Speak loudly and carry no stick: It’s our policy - An ode to Indian Inaction

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ani82v, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

    Jul 6, 2012
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    Speak loudly and carry no stick: It’s our policy

    Maoists strike at will, molestations happen in full public glare and neighbours mock us repeatedly for raising the issue of cross-border terror. But we are struck by inaction. We love the path of least resistance.

    It was the fiercely moustachioed President Theodore Roosevelt, ruler of the ‘free’ world in 1901, who famously said: “Speak softly and carry a big stick and you will go far”. Roosevelt, once a sickly child with asthma, liked to hunt big game in Africa and the great American bear in Louisiana. It was also He who the ‘Teddy Bear’ is named after. Roosevelt picked up the menacing phrase from West Africa and put it to doctrinaire use in his foreign policy.

    Teddy Roosevelt used the ‘stick’ analogy in support of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, to complete the Panama Canal in his time, and to send the American Naval ‘White Fleet’ on a World Tour. The Monroe Doctrine said that the European powers could not attempt to ever again colonise any part of the North and South Americas.

    The Monroe Doctrine, backed by US resolve, has lasted in place for nearly two centuries. It marked the start of a policy wherein America first began to assert its ascendancy overseas, not only in the Americas but across the Atlantic, thereby putting the ‘Old World’ Europeans on notice and limiting their power.

    The Monroe Doctrine globalised gradually and came to an undeniable apogee when another President Roosevelt, the brilliant, courageous, flirtatious if polio-stricken, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, practically won World War II for the Europeans. America came in late “Over There!” And consequently fresh; with seemingly bottomless resources in men, money and materials.

    And then, there was the matter of the terrible revenge for Pearl Harbour in the form of the two droppings of ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’; the only nuclear bombings in human history.

    Those nuclear bombs were dropped from the modified B-29 bomber, ‘Enola Gay’, and from another named ‘Bock’s Car’, first over Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, three days apart, in early August, 1945.

    And this devastation, of course, went considerably beyond sticks and stones. Never again, has it been seen fit policy to flatten entire cities without sufficient pause to elicit surrender; killing indiscriminately any or all that might be in it.

    And yet, here is this ‘stick’ policy still ruling the world in 2012. Sometimes it is called a ‘forward policy’, meaning pre-emption as enunciated by a Republican Teddy Roosevelt. It was espoused again recently by fellow Republican President George W Bush to justify attacking Iraq and Afghanistan. And it has been carried over still by Democrat President Barack Obama with his commitment to root out the existential threat of Islamic terrorism, epitomised by the constant drone attacks in Pakistan and bringing Osama bin Laden to decisive ‘justice’.

    Sometimes, the doctrine seeks ‘regime change’ as in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or in Bashar al-Assad’s Syria unfolding before us currently. Some of it happens, apparently locally and spontaneously, aided and abetted, both covertly and overtly by the West, as in Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya or Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt.

    But, the fact remains that it is still very much a unipolar world. Presently, because of the multiples: Estimates put it as high as 17 times the nearest comparable, by which the US leads the rest of the world in armed technology and power. But the lesson to be learned here is the efficacy of that big stick inspired by a wise man from West Africa.

    It has very positive uses, but never from the point of view of the victim. In our arena, Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksha, has courageously ignored a chorus of protest from Tamil Eelam sympathisers and human rights activists, to wipe the slate clean of the LTTE. There were excesses. There were mistakes. But the key point is the long-standing civil war is over and Sri Lanka is still in one piece.

    In India, we rarely acknowledge our debt of gratitude to the likes of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, Mr KPS Gill and Mr Julio Ribiero for the sterling work done to put down insurgency in Punjab. And in Ray’s case, in West Bengal, earlier. Mrs Indira Gandhi — and ‘Operation Blue Star’ — was, of course, the coup de grace.

    But where is such political spine now? Why are the Maoists running riot, and the Islamists, and the insurgents in some of the North-East States? Why is the Government of Jammu & Kashmir holding the rest of the country to continuous ransom? Why are women being raped in ever larger numbers and molested on camera in a macabre reality show while politicians merely murmur their disapproval? Why are workers killing managers a stone’s throw from the capital in a State run by the ruling party of the ruling coalition, both ensconced in their second consecutive terms?

    Is it that we can’t make up our minds about Gandhian ahimsa? Do we suffer from an identity crisis even as the enemies of the state and polity bare their fangs and bite at will? Or are we truly lost in our decadence and sloth like the erstwhile Nawabs of Awadh?

    We might well be scissored into pieces by a combined onslaught of Pakistan and China yet, determined as they are to sap us from the inside and roil us on the borders as well. These Maoists and north eastern insurgents are well armed, funded and trained. Who is getting away with it all across the multiple States of North-East and central India? Why is the media more bothered about the massacre of so-called villagers than the Maoists that nestle amongst them like the LTTE always did amongst the civilian Tamils? Why don’t we learn from President Rajapaksha, who refused to worry about it.

    The Islamists too are unrepentant and brazen. Pakistan mocks us and says that it is our own home-grown Islamic insurgents that are on the attack and that they have nothing to do with it. Their Inter-Services Intelligence can run circles around our Research & Analysis Wing. Their diplomats are cocking a snook at the entire world and yet milking the latter for billions.

    While here, we in the Indian state are in befuddled retreat, too busy navel-gazing to care. We may be more inclusive than we realise, and there is considerable consolation in hoping that all the malicious initiatives against us will come to naught because they can’t seem to raise a reaction from us!

    But yet, if only we were to strengthen our military and police and stand guard over our threatened citizens, we would not be brazenly and cynically using a strategy of least resistance. This because, in the end, we probably think Indian blood is cheap. And Indian dignity is too abstract a concept to bother with, and our survival as a nation is not our responsibility, but is in the hands of the Gods.

    -Gautam Mukherjee

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