Bush in India

The Joint US-India statement issued after the meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Singh on March 2 clearly reflects the Indian approval of the principles on which the US hegemony is established globally. The five sections, in which the statement is divided, to summarize the broad areas of cooperation, enumerate the basic concerns of the US hegemony, and India’s willingness to cooperate.

1. “For economic prosperity and trade” or commitment to corporate interests

Since World War II, the US has consistently asserted and reasserted itself as the security agency of the global corporate interests, who in exchange sustain the deficit-ridden American (war) economy and the dollar hegemony. In such a situation, the American desperation is natural whenever a potential competitor or troublemaker emerges. In order to preclude such threats it has to continuously refurbish its ranks and partnerships. The American exercise to stabilize its tumultuous economy and hegemony in the post-Cold War situation has wonderfully synchronized with the Indian need to sustain itself as an important market (as the South Asian hegemon), while securing a place for its own expansionist corporate interests in the global market. The joint statement is an epitome of this ‘corporatist’ synchrony.

It was way back in 1998 the American corporate leaders warned its political protégé about the dire consequences of the sanctions that the US hurriedly imposed on India after the Pokhran blasts–that rival economic interests may take advantage of the American withdrawal. This prefaced Clinton’s visit, in order to assure India of the ceremonial nature of those sanctions. Since then, the love affair has continually bloomed and boomed. It has been well supported by the US-India CEOs, who made recommendations for broadening bilateral economic relations, which the Joint Statement vows to implement. The statement indicates towards supporting the corporate world in its endeavor to prosper on the misery of the global majority. The official acceptance of the ideology of establishing “corporate fund” for combating diseases, like, for example, HIV/AIDS, only means towing the interests of the pharmaceutical monopolies against universalizing and cheapening medical facilities and drugs. The Indian state’s subservience to this notion is indicative of the keenness of the Indian pharmaceutical companies that have become transnational in recent years to sow the benefits from the global police regime under the US which condemns ‘piracy’, and violation of ‘property rights’.

2. “For energy security and a clean environment” or an ‘energy alliance’

The joint statement reconfirms India’s commitment to the ‘energy alliance’ under the US against the ‘oil rentiers’ in OPEC. The much talked about nuclear cooperation between the US and India is part of this alliance. So much concentration on the details of this cooperation, whether it is equitable or not, has diverted the critical discussion in India and abroad from its political economic significance. This cooperation is significant, as it seeks to deter the de-monopolization of nuclear facilities, which the non-OPEC powers seek to conserve in their own hands, to draw the cuts and commissions from their usage. This is an important aspect of the recent Western unity against Iran. The US-India cooperation in this regard effectively broadens this unity. This unity, on the other hand, provides Indian interests leverage in their own pursuit for cheap oil and energy resources abroad, in their negotiation with the indigenous interests around these resources, for proactive exploration in the oil fields, which requires cornering of these interests. Being part of the Western efforts for “regime change”, for “democracy propagation” makes India a part of the cartel against the cartelization and stable unity of local interests in the Middle East.

The statement further commits India to this ‘powerful’ energy alliance by drawing it in the “Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, an international marine research endeavor that will contribute to long-term energy solutions such as gas hydrates”. This would definitely require India to submit its own territory to fulfill the global corporate thirst. India is not at all wary of this prospect, as it would make it an attraction. In fact it is ready to bestow its coal and other resources too–“to conduct study missions on renewable energy, to establish a clearing house in India for coal-bed methane/coal-mine methane, and to exchange energy market information”.

Of course, such activistic endeavors would require further unity of interests between the US and India with regard to their common perspective to “clean environment”, that motivates Bush to abrogate the Kyoto agreement’s principle. Why not, even the muck that capitalism disseminates expands the market–for “clean technology”!

3. “For innovation and the knowledge economy” or sustaining scarcity

History tells us that the very basis of capitalism is enclosures, a systematic destruction of commons with the principle of ‘terra nullius’. Only by enclosures, “property” in the modern sense could emerge, expanding land markets and markets of the produce. The expropriation of direct producers and whatever they held in common was necessary for the creation of market in labor. Only by such expropriation and impropriation, ‘scarcity’ and ‘wants’ could be created, which are the bases of exchange. Capitalism reproduces itself by creating enclosures at the ever-expanding scale. After every crisis, which is aggravated by cyclic barriers to market expansion, enclosures in new areas and spheres are needed for furthering capitalist accumulation.

The development of cybernetics and information technology helped capitalism to revive after the two World Wars by integrating markets, capitalist production and distribution, at the highest level. This integration kept on intensifying, while the so-called Socialist World imploded, creating further space for capitalist expansion and intensification. However hidden in this boom was the approaching barrier, which was only temporarily deferred by the ‘second world’ implosion and third world submission to neoliberalism. But the problem with the post-World War II technological ‘innovations’ has been that their integrating capacity has the potentiality to eliminate scarcity, by dispersing the benefits. The need for vertical management seems to be redundant. They have the potential to defy all enclosures. This is a decisive threat for capitalism.

All trade agreements and treaties that seem to beacon globalization today seek to thwart this basic threat. They are re-territorializing, creating “new enclosures”. By recognizing various kinds of “property rights” and patent regimes, they seek to reinstall the necessity of ‘exchange’ and commodities for ‘economic management’ by creating artificial scarcities.

Any growing economy has the potentiality to threaten these “property rights”. By binding it with treaties and agreements, this capacity can be effectively controlled. The Joint Statement reaffirms the Indian state’s commitment to help the global police state in its task of conserving the “new enclosures”. It “would work together [with the US] to promote innovation, creativity and technological advancement by providing a vibrant intellectual property rights regime, and to cooperate in the field of intellectual property rights to include capacity building activities, human resource development and public awareness programs”.
4. “For global safety and security” or global interventionism

The first premise for any hegemony to survive is by making itself indispensable. The dismemberment of the USSR might apparently seem to be a victory for the American leadership, but it essentially involved a deep crisis of legitimacy for the latter. The devastated European powers readily accepted the US leadership in the Cold War phase as only thus could they stop the evil of bolshevism from spreading. But, as Perry Anderson notes in his 2002 NLR article, “Force and Consent”, “once the Communist danger was taken off the table, American primacy ceased to be an automatic requirement of the security of the established order tout court.” Even if there isn’t “any countervailing force on earth capable of withstanding US military might”, it must be concretely asserted to avoid an open explosion of potential inter-imperialist rivalries.

With consolidation of the European Monetary Union and the establishment of the euro in the 1990s, the US has become all the more desperate to demonstrate its might. “While the EU as a whole has the economic strength to challenge the US and attempts to manage the Euro as if it were a world currency, it lacks a military power comparable to its economic might. The US disposes of this power; the EU does not. It is precisely on the military level that the US tries to contain the emergence of the Euro as a challenger of the dollar.”(Guglielmo Carchedi, For Another Europe, Verso, 2001)

“The scourge of terrorism” seems to have risen to save the US hegemony, to show its indispensability for “global safety and security” (as Satan is needed to reaffirm the faith in God). However, the US must convince everybody, and find new allies. The never-ending War on Terrorism seems to provide such an ideology, and India has been too much ready to cooperate in this war. This cooperation provides the opportunity for the Indian state to internationalize its own militaristic interest that could allow its corporate interests a safe expansion. How succinctly “the imperial chronicler”, Tom Friedman put, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist–McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonald-Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps”. The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and other capitalist associations in India have been openly encouraging the Indian State to strengthen the “hidden fist”. They find the cooperation between India, Israel and the US in military industries as decisive for their own prowess.

The Joint Statement recognized “the enhanced counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries and stressed that terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought and rooted out in every part of the world”. It proves the willingness of the US to delegate “transnational” roles to India in its own campaigns.
5. “Deepening democracy” for financing “regime change”

Unable to secure genuine democratic rights for their own citizens, to eliminate racial, caste and gender biases, the US and India vows to propagate democracy. Campaigns against terrorism and democracy deficit are two key complementary features of the US international interventions. The first serves as the instrument of coercion that allows the hegemonic forces under the US to be always on aggression, and the second as a consensual mechanism to buy local forces conducive to the global hegemonic interests.

It might seem surprising (or even ironic) that India is a key instigator and financier of the UN Democracy Fund established in 2005. This institution seeks to fund sections of population (NGOs) within a “rogue” nation to work for “democratic transition”, for producing and training democrats. What will be its function, except that it will provide the global and regional powers to sustain their influence under the garb of the UN, to establish regimes conducive to their interests? Even the Indian adoption of this philosophy of “regime change” and “democracy propagation” is nothing novel. For example, the democrats in Nepal seem to gain from this democratic overture. But the reality is contrary, India has supported the democrats, but only to the extent that they can counterbalance the monarchic intransigence and arbitrariness, while being consistently subservient to the Indian political economic interests.

In the global redivision of the world, the Indian corporate interests and their political representatives know quite well that they will obtain “democracy-deficit” land and population in share. And India has definitely learnt the efficacy of “divide and rule” from its former masters and from its own “largest” democracy–formal democratic competitive exercise will keep its new “subjects” abroad busy in free hours, and solemnly peaceful at the workplace.

What more truth and openness can one expect from such diplomatic pomp–from joint statements, addresses and dinners …

PRATYUSH CHANDRA can be reached at: ch.pratyush@gmail.com