Reading Too Much In Obama's Words by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (NOVEMBER 15, 2010)

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam cautions against excessive enthusiasm over President’s Obama’s recently concluded visit.

We witnessed a strange euphoria in certain sections of our society over President Barack Obama’s three-day visit to this country. It was strange because the expectations underlying it were far from realistic.

A particular class (the same that cries hoarse about “India shining” and ignores the sorrows and deprivations of 400 million Indians) was reading too much in Obama’s support for a seat in the UN Security Council.

Newspapers headlined the story “Obama Backs India Claim to UN Security Council”, or something to similar effect. They ignored the context of the “backing” completely in the excitement of the moment.

Obama said India would be a permanent member of a “reformed” Security Council in the future. UN Security Council reforms are not going to come tomorrow. The reforms are more like Turkey’s membership of the European Union, the application for which was filed by Turkey 45 years ago. Turkey is no closer to membership than it was decades ago.

Within hours of the Obama promise Japan and Germany objected (they are among several other aspirants, including Italy, Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria). To that a US government said in Washington that there was no formal move for making India a permanent member UN Security council presently.

And within a week of that US Administration told the Pakistanis that they must have understood what the President meant. One thing that Obama did not do was oblige us by condemning Pakistan. That infuriated BJP’s Rudy, who was articulating the party’s general feeling. However, in an exercise of duplicity (b now familiar to us) the party dissociated itself from Rudy’s remarks.

The veto power of China in the Security Council is no less a hurdle, nor are the machinations of Pakistan. Placating these two would take a lot of time and effort, as well as sacrifices like settling border issues with China and giving it a greater market in India. Pakistan too would demand its share of the flesh to come round.

Much before we are able to put the carrot of the UNSC seat hung before eyes in perspective we will have to begin paying in advance for it.

The payment has to come in the form of a confrontational Indian policy towards America’s latest whipping boy Iran, even though Iran has not done anything to us to deserve it. Another is being a party to America’s bid to thwart China in Africa, even though it hurts our interests. Obama clearly asked for a greater Indian role in Africa.

He pointed out that “power comes with responsibility”. Power here refers to the coveted Security Council seat. He pointed out (albeit roundly) that India had failed the very first test by not standing forcefully for democracy in Myanmar. He said that much before a joint session of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

It is not clear how India would stand tough against the Myanmar military junta with whom it has an understanding not to interfere in its internal affairs.

India’s responsibilities as a “future” UNSC permanent member would include taking some of the beating meant for US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. America would get out of Afghanistan with a bloodied nose leaving the mess for India to sort out. That is what it is all about.

In short, being a future UNSC permanent member requires fighting America’s wars on its behalf, financing America’s deficits, generating employment for their youth, being an extension of US State Department and an auxiliary of Pentagon.

I am afraid many of our people are reading too much into President Obama’s words and gestures.

 

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