Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Honeymoon is over

....if ever there was one. The knives are out. Aijaz Ahmed a columnist for the Chennai newspaper 'The Hindu' as well as 'Frontline' and a fully paid up member of the Indian left has presented a stark, gloomy and depressing prospect of the, still in the future, Obama presidency. Almost makes it sound as if the Bush years were a walk in the park. Surely one could have waited for the poor guy to have at least moved into the White House, before we sharpened our knives.


Anant said...

Tsk! Tsk! Disappointing post from the Learned Mastah. By drawing the attention of his humble readership to the paid-up membership of the Left of Aijaz Ahmed, he seeks to influence the reader's mind even before he or she has had a chance to click on the link. The Learned Mastah, it seems, really has no way of rebutting anything that Ahmed is saying, and hence the name calling? Enquiring minds want to know.

Your humble student.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

What exactly is Ahmed saying, anyway? That Obama is not Ralph Nader? But whoever said he was? He ran on a platform. Americans elected him on that platform. He ran for president of the US, not president of the world. So far, he has made just one appointment and there are speculations about others; but all of it seems to have be consistent with that platform. That is as it should be.

femmedouce said...

One Believes America Must Affirm Fortitude Over Republican Enforced Vestigial Evil Remnants.

Anant said...

I think Ahmed is saying a lot of things which need to be said. Firstly, he is speaking at a time when it is important to talk about what the Obama Presidency holds for the world, and indeed for the American people. Much bandwidth was expended on the blogosphere before November 4, 2008 on the US election purportedly due to its importance, which is undeniable. If anything, the importance is greater now, than at the time of the election. In fact to turn arguments around, it was not important until November 4 for the rest of the world because until that time, it was the business of the US electorate. Now it becomes the business of the world. In particular, Ahmed discusses Obama's voting record on the war, his commitment to continuing US occupation of Afghanistan, and indirectly of the consequence of the Obama Presidency to the Palestinian people.
As regards the domestic policy, if one were to go by the advisors in the transition team, Ahmed says that while there was a campaign on change and hope, there is going to be very little of that forthcoming. I think he is fully justified in this assessment, and that is indeed the business of all political commentators. I hope this answers the question on what is Ahmed saying anyway.

Indeed if it is true that the picture that has been painted is stark and gloomy, then the question is whether or not this picture is accurate. What is not important is whether this is painted by a paid-up member of the Left, or a rightist. So, I think it important for all enlightened souls to seek opinion from all sides, left or right, and assess the situation for it is. Like it or not, those who are going to be at the receiving end of the stick will have to take stock of the situation.

Rahul Basu said...

Yes, Anant, one must make an assessment of the US Presidency. That can only be done after he has taken over and spent some time, at least 6 months to 1 year on the job. His voting record and his other 'sins' are all a matter of public record. What is the point of dragging it out now? Surely it is also clear that a candidate who wants to win cannot take positions which he might even sincerely believe in. For example, Obama has tried not to attract too much attention to his middle name for obvious reasons. Does it make him anti-Muslim? Obama has visited churches and synagogues but never a mosque at least during his campaign. Perhaps he should have but it might not have gone down too well with the American public in the present atmosphere. (I recall long before he started on his race for the Presidency, he had said somewhere that the sound of the azaan is one of the most beautiful sounds one can hear in the morning, or something along those lines. Clearly he has been careful not to repeat those lines during his long drawn out campaign, and with good reason).

My point about the left was the almost mindless and hysterical anti-Americanism that pervades their thought processes and their policy pronouncements. It's something completely independent of issues (apart from the word 'imperialism' which is an automatic suffix to the word American). There are many examples of this but to take one -- the antipathy towards the nuclear deal (which, let me make my position clear, is one which I think is clearly in India's favour) was based on the fact that it was an American deal. An identical deal with China or the Soviet Union would not have elicited quite such a response and in this matter there was even a split in the ranks -- Siddhartha Varadarajan and the Hindu clearly broke ranks with the rest of the left on this issue (though you won't get them to admit this in those many words).

So I stand by what I said. And in any case, as Rahul S. has indicated, nobody said that Obama was a (perish the thought!) LIBERAL! A dirty word, if even there was one, in American politics.

About Rahm Emmanuel -- he is supposed to be the White House Chief of Staff not the Secretary of State. Incidentally I should remind you that he was also in the Clinton White House. And among all recent American Presidents (and particularly compared to the present one) Clinton did try to be an honest broker in the peace accord between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. It's a pity it didn't work out.

Anant said...

O Learned Mastah!

Now it is much better.

Let us hear what the others readers of this blog have to say.

Your humble student.

rdv said...

What this reader has to say is that Anant should stop with this 'mastah' business. I find it very odd.

As for the substance of the post, Rahul Basu's comment seems eminently sensible. A number of liberal bloggers have expressed hand wringing similar to Aijaz Ahmed's and have been met with responses of "Obama never said he believed those things, so don't hold it againt him that he is not implementing things he never said he would". An Updike quote (IIRC) on book reviews I read recently - "don't blame an author for not not achieving what he did not attempt".

Anant said...

Dear RDV,

Sorry to know that you find the term of endearment that I have for an old friend to be offensive. Since I am eager to please, and I do not wish to drive away Rahul's readers because of my manner of addressing him, I will do as you request (order?).

Having said that, I think not everyone found my method to be offensive: I see that AMOK has also adopted this term of endearment. Secondly, I did not find your objecting to AMOK referring to Rahul as `Sire' and some other terms of endearment. So I detect serious lack of consistency.

Next: I think you have only me to thank for Rahul's turning to the blogosphere. I persuaded him to give up his page on the imsc website and go public, along with comments. Rahul can correct me if I am wrong.

Turning now to the issue of Obama: your point may indeed be true that he cannot be held responsible for things he did not say. But he did say many things, such as saying that he will go after Pakistan. And I suppose he will do that. So Aijaz Ahmed and other liberal bloggers have a right to worry, without having to wait 6 months to a year to see how the Obama Presidency will unfold. Let me also add that I have not seen, atleast on this blog, anyone rebutting anything that Aijaz had to say in a substantive manner.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

Anant - how do you know what RDV thinks of AMOK's comments?

Speaking for myself: I found his "sir"/"sire" stuff annoying and (sort of) said so here. I find your "learned mastah" stuff annoying and say so now.

Back to Obama: that's the precise issue here. If Obama says he'll do something, and doesn't do it (or vice versa), there are grounds for complaint. If he sticks to doing what he said, who can complain about it? Can it be that liberals embraced Obama without understanding his position (or they ignored inconvenient aspects of it)?

Anant said...

Rahul: of course I don't know for sure what RDV thinks. As I said I did not find evidence on AIP that there was any complaint about `Sire' etc.. I have generally read most comments there. But I do not want to say that it is a cardinal sin to either complain about `Mastah' or not complain about `Sire'. It's a free world and I respect others for what they feel and what they want. On the other hand, for God's sake, this is the comments section of a blog, on the comments section of Physical Review Letters! If needless acrimony continues various commentators will simply stop commenting, not something that I think the owner of AIP would like.

I don't know about American liberals, but I am mainly concerned with Aijaz Ahmed and his column. I think political commentators world over have and will be reacting to this election. It has portent for all corners of the world. Especially in our near neighbourhood and this something that needs to be talked about; political opinion needs to be built and political organization will take place.

rdv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rdv said...

Anant, 'mastah' sounds like how a slave would say master and thats what i found odd. I would have found just 'master' quirky.

Also, I am not a regular reader and didn't see AMOK using 'sir/sire'. Not that I go around the blogs telling people what I find odd.


Anant said...

Dear Rajagopal,


Have a nice evening.