The Left parties are conducting this mass mobilisation in four states
of the eastern coast and simultaneously there will be a nationwide
with America and the economic policies affecting the people due to the growing influence of the USA.
The genesis of the current steps for strengthening military
cooperation began in 2005 when the UPA government signed a Defence Framework Agreement with the US government in June 2005. This is the successor to the Agreed Minutes on Defence Cooperation signed during the Narasimha Rao government and taken forward by the BJP-led government.
At no time has India signed such an agreement in the past. Those who
compare it to the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation of
1971 are wrong. There is no comparison. By the current agreement with the US, four steps are being taken to integrate India with the global strategy of the United States.
The agreement provides that the two defence establishments will
collaborate in multinational operations; by this clause India
accepted the US concept of multinational operations in third
countries outside the UN auspices.
Secondly, the agreement states that both countries will expand
collaboration relating to missile defence. The United States is
building a missile defence shield. Japan and Taiwan are part of the
theatre missile defence system. The US wants India to join its
missile defence system and is offering it the Patriot missile system.
Thirdly, the framework talks about shared security interests in
protecting free flow of commerce via land, air and sea-lanes along
with preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Already
the BJP-led government had agreed to escort US ships through the
Malacca straits in 2003.
Fourthly, the defence partnership is extended to sale of US weapons
and co-production. The US has offered to sell F-16s and F-18s to
India and other weapon systems.
Unlike the Indian government, which is coy about owning up its new
military relationship with the US, we should see how the Americans
view it. The Pentagon, in a statement timed for president Bush’s
visit to India in March 2006, said: “These will serve key objectives
of our strategic partnership by helping to build ties among our
defense establishments and industries and to develop interoperability
among our armed forces. Defence technology cooperation will
contribute to strengthened military capabilities and will also result
in economic benefits through expanded trade.”
For those who naively try to convince the Indian people that the
nuclear cooperation agreement with the US is only a nuclear deal for
our energy security, they should heed the words of Nicholas Burns,
the American Under Secretary of State, who was responsible for
negotiating the bilateral agreement. In the official briefing after
the 123 agreement was reached, he said: “And I think now that we have consummated the civil nuclear trade between us, if we look down the road in the future, we’re going to see far greater defence
cooperation between the United State and India: training; exercises;
we hope, defence sales of American military technology to the Indian
Under the Defence Framework Agreement, India has agreed to sign the
Logistics Support Agreement with the United States. This is nothing
but the “Access and Cross-Servicing Agreement” which the US has with
many other countries. Under this agreement, US ships and planes can
use the facilities of Indian ports and airbases for refuelling,
maintenance, servicing, communications etc. By such an arrangement,
Indian ports and airports can be used by US warships and planes when
they are deployed for offensive operations such as the attack on Iraq
in 2003. This agreement is now before the Cabinet Committee of
Security for approval.
India is getting meshed into the security cooperation sponsored by
the United States. Earlier this month, the Australian Army Chief
stated that a secret meeting of the Army Chiefs from 19 countries was
held in Sydney. “There is a lot going on in Sydney and we don’t want
to make a fuss”, Lt. Gen. Peter Leahy told the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation. The conference was billed as the “Pacific
Countries Army Chiefs’ Conference” and it was jointly organised by
the US and Australia. India’s vice chief of Army attended the
meeting. So did the US Army Chief of Staff.
If the Defence Framework Agreement is fully implemented, India would
acquire the status of US allies like Japan and South Korea in Asia.
There has been a steady increase in the number of joint exercises
with the US armed forces consequent to the agreement. The defence
minister has stated that our armed forces are conducting joint
exercises with a number of countries, not just the United States.
But, what is not said is that more than half the joint exercises that
the army has conducted in the last five years have been with the
United States. Similarly, as far as the navy and air force are
concerned, the proportion of joint exercises with America are much
higher. Some stray joint exercises with Russia and other countries
cannot cover-up the fact that the Indian armed forces are getting
interlocked with the United States’ armed forces steadily.
Coming to the September five-nation joint exercises in the Bay of
Bengal, the Americans are sending two aircraft carriers – the USS
Nimitz and the USS Kitty Hawk. Already the Nimitz has made a port
call in Chennai in June. This aircraft carrier was used extensively
in “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in 2003 for aerial bombardment and
launching of cruise missiles which killed thousands of people in
Iraq. It is known to carry nuclear weapons. The same ship is now
stationed in the Persian Gulf, since April, as part of the build-up
to intimidate Iran. It is during this duty that the Nimitz came to
Chennai for a port call. The US Embassy called it a “landmark event”.
As for the Kitty Hawk, it is an older aircraft carrier. It has the
dubious distinction of having served for a long period in bombarding
North Vietnam and the liberation fighters in the south in the war
against Vietnam in the 1960s.Kitty Hawk belongs to the Seventh Fleet
of the US Navy. People in India remember the Seventh Fleet when it
was deployed in the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India for supporting
the liberation struggle in Bangladesh.
The US Navy Pacific Commander Timothy Keating has visited Delhi ahead of the joint naval exercises. In fact, the visits of the US Pacific
Commander have become a regular feature as India is under the purview of the Pacific Command.
The nuclear deal, the military agreement and the economic policies
designed to advance the interests of US capital are parts of the trio
which are harmful for India’s sovereignty, independent foreign policy
and the people’s economic interests.
In every election manifesto since 1996, the CPI(M) has called for the
scrapping of the military collaboration agreement with the United
States. The UPA government is mistaken, if it thinks that it can go
ahead with such military collaboration without evoking strong
opposition from the patriotic people of India. The Left parties have
been the most consistent defenders of India’s sovereignty and the
pursuit of an independent foreign policy.
The two jathas and the nationwide campaign will deliver a powerful
message that the Indian people are opposed to India becoming a
subordinate military ally of the United States.
* KARAT is General Secretary of the Communist Party on India (Marxist). CPM has been supporting the Congress-Led government in the past period.