Is India ready to let USA use its military bases, ports to advance American interests?
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Global super power USA, in trying to cripple regional superpower status India is enjoying in South Asia, is on its way to acquire, on a sort of indefinite lease, India’s military bases and ports for its own use, obviously on some agreement.
Once the agreement is inked by USA and India, USA would have complete control of all three major powers of the region, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and, thereby complete total monopoly over the region where its rival Russia has military deals only with India on a regular basis and does not have established any real military contacts as India does not want Moscow to diversify its military deals in the region. New Delhi is annoyed with Russian overtures towards Pakistan for profitable military deals. Other countries in the region are dependant nations with on India or Pakistan and they are not considered strategically important for USA or Russia. While Russia looks to the region through both Pakistan and India, Russia does it through India. While Bhutan almost entirely depends on India for most requirements, Nepal looks to both China and Pakistan for military supply. Sri Lanka has been closely tied with Pakistan while it does not want to annoy India by any open and extended military ties with Pakistan. Bangladesh, now ruled by the Hasina government that hates Pakistan and seeks help and gifts from India would not like to strike any military deals with super powers and just may let India go ahead with its strategic tries with USA and Russia.
A strategic deal has bound USA with India, seeking many favors from Washington which is now an extra help, apart from the traditional friend cum ally Russia, for fulfilling all New Delhi’s external ambitions. Moreover, Washington knows India can get the regional nations in the region to work for USA in advancing its global interests.
No other country in South Asia or even South East Asia can match with India on resources to purchase terror goods from Moscow or Washington or even Tel Aviv on a large scale and would buy those arms directly from India. Israel is unable to lure the region to buy its advanced terror goods by attacks in Palestine and Mideast through its display of high precision terror goods as advertisements. India remains the super buyer in South Asia of arms from all armed nations across board.
In all agreements it signs with the world powers, the US decisions alone are final and binding on other nations around the globe. India has to obey USA just like Pakistan and Afghanistan have been doing for years.
Under the previous UPA government of Congress party , India became a global strategic partner of the USA, the Indian military became the Pentagon’s most frequent partner in joint exercises, and the US displaced Russia as India’s largest weapons supplier.
Now the White House is focusing on the US “pivot” to Asia and it considers Indian role crucial in fully implementing the project. American worry is that Russia could twist Indian mindset against its Asia pivot, targeting China. India and China maintain tensed relations; expect in regular trade and India values the Chinese sport help. China is not only Asian economic power but also the continent’s sport giant. India cannot afford to upset the Chinese calculations on Indian attitude towards USA.
India’s “big aims” have prompted Americans to seek to take control of India’s major seaports and airports, making its control of the regions almost absolute. According to Indian media reports, recently the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Narendra Modi has begun discussions with the USA on a military Logistics Support Agreement (LSA). If finalized, the LSA would allow the US military to feel “free” to roam about the region as the new boss through India, Pakistan and Afghanistan: routinely use Indian ports and army and air force bases for refueling and otherwise staging and provisioning its deployments.
Under the LSA, the US would ostensibly guarantee similar rights to the Indian military with necessary safeguards. This, however, would be largely a dead letter, for while the USA is a global military power, the reach of the Asian and Indian military is restricted to the subcontinent and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Left parties of India are now at a crossroads having opted wrong strategies hitherto. Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM propped up the Congress-led UPA government for four years, including as it forged India’s strategic partnership with designs of US monopoly imperialism. The CPM has issued a statement expressing concerns over the BJP’s negotiations with the USA over the LSA and the two related military cooperation agreements.
The BJP, during its 20 months in office, has tilted India still more pronouncedly toward Washington, including forging closer military-security ties with the US’ most important Indo-Pacific allies, Japan and Australia.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made Obama the first US president to be the guest of honour at India’s annual Republic Day celebrations. At the conclusion of Obama’s January 2015 visit to Delhi, he and Modi issued a “US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean,” which, to Washington’s delight, included US-drafted language concerning the conflict between the USA and its allies and China in the South China Sea.
In September, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her US counterpart John Kerry announced that the USA and Indian militaries will cooperate in peacekeeping capacity building with a focus on training troops from African countries for UN peacekeeping missions. While in the past there has been ad hoc cooperation between the Indian and US militaries in providing disaster relief, this agreement represents the first time they will be collaborating in an overseas military operation, working together to fashion the military forces to be used in policing and imposing by force of arms West sponsored UN peacekeeping missions.
Especially important has been the Modi government’s embrace of trilateral Indo-US-Japanese military-security cooperation, something the previous UPA government drew back from after China voiced strong opposition. Last September, Swaraj met with Kerry and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in the inaugural meeting of the US-Japan-India Trilateral Ministerial Dialogue. Soon after it was revealed that the annual bilateral Indo-US Malabar naval exercise would henceforth have a third permanent member, Japan. Soon Israel also could also be co-opted.
India seeks US support and endorsement of its occupation of Jammu Kashmir because any open support of USA for Kashmiri freedom movement can damage all diplomatic operations New Delhi has conducted for years. India, therefore, supports and aids US projects in the region. Even opening discussions on the LSA marks a major shift of India towards a formal military alliance with US imperialism. Already India is deeply integrated into the US “pivot” to Asia—Washington’s drive to economically and diplomatically isolate China and militarily encircle it. Now New Delhi is preparing to allow US planes and ships to use Indian facilities, bringing them in still closer range of China, India’s northern neighbour.
The USA has been pressing India to sign on to the LSA since the George W. Bush administration signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2006 with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by Congress Party having a philosophy very close to Hindutva party BJP, though it never admits it openly for fear of losing Muslim vote banks. Without Muslim votes Congress can never win elections in India as it has been proven in parliamentary and assembly polls. Now the BJP just pursues the Congress polices. While the UPA held talks with the USA on the LSA, it ultimately balked at signing on, because of concerns that it would imperil India’s “strategic autonomy” and rile China. BJP is expected to finalize it.
The throwing open of Indian facilities to the US military is a highly sensitive and certainly contentious issue, the BJP government has made no formal announcement that it is discussing with the American rulers ratifying the LSA. However, the Indian government has not denied the media reports and wants to feed more life into the reports. An unnamed “senior Indian military/defence official involved in the negotiations reported on December 26 that the LSA was discussed during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s December 7-10 visit to the USA and the issue is very much alive.
In a statement that underscores the huge import of India agreeing to open its military facilities to the USA, the official saw no serious obstacle to New Delhi soon reaching agreement with the US on the LSA. “There is only one concern,” he then declared. “What happens in the case of war?” The official added that India is seeking clarifications as to how the LSA would be applied in the event that India did not support a US military action. Saying perhaps more than he intended to about the aggressive character of US imperialism, the unnamed senior official said New Delhi did not want to be legally obliged to extend support for war with friendly countries. He suggested that a compromise could be found through the inclusion of language stipulating that in the event of war India could determine on a case-by-case basis whether the LTA’s terms would remain unchanged, suspended or modified. But experts feel the super power USA may not let a regional power India enjoy that privilege.
The inclusion of such language would be in keeping with India’s policy of integrating itself ever-more fully into the US’s strategic offensive against China while maintaining the pretence of Indian strategic autonomy. That is the confusion. It would help counter domestic opposition to an enhanced military-security partnership with the USA.
Among India’s common people there is widespread hostility to US monopoly imperialism, which they rightly identify with the insane terror wars and oppression on fictitious Sept-11 hoax. Also, majority of Indians, including political and military establishment are opposed to aligning more closely with Washington, because the USA has a long history of bullying and threatening India and because of the China factor.
Americans want entire world to be controlled by Pentagon and monopoly minded global media. The USA is anxious to finalize the LSA with an unhappy government of Modi, which it views as an important piece in its long-term strategy of drawing the Indian military into ever closer ties with the Pentagon, including making it dependent on US weapons and weapon systems.
Washington is pleased with the manner in which the negotiations are proceeding as Indian military minister Parrikar has shown an open mind on signing the LSA. The USA is “hopeful” two related agreements that the US views as foundational to developing a full military partnership with India “will follow.” That is final catch.
The other foundational agreements are the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA). These agreements, which are a standard part of the US’ military alliances, are meant to facilitate and promote inter-military “communications interoperability” and “security” to bind other nations. They would involve “giving the US access to India’s encrypted systems,” a condition that has caused India’s armed forces to voice “reservations.”
Separately, the USA is pushing, under the Indo-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), for India to enter into co-production and co-development projects with the Pentagon and US arms manufacturers.
A.K. Antony, the UPA government’s former defence minister from 2006 to 2014, ultimately came to oppose the CISMOA and BECA, as well as the LSA, because signing the agreements would grant the US military unencumbered access to Indian military installations and compromise sensitive data.
However, US officials have told their Indian counterparts that if India has not agreed to the terms of the CISMOA and BECA it will at a certain point prove an obstacle to expanding the co-manufacture and development of high technology weapons systems.
Indian minister Parrikar’s visit was the first by an Indian defence minister to the USA since 2008. During the same period, there were six visits to India by the US defence secretary, an indication of the Pentagon’s push to “integrate” India into its provocations and war planning against China. Symbolizing the deepening military-security ties between the two countries, Parrikar started his US tour by visiting the US Pacific Command (PACOM) in Hawaii. Led by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, he toured the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the American nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, becoming the first Indian defence minister to ever tour a US aircraft carrier.
America has achieved a major objective of Sept-11 hoax: bring military and intelligence wing of every important country under the pentagon.
India, an apparently major sport fixer for “wins”, it seems, has also been fixed by the all powerful super power USA. New Delhi’s strategist experts would perhaps claim victory here too where its triclomacy has clearly been overmatched by US triclomacy.
After all, even policy and diplomacy of India are also decided by Washington.
Maybe, India wants it that way baldy.