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Category Archives: Politics/Diplomacy

Trump’s Pakistan Aid Threat is Not so Easy

Donald Trump’s first tweet of 2018 made a huge splash around the world.  It was that rare sort of Trump foreign policy statement that didn’t deny collusion with Russia, or taunt North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.  It was about withdrawing US aid to Pakistan.

My first instinct was to agree with the premise.  I was shocked by positive truths while visiting Pakistan, but I have long thought that the United States should predicate the billions in military and civil aid to Pakistan on effectiveness and measurable progress towards eliminating terrorism and increasing economic development, respectively.  It would be fair to take some of that aid away at this point.  Pakistan’s government has proven over and over again that a large chunk of US aid will go to build up its armed forces against India and twist the spigot of American blood in Afghanistan to and fro.  This dirty double game has been going on ever since 9/11.

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credit: Pfc. Cameron Boyd

Ending the double game is a noble goal.  But it’s not so simple.  The Trump administration is ramping up the US military presence in Afghanistan by thousands of troops, even as yet another American soldier was killed and four others critically injured there on the day of Trump’s above tweet.  The longest war in American history continues even further into Year 17.  We are in endless territory when it comes to US blood and treasure and the suffering of the Afghan people.  We hardly know or understand who we are fighting and why.  The media hardly bothers to cover that war anymore even when Americans die.  It’s the textbook definition of mission creep.

Pakistan has been a beneficiary of this war’s largesse from the start, from Bush through Obama to Trump, partly because the US military supply lines run heavily through Pakistan’s ports, airspace, and roads.  America pays dearly for the right to use Pakistan’s resources.  Cutting off US funds to Pakistan could also result in an explosion of fire and fury as terrorists are unleashed from Pakistani territory and other parts of the world in retaliation by dark networks we aren’t very good at tracking.

Like most half-cocked Trump policy prescriptions, the foreign policy establishment in the United States has no plan prepared to follow through on the threat.  The Tweet was poorly timed.  How can you cut off aid to Pakistan when you need them for your war?  Without winding down the war in Afghanistan, or being able to control Pakistani terrorists or nukes minus the local government’s help, Pakistan still has America by the balls.  Even drone strikes in Pakistan require local human intelligence.  These things cannot be separated.  India’s rejoicing may be premature, and I’m not the only one saying so.

We shall watch now how it all unfolds.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

 

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usindiamonitor Applauds Nomination of Kenneth Juster for US Ambassador to India

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via sputniknews.com

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

usindiamonitor was overly underwhelmed that the position of US Ambassador to India had been left vacant for many months since January 2017.  That’s when former Ambassador Richard Verma last roamed the halls of the US Embassy and left behind not only the hot air of New Delhi, but also a legacy of forward progress in the US-India relationship.  Obama’s pick was also much appreciated by many Indians worldwide as the first Indian-American to hold the post.  Trump promised less than one year ago that India would be America’s best friend as he lit up a Hindu diva in New Jersey, stoking the hopes and dreams of innumerable Indian-American voters along with a wonderful lamp.

Do best friends leave Ambassador posts to one another unfilled for that long, especially if the relationship is as superlatively non-controversial and bipartisan as the US-India nexus today?  Maybe not.  But in June, promising murmurs circulated about a certain Kenneth Juster being appointed to the post, an unexpected announcement which nearly served to make up for the time lapse.  Senate confirmation based on Juster’s qualifications seemed a given due to his tried and true negotiations with India.  Opposition either domestic or bilateral seemed unlikely to cause real impact.

Yet several more long months of silence on this matter followed, as the White House and its attendant media were consumed by other, baser affairs.  On September 5, Juster was finally nominated to be the 26th US Ambassador to India.  We urge rapid action by the US Senate to confirm Juster without delay when he comes up to vote this week.

So, who is Kenneth Ian Juster?

***

Juster had overseas proclivities generally, and toward Asia specifically from an early age.  As a Harvard undergraduate he studied abroad in Thailand, and served as a research assistant to Samuel P. Huntington, one of the foremost political science gurus in United States history.  Juster’s resume includes substantive stints in both the public and private sectors, and in each area the work took him beyond the water’s edge.  He came to know the levers and pipelines of federal bureaucracy at the White House, State Department, Department of Commerce, National Security Council, and National Economic Council.  On the other side, Juster was respected by private sector colleagues at entities such as salesforce.com, power law firm Arnold & Porter, and private equity shop Warburg Pincus, all of which have global operations.

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via Wall Street Journal

When it comes to US-India diplomatic relations, Juster is among the limited pool of Americans who have found themselves deep in the arena over the years- and yet became accepted as true friends of India by Indians.  This pool is relatively small, shared by members such as previous Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, the aforementioned Richard Verma, the late Congressman Stephen Solarz, and former Ambassador Robert Blackwill.  Unlike many in the US foreign policy establishment and particularly in the US State Department, these figures generally didn’t condescend towards their counterparts even if they had to play hardball.  Indians have never viewed this as a given.  Small wonder that Narendra Modi and his team approved of Juster’s nomination.

Juster is known for helping initiate a High Tech Cooperation Group between the two countries in the early 2000’s, at a time when technology trade and transfer were nowhere near the powerhouse level they have now reached.  Today, it’s impossible to keep up with the daily flow of US-India tech deals, mergers, and acquisitions.  Some of this is finally creeping into the military realm, including the potential for big-ticket US toys such as the Marine One helicopter and the F-16 fighter jet to be made in India, while American drones and other cutting-edge hardware may be sold to the Indian military, all for the first time.

Juster is even better known for what followed, playing a key role in the multi-year negotiations that culminated in the 2008 civilian nuclear cooperation deal, to this day a jewel in the crown of bilateral trade, but one which still has a long way to go to fulfill its promise.  Nuclear exchange is nowhere near where it could be.  Even so 2008 represented the end of a long and difficult climb since 1998, a year when India secretly tested nuclear weapons in the sands underneath the Pokhran desert, angering the United States, prompting sanctions against India, and setting the relationship back by years.  There has been a steep climb since 2008 as well to address a myriad of concerns with the deal.

It won’t hurt that Juster has Trump’s ear and has for some years especially on economic matters.  There are many challenges in play.  A rising China and the bitter escalation with North Korea are going to affect the entire Asian neighborhood for the foreseeable future in this, the Asian Century.  The nuclear exchange could stall on matters such as liability.  Reduction in the flow of Indians coming to the United States to work and study  under the Trump administration should be of serious concern to both countries.  Intellectual property and the monitoring quality of drug manufacturing in India for US sales are in need of mutually agreed upon swim lanes.  Afghanistan, which has been in turmoil for 40 years will rely heavily on US-India cooperation if it’s ever to stabilize.  Future cooperation will also depend on how the United States and Pakistan deal with each other, an issue that India will study more closely than all others.

It is possible that Juster will be part of a much anticipated seismic shift, toward the first mutual defense treaty between the United States and India, befitting for the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest.  There are many steps and pitfalls along the way, but we consider this eventuality to be inevitable the way things are going.  Might as well get on with it.

Juster will have his hands full upon arrival in New Delhi.  But for now, it’s time for the Senate to do its job and confirm the qualified nominee.  This is also a very good time to thank Mary Kay Loss Carlson, the US Charge d’Affaires in New Delhi, for holding down the fort during the long interim period.  We also applaud the Trump administration for making a good decision in this critical area of foreign policy.  If only there were more of them.

 

 

 

 

US-India Relations in the Trump Era: Last Bipartisan Scraps in Washington?

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“O Modi- I feel it… I’m a YUGE fan of your Agni II Missile…” (via Hindustan Times)

Any objective observation of Washington in 2017 reveals a cross-aisle dysfunction and hatred which have risen to legendary levels even by the swamp’s constipated standards over the Potomac River of time.  The word ‘bipartisanship’ is now a cruel joke, and most Americans don’t even remember what that word even means.  It’s not our fault.  Whether it’s immigration, law enforcement, healthcare, taxes, foreign policy, women’s rights, or education. agreement between Republicans and Democrats- voters or politicians- on any major issue not only doesn’t exist, it isn’t even allowed by party leadership.  The partisan wounds have had their scabs ripped off.

The shooting of a sitting Congressman at a softball game, a tragedy which should have brought Americans together, instead predictably devolved into a partisan Mexican standoff between the gunfuckers and gun control advocates.  Quaint 20th century stories circulate about genteel lawmakers from both parties sharing shrimp salad and a scotch with their spouses, and we laugh at those hazy Washington recollections as they fade from institutional memory.

Yet there is one area on which the sides are in complete agreement, even lockstep (shockingly).  It also so happens to be the area of my expertise.  Yes, improving US-India relations is today a bipartisan priority- and probably the only bipartisan priority we can manage to come up with.  Democrats, Republicans.  Governors, Representatives, Senators, Trump, Pelosi, Ryan, McConnell, Sanders, Tillerson, and Schumer all agree that India should be a better friend.  Even Nikki Haley stumbled into a good idea, by advocating India’s permanent entry onto the UN Security Council. US politicians are falling over themselves to say nice things about India.  As did Obama and his entire cabinet.  Trump has repeated the mantra of India’s friendship himself.

It’s not hard to see why.  A closer relationship with India is critical for America’s corporations, national defense, anti-piracy counter-terrorism efforts, immigrant diaspora, universities, and balancing against China.    Trump, who is on a mission to crush all other aspects of Obama’s legacy at all costs, has embraced Indian Prime Minister just as Obama did.

There are several factors at play making the current environment conducive to closer ties.  Chinese saber-rattling.  Modi’s open arms to both US political parties and all corporations.    US exasperation with a failing Pakistani state.  A crumbling Europe.

The situation with all other friends is much more fluid: Trump has bashed Australia and Mexico, distrusts Germany, is jealous of Canada’s Justin Trudeau, has a bizarre male-dominance complex with France’s Macron as demonstrated by creepy handshake rituals.  He is afraid to visit the UK, the indispensable US ally, because they will protest him there.  Meanwhile, relationships with China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia are all over the map- from inexplicable, to chaotic, to bipolar schizophrenic level dangerous, and worse.

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via Asian Defense News

The only functional and steady bilateral and bipartisan relationship in Trump’s America is with India.  There’s a bipartisan agenda of substance, as demonstrated by Malabar 2017, the largest US-India-Japn trilateral naval exercise ever conducted.   And this scrap is the last uneaten morsel left on the table of bipartisanship after the attack dogs have ravaged all else.  This is a good thing.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

WORST. FIRST. FAMILY. EVER?!

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A tenant who didn’t pay rent on time! (via snopes.com)

Time will eventually tell us whether Trump goes down as the worst president in US history.  At least some competition for that particularly ignoble prize exists, as several other losers from the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s come to mind who could give the current occupier of the White House a run for his money.

But we need not wait for the judgement of historians sitting in their ivory towers to reach a very different conclusion right now: six months in, Donald’s Brood is already irreparably and inarguably the worst first family ever seen in US history.   Their vileness is impressive in its united and ugly uniformity (for fairness, young Barron, ex-wives, and grandkids must be exempt from this rubric, and they will be mentioned no further).  No matter.  There is simply no competition, no close second, when discussing the nuclear version of the Trumps vs. any other first family that came before them.

Unfortunately for us all, sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  In the case of Trump’s adult children, they are rotten to the very core.  Each one is a parasite on America, competing with one another for daddy’s attention, and to see who can most convincingly suck the most blood out of the country and the world, licking it off the silver spoon they were born with.  Indecent, entitled, and simply bad human beings, Trump’s perverse legacy will sadly outlast him.

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Forbes.com

Don, Jr. welcomed Russian help in winning the election with open arms just as his dad was inviting Russia to hack Hillary.  Completely lacking a moral center, his only lament from the affair, which blew up this week, is that the Russians brought no dirt on Hillary to the fateful meeting after all following promises of the same.  Like Donald, this man is uglier than he thinks he is, a compulsive liar, a spoiled brat, a tool, and a fool.  Perfect material for the president’s namesake.

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usatoday.com

Ivanka plays this dirty game of pretending to care enough about climate change or women’s issues to take away five minutes from her main life’s work, selling third-rate sweatshop slave made apparel at astronomical prices, to talk about these political issues in Vogue magazine.  Only for us to find she has no effect on policy whatsoever as her dad proceeds rapaciously to quicken environmental destruction and dismantle women’s health programs.  Ivanka is a poorly made up cover front, smiling and dolling up for the magazines and fooling nobody on the right side of things.

None of this is Ivanka’s worst.  She brought in yet another prince of darkness, as if there weren’t enough of those little Fauntleroys sitting around already, in the creepy form of her half-baked husband, Jared Kushner.  Shockingly, he might be more incompetent and entitled than his siblings-in-law. He repeatedly lies about everything he does, including on national security paperwork.  Barely qualified to run a corner ice cream store, the failed real estate magnate-scion wannabe has been given widespread responsibilities encompassing many aspects of domestic and foreign policy, for which he shows zero aptitude or original thought beyond family loyalty.  It is a brazen nepotism play that is highly unethical, if barely legal.

Then we have Eric Trump, the wannabe tough guy big game hunter, who uses charity fundraising as a way to make more money for the Trump organization.  This is a perfect metaphor for all the Trumps and how they use the organization for self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement.  There was one area where the family lacked any clout, the political, and they descended on the carcass of the Republican party like a pack of hyenas.  The rest is history.

There is one small bright spot in the family.  Tiffany isn’t half-bad for an Instagram model whose main job seems to be taking photos in Europe with other trust fund babies.  If only the others stayed out of the way like she did!

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wikipedia.org

Finally we have Melania, who represents a treason within a treason.  Not only did she enable, protect, and defend her husband as he ushered dark foreign forces in to help win the 2016 US election, despite her own birth in and escape from the wrong side of the Iron Curtain; she betrayed all wives, daughters, mothers, and girls in general by consistently excusing her husband’s unrestrained sexism, misogyny, and abuse of women that became a shocking and unprecedented hallmark of the 2016 presidential campaign season.  She openly plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech and blamed it on an unheard-of staffer.  Then she tried her own hand at dirty politics by pretending to want to address “cyber bullying” even as her husband ripped women to shreds on twitter.

 

It will be such fun to see these people take themselves down.

Indian-American Comedian Hasan Minhaj Cracks Up the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

It seems that Indian comedians are ascendant these days.

We saw that the first SNL monologue in the Trump Era was performed by Aziz Ansari, who hit a deep home run during a time of great anxiety for many around the world.  His fellow Muslim Indian-American comedian, Hasan Minhaj, was on the mic at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which did not include President Trump, who is a poor sport utterly lacking a sense of humor.  Trump has no self-awareness and doesn’t want to admit it, but his bumbling around the corners of our federal government is pretty easy to make fun of.

For those of us who didn’t know much about the young and talented Minhaj, this is a good introduction.  Minhaj carries the event well, despite some awkward half-hearted applauses.  The writing and delivery are spot on in a pressure packed environment featuring top journalists, politicians, and celebrities.  In this era of American darkness, we need more brown men to step up and poke fun at our leader- and our crumbling media landscape.   They are two cracking pillars of an American society in rapid decline, right before our very eyes.

Sean Spicer Threatens Indian-American: “Such a Great Country that Allows You to be Here.”

This video says a lot.  Watch it.  Whether or not you agree with the line or tone of questioning, it’s quite telling that Sean Spicer opines on whether Indian-Americans are “allowed” in this country in response.

In the words of Sree Chauhan, a US-born education advocate in Washington D.C. who took this video of Spicer at an Apple store:

“I was not polite. But when does being impolite mean that I should be thrown out of the United States of America? The country I was born in, the country I was raised in, the country I love despite its flaws.

I have spent enough time online to encounter rabid Trump supporters. Many of these folks see my brown skin and question my citizenship. They question whether I am here legally. They tell me to leave the country. They have told me to go back to where I came from. To which my snarky reply is often, “Go back where? New York?”

“Such a great country that allows you to be here.”

It’s one thing to have a Twitter egg tell say you do not belong in America, it is quite another to have the Press Secretary of the United States of America do so. I am still astounded. And while I am fearless, I wonder how this administration will use its power to silence ordinary people like me.”

ASHTON KUTCHER FOR PRESIDENT 2020! MONA KI BAAT

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Dude- I’m the Prez! (pic USA Today)

EDITOR’S NOTE:

About MoNa:

I am a real human.  I live in India.  I love India and Narendra Modi (NaMo) for his vision for a clean, developed and economically vibrant India. I also love beef, pork, sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling and rock’n’roll (in no specific order).  I also follow US politics because it affects us.

MoNa will now take your questions!!!  Today, we have a shy, frightened Indian IT professional working in New Jersey who is wondering whether to stay in the United States or not- the latest installation of MONA KI BAAT.

***

Dear MoNa,

I work for Infosys in New Jersey and am making a good salary.  However, since the 2016 election I have been fearful for my safety and wondering whether it’s worth being in the United States.  I am going to train in Silambam and tough it out-but it depends on what happens in 2020 or up till then.  Who is your ideal candidate for the 2020 US election – using the power of your 20/20 vision?

– Sleepless in Secaucus

***

Dear Sleepless (I know your real name is probably Srinivas Somnath Shivashankaran):

It doesn’t matter who leads us anymore other than the fact that she should be a good man. Someone who is humble enough to listen to all the people before making decisions that affect us all and someone who is smart enough to take tough decisions even if it means temporary hardships for some of us.

I like Ashton Kutcher – he’s humble, smart and has a heart. I urge Mr. Kutcher to lead us and I also urge the other constituents of civil society to let Mr. Trump lead for the next 4 years based on the mandate he has received. For people in public life – increase explosive, divisive debates instead of shying away from them. For the media – increase the quantum of news and opinions and not become guarded in the face of fake news. For the rest of us – urge ourselves to read more and listen more and not succumb to catchphrases and generalizations. Once this happens, Social Media and Big Data can help get real time, transparent views of the People’s decisions on all matters – Micro-local, local, regional and global thus making it easier for leadership to steer the ship. Mr. Kutcher is already connected with the tech elite through his various investments and hence should know how to use tech to enhance democracy.

I endorse Ashton Kutcher for President of the USA in 2020 as the leader of all the people anywhere who put Mankind before self, people who believe that We can achieve anything if we think of all of us.

It’s another matter altogether whether Mr. Kutcher is ready for public life. I hope he is.

-MoNa

th

pic inquisitor.com

 

HEY DONALD TRUMP. LOVE THE HINDU? INDIA WILL BE US’ BEST FRIEND? HOW DARE YOU!

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PTI Photo: Parents of the slain Srinivas Kuchibotla

Have you no shame, sir?

We all heard you say on the campaign trail.  “I am a big fan of Hindu and I am a big fan of India.”  We heard you tell us that the United States and India will be “best friends.”

You’re nothing but a so-called big fan, and a so-called best friend.  Sad!

I hoped that I was wrong about you when you said those things about our community.  Of course, I wasn’t wrong that you just wanted to score cheap political points without the  work.  I take zero pleasure from that.  But it’s not too late.  You can still prove your commitment to our community.  You can still act like a leader in a time of crisis.

Cut to America, 2017.  This land is your land, this land is my land…The Great City on a Hill, where people from around the world aspire to come to, work in, learn in, fall in love in, create a family in, form friendships in, and contribute to the great ideals of humanity’s leading light…

Cut to America, 2017.  Two Indians, Srinivas Kuchibotla and Alok Madasani, were shot in cold blood at a bar in Olathe, Kansas by Adam Purinton on February 22nd.  A third victim, Ian Grillot, tried to intervene and was also shot in the process.  Grillot is a real American hero, standing up for the rights of his fellow men in an act of bravery worthy of America’s highest civilian or military honor.  Kuchibotla is dead.  Madasani and Grillot are recovering from gunshot wounds.  Purinton is a racist murderer who deserves all of the pain and suffering the criminal justice system has to offer.  Oh, and there’s also the ignorance thing: the two initial victims aren’t even Middle Eastern, which is what Purinton thought they were.

THIS IS UNDOUBTEDLY A HATE CRIME DIRECTLY CORRELATED TO THE IRRESPONSIBLE ANTI-IMMIGRANT, ANTI-MUSLIM, ANTI-MIDDLE EAST POLICIES AND RHETORIC COMING FROM DONALD AND HIS STAFF, like so many other incidents in our current epidemic of hate crimes going on around the country.  Two Hindus and an American hero are collateral damage in a war of irresponsible rhetoric and broken toys.  Our president influenced and emboldened the Navy veteran Purinton to pull the trigger with a thousand lines of bigotry.

The White House response was a whitewash, typical of the cowards in Occupy Oval Office.  Minister of Information Sean Spicer bravely crouched into a defensive stance, like he does every other day of this new regime: “Obviously, any loss of life is tragic, but I’m not going to get into, like, to suggest that there’s any correlation I think is a bit absurd. So I’m not going to go any further than that.”

That’s all you have to say?  Of all things, absurd is the word that comes to mind?

How dare you!

We could’ve been proven wrong in so many different ways, without even getting an apology.  Donald had so many opportunities to earn our respect.  Donald could have done a joint statement with Indian Prime Minister Modi, promising that he would do everything in his power to make sure justice is done for America’s “best friend.”  He could have reached out to a crying mother to express sympathy, sorrow, and an ounce of humanity- or a grieving widow who is (understandably) literally afraid to even be in the United States.  He could have invited flesh-and-(literally)-blood American hero Ian Grillo to the White House, or visited him at the hospital.  He could have flown to Olathe to soothe a decent midwestern community that feels violated and ashamed by this incident.  He could have gone on TV to express outrage at a murder in cold blood on his watch, at a time where he decries the crime and “American carnage” all around us; and yet we hear nothing from Donald but whining about the media and lying about how many holes of golf he plays – or MAKING UP terrorism in Sweden or Bowling Green when there is a real terror attack in front of his face.  He could have looked the world in the eye and told us that violence not only against Indians, or Arabs, or Hindus, or Muslims, or immigrants of any type is unacceptable; instead, not a peep or a tweet out of Donald.   The silence is deafening.  

We all hear Donald now.

If this is how he treats his best friends, I can’t imagine what he would do for the rest of you.

Donald, why don’t you just be honest for once, and tell us point blank that you don’t give a fuck about us?  I’m speaking as an AMERICAN here, for ALL AMERICANS.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

P.S.: Former US President Barack Obama’s statement after the Wisconsin Sikh Temple Massacre of 2012, when he ordered American flags to be raised at half-staff.  I will never forget what a real friend to Indians looks like.

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded. My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.

Families of World War II Arunachal MIA Soldiers STILL WAITING FOR JUSTICE

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For most American families, “India” evokes such positive images as India’s wonderful cuisines, its many cultural treasures such as the Taj Mahal and the great Hindu books, Gandhi’s historic civil disobedience campaign against British rule, the epic accomplishments of Indian scientists, and the physical and spiritual benefits of the discipline of yoga.  Unfortunately, for a small group of American families, numbering in the hundreds, India does not evoke such positive thoughts.  They are the families of US servicemen killed in India during World War Two – servicemen whose remains still lie unburied there because of the Indian Government’s long history of callousness toward their humanitarian plight.  For these families, who only want the Indian Government to honor their right to repatriate their loved ones’ remains for proper burial, “India” only evokes thoughts of frustration and resentment.

A fundamental aspect of basic human decency, shared by all religions and all cultures worldwide throughout history, is that families have not only a right but an obligation to honor the mortal remains of their deceased loved ones ceremonially with a funeral ceremony as soon as possible after they die.  If families are refused access to the mortal remains of their loved ones, they are illegitimately deprived of the ability to exercise this right and obligation, and those who refuse this access deserve the severest condemnation.   This right is well-established in both the Geneva Conventions and the body of customary international humanitarian law.

.An estimated 400 US servicemen still lie unrecovered at or near a multitude of  World War II crash sites in northeast India.   Since the turn of the millenium, 15 of these crash sites have been located, photographed, and documented by the American MIA investigator Clayton Kuhles.   From the late 1970s until late 2008, and then from 2010 to 2015, the Government of India did not permit US Defense Department recovery teams into the region of India – Arunachal Pradesh – where most of the remains of US airmen in India lie unburied.    For a brief time only (late 2008 until late 2009), the Government of India permitted only one of the many well-known crash sites in Arunachal Pradesh to be investigated for remains, a crash site located on a mountainside in the Upper Siang district near the village of Damroh.  In late 2009 the UPA Government withdrew that permission, without a word of protest by the Obama Administration, before any human remains could be recovered.  From early 2010 until the assumption of the Modi Government, a de facto moratorium was imposed on Arunachal recoveries.  Even after the Modi Government took over, the de facto moratorium continued for well over a year, until the Modi Government, faced with bad publicity over this situation in the Indian press, finally relented and permitted some token recovery efforts.

.During the years (2010-2015) the Indian Government imposed a de facto moratorium on remains recoveries in Arunachal Pradesh, many close relatives of these airmen died, forever deprived by the Indian Government of their right, recognized by the Geneva Conventions (to which India is a signatory). to reunite with the remains of their loved ones killed in wartime, and give them the honored funerals they deserve. Faced with this violation of such a foundational principle of humanitarianism, I (a nephew of one of these MIA servicemen) founded Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action  to lobby the Government of India to honor its obligation to allow the recovery of the bodies of these men from its sovereign territory, an obligation frequently supported by statements of Indian leaders, but almost never honored by action.

Secondarily, our efforts have focused on trying to get our own Government – the US Government – to pressure the Government of India to honor these obligations. The Obama Administration was more concerned with selling to arms to India, conducting joint military exercises, and concluding lucrative commercial contracts with Indian companies than with recovering our war dead. The Obama Administration even went so far as to make patently transparent excuses for the Indian Government’s inaction.

With the transition to the Trump Administration, it’s anybody’s guess whether President Trump will make recovery of our MIAs in India a higher priority.   Disturbingly, when US Secretary of Defense Mattis recently talked with Indian Defence Minister Parrikar, published accounts of the conversation made no mention of US MIAs in India.

Those who counsel patience to the families of these men are tragically unrealistic. Many of these MIAs still have elderly brothers and sisters who deserve to have their right to bury their loved ones honored during their own lifetimes.   These relatives do not have many years left themselves – patience is the one thing they cannot afford. They deserve to have the remains of their relatives repatriated NOW.

Regards,

Gary Zaetz

Founder/Chairman of Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action

Cary, North Carolina

COMIC: Not My Dictator

 

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