Insensitivity does not improve security
It appears George Fernandes was subjected to body searches at US airports during the time he was India’s Defence Minister. While enhanced vigilance at airports is absolutely necessary to head off terrorist attacks, dumbly following security procedures without applying common sense can turn out to be counterproductive. And that’s before invoking such things as diplomatic niceties (much abused as they are) and official protocol.
And imagine the row if the US had treated China’s Defence Minister in the same way.
Talbott’s Memoirs: “Just as we were saying good-bye to Fernandes, a member of our delegation innocently asked him when he would next be coming to Washington. His demeanor abruptly changed. It was as though he was glad to have an excuse to tell us how he really felt about our country.
“Ignoring an Ethiopian delegation that was already filing into his office and taking its seats, Fernandes regaled us with the story of how he had been strip-searched by officers of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service at Dulles Airport when he arrived for an official visit in early 2002, and again, in mid-2003, when he was passing through the US on his way to Brazil.
“He seemed to enjoy our stupefaction at this tale. He and other Indians who later referred to the incident clearly regarded it as more than merely a lapse of protocol or just an another example of the post-9/11 excesses and indignities that air travellers had to endure for the sake of security. The Indians saw it as a symptom of a deep-rooted widespread condescension — or worse — on the part of the West toward the East.” [Rediff]
Update: Jivha reacts exactly expected. But he does have a point.