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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 40

Clinton’s Bombs for Votes

Tuesday 23 September 2008, by Nikhil Chakravartty

When the emperor has to go for elections, the subjects have to face the music. Nero was not the only one who fiddled when he let his capital being burnt down. The emperor of today cannot afford to let his capital being burnt down, because it is the only prize he covets—the acquisition of capital, that is, wealth. But to win the election, he is prepared to bomb out innocent unarmed men and women in far-away countries.

As part of his Presidential election campaign, Clinton hit upon three devices to assert his overlordship in world affairs. First was his sudden determination to eliminate terrorism, and his G-7 companions agreed at once to work out a mechanism to combat terrorism. But the President of the United States is in a hurry: he could hardly afford to wait for such a G-7 mechanism to be set up. Clinton unilaterally pronounced his fatwa against Libya and Iran. What was the reaction? Promptly the European powers could not stomach it and dissociated themselves from his demonstration of Clinton adventurism. The wave of dissent at this US move spread all over the world. The CIA with its highly sophisticated apparatus could not possibly have kept the President in the dark about this adverse world reaction to his blustering threat against these countries, particularly Iran.

Then came another specimen of President Clinton’s disastrous intervention. For long the US policy had been to stir up trouble among the Kurds against Iraq. After the failure of the American mission to dislodge Saddam Hussai from power—a policy which President Bush had initiated and now equally unswervingly followed by Clinton—it was expected in Washington that a first-class Kurdish rising would discredit Saddam and bring him down from power. But Saddam was quick in his move: he did a short shrift of the Kurdish opponents by undertaking a blitz into the Kurdish region. This was made by the Clinton Administration into an excuse for bombing Iraq—an act of open aggression.

This has a significance for all those who rely on the US words. For one thing, the excuse for the US bombing has been so untenable that even the allies of the USA are not ready to accept it. It has been branded by many people as an act of aggression. Even the echoes of condemnation could be heard in the Indian Parliament. What is worth noting is that after the Bush. Administration’s fearsome massive attack on Iraq, the USA has become the self-appointed gendarme of the region, though it is the UN Security Council which is supposed to be monitoring the blockade of Iraq. This time this fig leaf of UN intervention was torn asunder as the US bombed Iraqi territory without the least excuse.

It is ironical that the US bombing of Iraq—blatant and unprovoked—should take place almost at the same time that the nuclear powers with the USA at its head were taking the lead to push the CTBT through the UN General Assembly after having been defeated by the Indian veto at the Disarmament Conference at Geneva.

What is really the crux of the Indian objection to the CTBT draft? The really substantive Indian criticism of the CTBT draft has been that it refuses to set a time-frame for nuclear disarmament by the big club of the nuclear powers. This indeed has brought out the real discrimination in the matter of possessing of nuclear weapons by the Big Five of the Security Council and their camp followers. In the eyes of any citizen in a developing country the discrimination between the nuclear-haves and the nuclear-have nots cannot but be obvious.

What is preposterous is the fact that those who have acquired the major stockpiles of nuclear weapons, are the ones who are exempting themselves from any commitment to give up nuclear weapons, and these include the very powers who have the most frightening arsenals under their command and thereby have emerged as the real despoiler of peace. In fact, it is the US which alone has dropped the atomic bomb on thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women and children—a crime which cannot be ascribed against any other power. A genuine CTBT should have disqualified the US first for the use of nuclear weapons.

The CTBT is like entrusting the armed bandits to guard men and women in a village. And on top of that, these very powers are the ones who are permitted to preserve their stockpiles, while all the others have to make the solemn declaration that they would never, never possess nor produce a nuclear weapon.

Link up these two sets of international developments. On one side a well-planned commitment is being sought by the nuclear weapons powers from non-nuclear powers demanding of them that they would never go for manufacture of nuclear weapons, while the powerful nuclear weapon-holding countries would make no commitment that they would even by a specific date destroy their fearsome arsenals. While this inequity is sought to be imposed at the decision-making level—perpetuating a caste system between the nuclear powers and the non-nuclear powers—the reality in international relations today is provided by the action of the US Administration in bombing Iraq on the plea of preventing its supposed aggression on the Kurds, despite the fact that the Iraqi Government on its own had declared that they would not proceed with armed action against the Kurds.

India has done the right thing in refusing to be dragooned into signing the CTBT, pointing out at the same time the glaring inequity that the proposed treaty seeks to perpetuate. At the same time, the Indian Parliament and public have been outspoken in denouncing President Clinton’s action in ordering the bombing of Iraq without any provocation.

These two developments together bring out the ghastly iniquitous international regime that the big powers of today are seeking to perpetuate. It would be a mistake on our part to think that India stands isolated in the protracted CTBT debate. By fearlessly raising the voice of reason against the setting up of an unjust international regime of nuclear hegemony, India has recaptured the moral prestige that was at the root of its foreign policy in the early years after independence. Of late there were far too many occasions when our governments preferred to keep mum in the face of injustice on the plea that any annoying of the rulers of the USA would be pragmatically unwise. There are elements that can shamelessly plead that by annoying the US Administration, the multinational investors would not come to our country and promote our market economy. It is this mentality of subservience to the market bosses even in foreign policy that undermines the sovereignty of a country.

(Mainstream, September 21, 1996)

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