Dec 08, 2023
Dec 08, 2023
Madison, the architect of the American Constitution was amongst the wisest and most perceptive of the founding fathers, but still not immune from personal egotistic follies that transcended his virtues. His analysis of war and the presidency are amongst his finest and acutest writings and essential reading for all Americans and the world.
| Yet Madison fell prey to his own vanity when he chose war against powerful Britain under a misapprehension that he would be greeted with flowers as a liberator in Canada in 1812.
The invasion of Canada failed dismally. The British attacked and sacked Washington DC, burning the White House. The US was saved by Britain's preoccupation with a conquering Napoleonic France and the military genius of Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans, which post dated the already signed truce.
'W', who is a mere puppet, was misguided by the neo-cons into a hubris that the conquest of Iraq would be greeted similarly by the natives oppressed by Saddam and looked on by the world as a humanitarian intervention to promote human rights and democracy, while providing America total control of Iraq's oil wealth at a cheap price with reliability of supply and a stranglehold over the energy needs of Europe, Japan, China and India, while an impotent Russia unable to thwart the invasion went along meekly. Iran, Saudi Arabia and the energy rich Gulf Kingdoms would kowtow to the new Emperor with kurnishes and tributes. Instead the insurgency has announced to the world that the boy emperor has no clothes and how naked and vulnerable he is.
The US attempts to bring Ukraine into its fold are failing due to infighting between political factions. Revolution in Kirghyzstan is failing. Kazaqkhstan and Turkmenistan have rejected a pipeline excluding Russia and thrown their lot in with the Gazprom planned Russian pipeline. This is likely to prevent Germany and France from alienating Russia on whom they depend for energy and marginalize Poland and its justifiable antagonism to Russia. It also increases the importance of Iran as an alternative energy source to avoid total dependence on Russia for an energy starved EU, thus throwing a monkey wrench into the US plans to browbeat and attack Iran. Turkey, rejected for EU membership and annoyed by the US partiality to Kurds and fearful of an oil rich Kurdish Republic including oil rich Kirkuk, is looking eastward and more likely to co-operate with Russia, Central Asia and give more breathing room for its resurgent Islamic culture and thinking under Erdogan's justice party.
Many critical events are happening. The US keeps bombing civilians to counter the Taliban who hide amongst the population. The puppet Karzai keeps protesting against indiscriminate aerial bombing and receives no attention. The Afghans in the Pashtun region are fed up with the corruption of the national army and police and civilian deaths, and are turning to the Taliban. The Taliban encourages poppy production and the spraying and destruction of the poppy crop further alienates the poor farmers who cannot survive without it due to lack of economic opportunities. The Taliban uses illicit drug trade to finance their arms procurement. The upper house of the Afghan parliament has voted for withdrawal of foreign troops and a cease fire and negotiations with the Taliban.
The Iraqi parliament refuses to pass the oil law that the US wants and at the behest of Sadr has passed a non-binding resolution for setting a fixed date for withdrawal of foreign troops. The US congress attached a deadline for withdrawal of US troops for additional funding of the war. Bush vetoed the bill but there are serious obstacles to his getting what he wants as even his Republicans have begun to defect. All these point to a withdrawal of the US from Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush's poodle Blair is finally quitting in dishonor and British troops will be recalled sooner rather than later. Canada is worried about its losses in Afghanistan. It is likely that the Taliban will be brought into the government in Afghanistan and US withdrawal from Iraq will begin by September.
Earlier Germany elected a more right leaning pro-US chancellor in Merkel and now France did the same in Sarkozy. The rightward swing in both old and new Europe is an ab-reaction against Muslim immigration and previous Soviet domination respectively. France, Germany and UK are likely to align their policies more to America and thus the ban against arms sales to China will hold. It is crucial for India to obtain advanced western arms technology while China is denied it. Once the ban is lifted, the richer financial and economic clout of China and its advanced technology compared to India will make China a much more formidable advanced conventional military power beyond India's reach.
The problem is that the gas pipeline deal with Iran and economic relations increase US displeasure and even more so if India walks away from the nuclear treaty. I am not at all suggesting that India should sign the treaty. My purpose is to think ahead about the consequences of its failure and be prepared for it both militarily and economically. Currently the Tejas LCA uses GE 404 engines and India must seek an alternative right away. Russian RD33 engine technology has been licensed and India is seeking collaboration with French Snecma for the Kaveri engine. This must be speeded up and know-how acquired before the nuclear deal fails.
The Arjun MBT uses a German engine and foreign components and once again it is essential to get full licenses for indigenous production before any restrictions can be put. Similar collaboration for night vision equipment, rifles, machine guns, avionics, EW and ECM systems and laser guided bombs and ammunition, radars and UAVs with Israel, needs to be speeded up to start production and bypass the risk of embargos. The Scorpene assembling at home must be accelerated and India should quickly sign a deal for the new German HDW submarines with silent hydrogen fuel technology. If the LCAs and Arjuns can be totally made with indigenous or licensed parts, it would make India significantly independent as far as the army and air-force are concerned. It is worth beginning licensed production of howitzers with Denel of South Africa despite the previous bribery scandal, as it is more likely to be pro-India than others. Any deal with Bofors needs to be speeded up as also the joint production of fifth generation MRCAs with Russia.
As far as energy independence is concerned India will have to rely on the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. Thus the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline must be begun without delay. America is in such a bind that Bush has three choices-1) Escalate the war by bombing Iran 2) Continue the war only in Iraq and leave it to the next president to decide what to do at the cost of treasure and casualties and a rout of the Republican party in 2008 or 3) Withdraw well before the elections. Only the first alternative would prevent India going ahead with the pipeline. In Afghanistan co-option of the Taliban into the Afghan government would return that country to the status of what it was, when the IA plane was hijacked from Nepal. Pakistan would once again gain strategic depth and be free to concentrate exclusively against India on the Southeastern border. It would be better for India in that case that Afghanistan like Iraq, be fragmented so that India could hope for friendly expanded Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
I am not suggesting that India kill the nuclear treaty if no agreement on reprocessing, uninterrupted supply and future testing cannot be reached. It should continue endless negotiations till the treaty dies an unrequited death by time. As Parkinson's third law states, delay is the deadliest form of denial. I think things are coming to a head anyway, what with the US congressional threat ultimatum to the Indian prime minister, the upcoming visit of Secretary Burns to India and the approaching deadline for the purchase of 126 MRCAs, which cannot be postponed much more.
As multiple experts have tirelessly repeated, acquisition of nuclear technology is neither essential nor adequate to meet India's energy deficit. At best by 2020 India can only hope to produce less than 10% of its energy needs by nuclear power, even under all favorable circumstances. Gas pipeline deal with Iran can yield three times or more of power and fuel. Other deals with Bangladesh and Myanmar need to be vigorously pursued and newly discovered Kampuchea oil and gas finds deserve a closer look. If the US withdraws from Iraq which is unlikely, India's prior good relations with Iraq can be resurrected to tap an additional energy source.
Finally, as mentioned above China has no access to European or American arms technology and even Russia is careful about sharing the latest arms technology for fear of overpopulated northeastern China spilling over into the thinly populated Russian far east and taking over the previous territories usurped by Russia from China in Siberia and Eastern Russia. Nevertheless, China's economy is twice the size of India and so are its armed forces and military assets. India needs to follow the example of Pakistan. Pakistan's economic and military might is a fraction of those of India. This is why it chose to opt for cheaper and indigenous stolen nuclear weapons over costly imported conventional weapons and achieve near parity to India for Mutually Assured Destruction as a deterrent.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD