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|by Gaurang Bhatt, MD|
I hear the foolish talk of war and its inevitability from steroid hormone intoxicated young, fanatic middle aged and old people and self-serving politicians affronted by their exaggerated sense of undeserved self-importance. The latter are just scared, that even they are not beyond the reach of suicidal terrorists. The Gita, Mahabharata and sundry martial poets are bandied about, quoted and misquoted by ill informed, unthinking jingoists. The rhetoric and arrogance has more basis than the idle boasts of the American South, prior to the civil war. It had few ordnance factories and inadequate infrastructure to lick the Yankees and depend on chauvinistic pride and an unjustified feeling of superiority and the events, that followed are history. This same sin is committed by the Indians, who are unaware, that lack of low flying radar evading helicopters, mid-air refueling capacity, AWACS and sufficient air power to achieve overwhelming air superiority, while lacking the ability to block Pakistani missiles and bombers, will result in severe pain, punishment and setbacks for India as well. The sorry state is almost entirely due to bureaucratic bungling, rampant corruption, conspicuous absence of foresight and internecine bickering by the politicians and parliamentarians, whose raison d'etre is to get rich by corruption and hang on to power.
They should learn from the example of the US, both pre and post-Vietnam (particularly the latter) and aim for total control of the skies prior to committing ground forces. They lost helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in the Kargil skirmish, even when the Pakistani infiltrators had no air support. Pakistan has 25 nuclear weapons compared to India's 65 or so and has not opted for a no first use doctrine. Pakistan would probably be annihilated, but India would be set back close to stone age with over 100 million casualties and no hope for an economic recovery for over a century.
There is also the strong possibility that Pakistan would not cry uncle, but Uncle Sam, and the world's only superpower, while not sending the seventh fleet again to threaten India, would certainly frown, wag a finger and rap India's knuckles. China would smirk inwardly, shake its head and mouth platitudes, while Russia would clear its throat and mumble incoherent non sequiturs, unaccompanied by deeds. Mr. Vajpayee is a weak kneed outdated man hoping for a Nobel peace prize and has neither the shrewdness or the steel of Indira Gandhi. A leader of a zillion party coalition with enough hankering for power, to hand out ministerships like ornaments of a Christmas tree is capable of selling out his country to inflate his ego as Nehru did.
The best policy is to project to the world the true image of a wronged, patient, prudent , upright country with genuine grievances and emphasize the nature and terrorist tendencies of Islam and Islamists, while using diplomatic sanctions and acquiring missing strategic capabilities. We probably will be bailed out by the stupidity and fanaticism of Pakistan to persist in the folly of terrorism against innocent civilians, and when the agenda of the 600 pound gorilla, USA is achieved strike surgically and hard like the Israelis, but only after Pakistan has outlived its usefulness and is threatened by secessionists in its Pakhtoon and frontier provinces.
The West knows better than anyone else that Islam is a disgusting religion by a manipulative prophet, incompatible with democratic government or peaceful secular co-existence. The West shouts tolerance from rooftops, as it subtly and stealthily decimates all Islamic states which are unwilling to dance to its tune. USA and the Western European countries have sizable Moslem minorities, who are a potential source of discontent as they have failed to compete successfully on the basis of education, like other Asian minorities of Hindu, Buddhist or Christian faiths.
India must learn something from America's motto of "Do what I say, not what I do". Mahatma Gandhi was a well meaning idealist and was right for the era. He was dealing with a Britain at its sunset and which had milked the Indian cow dry and saw it as a sink for capital rather than a profitable enterprise. Britain also had exhaustion of will and was being prodded by USA, the new king of the hill, which was breathing down its neck, to give independence to brown folks, who were not communists. Gandhi would not have succeeded against Hitler or the British of an earlier age, who committed genocide in Tasmania. It was a grievous and possibly a fatal error to fashion a secular state, when other people of India had chosen partition and a theocratic state of Pakistan. The persistence of a large Moslem community (which may have many good persons), but considering the nature of Islam and observations by Naipaul in his two books, is truly the nursing of a viper at India's bosom. It has only itself to blame for any fatal stings to its heart.
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