With the recent visit to India of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter – his third visit so far – the Indian state has taken further steps to cement its military ties with US imperialism. While India-US military collaboration started after the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, it has been steadily gathering pace in the last decade or more.
This military collaboration with the deadliest and most aggressive imperialist power known to mankind is fundamentally against the interests of the Indian people. It threatens the peace and security of our region. It must be opposed by all right-thinking Indians.
Deepening military collaboration
After the signing of a nuclear deal with the US in 2005, military ties between the Indian state and US imperialism have taken off in a big way. India became the largest importer of US armaments, and the US overtook Russia as India’s biggest arms supplier. In 2011, a Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) to collaborate in the production of weaponry was initiated. The US legislature is now considering a bill to transform this into a Defence Trade and Technology Partnership Act. If passed, this would facilitate coordination “on an annual basis to develop military contingency plans for addressing threats to mutual security interests of both countries.” It would also enable the two countries “to execute military operations of mutual security interest … through the use of military means, … including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.” In other words, the groundwork is being prepared for joint military operations in the foreseeable future.
Besides this, the two sides have been considering finalizing several “foundational agreements” which would further institutionalize military cooperation between India and the US. During Carter’s visit in April, it was agreed “in principle” that the first of these, a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, would be signed in the near future. This would commit both sides, among other things, to provide supplies and fuel to each others’ forces from their bases. An India Rapid Reaction Cell has been set up in the US Defence Department for the first time in order to fast-track India-related deals and agreements.
An area in which Indo-US collaboration has particularly expanded is in naval operations. The scope of the annual Operation Malabar naval exercises conducted by the two navies (now joined by Japan) has been greatly extended since they started in 1992. During Carter’s visit in April, maritime military cooperation was further accelerated, including an agreement to start discussions on submarine warfare. The joint statement issued by Carter and Indian Defence Minister Parrikarr during his visit spoke of “ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, including in the South China Sea”, which was clearly a veiled threat directed against China.
MIlitary collaboration between India and the US has been steadily escalating over the past decade and more, both during UPA rule and during the current NDA rule.
In whose interests?
The expanding Indo-US military collaboration represents a growing convergence between the strategies of the US imperialist bourgeoisie and the big monopoly bourgeoisie which rules India.
After brutally intervening in and laying waste to a number of countries across the whole region of North Africa and West Asia up to Afghanistan, US imperialism has announced that it is “rebalancing towards Asia”, and has begun redeploying its military forces eastwards. US imperialism wants to establish and strengthen its domination over this region of the world with its huge resources and where it foresees the greatest challenges to its aims from other powers, including China, Russia and India. With an increasingly powerful China as the main target of its political offensive at the present time, the US has been carefully crafting a series of alliances or “partnerships” in the political, economic and military spheres, to encircle and isolate China. The US governments have made no secret of the fact that they want closer military ties with India. They want a military tie-up with India both to threaten China and also to control India, by tying India’s military and intelligence establishment ever closer to itself.
The Indian ruling class on its part has always harboured great power ambitions, right from the time of independence. In the post-Cold War era, with the US emerging as the sole superpower, the Indian ruling class has been turning increasingly to the US to strengthen its military and technological power, even while it has continued to maintain political and military ties with other powers as well. However, because of the strong tradition of anti-imperialism and distrust of US imperialism among the Indian people, earlier Indian governments tried to downplay the growing collaboration with the US particularly in the military sphere.
In recent years the Indian big bourgeoisie, as it has stepped up its collaboration with imperialist finance capital in all spheres, and puffed up with its own arrogance, has increasingly shed all pretence of opposition to US or any other imperialism. The foreign policy and strategic affairs pundits, and the spokespersons of the media controlled by the Indian big capitalists, have acted as unabashed propagandists for this turn. Day in and day out they try to trash all opposition to US imperialism among Indian people as “outdated” and "remnants of an old mindset". They even denounce those who say that India should be cautious and should not get trapped into US’ military adventures as "being timid and lacking confidence", and as standing in the way of India becoming a ‘great power’.
The interests of the Indian working class and people are diametrically opposed to those of US imperialism and of the Indian ruling class which ruthlessly exploits and crushes our people at home while dreaming of becoming a ‘great power’ in the world. What kind of ‘great power’ is this, that is built on the inhuman loot and oppression of the toiling people of India who don’t have enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and who are constantly subject to disease, poverty and calamities of all kinds? What kind of global great power can a country be which cannot build and maintain peaceful relations of mutual trust and benefit with any of its neighbours?
The Indian ruling class is desperately trying to fulfil its imperialist ambition of sitting on the high table with the US and other imperialist powers and participating in the inter imperialist wars for the redivision of the world amongst themselves. For the sake of its narrow interests, the Indian ruling class is prepared to sell out the fundamental interests of our people and dance with the devil itself, that is, US imperialism, and become its partner-in-crime, as the US continues to threaten, blackmail and attack the sovereignty and freedom of so many countries and peoples around the globe.
The present world situation marked by great instability and bloodshed and big power intrigues is full of dangers for the peoples, and the game being played by the Indian ruling class in tying up more closely with the US military establishment is a very sinister one. All Indian people who oppose this should come together on one platform. We must use every means to combat the insidious warmongering chauvinist propaganda being carried out to justify this collaboration. We must make it clear to all the people of India that this growing military collaboration with rapacious US imperialism is not only against their interests, but is a crime against our people and against humanity. We must insist that all details of agreements and deals with the US be made public. We must demand with one voice the rollback of all military collaboration with US imperialism.