Tuesday, October 20, 2009

By M K Bhadrakumar
The surprise element was almost completely lacking. The expectation in Delhi for a while has been that sooner or later Beijing would hit out. Verbal affronts from India were becoming a daily occurrence and a nuisance for Being. Not a single day has passed for the past several months when either influential sections of the Indian strategic community or the English-language media, tied by the umbilical cord of financial patronage to the Indian establishment, failed to indulge in some vituperative attack on Chinese policies and conduct towards India. Yet, when it finally came on Wednesday, the timing of the cumulative Chinese reaction was most curious. Beijing chose a very special day on its diplomatic calendar to make its point. The prime ministers of Russia and Pakistan, Vladimir Putin and Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the United States Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, were on official visits to Beijing. Indeed, Campbell had come on an important mission to prepare for the visit by US President Barack Obama to China next month. Beijing made a big point that its current ruckus with Delhi was less bilateral and more geopolitical. Indeed, Wednesday's People's Daily commentary on India resorted to a colloquium that hasn't been heard in the dialogue across the Himalayas for very many years. On the previous day, in two statements the Chinese Foreign Ministry provided the "curtain raiser" for the People's Daily commentary. The first statement focused attention on the recent Indian media campaign against China and asked Delhi to be "conducive toward promoting mutual understanding", rather than publishing false reports on border tensions. The second statement was substantive and it conveyed that Beijing was "seriously dissatisfied" by the visit of the Indian prime minister 10 days ago to the state of Arunachal Pradesh (which China claims as its territory). The Chinese spokesman said, "China and India have not reached any formal agreement on the border issue. We demand that the Indian side pay attention to the serious and just concerns of the Chinese side and not to provoke incidents in the disputed region, in order to facilitate the healthy development of China-India relations." The Indian reaction came within hours and was at the highest level of the foreign-policy establishment. Foreign Minister S M Krishna brushed off the Chinese statement, saying, "Well, regardless of what others say, it is the government of India's stated position that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. We rest at that." He added that Delhi was "disappointed and concerned" over China's objection. The diplomatic backdrop was evidently getting electrified when the People's Daily struck. It literally tore into Indian policies. Leaving aside specifics, it dealt with what Beijing assessed to be the core issue - India's obsession with superpower status born out of its rooted complexes of having "constantly been under foreign rule ... throughout history" and its "recklessness and arrogance" towards its neighbors. "The dream of superpower is mingled with the thought of hegemony, which places the South Asian giant in an awkward situation and results in its repeated failure," the commentary pointed out. The striking thing about the Chinese commentary was that it echoed a widespread criticism that is quite often voiced by India's neighbors. The commentary sought to establish a commonality of concerns between China and India's neighbors over the rising tide of Indian nationalism in the past decade or so with its disagreeable manifestations for regional cooperation. "To everyone's disappointment, India pursues a foreign policy of 'befriend the far and attack the near' ... India, which vows to be a superpower, needs to have its eyes on relations with neighbors and abandon its recklessness and arrogance as the world is undergoing earthshaking changes," the commentary claimed. Beijing surely factored in that almost without exception, India's neighbors voice similar concerns and are currently seeking friendly and close ties with China to balance India's perceived overbearing attitude towards them. In effect, the Chinese commentary tapped into the near-total isolation that India faces today in the South Asian region. Interestingly, the People's Daily followed up by running a sequel on Thursday, this time harshly telling Delhi a couple of things. One, it underlined that Delhi was seriously mistaken if it estimated that China could be hustled into a border settlement with India through pressure tactics. It affirmed categorically that the border dispute could be settled or a substantial step forward approaching a final solution could be taken "only on the condition that both of them [China and India] are ready to shake off the traditional and deep-seated misunderstandings". Two, the commentary alleged that Delhi was getting "disoriented when making decisions" because it harbored a notion that the US was viewing India as a counterweight to China. Delhi was also becoming susceptible to the US stratagem to "woo India away from Russia and China and, in the meantime, feeding India's ambition to match China force by force by its ever burgeoning arms sales to India". Most important, the commentary concluded that although China and India "will never pose a mortal foe to each other", if the Indian establishment and a "handful of irresponsible media institutions" didn't restrain themselves, "an accidental slip or go-off at the border would erode into a war", which neither side wanted. It is very obvious that Beijing sees the Indian establishment's hand behind the vituperative media campaign against China in recent months. How the tensions pan out is another matter. In immediate terms, a flashpoint arises as the Indian government has approved a visit by the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in November to Arunachal Pradesh. No doubt, if the visit goes ahead, the Sino-Indian relationship will nosedive into a corridor of deep chill from which it may take a long time for the two countries to emerge. The curious thing is this will be taking place at a time when the geopolitics of the region and world development as a whole will be passing through a transformative period of far-reaching significance. Given the fact that China's global power is an established reality, India may be painting itself into a corner by opting out of a mutual understanding with Beijing precisely at this juncture when the agenda of global issues and regional security is heavily laden. On the contrary, if Delhi pays heed to Chinese sensitivities about the Dalai Lama's peregrinations in November, it will be accused by the Indian nationalist camp as buckling under Chinese pressure. An element of grandstanding, unfortunately, is entering into the Sino-Indian relationship, which runs against the grain of its maturing in the recent decade. Equally, a question mark now envelops the rationale of India hosting the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers in the coming weeks within the framework of the trilateral format. To be sure, the equilibrium within the format has been disturbed. Russia and China have been developing an intense strategic partnership; India's traditional ties with Moscow have significantly weakened under the current pro-US leadership in Delhi; and, now, India's normalization process with China has suffered a severe setback. At the same time, Russia has begun a serious attempt to choreograph a positive trajectory to its languishing relationship with Pakistan by taking it out of the trough of benign neglect and injecting some dynamism into it. China, of course, enjoys an "all-weather friendship" with Pakistan. Indian policies are predicated on the assumption that a Sino-US clash of interests is inevitable as China's surge as a world power has become unstoppable, and Washington will have use of Delhi as a counterweight to Beijing sooner than most people would think. Surely, there is disquiet in Delhi about the Barack Obama administration's regional policies, which no longer accord India the status of a pre-eminent power and which place primacy on the US's alliance with India's arch rival, Pakistan. But Delhi hopes that Obama will ultimately have to pay heed to US business interests and therefore India holds a trump card in the burgeoning market that it offers to the American corporate sector - unlike Pakistan, which is a basket case at best, a can of worms at worst. Simply put, India is estimated to be the biggest arms buyer in the world and a market estimated to be worth US$100 billion is presenting itself to exploitation by American arms manufacturers - provided Obama has his wits about him and realizes on which side his South Asian bread is buttered. Delhi hopes to incrementally pose an existential choice to Obama through an idiom that the US political establishment understands perfectly well: the business interests of its military-industrial complex. One thing is clear. Powerful Indian lobbyists have been at work in whipping up a war hysteria and xenophobia over China. The Washington Post recently featured a Delhi-datelined report on the shenanigans of these Indian fat cats who mainly comprise retired Indian defense officials and senior bureaucrats who act as commission agents for big American arms manufacturers. There was a time when the Sandhurst-trained Indian military personnel retired to the cool hill stations and spent the sunset of their lives playing bridge or going for long walks and regaling their visitors with their wartime stories while sipping whisky. Nowadays, the smart ones among the retired generals and top bureaucrats take up residence in Delhi's suburbs and overnight transform themselves into "strategic thinkers" and begin networking with some American think-tank or the other, while probing a new lease on life as brokers or commission agents for arms manufacturers. All in all, it is virtually certain that these lobbyists can expect a windfall out of Sino-Indian tensions. After all, a case has been neatly made about the imperatives of a close Indian tie-up with the US. The current Indian political elite doesn't really need any prompting in that direction, but all the same, a degree of public accountability may at times become necessary. Transparency International has bestowed on India the distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries on the planet and it is an open secret that India's arms procurement program provides a vast avenue to siphon off national wealth. If the Indian market for military hardware is worth $100 billion, it is quite understandable that a gravy train is getting ready for the Indian elites. The People's Daily commentator may have unwittingly waved off the train from the platform. And that was exactly what the Indian elites and fat cats wanted. Now, all eyes will turn toward the visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington in November. Obama has let it be known that Manmohan will be the first dignitary to be honored with a state banquet during his presidency. The Americans are vastly experienced with the Indians' Himalayan ego and by now they know well enough where and how to tickle Indian vanities. How they pedal fresh dreams to the Indians and pick up the fruits of their endeavors will be keenly watched not only by the multitude of Indians back at home, but also by the Pakistanis, Chinese and the Russians. Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

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In what Russian Military Analysts are reporting is but a “foretaste to come” of the much larger battles to be fought over our World’s last few remaining natural resources, the United States and China have engaged in “open warfare” for the first time leaving an estimated 3,000 innocents dead in the West African Nation of Guinea which has the World's largest bauxite reserves and is the biggest exporter of bauxite ore.

Note: Bauxite is the ore from which aluminum is produced. It is refined to produce alumina, which is further processed to make aluminum which is a remarkable metal highly prized for its ability to resist corrosion due to the phenomenon of passivation and which without no industrial Nation can economically survive the 21st Century.

According to these reports, the United States had secured a “secret” agreements with Guinean President Lansana Conté and Guinea’s President of the National Assembly Aboubacar Somparé this past November (2008) for the ‘sole and exclusive’ rights to that Nations vast bauxite mineral wealth for Western mining giant Rio Tinto Group, the fourth-largest publicly listed mining company in the World.

China, however, upon their learning of this “agreement in principal” between the US and Guinea for this vital mineral, these reports continue, financed and launched what is now known as the “Christmas Coup” which resulted in the assassination of President Conté and the takeover of Guinea by a military junta headed by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, and who upon taking power announced to his Nation, “the government and the institutions of the Republic have been dissolved”.

China further launched a series of attacks against the Rio Tinto Group arresting some of their top executives for “corruption and espionage” in July.

Russian GRU resources operating within Guinea report that upon the takeover of the government by Captain Camara, the American CIA began “organizing” opposition forces which led to a series of massive protests that culminated this past September when over 50,000 protesters gathered at their Nations largest soccer stadium (built by China) and were promptly fired upon by military forces loyal to the junta and resulted in over 3,000 deaths. (Note: Official Guinea reports put the death toll at 57 while a Guinean rights group puts the toll at 157.)

The West’s fury over this massacre led Karel De Gucht, the European Union's aid chief, to say that Captain Camara should stand trial for a “crime against humanity” and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to call the killings ‘criminality of the greatest degree”.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) based in the Netherlands also announced it has opened an investigation into this massacre with the office of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, saying in a statement: “A preliminary examination of the situation has been immediately initiated in order to determine whether crimes falling under the Court's jurisdiction have been perpetrated.”

More ominously for Captain Camara and his junta are Russian Military reports stating that French, British and American warships are presently “in route” towards West African with France issuing today an “immediate order” for all of its citizens to leave Guinea as threats of conflict and violence appear to be reaching a climax.

China though, these reports continue, appears to have usurped the West by this mornings announcement that they, not the Americans or its European allies, now control Guinea’s vast mineral wealth, and as we can read:

“The Guinean government has signed a $7 billion deal with a Chinese company to create a mining joint venture in the world's largest bauxite supplier.

This deal puts China in direct competition with international mine’s Rio Tinto, American-owned Guinea Bauxite Company CBG, and the Russia’s RUSAL.

Guinean Mines Minister Mahmoud Thiam did not name the company involved but said the Chinese firm "will be a strategic partner in all mining projects" in the West African country.”

Being lost upon the American people as the battle for our World’s mineral wealth starts to go “hot” is the fact that as the US Dollar continues its plunge into the “abyss of history”, the “true wealth” of any Nation seeking to survive this Century lies in commodities, not soon to be worthless paper currency. And, perhaps, best articulated by the Asia Times News Service in their report titled When money is worthless, and which, in part, says:

“The Financial Times on October 6 noted a disturbing new trend - hedge fund and other investors are increasingly seeking to invest in physical commodities themselves, rather than in futures. Given the excess of global liquidity, this is not entirely surprising. It does, however, raise an ominous possibility of a supply shortage in one or more commodities, caused by investor demand that exceeds available mine output and inventory. That could potentially produce a collapse in economic activity similar to that from the 1837-41 and 1929-33 liquidity busts, but with the opposite cause.

We have never experienced a global hyperinflation, in which money is unable to purchase goods, so it becomes worthless. In particular countries, wars have produced this effect, notably in the revolutionary wars in both the United States and France, when the "continentals" and "assignats" became of no value. Similar effects have been produced by excess money printing in Latin America; in hyperinflationary periods citizens of Argentina have starved, even though the country is one of the world's greatest food producers.”

Worse still for the Americans and Europeans in their quest for our Planets mineral wealth is that aside from “losing” Africa due to the “massive invasion” of workers, money and military support from China and its Asian neighbors into the Continent, they are also about to lose South America, particularly Bolivia which holds the “key to survival” for every 21st Century technology driven Nation due to their vast untapped reserves of lithium and uranium, and which nuclear armed Brazil has vowed to protect “at all costs” from the West.

Note: Bolivia holds over half of the World’s lithium reserves which is the vital metal needed for the production of batteries used in electric vehicles and desperately needed by Western Nations seeking to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and eliminate greenhouse gasses they say has led to Global Warming.

So determined is Brazil to defend South America from the Americans and Europeans (who have exploited this Continent for centuries for the enrichment of their own pockets while leaving in their wake too much poverty and too many military dictatorships to count) that upon Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s warm greeting of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN this past month, inviting him to Brazil, and defending Iran’s right to nuclear power, Western diplomats were left in “shock” as they watched their once great power over Latin America, and perhaps their own futures, fade into history.

But to the worst outcome of all of these events, and the more horrific ones still to come, are the American people (who by all appearances have descended from rationality into outright insanity) were celebrating this week their Dow Jones stock market hitting 10,000 points, the US taxpayer bailed out banking giant JPMorgan reporting $3.5 Billion in profits, and the criminal enterprise known as Goldman Sachs reporting that they are now so flush with US taxpayer money and profits from mafia style interest rates and banking fees they are ready to pay out to their bankers over $16.7 Billion in bonuses.

All occurring at the exact same time that the US is reporting record numbers of its citizens are declaring bankruptcy, home foreclosures just experienced their “worst three months of all time”, their Federal Reserve is reporting that their “real” unemployment rate is over 16%, and newly released reports by the US Government itself warn that (in their words, not ours) that America is facing a “Fiscal Doomsday”.

And in the most outrageous affront to the economically shaken American people are newly released US government reports showing that their US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has spent more time talking to bankers than US Congress leaders, while at the same time his aides, employees of the American taxpayers mind you, have been racking in millions of dollars in bonuses from Wall Street.

With all of these events now accelerating to what can only be its brutal and bloody conclusion, one can only wonder if the words of the great American and French Revolutionary writer Thomas Paine are going to be heard once again in America by its citizens suffering under the cruel tyranny of their despotic leaders and banksters…

“Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, 'tis time to part.”

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