I want to write about Obama’s Asian tour, but I keep realising that I’m stupefied by the complexity and the pageantry of it all. From America’s view, South Asia is a diplomatic cesspool, confounded by the fact that much of this uncertainty stems from our own past and present policies.
When Obama returns to the White House, he will have visited five countries—Japan, Singapore, South Korea, China and Indonesia. But, barring the G20 Summit, the bulk of press coverage will focus on two of those countries—Indonesia, because of Obama’s personal connection, and India—as well as another country not on the itinerary. The press wants to know: what does Islamabad think about Obama in New Delhi?
Obama’s Asia trip has nothing to do with Pakistan
The most obvious answer is: nothing. This trip has nothing to do with Islamabad—why should it? Another obvious response—isn’t $2 billion in weapons, or $7.5 billion over five years, enough to buy some peace—bad pun intended?
The truth, both in-between and unrelated, is better pondered by someone more knowledgeable than me. But I ponder anyway, and this is what I’ve come up with: Obama’s tour is definitely about weapons—$15 billion worth, plus a couple of nukes for good measure. It’s more about China, less about Indonesia, and even less about the Indians who died in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. But it is about terrorism, or at least, it’s about the potential for increased terrorism on US soil, and it is about capitalism, and maybe it’s even about democracy. To put a long story short—Obama’s trip is about America’s interests, in whatever geographic form they come.
Keep reading at Pakistani paper, The Express Tribune.