India’s “Open Door” Policy for US Military Liaison Officers

B Arjun

INDIA and Ghana, the two main allies of the United States are now closer to the US than ever before in their postcolonial history. The two have signed the agreement with the US, which will give easy access to their respective land and airwaves. American forces can move in and out of Ghana and India with minimum paper work and with minimum restrictions. The Ghana-US defence cooperation agreement was ratified by the Ghanaian parliament on March 23, 2018. India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) pact with the US in 2016.

Incidentally, Ghana along with India, Indonesia, Egypt and Yugoslavia was one of the founding members of the non-aligned movement. At the inauguration of NAM in 1961, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana stood alongside Nehru, Tito, Nasser and Sukarno. In 2018, the situation is altogether different. Today, both India and Ghana have jettisoned non-alignment and claim to be proud members of the United States global military alliance structure. India’s Prime Minister Modi and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo are in tight embrace of America.The people and the opposition parties in Ghana are protesting against their president’s plan to put their sovereignty at the altar of Pentagon’s dangerous and dubious plan to create chaos in the world. Unfortunately, in India, barring the Left parties, there is lack of political awareness about the dangers of the Indo-US defence deals and the so-called foundational agreements.

Paradoxically, in Ghana the protests are being organised by the Ghana First Patriotic Front that marched in the streets of Accra on March 28, displaying their anger on the posters that read “Our future is at stake” and “Ghana not for sale.” The Africans feel that expanded US military presence would attract extremists and destabilise their country. Ghanaians are up in arms against their government which has promised American military access to their radio frequencies and an airport runway. Much like the Indian LEMOA, the Ghana-US agreement also grants immunity for US soldiers on Ghanaian soil and tax exemptions for the import of US military equipment. The reciprocal clause in the agreement is a mockery of democracy because it is well known that Ghanaian military neither has the resources nor the need to place its material on US soil. Despite deep military engagement with America, both the Indian as well Ghanaian governments are in denial mode and have been telling their public they have not offered a military base to the United States.

Ironically, in India military assets are being placed at the disposal of US military command by the prime minster who claims to be the proponent of ‘India First’ strategy. To prove its patriotic credentials and ostensibly to reduce the foreign agencies from interfering with Indian political system, the Modi government has cancelled foreign funding licences of 14,000 NGOs in the last four years. This is in sharp contrast to the amnesty given to political parties on foreign funding and offering Indian soil for exploitation by the US armed forces, the biggest violators of human rights across the globe, and their cohorts, the private military companies. It is sheer foolishness on the part of Modi administration to imagine that the US intelligence works only through NGOs especially in an era where the current US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo is the former CIA director.

Is our prime minister naïve to imagine that the US military will operate in India without its intelligence apparatus? How can Modi be unaware of the fact that US intelligence networks, accompanying its military, indulge in political, economic as well as religious operations to promote US ideology, ideas and markets. Ever since the end of World War, the US has perfected the art of establishing informal empire by building close networks within the military establishments of the states that they operate in. Separating the national military from its state has been the key feature of US military ties in the developing world. The US military is well known to destroy democratic structures by promoting military dictators.  The ‘School of the Americas’ that were established in 1946 under the garb of improving ties with Latin American militaries were blatantly used to train military dictators. According to the New York Times ‘Among its roughly 60,000 graduates, the school produced several of Latin America's most notorious strongmen of the 1970's and 1980's, including Panama's drug-dealing dictator, Manuel Noriega, and Roberto D'Aubuisson, who organised many of El Salvador's death squads.’ The controversial schools were closed in 2008 and reopened under a new name,Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. They profess to teach military leaders about human rights in the new school. However, it would be naïve to imagine that the US armed forces are no longer malevolent.

The US has a drone base in Niger and Somalia and their growing US presence is worrying Africa. Ghana is getting a package of US $20 million by way of equipment and training of its soldiers for signing the defence agreement with the US. India too is seeking a defence package deal from the United States. Much like Ghana, the Modi establishment, is all set to mortgage Indian military. How does offering India as a military base serve our sovereignty and our strategic autonomy, is the question that people must ask the prime minister? RSS and its think tanks that can so clearly see the advancing Chinese hegemony and its capitalist greed and the bad impact of Chinese loans on Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and African nations have always maintained stoic silence on the ill effects of expansion of US capital.   

INDIA DIVES DEEPER INTO US NETWORK

India is now preparing to sign the second defence foundational pact with the US – the Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA). This agreement will network the Indian defence equipment and infrastructure into the American military grid. COMCASA will make our weapon systems more compatible for interoperability with the US systems.  Basically this will give US access to India’s encrypted military data and make our systems subservient to US command and control mechanism. COMCASA will adversely impact our proven military ties with Russia. It will become more and more difficult to access Russian weaponry, which is not designed to automatically connect to plug into US network. In order to make the Russian equipment compatible, India will have to modify the system at huge costs. In addition, the Russians would obviously dislike the tampering with their systems.

Another problem springs from the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a US law passed by President Trump in August 2017. According to this, all countries that trade with Russia's defense and intelligence sectors will be subjected to US sanctions. This law imposes severe restrictions on Indian defence which draws its most sophisticated equipment from Russia. 

India is fast moving towards the next level in its military relations with the United States. It is reported to be in the process of positioning a senior armed forces officer to the US Central Command headquarters in Bahrain. Accordingly, the US will place its liaison officers in each of India’s military command.The government which hides behind the veil of secrecy and refuses to share with the Indian parliament the actual price at which it has bought the French fighter jets is joyfully opening up our military secrets to US liaison officers. 

In another development, India and the United States have decided to have simultaneous meetings of their defence and external affairs ministers – called two-by-two – with their US counterparts. The inaugural edition of the meeting was scheduled to be held in Washington DC in mid-April, however, it was cancelled in view of changes at the helm of US state department.

RSS which claims to be devoid of any links to international capitalist order is mute on this outright sale of India’s sovereignty. All it can see is glory for the Indian billionaire elite who dine and wine with their foreign partners. By getting into a cozy military relationship with the global hegemon, RSS is only proving that internally the communal ruckus is raised only to hide its deep external linkages with the Western capitalist order.

Military ties with US Empire represents extreme globalisation, it involves putting on offer national military – the State’s most protected asset. How does the RSS reconcile with this inherent contradiction in its nationalist ideology? Its class interests force it to join the imperial bandwagon and its cultural urges push it away from West. In the end, as always, the class interests win and cultural nationalism is only a tool to obscure the right wingers love for lucre.

 

 

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