An IDC Analysis from our correspondent in New York


New Delhi, 06 October 2002

The TV screens, Senators and talk shows in USA are riveted on one issue –– Bush’s plan to hit Iraq and get a regime change. Whether this happens or not, it has given birth to the era of Pax Americana. This also marks the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged powerful empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as our planetary policeman. According to what we hear from viewers and insiders here in New York, this would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the making by the Republican / Vulcan Group now in power. It is being carried out by those who believe that the United States must seize the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the "American imperialists" that the Americans say their enemies (Palestenians, Arabs and many Muslims) always claimed USA is.

India should not join that band wagon as it has in the past. The powerful are respected but also not liked, in the game of International Chess and that’s where we speak up for India’s military and economy to become powerful first and then talk. So we ask, ‘What Should India Do?’ in these circumstances. It is a terrible dilemma fraught with difficulties for our foreign policy makers. Only short-term goals should not be their aim. Iraq is a friend of India so how can India support Bush? –– but then Bush has some of the keys to India’s success economically and has leverage in Pakistan. It’s a Catch 22 situation for India.

Having analysed, predicted and commented on India’s foreign and military policy and discussed foreign policy with many IFS, IAS officers and Members of Parliament, the only thing we can say is this: It is certain that the Government of India will take a decision based on very short term considerations. The Army will loyally follow.

A pointer to this was Jaswant Singh's recent statement in USA equating pre-emptive strikes with self defence. This was music to American ears and we do not know whether it was for US or home consumption. Many have questioned his statement, but then he is now India’s Finance Minister but a former cavalry man also, with many Gung Ho friends in the Army, who would love war like Bush.

In Bush’s case Iraq is a dwarf militarily, and in our case Pakistan after the 10th October elections will not be a dwarf. It will be a military democracy controlled by a benevolent General. We have inputs. IDC and its readers are circumspect because Jaswant Singh, is usually very mature and thoughtful. He commands respect in India, but he seems fed up with Pakistan and looks to elections too. Hence the rhetoric. This statement of his seems to be an aberration and could very well be India’s formula for chaos and war under the circumstances.

Like Bush if India goes on to attack Pakistan or even carries out strikes in POK, as Senators here in USA fear and have said so on TV, then there is trouble ahead. What is happening in Kashmir and Gujarat are pointers, and will hurt India economically, in the long term. Already here in USA, India is off their radar as a dangerous place with even temples becoming unsafe. Americans are touring China as a safe place in preference. In these tough days even at St Andrews the Mecca of golf, they said they allow 24 handicappers to play because tourism is where the money is!

In India if the NC comes back to power then there is hope of some semblance of stability in Kashmir because Farooq Abdullah controls and wields power over trouble makers. If NC is not back then there is trouble brewing in more places than one, as the other parties are there for the ‘moolah’, not the welfare of the state. Kashmir is the most subsidised state in India, and many have looted it.

Today the UN is being pressed to give USA the powers to hit Iraq and Bush is getting closer to get his resolution passed by Congress. USA went about to change the regime in Afghanistan and it formed an alliance for the purpose. Only three countries had recognised the Taliban regime –– Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia. UAE said they had been guided by Pakistan. USA resorted to bombing in Afghanistan but found they were not making much headway. They then reluctantly supported the Northern Alliance. Only with a combined effort could they achieve a regime change.

Even today the warlords in Afghanistan have their own armies and are autonomous and matters are not improving on the ground. The great game of oil is behind Iraq too, like it is in Afghanistan and the CAR region. Bush has grown up as an oil man. How Bush hopes to succeed is not clear but in the long term oil control will be his other objective. USA and Britain have been bombing Iraq continually for the past 11 years. They have managed to establish suzerainty in northern Iraq in the Kurd region. But they have not managed to dislodge Saddam Hussein. Ariel Sharon is incensed that Saddam gives $ 25,000 to each of the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Ariel Sharon one of our viewers says controls Bush, and that is interesting

USA has openly tried for the past 11 years to support dissident groups in Iraq. At the time of the Gulf War there was a short-lived uprising in Southern Iraq. Details of this revolt are not clear, but it appears that US reneged on promised support. Thereby USA lost credibility with dissident groups. The conspicuous thing about the dissident groups was that they were dissident among themselves too, and that is a feature in the East and India is no exception.

Kings, dictators and dynastic presidents rule the Middle East and now President Musharraf has joined the elite band. The "good guys" for USA are the dictators who side with them and the "bad guys" are the dictators who oppose them, even though Al Queda has demonstrated that many of the Muslim people of the Middle East have a different view. At present, only Israel is with the US in wanting to attack Iraq. Tony Blair's own Labour Party has not endorsed it fully. Granted that US can bomb Iraq into submission. If they move into Baghdad they will replace Saddam with a right wing dictator.

The US has not yet digested Afghanistan. They will face greater problems in Iraq. USA’s present generation have forgotten Viet Nam where they lost 60,000 young Americans. They only know the Gulf War experience which was amazingly low as far as loss of lives was concerned and they hope their smart weapons will do the trick.

India should have a great deal of Intelligence on Saddam if RAW and IB claims are to be believed and so we hope our Leaders who decide are well informed on what Bush can achieve. So What Should India Do?

One of our viewers said he could answer our question by saying that it was hypothetical and "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it." However, he did not avoid it. Assuming that India should act cold bloodedly in our enlightened self interest, the answer really boils down to judging who will be the winner. "Back the winner" is a cynical, cold blooded and popular policy in the US. Unfortunately, there may be no  winner and everybody will be the loser in this case and the 'Clash of Civilisations' may hurt India the most.

Therefore, India should remain mum publicly and work quietly behind the scenes to defuse the situation and support UN Inspection –– and join in to learn more about NBC by sending specialists not IFS time passers. NY Times or Wall Street Journal have had no news on India for days. 

Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha should not make any statements because here in New York India’s opinion does not matter, it is used to advantage only if it suits USA. Till we speak to Pakistan we are seen as nuclear mongers and no more. Indian bonds are being rated as junk and while those Indian NRIs who invested in Development and Infrastructure bonds have reaped over 9% interest plus gained in the exchange rise, many Americans have lost their investments including in Enron. That is the logic here and that is the blunt truth.

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