It may not hold much interest for anyone else, but I find it endlessly fascinating to study what pushes my buttons. You know the drill: you’re going about your day, minding your own business, neither ecstatically happy or suicidally depressed, turn a corner and wham! You run smack into something that makes you completely flip out. And you’re not entirely sure why.
Take for instance this little snippet from an interview Barack Obama gave to Time a few days before the election:
Kashmir in particular is an interesting situation where that is obviously a potential tar pit diplomatically. But, for us to devote serious diplomatic resources to get a special envoy in there, to figure out a plausible approach, and essentially make the argument to the Indians, you guys are on the brink of being an economic superpower, why do you want to keep on messing with this? To make the argument to the Pakistanis, look at India and what they are doing, why do you want to keep n being bogged down with this particularly at a time where the biggest threat now is coming from the Afghan boarder? I think there is a moment where potentially we could get their attention. It won’t be easy, but it’s important.
The moment I read it, I knew it was a pretty loaded thing for him to say (and Karl Inderfurth was immediately on damage control mode). With the best will in the world, there is no way a Palestine-Israel sort of third-party mediation is ever going to work in Kashmir, mainly because India is never going to countenance it. We’ve held that position for 60-odd years and, while you might argue that it’s clearly not working to any great effect, if you can find an Indian politician who feels the Americans might be the answer we’ve all been waiting for… well, I have a Nigerian friend, a fabulously wealthy royal prince, that I would like to introduce to said politician.
That said, I actually appreciated the fact that an incoming President of the United States was actually thinking about the clusterfuck that is South Asia. I might not agree with his take on it, but at least he’s engaging with it rather than stuffing his fingers in his ears and singing “LA LA LA LA LA LA” at the top of his voice.
Until I read the comments.
I try my best not to subscribe to knee-jerk nationalism and I actually share a number of ideas in common with these people – and yet, the moment I hear random bits of advice re: “Things India (and Pakistan) Ought to Do So They Can Live Like Civilized Peoples”, I immediately see red.
Maybe they don’t mean it like that. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and hope they don’t mean it like that – because otherwise it would mean they’re bloviating assholes – but however pure their motives, listening to some random guy who once read an interesting article about the subject talk about something that informs everyday life in my country just makes me want to cap a bitch.
The trick is to control my overwhelming annoyance to the extent that I can actually hear the arguments that are being made because living in echo chambers never helped anybody. On the other hand, I take this as unscientific confirmation that very few Indians will be willing to toe a third party line, even if said third party was going to hand us everything we ever asked for on a silver platter. Maybe Pakistanis feel differently (and maybe that makes them better people) but last I checked you still needed two to tango and India is going to sit this one out so the question is once again rendered moot.
Becoming aware of my prejudice in this matter does have one side benefit however: I will now think twice before handing out advice to random nations. Oh, I’ll probably still have opinions galore about things that are none of my business, but I won’t take offence if they get thrown back in my face.
I too can evolve.