US & South Asia

Book: U.S Policy Towards South Asia: Focus On Sixty Years
Editor: M. Saleem Kidwai
Publisher: Academic Excellence, New Delhi
Year: 2008. Price: Rs 750. Pages: 285

U.S has taken over as the global hegemon since the demise of the USSR, though some critics of U.S would say that U.S soon started to dominate the scene since the day it was discovered by Columbus and till now it has kept the world at its toes. Whatever be the reason; U.S policy for South Asia immediately after the end of World War II was dominated by the Deterrence against Communism which continued throughout the Cold War which ultimately resulted in the disintegration of USSR at the hands of Afghanistan militants though they were prepared, armed and financed by CIA and drug money alongwith the Petrodollars. The U.S Policy during the Cold War days was dominated around fear for spread of Communism, to put a check upon it, the capitalism and free market economy make the world safe for, plus supporting anti-communist regimes even if they were totalitarian, dictatorial or authoritarian and keeping its eyes shut towards human rights violations by these regimes, rogue and remorseless governments so long as they serve the cause of opposing Communism. With the demise of USSR the bi-polarity and bloc-based alliances came to an end and the world became unipolar with U.S remaining the sole world power and leader dominating the scene. The 1990-2000 decade saw little interest of U.S in South Asia though conflicts like Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Kashmir made it, at times, to make some statements and appoint some ambassadors too but on the whole market economy and making “world safe for capitalism” in the words of Noam Chomsky took priority with corporations and corporate media ruling the roost.
The book under review is a collection of papers by various scholars regarding different aspects of U.S with the South-Asia, after the 9/11 incident, which proved a turning point in U.S policy regarding South-Asia and all connotations of previous relationships with nations changed. Previously Afghanistan was looked as accomplice with its inhabitants as saviours in war against atheist communism and Pakistan as a friend through which all the help was routed, which resulted in the mushroom growth of madrasas as well as the inculcation of violently exclusive ideology of extreme Islamic interpretation.
Now in the war on terror after 9/11, Afghanistan was the source of all evil, Pakistan supposed/made to offer unrelented its hand in ‘Operation Democracy’ in Afghanistan and India a new friend, which too was suffering from ‘Terrorism’ in case of Kashmir at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists, though Uncle Sam forgot about the real indigenous terrorist threat taking root under the nose of Indian state in the form of Naxalism. In case of India U.S had a strategic relationship that has an all Asia impact. With Pakistan, a tactical relationship that addresses the war on terrorism in neighbouring Afghanistan.
The papers also deal with the U.S-India Nuclear Deal which they think hasn’t an Anti-Muslim bias and isn’t of much effect on the balance of power, it may be true to certain extent only? Some Muslims were wrong in their approach of sensing rightwing BJP only pro-U.S as they witnessed the growing intimacy between Zionism and Hindutva which resulted in Muslim Community’s Fearful apprehensions as Brajesh Mishra, India’s National Security Adviser in the BJP regime addressing the American Jewish Committee in Washington called for “development of U.S-Israel-India triad that will have the political will and moral authority to take bold decisions”.
The growing intimacy between Hindutva and Zionism came to the fore front during the interrogation trials of Abinav Bharat Hindu terrorists among whom Col. Purohit deliberated that Israel promised to train Hindutva terrorists at its soil who would then go back to India to implement what they learnt. This intimacy is harmful not for Muslims of India only but will certainly backfire against Indian State too in the near future as U.S has time and again depicted that it has no permanent friends or enemies, it’s relationship is of that Vampire who remains with its host so long as it offers him blood, and when the host dies it searches for other victim.
Though the book is good read and offers food for thought, but it doesn’t show wit to challenge hegemony of U.S or decry its human rights violations and suggest a wayout of its wrong notion of norms, authority and rules which it enunciates and irrationally imposes upon others and relents that they must obey them as Gospel Truths. Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikander