All this neatly distracts the U.S. public's attention from an event that represents the nadir of American foreign relations, which found White House special envoy Richard Holbrooke groveling before the Pakistanis during a two hour press conference.
Mr Holbrooke, whose handling of his portfolio on Afghanistan quickly showed he'd confused India and Pakistan with Bosnia, said that "no one in Pakistan, and no one in any other country," should read Manmohan’s state visit "as a diminution of the importance we attach to them.”
"Them," just to be clear, means "Pakistanis."
Why did Holbrooke stop there, I wonder? Why didn't he zip next to Beijing and get a photo op kissing Hu Jintao's feet?
(Obama's eased Holbrooke out of the picture, a friend told me soothingly. I shot back, "Did Kayani get the memo?" For that matter, has someone informed Holbrooke he's out of the picture?)
But the chattering class here and in India decided to pat the air and interpret Singh's visit to Washington as a feather in Washington's cap and New Delhi's.
The glaring exception is Rajeev Srinivasan's scorched-earth analysis, although he's not a member of the chatterati, for all his published essays. An Indian, a Hindu, a computer professional who commutes between the USA and India, he writes with too much passion and far too much bitterness to crank out opinion for a living:
The number of fifth-columnists in India has reached record proportions. India has ‘friends of America’, ‘friends of China’, ‘friends of Saudi Arabia’, ‘friends of the Vatican’ in high places, but hardly anyone is a ‘friend of India’.If all that sounds to an American reader like an Indian version of a Tea Partier -- maybe what's fueling his bitterness is that Indians won't get off their behinds and do their own version of Tea Partying. But I offered that sample from his writings to convey that while he calls himself a "Hindu nationalist," that's like Glenn Beck describing himself as a Christian nationalist, which would be misleading.
Yes, there is formal independence, but there is no freedom. There is, for instance, no respite from the State religion, some baffling animal called ‘secularism’, which basically means total apartheid against large groups of people.
The State excels in perpetuating the most ridiculous system ever invented: a chimera that combines all the vices of communism and capitalism (and none of the virtues). The idiocies and inefficiencies of the first and the thievery and inequities of the second; but not the iron discipline and will nor the unshackled flair for getting ahead.
The State has interfered in everything it has no business being in: running airlines, hotels, and so forth; and it has been practically invisible in everything it is the one and only provider of: infrastructure, defense, social programs, human rights. Crony capitalism and the license raj run rampant."
Rajeev Srinivasan is a man who loves his country, that's all, and who refuses to be understanding about his government's methodical dismantling of his country's heritage.
I don't agree with everything he writes. But I like him because he sees many things with great clarity -- although in his rip on "Slumgdog Millionaire" he runs himself in circles trying to fathom why so many British hate India and Hindus.
The answer is simple. If the Indians had thrown them out, the British would have respected that. But the shilly-shallying around for the decades of Gandhi's non-violent movement they found highly insulting. They paid back the perceived insult by machinating to give the region called Pakistan to a bunch of raja families who didn't want their land holdings broken up by democracy reforms in post-Independence India.
And here we are today, with American troops being blown up in Afghanistan by so-called Taliban while Richard Holbrooke thrashes about trying to placate Pakistan, so China doesn't get any more upset than they already are with U.S. overtures to India.
If American readers groan, 'High school' -- yes, well, high school with nukes. It's something Americans didn't think about when we charged off to Afghanistan in 2001 to rout al Al Qaeda. So now we're having to think about the hornet's nest we stirred up when we landed in Pakistan's cold war against India and China's machinations against India. We're also having to confront the consequences of certain actions we took during the Cold War in that part of the world.
That's why Americans should read Rajeev Srinivasan's no holds barred take on Singh's visit with Obama. Rajeev rips open closet doors, yanks out skeletons, and says things that many Indians think but few will say in a public forum. Now more than ever Americans need to understand these things. For readers who're tempted to skip the discussion, at least they should direct their attention to these passages:
Then there was the recent appointment of Robin Raphel to the Richard Holbrooke team dealing with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Raphel is well-known as one of the most virulent and vitriolic critics of India in the entire US Democratic set-up. She was, until August, a registered and paid lobbyist for Pakistan. She is infamous for insisting that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India is not final, and for asserting that Pakistan is the very epitome of a 'model, modern, and moderate Muslim nation'.Ms Raphel needs to crawl back under whatever rock she crawled out from, and Mr Holbrooke needs to be removed from his post. There is enough mess in Afghanistan without Americans who understand nothing about that part of the world further complicating matters for the U.S. war effort. And General David Petraeus needs to rip up the Afpak strategy and instruct his advisors to return to the drawing board.
Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institution wrote in The Wall Street Journal that Obama may well be following in Jimmy Carter's footsteps. Carter, of MEOW fame (moral equivalent of war), who groveled to Middle-Easterners, bringing upon himself the Iran hostage crisis that destroyed his presidency.
Obama is going down this path with his Af-Pak policy, which consists primarily of outsourcing the Afghan problem to Pakistan's Inter Services intelligence, to be followed by the United States declaring victory and leaving. He is ignoring the instructive example of Neville Chamberlain appeasing Hitler
Finally, a word to the British. Kashmir is not your problem to solve. If you touch off a disaster, that disqualifies you from a leadership position or even giving advice on how to wrest something approximating a solution.
Don't take advantage of President Obama's ignorance about that part of the world. Find a way other than meddling in Kashmir at India's expense, and America's, to placate your nation's Muslim community.
We're all trying to get through the coming years, trying to make it work out with the least bloodshed possible for all concerned. I understand. But just for that reason I'd advise you to refrain from actions that rake up too much of the past, for Rajeev in no way pulled all the skeletons out of the closet.