Discover more from Learning by Proxy with Vivek Srinivasan
Countries that offer a strategic vantage to wage a proxy war find sudden acceptance from the US. The US is hoping that India will offer itself as a proxy warrior against China. Not happening.
In 1970, when Hurricane Bhola was ravaging what was then, East Pakistan, General Yahya Khan, who was then the Court Martial Law Administrator, a euphemism for Dictator, could not be less bothered about the millions of corpses floating in the water. He was too busy trying to set up a meeting between Henry Kissinger and the Chinese Premiership. Nixon wanted to “open up” China and Yahya Khan thought aiding that effort would mean an unlimited supply of weapons from the US.
Kissinger went to Pakistan and pretended to be spending a couple of days at a hill resort while he was surreptitiously whisked away to China. Yahya Khan made the meeting happen.
Of course, the US did not give a shit about Pakistan. They just wanted to get what they wanted and Pakistan was an excellent conduit for it.
The Hurricane precipitated a series of events that would eventually result in India and Pakistan going to war in 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh. Pakistan was convincingly defeated. That defeat also put an end to Yahya Khan’s power.
The US offered moral support to Pakistan. The weapons never arrived.
Today, the US donates billions each year to Pakistan, even though the country has proved to be a hotbed for terrorism. It is so conducive to housing terror that Osama Bin Laden was hiding there.
In the 60s and 70s, the reason for US alignment with Pakistan was to use the country against India, if and when the need arose since India was aligned with USSR at the time. It never came into direct conflict, although the CIA carried out several assassinations including that of Dr Homi Bhabha who had put India on the fast track to becoming a nuclear power. Instead, acting out of Pakistan the US constructively spent its time creating a militia called the Taliban in Afghanistan. Described as rebel fighters fighting against the tyranny of the USSR.
They did the same thing in 2001 in their righteous war against terror after 9/11. They used Pakistan as a launching ground and let them deal with the refugees from Afghanistan.
Effectively Pakistan has served as a high-quality condom to screw around in the region.
18 months ago, few Americans would have been able to point out Ukraine on a map. I am sure many of them would not have even known if Ukraine was a country or a city.
In April 2022, there was a draft for a ceasefire between Ukraine and US, on the table, negotiated by Israel. Boris Johnson on behalf of the “West” went to Kyiv and told Zelensky not to accept it. Now that a confrontation had started, Ukraine was a great condom to have intercourse with Russia.
Every time it has looked like there would be a settlement reached, the US is just too eager to send across some more defence equipment. They don’t have money to spend on their own students, but for this, there is always money to be found.
They say, “Wait, wait; I am going to convince the Germans and Britains to also provide some equipment.”
And like that, with complete and total indifference to the plight of the Ukrainian people, this war has been kept going on for more than a year.
Now, the Ukrainians are being forced to produce a report card and Zelensky is left telling them, “This is not a Hollywood movie.”
This is what condom diplomacy looks like. You are a friend till such time that I can use you with no concern about the consequences to you.
The greatest rebranding that nobody ever knows was pulled off by the American government after the Second World War, when the War Department was rebranded Department of Defence.
What the hell are they defending anyway?
Since the beginning of 1900, except for the One Hour and Fifteen Minute raid on Pearl Harbour, everything that the Americans have fought has been on foreign lands.
The China that Nixon courted has grown up and it is no longer amenable to playing second fiddle to the US. The Biden administration has had a very antagonistic relationship with China since the beginning.
Recently, Antony Blinken had visited China to mend fences and no sooner had he stepped on the plane back to America, that Biden spoke at a campaign stop…
At a fundraiser in California, Biden said Xi was very embarrassed when a suspected Chinese spy balloon was blown off course over U.S. airspace early this year. Blinken had said on Monday the chapter should be closed.
"The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment in it was he didn't know it was there," Biden said.
"That's a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn't know what happened. That wasn't supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course," Biden said.
This is why you do not put an octogenarian in positions of diplomacy. They are not always sure what they are saying. Even Trump was better than this at keeping secrets, secrets; “Filegate” notwithstanding. For 30 seconds of bravado, Biden must have undone months of work that the Department of State put in.
In this context, Modi was invited to the US and serenaded like a statesman and offered another opportunity to speak at the Congress. A man who was banned from entering the US just a decade ago.
The US contends that India has taken a neutral stance on the Ukraine war because it depends on Russian arms. The US is trying hard to sell more arms to India so that India can be decoupled from Russia. China has been India’s antagonist along the entire northern border from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. This lends itself well to acting as a condom for American intercourse with the Chinese. Or so the thinking goes in the US.
In 2001, when George Bush (the greatest war criminal ever) was putting together “the coalition of the willing” for the “war on terror”, India was asked to join in. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister hailing from the very same party that Modi now represents refused. A visionary stance in hindsight.
Just 3 years prior to that India had tested its nuclear bomb at Pokhran and been slapped with all kinds of sanctions. The liberalisation was just about a decade old. India had handed Pakistan a defeat at Kargil (insofar as you can call reclaiming your territory a victory). India’s GDP was less than half a trillion dollars.
Today, India’s economy is 7 times larger. India’s priorities are a lot clearer.
As the External Affairs Minister made clear last year at Bratislava, India is disabused of the notion that somehow if we have a problem the West is going to show up and help resolve it. India has its issues, whether that is with Pakistan or China, India has to find its own solution. Every country is going to cater to its own interests and change its stance as it suits them.
India will not serve as a condom. The Americans are mistaken.
In order to appease the Americans the Modi government cleared a military drone deal before he left for the US. The moment the wheels of Air India One lifted off US soil, news broke…
Amid claims that the valuation of the drone deal announced with the US was on the higher side, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Sunday clarified that the price, $3,072 million quoted by the Biden administration for 31 MQ-9B unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to India, is not final and would be negotiated before inking the pact.
Source: The Hindu
Loosely translated - This whole deal is still up in the air.
For Modi, this whole trip was a necessary PR stunt. His party recently got a drubbing in the state elections in Karnataka. Manipur, one of the Eastern states is burning with protests (quite literally), Olympic medal-winning wrestlers have been protesting in Delhi over allegations of sexual misconduct by a government-appointed administrator. He needed to feel good about himself. Biden and his administration left no stone unturned to help the cause.
The only shadow cast on this PR offensive was by Barack Obama.
Former US President Barack Obama during a media interview made statements on protection of the rights of ethnic minorities in India. He added that if rights of minorities in India are not protected, there is a strong possibility of the country "at some point starts pulling apart".
His remarks came during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. He added that if a US president meets with PM Modi, "then protection of the Muslim minority in a majority-Hindu India, that is something worth mentioning."
The Indian administration with paper-thin skin had to respond to this.
The Indian finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, said she was shocked Obama had made such remarks when Modi was visiting the US aiming to deepen relations.
“He was commenting on Indian Muslims … having bombed Muslim-majority countries from Syria to Yemen … during his presidency,” Sitharaman told a press conference on Sunday. “Why would anyone listen to any allegations from such people?“
She went on to say that Obama had bombed 6 Muslim nations during his presidency. Not really striking a friendly note I should say.
Also, the BJP online army unleashed itself on Sabrina, the WSJ journalist who had posed a question about religious minorities to Modi. The White House condemned this. Streisand Effect in full force. You can look at the response from the White House at this link.
It is not as if there is going to be a material change in India’s stance towards the war in Ukraine. It is not like India will stop buying oil from Russia much like the US won’t from the Saudis no matter who they chop up.
The US offered an ego massage to a narcissist. He enjoyed it much. Now, we will go back to business as usual.