Council on Foreign Relations

Who’s US to tell India what weapons it must buy for its’ own defence?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I was seven when the United States sent its nuclear-powered Seventh Fleet to Bay of Bengal to scare India during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Nearly half a century on, it’s making a similar growl, though financial in kind, to freeze India from buying the S-400 missile system from Russia. India, like in 1971, couldn’t care less.

The State Department has warned India of economic sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ) if it went ahead with its buy which India’s military has eyed so longingly for so long. The US appears no wiser to the snub which New Delhi had delivered on secretary of state Mike Pompeo on the same matter six months ago.

The United States might think it’s indispensable enough to wag a finger at India but it’s no better than grand-standing by a fading superpower which thinks the world is still its oyster and its “friends” are no better than courtiers in attendance.

India doesn’t need to flip the history pages to know how the United States has stood down its friends over the centuries. From the day it was born in 1776 when it roped in and then dumped indigenous Delaware Indians in its war against the colonialist British, to the modern times when the likes of Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Manual Noriega (Panama), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Muammar Gadaffi etc come flashing to mind, used and then disposed of, the United States hasn’t been a long-abiding friend with anyone.

Sure, it has strategic Anglo-Saxon brotherhood with UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and Mexico is always secure but the United States, by temperament, prefers client-states or vassals. Further, there is no Soviet Union for them to over-extend themselves in pursuit of Global Liberal Order. It is now disengaging itself from the world theatre and be it NATO, Turkey, Japan, Israel or Saudi Arabia all feel abandoned by their big brother from time to time. Remember the drone attack on Aramco when Saudis looked for askance from the US and got nothing in return?

Indo-Pacific and the Great Game

Thus India not only has the historical precedent to judge how convenient the United States is as an ally but it also has the chutzpah to know of its own relevance in Indo-Pacific and the abiding interest it holds for the United States. Since 2016, Council on Foreign Relations which reflects the US foreign policy, rates India as one of the most important piece in its’ global jigsaw.

It’s not to say India doesn’t need the United States for its multiple needs, not the least for its secure borders. Its’ overall trade with the United States was worth $84 billion in 2018. It also has a defence logistics sharing pact –the Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS)– with the United States.

But Russia and S-400 is another thing. India signed a $5 billion deal with Russia in 2018 to buy five systems of this missile whose capability has the NATO in thrall. India signed this deal last year even as the US sanctions against Russia were in place. The S-400 system can shoot four different missile types, forming a near impassable interlocking grid of missiles. These missiles can’t be electronically jammed and its’ range could take care of almost 40,000-feet-high threats in the air. It’s an invaluable buy.

Besides, India has for decades been buying its arsenal from Russia and the fresh buys thus don’t usually have the compatibility issues. Not only the US arms are more expensive, but it’s also not so willing to sell its advanced weapons to India as Russia is. Russia also is an important natural gas provider to India’s monstrous energy needs.

US and its Catch-22 dilemma

 When the first system of S-400 is delivered to India this year—all are slated to be provided by 2024—it could be that the United States might enforce a few economic sanctions. After all, it did end India’s special trade privileges last year in a bid to force New Delhi’s hands in importing more goods. But it would be no better than a slap on the wrist. A hard measure could actually come back to bite the United States for it could halt its own major arms supplies to India, including prime weapons such as F-35 which it has been hard-selling to India for some time now.

Instead of threatening India from an assumed position of an indispensable ally, it would help the United States to work out the tariff dispute—a miffed US president Donald Trump calls India “tariff king”–and keep its Indian friends in good humour. India is too important to be sacrificed in haste, certainly not with the empty rhetoric of a ban in case the S-400 missile is acquired by India. The United States has no option but to keep the pretence of being an “ally” going with India.  

(This first appeared as an OpEd in rt.com)

Ravish Kumar, Magsaysay award and connecting the dots

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Ravish Kumar has won Magsaysay Awards as once did Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and Admiral Ramdas. The common thread is community service and any inference to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is incidental.

The award was established by New York-based Rockfeller Brothers Fund in the memory of Philippines president Ramon Magsaysay who died in a plane crash in 1957.  In 2000, Ford Foundation did its bid by constituting the Ramon Magsaysay Emergent Leadership Award.

It is in interest of Indian citizens to know the background of Rockfeller and Ford Foundations.

In the early 20th century, United States legalized endowed foundations. What was once a missionary activity was now called corporate philanthropy. They were the new lifeguards of Imperialism, or call it Capitalism, under threat from Communism.  Among the first to be set up was Carnegie Corporation, endowed in 1911 by profits from Carnegie Steel Company. The Rockfeller Foundation was endowed in 1914 by JD Rockfeller, founder of Standard Oil Company.

Rockfeller Foundation was the early patron which gave seed money to the United Nations, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  These Foundations had massive resources, all tax-free, with an unrestrained brief:  to turn economic muscle into political, cultural and social capital. Massive funds were not there to raise wages of its workers. It was to turn money into power—to run the world. (So we have Bill Gates controlling health, education and agricultural policies all over the world from seemingly dull occupation of selling software).

By the 1920s, US had begun to swoop on overseas markets and its raw materials. In 1924, the Rockfeller and Carnegie Foundations had created the most powerful foreign policy pressure group—the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), later funded by the Ford Foundation as well.  So far CFR has had two dozen US secretaries of state on its roll. No less than 5 CFR members were in the 1943 steering committee that planned the UN. JD Rockfeller bought the land for UN’s New York headquarters at $8.5 million grant.

Then came the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement to set up a new international monetary system. Now all other currencies were pegged to the value of the US dollar, which, in turn, was pegged to the price of gold. World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) became the checkposts of world’s financial roadways. They demanded Good Governance (as long as they held the strings), Rule of Law (as long as they helped make the laws) and transparent institutions. Ironically, these rules were mandated by two of the most opaque, unaccountable and non-transparent global organizations.  Country after country were cracked open by World Bank for global finance. (A fact:  All dozen presidents of the World Bank since 1946, which has its foot on the throats of Third World governments, have been members of the CFR, barring one.)

The Ford Foundation came into being in 1936. It works in lockstep with US State Department. It is in complete harmony with Bretton Woods philosophy of standardizing business practices and promoting free market.  The Capitalist Order is dressed up in liberal ethos.

It’s with these lenses you need to view the activity of Ford Foundation which has invested tens of millions of dollars in India. Generous aids are given to specific university courses and scholarships. A lot of these funds go to writers, artists, film-makers and activists.  (Again any inference to Award Wapsi gang, List of 49 “eminents”, MeToo movement, dalit scholars and research foundations taking over the edit pages of Lutyens Media is incidental).

These Foundations have made it an art to put their pieces on the chessboard of a society. Elite clubs and think-tanks are formed. Ford Foundation makes no secret of intervening in grassroots political movements as its avowed “goals for the future of mankind.” If your mind is going to Anna Hazare and his sudden centrestage occupation in Indian politics, along with the likes of Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, the inference again is incidental. It would do us no harm though to remember that Kejriwal-Sisodia have publicly conceded of generous grants by Ford Foundation to their NGO in the past.

By the 1950s, the Rockfeller and Ford Foundations were in an overdrive in funding NGOs and educational institutions around the world. They were quasi-extension of the US government to topple democratically-elected governments in Latin America, Iran and Indoensia. The Indonesian students, trained in counter-insurgency by US army, played a critical role in effecting CIA-backed coup in Indonesia in 1965 that brought General Suharto to power. Similarly, eight years later, young Chilean students were trained at the University of Chicago (endowed by JD Rockfeller) to do their bit in the CIA-backed coup that killed Salvador Allende and brought General Pinochet and his reign of murders that lasted 17 years.

Please reflect why Anna Hazare, who calls himself a Gandhian, never said a word against corporate power or privatization. Why India’s corporate media proclaimed him to be the “voice of the people.” Whether the rage against scams was intended to wither away the powers of government and give levers to privatization? It’s worth reminding readers that Anna Hazare in 2008 received a World Bank award for outstanding public service (Any conjuring up image of Ravish Kumar and his Magsaysay Award, again, is incidental).

Or for example how come urban Gender champions and their feminist movements never have a word to say for a lakh-strong Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Saghathan (Revolutionary Adivasi Women’s Association)? Are they afraid of standing up to mining corporations in the Dandakaranya forest? Is this Capitalism and its ugly face which is covered under Liberal ethos, pushed by these Foundations?

These Foundations core philosophy is to prepare an international cadre which could extend Capitalism and the hegemony of the United States. Find natives who once served colonialism and would now do  them. Take over the fields of education, arts and entertainment; extend hold on the minds of masses. What if its costs millions of dollars? Money is useless if it can’t buy global power.

Magsaysay Award to Ravish Kumar is another piece in this chessboard. A brand has been created as a bulwark against India’s cultural resurgence. Watch how Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra are swooning in praise.  The enemy is making moves on all fronts. It is for us to connect the dots and keep fists in front of face.