Random Thoughts

India: Wild Card or Yarborough?

India chose to be a secular state over fifty years ago, despite a separate Islamic state of Pakistan being carved out from it by Muslims. It is now left with, as many Muslims as Pakistan and a new demand by secessionists. No nation can ignore such fissiparous tendencies, as the civil war era of the United States, so aptly teaches in one of the right, decisive and analytically vindicated lessons of history.

Multi-ethnic, multi-religious nations can resist centrifugal forces either by combining economic advancement with separation of church and state or solely by brute force. If the monkey-wrench of multilingualism is thrown in, a more explosive product results. Furthermore, if a non-homogeneous nation with a large minority, is bordered by an illiterate, economically failed state, homogeneously constituted by the same minority, we have the recipe for a disaster. Belgium, Ireland, Israel, Kurdish regions and much of Africa are examples of these. The minority status may be ethnic, linguistic, religious or all of the above. 

United States should think carefully before encouraging Spanish as a language. Hispanics will soon be the largest minority and are unfortunately amongst the poorest and less educated. Encouragement of Spanish and neglect of English perpetuates second class status and retards integration into the mainstream. The only ingredient lacking is power and wealth in Mexico. When the situation was reversed, the United States gained Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. This is why, Mexico is kept weak and in a state of perpetual economic dependence. It also explains Israeli denial of the right of return, resistance to a neighboring Palestinian state and ensuring economic dependence with fuzzy sovereignty in the west bank. High growth rates are not a panacea as China is realizing, for disparate growth is a hanging sword waiting for a timely fall, to fragment a nation. 

Fanatic fundamentalist factions induce the genesis of mirror image antagonists. There is already a disturbing trend toward Hindu fundamentalism and before it paints the national policies into the corner of no return, it is incumbent on all responsible national leaders, to explain unambiguously the just rejection by India of any secessionist demands and the grievous consequences of foreign support of insurgencies. The state and central governments must offer equal protection and justice under the law and opportunities for accelerated economic advancement with a basic safety net. There is an urgent need of adequate military preparedness and self-sufficiency and the issuance of clear warning signals to Pakistan and those countries which overtly and covertly support its foolhardy misadventures. War in south Asia will result in the annihilation of Pakistan and the severest setbacks for India. The alternative is acceptance of the status quo and the final perception of its true and minor status by Pakistan. 

Pakistan has lived a virtual existence by being pushed by China and America within the focal length of the mirror in which it perceives its image. It is out of touch with reality and sees a false image, which is not real and is so blurred that all genuine details are obscured. It is desperately playing its Islamic card, a strategy clearly antagonistic to the long-term interests and integrity of China, Russia and America. Its form of Sunni fundamentalism is anathema even to the Islamic republic of Iran. 

The disintegration of Pakistan may benefit the west as it will have exhausted its nuclear weaponry on India and will destroy Afghanistan, a major source of narcotics and terrorists to the west. 

The lone superpower needs a different approach this time as previous ambiguities and connivance has created this midget Frankenstein. No problem is ever solved by merely throwing money at it. Vietnam, welfare and the spreading drug use should have taught a lesson, but more recent policies in Colombia and its effects across the border in Ecuador, clearly shows the peripheral or central auditory imperception of American press, pundits, politicians and presidents to the prophecy of Santayana. The standard formula of American foreign policy is, ignore, if possible, mouth irrelevant platitudes, preach moralistic sermons never practiced by itself and always act expeditiously for immediate benefit, unmindful of long term consequences to the nation; as long as the aims of generous political donors are served. Luck, bountiful nature, industrious immigrants, few geniuses and divine Providence provide the fortunate counterbalance. The last is not due to help for some years (Washington, Lincoln and FDR).

The IMF and World Bank carrots need to be conditionally withheld until Pakistan renounces nuclear weapons and Kashmir and stops fomenting separatist insurgencies. If Pakistan refuses, it is headed for nuclear Armageddon, so why give it loans, it cannot repay? This is not a partisan thesis for India. It will suffer irreparable harm, but will survive as a Yarborough. It is not a condemnation of Pakistan. Currently, India is incapable of equaling China in twenty years and cannot even dream of parity with America. It would be unpardonable folly for any party to encourage such delusions of grandeur, if India has them. It would be even more irresponsible to encourage pipe dreams in a Pakistan, which has failed democracy and statehood. It could not even live up to its weak and flimsy raison d' etre of providing a homeland for all Muslims. 

Once the evolutionary Rubicon is crossed, there is no turning back. The human eye is a Rube Goldberg contraption, not an engineer's dream design. No engineer would design an eye (camera), where light would have to pass a layer of nerve fibers (cables) before reaching the receptor cones (film). There is no going back and donkeys cannot be evolved to develop wings and fly. They missed their evolutionary chance by the path taken. Pakistan chose the road to extinction or marginal survival and as Khayyam would have put it, the moving finger has writ and moved on and neither tears (China) nor piety (USA) can substantially alleviate the fate in store. They can keep the patient alive by artificial means and prolong agony and existence, but not meaningful life. Would it not be kinder to be cruel?

Much of what is written above is analysis of options of the South Asian antagonists with the major player point of view being secondary. The weaker players of the real world rarely have the luxury of completely independent action. The herbivore's actions and life are dictated by the predator carnivore's behavior. Every poker player wants to hold wild cards and every bridge player wants opponents to have a Yarborough hand. There is a new development in this theatre of the macabre, a new republican president committed to an antimissile defense and large budget surpluses at hand to waste on "The king's new clothes". The wolf itself a hunter got tired of being hunted and since it could not match the tiger or the bear, one on one, took to hunting in packs. Buffon (a French naturalist) made this observation. 

Russia and China have become reluctant allies because they cannot match America, one on one. The commodity called wisdom which is in extreme short supply on the continent obviously is leading America to alienate its allies across the Atlantic, while farsighted China, a former supporter of Pakistan tries to mend fences with India. Russia arms Iran and sets in motion a middle-game (chess term) to evict the American Navy from the gulf. America will be preoccupied with prayer in school, a moratorium on funding abortions abroad and payback time to the large donors by wasteful defense spending, privatizing social security and massive tax cuts for the rich.

There is zero tolerance for body bags coming home to America, so the logistics of a gulf presence would be a lot cheaper, if part of the responsibilities could be delegated to a medium power ally with a blue water navy, manpower to match China, ports and airbases on the Indian ocean; and it would not hurt, if it were a democracy. This is called a wild card, as it is all things to all people. If the past can predict the future, there is a clear preference to build on sand. Pipeline plans intended to marginalize the gulf and Indian Ocean in favor of the Mediterranean and Black seas have met with no success. All Arab governments are unstable, not democratic and relatively disinterested in the welfare of their own citizens. A foreign policy lacking wisdom and foresight will push India, the wild card in the Russian Chinese camp.

India may not make the major leagues at present, but it can be a spoiler for either side. Russia is not likely to antagonize America because it needs money, which only western institutions can provide. This is why, it did not object vehemently to NATO expansion. China needs the money and technology from America to modernize its defense forces and boost its economy, to create jobs. The only options for them are to cooperate and either, co-opt India on their side, or marginalize India by letting it become a Yarborough after a nuclear war with Pakistan. There is no benefit to America to allow China to become even stronger. It would benefit more by reducing the disparities between China and India and keep India neutral or leaning towards United States. 

India's history makes it touchy, wary of westerners and hostile to Islamic countries. Russia in the Yeltsin era had turned away from India, but Putin is repairing the damage. The most amazing thing is sooner or later Taiwan and the mainland will be united and the west fails to see that much of the posturing is shadow play. Taiwan has fifty billion dollars invested in China. They are both, one people with common culture, language, customs and lack religious differences. Relative waning of corruption and emergence of freedom and rule of law, will unite them in twenty years or less. 

Mirror, mirror, on the wall; what will happen to them all?
Fools with death wishes will surely shatter the crystal ball!

Profligate power often cannot right things or do the right thing. A clever Ulysses outsmarted the giant Cyclops after he was blind. History and events have succumbed to tachyphylaxis to foreign policy initiatives; just like markets to money supply and addicts to narcotics dosage. Pleasure becomes withdrawal pain and Mujaheddin become terrorists. A final form of consilience is, that in foreign policy, as in modern day sexual behavior, one should be careful, who one gets into bed with, for promiscuity with unsuitable partners is a risky behavior, that could result in pain, suffering and untimely demise.   


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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