US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited India between June 25-27, 2019. This was the first visit of a senior most official of the US adminstration after the return to power of the BJP with a massive majority in the recent elections. During this visit, Pompeo held discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The visit was publicly announced as aimed at resolving problems in Indo-US relations, and strengthening the strategic military alliance between the two countries.
The visit by Pompeo took place at a time when a number of issues have arisen in Indo-US relations. The US has removed India from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) list of countries, affecting the export of various items from India to the US. The government of India recently imposed duties on some imports from the US, after delaying its threatened retaliation, to the US imposing duties on steel and aluminum imported from India, by more than a year. In the beginning of May, the waiver of unilateral sanctions on countries importing oil from Iran, including India, ended. Meanwhile, there is the threat of US imposing sanctions on India if it goes ahead with the purchase of S-400 missile system from Russia. Further, there are reports that the US is planning to impose a country wise quota on H1B visas. This would severely reduce the number of Indians who will be able to avail of this visa every year. The Indian and US foreign ministers are reported to have discussed all the above issues.
Both Pompeo and Jaishankar emphasized that none of these issues would be allowed to come in the way of strengthening the strategic relations between the two countries.
The US strategy is to establish its complete domination over Asia by economically strangling Iran and overthrowing its government through military intervention, encircle and weaken Russia and China, and set neighbours against neighbours all across Asia. It wants India to join it in a strategic alliance to achieve this aim. The Indian big bourgeoisie sees a way to achieve its own imperialist aims in Asia by building a military strategic alliance with the US.
Pompeo’s visit came at a time of escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf, with the US threatening war against Iran. Pompeo came to Delhi after meetings with the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE where he announced the US plan to build a coalition of European and Asian powers under US leadership to isolate and attack Iran. During his visit to India, he kept repeating the lie that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and a serious threat to the world. He demanded that India break its long standing friendly relations with Iran and join the US in isolating and destroying that country.
The US demand that India stop all economic interactions with Iran, including the purchase of oil, is unacceptable. It is against the interests of both the Indian and Iranian people. Iran has been a major source of oil for India. India is also building a port in Chabahar as part of a sea and land trade route to Russia and the Central Asian Republics. Following the unilateral abrogation of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran by the US in 2018, the US re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, to ensure that Iran cannot sell its oil to any country and its economy gets wrecked. Conditional waivers to these sanctions granted by the US to India and some other countries were revoked by the US since May 2. Capitulating to the US pressure, India has completely stopped purchasing oil from Iran since May 2.
The US is targeting Iran as part of its strategy to establish its domination over the the oil rich West Asian region. It has pursued the policy of setting the countries of West Asia on fire, setting countries against each other, organising civil wars as well as wars of conquest. India has historical ties with the peoples and countries of this region. Eight million Indians work in the region. The bulk of India’s oil imports comes from this region. War in the region, to advance the US imperialists’ interests, will have terrible all-round consequences for our people. The US strategy in West Asia is completely against India’s national interests.
One of the reasons that US is imposing brutal sanctions on Iran and also Russia and Venezuela is to force oil importing countries of Europe and Asia to buy shale oil from the US. The US is now the biggest oil producing country of the world. However, the major oil importing countries of Europe and Asia such as Germany, India, Japan, China, etc. want diversified sources of oil, and they certainly do not want to be dependent on US oil. Imposing sanctions on Iran, Russia, and Venezuela enables the US to dominate the global energy market. It is not in the interests of India, or other oil importing countries. Already, India has over the past year, greatly increased purchase of oil from US, even as it has reduced import of better quality Iranian oil, which was available at a much lower cost, and paid in rupees. Now India is likely to increase its purchase of shale oil from US.
India is one of the world’s biggest importers of arms. The US is one of the biggest supplier of arms to India. However, India continues to source its arms from a number of other countries as well, in particular Russia, France and Israel. The US wants to completely dominate the Indian arms market. Apart from ensuring maximum profits for the US arms industry, this is aimed at tying up the Indian armed forces completely to the US armed forces. The military agreements signed between India and the US during the past five years, which allow the US to rest and refuel at Indian bases, as well as to have a common signaling system are steps in this direction.
The US is demanding that India stop the purchase of S-400 missile defense system from Russia. It wants to drive a wedge between India and Russia. The Indian government is, reportedly, trying to seek exemption by pointing to a loophole in the US sanctions law against Russia. This is the typical method of the Indian big bourgeoisie when it negotiates with the US.
It has been reported that the US also demanded that India ban the Chinese Telecom company Huawei and its 5G network. If India agrees to this, it will hurt the Indian telecom companies.
There were two points of convergence between the US and India, that were publicly announced at the conclusion of Pompeo’s visit. One was the issue of “cross border terrorism”, which came up in Pompeo’s discussion with Jaishankar as well as Doval. Foreign Minister Jaishankar triumphantly announced at the joint press conference how the two sides agreed that there would be “zero tolerance” for “cross border terrorism”. In other words, the US has given a green signal to India to attack Pakistan in the name of fighting “cross border terrorism”. It may be recalled that immediately after the terrorist attack at Pulwama in February this year, the US National Security Advisor Bolton had publicly told the Indian NSA Ajit Doval that India had the “right for self defence”. This was the signal for India to carry out the bombing in Balakot in Pakistan.
These statements on “zero tolerance for cross border terrorism” are a message from the US that in return for India’s support in the US war against Iran, it will support India in its warmongering against Pakistan.
The Indian bourgeoisie knows very well that the US is the biggest sponsor of terrorism on the world scale, and has set up, armed and trained many terrorist groups in Pakistan and other countries to advance its strategy for world domination. It knows that the US is responsible for many of the terrorist attacks that have taken place in India. Yet, the Indian bourgeoisie is seeking US collaboration to weaken and destroy Pakistan. This is against the interests of the people of India as well as Pakistan and of peace in the region.
Another area of convergence between the US and India was on containing China. Pompeo spoke about how the Belt and Road Initiative of China was against the sovereignty of various countries. Coming from the US, which has always used its military and economic might to openly violate the sovereignty of other countries, this criticism of China reflects nothing but cut-throat contention with the rising power and influence of China.
The US is inciting the Indian bourgeoisie's imperialist ambitions, and the fact that it is India's biggest trading partner and one of biggest sources of investment, to get India more tightly into its strategic embrace. The Indian bourgeoisie does not want to risk losing this source of maximum profits. At the same time, the US has its tentacles deep inside India, in the state, and amongst the ruling circles. It has used the threat of destabilizing India by unleashing anarchy and violence, to pressurize the Indian bourgeoisie to toe its line in the past and can do so in future as well.
The Indian ruling class is trying to advance its imperialist interests by working with different powers such as the US, Russia, China, Germany, Japan, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. However, the US is demanding that the Indian bourgeoisie coordinate its strategy with the US strategy for establishing US domination of Asia.
Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Indian bourgeoisie has been strengthening its strategic alliance with the US step by step. This growing strategic alliance with the US threatens our country’s sovereignty, and peace in the region. The Indian bourgeoisie is showing that it is willing to mortgage the sovereignty of our country, and endanger peace, for the sake of its profits.