US blitz to destroy Iran army? Pentagon plans massive air strikes to wipe out Tehran'smilitary in three days, screams a headline in The Times of India (September 3). One rubs one'seyes wondering whether one reads correctly. There is no need to wonder. The paper has merely reproduced a report that appeared in Sunday Times of London?a paper not given to exaggeration?and the latter merely quotes what was said at an important meeting by an American expert on Terrorism and National Security, Mr Alexis Debat?and there was no misquotation of any kind involved here.
According to Debat, the Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, including its nuclear assets. The very thought is frightening. The Pentagon reportedly thinks this is ?a very legitimate calculus? and American military planners seem determined not just to give Iran ?pin-pricks? but ?taking out the entire Iranian military?. This is international criminality at its worst.
George Bush, if Sunday Times is to be believed, has been ?sending messages to a number of audiences?, including the Iranians themselves and members of the UN Security Council, on the grounds that Tehran is putting the Middle East ?under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust?. This is ridiculous.
Pakistan can manufacture nuclear bombs in plenty, sell nuclear technology to other rogue countries as well, but goes scot-free because it is America'sfavourite poodle. Why hasn'tthe United States shattered the Pakistan army? Why has it closed its eyes to Chinese support to Pakistan'snuclear ambitions? Why, why, why? Why is not Bush declaring the Pakistan ISI a terrorist organisation which is a known fact? If Bush can call the Iranian Revolutionary Guards terrorists, why is he forgetting what ISI has been systematically doing in Jammu and Kashmir and in the very heart of India in planning an attack on the Indian Parliament? In what way is Pakistani terrorism a lesser evil?
The US wants to get the UN Security Council to pass a tough resolution attacking Iran, but apparently not all the Council members are in favour of such a step. One is reminded of what the US did when it planned to attack Korea in the 1950s. When it failed to get Security Council'sunanimous support, it took its case to the UN General Assembly where US-dependent membership docilely agreed to let the US have its way. Korea was attacked and ultimately the US was to accept the division of the country at grievous cost to the people. Then came Vietnam and the house-of-cards theory which laid down that if Vietnam turned Communist, then country after country to its west, starting with Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Burma will also fall to communism and therefore had to be strangled.
The Vietnamese under Ho Chi Minh stood up to American terrorism, paying the price of several million lives. In the end the US had to shamefacedly withdraw, but only after committing what amounted to wholesale murder of innocent Vietnamese lives. Because India stood up to the US on the Vietnam issue, it was put in the doghouse, a fact that the UPA government would do well not to forget.
We now know what has happened to Iraq. Saddam Hussain was charged with amassing?and hiding?weapons of mass destruction?a charge which turned out to be false and a total lie. But Iraq was attacked and has been pulverised. Some 4.2 million people have been displaced, in addition to what the British newspaper The Guardian described as ?a harsh evisceration of the country'sbureaucracy, education and health system?. No less than a former Commander of the British forces in Iraq, General Mike Jackson has described what the US did in Iraq as ?a miserable catastrophe driven by hubris and stupidity?. All that the Anglo-US attack on Iraq has done is to?in the words of Gen Jackson??outstrip the victims of the former president Saddam Hussain, in total.? And what is the situation in Iraq like? Writes The Guardian correspondent: ?Reconstruction, inevitably, is almost utterly stalled while the rights of women and minorities are under continuous attack. There is more. There is an absolute deficit of political accountability, still no effective system of policing or jurisprudence; in short, many of the attributes of a failed state.? Does anybody care?
Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh is quoted as saying that India's stand on Iran'snuclear ambitions at the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was based on its belief that it does not want an atomic power in its neighbourhood. What is Dr Singh doing about Pakistan? Is Iran running its own ISI to hurt India in any way? Iran has been our friend. What has been the role of the US? We have it from Bharat Karnad, Professor at the Centre for Political Research in Delhi, and author of the highly regarded work Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security that what the United States is up to is to achieve its objective of getting India ?freeze, cap and roll back? its nuclear programme. The United States wants to castrate India.
As Karnad has noted, several Hyde Act provisions actively undermine India'sde facto ?nuclear weapon state?. Worse, the Act mandates that India'sforeign policy concerns should be ?in congruence? with the US policy, especially on Iran, which means that when the United States not only wipes out Iran'snuclear capability and strikes at 1,200 targets in that country, India must keep mum. Do we have to sell our self-respect to get US nuclear technology and be a puppet, having to depend upon American assistance when our own national security is at stake? But there is much more to what is going on behind our backs.
For American companies like Areva, the world'slargest maker of nuclear power stations and General Electric it means big business. These two companies, among four, are poised to share $ 14 billion of orders from India. That is chicken feed. Actually one estimation is that the US companies can get business worth $ 150 billion! This is not guesswork. It is the estimate of the US-India Business Council (USIBC). And what will we get?
According to our own Planning Commission report, energy from nuclear sources will not exceed six per cent of the total energy produced in 2035. ?Sacrificing India's potential strategic clout for meagre returns is indeed short-sighted,? says Karnad. That must be the under-statement of the year. But to think that we have to be subservient to the United States in foreign affairs takes the cake. When will we achieve political maturity? ?Strategic myopia has been a traditional failing of the Indian government,? writes Karnad. How right he is!