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Friday, April 4, 2014

A mighty fall from a moral high ground

By Swapan Dasgupta

No election, and certainly not an Indian election, is ever won on the strength of diplomatic despatches. Like most other pundits in the forecasting business, diplomats often get it right and occasionally wrong.

This being the case, the most that can be read into the explanations in the media of US Ambassador Nancy Powell’s premature resignation is that Washington has concluded that the next Indian government belongs to Narendra Modi. Whether or not this piece of political astrology was a the heart of the change of guard in Roosevelt House will remain a matter of conjecture till another Snowden releases a clutch of diplomatic telegrams or some future Senate hearing throws greater light on the matter. However, if we accept the version that the US State Department was wrong-footed by Modi’s dramatic entry into the national stage and took remedial action to smoothen Washington’s response to the succession, one question remains: why did the US get itself into such an awkward situation in the first place?

Those who are inclined to trace the origin of the problem to the 2005 decision of the George W. Bush administration to deny Modi a visa for possible travel to the US aren’t far off the mark. The cancellation of Modi’s existing visa didn’t happen because the Gujarat Chief Minister planned a grand tour to interact with his innumerable fans located across the Atlantic. The visa cancellation was a gratuitous and unilateral measure aimed primarily, it is said, at placating the Christian evangelical lobby that had developed a distaste for Modi.

Whatever the reasons behind dubbing Modi an international pariah and the subject of a diplomatic boycott involving both the US and the European Union member states, one conclusion was inescapable: it was a brazen attempt to pronounce judgment on the internal affairs of a sovereign country. Modi, after all, hadn’t been held guilty by for “mass murder” by an Indian criminal court. Indeed, there were no charges against him then or subsequently. Yes, the Gujarat leader had been pilloried mercilessly by both his political opponents and the human rights lobby that has formidable international links. A political aversion to Modi was translated into the diplomatic censure of a man who held a Constitutional position. It was a step too far and one that didn’t lend itself to an easy U-turn.

This is not to suggest that the US was obliged to facilitate a visit by Modi. Every sovereign nation has the inalienable right to determine who is welcome and who is not. Diplomats are routinely accustomed to informing host countries that the visit of a particular dignitary would be inappropriate. Tough messages are often delivered with discretion. Had Modi sought to visit the US in 2005, his office could have been discreetly told that the journey would be injudicious. Indeed, I am told that an European country with a better grasp of diplomatic niceties did pass on such an unpleasant message to Modi—in the light of the controversies surrounding him. However, it was done without a whiff of publicity.

The US, however, made a public show of its visa refusal and made it out that the action was part of the sanctions against those held responsible for human rights violations. The US chose to make a political point based on the understanding that it would also set the agenda for a wider debate on Modi’s political untouchability.

Maybe the idea was also to lessen Indian Muslim hostility to the Bush Administration then engaged in its War on Terror. Maybe it was aimed at bolstering Congress support for the nuclear deal, then in the process of negotiation. Whatever the calculations, the Modi visa controversy came to acquire a life of its own.

For nearly eight years, the US and its friends broke off all diplomatic contact with the Gujarat Government. This over-reaction also involved many informal academic advisers who fed the US Embassy and the State Department with weighty assessments of why Modi was a non-starter in national politics. I have met US academics, mainly of Indian origin, who even proudly proclaimed that they had advised the US Embassy to go slow on opening a consular office in Ahmedabad. For them, flaunting an anti-Modi badge ensured privileged access into the corridors of UPA power. And there’s no denying that until at least a year ago, the US remained the flavour of the season for both Congress ministers and a supplicant media.

Yet, the blockade of Modi warranted a re-examination after he won his third consecutive election victory in Gujarat in December 2012. By the time of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit of 2013, many European countries decided that the time was opportune to re-establish ties with a state whose economy looked extremely promising. Predictably, the British were the most demonstrative with their proclamation of bi-partisanship but other EU countries weren’t far behind. The only real resistance was put up by France which too had invested heavily in the Congress establishment and in the skewed advice of its so-called India experts.

Today, the countries that had kept up a civilised relationship with Modi despite the US’s strictures—these include Japan, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Israel and even China—are happy with the knowledge that their transition to a new regime will be extra smooth. Nor will the others who changed their tune midway feel disadvantaged. It is only the US that invested politically in the witch-hunt against Modi that feels seriously threatened.

Making Ambassador Powell the fall guy may not entirely resolve the larger issues raised by the US’s needless interference in India’s domestic politics. Nor will bonhomie be instantly restored if a functionary of Gujarati origin is despatched as the new Ambassador. Having exposed its fangs publicly, Washington will not readily admit it miscalculated horribly. If Modi comes to power, a working relationship with the US Embassy will be established. But let us have no doubts that the repair job will also be accompanied by surreptitious attempts to undermine him.
                                                                                                  

The US hates having to admit it was ever wrong. 

19 comments:

Rishi Bhardwaj said...

sir, they who believe that the US is concerned with human rights or minority interests are the biggest fools. US is only concerned with these interests as long as they dont intersect their commercial interests.

Biranchi Narayan Mallick said...

History teaches US has always been like that:Look to further its business & security interests working through incumbent governments & willing to regime change those who don't fall in line. That's why US is very comfortable with dictatorial govts & despots; and of course get very irritated with democratic govts as it finds difficult to maneuver & manipulate. I suspect US will lobby hard with Modi govt inter alia to lift the 'class action suit' provision in the civil nuclear deal & look to reverse the recent SC verdict rejecting the evergreening provisions of IPR. I also suspect Modi/BJP might give in to those pressure tactics. Lets play the game hard & safeguard our interests; it's not about the dog eat dog fight between Cong & BJP.

Biranchi Narayan Mallick said...

History teaches US has always been like that:Look to further its business & security interests working through incumbent governments & willing to regime change those who don't fall in line. That's why US is very comfortable with dictatorial govts & despots; and of course get very irritated with democratic govts as it finds difficult to maneuver & manipulate. I suspect US will lobby hard with Modi govt inter alia to lift the 'class action suit' provision in the civil nuclear deal & look to reverse the recent SC verdict rejecting the evergreening provisions of IPR. I also suspect Modi/BJP might give in to those pressure tactics. Lets play the game hard & safeguard our interests; it's not about the dog eat dog fight between Cong & BJP.

Ramsubba Ramakrishnan said...

What about the letter written by some MPs including Sitaram YEchuri,why no enquiry was not done to find out if indeed such a letter was written,

Ramsubba Ramakrishnan said...

What about the letter written by some MPs to Obama not to give visa to Modi and why no enquiry was not conducted

Anonymous said...

".. the Modi visa controversy came to acquire a life of its own"

I like that!

It is true churchianity is waning in Europe & America , Canada. That was the reason the predecessor of Ratzinger one Polish Pope asked his evangelical MAFIA to "plant the cross in Asia". Even when sonia was a nobody I have noticed most of these phoren delegates made it a point to have PRIVATE meetings with her.

Kaanchi Shankaracharya Sri.Jayendra Sarasvathi was "arrested" mainly because of evangelicals. Only recently it transpired Sasikala & her family while posturing to be "friends" of Jayalalithaa were maintaining their clandestine nexus with DMK all through.

It is Kaanchi Shankaracharya Sri.Jayendra Sarasvathi who has always been VOCAL about evangelicals' chicanery. The plundering of Hindu Temples , the total monopoly of all educational schools & colleges , the jejune syllabi taught , the favouring of only converted / crypto christians in while granting any plum jobs to entry into colleges their zeal in perpetuating the needless fissures between hindus & muslims & calling for a BAN on conversions ALL were done by HIM very vocally & fearlessly.

Then followed "arrest" in crypto christian ruled Andhra Pradesh.

Art of living SSSRavishankars STOLE The SEER's lines , thoughts everything peddling as his.

Immense credit should be given to Swami Dayananda of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam , His Disciples Swami Paramarthananda , Swami Omkarananda as they have been working against tremendous odds teaching Hindus' Spiritual Scriptures.

Do not underestimate the DEADLY evangelicals.

Anonymous said...

Whoever from among the aam janata of India (no not kejriwal the thug)a product of westoxicated education of schools & colleges of India set about in quest of TRUTH have invariable found evangelical MAFIA the culpable CRIMINALS.

Varsha Bhosle is one such BRILLIANT person. She was threatened by rediff balakrishnan a leftist she herself wrote.

Sandhya Jain followed by lot others.

I am particularly GRATEFUL towards Christopher Hitchens endowed with remarkable intellectual acuity. He unmasked teresa the Albanian christian Ghoul as nobody ever could.

Even TODAY..yess today evangelicals insist teresa was one big blah blah ...

In Kuwait there is this 'normal' looking woman married with children & a school teacher. Struck casual conversation with me. Soon turned out to be one big DANGEROUS evengelical mafia member.

In any conversation we end up conveying any problem besetting us they at once reply " i will do prayer in the church...jeeeeSUSSS is the only way...come i will take you to that father this father in church ...he will solve all your problems".

Sayan Sen said...

The Obama administration had misjudged the gullibility of the Hindu (so-called) educated middle classes towards the addictive NaMo chant---security & prosperity.For the Indian (predominantly Hindu) middle class,the driving forces of life are Fear and Greed.No wonder that historically the middle classes have been the most vocal supporters of Fascism like the internet Hindus.Hope good sense will prevail over Indian voters and they will vote for a secular liberal government.

sbh said...

The 1st Amendment the Wall between US Govt and Religion applies only within the US.
Outside the US the US govt is free to use evangelicals to follow everywhere its army goes as the missionaries followed the British Colonial Army
It is a powerful tool of Foreign Policy Intervention. If you can destroy the countries culture and way of life then you have created a slave state like the Philippines

Veerendra Giddaluru said...

It must be painful for US to admit that it has royally botched up by making Modi's visa an issue. The simplest way of going back to normal would be to unequivocally apologize to Modi and admit that they were misled by certain organizations. But if they want to play cat and mouse game, Modi is more than a match for them.

Jitendra Desai said...

One reason why Ms Powell had to leave could be her rather undiplomatic proximity to the ruling party in Delhi.Many believe she followed the advice of MEA while dealing with Modi.A grave diplomatic error if she did.It was also foolish on the part of US administration to succumb to propaganda by a small minority of Indians in USA.Truly democratic response would have been to seek and follow the opinion of the majority of Indian Americans.

Anonymous said...

Quotation from Swapan Dasgupta’s Article :
ASIAN AGE APRIL 4th 2014 .
WORTH NOTING .OBSERVATIONS OF THE AUTHOR


“This is not to suggest that the US was obliged to facilitate a visit by Modi. Every sovereign nation has the inalienable right to determine who is welcome and who is not.”
“I am told that an European country with a better grasp of diplomatic niceties did pass on such an unpleasant message to Modi—in the light of the controversies surrounding him. However, it was done without a whiff of publicity”
“The US, however, made a public show of its visa refusal and made it out that the action was part of the sanctions against those held responsible for human rights violations.”
“Maybe it was aimed at bolstering Congress support for the nuclear deal, then in the process of negotiation. Whatever the calculations, the Modi visa controversy came to acquire a life of its own.”
“For nearly eight years, the US and its friends broke off all diplomatic contact with the Gujarat Government. This over-reaction also involved many informal academic advisers who fed the US Embassy and the State Department with weighty assessments of why Modi was a non-starter in national politics. I have met US academics, mainly of Indian origin, who even proudly proclaimed that they had advised the US Embassy to go slow on opening a consular office in Ahmedabad. For them, flaunting an anti-Modi badge ensured privileged access into the corridors of UPA power. And there’s no denying that until at least a year ago, the US remained the flavour of the season for both Congress ministers and a supplicant media.”
“Yet, the blockade of Modi warranted a re-examination after he won his third consecutive election victory in Gujarat in December 2012. By the time of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit of 2013, many European countries decided that the time was opportune to re-establish ties with a state whose economy looked extremely promising. Predictably, the British were the most demonstrative with their proclamation of bi-partisanship but other EU countries weren’t far behind. The only real resistance was put up by France which too had invested heavily in the Congress establishment and in the skewed advice of its so-called India expe”
“Today, the countries that had kept up a civilised relationship with Modi despite the US’s strictures—these include Japan, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Israel and even China—are happy with the knowledge that their transition to a new regime will be extra smooth. Nor will the others who changed their tune midway feel disadvantaged. It is only the US that invested politically in the witch-hunt against Modi that feels seriously threatene”
“ larger issues raised by the US’s needless interference in India’s domestic politics”
But let us have no doubts that the repair job will also be accompanied by surreptitious attempts to undermine him.


The US hates having to admit it was ever wrong.

Asian Age, April 4, 2014”
Comments BELOW
“NEEDLESS TO REPEAT THAT “SERVILE NATURE OF THE INDIANS “ WELL EXAMINED AND THE AUTHOR HAS RIGHTLY PUT IT IS BEFORE THE READERS
THE ANONYMUS COMMENTATOR. “
THANKS REGARDS
.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting take on things.

My own view is that Americans are, by nature, goofballs. I know this sounds extreme and harsh but one only needs to consider the evidence from the last 20 years. We can start with Clinton and how he was busy with, ahem, not "having sex with that woman Miss Lewinsky" while Pakistan went into a nuclear bomb building spree (many US security experts quietly admit that Pakistan is a much much bigger threat than a nuclear Iran ever would be) and Clinton wen to sleep on Afghanistan while Pakistan armed the Taliban and made it triumphant. A mere year after Clinton left the White House, central Manhattan was a smoking ruins.

Bush compounded the problem by failing to see Pakistani complicity in 9-11, Bin Laden etc. and needlessly labelled Iran in his "axis of evil" - all this while Iranians were actually giving America vital intelligence to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. He then compounded the problem even more by attacking Iraq which is a gargantuan mess as we speak - a few hundred thousand dead and a few trillion down a black hole is George Dubya's legacy.

Obama is probably even more incompetent than Bush and his blunders from Iraq to Syria to the Caucasus/Russia are too many to count.

In the larger scheme of things, the US botch up on Modi should come as no real shock. What is that on the scale of all the other US foreign policy cock-ups that I have listed?

Indians must overcome their fascination with America. Too many Indians who are educated are completely US centric in their view of things and the media is totally America obsessed. It is true that America matters but we must NOT make American prejudices our prejudices. As we speak American transvetite clowns are having parades on US military bases in Japan. America has become a freak show. It will remain relevant for a long while yet but we must not place America on some "indispensable nation" pedestal because as Vladimir Putin deftly showed the world in Crimea, it is NOT. Modi MUST learn from Putin. I am not suggesting he should become like Putin but he must learn from him on foreign policy. The world has not seen a master chess-player like this for a while.

Last point: we should also learn from American stupidity. It is worth trying to understand why the Americans commit stupidity on such a grotesque scale. Understanding that is not an easy task because that involves trying to understand what American society has become. Too many Indians want to become Americans and ape everything America does. We have to find a way to limit that. The end result of aping every American prejudice in the Indian context will not just be disastrous it will be catastrophic. America does not, after all have Pakistan and China on its borders. They can afford to be goofballs, we cannot.

Anonymous said...

I am very much pro AMERICA.

America failed on intelligence gathering only because of too many leftists.

I do NOT share most Indians atavistic animosity towards America.

That evangelizing woman I mentioned above is very much an indian. Evangelical conversions have long gathered a momentum of its own within India unleashed by INDIAN evangelizing MAFIA I mentioned clearly.

Thank God , America under George Bush woke up & retaliated. India has always been one big dhimmified country. If AMERICA God FORBID, had turned dhimmified like useless india a Narendra Modi , a Swapan Dasgupta & myself would not be here alive today.

Muslims in Afghanistan , Iran , Bangladesh etc have absolutely no REGARD for Hindus' Vedic Ethos.

Art of living faux messiah miscalculated. That with hyperventilation "all would be spraying water guns". That yasin malik who he hugged has assassinated many SIKH Army Officers. India could not care less.

AMERICA has always looked for MERIT. It is useless india that pursued quotas & reservations.

Swami Vivekananda was spurned by indians. Need I say anything more??

I don't agree with anonymous above @3:11AM at all.

Anonymous said...

CHO Ramaswamy has ALWAYS been pro America as I am. He has always consistently told Republicans of America are the NATURAL allies of Hindus.

India's kowtowing to Russia has bled India considerably. Muslims from Afghanistan , Palestine , Bangladesh, Somalia etc etc avail themselves of FREE reservations & quotas in various Indian colleges.

India should NEVER antagonize America & China. Pakistan has acted more smart than sooperpower chimera chasing india.

Anonymous said...

A HINDU should spurn anti America anti ISRAEL bluster coming from ill informed indians outright.

Even when dhimmified india was vociferously supporting Palestine welcoming PLO's yasser arafat with Indian President etc holding aloft his arms , many agricultural college professors were SILENTLY travelling to ISRAEL to refurbish their obsolete perfunctory knowledge from ISRAEL.

Much before full blown Kargil war broke out it was AMERICA that clearly alerted india about (gusbaitiyon) infiltrators. Slothful india was smug that its Lahore bus ( vah vahed by Parthasarathy one more admirer of Indira of congress)had conquered Nawaz Sharif.

Again it was some crucial weapons given by ISRAEL not a.k.antony , yechurys , Gadaffis , Ayatollah Khomeinis & Russia that sort of 'saved' India.

When indian airlines flight was hijacked to Kandahar useless EUNUCHY india was receiving all INTELLIGENCE INPUTS from AMERICA.

Swapan Dasgupta himself knows those Afghanis roaming around with Stinger Missiles were NOT SHIELDING the indian passengers.
EUNUCHY hindus want to believe they are all Kabuliwallahs of Rabindranath Tagore. Bollykolly movies have contributed CONSIDERABLY in turning us into irredeemable DHIMMIS. So many movies come to my mind. One Premnath dressed up like Afghani Pathan endowed with NOBLE heart in Shor of Manoj Kumar for instance.
Sanjay Khan came up with his opulent tv serial Tipu Sultan. Could HINDUS band together like MUSLIMS who knocked down DESERVEDLY kamalhassan the traitor? Art of living faux messiah included supported kamalhassan. This ssssravishankar "avatard" was UNMASKED by a BRILLIANT AMERICAN. HOW ? That AMERICAN has INTERNALISED Ramakrishna Paramahamsar & various HINDU Spiritual Scriptures like Yoga Vaasishtam , Ashtavakra Samhita.

Whereas most hindus have long DISOWNED & SPURNED Kaanchi Paramacharya.
NRIs are mostly useless. Followers of art of living cultist & Ammachi.Listen to some Carnatic concerts & imagine they are the holiest. Often take to study of indooism seized by identity crisis.

I WINCE at the very thought of so many NRIs who are all my relatives. Grotesque hypocrites.Good for nothing sanctimonious swollen headed nincompoops.

Even NOW , it is countries like ISRAEL , GERMANY , AUSTRIA & AMERICA that have been helping indians in storage of perishable grains , purification of polluted Rivers at affordable & environment friendly ways.

Pakistan's Musharraf I recall pluckily mentioned about mending ties with ISRAEL. Whereas india afraid of antagonizing desi muslims , Gadaffis , Iran etc twirled its UGLY moustache at ISRAEL. Indian gorement never had any policy. As it had NO principles. It pursued & pursues a mish mash of ambedkar & muslim appeasing policies. LOSERS.

It is indian ministers that cannot do without FREE petrol , FREE cooking gas cylinders , FREE cars, FREE phoren jaunts , FREE air travel. So grovelled before Iran that is anti ISRAEL & anti AMERICA calling it "historic persian ties":-((.

Get rid of the unhealthy FLAB called indian politicians , bureaucrats. Problem solved.

Lata said...

Swapan, i think you should read the myth of the lazy native by syed hussien alatas that talks of the civilising mission of the white man of the uncivilised native and most importantly Karl manneheim;s theory of colonial capitalism and religious evangelisation. your analysis is modern, what you need to look at is that he colonised nations of the world despite their " freedom" are still bound by the governing ideology of the White man. Unlike china which was not colonised, we do not not have our own narrative. Also recently Putin and with the S Lanka abstaining recently, I think we are beginning to realise the great con-game that started in the 11th century with the colonial plunder by the Dutch, Spanish, UK, Portuguese and the greatest terrorist of all US of A. Read Alan James- Genocide war Crimes and the West) to understand the great conspiracy that Macaulay unleashed (his address to British P in 18th century) to transform us from a nation of entrepreneurs and craftsmen to clerks and peons (and IT coolies I may add). similar to the reduction of the native Americans by the whites to less than 5% of the population (Check Ward Churchill work in the same book). incidentally they have thrown him out of Colorado University for subversive (?) writings. after Wendy D, Roy, Guha, Pattanaik can maybe take his case. even their Supreme court has rejected his petition. Freedom of expression???

Vishnu Raghavan said...

Noam Chomsky's book- hegemony Vs survival is a revelation- do read on how the USA has its own interpretation of Fair play, justice and secularism. One needs strong amnesia to forget their ways.

Anonymous said...

Aha, the foreign hand has arrived!

The politics of victimhood can now be expanded internationally.