US President Obama recently visited India to strengthen the alliance between the US imperialists and the Indian ruling class. This alliance is fraught with peril for the workers and people of India as well as for the peace and security of South Asia and the world. It must be opposed by all forces interested in peace and the wellbeing of the peoples.
US imperialism is one of the most dangerous forces on the planet. It regularly uses war and aggression in pursuit of its aims for complete strategic and economic dominance all over the world. It continues to be in illegal armed occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and entrenched both within the state and among terrorist groups in Pakistan. Under Obama as much as under his predecessor Bush, the US state remains militarist and imperialist. It acts in the service of the most rapacious capitalist monopolies. The profound crisis of the American economy is making the US imperialist bourgeoisie look to heightened aggression and war as the only way to keep pocketing maximum profits and shift the burden of the crisis onto others. Far from ushering in change, Obama’s coming to power has seen US imperialism digging in its heels in Afghanistan and increasing the threat of war against North Korea and Iran.
In the conditions of deepening economic crisis and high levels of unemployment at home, the US government is keen to find ways to step up production for exports; and India is considered an especially important market. Obama was accompanied by the biggest ever business delegation during his visit. As he acknowledged, it was “difficult to overstate the importance” of Asia and India in particular as growing markets. The US imperialists are therefore keen to strengthen their ties with the Indian bourgeoisie for ease of access for their goods in the vast market here as well as to exploit the abundant labour and natural resources of India.
The emergence of China as a big power has been one of the biggest potential threats to the dominant position of US imperialism in the world. With its rapidly expanding economy and growing clout on the world stage, China’s rise is viewed with alarm by the US imperialists. It is no secret that US imperialism wishes to keep China in check using India as a counterweight. It also wishes to exploit the ambitions of countries such as India to its advantage in its contradictions with some of the major European powers.
The Government of India welcomed Obama with open arms, and did not utter a word during his visit about the illegality of US occupation troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, or against US bombings inside the territory of Pakistan. Opposition to imperialism does not inspire the rulers of India, who are eager to be recognised as an imperialist power themselves. At the head of a vast country with a huge population, the Indian ruling class is pushing hard towards achieving its aim of becoming a big power on a world scale. While it has traditionally viewed itself as the dominant power in the region of South Asia, it is no longer content with this and is pursuing imperialist aims that extend far beyond this region. It sees itself as a rival of China for domination in this part of the globe. In the post-Cold War world, it sees its best chances of realising its ambitions in concert with US imperialism. Especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has carefully built up a strategic relationship with the US without neglecting its traditional friendship with Russia and other powers of West Europe and Asia.
In recent years, Indian and foreign capitalists have profited tremendously from the export of skilled Indian labour, in the IT and other sectors, to the US in particular. The Indian capitalists objectively feel the need for increased cooperation with the US monopolies not only for access to the US market for export of Indian labour and goods, but also in order to obtain newer technology for several areas including agriculture and infrastructure. Each side understands the compulsions of the other in the times of the crisis which has hit the global economy, and the US economy especially severely.
The efforts between the US imperialists and the Indian ruling class to strengthen their ties have continued steadily over several years now, irrespective of the party in power in either country. The signing of the nuclear deal with the previous US regime headed by Bush was an important milestone on this path. The Indo-US strategic alliance, of which the nuclear deal is a part, has paved the way for increased collaboration in the field of weapons development, and made cooperation between the biggest US monopolies and the Indian state much easier on many fronts. In the past few years, several joint exercises on land, sea and in the air have taken place involving the armed forces of the US and India. During the recent visit of Obama, a significant development was that the US government publicly promised to support the Indian state’s long-standing aspiration for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
While the Indian ruling class wishes to strengthen this alliance in pursuit of its own narrow self interests, it both colludes and contends with US imperialism, maintaining its own stance on certain matters. It has not fully accepted the US dictate on Iran for example. It has also not accepted the US suggestion, made openly by Obama during his visit, to criticise the government of neighbouring Myanmar for its lack of commitment to western style democracy. Similarly, while the Indian bourgeoisie has tried repeatedly to mobilise US support in its ongoing dispute with Pakistan, the US imperialists have not thrown their weight fully behind them..
Obama’s visit was fruitful indeed for the big US monopolies. During the visit, the purchase of several planes from the US monopoly Boeing both for private airlines as well as for the Indian air force were announced, as were deals for power plant equipment from the monopoly GE, totally worth over 10 billion US dollars. While these were just the deals announced during the visit, it is known that many more such deals are set to be revealed in the days to come. It was claimed that trade with India was expected to grow to 1 trillion dollars by 2020.
One of the important results of the Obama visit has been the increased push to sales of weapons and cooperation in the field of weapons technology. Thus, soon after Obama’s visit, the Indian army began field trials of US heavy artillery, which it had not done for several years. Traditionally, Russia has been the biggest supplier of weapons to India, while Israel has also emerged as an important supplier in recent years. In the run-up to Obama’s visit, the US government agreed to relax controls on technology and defence exports to India. It is now reported that India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation is actively planning to develop collaboration in high-tech military weaponry with the US establishment, something which it has not done before.
There are those in the Indian political circles, including the CPI(M), who argue that the problem with the Indo-US alliance is that it “is not on an equal footing”. What these forces do not explain is that irrespective of how equal or unequal this relationship may be, it is an alliance in pursuit of narrow self-serving imperialist aims on both sides, aims of dominating and plundering nations and peoples, and justifying military aggression for such ends.. Such an alliance can never be in the interests of the toiling people of either country, or of the peoples of the world.. Hence actively opposing the strengthening of such an alliance is a matter of principle for all political forces that are interested in peace and well being of the peoples of India and the region.
The Indian working class and people have always opposed rapacious US imperialism and its warmongering and plunder around the world. This opposition has to be taken forward in the present conditions when the Indian bourgeoisie is striving to grow by ruthlessly stepping up its loot and plunder of people in India and abroad, and sees increasingly close collaboration with US imperialism as a means to achieve this end.
Down with the Indo-US Strategic Alliance!