Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has an excellent sense of humour. On the eve of his nine day visit to Brazil to participate in the 14th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Cuba, of all places, he promised that ?as founding member of the great movement?NAM?India will play its part in helping it to revitalise itself so as to pursue the shared interests of its member states in a transformed world?. He further promised that ?India will seek to discuss the role, the movement could play in making globalisation more inclusive, dealing with terrorism and addressing widespread hunger, poverty and disease, as well as international peace and nuclear disarmament?. Some promise that.
Anyone who follows world events would know that Non-Alignment is dead, that in a unipolar world nothing can stop a rogue nation like the United States to do what it wants to do and no amount of arguing would distract it from its self-serving approach to world politics. When it failed in its approach in Korea, the United States took the issue to the UN General Assembly where, it knew, it could get any resolution passed by pressurising small and insignificant nations. The Korean war turned out to be a disaster. The State itself got divided into North and South Koreas. It was much the same in the matter of Vietnam. The NAM was opposed to the US war on Vietnam during which all rules of war were broken, millions got mercilessly killed by serial bombing and the United States finally had to withdraw with its proverbial tail hanging limply. At least in the matter of Vietnam, India took a firm stand when it was both militarily and economically weak. But India had the guts and courage to stand up to Washington. Now India seems to have lost all sense of what is good and what is evil. And it is willing to compromise.
Take Iran, for instance. The United States is threatening to bomb Iran out of existence, but Delhi seems to have lost its voice. It argues that it does not like to have another nuclear-armed state in its vicinity, which is a poor argument. Iran is not sending terrorists to India. Pakistan does?and Pakistan is a nuclear state and proudly so. Iran'sneighbour, Israel is another nuclear state and it is armed to its teeth with nuclear bombs. So, if Pakistan and Israel can be nuclear states, why should not Iran wish to be one? And if Britain and France can have nuclear weapons, why shouldn'tIran have them, too? It is pure racism.
We don'tneed to take a stand on Iran. Are we condemning Pyongyang because it has 400 per cent more fissile material than Iran has, in addition to long-range missiles that can dispatch nuclear weapons? Like the Bourbons, the Americans can neither forgive nor forget. They committed.
Crime number one in Korea. Crime number two?and a major one at that?in Vietnam and paid heavily for its folly. Crime number three was the creation of the Taliban and support to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan for which India is paying a heavy price. And crime number four is what the US is presently doing in Iraq. In Iraq, it was the United States which originally supported Saddam Hussain?and let it not be forgetten. Day after day not only innocent Iraqi civilians are killed, but by now the US has lost over 2,600 of its own soldiers and after five long years even the American people?who were fooled by successive US presidents?have come to realise the reality of George Bush alleged ?war on terror?. Where once 70 per cent backed the Iraqi misadventure, now poll after poll is showing that the American people feel they have been taken for a ride.
In Britain, Tony Blair has been feeling the heart for quite some time now for lending his support to what plainly is American terrorism. The Non-Aligned Movement has been able to do nothing. It does not require a Non Aligned Movement to address, as Dr Manmohan Singh claims, issues such as widespread hunger, poverty and disease. This is an example of deluding oneself. The time may soon come when first Britain will withdraw completely from Iraq, forcing the US to follow suit. It would then make the United States the laughing stock of the world.
One may bomb Iran?as the US threatens to. India must make its position quite clear in this regard. Not that Iran will give in easily. Not so long ago-in 1979 to be exact?Iran kept US hostages for 444 days and Washington could do nothing to rescue them. In the end their release had to be negotiated. Not so well known is the fact that while then President Ronald Regan openly sought to isolate Iran, simultaneously he sought to court Teheran privately and sold weapons to that country.
There is no NAM today and to think that it exists is to delude ourselves. India has neither the courage nor the desire to stand up to the US which has done nothing to contain General Musharraf'sunleashing of terrorism all over India and not just in Jammu and Kashmir. What sort of Non-Alignment does Dr Manmohan Singh has in mind? Jawaharlal Nehru had made his mistakes, but at least he had the courage to stand up to President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles. Atal Behari Vajpayee had the courage to establish India as a nuclear power and to face up to the severe consequences. The UPA government doesn'teven have the courage to tell Israel?let alone the United States?to stop their brand of terrorism.
According to one estimate, nearly 2,50,000 Lebanese or nearly a third of those displaced in the war cannot return to their homes. Nearly a quarter of the bomb-lets dropped by Israel in southern Lebanon during the final phase of the war are ?live? and can explode on contact. One estimate put their number around 100,000. Such are conditions in war-torn Lebanon that UN Under-Secretary General Jan Egeland has been forced to say that it is ?shocking and completely immoral? for Israel to throw those ?live? bomb-lets around. Egeland looks after Humanitarian Affairs.
The NAM has no voice. For India to say that it wants to revitalise the NAM, it must be prepared to tell it like it is both to the US and UK. And it must be ready and willing to face up to the consequences as Atal Behari Vajpayee was. The sad truth is that Congress has no effective leadership. And there is no point in blaming either Dr Manmohan Singh nor Sonia Gandhi. For present-day India, consumerism is all and to hell with principles. Presently Non-Alignment has become a catchword signifying self-interest. India wants a fair nuclear deal with the United States, which by itself is unobjectionable. But to pretend that India wants to revitalise NAM is an insult to the movement once headed by the likes of Nehru and Nasser, Tito and Soekarno. If we can'tafford to have and maintain principles, at least let us keep our mouths shut. Virtues cannot be sustained through falsification.