Knowledge gainer books

On Democracy
by Robert Dahl

A cute little book that explains democracy in a nutshell. Great for people who can’t even spell democracy.

“Dahl has written a fine little book on his favorite subject, aimed as much at the general reader as at the student of politics… On democracy is a great success.” — The Economist

The Clash of Civilizations And the Remaking of World Order
by Samuel Huntington

Thirsty for knowledge on international affairs / social science / anthropology? This is a great book to start, very readable and rich in content.

An exerpt from the last chapter on a potential WW3 scenario:

“Assume the year is 2010. American troops are out of Korea, which has been reunified, and the United States has a greatly reduced military presence in Japan. Taiwan and mainland China have reached an accommodation in which Taiwan continues to have most of its de facto independence but explicitly acknowledges Beijing’s suzerainty and with China’s sponsorship has been admitted to the United Nations on the model of Ukraine and Belorussia in 1946. The development of the oil resources in the South China Sea has proceeded apace, largely under Chinese auspices but with some areas under Vietnamese control being developed by American companies. Its confidence boosted by its new power projection capabilities, China announces that it will establish its full control of the entire sea, over all of which it has always claimed sovereignty. The Vietnamese resist and fighting occurs between Chinese and Vietnamese warships. The Chinese, eager to revenge their 1979 humiliation, invade Vietnam. The Vietnamese appeal for American assistance. The Chinese warn the United States to stay out. Japan and the other nations in Asia dither. The United States says it cannot accept Chinese conquest of Vietnam, calls for economic sanctions against China, and dispatches one of its few remaining carrier task forces to the South China Sea. The Chinese denounce this as a violation of Chinese territorial waters and launch air strikes against the task force. Efforts by the U.N. secretary general and the Japanese prime minister to negotiate a cease-fire fail, and the fighting spreads elsewhere in East Asia. Japan prohibits the use of U.S. bases in Japan for action against China, the United States ignores that prohibition, and Japan announces its neutrality and quarantines the bases. Chinese submarines and land-based aircraft operating from both Taiwan and the mainland impose serious damage on U.S. ships and facilities in East Asia. Meanwhile Chinese ground forces enter Hanoi and occupy large portions of Vietnam.

Since both China and the United States have missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons to the other’s territory, an implicit standoff occurs and these weapons are not used in the early phases of the war. Fear of such attacks, however, exists in both societies and is particularly strong in the United States. This leads many Americans to begin to ask why they are being subjected to this danger? What difference does it make if China controls the South China Sea, Vietnam, or even all of Southeast Asia? Opposition to the war is particularly strong in the Hispanic-dominated states of the southwestern United States, whose people and governments say “this isn’t our war” and attempt to opt out on the model of New England in the War of 1812. After the Chinese consolidate their initial victories in East Asia, American opinion begins to move in the direction that Japan hoped it would in 1942: the costs of defeating this most recent assertion of hegemonic power are too great; let’s settle for a negotiated end to the sporadic fighting or “phony war” now going on in the Western Pacific.

Meanwhile, however, the war is having an impact on the major states of other civilizations. India seizes the opportunity offered by China’s being tied down in East Asia to launch a devastating attack on Pakistan with a view to degrading totally that country’s nuclear and conventional military capabilities. It is initially successful but the military alliance between Pakistan, Iran, and China is activated and Iran comes to Pakistan’s assistance with modern and sophisticated military forces. India becomes bogged down fighting Iranian troops and Pakistani guerrillas from several different ethnic groups. Both Pakistan and India appeal to Arab states for support—India warning of the danger of Iranian dominance of Southwest Asia—but the initial successes of China against the United States have stimulated major anti-Western movements in Muslim societies. One by one the few remaining pro-Western governments in Arab countries and in Turkey are brought down by Islamist movements powered by the final cohorts of the Muslim youth bulge. The surge of anti-Westernism provoked by Western weakness leads to a massive Arab attack on Israel, which the much-reduced U.S. Sixth Fleet is unable to stop.

China and the United States attempt to rally support from other key states. As China scores military successes, Japan nervously begins to bandwagon with China, shifting its position from formal neutrality to pro-Chinese positive neutrality and then yielding to China’s demands and becoming a cobelligerent. Japanese forces occupy the remaining U.S. bases in Japan and the United States hastily evacuates its troops. The United States declares a blockade of Japan, and American and Japanese ships engage in sporadic duels in the Western Pacific. At the start of the war China proposed a mutual security pact with Russia (vaguely reminiscent of the Hitler-Stalin pact). Chinese successes, however, have just the opposite effect on Russia than they had on Japan. The prospect of Chinese victory and total Chinese dominance in East Asia terrifies Moscow. As Russia moves in an anti-Chinese direction and begins to reinforce its troops in Siberia, the numerous Chinese settlers in Siberia interfere with these movements. China then intervenes militarily to protect its countrymen and occupies Vladivostok, the Amur River valley, and other key parts of eastern Siberia. As fighting spreads between Russian and Chinese troops in central Siberia, uprisings occur in Mongolia, which China had earlier placed under a “protectorate.”

Control of and access to oil is of central importance to all combatants. Despite its extensive investment in nuclear energy, Japan is still highly dependent on oil imports and this strengthens its inclination to accommodate China and insure its flow of oil from the Persian Gulf, Indonesia, and the South China sea. During the course of the war, as Arab countries come under the control of Islamic militants, Persian Gulf oil supplies to the West diminish to a trickle and the West consequently becomes increasingly dependent on Russian, Caucasian, and Central Asian sources. This leads the West to intensify its efforts to enlist Russia on its side and to support Russia in extending its control over the oil-rich Muslim countries to its south.

Meanwhile the United States has been eagerly attempting to mobilize the full support of its European allies. While extending diplomatic and economic assistance, they are reluctant to become involved militarily. China and Iran, however, are fearful that Western countries will eventually rally behind the United States, even as the United States eventually came to the support of Britain and France in two world wars. To prevent this they secretly deploy intermediate-range nuclear-capable missiles to Bosnia and Algeria and warn the European powers that they should stay out of the war. As was almost always the case with Chinese efforts to intimidate countries other than Japan, this action has consequences just the opposite of what China wanted. U.S. intelligence perceives and reports the deployment and the NATO Council declares the missiles must be removed immediately. Before NATO can act, however, Serbia, wishing to reclaim its historic role as the defender of Christianity against the Turks, invades Bosnia. Croatia joins in and the two countries occupy and partition Bosnia, capture the missiles, and proceed with efforts to complete the ethnic cleansing which they had been forced to stop in the 1990s. Albania and Turkey attempt to help the Bosnians; Greece and Bulgaria launch invasions of European Turkey and panic erupts in Istanbul as Turks flee across the Bosporus. Meanwhile a missile with a nuclear warhead, launched from Algeria, explodes outside Marseilles, and NATO retaliates with devastating air attacks against North African targets.

The United States, Europe, Russia, and India have thus become engaged in a truly global struggle against China, Japan, and most of Islam. How would such a war end? Both sides have major nuclear capabilities and clearly if these were brought into more than minimal play, the principal countries on both sides could be substantially destroyed. If mutual deterrence worked, mutual exhaustion might lead to a negotiated armistice, which would not, however, resolve the fundamental issue of Chinese hegemony in East Asia. Alternatively the West could attempt to defeat China through the use of conventional military power. The alignment of Japan with China, however, gives China the protection of an insular cordon sanitaire preventing the United States from using its naval power against the centers of Chinese population and industry along its coast. The alternative is to approach China from the west. The fighting between Russia and China leads NATO to welcome Russia as a member and to cooperate with Russia in countering Chinese incursions into Siberia, maintaining Russian control over the Muslim oil and gas countries of Central Asia, promoting insurrections against Chinese rule by Tibetans, Uighurs, and Mongolians, and gradually mobilizing and deploying Western and Russian forces eastward into Siberia for the final assault across the Great Wall to Beijing, Manchuria, and the Han heartland.

Whatever the immediate outcome of this global civilizational war—mutual nuclear devastation, a negotiated halt as a result of mutual exhaustion, or the eventual march of Russian and Western forces into Tiananmen Square—the broader long-term result would almost inevitably be the drastic decline in the economic, demographic, and military power of all the major participants in the war. As a result, global power which had shifted over the centuries from the East to the West and had then begun to shift back from the West to the East would now shift from the North to the South. The great beneficiaries of the war of civilizations are those civilizations which abstained from it. With the West, Russia, China, and Japan devastated to varying degrees, the way is open for India, if it escaped such devastation even though it was a participant, to attempt to reshape the world along Hindu lines. Large segments of the American public blame the severe weakening of the United States on the narrow Western orientation of WASP elites, and Hispanic leaders come to power buttressed by the promise of extensive Marshall Plan-type aid from the booming Latin American countries which sat out the war. Africa, on the other hand, has little to offer to the rebuilding of Europe and instead disgorges hordes of socially mobilized people to prey on the remains. In Asia if China, Japan, and Korea are devastated by the war, power also shifts southward, with Indonesia, which had remained neutral, becoming the dominant state and, under the guidance of its Australian advisors, acting to shape the course of events from New Zealand on the east to Myanmar and Sri Lanka on the west and Vietnam on the north. All of which presages future conflict with India and a revived China. In any event, the center of world politics moves south.”

by 陈志武

I have mixed reactions about this book. The author’s ideas are quite interesting but a bit extreme at times.

The most interesting parts are the final chapters, discussing Confucius values and the development of finance.

Not 100% agree with the author’s strong views, but nevertheless worth a read.

Excerpt from later chapters:






心理世界能够天马行空,飞翔到朴素感情之外。 ….”

Beating the Street
by Peter Lynch

The truth is, cash starts to deplete fast without a job! In order to enjoy and prolong a happy “retirement”, it is important to start planning as early as possible. If you haven’t already deployed your capital, this should be one of the first books to read!

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