India has erupted in riots thanks to an international incident that unfolded in the US. What happened is Devyani Khobragade was arrested last week in New York. She is India’s deputy counsel at its mission there. Federal authorities arrested her on suspicion that she underpaid her nanny and committed visa fraud to get her into the United States.
She was facilitating an illegal alien, in other words, a crime that many Democrats more and more don’t even see as a crime at all. This is an offense for which Rep. Nancy Pelosi no longer believes there should be any consequences. She was also busting minimum wage laws.
Neither crime is a violent crime. But the federal authorities who arrested Khobragade strip searched her after her arrest. The authorities say that this is standard procedure.
If so, that’s a problem. Are we all now subject to strip search when we’re detained even for non-violent crimes? Or do we just do this to diplomats? Is proportionality now gone from all law enforcement in America? Did the feds send one of those up-armored tank trucks full of SWAT snipers to pick up the diplomat on suspicion that she wasn’t paying her nanny the officially approved salary?
India says the treatment of its diplomat was “degrading.” They have a point.
India has gone ballistic over the incident. In New Delhi, the government removed barriers around the American embassy, exposing it and the Americans within it to the very real threat of terrorism in that country. Riots have broken out in New Delhi, with demonstrators looking very much like what we’re used to seeing in places like Pakistan and Iran — burning the American flag, taunting and destroying effigies of President Obama, the works. They haven’t chanted “Death to America” yet, at least not where any reporter has heard it.
Are these rent-a-riots? Possibly. If so, then who is renting them, and for what purpose?
To be sure, much of the anger is fueled by Indian media and social media blowing the incident out of proportion. In America, we tweet our rage and then knock off and go to sleep. Elsewhere, things tend to get a bit more kinetic.
To be even more sure, neither Barack Obama nor John Kerry directly created this situation. But it’s now their job to repair the damage, and neither one has done much of anything. Kerry is set to meet with his Indian counterpart today. Perhaps he’ll be able to smooth things over.
He had better. Diplomacy is his job. Difficult situations are what secretaries of state are supposed to deal with. This difficulty has been building for a week. That’s too long to let this go on. So far the world has only heard from the campaign operative installed at the State Department, and a bland “all procedures were followed” statement from Jay Carney. That won’t do.
India is a very important country for the United States. It’s one of the most important countries in the fight against terrorism and it’s one of the west’s bulwarks against its more volatile neighbors in Pakistan, and it’s a balance against China.
Smart diplomacy would have had this situation resolved by now.