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India is No U.S. Vassal State: It is a Proud Country with an Independent Foreign Policy

India’s recent moves with the US are not an act of realignment with the West. They are carefully calibrated actions based on hard-headed calculations of Indian national interest.

Siddharth Pathak

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The close bonhomie India is sharing with the US in the last few years is certainly going to raise some eyebrows among those who cover the alternate perspective, a more realistic perspective I might add, of the changes going on in Russia and China, and the realignment of world polity. It will be mind-boggling to comprehend how a country, which was firmly in the Soviet camp during the Cold War and whose main enemy (Pakistan) is supposed to be in the American camp, is becoming closer to the US. Wouldn’t the second most populous country and one of the most egotistical civilizations in the world want to be part of the newer alliances shaping the political realignment?

It is here that we must pause, and question this narrative and punch it with nuances that many often miss, trying to view India from the same dichotomous lens of “them” (the US and the system of its allies) and “us” (the belligerent countries challenging the US dominance). In my view the application of such a lens is no different than how the US sees the world, and indeed Russia. We have to move beyond the concepts of “sameness” and “otherness” that have hijacked the world ever since the Dulles brothers started this in the 1950s, as explained by Stephen Kinzer. Otherwise those who try to analyze what is going on in the minds of the mantris in Delhi will be forever doomed to misunderstandings.

Yes, it is true that India is moving closer to the United States – not close as in buying a few weapons close, but close in a far more impactful manner. India is closely cooperating with the US military, and a treaty, which will allow each other’s militaries to utilize the bases of the other, is in the final works. Now, it would be fair to criticize this, but to claim that the closer cooperation between the two countries means the projection of US hegemony through India, that is simply not true. The current government, formed by the Bharatiya Janata Party does give an image as if it is a West leaning, capitalism heavy political entity, but this image arises from a fundamental misunderstanding those outside of India have when it comes to analyzing how domestic politics work.

Before I explain the origins of the BJP, I would like to layout a simple model of a democratic system which I shall be using to explain the BJP. In a democratic system, there are elections held at regular intervals where people decide to vote a particular party into power. This structure creates elections as some sort of a sporting event in which each party tries to win by securing votes. And they go about this business by differentiating themselves from the other, which leads each party or any political entity to evolve a set of core kernel of beliefs, using them as a legitimacy to gain power.

The kernel defining the identity of the BJP in India is the misunderstood concept of Hindutva. Now many prominent self-identifying liberals – who suffer from an acute lack of understanding of Indian ethos and local issues – try to create links between Hindutva, the political ideology and Hinduism, the religion. In their criticism of Hindutva, they argue that BJP is a communalist party which is bent on creating a nation for just Hindus – contrasting the reality that India is the third largest Muslim nation in the world. But Hindutva is a concept which is very different from this. It is an idea which mixes India’s culture, her history and the colonial experiences to create a set of narratives seeking to unify Indians under a common identity. It is no different in its conception than the distinct brand of Communism that sprang in China as a way to respond to the infringing of Chinese interests by the outside world.

Hindutva defines Hinduism, which is far lesser understood by Indians themselves, as a cultural framework rather than a religious one, where all Indians are woven into its fabric. The Indian Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, while giving an interview to the New York Times, said:

“India is a Hindu nation in the cultural sense. A Catholic in Goa is also Hindu culturally, because his practices don’t match with Catholics in Brazil [a former Portuguese outpost like Goa]; except in the religious aspect, a Goan Catholic’s way of thinking and practice matches a Hindu’s.”

This quote is at the heart of what the BJP believes in and considers it as the model for India. But the most crucial aspect of Hindutva which is casually brushed aside is how the idea is structured in the broader framework of the global world – after all there is no such thing as “isolationism”.  As I mentioned it earlier, Hindutva was formed largely as a reaction to Western imperialism. James Gelvin, an American scholar on Middle East, coined the term “defensive developmentalism” for a framework whereby indigenous institutions oriented their policies and behavior by strengthening their efficacy and control over resources and governance structures as a way to react to asymmetrical relationships with other states. Development from this perspective was seen as a way to address the imbalances in power. The concept can be widely used to explain the set of changes that occurred in China between 1911-1949, in Japan under the Meiji era between 1868-1912, both the Koreas in the post Korean war, and also, India, between 1857-1947. Hindutva was one of the avenues for such a reaction.

The hallmark for such ideologies is the justification of strengthening national security and local military apparatus. It is then, no wonder that the BJP and its political ancestors have always supported efforts by the Indian government to strengthen India’s military capabilities. Atal Behari Vajpayee who is one of the most influential statesman and politicians in the Republican era of the country, despite being fundamentally opposed to the Indian National Congress (the chief opponent of the BJP) wholeheartedly supported Indira Gandhi from the Congress when she railed against international opposition to develop nuclear weapons.

Thus, national security – which is seen as a modicum of strengthening sovereignty in the BJP’s kernel – is a key factor in understanding why India appears to be leaning towards the West. It is not due to corruption, or nepotism, or even an opposition to Russia and the growing power of China entirely. It is because from the viewpoint of India, the US is an entity which is willing to share its military capabilities which India can tap into and build the foundations of its military reforms. In other words, it is engaging in exactly the same kind of copying of US technologies that the Chinese do (or did?), but unlike China, India enjoys a benign view in the minds of the American leaders. In reality India has nothing to do with the imperialistic philosophies of the West – after all it is a victim of those exact philosophies.

Apart from access to military technologies another factor behind the push towards the US is due to the India-Pakistan conflict. Now, Delhi does realize that the future lies in the land routes of Eurasia – shown by the special interest the Indian Prime Minister has shown in the Russian city of Astrakhan. Astrakhan is a special city because until the 18th century, Indian traders used to be a common feature in the city until the advent of the sea routes wrecked the trading networks. But India cannot utilize these trade routes, which in history ran all the way from Bengal to Baku, Tehran, Qom, Nishapur, Samarkand and Astrakhan in the West, until its relationship with Pakistan is resolved. Naturally, Indians wish to settle their political feud, but it is advantageous for the them if the deal occurs on terms they want. But for this to happen, India has to manage outside influences from China and the US. One way to achieve this is to develop a close relationship with the US. So the relationship between the US and India is not about giving up sovereignty and becoming a vassal state. It is about bootstrapping the development of the Indian military by tapping into what the US has to offer, and also about resolving its long running, but counter-productive feud with Pakistan.

It is vital that the analyses of US-India relationship don’t fall victim to the inanely naïve analyses that the clueless think tanks of Washington produce. There is a lot more diversity in the structure of the world, even in “our” camp and “their” camp. If the analysis has a prejudice of confining India in the camps of blindly following what Russia and China seem to be doing, then India will be an enigma producing a series of disappointments. And if we confine the country in the Western camp, it too shall produce nothing but disappointments. Instead of this, it is more insightful and more accurate if one recognizes that India is a country that has never fallen into any cages of dogmas, and has always strode in a manner justifying its immense ego, wishing to be independent.

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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:


To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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It’s Back to the Iran-Contra Days Under Trump

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen, via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Showing that he is adopting the neoconservative playbook every day he remains in office, Donald Trump handed the neocons a major win when he appointed Iran-contra scandal felon Elliott Abrams as his special envoy on Venezuela. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information on the secret sale of US weapons for cash to help illegally supply weapons to the Nicaraguan right-wing contras, who were battling against the government of President Daniel Ortega. Abrams would have headed to a federal prison, but President George H. W. Bush, an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, issued pardons to Abrams and his five fellow conspirators – former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Alan Fiers, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, and Clair George – on Christmas Eve 1991, during the final weeks of Bush’s lame duck administration.

Abrams escaped being charged with more serious crimes by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh because he cut a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors. Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for cooperating federal witnesses, would have normally called Abrams a “rat,” a gangster term meaning informant. The man who helped engineer the pardons for Abrams and his five convicted friends was none other than Bush’s Attorney General, William Barr, who has just been sworn in as Trump’s Attorney General. Trump, who is always decrying the presence of the “deep state” that thwarts his very move, has become the chief guardian of that entity.

During a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, newly-minted congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, reminded her colleagues and the world about the sordid background of Abrams.

Omar zeroed in on Abrams’s criminal history:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

Abrams, as is the nature of neocons, refused to respond to Omar and cited her comments as “personal attacks.”

Abrams’s and his fellow criminals’ use of mercenaries and “death squads” to conduct secret wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s has made a re-entrance under Trump. Abrams was brought on board by neocons like National Security Adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to oversee a US military build-up in Colombia, said to be 5000 US troops, to support Venezuelan paramilitary and military efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro. Abrams and Bolton are also believed to have retained the services of another unindicted conspirator in the Iran-contra affair, Michael Ledeen, a colleague of the disgraced and convicted former Trump National Security Adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Ledeen and Flynn co-authored a book titled, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies.” The book contains nothing more than the standard neocon tripe one might expect from the likes of Ledeen.

An official investigation of the Iran-contra scandal by the late Republican Senator John Tower of Texas concluded that Abrams’s and Ledeen’s friend, Iranian-Jewish middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, a long-time Mossad asset and well-known prevaricator, was extremely instrumental in establishing the back-channel arms deals with Iran. Ghorbanifar has long been on the CIA “burn list” as an untrustworthy charlatan, along with others in the Middle East of similar sketchy credentials, including the Iraq’s Ahmad Chalabi, Syria’s Farid “Frank” Ghadry, and Lebanon’s Samir “Sami” Geagea. These individuals, however, were warmly embraced by neocons like Abrams and his associates.

Abrams, whose links with Israeli intelligence has always been a point of consternation with US counter-intelligence officials, is part of an old cabal of right-wing anti-Soviet Democrats who coalesced around Senator Henry Jackson in the 1970s. Along with Abrams, this group of war hawks included Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Abram Shulsky, and Paul Wolfowitz. Later, this group would have its fingerprints on major US foreign policy debacles, ranging from Nicaragua and Grenada to Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. Later, in December 2000, these neocons managed to convince president-elect George W. Bush of the need to “democratize” the Middle East. That policy would later bring not democracy but disaster to the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela. They have old scores to settle with Nicaraguan President Ortega. The initiation of “regime change” operations in Nicaragua, supported by the CIA and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, have been ongoing for more than a year.

The Trump administration has already achieved a regime change victory of sorts in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, who was expelled from the formerly-ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) party and joined the right-wing GANA party, was recently elected president of El Salvador. Bukele has quickly re-aligned his country’s policies with those of the Trump administration. Bukele has referred to President Maduro of Venezuela as a “dictator.” He has also criticized the former FMLN government’s recognition of China and severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It will be interesting to see how a sycophant like Bukele will politically survive as Trump continues to call hapless asylum-seeking migrants from his country, who seek residency in the United States, “rapists, gang monsters, murderers, and drug smugglers.”

Another country heading for a US-installed “banana republic” dictator is Haiti. President Jovenal Moise has seen rioting in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the US State Department removed all “non-essential” personnel from the country. Moise, whose country has received $2 billion in oil relief from Venezuela, to help offset rising fuel prices, has continued to support the Maduro government. However, at the US-run and neo-colonial artifice, the Organization of American States (OAS), Moise’s envoys have been under tremendous pressure to cut ties with Venezuela and recognize the US puppet Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president. Moise’s refusal to do so resulted in armed gangs hitting the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding Moise’s resignation. It is the same neocon “regime change” playbook being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

There will be similar attempts to replace pro-Maduro governments in his remaining allies in the region. These include Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Abrams was also brought in as an adviser on Middle East policy in the George W. Bush administration. The carnage of Iraq is a stark testament to his record. In 2005, it was reported that two key Bush White House officials – Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams – gave a “wink and a nod” for the assassinations by Israeli-paid operatives of three key Lebanese political figures seeking a rapprochement with Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah – Member of Parliament Elie Hobeika, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In 2008, a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later concluded Hariri was assassinated by a “criminal network” and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by Abrams and his friends in Washington.

Representative Omar was spot on in questioning why Abrams, whose name is as disgraced as his two fellow conspirators – Oliver North and John Poindexter – whose criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, is working for the Trump administration on Venezuela. The answer is that the neocons, who can sense, like raptors, Trump’s political weakness, have filled the vacuum left by top-level vacancies in the administration.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

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Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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