Why should we treat Ukraine as a model?
Ever since 2019, with the BJP government getting re-elected, the western media has been shouting hoarsely about the ‘right-wing Hindutva movement’ in India. But more pertinent than ‘Is India really a right-wing country now’, is the question: Does the US have an issue with right-wing ideology?
Not necessarily. Given the way Ukraine had been openly harbouring neo-Nazi brigades after president Viktor Yanukovych was pushed out, and given the way the Western media is all over the internet covering up for Ukrainian thugs with Hakenkreuz tattoos. In this corner of the world, the US never had a problem with right-wings rape-murdering, lynching, and bombing Hindu, Sikh and other non-Muslim minorities since 1947 – whether in Pakistan or neighbouring countries. The Western media called perpetrators either plain ‘unruly mobs’ or terrorists.
The US has a problem with anyone who does not fall in line with its agenda. Their overarching vision is maintaining American primacy as the undisputed global power. Cut through that fanciful image and it means creating more client-states submissive to American business interests. Ukraine, or Yanukovych and those who elected him, were not sure if they wanted to become a client-state. So, the entire country was sacked.
I mentioned India-Ukraine similarities in the first part. These similarities find common grounds in countries like Iraq or Pakistan too. Iraq was used to needle its neighbour Iran. Saddam was prompted to attack Iran soon after the Islamic Revolution and the resultant loss of Western access to Iranian oil. Saddam was allowed to attack Kuwait. Iraq was used for many things, including the creation of ISIL. Look at Iraq today.
Pakistan was used to needle its neighbour – Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, to thwart Soviet expansion plans and to avenge Vietnam. Like Iraq, Pakistan too was used for many things. Indian readers are well aware of them I am sure. Look at Pakistan today.
ALSO READ: Can India Depend On The US?
So, QUAD, I2U2, and all the different strategic partnerships and conferences that we witness these days have the objectives of pulling India into the sphere of influence, transforming that into complete submission, and using a pliable government to do US bidding.
Then there are behavioural similarities. Imran Khan’s quest to close the gap with Russia (compounding the pre-existing Sino-Pak irritant of an alliance) led to his removal. With Pakistan, the world does not care much I understand, so recall the Yanukovych example in Ukraine. Maidan riots were orchestrated after he decided to side with Russia.
Even if we put aside the allegations of neo-Nazis like Right Sector or Svoboda assaulting police etc during the riots, what cannot be discounted is Geoffrey Pyatt or Victoria Nuland physically present there during the riots instigating the mobs, or bodies like NED, HRW, OSF of George Soros staying close behind, administering the entire debacle.
India’s recent stance in the Ukraine conflict has not gone well with the Western establishments. And Shaheen Bagh or farmer protests were dry runs of the kind of chaos that could be unleashed in future. There would be more in future and perhaps larger in scale, with the sole idea to destabilize the government.
How New Delhi addresses this kind of a crisis, whether it has a plan in place is not the point here. The point here is India is not a friend; it is not even an assistant. Like Iraq or Pakistan, it is just an Asian Ukraine – to be used as and when. The parallels are too strong to ignore.
Why can’t we depend on the US?
Many reasons! The first one that comes to mind is that no country that undermines democratically-elected governments of other countries to forward its agenda – however noble they are – should be trusted. The USA has had 20th-century records of dealing mostly with dictators and authoritarian states around the world to forward its interest – a modus operandi whose legitimacy can be debated in the arena of realpolitik; but the current model doesn’t even deserve a debate.
The second reason is, theoretically, even if one exercised a benefit of doubt about allowing an elected government to fall if only to further the US agenda, he could be excused for his line of thought had the US demonstrated exemplary resolve and result, or had stood by its frontier pawns. But from Iraq or Afghanistan to Ukraine, we have seen their operative mindset: push countries into chaos and abandon them when it suits. For Ukraine, this is a war that it cannot win. A third of its territory is gone. They would probably lose the Black Sea access too. There have been thousands of deaths, millions have been displaced, and even if the war stops tomorrow, it will take several decades for them to recover. All along, the US is constantly pushing Zelenskyy towards an indefinite war by not letting him go to the negotiation table.
The third reason is going to take you back to the first part of this essay. A self-righteous power that specializes in shooting its foot; has complete disregard towards its partners’ priorities; and, one that is being held at ransom back home by a woke administration – people who have very little understanding about international relations, and predicate their existence on cancelling people, cultures, ideas, and priorities – is definitely not a good choice for an ally.
Naturally not many around the world are willing to listen to them. America called upon the world to sanction Russia, and according to the Washington Post, Biden was even willing to put the world into a recession to stop Russia from reaching its objective, but they found out that no one other than the EU and a few Pacific islands was listening. While that sounds reasonable now for the countries that are not presently under the US focus, New Delhi is; and so it has to quickly identify what and when to listen to America.
Many seem to believe that the US financial system is exceptionally strong and that it will survive. Assuming we see some merit, some credibility there, and also assuming we overlook all of the US’ strategic shortsightedness, its woke lobby etc, and buy the optimistic conclusion that the US will survive. Will the US enjoy its unipolar status? Most likely not! So, India’s objective should be to relook at the rules of engagement in a multipolar world, irrespective of NDA-UPA infighting.
Considering that the US – by some miracle – propels itself to being a unipolar power. The question is: who benefits in that case? The nation-states that help reestablish its unipolarity, or Wall Street, Silicon Valley and sundry Western elites? History has taught us that an empire is a wealth generator for its elites. Where would India feature there? Unlike the EU or Japan, India is not even a ‘partner’ (even if it were one, the US has demonstrated how no partner counts when it comes to its agenda).
This article does not disapprove of an Indian engagement with the USA. Of course, India should engage, no matter how high the odds stack up. Diplomacy exists for the same reason. Besides, this is an interconnected and complex web of a world today. You tap one side of the web and the entire structure vibrates, as Robert Kaplan once noted. It is elementary to establish working relations with all the centres concerned (even with the Taliban, for that matter).
What would be the limits to that? I know a lot of Indians agree today that a regional aspirant like us should not become a lackey to some other power (that includes Russia too); or that India should not find itself as a pawn in someone’s tussle for supremacy. In the case of the US specifically, we know that it makes little sense to look up to someone that has the rare record of being the only empire greedy and shortsighted enough to sell their biggest advantage in an open market.
So, does New Delhi have what it takes to cement a suitable identity in the international arena — an identity that is impervious to changes in government at the centre?
That would be the real test.
Arindam Mukherjee is a Calcutta-based author and a Learning & Development professional who likes to dabble in Eurasian geopolitics during his spare time.
Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Note: This piece is the second part of Mukherjee’s series on Indo-US relations.
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