Which Way will it Swing?
The Indo-US Nuclear Deal is relevant for different reasons. It will affect our energy programme. It could also affect our future weapons programme. Both aspects have ignited fierce public debate. But there is a third aspect that has attracted little attention. It relates to the deal's strategic impact on India's future global and South Asian role. This unspoken aspect perhaps creates the flip-flop among politicians. The Left for instance might rant against the deal for destroying India's sovereignty. It is unlikely to withdraw support to the UPA government.
The BJP initiated the deal. The Congress is completing it. Both parties negotiated with the same nation ' America. Yet they oppose each other. Why?
To answer that, determine which America each side seems to reflect. This scribe has repeatedly referred to powerful lobbies that influence US foreign policy. Sometimes these lobbies collude, at other times they compete. For convenience, this scribe described them as the corporate lobby and the security lobby.
Neither lobby may be averse to the N-Deal. But their objectives may differ. The security lobby would seek to build India economically and militarily in order to create an Asian balance of power. It would want India to help contain, but not confront, China. Chinaï¿½s growing military power and intransigent claims on Taiwan, Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh indicate that its hegemonic ambitions persist.
The US corporate lobby on the other hand has deep vested interests in the expansion of Chinaï¿½s burgeoning economy. Greed and corruption among political and financial elements within America has enabled China to create a solid nexus with them. The US economy has become thereby virtual hostage to China. Meanwhile China builds its military and economic power. So what would the corporate lobby seek from the N-Deal?
The US corporate lobby would like to expand market operations alongside China to include South Asia. This lobby would countenance China firmly entrenched in SAARC while Beijing continues to arm Bangladesh and Pakistan against India. Separatist insurgencies inside India are aided directly by China or by one of its proxies -- Pakistan and Bangladesh. Ignoring this, the Indian government continues to seek normalization with China.
The N- Deal finalized by the US corporate lobby would give it leverage in India ï¿½ leverage to persuade Indian acceptance of the present power equations in South Asia for the sake of a stable South Asian market. This would in effect perpetuate Chinaï¿½s dominance of South Asia at Indiaï¿½s expense.
Now, consider which Indian party seems to reflect the interests of which US lobby. After the Pokhran nuclear test Prime Minister Vajpayee wrote to President Clinton stating that Indo-US cooperation could help contain China. This was in 1998, towards the end of Clintonï¿½s second term. Clinton had been weakened by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Vajpayeeï¿½s letter to Clinton was leaked out. One may be sure that Clinton was not responsible for leaking it. It is reasonable to infer that the pro-China corporate lobby was responsible. Later, George Fernandes, as Indiaï¿½s Defence Minister, was quoted saying that China was Indiaï¿½s biggest threat. The statement, though undiplomatic, was accurate. Only nauseating hypocrites in the US or their quislings in India fail to note that China has been the fountainhead of global nuclear proliferation and of subversive insurgencies. To keep talking about AQ Khan and to ignore Beijing is laughable.
What could be Prime Minister Manmohan Singhï¿½s affiliation? The disclosures by the former Deputy Director General of Israelï¿½s foreign ministry, Moshe Yegar, are revealing. Contributing to a book of essays in memory of late Professor ML Sondhi, Rising India: Friends and Foes (Lancer Publishers), Yegar recounts how India and Israel established formal diplomatic relations. Sondhi played a key role in facilitating this. He helped Yegar during his Indian visit to meet key Indian officials, including RAW director Ramnath Kao.
Subsequently the Narasimha Rao government was facing a desperate foreign exchange crisis. It sought a loan of 2.5 billion dollars from IMF and World Bank. Yegar writes: ï¿½They feared that the ï¿½Jewish Lobbyï¿½ in the United States would prevent the granting of such a loan because of Indiaï¿½s negative attitude toward Israel. Sondhi suggested that Israel try to solicit American pressure on India in this context. He even hinted that he was in this way conveying a surreptitious message from the minister of finance, who was more interested than others in improving Indian-Israeli relations and thus neutralizing potential opposition to the loan in the United States.ï¿½ The finance minister in the Narasimha Rao government was Dr Manmohan Singh.
In December 1991 India had voted in favor of annulling the U.N. resolution that equated Zionism with racism. That paved the way for what was to follow. At end of January 1992 Prime Minister Rao was to visit USA for clinching the IMF loan. Indian officials advised the Israeli Counselor in Mumbai that India would soon upgrade relations with Israel. Israel rebuffed empty promises. Hours before Raoï¿½s departure the Indian government capitulated. On 29 January 1992 Foreign Secretary JN Dixit announced establishment of full embassy relations with Israel.
Yegar writes: ï¿½The announcement was made in New Delhi by the foreign secretary J. N. Dixit a few short hours before Prime Minister Narasima Rao was to have taken off for the United States. Only two weeks earlier, India had announced that its establishment of full diplomatic relations with Israel was conditional upon its withdrawal to the U.N. separation plan boundary of 1947.ï¿½
One week earlier Israel had established full embassy relations with China. Before launching Chinaï¿½s economic reforms in 1978 Deng Xiaoping had officially announced that Zionism was not a racist but a nationalist movement. That facilitated Chinaï¿½s entry into the US economy. Israelï¿½s clout with finance capital in the US is an acknowledged fact.
Does this make certain that after the deal the corporate lobby will accommodate China at Indiaï¿½s expense? Not necessarily. When governments face big challenges, traditional rivals often unite. This may happen with both US lobbies while dealing with China.
The BJPï¿½s opposition to the N-Deal is therefore premature.
Final judgment on it will depend on two developments. First, on how China, as member of the Nuclear Suppliersï¿½ Group (NSG), will respond. If it puts impossible conditions and insists on equating India with Pakistan, and if the US urges India to accommodate China, it will be time to bid goodbye to the deal.
Secondly, Pakistan must be watched. The end of its current crisis will reveal whether Pakistan befriends India or remains a hostile neighbour controlled by China. If the latter, India might as well say goodbye to SAARC.
In that case, India must be prepared to walk alone.