People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 15

April 09, 2006


Apologia For Pro-US Stance

THE Congress president Sonia Gandhi has in a “letter to Congress workers” in the March issue of the Congress monthly Sandesh written about some of the foreign policy decisions taken by the Manmohan Singh government and the strategic tie-up with the United States during the Bush visit. Referring to the opposition to the government’s strategic tie-up with the United States, she has remarked, “It is indeed sad that some Parties have tried to communalise our foreign policy for short term electoral gains”. While Sonia Gandhi supporting the government’s stand on India-US relations is understandable, it is unfortunate that the “communal” tag is being attributed to those who are opposed to the government’s volte face on the Iran nuclear issue and are against the strategic alliance with the United States.  

Ever since the Left parties opposed the government’s vote against Iran in the IAEA board meeting in September 2005, the rightwing media has been conducting a campaign that the Left parties and the Samajwadi Party are “communalising” foreign policy. The Samajwadi Party and the Left jointly organised a massive rally in Lucknow in November 2005, which was followed by a series of public meetings and seminars all over the country. A section of the pro-American media like The Indian Express branded the Lucknow rally as a “Shia rally” and that the Shia clergy were on the stage and so on. These were outright falsehoods. The campaign for an independent foreign policy drew widespread support and popular response. Faced with this response, even the prime minister’s office began briefing the media about the danger of “communalising” foreign policy. This has found an echo in the Congress leadership.  

After the Iran issue, the Danish newspaper cartoons on Prophet Mohammed became an international issue with big protests all over the world by Muslims whose religious feelings were outraged. In India too from February 2006 big protest rallies were organised by the Muslim community. While it is true that some fundamentalist elements sought to utilise this issue for their purposes, there was a genuine anger against the cartoons and their reproduction in a number of European newspapers. All secular parties including the Congress have condemned these cartoons. The political campaign conducted by the Left and other secular parties against the government’s stand on the Iran nuclear issue and subsequently during the Bush visit is sought to be mixed up with the protest actions lodged by the Muslim community on the cartoons.  

The government and the Congress party should realise that there are widespread misgivings about the overall strategic partnership which the UPA government has forged with the Bush administration in India. By branding them as “communalising foreign policy” they cannot wish away the charges that the UPA government has gone back on the pursuit of an independent foreign policy. On Iran, there is a widespread perception that the government caved in to US pressure. Even the US ambassador has proved that these are not unfounded with his statement in an interview that either India votes against Iran or the nuclear issue will die in the US Congress.  

Since president Bush declared war on Afghanistan followed by the illegal and criminal aggression against Iraq and now issuing threats to Iran, is it any surprise that the Muslim world sees Bush as a dire threat to their religion and way of life. This is especially so when Bush, a born again Christian, has stated that God told him to go into Afghanistan and Iraq and he did so. 

The entire Arab world sees how president Bush is blatantly supporting the Israeli regime in its annexation of the West Bank and the daily atrocities being perpetrated against the Palestinian people.  It is well known that Islamophobia affects sections of the ruling circles in the United States. The war against terror easily transforms itself into anti-Muslim feelings.

That the UPA government is increasingly identifying with the Bush administration and the neo-conservative goals can be seen from what the prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh recently said. Addressing the American organisation, Asian Society’s “Asian Corporate Conference” held in Mumbai on March 18, Dr Manmohan Singh approvingly quoted president Bush who said “Some people have said the 21st century will be the Asian century. I believe the 21st century will be freedom century.” To the audience drawn from Asian countries and China, the quote was singularly inappropriate as many of them do not subscribe to the American idea of implanting “democracy” and freedom. For Asia the 20th century was the freedom century when country after country fought for and gained independence from imperialist and colonial rule.  

The Manmohan Singh government knows very well that Bush used the “freedom” theme to call for the overthrow of the governments of Iran, Cuba,  Syria and North Korea in his Purana Qila speech in New Delhi on March 3. The government chose to keep silent on this arrogant attack on friendly countries.  

The Congress leadership should ponder over why more and more patriotic-minded people whether they are Hindus, Muslims or from any other community are seeing the UPA government’s current pro-American disposition as a betrayal of India’s long standing anti-imperialist and non-aligned traditions.  

As far as the Left is concerned, the United States is an imperialist power that oppresses countries and peoples of all faiths. Wherever US imperialism tramples on the rights of the peoples and their sovereignty, we shall be resolutely opposed to it. The CPI(M) will not be deterred by talk of communalisation of foreign policy which is but a cover for those who cannot justify capitulation to US imperialism. Whether it be Iran or Palestine or any anti-imperialist issue, the CPI(M) will mobilise the Indian people against US imperialism and to check the UPA government’s pro-imperialist foreign policy.