On the day following Bombay's July 11 terrorist attacks, I was having lunch in
Washington with the editor of a respected centre-left American magazine. That morning
Israel had begun its aerial bombardment of Lebanon. "Do you think Hezbollah carried
out the Mumbai train attacks?" the editor asked me.
I mention this not to mock my lunch companion, who is a subtle and intelligent observer of the US domestic scene, but to illustrate two points about America's intelligentsia. First, most of America's opinion-shapers see all Muslim terrorist groups (although some more than others) as participating in a united global jehad against "us"—and that includes India nowadays. And second, they don't have much of a clue about India (or Hezbollah for that matter).
Which brings me to the point of this article: India, as many Indians have correctly observed, occupies a lot more American mindspace than it used to. But, so far, India does not—as some Indians incorrectly believe—occupy a prominent share of America's thoughts,...