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Why It’s Necessary to End NATO

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On February 24th, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas S.J. Davies headlined “What Planet Is NATO Living On?”, and documented that the U.S. Government and NATO are preparing to invade and conquer both Russia and China, and that this goal is opposed by vast majorities of Europeans, which means that this decision by NATO does not reflect democracy in Europe, but instead it reflects Europe’s being vassal-nations in the U.S. empire:

As Michael Klare explains in a NATO Watch report on NATO 2030, every step the U.S. is taking with NATO is “intended to integrate it into U.S. plans to fight and defeat China and Russia in all-out warfare.”

The U.S. Army’s plan for an invasion of Russia, which is euphemistically called “The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations,” begins with missile and artillery bombardments of Russian command centers and defensive forces, followed by an invasion by armored forces to occupy key areas and sites until Russia surrenders.

Unsurprisingly, Russia’s defense strategy in the face of such an existential threat would not be to surrender, but to retaliate against the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.

U.S. war plans for an assault on China are similar, involving missiles fired from ships and bases in the Pacific. China has not been as public about its defense plans, but if its existence and independence were threatened, it too would probably use nuclear weapons, as indeed the United States would if the positions were reversed. But they’re not—since no other country has the offensive war machine it would need to invade the United States.

Michael Klare concludes that NATO 2030 “commits all alliance members to a costly, all-consuming military competition with Russia and China that will expose them to an ever-increasing risk of nuclear war.”

So how do the European people feel about their role in America’s war plans? The European Council on Foreign Relations recently conducted an in-depth poll of 15,000 people in ten NATO countries and Sweden, and published the results in a report titled “The Crisis of American Power: How Europeans See Biden’s America.”

The report reveals that a large majority of Europeans want no part in a U.S. war with Russia or China and want to remain neutral. Only 22% would support taking the U.S. side in a war with China, 23% in a war with Russia. So European public opinion is squarely at odds with NATO’s role in America’s war plans.

Many Europeans now recognize that NATO’s including the United States of America is toxic to their own nation’s security because the U.S. Government is addicted to war and to international conquest that has nothing whatsoever to do with defense but is purely aggressive in its intent and reality. That assessment by the European public is, indeed, realistic: the military alliance with America is toxic to their own nation’s security. The sole way forward for Europeans is to end that alliance, as fast as possible. Here is why:

On 3 May 2017, I had headlined “America’s Top Scientists Confirm: U.S. Goal Now Is to Conquer Russia” and opened:

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published a study, on 1 March 2017, which opened:

The US nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the US nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing — boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three — and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.

I noted that the U.S. Government had quietly abandoned the meta-strategy called “Mutually Assured Destruction” or “MAD,” which had viewed nuclear weapons as being purely to be used as defensive weapons and only when and if the United States is already under attack from another nuclearly armed nation, so that any such aggressor against the U.S. will be decimated. Victory in any nuclear war will be impossible, because it would result in both sides being effectively eliminated, and thus the name was “Mutually Assured Destruction.” But America’s aristocracy no longer views nuclear weapons that way. Here is how America’s unofficial change to nuclear forces for a blitz first-strike against Russia, so as to prevent retaliation by Russia, came to be established: 

A landmark event in the process of reconceptualizing such a war as being ‘winnable’, was the publication in 2006 of two articles in the two most prestigious journals of international relations, Foreign Affairs, and International Security, both formally introducing the concept of “Nuclear Primacy” or the (alleged) desirability for the U.S. to plan a nuclear conquest of Russia. Until those two articles (both of which were co-authored by the same two authors), any such idea was considered wacky, but since then it has instead been mainstream. As the final link above (the article that’s linked-to immediately before) explains, the source even prior to George W. Bush goes all the way back to 24 February 1990 when his father, then also the U.S. President, secretly initiated the operation ultimately to conquer Russia.

It was a two-step process, between the father and the son, and not only has every American President this century participated in this monstrosity (the adoption of “Nuclear Primacy” replacing “MAD”), but NATO has participated 100% in it — this secret continuation of the Cold War after Russia ended its side of the Cold war in 1991, and heading now for The Kill.

This is the reality. Whereas neither Russia nor China has abandoned the MAD meta-strategy, the U.S. and its NATO alliance definitely did.

A country that’s so extremely aggressive can be expected also to be aggressive against lesser target-countries, and the U.S. is — and this fact is seen routinely.

NATO now is even trying to extend to operations in Iraq and other nations that the U.S. regime already militarily occupies. On February 24th, NATO headlined “NATO Mission in Iraq” and reported based only upon Iraq’s having requested and received in October 2018 additional training so as to defeat ISIS. That NATO report ignored the demand by Iraq’s Government in January 2020 for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately and the millions of Iraqis who subsequently demonstrated against the U.S. and demanded the U.S. to leave immediately. (Trump responded by threatening to destroy Iraq if Iraq’s Government would continue its demand.) On 24 November 2020, NATO headlined “Denmark assumes command of NATO Mission Iraq”. But Iraqis don’t want any alien military force occupying their country.

Here are some articles in the U.S.-and-allied mainstream media that are encouraging U.S. President Joe Biden’s moves to press even farther in the direction of assisting — rather than abandoning — the U.S. regime’s conquests:

“Iraq’s Disappearance From Biden’s Agenda Is a Big Mistake”, Foreign Policy, 21 January 2021

“Attack in Iraq highlights Biden’s Saudi problem”, Politico, 16 February 2021 

“Why Biden can’t ignore Iraq and Afghanistan, even if he might want to”    Vox, 16 February 2021

“Joe Biden Gets Tested in Iraq”, Wall Street Journal, editorial, 16 February 2021

“U.S. contractor dies as rocket attacks in Iraq pose fresh challenge to Biden”, Washington Post, 3 March 2021

By contrast, the non-mainstream Voltairenet headlined on 14 February 2020, “NATO to deploy troops in Greater Middle East” and opened by reporting that:

Ultimately, it looks as though NATO will take over in the Arab world after the withdrawal of CentCom (US Central Command in the Middle East). Germany could play a leadership role in the Alliance.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hopes to:

1. deploy the Alliance in Tunisia and make the war in Libya last forever;

2. deploy the Alliance in Iraq and Jordan and make the war in Syria go on forever.

Adherents to the U.S. empire don’t get to see that type of reporting. The same billionaires — U.S. billionaires — who control America’s ‘news’-media and ‘defense’ contractors and politicians, control also America’s vassal nations indirectly; and if such international dictatorship exists, then can a given vassal nation actually be a democracy? Is this what the international corporations are bringing — a global dictatorship?

On March 4th, the non-mainstream progressive media-criticism site, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, headlined “Purging Inconvenient Facts in Coverage of Biden’s ‘First’ Air Attacks” and proved that all of America’s mainstream media were reading from the same script of lies, that Biden’s bombing on February 25th, which killed dozens of Syrians, was his “first” bombing-operation, though actually even the New York Times had, in fact, reported on January 29th — on Biden’s 9th day as President — that “American airstrikes in a joint mission with Iraqi forces have killed the top Islamic State leader in Iraq, an attack aimed at stemming the group’s resurgence and exacting retribution for a deadly double-suicide bombing in Baghdad last week.” So, the February 25th bombing was actually Biden’s second bombing-operation. He was continuing Trump’s invasions which continued Obama’s invasions, which continued Bush’s invasions; and America’s mainstream ‘news’-media were constantly lying about it. The FAIR report also noted: “The pretense that the US defended itself by carrying out last week’s airstrikes also necessitates glossing over the fact that the country Washington actually bombed, Syria, is accused of neither sponsoring nor carrying out the rocket attacks on American bases in Iraq that should not be there in the first place. The articles I’ve examined all acknowledge that the US airstrikes hit Syria, but it’s remarkable how little attention they [these U.S. ‘news’-reports] pay to the country.”

All of the empire’s mainstream media present the pro-empire views and constantly lie, even to disappear events that they themselves had previously reported. If Europeans are going to fight and die for their own aristocracy, that’s bad enough, but to do it for America’s lying aristocracy — the billionaires who control U.S.-based international corporations — is even worse. NATO must end now, not only because it’s a real and present danger of WW III, but because it’s a U.S. mega-corporate and allied scam, which destroys countries, even if it won’t end the world. To accept NATO is to accept evil.

If Russia hadn’t inherited the nuclear weapons that the USSR had produced, then maybe the U.S. regime would already have taken over in Russia.

The Cold War started on 26 July 1945, when U.S. President Harry S. Truman became deceived by his advisors to end his predecessor, FDR’s, intention that the post-WW-II world would put nuclear and all strategic weaponry under the control of a United Nations which would replace all imperialisms in international relations — it would establish instead a global democratic federation of nations, which, alone, would possess ultimate international legal authority and be the source and enforcer of international law. Internal matters within each nation would continue to be determined under the given nation’s existing constitution, but the U.N.’s Charter would be the global constitution and be international law. Tragically, the Charter that ended up being written during 25 April to 26 June 1945 was Truman’s, not FDR’s. It is a watered-down version of FDR’s vision of a democratic federation of the world’s nations. It provided the U.N. with no means to enforce international law. Imperialism, which FDR had planned the U.N. to end, continued unaffected by Truman’s U.N. FDR had died on 12 April 1945, and a ferocious battle took place immediately within the new Truman Administration between Patrick Hurley and other FDR advocates versus James Byrnes and other opponents of FDR’s international plans. On 26 July 1945, Truman decided conclusively to go with Byrnes and blundered massively by terminating FDR’s anti-imperialist international vision and priorities, and Truman proceeded then to establish the Cold War and the U.S. empire. Just before the Soviet Union and its communism and Warsaw Pact all ended in 1991, George Herbert Walker Bush intentionally committed a huge international crime on 24 February 1990 by secretly extending into the future that blunder by Truman, and then each subsequent U.S. President has continued Bush’s mega-crime of seeking a global U.S. empire, instead of to end NATO and to end the U.S. regime’s aspiration to become the world’s first global empire. After the end of the Soviet Union and its communism and Warsaw Pact in 1991, NATO has possessed no valid justification for its continuing existence. NATO is entirely a scam, to further extend the U.S. empire. If the U.N. becomes reformed so as to adopt what had been the FDR plan, then all international military alliances will end, but even if the U.N. continues as it is, which is little more than a global forum where each nation airs its official views, NATO is evil, and has no real justification. It serves no good function. It should have ended in 1991. But, now, its prompt termination has become an urgent necessity, because the U.S. regime has publicly declared that its aim is to conquer both Russia and China. The only way to end America’s aspiration to control the entire world is to end NATO, because NATO was built upon that evil aspiration.

Author’s note: first posted at Strategic Culture

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Defense

War to End or War to Follow?

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“It’s going to be hard to meet the May 1st deadline”. These were the recent words of US president Joe Biden in his address to the impending US withdrawal of Afghanistan. Whilst his opinion paints a ghastly picture for the forthcoming months, the negotiations run rampant to strike the common ground. However, with continued attacks being launched by the Taliban followed by incessant threats to the US regime to withdraw its troops by the agreed deadline, a hard stance seems legitimate both from the US front and the NATO: both facing a quandary that could either end the decades’ long warfare or fuel insurgency for decades to come.

The US invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11th Attacks in 2001. Although the subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003 followed a similar suit, the stint lasted only 26 days in a massive scale drive to disarm Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction; allegedly in tandem with the looming threat posed to the United States by the World Trade Centre debacle. However, the invasion of Afghanistan proved to be one of the costliest wars; both in terms of artillery and military men.

Cited as one of the rarest areas of agreement between President Biden and his predecessor, Mr. Donald Trump, both favoured the ‘Bring an end to the endless war’ slogan. Before leaving the office, Mr. Trump signed a waiver to ordain the Pentagon to level down the US troops in Afghanistan to 2500 troops, bypassing the reservations of the congress to retain the level at 4000 troops. President Biden, despite being prudent of the hasty withdrawal, rejoiced the idea to bring the soldiers back. In line with his narrative, the US recently proclaimed to withdraw the remaining combat forces from Iraq whilst retaining only the training forces in the country. The 3rd round of talks between Washington and Iraq culminated with the joint statement: “Based on the increasing capacity of the ISF [Iraq Security Forces], the parties confirmed that the mission of U.S. and Coalition forces has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq, with the timing to be established in upcoming technical talks”.

It is evident that the US wants to enact the plan to bring back the troops, however, Afghanistan poses a paradox in comparison to Iraq. While alleged Iran-backed militants continue to lock horns with both the ISF and the US troops, the US has consolidated a stronger hold evidenced by the recent rebuttal via airstrikes against the Iran-backed militants in Syria. The US holds the premise that Iran seeks economic relief and thereby has no incentive to disrupt the peace but to maintain it. Similarly, the US wants to make a compromise with Iran via renegotiating the JCPOA accord, with a possibility of stretching the ambit to include Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program and the regional proxy wars purportedly financed by Iran, before a hard-line administration takes over the Iranian parliament later this year. So, with a fledgling Iraqi military and expanding prospects of negotiation with Iran, the US could safely pull out the troops whilst still maintaining pressure and presence in the guise of militaristic training in Iraq.

Afghanistan paints a graver reality in contrast. Despite rounds and rounds of negotiations over months, the continued violations of the agreement by the Taliban are making it riskier to draw out the troops. While the US wants to maintain its presence in the country, the wavering Ghani-administration adds oil to fire. A war that has claimed more than 2500 US soldiers and millions of civilians could face an impasse as the 3-week timeslot narrows over the decision-makers. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, has repeatedly claimed that the Taliban have not fully lived up to the commitments they made in the February 2020 agreement: “Violence levels are too high for a durable political settlement to be made”.

The Biden administration, CIA, and NATO face a dilemma to decide the mechanism of withdrawal before the clock ticks through. As the terror groups propagate in the neighbouring Middle East, an unplanned withdrawal could drive the entire region into jeopardy. This might be the primal concern of president Biden and the Pentagon. The flailing ISIS could find haven in the political fiasco the unravels after the US completely withdraws from the country, leaving the Afghani government at the whims of the insurgents. However, expecting a complete withdrawal is just naivety. The US is known to covertly operate hundreds of secret bases in cahoots with NATO throughout the infringed nations. While it’s supposedly claimed that the Taliban are privy to the location of the bases in Afghanistan, nothing definitive could be added in edgewise to the argument.

An alternative, and quite a plausible notion at present, could be an outright refusal to withdraw the troops before the Taliban strictly adhere to their side of the deal. The resulting warfare would subsume the past 2 decades of mayhem. The deal would most likely completely crumble and perish. The evidence is scattered over the last three months. In March, the attack on the Afghan security checkpoint in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz left 6 soldiers dead. An attack a few days ago in the province of Herat left 9 Afghan police personnel dead when the Taliban militants targeted two police checkpoints. The recent blow came when the Taliban attacked the NATO airbase in Kandahar: a base frequented by 100s of US troops. The brazen attitude and timing of the attacks could not send a clearer message of warning to follow the deadline.

President Biden faces a choice now. While the cards are clustered and the consequences are muddled, the foremost decision hangs: How to go about the negotiations? Whilst made abundantly clear that the troops might not withdraw completely from Afghanistan, he confidently patched his perspective by adding:“Can’t picture the US troops still being in Afghanistan next year”. So, while the agreement stands to make a safe withdrawal, the deadline of May 1st poses a challenge if the exceeding violence alludes to any clue. With mounting pressure from the republicans and a synonymous example of withdrawal in Iraq, President Biden should ideally emphasize on withdrawal of the troops, even if not entirely. This would allow the Biden administration to elongate the negotiations to quench violence instead of retreating without question. However, execution is the key. Deviating from the agreement forged by Mr. Donald Trump or taking an aggressive stance could easily incite the chaos further: making the Afghan war translate into Biden’s war for decades to follow.

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Dual Use Technology Imports Aiding Pakistan’s Covert Nuclear Programme

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A recent threat assessment report by the Norwegian security agencies reportedly highlighted the unhindered exploitation of dual use technology by Pakistan. Norwegian authorities have determined Pakistan to be among the countries posing greatest threat to them. With this report, Norway became the latest country to raise alarm about the ‘Pak’ practice of bypassing all international safeguards in gaining latest nuclear technology on the pretext of using it for education and health.

However, Norway is not the only country to realise the immense risk stemming from transferring critical technologies to Pakistan. Its assessment follows several other countries’ public acknowledgement of the nuclear threat posedby Pakistan. Czech Republic in its report titled “Annual Report of the Security Information Service for 2019” also drew global attention towards Pakistan misleading the world in procuring internationally controlled items and technologies to aid its nuclear programme.

The evidence of Pakistan’s covert nuclear programmes go well beyond these reports. In 2019,the US Department of Justice indicted five persons associated with a Pakistan based front company for operating a network that exported US origin goods to Pakistan. The indictment identified 38 separate exports involving 29 different companies from around the country between September 2014 and October 2019. The network used to conceal the true destinations of the goods in Pakistan by showing front companies as the supposed purchasers and end users. However, US Justice Department statement disclosed that the goods were ultimately exported to Pakistan’s Advanced Engineering Research Organization (AERO) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission without export licenses. Both AERO and PAEC are on the US Commerce Department’s Entity List, which imposes export license requirements for organizations whose activities are found to be contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests.

Similarly, German authorities disclosed in 2020 that Pakistan had sought technology for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) “in order to retain a serious deterrent potential against ‘arch enemy’ India”. The agency provided a detailed account of Pakistan’s efforts to steal information and material about nuclear weapons.

However, to fulfill its destructive agenda, Pakistan does not shy away from using the name of its poor public and students. Its government has repeatedly claimed that it seeks the dual use technologies for social and economic upliftment of the country by utilizing the technology in its health and education sectors.

But, these baseless arguments no longer seem to cut the ice with western countries. Meanwhile, on their part, Pak officials have complained against the latest Norwegian report on grounds that other countries may deny access to technology to Pak students for their advanced studies and Pakistani researchers would be refused admission to International institutes and universities. However, the Norwegian authorities have maintained their stance as based on independent assessment of the issue, including confidential inputs.

Several instances of Pakistan having gained access to dual technology in the garb of peaceful purposes have come to light in the recent years. And the risk continues considering Pakistan’s terror background and its history of stealing technologies from different parts of the world. It is the unsavory reputation of Pakistan as a troublemaker that has gone global and the country is viewed with suspicion even when humanitarian considerations come to fore.

Given the poor governance standards and history of failure of civil institutions in Pakistan, these observations provide a justification for apprehensions of the western countries. It remains to be seen whether these disclosures lead to sanctions or new export controls against Pakistan or the country again succeeds in misleading the world by playing victim’s card.

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Kickbacks in India’s defence purchases

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Prime minister Narendra Modi of India boasts his government of being corruption- free. But, his claim has become questionable in the light of recent audit of Rafale purchase in France.

India had ordered 36 of these fighter aircraft from France in September 2016. The 7.8 billion government-to-government deal for 36 fighter jets was signed in 2016. The Indian Air Force has already raised its first squadron of the Rafale jets at Ambala and is due to raise the second one at Hasimara in West Bengal.

India expects to receive more than 50 percent of these fighters by April-end. The first batch of five Rafale jets had arrived in India on July 28 and was officially inducted on September 10 by the government.

In a startling disclosure, the French Anti-Corruption Agency, Agence Française Anticorruption

has announced that their inspectors have discovered an unexplained irregularity during their scheduled audit of Dassault. According to details, “the manufacturer of French combat jet Rafale agreed to pay one million euro to a middleman in India just after the signing of the Indo-French contract in 2016, an investigation by the French publication Mediapart has revealed. An amount of 508,925 euro was allegedly paid under “gifts to clients” head in the 2017 accounts of the Dassault group  ( Dassault paid 1 million euro as ‘gift’ to Indian middleman in Rafale deal: French report India Today Apr 5, 2021). Dassault tried to justify “the larger than usual gift” with a proforma invoice from an Indian company called Defsys Solutions. The invoice suggested that Defsys was paid 50 per cent of an order worth 1,017,850 for manufacturing of 50 dummy models of the Rafale jets. Each dummy, according to the AFA report, was quoted at a hefty price of 20,357. The Dassault group failed to provide any documentary evidence to audit about the existence of those models. Also, it could also not explain why the expenditure was listed as a “gift to clients” in their accounts.

Shady background of Defsys

Defsys is one of the subcontractors of Dassault in India. It has been linked with notorious businessman Sushen Gupta. Sushen Gupta. He was arrested and later granted bail for his role in another major defence scam in India, the AgustaWestland VVIP Chopper case.

The Enforcement Directorate charged Sushen Gupta for allegedly devising a money-laundering scheme for the payouts during the purchase of the helicopters.

Rampant corruption in India

Corruption in defence deals is a norm rather than an exception in India. They did not spare even aluminum caskets used to bring back dead bodies from the Kargil heights (“coffin scam”). Investigations into shady deals linger on until the main characters or middleman is dead. Bofors is a case in point.

Why investigation of defence deals since independence recommended

India’s Tehelka Commission of Inquiry headed by Mr. Justice S N Phukan had suggested that a sitting Supreme Court Judge should examine all defence files since independence.

Concerned about rampant corruption in defence purchases allegedly involving Army personnel, he desired that the proposed Supreme Court Judge should by assisted by the Central Vigilance Commission and the Central bureau of Investigation.

He stressed that unless the existing system of defence procurement was made more transparent through corrective measures, defence deals would continue to be murky. He had submitted his report to then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, but to no avail. The Commission had examined 15 defence deals including the AJT, Sukhoi, Barak missiles, T-90 tanks, tank navigation systems, simulators, hand-held thermal. imagers, Karl Gustav rocket and Kandla-Panipat pipeline. The irregularities in the scrutinised defence deals compelled the Commission to suggest de novo scrutiny of all defence purchases since independence.

Tardy trial

The courts have absolved Rajiv Gandhi of involvement in the BOFORS scam. However, a considerable section of Indian people still believes that ‘Mr. Clean’ was not really so clean. The BJP exploited Rajiv’s acquittal as an election issue. Kuldip Nayyar, in his article “The gun that misfired” (Dawn February 14, 2004) laments, “There was practically no discussion on Bofors-guns kickbacks in the 13th Lok Sabha which has been dissolved for early elections. Once Rajiv Gandhi died the main target – the non-Congress parties lost interest in the scam”.

According to analysts, the mechanisms of public accountability in India have collapsed. Corruption has become a serious socio-political malady as politicians, bureaucracy and Armed Forces act in tandem to receive kickbacks. The anti-corruption cases, filed in courts, drag on for years without any results. To quote a few case: (a) There was no conviction in Bofors-gun case (Rs 64 crore), because of lethargic investigation (the case was filed on January 22, 1990 and charge sheet served on October 22, 1999. Among the accused were Rajiv Gandhi, S K Bhatnagar, W N Chaddha, Octavio, and Ardbo. The key players in the scam died before the court’s decision). (b) No recoveries could be made in the HDW submarine case (Rs 32.5 crore). The CBI later recommended closure of this case. (c) Corruption in recruitment of Armed Forces.

Legal cover for middlemen

Central Vigilance Commissioner P Shankar had alleged (October 2003): “The CVC had submitted its defence deals report on March 31, 2001. Yet a year later, the government has not conducted the mandatory departmental inquiry to fix responsibility”. Shankar explained that the CVC had examined 75 cases apart from specific allegations made by former MP Jayant Malhoutra and Rear Admiral Suhas V Purohit Vittal. Malhoutra’s allegations were about middlemen in defence deals. After his report, the ministry lifted the ban on agents in November 2001 to regularise the middlemen. Purohit, in his petition in the Delhi HC on a promotion case, had alleged unnecessary spare parts were bought from a cartel of suppliers instead of manufacturers, at outrageous prices and at times worth more than the original equipment.

Past cases forgotten to continue business as usual

There were ear-rending shrieks about the Taj-heritage corridor case, Purulia-arms-drop case and stamp-paper cases. Indian Express dated November 11, 2003 reported that the stamp-paper co-accused assistant Sub-Inspector of Police drew a salary of Rs 9,000, but his assets valued over Rs 100 crore. He built six plush hotels during his association for 6 years with the main accused Abdul Karim Telgi. The ASI was arrested on June 13 and charged under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. Investigations by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the stamp scam had found that the ASI Kamath accepted Rs 72 lakh from the scam kingpin, Abdul Karim Telgi, on behalf of IGP Sridhar Vagal.

The problem is that the modus operandi of corruption ensures that it is invisible and unaccounted for. There are widespread complaints that the politicians exercise underhand influence on bureaucracy to mint money. For instance, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner complained to Indian Prime Minister (November 8, 2003) that at least “six cabinet ministers, handling key infrastructure ministries, are harassing chiefs of public sector undertakings for ‘personal favours’, and in some cases even for pay-offs”.

For example, one PSU (Public Sector Udertaking) chief is said to have complained that he was asked to get Rs 20 crore delivered to his minister’s party office and when he refused, he was “denied” an extension. Indian Express dated February 19, 2004 reported, under reportage titled “Figuring India” that ‘Rajiv Pratap Rudy is only one in a long line of ministers who have misused the funds and facilities of Public Sector Undertakings”. The newspaper appended the following bird’s-eye view of the funds (available for corruption) at the PSUs command: Rs 3, 24,632 crore total investment in PSUs, Rs 36,432 crore profits, 12,714 crore profits of monopolies in petroleum, Rs 5,613 CRORE profits of monopolies in power Rs 7,612 crore, profits of monopolies in telecom Rs 10,388 crore, Rs 61,000 crore invested in PSUs in 1991-1998, Rs 19,000 crore returns during 1991-1998.”

Corruption as proportion of gross Domestic Product

Professor Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari claim in their book Corruption in India: The DNA and RNA that public officials in India may be cornering as much as ₹921 billion (US$13 billion), or 5 percent of the GDP through corruption.

India 86th most corrupt (Transparency International corruption ranking Jan 29, 2021)

India’s ranking on the Corruption Perception Index– 2020 is 86. The index released annually by Transparency International ranks 180 countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people. It uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero signifies the highest level of corruption and 100 is very clean.

All-round corruption

In India, anti-corruption focuses on big ticket graft. But it is petty corruption that hurts common people more. Both need to be weeded out. A former World Bank president Robert Zoellick once said, “Corruption is a cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at governance and moral fibre, and destroys trust.”

According to Transparency International, CPI-2020 shows that corruption is more pervasive in countries least equipped to handle Covid-19 and other crises. “Covid-19 is not just a health and economic crisis. It is a corruption crisis. And one that we are currently failing to manage,” Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International said. “The past year has tested governments like no other in memory, and those with higher levels of corruption have been less able to meet the challenge. But even those at the top of the CPI must urgently address their role in perpetuating corruption,” she added.

Concluding remarks

Click Wikipedia to know that Narendra Modi’s “Net worth” is “₹ 2.85 Crore” (June 2020). This figure defies his humble financial background. He has a penchant for hobnobbing with “crony capitalism”. It appears he is worth a lot more.  Those who make illicit money have a knack to hide it.

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