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Iran feels let down by India and rightly so

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Iran has shown its hurt on India which has unilaterally stopped the import of its oil, unwilling to stand in the corner of the adversaries of the United States.

Ali Chegeni, Iranian Ambassador to India, didn’t mince his words in a press briefing in New Delhi on Tuesday, chiding India for succumbing to the “sanctions” of the United States.

The Donald Trump administration is going berserk in his attempt to destroy Iran, first pulling out of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) despite Iran being faithful to the deal and piling on with economic sanctions without approval from its allies or world community in the form of United Nations.

India hasn’t imported oil from Iran for months now and couched its action as “reduced” and not “stopped” to suit its independent image. But now that Iran has gone public, India has been shown as having been arm-twisted by the United States.

Fans of India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and his muscular foreign policy could feel cheated as a multi-polar world—against the unipolar bullying of United States—is nearer to being a reality.

Russia and China, hit by sanctions and trade wars, are now joined at hips and Iran is a vital clog in their drive to keep Middle East, even Eurasia, out of bounds for the United States. European Union (EU) has created INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to keep trading with Iran without resorting to direct transfers of money between the two entities. India is seen as one final piece of jigsaw of the emerging multi-polar world which would signal the further unravelling of US’ hegemony.

To be sure, the United States is one hell of an economic power and throws its weight to bring nations under its heel. It’s the nerve centre of global economy. Be it goods or money; data or transportation, the world doesn’t move much without the express will of the United States.

The United States is the kingpin of globalization. It anchors International Monetary Fund (IMF). It controls over 50 per cent of the venture capital, all but 10 per cent of currency trade use its dollars.  Tech and finance doesn’t move without its dollars; it could cripple phone-operating systems of the world; it controls the fund-management assets. As The Economist puts it: “Across the panel, it’s normal to use a Visa card, invoice exports in dollars, sleep beside a device with a Qualcomm chip, watch Netflix and work for a firm that BlackRock invests in.”

If a firm is blacklisted, no bank would touch you with a barge pole and you are put outside the dollar payment system. There is a law in place which controls the foreign investment into Silicon Valley—if you fall foul, you could virtually say goodbye to transactions in semiconductors and software, a virtual ruination in today’s world.

Economy isn’t the imperative though which has guided India’s change of course vis-à-vis Iran. India needs to hedge its bets. That’s the demand of the geopolitics reality. It neither can annoy the chief actors of the drama nor it can afford to align itself with either of the two groups: United States vs the Russia-China combine.  If it snuggles up to the United States, it loses the strategic and military advantage of Russia. It provokes China to join hands with Pakistan and cause mayhem on its borders. If it slips into the arms of Russia-China, it must brace itself to the devastation which the United States could unleash, like the one they have in Hong Kong.

India thus follows the sensible policy of keeping its suitors interested. Both the United States and China need India. The United States in its existential mission to squeeze China and badly needs India. China wants to keep India dormant for the same reason. It can’t afford a naval configuration of United States-Japan-Australia-India to spike its waters.

India too needs to do a balancing act of its own. So it relents on South China Sea to ensure China doesn’t help Pakistan to the extent its borders are put under siege. It relents to United States’ demand on Iran to ensure its military purchases from Russia are unimpaired. It knows the mischief the United States is capable of.  India internally is in an ideological churn. And the United States is expert in fishing in troubled waters. Kashmir could so easily go horribly wrong.

I suspect Modi’s India, in its heart, is for a multi-polar world. United States doesn’t follow rules, it isn’t friends with anyone. All it wants is servility. Those who are independent—like Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China, North Korea or Iran—face its wrath.  India is still some leagues away  before it could trust China completely and dump the United States for good. India is pivotal to Project Eurasia but can’t afford to annoy either of the two blocs. It’s a watchful tread by them.

It’s just not the United States: India has also made a choice in warming up to Saudi Arabia-Israel in the Middle East. They are Iran’s sworn enemies. By drawing close to the Gulf Muslim nations, India has left Pakistan sterile. Pakistan’s fervent appeal on religious lines to Muslim nations has drawn a very tepid response on Kashmir. Instead we have the situation where Modi is being accorded the highest civilian honour in UAE and Bahrain.  This comes in the backdrop of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Maldives conferring similar honours to him. It has isolated Pakistan on Kashmir.

Iran has shown it can’t wait for India interminably.  It doesn’t want to be a minor player in India’s international diplomatic games. It’s a perfectly legitimate response given how Iran and its’ proud people are waging a war for survival. Modi government though is in the thick of its own war with internal and external enemies.  One hopes, through the backdoor diplomatic channels,  India and Iran remain warm to each other. Till the time is ripe.

It’s good for the world.

 

Who’s doing the PR for Dolkun Isa?

Be ready to see from tomorrow our newspapers painted red with India’s “freedom” brigade outraged at the denial of visa to Dolkun Isa.

The first stone will be cast in the Indian Parliament–having just begun its session–where the issues of drought and natural disasters, jobs and economy will be cast aside as our elected representatives will fall over each other at the terrible “intolerance” of Modi government on Isa affair.

A few predictions: Barack Obama or Melinda Gates would express concern; British parliamentarians would plan to send a delegation on human rights to India; and European Union would worry over what has come over Gandhi’s land.  You already know who would “condemn,” “criticize” and “allege” against Modi in screaming headlines on front pages tomorrow on.

No one would bother to check a few basic points: (a) Isa has an Interpol alert against him; (b) his visa application had flouted the norms and (c) India could have been seen as supporting terrorism.

There’s no reason to bait China who has never pricked India with conferences of Maoists, Naxalites and northeast rebels in its cities.

And what’s such a big deal about blocking “Azhar” being termed a terrorist at the UN forum? UN has blacklisted many terrorist organizations but neither their funding nor recruitment has been affected.

More than symbolic gestures, it’s important to understand the geopolitical reality. China desperately needs Pakistan and its Gawadar port for secure supply of its energy resources from the Middle East. It has a legitimate ground on the Dalai Lama issue, if not the NorthEast border disputes. It hasn’t hosted our “rebels” or “Hurriyat” leaders.

There’s a lot to gain if India and China build bridges and align themselves on major issues to save Asia from imperialist designs which comes in the form of “free trade” these days. That China and India agree on the point of Isa is unacceptable to Western powers and its captive, servile media.

Want an evidence? Just google search on “Isa and denied Indian visa.” You would squirm with unease on lengthy stories in New York Times and big digital outposts such as The Wire. Most media “heavyweights” have not only written thousands of words on the matter but have also been able to dial Isa for his reactions.

Most media outlets, including Indian media, have been able to phone Isa and get his reaction. A great PR agency has clearly been working round the clock on behalf of Isa to international press. Who’s behind such well-oiled publicity machine is easy to guess.

That alone ought to tell you the jitters in the West at the slightest hint of India and China drawing closer to each other. The forums of BRICS and SCO is simply unpalatable to them. A great game is being played in Asia and at stake is the hegemony of the world’s superpower.

Silly me to have presumed that you already know about Dolkun Isa issue. Mr Isa, 48, is a leader of the World Uyghur Congress, a Munich-based group that wants independence for Xinjiang, a region of western China, home to a large population of Uyghurs, mostly Muslim ethnic minority. He now lives in Germany.  Isa feld China in 1994.

And here’s the punch: In all this chest-thumping and anguish on Isa, no newspaper has bothered to inform us about the exact nature of conference in Dharamshala. Well, here it is: it’s being organized by a Washington-based (sigh) NGO, “Initiatives for China,” which is run by Yang Jianli, Harvard mathematician and a prominent Chinese pro-democracy leader.

Do you see the connection? If not yet then start writing down the names of all those who hit out against the Modi government and whom you read from tomorrow on in our newspapers. These would be the politicians, academicians and journalists who are paid in cash or kind to subvert the nation.

Express has let itself down on Richard Verma story

Today, on front page, Indian Express reported on Richard Verma’s visit to Bihar and the US envoy’s comment that “free speech is a key tenet” of India and United States.

Wrong Mr Envoy. Free speech is not a key tenet of United States. And no, we don’t have just Julian Assange and Edward Snowden in mind! The US State Department rules that “former employees are expected to refrain from engaging in activities of any kind, including writing manuscripts or giving speeches…”

Present US rules allow indefinite detention of Americans without due process which a federal judge mentioned has a “chilling effect” on free speech. The secret service can arrest anyone protesting near the President. And we haven’t come down to mass spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) yet which isn’t quite a recipe to encourage free speech.

It would interest Indian Express to know that journalists who report on whistleblowers are being persecuted. Protestors are being tear-gassed and beaten. And if you are filming police officers in public, you had it.

Back to today’s front page story. Mr Envoy was duly asked on JNU incident and he said that “it should be left to the government and students to decide (on the free speech debate).”

Wrong again Mr. Envoy. The matter is out of government and students’ hands. It’s now with judiciary. Look at it this way, government has charged a few students with sedition. And you want the two to mutually decide across the table? It’s like Barrack Obama calling Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to the White House “to decide” on terrorism. Do you see the absurdity?

By now the Indian Express decided to take the matter in its own hands. It added in next para that this is the first time a diplomat in India has spoken about the JNU affair.

Really? We all Indians must hang our heads in shame. After all, an employee of a different nation has censured our sovereign country.

Before the para is out, the dagger was plunged deeper. The newspaper added for good effect that Verma was concerned over the “chilling effect” of regulatory steps taken by the Modi (and not Indian) government against certain NGOs including the Ford Foundation.

Let me refresh your memory. Last year, the Centre put Ford Foundation on a Watch List and restricted its funding based on Gujarat government’s view of its “covert activities.” Ford Foundation provides enormous funding to a few of India’s elite educational institutions.

So now let me tell you about the Ford Foundation. The most influential liberal foundations of the 20th century are Carnegie Foundation, the Rockfeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, collectively known as the Big Three. All three were set up by America’s leading capitalists in 1911, 1913 and 1936.

In his book “Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism,” author Robert F. Amove states that the philosophy of these Big Three is designed to sustain the hegemony of the existing market forces.

Worse, these liberal foundations are accused of working closely with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States. A US Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations was funded by the CIA (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War: Frances Stonor Saunders, Grants Books, 1999, Pp: 134-135).

By the late 1950s, the Ford Foundation possessed over $3 billion in assets. The leadership of the Foundation were in total agreement with Washington’s post-WWII projection of world power. “At times, it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects ( ibid, p.139).”

(There is a lot which could be said about these collaborators of imperial, cultural agenda but it’s not our focus for the moment. In these pages, you would know for instance about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who are facing a writ petition in India’s Supreme Court for “criminally negligent, trialling the vaccines on vulnerable, uneducated and under-informed” population of India or how Obama inflames passion in India, or what is the credibility of Moody’s.)

So let’s return to the Indian Express story,. Over the next two paras it quotes two Western European diplomats but since neither they nor their countries are revealed, we can’t be sure if it is true or fictional. (how sub-editors let it pass must be a mystery). Obviously these mysterious diplomats refused to be identified. But one of them did mention the impact it would be on “economic climate.”

If it’s not a veiled threat, I don’t know what it is. If the idea from these well-wishers is that the bogey of “intolerance” and “communalism” would stop foreign investment, they ought not to have worried. We all know how economically messy Europe and European Union (EU) is since 2008.  We also know of India’s healthy economic forecast by independent international agencies.

The Indian Express story hasn’t ended (indeed, it’s of such monstrous length spilling over two pages that you wonder if these are mere envoys and unnamed diplomats or not Nostradamus  reborn).  It reports apology of quotes from Russian, Chinese and African diplomatic sources before returning to Verma again.

Verma is now quoted at length on the necessity of freedom at our college campuses which he termed the “laboratories of thought.” He then mentions the importance of “upholding minority rights” and rambles on before concluding that “speech is a central tenet we (US and India) hold dear.”

There are a lot of times in this lengthy reportage when a reporter ought to have interjected and having failed to do so either ought to have omitted these quotes or supplemented it with his or her own corrective interpretation and analogy. We are not informed on what purpose Verma went to Bihar such was the indecent haste to publish this report. We can only conclude it was “plug”—plain and simple. A cheating of newspaper’s paying customers.

What it took decades for these newspapers to build their reputations, they are intent on squandering in a matter of days. They need to take a closer and harder look at their own agenda. The resistance must come from within its premises and people. It’s better they laugh and scold each other in private than be open to ridicule and contempt in public.

Does Europe have a future?

Does Europe have a future?

The very question signifies a collective entity and in that sense, the answer is an emphatic NO.

The presumption that it also includes Russia and its borderlands—strictly Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan—was already a NO before the question was asked.

Physically, Russia and its borderlands are part of Europe but never considered such by Western Europe or for that matter United States. The subservient  mass media ensured it remained the “other” Europe.

Know your Europe, folks.

But this official Europe—defined as a unit by European Union (EU) and Euro—is finished. You could have a chance to offer a formal digital condolence in years to come though within your heart you know its dead.

This seed of destruction was sown in the hubris following the demise of Soviet Union in the 1990s. Both US and Europe wanted to run the world. Their democracy, institutions, trade rules, all stood vindicated. This model needed replicating. They thus sowed the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind.

This urge for prototypes led to the creation of European Union. Originally six countries had come together to produce and market steel and coal. But the Maastricht Treaty (1992) led to an overreach which now has 28 members in its fold. The creation of a single currency Euro followed before the 90s were out. The idea was to create a supranational entity with the vision of a political union somewhere in future.

This was the original mistake. European Union had been formed to ride over nationalism. But its new Eastern members had just been out of the Soviet Union umbrella. They wanted more of nationalism. Any decision could become victim of a single veto. Any progress was thus stalled from its very inception.

The EU bosses also hadn’t factored in the mood of citizens who could hold their governments in a bind. More than two-thirds of EU citizens were found by PEW Research Centre to distrust EU.  Nearly 70 percent Europeans believed their voices didn’t count in EU.

Tigers and sheeps have an existential issue inside a wall.  They never live in harmony, but for in Disney. Germany’s GDP is  hundreds of times bigger than that of a Malta. Sweden and Latvia are no match. The hierarchy—and thus the distrust—became obvious. The notion of equality was shown the first door.

The creation of Euro was an original sin. It’s basis was the vision of a future political union–It wasn’t an economic decision by far. All the bosses wanted was a solid integration of history’s “bad boy” Germany into the fold. They also wanted to match dollar.  But without political cohesion, it was a no-go from the start.

Ironically, the clever-by-half bosses felt a crisis could actually help forge the political union. They actually welcomed such a situation. Common banking and fiscal policies were thought to usher in a supra-central bank. They just believed a crisis would throw up a solution but had no idea what it could be.

Then came the 2008 financial meltdown. It’s been over seven years now. The deck is still on fire and attempt to douse it by papering over the Euro hasn’t worked. While they worked on saving the boat, a storm raged in not too far-away horizon of Middle East by way of wars and terrorism. Arab Springs, China, Russia, Syria all chipped away at the base. European capitals became unsafe, refugees came flooding in, paranoid and xenophobia bared its fangs.

The paralysis further eroded the confidence in Europe’s future. Germany first welcomed and then withdrew from the refugee problem. Hungary only wanted Christians. Fellow EU members (Croatia vs Hungary for instance) chirped away at each other.

This official Europe had further shot itself in foot on Ukraine. They offered moon to Ukraine but didn’t want to make allowance for Russia’s insecurity at its border. Ukraine almost has now turned into a failed state. As Henry Kissinger famously said: “both(East and West) want to make it an outpost for themselves—whereas it should’ve been a bridge”—or words similar to that effect.

Citizens again were in a disconnect on Ukraine. While Russia was drummed up as a threat, the polls showed that only 4 out of 10 Germans conformed to the viewpoint. And here’s the interesting bit: More than half in Germany, France and Italy believe NATO shouldn’t use weapons against Russia to defend other nations. As Stephen P Malt famously said: “It’s not a message you want to hear if you are an Estonian.”

Simply put, EU wants a European first and a French later. The public view is diametrically opposite. Schengen Visa, an admirable move, is in tatters. The demographic implosion is at hand. Europe’s population is declining at an alarming rate. So is the staggering 25 percent unemployment on average in Eastern and Southern Europe.

If another round of Greek crisis erupts in future—which it would given the austerity regime imposed on it—then all hell would break loose. If Greece quits, EU and Euro could unravel rather quickly.  Europe, as it is, is rather uneasy at United States’ “Pivot to Asia.” Not to forget their preoccupation with Syria and Middle East. Their big daddy United State is unhappy on its own part given how eager France and Germany are to sell military hardware to Beijing. The track record of NATO—with its debris in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—hasn’t boosted the morale either.

The biggest challenge above all is Europeans’ complete distrust of their current rulers. There are no bright leaders like Europe had in Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle when Europe was trying to stand on its feet after World War II. The rise of far right parties like National Front of Marine le Pen in France could reach a critical mass.

Yes, Europe has an outstanding ability to reconstruct itself. But to do so, it self-destructs itself regularly.