Sikhs and Soft Power

The first week of President Barack Obama’s administration has been important in several respects, perhaps most notably because of the announcements that the Guantanamo Bay facility will close and that the United States, “without exception,” will not torture. While these statements are vitally significant in their own right, they are, in my view, part of a broader theme that the new administration is putting forth — namely, that the United States will regain its position in the world and safeguard its security interests by demonstrating, through action and example, what the nation truly stands for.

This concept, put forth most eloquently by Joseph Nye, Jr., is called “soft power.” It calls for a state to attract others to its causes not just by force or economic coercion, but through attraction. The Obama administration, including newly minted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has rebranded this foreign policy strategy, generally naming it “smart power.” (Perhaps the term “soft power” sounds weak and overly accommodating.)

I believe this concept applies not just to soveriegn nations, but also to our Sikh community. We can make friends in the West, minimize ignorance or hatred of turbaned individuals, and therefore undermine the driving force of discrimination and harassment by exhibiting underlying Sikh principles. Specifically, Sikhs performing seva (or service) in cities and neighborhoods throughout the West can only improve our image and draw others to our community and its members.

For this reason, I wish to draw your attention to an upcoming Sikh community service event in Washington, DC — ironically enough the site of Obama’s inauguration and the place where “soft power” is being embraced as a matter of American diplomacy and public policy:

Date: January 31st, 2009
Time: 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Sikhcess Washington DC will be launching a ‘Feed the Homeless’ campaign the first month of 2009!
Please join Harminder, Sunmit, Amrit, Nawreen, Jaskaran, Pamela, Navneet, Pawan, Jassimran, Jap, Puneet, Angela, and the rest of the Sikhcess Washington D.C. Crew in preparing and distributing fresh, nutritious meals!
Every month, the homeless and needy take delivery of these food packages. In exchange, Sikhcess volunteers receive countless hugs, smiles, and a heart-felt thank you, many times over.
Come out to lend support to the ‘Free Community Kitchen’, and bring your friends too!

I hope Sikh-Americans continue to hold such events. They not only fulfill the Sikh mandate to give to others, but they can also help elevate the state of the Sikh community in the United States, where Sikhs continue to encounter discriminatory treatment. (For previous TLH coverage of Sikhcess, please see here.)


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4 Responses to “Sikhs and Soft Power”

  1. Did the ‘Rule of Law’ permit the Guantanamo Bay facility of torture and the Hate Crime on any grounds of humanity?

    Answer has to be ‘NO’. If the United States is a violator then the law abiding citizens to think as to where be the Rule of Law in the world.

    I was always of the view and poor in knowledge that in the developed nations, the torture is not the way to investigate as was available at Guantanamo Bay facility in the United States. Thanks to the President Barack Obama’s administration for closing the Guantanamo Bay facility of investigation by torture.

    To my mind, by way of cross-examination of the accused regarding their all movements, background, ideology etc then cross checking their statements to find out omissions and commissions and again repeating the process, to bring the truth on surface is not difficult. Though the process is very time consuming and lengthy and can not be a success without impartial action and expertise knowledge.

    But, certainly truth could be brought out on surface without any bodily torture as I myself experienced as a lawyer and felt by cross-examination the witnesses within a short time in the open court. Recently, when I faced mental pain and agony due to untimely and unexpected tragedy in my own family i.e. act of God, then I started recollecting as to how I may have tortured by way of cross-examination to a many persons who complained me without any grudge considering that was my professional duty in order to bring truth on surface for justice to my client.

    But, I may be wrong to say that the complaint of physical torture or keeping in isolation cruelly to the accused never can be or remain without grudge and reaction and the after effect of that grudge and reaction of the physical torture might be named as individual’s terrorism or non-state actors terrorism which is resulting into disturbing the peace of the entire world.

    Similarly, the hate crime of any nature committed or being committed anywhere in the world, must also be taken and considered as a murder of humanity and should be dealt very seriously.

    The act of physical torture and the hate crime on the part of State or individual or non-state actors may be in the case of Sikhs or anybody else never would be helpful to attract others to the cause but only through attraction as pleaded here. And for the purpose, the common Sikhs of country side also do always perform the service of ‘Free Community Kitchen’ without any discrimination on days of importance religiously in Punjab (India).

    It is again positive sign as reported that the Mr. Barack Obama’s administration, including newly minted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has rebranded or reframed the foreign policy strategy, generally naming it “smart power “.

    Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch

    January 31, 2009
    http://www.sikhvicharmanch.com/home.htm

  2. Did the Rule of Law permit the Guantanamo Bay facility of torture and the Hate Crime on any grounds of humanity?

    Answer has to be NO. If the United States is a violator then the law abiding citizens to think as to where be the Rule of Law in the world.

    I was always of the view and poor in knowledge that in the developed nations, the torture is not the way to investigate as was available at Guantanamo Bay facility in the United States. Thanks to the President Barack Obamas administration for closing the Guantanamo Bay facility of investigation by torture.

    To my mind, by way of cross-examination of the accused regarding their all movements, background, ideology etc then cross checking their statements to find out omissions and commissions and again repeating the process, to bring the truth on surface is not difficult. Though the process is very time consuming and lengthy and can not be a success without impartial action and expertise knowledge.

    But, certainly truth could be brought out on surface without any bodily torture as I myself experienced as a lawyer and felt by cross-examination the witnesses within a short time in the open court. Recently, when I faced mental pain and agony due to untimely and unexpected tragedy in my own family i.e. act of God, then I started recollecting as to how I may have tortured by way of cross-examination to a many persons who complained me without any grudge considering that was my professional duty in order to bring truth on surface for justice to my client.

    But, I may be wrong to say that the complaint of physical torture or keeping in isolation cruelly to the accused never can be or remain without grudge and reaction and the after effect of that grudge and reaction of the physical torture might be named as individuals terrorism or non-state actors terrorism which is resulting into disturbing the peace of the entire world.

    Similarly, the hate crime of any nature committed or being committed anywhere in the world, must also be taken and considered as a murder of humanity and should be dealt very seriously.

    The act of physical torture and the hate crime on the part of State or individual or non-state actors may be in the case of Sikhs or anybody else never would be helpful to attract others to the cause but only through attraction as pleaded here. And for the purpose, the common Sikhs of country side also do always perform the service of Free Community Kitchen without any discrimination on days of importance religiously in Punjab (India).

    It is again positive sign as reported that the Mr. Barack Obamas administration, including newly minted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has rebranded or reframed the foreign policy strategy, generally naming it smart power .
    Balbir Singh Sooch-Sikh Vichar Manch
    January 31, 2009
    http://www.sikhvicharmanch.com/home.htm

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