Sunday, May 12, 2013

Deranged Bhagwati

Visceral hate of President Obama while succumbing to Bush Revisionism and urge to disparage Liberals for no reasons; all that has led Prof. Bhagwati to write this illogical column unsubstantiated by facts. Prof. Bhagwati praises George Bush but exactly misses core contributions of Bush to America - uniting the country after 9/11 attacks and never allowing 'war on terror' to be equated to 'war against Islam', precisely practicing Secularism as intended by America's Founding Fathers.

Prof Bhgwati starts by pointing outrage of Liberals against Bush's Iraq war. Rather than getting wrapped in 'talking points of political brawl'; we needed person of Prof. Bhagwati's stature to rise above the partisan rhetoric and point the historical context of how disastrous that war has been to America - trillions of dollars gone, thousands of Americans died, hundreds of thousands Iraqi's dead; all with diminished stature of America in World. We needed Prof. to understand reticence of this President in intervening in Syria considering consequences of 'ill-fated judgements of Bush'. Presidency is about making cardinal calls of War and Peace. On Obama's watch America is wrapping two wars, brought to justice main perpetrator of 9/11, propounded non-hawkish policy world over whereas George Bush started the wrong war - that is the reality. For Prof. to hide behind some shrill noises on ultra-Left is completely missing the forest for a tree.

Next, Prof. Bhagwati goes on blaming Obama for Doha Round Trade failure. Again facts are not with Prof. Why would the world - USA, Canada, Europe and other countries would allow adamant positions of India and refusal to open her markets while demanding others to do so? Why is Prof. not understanding complex political reality and inability of Indian Politicians in allowing retail corporations like WalMart in India? Why is Prof. not understanding that India remains ambivalent when it comes to retaining Internet Free and does not side completely with America who rightly works to protect business interests of Google, Facebook, other IT Giants as well as of common people? This is despite India's interest lies in nurturing Free Internet. India has more to loose by friending with Middle Eastern Islamic monarchies and non-democratic states like China who want State control on Internet in some form.

Internet, Retail Sector; these are just two examples where India's Trade position compounds Global Trade Talks. For Agriculture, Capital Markets and Services; it is not just USA with which India had issues. Global Trade talks like Doha Round are completely inter-tangled and there is no point in blaming one single country. It is give and talk and it is a collective responsibility.

May be Prof. Bhagwati is professionally vested in such uber trade talks by providing necessary intellectual framework. But that should not blind him from understanding what is wrong with such talks - complexity, requirement of large number of countries to accept rules simultaneously and simply irreconcilable 'interest structures' of global trade. Days of WTO led trade talks are over. Obama Administration is rightly coming to that realization. Meanwhile as many in Congress have been demanding more stringent action against outsourcing to India; Obama Administration has rightly hold the line where things are. Further, in coming Immigration debate, Administration has backed more liberal approach to immigration of skilled folks to America. That is more appropriate for America than tilting whole windmill to outsourcing. All in all this does not paint a picture of an Administration pursuing protectionist policies.

Prof. paints Obama Administration as beholden to Labor and hence opposing trade. He is wrong, exhibit A - America's trade deal with South Korea. Detroit and Auto-industry Labor were not so enthusiastic about the deal despite the very same American auto-industry Obama Administration saved on 'limb'. Politics dictated that Obama Administration listen to Labor; but President still pursued the deal and worked to get it passed in Congress. It is the same Administration which is pursuing two critical trade deals - one on Pacific side and the other with Europe. Given all what President Obama is investing in these trade talks,  berating a Democratic President for not pursuing International Trade is simply being a tool of Republican talking points and unbecoming of Prof. 

The final straw in Prof.'s utterly failing article comes when in his condescending tone he says:

"By contrast, despite his pro-immigration rhetoric aimed at the ill-informed, Hispanic vote, President Obama is guilty of the largest number of deportations of illegal immigrants during his first term."

To start with, who is he calling 'ill-informed'; the constituency which came out in throngs and delivered Florida, Colorado, Nevada to President Obama despite many pundits having doubts about Florida coming to Blues Column? Hispanics know exactly where their interests are - in not voting 'self-deportation' promoting anti-immigration Republican Party. Prof. is completely guilty of 'ivory tower' thinking here. Would he like Western Reporters calling 'Indian or Pakistani' voters 'ill-informed'? That has been the precise pride Indians have been having for decades - half ill-literate nation still making wise decisions about voting.

As far as deporting largest number of illegal immigrants - that is what George Bush's party is demanding. Bush did that, Obama is following that policy and here we have a dude who is complaining because Obama Administration is executing well! Besides it is an elemental politics that you prepare the ground by not giving an opportunity to Immigration Opponent by pointing 'but look, Obama is not enforcing laws on books'. But I guess to expect basic 'political sense' from an ivory tower intellectual is too much to expect. 

Reading some useless anecdotal incidences which Prof. talks in his article, it is clear that Prof. got infatuated by President George Bush and got blinded to 'think through' logically. (In Prof. Drezner's words, Prof. Bhagwati has got Tom Friedman Taxi Driver disease!) It seems as Hispanic community did not vote Republican, rather than understanding WHY; he simply throws hissyfits. When Prof. Bhagwati blames Obama and Clinton for 'border security' I wonder whether he bothers to even read news from Congress - how Republicans are pounding for more draconian measures. Ultimately, Prof. Bhagwati is one more example of victim of 'false equivalence' - he ignores how Republicans were more pro-immigration during Bush and that same party is so regressive when a Democrat tries to push Immigration. It is so sad that a Prof. who has lived so many years in USA cannot even notice basic political dynamics here and blames Obama. 

Immigration is a complex issue and there is every danger of high skill dominating Indian immigration group falling away from Hispanic Immigration which is the highest priority President Obama and America must address. It is not just a split between Indian High Skill Immigration versus Hispanic migrants; within Indian diaspora it is a further division between actual immigration versus 'outsourcing'. I thought with Prof. Bhagwati's high name recognition in Trade Scholarship, one would get a reasoned, deeply studied and nuanced analysis of what is in front of America. But here we got an article which is poisoning the well. Shame on Prof. Bhagwati.

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