The new New Republic

January 3, 2002 6:40 p.m.

The new New Republic has an elegant and precise statement of the ironies and difficulties of the current stand-off between India and Pakistan, and our vexed efforts to serve as an honest broker between the two. More broadly, however, the editorial is a clear statement of the panoply of geo-strategic, political and cultural affinities which should make India our ally in the deepest sense. We share realpolitik interests and values as well.

Oddly enough, one of the strongest bonds we have with the Indians is one the TNR editorial doesn’t even mention, perhaps because it is so obvious or implicit: the fact that we, literally, speak the same language.

India isn’t an English-speaking country of course. But the elite speak English, and it’s the lingua franca Indians use to communicate across the multitude of languages that are spoken on the subcontinent.

We hear a great deal about the billion-plus Chinese and how they’re a huge potential market, which of course they are. But the Indian population isn’t that much smaller. And with them we share language, democratic values, a good bit of our legal system, and much more.

Of late I’ve been writing a lot about the importance of bolstering and supporting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. But up till now, and from a broader perspective, I’m thoroughly pro-India in my sentiments. The perplexity and irony of our current circumstance is that precisely at the moment when the depth of our friendship with the Indians is most clear, our need of good behavior from the Pakistanis is most acute. And the country is suddenly being run by a leader who seems willing and – hopefully – able make it into the sort of country with which America could be a true ally.

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