Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Media and democracy in Bangladesh

From New Age:

The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, gave a call to editors and media persons to help in the uninterrupted functioning of hard-earned democracy. She made the call at a meeting not with editors but with newspaper owners in the persons of delegates of the Newspaper Owners Association of Bangladesh when they called on her at her official residence Jamuna on Sunday, according to a report filed by the private news agency United News of Bangladesh.

Never mind the meeting was not with editors the relevance of her message will not be lost. The prime minister also requested the media owners to project the various successes and achievements of the government to the people and not to publish ‘untrue’ news. As for publication of untrue news, the media is a vast collective in which there are good guys as well as bad guys. We cannot say that such news items or commentaries are never published which later scrutiny finds to be untrue or grossly exaggerated.

But then no newspaper can consistently publish unfounded stories and survive in business. Readers will not go on paying for false information or analyses. Apart from the law of the land, there are also some institutional checks against irresponsible expression of views. While irresponsible journalism must be shunned by all, experience shows that any reporting that does not accord with the ruling party’s stated position is dubbed false or motivated. As regards the positive projection of the government’s successes and achievements, the government’s elaborate PR mechanism gives the official point of view; the media gives the people’s point of view.

The government handout may boldly publicise that such numbers of cyclone-hit people have been provided relief; the media will highlight that the remaining numbers of cyclone-hit people have not been provided relief. That way the outlooks of the two agencies may never converge. A government which claims to be democratic should show both tolerance and sensitivity. The way things are being run forces us to conclude that elected government does not amount to democratic government.

There is no denying the prime minister’s observation that smooth functioning of democracy is the sine qua non for protecting people’s rights and interests. Traditionally it has been thought that democracy and free press flourish side by side and have an interdependent, almost symbiotic relationship. From this point of view editors and journalists can certainly play an important role in the fostering of democracy. But the foremost task in this regard lies with political leaders, especially those in power. Editors and journalists do not operate the levers of power. They can only examine the reality of the country and give an opinion as to how power should be exercised to reach maximum benefit to the people. They can do their job successfully subject to fulfilment of two conditions.

Firstly they should be free to express their views (within the law, of course) and their views should be given the importance they deserve. Although the Right to Information Act has been legislated (possibly under external pressure) endless rules and restrictions stand in the way of free expression of views. Apart from crippling laws and restrictions, there are harassment and intimidation. In the one year since the present government took over, 229 cases of attack on journalists have been recorded leading to three deaths and 71 serious injuries.

If the elected government has acquired any democratic character it should be reflected in its attitude to the media and the opposition.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bangladesh: walking on a knife-edge?


A RECENT news report that India is preparing to send a commando-style force in Dhaka to guard its diplomatic mission and to protect VIPs is of great concern to many Bangladeshis. Unfortunately, the news has not been covered by most print and electronic media in Bangladesh. Some media outlets appear to be interested more in the daily political bickering, squabbles, gossips and scandals inside Bangladesh than in the ever-increasing foreign control of different state organs. Attempts by foreign powers, especially the US and Indian imperialists, to reduce the country as a vassal state by all possible means, legal or illegal, covert or overt, are going on unabated.

In case some people suggest that the news report on sending Indian troops to Dhaka is another piece anti-India propaganda by vested quarters, it has to be mentioned that the news was published by the New Delhi-based media outlet Press Trust of India as well as the Kolkata-based Ananda Bazar Potrika. So any criticism about its authenticity would be untenable.

For the sake of objectivity, let us quote the PTI news (New Delhi, December 17). Captioned ‘Indian mission in Dhaka to be guarded by SSB troops’, it reads: ‘Facing threat from terror group Laskhar-e-Taiba, India will soon deploy its paramilitary troops to guard its mission in Dhaka. ‘At least 50 specially-trained troops of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), a force that guards Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders, will soon be sent to guard the High Commission after getting a clearance from External Affairs Ministry. ‘The personnel have been trained in VIP, mobile and static security duties and would also render technical support responsibilities, official sources said. ‘The troops will be sent soon and an assessment report is being prepared for their deployment, they said, adding SSB personnel will be in addition to the security men provided by Bangladesh government.’ It is clear from the report that the Indian government has already decided to send at least 50 specially trained troops of an elite force to Dhaka and this would be done after getting a clearance from India’s External Affairs Ministry.

And the purpose of this deployment is said to be providing security to the Indian High Commission in Dhaka and other dignitaries from possible attacks by the terror group Laskhar-e-Taiba. The Indian government would probably justify this deployment on the excuse that Laskhar-e-Taiba is a serious threat to its security because this group is allegedly using Bangladesh soil to carry out terrorist activities in India. Three alleged members of this group were arrested last month by Bangladesh security forces, who then also said that they got the intelligence and information about these persons from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was also claimed that this group was taking preparations for attacks on the Indian, British and US embassies in Dhaka.

We do not know how far the story about these alleged terrorists’ plan to attack the three most important embassies in Dhaka is true. But even if it were true, it is the duty of Bangladesh security forces to protect all the foreign embassies including the Indian embassy from any potential terrorist attacks, and not of the Indian SSB commando force. The arrest of the three alleged LeT members in Bangladesh could also be another piece of R&AW-instigated disinformation campaign against Bangladesh and its security forces to portray the country as a ‘failed state’ and its government and security forces as totally ineffective to deal with ‘terrorism’. Such type of R&AW-inspired propaganda against Bangladesh and Muslims is nothing new.

The Indian ruling class and its various establishments suffer from ‘big power’ chauvinism and they have never treated the less powerful neighbours with due respect and dignity. They have always treated Bangladesh with disdain and extracted only one-sided benefits without giving anything in return. Of course, they have very successfully cultivated some important elements within the Bangladesh political establishment and planted agents in different sectors to advance their cause.

The position of the Bangladesh government on the issue is unclear and to a large extent it remains very mysterious. We do not know for sure if the government has already agreed to India’s proposal for stationing the ‘especially trained’ and armed SSB elite forces in Dhaka. If such proposal has not yet been accepted, how is that the Indian government is preparing for sending its forces to Dhaka? On the contrary, if Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already agreed to the proposal (nobody else in the government would have the authority or guts to do so), does she really want to hand over the security of the Bangladesh state to the ‘big brother’? Does she accept that Bangladesh security forces are incapable of providing security to foreign diplomatic missions and other VIPs?

Does she understand the consequences of Indian forces moving with arms on Dhaka streets? Besides, there are dozens of other related questions that must be answered by the Awami League government before it becomes a pawn in the hands of their so-called friends. If the friendship is not a one-way but two-way traffic, would India allow armed Bangladeshi elite forces such as SSF to be deployed in New Delhi or Kolkata to provide security to Bangladeshi missions there? In times of a serious crisis, it is not inconceivable that these missions would become natural targets for attacks by various anti-Bangladeshi outfits such as R&AW-inspired Banga Sena or any terrorist (Muslim or Hindu) groups based in India.

If the Indian mission or any of India’s numerous business houses, cultural centre, etc, or any of its thousands of citizens living in Dhaka or elsewhere in Bangladesh come under any kind of attacks by a terrorist group like Laskhar-e-Taiba, Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh or Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh (the chances of such acts would only increase after the Indian forces are deployed in Dhaka), what would the government do? Would it allow more Indian troops inside Bangladesh to protect ‘India’s vital national and strategic interests’ and/or ‘help’ the AL government in its ‘fight against terrorism’?

What happens if India itself or any other external actor ‘stages’ some dramatic incidents of sabotage, kidnapping and hostage taking or carries out some high-profile murders, and Bangladesh security forces are not able to make a quick response? Would it be difficult for India’s various agencies to create or take advantage of any serious ‘terrorist’ incidents to ‘volunteer’ more troops inside Bangladesh? Those who want to know do know that imperialist and hegemonic powers do not bother for friendship with a particular group or one political party in economically and militarily weaker states; they only want to advance their own economic and strategic interests by any means – sweet talk, a little crumbs, coercive diplomacy, blackmail, threats, covert actions, creation of internal dissension and strife, and, finally, if the above less visible methods fail, by armed aggression and brutal occupation.

The excuse for such drastic action by the imperial powers is often: ‘restoring civil order’, ‘maintaining peace’, ‘creating stability’, ‘prevention of serious abuses of human rights’, ‘protecting minority rights’, ‘advancing the cause of freedom and democracy’, etc. There are numerous examples in old as well as recent history where the imperial powers did not hesitate to dispense with their one-time ‘friends’ by conspiratorial and/or violent methods. Even in Bangladesh, we have witnessed several instances of ‘regime’ change with not-so-hidden instigation and participation by powerful foreign actors.

After the recent double game played by the AL government against the ULFA leaders who are fighting for their own independence from Indian control, this and other freedom seeking ethnic armed groups in Assam and other regions northeast of Bangladesh would become hostile to Bangladesh and Muslims. If the government proceeds further along the Indian trap of becoming an active partner (or collaborator) in their counterinsurgency campaigns in the northeast, the anti-Indian freedom fighters there may extend their battlefield into Bangladesh territories. India’s war against ULFA and other freedom fighters in the northeast is not ‘our war’ and we must not get involved in that.

In the past, we have observed all governments remain more or less silent on any difficult issue related to foreign countries, especially the US and India. But the silence of the present government on security threats posed by the two imperialist powers is alarming, to say the least. While many ministers miss no opportunity to argue for public acceptance or compliance of India’s multifaceted demands and actions that many consider contrary to Bangladesh’s national interests, they seem to be totally indifferent or oblivious to their foremost duties and obligations, that is, to stand firm against all external and internal adversaries to safeguard the country’s hard-won independence, sovereignty and vital national interests.

The government and people of Bangladesh must not allow the deployment of Indian SSB commando forces on their soil, whatever may be the excuse. Such an arrangement would invariably generate more suspicion, hostility and animosity against both the AL and Indian governments. It would open the country to further Indian and US imperialist intervention on this or that excuse. The people of Bangladesh wish to live in peace with their Indian neighbours, but they must never accept the presence of Indian troops on their soil.

Bangladesh security forces have suffered some serious setbacks during the last three years due first to the misguided ‘Gang of Four Generals’ and then to the mishandling of the armed and security forces by the AL government, especially after the tragic Peelkhana massacre. But we are confident that the armed and security forces would soon recover from the setbacks forced upon them by the nation’s local and foreign enemies and they would definitely stand side by side with the patriotic people to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and security.

Dr KMA Malik is a former professor of chemistry, Dhaka University, and a lecturer in chemistry, Cardiff University

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bangladesh and ULFA relations: the future

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW/Paresh Baruah, Commander-in-chief, ULFA

The man who meticulously plans all of ULFA's strikes, commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, is not one to mince words. He is said to have set up base in Myanmar's Kachin Hills bordering China's Yunnan province, running guns for the Chinese. On December 4 morning, even as the Bangladesh authorities were preparing to hand over Arabinda Rajkhowa and his family to the BSF at Dawki outpost in Meghalaya, he called up Sarbari Bhaumik to insist that there was no question of negotiations with India unless Delhi agreed to include the issue of Assam’s sovereignty on the agenda for talks.

Excerpts from the exclusive interview:
Will Arabinda Rajkhowa bow to pressure and start negotiations with India?
ULFA is always keen to start negotiations and sort out the problems through dialogue. But any such negotiations, any talks, will have to have the issue of Assam’s sovereignty on its agenda. Otherwise we are not talking. I will expect our chairman to remember that 11,000 of our fighters, young Assamese who dreamt of freedom, have laid down their lives for sovereignty. We will dishonour their souls if we quietly drop the issue of Assam’s sovereignty from any negotiations.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram has made it clear that India will only talk to ULFA if the demand for sovereignty is dropped.
We will not talk to India if the issue is not included on the agenda. That is our position as an organisation and my position as an individual and as the leader of our movement.

But there are reports in the Indian media that Rajkhowa might start talks by dropping the demand for Assam’s sovereignty.

I don’t think it is true. The Indians have turned it into a huge drama but I think our chairman will not betray the sentiments and feelings of all our freedom fighters and the freedom-loving people of Assam. At the end of the day, organisations matter, leaders don’t. If an individual leader betrays the feeling of the collective, he should be prepared to face the consequences .

The media is talking of a split in your organisation.
That is a huge nonsense. I have a very poor opinion of the Indian media, specially the so-called national media. They are jingoistic, they don’t see the reality on the ground. They write what the intelligence or the administration tells them to. There is no split in ULFA. Most of our central committee members and founders are in jail and you must have seen them telling journalists in Guwahati in no uncertain terms that there cannot be any talks without sovereignty being on the agenda and without me being a part of the negotiations. There is total consensus on this issue right across ULFA, within our central committee and from top to bottom.

So there is no split in ULFA?
I repeat, there is no split in ULFA. Some self-styled security analysts are also suggesting there is a three-way split in ULFA. They are shamelessly working for the Indian state and saying what they are told to. The reality is that from time to time, some of our people have walked out from the organisation and called it a day because they had lost hope in our struggle. Any struggle for freedom, specially against a powerful state like India, cannot be a road without thorns. We will have to face many challenges. But some of our people at times lose hope and go away. That is fine so long as they don’t become lackeys of the Indian state and work against our national movement.

If Rajkhowa walks away and starts talks with India by dropping the sovereignty demand, how would you react?
Let us not talk about ifs and buts. Our senior leaders will not betray the movement but, as I said, if someone does that, it will be at his own peril.

Why is the Bangladesh government after your group?
I really don’t understand why the new government of Bangladesh is succumbing to Indian hegemonist designs. They will pay dearly for what they are doing.

Are you threatening violent action against Bangladesh?
I am not threatening anyone. But if Bangladesh has expectations from India and are doing all this to make Delhi happy, they will be quickly belied. They will get nothing for what they are doing.

There are reports that you are seeking, and perhaps getting, Chinese help.
China is upset with India for its growing strategic relationship with the US. A major confrontation between India and China is in the offing.

But what if that happens? How does it help your cause?
Small people like us may either benefit from such a huge conflict of titans and gain our independence or get sandwiched and crushed between the two giants. It is worth taking a risk, is it not?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bangladeshi Shakespeare may be running out of material!


If a Shakespeare should ever arise in Bangladesh, he would have plenty of tragedies around which to weave his history plays. The country is only 38 years old, but the vendettas between the leading families, the murders and plots and coups, have been just as tangled and bloody as the ones in 14th and 15th-century England that gave the great playwright so much of his material. But that kind of history may be coming to an end in Bangladesh.

It’s not quite dead yet. Last February, at least 4,000 soldiers serving in the Bangladesh Rifles, a border defence regiment, mutinied and began killing their officers. Fifty-seven officers and 17 other people were murdered by the mutineers, who dumped their bodies in sewers and an incinerator. The violence spread to military camps all over Bangladesh.

The mutineers said that they were revolting against poor pay, but many people suspected that there was a political motive behind it all. If there was, it failed. The rest of the army remained loyal, tanks surrounded the regiment’s various camps, and the government promised to look into the rebels’ complaints if they surrendered.

That was a lie, of course: they were all arrested. The first nine soldiers went on trial for mutiny before a military court on Nov. 24 and more than 3,500 others will follow in various military cantonments around the country, while several hundred others will be tried before civilian courts for murder, rape and looting.

This is not the kind of blood-spattered Shakespearean ending that Bangladeshis have become much too familiar with. The trials may even answer the question of whether there was a political motive behind the military uprising. But suppose there was. What could it have been?

There has been a second high-profile court case in Bangladesh in the past month. On Nov. 19 the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences for 12 former military officers who took part in the assassination of Bangladesh’s founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 1975. The five ex-officers who are actually in custody, and whose final appeal was rejected, now face imminent execution for their crime of 34 years ago.

Few countries had a bloodier birth than Bangladesh. For a decade and a half after the partition of India in 1947, it was just the eastern wing of Pakistan, a country in two parts with a lot of Indian territory between them. But the two parts never got along, and when what is now Bangladesh tried to leave Pakistan in 1971 it got very ugly.

The Pakistan army killed up to three million people in rebel “East Pakistan” before Indian military intervention forced it to withdraw. East Pakistan then became the independent country of Bangladesh, and the country’s nationalist political leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (who had spent the war in jail in West Pakistan) came home to lead it.

Mujib was an autocratic man: by 1975 he had closed down all the opposition papers and declared himself president for life. But he did not deserve what happened to him and his family.

In the early hours of Aug. 15, 1975, a group of young officers stormed Mujib’s house and killed everybody in it, including his wife, his three sons (one was only nine years old) and his servants. Twenty people in all. Only his two daughters, who were abroad at the time, survived. One of them, Sheikh Hasina, is now the prime minister. (I told you it was Shakespearean.)

The young officers who murdered Mujib were overthrown by a different group within months, and another coup removed that bunch before the end of the year. Eventually power ended up in the hands of General Ziaur Rahman, who was also murdered by fellow officers in 1981. His widow, Khaleda Zia, has been prime minister three times, and still leads the main opposition party.

General Zia was not involved in the murder of Mujib, but he did end up allied to the people who had killed him: officers who detested Mujib’s secularism, and in some cases had helped the Pakistani army slaughter their own people during the independence war. They killed Zia too, in the end, but that does not stop Zia’s widow and Mujib’s daughter from hating each other.

That personal vendetta has virtually paralyzed the politics of a country with half the population of the United States. Ever since democracy was restored in Bangladesh in 1990, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia have alternated in power, each devoting all her time in opposition to sabotaging the other’s initiatives. But now the page may have turned.

The Supreme Court’s confirmation of the death sentences on the aging conspirators of 1975 may finally enable the country to move past its obsession with those horrific murders. If there was a political motive behind the Bangladesh Rifles mutiny, it was to stop that verdict from being passed, but the insubordination did not spread.

Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League won the last election by a landslide, and the army stayed loyal to the elected government right through the mutiny. The Bangladeshi Shakespeare may be running out of material.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Design to dismantling Bangladesh's para- commando unit?

Nation's defence should be strengthened by M. Shahidul Islam

Governance is all about making the best of choices, some of which could be horrid and unpalatable. And any decision made not guided by facts and circumstances may haunt the decision makers in coming days. As the governance is becoming more clogged and stymied by the day, many feel that some of those who are helping the government to make decisions are actually saboteurs from within. Because of the delay in holding the trial of the BDR massacre of February 25-26, which has again been deferred last week, the armed forces of the nation are apparently being deprived of fundamental rights accorded to them by the nation's Constitution and the other relevant statutes that are designed to treat all citizens as equal.

Meanwhile, according to information revealed by a number of reliable sources, the recent arrest of a serving major from the BDR headquarters, Major Helal, and four captains of army's elite special force-Captain Rajib, Captain Reja, Captain Fuad and Captain Rouf-was an attempt to create a new crisis in the wake of the Mujib killing trial's verdict. On Nov. 18, yet another serving Captain from the RAB was implicated in an unrelated accusation and a warrant was served against him by the court, bypassing military legal procedures.

'Framed operation'
In the course of a week-long investigation into the reasons for which the serving military officers were apprehended, this scribe has gathered valuable information from sources close to the investigation bodies as well to the court of inquiry that the army has constituted under Brig. Gen. Imamul Huda to further dig into the alleged involvement of these officers in the attack on MP Fazle Nur Taposh on October 21. "This is a framed operation with serious political motive," claimed one of the army investigators about the alleged involvement of the arrested officers. Insisting on anonymity, the officer said, "We have learnt for sure that the arrest occurred after three particular politicians influenced the Detective Branch (DB) and the Home Minister to arrest those officers and charge them of being involved in the attack on MP Taposh." The officer added, "DB then obtained through the Home Minister a nod from higher authority and arrangements were made to apprehend those officers while they were on duty."

ISPR's rebuttal
The Holiday also had leant from a source close to the Brig. Gen.-Imamul Huda - led court of inquiry team that the arrested officers had nothing to with the attack on MP Taposh and a series of media exposures, reportedly leaked by DB sources, saying that they were physically present near the spot of the occurrence, is a 'big lie.' Sickened by these concocted media exposures, the military's public relations outlet, the ISPR, felt compelled to issue a second press release on the matter last week, rebutting the report of a vernacular Daily that had painted, quoting DB sources, a dramatic portrayal of how those arrested army officers conducted the alleged attack against MP Taposh on October 21.

Through those press releases, the army in fact told the nation that the allegations were false. Incidentally, the arrest of the serving military officers occurred weeks after the arrest of dozens of suspects hailing from the extended families of the Mujib killing case accused leads one to ask, why those civilians, including a four-month old baby, were arrested if one must believe that the attack on Taposh was organized by the arrested army officers? Or, is there a link between the two groups? Finally, how could so many commando officers, who are experts in explosive-related crafts, failed to detonate a simple improvised device? Needs explanation.

However, the PM as the defence minister needs to tell the young officers of the armed forces as to why so many officers from the elite para- commando unit were specifically scooped out and why now? It is also said that the para-commando unit being the military's 'centre of gravity' in so far as the army's biting agility against its enemy, and therefore those inimical to the existence of a credible Bangladesh Army may want it dismantled by any means.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beware of Bangladesh media!

Don't be carried away with Bangladesh media's emotional coverage of today's verdict on Bangabondhu. They have a habit of changing sides overnight. Pleased to share with you some analyis from a book (Military-media relations in Bangladesh: 1975-1990) which shows how leading Bangla dailies covered the news of coups August and November during 1975.
From the book:

Only four newspapers were in circulation when the first military coup took place on 15 August 1975. The coup happened in the early hours of 15 August and the newspapers could not report the news of the coup on that day.

The August coup: We will now examine the coverage of August coup in the daily lttefaq, which has enjoyed the status of being the largest circulated vernacular daily for a long time. A commentator summed up its political influence with these words. "There are four most powerful organisations in Bangladesh: lttefaq, the military, the bureaucracy and the Awarni League" (Jai Jai Din, 2-8 April 1985).

Ittefaq's banner headline on 16 August stated that Mushtaq Ahmed was the country's new president following a military coup. There was no mention of the killing of President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the headline. The second paragraph of the lead story briefly mentioned that Mujib had been killed in his residence during the process of take-over.

A report on the people's reaction to the change was also published in the same issue. The headline said that people felt relieved after the coup. The editorial comment put the blame on the past government: "...the former ruling clique made the intervention of the military inevitable by blocking all means of transfer of power by constitutional means."

After the August coup, the military did not take power and the civilian government of the Awami League continued to rule the country under its new leader. The new government soon embarked upon a Mujib-bashing programme and news of foreign press comments on the coup began to land in the newsrooms through the official news agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS).

The country's newspapers had little choice but to print the official version of comments of the foreign press. Comments which particularly served the official policy were transmitted. lttefaq, which was a strong critic of Mujib's policy when he was alive, found this Mujib-bashing policy suitable for its readership and continued to follow it for six weeks.

Four reports on foreign press comments on the August coup were published in September. Reports of Newsweek (on 2 September), The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Sunday Times and Glasgow Herald (on 3 September) and comments of Japanese press featured prominently in Ittefaq. Other foreign press reports reproduced in Ittefaq's various editions included those of the Far Eastern EconQmic Review (on 17 September) and Illustrated Weekly of India (on 18 September).

At the same time Ittefaq also pursued its own policy of negating Mujib's image by giving prominence to the official report of the White Paper on the previous government which squarely blamed it for its mishandling of the economy. 30 October's front-page coverage of the recovery of arms and ammunition by police from Mujib's residence points to the policy being pursued by the paper.

Ittefaq also gave uncompromising support to the Bangladesh military. Its editorial on 10 September hailed the armed forces as the "saviour of the nation", adding: "It is really pathetic to demonstrate negligence or step-motherly attitude to those [the army] who are an integral and inseparable part of the country." In a signed commentary on 20 October, one of the owners of Ittefaq termed the martial law of August as "martial law with a difference, because it did not dissolve parliament, nor suspended constitution." Brief life sketches of four generals who were appointed as deputy martial law administrators also received good pictorial coverage.

Prior to the August coup, the daily Sangbad had been a sympathiser of the Mujib government and a supporter of the Bangladesh Communist Party. The August coup dealt a severe blow to the working journalists of the paper who felt that the first military coup would force the country to tilt towards the West.

The coup also paved lhe way for the return of Sangbad to its owner by the new government, which seized the opportunity to warn the paper about its future attitude. The Mujib-bashing policy was also reflected in the coverage of foreign press reports in Sangbad.

Troubled November: The events in the first week of November 1975 remain a mystery, as Bangladeshi newspapers at that time were unable to report what was really happening as a result of power struggle within the army. On 3 November Brigadier Khaled Mossarraf successfully elbowed out President Mushtaq Ahmed and became new Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA). Chief of Army Staff General Zia was removed from the post and Justice Abu Sadat Mohammed Sayem was appointed as the new President.

All these dramatic events, except the official announcement of the new appointments, were simply missing from the newspapers' reporting.

The news of the killing of four prominent political leaders in jail on 3 November 1995 took two days to appear in Ittefaq. Its readers were only informed that the President had ordered a judicial inquiry into the event. A presidential statement issued late at night said: " It is necessary to remind the members of the public that the army was not in way involved in this criminal act."

The jail killing clearly upset the supporters of Mujib, who came out in the streets carrying the picture of the slain leader. Ittefaq's coverage of this protest’ on 5 November damaged the credibility of new CMLA who had already been portrayed as pro-Indian by rival political forces. Lifshultz (1979) contends that it was Ittefaq's picture which shattered the prospects of the second military coup of 3 November. It is difficult to ascertain now the real motives behind publishing this picture. However, the analysis shows that Ittefaq strongly condemned the jail killing event in its editorial on 6 November. The black-bordered editorial said: "This killing will also alert those who are opposed to political views held by the victims."

No newspapers were brought out on 7 November when the uprising by the general soldiers against the army officers began. The following day, the newspapers gave extensive coverage of the previous day's event. Ittefaq published big pictures of President Sayem and General Zia. It also published a report on the people's jubilation about the "sepoy mutiny". Its editorial blamed adventurist and reactionary forces for attempting to negate the people's victory. A picture of people mixing with soldiers on top of a tank received wide coverage.

Ittefaq's open support for the armed forces was evident from the publication of three editorials within five days of the soldiers upsurge. Its editorial on 11 November urged the members of the armed forces to remain vigilant against evil forces who were trying to mislead and rob them of their victory.

On the other hand, Sangbad tried to show some kind of loyalty to its supporters by giving extensive coverage to strike news on 6 November. News of demands made by student leaders for restoring full status to Mujib as Bangabandhu (friend of Bengal) also featured prominently in the daily. Sangbad was decidedly shocked at the news of the jail killing and it condemned it in the strongest possible terms: "...there is no doubt that killers and butchers of these leaders are enemies of Bangladesh."

Following the soldiers' uprising, Sangbad also published front-page pictures of the three chiefs of services of the armed services on 8 November. A three-column picture of people celebrating-the victory also featured in the same issue. In its editorial it praised the role of General Zia during the troubled time of 3 to 7 November.

On 28 November Sangbad placed a saying of Prophet Mohammed in a reverse box­ item in the front page. The saying was: "Those who create divisions among friends, give pain to religious-minded people and abuse people, they are surely the wretched among Allah's creation." Another saying of the Prophet was also printed on the following day: "Show honour to honourable people and those who create division will not enter heaven and those creating division will be placed in a separate hell."

Mujib killers to die

A government attorney says the Supreme Court has rejected final appeals by five former soldiers sentenced to death in the 1975 killing of the country's independence leader in a military coup, says AP.

Attorney Anisul Haq says a five-member jury dismissed the men's plea to commute the penalty in a packed courtroom in capital Dhaka.

In 1998, a Dhaka court sentenced the men to death for the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The five petitioned the Supreme Court to commute their sentences.

Seven others who were also convicted are fugitives abroad.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bangladesh improves corruption ranking

The Berlin-based international anti-corruption organization, Transparency International (TI) has today released its annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2009. The index provides international ranking of countries in terms of perceived degree of prevalence of political and administrative corruption.

The results show that Bangladesh, having scored 2.4 compared to 2.1 in 2008 in a scale of 0-10, is among nine countries that have improved most. However, with the score remaining below the threshold of 3 the country, continues to be in the league of those where corruption continued to be pervasive. Bangladesh has been ranked 13th from below, which is 139th among 180 countries included in the index this year. In 2008 Bangladesh was 10th from below and 147th among 180. In the same position with the same score with Bangladesh this year are Belarus, Pakistan and Philippines. In 2008 Pakistan and Philippines had scored 2.5 and 2.3 respectively, while Belarus 2.0.

It may be recalled that Bangladesh was earlier placed at the very bottom of the list for the fifth successive year from 2001-2005. In 2006 Bangladesh was ranked in no 3, in 2007 in no 7 and in 2008 no 10.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Geo-Strategic Chessboard in Euroasia


Since 1947, India has not fully pledged itself to any camp or global pole during the Cold War and as a result was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement (N.A.M.). Since the post-Cold War era that position has eroded. New Delhi has been gradually moving away from its traditional position, relationships, and policies in the international arena for over a decade.India has been vied for as an ally in the “Great Game” that is underway, once again.

This round of the “Great Game” is, however, being played under a far broader spectrum than the one played between Britain and Czarist Russia. In question is the Indian power relationship with two geo-political entities: the first is the “Periphery” and the second is “Eurasia.”

The Periphery and Eurasia: Vying for India on a Geo-Strategic Chessboard
Physical geography alone does not form or carve or determine geographic entities. The activity of people also is of critical importance to this process. Geographic units, from blocs and countries to regions, must be understood as a product of people interacting in socio-economic and political terms. The geographic entities that are subject herein are social constructions. In this conceptual context, Eurasia itself can be defined as a geo-political player and entity.

In a physical sense, Eurasia as a geographic landmass and spatial entity is neutral, just as are other geographic regions or units, and carries no meaning or value(s). Eurasia in socio-political terms as an active player, however, is altogether different. Herein, it is this active and politically organized Eurasia that is a product of the anti-hegemonic cooperation of Russia, China, and Iran against the status quo global order of the Periphery that is the Eurasia being addressed.The Periphery is a collective term for those nations who are either geographically located on the margins of the Eurasian landmass or altogether geographically outside of the Eurasian landmass. This grouping or categorization of geo-political players when described are namely the U.S., the E.U., and Japan. In almost organic terms these players at the broader level strive to penetrate and consume Eurasia.

This objective is so because of the socio-economic organization and political mechanisms (all of which serve elitist interests) of the Periphery. Aside from the U.S., the E.U., and Japan, the Periphery includes Australia, Canada, South Korea, Singapore, and Israel.It is in this tugging match that India is centred. It is also in this geo-strategic bout that India has adopted a pragmatic policy of open opportunism. Yet, New Delhi has also been steadily moving towards a stance favouring the Periphery against Eurasia.India’s historically warm relationship with Iran has been tainted because of negotiations with the U.S. and E.U. and New Delhi’s relationship with China appears cordial on the surface, but it is fragile and double-edged.

Although Russia and India maintain cooperation in regards to the purchase of Russian military hardware by India, this relationship too is in question regardless of continued Russian weapons supplies.State policy, in turn influenced or controlled by local elites, is also pivotal to the formation of the larger geographic entities being addressed. The ruling circles and elites of India are pragmatic opportunists and their is no question in this. This characteristic, however, is a trademark of almost all elitist circles and is not unique to Indian elites alone. The position of the Indian elites, however, is noteworthy because they can flex their muscles and they can play both sides.New Delhi Caught between Alliances?As stated, New Delhi has been walking a pragmatic path between the emerging Eurasian pole and between the more established Peripheral pole. The Eurasian pole was originally formed out of a reluctant necessity for survival against the thrust of the Periphery by Moscow.

As the Russian-initiated Eurasian-based alliance gains global momentum it is also working to cultivate an end to Eurasian rivalries.Since 2003, the lines of cooperation with the U.S., Britain, Germany, and France have been shifting and continuously restudied by Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and their other allies, such as Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Tajikistan. The U.S., Britain, Germany, France and their shared proxies, NATO and the European Union, have been trying to obstruct the solidification of a united Eurasian entity. This is where India is key.A factor that has obstructed Eurasian cooperation, with the inclusion of India, is the mutual suspicions of the Eurasians and, in general terms, their underlying resource rivalries. Due to these factors, the Eurasians appeared to be working together and alternatively to be keeping the lines of cooperation open with both the Periphery.

A case in standing of this schizophrenic policy is what was once called the “Paris-Berlin-Moscow Axis” that clasped Russia on one side and France and Germany on the other. This Paris-Berlin-Moscow Axis flexed its muscles in international relations and at the U.N. during the Anglo-American march to war against Iraq in 2003.India and the Encirclement of ChinaNew Delhi is not a constituent of the Periphery. Nor does India fully trust the nations of the Periphery. India does,, however, appear to favour the Periphery. This can be attributed to the demographic nature of global resource competitions and long-standing Sino-Indian cleavages and tensions.

The tensions and cleavages between China and India have also been capitalized on by the Periphery just as the Sino-Soviet split was by Henry Kissinger during the Cold War to keep China and the Soviet Union divided.Due to tensions with China the Indian ruling establishment still holds onto a vision about a showdown with the Chinese. Both states are demographic dinosaurs and are competing between themselves and with the status quo Peripheral Powers for resources.

Despite the fact that it is the nations of the Periphery that are disproportionately exploiting a far larger share of global resources, in the eyes of many in New Delhi the perception is that it is far easier to reduce the effect of global resource competitions by working to eliminate China rather than competing with the Periphery. It is these two reasons that are the basis for the formation of Indian animosity to Beijing.An encircling military ring that involves India has been created around China. New Delhi has been involved in the framework of military cooperation with the Periphery aimed at China. Under this framework, India has joined Japan, the U.S., and Australia in forming a de facto “Quadrilateral Coalition” to neutralize China through the establishment of a ring of containment that could see a naval blockade form in the event of a war around the borders of China. [1]

In a war between China and an outside power, cutting off Chinese energy supplies would be central to defeating Beijing. Without any fuel the military hardware of the People’s Liberation Army would be rendered useless. It is from this standpoint that India is building its naval strength and cooperating militarily in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific with the Periphery.

It is also with Chinese energy supplies, Indian naval expansion, and the encirclement of China in mind that the Indian military has prepared to introduce, by 2014, what it calls “Indigenous Aircraft Carriers” (IACs), each with with two takeoff runways and one landing strip for up to 30 military aircraft. [2]China, as well as Iran, also has a direct border with NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, which can be used as a military hub against the more vulnerable western flank of China. In this regard, the massive American-led NATO military build-up in Afghanistan is monitored with the utmost suspicion by Beijing and Tehran. In many senses, the Periphery is moving or pushing inwards towards the heart of Eurasia.

The encirclement of China also parallels the rings of military alliances and bases created around Russia and around Iran. China also faces the threat of a missile shield project in East Asia just as the European core of Russia faces one in Eastern Europe and Iran faces one via such countries as the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Israel, and Turkey in the Middle East.Playing all sides to get New Delhi its Place in the Sun?The 2006 meetings between George W. Bush Jr. and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, including the Indo-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement, are examples of the “divide and conquer” game the White House and its allies are playing. India is not passive in this game and is an active player too.

The trilateral summits held between Russia, China, and India represent the opposite push to bring India fully into the Eurasian coalition of Moscow and Beijing. The U.S. has also been trying to obstruct the creation of a trans-Asian energy grid in Asia or a trans-Eurasian energy grid that would involve both sections of Europe and Asia within a single framework. One of these projects is the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and another is the building of pipelines from the former Soviet Union to China.Moreover, India has nurtured military ties with Russia, China, and Iran on one hand and the U.S., NATO, Australia, Israel, and Japan on the other hand. This is evident from the joint naval exercises held in April, 2007 between India and China off Qingdao and the joint Indian, U.S., and Japanese trilateral military exercise in the Pacific Ocean. [3]

Yet, India has not been neutral. India has also upgraded its missile arsenal so that it can target deeper into Chinese territory. All in all, New Delhi has tilted in favour of the Periphery. At first glance, this is reflected by the fact that India is the only Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) observer member that has not applied for full membership within the Eurasian bloc and through New Delhi’s growing ties with NATO. India’s course also became clearer after an important trilateral conference between Russia, China, and India in 2007 that saw India diplomatically refuse Chinese and Russian demands to rebut America and reject full cooperation. In this regard, Indian officials have said that they do not want to compromise their strategic flexibility.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India has also degenerated the situation further and expand the rift between India on one side and Russia, Iran, and China on the other.An Expanded Missile Arsenal for IndiaNew Delhi has also been working to upgrade its military capabilities to match those of the U.S., Russia, and China. The process involves the possession of inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities. The Times of India reported on May 13, 2008 that Indian military scientists predicted that India would posses all three capabilities by 2010 or 2011:

By 2010-2011, India hopes to gatecrash into a very exclusive club of countries, which have both ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) and SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) as well as BMD (ballistic missile defence) capabilities. Only the US and Russia strictly qualify for this club as of now, if all the three capabilities — ICBM, SLBM and BMD — are taken together, with countries like China not too far behind. Top defence scientists, on the sidelines of the annual DRDO awards on Monday, told TOI [Times of India] they were quite confident India would have ICBMs and SLBMs, even though their strike ranges would be much lesser than American, Russian or Chinese missiles, as also a functional BMD system soon after the turn of this decade. [4]

The nature of such a military build-up must be questioned. Who is it aimed at and what are its primary objectives? Are these capabilities meant to act as a deterrence or are they part of something more? These are important questions.The United States Directly Threatens ChinaThe answer to the Indian military build-up is embodied in two parts. One element to this answer is the military dogma of the U.S. towards China. The U.S. attitude is clarified in a May 2008 interview given to the Voice of America by Admiral Timothy J. Keating after a new Chinese submarine base was discovered, which was called a threat to U.S. interests in Asia. Admiral Keating is the American flag officer comanding U.S. forces in East Asia and the Pacific under United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), one of the highest military posts in the U.S. military.Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on May 12, 2008:

China’s new underground nuclear submarine base close to vital sea lanes in Southeast Asia has raised US concerns, with experts calling for a shoring up of alliances in the region to check Beijing's growing military clout.

The base's existence on the southern tip of Hainan Island was confirmed for the first time by high resolution satellite images, according to Jane’s Intelligence Review, a respected defence periodical, this month.

It could hold up to 20 submarines, including a new type of nuclear ballistic missile submarine, and future Chinese aircraft carrier battle groups, posing a challenge to longstanding US military dominance in Asia.

China should not pursue such “high-end military options,” warned Admiral Timothy Keating, the top commander of US forces in Asia, in an interview with the Voice of America last week.
He underlined America’s “firm intention” not to abandon its dominating military role in the Pacific and told Beijing it would face “sure defeat” if it took on the United States militarily.

He said Washington should “tighten” its alliances in Asia to check China's growing military might and develop “interoperability” capabilities among allies such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Singapore, as well as Indonesia and Malaysia.

James Lyons, an ex-commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said the United States needed to reestablish high-level military ties with the Philippines as part of efforts to enhance US deterrence in the wake of China's naval expansion. He said “operational tactics” used against the former Soviet Union during the Cold War should be applied against China.

He suggested US leasing a squadron of F-16 fighter jets and navy vessels to the Philippines, where Washington once had naval and air bases, as part of the deterrence strategy.
“We don’t need a permanent base but we need access,” Lyons said, suggesting also that Japan play a more “meaningful” role in protecting critical sea lanes in the region.
“Again the Soviets, we raised that deterrence equation and we won the war without firing a shot basically ... there is no cheap way out and we have to improve our posture in the Western Pacific along with our allies,” he said.

Richard Fisher, an expert of China military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a US think tank, expected US confrontation with China as Beijing modernized its nuclear ballistic missile submarines, referred to in military jargon as SSBNs. [5]

What James Lyon suggests as an ex-military officier about using Japan as a counter-balance against China is clearly being applied to other nations in Asia. In addition, without India using Japan or a whole coalition of other Asian states carries far less weight against China, especially one supported by Russia. India is clearly key in the U.S. geo-strategy for dealing with China and in general for Eurasia. The Hindustani Wild Card: India as a Eurasian Wedge against China? To obstruct the unification of Russia, Iran, and China the Bush Jr. Administration in 2004 intensified the venture of using India as a Eurasian wedge or counter-weight to China.

The U.S. aim is to eventually undermine the coalition between Russia, China, and Iran by using India or alternatively to use India as a spearhead against the Chinese. This latter tactic would be similar to the strategy used by the U.S. government in relation to Iraq and Iran, which resulted in the Iraq-Iran War in 1980. In this Iraq-Iran War model both Baghdad and Tehran were seen as enemies by U.S. strategists and the aim was to get both Middle Eastern republics to neutralize one another. Henry Kissinger summed this U.S. policy by saying the point was for both the Iraqi and Iranian sides to destroy one another.

The same scenario could happen and be applied to India and China. The realization of this confrontational project has already been announced by the Indian military. What has long been thought has become public and that is that the Indian military has been preparing for war against Beijing. This is the second element to the question about the Indian military build-up.
The Hindustan Times reported on March 26, 2009:

The Indian military fears a [sic] ‘Chinese aggression’ in less than a decade. A secret exercise, called ‘Divine Matrix’, by the army’s military operations directorate has visualised a war scenario with the nuclear-armed neighbour before 2017. “A misadventure by China is very much within the realm of possibility with Beijing trying to position itself as the only power in the region. There will be no nuclear warfare but a short, swift war that could have menacing consequences for India,” said an army officer, who was part of the three-day war games that ended on Wednesday.

In the military’s assessment, based on a six-month study of various scenarios before the war games, China would rely on information warfare (IW) to bring India down on its knees before launching an offensive. The war games saw generals raising concerns about the IW battalions of the People’s Liberation Army carrying out hacker attacks for military espionage, intelligence collection, paralysing communication systems, compromising airport security, inflicting damage on the banking system and disabling power grids. “We need to spend more on developing information warfare capability,” he said. The war games dispelled the notion that China would take at least one season (one year) for a substantial military build-up across India’s northeastern frontiers. “The Tibetan infrastructure has been improved considerably.

The PLA can now launch an assault very quickly, without any warning, the officer said. The military believes that China would have swamped Tibet with sweeping demographic changes in the medium term. For the purposes of Divine Matrix, China would call Dalai Lama for rapprochement and neutralise him. The top brass also brainstormed over India’s options in case Pakistan joined the war to. Another apprehension was that Myanmar and Bangladesh would align with China in the future geostrategic environment. [6]

Although the materialization of a war against China is not a guaranteed event, war preparations are being made against the Chinese. The disturbances within the borders of China in Xinjiang and Tibet and in Myanmar (Burma), which is important to Chinese energy security, that are so widely advertised in the name of democracy and self-determination in the U.S. and E.U. are part of an effort to destabilize and weaken China. It is also in this context that India is involved with operations, such as supporting the Tibetan government-in-exile of the Dahali Lama, that have been destabilizing China.

The Australian military has also announced it is expanding its military in preparation for a forecast major war in the Asia-Pacific region. [7] Japan has also been expanding its military, while Tokyo has been preparing itself to join a NATO-like sister-alliance in the Asia-Pacific that would include Australia, the U.S., and South Korea and be directed against China, Russia, and North Korea. [8] Myanmar and Laos can be targeted too by this military build-up and NATO-like alliance as can the other Southeast Asian states of Indo-China, specifically Vietnam and Cambodia, if they change their policies.

The Strategic Ties of New Delhi and Tel Aviv: Indo-Israeli Military and Space Cooperation
On January 21, 2008 a new chapter in Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation was unveiled; India launched a Israeli spy satellite, known as TecSAR (TechSAR) or Polaris, into space via an Indian space rocket at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Padesh. [9] The Israeli satellite was bragged to be mainly aimed against Iran by Israeli sources. [10] Israel’s spy satellite launched by India has greatly enhances Israel’s intelligence-gathering capabilities against Iran, Syria, and Lebanon.The satellite launch by New Delhi has revealed that the Indian government has little reservations in assisting in any Israeli or Anglo-American military ventures in the Middle East against Iran and its allies.

Tehran immediately voiced its strong and official disapproval to India for aiding Israeli military objectives against Iran’s national security. The Israeli satellite launch was delayed several times. The Jerusalem Post and one of its noted reporters, Yaakov Katz, published an article that claimed that the delayed space launch of the Israeli satellite was a result of strong Iranian pressure on the Indian government. [11]Politicians in India opposed to Indo-Israeli military and space cooperation denounced the Indian government’s attempts to present the launch as merely “business as usual” by hiding the military implications and objectives behind an act with underlying hostile intentions against Iran.

The Indian government officially argued to the Indian people that the satellite launch was just a commercial transaction between Tel Aviv and New Delhi, but the military implications of the deal reveal that India is no longer neutral in regards to Tehran. The fact that the Israel spy satellite has been described by Tel Aviv as a means to confront Tehran and Damascus (officially described as “enemy states”) is an omission in itself that New Delhi is knowingly an accomplice to hostile acts against Iran and Syria.The satellite launch was shrouded in complete secrecy by the Indian government.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) which had always announced all its space launches as a symbol of national pride kept silent for the Israeli satellite launch. Large numbers of different Indian groups and people across India condemned the secrecy behind the mission and cited it as a sign of guilty by the Indian government. People's Democracy, the official mouth piece of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CP-M), complained that the citizens of India had to learn about the details of the launch from Israeli news sources. [12]

The Israeli spy satellite was built by Israel Aerospace Industries, which has major business interests in regards to India. On February 18, 2008 Israel Aerospace Industries, and the Tata Group signed a corporate agreement with Israel Aerospace to cooperate and jointly develop military hardware and products through a memorandum of understanding. [13] Like a tell-tale sign this agreement was announced less than a month after the launch of the Israeli spy satellite built by Israel Aerospace Industries. The Tata Group and its companies also have corporate agreements with Boeing, Sikorsky Aircraft, and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which are all competing against Russian arms manufacturers.Indian cooperation with Israel extends all the way into the realm of nuclear politics and policy.

On September 17, 2008 at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna a vote was almost unanimously cast for a IAEA resolution urging all Middle Eastern states to abandon making nuclear bombs. In a case of irony, the only state that voted against the IAEA resolution was Israel, which accuses Iran and Syria of pursuing nuclear weapons. Tel Aviv voted against the IAEA resolution, while Tehran and Damascus voted for the it and the U.S., Canada, Georgia, and India all in support of Israel abstained. New Delhi Deepens ties with the U.S., NATO, and Israel In military terms, there is a real strategic “American-Indian-Israeli Axis.” New Delhi’s strategic ties with the U.S., NATO, and Israel have been deepening.

The strategic axis formed by the U.S., India, and Israel has also been denounced by various political parties and figures across the political landscape of India.Firstly, the geo-strategic rationale for an alliance between the U.S. and India is the encirclement or containment of the People’s Republic of China. The other rationale or intentions of such cooperation are the neutralization of Russia as a player in Central Asia and the securing of energy resources for both the U.S. and India. In this project, the U.S. sees India as a natural counter-weight to China. The U.S. also has used India in its objective of trying to isolate Iran.

In regards to Tel Aviv, Israel sees India as part of a broader periphery. This broader or so-called “new periphery” was imagined and utilized as a basis of geo-strategy by Tel Aviv after 1979 when the “old periphery” that included Iran, which was one of Israel’s closest allies, buckled and collapsed with the 1979 Iranian Revolution. [14] In this context, Israel’s “new periphery” has been conceptualized against both the Arab World and Iran (or compounded as the Arabo-Iranian World). This is why the Israeli relationships with India, Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Turkey are important, and in some cases full fledged alliances. [15]

Likewise NATO and India also have shared interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia, which India sees as part of its own periphery or “near abroad.” These shared interests and the mutual animosity to Chinese energy interests in Central Asia has brought India and NATO, led by the U.S., into the same camp. NATO also sees India in its strategy to become a global military alliance. In addition, dealing with Pakistan is also another shared commonality between NATO and India. The Project for “Greater South Asia” and Indian Ambitions in its “Near Abroad”As Hindu means everything beyond the Indus and Hindustan the “land beyond the Indus” in ancient Iranian, the word “Industan” can be used to talk about the land and basin around the Indus River.

Hereon, this term will be used to refer to the geographic area adjacent the Indus to India’s western flank. [16] This area includes Pakistan and can be extended to include Afghanistan and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Although Industan may not be exactly an accurate definition for the area beyond Pakistan, Industan still fits well, especially in light of Indian geo-political thinking. That is why the term will be used.Industan, is part of India’s “near abroad” or periphery, and in a sense even a part of an expanded periphery that emerged with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is with this in mind that India established its first military base, at Ayni, on foreign soil in Tajikistan. [17]

The converging interests of the U.S. and India are clear in the U.S. State Departments re-definition of Central Asia as a part of “Greater South Asia.” Greater South Asia is the conceptualization of Central Asia as a region within South Asia, which is synonymous with the Indian sub-continent. The concept of Greater South Asia is part of the project to bring the former Soviet republics of Central Asia into the orbits of the U.S. through cooperation with India, as a regional gendarme. Turning to Pakistan, India has a shared interests with the U.S. and NATO in the subjection of Pakistan.

Pakistan would cease to be a client state of the U.S. or a manageable state, because of a likely revolution that would occur in the scenario of a broader war in the Middle East against Iran or a far larger Eurasian war involving China and Russia. Nuclear weapons in the hands of such a revolutionary government in Islamabad would be a threat to Indian national security, NATO operations in Afghanistan, and Israel. It is in the shared interests of the U.S., NATO, Israel, and India to neutralize such a strategic and tactical threat from emerging in Pakistan. This is why NATO has underpinned the objective of balkanizing Pakistan and why the U.S. has talked about taking over Pakistani nuclear facilities via the U.S. military. The subjection of Pakistan is also territorially and militarily to the advantage of New Delhi, because it would eliminate a rival and allow India to gain territory that in the view of many Indians was lost with the partition of India in 1947.The Naval build-up in the Indian Ocean and the Geo-Politics of the Sri Lankan Civil WarTo the southern borders of Eurasia is the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Ocean is the scene of major international rivalries and competition(s).
Sri Lanka is also a front in these rivalries. It is in this context that India is part of a major naval build-up running from the coastline of East Africa and the Arabian Sea to the waves of Oceania. Aside from the fleets of the U.S. and its NATO allies that have large presences in the Indian Ocean, the naval fleets of Iran, India, China, Japan, and Australia are also all being expanded in league with this trend of militarization. Also, India and China are working to release large nuclear submarine fleets into the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

The naval encirclement of Eurasia and the naval expansion of China are also reasons why U.S. Navy ships have been repeatedly caught violating Chinese waters and illegally surveying Chinese territory. [18] The water around the Arabian Peninsula all the way around from the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea (Arabian Gulf) carries large fleets of ships either belonging to the U.S., NATO, or their allies. At any point the U.S. and its allies can stop international shipping in these waters. The problem of piracy in these waters is very closely linked to their militarization and is a justification for militarization.

This is one of the reasons that the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Horn of Africa, where Somalia is located, have seen the deployment of the naval forces of Russia, China, and Iran as a strategically symmetric move. [19] It should be noted that relations between Sri Lanka and India started to unravel in 2009. The Sri Lankan government has accused the Indian government of supporting the Tamil Tigers drive to create a Tamil state by dividing Sri Lanka. Much of this has to do with the geo-strategic struggle between the Periphery and Eurasia in the Indian Ocean.In this regard, India is not only working against Chinese interests in the Indian Ocean, but it is also actively cooperating with the U.S. and its allies.

In the scenario of a conflict between Eurasia and the Periphery or between China and India the maritime route that passes by Sri Lanka would be vital to the Chinese military and Chinese energy security. For this reason Sri Lanka has joined the SCO as a “dialogue partner” under the protective umbrella of Russia, China, and their allies. Not only has Sri Lanka joined the SCO, but it also hosts a Chinese port in a pivotal point in the Indian Ocean and near the borders of India that has put Colombo at odds with New Delhi.

Arms Manufacturer and Nuclear Rivalry in India
Since the end of the Cold War there has been a drive to push out Russian arms manufacturers out of the Indian market by Anglo-American, Franco-German, and Israeli military contractors. France and Israel have also been traditionally the second and third largest weapon sources for India after Russia. Russian manufacturers have been competing fiercely against military manufactures based in France, Germany, Israel, Britain, and the U.S. to remain as New Delhi’s top arms suppliers.In addition, the elites in New Delhi have been putting their weight behind Russia’s rivals in India. India has become one of the most significant markets for Israeli military hardware and has replaced the void left to Israeli weapons exporters by the loss of the South African arms market that was caused by the collapse of Apartheid in 1993.

Additionally, Israel has moved on to replace France as the second largest provider of military hardware to India. [20] This is while France in 2006 and 2008 has made headway in nuclear cooperation agreements with India, following the 2005 Indo-U.S. nuclear deal. [21]India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA): “Superalignment” or “Counter-Alignment?”

In addition, the U.S. is trying to use the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum, a loose trilateral alliance of go-between states, against China, Venezuela (and its Latin American bloc that can be called the Bolivarian Bloc), Russia, and Iran. In reality and simplistic terms the IBSA powers are rising, second tier global players. They originally appeared to be engaging in a policy of “superalignment,” the cultivation of strategic relations with all major powers and blocs, as opposed to “counter-alignment.”

A global web of alliances, counter-alliances, cross-cutting, and intersecting alliances are beginning to come into view, just like the environment in Europe and the Middle East on the eve of the First World War. Despite the fact that Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance, along with Germany and the Austro-Hungarians, it decided to side with the Triple Entente after secret negotiations and promises that were never honoured by Britain and France. There are circles in Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran that believe that India could act treacherously just as Italy did by not honouring its obligations to its allies Vienna and Berlin.

These suspicions also see this as a possibility even if India entered the SCO as a full member and joined the Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition in Eurasia. In the frankest words, India, Brazil, and the Republic of South Africa are benefiting from the compounded friction between the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, China, Iran, Venezuela, and Russia. To clarify, the reason that this friction is best described as compounded is because the Anglo-American alliance and the Franco-German entente work as two separate sub-units and sometimes align with the interests of opposing powers.

This is also true about cooperation between Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and China. In Eurasia, Russia and Iran sometimes work as a pair, while Russia and China or China and Iran do so at other times. This trend in regards to the Eurasians, however, is changing as the cohesion between Russia, China, and Iran increases. This behaviour is observable in the positions of both India and Brazil on Kosovar Independence. Both the foreign ministers of India and Brazil, Celso Amorim and Pranab Mukherjee, made a joint statement in Brasilia about the declaration of independence by Kosovo by announcing that India and Brazil were studying its legal ramifications under a wait-and-see policy of the “evolving situation” as Pranab Mukherjee called it. [22]

The Case of Elitism: Where the Indian Elites Stand
On April 2, 2009 the Group of Twenty (G-20) met in London in regards to the global economy and declared that New Delhi would have a bigger role in the global economy. The question about “India’s place in the sun” that is often mentioned in international studies about its emerging status as a global power is not really about India as a nation-state or even the interests of its general population, but is really a question about the position of its ruling and economic classes or its elites (a small minority that make decisions on behalf of the majority) and their place within the global power structure and the international elitist compact that is forming through neo-liberal globalization.

Part and parcel of this enterprise is what appears to be India’s demands for a greater role, or share, for its elites in the global economy through some form or another of expanded interlocking directorships. Interlocking directorships is a term used to describe when the members of the board of directors or managing body of one corporation also serve as members of the board of directors or managing body of other corporation. This is very frequent amongst elitist circles and a way for them to maintain a monopoly on their power.

It is these interlocking directorships that are uniting global elites and the impetus for global amalgamation.India has always had indigenous elites, who in numerous cases worked hand in glove with the British during the period of the British Raj. Starting from the colonial period, borrowing from a term used by the Canadian political economist Wallace Clement, most the Indian indigenous elites became “comprador elites.” Comprador elites are any elite groups that represent or manage the interests of “parasite elites” or foreign elites, which in the case of the British Raj would have been the British elites. A modern example of a comprador elite would be the Indian chief executive officers (CEOs) of Indian subsidiaries of foreign-controlled corporations, such as PepsiCo India and Monsanto India.Moving on, the British could not rule most of India without these elites and therefore cooperated with them.

London made sure that the Indian elites would be fully integrated into the British Empire by involving them in the administration of India, sending them to British schools, and making them Anglophiles or lovers of all things British. Britain would also grant the Indian elites their own economic fiefdoms in return for their cooperation. The relationship was very much symbiotic and in reality the Indian elites were the biggest supporters of the British Empire and opposed Indian independence. It is only when the Indian elites were offended by London, because of the denial of their requests to have a status within the British Empire like the Dominions, such as Canada and Australia, that the Indian Independence Movement gained momentum.

With Indian independence many of the comprador elites became indigenous elites, in the sense that they were serving their own interests and no longer serving British interests in India. Yet, some comprador elites remained who served British economic interests. For a period of time after Indian independence there were tensions between the Indian indigenous elites and both the comprador elites and their parasite elite backers in London as the indigenous elites moved into the former niches of the British. This does not mean that there were not those within the indigenous elites that made agreements or compromises with the British for the post-independence period.As time passed and the Cold War supposedly ended, the Soviet Union fell apart, neighbouring China accepted capitalism, and a push for unipolarity accelerated the different types of elites in India started cooperating even more.

More specifically, the indigenous elites of India and foreign elites in the U.S. and E.U. started collaborating, with the comprador elites helping interlock the indigenous and foreign sides even more. The state of elitist modus vivandi, living together in uneasy post-independence armistice, was gradually evolving into broader cooperation. For example, in the financial sector the comprador elites, indigenous elites, and parasite elites have worked together to erode state control of the banking system that has resulted in the mushrooming and growth of private and foreign banks in India starting in the 1990s. Enter Dr. Manmohan Singh:

The Economic Origins for New Delhi’s Strategic Shift?

The Indian shift away from non-alignment and its strategic partnerships is deeply connected to the unseen regime change in New Delhi that was initiated with the restructuring of the Indian economic policy. 1991 was a year of change for India. It was also the year that President George Bush Sr. declared that the “New World Order” was beginning to emerge and also the same year as the Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A common denominator between 1991 and India in the late-2000s is Dr. Manmohan Singh, the current head of the Indian government. Dr. Singh received his doctorate (PhD.) as an economist from Oxford University and also attended Cambridge University. He is a former ranking officer of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in India. His positions included Deputy for India on the IMF Committee of Twenty on International Monetary Reform (1972-1974), IMF Associate (1976-1980, 1982-1985), Alternative Governor for India on the IMF Board of Governors (1982-1985), and Governor for India on the Board of Governors of the IMF (1991-1995). Several of these positions coincided with appointments within the government and national cabinet of India. This also includes the position of Dr. Singh as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (1982-1985).

Dr. Singh was one of the faces behind the restructuring of the Indian economy in 1991, in league with the IMF. He was appointed as the Indian Finance Minister in 1991 by Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, a man accused with corruption, during a financial crisis that was brought about by IMF policies. India was nearly bankrupted during this period of reforms and state assets surrendered to domestic and foreign private investors. The economic policies of establishing a truly self-sufficiently Indian economy were abandoned and privatization became wide spread. Economic liberalization pushed aside the long-term goals of eliminating poverty in India and providing high standards of living. The Indian agricultural sector was also infected by foreign multi-national corporations through the so-called “Green Revolution.”

Before being appointed to the post of Indian Finance Minister, Dr. Singh was decisive in creating the financial crisis in India through coordination with the IMF. The policies of Dr. Singh by design also left India without enough reserves to meet its financial commitments. India was also deprived of the means to improve its economy by IMF policies The origins of these policies became obvious when Indian civil servants starting complaining of sloppy, American-style, and non-British spelling, writing, and grammar in Indian government finance documents and papers. As a result Indian national assets and wealth were siphoned off and foreign control, including that of the Bank of England, of Indian finances began. 1996 spelled the death of the Rao Administration in India because of the backlash of economic liberalization and the unpopularity of the government.

With the economic shifts of 1991 began the road down the path to political shift. On May 22, 2004 the IMF’s man in New Delhi, Dr. Singh, returned to office to became the Prime Minister of India. This time political reforms including turning India’s back on the Non-Alignment Movement (N.A.M.), Iran at the IAEA, and Russia’s aim to realize the Primakov Doctrine were on the table.India and the Manufactured “Clash of Civilizations” in EurasiaIn many Indian circles the colonial bonds with London are still strong and there are views that New Delhi, or at least the Indian elites, are natural members of the Anglo-American establishment.

There is also a taint of racial theory attached to these views with links to the caste system and the Indian elite’s Aryan self-concepts. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” notion and Mackinder’s geo-strategic population model are factors behind these views too. Resource competition, demographics, and economic competition are seen as fuel that will inevitably draw India and China into a clash for supremacy in Asia.Is it primarily because of geography, amongst other factors, that Indian Civilization (labeled as Hindu Civilization in regards to Huntington’s model) is said to have a conflicting relationship or affiliation with Chinese Civilization (labeled as Sinic Civilization by Huntington’s model) and Islamic Civilization? This theory is short-sighted; if true where are the centuries of fighting between Chinese and Indian civilization? For the most part both lived in peace. The same applied to Islamic Civilization.

A clash is not the natural ends of interaction between different civilizations or societies. Interaction is always based initially on trade and it is the form of economic trade and the aims of either party that can result in a clash. Foreign powers that utilize a “Clash of Civilizations” scheme do so because of the economy of control. A mere reading of Anglo-American strategic doctrine and observations of Anglo-American practices brings this to light.

A historical look will prove this to be wrong and actually illustrates that Indian Civilization really overlaps with both Islamic Civilization and Chinese Civilization. Moreover, it is wrong to categorize the conflict between Pakistan and India as a conflict between all Muslims and the nation-state of India or even any of the internal fighting amongst Muslims and non-Muslims in India. Vedicists (one of the proper names for Hindus) and Muslims, as well as several other religions lived together in relative peace until the the start of British involvement in India. [23] The animosity between Pakistan and India is a synthetic construct where local elites and foreign powers worked together, not only to divide territory, but to control local groups that have lived together for hundreds of years by alienating them from one another.

Why a “Clash of Civilizations” in Eurasia?
By extension of the utilization of the “Clash of Civilizations” notion, which predates Samuel P. Huntington, India and Vedicism are depicted as enemies by the Pakistani elites as a means of domestic distraction and to direct internal tensions about social inequality and injustice towards an outside source. The outside enemy, the “other,” has always been used domestically to distract subject populations by local leaders. In the case of the Indian sub-continent certain native circles have jointly invested in continuing the British policy of localized conflict as a means of monopoly. In an over simplistic understanding, even if one were to use Huntingon’s model to explain who benefits from civilizational conflict because of global civilizational rivalry, it would have to be the civilization with the most relationships due to the fact that it has the most rivals to put down.

In relation to trade a civilization with the most relationships would also be in a position to initiate the most clashes because it can afford to burn some of its bridges (or cut ties) and is in a position to initiate clashes between other civilizations. Under a system of cooperation and fair-trade conflict of a grand scale would not happen, but under a competitive international system pushing for monopoly this is a direction being taken by the status quo. This is where critics of global capitalism lament about the unnatural nature of capitalism.

This system, however, is not a system of capitalism. It is fitting to apply a new term at this point: ubercapitalism. Ubercapitalism is a system where the framework of regulation, taxation, and law are controlled and directed by elites for their own benefits. In Marxist-Leninist terms the state is an agent of elite interests. Even the capitalist concept of laissez-fair commerce is violated and disregarded because the state and the business environment are controlled by these elites.If there was fair-trade between these so-called civilizational entities there would be no need for clashes, but this by itself does not mean that there would altogether be no conflict. Ideology, faith, and hubris are also factors, but in most cases ideology and faith have been manipulated or constructed to support the economic structure and to justify conflict and hierarchy.

A lack of fair-trade or control over finite resources necessitates manufactured conflict; this is the only way the players controlling wealth can retain their positions. Despite the talk about a “Clash of Civilizations” the most natural path of social evolution is one of relative peace and cooperation. The conceptualization of Latin America, India, Israel, the so-called West, China, the Muslim countries, the Orthodox Christian countries, and the Buddhist nations as different or distinct civilizations is also a fallacy in itself and very abstract. Distinctions do exist, but they are far less than the similarities and not enough to support Huntington’s civilizational model.

New Delhi’s Trajectory: A Reversion to the British Raj?
Is reverting to the status quo of the British Raj? India has moved beyond a policy of superalignment. India’s elites believe that to achieve their place in the sun they must buy into the socio-economic and political agenda of the so-called, “Core countries” — the global financial power holders of the Periphery. India’s commitment to the Non-Alignment Movement (N.A.M.) is also dead all but in name. The foreign policy course that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had charted for India has been abandoned.Internally, for the last two decades India has been colonizing itself. Communities and ethnic groups have been played agains one another. These are both cases where local and foreign elites are working hand-in-hand.

The ruling elites, with the aid of the Indian government, are appropriating all forms of recourses, rights, and property from countless people to fuel the so-called economic liberalization process with no regard for their fellow citizens. Water and national assets are being privatized and virtual slave labour is, once again, being institutionalized — everything that Mahatma Gandhi and his follower worked hard to eliminate. The free trade deals being struck by the U.S. and E.U. with India are a part of this process and have been integrating India into the global economic order.

Hand-in-hand with India being part of a global economic order goes the domination of Eurasia. India is on a serious path of militarization that will lead New Delhi towards conflict with China. In such a war both Asian giants would be losers and the U.S. and its allies the real winners. Due to their flexibility the Indian elite may still change course, but there is a clear motion to exploit and mobilize India in Eurasia against its neighbours and the major powers of Eurasia.

This is the true meaning, intent, nature, and agenda behind the so-called “Clash of Civilizations” in Eurasia. The threat of a nuclear war between China and India is real in the words of the Indian military, but what is important to realize is that such a confrontation is part of a much larger series of wars or a wide struggle between the powers of Eurasia and the nations of the Periphery, led by the United States.Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Reseach Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) specializing in geopolitics and strategic issues.

[1] Indrani Bagchi, India-Japan strategic talks begin, The Times of India, March 23, 2007.
[2] India to lay keel of new aircraft carrier on Saturday, Russian News and Information Agency (RIA Novosti), February 26, 2009.
[3] Pallavi Aiyar, India to conduct naval exercises with China, The Hindu, April 12, 2007.
[4] Rajat Pandit, Going ballistic: India looks to joing elite missile club, The Times of India, May 13, 2008.
[5] China’s new naval base triggers US concerns, Agence France-Presse (AFP), May 12, 2008.[6] Rahul Singh, Indian Army fears China attack by 2017, The Hindustan Times, March 26, 2008.
[7] Commonwealth of Australia, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, 2009.
[8] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Military Alliance: Encircling Russia and China, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), May 10, 2007.
[9] India launches Israeli satellite in boost to space business, Agence France-Presse, January 20, 2008.
[10] Yossi Melman, Satellite launch bolsters ability to spy on Tehran, Haaretz, January 21, 2008.
[11] Yaakov Katz, Iran delayed satellite launch, The Jerusalem Post, January 22, 2008.
[12] Israeli Satellite Launch: Harmful Course, People’s Democracy, vol. 32, no. 6, February 10, 2008.
[13] Sandeep Dikshit, Tata-Israel Aerospace Industries ink memorandum of understanding, The Hindu, February 18, 2008.
[14] Johan Nylander, Israel drops Indian venture under ‘US pressure,’ Agence France-Presse (AFP), July 6, 2009.
[15] Aaron S. Klieman, Israel and the World After 40 Years (Washington:Pergamon-Brassey’s International Defense Publishers, 1990), p.92, pp.168–9, p.236.
[16] Infra. n.23.
[17] Sudha Ramachandran, India makes a soft landing in Tajikistan, Asia Times, March 3, 2007.[18] Jane Macartney, China accuses US naval ship of illegal surveying, The Times (U.K.), March 10, 2009; Chris Buckley, China says U.S. naval ship broke the law, Reuters, March 10, 2009.[19] Atul Aneja, Iran, China will begin counter-piracy patrols, The Hindu, December 22, 2008; Russia, China conduct anti-piracy exercises in the Gulf of Aden, Russian News and Information Agency (RIA Novosti), September 18, 2009.
[20] Klieman, Israel and thr World, Op. cit.
[21] Amelia Gentleman, France and India agree on atom deal, The New York Times, February 20, 2006; India-France nuclear accord provides opening for Areva, The New York Times, September 30, 2008.
[22] Kosovo legal issues being studied: Brazil, India, Agence France-Presse (AFP), February 19, 2008; World split on Kosovo issue, Agence France-Presse (AFP), February 19, 2008.
[23] Sanatana Dharma or Vedic Dharma (Vedicism) is the proper name for Hinduism. The terms Hindu and Hinduism are misnomers, just as Mohammedan and Mohammedanism are misnomers for Muslims and Islam. The term Hindu is originally a geographic definition used by the ancient Iranians to label all the peoples living in the lands of the Indus Valley or east of the Indus River regardless of religious affinity or faith. The term Hindu was later adopted by the Arabs who conquered Sassanid Iran and then expanded towards the the Indian sub-continent. As the Altaic peoples, such as Mongolian and Turkic-speaking tribes, migrated westward in Eurasia they also adopted the term through interaction with both the Iranians and the Arabs. At this time in history and up to the rule of the Mugal Dynasty in India the term Hindu started gaining popular and recurrent usage, but was still used as an ethnographic term and not a religious identification label. The Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Vidicists of India were all called Hindus. It was during the colonial era that the British, who ruled India, coined the English-language term/word Hinduism and assigned the already existing and ancient Iranian term/word Hindu in 1830 to describe and designate the faiths and peoples of India belonging to Vedicism. Hindus are in reality all the people of India. The term Hindi, also used to label Indians and one of the main Indic languages, comes from Hindustani which also reflects the geographic nature and origins of the term Hindu; Hindustan means land of India and Hindustani people of India.

“Clash of Civilizations” in Eurasia!


On October 12 the United States and India launched an eighteen-day military exercise codenamed Yudh Abhyas (war study) in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Described as "one of their largest-ever ground combat joint exercises," [1], the war games "involve the Indian Army Motorized Infantry Battalion and the 2nd Squadron of 14 CAV of 25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, comprising some 320 U.S. servicemen." [2]

The deployment of Stryker armored combat vehicles for the drills marks the first time they have been used overseas since being introduced in Iraq in 2003 and sent to Afghanistan earlier this year. A week before the exercise began the Pentagon reported that "The Army plans to deploy 17 of its Stryker combat vehicles this month to India for the first exercise of its kind in the country."This is also the largest deployment of the Strykers outside of those sent to Iraq and Afghanistan." [3]

Far from being an isolated case, the joint U.S-Indian operation is emblematic of unprecedented military cooperation between the two nuclear nations over the past few years, in fact a strategic military partnership whose major purposes are to supplant Russia as India's decades-long main defense ally and arms supplier and to consolidate a U.S.-led military bloc in the Asia Pacific region aimed at containing China and furthering the encirclement of both that nation and Russia.

A U.S. Defense Department release on the currently ongoing exercise in question mentioned that "more than two years in the planning, [it] comes as the Defense Department continues to reach out to India to increase its military collaboration. Pacific Command's top officer, Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, last month traveled to India and said officials there have committed to increasing their military relationship with the United States." [4]

While the drills immediately address more modest goals - ostensibly practicing counterinsurgency and anti-terrorist techniques - "Hundreds of soldiers using heavy transport aircraft and battle tanks are participating in the biggest-ever war games between the two countries which were on the opposing side of the Cold War but now seek to build strategic and military ties."With an ally in India, Washington also seeks to keep an eye on the Chinese army's growing military mobility and strength in the area." [5]

In addition, an Indian press source reported that "Mid-way through Yudh Abhyas, yet another exercise named Cope India-09 between the air forces of the two countries will begin at Agra Oct 19." [6]

The Times of India reported on September 24 that an annual Chinese-Indian military exercise held each December since 2007 "as a major confidence-building measure between them" has been cancelled for 2009. How far the displacement of Russia as India's major military ally has progressed against the backdrop of the Pentagon's plans for an Asia Pacific analogue of NATO was detailed by the Voice of America recently:

"For decades, India mostly depended on, first, the Soviet Union and then Russia for its military supplies. But as the Cold War ended and India's relations with the United States began improving during Bill Clinton's presidency, New Delhi gradually increased its military cooperation with Washington....Today, besides holding joint military exercises with the U.S. military, India has also been buying U.S. armaments worth billions of dollars."The same article quoted the Indian ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar:"Our militaries once unfamiliar with each other now hold regular dialog and joint exercises in the air and on land and sea....Our defense trade was negligible a decade ago. We placed orders worth $3.5 billion last year and it could grow even more in the future." [7]

Heightened full spectrum - ground, air and sea - military collaboration between the U.S. and India is in part related to the escalation of America's and NATO's war in South Asia: Afghanistan and Pakistan, India's neighbor.On October 13 the Washington Post revealed that the White House will send 13,000 support troops to join the additional 21,000 combat forces already and soon to be deployed this year and the BBC announced the following day that "the Obama administration had already told the UK government it would soon announce a substantial increase to its military forces in Afghanistan," to be formally confirmed next week at a meeting of NATO defense chiefs in the capital of Slovakia. [8]

On the 15th the NATO regional commander in southern Afghanistan, Major General Mart de Kruif, said of Helmand province and adjacent areas that "we need at least two additional brigades of coalition forces, somewhere between 10,000 or 15,000 troops." [9]

NATO's Military Committee, the senior military authority in the Alliance, just completed a tour of inspection to Afghanistan. "In attendance were Military Representatives from all 28 NATO member states as well as Military Representatives from the 14 non-NATO nations who also contribute forces to ISAF." [10]

India has been assigned a role to play in the "stabilization" of the subcontinent as Afghanistan and Pakistan alike have been plunged into war and chaos since the U.S. and NATO invaded the first nation on October 7, 2001.But the New Delhi-Washington axis is fraught with even grander designs and potentially catastrophic dangers.With the North Atlantic Treaty Organization expanding into Eastern Europe - practically all of Eastern Europe - over the last ten years and its upgrading of military contacts and deployments through various partnership agreements (Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, Contact Countries, Trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-NATO Military Commission), the world's only military alliance spans five continents, the Middle East and the South Pacific, effectively taking over other former Cold War military blocs like the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS) and thus constituting history's first international military alliance.

The four nations identified by NATO as Contact Countries - Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea - are all in the Asia Pacific area and in varying degrees all have contributed troops and naval support to the U.S.-NATO war in Afghanistan.Initiatives like the U.S.-instituted Proliferation Security Initiative [11] naval surveillance and interdiction operation, begun in and still primarily focused on Asia, and the global missile shield program [12] both integrate major NATO member states and candidates for an emerging Asian NATO.

India as a nuclear power and the world's second most populous nation, one bordering China and with historical strategic ties with Russia, is pivotal in Western designs to establish worldwide military superiority so that, in the words of an Indian analyst several years ago, the U.S. can complete its vision for dominance over every sector of the globe with this stratagem:

To have closer state-to-state relations with every nation in the world than all other nations have with any other nation, even neighboring states.Just as in 1978 former rivals Egypt and Israel were reconciled unilaterally by the U.S., which is nowhere near the Middle East, so now any two countries in the world in a conflict situation - from South Asia to the Caucasus, from Africa to the Balkans - must go through Washington and Brussels to resolve their differences.

That role, like so many others, has devolved from the United Nations to the United States and NATO.U.S. and general Western military strategy in Asia is not limited to India, however preeminent a role that country has in the West's plans. Australia, which earlier this year released a Defence White Paper [13] announcing its largest-ever arms buildup and plans to arrogate to itself the role of a regional military power, is "pushing to rebuild its defence ties with India, risking the potential ire of China by formally requesting Australia be allowed to participate in the annual India-US joint naval exercise Malabar." [14]

The Malabar naval war games are an integral component of U.S. plans to integrate India into its Asian and global military nexus. An Indian news sources reported the following in relation to this year's exercise:"The exercise in the Malabar series will take place [April 2009] off the Japanese coast in which Indian warships will carry out training manoeuvres in naval warfare alongside US Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force warships."The Malabar exercise, which began as a bilateral exercise in 1992 with the Americans, has in recent years taken on a multi-national character with greater participation from US allies and has made China sit up and take note.

"The last Malabar trilateral exercise involving India, the US and Japan was held in early 2007 off the Japanese coast. In the later part of that year, India joined the multilateral 25-warship Malabar exercise involving the navies of Singapore and Australia too, apart from US and Japan in the Bay of Bengal." [15] Australia's intention to participate in the next Malabar drills - "an exercise obviously intended by the US to be a foil to China's strategic military might" - also comes "in the wake of the [Prime Minister Kevin] Rudd government's controversial defence white paper, which called for a build-up of naval capacity and appeared to suggest Australian defence strategy in coming decades would be shaped by China's military expansion." [16]

While visiting the nation recently Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith "invited India to participate in multilateral Australian Defence Force-hosted exercises Kakadu and Pitch Black." [17]India borders China as do several other countries where the U.S. and its NATO allies have stationed troops and where they regularly conduct or will conduct military exercises, Afghanistan and Pakistan among them.The Pentagon's Pacific Command has been holding annual joint Khaan Quest military operations in Mongolia, which borders both China and Russia.

In July Mongolia announced that it was providing troops to NATO for the war in Afghanistan, with an American news report stating "the country plans to send troops to Afghanistan, in a cooperation that stems from its 'third neighbor' policy to reach out to allies other than China and Russia," and "Mongolia's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has helped cement its alliance with the United States and secure grants and aid." [18]Last month NATO conducted a twenty-nation disaster response exercise, ZHETYSU 2009, in Kazakhstan, which also abuts China and Russia. French president Nicolas Sarkozy has just secured rights to transit his nation's military forces through the country.

On September 27 the Chinese press reported on a multinational military exercise to be conducted in Cambodia, one nation removed from China, next year:"[M]ore than 2,000 military men are reserved for the first-ever event in the country and they will come from more than 20 countries, of which 1,500 will be from the United States."[D]uring a four-day visit to Washington D.C., Tea Banh, Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense, had met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and discussed security cooperation between the United States and Cambodia." [19]

On October 14 reports surfaced on Taiwan conducting its "largest-ever missile test...launched from a secretive and tightly guarded base in southern Taiwan." The report also said the missiles were "capable of reaching major Chinese cities." [20] With President Ma Ying-jeou observing, "the drill included the test-firing of a top secret, newly developed medium-range surface-to-surface missile with a range of 3,000 kilometres, capable of striking major cities in central, northern and southern China." [21]

The following day's news reported that the Defense Ministry of South Korean "plans to equip the Navy's 7,600-ton-class Aegis vessels, including a King Sejong-class destroyer, with the newest-type American-made SM-6 missiles" and that "to ensure proper use of SM-6 [Extended Range Active] missiles, the South Korean Navy will naturally be linked to the U.S. missile defense system, considering that it will need the assistance of some intelligence reconnaissance devices, including spy satellites and radars, in the U.S. MD [missile defense] system." [22]Each year the Pentagon leads the multinational Cobra Gold war games in Thailand.

This year the armed forces of the host country, the U.S., Japan, Singapore and Indonesia were involved and several other nations "participate[d] in various roles during the exercise": Australia, Brunei, France, Italy, Britain, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, the Peoples Republic of Cambodia, China, Canada, Germany, South Korea, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Mongolia. [23]Excepting China, the above roster is a faithful representation of a NATO-Asian NATO axis in formation.On October 14 the USS Bonhomme Richard amphibious assault ship arrived in East Timor for the latter's "first joint military exercise with the United States" and it was reported that "manoeuvres with 2,500 US troops and Australia forces are to last through October 24." [24]

The American ambassador to the new nation, Hans Klem, said that the exercises would focus on "jungle training, urban training, infantry training [and] beach landings...." [25] The Pentagon's military penetration of Asia and encroachment on China, coordinated at every turn with Washington's NATO allies, is part of an international campaign to achieve military presence in and domination over every longitude and latitude. The European continent has been subsumed almost completely under NATO.America's new Africa Command recently completed a 25-nation military exercise in Gabon and will soon begin multinational maneuvers in Uganda.

The war in Afghanistan has recently provided the U.S. and NATO new basing and military transit rights in the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. "The United States has secured 'lethal transit' deals with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan....Both the Kyrgyz Ministry of Defense and the US Embassy in Bishkek confirmed earlier that the Manas Transit Center is facilitating the shipment of military freight going to Afghanistan....[T]he transit of supplies into Afghanistan via Turkmenistan 'is possible'...." [26]Of the three nations in the South Caucasus, Georgia and Azerbaijan are veritable Pentagon and NATO military outposts on Russia's borders and Armenia just announced it might send troops to Afghanistan to serve under NATO command.

Washington has recently secured the use of seven new military bases in Colombia and has announced similar plans for two naval facilities in Panama two years after reactivating U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command.Even uninhabited areas of the world (and their energy and other resources) are not beyond the Pentagon's and NATO's purview.On October 9 the top military commander of U.S. European Command and NATO, Admiral James Stavridis, "warn[ed] of conflict with Russia in [the] Arctic Circle" as The Times of London phrased it.

Last week an Indian writer offered this concise perspective:"The arc of encirclement of Russia gets strengthened. NATO ties facilitate the deployment of the US missile defence system in Georgia. The US aims to have a chain of countries tied to 'partnerships' with NATO brought into its missile defence system - stretching from its allies in the Baltic to those in Central Europe. The ultimate objective of this is to neutralise the strategic capability of Russia and China and to establish its nuclear superiority.

The National Defense Strategy document, issued by the Pentagon on July 31, 2008, portrays Washington's perception of a resurgent Russia and a rising China as potential adversaries." [27]The analyst doesn't exaggerate.In February 2008 a Reuters report said that, "The United States is worried that Russia, China and OPEC oil-producing countries could use their growing financial clout to advance political goals, the top U.S. spy chief told Congress...."National Director of Intelligence Michael McConnell told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had "concerns about the financial capabilities of Russia, China and OPEC countries."

His concerns, however, suggested military rather than economic and trade matters. A summary of his testimony had little to say of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and much about Russia and China."Russia, bolstered in part by oil revenues, was positioning itself to control an energy supply and transportation network from Europe to East Asia, and the Russian military had begun to reverse a long decline....China has pursued a policy of global engagement out of a desire to expand its growing economy and obtain access markets, resources, technology and expertise." [28]

Shortly afterward Russia "demanded an explanation from America over a report by the director of American national intelligence in which Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and al-Qaida are described as sources of strategic threats to the U.S, ITAR-TASS has been told by a source close to the Kremlin." [29]That is, Russia and China had effectively been added to the infamous "axis of evil" targeted by former president George W. Bush in January of 2002.

Though Bush's departure from the White House and his successor's arrival there haven't changed anything, except if anything to makes matters progressively worse.An Associated Press story of May 1, 2009 mentioned that "The Obama administration is working to improve deteriorating U.S. relations with a number of Latin American nations to counter growing Iranian, Chinese and Russian influence in the Western Hemisphere, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said....[30]In the latest quadrennial National Intelligence Strategy report last month, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair claimed "Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea pose the greatest challenges to the United States' national interests." [31]

China and Russia have replaced subjugated Iraq in the ranks of remaining "axis of evil" members Iran and North Korea.Blair's report asserted that Russia "may continue to seek avenues for reasserting power and influence in ways that complicate U.S. interests." A paraphrase of the document said of "China, which trades regularly with the United States and owns billions of its national debt," that "Beijing competes for the same resources the United States needs, and is in the process of rapidly modernizing its military." [32]

In 2006 an article appeared in Foreign Affairs, the magazine of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, called "The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy," coauthored by Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, which explored in the frankest manner how the U.S. could deal with its Chinese and Russian "challengers."As the piece's title indicates, the focus is on nuclear weapons and America's superiority in regards to them.Its basic contention is summarized in this paragraph:"For four decades, relations among the major nuclear powers have been shaped by their common vulnerability, a condition known as mutual assured destruction.

But with the U.S. arsenal growing rapidly while Russia's decays and China's stays small, the era of MAD is ending - and the era of U.S. nuclear primacy has begun." [33]That appraisal inevitably led to the conclusion that "It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike."The authors examine with coldblooded detachment comparative advancements in each of the U.S.'s triad of nuclear weapons delivery systems - ground-based missile, air and submarine - and how in all three instances Washington could launch crippling first strikes on China and Russia alike.

For example, they state "The U.S. Air Force has finished equipping its B-52 bombers with nuclear-armed cruise missiles, which are probably invisible to Russian and Chinese air-defense radar. And the air force has also enhanced the avionics on its B-2 stealth bombers to permit them to fly at extremely low altitudes in order to avoid even the most sophisticated radar."And they list both nation's vulnerabilities in an almost gleeful manner:"The more Russia's nuclear arsenal shrinks, the easier it will become for the United States to carry out a first strike."The real U.S. war plan may call for first targeting Russia's command and control, sabotaging Russia's radar stations, or taking other preemptive measures - all of which would make the actual U.S. force far more lethal than our model assumes."

According to our model, such a simplified surprise attack would have a good chance of destroying every Russian bomber base, submarine, and ICBM. "China's nuclear arsenal is even more vulnerable to a U.S. attack. A U.S. first strike could succeed whether it was launched as a surprise or in the midst of a crisis during a Chinese alert. China has a limited strategic nuclear arsenal."According to unclassified U.S. government assessments, China's entire intercontinental nuclear arsenal consists of 18 stationary single-warhead ICBMs."

To confirm that their study is indicative of not only their own conviction, the authors add that "The improvements to the U.S. nuclear arsenal offer evidence that the United States is actively seeking primacy...The current and future U.S. nuclear force, in other words, seems designed to carry out a preemptive disarming strike against Russia or China."The intentional pursuit of nuclear primacy is, moreover, entirely consistent with the United States' declared policy of expanding its global dominance."In view of what has developed in the interim since its publication, the article provides the unadorned truth about so-called missile defense in stating "the sort of missile defenses that the United States might plausibly deploy would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one - as an adjunct to a U.S. first-strike capability, not as a standalone shield.

If the United States launched a nuclear attack against Russia (or China), the targeted country would be left with a tiny surviving arsenal - if any at all. "At that point, even a relatively modest or inefficient missile-defense system might well be enough to protect against any retaliatory strikes, because the devastated enemy would have so few warheads and decoys left."The piece ends in acknowledging that with the demise of the Warsaw Pact and any pretense that American and NATO nuclear weapons would be needed against a superior conventional military attack and no further intent, as with Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, to compel adversaries to spend themselves into bankruptcy on a strategic arms race, "Washington's continued refusal to eschew a first strike and the country's development of a limited missile-defense capability take on a new, and possibly more menacing, look.

The most logical conclusions to make are that a nuclear-war-fighting capability remains a key component of the United States' military doctrine and that nuclear primacy remains a goal of the United States."As much as words like competition and challenges may factor in the speeches of U.S. and other Western politicians when relating to domestic matters, the White House and the Pentagon will tolerate no serious competition and allow no challengers in their drive for global military, political and economic domination.When all else fails, and even before, Washington's ultima ratio consists of its nuclear arsenal and delivery systems.

Notes1) Indo-Asian News Agency, October 12, 2009
2) Russian Information Agency Novosti, October 12, 2009
3) U.S. Department of Defense, American Forces Press Service, October 6, 2009
4) Ibid
5) Reuters, October 12, 2009
6) Indo-Asian News Agency, October 12, 2009
7) Voice of America, October 8, 2009
8) BBC News, October 14, 2009
9) Agence France-Presse, October 15, 2009
10) NATO, October 15, 2009
11) Proliferation Security Initiative And U.S. 1,000-Ship Navy: Control Of World’s Oceans, Prelude To War Stop NATO, January 29, 2009
12) U.S. Accelerates First Strike Global Missile Shield System, Stop NATO, August 19, 2009 Global Military Bloc: NATO’s Drive Into Asia Stop NATO, January 24, 2009
13) Australian Military Buildup And The Rise Of Asian NATO, Stop NATO, May 6, 2009
14) The Australian, October 15, 2009
15) Outlook India, April 10, 2009
16) The Australian, October 15, 2009
17) Ibid
18) Reuters, July 22, 2009
19) Xinhua News Agency, September 27, 2009
20) Radio Taiwan International, October 14, 2009
21) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, October 14, 2009
22) Chosun Ilbo, October 15, 2009
23) Embassy of the United States of America Bangkok, January 13, 2009
24) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, October 14, 2009
25) Ibid
26) EurasiaNet/Eurasia Insight, October 13, 2009
27) Younes Bhat, Crisis from the Balkans to Caucasus: Munich Speech to Reset Button Mainstream Weekly, October 11, 2009
28) Reuters, February 5, 2008
29) Voice of Russia, February 8, 2008
30) Associated Press, May 1, 2009
31) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 16, 2009
32) Ibid
33) The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy, Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006-