Slighting Our Indian Allies

Of all the monumentally stupid foreign policy mistakes Obama and Co have already made, this may prove the most boneheaded:

My fellow columnist Gordon G. Chang made a piquant point in this space last week in his preview of Hillary Clinton’s trip to East Asia–her first trip abroad as secretary of state. Chiding her for what he regarded as a scheduling misjudgment, he wrote that “she should have reserved time for a stop-over” in India. I agree with him 100%.

Ironically, even as Mrs. Clinton was packing her valise for Beijing, a senior spokesman for the Congress Party, which heads the ruling coalition in New Delhi, made an impassioned freelance appeal for George W. Bush to be awarded the Bharat Ratna (“Jewel of India”), the country’s highest civilian award. The Bharat Ratna is a big, big deal in India and has been awarded only 41 times since its inception in 1954–and only twice to non-Indians, one of whom was the sainted Nelson Mandela. The Congress Party quickly distanced itself from its spokesman’s appeal, no doubt regarding it as a particularly impolitic show of nostalgia for Bush so early in the Age of Obama.

But the truth is that, for all his unpopularity in the U.S. (and Europe, and Latin America, and the Middle East, and practically everywhere else outside Albania and Georgia), Bush is a much-appreciated figure in India–at least in high policy circles. As many have noted, both in Washington and New Delhi, the one indisputable foreign policy success of the eight Bush years was America’s invigorating new alliance with India…

And there goes Hillary to China and Obama finds time to talk to Hamas terrorists…but no one seems to be paying attention to India. The author goes on to generously suggest that Hillary’s failure to visit India isn’t a slight to India – but the plain fact of the matter is that the “special relationship” we’ve had with Britain since World War Two should now be transferred to India. In confronting Chinese ambitions, fighting Islamist terrorism and maintaining democratic solidarity, India and the United States require the assistance of each other. Everything which can be done to keep India on side should be done – and the Obama Administration doesn’t even seem to notice.

Perhaps because India is a democracy it is incapable of being so relentlessly corrupt that Democrats will fall all over themselves to get in on the swag – as regards China, its clear that Hillary has a serious conflict of interest. Or it might just be that India isn’t on the left’s radar – Euro- and Commie-centric, America’s left probably couldn’t spot India on a map.

I hope that someone in the Obama Administration swiftly wakes up on this issue – we need India, India needs us and the world is a safer place when India and the United States work together.