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Thread: Taming Pakistan: Modi Effect

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    Default Taming Pakistan: Modi Effect

    As author of Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War, I have spent over 15 years thinking about the threat Pakistan poses to itself and the larger world. Admittedly, being originally from India, I was initially more worried about Pakistan's ability to harm India.

    When I wrote my book in 2008-2009 I knew that the US will comprehensively fail to tame Pakistan and that it will also fail to counter the larger threat of violent Muslim radicalism.

    This is not the space to go into why US failed etc. However, in my 2009 book, I did specifically call for the West to support Narendra Modi, in part because he can, at least in principle, lead an effort to tame Pakistan. I had explained why and how India can be leveraged to neutralize religious barbarism.

    Now an opportunity is being presented with Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister-elect.

    However, expectedly, American establishment, given the track record, is viewing the emergence of Modi as a threat rather than an opportunity.

    This alone tellingly informs us how poorly placed America is in advancing its strategic interests, and further confirms its status as a declining civilization, not withstanding its leadership in science and technology (for now).

    As an American citizen, I am doing what I can to slow down this decline, by initiating a discussion that can lead to a paradigm shift in the way we view, for instance, the emergence of the likes of Narendra Modi of India.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    This alone tellingly informs us how poorly placed America is in advancing its strategic interests, and further confirms its status as a declining civilization, not withstanding its leadership in science and technology (for now).

    As an American citizen, I am doing what I can to slow down this decline, by initiating a discussion that can lead to a paradigm shift in the way we view, for instance, the emergence of the likes of Narendra Modi of India.
    The actions of the US are often unexplainable. Perhaps you can help me understand why they view Modi as a threat/risk/whatever while still cozy with Pakistan?

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    Moorthy:

    I have a question. Mr. Modi won a fairly decisive victory. Does this mean do you think that India is more united politically and therefore more likely not to turn the other cheek when the Pak Army/ISI strikes India again? I figure they will since that is their nature and their morale will go way up after finish bugging out of Afghsnistan.

    Also how much if at all will India increase it's involvement in Afghanistan after we leave?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default Rhetoric and what next?

    A short commentary by IISS's South Asia expert, Rahul Roy-Chaudhury and here are two passages:
    At the same time, anti-Pakistan rhetoric featured often in the campaign, in marked contrast to Pakistan’s own general elections a year ago, during which there had been little anti-India rhetoric in the political mainstream. On April 19 BJP parliamentary candidate Giriraj Singh reportedly stated that those who opposed Modi should be sent to Pakistan. In response to this ‘hate speech’, legal cases were launched against him, but he was ultimately granted bail.

    An unseemly public spat with Pakistan also occurred. In a Gujarati television interview at the end of April, Modi suggested he might consider undertaking cross-border covert action against Pakistan to pursue a terrorist such as Dawood Ibrahim. In response, Pakistan’s interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali claimed that Modi had made an ‘irresponsible statement’ and that such action by a prime minister would ‘destabilise’ the region. The BJP subsequently denied that Modi had spoken of attacking Pakistan. In a subsequent interview with a leading English television channel, Modi suggested that talks with Pakistan could not take place if there was cross-border terrorism.


    Link:https://www.iiss.org/en/iiss%20voice...-campaign-5e65
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Moorthy:

    I have a question. Mr. Modi won a fairly decisive victory. Does this mean do you think that India is more united politically and therefore more likely not to turn the other cheek when the Pak Army/ISI strikes India again? I figure they will since that is their nature and their morale will go way up after finish bugging out of Afghsnistan.

    Also how much if at all will India increase it's involvement in Afghanistan after we leave?
    Carl, that's an easy one.

    I do think that instead of merely responding to Pakistan's belligerence, the new govt. will methodically work to defang Pakistan. I do believe there exists political as well as administrative backing for that. Mind you, India knows Pakistan only too well, including its major weaknesses…

    Regarding India’s future involvement in Afghanistan, I am unable to venture a guess, although I have some preferences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    I had explained why and how India can be leveraged to neutralize religious barbarism.

    Now an opportunity is being presented with Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister-elect.
    The suspicion of Modri in the West is based largely on the perception that he was complicit in acts of religious barbarism, during the 2002 Gujarat violence. Rightly or wrongly he's perceived as an extremist, largely because of the RSS association, and the West - again rightly or wrongly - is uncomfortable with the idea of fighting extremism with extremism.

    Personal opinion: I don't think most westerners know enough about him to have a meaningful opinion one way or another, and therefore the best move is to wait and see, suspending judgment on threat or opportunity until we see what he actually does. I suspect that taming India's gargantuan and corrupt bureaucracy will be a more urgent and likely more difficult task for Modi than taming Pakistan. Like every other nation, India has to accept that ultimately its position vs other regional players and the rest of the world is ultimately defined less by foreign policy than by domestic economic strength.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    This alone tellingly informs us how poorly placed America is in advancing its strategic interests, and further confirms its status as a declining civilization, not withstanding its leadership in science and technology (for now).

    As an American citizen, I am doing what I can to slow down this decline, by initiating a discussion that can lead to a paradigm shift in the way we view, for instance, the emergence of the likes of Narendra Modi of India.
    There is substantial disagreement over both the nature of American interests and the manner in which they are pursued, and what some see as failure to advance strategic interests may simply be a difference of opinion on what those interests are.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The actions of the US are often unexplainable. Perhaps you can help me understand why they view Modi as a threat/risk/whatever while still cozy with Pakistan?
    These are very good questions that touch the very heart of why the US's plans are unexplainable (actually at all levels).

    Although I have some ideas on why this is the case, I am respectfully going to take a pass for the time being.
    Last edited by MoorthyM; 05-20-2014 at 03:18 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    There is substantial disagreement over both the nature of American interests and the manner in which they are pursued, and what some see as failure to advance strategic interests may simply be a difference of opinion on what those interests are.
    What constitute American interests are subjected to how the US establishment comes to understand the world we all live in. And this is where the problem starts for America (and others).

    There are two major questions (among a few) of interest to us that come to define the civilization we are part of:

    Do we understand how functional democracies are built and sustained?

    Do we understand what causes Muslim radicalism?

    Informed observers would concede that we do not know the answers to both.

    Of course, if one asks our political scientists, they would tell you that these are complex issues subjected to various causes and influences.

    As a physical scientist I would state a fundamental observation that complex causes are unlikely to lead to prolific and repeatable patterns. In other words, there are likely well-defined processes that might shed light on the above two questions.

    The bottom line is that poorly understood phenomena of potential strategic significance lead to "difference of opinion" at every level -- from their perceived extent of significance to what to do about them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    What constitute American interests are subjected to how the US establishment comes to understand the world we all live in. And this is where the problem starts for America (and others).
    "American interests" are also defined, and continuously redefined, by competition among divergent interests and divergent perceptions of interest. That competition, and its rather ephemeral outcomes, are often baffling to Americans and utterly incomprehensible to non-Amercians, particularly those who are committed to a particular perception of interest and thus less able to see the possibility of competing interests.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    There are two major questions (among a few) of interest to us that come to define the civilization we are part of:

    Do we understand how functional democracies are built and sustained?

    Do we understand what causes Muslim radicalism?

    Informed observers would concede that we do not know the answers to both.
    I am not convinced that the origin of Muslim radicalism constitutes a civilization-defining issue. I agree that we don't know the answers to those questions, and I suspect that any effort to propose simple, generic, or universally applicable answers to those questions is going to come up.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    Of course, if one asks our political scientists, they would tell you that these are complex issues subjected to various causes and influences.
    Yes, and they'd be right.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    As a physical scientist I would state a fundamental observation that complex causes are unlikely to lead to prolific and repeatable patterns. In other words, there are likely well-defined processes that might shed light on the above two questions.
    It's hard to read much history without observing that prolific and repeatable patterns often do have complex causes. An analogous example might be the spread of communist/socialist revolutionary movements in much of the formerly colonized world in the post WW2 decades. That was certainly a prolific and repeatable pattern, but anyone familiar with any of the movements in question knows the causes in any given case were far from simple or consistent. There were of course consistent patterns on the broadest scale, but attempts to extrapolate universal answers or solutions have rarely been of much use. Attempt to define simple, generic, or universal causes for broad geopolitical events are often satisfying but rarely useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    The bottom line is that poorly understood phenomena of potential strategic significance lead to "difference of opinion" at every level -- from their perceived extent of significance to what to do about them.
    Much confusion arises when people, often people with widely divergent views, assume that their own understanding is correct and everyone else's is flawed.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 05-20-2014 at 05:22 AM.
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    Getting back to Modi...

    Much of the suspicion of Modi in the West runs back to the 2002 Gujarat violence, and the widespread perception that Modi either tolerated or was directly complicit in the violence against Muslims.

    Would you say that perception is inaccurate, that it is accurate but shouldn't be an issue, or something else?

    If tension between India and Pakistan ratchets up and spills over into internal sectarian violence, would a Modi administration defend the rights of all citizens, or would it take sides?
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    "American interests" are also defined, and continuously redefined, by competition among divergent interests and divergent perceptions of interest. That competition, and its rather ephemeral outcomes, are often baffling to Americans and utterly incomprehensible to non-Amercians, particularly those who are committed to a particular perception of interest and thus less able to see the possibility of competing interests.
    Interesting way of explaining what observers across the world see as wild swings in policy and perceived "interests" with every change of President.

    You totaly miss the point that it is the near total lack of policy continuity that serves neither the "national interests" of America nor the interests of the countries and regions on the receiving end of this lunacy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Getting back to Modi...

    Much of the suspicion of Modi in the West runs back to the 2002 Gujarat violence, and the widespread perception that Modi either tolerated or was directly complicit in the violence against Muslims.

    Would you say that perception is inaccurate, that it is accurate but shouldn't be an issue, or something else?

    If tension between India and Pakistan ratchets up and spills over into internal sectarian violence, would a Modi administration defend the rights of all citizens, or would it take sides?
    Please permit me to give you a backdrop:

    From every Muslim majority region of South Asia most non-Muslims have been forcibly converted, killed or driven away to India. Many non-Muslim Indians are aware of this data and are apprehensive for the following reason: Indian Muslims, who were 10% of the population in 1947, now constitute around 25% of the Indian children under the age of five and they are being rapidly radicalized.

    In the long-term, non-Muslim Indians are likely facing extermination in the hands of Islamist forces.

    Given this, those who keep on harping Mr. Modi's handling of the 2002 riots in his state, are like those who kept highlighting the acts of some Jews who retaliated against the Nazis, and bypass looking at the methodical Nazi extermination of the Jews.

    A competent leader of India must work to liberate India's Muslims from the regressive forces within the community, not to appease or placate them as the previous governments have done.

    Do you really think the Indians should worry about others think or say?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Interesting way of explaining what observers across the world see as wild swings in policy and perceived "interests" with every change of President.

    You totaly miss the point that it is the near total lack of policy continuity that serves neither the "national interests" of America nor the interests of the countries and regions on the receiving end of this lunacy.
    Policy continuity has both positive and negative sides. Leaders often become personally invested in policies and find it difficult to accept that they aren't working. A new administration can be an opportunity to change direction and discard ineffective policies. Of course it doesn't always work that way, but policy continuity is not a universal good, especially if an existing policy involves beating one's head against walls, trying to "install" democracies in foreign countries, or other episodic lunacies.

    In recent years at least the policy shifts are often less radical than they are sometimes cracked up to be: politicians of both parties have to play from the same book of options, and that book is often pretty limited, in the real world at least. Certainly the American left expressed vast disappointment with what they perceived as Obama's policy continuities with the previous administration.

    In any event, policy discontinuity is a liability inherent in democracy, so we've little choice but to live with it. Whether or not that serves American interests depends on how you define American interests, and those who are deeply attached to their own preferred definitions sometimes find it difficult to accept that competing definitions are equally legitimate, or that the populace the US government is tasked to represent does not share their definitions.

    PS: Issue probably best pursued on another thread before David comes along and reminds us (correctly) that it's straying off topic.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    Given this, those who keep on harping Mr. Modi's handling of the 2002 riots in his state, are like those who kept highlighting the acts of some Jews who retaliated against the Nazis, and bypass looking at the methodical Nazi extermination of the Jews.
    That analogy will be seen by many as strained beyond the breaking point, and would be a tough sell in Western policy circles.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    A competent leader of India must work to liberate India's Muslims from the regressive forces within the community, not to appease or placate them as the previous governments have done.
    The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians seems a peculiar recipe for liberation, and a less than effective way of fighting radicalism, but that is of course an outsider's view.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    Do you really think the Indians should worry about others think or say?
    That's up to them. If you want to know why western governments see Modi as a risk and a threat rather than an opportunity, or why they will be less than enthusiastic about joining or supporting a crusade against Pakistan, you have to look at the perceived connection to sectarian violence as a significant factor in shaping that attitude. Whether or not anyone wants to "worry about" it is their own concern. Again, the idea that indiscriminate killing of Muslim civilians is a legitimate or effective response to a perceived threat may pass with Modi and it may pass with you, but it's going to be a tough sell in the international public opinion arena. If governments believe that Modi may provoke outright war with Pakistan or that he may deflect anger at Pakistan onto Muslim civilians, they are going to keep his government at arm's length or beyond. Again, whether or not that's something to worry about depends on who's doing the worrying. If India chooses to walk that path, that's their choice. If others choose not to walk that path with them, that's their choice, and it's only to be expected.

    Personally, as I said above, I'd suggest waiting and seeing what he actually does before rushing to judgment, but given the past I'd expect that waiting period to be marked by a fair degree of distance.

    Also as above, I suspect that Modi's approach to Pakistan and Islam will be less significant in the long run than his response to the challenges of building India's infrastructure, reining in corruption and bureaucratic interference with business, and spreading the benefits of growth outside the urban centers and the urban elite. We'll see what happens.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians seems a peculiar recipe for liberation, and a less than effective way of fighting radicalism, but that is of course an outsider's view.

    Also as above, I suspect that Modi's approach to Pakistan and Islam will be less significant in the long run than his response to the challenges of building India's infrastructure, reining in corruption and bureaucratic interference with business, and spreading the benefits of growth outside the urban centers and the urban elite. We'll see what happens.
    You are putting words in my mouth. I am not even remotely suggesting anything along these lines. No one in their right mind would slaughter civilians when they, too, are victims of radicals.

    I can claim to have certain level of bonafides, with a book and a forthcoming academic scholarship in that the radicalization and socioeconomic stagnation of the Muslim communities in many parts of the world (including South Asia) are mostly self-induced. In fact, I believe that we can identify specific processes and entities behind it. Only in this context I used the word liberation. The point is the state has the right to act to secure the rights of Muslim minorities (as with anyone) on the basis of human rights and religious freedom.

    That said, I agree with you that Mr. Modi's initial few years of focus is likely to be, and perhaps should be, development. But that alone, obviously, will not make India's growing Muslim radicalism problem go away all by itself.
    Last edited by MoorthyM; 05-21-2014 at 01:31 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    No one in their right mind would slaughter civilians when they, too, are victims of radicals.
    Yes, and that is the problem: the slaughter occurred, and the response of the state government, under Mr Modi's control, was perceived as being either grossly inadequate or actively complicit. That makes people wonder if Modu is, in your words, in his right mind, and it makes governments reluctant to get to close to him.

    Sectarian violence can be an opportunity to challenge a radical narrative or reinforce it, depending on how government responds. If government moves in to promptly and effectively restore order, protect the innocent, and punish the guilty regardless of affiliation, the radical narrative is weakened. If government is perceived to be taking sides, the radical narrative is enhanced and given credibility.

    This is to a large extent what happened in Mindanao in the early 70s: violence initially broke out between rival militias from the indigenous Muslim and settler Christian populations, with plenty of blame on both sides. Government had a brief opportunity to stay neutral. They failed to take it: instead they took the side of the settler population, kicking of a war that's been running sporadically ever since. It was a bad move.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    I can claim to have certain level of bonafides, with a book and a forthcoming academic scholarship in that the radicalization and socioeconomic stagnation of the Muslim communities in many parts of the world (including South Asia) are mostly self-induced. In fact, I believe that we can identify specific processes and entities behind it. Only in this context I used the word liberation. The point is the state has the right to act to secure the rights of Muslim minorities (as with anyone) on the basis of human rights and religious freedom.

    That said, I agree with you that Mr. Modi's initial few years of focus is likely to be, and perhaps should be, development. But that alone, obviously, will not make India's growing Muslim radicalism problem go away all by itself.
    No, it won't but economic opportunity, especially for the critical young male demographic bracket, is always a useful element of any challenge to radicalism. So is a very clear effort to provide equal services and equal access to justice for minorities that consider themselves aggrieved.

    What specific policies to you believe Modi will adopt to challenge domestic Islamic radicalism, and what policies would you suggest that he adopt? I'm also curious to see how he'll approach the Naxalite/Maoist insurgencies, but that of course is another topic!
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    No, it won't but economic opportunity, especially for the critical young male demographic bracket, is always a useful element of any challenge to radicalism. So is a very clear effort to provide equal services and equal access to justice for minorities that consider themselves aggrieved.

    What specific policies to you believe Modi will adopt to challenge domestic Islamic radicalism, and what policies would you suggest that he adopt? I'm also curious to see how he'll approach the Naxalite/Maoist insurgencies, but that of course is another topic!
    I am afraid that your premise is flawed. Poll after poll (in Pakistan, the UK and elsewhere) have shown that in regions where radicalism is prevalent, educated, resourced and radicalized Muslims form the most potent threat and that the non-radicalized Muslims can do little about them.

    Here's a terrorism 101 lesson: The sense of grievance against govt./majority community is cultivated by radicals to shift the blame away from themselves for the Muslim communities' shortcomings.

    Without de-radicalizing Indian Muslims, increasing economic opportunities for them would be suicidal for India (the U.S. State Department folks have so far failed to grasp that).

    Economic growth, to a large extent, I believe will work to alleviate the Naxal/Maoist insurgencies. My forthcoming scholarship, I believe will help us identify how to neuter Islamic radicalism. Until then, the answer -- from Obama to Putin and from Modi to Jinping -- is the same: who knows what the right policies are!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    The sense of grievance against govt./majority community is cultivated by radicals to shift the blame away from themselves for the Muslim communities' shortcomings.
    Of course, but it's difficult to cultivate something that didn't exist in the first place. Government needs to starve the cultivators by not fueling or reinforcing the sense of grievance, and by undercutting that sense of grievance where possible. At the very least, minority populations have to know that violence against them will not be tolerated.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    Without de-radicalizing Indian Muslims, increasing economic opportunities for them would be suicidal for India (the U.S. State Department folks have so far failed to grasp that).
    The point is to compete for those who have not yet been radicalized. Since nobody has yet come up with an effective way of de-radicalizing those already radicalized, it makes some sense to try to prevent radicalization in the first place. It is not a solution in itself (neither is anything else), it's a component of a solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoorthyM View Post
    My forthcoming scholarship, I believe will help us identify how to neuter Islamic radicalism. Until then, the answer -- from Obama to Putin and from Modi to Jinping -- is the same: who knows what the right policies are!
    The "right policies" will inevitably vary according to where, when, and by whom the policies are applied, but I'll certainly be curious to see what you come up with.

    When we deal with radicalism (of any description) we often encounter two opposite narratives. One, typically espoused by radicals and their supporters, is that the fault lies entirely with vicious and incompetent governments who have oppressed their people into a radicalized corner. The other, typically espoused by governments and their supporters, is that government is blameless and the whole problem is caused by evil agitators who have corrupted the people. Both, like most polar opinions, are a load of bollocks: there are always elements of both in play. For a government faced by radicalism, objectively assessing its own behavior and getting its own house in order may not be the only part of a de-radicalization strategy, but it's a very important part, especially since the government gets to deal with something it can actually control.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    If demography was the key factor whether India's Muslim population became 'radicalised' would be a strategic issue beyond India itself.

    In 2001 there were 138,188,240 Muslims, or 13.4% of the population; in comparison Hindus numbered 827,578,868 or 80.5%. From:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_people

    India already has a problem with violent radical Muslims who engage in terrorism. Such as in 2006:
    More than 160 people have been killed and 460 injured by seven bombs on the train network in the Indian financial capital Mumbai (Bombay), police say.
    Certainly when I looked at the issue in 2008 it was clear violent radical Muslims were a tiny minority. For example:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student...ement_of_India
    davidbfpo

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    This is a classic response (and a keeper).

    As you live outside the US one would think that you would be able to establish how the world sees American foreign policy actions (or interference).

    There is a simple reason why the US 'empire' will last a short 75 years and that is because the US are both unable and unwilling to understand the realities of the world they live and see everything through myopic and parochial eyes.

    You really expect the world which has been subjected to the ravages resulting from the incompetent foreign policy adventures of the US to be understanding of the US's domestic challenges (which you list)?

    These comments are Germaine to this discussion as unfortunately the US still the power to interfere and really screw things up in the subcontinent.



    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Policy continuity has both positive and negative sides. Leaders often become personally invested in policies and find it difficult to accept that they aren't working. A new administration can be an opportunity to change direction and discard ineffective policies. Of course it doesn't always work that way, but policy continuity is not a universal good, especially if an existing policy involves beating one's head against walls, trying to "install" democracies in foreign countries, or other episodic lunacies.

    In recent years at least the policy shifts are often less radical than they are sometimes cracked up to be: politicians of both parties have to play from the same book of options, and that book is often pretty limited, in the real world at least. Certainly the American left expressed vast disappointment with what they perceived as Obama's policy continuities with the previous administration.

    In any event, policy discontinuity is a liability inherent in democracy, so we've little choice but to live with it. Whether or not that serves American interests depends on how you define American interests, and those who are deeply attached to their own preferred definitions sometimes find it difficult to accept that competing definitions are equally legitimate, or that the populace the US government is tasked to represent does not share their definitions.

    PS: Issue probably best pursued on another thread before David comes along and reminds us (correctly) that it's straying off topic.

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