Prakash Karat on what Obama must and must not do
Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat writes about US President Barack Obama's forthcoming visit to India.
US President Barack Obama is visiting India in the first week of November.
The last time a US President visited India was when President George Bush came in 2006. At that time, there were widespread protests in the country. His visit was opposed primarily due to the war on Iraq and its occupation. There were protests in both Houses of Parliament against the visit.
The election of Barack Obama as President and the end of the Bush regime was greeted with relief around the world. There were high expectations from the young President of Afro-American origin, who had opposed the war in Iraq in the US Senate.
The world looked forward to an end to the unbridled neo-conservative aggression of the Bush era. In the nearly two years of the Obama administration, much of the expectations have been belied. There has been a change in the tenor and style, but not much change in the substance of US foreign policy.
This column first appeared in People's Democracy
Click on NEXT to read further...
Image: CPM-M general secretary Prakash Karat
Tale of unkept promises
US military bases will remain to oversee American interests, which include capturing a major share of the oil resources of the country.
The Obama administration has continued to target Iran on the nuclear issue and taken the lead to get the fourth around of sanctions against Iran adopted by the UN Security Council.
Despite the promise of initiating talks for a just settlement of the Palestinian issue, the Obama administration has failed to do so because it cannot afford to antagonise the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States.
It continues to overlook the Israeli regime's illegal and expansionist schemes in the occupied territories.
Image: Zahiya Hamoushi, a villager, reacts during clashes between Lebanese and Israeli soldiers at Adaisseh village, southern Lebanon
Photographs: Ali Hashisho/Reuters
'US-NATO war on Afghanistan will not be able to crush the Taliban'
The Obama administration continues the illegal economic blockade against Cuba. It echoes the call of successive administrations for 'democracy' in Cuba as a precondition for ending the embargo.
The single worthwhile initiative Obama took has been the Prague speech in 2009 wherein he called for universal nuclear disarmament. This was followed by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, which will result in a one-third cut in the existing nuclear warheads of both countries. Though, this agreement awaits ratification by the US Senate.
Two year after, the Obama administration has confirmed that Republican or Democratic, there will be no change in the basic pursuit of a global strategy and foreign policy goals, which are in the interests of the ruling classes of America.
Image: A US soldier engages enemy forces in a small arms fire fight during Operation Mostarak in Badula Qulp, Helmand province, Afghanistan
Photographs: US Air Force photo
US may try to get India to open up its markets
The visit would, therefore, see more earnest attempts by the US side to get India to open up its markets and allow American companies to invest in sectors like retail trade and agriculture.
Indians see the Obama administration taking steps to discourage outsourcing business operations to India while at the same time, India is expected to provide more business opportunities for the United States.
President Obama's visit has evoked varied reactions in India. There is the pro-US lobby which is well entrenched in the ruling establishment that hopes that the occasion can be used to strengthen the strategic alliance with the US. They advocate further expansion of defence ties and conceding to the United States its demands for opening up investment opportunities in new sectors.
Image: US President Barack Obama
'In India, there are still people who feel nostalgic for the Bush era'
Ironically in India, there are still people who feel nostalgic for the Bush era. The former Indian ambassador to the United States, Ronen Sen, had encapsulated this feeling when he said that George Bush has been the best American President for India.
Those who yearn to be an ally of the United States miss the Bush era. There was the promise to make India a great power provided India becomes a reliable strategic ally. However, even Bush refused to back India's quest for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
As far as the CPI-M and the Left are concerned, we recognise the difference between Bush and Obama. At the same time, we are aware that Obama administration represents continuity in terms of the basic US approach for global dominance.
Image: Bush with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi
Photographs: White House Photo
'We will highlight America's imperialist interventions'
That is why the Left has decided to utilise the occasion to highlight the opposition of the people of India to the continuing US imperialist interventions.
It will express the Indian people's opposition to the pressures mounted by the US government to intensify the neo-liberal economic policies in India and to facilitate the opening up of vital sectors like agriculture, retail trade and higher education to American multinationals.
The Obama visit should not result in Walmart being allowed into retail trade in India, which will destroy the livelihood of tens of thousands of small shopkeepers and traders. The commerce minister and sections of the UPA government are rooting for FDI entry into multi-brand retail trade.
Under the Indo-US Defence Framework Pact signed in 2005, the United States is seeking to get a series of agreements signed. Two of them -- the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and the Communications, Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) -- are key to making the Indian armed forces an ally of the Pentagon.
Image: An activist from the Left parties of India holds a placard during a demonstration to protest against the entry of Wal-Mart into the Indian market, in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'Obama would be keen that India buys US arms in a big way'
Obama would be keen that India buys US arms in a big way. Already India has agreed to buy C-17 military transport planes. The Americans are more interested in India placing the order for 126 fighter planes with the US, which would cost more than $10 billion.
The Left parties have been consistently opposing the military collaboration with the United States, which is impinging on India's independent foreign policy and strategic autonomy.
President Obama should be told that he has a responsibility to ensure justice for the Bhopal gas victims. A US company was responsible for the worst industrial disaster in the world.
If Obama could get BP to cough up billions of dollars for the clean up of the oil spill in the Gulf coast, why should not the Dow Chemicals be made to pay for the damages and the clean up of the Bhopal site?
Image: File photo of C-17 Globemaster that India has purchased
President Obama should listen to Indian people's views
The Left parties will demand that the United States stop assistance to the Israeli regime, which has sustained an illegal occupation of Arab territories for more than four decades.
They will demand that Obama stop the economic blockade of Cuba and initiate talks with Iran for a settlement on the nuclear issue without resorting to coercive sanctions.
On November 8, President Obama will be addressing Parliament. Alongwith others, the Left party MPs will also listen to him.
On the same day, there will be demonstrations and meetings all over the country voicing the opinions of the Indian people. President Obama should listen to them.
Image: Left leaders at a meet