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Nuke rebuke - Mid-day

M V Kamath ()
June 4, 1998

Title: Nuke rebuke
Author: M V Kamath
Publication: Mid-day
Date: June 4, 1998

The Brits are slow learners. Ever since they lost their empire,
their thinking has stowed down. Actually, one isn't sure that
they know how to think. One suspects that most Brits still live
in the 19th century when they could loot and kill Indians to
their hearts' content.

The Brits had a nice way of dealing with rebel Indians. The
rebels would either be hanged wholesale on trees or ceremoniously
blown from the mouths of cannons. When the Brits had the time
they could also resort to flaying, implement and burning in an
excess zeal of moral superiority.

During the Second World War, Air Marshall Arthur Harris of
Britain, broadcasting to the German people on July 28, 1942,
said: "Obviously we prefer to bomb factories, shipyards and
railways, but what of the people who work in those plants and
live near them? We cannot spare them. We have to hit your homes
and you."

Another distinguished British warrior of an earlier period,
Admiral Lord Fisher had a favourite slogan which is still popular
in some military circles: "Hit first, hit hard and hit anywhere.
When war comes, might is right." A good Christian, Fisher also
was to say that while, of course, he was not really for war and
was very much for peace, if only one made known that "one is
ready for instant war and intend to be the first in to kick the
enemy when he is down, to boil his prisoners in oil and torture
his women and children, the enemy will keep clear."

A very thoughtful man was Fisher and very clear and precise in
his views. Then there was another very civilised British
gentleman called Winston Spencer Churchill. And you know what he
said in the House of Commons on September 21, 1943? He said: "To
achieve victory over Nazi Germany there are no lengths of
violence to which we will not go." That, of course, was the
expected response to Hitler's in ate bombing of Warsaw, Rotterdam
and London.

Nice chaps, these Brits. A British White Paper, quoted by Air
Marshall Harris, another Brit, has noted that whereas the Royal
Navy's blockade of Europe during the 1914-18 war had caused
800,000 civilian deaths, aerial bombings of civilian areas during
the 1939-45 war resulted only in 300,000 dead in Europe.

Now isn't that nice of the Brits? One is reminded of these facts
reading the Economist of London, an elite journal of the Brits.
The Economist is incensed with India for conducting those nuclear
blasts. (Never mind how many nuclear tests the Brits themselves
have, in the past, conducted, largely with American technical
help and moral support). It wants India to he punished.

No doubt if it is possible the Economist would like to hang A B
Vajpayee by the nearest tree or have him blasted from the mouth
of a cannon, but since that would not be considered a la mode,
the weekly has other suggestions to make.

Incensed to hear "the whoops of delight from most Indians"
(begad, sir, how dare those brown monkeys have nuclear bombs?),
the Economist says: "If the world's efforts to limit nuclear
proliferation are to have a chance of success, India needs to pay
a heavy price. Although Bill Clinton has not yet cancelled his
trip to India planned for later this year, he should. go should
Russia's President Boris Yeltsin. The message to India must not
be business as usual... there should also be a high economic
price to pay... European governments should also impose stiff
penalties... Unless India loses a lot more from its nuclear
defiance than it gains, efforts to curb weapons of mass
destruction-chemical and biological, not just nuclear - may be
lost."

What this rhetoric about mass destruction means is that the Brits
are finding themselves candidates for Viagra. They have become .
potent. They can't by themselves administer a beating any longer
to anybody. But they would like the US to do their dirty work.
The matter is not humanitarian. It is strictly racial. Racial
jealousy figures in this.

The white countries just cannot bear the thought that a brown
nation would dare to excel them at their own game. It riles them.
So goes the word: Beat the Indians. Make them suffer. Treat them
harshly. Stamp sanctions on them. Let them eat grass. And then,
no doubt, the souls of the Brits would rise to heaven in triumph.
Mind you, nowhere has one heard a word about relinquishing
nuclear stockpiles that have grown in Britain. Nowhere is there
one word of regret on this score. Britain - and Europe - are
literally choked with nuclear weapons. The Germans are content
with letting those nuclear weapons he in their godowns under NATO
control. They can piously say that those arms are not German but
American, that they have no control over them and anyway they
would only be used if the Russians use theirs.

See? In Europe, the Russians are the barbarians. The Europeans,
you see, are good. They only kill when they must. In 1981, the UN
General Assembly invited all member states to submit "their
views, proposals and practical suggestion to ensuring the
prevention of nuclear war." (Resolution 36/81/B). Nothing
happened. The following years, 1982 and 1983, the UN General
Assembly again requested the multilateral negotiating body in
Geneva "to undertake as a matter of highest priority negotiation
with a view to achieving agreement on appropriate and practical
measures for the prevention of nuclear war" (Res 37/78/I and
38/183/G). Nothing happened. Such resolutions routinely got
passed.

Commenting on this, my dear friend, the late Rikhi Jaipal who was
assistant secretary general, United Nations and later secretary-
general of the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, says in his
book Nuclear Arms and the Human Race: "I doubt if the UN, given
its limited powers, could have done any more during the years
since it was established to highlight the dangers inherent in the
nuclear arms policies and doctrines of the superpowers.... the UN
seems to have almost reached the point of intellectual exhaustion
in dealing with the central issue of halting and reversing the
nuclear weapons race."

This was long before India exploded its own nuclear bombs.
Jaipal's book was published in 1987. Not one of the white states
cared for UN resolutions. Now the Brits seem to have suddenly
woken up to the fact that nuclear arms are bad for general
health.

For a start, the Brits could dump their nuclear weapons into the
English Channel and keep their hands clean. It would be nice if
the French and the Americans follow suit. The Russians and the
Chinese could then do likewise, to set an example to those
Indians the Brits are raring to punish. There is nothing like
setting a good example. That, of course, would include those hot-
blooded Indians as well.

(M V Kamath, veteran political commentator, takes on all comers)


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