Beyond Syria


Recent disturbances in Middle East and Barack Obama's war threats have raised some questions. The deaths caused by the use of poisonous gas have received universal condemnation and to them Barack Obama has appeared as a deliverer of the Syrian people. Some have however, begun to question US role by arguing that Saddam Hussain, in his war with Iran in 1980, used such gas while the USA remained a silent spectator, tacitly acquiescing in this inhuman practice. But much more startling is the revelation by the International Commission of Enquiry on Syrian-Arab Republic. It conducted the enquiry under the auspices of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and its spokesperson Carla Del Ponte arrived at the conclusion "… according to what we have established so far, it is at the moment opponents of the regime who are using sarin gas". The decision to launch an attack on Syria has established that Barack Obama is no less a warmonger than George Bush, and he has had to manufacture the argument of the chemical gas just as his predecessor manufactured the argument of weapons of mass destruction for aggression of Iraq. Another disturbing revelation is that sarin gas has been manufactured with equipment supplied by Saudi Arab, which is patently a US client state. This latter information has been supplied by the chief correspondent of Associated Press in Syria, Dale Gavlak, and shown on the internet.

Things are going awry for the USA and her middle-east ally, Israel. Both Russia and China have made their intentions clear : they will not tolerate any such aggression. Iran's anti-US attitude is for all to see, and it is possible that it is the present Syrian regime's relation of amity with Iran that has provoked Obama to assume such a hawkish posture. The US economy has slightly recovered from the recent recession, registering a GDP growth rate of 1 percent, but the US people are no longer willing to see their country involved in another war. They have learnt from the adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan that have imposed enormous costs on the US exchequer without achieving the objective and US drone attacks are killing women and children in Afghanistan rather than hitting the targets, evoking only condemnation. Besides, inequality in the midst of this slight recovery has grown and the rich have appropriated the gains in GDP.

What will the Government of India do now? Fall in the value the rupee in relation to dollar and pound sterling is regularly being focussed in the press and slight improvements now and then, followed by further falls, have not been able to restore the confidence of investors. Economists are suggesting various devices. Those who are in need of books and journals published in Europe and the USA have to tighten their belts if they are to continue their studies. Importers are finding it difficult to sell the imported goods in the market. The prices of petroleum products have mounted alarmingly. Ordinary passengers are going to face another round of increase in bus fares. In 1972, the minimum bus fare in the city of Kolkata was 10 paisa, and at present, it is fifty times higher. Private bus owners are reportedly still facing a loss and demanding a hike in fares. Importing oil from Iran at cheaper prices may relieve India of some of its burden and reduce petroleum prices, but such a step will not endear the Government to the US masters. One point may be made in passing. India's trade deficits on current account include the huge import-export gap in her transactions with China. The Chinese may help India by purchasing her Intermediate products, but that help is conditional on the settlement of the border problem. It is also apparent that they will not accept anything short of the solution suggested by Zhou En-lai, the then Chinese Premier, in 1959.

Vol. 46, No. 18, Nov 10 - 16, 2013

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