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The people of India love you deeply!
August 17, 2011 6:28 PM   Subscribe

"Certainly, Uncle Sam, disowned by Pakistanis, has found innumerable devoted nephews in India. Indian and Pakistani perceptions of America now wildly diverge: A 2005 Pew poll conducted in 16 countries found the United States in the highest regard among Indians (71 percent having a favorable opinion) and nearly the lowest among Pakistanis (23 percent)." Why do India and Pakistan see America in such opposite ways?
posted by vidur (45 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Because they're looking at it from different sides?
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:38 PM on August 17, 2011


Nope. Not gonna say it.
posted by Trurl at 6:39 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


No matches for "drone". Huh.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:48 PM on August 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Lemme see if I can do it without reading the cheat sheet:

1. India's current economic boom is largely on the heels of American outsourcing.
2. Indians speak English, but were not colonized by Americans, creating a shared linguistic culture without most of the historical baggage.
3. American culture has basically beatified Mohandas Ghandi, while overlooking the travesties of the caste system, so pop-culture stereotypes aside, India feels some love from the States.
4. America recently raided Pakistan and killed America's most wanted man there, while that man was holed up in an impossible-to-miss compound.
5. Pakistan also speaks English, but with Urdu as the official language, marking a cultural contrast with western influence.
6. Pakistan is an Islamic Country, and while a large percentage of Indians are also Muslim, it is 80% Hindu, a religion which most Americans don't have any opinion of other than that it is exotic.
7. The two are locked in an unending feud on many levels in which the U.S. has clearly chosen sides.

How'd I do?
posted by Navelgazer at 6:53 PM on August 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


Pakistan has received over $30 billion from the USA since its formation, around half of that for civilian activities, half for the military. Aid has been cut off at various times because of Pakistan's wars with India in 1965 and 1971, its uranium enrichment programme in the 1970s (by Jimmy Carter) and its nuclear weapons programme in the 1990s. The Pakistan Relief Fund, announced by Hilary Clinton last August in the wake of the floods, raised over $2 million dollars from private, corporate and government sources, with the first tranche of money used to buy water purification kits.

As Osama Bin Laden was living in a large purpose built compound among senior Pakistani military officers right next to a huge Pakistani military base while the Pakistan Army, despite years of lavish funding, was entirely failing to deal with the terrorists who use the tribal areas of Pakistan as a safe retreat from which to attack Afganistan, one might wonder less why America is unpopular with Pakistanis and more why the inactions of the Pakistan government remain induldged by the USA.
posted by joannemullen at 6:56 PM on August 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Good question. But I'll stay at the starting gate, trurl has a point and the snack bar has been refreshed.

"Give me a name, America," Solanka begs, "make of me a Buzz or Chip or Spike. Bathe me in amnesia and clothe me in your powerful unknowing."

rather good.
posted by clavdivs at 6:57 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


one might wonder less why America is unpopular with Pakistanis and more why the inactions of the Pakistan government remain induldged by the USA.

one might though consider that it may have something to do with terrain, politics, religion, perception, history. By this premise perhaps inaction is something you may want to reconsider, for example, if they took severe action or mildly annoyed, frankly i'm not sure.

Lets ask a diplomat.
posted by clavdivs at 7:03 PM on August 17, 2011


oh, right
posted by clavdivs at 7:03 PM on August 17, 2011


India and Pakistan were the same country until 1947, and both were neutral in the Cold War, so I kind of doubt politics or history have much to do with it. Rather, current events since 2001, including, yes, drones and unsanctioned raids, have had much more of an effect.
posted by shii at 7:10 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


and both were neutral in the Cold War

Which is just a nice way of saying they were some of the battlegrounds.
posted by absalom at 7:14 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


They do mention 30,000 dead, but only a fool can ask why we are hated after giving them ten 9/11s. Not just one barbaric act in anger, but a decade of indifferent brutality, further mocking their dignity by pretending that the cash we poured into Musharraf's pocket would bury their grief.

This article is propaganda written by well-to-do democrats for well-to-do democrats who think they are leftists. It's to protect them from the simple reality that killing innocent men, women, and children hasn't solved our diplomatic impasse or done anything to protect America from terrorism. They'd rather obsess over letters written in the 50s.

Yes, why can't there be peace in the region we have filled with trillions of dollars of violence? Why are violent mullahs gaining traction instead of our violent generals? Why can't everyone just calmly sit at the negotiation table while we smear their homes with the blood of their own children? Why won't they listen to our concerns about their human rights record while we kidnap and torture their citizens to death, or blow them up with errant missiles that could build their village a hundred times over, or pretend to give them medicine when we're actually profiling their DNA to assassinate our sworn enemies?

What is wrong with these people?
posted by notion at 7:16 PM on August 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


"How'd I do?"

Eh, you probably would have been better off just reading the article.
posted by MikeMc at 7:19 PM on August 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


India and Pakistan were the same country until 1947

Even so, I feel like asking the question in a way that expects India and Pakistan to see the US or, well most things, in the same way is a bit stupid. Given that they're two different countries and all.

(If they were best friends and Partition had been nice and easy and god knows what else, then maybe.)
posted by hoyland at 7:20 PM on August 17, 2011


Dreaming of the outside and freedom planning my getaway.
But there is a guard on the inside with a rifle in hand,
And a guard on the outside on this government land.

posted by clavdivs at 7:22 PM on August 17, 2011


Pakistan is basically America's Great Enemy right now. It's the major state sponsor of terrorism in the world, it supports the Taliban in Pakistan, it's the biggest proliferator in the history of nuclear weapons technology. Probably the most dangerous country in the world, from the US perspective.

It's weird that we pretend to be allies. We should just go at it.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:34 PM on August 17, 2011


I mean, shit. Bin Laden lived there. We needed an unsanctioned special forces invasion to get him, and they're still pissed off about it.

If there's an enemy, it's Pakistan.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:36 PM on August 17, 2011


supports the Taliban in Afghanistan, of course
posted by mr_roboto at 7:37 PM on August 17, 2011


As Osama Bin Laden was living in a large purpose built compound among senior Pakistani military officers right next to a huge Pakistani military base while the Pakistan Army, despite years of lavish funding, was entirely failing to deal with the terrorists who use the tribal areas of Pakistan as a safe retreat from which to attack Afganistan, one might wonder less why America is unpopular with Pakistanis and more why the inactions of the Pakistan government remain induldged by the USA.
The Pakistanis aren’t exactly big fans of their own government, as far as I know.
posted by delmoi at 7:37 PM on August 17, 2011


I was pretty young when Terminator 2 came out, and it was one of the first truly scary movies I remember seeing. It terrified me. One thing in particular stood out. It wasn't the Governor of California peeling back the flesh on his arm to reveal the gleaming metal within, it wasn't the metallic skeleton with demonic glowing red eyes crushing human skulls underfoot, it was the flying hunter-killers raining fiery death on the fleeing humans below. The thought of tireless flying robots surveilling the ground below, ready to unleash hell at any moment, it gave me nightmares for years.

I think that's why today, as a recent Pew poll shows, North Americans of my generation hold Skynet in unusually low regard.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:38 PM on August 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


How'd I do?

You forgot the rain of hot, flaming death.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:39 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


India and Pakistan were the same country until 1947

While that's strictly factual, I would almost go so far as to call it a meaningless fact, because while the entity we call India encompassed what is now Pakistan, it not only wasn't remotely the India we know now, it was not even a country in the sense we normally use the term. It was a great many Principalities federalized only in certain grand administrative senses by the British Empire, and different principalities exercised very different styles of autonomy depending on a bewildering array of other factors. So again, while it's a fact, it doesn't mean anything like what it sounds like to our ears now.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:41 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pakistan is basically America's Great Enemy right now. It's the major state sponsor of terrorism in the world, it supports the Taliban in Pakistan, it's the biggest proliferator in the history of nuclear weapons technology. Probably the most dangerous country in the world, from the US perspective.

You seem to have confused Pakistan with the United States. We let them develop nukes in the 80s because they were helping us arm the proto-Taliban in Afghanistan. The United States has sponsored more terrorism in Central and South America, and throughout the Middle East, than Pakistan has ever dreamed of.

We're one of the world's top arms dealers and largest sponsors of terrorism, and I don't think that's changed in about fifty years or so.
posted by notion at 7:42 PM on August 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


We're not a particularly large sponsor of terrorism, actually. We bomb the shit out of civilians, and always will do so, apparently, but as for terrorism, it's mostly been limited to a few things with Cuba.

Just forget what's right for a moment, though. I think it's obvious that Pakistan and the US have pretty opposite geopolitical interests right now. We're natural enemies.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:49 PM on August 17, 2011


The US has not given Pakistan ten 9/11s; those 30,000 have been killed largely in a civil war against Pakistanis who would destroy every scrap of democracy, liberty, equality, and tolerance that Pakistan possesses. It is Pakistan who has trained and supported the Taliban for decades because they would rather spite India than protect their state from religious extremists. It is Pakistan who has lost control of its own army, its intelligence services, and the numerous terrorist groups it has nurtured in the NWFP.

Not saying the US has been perfect, we were initially guilty of the same opportunistic use of the mujahideen; we've been a far better friend than the government deserves, and a far far worse friend than the people do. But Pakistan is poor and dysfunctional and violent because it prefers to blame those outside its border rather than looking to the militarism, political corruption, feudalism and religious extremism within.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:02 PM on August 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


We're not a particularly large sponsor of terrorism, actually.

What? We've sponsored coups and guerilla armies in Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Laos, Vietnam, Colombia, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, El Salvador, Chile... that's just off the top of my head. What country has done more?

Terrorism, as defined in the Army Field Manual, is "calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear. It is intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies ... [to attain] political, religious, or ideological goals."

Just because we use legalistic handwringing to redefine all of our violence as lawful doesn't mean it isn't terrorism.
posted by notion at 8:04 PM on August 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm surprised anyone felt we needed an article about this. There are innumerable answers, but immigration, religion, and US involvement with the state covers most of it.
posted by smoke at 8:23 PM on August 17, 2011


I guess my point above was that the framing of the question seemed silly to me, as if one should be surprised not to see Pakistan and India as like-minded brothers, which is, of course, ridiculous. It's like if there were an article wondering why Israel and Iran saw America so differently.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:54 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


As an American, I've always felt guilty that we gave Pakistan so much military aid which they used on the Indians. We should've just let the Russians keep Afghanistan, seriously. I sincerely hope we've been feeding India intelligence on Pakistani forces or something to make up for that.

Americans actively romanticize both Buddhism and Hinduism, even with our loonies wishing to covert them, that averages out north of simply 'exotic.'

Imho, onw should require some measure of futility before labeling an act as terrorism, notion. American soldiers shooting random Iraqi civilians whenever an IDE goes off, that's 100% pure state sponsored terrorism. Aiding some hopeless paramilitaries? Again terrorism. Aiding some coup attempt that might actually win? Nah.

Any such constraint means the Anthrax attacks were not terrorist attacks though, given they were highly successful at pushing a right-wing militaristic ideology.

posted by jeffburdges at 8:56 PM on August 17, 2011


No matches for "drone". Huh.

A pretty big lacuna considering we're dealing explicitly with perception rather than reality here, and even though drones don't seem to be as bad as they've been made out to be (the author behind that, Charli Carpenter, commented only today on the difficultly in understanding drone casualties), they've been very useful to Pakistani authorities who will authorize their use by the US while at the same time denouncing them to the Pakistani public.

On a literary note, of the contemporary writers he mentioned Mohammed Hanif's Case of Exploding Mangoes is a terrific novel, Mohsin Hamid is interesting but I dont think anywhere near as good as he's made out to be, and he's left off Daniyal Mueenuddin who writes gorgeous Chekhovian stories portraying life in rural Pakistan. Pankaj Mishra, the author of the piece, also wrote a decent novel called the Romantics a while back. Kamila Shamsie is an absolute hack though
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:08 PM on August 17, 2011


hi...

this is wrong

1. India's current economic boom is largely on the heels of American outsourcing.
posted by lslelel at 9:46 PM on August 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


India and Pakistan were the same country until 1947, and both were neutral in the Cold War

Pakistan neutral? Hardly.
posted by dhartung at 11:12 PM on August 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


1. India's current economic boom is largely on the heels of American outsourcing.
By that logic alone, shouldn't the USA enjoy stratospheric popularity amongst the Chinese? Sure money plays its part, but the article seems to suggest that there are other important factors which account for the unusual amount of enthusiasm Indians have for the US.
I'm surprised anyone felt we needed an article about this.
I don't think this article is useless at all, although I haven't the knowledge or expertise to evaluate its claims. For all I know, the author cherry picked the literary examples he used to illustrate his argument.

Anyway, the interesting bit for me is the reversal of the common idea that 'Pakistanis hate America because they have taken sides in the global struggle between democracy and Islam.' Instead Mishra is saying that Pakistanis distrust the US because it betrayed its own principles when it dealt with anti-democratic forces during the Cold War. Many Pakistanis suffered because of this and it's no wonder they might be a little unhappy with the US.

Yes, amongst the left, this is hardly a revolutionary notion. But every single time somebody casts light on the tensions between Islam and the West from a historic Cold War context I think helps dispel the idea that fundamental Islam rose to strength from nowhere, thereby being a natural and eventual development of Islam.
posted by quosimosaur at 11:19 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting article, and very interesting question. It's easy to tell who hasn't read it here based on the prevailing assumption that US and Indian interests are aligned. In fact there's a very complicated relationship between the three countries which defies simple explanation. I'd argue that upper-class India, which is not the whole of India, looks to the US for culture standards while simultaneously being deeply cynical politically about the US's role as an ally. It seems to many in power that the US has failed to assist a democratic India from the terrorism it claims to war, while propping up the structures in Pakistan that enable that terror. That is obviously a one-sided view of the current climate, but I would be surprised to discover that India viewed the US as trustworthy.

That's despite the fact that the Bush administration gave more money to India in the form of establishment loans than any previous government, and despite the coalescing of American and Indian business interest. India as a government has a deep paranoia about being the forsaken jewel of empire once again, and I think there is a sense that the US presumes India will always be on its side. The paired nuclear tests some years ago should have been the warning they were meant to be, that these two countries are getting ready to pursue their own destinies. I think that India is getting ready to announce that it no longer wishes to be considered a child or a protectorate, and I fear the form that rebellion will take.

(I'm speaking almost exclusively about India because I'm only barely qualified to do that, and I'm definitely not qualified to speak about Pakistan. I hope others will, and of course I welcome correction; these are just my impressions.)
posted by Errant at 11:37 PM on August 17, 2011


Just today, the largest political party in India - this party is currently also heading the coalition that is in power at the national level - has accused USA of interfering in India's domestic politics. The USA-India-Pakistan relationship is a complicated one (aren't they all?).

I felt that the essay made some good points and provided a bit of historical context that many of us simply don't have (a lot happened before drones, 9/11, OBL, Soviet invasion etc.), hence the FPP. Sure, it used the literary device of posing a rhetorical question and then using that as a peg to elaborate on certain ideas. But we aren't 5th graders here, and I think we can be expected to recognize it as what it is and go beyond implying that the question is either stupid, or doesn't need an answer or that we already have all the answers (oh, if only that were so).

Anyway, I try to let my FPPs go once they get posted and instead just educate myself from the ensuing discussion, so I'll just be standing here in the corner.
posted by vidur at 12:11 AM on August 18, 2011


Also, do some of you guys realise that the attitude of 'of course it's obvious, why waste time asking the question?' is precisely the attitude that contributed to these problems? If the US approached the world with a little more humility and consideration people might not dislike it so much.
posted by quosimosaur at 12:46 AM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmmm, I didn't have a pakistani passport the last time I checked, odd.
posted by infini at 3:13 AM on August 18, 2011


And?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:37 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


RTFA, the stats are based on a 2005 poll with this little note at the bottom,

2 The sample in China is disproportionately urban. The probability sample is drawn from the following six cities and surrounding areas: Shanghai (in east China), Beijing (north) Guangzhou (southeast), Chengdu (southwest), Wuhan (central) and Shenyang (northeast). The surveys in India and Pakistan were also disproportionately or exclusively urban samples.

How relevant is this to drones today? (among all the other things)

And, I'm in the 29%
posted by infini at 4:21 AM on August 18, 2011


Also, do some of you guys realise that the attitude of 'of course it's obvious, why waste time asking the question?' is precisely the attitude that contributed to these problems? If the US approached the world with a little more humility and consideration people might not dislike it so much.

No, the attitude of "It's obvious that killing people makes them our enemies" is precisely the one we need. The more common attitude of "why are the people we're killing hostile towards us?" is the problem. It's an order of stupidity that I find hard to comprehend.

US foreign policy is more desperate for basic common sense than false humility. We're just now getting around to tell Assad that he maybe shouldn't be leading Syria, after months of false humility disguising our loyalty to a paid henchmen as he guns his people down in the streets. Sure, the State Department wagged their finger, but that's meaningless. It mirrors the Egyptian revolution because it's the same deal: we support whoever supports us, regardless of how brutal they are towards their own people. Only when their ability to crush popular will seems to fade do we start handwringing, and only when it's likely that their government will fall do we ask them to step down.

People in the Middle East largely hate us because we are indifferent to their suffering, especially when we have played a part in creating it for our own cynical purposes. They hate us because we have paid the bill for brutal dictatorships for decades. They hate us because we have killed hundreds of thousands of people near where they live, virtually all of them Muslim, and they believe that we don't value a Muslim life the same way we value an American one. They hate us because we don't want them to have strong, sovereign governments that operate in the interest of their own people instead of us.

I can't wait to read next year's piece: "Syrians: Why Do They Hate Us?"
posted by notion at 7:40 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're just now getting around to tell Assad that he maybe shouldn't be leading Syria, after months of false humility disguising our loyalty to a paid henchmen as he guns his people down in the streets

cite.
posted by clavdivs at 8:02 AM on August 18, 2011


The U.S. pursues the interests of its oligarchs - not its national interests. In fact, that pursuit has resulted in terrible consequences for the U.S., and has been contrary to the broad interests of the U.S.. We expend blood and treasure on behalf of our oligarchs, and frequently sustain massive losses that the taxpayer then picks up, all for the sake of enriching the few. And then, there are the long lasting consequences of invigorating hatred of the U.S. and opposition. Sometimes, this happens just for the sake of a single corporation, like United Fruit: "It had a deep and long-lasting impact on the economic and political development of several Latin American countries. Critics often accused it of exploitative neocolonialism and described it as the archetypal example of the influence of a multinational corporation on the internal politics of the banana republics (a term coined by O. Henry)."

This narrow pursuit of certain interests, has led us to support dictators and every manner of anti-democratic and vicious regimes on every continent, as long as those forces were compliant with our exploitation of their countries, either directly by our corporations, our military-industrial complex, or simply by creating regional geopolitical realities friendly to our large business interests.

Our government elites have always been closely aligned with our business elites, with representatives of both moving from one to the other. This of course, results in the pursuit of the interests of those elites at the expense of everything else, including long term interests of the U.S. as a whole.

Pakistan or anywhere else, it doesn't matter, our support of the dictators does not go unnoticed by the populace. We earn the enmity of the man in the street, but our government doesn't care, because that would be thinking about the long-term interests of our entire country, which is laughably naive.

If we did in India what we did in Pakistan, we'd be just as hated there. India was lucky to have leadership that distrusted the U.S. and refused to get drawn into our orbit, and India was too large, complicated and powerful for us to muscle into directly as we've done so often elsewhere in the world. Hence, the Indians don't hate us - they didn't give us a chance.

The U.S. - the country as a whole, in contradistinction to our oligarchs - has a vibrant culture that's admired the world over. Our people, for the most part, are open and friendly. The world loves that America - be it in Pakistan or in India. But they often hate our government, when they've had the unfortunate experience of the consequences of our government engagement.

I personally would wish for the U.S. to actually pursue our national interests - that benefit our entire country. That would be great not only for the world, but for our citizens too.
posted by VikingSword at 10:22 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


By that logic alone, shouldn't the USA enjoy stratospheric popularity amongst the Chinese?

Apples and oranges; we're outsourcing low-paying unskilled factory work to China (as well as all of the pollution and dangerous working conditions), we're outsourcing lower-paid but still halfway decent service jobs to India.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:47 AM on August 18, 2011


clavdivs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maher_Arar
"If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt."

--Bob Baer, CIA Case Officer
You don't think those free torture chambers come without a political cost, do you?
posted by notion at 11:52 AM on August 18, 2011


Pakistani belief about drones: perceptive or paranoid?
posted by homunculus at 6:46 PM on August 18, 2011


I love how notion simultaneously decries the USA's past attempt to overthrow foreign governments, while at the same time berating the USA for not overthrowing a foreign government.
posted by rosswald at 11:31 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


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