Addressing a public rally on Sunday October 7, Mrs Sonia Gandhi described opponents of the Indo-US Nuclear deal as enemies of Indiaï¿½s development. It would be instructive to identify the forces opposed to the deal.
China and US big business have a cozy relationship. For the last three decades China has acted as a giant manufacturing factory, providing also cheap labor working in slave conditions, to enable US multinationals vastly increase their profit margins. Consequently, US big business happily diverted investment from domestic markets to China causing loss of jobs to American workers. Meanwhile big business leaned on US governments to allow a five to one trade surplus to China. A huge chunk of Chinese exports to America are low-tech goods manufactured largely in firms owned by Chinaï¿½s Peopleï¿½s Liberation Army (PLA). At one time the PLA owned an estimated 15000 commercial firms.
Over the years this resulted in hugely augmenting PLA funds for expanding and modernizing Chinaï¿½s army. And it led to China owning over a trillion dollars worth of US treasury securities. This relationship has joined China and America at the hip. Chinaï¿½s system runs on exports for which US cooperation is crucial. Americaï¿½s system runs on overdraft for which Chinaï¿½s lending is crucial. Chinaï¿½s links with US big business allow it to exercise powerful influence over all democratic governments with which it deals.
Recently Australian Prime Minister John Howard admitted as much while allaying Chinaï¿½s concerns over the emerging US-Japan-Australia-India axis. This lobby comprising US business and China overlooks global security while it pursues profit.
Now consider, in this general context, the Indo-US Nuclear deal. Initially, China discouraged the deal to block India. Recently, it has softened its stand. Does that indicate change of policy? No. As a member of the big powers club, China wanted to conform to the views of the other members to appear respectable.
After other big powers backed the deal, China got aboard to retain respectability. Now it seeks to block the deal through its admirers among Indian politicians, and through influencing its corporate allies in the US. Mainstream American media is the voice of the corporate lobby. That is why US mainstream media serves Chinaï¿½s interests as faithfully as it does the interests of US big business. A fine example of this symbiotic relationship in US media is provided by the worldï¿½s most powerful media baron, Rupert Murdoch.
On June 26th New York Times writer Joseph Kahn reported from Beijing: ï¿½Mr. Murdoch has flattered Communist Party leaders and done business with their children. . . . Mr. Murdochï¿½s third wife, Wendi, is a mainland Chinese. . . . Mr. Murdoch cooperates closely with Chinaï¿½s censors and state broadcasters . . . . He cultivates political ties . . . often supports the policies of Chinese leaders and attacks their critics. His courtship has made him the Chinese leadershipï¿½s favorite foreign media baron. He has dined with former President Jiang Zemin and repeatedly met other members of the ruling Politburo in Beijing, New York and London . . . . Murdochï¿½s book unit published a biography of Mr. Deng written by his daughter, Deng Rong . . . . He also cultivated ties with Mr. Dengï¿½s eldest son, Deng Pufang . . . . Xinhua said: ï¿½President Jiang expressed appreciation for the efforts made by world media mogul Rupert Murdoch in presenting China objectively and cooperating with the Chinese press over the last two yearsï¿½. . . . Retired prime minister, Mr. Zhu (Rongchi) invited Mr. Murdoch to become Chinese.ï¿½
Apart from owning Fox News, which was considered the most pro-US government TV channel during the Iraq war, Murdoch owns Star TV channels in India and is expected to buy the most powerful US financial paper, The Wall Street Journal. But Murdoch is not the only voice in US mainline media. The New York Times is another powerful voice for Americaï¿½s East Coast Establishment. What does it say?
In an editorial on October 6th NYT wrote: ï¿½Congress was far too uncritical when it gave preliminary approval to the agreement in December . . . . All nuclear trade with India has been banned since it refused to sign the nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and tested nuclear weapons . . . . The agreement could benefit New Delhiï¿½s weapons program as much as its pursuit of nuclear power, while making it even harder to rein in the ambitions of nuclear wannabes, including Iran.ï¿½
The newspaperï¿½s concern over nuclear proliferation is touching. It is also inexplicably selective. India, which transparently refrained from signing the NPT and was belatedly compelled to become a nuclear weapons state due to the growing China-Pakistan threat, is considered encouragement to nuclear proliferation. But China which is the fountainhead of global nuclear proliferation ï¿½ made clear in a number of articles exposing this, written by David Sanger and William J Broad published in the NYT itself ï¿½ attracts not a whisper of protest from the paperï¿½s editorial writers. So much for objectivity!
And if US media opposes the nuclear deal, can Israel be far behind? Israel approached the Nuclear Suppliersï¿½ Group (NSG) seeking a ï¿½criteria-based approachï¿½ to opening nuclear commerce with non-NPT states. Reportedly, Indian government sources viewed this as Israel indirectly supporting Chinaï¿½s and Pakistanï¿½s efforts to make the NSG stall Indiaï¿½s deal. The Washington Post confirmed that this Israeli move could seriously complicate US efforts to win exemption for India from the NSG.
This unspoken alliance between the so-called Left and so-called Right should explain the odd reactions that the Indo-US Nuclear Deal has aroused within India. Leftist politicians like Prakash Karat and Bardhan fiercely oppose the deal because it would draw India close to the US. Rightist politicians like Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha oppose it because the deal would impinge on Indiaï¿½s sovereignty. The New York Times is worried about nuclear proliferation and about Iran getting the bomb. The CPI-M is worried about the deal crippling Indiaï¿½s foreign policy and preventing Iran getting the bomb. Pro-Muslim journalists are dead set against the deal because it involves Bush who attacked Iraq. Pro-Israel Indian security analysts oppose the deal because it will destroy Indiaï¿½s N-weapons programme.
You name it, youï¿½ve got it: there are worries expressed about nuclear proliferation, about Indiaï¿½s losing its sovereignty, about India getting sucked into Americaï¿½s wicked global plans, about India abetting anti-Islamic war-mongering through collusion with President Bush, about destroying Indiaï¿½s future nuclear weapons programme, about blocking Iranï¿½s nuclear programme, about encouraging Iranï¿½s nuclear programme ï¿½ the concerns wide and varied. The demand remains the same. The most influential section of US media, US big business, China, Israel, pro-Islamists, CPI-M, BJP ï¿½ they are all on the same side. With one voice they chant the same refrain: ï¿½Kill the Indo-US Nuclear deal!ï¿½
They add up to a formidable group and a powerful voice. Should it be called Leftist? Rightist? Or does money make the world spin? If so, it clearly operates at a level far above the heads of our own pathetic Leftists and Rightists who seem not even to know whose interests they serve.
Indians should ignore these disparate arguments from questionable sources betraying dubious links, and focus on a single fact: if a non-NPT nation like India signs the deal it will achieve a unique distinction. It will be recognized as a nuclear power. That would enhance significantly its global role.