Atanu Dey On India's Development

The True Weapons of Mass Destruction

A report by Josey Joseph in the Oct 14th Times of India warmed the cockles of my heart. The story is about the supply of military equipment from the US to Pakistan. Quote:

… On the pipeline are more than $1.5 billion worth of military supplies over five years. Plus, numerous futuristic deals.

The arms supply is now in full flow and icing on the cake is the F-16 fighters that Pakistan Air Force has been dreaming of for long. The Navy can look forward to a new generation of torpedoes to maritime aircraft.

But the biggest gainer would be the Army: a generational upgrade in almost its entire armoury including top of the line attack helicopters, radars.

Richard Armitage in a recent interview to a Pakistani TV channel said there are “more helicopters in the queue. We have gotten now a steady stream of dependable funding to help the Pakistani armed forces… We realise they need the proper equipment, so we have embarked on a five-year programme of support.”

Armitage was referring to the $1.5 billion military aid that Pakistan is receiving over the next five years.

While Americans justify them in the name of terrorism, the supply is adding teeth to Pakistan’s offensive capabilities that are almost completely focused on India.

Why is the US so hell-bent on supporting the terrorist nation of Pakistan? What is in it for the US? After all, Pakistan is also broke. Why, one could ask in puzzlement, would anyone want to sell military hardware to Pakistan? My answer is this: so that India would be forced to buy weapons from the US to keep up with the terrorist nation of Pakistan.

The story goes like this. The US gives away $1.5 billion worth of weapons to Pakistan. In effect, the US is paying its own producers of weapons, who in turn support the US policy makers by locating their factories of weapons of mass destruction in the policy makers’ constituency. Read more jobs for the merchants of death. Then India’s defense establishment looks over the border and says we now need $2.5 billion worth of stuff from the US. More jobs for the merchants of death. Total benefit to the merchants of death: $4.0 billion. Total cost to the impoverished populations of Pakistan and India: $4 billion.

At the risk of appearing unsophisticated, I am going to quote myself in full from a post titled, Why don’t they feel the pain? (Jan 2004):

Ever wonder why poor nations are poor and rich nations are rich? I don’t. I believe I know why the poor stay poor and the rich get rich. Consider this from The Wall Street Journal of Jan 19th. The report is titled India and US to Improve Ties. Here is an excerpt:

Washington also sees India becoming a big buyer of U.S.-made arms. In the past two years, India has purchased roughly $200 million of American arms and is in negotiations to purchase P3 Orion maritime-patrol aircraft from the U.S. The deal, valued at about $1 billion, could be the biggest arms deal ever between the two nations.

There you have it. The rich sell arms to the poor and the poor pay for it through the blood, sweat, and tears of its starving millions. To be sure, it is not the starving millions who are interested in fighting the poor of the neighboring countries. These millions of poor unfortunates are merely the slave labor that supply through their toil goods that the rich buy in exchange for the arms they ship to the armies of the poor nations.

It is interesting to ask who exactly wants war. Speaking personally, I am against aggression and don’t wish to be the victim nor the perpetrator of aggression. I also believe that the vast majority of people would happily live and let live. So how does it happen that nations arm themselves to the teeth and more often than not beggar their neighbors and themselves in doing so.

I believe it is so because nations are not monolithic entities. People have different stations in a country. The generals who wage wars and the politicians who direct the ship of state do not have to pay for the wars themselves. The poor have to die on the battle fields and those who are not paid to die, starve on the streets so that their meagre production can be shipped out to pay for the weapons of mass destruction that the leaders of the nation buy for their own amusement.

The leaders who make the decisions do not feel the pain that the ordinary citizen feels. The leaders are shielded from the effects of their own folly. And so it goes. Now in the Indian subcontinent we have two desperately poor heavily armed hugely overpopulated countries. In time to come it would be hard for people to imagine what was the reason behind this sort of stockpiling of nuclear weapons by such impoverished people. I think that it ceases to be a puzzle when one considers that those who do the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and those who are poor constitute entirely disjoint sets.

The unfortunate thing is that as weapons become more sophisticated and hence more expensive, the poorer the poor of the poor countries become. And at the same time, and understandably so, the rich of the rich nations and the rich of the poor nations become wealthier.

Look carefully at the military-industrial complex of a rich nation such as the US. General Dynamics GD (or some such company which makes, say, figher jets) invests a couple of billion dollars to build F15s (Note: all names are made up.) Let’s say that F15s are the last word in the world of fighter planes. So the US military buys 200 of these killing machines for $50 million a pop. So will GD now retire their assembly line and stop making a killing? No way in hell. They sell a few hundred of these to the allies of the US. Now will they stop? Not bloody likely.

Here is what they do. Now that they are done with selling to the US military and to the militaries of friendly countries, they tell the US government, “Look, everyone has F15s. We need F16s if we have to maintain air superiority.” So they start working on developing the next generation. So the US now has F16s, which are better than the F15s. What about selling the F15s to those third world countries that keep fighting amongst themselves? Sweet deal.

Enter India and Pakistan. India buys F15s from the US or its equivalent from say the French; Pakistan goes for the other. So now both India and Pakistan are forced to keep up with the expensive sophisticated weapons that the US and other weapon manufacturing states create, only one generation behind. The weapons manufacturers in the rich countries systematically upgrade their technology and create even more lethal weapons which cost unimaginable amounts. Poor third world overpopulated impoverished nations around the world — who cannot afford to feed their starving millions — buy weapons of mass destruction from rich nations who can afford to replace their weapon systems as frequently as a rich man replaces his cars.

The poor overpopulated misgoverned third rate countries follow the simple policy of beggar-thy-neighbor and end up achieving destitution all round. India and Pakistan are prime example of this. Within India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, nearly a billion highly impoverished malnourished illiterate people scratch out a Hobbesian existence. Yet, these countries spend billions in acquiring ever more sophisticated arms from abroad. The sheer insanity of this is so incomprehensible that it is surreal. Consider this report from The Times of India of Jan 21st, 2004: Gorshkov is launch pad for nuke deal

… while India’s $1.5 billion purchase of the Gorshkov [an aircraft carrier] from Russia may seem like a big deal, the fact is it’s just a sweetener for the main course. On the anvil: a major beefing up of India’s nuclear delivery capability, with Russia likely to lease at least two nuclear submarines and several N-capable bombers to India.

I will spare you the rest of this front-page article. It is dismal reading for anyone who is even remotely aware of the hunger and deprivation of the people of this region of the world.

Can you imagine how much human suffering can be avoided by merely spending a few billion dollars in say bringing pure drinking water, schools for all children, food for the malnourished kids, contraceptive services for women, and so on …?

These are the weapons of mass destruction — these weapons destroy whether they are actually used in conflict or not. Merely buying them condemns hundreds of millions to lives of such misery that one wonders whether it would not be better for the weapons to be used so as to put an end to the misery.

Is there a way out? I think that the leaders of impoverished countries should be required to feel the pain that the poor routinely feel. I think that anyone who wishes to be a leader has to spend a month every year living the life of an average person in the bottom decile of the population. For instance, they should have no access to clean drinking water for that month, have no heating or airconditioning, no toilets, inadequate food, have to live in filth, and no medical services. Clearly these worthies lack imagination and so they should have to live the life for just one month every year that they wish to be leaders of poor overpopulated impoverished countries.

Perhaps then, maybe then, they would be not so gung-ho about buying nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines.

{end of quoted stuff} It is a deadly game that the US plays with Pakistan and India as the pawns. I analysed it some years ago in a piece titled Dollar Auctions and Deadly Games which it worth a look.

Thank you, goodbye, and may your god go with you.

  • Ad

    Hi Atanu,
    Whatever you have written looks like is true and also a result of India being a poor country. Reading this I got an idea. We have nuclear weapons which are capable of destroying some countries(neighbours and maybe someother). But we say that we will not be the one to use nuclear weapons first, reiterate only if others use on us. And saying this we keep on attaining other weapons. Why not have a new policy. India say we love peace, want to develop, so we stop spending on weapons for 2 years, we will use that big money for development. At the same time we have our nuke ready to hit some countries, if someone feels that we are weak and will attack us we will be first ones to use the nuke. Saying this loudly on one side and not spending money on more weapons(something different and to me makes sense, having nukes is showing you are strong, then why spend more money on weapons instead of on development). Maybe I am wrong but this can be right also… What do you say?

    Thanks
    AD

  • Zenil

    Hi Atanu,

    I chanced upon ur blog from Rajesh Jain’s website.I have been reading ur blogs occasionally..I found this one interesting.We in India routinely call Pakistan a “Terrorist state”.Infact all major communication media in India refer to Pakistan as a terrorist/failed state.And its become so common that u dont notice it.And without thinking ,i forwarded it to my colleagues.And one of my colleague was a pakistani and u can imagine the mess that I was in!!! My point is if u think about it,labelling a country a terrorist state is some real serious charge..And any reference that we make to Pakistan is always accompanied by this “appendage”,so much so that any serious article that we write even though it makes sense becomes a rant against Pakistan..Arent we being hypocritical…From ur very article isnt US more of a “terrorist” state than Pakistan..I dont see anybody calling US this.How can we improve relations with Pakistan when we keep calling them this..I dont want Pakistan to become a terrorist/failed state.Thats not good for India.ANd it doesnt help when we jump from our rooftops and point fingers at Pakistan everytime there is an attack anywhere in the world.Heck US has considered them as an ally,so what’s pissing us off.On one hand we want to have good relations with Pakistan and on other hand we keep calling them a terrorist state..I know that calling Pakistan a failed state(in some myopic way) makes us feel good,but that doesnt solve the problem..

  • Jyoti Iyer

    Hi Atanu,

    Very insightful and that explains a lot. The cycle of money is interesting. We are forced to sponsor their economy by buying weapons from them (big money). Then in the form of USAID, Plan International etc etc , they give us monetary grants (peanuts) to prop up our economy. Never mind that inspite of making the right noises, there seems to be no impact on our poverty alleviation. But guess who comes out looking good – ethically and financially? No prizes for guessing!

  • krishna

    wonderful articles. atanu! though most US of know,
    what the USA is upto intutively. facts are hard to get.

    I want know about the the inflated dollar. i don’t believe this equation of $1=Rs45. i am sure it is half that. some one said that america has issued treasury bonds to chinese and japan banks. and china and japan don’t want the dollar to decrease.

    while american media is so screwed up in portraying realities.

    leave alone their skewed foriegn policy and
    UN policy. no country in the world should have
    veto power, UN needs to strengthed and
    need to be more fair.

  • sunil

    Hi Atanu,
    While my heart bleeds as much as yours when I think of the pathetic state of poor in India and other such countries I do not like to get carried away by what looks to you any others as obvious cause and effect relation between the miseries of these third rate countries and spendings in defense.It is a betryal to sensible conscience to connect dots more out of emotional compulsions then applying scientific methods.
    Remove USA from your argument and one feels that countries would stop spending on latest weapons which is not eniterly true. The reality is that every good leader of every country dutifully wants to protect his people and so spend on whatever is available as a better choice.On the other hand a bad leader, not bad in the sense of leading but bad in intentions would combine his position and above mentioned duty to buy latest weapons and fill his pocket with lot of money.
    World history is full of war and miseries associated with war. I see them as nothing but a fight for survival by humans but maipulated and exploited by some misguided leaders to serve their whims.
    Instead of getting too carried away by feelings of hatred born out of past, one should engage in isolating bad leaders of world and support good ones.In that sense I do not think any of the present leaders of India Pakistan and USA are “bad”. Put yourself in the shoes of those leaders and you will end up making almost same decisions as they are making now as far as spending on defense is concerned.
    Hate your negihbour and you deny yourself and him the opprtunity to coexist in peace.

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  • Gurpreet

    Hi

    Sunil i would like to correct you, you said that “In that sense I do not think any of the present leaders of India Pakistan and USA are “bad” “.Well that would be wrong if President of USA ,were not bad that why selling arms to India and Pakistan.US shouldn’t sell arms to anyone.I know if they don’t then India and Pakistan would look for alternatives but US is a world power at present so if they dont sell that would have and effect for sure.What i feel is whatever US does is for its own interest(every country will do the same) but being a word power means something.Now i only see US as a terrorist state that attacks anyone at its own will.Thay have broken every treaty and they ask others to sign it.What i feel , US is a terrorist/rogue state which has power in its hand and can influence any country in world.They don’t give a dam about supporting poor nations,all they want is supermacy, edge over other countries and a strong economy at any cost.Also US is the most scared nation, they attacked Iraq on name of weapons of mass destruction, they knew that Iraq have none :D so they attacked.They will never attack Korea,Iran because these countries have nuclear weapons.

    Being a power means something so US should realize its responsibility in this wold of chaos and stop selling weapons because finally these weapons will be used against US only.Like Osama and Saddam.If you dont know US is father of Osama and Saddam,Osama was to repell Russian invasion and US+Saddam fought war against Syria and they used chemical weapons. :P

  • http://www.himalayanaffairs.org Kumar

    All the disputes between India and Pakistan is because of Kashmir. There is no rear lines that’s why problem creat on border and both go to war over Kashmir. But the Government now refine the policies for bringing stability in the entire state of J&K.

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