The MSM reporting on this week’s heralded “President Obama’s First State Dinner” is heavy on arugula, sustainable magnolia and curry than political meat.
While YAHOO! News chatters about First Lady Michelle Obama’s “breaking with tradition dress,” Bloomberg reporters Kate Andersen Brower and Nicholas Johnston pen a detailed description:
“They will join a group of American and Indian executives, diplomats, public officials and celebrities who will be honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh under heated tents on the White House South Lawn.
Guests will dine on potato and eggplant salad with arugula from the White House garden; roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney, chickpeas and okra, or an alternate choice of green curry prawns served with caramelized salsify, smoked collard greens and coconut aged basmati. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=washingtonstory&sid=aQ_tY1EpS4FE
Between the coconut aged basmati rice and the chickpeas, what should Americans know that occupies the mind of the Indian Prime Minister? After all, it’s a long way to go for dinner, for Singh, it’s literally half way around the globe, so discussions must be involved.
Howard LaFranchi of the Christian Science Monitor relates, “Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at the White House Tuesday wondering if his country remains the US priority under President Obama that it became under President Bush.
The Obama administration thought it had answered that question months ago when it announced that Mr. Singh’s day of meetings would constitute the first state visit of Mr. Obama’s presidency – a distinction meant to convey the importance of the occasion.
But Obama’s week-long trip to Asia that ended last Thursday has India questioning anew the value of a US partnership. In particular, the tenor of Obama’s three days in China was heard by Indians as American acquiescence to rising Chinese power across Asia.” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1123/p02s01-usfp.html
Americans did not get much sense from the MSM that much transpired apart from Obama’s bowing gaffs, and zero sense that other nations watch every move a US president makes like hawks, and parse every word, and at least one major ally didn’t like what they heard. CNN’s 44th President webpage page, under POLITICS, has this astute political insight:
“The dinner, in a tent set up on the White House South Lawn with a view of the Washington Monument, featured round tables for 10 set in resplendent colors — apple green, ruby, gold — with floral arrangements of roses, hydrangeas and sweet peas in plum, purple and fuchsia. Place settings in fine china from three previous administrations — Eisenhower, Clinton and George W. Bush — were flanked by five pieces of silverware and crystal glasses. Place cards were in script — “The President” and “Mrs. Obama” read two.
A seasonal menu reflecting both American and Indian flavors started with a potato and eggplant salad made with White House-grown arugula and accompanied by an onion seed vinaigrette, according to the White House.”
One is left wondering if the place cards for the Prime Minister and his wife were in Hindi script or the potentially insensitive, “English script.” Inquiring minds might want to know, if they were not more concerned about nations, conflicts, terror and war.
Mian Ridge writes about what’s on Indians’ minds in the Christian Science Monitor, “But while talks between Mr. Singh and Mr. Obama scheduled for Tuesday are likely to focus on such matters as Afghanistan, climate change, and cooperation on nuclear energy, pundits in India are more interested in the question of where the US’s new friendship with China, as well as its relationship with Pakistan, leaves India.
“We may aspire to a seat at the high table of world power but China is already sitting at the head of the table along with the United States,” wrote journalist Gautam Adhikari in the Times of India Monday. “It has enough IOUs in its pocket to stop anyone from pushing it around. We also are a billion-strong nation, a democracy to boot and growing economically at a still impressive rate given the global conditions. But, realistically speaking, we are a second or perhaps third tier force in the eyes of the United States.
A recent joint statement from Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, which included a line of support for better Indo-Pakistan relations, was regarded in New Delhi as an expression of unwanted interference in a sensitive matter. For some, it raises the worrying specter of Chinese involvement in South Asian diplomacy – and at a time when India’s long running border row with China is especially tense.” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1123/p06s01-wosc.html
A bit testy. It gets even more interesting though with the Times of India:
“… Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday threw down the gauntlet to Washington, Islamabad and perhaps even Beijing and other world capitals that India would not be budged from pursuing its interests in Afghanistan — primarily of preventing the country from turning toxic under Pakistan’s malignant influence and American uncertainty.
“The road to peace on Afghanistan will be long and hard. But given the high stakes involved, the commitment of the international community must be sustained by firm resolve and unity of purpose.” Singh told Washington’s top policy wonks gathered to hear him at the Center for Foreign Relations, amid a continuing review by President Obama about U.S options in Afghanistan.
The remarks were clearly meant for the US President and his principals who have been bashing heads for several weeks now over next steps in Afghanistan amid charges of dithering on the crucial issue. Singh’s advice ahead of his meeting with Obama on Tuesday — Stay the course; we are going to be there.” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Stay-the-course-in-Afghanistan-PM-Manmohan-Singh-urges-US/articleshow/5262957.cms
So, India, which has been invaded by neighbor Pakistan and neighbor China, at great losses of Indian lives and loss of Indian territory, is not comfortable with the Obama Administration’s “reaching-out” to China, and is extremely concerned that any U.S. abandonment of Afghanistan will have a dangerously negative impact on India’s security.
What does CNN’s political reporting reveal on this important diplomatic and geopolitical issue, which reflects an overdue and dragging Obama Administration decision on an Afghan military strategy?
“The event planned by first lady Michelle Obama emphasized eco-friendly themes such as White House-grown herbs and lettuce served to guests and sustainably harvested magnolia branches — from species native to both India and the United States — in arrangements adorning the tent where more than 300 guests wearing tuxedos and gowns were wined, dined and entertained.”
Despite the arugula and traditional Thanksgiving pie and various organically grown vegetables from Michelle Obama’s White House Very Hardy November garden, the special sauces may not have been enough to stave off some serious indigestion that began developing just last week, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor:
“But what has set the Indians on edge now is the wording of a communiqué issued last week by Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the end of their Beijing talks. The two leaders said their countries “are ready to strengthen … cooperation in issues related to South Asia.” They specifically pledged to “support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan.”
That set off an uproar in New Delhi, where even members of Singh’s own party questioned whether a declining superpower was bowing to the “core interests” of another country. Indian officials repeated that India needs no outside involvement in its relationship with Pakistan.
US officials say that the communiqué was not intended to signal a recognition of a supposed Chinese sphere of influence. The State Department’s undersecretary of State for political affairs, William Burns, responded by saying there is “too much reading into statements.”
But Neena Shenai, an adjunct scholar for South Asian issues at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said the statement was “certainly not the way to roll out the red carpet for Prime Minister Singh.” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1123/p02s01-usfp.html
But, how many Americans are aware of that? Has our media, which is meant to inform the U.S. public, been diligent in alerting Americans to the dismay and most importantly, the CONCERNS of our allies? Bloomberg’s reporters enlighten us:
“The menu is intended to reflect American cuisine with a taste of India and will include lettuce and herbs culled from the White House garden. The guest chef is Marcus Samuelsson of Manhattan’s Aquavit restaurant …First lady Michelle Obama told a group of girls from the White House Leadership and Mentoring Program at the White House today that state dinners “are critical to what we do internationally.”
Really? “Critical to what we do internationally?” Dear Girls, state dinners are luxuries, and can be dispensed with, or can be much more modest for the taxpayer’s pockets than enormous heated tent mega-events with glitzy pop stars to croon along with the fifth course. American soldiers stand at the top of the world, facing the Afghan winter, a bleak, cold, ancient cross-roads of invading armies and rival civilizations, huddled over portable heaters, their rifles slung over their shoulders, stirring boiled water into the plastic pouches of their MREs to bring their desiccated beef stews to some consistency of normal, with one eye and ear always on the alert for the warning movements, cracks of gunfire or shriek of incoming mortar fire – soldiers waiting for reinforcements and a steeling of resolve from the wining and dining civilian leadership in Washington, DC - for these soldiers have seen the enemy up close and know what’s at stake. In the same number of weeks it took to present a sumptuous state dinner for 300 rich and connected guests, a complicatedly elaborate planning as one staffer remarked, critical resources could have been allocated to our soldiers, and much already have been sent on its way.
But despite thousands of words and plenty of video recorded devoted to this week’s state dinner, few syllables in the American media have been devoted to the issue that America waits on, that will have serious and profound implications for many nations, including for the fate of the nation of the man ostensibly honored at that dinner, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but who rated fewer mentions than the food, the entertainment, and the other guests. The American media, focused on “Eco-friendly,” “White House garden” and a Who’s Who list of Hollywood and Chicago politics, is more aflutter at astoundingly empty reporting of the excruciatingly nothing discovery that: “Place cards were in script — “The President” and “Mrs. Obama” read two.”
Time to repeat what had to be found in the Indian media at the Times of India newspaper, as the nation of India prepares to mourn her murdered people at a grim anniversary:
“On the eve of the first anniversary of the Mumbai carnage …“Singh offered similar advice in an earlier address to US and Indian business leaders that the international community needs to remain engaged in Afghanistan and any “premature talk of exit will only embolden the terrorists.”