By Balbir K. Punj
Mao: The Unknown Story (Random House) by Juang Chang, the author of Chinese origin and her British historian husband Jon Halliday exposes the myth of Soviet friendliness towards India.
Till now it was thought that India'srelationship with Soviet Union acted as a countervailing force to security threat to India. But this view might be in for a change. The USSR, after all, was a communist country. And it had no compunction in siding with another communist country even if it were the aggressor on India.
The book exposes that there was a secret between Nikita Khrushchev and Mao Zhe Dong over the Chinese aggression of 1962. In fact, it was barter for Chinese support to deployment of Russian missiles in Cuba. In October 1962, Russia was secretly deploying Russian missiles in Cuba to aid Fidel Castro in his tough posturing against America. However, it was in contravention to agreements on non-proliferation by Superpowers reached by the USA and USSR. Russians feared, if things petered out, as they ultimately did, it would foment an international crisis. Russia wanted such an embarrassment to be cushioned by international support; the support of communist countries was indispensable.
However, when it came to communism both Mao and Khrushchev proved treacherous to India'sfriendly gestures. They decided to scratch each other'sback. ?Given the danger of confrontation with the USA, he wanted to ensure that Mao would not stab him in the back. He decided to throw him a bone, a big one: the Kremlin'sblessings for China to attack India, even though this meant Russia'sbetraying the interests of India, a major friendly State that Khrushchev had long been wooing? (p. 486).
On October 28, Khrushchev backtracked from Cuba after getting American President John F. Kennedy'sassurance that the USA would not invade Cuba. But Mao acerbically dubbed it ?sell-out??and massive rallies were held in China in support of Cuba. Khrushchev responded by withdrawing his support to Mao. Pravda editorial on November 5 was tacit support to India.
?But Mao still hesitated. The paramount factor was Russia, on which China was heavily dependent for oil. In China'sprevious border clashes with India, Khrushchev had ostentatiously declined to back Peking. He had then agreed to sell India planes that could fly at high altitudes, and in the summer 1962 signed an agreement not only to sell India MiGs, but for India to manufacture MiG-21s? (p.487).
But now Khrushchev did a volte face. On October 14, Khrushchev hosted a four-hour long farewell banquet in honour of outgoing Chinese ambassador and he let it be known that Russia would delay the sale of MiG-21s, and also revealed his plans for Cuba.
?This was a hefty horse-trade, one well concealed from the world. On the morning of 20 October, just as the Cuba crisis was about to break, Mao gave the go-ahead for crack troops to storm Indian positions along two widely separated sectors of the border. Five days later, with Cuba crisis at fever pitch, Khrushchev came through with his support for Mao in the form of a statement in Pravda that mortified Nehru? (p. 488).
But Mao and Khrushchev ended up shooting at each other. On October 28, Khrushchev backtracked from Cuba after getting American President John F. Kennedy'sassurance that the USA would not invade Cuba. But Mao acerbically dubbed it ?sell-out? ? and massive rallies were held in China in support of Cuba. Khrushchev responded by withdrawing his support to Mao. Pravda editorial on November 5 was tacit support to India.
Communism has an ingrained history of perceived betrayals. Communism has institutionalised ?purges? and ?elimination? by which Stalin or Mao eliminated hundreds of fellow communists. Stalin'selimination of Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev is famous. But in our country Nehru who was a fellow travellor of the Communists and held them in high esteem (and would have almost handed over the country to communist mafia) was betrayed by the same communists over the Chinese invasion. Some of our communist friends had hailed Chinese invasion as people'sarmy coming to liberate India from a bourgeois regime. The Marxist trade unions had struck work at the height of war and tried to hamper transport of essential commodities to our soldiers at outposts. At that hour of crisis Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) withdrew all its agitations against the government and directed its workers to give top priority to stepping up defence production and assisting all defence efforts.
The CPI (M) after emerging from its 18th Party Congress last April tried to put the government in a fix by demanding that defence ties with Israel must be snapped. Their demand had even embarrassed PLO invitees at the Party Congress who dissociated themselves from the Leftist position.
The CPI split over a conflict of ideologies between China and Russia. CPI was in favour of the USSR and CPI (M) China although the Chinese did everything to distance themselves from their Indian devotees. Recently, the CPI (M) after emerging from its 18th Party Congress last April tried to put the government in a fix by demanding that defence ties with Israel must be snapped. Their demand had even embarrassed PLO invitees at Party Congress who dissociated themselves from the Leftist position. The Marxists by some strange logic had discovered that Indo-Israeli defence ties are against the interest of Palestine.
This in other word would mean that Israel is occupying Palestinian territory with help of Indian arms! It is strange then how had Israel held Palestinian territories since 1967 because full diplomatic relations with India were established only in 1992. The rest of the world knows that India buys arms from Israel and doesn'tsell to it. Moreover, China, until recently, used to be a major client of Israeli weapons when American pressure made Israel abort that relation unilaterally. However, our Sino-centric Marxists felt nothing sinful about it, let alone, Chinese Reds having any reservation ever. To Chinese communists the defence of their country comes first while to our communists that does not count. They hailed China'snuclear bomb in 1964 as ?People'sBomb? but pilloried Pokhran-II in every possible manner.
Communism per se had little to do with disarmament. Had international honchos of communism like Stalin, Brezhnev, Mao, Kim Il-Sung been votaries of communism the arms race and Space race could have been avoided during the ?Cold War?. Ant-imperialism, disarmament, republicanism are mere rhetoric of communists who act opposite to what they say. Nazism was good when Germany and the USSR divided up the Eastern Europe through the Non-aggression Pact, 1939 but it became evil when Germany attacked the USSR. The forcible occupation and Russofication of the Baltic states viz. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia find no mention in communist lexicon under the entry of ?occupation?. Israel, that had spurned Stalin'soffer to be a communist bloc country, is dubbed an occupying power. But no reference is ever made to Tibet, occupied by China since 1949.
(The writer, a Rajya Sabha MP and Convener of BJP Think Tank, can be contacted at [email protected])