Thursday 20 December 2007

Racism in the Era of Globalization (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Throughout the European Union, and increasingly in the United States and Australia, immigration is being directed on racial grounds, with preference given to immigrants of European origin. This is despite the reality that an immigrant from Chennai or Hyderabad in India is far more likely to add immediate economic value to a society than migrants from Tirana, Bucharest or Sofia, to take just three examples.

Even Britain, till now a haven of race-neutral policies, has lately introduced measures directed against citizens of countries other than those with European-origin majorities. Clearly, to many Western policymakers, "globalization" is a one-way street, confined to improving Western access to other locations but hostile to a reverse flow. The blocking of a Dubai-based company from acquiring a port in the United States -- even though that city is largely run by executives from Western countries -- is just one of numerous examples of the phobic reaction to efforts by outside corporations to buy into Western companies.

Astonishingly, even the corporate sector has not freed itself of biases dragged over from an age in which European countries administered most of the world. Today, both India and China are witnessing growth rates that could in a generation recreate the period when India and China accounted for over half the world's output, an age that vanished only in the early 1880s. Especially since the 17th century, what has driven Western prosperity is the unprecedented expansion of knowledge within those societies, which even today account for nine out of ten scientific patents worldwide (a small but increasing proportion of which are being contributed by researchers of Asian origin).

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Will the USS Kitty Hawk cement U.S.-India military ties? (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Thanks largely to India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who shared with his leftwing British friends a dislike of the Yanks, the geopolitically senseless alienation between the United States and India continued for five decades after India's independence in 1947.

What seems finally to have convinced the British to leave India was the seepage of loyalty from the Indian component of the armed forces. More than 2 million Indians saw action on the Allied side during World War II. Yet during the war, their loyalty to the Crown was tested by the discriminatory treatment meted out to Indians in the services. British personnel dominated the higher reaches of the military and were given perquisites and privileges far beyond those enjoyed by Indians.

Several thousands of soldiers joined the pro-Axis Indian National Army during the war. Within the ranks of those who remained on the Allied side, there was visible sympathy for those Indian officers and men who switched sides and refused to fight for the British monarchy that denied them the privileges enjoyed by soldiers from the Australian, New Zealand, U.S. and Canadian complements. The possibility of widespread revolts within the armed forces concentrated minds in London and speeded up the withdrawal from India.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

U.S. Tilt Cools India-Iran Ties (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat 

Tehran, Iran — While Sonia Gandhi prefers the European Union, Manmohan Singh's favorite country is the United States. Both as India's finance minister from 1992-96 and from 2004 onwards as prime minister, Singh has been open in his belief that a Washington-set agenda is in his country's best interest.

Sadly for him, few share this view, with the result that his efforts at implementing the Bush team's prescriptions for India have stalled on opposition within Parliament, even though Sonia Gandhi has managed thus far to silence dissent within Singh's own Congress Party, and has backed the prime minister in his U.S.-centered policies.

Largely as a result of the perception that he is following Tony Blair in the role of White House poodle, several countries otherwise friendly to India have distanced themselves from the Sonia-led regime now precariously in office. Russia made Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee undergo the indignity of a body search at Moscow airport recently, while Vladimir Putin declined to find the time to meet with visiting Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony.

Moscow's mood has not been improved by Manmohan Singh's second rebuff of Russia's efforts to sign a nuclear deal with India that would enable the country to import four more nuclear reactors from Moscow. The move would cut into the potential profits being factored in by U.S. corporations eager to enter the Indian nuclear energy sector on advantageous terms.

Thursday 8 November 2007

Punjabis Re-Assert Supremacy in Pakistan (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Since the 1980s, about six years after Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq took control from Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, the Pakistan army has been less a symbol of national unity than an instrument to ensure the supremacy of the Punjabi element in all reaches of Pakistan society.

Today, the army is replicating in the northwestern frontier what has always been the case in Baluchistan and Sindh -- frank control over local government through the use of bullets. Although the Pashtun and Baloch elements have been allowed some representation within the officer corps, ultimately it is the Punjabi element that decides policy.

Since2003, when they turned against Pervez Musharraf because of the Pakistan coup master's proclivity to cling to his post as Chief of Army Staff, the Punjabi element has moved closer to China, countering moves by Musharraf to align his country firmly with the United States in the ongoing War on Terror. From 2003 onwards, under cover of the need to confront Indian control in Kashmir, they have continued to give assistance to the jihadis. They have blocked U.S. moves to get the Pakistan army to mount an effective defense against the Taliban sheltering in almost every city in Pakistan, including Islamabad, where a cluster has set up base about five miles from the U.S. Embassy complex.

Thursday 1 November 2007

Treating India like Dirt (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

MANIPAL, India — U.S. diplomats have lorded it over the world's "Untermenschen," or inferior people, for so long that the latter have come to regard even the more obvious and offensive forms of condescension and patronizing behavior as a compliment.

Ever since the United States was informed on Oct. 21 by India that domestic political difficulties were hampering the implementation of the George Bush-Manmohan Singh nuclear deal, a battalion of U.S. officials and wannabe officials have been lecturing India almost daily on what they consider to be the core attributes of a "responsible" and "mature" power -- which is to fulfill the wishes of the United States in every detail. Any deviation from this would be evidence of an inability to be ranked worthy of the support of the "Big Boys" -- presumably Blairite Britain, Sarkozhian France and Merkellian Germany, who amble behind the United States on key issues.

After being informed a week ago that the next steps in finalizing the nuclear deal were negotiating a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group on transfer of civilian technology, France was the first of the Big Boys to kick in, warning that any agreement with it was conditional on the Bush-Singh agreement being signed first.

Next followed Germany, repeating its insistence that India sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons power before Berlin would agree to join the bandwagon. Unusually -- and wisely -- Britain has kept silent, unlike the United States, which has been issuing a stream of statements, warning that placing the deal in cold storage would severely impact relations with Washington.

Monday 8 October 2007

hy India is silent on Myanmar (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Over the past weeks, there has been a rising drumbeat of criticism from both sides of the Atlantic about the generals in Myanmar. After considerable behind-the-scenes U.S.-EU pressure, there have been bleats from the two biggest neighbors of that country, India and China, about the need for the generals to rein themselves in. However, neither they nor ASEAN is likely to adopt the U.S.-EU policy of isolation and sanctions.

While China and ASEAN each have their own special reasons for restraint, they also share several in common with India, including the belief that the Gordon Brown style of moral declamation has more than a trace of hypocrisy in it.

For starters, Myanmar is hardly the only military dictatorship in the vicinity. Both Bangladesh and Pakistan are ruled by generals who have assumed total power through coups against elected governments. Why the people of Myanmar alone should have freedom from military rule and not those of Pakistan and Bangladesh remains a mystery.

Few would fault the oft-expressed wish of Western capitals that the people of Myanmar should be given the government of their choice. Yet why such a preference is not made with equal emphasis -- or indeed any visible emphasis -- in the case of, for example, the 1.3 billion people of China or the Myanmar-sized population of Saudi Arabia, remains obscure, except to foreign policy experts in the NATO capitals.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Once again his foes help Ahmedinejad (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has this in common with U.S. President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair: he too speaks directly to God. Admirers consider him to be the pilot heralding the imminent return of the Mahdi, the expected Muslim Messiah.

Less undiscerning observers consider the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran to be a buffoon, without any substantive authority inside his own country -- where the key members of the government report directly to Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Khamenei -- and with a diminishing support base within his own people, caused by the extreme economic mismanagement of the mullahs.

A country that ought to have enjoyed a prosperous standard of living for its 78 million people has huge pools of extreme poverty, caused by a dysfunctional system reminiscent of India during the three decades from 1955-85 of comprehensive central planning. What passes for private industry in Iran is a collection of enterprises run like feudal fiefs by those close to the supreme leader, or regarded by him as potential troublemakers needing to be pampered out of opposition.

Ahmedinejad himself came to power Iran-style, where the counted ballots threw up -- not entirely coincidentally -- the very result favored by Khamenei, who saw the current Iranian president as a poodle who would not stray from total obedience the way Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani did during his term. Unfortunately for the wily supreme leader, Ahmedinejad began to get delusions of divine greatness within a year, even while proving inept in supervising the system in a manner that would give the people of Iran enough crumbs to remain quiescent.

Monday 24 September 2007

President Hu Shows Who's Boss (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Four years before Chinese President Hu Jintao took over as both head of state and, more importantly in China, head of the Communist Party, this observer of his country had deduced that he was on a steady ascent to full power. Even in 1998 it was clear that the mild-mannered, ever-courteous lifelong Party member was a deadly player on the chessboard of power.

Over the preceding years he had avoided much entanglement with the reigning hierarchies in the only parts of China that President Jiang Zemin was interested in, the high-growth centers along the coast and Beijing. Instead, he used the anti-corruption machinery of the state and Party to prise away those who were less than completely loyal to Deng Xiaoping's personal choice to replace Jiang in 2002.

Barring a handful of provinces, by 1999 Hu had put into position individuals that he could relate to and that were far removed from the glitzy and immensely wealthy Jiang cohort. Over the next couple of years, he interacted extensively with senior military and civilian cadres, almost always leaving the impression of a thoughtful individual whose objective was to ensure the continuation of China's ascent begun under Mao and Deng.

Monday 3 September 2007

Unloosing the Shiite Genie (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat 
Manipal, India — If protecting the homeland is among the primary responsibilities of a government, attempting to change the distribution of power within another country may not always be congruent with such an objective.
Given the state of conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1982, there was a compelling case for the Israel Defense Forces to enter Lebanon and take out Palestinian assets that were being deployed against the stability and survival of the state of Israel. However, there was none for attempting to bolster the position of the Maronite Christians vis-à-vis their Shiite opponents. In particular, the leading Maronite Gemayel family was known for the use of methods that could have been developed in a concentration camp.
Since 1982, the flow of covert and other support to the Gemayels from Israel grew to a level that infuriated the Shiites as well as the family's many Maronite critics. By 1987, an isolated -- indeed hated -- PLO was able to secure the backing of key elements among the Shiite factions in Lebanon, despite being overwhelmingly Sunni.

From that time to the present, Israel has enjoyed the distinction of being the only non-Muslim country targeted by militant Shiites -- a group far more virulent and effective, albeit as yet limited in strength and scope, than even Wahabbi extremists such as members of al-Qaida. Over the past two decades, Israel has concentrated its attention and resources on tackling a foe that went into action as a result of its own intervention policy in Lebanon.

Sunday 2 September 2007

Pakistan Army Versus the State (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — In 1971, following the Indian army's defeat of Pakistan in Bangladesh and the capture of 93,000 prisoners of war, an opportunity was given to the Pakistani politicians to roll back the army's control over civilian life by curbing its powers and making it a professional force. President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto squandered that chance by his cupidity and hunger for absolute power.

Bhutto, who like Pakistan's founder M.A. Jinnah was an alcohol-loving, pork-eating ersatz Muslim, pandered to the religious extremists by imposing the will of the "ulema," or religious establishment, over not only the rest of the "ummah," or Muslims, but of all Pakistani society. During his six years in power, Bhutto crushed modern private industry through extensive nationalization and converted the Pakistan Peoples' Party into a family enterprise, a character the PPP retains to this day.

After Bhutto's hand-picked army chief, Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, took over power and hanged Bhutto in 1977 for one of the numerous murders of his enemies during the previous six years, he completed the jihadisation of the Pakistan army that had begun in 1948 with the extensive intermingling of troops and religious fanatics during the 1947-1949 Kashmir war.

Zia sensibly secured the patronage of the al-Sauds by training the Saudi Arabian army and providing Pakistani guards to secure the safety of the Saudi ruling house during the tumultuous days in 1979 when Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took over power in Iran. The al-Sauds have ever since been faithful to the ancient Bedouin custom of gratitude to those that help in times of adversity, giving the Pakistan army massive financial and other backing.

Monday 13 August 2007

Will Musharraf survive? (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Although it would be a tad unfair to compare him to a confidence trickster, Pakistan's army-appointed President Pervez Musharraf has survived by convincing a series of patrons to back him, only to let them down later.

After the dour but straightforward Jehangir Karamat was sacked as the army's chief of staff by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for publicly asserting that the military had the decisive say in matters of national security, Musharraf' convinced Sharif that he would be a pliant replacement for the sacked general. This was an important consideration at a time when both Sharif and his brother Shahbaz were reported to be examining the military's links to the immensely lucrative narcotics trade.

For decades, ever since the Afghan jihad began in 1980, opium and its derivatives have been leveraged by elements in uniform in Pakistan to generate cash, not just to send their children abroad to study, but also to fund such "black" operations as the jihad against Indian rule in Kashmir. Politicians in Pakistan, not known for abstemious behavior, watched with envy the flow of profits from the illegal trade -- the primary reason the military wanted to retain control of Afghanistan through the Taliban -- and looked for an opportunity to muscle in.

With the assumption of office by the "spineless" Musharraf, that moment appeared to have arrived. It vanished in a cloud of dust, however, when U.S.-supplied tanks buttressed a coup in 1999 that once again put the military in the driver's seat. Less than a year later, the four army generals who had launched the coup that placed Musharraf in power were themselves edged out by a "chief executive" (later president) of Pakistan eager to show who was boss.

Since then, Musharraf has placed no fewer than 37 presumed loyalists into top command positions within the military. He has given their men -- being a Wahabbi state, the women of Pakistan are not considered good enough to command -- hundreds of well-paying (in both salary and bribes) jobs in the Pakistan state sector.

Thursday 2 August 2007

Why India Rejected the Nuclear Deal (UPIASIA)

Manipal, India — If we take away the near-automatic, and usually fallacious, identification of a country with its government, and use the views within an elected Parliament as a better guide to opinion, then there is a majority against the George W. Bush-Manmohan Singh nuclear deal that crosses 70 percent.

Regrettably for India's ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi gave up her struggles with formal education very early, and since her marriage to a scion of the Nehrus has lived a life as cocooned as any royalty. She chose as prime minister an individual as unschooled in the actual rough-and-tumble of politics as herself. Manmohan Singh was pitchforked into politics by former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in 1992, and after a disastrous showing in the "safe" and urbanized New Delhi constituency in 1996, has refused to enter an electoral contest.

Small wonder that both misread the chemistry of the country and went ahead with a nuclear deal that does India the "favor" of being accepted as low caste rather than an outcaste, as the country has been treated under the leadership of the United States, China and the European Union since its first nuclear test in 1974. "Low caste" in the context of the nuclear sector can be held to refer to countries that have been given the privilege of supervised and limited access to nuclear technology, a category that includes most countries in the world.

Monday 23 July 2007

The Arranged Marriage Between India and the United States (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Unlike in the West, where couples meet, mate and then decide on marriage, in India it is parents, family and friends that substitute for Cupid. Not accidentally, few such pairings are driven by romantic considerations. Instead, an assessment is made of how the two families can benefit from the match, rather than simply the individuals on whose behalf a decision on pairing is being taken.

Unsurprisingly, the choice of Mom, Dad, Uncle and Family Friend is seldom that which either the groom or the bride would have selected, had they the right to do so. Interestingly, most such marriages work, usually much better than in societies where personal choice is given precedence over family needs.

Over the past five years the United States and Indian militaries have been discovering each other, much like a couple brought together under family pressure. Fresh from their interaction with counterparts in Pakistan -- whose military goes ape at the prospect of a U.S.-India alliance -- and loaded with tales originating from the time of the Indian-phobic Winston Churchill about the " unreliable" Indians, those within the U.S. military that began dealing with the Indian army, navy and air force came prepared to dislike their new contacts.

If the Americans were distant, the Indians were paranoid, and several promising careers within the three services were blighted on the charge of "fraternization" with a U.S. officer, usually female. Not merely more private actions, but even an exchange of "inappropriate" emails was cause for retribution. Only very recently has the Indian establishment come to accept that a consensual relationship between two adults, each of whom may wear the uniform of what is today an allied country, need not be treated as a security disaster.

Tuesday 26 June 2007

Nepal Needs Free Elections (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat 

MANIPAL, India, June 26 (UPI) -- A year ago, when the government of India invited all major political groups in Nepal to a conference in New Delhi, a sympathetic New Delhi forced through an alliance of eight parties that would take over effective power from King Gyanendra, seen widely as leaning too close to China.
By then, the king had destroyed what little support he had within India's ruling United Progressive Alliance government by sponsoring a resolution at the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Dacca calling for China's entry into SAARC as an "observer." Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka backed the move enthusiastically.
Had the previous National Democratic Alliance regime not lost power in the 2004 general elections, India at this stage would have exercised a quiet veto, thus returning the suggestion to cold storage. However, the Congress-led UPA depends for its parliamentary majority on the Communist parties and hence could not oppose a move backed by the majority of SAARC countries.
After the summit, however, steps were taken to neuter the king of Nepal's powers by installing a supposed democracy in place of the Gyanendra-led autocracy. Yet reality was that the very Nepali Parliament that had been dissolved by the king in 2002 was brought back to life, in the opinion of constitutional experts, illegally. The members of this "elected" Legislature last faced an election in 1999.

Monday 25 June 2007

Only Free Elections Can Save Nepal (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — A year ago, when the government of India invited all major political formations in Nepal to an "offer you can't refuse" conference in New Delhi, a sympathetic New Delhi forced through a "democratic" alliance of eight parties that would take over effective power from King Gyanendra, widely regarded as leaning too close to China.

A short while back, the king had destroyed what little support he had within India's ruling United Progressive Alliance government by sponsoring a resolution at the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation summit in Dacca, calling for China's entry into SAARC as an "observer." Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka backed the move enthusiastically.

Had the previous National Democratic Alliance regime not lost power in the 2004 general elections, India at this stage would have exercised a quiet veto, thus returning the suggestion to cold storage. However, the Congress-led UPA depends for its parliamentary majority on the communist parties, and hence could not oppose a move backed by the majority of SAARC countries.

After the summit, however, immediate steps were taken to neuter the king of Nepal's powers by installing a "democratic" government in place of the Gyanendra-led "autocracy." Such was the headline. The reality was that the very Nepali Parliament that had been dissolved by the king in 2002 was brought back to life, in the opinion of constitutional experts, illegally. The members of this "elected" legislature last faced an election in 1999.

Once revived, the Parliament expanded its strength by a third, nominating the additional members mostly from the ranks of the Maoists. It had been this armed group that had stymied repeated efforts to hold elections since former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba dissolved Parliament in 2002 to head off certain defeat in a no-confidence motion brought against him. Since then, Nepal had seen a succession of nominated prime ministers, each chosen by King Gyandendra after the previous incumbent finally admitted defeat in his efforts at holding elections in a country where the Maoists killed any candidate not sympathetic to them.

Monday 18 June 2007

The United States should be Quadricultural, not Unipolar (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — By granting itself a patent on individual freedom combined with democratic elections, the West has persuaded itself that it is seen as a benign entity in the rest of the world -- almost all of which decades ago was occupied and governed by European countries intent on using native resources to promote their own interests.

However, the return of Western soldiery to Afghanistan and Iraq has caused formerly colonized countries to fear that once again they are at risk of occupation. Both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki have zero control over the militaries swarming across their respective countries, or over many of the functions normally associated with sovereignty. "Advisors" in both Kabul and Baghdad have the final say, a fact that is not hidden from the local populations.

Today, NATO forces in Afghanistan and Coalition troops in Iraq are ensuring a steady increase in the insurgency. George W. Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, Angela Merkel and other Western leaders have together performed a miracle -- they have made the Saddamites popular in Iraq and the Taliban recover its resonance in Afghanistan.

Because of the melding of the identities of the United States and the European Union into a single "Western" entity, Bush rarely ventures beyond Europe -- and countries with European-origin majorities -- in securing military allies for his numerous military sallies into distant lands. Within the United States, only the west coast has succeeded, to a limited extent, in freeing itself of the delusion that the United States is a European country transplanted across the Atlantic. The South and East are in thrall to a concept of nationhood with a European identity at its core -- a concept expressed in the many writings of Samuel Huntington.

Monday 28 May 2007

India's 'Caste' in the Global Nuclear Network (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat 

Manipal, India — A millennium ago, when Muslim armies began succeeding in defeating their Hindu rivals, such victories came despite the latter's greater opulence. A contributory factor was caste. Only certain "high-born" groups were permitted to bear arms in defense of the state. Their number did not exceed 9 percent of the total population. Had a more equitable social structure been in place, India's history may have been different.

It was only in the 1960s that democratic elections became the instrument through which the "backward castes" were able to claim equal rights with the rest. Ironically, since that time a new caste system has arisen, again one that denies upward mobility to those condemned to second-class, or worse, status. This is the international nuclear order implemented through the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which permanently restricts the right to possess nuclear weapons to only five countries -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.

Since then, Israel, India, Pakistan and now North Korea have emerged as de facto nuclear weapons states. Of these, Israel has not thus far tested a nuclear weapon, although it has clearly had access to the technology needed to build a stockpile of them. Of the other three, Pakistan and North Korea are both authoritarian states known to have proliferated both nuclear as well as missile technology, and to have secured the know-how for developing both from third countries.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Sonia Gandhi Losing India's Cities (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Although most international commentators spoke of the Congress Paraty's victory in the 2004 Indian elections as the "revolt of the poor," in reality it was the result of defeating their BJP-led rivals in every major city in India bar Bangalore. Rather than a vote against economic reform, it was the slowing down of reforms during the last two years of the BJP-led regime that made the urban middle class -- now 220 million strong -- either abstain or vote against the BJP.

Unfortunately, the present "owner" of the ruling Congress Party, Italian-born Sonia Maino Gandhi, joined the usual pundits in seeing her victory as a vote against reform, and has reined in the economist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has instead concentrated on two fields where he is an obvious novice: foreign policy and national security. His experiments in appeasement have been based on a liberal belief that jihadis are just misled idealists who can, with tenderness, be corrected.

Simultaneously, just as the United States and the European Union are beginning to accept New Delhi's traditional stand that Pakistan under its generals is part of the problem and not a solution, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi have been cozying up to Pervez Musharraf. They have publicly taken at face value his claim that the jihadis in Pakistan operate independently of the army, even though many routinely use military communications equipment and are trained by those in uniform. It is small wonder that the nearly three years of United Progressive Alliance government have witnessed a sharp increase in Maoist insurgency and the revival of the Kashmir jihad. The army has become dispirited by consistent pressure from the Congress-led government to go soft on the jihadis and surrender Kashmir's Siachen heights. Also, India's nuclear scientists were dismayed at the conditions set out under the Henry J. Hyde Act passed by the U.S. Congress last year, which would in effect end India's three-decade quest for a nuclear deterrent against China.

Saturday 7 April 2007

Will India-U.S. Ties Get Nuked? (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

MANIPAL, India — A smiling U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on July 18, 2005, that a U.S.-India agreement would be concluded that would regularize nuclear trade between the two countries, and consequently, the rest of the world.

Since the first Indian nuclear test in 1974, India has been the primary target of a comprehensive set of sanctions designed to prevent any external help to the Indian program. Along the way, a large number of hi-tech items -- such as supercomputers -- were made out of bounds to India, which nevertheless persisted with its program, detonating six nuclear devices in 1998 and moving ahead toward development and deployment of a "triad" of nuclear weapons systems that would ensure delivery from the land, air and sea.

Unlike Pakistan, China and Russia, India has not transferred nuclear or missile technology across its frontiers -- hoping to be rewarded for such good behavior by cooption into the major league of nuclear weapons states (NWS). It seemed that on July 18, 2005, the day had finally arrived -- early reports of the U.S.-India understanding were unanimous in stating that the Bush administration had finally given up on containment, and had accepted -- de facto if not yet de jure -- that India was an NWS, and that it therefore made sense for the five "declared" weapons powers to bring it into the fold before New Delhi decided to act the outsider, after being treated as one since 1974.

Influential voices within the country's nuclear and security establishment had been calling for nuclear cooperation with other countries that felt shortchanged by an international architecture that had changed hardly at all since World War II. Among the prospective partners would be Vietnam and Venezuela, who would see little attraction in remaining within the confines of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty were India to offer cooperation in energy.

Monday 26 March 2007

The Hypocrisy of the Wahabbis (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Although the U.S. State Department considers the Wahabbi sect to be engaged in "purifying" the Muslim faith, in fact what Mohammad ibn Abdul Wahab created three centuries ago was an entirely new faith, used thereafter to uproot the Sufi-suffused Islam that had gifted scholarship and success to the Muslims. Neither of his two biographies is credible, both being the work of admirers of the al-Sauds, the family later installed as the titular masters of the Arabian Peninsula.

Abdul Wahab developed his teachings to protect the absolutist rule of the al-Sauds, wrapping them in a cloak of piety that concealed personal conduct the opposite of the example set by the Prophet Mohammed. The founder of Wahabbism was an individual who sought to uproot traditional Islam from the land where it was revealed.

Early in his career as a preacher, Abdul Wahab formed a partnership with Muhammad ibn Saud, whereby the desert chieftain's dynasty was declared by the preacher to be the legitimate rulers of the lands where Islam first took root. A grateful ruler promptly anointed Abdul Wahab as the only correct teacher of the tenets of Islam. That the Muslim faith, democratic in its chemistry, explicitly rejects kingship, or that the Prophet Mohammed is the only transmitter of the Word of Allah, were seen as inconsequential.

Almost from the start of their sojourn into fortune, the al-Sauds fastened themselves to the flanks of the British, thereby gaining assistance in their battles with other chieftains, until their presumed loyalty finally earned them installation in 1932 as masters of the land they called "Saudi Arabia." But for British and later U.S. help, the al-Sauds would have remained just another of several tribal families, very possibly made extinct by those angered at their incessant aggression.

Monday 19 March 2007

Why Muslims hate the United States (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Anger against the United States within the Muslim "Ummah," or diaspora, has risen above the level aimed at the USSR after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. The United States seems on course to overtake Israel as the primary object of hate. This despite a well-funded campaign to convince Muslims that Uncle Sam loves them and is eager for reciprocation.

Unfortunately, apart (presumably) from Muslims resident in the country itself, followers of Islam around the globe see the United States as determined to emasculate and finally eliminate them. Such views have been in vogue since the 1950s, so it would be inaccurate to credit this perception entirely to George W. Bush, great though his contribution has been.

Since 1945 the United States, after being isolationist for most of its previous history, has metamorphosed into the most interventionist nation since the inhabitants of Britain decided in droves during the 18th century to leave their insipid food and miserable climate behind and seize control of much of the globe. Sadly for the United States, this attempt at emulating Britain has simply reinforced Karl Marx's dictum that history the second time around converts itself from tragedy to farce. A historical evaluation of the strands that fuse into Muslim hatred for the United States would be too ambitious for this column, which will therefore confine itself to some of the reasons behind the current loathing.

George W. Bush and other U.S. policymakers often speak of their desire to "bring democracy to the Middle East" by "empowering the people" and backing "voices of moderation" within the Islamic world. They apparently see no irony in the use of such language when the two King Abdullahs, Pervez Musharraf, Hosni Mubarak and the Turkish General Staff -- to name a few -- are given U.S. cover.

Monday 12 March 2007

Losing Minds and Hearts in Iraq (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — India has been at the business end of jihadi-funded insurgency since 1981, the year in which Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) began to organize a "Khalistan" movement that would in a couple of years launch a terror campaign in India's Punjab State. Although local members of the Sikh community declined to come on board, enough funds were raised from ethnic Sikhs in the United States and Canada to provide the funding for a vicious struggle that lasted till the mid-1990s.

The Khalistan movement blended seamlessly with the other jihadist operation in Kashmir, an insurgency set off by those who returned to the Indian-held part of the state after receiving training in Pakistan from 1982 to 1988. It is still smoldering, and has thus far cost 73,000 lives, mostly in the killings of Muslims by Wahabbis.

In 1989 the USSR was defeated in Afghanistan and the ISI transferred its attention to Kashmir. Unfortunately for them, New Delhi proved a tougher proposition than Moscow, the reason being the manner in which the security forces conducted anti-jihadist operations. Given their low level of financial resources, these had perforce to depend on the "software" of psychological warfare against the jihadis, placing emphasis on changing of mindsets and preventing of unity between those disaffected with Indian rule.

In contrast, the United States has thrown into battle in Iraq a (usually wasted) flood of material resources, with far less success than the Indian armed forces have shown in Kashmir, where the jihadis have been beaten to the ground and are now desperately clutching at diplomacy to rescue themselves from the pit they have been pushed into.

Friday 9 March 2007

Why India Will Sit out Iran (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Iran's ongoing effort to master uranium enrichment technology, despite its denials, is likely to lead to a series of surgical U.S. air and missile strikes designed to cripple reprocessing capacity. The risks and rewards of such an action have been extensively detailed; hence the focus here is on a small part of the overall mosaic -- the response of India to such a strike.

Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is solicitous of perceived U.S. interests, and has been working to create an alliance between the world's two biggest democracies, geopolitical logic will dictate that New Delhi will sit out a future Iran conflict, rather than follow its instincts and back the United States.

In evidence that India-Iran strategic ties remain in good standing, the chief of the Iranian Navy, Rear Admiral S. Kouchaki, is on a March 4-9 visit to India, during which he will visit key installations and discuss joint exercises.

The reasons for India to avoid conflict with Iran are primarily four:

First is the Shiite factor. There have been a little over 17,000 Muslim-Hindu clashes since India became independent in 1947, of which less than two hundred involved Shiites and Hindus. Almost all such clashes have been Sunni versus Hindu, and 87 percent of these have been Wahabbi-Hindu, as the more moderate sections of Sunni Muslim society seldom adopt a confrontational posture with their Hindu neighbors.

Tuesday 13 February 2007

Facing Western Supremacy (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

NEW DELHI, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The foreign ministers of the three giants of the Asian landmass -- Russia, China and India -- will meet Feb. 14 in New Delhi to advance an old proposal for a Trilateral Global Alliance that would effectively exclude the West from a position of superiority in Asia, before achieving the same purpose in Africa and South America.
Although at present only a gleam in the eye of geopoliticians, the TGA has made enough progress in the past two years to indicate that within the next three, a framework agreement could be signed by the three heads of government that would codify the principles and objectives of this partnership aimed at limiting Western power.
It is interesting to note that European powers all won special advantages in the rest of the world not by peaceful cooperation, but by conquest. This is perhaps the reason why soldiers, sailors and airmen play a much bigger role in Western "diplomacy" than diplomats themselves.
Australia, for example, has now joined hands with New Zealand in sending armed troops to small island countries near them, in order to enforce their will over the peoples there. So dominating is Australia that even the present Timorese leadership -- the recipient of huge funds and other aid from Canberra in its long battle against Indonesia -- has now sought to distance itself from a country that seems determined to rule the territory by the gun.

Monday 22 January 2007

Don't ignite the Shiites (UPI)

M.D. Nalapat

MANIPAL, India, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The origins of al-Qaida can be traced to the decision taken by the British sometime in 1911 to back the raggedy assembly of Bedouins led by the al-Saud clan against the Turks. The add-on to this was the support it gave to Wahabism, a creed that had originated two centuries before, and which sought to smother the Muslim faith in its primitive desert beliefs and practices.
In 1932, London served as midwife to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a Wahabi outpost in a sea of moderate Sufi peoples, and has backed it ever since, being joined by the United States soon after World War II. If then the reason for this support was Turkey, from the 1960s till 1979 it was Arab nationalism, exemplified first by Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt and by the secular if thuggish Baath regimes in Syria and Iraq.
That year, Moscow made the mistake of invading Afghanistan, and then-CIA Director William Casey, followed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, accepted the Saudi suggestion that they use Pashtun Wahabis trained in Pakistan to drive out the Soviets, rather than the far more numerous Pashtun nationalists. Of course the nationalists loathed Pakistan, while the Wahabis were dependent on that state's jihadi army.