If No One is Going to Read Something, Should You Still Write It?

Now that I’ve wrapped up my dissertation and am starting to think about how I might go about turning it into a book or some articles (or ideally both!), I’ve been giving some thought to the relationship between writing and reading.  I have many close friends in journalism, and for them the relationship is rather straightforward: you write in order to be read and, for the most part, the wider the readership, the better.

For academics in the humanities and social sciences… it’s complicated.  Yes, the ultimate goal is for our work to be read (and perhaps even have an impact on the wider world), but the intended audience is usually much more limited.  I’ll be lucky if my dissertation is read in whole or in part by more than a dozen people, and I’m sure many are familiar with the oft-heard claim that the median academic publication is never cited (for discussions, see here, here, and here).

But even if academic writing isn’t always widely disseminated, I think it has great value as a way of making the writer lay out his/her thoughts clearly and intelligibly.  Academic writing (and particularly a humanities/social sciences dissertation) can be a form of writing qua learning.  The messy realities of wrestling words and ideas into coherent shape on a page show up in an academic’s teaching, punditry, and activism for years down the line.

Which got me to thinking–are there other forms of writing which are not primarily intended to be read?  And the answer that leapt to mind are a lot of major governmental reports.  Sure, every now and then governmental organizations produce big reports that are widely read and discussed (and can even get on the NYT‘s bestseller list), but they are the exception, not the rule.  And even for the exceptionally well-publicized reports, like the recently released Chilcot report on the U.K’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq War, it’s doubtful that it’s primarily intended to be read, given that it’s 2.6 million words long, or about three times the length of the complete works of Shakespeare.

So then why are these reports written?  Why is all of this energy expended writing something that probably will not be read all that much or all that closely?  One possible answer is that bureaucratic writing may have a documentary function – the act of writing the report serves as evidence, independent of whether it’s read or not.  In other words, sometimes bureaucratic reports are written just because they have to be, in the same way that sometimes meetings are held just because they have to be, even if no one else is present in the room.

Maybe that’s why long, unreadable government reports get written, but critically-minded scholars like James Ferguson and Isaac Kamola have convincingly argued government texts almost always have a secondary role beyond simply fulfilling bureaucratic requirements.  Governmental and para-governmental reports are also always political interventions!  For instance, in my dissertation I discuss 14 high-status reports about East African regional integration that received funding from European sources between 2007 and 2014.  I note that while the reports typically present themselves as having technical, problem-solving aims, they also have the secondary political function of raising the profile of certain contested issues and forcing East African governments to cease foot-dragging and implement policy changes.  Sure, maybe they’re read only by a few dozen people, but that intended target audience will feel the message loud and clear.  We should not be fooled by the generic formats or the routine list of acronyms on the inside cover—intended or not, these reports are interjections into the political economy of East Africa.

Given this discussion, it’s particularly interesting that one organization which takes seriously the question of which of its reports actually get read is the World Bank (to its credit):

About 13 percent of [the WB’s] policy reports were downloaded at least 250 times while more than 31 percent of policy reports are never downloaded.  Almost 87 percent of policy reports were never cited.
If I can’t figure out how to turn my dissertation into a book or articles, it might nevertheless have a future as a World Bank policy report!

World, Meet Donald.

President-Elect Trump, say hello to the world.

Perhaps lulled into a false sense of security by polls that showed Hillary Clinton well ahead, the global community now seems to be scrambling to figure out who Donald Trump is and how he might govern.  As shown below, data from Google Trends confirms that worldwide searches for “Donald Trump” are at an all-time high.

donald-trump

(100 arbitrarily designates the most Google searches ever recorded for a given search term since 2004, with everything scaled relative to that.  In other words, the number of people worldwide Googling Trump has more than quadrupled in the aftermath of the election.)

The top six non-North American countries to evince interest in President-Elect Trump are apparently Kenya, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Singapore, and Nigeria.  I’m not sure what to make of that, except that there’s probably bias in favor of English-speaking countries built into those results.

More qualitatively, I can attest to how strong interest in the American election has been in the Delhi region, and how powerfully people here have been affected by the surprising result.  An Indian colleague took the Wednesday off as a sick day to deal with her incipient depression.  And just this afternoon a forum on the future of Afghanistan-Pakistan-India relations surprisingly segued into a long Q&A about Trump’s likely future foreign policy.  Now admittedly these have been happening in the milieu of the Indian intelligentsia, so I’m glad that Google’s data confirms that this part of broader, worldwide trend.

I’m not a believer in American exceptionalism, but for a variety of material, cultural, and historical reasons much of the rest of the world does continue to pay exceedingly close attention to developments in the United States.  The rise of Donald Trump doesn’t seem likely to change that anytime soon.

Will the U.S. Tomorrow Be a 0 or a 1?

There’s a number of datasets out there that collate information about electoral violence in countries around the world (e.g. this one).  While I’m not an expert on them, I presume that the U.S. in recent decades has been coded a 0 for “no significant instances of electoral violence.”  Here’s fervently hoping that by tomorrow night the 2016 U.S. elections will not be coded as a 1 by future researchers.

Straddling the Fine Line between Healthy Nationalism and Troubling Racism at the League of Legends Worlds Tournament

You probably don’t know this, but the annual League of Legends World Championship is going on right now.  What is “League of Legends,” you ask?  Simply put, the most popular computer game in the world.  And since I’m currently in the process of writing an academic paper about it, readers of this blog are going to be hearing about it in the coming months.  (Curious to see what the game looks like?  This five-minute video provides a good primer.)

If you’re unfamiliar with League of Legends (often abbreviated LoL), the first thing we have to talk about is its globe-spanning popularity.  Riot Games, LoL‘s developer, recently announced that it’s averaging a mind-blowing 103 million monthly players (i.e. individuals who play at least once a month).  Prior to this announcement, Riot had last disclosed its player numbers in January 2014, when it claimed 67 million monthly players and 27 million daily players, so the game is continuing to grow in popularity even 7 years after its initial release.  Perhaps even more interestingly, while Riot did not break out its average number of daily players in the latest announcement, if we assume that the proportions of monthly to daily players from 2014 still hold, then somewhere on the order of 40 million people around the world play LoL on any given day (roughly equivalent to the population of Algeria).

Compare those numbers to something like Pokémon Go, which you surely heard about during the big craze in July.  At its peak, Pokémon Go was averaging around 43 million daily users worldwide (see Figure 1 here), but has since seen a precipitous drop-off in its player base.  And while it’s not a perfect comparison, the bottom line is that insofar as you thought that Pokémon Go was significant/important/worthy of further study, you should be even more interested in the bigger, richer, and much more stable LoL.  Indeed, one (admittedly non-randomly-sampled, and hence suspect) analysis done in November 2015 found that LoL accounted for 23% of all the time people spend playing online computer games.

Ok, so the game is a big deal, at least for people who play computer games.  But the second thing you need to know about LoL is that people don’t simply play the game, they also watch it.  As in, they watch highly-skilled professional players compete live or online as a form of entertainment.  Watching video games in this way is called e-sports, and e-sports, according to its proselytizers, is the future of all sports.  I don’t want to wade too much into that debate (you can instead read a random Wall Street Journal columnist tackle it here).  Rather, what’s significant for our purposes is that the biggest LoL competition of the year is the annual World Championship, which 334 million viewers across the world tuned into last year (a number which will be undoubtedly even higher for this year).  And the World Championship is directly owned and operated by Riot Games, which invites the teams, chooses the venues (this year’s finals will be in a sold-out Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles), broadcasts the matches, and sets the overall tone of the event.

The third thing about LoL we have to talk about is “the Koreans.”  Statistically speaking, professional LoL teams based in South Korea are the most dominant in the world.  As the figure below shows, while South Korean teams have only made up 19% of the entrants in the five most recent LoL Worlds, they have taken 33% of the quarter-finals spots, 50% of the semi-finals spots, and 70% of the finals spots.  A Taiwanese team managed to take home the trophy in the 2012 tournament, but since then a Korean team has won the top spot every year… including in this year’s finals, which hasn’t even happened yet, but given that both of the finalists are from South Korea, the trend is sure to continue.

lol-chart

(* All teams based in Russia and Eastern Europe are categorized as “European,” even if they qualified for the tournament via the Wild Card slots.)

What makes the South Koreans so dominant (and not just at LoL, but e-sports more generally)?  Arguably a series of interconnected factors: a well-established professional gaming infrastructure, with things like dedicated gaming houses, coaches, and support staff; financial and social rewards for elite pro players that are higher than anywhere else in the world; accordingly, more elite competitors in close proximity, giving Korean teams better opponents to practice with; and lastly, truly relentless training regimens.

From the perspective of Riot Games, the continued streak of Korean dominance at Worlds is not necessarily a bad thing, since it generates some handy narratives and provides a useful framing device everyone can grasp: will this finally be the year the Koreans are upset?  Indeed, in my academic working paper I focus on how Riot Games is seeking to commodify nationalism in order to generate interest in its professional-level e-sports offerings while at the same time trying to avoid the problematic racism and xenophobia that is often prevalent in the online gaming community.

This is an ongoing tight-rope walking act for the savvy, Chinese-owned but Santa Monica-based studio.  Some other game developers have punted in similar situations.  For instance, Blizzard Entertainment designed its popular Hearthstone game in such a way that players can only interact with one another through a very limited set of pre-scripted dialogue options, lessening the possibility of negative player interactions.  At the other end of the spectrum, Valve Corporation seems to have little interest in policing the notoriously toxic Counter-Strike community.  Overall, e-sports is already and quite unfortunately developing a reputation as a nasty realm, with all-too-frequent examples of racist language occurring (e.g. here, here, and here).  And the misogynistic streaks rife in online gaming culture were on prominent display during the 2014 Gamergate saga.

It is into this potent and problematic brew that Riot is making huge splashes.  I argue in the paper that Riot’s model thus far seems to be to emulate FIFA’s World Cup, while also borrowing liberally from ESPN and the Olympics.  Thus, Riot allows some displays and markers of what I believe it considers to be “healthy nationalism” to appear in its broadcasts as a way of playing up regional differences and generating audience interest in its tournaments.  For instance, Riot has allowed players at Worlds to incorporate national flags as part of their on-stage uniforms and even to drape themselves in their national flags.*

But at all times Riot remains extremely leery of opening the door to racist and chauvinist behavior from fans and players, which the company clearly believes would delegitimize its product, affect its bottom line,** and dash its dreams of bringing e-sports into the global mainstream.  That fine line between healthy nationalism and troubling racism was on prominent display at this year’s LoL Worlds tournament.  For instance, the Chicago crowd at the quarter-finals waved American flags and cheered on North American team Cloud 9 with chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”, but also had the dubious distinction of openly booing South Korea’s Samsung Galaxy team when they took the stage, a first for the LoL community (see reactions here and here).  On an even less positive note, Riot took the drastic decision to formally sanction a professional Chinese player while the tournament was ongoing for having recently used racial slurs in non-tournament play.

In the end, what all of this offers the outside observer is a window into the thinking of a hyper-globalized company that makes a digital product that it seeks to distribute and monetize across cultural lines.  How can nationalism and international competition be commodified in “good” ways in the 21st century?  We’ll have to see what Riot’s long-term answer is, and if it continues to prove as successful as it has.  For the time being, though, if you’re at all curious about any of this, I invite you to tune into the world finals on Sunday.

Put your money down on the Koreans.

* Technically Team Solo Mid’s support player Biofrost wore the Canadian flag onstage at last month’s North American regional qualifier, not Worlds.

** For a useful discussion of the limitations of Riot’s commitment to diversity, particularly in its hiring of broadcast personnel, see Ferguson Mitchell’s commentary here.  But see also Phil Kollar’s recent paean to Riot’s farsightedness and all-around decency here.  The truth is doubtless somewhere in the middle.

The Iranian Government is Broadcasting the American Presidential Debates…

From Slate‘s Joshua Keating, citing Bloomberg:

The second presidential debate on Oct. 9, featuring Donald Trump denying allegations of sexual assault and threatening to jail Hillary Clinton, was the first U.S. debate ever broadcast live on television in Iran. Evidently, they were so happy with that demonstration of the virtues of liberal democracy that they’re going big for Wednesday night’s showdown in Vegas: airing the debate on three channels so it will be available in Persian, Arabic, and English.

As Trump might put it, “SAD.”  Read more here.

Which Countries Should Make the Cut?

Suppose you wanted to teach a schoolchild about the countries of the world, but had to limit yourself to only 54 countries.  Which countries would you pick?  To be sure, everyone will answer this question differently based on where they live, their family’s history, what languages they speak, what sports they follow, and many other factors.  Still, I think it’s fairly safe to say that the U.S., China, and Russia would make almost everyone’s lists.  And other major global powerhouses like Germany, Japan, India, France, the U.K., and Brazil would more often than not make the cut.  Meanwhile, for better or worse, poor Kiribati, Guyana, and the Gambia are usually going to be left out.

I ask this question because my awesome Hindi teacher recently gave me a poster that is typical of those used to teach Indian schoolchildren about the world:flags

It’s interesting to reflect on the choices the poster’s designer made when coming up with his or her 54 picks.  From my perspective, some are inspired, but a few are rather questionable.

For instance, I love that the designer included the U.N. flag!  Also, given that it’s intended for an Indian audience, having India’s neighbors (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal,* Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) is important.  And whether intended or not, it’s a nice touch that three of the countries that were founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement alongside Jawaharlal Nehru’s India are all here: Indonesia, Egypt, and Ghana (R.I.P. Yugoslavia!).

Looking beyond India’s immediate neighbors, though, the situation gets a bit murkier. Europe is arguably over-represented, with 14** countries out of the 54, including very surprising picks like Cyprus and Hungary (but not Spain).  With the exception of Afghanistan, Central Asia is per usual ignored, despite the fact that Tajikistan is  a stone’s throw from Kashmir.  Refreshingly, sub-Saharan Africa is actually relatively well-represented (with 5 or 6 countries, depending on how you count Mauritius), but the picks are kind of odd: Zambia and Ethiopia make the cut, but not Nigeria.

Perhaps the weirdest region of all is the Americas south of Mexico: the only two other Latin American countries listed are Cuba and Panama!!  Where’s Brazil, the world’s fifth largest country by both population and area?  Or Argentina?  At first I thought someone at the Panamanian Embassy in New Delhi had cleverly paid off the city’s educational printers, but a bit of research suggests that there may be more going on here than I first realized.  According to this surprisingly detailed Wikipedia page, one of the largest communities of Indians in the Americas is located in Panama City and traces its origins back to Sikh laborers brought in to help build the Panama Canal.  Apparently relations between the two countries are a flourishing example of South-South cooperation.

Who knows, perhaps there’s similarly cool things underlying some of the other apparently odd choices on this poster.  But I stand by my statement that Hungary really shouldn’t have made the cut, lol…

 

* Nepal has a cool flag!
** Not including Turkey, Russia, or Israel.

GDP Sure Stinks as Our Go-To Measure of Economic Activity

Measuring the size of national economies is hard.  That’s clearly true in the case of developing countries, where underlying economic data is often not available, made-up, or deliberately manipulated.  But even for rich countries it’s difficult to know how to factor in all the different kinds of economic activity humans engage in.  How should the value of multinational corporations be divvied up across the various countries they are present in?  How should public goods provided by the state be valued?  Should you attempt to measure non-market transactions, like the labor traditionally provided by “stay-at-home” mothers?  What about accounting for negative externalities, like the increasing threat of climate change?  What base year should you use?  And how should you deal with (highly variable) exchange rates?  The Economist recently asked if Brexit had helped France’s economy overtake the U.K.’s, and the best it could come up with was a tepid “probably”.

Every now and then methodological changes by national statistical authorities visibly highlight the artificiality of GDP figures. Consider the following few cases:

  • On November 5, 2010, Ghanaians went to bed thinking their country had a GDP per capita of about $753, placing them among the poorest countries in the world.  The next morning they woke up, however, to newspaper accounts proclaiming that the National Statistics Office had changed the base year for calculating GDP from 1993 to 2006, which (along with other methodological changes) had caused the country’s per capita GDP estimate to jump to $1318.  Overnight Ghana had become a solidly middle-income country!  Woohoo!
  • A recent European change in the way the investments of multinational corporations are counted in GDP figures caused Ireland’s GDP to grow by 26% in 2015…  at least on paper.  But, as an economist at University College Dublin tactfully put it, “It’s complete bullshit!”
  • Speaking of bovine shit, India’s 2015 GDP revisions for the first time officially included the value of the “organic manure” that the country’s livestock produce.  Just like that, India’s GDP increased by 9.1 billion rupees (roughly $135 million), but not before some serious academic work had been done calculating the “average evacuation rates” of various species (who says academics never have any fun!).  The Wall Street Journal has a good primer on India’s new GDP figures… and how other “real-world” statistics like the quantity of exports don’t seem to corroborate them much.

Perhaps the solution, then, should be to just get rid of GDP altogether, as more and more people are suggesting.  But then how would the hordes of quantitatively-minded political science Ph.D.s indulge in their favorite pastime of building econometric castles out of data made of sand?

Why U.S. Foreign Policy is Nothing Like That Time Your Friend Flaked on You

This post is the first in an irregular series of blog posts titled “Surprising Findings in IR” which will highlight political science research that is counter-intuitive or unexpected.

I was at a dinner several weeks ago where a friend criticized the Obama administration, and Obama specifically, for issuing threats and then failing to back them up.  “Obama keeps telling other countries not to do things, but then they do them and the U.S. does nothing in response.  This emboldens our enemies and makes us look weak.”

Now, my goal here is not to engage in either a defense or a critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.  Instead, I’m interested in this prevalent idea that failing to carry out foreign policy threats causes a state to be perceived as weak or otherwise encourages its rivals.  It turns out that there is a literature in IR that deals with precisely this topic: studies of credibility.  And a major study within that literature that directly speaks to the topic at hand is Calculating Credibility by Daryl Press.

In the book, Press examines the archival record of top-level leaders during several major crises in international politics: the “appeasement” crises that pitted Nazi Germany against France and the United Kingdom in the run-up to WWII; a number of instances during the early Cold War where the Soviets threatened war if the Western allies did not pull out of West Berlin; and that perennial favorite of IR scholars, the Cuban Missile Crisis.  What did Press find digging around in all those archives?

The conventional wisdom holds that credibility depends on a country’s past behavior–its history of keeping and breaking commitments.  Like people who keep their word, countries that keep their promises will be believed when they issue new assurances.  And like people who casually break their promises, countries that renege on their commitments soon discover that their promises carry no weight.  […]

This book argues that the conventional wisdom about credibility is wrong.  A country’s credibility, at least during crises, is not driven by its past behavior but rather by power and interests.  If a country makes threats it has the power to carry out–and an interest in doing so–those threats will be believed even if the country has bluffed in the past.  […]  When assessing credibility during crises, leaders focus on the “here and now,” not on their adversary’s past behavior.  Tragically, those countries that have fought wars to build a reputation for resolve have wasted vast sums of money and, much worse, thousands of lives.

Find this hard to swallow?  I invite you to take a close look at Press’ case studies, such as the West Berlin impasse, where fascinatingly senior officials never refer to the past even though the practically the exact same situation keeps playing out over and over again every few months.  Instead, decision-makers myopically focused on the present, treating each new crisis on its own individual terms.  Furthermore, Press notes the tragic irony that the same countries that themselves never consider others’ past behavior when assessing credibility nevertheless feel very strongly that maintaining their own credibility at all times is crucial, no matter the cost.

Now of course Press’s book is not the definitive final word on credibility (for the curious, see Daniel Drezner’s primer), but at least it might somewhat reassure those worried that Obama has frittered away America’s standing in the world.  More generally, Press’ work shows us that relying on analogies and heuristics developed at the everyday level of interpersonal relations does not always translate upwards to the realm of states, international relations, and foreign policy.  As easy as it is to do, anthropomorphizing the state can be quite misleading.  There are significant differences between how we deal with our friends, colleagues, and children and how states interact with one another: the raw number of interactions, the time that elapses between interactions, the difficulty of sending clear signals from one state to another, the difference between a single individual’s memory and the diffuse and generally far less effective institutional memory of governments, etc.  This same caution also applies to international economics, where one well-known fallacy is thinking that government finances are akin to household budgets (debunked here, here, here, here, and many other places on the Internet).

Risk and Uncertainty in the Developing World

I am not a rationalist, and so at first might be thought to have welcomed a forthcoming article by Kitae Sohn in the Journal of Development Studies that makes a bold claim:

Almost all theoretical and empirical studies implicitly assume that every economic agent understands the concept of risk. We exploited a unique feature of the Indonesian Family Life Survey and argued that this assumption may not apply to the developing world. A third of working men failed to understand the concept of risk, and this incomprehension did not result from a mistake or a preference for simple answers. Moreover, after applying OLS, we found that relative to risk comprehensive men, risk incomprehensive men earned 11.9 per cent less and possessed household assets worth 9.8 per cent less.

Really?  Large segments of working men in Indonesia do not understand the concept of risk?  Also, there are “lower levels of cognitive skills in the developing world”??  Digging deeper into the article, one finds that the core of the analysis concerns how respondents answered a question about future income:

For the first question of the first set, the respondent chose one of two options: (1) receiving Rp 800,000 per month, or (2) receiving either Rp 1.6 million or Rp 800,000 per month, with equal chance. The rational choice is (2). If the respondent chose (1), the interviewer asked the following question: ‘Are you sure? In option 2 you will get at least Rp 800 thousand per month and you may get Rp 1.6 million per month. In option 1 you will always get Rp 800 thousand per month.’ The respondent had the choice of staying with (1) or switching to (2). This follow-up question is critical to this study because it made sure that the answer to the first question did not result from a mistake or a preference for simpler options; instead, the respondent did not understand the concept of risk. Henceforth, we characterised a respondent as ‘risk incomprehensive’ if he failed to choose (2) at the first attempt or after the follow-up question.

Overall, 36.3% (2926 out of 8053) respondents stuck with Option 1 and were deemed unable to understand risk.  Now, there’s lots of things we could say here, but the first that leaps to mind is the researcher’s assumption that of course people always want more money.  Indeed, that’s what’s actually being tested here, and it’s the researcher who is then deeming those who don’t seem to want more as “risk-incomprehensive” and “irrational.”

I’m not saying that there isn’t an interesting finding here, nor that the matter isn’t worthy of further study.  But, taking a step back, I think there’s at least three problematic aspects to this study.  First, there’s a probably unintentional but still uncomfortable echo of the long history of racist discourse claiming that people living in developing countries cannot govern themselves and hence need the help of the British Empire/USA/World Bank/European Union to do so properly.  Second, there is no acknowledgment that many (highly educated) people in the developed world do not seem to properly understand risk either, as Nassim Taleb and others have convincingly argued.  Third, I wonder if the problem for the world’s poor and marginalized is really whether they can’t understand risk or, rather, whether they understand it all too well but feel that risky acts are one of the only ways they have to improve their lives.  I’m thinking here of research by Linguère Mously Mbaye on the willingness of Senegalese migrants to court death in order to reach Europe.  Based on surveys, these migrants seem willing to accept on average a 25% chance of dying if it allows them to reach the continent (or, as is apparently a popular slogan in Dakar, “Barcelona or Die!”).  And other research by Dr. Mbaye has shown that Senegalese migrants exhibit a roughly normal distribution of risk-tolerance vs. risk-averseness.

Overall then, pace Dr. Sohn, it might not so much that the world’s structurally oppressed are missing a vital faculty, but rather that they make all-too rational calculations of the many costs and few benefits of their current existences.

That Time When Gandhi and Hitler Were Penpals

Remember when Mahatma Gandhi and Adolf Hitler had a short and one-sided correspondence in 1939 and 1940?  Probably not, but it’s remarkable nonetheless.  The first letter was a brief note from Gandhi to Hitler a few months before the invasion of Poland saying basically–and I’m paraphrasing here–“You sure about this whole WWII thing, dude?”

The second, longer letter is interesting in that Gandhi makes it clear that he, like Hitler, is no fan of the British Empire, going so far as to call it “the most organized violence in the world” (no small claim in December 1940, with both Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union in their prime).  But Gandhi tempers his “Hey, I get it, I hate the British too, man!” appeal with a strong endorsement of non-violence, and ultimately sounds prophetic when he writes:

We [Indians] have found in non-violence a force which, if organized, can without doubt match itself against a combination of all the most violent forces in the world.  In non-violent technique, as I have said, there is no such thing as defeat.  It is all “do or die” without killing or hurting.  It can be used practically without money and obviously without the aid of science of destruction which you have brought to such perfection.  It is a marvel to me that you do not see that it is nobody’s monopoly. If not the British, some other power will certainly improve upon your method and beat you with your own weapon.  You are leaving no legacy to your people of which they would feel proud.

Apparently neither letter actually reached Hitler, but still, I’m going to have to call this exchange as Gandhi 2, Hitler 0.