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Outspoken Hiro

"Bush doesn't understand the outside world. He thinks in slogans".



Dilip Hiro.

THERE IS no stopping Dilip Hiro once he gets started on West Asia and the Gulf Wars. Sitting in his room at Janpath Hotel in New Delhi, illustrating vigorously with his hands, he mimics President George W. Bush in falsetto, fishing out newspaper articles to prove his point. Hiro, is after all one of the most untiring commentators on West Asia. He has published 27 books in all, most of which deal with the region - be it the Israel-Palestine conflict or the recent Iraq war.

The Indian born Hiro, a U.S. resident, contributes articles to newspapers around the world and is visiting India after 10 years. "I have written too many books and am partly holidaying." But Hiro has also been lecturing across the city on - what else! - West Asia.

Two of his latest books, including "Secrets and Lies: Operation Iraqi Freedom - and After" which explores the recent Iraq war and its fallout are yet to hit the Indian market. His previous book "Iraq: A Report from the Inside" had predicted that American troops would not be welcomed with garlands into Baghdad as expected. He had also warned that Bush would provoke a clash of civilisations by launching a `pre-emptive' attack on Iraq.

"Look what has happened in Istanbul. Bush is raising the temperature. Lots of Muslims now believe that the only reason America attacked Iraq was because Iraq is a Muslim country," says Hiro. He believes that because there was so much anti-war feeling across the world by non-Muslims, the Muslims did not feel so bad. "The clash has not happened just now, but if Bush is re-elected there will be bad news," he warns. Hiro does not tire of criticising President Bush, his administration and the foreign policy makers, all of whom he says are badly informed. He particularly ridicules America's doctrine of pre-emptive attack saying it is dangerous for world peace.

Hiro dismisses Bush as a man with a very simple mind who doesn't have a clue what is going on. "Bush doesn't understand the outside world. He thinks in slogans. When he speaks he speaks in short sentences. For example, I want peace-I want freedom, etc. There are people more experienced and cleverer than him who take him along their agenda. The country is actually being run by Dick Cheney. He is well-informed, reads books and knows what's happening."

He continues, "Bush is quoted as saying that God instructed him to hit at Al Qaeda and attack Iraq, so he did it. If he knows God's will then all the talk, all the books, all the seminars, debates are a waste of time." Hiro has also written a few books on India including "Inside India Today" and "The Untouchables of India". He agrees that the Kashmir crisis can have potentially disastrous consequences. "1.8 billion people live on the sub-continent and if atomic weapons go off, it would be the greatest disaster."

But Hiro says West Asia will remain the focus of attention for the West, "First, because it is the repository of cultures with whom the West can trace its roots, second, because of its oil and third, because Middle-East is the most armoured region in the world."

Hiro says it was a challenge to write about a culture different from his own. But, since he is neither Jewish nor Christian, he feels he can be more objective in observing the region. After the Indian holiday Hiro will sit down to finish his next project yet another book on West Asia, this time focusing on the oil crisis.

SANJAY AUSTA

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