(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 01, 2001
ACCESS TO INDIAN MILITARY BASES
Making India an Appendage to US
THE foreign minister doubling as the defence minister is proving disastrous for the country. The significant pro-US shift in India's foreign policy under Jaswant Singh is being expressed strongly in Indo-US defence collaboration. During his visit to Australia, the minister, speaking to the reporters at Adelaide, stated that military to military cooperation is "one of the components of Indo-US cooperation." The surrender to US imperialism by the Vajpayee government, thus, appears total.
Over the years, through these columns, we have been warning that growing military cooperation between India and the USA seriously jeopardises India's security interests. The process that began under P V Narasimha Rao is now being rapidly taken forward by the Vajpayee government. In the past, joint military exercises have been held with US armed forces, particularly joint naval exercises.
Now, joint military exercises are conducted by countries which share a common threat perception from a third country. India and the United States do not have such a common enemy. On the contrary, it has been the US arming of Pakistan that has posed a threat to India in the past. The USA's direct interference and military intervention in various parts of the globe create hot spots of tension and conflict. But for the US arming of Israel, the Palestinians would not be continuously denied their basic right to a homeland. India had all along supported the Palestinian cause. This firm solidarity with Palestinians, however, have seen equivocation under the Vajpayee regime. Joint military exercises with the USA and increased military cooperation in this background only make India an appendage of US strategic interests in this region and the world.
What is worse, Jaswant Singh did not rule out the possibility of US accessing India's military bases and using them for their unjustified military actions across the globe. It must be recollected that the USA sought servicing facilities at Indian airports during the Gulf war. While India had all along refused to grant such facilities for nuclear vessels, the then prime minister Chandrashekhar had permitted the refueling of US planes during the Gulf war operations. This led to a hue and cry in the country and Indian public opinion correctly castigated the then government.
But, now under the Vajpayee leadership, it appears that the process of surrendering our security interests to the US is complete. The minister's statement not ruling out access to Indian military bases comes at a time when the United States continues to beef-up its nuclear military base in the Indian Ocean island Diego Garcia. It is well known that almost the whole of India comes under the range of weapons deployed at this base. If India has a direct threat to its security, it comes from here.
India had all along demanded that the US should dismantle this military base. In fact, alongwith a large number of non-aligned countries, India had been demanding the dismantling of all foreign military bases across the world. The Indian proposal for a UN conference on declaring the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace, aimed precisely at dismantling the Diego Garcia base, was jettisoned by the USA earlier during the Cold War.
In the changed world situation where the Cold War bipolarity does not exist, there is absolutely no justification for the United States to maintain its military alliances and bases. Negating this reality, not only has the US maintained the NATO and its military bases, but has armed itself with a self-proclaimed new NATO doctrine enabling it to intervene in any country of the world in pursuit of its strategic interests.
Seen under these circumstances, Jaswant Singh's remarks are indeed ominous. The alacrity with which India welcomed the US proposal of NMD and refused to condemn the flagrant violation of international law by the USA during the spy-plane scandal in China are only pointers to the fact that India under Vajpayee is seeking the role of a US surrogate in South Asia. To achieve this, the Vajpayee government is displaying a slavish servility of conforming to US interests.
Notwithstanding all the patriotic jingoism that the BJP whips up now and then for its political benefits, it is clear that the Vajpayee government is reducing India to the status of a US agent. This proposal to further strengthen military cooperation with the USA and providing US imperialism access to Indian military bases poses a grave threat to India's security interests. The Indian people are aware of the US attempts to blatantly intervene in our country's internal affairs. From the former US ambassador to India Moynihan's revelations about CIA funding to defeat the communists in elections to the recent threats on the Enron issue, the USA has always sought to twist India's arms to advance its interests.
Patriotism demands that India resist such US imperialist pressures. Instead, what we find under this Vajpayee government is that India is more than willingly succumbing to these pressures.
The US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, General Henry H Shelton, is slated to visit India in July. In all likelihood, in the name of US-India military cooperation, the security of our country would be severely compromised. This cannot and should not be allowed.