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A Left variety of imperialism

A Left variety of imperialism
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First Published: Tue, May 12 2009. 09 11 PM IST

Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
Updated: Tue, May 12 2009. 09 11 PM IST
When it comes to India’s foreign policy posture, the Left parties can only agree on one thing: The only legitimate outlook is the one they believe in, however contradictory and violative of national interest it may be. Indo-US relations are a case in point.
In an interview aired on CNBC-TV18 on Monday night, Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said, “I think, with a democratic administration, the Obama administration, we can talk about reworking this deal…”
It is well known that the present US administration is sceptical about the Indo-US nuclear deal. In fact, it wants to aggressively push India to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
Elsewhere in the interview, Karat said the new administration has opened an opportunity in developing Indo-US relations to a new level. He, of course, did not mention the pronounced tilt of the Obama administration towards Pakistan and its overtures to China.
This is not a Karat-only phenomenon. The Left’s stand in general is riddled with contradictions. In the Bush era, it argued that India was siding with US “imperialism”. After that magical date, 1 January 2009, the US ceased to be imperialist. It is not a timing issue alone. The Left simply cannot decide whether the US is an “imperialist” country or if it is a country in decline. The US is good so long as it strives to contain Indian aspirations, locally and globally. The moment it works with India, it turns imperialist.
In this, and otherwise, the Left is an admirable study in realism—specifically, realism of the Democratic Party variety. In his talks with Chinese leaders, former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said that keeping India and Pakistan at par with each other was key to maintaining the balance of power in South Asia. His position was enunciated in his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. The Chinese could not agree more. The present US administration has a similar world view, and the Indian Left seems to have acquired it, if it did not have it always. A weak India has always been a Leftist aspiration.
This should not surprise anyone. It is a well-thought and coherent outlook. A strong Indian middle class and a confident India run counter to Leftist politics. So long as the Red Dawn remains a dream (and it is important that it remain a dream), the Left can chase votes. But what will happen once that dawn comes? The Left will become redundant. Postponing that day is important. Hence, its brand of politics.
Is the Left’s sense of national interest warped? Tell us at views@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, May 12 2009. 09 11 PM IST
More Topics: Ourviews | Prakash Karat | Obama | Imperialism | Views |