Should we really ‘learn’ from the United States?


The terror attack on The Taj Mahal Hotel and The Oberoi-Trident in Bombay—not so much the attack on the Victoria Terminus, though—has seen an explosion of middle-class machismo.

At one level, there is a verbal outrage against the political class as evidenced from TV studio discussions, candle light rallies, and posters and placards. At another level is the slight suggestion of the frustration brimming over.

“Enough is enough,” has been the battle cry on several lips, demanding “action” (short hand for a military strike short of war).

But a dominant strand of discussion has been the United States’ response to the attack on the World Trade Centre towers.  “See how well they have guarded themselves. There has not been an attack on their soil for seven years,” is a line that trips off tongues with effortless ease.

“Look at tiny Israel. See how they protect themselves.”



P. Sainath, in today’s Hindu, attacks the notion that India should “learn” from the United States about how to respond to the appalling slaughter in Bombay:

“Look at the USA,” goes the refrain, “after 9/11 has there been another attack on the US?”

“This knocks at the doors of insanity. The US “response” does stand out as worth learning from. There is very little it did not get wrong.

“It launched two wars, one against a country that had not a single link to the events of 9/11. Close to a million human beings have lost their lives in that response. That includes 4,000 US troops in Iraq and nearly 1,000 in Afghanistan. That is apart from several hundred thousand Iraqis losing their lives. Countless Afghans die each month, as one of the world’s poorest States sinks deeper into devastation. Millions have suffered dislocation and deprivation….

“There are other lessons. Almost every week now, the US bombs some part of Pakistan—its firm ally of decades. Civilians are routinely killed by this…. The media too have much to learn. The “embedded journalism” that disgraced some of America’s leading media institutions…. The damage of whipped up hysteria with the United States…. The barbaric prison camp at Guantanamo from where several prisoners have been released as innocent after years of brutal torture.

“Inside the United States, the curbing of civil liberties—a vital 9/11 response—was at its worst since the McCarthy period. The Patriot Act was just one symbol of these. And Geroge W. Bush now ranks among the most despised US Presidents of all time. “

Read the full article: Why the United States got it wrong