Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Arundhati Roy is mostly right, but not completely

Arundhati Roy's recent Guardian essay on the Mumbai attacks, "The Monster in the Mirror," has been widely circulated. I first saw it when a friend kindly forwarded it to me, and I have just read it again, somewhat more closely than the first time.

To repeat what I said in a comment I left at this blog, I think Roy, while right on many points, is too quick to criticize the Indian government for "inviting" the U.S. to interfere in Indian affairs. What is the invitation, and what is the interference? If she means the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, that is (1)water under the bridge, and (2)in my view, one of the relatively few sensible things the Bush administration has done in foreign policy. If she means sending an FBI team to help in the Mumbai investigation, which I assume has been or will be done, that hardly constitutes undue interference in Indian internal affairs. If she means that improved U.S.-Indian relations have fueled increased terrorism in India, that is possible, but hardly certain. The fact is we don't know what Roy means on this point exactly, because her column doesn't say. Her remark that "superpowers don't have allies, they have agents" does, however, give one a clue. The implication is that superpowers are incapable of treating other countries as equals. To which the answer is that this is perhaps too one-dimensional a view. There is such a thing as cooperation for mutual gain, rare though it may be.

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