People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
VAJPAYEE MEETS BUSH
Pro-US Foreign Policy Comes A Cropper
Harkishan Singh Surjeet
THE recent meeting the Indian prime minister Vajpayee had with the US president George Bush has once again underlined the bankruptcy of the foreign policy the Vajpayee government has been pursuing for the last three odd years.
On the face of it, there was everything in this so-called summit which a summit should have. It was officially described as "a positive exercise." The two leaders held a "candid discussion" between them and jointly addressed a press conference at Washington on November 9. Bush also accepted Vajpayees invitation to visit India. In short, in the word of The Hindu (November 10), there was "some prime-time symphony of sentiments."
Yet, beneath all the paraphernalia of a summit, the bitter fact remains that Bush did not concede what Vajpayee had expected to get from him. The two leaders proclaimed their "commitment" to fight terrorism and Bush even acknowledged that Vajpayee "fully understands" the importance of combating all the variants of terrorism. But, as The Hindu put it, "there was no immediate indication about how and when the two biggest democracies might, if at all, harmonise their separate strategic compulsions for this purpose." Nor was there a "hint of any common denominator in regard to Indian concerns about Pakistan-encouraged cross-border terrorism."
The conclusion is obvious: Vajpayee went to the USA begging for bread and, contrary to the popular proverb, he did not get pebbles either. But he got nothing more than sweet words from the leader of world imperialism.
HEIGHT OF US DUPLICITY
In sharp contrast stood the favours which Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf was bestowed by Bush only a day later, on November 10. Bush not only acknowledged "the frontline role" Pakistan was playing in the US war against terrorism (read: Afghanistan). He even went ahead to help build the "linkages" between the two countries. At the joint press conference addressed by Bush and Musharraf on Saturday, Bush explicitly said: "Ive authorised a lifting of sanctions and over one billion dollars in US support. I will also back debt relief for Pakistan" (The Hindu, November 12).
The same US duplicity was evident on the issue of Kashmir. While Vajpayee failed to extract any commitment from Bush regarding fighting terrorism in Kashmir valley, something of which he had cherished fond hopes, Bush adopted a different approach to the problem of Kashmir in his summit with Musharraf. Of course, Bush said that Washington would do everything possible to bring New Delhi and Islamabad together "to have a good, meaningful discussion on Kashmir," and this is something which accords with the provisions of the Shimla agreement. But Bush sought to play his own game by saying that any solution to the Kashmir problem should "take into account the wishes of the people of Kashmir."
Herein precisely lies the catch. Like his predecessors, Bush too talked of "the wishes of the people of Kashmir." But he conveniently forgot that it is the people of Kashmir who had, of their free will, merged with India half a century ago and who reiterated that wish on a number of occasions later. In fact, while rejecting the two-nation theory, the people of Kashmir had even fought the Pak-sent raiders and paid a heavy price for defending their decision to join the secular Indian Union. That was the expression of the real will of the Kashmiri people, no matter Bush likes it or not.
In fact, if the US leaders talk of the Kashmiri peoples wishes, it is by no means innocuous. Earlier, Clinton had even propounded the idea that the people of Kashmir and Pak-occupied Kashmir must be allowed to freely mingle, to be followed by a referendum in both parts of Kashmir five years later, so that the US imperialists and their media could freely bombard the people of the valley with their propaganda and the cherished US goal of making Kashmir an independent state could be facilitated. Was it for nothing that, at the Saturdays press conference, Bush dodged a question about whether he would invoke the UN Security Council resolution on Kashmir?
Emboldened probably by the goodwill which Bush showed towards Pakistan (he described Pakistan as a "strong ally" and Musharraf as a "strong leader"), Musharraf went a step ahead in his diplomatic offensive against India. He said he was ready to "formalise a bilateral treaty" for creating a regime of "mutual test ban" on nuclear weaponisation.
There is nothing new in Musharrafs proposal. While India had always been in favour of denuclearisation at the global level, a couple of Pakistani leaders before Musharraf had advocated a test ban treaty at the regional level. Such a proposition obviously meant that while the nuclear powers must be free to have their nuclear weapons, Pakistan and India should agree to come under the USAs security umbrella, with all its economic, political and diplomatic implications and consequences. While this Pakistani position accorded well with the imperialist game regarding nuclear weapons, it militated against the traditional Indian policy in favour of global disarmament. And now it is precisely the same discredited proposal that Musharraf has again put forth.
How Bush ignored Vajpayees hopes while being generous towards Pakistan is also clear from the fact that he made no commitment about involving India in any discussion about the post-Taliban set-up in Afghanistan. Under the 6+2 formula, Pakistan has already been assured of a role in any such discussion as it is one of the six countries bordering Afghanistan. But Indias genuine concerns on this score have consistently been ignored so far.
GOING ALL-OUT TO PLACATE THE US
Yet this US attitude towards India is the same attitude a strong man adopts towards a beggar. Since its very inception the Jan Sangh and its later incarnation, the BJP, had always been advocating a strident pro-US policy in international sphere and fulminating against the non-aligned movement (NAM). Then, as soon as the BJP came to power at the centre, it began to dismantle the whole edifice of our time-tested consensual foreign policy of non-alignment, opposition to imperialism and war, support to national liberation movements and advocacy of peace and global disarmament. India, under BJP, made all-out efforts to placate the US imperialists. After Pokhran II, Jaswant Singh held a series of closed-door meetings with Madeline Albright, Talbott and other US leaders and most probably, going by whatever indications are available, even promised to sign the CTBT at an opportune moment. All these parleys were held behind the back of the Indian people. An agreement for defence cooperation was signed with the US, even allowing the US military personnel access to our defence installations. India, under Vajpayee, even gave up its demand that the US dismantle its nuclear base in Diego Garcia; only an abject plea was made that the US must please allow India to use some of the facilities available at this base. Support to the Palestinian struggle for a homeland was given up, an era of cooperation with Israel was started and recognition was withdrawn from the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
And why did the Vajpayee government thus go all-out to placate the Americans? The reason is that, out of their blind hatred for Pakistan, leaders of the BJP had only one concern throughout the last three odd years: that somehow the US should desert Pakistan and extend its backing to India.
The same attitude was evident when there took place terrorist attacks in the US on September 11. As soon as Bush declared that he would start a global war against terrorism, BJP leaders were all too happy that their high hopes were going to be fulfilled soon. The Vajpayee regime expressed willingness to join the US war against Afghanistan and, when that was not accepted, it offered to extend logistic support to the US war efforts. With their abject surrenderist attitude they stooped even lower and Advani was heard begging that the US planes should avail at least refueling facility at Indian airports!
THE US GAME
Cherishing deep illusions about the USAs intentions, BJP leaders miserably failed to realise that the US treats Pakistan as a more valuable ally in its war against Afghanistan --- not only geographically but even politically and diplomatically. Not only has Pakistan been aligned to the US since long; even today the US hope is that it can assuage the feelings of the Muslim world with the help of Pakistan.
The US intention became clear long ago when it extended de facto recognition to the military dictatorship of Pakistan, despite the earlier protestations to the contrary. And what India got? A polite rebuff from Colin Powell that even though the US was fighting a global war against terrorism, the issue of terrorism in Kashmir was not on its immediate agenda!
Yet, blind to the core, the BJP leaders appear not to have learnt any lessons from all these episodes. They wanted that the US must declare Pakistan a "terrorist state" and the US did not oblige. They wanted a role in the US war against Afghanistan and failed to have it. They wanted a say in deciding the future of Afghanistan and Bush avoided assuring them of any such thing. On the contrary, as told earlier, he has still not given up the traditional US game regarding Kashmir. All this should have been enough to open the eyes of any government, but has obviously failed to jolt the BJP leaders out of their self-imposed slumber.
The US intention is clear: while trying to keep Vajpayee & Co in good humour in order to have India by their side, the Americans have made its plain enough that they are not going to desert Pakistan. The latter has always been the USAs dark horse in the South Asian region; at one time it was even a member of the (now defunct) SEATO, a US-led military alliance covering this region; and the Americans still have high hopes from it. This explains why all the Vajpayee regimes efforts to see the US deserting Pakistan and backing India in opposition to Pakistan have come a cropper.
WHAT IS THE WAY OUT
But the question is: How long will the BJP leaders go on making such abject capitulation to the US imperialists?
After the BJP came to power in 1998, its leaders began to advance the TINA (there is not alternative) argument to justify their capitulation --- the same argument that they have been and are still advancing regarding their blind pursuit of the imperialist dictated policies of liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation. The gist of the argument is that the world has become unipolar, that there is now no countervailing force to the US and that therefore there is no alternative but to meekly surrender to the world gendarme. Yet the TINA argument is only a cloak for their servility; otherwise they had been advocating the same policy since 1951 when the world was by no means unipolar.
Apart from the fact that this argument is a great insult to the Indian peoples manliness and self-respect, it is also plainly untrue at the level of reality. Unipolar the world is indeed today, but it does not mean that this is a God-ordained situation that will last forever. Sooner or later, the world is bound to become multipolar again even if the nature of this multipolarity may be different from that in the past.
Signs are already there. Apart from the mounting anti-globalisation protest, the Americans are also getting desperate about whether their dream of world hegemony will ever come true. The way Bush hurried to cobble a global alliance in the name of fighting terrorism, shows his desperation more than the US strength. That also explains the big panic that gripped the Americans following just a plane crash on November 12.
In this situation, given political will, India can definitely intervene and contribute much to ending the present-day unipolarity. India, Russia and China together have more than half of the world population and, joined by other third world countries, they would account for over four-fifth of the mankind. They are also not lacking in material resources and, with the present-day advanced science and technology, they can definitely act to liberate the world from the thralldom of the US-led imperialist camp.
Yet, while Russia and China have begun to strengthen their cooperation, India is still lacking on this score. Here is a country that once founded and led the non-aligned movement along with Egypt, Yugoslavia and Indonesia. Here is a country that contributed to the liberation of many colonies and stridently advocated world peace, disarmament and development. This is what earned for India a place of honour in the world. But, under Vajpayee, Indias voice is no longer heard in international affairs. Third world countries are looking towards India and India under BJP is only belying their hopes. This state of affairs has to end at the earliest.
Having come back from the US without much of a success, Vajpayee has now expressed readiness to host the next non-aligned summit that was earlier scheduled to take place in Bangladesh. This is a welcome step; the only thing is that the government of India must not treat the event as a formality but utilise this opportunity to rally the third world countries on a common platform of action. The past experience shows that, acting in unison, the third world countries can definitely defeat the imperialist manoeuvres and make their voice heard in international fora. It is here that India has to take the lead and mobilise the international public opinion against the imperialist designs to hegemonise the world.
But this requires steps to revive the NAM and go back to our earlier foreign policy that had been a consensual foreign policy of the country, supported by all the Left and democratic forces at home, till the Vajpayee regime reversed it. On their part, the people of this country too have to see that the government of the day gives up its abject capitulation, takes vigorous steps to revive the NAM and thus makes India regain her glory.