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Tip of the iceberg


Just imagine a scandal had erupted in India concerning the sexcapades of the Prime Minister’s NSG commandos. The airwaves would have been awash with the TV anchors and panelists ripping apart the government. Public opinion would have demanded that important heads roll and an already beleaguered government would have been in danger of falling.
Compare this to the lukewarm reaction of the western media to the news that President Barack Obama’s Secret Service had brought in as many as 21 prostitutes to the hotel in Cartegena, Colombia, it was housed in. President Obama was to visit the place for an economic summit. Imagine if this had been the case with the securitymen of some foreign potentate out of favour with the US, like Syria’s Assad. It would have been treated as a metaphor for the state of the country’s governance, and the lack of the leader’s moral authority. They would be right, of course. That such a large contingent of a security establishment, which claims to abide by a very strict protocol and expects the entire world to suffer the severity of its rules – no leniency for anybody, be it Shahrukh Khan, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, or the Indian Ambassador – should feel free to commit such a major breach of security, indicates the double standards the powerful live by.
Al-Qaeda need not make very fancy plans, really, to breach US security. It should focus, perhaps, on building up a brigade of ‘vishkanyas’; they are likely to traipse through whatever security there exists. According to a report, ‘the disclosures make clear that what first appeared to be an isolated case of misbehavior was in fact a night of more widespread debauchery that included heavy drinking and a trip to the Pleyclub, a strip club where the men allegedly paid for women’s services. The participation of two Secret Service supervisors, according to people with knowledge of the investigation, suggests that the men had little fear of repercussions — until hotel workers and Colombian police reported the matter to the US Embassy’. What a blow to the Hollywood driven image of the Secret Service, which is projected as the archetypal professional force, serving the leader of the world’s most powerful nation, with the grand objective of protecting world peace!
One can only picture the kind of personal authority that Obama must exercise over what is, after all, his immediate entourage, for them to behave in such a fashion. The moral ambience must be very lax; fear of authority very little. That the incident involves so many personnel indicates that it is not of isolated nature and is, in actual fact, general practice. If the ‘Supreme Commander’ can impose such little discipline in his immediate environment, what hope is there for his troops to be exercising restraint in the battlegrounds of Afghanistan and Iraq, where the gun is the only law? Such a society and such a force has no business to be laying down the norms of civilised behaviour to any other society or nation anywhere in the world. Are these the people who will quell the orthodox Taliban?
This incident is symptomatic of the decadence that has hit American society. Exercising unbridled power globally, that nation is exhibiting all the signs of a failing empire, reminiscent of latter day Rome or Magadha. India and the other nations who are ever on the receiving end of sanctimonious lectures on the ‘way things ought to be’, should urge the US to get its own act together. There has always been a lax moral code in the White House it seems, and the dalliances of Kennedy and Clinton were not so much the exception. The latest episode indicates there is an Augean Stables waiting to be cleaned.