Monday, 8 November 2010

Hitchens and India: the Moment of Truth

Finally, a perfect test of Christopher Hitchens' good faith, or lack thereof, when it comes to US foreign policy and the Obama presidency:

US President Barack Obama has backed India's ambition for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

In an address to India's parliament at the end of a three-day visit, Mr Obama lavishly praised India's development.

His remarks will delight India, which has been lobbying for a seat at the UN's top table for years.

Analysts say it does not mean India will get a permanent seat immediately; the unspecified UN reforms Mr Obama mentioned could take years.

The US leader also said the Washington-Delhi relationship would be one of this century's defining partnerships.

For years now, he's been whining on in his Slate column about how the West bribes and flatters Pakistan when it should be courting India. I happen to agree rather strongly with this assessment, but unfortunately have to question the motives at work here. His harshest criticisms have, as usual, been reserved for the current administration and not the previous one, as though Obama were personally responsible for instigating our cynical collusion with Pakistan. It's like he feels he has to prove his independence from his former leftist allies by being extra-hard on Democrats and soft on Republicans.

Anyway, Obama has just spent three days in India making Hitch's whisky-fueled dreams come true: establishing trade ties, lavishly praising their economy and political system and now backing them to be a permanent Security Council member. If he's true to his word, we should hear something from our favourite drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay in the next couple of weeks offering, at the very least, measured praise for this development (I'll be generous and let him off this week, as this story probably broke post-deadline). If we don't, or he manages to find a way of attacking the administration on this issue? Then I must conclude, with sadness, that Christopher Hitchens can no longer be taken seriously on foreign policy issues* and should stick to subjects that bring out the best in him. Luckily for us, his loyal public, this includes most other subjects under the sun.

*Many would say this has been the case since at least 2002. I have generally found this view to be unfair, but am finding it increasingly hard to disagree.

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