US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is talking the language of John Foster Dulles, President Eisenhower'sadviser and policy-maker in the State Department, who once summoned India'sAmbassador to Washington, Vijayalakshmi Pandit to tell her that Non-Alignment is ?immoral?. Ms Rice has now gone a step further. In an un-called for statement she has advised India to ?move past old ways of thinking?, even when conceding that Non-Alignment might have made sense ?during the Cold War when the world was divided into rival camps?, but not any longer.
Non-Alignment has been variously described as being equi-distant from both the US and the USSR, as being detached from the struggle between the western powers and the Soviet Union for world dominance and as far as reasonably possible self-dependent, giving enough elbow room for diplomatic manoeuvre to each member of NAM, in one'snational interest. India did not think it was invalidating Non-Alignment when it sought assistance from the United States when it was treacherously invaded by China. Nor did India think it was selling its conscience when Indira Gandhi sought food assistance from the US, even when the then President Johnson, whose aid was sought, tried his level best to humiliate India and sanctioned assistance to Delhi for the country to survive on a hand-to-mouth basis. Even now, on the nuclear issue, it is trying to turn India into a beggar state through devious means, which will explain why the Indo-US nuclear talks have been tottering.
To Washington, Non-Alignment does not mean the right of a free country to pursue an independent policy. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has rightly?and one might say courageously?rubbished the remarks of the US Secretary of State. As he correctly put it, Non-Alignment has by no means lost its relevance, especially considering the need for fostering cooperation among developing countries. That is one thing Washington does not like or approve. It wants all developing nations to be subservient to it, Cold War or no Cold War. To Washington, American interests are paramount and no one will blame it for adopting that view. But then why should not every country adopt the same American model?
The US talks big. Prior to the visits of two top American officials to Islamabad in June, word was quietly spread from Washington that it is time for President Musharraf to pack his bags. An American watch-dog group revealed that satellite images taken on June 3, indicate that Pakistan appears to be building a third plutonium pro-auction reactor at Kushab nuclear site, 160 km southwest of Islamabad. The well-known Institute for Science and International Security made the astounding point: ?The expanded construction at Kushab and apparent resumption of activity at the Chasma Plutonium separation plant? imply that Pakistan government has made a decision to increase significantly its production of plutonium for nuclear weapons.? The US State Department has been silent on that score.
On February 2, this year it was reported from Washington that Stephen Kappes, the CIA Deputy Director of Operations and one of its celebrated spooks has presented ?compelling evidence? of Al-Qaeda resurgence in Pakistan including satellite photos of terror camps and electronic intercepts. Subsequently it was reported: ?Top Bush administrative officials, from the President downwards, have, in an increasingly strident tone begun to point to Pakistan as the Ground Zero of terrorism?. American media reports published that Musharraf has moved up the list of the world's?worst dictators? from the 17th position to the 15th and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in early February criticised Musharraf, saying that under his seven-year rule ?institutions have collapsed?. Does Washington care?
On June 14, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief was quoted as being informed by none else than former US President Bill Clinton that Pakistan had moved its nuclear arsenal out of the Sargodha Air Force Base to be used in the war against India. So what should India do? Give up Non-Alignment and listen to the wisdom of Madame Rice so that she can play India against Pakistan and vice versa with both countries firmly under her thumb? India has to remain non-aligned precisely because it can trust nobody.
Nehru trusted Britain and took the Kashmir issue to the Security Council in 1948 only to be betrayed both by Britain and by the United States. Nehru trusted China, again, only to be betrayed by Beijing. After a visit to India by Zhou En-lai, India went wild with the slogan Hind-Chini bhai bhai, and for offering that hand of friendship and for pleading China'scase for membership of the Security Council?a post till then held by Taiwan?China gave a resounding slap on India'sface. Even now it is making a claim for Arunachal Pradesh when it is still occupying 38,000 sq km of Jammu and Kashmir in the north. ?We are friends, true partners,? said Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visited India on November 23, 2006. Same friendship, that, when Major General (retd) Himmat Singh Gill warned that ?alarm bells should ring in the Ministry of External Affairs? with China demanding that India restore Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh to Tibet.
The inauguration of a renovated Xuangzang (Hieum Tsang) Memorial Hall in Nalanda in early February this your provided an opportunity for Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing to underline his country'skeenness to have closer ties with India. Great. Chou En-Lai said similar things once upon a time. It has not yet made India wary. We have na?ve Prime Ministers. Let it be stated clearly. India wants peace with everybody, including China, Pakistan and the United States. It has no territorial ambitions. But realpolitik declares that it must retain its non-aligned status and deal with other countries strictly on the basis of reciprocity.
The CIA, in a report just made available, states that Nehru was a victim of ?guile? over the Sino-Indian border war and was ?na?ve??which means that Chou En-lai took him for a ride. Let it not be said of Dr Manmohan Singh. By all means praise everybody to the skies, but let us keep our powder dry. It is a painful thing to say, but the fact must be faced: Trust nobody, but seek everybody'sfriendship and say nice things to everyone because that is exactly what everyone from George Bush to Hu Jintao does. Diplomacy as has often been said, is the art of the possible.
Condoleezza Rice should know that this is the country of Chanakya and Chanakya tantra is as relevant today in an untrustworthy world as it was centuries ago. Ms Rice is a novice in this business but one should be pleased that Pranab Mukherjee told her what she needed to be told. This is not arrogance. As the saying goes: Once bitten, twice shy. Has the United States changed since the days of Nixon and Kissinger? when the former described Indians as ?a slippery, treacherous people who are no goddam good?? Answer, Ms Rice.