People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 22, 2007
REJOINDER TO CONDOLEEZZA RICE
The Meaning Of Non-Alignment
N D Jayaprakash
ADDRESSING the 32nd Annual US-India Business Council meeting in Washington D C, on June 27, 2007, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, posed a seemingly innocent question: "What is the meaning of non-alignment?" Immediately after posing the question, the Secretary of State herself went on to declare: "It has lost its meaning"! (See: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2007/06/87487.htm)
Rice had prefaced her question with the following remarks: "…in order to create a partnership for our future and to fully realise it, we are going to have to move past old ways of thinking and old ways of acting…. And I know that there are some who still talk about non-alignment in foreign policy. But maybe that made sense during the Cold War when the world really was divided into rival camps."
The fact is, neither Rice's dismissal of the relevance of 'Non-Alignment' nor the memory lapse of many of those at the helm of affairs in the Indian government at present, can make the concept of 'Non-Alignment' irrelevant. On the contrary, it is high time that the US administration moved "past old ways of thinking and old ways of acting"; the sooner the US abandoned militarism and eschewed belligerency, the better it would be for all humanity!
Fortunately, an increasing number of nations – currently nearly two-thirds of the UN membership – are reposing their faith in 'Non-Alignment'. The ‘Cold War’ may have ended, but the US establishment's constant search for enemies has not. This undeniable truth is symbolised in the infamous choice – "you are either with us or are against us" – that president Bush had placed before the nations of the world on November 06, 2001. (The search for enemies has actually dominated US foreign policy from 1945 onwards. President Kennedy, who tried to move away from that divisive policy with his call for peace and general and complete disarmament, was assassinated for his considered views.) Unless the world remained "divided into rival camps" the super profit generating military industries would become obsolete and redundant. In this context it is evident that the Secretary of State's retort on June 27, 2007 that: "One is aligned not with the interests and power of one bloc or another, but with the values of a common humanity" is nothing but a mere tongue-in-cheek statement.
If “one is aligned not with the interests and power of one bloc or another”, why is that every effort is being made to maintain and strengthen military blocs such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS)? The very purpose of establishing military blocs and military bases was to keep the world "divided into rival camps". "Values of a common humanity" can be nurtured only when the world no longer remains divided into rival camps, a cherished goal for the attainment of which the eclipse of militarism – abandonment of military blocs, abolition of military bases and general and complete disarmament – is a prime necessity. The Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) was created in an attempt to end the division of the world into "friends" and "enemies". Since Rice cannot conceive of a world without enemies, she naturally finds the concept of 'Non-Alignment' irrelevant. The truth is, only those who are sensitive to human concerns can understand the meaning of Non-Alignment.
PITFALLS OF PARTNERSHIP
The Secretary of State was intent on India joining the US bandwagon. "How can we not afford to join each other, on a global scale, to support opportunity and prosperity and justice and dignity and health and education and freedom and democracy?”, she despairingly asked. Indeed, if India were to join the United States on a global scale in support of "opportunity and prosperity” – on the lines that the United States is pursuing in Iraq – it would be an unwarranted prescription for India's own peril.
As far as pursuit of goals such as “justice and dignity and health and education” are concerned, it would be better if the US administration provided the same to its own citizens first before expressing its desire to do so on a global scale. The unwillingness of the US establishment to wipe out poverty from within the United States is a case in point. The official poverty rate in 2005 in the US was 12.6 per cent, i.e., 37 million US citizens did not have access to enough food for an active, healthy life at all times through the year. (Poverty assessment is based on US Department of Agriculture food budgets designed for families under economic stress.)
(At http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty05/pov05hi.html )
If those below the poverty line in the US did not have enough food to eat, the quality and type of clothing, housing, health and education they would have access to, may well be imagined!
It is incredible that while the US has enormous resources to wage a bloody war to impose "freedom and democracy" in Iraq (with a population of 27.5 million), it is unwilling to eradicate poverty within its own territory! According to a study titled "The Economic Costs of the War in Iraq", which was carried out by Linda Bilmes of Harvard University and Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, "the total economic costs of the war, including direct costs and macroeconomic costs, lie between $1 and $2 trillion." (At: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11495.htm#_ftn62)
One to two trillion US dollars is a mind-boggling sum by any standard for waging a senseless war! It seems unbelievable that the freedom and democratic rights of 37 million poverty-stricken US citizens is of less concern to the US establishment than the supposed concern it is exhibiting towards the "freedom and democratic" rights of 27.5 million Iraqis!
An US administration, which cannot spare resources for eradicating poverty in the US and has even less resources to spare for the victims of natural calamities like Hurricane Katrina that struck New Orleans in 2005, has the temerity to speak of a global partnership to pursue the cause of " justice and dignity and health and education"! The promise to support social causes does not appear to be more than a carrot at the end of the stick to attract "friends" for waging war against all those who the US chooses to label as "enemies". If the US administration is at all serious about its commitment towards the cause of "justice and dignity and health and education", instead of waging predatory wars, it should first consent to divert the available resources towards those cherished goals (a very tall order considering its present disposition).
As far as US establishment's commitment to "freedom and democracy" is concerned, the less said the better!
FREEDOM & DEMOCRACY
The US establishment falsely prides itself to be the torchbearer of freedom and democracy. While it has been constantly making claims that "democracy" was established in the United States as early as 1776, the fact that franchise was then based on property holdings and that slavery remained a legitimate institution until 1865 is sought to be hidden. It is hardly ever mentioned that it took nearly a century of bitter anti-slavery struggle and a civil war to abolish the institution of slavery in the United States. That women had to wage a valiant suffragette movement from 1848 to 1920 to earn the right of franchise is never highlighted. The existence of apartheid in the United States and the fact that it was legally abolished only as late as 1964, with the enactment of the Civil Rights Act after an ardent Civil Rights Movement was waged in the 1950s and 1960s, is sought to be concealed.
That discrimination in the electoral process – that the aboriginal Americans, the Afro-Americans, the Hispanic population and the poor Whites faced – was abolished only in 1965 with the enactment of the Voting Rights Act, is yet another fact which remains mostly hidden. The formal enactment of various laws to protect democratic rights is one thing; the continuous struggle required to implement the same is quite another. The truth is, even as late as the 2002 US presidential elections, a fool-proof method of counting the votes cast had not been devised. Moreover, the strangle hold of money power over the electoral process is still a huge hurdle in the free and fair exercise of franchise in the United States. The US establishment's claim that democracy in the United States is 231 years old is, therefore, utterly false; the truth is, it is the uninterrupted anti-establishment struggle by US citizens to win democratic rights, which has such a long and enthralling legacy.
The US establishment did not gift democratic rights to the people of the United States. Yet, it desperately tries to make it appear that the democratic rights currently being enjoyed by US citizens are due to its benevolence, a claim that is not only entirely untrue but also constitutes a deliberate distortion of history. The truth is every democratic right, which US citizens benefit from at present, was acquired through immense sacrifices on the part of their predecessors, who had to wage remarkable struggles time and again against the US establishment that stubbornly tried with all its might to protect the exclusive privileges that it had monopolised. Whatever democratic rights the US citizens have attained were gained through the bitter and hard-fought anti-slavery movement, the suffragette movement and the civil rights movement, all of which were undoubtedly spirited anti-establishment movements. It is rather ironical that the heritage to the glorious struggles waged by the heroes of yesteryears is sought to be usurped by that very US establishment, whose unrelenting hostility towards their less privileged fellow citizens is etched in history! The struggle to broaden and deepen democratic rights in the US is still on.
While the US establishment was forced to cow down to incessant domestic pressure from time to time and concede various democratic rights to their less privileged fellow citizens, the US establishment spared no efforts to intervene and suppress democratic movements elsewhere in the world. Since WW-II, the US has time and again covertly or militarily intervened and unlawfully overthrew democratically elected governments in Iran (1953); Guatemala (1954, 1963 and 1968); Congo (1960); Dominican Republic (1965); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); Chile (1973); Granada (1983); and Haiti (2004). The US (with or without its British/Zionist ally) has also time and again attempted to crush national liberation struggles and progressive movements in Greece (1947-49); Palestine (1948-2007); Philippines (1948-54); Malaysia (1948-55); Puerto Rico (1950); Korea (1950-53); Kenya (1952-59); Egypt (1956 and 1967); Lebanon (1958, 1982 and 2006); Vietnam (1960-75); Cuba (1961); Cambodia (1969-75); Laos (1971-73); Angola (1976-92); Afghanistan (1978-1990); Nicaragua (1981-90); Venezuela (2002 and 2004) and in several other countries at various times.
The US has consistently backed and aided the world's most brutal regimes: Gen. Trujillo in the Dominican Republic (1930-61); Salazar in Portugal (1932-68); the monarchy in Saudi Arabia (1932-2007); Gen. Franco in Spain (1936-75); the Samozas in Nicaragua (1937-79); the racists in South Africa (1948-1990); the Zionists in Israel (1948-2007); the junta in South Korea (1948-87); Gen. Batista in Cuba (1952-1959); the Shah in Iran (1953-79); Gen. Rojas Pinilla in Colombia (1954-58); Gen. Stroessner in Paraguay (1954-1989); the junta in South Vietnam (1954-75); the Duvaliers in Haiti (1957-86); Gen. Suharto in Indonesia (1965-1998); Marcos in the Philippines (1966-86); the junta in Greece (1967-1973); Gen. Pinochet in Chile (1973-1990); and several other regimes under similar despots.
In the light of the above-narrated anti-democratic actions, the US establishment's avowed commitment to "freedom and democracy" is highly questionable. Under the circumstances, Rice's call to India to abandon 'Non-Alignment' and join the US bandwagon is a rather cynical proposition considering the historical role of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM).
(To be continued)