Saturday, November 28

Gee Rajeev, don't stand on ceremony; tell us what you really think about Manmohan Singh's visit with Barack Obama

The American news media, which is over a barrel when it comes to reporting on the interactions between China, India, and Pakistan, have seized with almost hysterical relief on the gate-crashing of two wannabe Bravo TV stars. Of course it's a very serious matter if there was indeed a security breach at the White House dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. However, the media have bathed in every conceivable detail of Washington's version of the Hot Air Balloon Caper and the two social climbers at the center of it.

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’.

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."
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.

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'.


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
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.

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.

Back off.


nizhal yoddha said...

well, pundita, someone sent me a link to this post. thank you, i blush, unaccustomed as i am to such eloquent and high praise. i usually encounter innumerate, illogical people ranting and calling me names :-(

america is heading for disaster by kowtowing to china and pakistan. the malevolent imperialist ideologies that motivate them are to be resisted at all cost, not appeased.

there was a moment when it looked as though the estranged democracies, india and the us, could manage a rapproachment. that moment has passed.

india is either going to plough a lonely furrow, or else it is going to fall apart. neither is palatable to an indian, but one has to be realistic.

Pundita said...

Don't give up hope just yet. Few Americans beyond those who originally hail from that part of the world know much if any of the truth. That has to be rectified before U.S. policy becomes more intelligent. See my next post. :-)

nizhal yoddha said...

i hope you are not being unduly optimistic. things certainly look grim from india, and will be even more so when obama announces the long-awaited af-pak strategy tuesday night. i fully expect him to say he's going to cut and run, after endorsing the ISI as the proxy. of course, this will be couched in verbiage. but the end result will be that the ISI, which perpetrated 9/11, would have successfully bamboolzed america.

btw, here's my followup on the singh visit. it is being hyped up by india's tame English-Language Media, which is so far-left that a true centrist is routinely condemned as a far-right, fascistic, monster.

Pundita said...

Rajeev, I received your second comment containing the URL to your follow-up piece. However, if I publish the comment the URL is so long that it might spill over into the margin -- which is why several of my posts show the sidebar floating somewhere at the bottom of the page LOL. So I'm publishing the URL, here, hopefully broken up.

I am trying to get my latest Pakistan post out the door -- I've been fiddling with various drafts for weeks now. I will send you notification via this comment section when I publish it.

Pundita said...

Rajeev, kindly see my December 7 post about Pakistan.

Unknown said...

Pundita, Rajeev is very generous with words and "illogical people" in Rajeev's dictionary means anyone who does not agree with his kind of right wing ideology.
Rajeev had hoped against hope the BJP would come back to power, but with the BJP being consigned to the dustbin of Indian politics, he blamed the Electronic Voting machines. (of course, he did not blame the same voting machines when Narendra Modi came to power).
Now that various elements within the BJP are fighting like a pack of wolves, Rajeev has no other option but to take it out on Dr.Singh.
For that matter, when has US strategy changed? It's been the same for ages and to think the US has any permanent friend of foe is meaningless. Sri Lanka is one shining example.
And, when did things look really rosy for India? When the BJP was in power? India's international image looked nothing like it looks today after the BJP ruled for five years.
The US will never change it's strategy of supporting Pakistan, more so now, because they too have atomic bombs.At any cost, they have to keep those bombs within their broad reach.They may once in a while come up with statements like "we'll bomb you into the stone ages", but that's just plain rheotic. And the US has to handle China with kid gloves because there's not one country on this earth with more than one billion people. India too in their view is more or less in the same league, but Indians don't like Pepsi as much as the Chinese you see.
So, India will get platitudes by the tonne from the US and little action.

Pundita said...

Ghost -- Washington needs to change its thinking. The first step is for more Americans to learn the truth about Pakistan and the US-Pakistan relationship, a chore I've undertaken in my Dec. 7 post "Alden Pyle in Pakistan, Part 1."

jamnalal said...

ghost,Narendra Modi's coming to power was entirely expected, but the Congress' coming to power was totally unexpected as it was a totally failed administration. So dont you think EVMs were tampered with, considering the huge legacy of corruption the congress has maintained in this country, or do you think their corruption ended with installing a thief as the president?

Unknown said...

Pundita - I too agree Washington needs to change it's thinking. But for that, we Indians should take it upon ourselves to educate Washington. India is possibly the only country which has no lobby worth it's salt in Washington. We should learn from Israel what lobbying can bring about. To most Indians, H1B-Green Card-US Citizenship is the formula. Nothing else matters. And, even in this country, we still see each other as Tamilian, Bihari, etc. etc. People will take us seriously the day we think of ourselves as Indians.

Jamnalal, I am no supporter of the Congress, but you cannot paint Dr. Singh with the same brush. Now about the Electronic Voting Machines. Just think about this. ?How can voting machines be manipulated to such a degree? My question is not about the technical angle which is relatively simple, but how come so many voting machines have been tampered with and no person who did it has gone to the press? Can you but the silence of thousands of people? The Congress would have definitely won, just because of the fact that they at least have some kind of leadership at the top, however corrupt they may be.

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