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India and the US-sponsored Pax Democratica

August 24, 2007 15:57 IST

In an article titled 'Democratisation and failed states: The challenge of ungovernability' published in the summer 1996 issue of Parameters, the quarterly journal of the US Army War College, Dr Robert H Dorff, Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy at the US Army War College and Associate Professor of Political Science at the North Carolina State University, traced the evolution of the idea of a community of democracies to the Clinton Administration's first National Security Strategy entitled 'A national security strategy of engagement and enlargement' published in July 1994.

The strategy projected the US strategic objective as 'protecting, consolidating and enlarging the community of free market democracies'. Dr Dorff wrote: 'The US post-Cold War strategy of engagement and enlargement began with public pronouncements in the last year of the Bush (the father of the present President) Administration and then was formally articulated under President Clinton. Fundamentally based on the premise of the 'democratic peace' (democracies do not go to war with other democracies), this strategy entails the active promotion and expansion of the community of democratic, free-market countries as a way of applying national resources toward the pursuit of strategic objectives.

At an Open Forum on democracy organised by the US State Department on November 10, 1999,  James Robert Huntley, writer and international affairs consultant, explained the theme of  a book of his titled Pax Democratica: A strategy for the 21st century. He traced the evolution of international relations through four phases, namely, the age of the empire, the balance of power, international co-operation and the latest phase of community-building among democracies, and claimed that democracies rarely went to war with each other and rarely indulged in internal violence against their own people.

Speaking at the same forum,  Penn Kemble, Special Representative of the US Secretary of State for the Community of Democracies Initiative, described the aim of the Initiative as the revitalisation of democracy in the international system. Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the Brookings Institution said the idea of Pax Democratica was to see if a viable means existed to build an approach to peace around an idea and institutions rather than around a nation.

Subsequently, on November 22, 1999, Bronislaw Geremek, formerly of the Solidarity funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and then the Polish foreign minister, announced at Warsaw that the first international meeting of the Community of Democracies would be held at Warsaw on June 26-27, 2000, under the joint sponsorship of the US, Poland, Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali and South Korea.

In a statement issued in Washington the same day, the State Department endorsed the initiative and said: 'The goal of the Community of Democracies Ministerial is to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of existing international organisations in their support for democracy. Governments attending the meeting will affirm their commitment to a core set of universal democratic principles. They will develop a common agenda to bolster democratic institutions and processes, improve co-ordination of democratic assistance programmes and more effectively respond to threats or interruptions to democracy.'

Penn Kemble used to be on the Board of Directors of one of the NED's core affiliates, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. His sister Eugenia used to be the Director of the Free Trade Union Institute, another core affiliate of the NED. He also headed the Executive Committee of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, a neo-conservative group within the Democratic Party. Kemble, who was allegedly part of the clandestine cell set up in the White House during the Reagan Administration by Col Oliver North of the Iran-Contra case, also headed the PRODEMCA, Friends of the Democratic Centre in Central America, until it was wound up. The NED's financial assistance to the anti-Sandinista elements in Nicaragua used to be allegedly funneled through PRODEMCA by Kemble, who was reputed to be an expert in the clandestine financing of foreign political groups co-operating with the US in its national objectives.

Under his stewardship, the PRODEMCA used to place full-page advertisements in the 1980s in the Washington Post, the Washington Times and the New York Times calling for congressional funding of US $ 100 million to assist the Contras. Col North allegedly used the PRODEMCA to funnel money to the Contras and the PRODEMCA acted in tandem with Carl Channel's National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty.

Among the others posts held by Kemble in the past were as a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, of the Social Democrats, USA, and of the radio programme advisory committee of the US Information Agency, in which capacity he used to advise on the running of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty by the CIA from Munich and the Voice of America.

Kemble was a close associate of Jeane Kirkpatrick, the US Permanent Representative to the UN during the Reagan Administration, who was also a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger, both of which were strongly anti-communist. She was also associated with other anti-communist organisations such as the Committee for the Free World, PRODEMCA, the American Enterprise Institute, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Social Democrats, USA, and the highly secretive Council for National Policy. She was also a member of the Board of Advisers of the Centre for Religious Freedom, an outfit of the Freedom House.

According to media reports, the  Warsaw meeting, which decided to set up the Community of Democracies, was jointly  funded by the Stefan Batory Foundation of Poland, founded in 1998 by George Soros to counter the resurgence of communism in East Europe, and Freedom House of the US, which was founded in 1941 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie to oppose Nazism and Communism in Europe.

Freedom House was a strong supporter of the NATO and worked in close co-operation with the CIA and Col North's clandestine cell in the Reagan White House in carrying on psywar against the USSR and other communist countries and in funneling assistance to the Afghan Mujahideen and the Arab mercenaries, including Osama bin Laden, through various front organisations such as the Afghanistan Information Centre, the Afghanistan Relief Committee, the Committee for a Free Afghanistan, the American Friends of Afghanistan etc. Freedom House received its funding from the USIA, the Agency For International Development, the NED and a number of ostensibly private foundations, one of which was the Soros Foundation. It is alleged that the sister of Maj Rabinder Singh, the CIA's mole in the Research & Analysis Wing who fled to the US in 2004, used to work in AID.

The late William Casey, director of the CIA under Reagan, and Col North, whom Casey used to call 'my son', encouraged the setting-up of a network of so-called non-governmental organisations to be used for covert political activities abroad without the direct involvement of the CIA, on the model of Freedom House and the foundations set up much later by the Bundes Nachrichten Dienst, the West German external intelligence agency, to funnel financial assistance to the anti-communist elements in the then East Germany, the anti-Salazar forces in Portugal, the anti-Franco forces in Spain and the Eurocommunist elements in France and Italy. A common name occurring in the lists of money-givers of almost all these organisations was the Soros Foundation.

In an article on April 20, 2000, on the so-called Community of Democracies, I had written as follows: 'There is no harm in India participating in the forthcoming Warsaw conference on the Community of Democracies, but keeping in mind the worrisome aspects of some of the dramatis personae and the birth of the idea itself from the USA's post-Cold War national security strategy to promote US strategic objectives, a cautious approach is called for. Over-enthusiasm and wishful-thinking that India is now an equal partner of the US in a new jihad for democracy would be unwise. The USA is advancing the idea from behind the scene with the help of some NGOs and personalities of Cold War parentage to promote its strategic interests. The mask is that of Warsaw, but the face behind the mask is that of Washington. We should avoid letting ourselves be used by Washington in this venture to advance its interests unless there is a genuine convergence of the interests of the US and India.'

But the government of Prime Minister A B Vajpayee became an enthusiastic supporter of this initiative in the expectation that its support for this initiative would make the US remove its economic sanctions imposed against India after the 1998 nuclear tests. An immediate outcome of this initiative was destabilisation in Georgia and Ukraine by pro-US elements with financial and other assistance provided by the various shady organisations, which were associated with this initiative.

Simultaneously, the attention of the American jihadists for democracy turned to Asia in order to build a similar community or concert of democracies which can undertake covert operations against China and Myanmar in the name of spreading and strengthening democracy. Even earlier, during the Clinton Administration, the US had started Radio Free Asia, similar to Radio Free Europe which was run by the CIA during the Cold War from Munich, to make broadcasts to the people of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia in China, Myanmar and North Korea. Many of the Pax Democratica assets of the US intelligence community were transferred to Asia.

Since Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's visit to the US in July 2005, there has been concern not only in China, but also in military circles in Myanmar that as a quid pro quo for the USA's civilian nuclear co-operation with India, the latter has agreed to help the US in its Pax Democratica initiative in Asia.

These concerns were strengthened by the following observations of President Bush in his address at a restricted public meeting at Delhi's Purana Qila on March 3, 2006: 'The world has benefited from the example of India's democracy, and now the world needs India's leadership in freedom's cause. As a global power, India has an historic duty to support democracy around the world. India is also showing its leadership in the cause of democracy by co-founding the Global Democracy Initiative. Prime Minister Singh and I were proud to be the first two contributors to this initiative to promote democracy and development across the world. Now India can build on this commitment by working directly with nations where democracy is just beginning to emerge.

'As the world's young democracies take shape, India offers a compelling example of how to preserve a country's unique culture and history while guaranteeing the universal freedoms that are the foundation of genuine democracies. India's leadership is needed in a world that is hungry for freedom. Men and women from North Korea to Burma to Syria to Zimbabwe to Cuba yearn for their liberty. In Iran, a proud people is held hostage by a small clerical elite that denies basic liberties, sponsors terrorism, and pursues nuclear weapons. Our nations must not pretend that the people of these countries prefer their own enslavement. We must stand with reformers and dissidents and civil society organisations, and hasten the day when the people of these nations can determine their own future and choose their own leaders. These people may not gain their liberty overnight, but history is on their side.' 

Dr Singh's visit to Japan from December 13 to 16, 2006, at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused concern in China, which tended  to see an American nudge behind the sustained attempts since April 2005, to bring India and Japan closer. The Chinese did not see it as a natural corollary of India's Look East Policy. Instead, they saw in it the thin edge of the wedge in what they apprehended as an American attempt to contain China.

In my article on Dr Singh's visit to Japan, I had stated as follows: 'The Chinese look upon Western-style democracy as a potentially subversive force, which could have a disintegrating influence in China -- particularly in its peripheral regions such as Tibet. Talk of democracy as a uniting force brings to their mind the idea of the community of democracies floated by the Bill Clinton Administration, India's association with it and visions of what happened in Georgia and Ukraine. The Chinese fear not so much the military strengths of India and Japan despite their strong military capabilities, as their ideological strengths arising from their democratic roots.

In his address to Japanese Parliament, Dr Singh spoke of India's vision of an 'arc of prosperity' extending from India to Japan. Is there a well-concealed additional vision of an 'arc of democracy'? That is the nagging question in the Chinese mind. It will nag even more after they have read Dr Singh's positive reaction to the idea of 'closer co-operation among the major democracies of the region'.'

Indian leaders and policy-makers have been repeatedly stressing that India's developing relations with the US, Japan and Australia are not directed against China or any other country. This has not satisfied the Chinese because they see quite the opposite being said by analysts in the US. They saw and continue to see the agreement in principle on Indo-US Civil Nuclear Co-operation reached by President Bush and Dr Manmohan Singh during the latter's visit to Washington in July 2005, as an American quid pro quo for India agreeing to be a US surrogate against Iran and China. The expected role of India against Iran finds mention in the Hyde Act, but not its expected role against China.

Similar concerns are nursed by the military junta in Myanmar since Bush's visit to India in March 2006. This should explain their reported post-March 2006 decline in enthusiasm for the sale of gas to India from the gas fields in the Arakan area. It is even alleged by some sources that there has also been a decline in enthusiasm for energy co-operation with the military junta of Myanmar in New Delhi after Bush's visit to India.

The forthcoming joint exercise by the navies of India, the US, Japan, Australia and Singapore in the Bay of Bengal in the beginning of September has added to the concerns in China as well as Myanmar. The exercise has been projected partly as humanitarian to improve their co-ordination for disaster relief and partly to test their capabilities for joint or co-ordinated action against non-State actors such as pirates, maritime terrorists and maritime smugglers of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction material.

This projection has not carried conviction to Beijing and the Myanmar military junta. China tends to see it as one more step in the US designs to contain its naval power. Myanmar sees it as a US attempt to pep up the morale of the pro-democracy elements in Myanmar. For the first time in recent months, there were demonstrations by pro-democracy elements in Rangoon and some other parts of Myanmar on August 19 and 22, 2007. The demonstrations were ostensibly against the recent increase in fuel prices and the economic hardships of the people. The military junta seems to see a link between the recrudescence of unrest by pro-democracy elements loyal to Aung San Suu Kyi and the forthcoming naval exercise. Their fears may be imaginary, but may result in a further suppression of political dissidents.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

B Raman