Clinton’s mistake may be careless. That doesn’t make it less callous
Madeleine Albright’s ‘glossy’ new book is remarkably banal. It would perhaps have been appropriate in the bookstore in the arrival lounge for passengers from Mars, for it contains little that isn’t already well-known. It differs little from the official account, and is essentially a politically-correct, ‘glossy’ narrative of the manner in which the United States handled the rise of extremist Islam in the 1990s. Just about everyone is exonerated: Neither the Clinton administration nor the House of Saud is to blame for allowing Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani military establishment to put in place the global network of terror. She is entitled to her interpretation of facts. The Big Mistake in her book, though, is not hers. The credit for that goes to her former boss, Bill Clinton. In his introduction he writes:
During my visit to India in 2000, some Hindu militants decided to vent their outrage by murdering thirty-eight Sikhs in cold blood. If I hadnâ€™t made the trip, the victims would probably still be alive. If I hadnâ€™t made the trip because I feared what religious extremists might do, I couldnâ€™t have done my job as president of the United States. [Bill Clinton/via Amazon, emphasis added]
He’s referring to the Chittisinghpora massacre which was carried out by Pakistani jihadis, none of whom it may be recalled, were Hindus. The most charitable interpretation of Clinton’s mistake is that he was careless and the editors at HarperCollins were either ignorant or couldn’t care less. But this book comes from people who once offered to help resolve the Kashmir dispute. That makes their carelessness deeply disturbing. Conspiracy theorists have shown persistant eagerness to lay the blame for the massacre at India’s door. Clinton’s mistake should come as a godsend for them.
HarperCollins would do well to correct the mistake before the falsehood takes a life of its own.