RECENT developments in neighbouring Nepal, where a caretaker regime has literally usurped unacceptable powers to humiliate the King and change the character of the nation, have shown Indian foreign policy in a poor light. But this is by no means the only occasion on which the UPA Government has handled Indian foreign policy from a non-nationalistic perspective. While the usage of the Volcker Report to turf out Natwar Singh in order to save chairperson Sonia Gandhi can be put down to domestic compulsions, the sustained indifference towards the suffering of the Iraqi people is truly shameful. Worse, Dr. Manmohan Singh has failed to undertake a course correction even after Iran successfully forced President George Bush to modify his policy of browbeating it on the issue of uranium enrichment.
Nations with aspirations to the international high table, symbolised by permanent membership of the Security Council, do not behave like the puppets of other nations. Sadly, India has been doing this for some time now, and in an increasingly obvious manner. Yet superpowers do not need friends, they need satellites. By refusing to look at the sufferings of the Iraqi people (as evidenced by the growing incidents of resistance to the occupation, and also the growing disclosures of abuse of prisoners), and by refusing to change its attitude towards Iran'sso-called nuclear ambitions, the UPA is assisting the Bush agenda of subordinating the Gulf economy and oil reserves to American multinational corporations.
What is happening in Iraq is colonialism by remote control (ie, a puppet regime), with the tacit complicity of the United Nations. A look at the Baghdad story may be instructive for those of us who fear that a similar fate is intended for India, as mindless globalisation is promoted through a hedonistic corporate-political class with little accountability towards its natal country.
In a meticulous expose of corporate America'sintentions in the Gulf, Antonia Juhasz (The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, 2006) argues that the principal Iraqi collaborator is vice president Adel Abdel Mahdi, who has been a member of every US-appointed post-invasion regime. Mahdi is the most vocal supporter of the Bush agenda to open Iraq, especially its oil sector, to US corporate loot. Already, 150 American corporations have received $50 billion worth of contracts, and despite completely failing in the reconstruction of that occupied nation, nevertheless received the money!
Occupation incharge Paul Bremer said the reconstruction failed because of poor planning, but the truth is that it was tailored to serve the interests of US multinationals, and the plan was ready two months before the invasion! It was written by Virginia-based Bearing Point Inc., which received a princely $250 million contract to rewrite Iraq'seconomy. Paul Bremer created this new economy, which involved radical corporate globalisation through free investment rules for multinational corporations. This allowed corporations to enter Iraq without contributing in any way to its economy. There was a vicious tilt?Iraq could not give preference to Iraqi companies or workers in the reconstruction, and so American companies got preference, and made things worse by hiring non-Iraqi workers.
The Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco, to cite one example, secured $2.8 billion to rebuild water, electricity and sewage systems, the lifeline of the nation. After the first Gulf War, the Iraqis rebuilt these systems in three months? time; but now, after three years, services are below pre-war levels. Bearing Point, which wrote the blueprint for Iraq'sdestruction, is in reality the well known KPMG Consulting, which changed its name after a major scandal. It even got its contract renewed, and its sole focus now is the privatisation of Iraq'sstate-owned enterprises. No doubt, it will achieve this before the contract is up for renewal in 2007.
It is pertinent to know that everything America has done in Iraq is blatantly illegal under international law. The Geneva Conventions emphasise that occupying powers must provide basic security and services. They are not empowered to change the laws or political structure of the occupied nation. The Bush regime has done precisely the opposite?changed all foundational economic and political laws and failed to provide security and basic needs of the Iraqi people.
Antonia Juhasz believes this is because the Bush administration is a creature of the oil and gas industry. The President, Vice President and Secretary of State are all former energy company officials. The oil industry funded the Bush-Cheney campaign handsomely, and was rewarded with huge tax subsidies, deregulation, and even a war waged by the American nation for their benefit.
The significance of the Iraq invasion lies in the fact that while Iraq officially has the second largest oil reserves in the world, some geologists believe it may actually be at par with Saudi Arabia. American oil companies and leaders like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Donald Rumsfield, have for two decades demanded increased US access to Iraq'soil, saying it should not be left in the hands of Saddam Hussein (who has since been deposed).
Under the occupation, Bush did not merely change the regime. He changed the political and economic structure in Iraq. In the process, Halliburton, Chevron, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Exxon, and Marathon have made a killing. Chevron played a major role in demanding increased US economic access to Iraq. It is now poised to rape the country once the new oil law is implemented. This oil law was created just before the occupation, in the U.S. State Department'sIraqi Oil and Energy Working Group!
After the invasion, a member of this working group was made Oil Minister of Iraq. He cancelled all pre-existing oil contracts negotiated by Saddam Hussein, because none of these was with US oil companies. At the very beginning of the Bush administration, Dick Cheney officially met oil majors Bechtel, Chevron, Halliburton, Exxon, and they decided to take steps to increase their access to Gulf oil. So Ibrahim Bahr Al-Aloum became Iraq'sOil Minister.
It stands to reason that the Iraqi people cannot trust or respect the occupation-imposed regime. The resistance will continue until the occupation forces are withdrawn. The botched up Iraqi operation has, however, forced a US climbdown on Iran, as US generals have indicated that the armed forces are not game for further sacrifices for the enrichment of oil majors. Only South Block has not yet changed course.