Back in the 2000s on the Sepia Mutiny blog I would get frustrated with commenters who would talk about India as if it was analogous to Cuba or Israel, in that a group of American nationals with family ties could influence the shape of American policy. This was always a crazy proposition.
The reason that focused American ethnic lobbies could shape Cuba and Israel policy is that these are small nations which to be frank don’t matter that much.
There’s no Germany lobby. There’s no Russia lobby. There’s no China lobby. These nations are too important to get caught up in pure interest group politics. Similarly, there will never be an “India lobby.” Even personal relationships and affinities between leaders are irrelevant when realpolitik is too important. Think of the fact that Trump clearly has an affinity for Putin, but the American government continues to impose various sanctions on Russia.
Note: Because of its embeddedness in the Great Power jockeying between the USA, China, and India, there will also never be a “Pakistan lobby.”
This post isn’t really to state something unequivocal…it’s just to observe that Kashmir and Xinjiang are not that far apart geographically. The great translator of Buddhist works into Chinese, Kumārajīva, may have been the son of a princess from Kucha (on the southern fringe of the Tarim basin) and a Kashmiri.
What is happening to the Uyghurs is being extensively covered in the Western media. But from what I can tell Kashmir has become a major cause on the Left in the West, while Xinjiang is far less. “Solidarity with Xinjiang” returns 300,000 results for me on Google, while “Solidarity with Kashmir” returns 6,000,000.
There are major differences of course. The magnitude of what’s happening Xinjiang seems to be far greater than what’s happening in Kashmir. And, India is a democratic nation, while China is most definitely not.
One of the things that I admitted when reflecting on where I’ve been wrong, is that my default stance is to be somewhat isolationist because international entanglements are so complex. Some critics always wonder why I use such a simple heuristic, why not evaluate on a case by case basis?
At the extreme, this is obviously what would happen. But most cases are not at the extreme. The reality is I know more about history and geography than the vast majority of people, and I just don’t feel comfortable offering definitive judgment on many issues.
In the USA today the Right is pro-Israel to a default, to such an extent that it strikes me that they are as pro-Israel as they are pro-American. At least their in their rhetorical posture. Similarly, the Left is now pro-Palestine to a very great extent.
We could conclude that both the Right and Left have thought through their positions deeply and come to a reasoned position, but the reality is that these are just tribal politics. A subset of the Right adheres to a philo-Israeli theological position that has emerged in the last few decades, and these dictate the terms for the broader Right. Similarly, a small group of activists have kept and amplified the fire of 1970s Left nationalism which aligned with Palestine, and merged with more mainstream “social justice” views so that the pro-Palestinian position is now the Left position.
This is the case with many issues. Tribal politics and coalitional affinities drive solidarity and opinions. When your enemy was the Nazis, things get much easier. But these are very rare cases. Reality is more complex.
Which gets to why I used Ilhan Omar and Sarah Palin to illustrate this post. Both are very sincere and very stupid. So they have strong unnuanced opinions on foreign affairs, even if they could barely navigate a map. They are the best models for “hash tag activists.”
I made the above chart for a presentation I’m working on. You notice that in 1913 Europe is 28% of the world’s population. In 2000 it is 13% of the world’s population. In 2019 Europe is almost certainly closer to ~10% of the world’s population (the above estimates for Europe include Russia).
To the right, I’ve posted the screenshot of an Ngrams search of books with the term “Eurocentric.” Notice that that term shoots up just as European hegemony went into freefall.
Today there is a lot of talk about postcolonialism, “colonizers,” “white supremacy,” and whatnot. And yet what else is this but a shadow of ages gone by?
We as humans are always fighting the last war. European societies are geriatric. They are wealthy, healthy, and have great aesthetic qualities. Many people would love to live in Europe. But unless you are an acolyte of Madison Grant, who believes in the peculiar and unparalleled genius of European peoples, the numbers are telling a story you can’t avoid.
Indian warplanes conducted airstrikes in the Pakistan-controlled side of Kashmir on Tuesday, Pakistani officials said, in an escalation of tensions between the nuclear-armed nations after a suicide bombing against Indian troops in the disputed region this month.
If confirmed, it would be the first time that Indian aircraft had crossed the Kashmir Line of Control to strike in years. But it was unclear what, if anything, the attack jets hit on the Pakistani side, raising the possibility that India was making a calculated bet to assuage public anger but minimize the risk of a major Pakistani military response.