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Eagle's eyeview - The Times of India

M D Nalapat ()
June 25, 1998

Title: Eagle's eyeview
Author: M D Nalapat
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 25, 1998

More than 30 years ago, the then defence minister of Communist
China, Lin Biao, articulated his thesis that the "villages" of
the world would encircle the "cities". The former were the
countries of Asia, Africa and South America, while the latter
were the United States and its Caucasian allies. Lin was
optimistic that in time, thanks to their control over raw
materials, the poorer countries would drive down the differential
between them and the rich western nations.

Two New Threats

Soon after, Lin was killed in mysterious circumstances, and Zhou
en-Lai began dominating Beijing policy, which soon befriended the
United States in a joint effort to contain the Soviet Union.
Communist China joined Pakistan in being among the countries that
gave the CIA monitoring facilities controlled by the spy agency's
operatives. Throughout Asia, Communist China proved helpful to
the United States in checking Communist parties in third
countries, including in Laos and Vietnam. In the mid-1980s, Deng
Xiaoping expanded the pro-private tilt to the economic sphere,
opening the country to foreign investment.

That China was helpful to the United States in the 1970s and the
1980s is a reality, as is the Pakistan factor in driving out the
Soviets from Afghanistan and containing Iran and India. However,
as circumstances change, so should policies. Post-1990, there
has been a tectonic shift in the international strategic
situation, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its European
satellites, and the emergence of two new threats to international
order, in the shape of religious extremism and political
authoritarianism. However, just as Paris and London ignored the
change in the European strategic balance caused by the coming to
power of authoritarian parties in Italy and Germany in the inter-
war period, today the Clinton administration is acting as though
it were still in the 1970s. Richard Nixon's geostrategic vision
still lingers in the White House.

Mr Clinton and his team are unaware - or profess to be - of the
involvement of Communist China in two major dangers of the 1990s
nuclear proliferation and the drugs trade. That Pakistan exploded
a China-supplied device is no secret to at least a half- dozen
intelligence agencies, including that of the US. That Beijing has
been similarly helping other countries is evident from
information on the ground. However, the Clinton administration -
in true lawyer-like fashion is apparently satisfied with the
often-secret "agreements" that it enters into with Beijing on non-
proliferation, pieces of paper that the Communist regime has no
intention of honouring.

Apart from nuclear proliferation - of which the Chinese bomb
detonated at Chagai is the most egregious example - Beijing
controls a network of triads that run the drugs trade in
Thailand, Myanmar and other countries of South-east and Central
Asia. Cash generated through such activities is laundered in
Indonesia, Macau and Thailand, and some of it reaches the United
States and other western capitals as political donations. Whether
it is the shadowy businessmen that have bankrolled Mr Clinton and
some other US politicians for decades, or the "Buddhist" circles
in Bonn or London that are Beijing-controlled, the Communist
Chinese have built up an impressive infrastructure in western

Drugs Trade

Today, apart from their common aim of keeping India in check,
both the Peoples Liberation Army and its Pakistani counterpart
justify their involvement with elements in the drugs trade by
arguing that the profits from it are needed to finance
insurgencies and other means of covert war. While some agencies
in India such as the Border Security Force have their share of
rogue officers in the pay of the Asian drug cartels, the
difference between this and the China-Pakistan nexus is that in
the latter, such support is official. The armed forces in both
countries are immune from the judicial and political process,
thus enabling them to provide a foolproof cover to the trade that
today funds most terrorist operations worldwide. Of course, just
as President Clinton is "unaware" of just where the Pakistani
nuclear device came from, he has not as yet "conclusively"
determined the involvement of army personnel of his two strategic
friends in the terror-narcotics sphere.

Talking to officials in the Clinton administration, one comes
back with a picture of Communist China as a benign power
"civilised" by the influence of Coke and Pepsi. As for Pakistan,
despite that country's ill-treatment of its minorities and the
people of the less powerful provinces, it is considered a
"moderate", "responsible", "democratic" power, unlike New Delhi,
which is a menace to world security. Clearly, under Mr Clinton
the United States has begun to equate Communist Chinese along
with Pakistani security interests vis-a-vis American ones. It is
this logic that underpins Mr Clinton's efforts at destabilising
the Indian economy, attempting to generate a meltdown similar to
Indonesia. US officials have repeatedly been warning of the
"devastating" consequences of sanctions, and using behind-the-
scenes pressure on credit rating and other agencies to generate a
doomsday forecast for India. Once the country goes under
economically, it will fission politically.

Clinton Line

Within India, those who should know their sums better have
repeated the Clinton line that US sanctions will cripple the
Indian economy. In many ways, modern economics is a self-
fulfilling prophesy born of expectations. A perception that a
bank is in danger may create a run on it, thus actually pulling
it down. In the same way, economic confidence can be "talked
down" by the screaming headlines and instant analyses of those
who have uncritically accepted the Clinton thesis. They have,
>from different points on the ideological compass, been repeating
the message that India is near collapse as a result of the China-
US-UK-EU reaction to Pokhran II. Both Communist China and certain
democratic powers have combined to attempt to generate a self-
fulfilling perception about the collapse of the Indian economy.
Beijing's interest in such an outcome is clear. Even the British
vitriol against New Delhi can be ascribed to the former colonial
master's pique that yesterday's slave is not a social inferior.
What is as yet opaque is the reason behind the United States
attempt to weaken India, a country that has the potential of
becoming its most effective ally against the emerging threats of
religious extremism and political authoritarianism.

Even if the attempt to ensure that Mr Clinton does not have to
endure the horror of shaking a BJP Prime Minister's hand when he
comes to India in November succeeds, no government in democratic
India will go against the consensus in favour of securing
national interests through the creation of an adequate deterrent
against future nuclear blackmail.

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