Dear Mr. Obama,
Thank you for visiting India. Thank you for considering us worthy of the honor of hosting you. Thank you for dancing to our humble music. Thank you for allowing us to buy USD 10 billion worth of your goods, unlike the poor Pakistanis who get them for free. Thank you for allowing us to create 50,000 American jobs—we cannot tell you how honored that makes us feel. (Take that Pakistan !). Thank you for promising to support us for a seat in the United Nations Security Council using the same ambiguously “some time some day when the time is right and under appropriate conditions” language mothers use when they don’t want to say no to a child asking for an expensive gift.
Thank you for using the word “frankly” (which in diplomacy is a very strong word) while chiding us for not criticizing the undemocratic regime in Burma. Now that you have scolded us, I hope that many of us will see the light. The thing is sir that many of us look upon US as such an inspiration that we tend to follow everything you do (low-rider jeans, pizza, saying “facepalm” and “whateva” and suchlike). Which is why so many are actually waiting for you to criticize, virulently and continuously, undemocratic regimes in say Saudi Arabia as some kind of template as to how we will frame our condemnation of Burma. You see sir, some of our diplomats think that foreign policy is not about principles but about pragmatics and since we have extensive business contacts with Saudi Arabia sorry Burma, it behooves us to look the other way when they do something not quite as honorable. Thank you for showing us once that foreign policy should be about the high moral ground.
Thank you for reminding us once again how a strong and vibrant Pakistan is essential for India’s progress. I of course agree. Some don’t though. They say your comment is irrelevant because we, Indians, are not doing anything to stifle Pakistan’s progress (like for us sending men in boats to burn their hotels). We have no delight in seeing Pakistan fail. We do not care for them as long as they do not send people to kill us. And all that we ask of you is to not pay for the tools of their trade because somehow, by misfortune (because Pakistan is very sincere in fighting terror), most of your weapons and your money ends up getting used against us.
Again we look towards you sir to give us a template of how to have nurture a smaller neighbor. Many of us have grown up seeing Cuba, a country that really has never really done anything serious to harm you (because they are too puny and weak), still labor under an embargo since 1962 and thus never understood the need to maintain friendly relationships with unfriendly neighbors. Again some would say once again that foreign affairs is all about pragmatics and wheeling-dealing and no country is better than the other which is why no one needs to get sanctimonious and holier-than-thou but I don’t agree with them.
Finally thanks not so much to you but member of your staff Press Secretary Gibbs. When a brown slumdog suggested that five and not eight US pressmen be allowed in due to security management considerations, Gibbs announced “loudly and persistently” (or as they say rather boorishly and undiplomatically), in the true tradition of the classic member of the male baraat, that he would pull the US President from a meeting with Dr. Singh, no matter that it would be a humiliating gesture to the host PM.
As per the LA Times, (a liberal media outlet and Obama cheerleader) which applauded Gibbs for standing upto press access to the US President (why allowing 5 would have been any worse for freedom of the US press than 8 is of course never explained): [Link]
Today’s India incident was worthy of a political novel. Gibbs stepped into the disagreement and made it a confrontation. In no uncertain terms he informed the Indian official that the eight U.S. media reps were going into that meeting or Gibbs was going to pull President Obama out of the session.
Now, that would create an international embarrassment, detract from the host’s own political goals and hospitality and would rebound on that Indian functionary in a not-good way — as in, how would you like to work in a distant provincial sewage plant starting tomorrow?
At one point, Gibbs even inserted his foot to stop a closing door and repeated his pullout threat with increased volume.
Thank you dear LA Times. Even more importantly, thank you for bringing out the disparity between the two sides——- when the US president comes to India promoting US industry, it is actually in the interests of the hosts (i.e. India’s) own political goals to be obsequious to the President’s underlings. And when the Indian PM goes to the US promoting India’s industry, it is again in the interests of the guests (India’s) political goals to be obsequious to US officials. Thank you for showing what a true superpower is and why we are not.
Now if we were a real superpower and say the Indian Press Secretary was seen shouting at a member of the US administration threatening to walk out with our PM if his dictats were not made, you would have just said “This is our country. Our rules. Accept it or you can take your PM with you.”
But we cannot. Because we are not. You see, we do not have the audacity of a backbone, reduced to being giggly crush-striken schoolgirls whenever a foreigner pats us on our head, even when we are the customers rather than the salesmen.
Thanks, Mr Gibbs, for showing that the customer is not always right by literally poking your finger in our face.
And thanks Mr. Obama for all the fish.