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Monday, November 08, 2010

INDIA AND THE TRUTH

"Factcheck.org noted that the entire war in Afghanistan costs $190 million a day."

Long time readers of Word Around the Net will have noticed that I don't tend to put any breaking stories up here, nothing really hot and developing. Part of the reason for that is that I have few sources to get that kind of information, and part of it is that I focus more on analysis and thought than fresh news. If something is happening as I type, then there's not enough information to form any sort of conclusion on the matter.

What that mans is that if there's a really hot blog topic, I'm usually not a go-to site or one that gets links. On the other hand it also means I tend to avoid some mistakes, such as one that came up recently. The Drudge Report, unable to resist juicy red meat, put up a post of a story by the Indian media about President Obama's visit. It was about the cost and scope of the president's trip, saying it was going to cost $200,000,000 a day and would involve 34 warships accompanying him.

Why they did this isn't clear, perhaps they thought it was true, maybe they trusted rumors, maybe someone wanted India to seem terribly important, but it wasn't true. The trip will probably cost around 200 million total and while the retinue including press is taking about 800 people, he's not taking 34 warships. President Obama isn't taking over the entire Taj Mahal, although he's probably got a goodly chunk of it because of security and staff.

This was touted as an example of waste and excess, with the president shown as some Louis XIV wastrel of tax dollars. It wasn't true. President Obama is traveling to India to work on some deals with the Indian government and finalize some treaties that President Bush set up while in office. Tigerhawk explains at his site:
When a good history of the George W. Bush years is finally written, his breakthrough with India may turn out to be the most important foreign policy initiative of his administration. The Indian Ocean hosts lanes for the oil from the Persian Gulf and an ever larger share of its trade, and India sits in the middle of it. It is also the geographical center of transnational Islamic terrorism. It is essential that the United States maintain a strong deterrent in the Indian Ocean, and that it preserve and enhance its ability to coerce whatever clown revue happens to be governing Pakistan at the moment. India is the key to both.
He also points out that, as the Chinese government is building a new deep water port, it wouldn't necessarily have been a bad idea to put on a Teddy Roosevelt-style big stick display in the area of US naval might.

In any case, the problem with politics is that we're often too ready to believe the worst about our political opponents and too unready to doubt stories that hurt them. If President Bush had done this, many of the same blogs would have been posting about American prestige and the need for tight security in an area recently hit by a horrible terrorist attack. We have to be willing to step back and confirm instead of believe what we hope or wish to be true. Way too much of that went on with the left and President Bush (and, ridiculously, they still believe some of the dumbest and most obviously false junk to this day about him).

In any case, lets hope no terrorists strike from Islamic Pakistan nearby and hope that President Obama can smoothly finalize these deals with one of America's strongest allies in the world.

Oh, and anyone who's read here long knows I make dumb mistakes like mentioning 4 1/2" Floppy disks and attributing "Scarborough Fair" to the wrong band just last week. So I'm not pointing any bony finger of condemnation at other blogs, just noting that I avoided this one by style, not any superior discernment.

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