the crucial aspects of Bangladesh. Though the book was first published in 2004, this new version is the revised and updated edition of 2015.
The book investigates the salient events of global affairs between the 19th and the beginning part of the 21st century. It also paints a visage on Bangladesh’s strengths and weaknesses in regional and international arenas through politically strategic lens and describes her contributions to build a peaceful and prosperous world. Rashid, a former ambassador of Bangladesh in the UN, Geneva, employs different schools of thought in international relations theory such as realism, liberalism, Marxism and constructivism to add scholarly flavor in his writing. This book is divided into four parts.
The part one demonstrates a brief introduction of the evolution of International Relations. Moreover, the author focuses on geopolitics and believes rapid developments of technology in the field of war have undermined the particular relevance of it. From the geopolitical landscape of Bangladesh, he claims that she has advantages on any ground war while her small sea frontage and tiny size of territory can act as disadvantages during armed conflicts.
The part two of the book describes how despotic leaders and hostile international system triggered two World Wars and why the Cold War was inevitable for the ideological clash. Rashid opines the nationalist fervor of the colonized states gave the birth of new independent states in Africa and Asia through destroying colonialism. He argues that as states are mutually-interdependent with each other in the globalized period, no country can alone succeed to address traditional security and non-traditional security threats without multilateral institutions, the number of which has mushroomed. Hence, to preserve the peace of the world, International Institutions including the UN are immensely necessary.
Interestingly, the part three almost entirely underscores the emergence of Bangladesh and her political aftermath. Though Pakistan was born on the basis of the two-nation theory in 1947, for its step-motherly behavior toward its eastern provincial wing, Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) rose as a sovereign state in 1971 by the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In the liberation war of Bangladesh during the cold-war era, Soviet-led bloc supported her but the US-led bloc opposed. Their strategic roles are well-articulated in this chapter. Since independence, Bangabandhu’s insightful directions are prevalent in the external relations of the state. Rashid’s appreciation on our country’s obligation to International Law creates a good national profile.
Global concerns upon environment, arms proliferation, human rights, and forced migration and displaced person have been precisely illustrated in the final part. Since environmental catastrophes are regularly occurring owning to human activities and natural causes, our survival is being jeopardized. However, worldwide increase of refuges and Internally Displaced People is caused not only by natural disaster but also by war and human rights violation. The author points out that Bangladesh has been giving shelter Rohingya refuges since 1978 but in terms of her human rights records for women and minority groups the country draws huge criticisms. He proudly specifies an enunciation of Bangladesh regarding disarmament at the UN General Assembly: “Resources spent for the arms race should be directed to social sectors”.
Frankly speaking, the book reveals that however a small country, in addition to Bangladesh’s human power, fertile land, and homogeneity of race, her strategic geographic proximity with two great powers, India and China, and her shared history with the sub-continent creates prestigious values that bolster an envious place of the country in the global stage. The author in the entire book highlights certain cases of Bangladesh with some states.
I ponder this book suffers from the lack of analytical rigor in that Rashid attempts to highlight almost all spheres of international relations in mostly concise and factual fashion. His assertion on the irrelevancy of geopolitics in the 21st century due to the invention of high-tech weapons like missiles is not pertinent as it is observed that states are so far highly dependent on geopolitical factors to formulate their foreign policy for either war or trade, furthermore.
Nevertheless, this 564-pages book is a welcoming edition in the field of foreign policy of Bangladesh. The author efficiently utilizes a wide range and a rich body of historical data to buttress his reasons. The linguistic orientation in the book is so gripping that any reader cannot simply put it down if he or she once starts reading it. Primarily, the book is recommended for decision makers of foreign policy, national politicians, student, lawyers, and teachers because it renders a cornucopia of wisdom with regard to international politics and jurisprudence where the writer has contextualized the vital issues of Bangladesh.
Note: The article first appeared in Daily Observer.
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