Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The authentic Sominist on Iranian President's visit to New Delhi

Great Bong coined a neologism for the types of NYTimes's Somini Sengupta: Sominists. It is quite apt as becomes clear from her latest piece on Iranian President Ahmadienjad's visit to India.

Somini's piece is titled, "Iranian President's visit is a test for India."

How, exactly? If passing or failing this test doesn't count much it should be considered a routine affair and no test per se.

She answers, "Instead, he brought the Indian government a strange boon: a chance to show that it is willing to buck pressure from the White House and shake hands with a man Washington reviles."

Show to whom? And why? Is India still a third-rate country to revel in such middle-school level snubs and hisses which has become the hallmark of certain Latin American buffoons cosily sitting on oil?

Our relations with Iran don't have to be a zero-sum game, especially with regards to United States. At the same time we shouldn't forget the odious character that President Ahmadinejad is.

She quotes former Ambassador Lalit Mansingh,“It is good for the government to be seen taking a stand that the U.S. may not like.”

If so, it is unfortunate. For a wannabe superpower, such puckishness betrays immaturity, and possibly counts for disqualification on its claim for a seat at the big table.

Somini goes ahead telling us about Iran's plus points for India:
  • it is the second largest supplier of oil;
  • it wields influence in Afghanistan(but only in few inconsequential Shia burroughs in West);
  • and it(Iran) commands loyalty from India’s substantial community of Shiite Muslims. (Emphasis added)
Wait a minute...what's that? Come again, please. "Iran commands loyalty from India's Shiite Muslims." Wow! Just wow!!

Desi secularists will haul up any other journo on coals for such flagrant transgression of 'secular ' canons. An average Indian would simply be dismissed as 'communal' if she/he were even to hint at Muslims' external loyalty. But here we've Somini asserting it bluntly in NYTimes. I hope to see some foaming 'secular' emails in tomorrow's edition.

She further clubs, inaccurately at that, India's right with the country's China lobby i.e., the left. "Mr. Singh’s critics from the left and right have pounced on his government for deepening commercial and military ties with the United States," she adds.

When has the right "pounced" on India's military ties with the United States, curious minds would like to know. No dependence, yes, but no increasing ties, certainly not. In fact most people concerned about India's security have repeatedly advocated the importance of technology transfer in dual use systems, which is not possible without increasing ties with the United States.

After few sentimental pleadings by the NSA, M K Narayanan, she reports this disturbing bit of dyspeptic talk by foreign policy babus, "...the Indian Foreign Ministry declared that the two “ancient civilizations” needed no “guidance” on how to deal with one another."

Would we not deal with Iran, or deal with lesser interest, if it were not "ancient civilization"? Could these bureaucrats dare say that we mellow our dealings with Maoist Nepal because its not "ancient"?

Be it the ancien régime in Iran or the antediluvian Maoist autocrats of Nepal, they both are equally vile yet modern exigency demands that India deal with them, howsoever distasteful they may be. There is no need to attach unnecessary sentimentality to unmolested realpolitik.

The claims of current Islamic Shiite regime on the Persian heritage are questionable anyway. It behooves to point out that the genuine inheritors of ancient Persia have made home elsewhere because various Iranian regimes drove them away through centuries of persecution.

The rest of her report carries typical agenda items on any foreign trip. Yes, we need Iran's gas just as they need our cash. But let's not fall for the charms of another uncouth Persian gasbag.

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