You always know when a high-ranking US politician is in India. Much of the media turns sycophant. It happened when Obama visited in 2010, and it occurred again as Hillary Clinton recently touched down in Kolkata for a three day visit to India. The media hung on Clinton’s every utterance, looking for the odd phrase that, in their eyes, confirmed India as the great global power.
Unsurprisingly, news channels and the press fell over themselves to cover the Clinton visit. According to the news anchors and columnists, Clinton’s decision to honour India with her presence implied that ‘we’ really matter – India is the US’s bilateral partner, engaged in forging an important strategic relationship for the century ahead.
There was much speculation about what Clinton would discuss with politicians and officials behind closed doors. Of course, the water sharing issue with Bangladesh and boosting trade links would have certainly been on the agenda. But you could also bet your last dollar (or rupee) that pressure would have been applied on India to reduce further imports of Iranian oil and for some to tone down the anti-Foreign Direct Investment (in retail) rhetoric.
As far as Iranian oil is concerned, the pressure has already resulted in a 15 to 20 per cent reduction of Iranian oil imports. The US State Department recently said that 12 countries, including India, were at risk of sanctions because of purchases of Iranian oil. India seems to have acquiesced accordingly, so far at least.
The ordinary person might feel that how India manages its relations with another country is India’s business. He or she may feel that where India buys its oil is also India’s business. On both counts, though, the Indian government knows this is not the case. It sold out on how it deals with Iran a while back.
Conditional on India being able to import nuclear technology and receiving the green light from Washington to continue developing its nuclear programme was that India would fall in line over the ‘Iran issue’ and would also open up its economy to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
India hasn’t signed up to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, Iran has. India went ahead regardless in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, whereas there is no evidence to suggest that Iran has done anything similar. And so what we have is the US and its allies applying sanctions on Iran, attempting to destabilize it from within, surrounding it with military bases, assassinating nuclear scientists and intimidating it with a massive military build up in the region.
The US wants Iran’s oil and it wants its fresh water resources too. If it controls Iran, it is in prime position to control mineral rich central Asia and to outmaneuvre China and Russia in the region. Of course, Israel is also calling the shots. It wants the current Iranian regime out of the picture and its influence via Hezbollah and Hamas curtailed.
Despite the media spin, India is not engaged in any form of bilateralism with the US. It is merely serving to further US (and Israeli) self interests. Is India a sovereign state, or must it get the nod from Washington each time it makes a decision in its own interests?
Is it the US’s 51st state in the making? Are we soon to see Walmart, Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, General Electric and all other big US corporate interests casting even larger shadows over India.
Whether, it is multi-million dollar arms deals or the opening up of the retail, financial or the pharmaceutical sectors, there is always the nuclear carrot or the hope of a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council to dangle. In the meantime, as India salivates over that soggy carrot, the US and its allies gain access to the Indian economy for the benefit of their corporate cartels.
Do what you like Uncle Sam. Attack Libya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan. Begin new conflicts in central Africa and continue to destabilize our nuclear armed neighbour. Plunge our back yard into chaos but please, please confirm our belief in our own self importance and congratulate us on being the world’s biggest democracy, even if it is in name only. We love it when you say such things.
It’s a strange love affair, though. It’s so one sided that only a fool or the cheerleaders in the media could be blind to its nature. But perhaps India is too much of a weak willed pragmatist to do anything else. Maybe it regards it a better option to cosy up to the global superpower than to antagonize it.
For many foreigners who visit India, it is the land of the great philosophies. It is the land of spirituality, morality and enlightenment. Many view India through this distorted prism. It is this rose-tinted perception that brings them here. For other foreigners, however, it is a land ripe for the taking. And Washington knows it.
India threw off the shackles of colonialism in 1947. And long ago it threw off the shackles of any moral philosophy. There’s a new game in town. And it’s based on selling anything you can get your hands on to the highest bidder, even the soul of the country. Now there is a new colonial master on the block.
Do not be fooled by the media love affair with Hillary. Happy, bright and smiling she may be, but, when all is said and done, she is good PR. It was after all the musician Frank Zappa who was many years ago astute enough to recognize that such politicians are merely the entertainment arm of the military-industrial complex.Tags: Global
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This post was written by Colin Todhunter