Vantage point

Tuesday, June 10, 2003


This is a reference to US requests (demands??) that India send forces to police Iraq. Why are the American neo-cons doing that, one may ask. If they view themselves as the supercops for the entire world, why ask India to step in?

Simple. The neo-cons can be a force to reckon with only when they are in power. With Bush's re-election due next year, they are worried that American casualties in post-war(!) Iraq could spell doom for their electoral fortunes. The stats show the casualty rate to be 1 American soldier a day. American officials who were crying "Democracy for Iraq, democracy for Iraq" suddenly inform us that Iraq is "not ready" for democracy yet. How convenient. There are talks of bringing the Hashemite king back. So the transition is not "dictatorship to democracy", but more of "dictatorship to monarchy". How nice!

Anyway, the point is that Iraq will have to be policed by outsiders for a looooong time to come. And even if the casualty rate drops to half, you have about 250 odd bodybags going to America till November 2004. So how does the Bush administration negate this point that the Democrats will have to beat hem with?

Just "OUTSOURCE" the casualties. To the world's favourite BPO destination, India. A dead American is worth votes. But a dead Indian...ahh who gives a damn about them brownies, eh, Dubya? We didn't even know their leader till we wanted to be President.

If India becomes a dominant constituent of the policing forces in Iraq, we will also have to bear a bulk of the casualties. After all, if Al Qaeda is behind the attacks as the Americans claim, India is not exactly Bin Laden's favourite country, is it? Since Indian lives are supposed to come "cheap", America would feel no qualms about bodybags going to Delhi.

So far, the ABV government is resisting this move. After all, India also faces elections in 2004. If Indians are killed in Iraq, the Congress could use this issue against the BJP, though it may not be as big an issue as it is in America. But what if they eventually have to cave in?

Let us look at it with "national interests" in mind, the phrase having the same meaning that Americans have given it. This could be the chance for us to offer them a quid pro quo. If the Americans can convince Pakistan to totally turn off the terror tap in Kashmir, gift India a lot of recostruction contracts, and most importantly, stop all "anti-BPO" legislations in the pipeline in America. If the Americans promise even 2 out fo these 3, then I guess the deal would be worth it. The Kashmir issue being the most important issue.

The Indian army faces a trickle of bodybags from Kashmir too, like Americans in Iraq. If Kashmir becomes peaceful so that the army can breathe easy there, we should have no problems going to Iraq. After all, India is said to enjoy a lot of goodwill among the common Iraqi people. The only threat will be from a random suicide bomber. It will be an easier assignment than Kashmir, where the local population does not love you, and suicide bombers are a dime a dozen.

We actually have a bargaining chip in our hands, i.e our well trained and universally respected army. We may well be able to get a good deal out of the whole issue, both in commercial terms as well as in humanitarian terms. If the violence in Kashmir drops (maybe an overly simplistic expectation) due to American pressure and we get economic benefits, then we should not mind being the destination for "outsourcing of death".

Foreign policy should always be divored from morality.