By retreating to the Atlantic, as with AUKUS, the US is proving to India once again that it has to go it alone in the Indo-Pacific
The most ironic thing, in fact the blackest of noir humour, is the use of the letter ‘Z’ in the propaganda surrounding the Ukraine war. It is alleged that this letter is the symbol of Russian obduracy, and therefore worth condemnation, as in the German embassy’s tweet and the Economist’s cover story below.
The irony is because there is an earlier instance when the letter ‘Z’ was banned, in Greece, in the aftermath of a coup there. Thus the title of the political thriller, ‘Z’, (1969, Costa-Gavras), one of the most powerful films of all time, a thinly-veiled retelling of the conspiracy behind the assassination of a leading political candidate in 1963. A magistrate unravelled the mystery and sentenced the culprits to lengthy prison terms for the murder.
The military coup followed, along with the banning of “Euripides, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Tolstoy, long hair, mini-skirts, the Beatles, Albee, Pinter, Ionesco, Sartre, Mark Twain (partly), Freedom of the Press, Beckett, Sociology, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, learning Russian, learning Bulgarian, modern mathematics, popular music…”, and the letter ‘Z’, because it stands for ‘He lives’ in ancient Greek. These and more are listed in the closing credits of the film.
In an extraordinary example of life imitating art which was imitating life, the letter ‘Z’ is now associated with Russia, and banned, along with, unbelievably, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Pushkin, Mendeleev, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Russian diamonds, vodka, oil, gas and so on. This is, literally, incredible.
In addition, after POTUS Biden’s assertion about defenestrating Russian President Vladimir Putin (although the spin doctors quickly diverted attention), there is little doubt that the Ukraine war has a not-so-hidden agenda: regime change in Russia. In fact, that makes a warped sort of sense, and I compliment my friend Uday B for telling me this right from the beginning of the war, when I (wrongly) thought a negotiated, face-saving settlement could come within a week.
The Deep State has specialised in this for long, and usually with disastrous results for the residents of the country thus ‘blessed’ with regime change. I can, off the top of my head, think of Allende in Chile, Mossadegh in Iran, Hussein in Iraq, and Gaddafi in Libya. Then there’s the ongoing effort against Assad in Syria. The only thing in common is misery, penury, war, war crimes, extreme human rights violations, and masses of refugees. Add Ukraine to the list.
That is why I am alarmed at the sudden attention paid to India by all those ‘experts’ who are shocked, SHOCKED, that India is not unquestioningly getting with the program and toeing the line. The last time a whole queue of snake-oil salesmen descended on India was when the ‘nuclear deal’ was talked up as the best thing since sliced bread. But despite the promises of manna from heaven, the only visible outcome is India buying more US arms.
These good folks are now beginning to show up in India in droves, but the online eagerness has been evident for a while. India is really not all that important to the West, and so the attention is a red flag, and there are only two possible reasons for this Tender Loving Care: a) that they expect to bully India into continuing to be a slave nation, b) that they do not want another powerful manufacturing nation to come up: one China is more than enough.
Thus, the moral indignation about ‘one nation invading another’ in violation of the ‘international rules-based order’, let us remember, did not extend to Pakistan invading Jammu & Kashmir in 1947. Nor did it extend to China invading Ladakh in 2020. NATO, and the Deep State, kept very quiet. On what basis, then, do they expect India to care about something happening in Europe? Ah, European wars are ‘world wars’, of course. Atlanticism rules.
And exactly what has the Biden administration done for India? Not much, but here’s the list of weapons they abandoned in Afghanistan; surely they will be used against India by Pakistan:
Staggering, isn’t it?
Going back to Ukraine, the US once, long ago, did what appears to be exactly the same thing Russia did: based on dubious excuses, it invaded Mexico and took away half that country’s land in 1846 in the US-Mexican war. China, similarly, expanded from their Han heartland, and invaded Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. These became fait accompli. In fact, China probably views its 1962 attack on India as similar to the US-Mexican War: grab land and “teach a lesson”.
There is also the worrying historical precedent of dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Biden administration appears keen (and earlier, the Obama folks did, too; ask Ms Nuland) to apply the same formula to India, and to balkanize the country. In other words, break it up into tiny little statelets. Official policy by the Democrats, we’ve been told repeatedly, is ‘sub-national diplomacy’, that is, encouraging fault lines.
Interestingly enough, this is precisely what Jinnah wanted as well, according to the book Jinnah: His successes, failures and role in history by Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed: dismemberment of India, not just the ‘moth-eaten’ Pakistan he got. So now we have a theoretical understanding as to why the Deep State has consistently attempted exactly the same thing.
For example, there is the laughable fake news about something that only affected a very small number of people, mostly in Kerala. Others claimed 250 million people took part in the strike, just as 250 million farmers rioted against the farm laws. Yes, exactly like Russia has lost 250 million soldiers in the war already, not to mention 7 generals!
It is as though there is some vendetta by Democrats and the Deep State against India. They have been going into paroxysms of rage against India lately (yes, even more than the usual bog-standard badgering and abuse by assorted propaganda outfits such as The Economist, New York Times, Financial Times, Guardian, BBC, NPR and so on).
As in the old Panchatantra tale of the old Brahmin and the lamb, the rogues are trying to convince Indians that they actually have a dog, not a lamb. They are declaring Modi to be a fascist, and naturally, they’ll explain, a fascist has to be overthrown. Defenestration. Coup. Color Revolution. Endless misery. The end of the Indian Dream of prosperity.
Naturally, a Chinese war against India would just accelerate this trajectory. Quad or not, it is increasingly apparent that Biden would not lift a finger to help. Whether Trump would have is a moot question (probably not, but at least he was paying attention to the Indo-Pacific). But, for some strange reason, after the Nixon/Kissinger duo, it appears to be US Democrats who are more malign towards India than Republicans.
This is a strategic mistake. A solid Japan-US-India partnership in the Indo-Pacific could contain China (Australia doesn’t add much to this; in fact, Vietnam or Indonesia would be more useful in a revamped Quad or Quintent or something). By retreating to the Atlantic, as with AUKUS, the US is proving to India once again that it has to go it alone in the Indo-Pacific.
The writer has been a conservative columnist for over 25 years. His academic interest is innovation. Views expressed are personal.
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