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Over the last month or so, pressure has been slowly built up on India by the USA on sending troops to Iraq to participate in its reconstruction. (I dont have a particularly high regard for George Fernandes, but his remark in the early days of the US attack on Iraq was great. He said 'First they raze it to the ground, then they'll participate and fund the reconstruction. How sick can it get?'). When Advani was in the US, President Bush "dropped in" during his meeting with Condoleezza Rice and the first point he talked about was on India sending troops to Iraq. I think Donald Rumsfeld also did something similar by going to Advani's chamber/room rather than waiting for Advani to arrive as is usually the case.
It is obvious that the pressure on India is increasing. The government seems to be in favour of sending troops but there is vehement opposition from other parties and a fair chunk of the general public as well. But at the same time, the government doesn't want to end up doing something which will cost it votes in next year's elections. So it has to seek a consensus. The arrival of Pentagon authorities to clarify issues we have also helps in stalling the decision making process. Right from day one since there were rumours of India being requested to send troops to Iraq, the government has said that the command structure needs to be clarified, who will Indian troops report to etc.
The US never sends its troops under any umbrella other than its own. It refuses to have its men serve under some other foreign authority. I think India should adopt a similar stance and say that we will function only under Indian authority. The US has also successfully scuttled moves from other countries to have US troops being tried for war crimes happening outside the US.
I dont think siding with the US on Iraq is going to make the US side with us regarding Pakistan and specifically the dispute over Kashmir. I can't see them give up their fixation with Pakistan at all. They've invested just too much there in the last 50 yrs. If siding with the US is not going to produce the results we want (presumably that includes a permanent UN Security Council seat, the US is the only one of the 5 current Permanent members who hasnt supported our candidacy), then why bother? Musharraf is anyway going to agree to send troops to Iraq, he dare not say NO to the US. But we can, and thats why we're in a stronger position.
Politics of religion
One of the aspects of the Ayodhya dispute which has given me a lot of pleasure in the last few weeks is the way the Kanchi Acharya Jayendra Saraswati has been made out to be a pawn of the BJP/VHP/RSS by the Muslim organizations and a pawn of the "secular forces" by the VHP & RSS. There has been so much talk on how he has some formula which will ensure a temple comes up at Ayodhya and in return, the VHP, RSS etc. remove the Kashi and Mathura temples from their agenda. Unfortunately, this formula/proposal has not reached those who it is actually meant for, viz. the politicians and religious fundamentalists of both religions.
The acharya has singlehandedly almost completely surrendered (for want of a better term) all the goodwill which the late Paramacharya had bequeathed to the Kanchi math and his successors by dabbling in the politics of Ayodhya. Does he represent the Hindus? Who does? Who represents the Muslims? Why that person? Why arent ordinary people involved in this at all? Plebians are only required when mosques need to be destroyed or when bombs need to be exploded at stock exchanges in Bombay.
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