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Libyan Writer Ghoma

Saturday, 11 March, 2006

THE NEW ARMS RACE: India, Pakistan, and Beyond!

By: Ghoma

        Today's heart-wrenching images of Ethiopians, Nigerans, and other Africans famine stricken and wasted humans are yesterday's no less heart-breaking images of Indians and Sub-continentals equally emaciated skeletons with belly-bulging hauntingly gaunt looks. What has happened in the distance of a half-century in India and Pakistan is a story which has not yet been told at least in it details! Have the two countries and their arounds and surroundings come out of the woods yet to afford playing the big game and sit with the biggies of this world on the table? The answer is, it all depends of whether one sees the cup half full or half empty.

        1947 was the year when India and Pakistani cast off the yokes of the Bulldog's Empire long dark night on the subcontinent. Two states and one story intricately intertwined in their mutual history and future rivalry with each other. India had the luck to have had such founding fathers as Gandhi, Nehru, and a bevy of other leaders who ushered the newborn state into a tradition perhaps at the time was beyond the grasp of the vast majority of Indians but nevertheless had put the country on the right track of history. Amidst the terrible grinding poverty and the quasi breakdown of the country, those foresighted gaggle were perceptive enough to see through the fog and establish a fairly democratic foundation which has so far held the fractious country together and on which India still stands tall today! For a close to 60 years India wrapped its abject poverty with a sense of humility and dignity that were becoming the hallmark of its endurance. From its non-alignment, to its moral and political stands on the issues of the day, India proved to be a bulwark against unfairness and arrogance, and a stalwart to what's unpopular but right .

        Pakistan, on the other hand, was born under unusual circumstances with a congenital twists in its DNA's strings that complicated the pedigree status to which it aspires; in addition to have had the misfortune of having such zealots as the Muslim League and Mohamed Jinnah and his ilk who, among others, had plunged the new nascent state in horrific blood bathes, ethnic cleansing, and religious fanaticism which has yet to recover from. A state, the like of which are only few in this world! which only reason d'etre was no other reason than Religion; still suffers from that shortsightedness and such a nerve racking choice of foundational myopia! Since then between one coup d'etat and another there was a breve interlude of some civilians haggling over how to divvy up the always scarce and smaller pie. A typical banana republic with a runaway population problem, untempered religious fervor, and now nuclear arsenal!

        India which this past week has just got a boost from the long touted magical injection awaiting Mr Bush and Mr. Singh symbolical sticking into the blood upstream of the Indian economy and more important morale. It's hopeful as well as refreshing to see, for the first time, a crop of Indians with all the self-assertion, if not the swagger, touting their wares and India with them as the next miracle after God's creation of the universe. The touting of the idea "India its time has come" [As India's Prime Minister, M. Singh, said obliquely by quoting V. Hugo's words: nothing can be done against an idea whose time has come]. India, as up and coming, is a bit too soon for a country as large, as complex, and as plagued by all the baddies God had succeeded in infecting this world with. To start with, whatever the Indian economy has done it's reached only a small fraction of the sprawling infinitum of its population, mere 200 to 300 million luckies! mere drops in the roaring ocean of the subcontinent's teeming masses! It's reported that 80% of Indians still live on something like $2 a day! Presumably the other 20%, which is the middle class, lives on something above that mark, (it seems what makes one a middle class in India is to possess no more than the changes an average American carries in his/her pocket on daily basis!)

        Against this bleak picture India and Pakistan had split the atom and went nuclear -their arsenals estimated to be still small but not for long- to protect the famished and the starving from being conquered once again, by whom? By each other? Or perhaps by no other than the no less famished and starving, China, since the Indians and Pakistanis were for quite sometime now chum-chummy with the other biggies of the nuclear club?

        While Pakistan has no economy to speak of outside of homegrown old stamp religious fanaticism -it's still a beggar state that stretches its hands to whoever has a pennies to spare! The peculiarity of India's economy makes the whole hoopla a hasty beatings on the chest while the game still in the wilderness. It's still a little iffy for the rest of the left behind poor and uneducated Indians to soon join their lucky fellow brethren and sisters who have already made it to the middle class ranks and are consorting with their counterparts in the mature economies as equals. India, unlike China, and more like the oil producing states, started from the "service sector" and high-tech R&D digs. The service for the global market (answering phone calls, billing, financial consulting, x-ray reading, etc.) and the high-tech research and industry to meet the entrepreneurship spirit of the restive young, well-educated, and westernized elite. These sectors, require a high social capital- a highly qualified human capital- in the same time yield relatively a smaller demand on the labor force than the traditional low-skills industrial production China has chosen. With such choice of high added value enterprises, what then makes India confident it will succeed, in eradicating poverty, where others before her, the older and richer economies such as that of the USA, have failed miserably to accomplish in far longer span of time than the one allotted to India? Given the road India has chosen and its rampant population factor -its population is expected to surpass that of China in the next 20 years!- what will take India to raise its poor is a gargantuan task that no country ever had attempted to do before - China excepted since it has its own path to development!

        The path to development and the roads chosen or the bends never taken are interesting subjects in themselves but this is not the context for their parsing, what this essay hopes to accomplish is to attempt to draw the attention to what is looming on the horizon, that of another arms's race, which is getting always closer by the day to the region most unstable in the world, the Middle East, the hotbed to a lot of what potentially can trigger the onslaught of the final Armageddon. The agreements that have been just signed between the USA and India, not only admitted India officially to the "Nuclear Club" but also potentially gave it the green light to augment its nuclear arsenals by far more destructive and sophisticated bombs. In denying the same treatment to Pakistan, the United States knows that will only drive Pakistan to seek where it could find to compensate for the disadvantages accrued as a consequence of the Indo-American Treaty, but also to the humiliation resulting from such disregard to the historical alliance and the work done on behalf of the "strategic ally," the USA. In doing so the Pakistanis will only exacerbate the efforts of the Iranians to have their own "deterrent" before the Turks or God forbids any of the Arab states can have it.

        What the Bush and the Indian administrations have done was to annul what's left of the watch dog Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and made it truly irrelevant! Just after few months from recognizing the good work of the NPT treaty's watch dog, the IAEA, by bestowing on it and on its chief, Mohamed elBaradai, the Noble Prize for Peace, here comes now this slap on the face to dismiss with its guardianship role as anything but unnecessary or ineffective. If anything is left to do for such an organization is that of the hunting dog in drawing the game out to the already pointed shotguns. What the Bush administration did for India is the old domino effect in reverse! While attempts to keeping the undesirables out are still pursued, admitting whoever the biggies deem to have among them is a new tradition!

        Can such a strategy work? It depends about which countries and states we're talking about. Those states who've the ability to make the nuclear bombs are already considered potential members, it's just a matter of time when these states will clear their own internal hazards to such a venture and declare themselves to be nuclear powers: Israel, Japan, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, etc. ...The rest of the pack, for now,, have to content to live under the shadows of the biggies. A world divided into two subdivisions: a small but powerful few, and a large but poor and ineffective vast majority. Can this type of balance last? As long as the biggies can keep armies and navies strong as well as their hold on international organizations -as the UN, IC, WTO, etc,. and their watch dogs as the Security Council, IAEA, and even NATO,. they'll be able to coopt most unruly states to behave, and when and if any state -such as Iran or North Korea now- resists the carrots, after a period of disparaging its behavior and of isolation to soften it a bit, the big stick will come down to deal it the final blow!

        Iran's attempts at going nuclear is disturbing, one presumes, the sleep of many regimes in the area, before even those in Washington DC and other capitals. The reason(s) is not that difficult to account for. When the Pandora Box opened by the Iraqi tragic events added to the population compositions in the rest of the Gulf region a disturbing picture may come out: a potential explosive situation. A Shia Axis is delineating itself slowly but persistently from the shores of the Red Sea across the Arabian peninsula to what historically was known as the Fertile Crescent: from Iran to Lebanon. Given the boiling religious -if not ideological- fever of Shiism and its resurgence as a political contender in the area, wouldn't be long before a counterforce to it both religiously and political be formed to absorb its shock waves and to counterweight its effects. A possible Sunna- Shia wars of attrition or even hotter? Perhaps history, indeed, repeats itself! Just Reformation Wars between the Protestants and the Catholics which ravaged Europe during the 15-16th centuries, could also engulf the traditional heartlands of the so-called Muslim World? It remains to be seen whether as Marx observed in "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte": "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." What s high price to pay for a comedy?

        Is Iran going to hold its sway on the events and blackmail the area to push it further into seeking help from the only power interested in exploiting the turmoil to its advantage? This is the question which must be asked, and if so what could be done to avoid further sliding toward the abyss of real disorder. If there's very little Arab states can do to stop Iran from doing what it deems to be of its national interest, there's also apparently not much the rest of the world can do to "contain" it either beyond slowing the process down a bit. Thus Iran's hegemonical ambitions are inevitable which will be counterbalanced only by the other hegemonic power, the USA! Thus Arab states will find themselves further squeezed between the anvil and the hammer. Is it feasible that any Arab state, and if that's so which one, can go nuclear? In the short to medium terms (5-20 years) no Arab state is capable both technologically, economically, and most importantly strategically to take such a step. Egypt, as the most populous state, is in no position to even dream such adventure -a beggar and puppet state has no will outside of the desires of those who finance it and hold it in leash! Then what?

        The irony -or rather the tragedy- in the whole mess, there's no satisfactory way out! It's inevitably going to get worse before.... At this point the situation for the Arab states looks similar to the situation when one sees the train dashing at 100 mile per hour and a car is stuck on the rail-tracks. The paralysis takes over, for it's too late either to warn the conductor to slow down or to run to the car to save whoever inside. The Middle Eastern situation seems to be stuck in its tracks, the only thing remains is to wait for the events to sort themselves out. Given the lack of will or center, as an Africa sage stated: the center does not hold, things fall apart Here where old fatalism comes convenient. With a shrug of the shoulders and a grin on the face one only has to say: che sara' sara'! The hope is things will end up as in a Chekovian tragedy where all shattered but alive, than in a Shakespearian one where most dead but some justice hovering somewhere high above!

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com

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