Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When Opportunity Knocks

24 Mar 2009
By Jayadeva Ranade, Source : Times Of India

By the time the ongoing international economic crisis runs its course, it will have wrought significant changes in the global geopolitical
landscape. While the US's strength or power projection capability will not have diminished and the country will continue to be a predominant world power, other centres of power and influence would have emerged. China will be one of these new centres. Unless the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly on power collapses, China will in all likelihood emerge wealthier and stronger. This will have serious implications for India and the region.
The global crisis has not left China unscathed. President Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao, however, appear confident that their move in October 2005 to replace the policy of allowing 'some people to get rich first' with 'common prosperity' will pay off. Investments have since been channelled into schemes with long-term benefits such as rural health care, medical insurance and social security, targeted at the countryside where 70 per cent of China's population resides.
China recently unveiled a $587 billion (four trillion yuan) economic stimulus package and planned labour-intensive infrastructure projects. For example, 1,20,000 km of railway lines will be built by 2020 instead of 16,000 km. China's leadership now expects to maintain annual growth at around 7-8 per cent and weather the crisis without too much pain. China's huge foreign currency reserves of $2 trillion must contribute to this confidence.
China's leadership has traditionally been acutely conscious of the need to guard against social upheavals. After an unprecedented 87,000 'incidents' in 2005, party and public security authorities were trained in sophisticated crowd control techniques and security has been constantly tightened. As a result, the Chinese leadership considers any threat to internal stability or the Chinese Communist Party unlikely. It is now focused on achieving major national security and foreign policy objectives at a time the world remains preoccupied with the economic crisis.
China's major concern has been to secure assured supplies of natural resources essential for modernisation. Its quest for such resources remains unabated and the past few months have seen the biggest push since 2005 in investments in oil companies. China's policy has, however, shifted to investing in resource companies rather than outright purchase. China is equally active in investing in mineral and metal companies and, in the past few months alone, has invested over $55 billion. Most of these companies are strapped for cash and their share prices are down. But these will undoubtedly rise as construction picks up worldwide, enhancing the value of Chinese investments.
Earlier this year, China dispatched warships for anti-piracy patrols off Somalia ostensibly to safeguard its maritime trade, the fifth largest in the world, with 60 per cent of oil imports by sea. Chinese navy vessels have, for the first time in 600 years, sailed into action outside their territorial waters. The patrols will be a long-term feature and could use a Pakistani port for resupply. The next flotilla may include a nuclear-powered submarine. Significantly, Beijing took this decision when the rest of the world was otherwise preoccupied. The decision demonstrates the extended operational reach acquired by the Chinese navy right into the Indian Ocean and its determination to act to ensure the safety of its maritime cargo.
China's enormous wealth has given it a lot of heft in achieving major foreign policy goals. It secured a breakthrough when, in October 2008, the British foreign secretary jettisoned the concept of suzerainty as outdated and declared that Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China. This was around the time British prime minister Gordon Brown made a pitch for infusion of Chinese funds into the IMF. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in Beijing recently, also downplayed references to human rights and Tibet. China will press this advantage further. On the Taiwan issue too, there was some forward movement when Clinton emphasised the role of diplomacy in settling the China-Taiwan dispute.
The Chinese leadership has sought to enhance its international profile in areas of its interest, including by disbursing financial aid in these difficult times to cash-strapped nations. Closer home, a Chinese military delegation visited Nepal and agreed to give aid. China has simultaneously positioned itself for a role in Afghanistan and the subcontinent. It has continued to maintain its investments in Afghanistan and links with the Taliban, and made clear that it closely watches developments in the region adjoining its troubled Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The Italian foreign minister's mention that the G-8 would invite China for a conference on Afghanistan indicates that China is poised to play a larger role in the region. It has also consolidated influence in Pakistan, with the Chinese Communist Party signing an agreement with the Jamaat-e-Islami. This is the first time it has concluded an agreement with a political party with an avowedly religious orientation.
China is trying to assume a more assertive role in regions of its interest: Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific. Picking up on a veiled suggestion Bill Clinton, then US president, in Beijing in 1998, Beijing will try and persuade the US to yield it a greater role in these areas. The implications of a stronger and wealthier China exercising such a role are far-reaching for India and the world.
The writer is a former additional secretary in the cabinet secretariat.

What the CIA chief's visit to India, Pak means

What the CIA chief's visit to India, Pak means
B Raman , From Rediff.com
March 23, 2009
Leon Panetta, who took over as the 19th Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on February 13, is presently on his first overseas tour. After having visited India from March 18 to 20, he proceeded to Pakistan for discussions with Pakistani Army and intelligence officers and political leaders.
Panetta, who chose India for his first overseas visit since assuming office, arrived in New Delhi , along with Peter Burleigh, a 67-year-old retired American career diplomat, who has been designated as the "interim Ambassador " of the US to India.
The Barack Obama administration is understood to have put all major decisions relating to India including political-level bilateral visits at cabinet level and the designation of the new ambassador is on hold till the elections to the Lok Sabha are over and a new government is in position in New Delhi by May-end. However, this decision would not affect exchange of visits at the senior level of bureaucrats. Moreover, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is due to meet President Obama for the first time on the margins of the G-20 summit at London next month.
Panetta, whose parents had migrated to California from Italy , served as the chief of staff to then President Bill Clinton from 1994-1997. This was when he became close to Bill and Hillary Clinton . It is believed that he still maintains this close personal friendship with the Clintons and that Bill Clinton played a role in the surprise decision of Obama in January last to nominate him as the new Director of the CIA, despite the fact that the 70-year-old Panetta, who has become the oldest chief of the CIA in its history, has never had any exposure to professional intelligence work except for three years from 1964 to 66 when he had served as an army intelligence officer. His area expertise is limited to Iraq. He had served as a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group set up by the Congress in 1996 to make an independent assessment of the war in Iraq.
Obama's nomination of Panetta came in for criticism not only from some retired officers of the US intelligence community, but also from some members of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees.
It is believed that Obama chose him as the director because of his excellent reputation in the past as a good manager. Knowledgeable people say that Obama, who is keen to tone up the administration and man management in the CIA and rid it of unethical practices in the war against terrorism, felt that only an outsider would be able to do it without covering up past unethical practices.
Moreover, under George Tenet during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the CIA had come in for criticism for avoiding projecting the true ground situation to President George Bush . It allegedly told Bush and his Vice-President Dick Cheney what they liked to be told and not what they ought to have been told. Panetta is expected to correct the analytical methods of the CIA in order not to let its reports and analyses be influenced by the preconceptions of the President.
In his first message to the CIA officers, Panetta has been quoted as saying: "When President Obama asked if I would accept this assignment, he said he wanted someone he could trust, who was independent, and who would call them as he sees them. Throughout my 40-year career in government, I have made it a point to speak honestly to my colleagues, my coworkers, my constituents, and my President. I hope that we can speak honestly to each other and to those we serve."
Till 2004, the director of the CIA was also the director, Central Intelligence, and in that capacity, in addition to running the CIA, co-ordinated the working of the entire intelligence community. In 2004, acting on a recommendation of the National Commission, which inquired into the 9/11 terrorist strikes, Bush separated the two functions and created a separate and a higher level post of Director, National Intelligence to handle the work of co-ordination. From the pre-2004 status of the first among equals, the director, CIA has now become one among equals in the intelligence community. Despite this, he occupies a very high position in policy-making relating to national security and in that capacity, Panetta will be in the inner core of Obama's advisers.
If Obama chose Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, to pay the first overseas visit at the cabinet level to Japan , South Korea, Indonesia and China to underline the importance attached by his administration to this region, it is significant that the first overseas visit of an inner core policy adviser has been to India and Pakistan. This underlines the importance attached by Obama to the US relations with India and to the importance of Pakistan from the point of the fight against terrorism.
It is interesting that the CIA, India's Research & Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau all have new heads, who took over in the last 11 weeks. Rajiv Mathur, a career intelligence officer, took over as the director of the IB, on January 1, K C Verma, as Secretary (R), the head of the R&AW, on February 1 and Panetta on February 13. Whereas Panetta is totally new to the profession, Mathur and Verma have over two decades of exposure to professional intelligence work. They would have got going from the moment they took over, but Panetta will take time to get a hang of the operational work before he is able to impart his stamp.
It is equally interesting to note that just as Obama nominated Panetta as the chief of the CIA to tone up its man management and administration and to rid it of unhealthy practices, the Manmohan Singh government reportedly inducted Verma from the IB to the R&AW with a similar objective. There has been as much criticism of the internal functioning of the R&AW as there was of the CIA.
One could assess without fear of contradiction that the New Delhi visit of Panetta, who is still to find his feet as an intelligence chief, would have had a much larger political objective for Obama. Firstly, to reassure Indian leaders that Clinton's first visit to China does not mean the downgrading of the US relations with India. Secondly, to reassure India of continued US assistance in the investigation of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai and continued US pressure on Pakistan to investigate the case seriously and sincerely. Thirdly, to assess the pre-election political scene in India for his President.
The nomination of Burleigh as an "interim Ambassador" and his travelling together with Panetta to New Delhi underline the US interest in monitoring and assessing the pre-election political scene. The Obama administration's avoidance of any major policy initiatives and pronouncements with regard to India is motivated by its desire to keep its options open and not to burn in advance its bridges with any dispensation coming to office in New Delhi after the elections. The US has many retired diplomats, who have spent many years of their career in the sub-continent. All of them are quite knowledgeable on India -- but each only on some aspects of India. Some are knowledgeable on the Congress party, some on the Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindutva groups and some others, who had served in the sub-continent in the cold war years, are knowledgeable on the Communist parties and their suspected links with the then USSR and China.
Burleigh belongs to the third category. He had his first exposure to the sub-continent as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal in the early 1960s. From the Peace Corps, he gravitated to the State Department and spent some years of his diplomatic career in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka . As a junior diplomat, he had served in the US Embassy in Colombo from 1968 to 1970 and in New Delhi from 1973 to 1975. He also served as the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka from 1995 to 1997. In one of the web sites of the old Peace Corps volunteers, he had entered the following post about himself: "After graduating from Colgate in 1963, I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, then a year of graduate study in South Asian affairs at the University of Pennsylvania, and another year in Nepal on a student Fulbright grant.
On returning from Nepal in 1967, I joined the State Department and was assigned -- you guessed it -- to Sri Lanka, where I was a junior officer trainee until 1970. I learned the language, Sinhala, at that time and, courtesy of Senator Jesse Helms (who, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held up final confirmation of 35 of us), was able to spend another seven months in 1995 resurrecting that language ability. I use the language a lot, with Buddhist monks and village people in particular. English is widely used in government and the commercial sector of the economy. Between 1970 and December 1995 I served in India, Bahrain and Nepal in positions of increasing seniority, and for the past 13 years I was in Washington in a series of jobs. These included three deputy assistant secretary positions as well as coordinator for counter-terrorism. The last position carried with it ambassadorial rank, though I was based in Washington."
When he was posted in the US Embassy in New Delhi from 1973 to 75, the Indian Communists and anti-US magazines like the Blitz used to accuse him of being a CIA officer working under a diplomatic cover. While it is difficult to prove this, it needs to be noted that he had served as the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator in the US State Department in Washington DC in 1991-92. Past holders of this post had a CIA or FBI background,
It is intriguing that the Obama administration should have taken an old cold warrior such as Burleigh out of the circuit of retired diplomats and sent him to New Delhi to hold the fort in the US Embassy during the pre-poll interregnum. Has he been sent to monitor and assess the chances of the Third Front and the likely impact on India's policy towards the US should the Third Front which has the Communists as partners come to power? A valid question, but difficult to answer. The Congress and the BJP are known quantities to the State Department and the US wouldn't be unduly concerned if either of them comes to power at the head of a coalition. But the Third Front with its Communists is an unknown kettle of fish.
Panetta's visit to New Delhi during which he had publicised meetings with Home Minister P Chidambram, in addition to meetings with M K Narayanan, the National Security Adviser, Verma,and Mathur, has been criticised by the Communist Party of India-Marxist. In a statement, the party's politbureau said this was the first time that the CIA chief was accorded a meeting with the Union home minister. Apart from meeting his intelligence counterparts in India, Panetta was received at the political level, signalling the new status of the CIA in India.
It added: "The CIA is notorious for its interventions in the political affairs of various countries including destabilising governments considered inimical to US interests. The development is a pointer to how things have changed under the Manmohan Singh government. India is fast becoming like Pakistan where the CIA and the FBI chiefs meet with the interior minister and prime minister.
The role being played by the US security and military agencies in the country and the manner in which the Congress-led government is promoting such ties should be a matter of serious concern for all those who wish to protect national sovereignty and the integrity of the country's democratic system."
The Indian intelligence has been having a liaison relationship with the CIA since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru. This was handled by the IB till September, 1968, and thereafter by the R&AW. Many CIA chiefs had visited India in the past. Their visits used to be graded as top secret. Their programme in New Delhi used to be restricted to professional discussions with the heads of the IB and the R&AW and a courtesy call on the prime minister.
This was for security and political reasons. Before international terrorism became a major source of concern, the security reasons mainly related to possible threats to the physical security of the visiting CIA chief from the intelligence agencies of the Communist countries. After the collapse of the USSR and other communist regimes in East Europe and after the normalisation of the US relations with China, this concern is no longer there.
But, since the late 1980s, terrorism has become a major source of concern. CIA officials responsible for the security of their director and their officials posted in India for liaison purposes used to prefer that the visits be kept secret. Indian agencies too preferred secrecy because they were rightly concerned that if the visits were open, jihadi terrorist threats to India and to US nationals and interests in India, including to the US diplomatic and consular missions in India, might increase.
This position started changing when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. The visit of George Tenet, the then Director of the CIA, to India was kept a secret, but the visits of the No.2 to Tenet were publicised. L K Advani , the then home minister, came to be associated with the visits of CIA officials to New Delhi. Their programmes included a courtesy call on the home minister. Not only that, Advani too, during his visit to the US in 2002, reportedly called on Tenet in his office.
This caused some eyebrow-raising because while it is normal for a visiting bureaucrat -- as a CIA director is -- to call on important political leaders of the host country, it is unusual for a senior political leader ranking No 2 in the government to call on a bureaucrat of the host country. Pakistani leaders, in their eagerness to cultivate the US, do it often, but Indian leaders had not done it in the past. There was some unhappiness in sections of the Indian intelligence community that this could downgrade the importance and status of Indian intelligence chiefs in the eyes of their US counterparts. If US intelligence officials have easy access to our senior ministers, why should they bother about our intelligence chiefs?
Panetta's visit to Pakistan is evidently related to the messy political situation there and to the on-going review by the Obama administration of its strategy to counter Al Qaeda and the Taliban . There is a general acceptance among the advisers of Obama that no strategy can succeed without the co-operation of Pakistan and that, at the same time, exercising too much pressure on Pakistan can prove counter-productive and add to the political instability. The search for a credible policy of carrots (enhanced military and economic aid) and sticks (continuing Predator strikes and threats of more if the Pakistan army does not act) is still continuing. The CIA plays an important role in this search.
The Predator strikes -- over 30 since last September and six of them since Obama assumed office -- are handled by the CIA. Obama has not yet taken a policy decision on the recommendation by his advisers to extend the Predator strikes to attack the hide-outs of the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan in Balochistan. There has been strong opposition to this extension not only from Pakistani political and military leaders, but also from some US analysts and Congressmen, who fear this could turn messy and add to the political instability in Pakistan.
If Obama ultimately decides to extend the strikes to Balochistan, the CIA will have to co-ordinate them. One of the purposes of Panetta's visit will be to make an on-the-spot assessment of the implications before a final decision is taken.

What the CIA chief's visit to India, Pak means

By B Raman
From Rediff.com, March 23, 2009

Leon Panetta, who took over as the 19th Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on February 13, is presently on his first overseas tour. After having visited India from March 18 to 20, he proceeded to Pakistan for discussions with Pakistani Army and intelligence officers and political leaders.
Panetta, who chose India for his first overseas visit since assuming office, arrived in New Delhi , along with Peter Burleigh, a 67-year-old retired American career diplomat, who has been designated as the "interim Ambassador " of the US to India.
The Barack Obama administration is understood to have put all major decisions relating to India including political-level bilateral visits at cabinet level and the designation of the new ambassador is on hold till the elections to the Lok Sabha are over and a new government is in position in New Delhi by May-end. However, this decision would not affect exchange of visits at the senior level of bureaucrats. Moreover, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is due to meet President Obama for the first time on the margins of the G-20 summit at London next month.
Panetta, whose parents had migrated to California from Italy , served as the chief of staff to then President Bill Clinton from 1994-1997. This was when he became close to Bill and Hillary Clinton . It is believed that he still maintains this close personal friendship with the Clintons and that Bill Clinton played a role in the surprise decision of Obama in January last to nominate him as the new Director of the CIA, despite the fact that the 70-year-old Panetta, who has become the oldest chief of the CIA in its history, has never had any exposure to professional intelligence work except for three years from 1964 to 66 when he had served as an army intelligence officer. His area expertise is limited to Iraq. He had served as a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group set up by the Congress in 1996 to make an independent assessment of the war in Iraq.
Obama's nomination of Panetta came in for criticism not only from some retired officers of the US intelligence community, but also from some members of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees.
It is believed that Obama chose him as the director because of his excellent reputation in the past as a good manager. Knowledgeable people say that Obama, who is keen to tone up the administration and man management in the CIA and rid it of unethical practices in the war against terrorism, felt that only an outsider would be able to do it without covering up past unethical practices.
Moreover, under George Tenet during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the CIA had come in for criticism for avoiding projecting the true ground situation to President George Bush . It allegedly told Bush and his Vice-President Dick Cheney what they liked to be told and not what they ought to have been told. Panetta is expected to correct the analytical methods of the CIA in order not to let its reports and analyses be influenced by the preconceptions of the President.
In his first message to the CIA officers, Panetta has been quoted as saying: "When President Obama asked if I would accept this assignment, he said he wanted someone he could trust, who was independent, and who would call them as he sees them. Throughout my 40-year career in government, I have made it a point to speak honestly to my colleagues, my coworkers, my constituents, and my President. I hope that we can speak honestly to each other and to those we serve."
Till 2004, the director of the CIA was also the director, Central Intelligence, and in that capacity, in addition to running the CIA, co-ordinated the working of the entire intelligence community. In 2004, acting on a recommendation of the National Commission, which inquired into the 9/11 terrorist strikes, Bush separated the two functions and created a separate and a higher level post of Director, National Intelligence to handle the work of co-ordination. From the pre-2004 status of the first among equals, the director, CIA has now become one among equals in the intelligence community. Despite this, he occupies a very high position in policy-making relating to national security and in that capacity, Panetta will be in the inner core of Obama's advisers.
If Obama chose Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, to pay the first overseas visit at the cabinet level to Japan , South Korea, Indonesia and China to underline the importance attached by his administration to this region, it is significant that the first overseas visit of an inner core policy adviser has been to India and Pakistan. This underlines the importance attached by Obama to the US relations with India and to the importance of Pakistan from the point of the fight against terrorism.
It is interesting that the CIA, India's Research & Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau all have new heads, who took over in the last 11 weeks. Rajiv Mathur, a career intelligence officer, took over as the director of the IB, on January 1, K C Verma, as Secretary (R), the head of the R&AW, on February 1 and Panetta on February 13. Whereas Panetta is totally new to the profession, Mathur and Verma have over two decades of exposure to professional intelligence work. They would have got going from the moment they took over, but Panetta will take time to get a hang of the operational work before he is able to impart his stamp.
It is equally interesting to note that just as Obama nominated Panetta as the chief of the CIA to tone up its man management and administration and to rid it of unhealthy practices, the Manmohan Singh government reportedly inducted Verma from the IB to the R&AW with a similar objective. There has been as much criticism of the internal functioning of the R&AW as there was of the CIA.
One could assess without fear of contradiction that the New Delhi visit of Panetta, who is still to find his feet as an intelligence chief, would have had a much larger political objective for Obama. Firstly, to reassure Indian leaders that Clinton's first visit to China does not mean the downgrading of the US relations with India. Secondly, to reassure India of continued US assistance in the investigation of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai and continued US pressure on Pakistan to investigate the case seriously and sincerely. Thirdly, to assess the pre-election political scene in India for his President.
The nomination of Burleigh as an "interim Ambassador" and his travelling together with Panetta to New Delhi underline the US interest in monitoring and assessing the pre-election political scene. The Obama administration's avoidance of any major policy initiatives and pronouncements with regard to India is motivated by its desire to keep its options open and not to burn in advance its bridges with any dispensation coming to office in New Delhi after the elections. The US has many retired diplomats, who have spent many years of their career in the sub-continent. All of them are quite knowledgeable on India -- but each only on some aspects of India. Some are knowledgeable on the Congress party, some on the Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindutva groups and some others, who had served in the sub-continent in the cold war years, are knowledgeable on the Communist parties and their suspected links with the then USSR and China.
Burleigh belongs to the third category. He had his first exposure to the sub-continent as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal in the early 1960s. From the Peace Corps, he gravitated to the State Department and spent some years of his diplomatic career in Nepal, India and Sri Lanka . As a junior diplomat, he had served in the US Embassy in Colombo from 1968 to 1970 and in New Delhi from 1973 to 1975. He also served as the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka from 1995 to 1997. In one of the web sites of the old Peace Corps volunteers, he had entered the following post about himself: "After graduating from Colgate in 1963, I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, then a year of graduate study in South Asian affairs at the University of Pennsylvania, and another year in Nepal on a student Fulbright grant.
On returning from Nepal in 1967, I joined the State Department and was assigned -- you guessed it -- to Sri Lanka, where I was a junior officer trainee until 1970. I learned the language, Sinhala, at that time and, courtesy of Senator Jesse Helms (who, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held up final confirmation of 35 of us), was able to spend another seven months in 1995 resurrecting that language ability. I use the language a lot, with Buddhist monks and village people in particular. English is widely used in government and the commercial sector of the economy. Between 1970 and December 1995 I served in India, Bahrain and Nepal in positions of increasing seniority, and for the past 13 years I was in Washington in a series of jobs. These included three deputy assistant secretary positions as well as coordinator for counter-terrorism. The last position carried with it ambassadorial rank, though I was based in Washington."
When he was posted in the US Embassy in New Delhi from 1973 to 75, the Indian Communists and anti-US magazines like the Blitz used to accuse him of being a CIA officer working under a diplomatic cover. While it is difficult to prove this, it needs to be noted that he had served as the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator in the US State Department in Washington DC in 1991-92. Past holders of this post had a CIA or FBI background,
It is intriguing that the Obama administration should have taken an old cold warrior such as Burleigh out of the circuit of retired diplomats and sent him to New Delhi to hold the fort in the US Embassy during the pre-poll interregnum. Has he been sent to monitor and assess the chances of the Third Front and the likely impact on India's policy towards the US should the Third Front which has the Communists as partners come to power? A valid question, but difficult to answer. The Congress and the BJP are known quantities to the State Department and the US wouldn't be unduly concerned if either of them comes to power at the head of a coalition. But the Third Front with its Communists is an unknown kettle of fish.
Panetta's visit to New Delhi during which he had publicised meetings with Home Minister P Chidambram, in addition to meetings with M K Narayanan, the National Security Adviser, Verma,and Mathur, has been criticised by the Communist Party of India-Marxist. In a statement, the party's politbureau said this was the first time that the CIA chief was accorded a meeting with the Union home minister. Apart from meeting his intelligence counterparts in India, Panetta was received at the political level, signalling the new status of the CIA in India.
It added: "The CIA is notorious for its interventions in the political affairs of various countries including destabilising governments considered inimical to US interests. The development is a pointer to how things have changed under the Manmohan Singh government. India is fast becoming like Pakistan where the CIA and the FBI chiefs meet with the interior minister and prime minister.
The role being played by the US security and military agencies in the country and the manner in which the Congress-led government is promoting such ties should be a matter of serious concern for all those who wish to protect national sovereignty and the integrity of the country's democratic system."
The Indian intelligence has been having a liaison relationship with the CIA since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru. This was handled by the IB till September, 1968, and thereafter by the R&AW. Many CIA chiefs had visited India in the past. Their visits used to be graded as top secret. Their programme in New Delhi used to be restricted to professional discussions with the heads of the IB and the R&AW and a courtesy call on the prime minister.
This was for security and political reasons. Before international terrorism became a major source of concern, the security reasons mainly related to possible threats to the physical security of the visiting CIA chief from the intelligence agencies of the Communist countries. After the collapse of the USSR and other communist regimes in East Europe and after the normalisation of the US relations with China, this concern is no longer there.
But, since the late 1980s, terrorism has become a major source of concern. CIA officials responsible for the security of their director and their officials posted in India for liaison purposes used to prefer that the visits be kept secret. Indian agencies too preferred secrecy because they were rightly concerned that if the visits were open, jihadi terrorist threats to India and to US nationals and interests in India, including to the US diplomatic and consular missions in India, might increase.
This position started changing when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. The visit of George Tenet, the then Director of the CIA, to India was kept a secret, but the visits of the No.2 to Tenet were publicised. L K Advani , the then home minister, came to be associated with the visits of CIA officials to New Delhi. Their programmes included a courtesy call on the home minister. Not only that, Advani too, during his visit to the US in 2002, reportedly called on Tenet in his office.
This caused some eyebrow-raising because while it is normal for a visiting bureaucrat -- as a CIA director is -- to call on important political leaders of the host country, it is unusual for a senior political leader ranking No 2 in the government to call on a bureaucrat of the host country. Pakistani leaders, in their eagerness to cultivate the US, do it often, but Indian leaders had not done it in the past. There was some unhappiness in sections of the Indian intelligence community that this could downgrade the importance and status of Indian intelligence chiefs in the eyes of their US counterparts. If US intelligence officials have easy access to our senior ministers, why should they bother about our intelligence chiefs?
Panetta's visit to Pakistan is evidently related to the messy political situation there and to the on-going review by the Obama administration of its strategy to counter Al Qaeda and the Taliban . There is a general acceptance among the advisers of Obama that no strategy can succeed without the co-operation of Pakistan and that, at the same time, exercising too much pressure on Pakistan can prove counter-productive and add to the political instability. The search for a credible policy of carrots (enhanced military and economic aid) and sticks (continuing Predator strikes and threats of more if the Pakistan army does not act) is still continuing. The CIA plays an important role in this search.
The Predator strikes -- over 30 since last September and six of them since Obama assumed office -- are handled by the CIA. Obama has not yet taken a policy decision on the recommendation by his advisers to extend the Predator strikes to attack the hide-outs of the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan in Balochistan. There has been strong opposition to this extension not only from Pakistani political and military leaders, but also from some US analysts and Congressmen, who fear this could turn messy and add to the political instability in Pakistan.
If Obama ultimately decides to extend the strikes to Balochistan, the CIA will have to co-ordinate them. One of the purposes of Panetta's visit will be to make an on-the-spot assessment of the implications before a final decision is taken.

The China Imperative?

By Subramanian Swamy
Source : Organizer.com

Any two large nations have competitive aspirations and needs, and if these cannot be resolved satisfactorily then it weakens bilateral relations even if it can be cemented in the other dimensions.
It is constantly said that in many ways, India and China are natural partners, being neighbours with a long boundary. More importantly, for more than 5000 years of history, the two nations were culturally and religiously interacting with each other, peacefully and normally, except for a relatively brief period of 20 years [1958-78]. This peace reigned even when India’s Hindu influence spread all the way to Vietnam to countries on the periphery of China. In fact even China came under the heavy influence of Hinduised Mahayana Buddhism
India, being a democracy, is more expressive about China than China is about India, since the press there is controlled. For example, Indians and Chinese view themselves citizens of a rising global power, and that therefore each nation should be treated as a central player in a “polycentric” multi-polar international community. Yet while many Indians openly regard China as such, the Chinese in internal Chinese language media have not articulated the same sentiment about India, leaving the impression that China does not take India seriously.
The core inference from the facts narrated therein is simply this: Neither China, nor indeed India, had been honest to the other about the facts about the border throughout the decade of the 1950s, nor either had a case of any undisputed merit in the border cartographic claims. That is why Sardar Patel wrote a letter to Nehru after the Communists came to power in Beijing that India should not settle the Tibet question until the border demarcation already in the existing maps had been explicitly agreed to. Nehru in reply to Patel had rambled out a lecture on how foreign policy was different from maintaining law and order.
The first requirement of an effective Indian policy towards China is to build a national consensus on how in a globalised world we define our complex of interests vis-à-vis China, to deal with the situation on the border that has dramatically changed since 1962, and also how best to communicate this consensus candidly to Chinese leaders. It is significant that while China denounces the McMahon line on the Sino-Indian border as ‘imperialist’ it has accepted the same imperialist line in toto with Burma (Myanmar). This contradiction is explainable by the issue of Tibet.
The most crucial determination in the 21st century for India is the content of the nation’s relation with China in the context of the US strategic over reach and volatility of the globalised economy.
It is constantly said that in many ways, India and China are natural partners, being neighbours with a long boundary. More importantly, for more than 5,000 years of history, the two nations were culturally and religiously interacting with each other, peacefully and normally, except for a relatively brief period of 20 years (1958-78).
This peace reigned even when India’s Hindu influence spread all the way to Vietnam to countries on the periphery of China. In fact, even China came under the heavy influence of Hinduised Mahayana Buddhism so much so that the famous poet and President of Beijing University delivered an address to Harvard University in 1936, published in the Tricentennial Celebration volumes, titled The Indianisation of China detailing disapprovingly how deep Hindu influences had penetrated in Chinese minds.
No two neighbours of any size, in any continent for any period of history thus can claim such a long period of peaceful co-existence and cultural contact. This is an encouraging fact of history, that except for the bitter memory of 1962 conflict, there is no deep seated sentiment mitigating against a future strategic partnership between the world’s two large continental size, fastest growing, and most populous Asian neighbouring and ancient civilizations. But are the relations chilling again?
India, being a democracy is more expressive about China than China is about India, since the press there is controlled. For example, Indians and Chinese view themselves as citizens of as a rising global power, and that therefore each nation should be treated as a central player in a “polycentric” multi-polar international community. Yet, while many Indians openly regard China as such, the Chinese in internal Chinese language media have not articulated the same sentiment about India, leaving the impression that China does not take India seriously. Although for China, India could, at a future date, become a strategic partner or formidable adversary, or an economic collaborator or fierce competitor, and yet China’s perception of India has not yet been explicitly articulated.
Will then, in the long term, a strategic India-China relation be forged for mutual benefit be forged , and if forged today, be abandoned by China at a future date? Indians cannot be sure because of Chinese opaqueness in discourse with India. There is large trust deficit between India and China today that stands in the way of such partnership.
Once China attains the economic status it wants, its leaders may want to assert its political and military clout in South Asia against Indian interests by calling in its IOUs. At present China assists Pakistan, Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka with military supplies, but has not openly exercised its clout in these countries, so far, against India. But the option to do so, has been kept open by China. There is also the pending festering Sino-Indian Border Dispute that first requires resolution.

The Question of Sino-Indian Border Settlement
It would be thus appropriate to first consider the centrality of the Border Dispute in the future prospect of a durable Sino-Indian strategic partnership, as this dispute can be a triggering factor for adverse Sino-Indian relations.
Between 1949 and 1957, the media in India mostly had gone by Nehru’s glowing pronouncements on Sino-Indian relations. Because of his perspective, the broad masses of India had regarded the relations between the two countries as extremely cordial. But this was only apparently so, since the seeds of discord had been sown early. How these seeds had germinated since is described in my earlier study of the subject [see Chapter 3 of: India’s China Perspective (Konark, 2001)].
The core inference from the facts narrated therein is simply this: Neither China, nor indeed India, had been honest to the other about the facts about the border throughout the decade of the 1950s, nor either had a case of any undisputed merit in the Border cartographic claims. That is why Sardar Patel wrote a letter to Nehru after the Communists came to power in Beijing that India should not settle the Tibet question until the border demarcation already in the existing maps had been explicitly agreed to. Nehru in reply to Patel had rambled out a lecture on how foreign policy was different from maintaining law and order.
China did not reveal its territorial claims, even when the two countries had negotiated and signed the 1954 Agreement on Tibet. Though it was an agreement on trade and intercourse, it was concluded in order to settle all outstanding issues and to consolidate the friendly relations between the two countries. One of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence (Panchsheel) was “mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” which clearly implied that the borders of each party to the treaty were already known to the other. Had China believed that there was a substantial territorial dispute about the Sino-Indian boundary, then that was the time to have raised the question, before solemnly pledging to respect mutually the “territorial integrity” of the other. Equally wrong was Nehru for not having explicitly raised and then clinched the border issue especially when we were clearing out of Tibet and recognising it as a province of China.
In October 1954, Prime Minister Nehru while in Beijing mentioned to the Chinese leaders that he had seen some maps published in China which showed a wrong boundary between the two countries, but added that he was not worried about it, because the boundaries of India were quite clear and not a matter of argument! Such ostrich like policy is what led to the disillusionment of 1962.
It was on January 23, 1959, that Mr Chou Enlai first wrote to Mr Nehru admitting that it was “true that the border question was not raised in 1954 when negotiations were being held between Chinese and Indian sides for the Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet region of China and India. This was because conditions were not yet ripe for its settlement.” This was an amazing admission. Why did time become ‘ripe’ in 1959 for the dispute to be raised? That Premier Chou did not make that clear in the letter.
After administering a blistering defeat in 1962, the Chinese forces withdrew 20 kms behind the McMahon Line, which they called “the 1959 line of actual control” in the Eastern Sector, and also 20 kms behind the line of their latest position in Ladakh, which they further identified with the “1959 line of actual control” in the Western Sector. This left the Chinese in possession of 23,200 square kms of territory in Ladakh. India asked for restoration to the status quo ex-ante as of September 8, 1962 in all sectors which the Chinese rejected. A stalemate thus resulted in stated positions on the boundary dispute, that in effect remains so even today.
Towards the end of December 1964, Prime Minister Chou Enlai, speaking to the National People’s Congress in Beijing, called the suggestion of restoration of status quo as of September 8, 1962 “an unreasonable Indian pre-condition” and declared that China would never dismantle its posts from this area. Chou also reminded India that China had not relinquished its claim to an additional 90,000 sq. kilometres of India territory south of the McMahon Line. This territorial demand was in addition to the 23,200 sq. kms of territory in Ladakh already with China by then. Thus, the border issue, if made central to further development of Sino-Indian relations, will effectively freeze any progress toward a Sino-Indian entente.
The first requirement therefore of an effective Indian policy towards China is to build a national consensus on how in a globalised world we define our complex of interests vis-à-vis China, to deal with the situation on the border that has dramatically changed since 1962, and also how best to communicate this consensus candidly to Chinese leaders. It is significant that while China denounces the McMahon line on the Sino-Indian border as ‘imperialist’ it has accepted the same imperialist line in toto with Burma (Myanmar). This contradiction is explainable by the issue of Tibet.
Second, Tibet will thus continue to play the defining role in Sino-Indian relations. The Indian government has reiterated its policy of regarding Tibet as an autonomous region of China, and that anti-China political activities by Tibetan elements would not be permitted on Indian soil. This statement of policy has been repeated during the exchange of visits by the Prime Ministers of China and India. In 2003, Prime Minister Vajpayee specifically and categorically confirmed this position while on a visit to Beijing. Yet the Chinese view the émigré government of the Dalai Lama nominees in Dharamshala, H.P., with deep suspicion. The Tibet issue enables the US to roast the Chinese dragon’s belly off and on. We have to resolve this contradiction. Another contradiction is the Chinese support to Pakistan in strategic, tactical, military, civilian, nuclear and conventional dimensions. But Pakistan is increasingly looking like a failed state and primed for a Taliban-Al Qaeda take-over. Thereafter anything is possible including nuclear war. This is a contradiction that China must resolve.
The third is in the resolution of competitive interests between China and India both in the economy and spheres of influence. Any two large nations have competitive aspirations and needs, and if these cannot be resolved satisfactorily then it weakens bilateral relations even if it can be cemented in the other dimensions.
And finally, the fourth dimension is in matching of expectations that will exist between the peoples of the two nations. If one nation assumes that friendship means totality of convergence or submergence of all national interests, while the other nation expects it to be on purely give and take principle, then the relation between such two nations is bound to sour sooner or later because the expectations are not matched. That unfortunately is what happened in Sino-Indian bilateral affairs.

The scenario of Strategic partnership between India and China
A fundamental problem in Indian policy-making towards China is that there is no apparent consensus in India even today, on the “end” objectives of engagement with China. The domestic strategic discourse in IDSA and other think tanks so far has also failed to come up with a clear criterion for evaluating the “means” to be adopted in this regard. There is also as yet no clear China perspective inside the Indian Government. It is in this context that a review of contemporary Sino-Indian relations is urgently necessary before developing a stable strategic ‘Sino-Indian Partnership’, that everyone blandly talks about nowadays.
In particular, a crucial choice will have to be made soon by us: Whether India should form a compact with China (Choice I) or become a part of the US efforts to keep China ‘contained’ (Choice II). How and why that choice is to be made must of course be subject to in depth of the analysis and wide national debate. I am of the view that either India befriends China in a fundamental and strategic sense, or Indian confronts China. There is no third way.
The upshot of the entire analysis given above can thus be summarised in three parts: [a] A strategic partnership between India and China has to be viewed in dimensions of economic, global influence, and national security. Hence, to opt for such a partnership there has to be a holistic approach.
[b] For historical, cultural and geographical reasons, it is natural for India and China to be partners in global affairs. It is, however, too early for India to clinch a strategic partnership with China because of some unresolved contradictions, the upheaval in the international economy triggered by globalisation and more importantly the imminence of a financial crisis in China and India about which I have written elsewhere [see my Financial Architecture and Comparative Economic Development of China and India (2007) Konark Publishers]. Thus, bilateral discussions for this partnership at all important levels should take place only after all scenarios are visualised and issues are thrashed out to avoid future misunderstanding.
[c] For the time being, the US is important as a market and as a pioneer in innovative technology. Hence, it is not a feasible for either India or China to come to any understanding that is inconsistent with US global interest. This is more true for China than India because the former is more vitally interlinked with the US economy and foreign trade with the West and pro-US East Asia. Thus, mature and nuanced sequencing of our relations with China to a level of a stable and sustained strategic partnership is the urgent imperative of India’s new age or 21st century diplomacy.
(The writer is former Union Cabinet Minister for Commerce, and is currently Janata Party President.)

Prepare for the Next Great War

By Bharat Verma
Source : Ograniser.com

By nature, the average Indian is highly individualistic and an entrepreneur. In every endeavour, his calculation is simply based on, “What’s in it for me?” He does not have the time or the inclination to actively get involved with the intricacies of the nation’s security.
India’s ‘near abroad’ is under unprecedented turmoil. Pakistan is almost split into two states. The Pakistan Army controls one part and the other it ceded to radical Islam. The Pakistan Army appears to be under retreat. In Bangladesh the war between Pakistan-backed radical Islam threatens to undermine the present regime. Maoists in Nepal look up to China. Beijing successfully out-manoeuvred New Delhi’s influence in the latter’s backyard.
A nation’s foreign policy is dependent primarily on the strength of its economic and military power. The ability and the will to wield military power ruthlessly, to defend and advance national interests, when combined with the capacity and resolve to create wealth, constitute the proven route for every aspirant seeking recognition as an eminent power.
To attain eminence in Asia, India needs to move simultaneously on three axes. These are India-West Asia, India-Southeast Asia and India-Central Asia. Of these, the critical one is the India-Afghanistan-Iran-Russia axis. Today, Russia is reacting firmly to intruders into its neighbourhood. Her economic and military resurgence presents an opportunity for a relationship which would lend stability to the region.
Today, India is ringed by turbulent states—Pakistan (land boundary with India 3,310 kms in the northwest), Nepal (land boundary with India 1,751 kms in the north), Bangladesh (land boundary with India 4,095 kms in the southeast) and Myanmar (land boundary with India 1,463 kms in the northeast). Turbulence has percolated through India’s porous borders in the form of arms and narcotics to finance insurgents, militants, terrorists and religious fundamentalists.
India remains Pakistan’s primary target and operating ground for Islamic fundamentalists and terrorist groups who infiltrate through Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Nepal and Bangladesh and carry out anti-Indian activities with impunity.
Nepal is vulnerable to China’s influence. Its extremists have linkages with the People’s War Group (PWG) in India. In its bid to expand its influence, the PWG has carved a corridor ringing the states of Andhra Pradesh-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh-Orissa-West Bengal-Jharkhand-Bihar.
This endless internal turbulence in India is also inter-linked with external factors. To the North, India shares a 3,440 km long border with China, which can pose the entire spectrum of conventional, nuclear and missile threats. It can also influence and use as proxy India’s neighbours to weigh India down in every possible way.
In short, India’s 14,058-km long land frontier is impacted by a perpetually hostile or semi-hostile environment. Indian security stands threatened by demographic assault, arms and drug smuggling, and the safe havens that the insurgents have in India. Fundamentalist-religious groups in Bangladesh under Pakistani tutelage, West Asian finance and China’s patronage have synergised sufficiently to add to India’s security headache.
The grim reality is that the unending turbulence will continue to afflict our land and sea frontiers and airspace.

The Indian Temperament
By nature, the average Indian is highly individualistic and an entrepreneur. In every endeavour, his calculation is simply based on, “What’s in it for me?” He does not have the time or the inclination to actively get involved with the intricacies of the nation’s security.
This kind of entrepreneurial society requires a steel frame of military, naval and air power to ensure that India’s accommodative temperament and societal characteristic of gentleness remains protected from the turbulent violence that assaults the values of our democratic polity.

India’s Armed Forces
On attaining Independence in 1947, India inherited possibly the best instrument of war in Asia—a fine battle-ready military machine with a formidable reputation of winning wars in distant lands. Britain had employed it skillfully for over a century to sustain her empire and treasured it as the jewel in its crown.
In the years after Independence, India’s Army has been unendingly deployed for internal policing tasks to cope with the complex security situation. This deployment has kept the Union of India physically intact. But it is sad that 60 years after Independence, the stability of India still depends directly on the stability of the Indian Army. Field Marshal Wavell who was India’s British Viceroy in 1946, was prophetic when he said “… the stability of the Indian Army may perhaps be a deciding factor in the future of India.”

Making India’s Armed Forces Younger
For a number of reasons, and despite considerable efforts, the Armed Forces remain short of the manpower they need. It is imperative that this manpower shortage be removed speedily before the system buckles under the ageing profile of its leadership. There is only one viable strategy to attract the kind of talent that is needed and that is to assure military personnel of assured lateral induction into the para-military and police forces, the intelligence services and the civil administration.
Unfortunately, a consensus has not been achieved that “Lateral Induction” is the best way to attract India’s young but savvy population to the tough profession of arms, where risk-to-life is an everyday affair.
Major benefits will accrue from Lateral Induction. First, the transfer of highly disciplined, trained and skilled manpower to the civil set-up will contribute towards the creation of a ‘discipline culture’ in the country. Second, the superior training standards of lateral inductees will aid civil and para-military forces in combating terrorism and internal violence.
However, placing a large segment of a young Army on the land borders cannot entirely ensure the security of India. There are two aspects to it.
First, if a football team defends only its half of the field, it is certain that an adversary determined to create mischief, short of going to war, will create opportunities for its irregular forces (jehadis) to score goals through infiltration, smuggling and creeping invasions. The hostile environment that impacts India’s long frontiers requires that the role of military power to defend strategic frontiers must be firmly embedded in India’s foreign policy.
The second aspect is the need for political will to project the power of the Armed Forces beyond the Indian subcontinent to secure the sea-lanes for external trade and ensure the security of imported energy supplies.

India’s Place in Asia
India’s geo-strategic location with its 7,500 kms long peninsular coastline jutting into the Indian Ocean makes India a continental as well as a maritime power.
India impacts directly on East, West and Central Asia. As a rising economic power dependent almost entirely on foreign energy supplies, a time may come when India has to project its military power to protect and preserve the energy resources from Central and West Asia, and Africa. For India, with its pacifist temperament, this may sound imperial. But without a ruthless winning attitude, India’s multi-religious and multi-cultural society cannot survive endless undermining by disaffected elements.
The world has already recognised that with its democratic institutions, its liberal philosophy and its unique strategic location, India’s influence will extend beyond South Asia and directly affect Asia’s well being.

Dovetailing Foreign-Economic-Military Objectives
A nation’s foreign policy is dependent primarily on the strength of its economic and military power. The ability and the will to wield military power ruthlessly, to defend and advance national interests, when combined with the capacity and resolve to create wealth, constitute the proven route for every aspirant seeking recognition as an eminent power.
India has the potential and the prerequisites of becoming a great power within the next few decades, provided it can dovetail its foreign, economic and military objectives and mainstream its military power.
The crucial question is whether India will be a surrogate power or be a ‘great power’?
Ostensibly, our national objectives are to have a peaceful neighbourhood. What should be the strategy to achieve it? Statements like “…stable and secure neighbours are in India’s interest” are well meant. The fundamental question however is—“Will India’s neighbours ever be stable and secure?” Appeasement of neighbours cannot constitute a strategy for any country.
India’s larger objective in Asia is to emerge as a geo-economic hub that can integrate and influence its extended neighbourhood through mutually beneficial economic linkages and military relationships. As a benevolent power that has no external territorial interests, India is uniquely located—geographically and culturally to play this role effectively. India’s free media can be intelligently harnessed to further these national objectives and develop the complementarities that influence Asia.
To attain eminence in Asia, India needs to move simultaneously on three axes. These are India-West Asia, India-Southeast Asia and India-Central Asia. Of these, the critical one is the India-Afghanistan-Iran-Russia axis. Today, Russia is reacting firmly to intruders into its neighbourhood. Her economic and military resurgence presents an opportunity for a relationship which would lend stability to the region.
Moreover, as the second largest consumer of oil and gas in Asia, the assurance of uninterrupted energy supplies is a vital factor in India’s security calculus. By 2010, a substantial amount of oil and gas will be sourced from Central Asia. This resource-rich region will succumb to fundamentalist-religious Talibanisation if India and like-minded countries do not pre-empt it. In such an eventuality, American oil corporations will be expelled, particularly with the Chinese gaining ground and occupying positions that could dictate the future agenda in Central Asia. It is therefore timely for American capitalists to join hands with Indian counterparts in joint ventures.

Create Mutually Beneficial International Alliances
India’s ‘near abroad’ is under unprecedented turmoil. Pakistan is almost split into two states. The Pakistan Army controls one part and the other it ceded to Radical Islam. The Pakistan Army appears to be under retreat. In Bangladesh, the war between Pakistan backed radical Islam threatens to undermine the present regime. Maoists in Nepal look up to China. Beijing successfully out manoeuvered New Delhi’s influence in the latter’s backyard. These regimes being authoritarian in one way or the other have more in common amongst themselves than a multi-cultural democratic India.
They are also technology deficit regressive states. Therefore, to preserve its values, India needs to create an international alliance with like-minded technologically surplus ‘far abroad’ to out manoeuver the inimical intentions of the ‘near abroad’. The international community including Russia in the near future, will be compelled to wage the next Great War against the forces of Radical Islam threatening the world at large. As the core of jehad is located in a state wielding nuclear weapons, the evolving scenario appears to be more threatening than witnessed during Nazi Germany. New Delhi’s support in the looming next Great War will be a critical element for swift victory for democracies and others.
India’s strategy must be to strengthen existing friendly relationships, while decisively cementing mutually advantageous new relationships in the favourable geo-political scenario now emerging.
(The writer is the Editor, Indian Defence Review)

Indian policy choices in a hostile world

By Dr Gautam Sen
Source : Ogranizer.com

Indians need a harsh reality check to recognise the hard truths about themselves and how unforgiving the real world happens to be. They need to nurture a degree of cynicism and permanently erase their irrepressible desire to be loved by everyone. Much better to be feared, since they are in fact already heartily detested, and endeavour to protect their fundamental national interests.
The direction of the development of the Indian economy must first be altered in order to promote an integrated national economy. If successful, the high proportion of traded goods in Indian national production will fall, reducing its vulnerability to external events, economic or otherwise. A massive structural transformation of the economy, accompanied by the corporatisation of agriculture and investment in far-reaching economic and social infrastructure development in transportation, health and education would automatically raise productivity and create industrial capacity.
India should bite the bullet and cultivate Iranian friendship. Shia Iran aspires, above all, to undermine historic Sunni primacy within Islam and will make incredible sacrifices to achieve it. This goal has been made feasible by the emergence of a Shia Iraq that will likely provoke civil war in the Gulf, jeopardising Saudi control over its oil-rich Eastern Province, which happens to have a significant Shia population.
A considered deployment of a part of India’s foreign exchange reserves, with due regard for inflation and the viability of its balance of payments position, could make this a feasible potential path of economic development. It would be ethically just because it would benefit India’s destitute majority and also insure India against Sino-American machinations owing to its dependence on exports, especially to the US market.
An impoverished Saudi Arabia and its putrescent royals, mired in civil strife, will find it impossible to offer financial and political succour to Sunni Pakistan in their sinister attempt to restore Islamic primacy in a fragmented Indian subcontinent. India should instead turn the tables on both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan by helping Iran consolidate its political hold over northern Afghanistan while assisting the latter’s ambitions further south, beyond the Durand line.
Indian conceit about their supposed convivial pluralism and venerable cultural heritage misleads them into believing they are ineffably agreeable to others. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Muslims, a vast segment of the world’s population, dismiss pagan Indians with withering contempt. Arabs view them as lowly menials, which is precisely the status of the vast majority abroad. Britain’s elites harbour abiding animus towards Indian Hindus because they continue to blame them for their loss of imperial power and associated claims to elevated world status. In Europe, only France’s elites, infamously surprising the Nazis by their eagerness to collaborate in dispatching their Jewish compatriots to concentration camp deaths, match them in anti-Hindu vitriol. Xenophobic Christian America is proudly ignorant and sees little real difference between their own former slaves and repugnant non white Indian slumdogs. The Chinese harbour more racial malice even compared to the Japanese or Indians themselves and they remain malevolently poised to put India in its place once and for all. The priapic Pakistani jehadis incubate inborn hatred towards Indians despite mostly being Hindu converts to Islam themselves, held in low esteem by Arabs. India’s two principal international friends are allied to it for essentially opportunistic reasons because that is the normal modus operandi of international relations.
Indians need a harsh reality check to recognise these hard truths about themselves and how unforgiving the real world happens to be. They need to nurture a degree of cynicism and permanently erase their irrepressible desire to be loved by everyone. Much better to be feared, since they are in fact already heartily detested, and endeavour to protect their fundamental national interests. It need not be accompanied by feeling gratuitous satisfaction in harming others, but it would be legitimate to undertake fitting measures for self-preservation against repeated egregious foreign assault. India’s domestic politics are the main barrier to the requisite clarity in thinking regarding the urgent tasks that lie ahead and earnest action in pursuing them. India’s thoroughly fractured domestic politics constrains the emergence of a secure and self-confident governing class that is not permanently distracted by the cynical compromises necessary for attaining power. This political fracture has also made India’s governing class, both politicians and bureaucrats, vulnerable to foreign subornation that influences domestic political outcomes.
Indira Gandhi was the only modern Indian leader with the personal courage to vigorously assert Indian interests against a formidable array of opponents that included the entire western alliance, China and the Islamic world. Her historic achievement in this regard will remain memorable, assuring her a place among the ranks of India’s greatest rulers. The inconsequential mid-70s Emergency, mythologised like the innocuous Quit India farce, was precipitated by American entrapment, though Indians still fail to grasp its diabolical origins. In 1973, just two years earlier, an audacious trap, activated by inciting a national transportation strike, had been successfully used to overthrow Chile’s Salvador Allende. A similar stratagem subsequently unfolded to ensnare Indira Gandhi for having been midwife to the creation of Bangladesh. By contrast, of her father, Jawaharlal Nehru’s record of action and inaction exposes overweening and arrogant self-confidence in dealing with the outside world, though he appears to have compromised vital Indian national interests with uncanny regularity. Of her successors, her son, Rajiv Gandhi, showed unexpected promise, perhaps because he was inexperienced and willing, as a result, to take advice from capable and patriotic advisers. His successors proved dismally unequal to the task of defending India. The abominable IK Gujral betrayed India’s precious human intelligence assets inside Pakistan to a cruel fate because his cockamamie ‘Gujral doctrine’ of one-sided amity towards all prompted him to dismantle India’s covert action infrastructure. What followed his premiership has not been much better, the NDA eschewing, according to one retired senior diplomat, retaliatory bombing of Pakistani targets known to restrain further terrorist outrages.
If political circumstances were to allow India could adopt a number of radical policies though that seems unlikely since India’s Constitutional structure guarantees that the domestic contest for political power will continue to take precedence over all others issues. India is facing a diabolical Sino-American-Islamic concert that either seeks to inflict serious harm on it or displays indifference to shedding Indian blood. The contemporary Indian predicament echoes the desperate political challenge post-revolutionary Russia encountered and Joseph Stalin addressed with effective policies and ruthless determination during the 1930s. The conduct of Russia’s completely unsentimental diplomacy, from the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922 to the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, could be the inspiration for an Indian counterpart of equal cynicism, supping with the devil should that prove necessary. More importantly still, Stalin’s unprecedented industrialisation of Russia within the span of a decade, the ultimate economic underpinning of Russia’s historic victory over Nazi Germany’s genocidal war against it, would be a much taller order for India to emulate. But something akin to it is necessary if India is not going to break-up into a series of competing mini-States, some of them Islamic, as its implacable enemies, the Anglo-Americans, Chinese and Islamic countries have long sought.
The direction of the development of the Indian economy must first be altered in order to promote an integrated national economy. If successful, the high proportion of traded goods in Indian national production will fall, reducing its vulnerability to external events, economic or otherwise. A massive structural transformation of the economy, accompanied by the corporatisation of agriculture and investment in far-reaching economic and social infrastructure development in transportation, health and education would automatically raise productivity and create industrial capacity. The reliance on exports of services for economic growth has fuelled the increase in black money, an associated real estate bubble, destruction of arable land without full appreciation of its long-term implications, an obsession with private car ownership and mindless consumption of imported luxuries. Instead, sustained indigenous growth that encouraged the consumption of basic products like food, clothes, daily household goods, health and educational services would be egalitarian as well as a more sustainable course for the Indian economy. A considered deployment of a part of India’s foreign exchange reserves, with due regard for inflation and the viability of its balance of payments position, could make this a feasible potential path of economic development. It would be ethically just because it would benefit India’s destitute majority and also insure India against Sino-American machinations owing to its dependence on exports, especially to the US market.
In addition, India needs to confront a number of unpleasant political realities that should inform the conduct of its international relations. The first and most important fact is that US foreign policy is irretrievably amoral, indeed cynical, and a country on which India cannot depend. This is not an inference that counsels Indian hostility or indifference towards the US, but great caution in its dealings with it. The UK is basically a supine American appendage and one that will also slyly seek to harm India whenever the opportunity arises and should be kept at a distance. Pakistan was essentially an American Cold War instrumentality deployed to torment an allegedly pro-Soviet India, a gratification that it began to share with China by the late 1960s. Pakistan is now a Chinese surrogate and its entire nuclear weapons arsenal, designed exclusively to threaten and paralyse Indian action, should be treated as an integral part of China’s own nuclear armoury. The Saudis are indissolubly conjoined to Pakistan, a fact that they have announced publicly and a country that therefore merits some seriously malign Indian attention. Russia has usually been a good friend to India in the past, but seems unwilling to jeopardise relations with China in the uncertain world that is taking shape because it fears a Sino-American alliance. No other country, including Israel, really matters, in its case because of overwhelming dependence on the US for its own survival.
India should renounce its existing ‘no first-use’ nuclear weapons strategy the moment its own missiles prove technically robust and numerous enough to assure its second-strike capability. It should begin urban evacuation drills, build hardened shelters for its key decision-makers and reduce conventional forces on the Indo-Chinese border. The latter will convey a potent message of willingness to resort to nuclear weapons at an early stage of a major conflict. A discussion in the Indian media should hint at the prospect of Indian nuclear strikes against Chinese and Saudi cities if Pakistan were to use Chinese-supplied nuclear weaponry, effectively outsourced to it, against India. Let both the Saudis and Chinese consider what level of risk they are willing to countenance by abetting Pakistani terror against India. They will have to balance the dire cost to them of an emphatic Indian response, however apparently irrational, if it suffered catastrophic harm, against the ephemeral gains of using Pakistan to cause India grief. India’s failed Nepal policy should be abandoned and an implacable assertion of Indian interests advanced to curb growing Chinese influence in Nepal. Several additional Tibetan divisions might be sponsored to signal the inviolability of Indian sovereignty in Arunachal Pradesh. All these measures are largely defensive, but signal and threaten without actually initiating a direct military clash.
Finally, India should bite the bullet and cultivate Iranian friendship. Shia Iran aspires, above all, to undermine historic Sunni primacy within Islam and will make incredible sacrifices to achieve it. This goal has been made feasible by the emergence of a Shia Iraq that will likely provoke civil war in the Gulf, jeopardising Saudi control over its oil-rich Eastern Province, which happens to have a significant Shia population. India should offer all possible discreet assistance to help Iran achieve its historic mission of avenging the murder of Ali. An impoverished Saudi Arabia and its putrescent royals, mired in civil strife, will find it impossible to offer financial and political succour to Sunni Pakistan in their sinister attempt to restore Islamic primacy in a fragmented Indian subcontinent. India should instead turn the tables on both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan by helping Iran consolidate its political hold over northern Afghanistan while assisting the latter’s ambitions further south, beyond the Durand line. The ultimate goal should be to create several sovereign principalities out of Jinnah’s Pakistan, in which Punjab would be a severely truncated minor statelet, engaged in permanent rivalry with neighbouring Sindh and Balochistan. As a prelude, the restoration of Indian capacity for covert action inside Pakistan will prove an imperative necessity though it may take time and cost money. India’s watchwords need to be patience and malicious forethought. But is India’s political class remotely capable of engaging in long-term thinking or will it continue vying with each other for inane short-term goals and invite catastrophe for India and themselves?
(The author taught international political economy to graduates for more than two decades at the London School of Economics and is co-author of Analyzing the Global Political Economy, Princeton University Press, 2009.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

उर्ध्वगामी पूर्वी नेपाल

By Sujit Mainali

कामविशेषले अघिल्लो महिना पूर्वी नेपालको भ्रमणमा गएको थिएँ। सोही अवसरमा पश्चिम बंगालको वस्तुस्थिति र गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनको सामाजिक–राजनीतिक प्रभाव बुझ्ने जिम्मेवारी पाएकाले केही दिनका लागि पश्चिम बंगालसमेत गएको थिएँ। भ्रमणमा जाँदा उन्मुक्तिको अनुभूति हुँदोरहेछ। तर, त्यसमा जिम्मेवारी थपिनासाथ दायित्वबोधले किचिएको मिठो अनुभवले झ्वाम्म अँगालो मार्दोरहेछ। पूर्वी नेपाल र नेपालसँग जोडिएको पश्चिम बंगालका सीमावर्ती क्षेत्रबाट फर्किसकेपछि महसुस गरें, एउटा ठूलो सम्भावनाको पर्खाइमा पूर्वी नेपाल शान्तपूर्वक बसिरहेको छ।

जातीय पहिचानको विषय सामाजिक सद्भाव खलबलिने स्थिति नआइन्जेलसम्मका लागिमात्र राम्रो हो। अन्य क्षेत्रमा झंै पूर्वी नेपालमा पनि सबैभन्दा खड्किएको विषय चाहिँ यही नै रहेछ।

विराटनगर विमानस्थलमा ओर्लिंदा यातायात बन्द थियो। बुझ्दा पत्ता लाग्यो, विराटनगरले कहिल्यै नखुल्ने सहरको उपमा हासिल गरिसकेको रहेछ। विमानस्थलमा कर तिर्नुपर्ने बताउँदै रिक्सा तथा निजी सवारी चालकहरुले छोटो दूरीभित्र पनि चर्को भाडा असुल गरिरहेका थिए, मानांै यात्रुहरुसँग पैसाको बोट छ। त्यस्तै अवैध कारोबार नियन्त्रणमा सरकारी र सामाजिक पक्षबाट कुनै प्रकारको पहल नहुँदा थाहा पाएर पनि हामी ठगिनबाट बच्न सकेनौं।

कवि कृष्णभूषण बलले एक कवितामा भनेका छन्, विराटनगर ढोका खुल्ला राखेर आफ्नो सम्पन्नतामा मख्ख परेर बसेको छ। भाषा नमिल्न सक्छ तर आशय यही हुनुपर्छ भन्ने मेरो धमिलो विश्वास छ। सीमापारिका व्यापारी भैयाहरुको बाक्लो उपस्थिति, जोगमुनी नाकामा दिनदहाडै हुने करोडौं हिनामिना, सँगसँगै त्यहाँ बढेको फोहोर र मनपरीतन्त्रले विराटनगरको कद उठाउने होइन, गिराउने काममात्र गरिरहेको छ।

इटहरी पुगिसकेपछि थाहा पाएँ, विराटनगरको पतन इटहरीका लागि वरदान प्रमाणित भइरहेको रहेछ। बालकृष्ण समले एकको घर भत्किन्छ, अर्कोले घर जोड्दछ भनेको सम्भि्कएँ र मनमनै कुरा खेलाउन थालें। इटहरीको सफा बिम्ब, व्यवस्थित मूल सडक, सडकको बीचमा हुर्किएका अशोक वृक्षहरुले इटहरीको चढ्दो यौवन झल्काइरहेका थिए।

मध्यपूर्वी तराई र कोशी खण्डमा निरन्तर बन्द, चक्काजाम हुन थालेपछि सडकको आवश्यकता पूर्ति गर्न सुनसरी–चतरा खण्डमा पहिचान भएको अर्को राजमार्गमा पनि धेरै सुधार भएछ। पहाडको फेदीमा रहेको सुन्दर र शीतल धरानमा यसले अर्को सम्भावनाको मार्ग उघारिदिएझंै लाग्यो।


हाल औद्योगिक नीतिको मस्यौदा तयार भइसकेको छ। निजी र सरकारी दुवै क्षेत्रले नयाँ औद्योगिक नीतिमा इटहरी–बिर्तामोड क्षेत्रलाई विशेष आर्थिक क्षेत्रको घोषणा गर्न सकिन्छ भनेर गरेका विभिन्न छलफलहरु सम्भि्एँ। रेशमी मार्गको उपनामबाट समेत चिनिने सो मार्ग पूर्वी नेपालको अर्को विराट सम्भावना बन्न सक्छ। यो सब कल्पिन पाउँदा रमाइलो लाग्यो।

त्यसैगरी तराई र पहाडको व्यापारिक थलोका रुपमा विकसित हुँदै गइरहेको दमक बजार थप फस्टाउँदै रहेछ। पूर्वी नेपालमा सञ्चारमाध्यमहरुको विकास भएको देखेर एकछिन चकित भएँ। एफएम स्टेशन तथा स्थानीय पत्रपत्रिकाको नाम र संख्या जान्न खोजें। तर, सूची लम्बिन थालेपछि जाँगर बढाउन चाहिनँ।

पूर्वी नेपालका राजमार्गले नछोएका गाउँबस्तीहरुमा करिब ३ साताको लामो बसाइ भयो। गाउँ–गाउँमा सहकारी स्थापना भएर वित्तीय संस्थामा देखिएको अभूतपूर्व वकारोबारबाट मन पुकलित भयो। सहकारी संस्थालाई आधुनिकीकरण गर्दै भित्री गाउँमा समेत किस्तामा मोटरसाइकलको कारोबार भएको देखेपछि सोचें, नेपालमा पनि चुनौती बेहोर्ने क्षमता (रिक्स वियरिङ अबिलिटी) बढ्न थालेछ। आर्थिक विस्तारका लागि यो राम्रो लक्षण हो।

इटहरीदेखि पूर्वका सम्पूर्ण क्षेत्रमा जग्गाको भाउ आकाशिएको रहेछ। माओवादी सरकार गठन भएयता तीन गुनाभन्दा ज्यादा जग्गाको भाउ बढेको थाहा पाएँ। महेन्द्र राजमार्गले छोएका खासगरी झापामा जग्गाको भाउ आकाशिएको रहेछ। जातीय सद्भाव तुलनात्मक रुपमा बढी भएको, सामाजिक सुरक्षाको स्थिति अन्य ठाउँभन्दा सुदृढ रहेको र सँगसँगै सो क्षेत्रमा फस्टाइरहेको कारोबारका कारण जग्गाको भाउ आकाशिएको रहेछ। जग्गा कारोबारबाट केही महिनामै करोडपति भएका केही व्यक्तिहरुसँग भेट हुँदा उनीहरुलाई बधाइ दिन पनि भ्याएँ। सवारीसाधनको झ्यालबाट बाहिर हेर्नेले प्लानिङ गरिएका जग्गाहरु देख्नासाथ जग्गाप्रतिको मान्छेको बढ्दो आकर्षणको अनुमान सहजै लगाउन सक्छ।

पूर्वी नेपालमा पनि सबैभन्दा ज्यादा सम्भावना बोकेको क्षेत्रको रुपमा मैले इटहरी र बिर्तामोडलाई चिनें। नेपाल र भारतबीच विद्युत् उत्पादन र निर्यात हुने कुरा चलिरहेको समयमा विद्युत्को सहज आपूर्तिका लागि अनारमुनी–सिलिगुडी खण्डलाई विद्युत् कोरिडोरका रुपमा विकास गर्ने सहमति दुई देशबीच भइसकेको छ। यस आयोजनाको डिपिआरसमेत स्वीकृत भइसकेको भारतका ऊर्जा राज्यमन्त्री जयराम रामेशको भनाइ भारतीय दैनिक पत्रिका दि हिन्दु'मा करिब अढाइ महिनाअघि पढेको थिएँ। कोशी उच्चबाँध आयोजना, कमला डाइभर्सन परियोजना र अरुण–तेस्रोजस्ता आकर्षक नदीहरु भारतको मातहतमा गइसकेको र जाने क्रम जारी रहेको छ। यसो हुनु राम्रो–नराम्रो के हो भन्नेबारे अहिले चर्चा नगरौं। बस, कोरिडोर निर्माणमा बिर्तामोड–सिलिगुडी क्षेत्रको पहिचान र विकास हुनु सो क्षेत्रका बासिन्दाका लागि खुसीकै विषय हो।

नेपालमा केही सप्ताह बिताएपछि पश्चिम बंगालमा पाहुना बन्न गएँ। सिलिगुडीमा केही नेपाली भाषीहरु र पत्रकार मित्रहरुसँग भेट भयो। दार्जिलिङ, सिक्किमलगायतका नेपाली बाहुल्य रहेको क्षेत्रमा ज्यादै लोकप्रियता हासिल गरेको 'हिमालय दर्पण पत्रिकाको कार्यालयमा समेत बोलाइएको हुँदा त्यता पनि जान भ्याएँ। दैनिक ५० हजार प्रति छापिने सो पत्रिका नेपाली भाषाकै भए पनि त्यहाँको र यहाँको लेखिने भाषामा लवज–धुनदेखि लेख्ने शैलीमा पनि व्यापक फरक रहेछ। त्यहाँ रहेका नेपाली भाषीहरुले नेपालको बिग्रँदो स्थिति र दैनिक १६ घण्टे लोडसेडिङबारे जिज्ञासा राखे। न्याउरो मुख लगाउँदै आँखा झुकाउनुको विकल्प मसँग थिएन।

पश्चिम बंगालमा केही व्यक्तिसँग विशेष भेटघाट पनि भयो। भारतले सो क्षेत्रमा आफ्नो सुरक्षा संयन्त्रलाई अत्यन्त बजबुत बनाएको रहेछ। नेपालसँगको सीमावर्ती क्षेत्रमा रहेको बागडुगरामा भारतले आफ्नो सुरक्षा संयन्त्र विस्तारित गरेको र सैन्य संख्या बढाएको देखेर चकित बनें । अत्याधुनिक हातहतियार, टेंकर, बख्तरबन्द गाडी, विभिन्न चामत्कारिक फाइटर विमानहरु सो क्षेत्रमा देखेपछि पश्चिम बंगालको संवेदनशीलताप्रति भारत कति सचेत रहेछ भन्ने बुझ्न गाह्रो परेन। २७ किलोमिटर फराकिलो सिलिगुडी कोरिडोर नेपाल, भारत, भुटान, बंगलादेश र चीनको मध्यबिन्दुमा पर्दोरहेछ। यहाँबाट भारतले आफ्नो पकड गुमायो भने उत्तरपूर्वी भारतका मेघालय, आसाम, मिजोरम, नागाल्याण्डजस्ता क्षेत्रसँगको भौतिक सम्पर्क विच्छेद हुनेरहेछ। डुवर्सदेखि दार्जिलिङ अनि मिजोरमदेखि नागाल्याण्डसम्म फैलिएको जटिल जातीय बनोट भारतको ठूलो चुनौती हो। सो क्षेत्रमा राष्ट्रिय एकताको धागो कमजोर छ, त्यसैले पनि भारत चिन्तित छ। यसै परिप्रेक्षयमा उठेको गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनले ज्यादै ठूलो संघर्ष नगरी सहजै आफ्नो माग पूरा गराउन सक्छ जस्तो मलाई लागेन। केन्द्रीय र राज्य सरकारले चलाखीपूर्वक स्थिति नियन्त्रण गर्न नसके पश्चिम बंगालदेखि उत्तरपूर्वी भारतमा भयानक अस्थिरता निम्तिन सक्ने आधारहरु प्रशस्त रहेको अनुमान गरें। सोचें, लेनदेनको कठोर राजनीतिमा निर्धारित नेपाल–भारत सम्बन्धलाई आफूअनुकूल चलाउन भारतको सो क्षेत्र नेपालका लागि प्रभावकारी कूटनीतिक अस्त्र बन्न सक्छ। यसले समेत पूर्वी नेपालको सामरिक तथा रणनीतिक आयामलाई नयाँ सम्भावना प्रदान गरेको छ।

साथै मेची नदीको पारिपट्टि भारतीय क्षेत्रमा भारतले हालै एसएसबी फोर्स तैनाथ गरेको रहेछ। भुटानी शरणार्थीहरुप्रति उनीहरु लक्षित रहेछन्। नदीको बीचमा रहेको जंगेपिलर रातारात नेपालपट्टि सरेको थाहा पाउँदा दुःख लाग्यो।

यस्ता यावत् सम्भावनाहरुका बाबजुत पूर्वी नेपाल कालो बजारको केन्द्रका रुपमा विकसित हुँदै गएको थाहा पाउँदा नरमाइलो अनुभूति भयो। जोगमुनी नाकादेखि काँकडभिट्टा नाकासम्म कालो बजारको जगजगी देख्न पाएँ। झापाको धुलाबारीमा वार्षिक अर्बौंको कारोबार भए पनि सरकारी लेखाप्रणालीमा यसको नगण्य हिस्सामात्र अभिलिखित हुँदोरहेछ।

भारतीय व्यापारीहरु चीनदेखि नेपालसम्म फैलिएकाले उनीहरुको मिलोमतोमा नेपाली भूमि प्रयोग हुँदै आएको रहेछ। चिनियाँ सामान कलकत्ता बन्दरगाहमार्फत् धुलाबारीमा झार्ने र पुनः भारत लैजाने प्रवृत्तिबाट नेपाल ठगिएको रहेछ। चिनियाँ सामान भारत लैजाँदा महँगा पेन्टहरुलाई भन्सारमा पेन्टीको सूचीमा सूचीकृत गराई भन्सार छलेको थाहा पाएँ। धुलाबारीको यस्तो अवैध कारोबार सरकारी निकायले रोकेमा नेपाली अर्थतन्त्रमा कुनै प्रकारको नकारात्मक प्रभाव नपर्ने रैछ।

पूर्वको द्वार इलामको ५ विशेष अ उत्पादन (आलु, अलैंची, अदुवा, अमि्रसो, ओलन) को उल्लेख्य मात्रा भारत निर्यात हुँदोरहेछ। यसमध्ये पनि अमि्रसो र अदुवाको निर्यात अर्बांैको हाराहारीमा भए पनि भन्सारका भ्रष्ट कर्मचारी र व्यापारीहरुको मिलोमतोका कारण नेपालले वर्षेनी अबौं कर गुमाउँदै आएको छ।

यस्ता यावत् पक्षका बाबजुत आर्थिक, सामाजिक तथा राजनीतिक हिसाबले प्रचुर सम्भावना बोकेको पूर्वी नेपाल उर्ध्वगामी दिशातर्फ उन्मुख छ। यसलाई समयको बढ्दो आवश्यकताको परिणतिका रुपमा पनि बुझन सकिन्छ।

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Geopolitics of South Asia


The geo-politics of South Asia and Sri Lanka’s changing fortunes
(Or why the USA and India will intervene in Sri Lanka)


Neville Jayaweera, published April 9, 2004, Sangam.org
(formerly of Ceylon Civil Service and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Scandinavian Countries)

Two dramatic developments in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict recently are the USA’s direct involvement in it and India’s renewed interest in the affairs of the island nation. For the past fifty years, while the ethnic conflict between the Sinhala and Tamil people raged at varying levels of intensity, not once had the USA evinced an interest in it, except to say that it was within India’s sphere of influence and that India should help sort it out. On the other hand, after burning its fingers through its ill fated involvement in Sri Lanka during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime, India had also distanced itself from the imbroglio. Of late however, both the USA and India have done a volte face and have inserted themselves in the Sri Lankan problem, the former with much greater energy than the latter, which makes it the more inexplicable.

Extent of USA’s and India’s interest
It is a truism that the overriding factor shaping the foreign policies of all countries is their respective national interests, as perceived by them, rather than any disinterested desire on their part to benefit any other country. The US’s interest in Sri Lanka clearly illustrates this general rule. At no stage in the respective histories of the US and Sri Lanka have their interests merged or crossed. As far as the US has been concerned, Sri Lanka might as well have been a volcano on the moon for all the consequences its existence might have had on US national interests. Which makes the sudden eruption of US interest in Sri Lanka a subject for intense international speculation.
In 2001 the USA took the extraordinary and unprecedented step of convening a conference of some of the biggest international donors in Washington and persuaded them to pledge a huge sum as aid for the reconstruction of Sri Lanka. It then went on to co-sponsor another donor conference in Tokyo to get the donor countries to confirm their pledges. These pledges totalled a staggering $4.5 billion, slightly more than the total sum pledged for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Not only that.
Contrary to long established conventions on protocol, and ignoring the strict requirement that a foreign envoy must at all times refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of the host country, the US Ambassador in Colombo has had the temerity to issue dire warnings to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), one of the main parties involved in the ongoing conflict. Also, several high level officials from the State Department in Washington have visited Colombo and have entered into close consultations with the government. Not least, US navy and air force personnel have been visiting Sri Lanka and taking a close look at its naval and airfield infrastructures while the US army has been providing the Sri Lankan army with a whole range of training opportunities International analysts are therefore bound to ask, what is it that instigates this sudden escalation of US interest in Sri Lanka. This article seeks to supply an answer.

Jihadism
Three factors explain the US’s and India’s new interest in the Sri Lankan imbroglio. The first is the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive intervention, which is basically America’s assumed right to intervene in areas perceived by them to be likely springboards for attacking American interests. The second is the concrete need to protect the USA’s oil supply routes from the Middle East and third the unique strategic opportunities afforded by Sri Lanka for achieving both these goals in the Indian Ocean region.
Both for the US as well as for India, pre-emptive intervention in this instance means coping with the principal outgrowth of Moslem Fundamentalism which we may call Jihadism, for short. The destruction of the Twin Towers convinced the US, that even though the disintegration of the Soviet Union left them as the world’s only super power, they were still highly vulnerable. Though no longer vulnerable to ICBMs and conventional military assaults from a visible enemy they remained exposed to onslaughts, no less devastating, from an invisible enemy who could lurk anywhere, could strike anytime, and yet remain untouched and invulnerable to the US’s military might. That enemy is Jihadism, or the fanatic face of Moslem Fundamentalism, of which the Al Qaeda is only one manifestation, though currently the most potent.
Jihadism is a religious idea, and like all such ideas, has the capacity to mobilise and deploy volatile emotions on a massive scale. Currently, it is more potent than any religious idea that has hitherto animated the human mind, except perhaps the Crusades and the Inquisition. Over the past one thousand six hundred years Islam has moved from being a religion of a few nomadic Arabic tribes into being the world’s second most numerous religion. So much so, that it now encompasses within its fold, not only Arabs, but Spaniards, Moors, Black Africans, East Europeans, Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Iranians, Afghans, a whole swathe of ethnic groups in Central Asia, Mongolians, Chinese, Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Malaysians, Indonesians, and Filipinos as well. Within all these groups, and scattered even within traditionally European countries, Jihadism is a time bomb ticking away, its specific target being the destruction of the US and its allies. Its weapons are varied, numerous, mostly impossible to detect and for that reason no less potent than the arsenal of nuclear weapons assembled by the former Soviet Union.
A particular focus of Jihadism is the Indian Ocean. If one looks at the map of the region, the Indian Ocean emerges literally as a Moslem lake. It is bounded on the east by what is virtually a Moslem rampart, made up of Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines. Likewise, on the west, it is bounded by an equally formidable Moslem formation, comprised of Mozambique, Zanzibar, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and all the other countries washed by the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, including Pakistan, and not forgetting India which has over 250 million Moslems. In some of these countries, particularly in Saudi Arabia and within some of the Persian Gulf territories, and in Pakistan, the US is already under enormous pressure and their embassies and personnel live in constant fear of life and limb. In the other Indian Ocean Moslem states, though anti-Americanism is not quite so overt, the hostility lurks just below the surface. However within these countries as well, powerful Jihadist cells are multiplying rapidly, fostered and trained mostly by Al Qaeda and the US knows that its presence in these countries will come increasingly under threat.

A three pronged threat
The threat is primarily to US personnel but, more importantly, to its oil supply routes. There are three points along this Indian Ocean Moslem rampart from where oil supplies to the rest of the world can be choked off and their potential in this respect cannot have been lost on the Jihadist strategists. First, there is the Suez Canal, second the Straits of Hormuz and third the Malaccan Straits. More than 60% of oil supplies to the rest of the world must flow through these three points and if any power wants to bring the global economy to its knees the easiest way to do so is to strangle these outlets. The hinterland to all three bottlenecks is Moslem and therefore susceptible to Jihadist intervention.
It is not only the oil supplies from the traditional Middle East countries that are at stake here. One of the primary reasons for the USA’s intervention in Afghanistan was to secure a safe outlet for the pipe line it is constructing through that country for exploiting the enormous oil reserves around the southern Caspian Sea and that investment requires that both the Straits of Hormuz and Suez be protected at whatever cost.
One of the primary targets of Jihadism must be the Suez Canal. Although the canal is under Egyptian control, given that within Egypt itself Jihadists are very active, it is only a matter of time before they target the canal. The Suez is the artery though which the oil that the western world needs to sustain itself flows, but all it takes to choke it off for months or even for longer, will a simple nuclear device in the hold of one of the hundreds of ships that ply it daily, detonated either by a time device or remotely. When ( not if ) that happens, the oil life line to the West will be severed, the entire global economy will go into a steep recession. and its effects will far exceed those wrought by the destruction of the Twin Towers. Likewise, if a couple of mammoth oil tankers can be sunk at the entrance to the Straits of Hormuz, the oil from the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea can be choked off. Similarly, though not so effectively, the shipping traffic through the Malaccan Straits to Japan can also be constricted.

A neutral base
For these reasons it is extremely important not only for the US and the West, but equally for Japan, to keep the Indian Ocean outlets secure and open. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop a neutral base within the Indian Ocean region, which is not vulnerable to Jihadism, and from where US interests in particular and the interests of the western world as a whole and of Japan as well, may be monitored and protected.
To make matters worse, it is also only a matter of time before an extreme fundamentalist Moslem group ousts Musharraf and takes over the government of Pakistan. When that happens the Jihadists will for the first time have access to a considerable arsenal of nuclear weapons. That will completely upset the strategic balance in the region, primarily for India, but for the West as well.
Furthermore, India has already had serious problems with Jihadism within its own territory, and shares the US’s concerns about its potential for regional and global instability. It would therefore like to see the US make its presence evident within the region and provide them with a strong umbrella in the form of a quick response strike capability.
The US already has a military base at Diego Garcia in the southern Indian Ocean where some 900 US personnel are stationed to support the Fifth Fleet and a squadron of B52s which also use it from time to time. Attacks on Afghanistan were carried out by planes and carriers based in Diego Garcia. However, the agreement that allows the US to use Diego Garcia runs out by 2017 and in any case the US would prefer to have a base closer to the likely areas of future action, which are the southern shores of the Asian sub-continent.
One would expect that several places along India’s long coastline would serve that purpose ideally, but that option is also open to Jihadist penetration and, besides, might upset Pakistan. Therefore the US needs an internationally more neutral and a less vulnerable platform. Some years ago the very thought of an American base in the Indian Ocean, too close to its own shores, would have set off alarm bells in New Delhi. In fact, when Sri Lanka under J. R. Jayawardena tried to seduce the US to take over Trincomalee as an insurance against the rampaging LTTE, New Delhi made its displeasure known very explicitly. Times have changed since then. Now, India would explicitly seek an American presence close at hand to insure itself against the day that Pakistan is taken over by a Jihadist regime and to protect itself against Jihadism from within its own territory.

A Buddhist haven
Such a place, acceptable to both USA and India, is Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s usefulness to them is primarily that it is neutral territory, in fact a Buddhist haven, located in the middle of a Moslem lake, devoid of Jihadism and from where Moslem fundamentalism cannot endanger Western or Indian interests. Secondly, in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka boasts the world’s third largest natural harbour where the Fifth Fleet of the US navy can ride in safety. Additionally, and this is a secret hardly known except to British and American naval intelligence, within the harbour is a trench so deep that a nuclear sub may rest in safety there and, if it ever comes to that, place ICBMs simultaneously in Peking and in two dozen other cities within that radius. Trincomalee also has an enormous oil storage facility of over 100 tanks, constructed by the British for supplying oil to their East Indies Fleet and which can now be converted for supplying oil to the Fifth Fleet. It also has an airfield constructed by the British, which can be converted for use by B52s and F14s. All in all, Trincomalee can be an ideal substitute for Diego Garcia, and much closer to the choke points identified above.
Sri Lanka has another strategic value for both the US and India. Within the next few decades, China will emerge as a formidable Asian super power and will have to be contained. Its demand for oil has already exceeded its local supplies and for the first time, China has in recent years started importing oil from the Middle East. There is concern in Washington as well as in New Delhi that China may begin to covet the oil resources of Myanmar, as well as the resources of Indonesia, in much the same way as Japan sought them in the 1940s and fought a war to obtain them. China already has a considerable blue seas fleet which will expand in numbers and strength as the years pass and which it will use to push its interests in the region.
For these reasons, i.e. for pre-empting Jihadism along the Indian ocean rim, for keeping open the oil supply routes from the Middle East through Suez and Hormuz and for containing Chinese expansion into the Indian Ocean, both the US and India find that Sri Lanka is of paramount strategic value for them. However, they have a major problem. The internal ethnic conflict between the Sinhala and the Tamils must first be tidied up. Therefore, the first interest of the US and India in Sri Lanka is to somehow speedily resolve or pacify this conflict.

Consensus on Sri Lanka’s internal conflict
Already there is a consensus between the US and India (and Japan) about how Sri Lanka’s internal conflict should be resolved. They are agreed that,
1. There shall be no Eelam or a separate Tamil state and the unity of the Sri Lankan state must be preserved. The prospect of a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka, adjacent to Tamil Nadu will not be acceptable to India because of it potential for de-stabilising the Union.
2. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which claims to be the sole representative of the Tamil people must formally renounce terrorism and violence as the way of redressing their grievances.
3. The Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) must amend its constitution and convert the present unitary state into a federal state.
4. Within this federal state, the Tamil people must be given the right of full internal self-determination.
5. The Moslems will have adequate representation within the federal state and their interests will be guaranteed.
6. The principles of democracy and human rights shall be observed by all components of the federal state.
7. The release of the $4.5 billion pledged for the reconstruction of the country would be strictly contingent on the GOSL and the LTTE fulfilling these requirements.
The fulfilment of these conditions is proving to be more difficult than anticipated. However, contrary to a popular assumption that the LTTE will never abandon their demand for a separate state, they have in fact renounced their long cherished hope of an Eelam and have opted instead for complete internal self determination within a federal union of Sri Lanka. The GOSL itself has publicly acknowledged this gesture as a historic paradigm shift. Furthermore, without formally renouncing “terrorism” as such, the LTTE has also given an assurance that they will not resort to war to obtain their demands and will instead opt for negotiations and for a political solution as opposed to a military one. The difficulty however, seems to lie with the government side.

The stumbling block
Due to a long standing and unresolved conflict between President Chandrika Kumaratunge and Prime Minster Ranil Wickeramasinghe, the GOSL has temporarily pulled out of the negotiations and the whole Peace Process ( PP )is on hold. As at the time of writing, i.e. end of January 2004, the stalemate continues, but it is expected that the roadblock will be removed soon and the PP will get under way. However, the domestic quarrel between Kumaratunge and Wickeramasinghe is not the major problem confronting the peace issue, so that even though it may be resolved, the real stumbling block is yet ahead.
The real stumbling block is that to amend the existing constitution and draft a federal constitution, the government will need a 2/3rds majority in the House. Given the system of proportional representation now current, it is extremely unlikely that any party will obtain that majority in the House to push through the necessary reforms. It is not just a question of the arithmetic of party voting or the numbers game. It is simply a fact that the Sinhala majority, of whatsoever party, and in whatever formation or coalition of parties, is extremely unlikely to accede to the federal principle. Therefore the unwelcome truth is that the PP has reached the end of the road, at least as far as it can be carried through while conforming to democratic practice and is unlikely to deliver on the pledge to adopt federalism as a solution to the conflict.
That truth may not have yet dawned on the US, India and Japan, but they will soon see the light. However, the strategic needs of the US are so overwhelming that they will not be thwarted by such a triviality as a constitutional conundrum internal to Sri Lanka. If Sri Lanka cannot sort out their internal squabbles themselves, things will be sorted out for them externally, ex machina. Which is to say, the US, working in collaboration with India and Japan, will find a way physically to intervene in the island and impose a new constitution and even install a puppet regime, which will provide the frame for the kind of Sri Lanka that the US and India will deem best suited to their own purposes.
The commitment of the US to the democratic principle in its relations with foreign countries has been notoriously fickle and inconsistent. In umpteen instances across the globe the US has had no compunction about ignoring the principle, quite cynically and callously, whenever they have perceived that it is in their national interest to do so, even unto supporting the most barbarous regimes, provided they are willing to do their bidding. One can expect that in this instance, too, the US’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean are so overwhelming as to justify in their eyes, not merely a direct intervention in Sri Lanka, but even installing a puppet regime who will dance to the piper’s tune.

Likely scenario
Beyond this point, one can only speculate and indulge in conjecture. Let me construct what I think will be the likely scenario. Even if the stalled negotiations get under way shortly, that is by February or March 2004, the PP will soon come up against the inability or the unwillingness of the Sinhala polity to concede the federal principle. The only Sinhala majority party that supports the principle of federalism is the ruling party of Prime Minister Wickeramasinghe, but Wickeramasinghe knows that he will not be able to carry it through the electoral process. As for the main opposition coalition led by President Chandrika Kumaratunge, even the most liberal minded among them will not agree to give up the concept of the unitary state and the furthest they are prepared to go to accommodate the federal principle is “devolution” which is basically the position taken by them in the 1960s.
Confronted by such intransigence, the LTTE will turn to the international community, and in particular to the US, India and Japan, who have already committed themselves to the federal principle, and say to them “ Didn’t we always tell you so. Now you can see for yourself why we have had to fight these past thirty years. It is not we who are intransigent and unyielding, but the Sinhala majority.” There is already an enormous sympathy for the LTTE’s point of view, particularly within the European Union ( EU ) and even within the US, India and Japan there is growing exasperation over what they perceive to be the Sinhala people’s intransigent, divisive and fractious ways. The US and India will justify their intervention as being prompted by the overriding need to ensure international and regional stability- i.e, the Bush-Blair doctrine. What is more, quite paradoxically, their intervention is likely to be welcomed jointly by the GOSL as well as by the LTTE. By GOSL, because they know that there is no other way for Sri Lanka to have a new constitution and fulfil its pledge to adopt federalism. So now they can say that an invading force, a deus ex machina imposed the federal constitution on the country. However, there is bound to be great deal of violence and civil disorder before the Sinhala polity is suborned and reined in.
I will simply conclude by saying that just as during the past five hundred years, its geo-political significance sucked Sri Lanka successively within the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British spheres of influence, likewise its current geo-political importance will drag Sri Lanka back into the vortex of international politics, this time as a pawn in the hands of the USA, India and Japan. How the internal affairs of Sri Lanka will unfold thereafter, fall outside the scope of this article. Suffice it to say however, that a decade or two down the road, its territorial configuration, its internal political structures, its economy, the balance of power between ethnic groups and its entire culture will have been transformed so radically that the new Sri Lanka will be hardly recognisable to those living today.