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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

India: Barack Obama, us and the US

November 26, 2009

Tarun Vijay
Rediff News (India)
November 24, 2009

India will have to fight its own battles. It
cannot expect the US to help us fight them, argues Tarun Vijay.

Two kinds of people are complaining about Barack
Obama's Asia tour. One, those Americans who have
been seeing America in the George W Bush mould
for too long. They get depressed about a placid
president and hence describing his Asia visit as
'timid' or too yielding to China.

They would have loved an Obama chiding the
Chinese and demanding a human rights commission
on Tibet. Obama didn't oblige them. He needed a
facelift for the US and tried his best.

In the second category of people, we stand out
brightly. We like others to do our unfinished
jobs. It is not amazing to see Indian cry babies
complaining too much that Obama didn't do enough
for us. We forget he is the president of the
United States and his first and foremost duty is
to serve her interest and not ours.

And he did well for the US in his first Asia tour
that took him to Japan, Singapore, China and
South Korea in nine days -- with the maximum time
being spent in China, the Asian superpower who
spoke to the White House with an erect spine and received a warm hug.

In fact, Obama is the first US president after a
long time who presented the image of an amiable,
friendly and accessible head of a superpower that
had otherwise become synonymous with crude
diplomacy laced with military adventurism during the Bush era.

In Japan Obama won a standing ovation when he
presented his Pacific connection story -- a very
personal and a touching one indeed. And in China
his descent from Air Force One alone holding an
umbrella amidst Shanghai's first rains won him instant fans.

If Obama has won another friend for Washington,
why should we complain if our leaders are on a
spree to lose all and bend backwards for an
audience with a queen or an alien benefactor?

Americans are a patriotic people who elect
leaders with a spine, never compromising national
security and always honouring their security forces.

If we don't do that, should we be complaining
about it to the White House? Or should we set our own house right?

Here is a nation that doesn't honour its soldiers
and keeps negotiating with traitors. We are a
State that doesn't care about its farmers till
they block Delhi's roads. We get enmeshed in hot
money pursuits stashed in places like Laos and
Liberia, and no one believes the culprit will ever get punished.

Who knows if a Koda or a Reddy will get 20 plus
MPs in the next election and be inducted as the
Cabinet minister in charge of internal security?

We kow-tow disoriented before the most horrendous
of jihad sponsors and keep inviting murderers for
talks and talks and then again talks for decades
without resolving the main issues of contention.

Then, one fine morning, when we see the leader of
a strong nation discussing our problems with his
counterpart, we feel oh, why has he not helped us
solve our problems with China? And with Pakistan?
And while we have signed a nuke deal, why should
it put pressure on us to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty too?

The US did what it did because that is what it
thought was good for it. Obama is not ruling the
US to ensure India benefits. Is that clear?

And look how our leaders, the great, patriotic,
democratic representatives of this land behave.
Here is a 'certificate, which I quote from a
national daily: 'Vice-chief of the Indian Air
Force, Air Marshal P K Barbora, said,
"Politicians cutting across party lines are
upsetting armed forces modernisation and
procurement programmes." He further added, "The
fact remains that the IAF's fleet of fighter
aircraft is getting depleted. The navy's
submarine strength is dwindling and the army has
not added a new gun to its heavy artillery in
more than 20 years. The weapons, ammunition and
systems with the armed forces are getting
outdated faster than the government is able to
replace them. Irresponsible politics over the
years, sometimes when a party is in government or
sometimes when it is in the Opposition -- it has
all along been seen that whenever the government
of the day clears something, the Opposition says
no. This badly impinges (on the preparedness) of
the defence (forces)," he said.'

Do we need more to complain to Obama?

Now that our prime minister is in the US, guess
what the 'biggest' secret that the wizards of the
PM's media advisors doled out just before Dr
Singh left for the US was. Some gems from a news
agency report: 'As the silence fuelled
speculation, the White House finally broke the
silence to let out the closely guarded secret
saying that the dinner would be held under the
massive tent instead of the ornate state dining
room. The tent option has been picked up as the
guest list mushroomed and instead of 120 which
the ornate room can accommodate, the Obamas are
inviting close to 400 people for their first state dinner on November 24.'

That's all we need. Khana peena aur ghoomna
(food, drink and travel). Be happy that Obama is
giving a lavish dinner to not just 120, but to
400 of all the important, leading Indian lights
of American life. Is that a mean achievement?

The US and China know what they want. China made
the US accept its significant role in Asia,
turned India into an area to be watched,
controlled and helped to stay calm while remaining friendliest with Pakistan.

Both the US and China do not recognise Kashmir
Images ] as a part of India. They look at the
area as an unsettled matter, help Pakistan with
dollars and military help, turn a blind eye
towards Pakistan using their arms and grants
against us, have done nothing to help India post
26/11, have refrained to tell Islamabad to stop
its patronage to anti-India elements.

One of them attacked India in 1962; the other had
remained a silent spectator then. Even so our
analysts and Washington watchers feel at least now the US should help us. Wow!

When we are left to our own, we do better.

Obama postponed his meeting with the Dalai Lama
before his China visit. We stood firm and allowed
the Dalai Lama to go to Arunachal Pradesh. We
trusted the US, inked a controversial nuke deal
and hence invited China's bitter reaction
expressed through its Arunachal raga, almost
reminding of a cold war. The US did not even
smile as if this doesn't concern it. And
naturally so. Why should our spondylitis make the US lie low?

We have got to deal with the US on our own
strength and de-link relations with China from
Washington and the Dalai Lama. If we have to save
Arunachal, it would be done on the shoulders of
leaders in Delhi who have a spine and a will to
raise the military strength to a winnable level.
Not that we have to increase the numbers of
fighter jets and submarines and nuke bombs to what Beijing possess.

Wars are not won by exchanging lists, but by the
fierce resolve to destroy the enemy with a first strike mental make-up.

As one American commentator put it succinctly,
'Overall, Obama's Asia policy has been largely
driven by events and domestic priorities rather
than by an over-arching strategic vision. The
Obama team had to closely coordinate with China
on financial matters in response to the financial crisis.'

Hence, Obama won't care about India's case on
Kashmir or rescuing Aung San Suu Kyi, leave aside
helping the Dalai Lama to get back to Tibet
honourably. His priorities are different.

Feeling euphoric seeing Obama hiring a few
Americans with Indian faces on his team make no
sense. They would be overburdened to ensure
nobody blames them emotionally helping India
crossing lines of American interest.

After all, Washington didn't allow Indian
intelligence officers to question David Coleman
Headley arrested by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation on charges of plotting terror
attacks in India though India had allowed the FBI
to interrogate Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist
held in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

The US hasn't yet taken Indian companies,
including the Indian Space and Research
Organisation, off the blacklist prohibiting US
agencies dealing with them. It is pressurising
India to sign the CTBT without considering that
we are surrounded by two nuke powers hostile to us.

The US didn't help us in 1962, bullied us in
1971, put hurdles in our way to punish Pakistan
post Kargil, thus helping Islamabad's dictator,
didn't take up our case post 26/11.

Washington -- or for that matter any superpower
-- respects those who have strength and show an unyielding attitude.

Till we have such rulers who choose a date like
26/11 to be in Washington, rather than being in
Mumbai comforting the nation, we can't stop
greater powers meddling in our region and affairs.

* Tarun Vijay is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation
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