Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama's first blunder?

According to M.K. Bhadukumar from the Asia Times, Obama has insulted the Indian government by discussing the Kashmir issue with the Pakistani president Asif Zardari while not calling the Indian government at all since he was inaugurated. This is a faux-pas because according to the 1972 Simla accord, no third party is supposed to mediate over Kashmir's dispute. I agree with Daniel Larison that is probably a blunder on Obama's part and is probbly not a calculated snob.
If true, all of these moves by Obama would be as clumsy and stupid as his handling of the Russian government was sensible and intelligent. The Indian relationship is probably the one major foreign relationship that Mr. Bush has managed to improve over the last eight years, and the nascent alliance with Delhi has been one of the few that has become noticeably stronger despite foreign policy blunders everywhere else. Embarrassing the government that negotiated and is trying to pass the nuclear deal over strenuous objections from the Indian left and criticism from the BJP hardly seems the right way to develop that relationship. -Daniel Larison
It will be interesting to watch if this develops into a more pro-Pakistani tilt in Indian-US and Pakistan-US relations but I doubt it. Zardari's mind is probably focused on the northwest and the people who are trying to topple him than to the east in a desperate struggle that he will never win against a much stronger enemy.

Edit: Well I should have read more before posting. Apparently, Obama serisouly wants to tackle Kashmir according to an interview with Joe Klein (via Larison). This is pure madness. Pakistan will never be happy unless they have all of Kashmir (maybe with the exception of Ladakh) and India will never give up Srinagar, especially since they have the upper hand and see no reason to back off. If Pakistan is made happy, it will anger India and if Obama gives Pakistani hopes that he'll mediate the dispute, they will be angry when they realize he is powerless. Hopefully Obama will realize this soon.

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