May 14, 2021
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Iraq Resolution

'Traps And Norms'

The CPI(M) representative in Rajya Sabha had a go at the neocons in the US foreign policy -- unedited speech, April 9.

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'Traps And Norms'
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Sir, it gives us extreme satisfaction that, notwithstanding the avoidable delay,  the fact that the hon. Chairman has moved the Resolution -- which, I am sure, is going to be supported by the entire House, which represents not only the political spectrum of this country, but also, overwhelmingly, mirrors the national opinion and the public mood in this country -- goes to show the maturity and the resilience of our parliamentary system.

Having said that, we have to also to consider that the kinds of issues and political processes that have been thrown up as a result of the unilateral invasion by US-led forces in Iraq, have ramifications which will lead to developments in the future, which will engage our attention, and which will also require our national response in the future.

Therefore, while agreeing with the suggestion of the hon. Chairman that normally the Members speaking here should try to confine  to the Resolution, I think references to issues, which are pregnant in the formulation of the Resolution will, indeed, come in for the consideration;  a sharing of the concerns and experiences of different parties will have to be articulated, which, I think, will not weaken but actually strengthen the Resolution.

Now, Sir, why was there the need for this Resolution?  As the hon. Members of this House will recall, some of us had raised the need for adoption of such a Resolution in the first half of the Budget Session but, somehow, there was an understanding among a section of the House that adoption of such a Resolution will inhibit the diplomatic latitude, the diplomatic elbow-room that was needed by the Government to intervene in the situation.

But, nevertheless, we had discussed that issue in this House on 12th of March, and it was the hon. Prime Minister, who at that point of time had very emphatically and unequivocally reassured this House that a military action will never take place. But, notwithstanding that reassurance, some of us had said that the tendency that was already on evidence suggests otherwise. Therefore, it is very vital for the Indian Parliament to express itself in very unambiguous terms because the problem is, the Iraq developments have shown failure of global diplomacy. Had the sequence of evidence underscored the need for greater diplomatic efforts, we would have tended to agree with the Government at that point of time. But the Iraq crisis underlined the very failure of global diplomacy which is leading to apprehensions about the relevance of the U.N. system itself. If one analyses the sequence of events, which is being detailed out, not only by the critics of America, but even by the media in the United States itself has pointed out that there is a very, very disturbing trend in what is happening.

Sir, I refer to an article in the Time magazine, dated 31st March where they have given the graphical accounts -- why the U.S. Administration have targeted Iraq and what is the political and ideological basis of this attack. There, it has been pointed out that one of the Deputy Secretaries of the U.S. Administration, Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, who represents and reflects the core of neo-conservative political thoughts has been a person who has been instrumental in shaping the U.S. policy towards Iraq, and how he has won over important Administration officials like the Vice-President, Mr. Dick Cheney and the Defence Secretary, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld. If one goes into the core of the theory of neo-conservatism, one finds a chilling similarity with what was articulated in terms of Nazism in the mid-30s, the same concept of supremacy of master race, the articulation for the need to accept American way of life, for the acceptance of the American values as the prerequisite for stability and collective security of the world. This is something which poses a grave threat which goes beyond Iraq. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, Sir, with the greatest deference to your wish that one need not go beyond the words of the text of the Resolution, one has to refer to these implications which will affect particularly countries like India.  

We would like to point out that this kind of unilateral aggression is actually knocking out at the very foundational principles of international jurisprudence. For example, the justification of this aggression. Americans are saying that they are doing this to find out weapons of mass destruction. This is a charge which has been laid at the doors of Iraq by the U.S. Administration without any respect for the internationally established procedures to justify that charge. In effect, the U.S. has acted in this case, both as a prosecutor and as a judge. The same entity is the prosecution and the judge! Now this is a breakdown of the very principle of natural jurisprudence which has been known to human civilization. This is unacceptable to us.

While we see Operation Iraqi Freedom has been launched with the purported aim of finding weapons of mass destruction, there are evidence that in this blatant aggression, weapons of mass destruction have been used by the U.S. and the British forces, which are banned by the Geneva Convention. There has been the use of shells which have been enriched by uranium waste which, indeed, constitutes weapons of mass destruction. The cluster bombs, which have killed thousands of civilians at one go, are weapons of mass destruction. The huge loss of civilians can't be justified by the claim of precision technologies which the U.S. have been claiming to have used.

The other disturbing trend is that the messengers have been shot at. The incident of yesterday, targeting the media which was trying to give a version of the war which differed with the American perception of the war, the bombing and destruction of the Al-Jazeera Television Centre in Baghdad, shooting down of journalists who have been acting independently, and the removal of Peter Arnett, are all against the very grains of human civilisation and the requirements of the millennium.

We have raised these questions earlier in connection with the developments in the aftermath of 9/11. Therefore, Sir, today, we are faced with a very, very critical situation. Natwarji was referring to the pronouncements after the Belfast Meeting, but, at the same time, we have seen the BBC, which was transmitting to us the agreement which was reached between President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on the transfer of money which was sanctioned by the U.S. Congress, that is to be used by Pentagon. Now, strife is taking place within the U.S. Administration on who is going to use this money--whether it is the State Administration or the Pentagon. The Bush Administration has decided that Pentagon would use the money now.

Therefore, this is a very, very serious situation. It has implications for the future. Therefore, unless the Indian political process thinks today on how to appropriately respond to the emerging situation, we would be failing in our duties to exhaust the possibilities that are inherent in this Resolution.

We expect that our Government would respond to portents of the U.S. national strategy document which was finalised. It was not an unofficial document by a think-tank, but it was the official document of the U.S. Administration which was finalised; it underpins the future U.S. strategy for the whole world.

We have seen that in order to further the objectives of that strategy document, the US has decided it, because it is in keeping with the administration report which was led during the Senior Bush administration that countries which are defenceless will be chosen particularly.  Therefore, apparently there was some surprise why the US is not responding to North Korea. But this appropriately dovetails that formulation in the security document of the US that particularly defenceless regimes will be selected so that there can be a speedy 'victory'.  We have seen this that the UN Security Council was being used to disarm Iraq  so that speedy results could be there. All the formulations that were being tom-tomed before the attack have all proved to be a myth that in spite of the weakness, in spite of the defenceless nature of the  Iraqi regime that ultimately the military action has continued so long and till now full political control has not been established. 

But the point here is that whatever irrespective and regardless of the military outcome of this action, the political situation, I have seen, that nations, the so-called permanent allies of the US administration have also not been in a position to express their opinion on this and to oppose this.  They have been backed by a huge mobilisation of the people on the street.  The redeeming feature, I think, is that there was a danger of that Huntington's theory, of Clash of Civilisations.  But even the God that President Bush invokes every time, we have seen that the very clan to which Mr. Bush belongs, they have condemned this action. 

The Pope has come out, and cutting across religious affiliations, people have opposed this.  This has taken place in Europe, in the Arab countries and the world over.  Therefore, there is a galvanisation of  process, which is not accepting the kind of unilateralism that the US administration is trying to impose on the whole world.  I think there are reasons to take heart from this because there are contradictions which one cannot overlook. 

The American Congress interestingly, as a sideshow, during the four days of the Iraq invasion was debating.  What they were debating was that Afghanistan where the American administration had given its commitment to reconstruct in the original budget papers, which were presented to the US Congress, had not kept a single penny for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.  Then the US Congress intervened and it said, "At least, we have to keep some money."  And 300 million US dollars were ultimately allocated. 

We know that American economy today is on a daily basis.  The hon. Minister would know with his background in finance that daily they are running a deficit of 1.5 billion dollars.  Their overall budgetary deficit is 432 billion dollars, which is exactly the defence budget of the US.   Now, who is financing this budgetary deficit?  While we hear sermons about controlling our fiscal deficit, but the fact of the matter is that American economy is being financed by the surplus  economies of Europe and Japan.  We will also see efforts to coerce European nations, Japan, the other Gulf countries and the devastated Iraqi economy itself to spend money to reconstruct Iraq.  Therefore, in this situation, there are possibilities, there are tendencies, which can provide us with space to intervene and try to have a very broad-based political, diplomatic initiative in the international sphere to try and reverse this ominous and outrageous unilateralism that has emerged.

It is, in this context, I agree with what Mr. Ramachandraiah has said about the adoption of the Resolution and about the shortcomings of our Government in intervening appropriately in the situation.  But, I think, this Resolution was very necessary.  It is more than necessary for sending some message outside and to gel the unity of our view.  There has been a criticism on Parliament for not adopting this Resolution.  But, adopting this Resolution too late is not good.  The people of our country, the entire political establishment of this country and the entire political process of this country should act firmly, act unitedly and act in a very, very rapid manner.  As such, we have been delayed in our reaction and, therefore, I think, this Resolution should trigger off a process by which we can galvanise the unity of purpose and the unity of thinking among our people in carrying on this process forward whereby we can appropriately reflect the political will of this country. 

And, at the same time, I think, it is a very unique feature that we have asked for the withdrawal of the U.S.-led military force immediately.  That is very vital.  That is one of the areas on which a great debate is taking place in the international sphere.  That is where our Resolution becomes more contemporary.  Even within the U.S. administration, there is a difference of opinion.  There is a fight between the Neo-Conservatives and the Liberals where people are saying,  'America cannot risk by using its own administration to deal with the post-invasion situation in Iraq.' 

Therefore, India could take the lead in voicing this concern that the process for restoration of democracy, contrary to the claims of Mr. Bush administration, should be overseen by the international community and the institutions which are internationally accepted -- precisely, the U.N.  And, it is one of those issues where India can play an important role in galvanising the resistance to unilateralism.  I agree with hon. Mr. Natwar Singh that we need to take a principled position.

Our Pakistan-centric approach to every international development is not going to help us.  We cannot justify or we cannot claim to indulge in unilateralism and unilateral adventure by drawing parallels with what U.S. has done to Iraq.  We are, inadvertently, trapping ourselves to the 'traps and norms' which are being sought to be established by the Bush administration.  Therefore, our foreign policy and our traditions in foreign policy have always been informed of the need about the global peace.  Our concerns for removal of weapons of mass destruction have been premised in the need for global disarmament.  Now, those positions had given to the Indian establishment and to the Indian nation the kind of leverage which we exercised in the past.  I think, we shall have to reinvent our foreign policy based on those basic principles which have paid us rich rewards in contributing to the global process.

Finally, Madam, I think, the other issue that should be taken up by the Indian Government and our political establishment is the civilizational aspect.  The great civilization, which had been housed by the soil of Iraq, and which dates back to the 3rd millennium B.C., the Assyrian Civilization, was subsequently followed by the Sumerian and the Mesopotamian Civilizations.  They are saying that about one lakh sites are there in Iraq, out of which only 12,000 sites have been discovered.

I would be concluding, now.  So, these one lakh historical sites, which are supposed to be there, which are housing the evidence of this great civilization over the years, is under serious jeopardy.  The Gulf War- I, because of the kind of bombing that had taken place there, had already given rise to serious concerns among the historians and the intellectuals all over the world. And, now, we don't know what has happened to this.  So, it is also a matter of  defence of the civilization, which is under physical threat as a result of this invasion. This also needs to be articulated, because the world would go on, the human civilization would go on, if we can protect this great civilizational heritage.  

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to say that the core of the neo-conservative theory, which informs the American invasion, has also created the space for a big platform of resistance against the global and complete unilateralism and terrorism that has come about.  Therefore, I think, when we would pursue policies, which are friendly to all countries of the world, unless the principles can actually inform the expectations of the human race all over the world, those principles need to be brought back to the centre stage of the paradigm and the discourse that will henceforth follow in this world.  We have to strengthen this process.  And, with that, I think, our Resolution will contribute to this process. I commend this Resolution for adoption by the House.  Thank you.   


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