To members of the Shashi Tharoor fan club — don’t even bother to bombard me with your insincere comments saying how great he is, how he is nearly a saint, and how he is one of the best people ever to have passed through the United Nations.
And don’t ever say that he was ever helpful to me — he was, at every occasion, exactly the opposite. Because it was not in his interest. For self-interest is the only principle that he operates on. But that is not the basis of my problem with him.
I don’t care that he came in with a high score in straw polls of UN Security Council members looking for a demographically suitable (Asian) candidate who also speaks French (Shashi had lots of private tutoring during his latter years at the UN) to succeed Kofi Annan, the man whose coattails Shashi rode on to his good fortune during his not-so-brilliant UN career — the UN Security Council’s taste often leaves a lot to be desired.
Now, Shashi Tharoor — who does write well, and sometimes insightfully, one can say — has written a very odd piece published in an Israeli newspaper, saying that India is envious of Israel’s free hand in Gaza.
There’s only the slightest shadow of distance in this appalling piece. Tharoor wrote that “India’s government, no surprise, joined the rest of the world in calling for an end to the military action, but its criticism of Israel was muted“.
Why? Shashi wrote that “many in India, still smarting from the horrors of the Mumbai attacks in November, have been asking: Why can’t we do the same?”
A totally unprincipled question…
The piece gets worse. If it were written as a piece of reportage, explaining why Indian politicians are so eager to exact revenge for the Mumbai attacks, it would be acceptable.
But that’s not what this Shashi Tharoor has done.
Instead, he asserts, in an ugly partisan argument, that “the Mumbai attacks confirmed what has become apparent in recent years: The forces of global Islamist terror have added Indians to their target list of reviled ‘Jews and crusaders’.”
Then, he draws parallels between India and the residents of Israeli communities living around the perimeter of the Gaza Strip: “Just as Israel has frequently been attacked by rockets fired from across its border, India has suffered repeated assaults by killers trained, equipped, financed and directed by elements based next door, in Pakistan“.
He continues; “Yet there the parallels end. Israel is a small country living in a permanent state of siege, highly security-conscious and surrounded by forces hostile to it; India is a giant country whose borders are notoriously permeable, an open society known for its lax and easygoing ways … Whereas Israel notoriously exacts grim retribution for every attack on its soil, India has endured with numbing stoicism an endless series of bomb blasts, including at least six major assaults in different locations in 2008 alone. Terrorism has taken more lives in India than in any country in the world after Iraq, and yet, unlike Israel, India has seemed unable to do anything about it … whereas Hamas operates from Gaza without international recognition, India’s tormentors function from Pakistan, a sovereign member of the United Nations. And that makes all the difference. Hamas is in no position to repay Israel’s air and ground attacks in kind, whereas an Indian attack on Pakistani territory, even one targeting terrorist bases and training camps, would invite swift retaliation from the Pakistani army. And, at the end of the day, one chilling fact would prevent India from thinking that it could use Israel’s playbook: The country that condones, if not foments, the terror attacks on India is a nuclear power … Yet, when Indians watch Israel take the fight to the enemy, killing those who launched rockets against it and dismantling many of the sites from which the rockets flew, some cannot resist wishing that they could do something similar in Pakistan. India understands, though, that the collateral damage would be too high, the price in civilian lives unacceptable, and the risks of the conflict spiraling out of control too acute to contemplate such an option. So Indians place their trust in international diplomacy and watch, with ill-disguised wistfulness, as Israel does what they could never permit themselves to do“.
The slug on this article reads: “Shashi Tharoor is an Indian novelist and commentator, and a former under-secretary-general of the United Nations. Copyright: Project Syndicate”. It can be read in full here.
One of Shashi Tharoor’s main flaws is that he never understood what is going on in the Middle East, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And he saw it to his advantage, in the interest of his career advancement, to pander to one side, the one with the most power and influence … and that is a classic, though profoundly immoral, way to behave.
It is also no sign of greatness, but rather it is its opposite.
It doesn’t take any character at all to always side with those who are powerful and influential…