We Don’t Need US Advice, US Warships or the Anti-Nation N Deal

In yet another audacious expression of the carrot-and-stick approach, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has almost promised that the US-India nuclear deal would be finally concluded by the end of this year — if only India dumps the non-aligned movement (NAM) and toes the US line on the Doha round of trade negotiations. The NAM had “lost its meaning” and India should “move past old ways of thinking and old ways of acting”, she tutored us.

Well, before telling this to others, should not the US do the same itself?  Why is it continuing with the bad old practice of military aggressions? And expanding the NATO even after its supposed raison d’etre vanished with the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? The answer is obvious: the surviving superpower is desperate to build a unipolar world under its domination even as it is slowly but steadily losing its grip on world affairs. In fact Condoleezza’s recent statement at the US-India Business Council reflects just this desperation. What worries Washington is not the NAM of old, but the newly emerging trends of open and not-so-open defiance of American hegemonism. And to add to its worries, the fundamental difference this time around is that whereas the NAM always lacked economic muscle, the current trends are led by rising economic powers like Russia and China.

Thus in early June Vladimir Putin followed up his now famous Munich speech (February 2007) — where he had come out categorically and strongly against US unilateralism and expansionism and in favour of a multipolar world – with a call for sweeping reforms in the  “archaic and undemocratic” world economic order. “If 50 years ago, 60 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product came from the G7, now 60 per cent is produced outside,” he told the International Economic Forum at St. Petersburg and appealed for establishing a new order keeping with this new reality, complete with several financial centres and several reserve currencies. In the meantime, the Russian President took a range of successful diplomatic initiatives in the Arab world and elsewhere, even as his Chinese counterpart was doing the same in Korea, Africa and other regions.

Three-way relations between Russia, China and India have also been developing steadily since 2005, particularly in the fields of economic and energy cooperation. During the recent G8 summit in Germany, the BICSAM (Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Mexico) countries — specially invited as “outreach partners” or the O-5 — met separately and decided to come closer and work together on a wide range of issues. The five spoke with one voice even as the G8 members failed to unite on vital issues like climate change and arms control. The recent progress, despite American browbeating, in the long-stalemated talks on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project comes as yet another encouraging development.

As in Eurasia, where Putin has proposed the creation of a regional Eurasian institute on free trade, in Latin America the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA)  championed by Venezuela and Cuba is steadily gaining ground against the failed US-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Prospects of a future multipolar world are thus opening up everywhere. To participate adequately in this historic development, India needs to decisively come out of the shadow of its domineering ‘strategic partner’. Don’t interfere in our foreign policy fundamentals — it ought to have told the US Secretary of State — and don’t try to lure us with the N-deal; its non-completion would be good riddance for us. But instead of doing this, the Indian government has chosen to invite the US Nimitz, a huge nuclear powered aircraft carrier, to the Chennai port as part of the defence cooperation with the US. This very fact, confirmed by Defence Minister AK Antony in New Delhi on 25 June, goes to show that  the Indian government’s statements reiterating commitment to the NAM is a mere eyewash. The threat of nuclear radiation apart, it is indeed a shame that a war machine — which has been a conspicuous part of US gunboat diplomacy across the world (including Iran only recently) as well as actual aggression on Iraq — will be allowed into Indian waters. Joint naval exercises are also due to occur in the Bay of Bengal, and the situation in Pakistan is opening up even more possibilities of US interference and presence in the subcontinent. Left activists rightly staged demonstrations against the arrival of the Nimitz ship, a flagrant violation of our sovereign non-aligned status, and all self-respecting Indians should join the protest against both American interventionism and the UPA government’s policy of licking the boots of Uncle Sam.