Mulford:The New Viceroy
by Badri Raina
Originally published in znet
Mr. David C. Mulford is formally the American ambassador to India.
Over the last year or two, however, he has off and on made public pronouncements suggesting that he fancies himself more a neocon Viceroy than an ambassador who is required to function within the parameters of an accredited protocol.
His most recent gratuitous observation made the other day at a meeting of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce in Delhi, however, pitches him for what he really is, namely, pointman for American Corporate interests.
Of course, to the extent that the neocon-led American state and those Corporate interests are one and the same thing, Mr.Mulford may not be faulted for conflating the seemingly discrete roles.
In the said speech, the pointman has chastised what he imagines, perhaps not unduly, the “client” Indian state for “pause in the reform process in the recent months;” he goes on to pontificate: “privatization has stopped, and political reality suggests that reform of key sectors and policies of central interest to investors will take longer than envisioned.” (emphasis added). Needless to say, the “envisioned” must bear reference to the injunctions of the imperialists in Washington.
We recall that in January, Viceroy Mulford had threatened the municipal government of India that the prized Indo-US nuclear deal would “die” in the American Congress if India did not vote against Iran on the nuclear question in the meeting of the IAEA Board. All in keeping with the rugged frontier history (sic) of the world’s most brash and unsubtle “democracy.”
In an important sense, though, Mulford is not to blame. After all, the “best” political minds since Confucious have taught but one lesson about inter-state diplomacy: if you do not kick those who are willing to be kicked you might as well settle in Shaolin and nurse your soul.
At the said meeting, a very senior member of the Indian Cabinet—who never grins more perceptibly than when shaking hands with some consequential American dignitary—promptly responded with the assurance that reforms were here to stay. It was just that a whole lot of troublesome processes called “democracy” had to be propitiated from time to time and brought on true
comprador course. Just as earlier, the Mulford warning had not gone unheeded; India, we recall, had voted against Iran, not once but twice, all in the “national interest”. Let it remain unsaid as to whose “national interest”. (In passing, let it be noted that Mulford’s counterpart in Nepal, one Mr. Moriaty, appears clearly even more crude in his gumption to tell the Nepalese how to conduct their affairs at this sensitively reformulative juncture. If he could, he might stand at the gates of the Nepalese seat of power and physically prevent the Nepalese leftists from entering the premises!) ………………………….
The political moral of the congruence between the discourses—of senior ministers here and Mr.Mulford there—is but all too obvious: the Left parties in India may well have with them the mandate of the Indian people, and may well be authorized by the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA, that fact must be understood to be subsidiary to the Corporate “investor interest” that pointman Mulford spoke of at the Chambers of Commerce meeting. Clearly, where the American President does not mind stealing elections from the opposition, his ambassador can hardly be expected to harbour any profound regard for the democratic sanctities of a “client” state—or, indeed, any state.
It is equally, however, a proven political reality that regimes that harbour illusions of permanent grandeur are never more brutal and gauche than when the earth begins to slip from under their feet.
Notwithstanding the Bush-bravado that is again on display as American Senate/Congress elections approach, for every swaggering statement he makes nowadays, half a dozen other statements are made not just by individuals and institutions opposed to the Republican White House but by people who run it in one capacity or the other—statements that contradict the swagger and begin to register some hometruths. The top-secret assessment of the Marines’ Chief of Intelligence runs thus: “the prospects for securing that country’s western Anbar province are dim and (that) there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there” (Tom Ricks, Washington Post).
Remember the goal of victory in Iraq? Savour this: “U.S. officials acknowledge their main goal in Iraq now is to prevent it from turning into a place run by fundamentalists who export terrorism to the region” (Yochi J.Dreazen and Philip Shishkin, Wall Street Journal—of all journals!).
To cut a long story short, these are the facts: America has not only lost the war in Iraq but achieved the magnificent result of anointing Iran as its political guru and guardian! The neocon imperialists do not seem to succeed even in the alternate and nefarious purpose of fragmenting Iraq into three convenient regions. As to oil, for five years now, the famed fields in Iraq fail to produce quantities that match even the worst years of the Saddam era; nor is it likely that anytime soon, the new, or still newer government in Iraq will make the neocon guzzlers lords of Iraqi oil fields. So much for Cheney and Halliburton. Iraqis are now beginning to say openly that the Saddam-led Baathist dispensation was a better option .
Secondly, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon has had the further magnificent consequence of placing Hezbollah on a deservedly incontestable pedestal, whereby all Lebanese, including the Christians and the Druize swear by it. That consequence in turn reestablishes Syria in a way that had seemed out of reckoning only months ago, in addition to exposing Israel as a floundering, second-rate state, without a friend in the world (excepting the United States and the Hindutva fascists in India).
Nearer home, as the municipal government of Hamid Karzai struggles to keep control of Kabul, the vaunted forces of the Nato and the U.S. military together are askance everyday at the resurgence of the Taliban who, don’t you know, were thought to be dead and buried as a result of the famous invasion of Afghanistan. Alongwith that, the Al Qaeda machine seems able gleefully to produce one video message after another as the days go by, and Mushrraf- the- macho is constrained actually to sign an agreement with the Taliban in North Waziristan to the effect that no further military operations will be conducted in the region! His domestic compulsions also force him now to disclose the unlovely fact that his close allies in the “war on terror’’, namely, the Bushies had in so many words threatened to bomb Pakistan back into the stone age unless she cooperated in the said war! In consequence, this strategic bulwark against “terrorism” is being dubbed a disgraceful “coward” by the Pakistani media. How much longer Pakistan remains a unified nation-state begins to be a serious question.
Thus, what of the formidable “international alliance” in the “war on terror”? With Blair now very publicly lame, and Italy recalling what forces it has in Iraq, now that the socialist, Romano Prodi, rules the roost there, the alliance comprises Bush and his worst hallucinations. Think that even the so-loyal South Koreans pick up the courage to demand the withdrawal of American troops from their soil, and to express their longing for reunification with their ethnic brothers in the North. Same for East Asia generally, barring the white exception of the Howard regime in Australia, and some undemocratic city-state regimes (Singapore, Phillipines etc.,)
As to the two “backyards,” Latin America and the erstwhile Baltic and Central Asian components of the then Soviet Union, wiser counsels prevail. The Latin countries spawn anti-U.S regimes through the ballot box, and on this side of the Atlantic, even Ukraine is lost. Indeed, so rapidly does the political balance of opinion internationally suffer alteration that Chavez actually draws open and zestful applause as he denominates Bush the “devil” in his speech to the U.N. General assembly. And Ahmedinejad actually gets the better of the international press core in New York, forcefully and playfully establishing the reality that many of the American reporters may actually neither be as free or as smart as they perhaps erroneously believe themselves to be.
Horror of horrors, that thing called the Non Aligned Movement resurrects itself of all places in Cuba; and, believe it or not, even the Indian Prime Minister chooses to be there rather than at the UN in New York, and to say that when he met Fidel Castro he felt he was in the “presence of one of the greatest men of our times”—a remark that must have decisively neutralized Singh’s more opportunist reference to the harmlessly beneficial nature of relations with the United States. To his credit, the Indian Prime Minister has thus far never felt that his great friend, George W.Bush, qualified to be ranked anywhere near to Castro.
It is to be hoped that something both of the historic importance of NAM and of the crucial role it can now play to checkmate the depredations of a failing American imperialism will wash on him as he returns. NAM it is that must now renew the lesson that the American Constitution bases its philosophy of governance upon, namely, the desirability of checks and balances—not just within the United States but within the world community as well.
Speaking of which, it has been most encouraging to see that Manmohan Singh’s letter to Indian Chief Ministers on the eve of his departure strikes a note of salutary and much-needed sanity on the question of fighting “terrorism.”
That letter, and some of his recent public pronouncements, at the recent Congress Chief Ministers’ Conference, for example, show evidence of a new courage in the teeth of imperialist constructions of “terrorism.” Not only does the Indian Prime Minister disown the notion of an “Islamofascism” but expresses as well the rational view that the unrest that afflicts muslims the world-over has specific and ascertainable causes. He is thus clear that those causes must be understood and acknowledged, as far as India is concerned, in a multiple of concrete grievances and injustices over time, and redressed accordingly. To his credit again, Manmohan Singh laid out a similar thesis in his speech to the U.N.General Assembly. And the formulation of the relevant portions of the resolution at NAM are sufficiently vague to leave scope for the interpretation that state agencies may be sources of terrorism as well, not excluding the worlds’ most powerful state.
Thus, the fifteen points that he outlines in his letter with respect to “minority” welfare do not merely address issues for policy implementation, but emphasize the prime need to make Indian muslims inseparable participants in that momentous renewal as fully integrated citizens whose claim to Constitutional verities is second to none. This is truly the way forward, and Manmohan Singh deserves every praise for so redefining the problematic. Such a rethink on behalf of the State cannot but lend great fervour and energy to the tireless efforts made everyday by secular and humanist civil society organs to find answers to muslim forebodings. Such efforts involve the crucial recognition that the future of the nation as a whole is inextricably imbricated in the future of the minorities.
Far from the bogus thesis that the major contradiction of the day is between an “enlightened” western world and a “jehadi” Islam—voiced most recently by none other than Jason Burke, author of Al Qaeda and Road to Kandahar—(Hindustan Times, September 12, 2006), the crude fact remains that the rapacious partisanship displayed by the American and the British in regard to West Asian and Middle-Eastern history of recent times is almost singly responsible for the turmoil in evidence, not to speak of Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the Indian Prime Minister has absorbed that reality the consequences both internationally and at home in India can only be positive. Is it possible that it is precisely inorder to keep the construction of “Islamofascism” a going concern that America and the rest of the Western world desist from helping resolve the Palestine issue? Do they perhaps realize that once that matter is brought to a just close, the “Islamofascism” imaginary might just collapse, and encourage the view that solutions can be found to other historical inequities? What then might become of the Imperialist project of “full spectrum dominance” over the fruits of the earth?
As world-wide political consolidation against American imperialism acquires teeth, bolstered, it must be said, by those brave Americans who continue to fight the good fight on behalf of the ideals of the Philadelphia declaration and the American Constitution, new and sanguine state-level alignments can be expected to materialize. In that new international order, Russia, China, India, and Latin America together, along with a renovated Middle-East, including perhaps even a democratized Pakistan—unless events catch up with it in catastrophic ways– able to voice the strong anti-imperialist convictions that its very evolved civil society bear even now, can show the way out of the madness to which the neocon “vision” of a desired Armageddon has subjected the world. A recast America by then, hopefully, can become a partner in rebuilding the world in just and enlightened ways. In that regard, it must be everyone’s hope that the coming November elections there to the House and the Senate will make a clear enough departure.
Centuries ago, the wise bard of Avon wrote that magnificent line: “ the abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power”(Julius Caesar). The agenda for world leaders now is to remarry remorse and power—a telos that even the Pope needs rather to mull over—something he could do were he to bring himself to look the many unlovely aspects of the history of Christianity in the eye. The Pontiff could begin by honestly asking the question as to why the first Crusade was launched in the first instance, and what the record of the Christian sword has since then been with regard to other faiths and nations. Just as the state and its institutions in America need to return to their foundational inspirations, may be the Church at the Vatican and Christianity generally would do well to return to the gentle, non-discriminatory humanism of Jesus. There was a man.
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