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India, Meet Austria-Hungary

India, Meet Austria-Hungary

Author: Steve Forbes
Publication: Forbes Magazine
Date: March 4, 2002


Mr. TOWNS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to call the attention of my colleagues to an article by Steve Forbes in the March 4 issue of Forbes magazine called ``India , Meet Austria-Hungary.'' In the article, Mr. Forbes compares present-day India to the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Like Austria-Hungary, India is a multiethnic, multinational country. Such countries are unstable, as Mr. Forbes notes, and they face a similar peril.

The article notes that some leaders in India are ``itching to go to war with Pakistan, even though Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has taken considerable political risks by moving against Pakistani-based-and-trained anti-India terrorist groups.'' At the same time, according to a January 2 article in the Washington Times, India continues to sponsor cross-border terrorism against Pakistan. The article notes that when the Austro-Hungarian monarchy attacked Serbia in 1914, it launched a war in which the Hapsburgs lost their empire. Today, several countries exist where the Austro-Hungarian Empire once was.

India is in similar circumstances. It should learn from the example of Austria-Hungary, the Soviet Union, and other multinational empires. It should realize that the breakup of such states is inevitable. The Soviet Union and Austria-Hungary had a stronger, more stable political structure and they fell apart because such multinational states cannot be held together. In fact, Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani recently said that if Kashmir gets its freedom, India will unravel. Yet India continues its futile efforts to maintain its multinational state by force, in pursuit of Hindu hegemony. It continues to attack and kill Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Dalits, and other minority groups. It continues to hold tens of thousands of political prisoners, something I find very odd for a democracy. Indian forces have killed more than 250,000 Sikhs, over 200,000 Christians in Nagaland, more than 75,000 Kashmiri Muslims, and many thousands of minorities of all kinds. This repressive policy will not work. Eventually, the force that broke up the Soviet Union and broke up the Austro-Hungarian Empire will break up India .

I hope that this happens peacefully. With the war on terrorism ongoing, we do not need another violent trouble spot in the world.

America can encourage this process of nationalism and freedom in South Asia. We should press India for the release of all political prisoners.

We should stop our aid and trade with India until they are released and the oppression of minorities ends. We should openly declare our support for self-determination for all peoples and nations in South Asia. By these measures we will help everyone in the subcontinent to live freely, prosperously, in dignity, stability, and peace.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to insert the Forbes article into the RECORD at this time.

[From Forbes Magazine, Mar. 4, 2002]
India , Meet Austria-Hungary(By Steve Forbes)

Influential elements in India's government and military are still itching to go to war with Pakistan, even though Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has taken considerable political risks by moving against Pakistani-based-and-trained anti-India terrorist groups. Sure, Musharraf made a truculent speech condemning India's ``occupation'' of Kashmir, but that was rhetorical cover for cracking down on those groups. Washington should send New Delhi some history books for these hotheads; there is no human activity more prone to unintended consequences than warfare. As cooler heads in the Indian government well know, history is riddled with examples of parties that initiated hostilities in the belief that conflict would resolutely resolve outstanding issues.

Pericles of Athens thought he could deal with rival Sparta once and for all when he triggered the Peloponnesian War; instead his city-state was undermined and Greek civilization devastated.

Similarly, Hannibal brilliantly attacked Rome; he ended up not only losing the conflict but also setting off a train of events that ultimately led to the total destruction of Carthage. Prussia smashed France in 1870, annexing critical French territory for security reasons, but that sowed the seeds for the First World War. At the end of World War I the victorious Allies thought they had dealt decisively with German military power. Israel crushed its Arab foes in 1967, but long-term peace did not follow.

India is not a homogeneous state. Neither was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It attacked Serbia in the summer of 1914 in the hopes of destroying this irritating state after Serbia had committed a spectacular terrorist act against the Hapsburg monarchy. The empire ended up splintering, and the Hapsburgs lost their throne. And on it goes.

Getting back to the present, do Indian war hawks believe China will stand idly by as India tried to reduce Pakistan to vassal-state status? Do they think Arab states and Iran won't fund Muslim guerrilla movements in Pakistan, as well as in India itself? Where does New Delhi think its oil comes from (about 70%, mainly from the Middle East)? Does India think the U.S. will stand by impotently if it starts a war that unleashes nuclear weapons?

In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln summed up the unpredictable consequences of war, vis-ë-vis America's Civil War: ``Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained....... Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.''

While cracking down on anti-India terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, Islamabad can take the wind out of Indian war sails by turning over the arrested terrorists who carried out murderous acts in Kashmir and New Delhi. It can turn them over not to India --which would be political suicide domestically--but to The Hague for investigation and trial by an international tribunal. India's moral case would then evaporate.

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