While the People’s Liberation Army publicly outlines plans to invade
Taiwan and blackmail the United States with nuclear weapons, President
Clinton has undertaken a journey to India, on China’s flank. It seems
that India and Pakistan, both equipped with nuclear weapons, are poised
for another round of fighting in Kashmir. Of course, a portion of
India’s nuclear weapons are aimed at China. At the same time Chinese
nuclear weapons point menacingly at India.
The history of South Asia is unknown to most Americans. But strange
as it may seem, we share a common heritage with India and Pakistan.
This is because, at one time or another, we were all part of the British
Empire. During the Seven Years’ War, in the 1760s, Robert Clive founded
a British state in India. In 1781 America threw off its colonial
status, defeating Lord Cornwallis. But this same Cornwallis was about
to become governor-general of India, which would remain a British colony
As long as India was ruled by the British, precise boundaries between
ethnic and religious groups were not a major concern. But once India
became independent from Britain in 1947, these boundaries became
all-important. India was partitioned between Hindu and Muslim sectors
— India and Pakistan, respectively. Even the famous Gandhi, the father
of Indian independence, could not prevent the outbreak of fighting. The
delicate question of where to draw the line of partition was never
resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
The key point of dispute between India and Pakistan is in Kashmir,
where the majority population is Muslim but the government has joined
with India. In 1947 the maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, wanted to
maintain a position of independence. He did not want to join Hindu
India or Muslim Pakistan. But faced with a Muslim rebellion at home,
the maharaja signed an Instrument of Accession to the Indian Union in
October 1947. Afterwards, fighting between Muslim insurgents and the
Indian-backed local government continued into 1948, until a United
Nations cease-fire took effect.
Fighting along the cease-fire line flared up in 1965 and again in
1971. In the summer of 1999 yet another battle took place. The Kashmir
problem has, therefore, remained intractable. And tensions are said to
be heating up. That is why President Clinton is making a special trip
to visit the region.
Clinton’s journey to the Indian subcontinent is curious for its
timing, however. While nuclear tensions build on China’s southern
flank, there is continued talk of war with Taiwan in the east. The
current issue of China’s Howangjio Weekly has devoted most of its 16
pages to Chinese military plans. These include an attempted invasion of
Taiwan by using 200,000 small fishing vessels. Failing in this, China
would then engage in “exercises” to demonstrate preparations for nuclear
war. Combined with economic concessions, the United States would be
alternately bribed and threatened into abandoning Taiwan.
But India looms large in this overall equation. India would not like
to see Taiwan abandoned. The Indian leaders yet remember how Chinese
troops invaded and seized Indian territory in 1962, inflicting a
humiliating defeat on the Indian army. In addition, China has built a
vast infrastructure of military roads and airfields opposite India.
These are the bases from which China could one day mount an invasion of
the subcontinent. In 1998 Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes
said, “China is potential threat Number One.”
India therefore faces a hostile Pakistan in the west and an
aggressive China in the north. But that is not all. The Chinese have
also flanked India by gaining a foothold in Burma, to the east. The
Burma’s military junta has reportedly allowed the Chinese to build radar
tracking stations on Coco Island, from which to monitor India’s missile
testing areas. Unconfirmed stories coming out of Burma allege that
facilities are being constructed in coastal areas. According to Edward
Timperlake and William C. Triplett II, in their book entitled Red Dragon
Rising, “Some Burmese exiles have taken to calling their country (in
private) the ‘Burmese Autonomous Region,’ evoking the name the PRC
(People’s Republic of China) gives to Tibet. …”
So that is the strategic situation of India today. Surrounded and
besieged by nuclear-equipped enemies, nothing could be more important
for India than to avoid a dangerous compromise. No expert can guess at
what point India’s position might become untenable. And certainly,
India has more at stake in terms of Taiwan’s survival than anyone else.
For if Taiwan falls to China, India’s future looks gloomy indeed.
And now the personification of dangerous compromise — President
Clinton — arrives on the scene. His mission, it seems, is to disarm
India. He is a man who has promoted Chinese agents within his own
administration, who behaves as if he were in Beijing’s pocket, who has
peace and nuclear disarmament on his lips. In fact, Bill Clinton wants
India to give up its nuclear weapons. Never mind that India needs its
nuclear weapons to defend against China.
Can we imagine Bill Clinton traveling to China for the specific
purpose of asking Beijing to give up its nuclear weapons? Why should
India be pressured in this manner, and not China?
As might be expected, the Indians wisely deflected Clinton’s
request. They rebuked him, saying that they did not need him to
mediate. In fact, they probably feared that his mediation would only
serve the interests of China. They explained their position in clear
and polite terms: America should not be afraid of a nuclear war on the
Indian subcontinent. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said
yesterday, “I am sure after visiting this part of the world, the
president will come to the conclusion that the situation is not so bad
as it is made out to be.”
Clinton was undoubtedly upset with the Indians. His famous charm did
not work on them. Threats would not work on them. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright explained the president’s trip in an interesting
way. She said, “When we have problems with our friends, we let them
know. And that is what the president did here.”
Is this not rude arrogance?
And now Clinton will be traveling to Pakistan, to see what damage he
can do there. Clinton, on a white horse, is coming to the rescue of, of
— Muslim militants?
But this same Clinton, last July, initiated trade restrictions
against Pakistan’s militant ally, Afghanistan. He pushed Pakistan into
retreating from its positions in Kashmir. And now Clinton is hated in
Pakistan — he is hated by the holy warriors of South Asia. There were
even reports that Osama bin Laden was preparing an assassination attempt
against Clinton, which caused the president to cancel a planned trip to
the village of Joypura.
An assassination threat against the president, in terms of his
Pakistan trip, has been a major concern for many weeks. On Feb. 23 Ben
Barber of The Washington Times wrote a fascinating story on the Secret
Service’s fears regarding the president’s vulnerability while traveling
to the subcontinent. When the president travels, 95 percent of his
protection comes from the security forces of the country he is
visiting. By all reports the Pakistani security service is heavily
infiltrated by anti-American militants. The idea of Clinton putting
himself into their hands, during a vain quest for peace, has an almost
On March 10 the Washington Post reported that Clinton’s typically
bloated entourage would not be tagging along on this trip. Folks simply
don’t want to be within a certain blast radius. Yesterday the
Washington Post reported that Clinton has been worried — very worried
— about his own personal security. Last week Clinton insisted that his
daughter Chelsea and his mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham not accompany him
to specific locations in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Perhaps Clinton believes, on some level, that he is helping to
prevent a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. In reality, however,
it all appears to be the last phase in a scandalous career — a
presidency in search of cheap heroics, perhaps to blot out a record of
corruption unequaled by any other administration.
The Indians were wise to reject Clinton as a mediator. Pakistan will
be wise to provide Clinton with the best security imaginable. In
undertaking this foolish trip, Clinton might create an heroic image for
himself; but it has all been done to China’s advantage. This is
especially true if Clinton urges the further economic isolation of India
due to its refusal to disarm.