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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shourie's Chinese Points

What's amazing about Sri Shourie's thoughts on how to deal with China, from his latest book Are we deceiving ourselves again?, is that those thoughts could have been made in post-war 1962! It seems Chinese haven't changed, but importantly, we haven't either.

From among the many:

* Never take its silence to be consent.

* Nor its ambiguous word: remember the. statements they kept making about the maps being old, and their not having had the time to correct them.

* Nor indeed its consent. Not even if that consent is in writing: no compunction restrained China from repudiating the 17-point Agreement with Tibet 50 years ago, just as no compunction has restrained it now from brushing aside the principles and 'political parameters' that were agreed for the settling the border question.

* Rushing troops around at the last minute, buying weapons at the last minute, learning how to counter new types of warfare at the last minute. All this has to be done when the avalanche descends, but by then it is of little use. Nor does the emotion and enthusiasm with which people respond to aggression save the country. The emotion and enthusiasm are indispensable. But they are no substitute for having prepared oneself in the years that precede the onslaught. As Clausewitz would say, "The best strategy is always to be very strong". Both terms are equally important: "always" as well as "very strong".

* Do not pose the question as "all or nothing". The choice that the other fellow sees is not "war or peace", but "limited war", "proxy war", "the violence of peace".
The last point is worth pondering. When the Chinese recently cracked down, yet again, on the Tibetans fighting for independence from communist tyranny, a media person asked a senior politician in the lefty Congress I what was its government's response. That politician answered because we can't roll our tanks into Tibet to defend Tibetans, there is nothing we can do. In fact, I doubt if Manmohan Singh even raised the issue of Tibet in any of his meetings with the Chinese leaders.

Sri Shourie's points reminds me of the letter that Sardar wrote to Nehru in 1949, an year prior to his death, about the nature of communist regimes, especially that of Chinese nature and how we should be prepared for that nature in the early years of an independent nation. Nehru probably thought the pre-modern old fool didn't know what he was talking about - after all communism was the modern future and the Chinese themselves have convinced him otherwise. One can only guess the response Sardar would have given to the Chinese takeover of Tibet few years after his death.

Here is Brahma Chellaney's review of the book.