Imperialism, Socialism and the Gulf War

[From Liberation, April 1991.]

In my article, The Politics of War I mentioned that the current war is the reflection of present day world contradictions as well as of alliances and at the same time it is also a medium of changes in the correlation of forces.

In the last few years the Soviet Union has clearly been on the retreat from a superpower status, in its confrontation with the USA — the retreat euphemistically called a peace offensive. Moreover, Soviet theories on imperialism and the organic linkages it has been developing with the West have clearly put it against the interests of the Third World. For all practical purposes, from the very beginning the Soviet Union willingly played a subordinate role in the American gameplan in West Asia. Theoretically we knew all this and had been it putting forth squarely. Soviet attempts at the last phase to come out with a peace plan, a plan which was nothing but organising Iraqi surrender, was a meek attempt to keep a role for itself in the post-war West Asia. The Americans were well aware of the essential Soviet impotency. They rejected it.

The Soviets only responded with a curtailed version and, this being rejected again, they fell in line with the Americans. I wrote the article on the very day when the Soviet proposal came and I knew that was the end of Saddam’s resistance. Therefore, I referred to Saddam’s possible defeat, instead of our earlier focus on Iraq turning into another Vietnam, and concluded with a sketh of the probable realignments of forces after the war. I never had any illusions about the Soviet role. The Soviet Union had already gone down to the logical end of the position they adopted. Our comrades had not mentally adapted themselves to the changed Soviet role despite our much earlier analysis of the same. The war has only brought out the real Soviets. On the other hand, after the war a new concern is visible in the Soviet Union and gradually, as I wrote in my article, the peace with America may take a turn towards hotting up of relations. It befits the CPI and the CPI(M) to be too critical of the Soviets as they placed a lot of hopes on it. We should better watch for new turns, if any, in its relations with America.

As regards China, expecting any special role from it as a socialist country in the present international relations is a farfetched imagination. For long it has shown that it is not interested in any such role of replacing the Soviet Union. Well, as a Third World country it did demarcate itself from the Soviets and abstained from voting (in the UN, on certain resolutions moved by the US — Ed.) and tried to be in line with other Third World countries. In its bid for economic construction it has developed multifarious relationships with the West and after Tiananmen it has lost its offensive edge vis-a-vis the West in international relations and its emphasis has been to normalise strained relationships. In the conditions in which it had enmeshed itself during the last years, it was not possible for it to suddenly come out with too radical a position. That is why I said that the war has only brought into the open the real existing relationships among different countries. We knew all this theoretically but old illusions die-hard and when the facts of life only confirm the things, we are still taken aback and try to draw satisfaction by pouring out emotional outbursts. In my opinion the moot point is to keep watch over the changing pattern of relations because I am sure the Chinese and for that matter many countries are deeply concerned about the threat of the American new world order and the war has given rise to a wave of rethinking everywhere. It will take some time before the new relations start taking shape.

One is free to be as critical of Russia or China as one likes, because it does not contradict our Party line. Even if some comrades organise a protest march outside the Chinese embassy I shall have no objections. But I shall remain content with a dispassionate analysis of international relations because matters of world history are judged in decades and not in years.