03 August, 2012
With a population of 1.2 billion people, many believe that India is the arena where the future direction of humanity is being played out. Mired in poverty and still bound by tradition, it is on an insatiable quest for modernity. With 17 per cent of the global population, the route to development chosen by India will impact the people living here and elsewhere throughout the planet. However, the future of humanity may not be determined in India, but by events in a much smaller country – Syria.
When the Soviet Union (USSR) fell apart, there was much talk from the US of a multi-polar world, where Washington would be just one influential player among many – a world where an autonomous India would play a vital role. It was nice sounding talk. But that’s all it was – talk. In the wake of the collapse of the USSR, the US has been hell-bent on achieving global superiority.
The US’s orbit of influence has extended throughout Eastern Europe and into many of the former Soviet states in central Asia. While Bush senior was mouthing media-friendly words about multi-polarity, Dick Cheney was at the same time stating that the US sought world domination. Look no further to see the US track record by casting your mind back to events in Yugoslavia, Libya and Iraq. Look no further to see its role currently in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan. To date, the US has been responsible for millions of deaths and maimings in its quest for superiority, but its project now appears to be reaching a critical point.
Unfortunately for the Obama regime, it’s no longer the early 1990s when the US believed it reined supreme and Russia was in disarray and China still relatively weak. China has emerged as a genuine global player and Russia has a new-found confidence under Putin. If China and Russia thought Libya was a pawn worth sacrificing, they regard the more significant Syria as a different matter entirely.
A former Soviet ally that still has strong links with Russia, Syria plays host to Russia’s only naval base outside of the former USSR. That in itselfn is something the Russians think is worth defending, given their build up of naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean and their military hardware supplies to Syria. Both Russia and China know that if the US, its allies and its proxy Free Syrian Army topple the Assad government, all roads then lead to oil rich Tehran.
Controlling Iran’s oil would serve many purposes, not least strengthening the value of the faltering dollar and US economy by ensuring the dollar remains in high demand as the global currency for oil trade – a situation threatened by various countries, including Iran, that have moved off the dollar.
But the US will not stop with Iran. Moscow and Beijing are also firmly in Washington’s plans for destabilization too via exploiting political and ethnic divisions, especially in the border regions of Russia and China.
Syria is to all intents and purposes the scene of a cold war between the US and its allies and Russia and China. It’s a high-stakes game because some within the Pentagon think it’s better to draw China into a military conflict now, when it can still be defeated, rather than later. Syria or Iran could be the powder keg that achieves this goal.
Of course, Washington knows that if military confrontation can be avoided, even better. And, to this end, much US foreign policy is now directed towards undermining China’s growth and outmaneuvering it across the globe. While China lost ground in Libya, it is loathe to do so in the much more strategically important countries of Syria, Iran and Pakistan.
With a massive build up of NATO forces in the Mediterranean, what we are witnessing in Syria has all the ingredients that could lead to a third world war, especially given the Russian presence there as well. The tens of millions lost in the first two wars would be a fraction of the possible billions who would perish this time around, given that the three main protagonists – the US, China and Russia – all have nuclear arsenals.
As far as India is concerned, the US regards it as playing a key part in its geo-political aims by containing China and not as some equal, autonomous partner in a mythological multi-polar world. And, unfortunately, India has been moving increasingly closer to the US in recent years and, by implication, complying with its hegemony. But imagine for a moment a world where India pursues a more independent path that would be strident in its rejection of predatory capitalism and US-led militarism in Syria and
Imagine a model of development that would in fact be inspired by particular policies adopted by the likes of Cuba, Bhutan, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Bolivia, which place strong emphasis on health, ‘happiness’, education and bio-diverse agriculture and not least on the rights of indigenous peoples, sustainability, respect for the environment and/or common ownership
As 15 August approaches when people will wrap themselves in the national flag and chant “Mera pyara Bharat”, India’s role in the world is worth considering because, for some, ‘independence’ for India is almost becoming a euphemism for living in the pocket of the US. Depending on the nation’s ability to switch track, however, it could yet positively influence the future of humanity after all.
Colin Todhunter : Originally from the northwest of England, Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have also appeared in various other newspapers, journals and books. His East by Northwest website is at: http://colintodhunter.blogspot.com