Thursday, March 17, 2005

India, Iran and the US

The US Foreign Minister Condoleezza Rice (they call her Secretary of State) is in India. From the news reports it appears that her intentions are two-fold. (1) Offer India too F-16 bombers. (2) Scuttle Iran-India gas pipeline.

The US has been traditionally selling Pakistan F-16 bombers. India in turn has been buying French Mirage fighters and Russian MIG. News agencies like CNN seem to provide a twist - saying that it is India that are looking to buy F-16s from the US.

Pakistan would like the US not to sell F-16s to India, but to themselves. India would like the US not to sell F-16s to Pakistan, and probably just that. However the US would want to sell F-16s to both the countries. Who the hell cares if these two fight amongst themselves and kill each other as long as they keep buying the fighter planes from the US and paying them much needed money? There is an interesting analysis into arm's dealer's mind in Atanu Dey's blog: The Care and Feeding of the Permanent Arms Industry. [There is also an interesting, somewhat related article in The New Left Review by Gavan McCormack: Remilitarizing Japan.]

Just as Atanu says, here we see the US offering India the F-16s. Should India accept and do the deal? If India do, it is obvious that Pakistan would want more. Then the US can offer military aid, which in turn is used by Pakistan to buy F-16s. Once India induct F-16s in their air force and get used to it, to strengthen the air force, they will keep buying more of F-16s. Then keep offering free F-16s to Pakistan in the guise of military aid, and ensure that India finance the whole process...

India would do well not to fall into the trap.

Next India-Iran relationship. India has a decent relationship with Iran. We have not had any problems with them on a country-to-country basis. The US, on the other hand, sees Iran as part of the evil and are spoiling for a fight and display their precision bombing skills with the embedded journalists in toe.

Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh has refused to discuss Iran with Rice. But what is worrying is the US wanting the deal between India and Iran to be scuttled. The reason for the worry is that the pipeline has to go through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US control Afghanistan by proxy. I suppose the US spy agencies are in close touch with most of the terrorist gangs in Pakistan. So if the US want to scuttle the deal they can always ensure that the pipeline - after it is laid out - is sabotaged in the regions of their control and squarely blame it on Iran.

What should the Indian Govt. do in this scenario? We should not proceed with the deal with Iran. There is no safety guarantee until we resolve our problems with Pakistan and also for an independent and friendly Govt. comes in Afghanistan. Otherwise, we cannot guarantee safe delivery of gas to our country. Any money invested in the project will be wasted.

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