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Updated: March 25, 2011 01:06 IST

WikiLeaks cables reveal a disturbing picture of India-U.S. relationship: Prakash Karat

Special Correspondent
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Prakash Karat
Prakash Karat

“They are a sad commentary of where Manmohan Singh and Congress leadership have landed the country''

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said on Thursday that the WikiLeaks exposé laid bare the nature of India-U.S. relationship during the UPA and NDA regimes and revealed a disturbing picture.

“The publication and analysis of the U.S. embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks is ongoing; but what has been made available so far reveals a disturbing picture… the cables are a sad and revealing commentary of where Manmohan Singh and the Congress leadership have landed the country,'' general secretary Prakash Karat said an article in the latest edition of the party organ, People's Democracy.

Washington's reach

Commenting on the influential reach of Washington in India's strategic affairs and foreign and economic policies, he said the U.S. had access to the bureaucracy, military, security and the intelligence system and successfully penetrated them at various levels.

Mr. Karat marks out specific areas — foreign policy, defence cooperation, security and intelligence cooperation, penetration and espionage, political influence and political corruption — where American stamp could be seen.

Referring to the Manmohan Singh government going back on its commitment in the Common Minimum Programme to pursue an independent foreign policy, he said the CPI(M) and other Left parties had to oppose this turnaround from the outset. The cables disclosed how this reversal was effected through the efforts of the U.S. embassy and high-level functionaries, with the vote against Iran in the IAEA being one illustration of U.S. pressure.

Other cables showed how Washington succeeded in getting New Delhi to coordinate policy towards Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Defence and security cooperation was the second area where the U.S. influence grew appreciably, with India signing the Defence Framework Agreement, the first of this type with any country. It was evident from the cables that the U.S. government and the Pentagon had been negotiating and planning for it since the time of the NDA government.

Intelligence cooperation

On security and intelligence cooperation, Mr. Karat said the cables showed the growing coordination of the security establishments of the two countries reaching a high level of cooperation after the Mumbai terror attacks and the American view that the then National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan was eager to establish a high degree of security cooperation involving the FBI and the CIA.

The cables also showed that information was accessed through sources within various government ministries.

He said collaboration between the intelligence and security agencies of the two countries resulted in American penetration and two cases of espionage: Rabinder Singh, who was helped by the CIA flee to the U.S.; and during the UPA regime, a system analyst in the National Security Council secretariat was found to have been recruited by the CIA, with contact established through the U.S.-India Cyber Security Forum.

Political influence

Referring to the cables on the 2006 Cabinet reshuffle with a mention of the strong pro-U.S. credentials of Ministers; the observation that the Left would be infuriated by this shuffle; and the removal of Mani Shankar Aiyar from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr. Karat said: “Under the Manmohan Singh regime, the Americans have been provided licence to penetrate and influence every sector of the government.''

He said there was no use blaming the Americans, since the UPA government decided in 2007 that mandatory mid-career training programmes for IAS officers be undertaken in various American universities. “Whether they are civil servants or military officials, the way to go ahead is to get training in the United States.''

Corruption

The cables showed the Americans to be keen observers of the high level of corruption that existed in India's political system, Mr. Karat said. Understandably, the cables on the huge money used for buying MPs during the 2008 trust vote caused a furore.

The Americans wanted the Manmohan Singh government to win the vote, so that the nuclear deal could go through. “Any means, fair or foul, was acceptable for the Americans,'' he noted. The cables showed that the U.S. was not just after commercial benefit of a few billion dollars in the sale of nuclear reactors, but wanted India firmly on its side as a strategic ally.

Describing as pathetic the Prime Minister's claim that the cables “are unverifiable and cannot be treated as authentic,'' Mr. Karat said it was common knowledge that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself rang up External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to warn him about the leak of the cables and the consequent embarrassment they may cause.

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@Marc, possibly a junior staff at a US Consulate in India, seems to believe US' own propaganda a little too much. Either that or he is suffering from generally poor awareness of facts.
"When you make demands of a superpower then you must be prepared to submit to her demands as well." He seems to suggest that what US has with various countries is a give-and-take relationship based on mutual respect/self-interest. Given US's selfishness & bullying power and India's corrupt & compromised government, for India, it's always, get an inch and give a mile.

As for India "seeking US help" in combating terrorism, who was it that suddenly woke up to terrorism (after 9/11) and from that point on decided they would tolerate the worst dictators and crimes as long as they help combat terrorism? And bullied everybody into "cooperation" by famously saying "either you are with us or against us"?

And, about dual-use technology, who routinely stifles defence industries in India just so they could sell their own equipment? (Heard about LCA that's been in development for over 25 years thanks to technology denials from US?)

And, another stellar example of the parity that US maintains with other countries.. BP gets its ass kicked (and pays over $20B in penalties) for an accident that killed 11 workers. (And, the BP CEO had to personally supervise the containment operations for weeks.) How much did Union Carbide pay for killing over 20,000 civilians? And, UC CEO is out of India in a matter of days?

from:  K Palaka
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 12:55 IST

@Marc: The waivers on civilian use of nuclear energy will only help the American nuclear corporations. Whom our diplomats talk to is none of your business. If you want friendship with India then America should first stop arming our terrorist neighbor Pakistan, this will be a real test of your intentions.

from:  Ajay SInha
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 09:11 IST

@Marc:An excellent comment. And you're probably right: Who needs friends like India? I agree. The US should maintain its friendship with Pakistan. Now that is a much better friend, a much more dependable one. As for 'giving' dual use technology and all the rest of it, please remember it is not aid, i.e. we are paying hard cash for it. And the 'once in a lifetime NSG waiver'... well, now the US has access to India's civilian reactors. Nothing, you know, is for free. Not even natural alliances. We know that. It is kind of hard, when the US supplies F-16s and other armaments to Pakistan which uses them against India, not to see the benefits of a srong link with Iran. Qadhafi? Didn't the US just about a year or two ago declare him to be no longer a terror supporting state?

from:  JE Menon
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 01:50 IST

It is impossible to say if the India-US relationship is disturbing in isolation, without getting similar insight into India-China cables as well. For all we know, there would be even more troublesome insights there. In any case, most of what is in the cables is known to keen observers in India. Hopefully, the prospect of conversations eventually going public, will reduce the capability of spin doctors and force politicians to be more forthright about their operations.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Mar 25, 2011 at 22:12 IST

Karat and Left cautiously refrain from pointing out bigger danger, China, because of which India is forced to surrender to US. Can he suggest any other allies which is strong and financially beneficial to India? Initially Russia did give us good support but now it has its own worries and struggle and we have grown on the international platform. We do need western world support, which is sadly blindly behind US.

from:  Soniya
Posted on: Mar 25, 2011 at 13:08 IST

One thing that Karat doesn't explicitly say is the scope for blackmailing the Indian politicians. The Indian public may be in the dark when it comes to the Swiss bank holdings of the corrupt politicians but several foreign governments including US must have full details. And, the leverage that gives them against the Indian government is phenomenal! So, thanks to our corrupt politicians, for all practical purposes we are a client state (or worse) of the US.

from:  K Palaka
Posted on: Mar 25, 2011 at 08:56 IST

I am perplexed at this peculiar Indian reaction. Did Indians not claim to be 'Natural Allies' to USA and Israel? Did you not seek US help in combating Terrorism from a certain common source? When you make demands of a superpower then you must be prepared to submit to her demands as well. That is a Natural Alliance. Mutual and natural. It cannot always be one way; USA gives you dual use technology, advanced hardware, a once in a lifetime waiver at NSG, membership of exclusive clubs like NSG and UNSC etc etc. And then you turn around and send your ambassadors to meet Kaddafi in his tent and refuse to help US in Security Council then you send your Security Advisor Narayan to meet the Iranians and make nice. Well who needs friends like you?

from:  Marc
Posted on: Mar 25, 2011 at 01:54 IST
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