Which One is Saner, Jawaharlal Nehru or Zbigniew Brzezinski?

Saturday, January 03 2009 @ 02:38 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto



The November Mumbai incident has enlivened crisis-thirsty political pundits in America and the rest of the world because the terrorist attacks on the luxury hotels in India's largest city reignited the six-decade-old hostility between India and Pakistan. Some panic-mongering analysts warn that we might see an unexpectedly serious fallout should the fourth war (some say it's the fifth) break out between the two Asian nuclear powers.

In late December American journalist Nathan Gardels interviewed Zbigniew Brzezinski over how Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser had briefed Barack Obama on crucial geopolitical issues in Southwestern and Southern Asia during the presidential campaign.

In this interview, Gardels asked: India has said they have the right in self-defense to strike militant sanctuaries in Pakistan if Pakistan can't, or is unwilling to, do the job. This is what Bush has done; it is what Obama has promised to do. Why should India not do the same?

Here's Brzezinski's answer: Theoretically, from a debater's point of view, the argument you have laid out is correct. However, any sane person has to ask "what has the U.S. gained by attacking these sanctuaries other than inflaming Pakistani public opinion?" Have we destroyed the Islamist networks? Why would India be able to do any better?

When the interviewer approvingly summarized his answer by saying, "In other words, it wouldn't be wrong, but stupid," Brzezinski said, "Precisely." To be more precise, however, I would have paraphrased these arrogant remarks this way:

America is the only country that is allowed to make mistakes.

I have no idea about who has granted the U.S. the privilege to constantly err, but I'm sure he now feels like giving a second thought to his decision.

Aside from the question of why the two Americans think India should be able to outdo their home country in dealing with Pakistan, both gentlemen should have asked themselves these questions:

- Why did President Johnson sign the absurd (or hypocritical at best) treaty meant for nuclear nonproliferation?
- Why did President Nixon ratify it?
- Why did President Nixon not do his best to stop India from pursuing its nuclear aspiration?
- Why did President Clinton not do his best to prevent Pakistan from acquiring WMD?

In general, it's not the right thing for you to preach someone who is saner and more discerning than you. This seems especially true with America preaching the two Asian nuclear powers, especially India, how to behave. "Theoretically," from Brzezinski's point of view, India should know when to go for a conventional warfare and when to resort to its nuclear arsenal better than the U.S., let alone China, Russia and North Korea. And who cares even if that is not the case? It is something Johnson, Nixon and Clinton should have cared about a long time ago.

More than six decades ago, Jawaharlal Nehru said:

As long as the world is constituted as it is, every country will have to devise and use the latest devices for its protection. I have no doubt India will develop her scientific researches and I hope Indian scientists will use the atomic force for constructive purposes. But if India is threatened, she will inevitably try to defend herself by all means at her disposal.

This is presumably why India's first prime minister was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1951 when he was nominated for it.

Talking of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Japan's prime minister Eisaku Sato was awarded it in 1974 because of his deceitful Three Nonnuclear Principles. As recently as December 2008, Japan's Foreign Ministry disclosed for the first time that on his first pilgrimage to Washington in 1965, Sato asked Lyndon Johnson and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to immediately launch retaliatory attacks with sea-based nuclear weapons in case of a nuclear attack from China. Actually the message from the Norwegian Nobel Committee should have been construed like this: now that the once-belligerent Japan had been taken in under America's nuclear umbrella, it would never repeat the same mistake, and the rest of the world should be able to sleep in peace.

In short the tips the former U.S. National Security Adviser was giving to the Indians on how to react to the Mumbai incident was nothing but superfluous. However, that is a different story if he just intended to tell the interviewer how he had coached Barack Obama during the campaign.

Yet, I wish he had actually told the next President not to fret about the consequence of a possible misstep by New Delhi, or any other foreign government, and instead to devote himself to the daunting task of straightening out the domestic mess his predecessors have left behind.

Unfortunately, though, I've got a hunch that the new President will only exacerbate the situation because the 69.5 million supporters of the people person, in effect, don't really want him to turn it around. They are well aware that they would have to go through a torturous soul-searching if they decided to seek their way out of the ongoing crisis.

19th century Scottish writer Charles MacKay observed:

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

So, please take your time, Obama followers. Someday you will wake up, one by one, to realize that actually the emperor sitting at the Oval Office has nothing on, while he still thinks he is wearing a fancy suit tailored by his advisers.

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