Wednesday, June 19, 2013

America's Secret War: Mazzetti throws light on CIA Operations

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books One of the many myths surrounding USA is that it is a great power, a bulwark of liberty in a sea of tyranny. This self serving ideologically laced self representation of USA has made people, especially historians and analysts, ignore certain important aspects of the political and institutional conduct of US. In India, the tele intellectuals of JNU and other leading Universities are only too willing to buy American self ratiocination as the hegemonic weight of post colonial theories seriously impedes our intellectuals from seeing reality from behind the fog of illusions created by American propaganda. India has to learn lessons from the USA, if it wants to be a hard state. Unfortunately the cold comfort of being a soft state gingerly side stepping all important political and security questions is too attractive a prospect for our "intellectuals" to lose. So they continue to mouth the platitudes taught to them by American establishment. A case in point is the controversy over Martha Nussbaum. There are enough morally obnoxious events happening in the USa for this white woman to fret and fume over. But she will issue "fawas" against Narendra Modi and her shrill rhetoric is magnified by Indian intellectuals ever eager to be seen on the same page as the Gucci and Benetton of the American academia. It is in this context that Mark Mazetti's The Way of the Knife is an eyeopener. This book deals with the policies and strategies pursued by the USA in its war against Islamic fundamentalism. What is so striking is the close coordination between the Military and the civilian leadership especially in the fields of espionage and "special operations" US speak for targeted assassinations. Right from the Administration of George W Bush the CIA was involved in an active chase for Islamic militants in Iraq, Somalia, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan, The hunt had started even before 9/11. The CIA and its method of working is given in some detail. In India we have seen the absolute incompetence of IB and RAW to achieve any national goal. RAW operatives must read this book to get a first hand account of the ethos prevailing in the intelligence community in USA. First of all the Americans rightly think that Intelligence is not the domain for policemen and detectives. Somehow there is a false notion prevailing in India that political and strategic intelligence can be left to policemen. This is like leaving open hear surgery to the chief nurse in the cardiac ward. It is high time India understood that Intelligence is a highly specialized field of expertise and policemen are just not adequate for the job. Another point worth noting is the integrity with which field operatives do their job. They do not white wash reports or tailor them for the political basses. The only instance when this was done was during the WMD crisis when the CIA operatives or eather the outsources espionage hacks filled exaggerated reports. In India the RAW and the IB put up reports with both eyes firmly fixed on the next promotion or the needs of their bosses. Americans usually claim that their Government follows Rule of Law. By and large one can agree with this statement at a very general level just as I will say with utter confidence that in India we have rule of outlaws like Laloo, Mulayam, Karunanidhi and slum dog politicians like them. However, when dealing with grey areas the US Government outsources its policy of inflicting violence. Blackwater is a case in point, Whenever dirty work of killing people or whisking them away for "serious interrogation" read Git Mo treatment, then Blackwater fills the bill. The American tax payer pays heavily so that his President and his Cabinet can deny "criminal culpability" for the actions Black Water carries out. Even in an Outlaw State like India, this kind of deniablity is not possible. The political opposition will not allow the Government to get away with callous, calculated mursder as is done in the USA and Mark Mazzetti has documented several instances of such dubious behavior.
The book makes fascinating reading and is written in a racy, page turner sort of style which makes the book more interesting than John Le Carr's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. However, the author like all Americans is a bit squeamish when it comes to drone warfare. He hints that there are questions about the legality of such attacks but does not explicitly state that US policy is illega. However, the author has provided enough instances to show that the much vaunted drone warfare has caused huge causalities. In Somalia and in Afghanistan drone attacks has led to more than 5,000 deaths and the body count is rising. I like the book and I reccomed this book to all those interested in US policies in our part of the Globe.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Narendra Modi and the BJP; The Internal crisis and its ramifications

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The elevation of the Hon'ble Narendra Modi to head the election campaign for the 2014 General Elections was not unexpected. The BJP has seen in the Chief Minister a new kind of leader, one who has the largest appeal in a country where the majority of the population is less than 30 years of age. The demographics of the electorate dictates the choice of a campaign strategist who can connect with the younger sections of the population. Another important point. After fomenting "identity politics" based on confessional sects, the country particularly the Muslims were willing to give the Congress party its thumbs up by default. The Congress party had learned the art of whipping up minority fears for its own dynastic purposes. The happy fallout of the Jaswant Singh controversy has been that it has led to a rethinking about the role of the Congress in the tragedy of Partition and many are now willing to concede that the Congress too was complicit in the tragedy. Minority fears also revolve around the unsettled and ongoing controversy of the role of the Congress Party and its leadership in the anti-Sikh Massacre of 1894. One happy consequence of all these developments is that the Congress propaganda of being a party which protects minority interests has been questioned. The changing nature of Indian society and demography has led to VIRTUAL REJECTION OF POLITICS OF the "old kind". The cobbling together of caste groups, vested interests and sundry other sodalities into a combination that can hurl a candidate across the winning post and in the first past the winning post system this strategy was often successful. The only exception to this general rule was the 1977 election which was a referendum on the Congress Party imposed Emergency. The 2014 Elections is showing every sign of snowballing into a referendum on the Congress and its performance. The series of scandals involving powerful congressmen like P Chidambaram and Pawan Bansal, regional allies like the DMK and the rest has made the entire country restive. Indians have come to accept a fair degree of corruption as then price for democracy, unlike China where the Confucian ethics curbs the predatory instincts. However the rising crime graph and the impunity with which the Congress dealt with the question of accountability has outraged the nation and so the 2014 Election will be fought on the issue of governance and accountability. The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Hon;ble Narendra Modi has been able to articulate a vision of politics which the young find highly inspirational. He has turned politics over to Economics and has made development the sole criterion for political legitimacy. In this, Modi is essentially following the East Asian and China model which placed salience on develpment. The growth rate of Gujarat over the past decade has been virtually in the double digits and even the hostile Indian print media has had to acknowledge the vast improvement in the economy of Gujaratt. There are however questions of inclusion which still remain. We must say that only after the economy has grown can one address the issue of inclusion. The ideologues of the Congress and their cohorts in the Indian "social science" establishment have raised quetions about the "inclusive" nature of Gujarat's growth story. What these ideologues fail to grasp is that over the last decade Gujarat has become almost a developed state and all social indices are positive. It is against this background that Narendra Modi began to draw attention. The people of India, particularly the young want better lives for themselves, better education and better living standards and are convinced that the old style of identity politiccs favored by the Congress is not taking the country anywhere except toward crime and corruption. The schemes launched by the Gujarat Government if replicate on a national scale will lead to tremendous progress. Governance in GujarAT IS FREE FROM THE MALAISE OF CORRUPTION. hON.BLE nAREDRA MODI is perhaps the only chief minister who does not face charges of corruption and financial maleficence. And the people of India want to give this new kind of politics a chance. The BJP like any Indian political party is full of factions. L K Advani has virtually disassociated himself from the leadership of Shri Modi, This is unfortunate as Advani is a tall leader and well respected within the party and outside. I have great respect for L K Advani and I think that he is too great a man to let the clouds of today rain out the prospects for a better India. However Modi has a toough job ahead of him. Being the chairman of the Election Committee he would need to interact with state level leaders who are aligned to various factions and the defeat of the party in Karnataka must have led to the realization that factionalism is self defeating. Modi must quickly develop a line of command which reports directly to him and not to the faction bosses. The 2014 Elections will be fought on the issue of governance and corruption and Modi has demonstarted success in both.