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|April 20, 2000|
As the dust settles
I've just returned from India filled with stories of Clinton's trip to the subcontinent. The reaction was extraordinary. After Clinton gave an address in the Central Hall of the Indian Parliament (boycotted by the Communist delegates) he was mobbed by a gaggle of Members of Parliament. The sight of these craven 'representatives of the people' bowing before a foreign president was one even the Indian bourgeoisie could not fully stomach.
Clinton went off to Hyderabad to meet Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who has recently taken to calling himself the CEO of Andhra Pradesh. Naidu, who fashions himself as an Internet Kingpin (and is cheekily called Naidu.Com), intoned that Clinton and he are 'on the same wavelength.' Only in India would Clinton get this kind of no holds barred response.
Before Clinton went to visit a panchayat (local self-government) in Rajasthan, reporters from STAR News interviewed the villagers. The Rajasthanis persisted in calling Clinton Uncle Saab (boss), either with or without the ironic allusion to Uncle Sam. They also called him Mr Quintal (the weight measure). Clinton, indeed, was known across the country as Quintal, and a few people described him as an important international businessman. Naidu is the CEO of a state that democratically elects him and Quintal is the front man for multinational corporations. Homespun wisdom wins any day over the adjective-laden effusions of the media.
During the trip, the US State Department criticized the Pakistani military regime for its attempt to ban demonstrations. Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the police told the Communist parties that their attempt to demonstrate would not be allowed. The city, indeed, resembled a garrison town, with an entire swath of the megapolis barricaded for the wiles of Quintal.
The CIA and the state department did not want to revisit Quintal's embarrassment in Athens where the anti-US protests spilled out in front of his entourage. The white tourist was to have an unsullied time in the tropics, as his tropical compradors swept poverty away by removing the poor from his sight.
In Bangladesh, a wry reporter noted that Quintal should come as often as he can be spared, since this is the only way the city gets cleaned. Of course, it is cleaned in a way that might render some unhappy. In Naidu's city, the homeless received a free ride out of town (a dynamic that resembles what happened in Atlanta during the lead-up to the Olympics).
So the regime said no protests. A few hours before the Communists planned to march, the Delhi police called and said that the march could take place, but only part of it. The intimidation tactics and the cancellation of trains from working-class areas outside the city held the number of protestors down to just about a thousand. As the Communists clashed with the police, the water cannons fired and the arrests began. Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member Prakash Karat, drenched by the waters of Delhi's democracy, pointed out the reasons for the Communist dissatisfaction with the Quintal visit:
Here he was, the human rights violator in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Cuba, telling the subcontinentals how to do their thing. Here he was drawing a willing rightist Indian government into a devious anti-UN alliance, one that has not been noticed by many of us elsewhere.
I'm just going to mention the alliance and write about it at length in another commentary. In Poland on the 26-27th of June, the foreign ministers of several countries will gather for a Community of Democracies conclave. It is hosted by Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali, the Republic of Korea, Poland and the US, and it will be funded by such delicious organizations as the Scaife Foundation, Freedom House, the Soros Foundation and the Stefan Batory Foundation. The goal of the conclave will be to get the states that visit to 'affirm their commitment to a core set of universal democratic principles'.
That is, the US will attempt to undermine the UN Declaration of Human Rights and validate the 'core' ones which it accepts (civil liberties) and reject those it has not endorsed (the social and economic rights). This is a similar logic to the US attempt to push 'core' labor standards into the WTO, not those ILO amendments that it has rejected (the US has only ratified a handful of the over hundred amendments and it is those handful that it now treats as 'core' standards). Hogwash.
I'm pissed. So are the Communists, the only ones in India who caught onto this dangerous pattern. Whether Clinton, or Gore, or Bush, or anyone -- Jesse Helms' agenda to undermine the UN is not the monopoly of that curmudgeon from the Carolinas. This was one of the main agenda items of Quintal's visit to India.
By the way, I forgot to mention that Quintal came to India with about 200 marines. And his boys took over the sewer systems just in case. We loved that one. Campaign tip #1: get a case of the Delhi belly and its chemical warfare against the CIA!
This article first appeared in ZNet: A Community of People Concerned About Social Change
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