People's Democracy

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


No. 37

September 21 , 2008


                                                                                        The Perils Of The  Manmohan Singh-Bush Alliance

Prakash Karat

THE triumphalist note struck by the UPA government and the Congress leadership on the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) clearance that has opened the way for the US Congress to adopt the 123 agreement, cannot hide the hard realities. However much the Congress leaders and the corporate media proclaim that India had joined the big league, the actual facts about the surrender that the nuclear deal involves has been coming out relentlessly from the American side.

Firstly, the Manmohan Singh government has taken a major step to convert India into a strategic ally of the United States by going ahead with the nuclear deal. Secondly, it has done so on the terms set by the United States. The 123 agreement, as defined by president Bush in his determination to the US Congress, has exploded the prime minister’s oft-repeated assertion that India will settle for nothing short of full civilian nuclear cooperation. Bush has made it clear that there is no assurance of uninterrupted fuel supply nor is there any question of transfer of reprocessing and enrichment technology to India. Thirdly, the India-US nuclear deal signifies the lining up of India behind the US global strategy. The report submitted, along with the Presidential Determination, to the US Congress, approvingly states that India has cooperated with the United States on the Iran nuclear issue in the IAEA and the United Nations.

It is a pathetic sight to see the prime minister and the Congress leadership trying to convert this sell-out of India’s vital interests into a celebration.

The clinching of the nuclear deal will be a precursor to a number of steps which will further erode India’s independent foreign policy and open the doors for relentless US pressure on a range of issues which affects India’s vital interests, whether it be in the fields of energy, defence or economic policies. Within days following the NSG clearance, the defence minister of India has visited the United States. It is reported that the Bush administration pressed for getting orders for the 126 fighter planes which India wishes to acquire. In the pipeline are a series of pacts under the Defence Framework Agreement which would install India as a military ally. The Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and an End User Agreement are being sought to be pushed through by the United States.

Already the Pentagon considers India a strategic ally. The Commission on Review of Overseas Military Facilities Structure of the United States, known as the Overseas Basing Commission, submitted a report in May 2005 in which India is listed as developing “cooperative security locations” – a category of US military bases. The steps to ensure “inter-operability” of the two armed forces are proceeding apace. It is this interlocking of India with the United States’ global and military strategy which is being hailed by the pro-American sections of the ruling establishment and the corporate media as the historic steps towards India attaining “great power” status. In doing so, they are not only oblivious to the dangers posed to India’s sovereignty and strategic autonomy but seem to be craving to replace Pakistan as the reliable subordinate ally in South Asia.

Pakistan: Sovereignty Assailed

In the meantime, Pakistan is convulsed by an arrogant display of US power and its brazen trampling upon Pakistan’s sovereignty. After the Musharraf regime joined the “war on terror”, the United States has been steadily intervening in the internal affairs of Pakistan. It is well-known that General Musharraf was finally dependent on the United States for his survival as the ruler of Pakistan. Acting as a junior partner of the United States has caused Pakistan heavily. In order to carry out its military operations in Afghanistan, the United States brought in the NATO. Having failed to pacify and stabilise the situation in Afghanistan, even after the deployment of over 70,000 US and NATO troops, the United States is now accusing the Pakistan of not doing enough to suppress the Taliban and other fundamentalist forces operating in its border regions. President Bush issued secret orders in July allowing American forces to carry out ground assaults without the prior approval of the Pakistani government. Subsequently, the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff – the top military American Commander – summoned the Pakistani Chief of Staff General Kiyani and other senior officers to a meeting aboard a US aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln. This is the same naval ship which will lead the US contingent on the “Malabar exercises” with the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean. The meeting was meant to convey the American demand that they be given the freedom to operate their ground forces within Pakistani territory. This meeting aboard the US ship has caused outrage in Pakistan.

Soon after, on September 3, the US special forces crossed the border from Afghanistan and staged a raid on suspected Al Qaeda fighters which killed many civilians. The Pakistani Army Chief issued a strong condemnation of the raid and declared that the Pakistani army would not tolerate such incursions and would defend the country’s sovereignty “at all costs”.

The ruling establishment in India seems to be happy with these developments. Editorials in the corporate media have expressed satisfaction that the United States has finally got disillusioned with the Pakistani establishment and is directly intervening to crush the militants. This is a big change that has come about since India is now allied with the United States. It sees the situation in Pakistan and India’s role in Afghanistan increasingly through the security prism and in line with the US strategy. Those who think the United States is doing a great job summoning the Pakistan Chief of Staff to the high seas and then launching attacks by its Special Forces within Pakistan territory, will one day condone and justify the suborning of our armed forces by the United States. The plight Pakistan finds itself in today is an intimation of the perils of a strategic embrace of the imperialist superpower.

Afghan Quagmire

The Manmohan Singh government has no problem with the NATO presence in Afghanistan. It has been drawn into giving outright support to the Karzai regime. It has sent military assistance teams for training and maintenance of the Afghanistan army and air force.

In an earlier period, India had cooperated with Russia and Iran to support the northern alliance in Afghanistan. Now, it is part of the US-Israel axis. The Israelis are bent upon attacking Iran and the United States has succeeded in lining up India in its anti-Iran maneouvres. It is certain now with the assurances given by the Indian government on Iran’s enrichment programme, that the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline proposal is more or less dead. We are going to forgo the much-needed gas supply from Iran to please the US.

The American occupation and bombardment is resulting in heavy civilian casualties in Afghanistan. On August 22, in American air strikes in Azizabad, more than 90 civilians were killed, of whom a majority were women and children. This has been confirmed by the United Nations but the Americans refused to accept the responsibility and continues to state that only five or six civilians died amongst several Taliban activists killed. Such atrocities have become a regular feature. The seeds are being sown for a potential conflict with the Taliban and its allies that will see India as a partner to the US-NATO occupation.

Israeli Link

While the defence minister of India was in Washington, the Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Major General Avi Mizrahi paid a visit to India. Significantly, he also visited Kashmir. The strategic tie-up with the US and Israel will have harmful long term consequences for India. India will be seen as part of the US-Israeli war against “Islamic terrorism”.

Terrorist Attacks

Already the terrorist attacks within India are growing. The Manmohan Singh government has failed to tackle the problem of terrorism and uncover the networks operating. The failure of the intelligence and security setup to identify and dismantle the terrorist groups ever since the bomb blasts in October 2005 in Delhi is glaring. It is not enough to blame external agencies for the repeated terrorist attacks. While there is no doubt that such external aid and support exists, the recruitment for the extremist cause is increasingly from within the country. While urgent steps are required to identify and apprehend such elements, the indiscriminate rounding up and arrest of innocent Muslim youth is causing widespread anger among the minority community. The perception that police and security agencies are targeting the Muslim community will only further strengthen the extremist and terrorist elements.

The Manmohan Singh government’s policy of lining up with the United States and Israel – which are on the attack against Muslim countries from Afghanistan to Syria – will, in the present context, have an adverse impact on our internal security.

September 25: Black Day

What is at stake, therefore, is not some nuclear cooperation agreement alone. The strategic embrace with the Bush administration is going to do long term damage to India’s foreign policy, energy and security interests. The prime minister is going to Washington on September 25 to formalise the 123 agreement. He has forgotten even the assurance he gave before the trust vote session that after the NSG clearance, he will bring the deal to the parliament for its approval. September 25 will be a `black day’ for India. The fight against the military, economic and strategic surrender to the United States has to be carried on resolutely.