December 30, 2006

Former President Ford Dead

I became aware of the US politics upon arriving here during the last years of the Regan presidency, in the wake of the brazen testimony of Oliver North in uniform before the Congress. Coincidentally, I lived as a student not far away from the "White House on the West Coast", President Regan's Santa Barbara ranch.

My earliest political recollections, snippets from the mid-seventies as a middle-schooler in a nondescript village in central India. It was modern India's darkest hour. In 1975, Prime Minister Mrs Gandhi became a civilian dictator in order to overturn the High Court verdict that invalidated her election to the parliament. From the same period, I also vaguely recall a bold headline in an Indian tabloid named "Blitz" with the words "Watergate" and "Nixon". Only thing I understood from my father then was that the United States President named Nixon resigned in shame.

To this day, those memories define my view of the Indian and American politics. The following article echoes that sentiment eloquently.

The Blog | Taylor Marsh: NIXON PARDON: For Friendship, Not Country | The Huffington Post

When I wrote the post I Can't Forgive Ford, all hell broke loose in some quarters. Some wouldn't talk about it, ignored it completely, with some comments unprintable. Being proved correct in my assessment is not really important, because my feelings ran deep on this issue. But today's article by Bob Woodward does illuminate why I felt the way I have for all of these years.

The emergency lasted two years when Mrs Gandhi grudgingly allowed a fresh round of elections that thoroughly trounced her. The following government jailed her throwing the whole country into turmoil and violence. Nonetheless, Mrs Gandhi was chastened for good. India has not had dictatorial flirtations ever since.

President Nixon was pardoned by his buddy and successor President Ford. The above quote mirrors my feelings about the pardon. I wonder if it is morally dishonest to eulogize Ford's "healing touch" pardon while hailing the US-influenced court decision in Iraq to hang the deposed president. For sure, I'm not at all comparing the butcher of Iraq with a politically-deviant Nixon but couldn't help but wonder whether the action suggests any political wisdom when the first priority is containing the civil war with "healing" touches.

May President Ford rest in peace.

December 08, 2006

Iraq, Afghanistan setbacks and occupiers of other people's lands

The following article mentions in passing that the Iraqi quagmire sends a warning to occupiers of other peoples' lands: Iraqi Quagmire Haunts NATO Riga Summit By K Gajendra Singh
Russia is the only power which even now can thwart US moves and military power. But it was the Iraqi resistance in Iraq which exposed the limits of US military power sending a resounding warning to aggressors and occupiers of other people's lands .A resurgent Talebans with Pakistani acquiescence are doing the same to embattled Nato forces in Afghanistan. While other subjects were discussed at Riga , Afghanistan has now became Nato's major preoccupation and a veritable hot potato.

While I can't agree with everything in the article, I'm wholeheartedly behind the idea that "aggressors and occupiers of other people's lands" must continuously be demoralized.

So it was good the Soviet Union crumbled under its own weight of far flung occupations in Central Asia, Baltics and Eastern Europe. It is good the US exits out of the middle east soon. It is good India had the sense to leave Bangladesh pronto and did so involuntarily in Sri Lanka.

On balance, no spy agencies, regional or global super powers are ever short on dirty tricks and degenerate morals arising out of short-sighted self interest. Their evil doings are usually limited by competence, resources or oversight by civilians that ultimately answer to the electorate.

India has fortunately opted for the western model so dictatorial elements are kicked out sooner or later. Indians don't need the iron fist of the Soviet Politburo that used the gulags to kill millions of its own people or Putin's capitalist dictatorship that gobbles billionaires and kills reporters with impunity.

As much as the US interventions in Iraq are a great lesson for India what not to do, the Russian mafia rule certainly does not offer anything to look up to.