Indo-US Axis

Growing War Hysteria

Anirban Biswas

The latest news of the Indo-US axis against China, which simply amounts to the Government of India's naked subservience to the USA for fighting what they perceive as their common enemy, China, has not created much of a sensation, but it continues to be discussed. Except the die-herd RSS people, nobody would deny that the conflict with China in late 1962 led to a humiliating defeat of the Indian armed forces. Three thousand Indian soldiers were taken prisoner by the Chinese, while the Indian army could not capture a single Chinese. One week before the conflict broke out, Jawharlal Nehru had ordered the army to drive out the Chinese 'aggressors' from the Indian territory. The outcome of this attempt was there for all to see. There was, however, a wave of anti-Chinese war hysteria all around the country, carefully fostered by the bania press, but that proved scarcely enough to halt the Chinese advance and avert the defeat of the Indian army. Poor V K Krishna Menon, the then defence minister, was made the scapegoat, and unceremoniously removed from office. Large sections of the Indian people donated without hesitation to the defence fund in response to the appeal made by the government. Thirty-three days after the breakout of the conflict, the Chinese unilaterally withdrew their troops by informing the then Indian ambassador of the decision. But talks of Chinese 'aggression' continued. Some persons, who find nothing shameful about India becoming a satellite of either the USA or some other big power, later argued that it was due to the fear of US (and perhaps Russian) intervention that the Chinese did not proceed further, conveniently forgetting the fact that the Beijing radio as well as the Chinese official press was then hurling abuses at the USA. The Government of India could, however, achieve one objective; it could engineer a split in the communist movement. One section of the undivided CPI supported the government, while the other was hesitant and even opposed to it. Leaders and activists of this section were put behind bars under the Defence of India Rule, while some of them went underground. Another aspect of the situation was the growth of US influence on the government. The Government of India, forgetting all sense of national dignity, even allowed the CIA to install a plutonium plant on the Nandadevi mountains in order to spy on the Chinese, an event that was disclosed only in 1977. The economic crisis of the mid-1960s, leading to widespread popular unrest, pushed the anti-Chinese hysteria to the background.

The situation is now both similar and different. It is similar because whether the Chinese cat is black or white, it continues to be considered an enemy by the Indian ruling classes. This attitude of hostility has intensified after Narendra Modi's ascent to power, and to all appearances, Narendra Modi is openly inclined towards making the Indian people the canon-fodder of the US rulers in case an open Sino-US hostility breaks out. The difference is that the military advantage that the US enjoyed for a long time and used for bullying the entire world, particularly after the demise of the Soviet Union, is now almost non-existent. Both China and Russia are now capable of standing up to the might of the USA in respect of nuclear capability and they are not going to make a retreat in the face of a US threat. The situation of the Cuban missile crisis cannot be replicated now. Besides, tiny North Korea has announced its open defiance, and there are at least two good reasons for it. First of all, immediately after the devastation of Iraq and capture of Saddam Hussain, the USA declared that her next target would be North Korea and Iran. North Korea was thus forced to build up its nuclear capability in the face of such a threat. Secondly, the memory of the war of 1952, which left one-third of North Korea's population dead, could not be easily forgotten. In the meantime, this small country has built up a self-reliant economy step by step. So, they are no longer awed by US nuclear blackmail; on the contrary, it is the USA that is awed. Here lies the mystery of Narendra Modi and the Japanese Premier's exhortations to North Korea to stop her nuclear experiments.

The US hegemony rested, besides military superiority, on the supremacy of the dollar, mainly petrodollar. This supremacy too is now severely challenged, particularly by the Chinese currency Yuan. In times not too distant, the Chinese openly boasted of their ability to resist any US invasion by means of people's war. Now they rely on their nuclear and non-nuclear arsenal. The Russian moves against US bid for hegemony in the Middle East are there for all to see. Then, with the spread of the Yuan as a currency of international trade and the increasing challenge to the USA's military supremacy, this superpower is now reduced to the status of just one big power.

Still the USA remains a vast market for Chinese goods, although this market considerably went down in the wake of the meltdown of 2008 and shrinkage of the US economy. The Chinese to some extent overcame the crisis by adopting Keynesian measures of internal reconstruction. If the USA decides to block the entry of Chinese goods into their economy, the consequences are not going to be much harmful to China. In any case, the Chinese are not prepared to woo the USA for selling their manufactures in the US market although the Chinese manufactures remain a major propeller of the US economy.

Narendra Modi is apparently trying to be a new fuehrer by holding on to the coat tails of Donald Trump and he obviously cherishes the hope that the big brother will help him in encircling the Chinese. But the big brother has problems of his own. First of all, the question of Chinese manufactures that propel the US economy cannot be brushed aside so easily. Given the present state of the Indian economy, weakened by demonetisation, India is not in a position to make all the goods that the USA needs, although the big corporate houses of India, the puppet masters of Modi, have smelt an opportunity in the Sino-US contention to widen their market in the USA. That is why the 'Make in India' slogan and the shameful capitulation to the USA's strategic interests. Hope for massive inflow of direct foreign investment, particularly US investment, in the wake of the cry of 'make in India' slogan has been dashed, because it is apparently beyond the capacity of Modi and his RSS mentors to transcend the backwardness of the production system in many areas and also the poor state of India's internal connectivity compared with China. When Modi promised to create 20 million jobs a year, he possibly thought that by imposing an authoritarian and majoritarian regime, he would be able to draw large quantums of direct foreign investment and to widen India's markets abroad. That he has failed miserably is clear to all. Apologists like Swapan Dasgupta have not so far been able to deny the stark fact that not even one million jobs have been created. So, they have preferred to evade such unpalatable issues and seek other ways of extolling the Virtues of Narendra Modi.

Of course, boastful claims about military capability may serve the hotter curry for Hindu jingoism paraded as nationalism. The recent obscene bravado on the issue of Doclam, which is a small plateau on the Sino-Bhutanese border and is a matter of dispute between the two countries is one example. The government tried to project the matter as a Sino-Indian dispute. The roars about defence of motherland rose high as if to suggest that the Indian military could take Beijing in one fell swoop. But soon it was found that although the Indian troops were withdrawn, the 'fleeing' Chinese remained and were going about building the road they were building before the start of the hullabaloo. Hence the boastful claims became deflated like a pricked baloon, only providing some comic relief to the observers of the scene. The Sangh Parivar by taking advantage of corporate support, has spread its tentacles far and wide. And the more the truth of its history of subservience to British rule and its advocacy of Nazism gets exposed, the more aggressive it becomes, and it is quite possible that it will kill some more Muslims, Christians and dalits in its bid to build up a Hindu unity and the killers will get away with impunity. But the failures of the Modi government both on the domestic and on the external front are too glaring for even Hindu chauvinists, not to speak of saner people, to ignore.

And not all Hindus have become Muslim or dalit-haters, despite constant efforts on the part of the Sangh Parivar. Modi and the Sangh Parivar wish to realise their dreams now by clinging to the coat of Donald Trump and his government. But both the foundations of US power, namely military strength and the supremacy of the dollar, are now fiercely challenged. So, the recent alliance is not going to be of much help; it will intensify the internal crisis, despite persistent efforts by the corporate-controlled media to hide it. In the meantime, the Chinese will go on cementing their relations with Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In Bangladesh, India's position has been considerably weakened because of Modi's consistent anti-Muslim policies and interferences on various issues, big and small. The Chinese bourgeoisie have jumped in with their own offers of cheap credit for ports, power and internal connectivity. So is the case of Nepal which has cast off her habit of bowing down before Indian pressure and is turning towards China's belt and road initiative for diversifying her options.

The Indo-U.S alliance has shown that owing to the Indian chauvinism and the strategy of the Chinese, armed China and US-armed India are moving towards a face-off. But will the USA be able to dispense with her reliance on Chinese manufactures? If she is able to do so, will the Indian corporate bourgeoisie gain by it, particularly when they are not yet in a position to produce what US consumers need? She may engage in a proxy war via India, but it is unlikely that the Chinese will be cowed down.

Doclam is an example, but Narendra Modi and his mentors seem to have learnt no lesson from it.

The situation is tense, and brazen capituation to the USA, and intensified hostility towards China will be suicidal for the Indian people, if not for the Indian corporate bourgoisie. Progressi-ves must realise this and build up the boadest possible front against this war-mongering.

Vol. 50, No.24, Dec 17 - 23, 2017