Quite extraordinarily, the Indian government has just claimed the Koh I Noor diamond was voluntarily gifted by the Sikh ruler Dulip Singh to the British government.
Now while I quite understand that the Indian government is seeking to avoid a confrontation with the British government over the diamond, that cannot justify the telling in court of such an outrageous lie.
My biography of Alexander Burnes will be out in August. It includes an extremely vivid account of a party hosted by the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at which the British officers and their Sikh hosts got uproariously drunk and played catch with the Koh I Noor. The recipient of Burnes’ letter, Major General Ramsay, was the same man who as Lord Dalhousie was to take the Koh I Noor from Dulip Singh – a child prisoner just ten years old – after the Sikhs were defeated by the British in a bloody war of conquest. To describe this as a “gift” is absolutely preposterous.
Britain annexed the Sikh Kingdom. Poor Dulip Singh was forcibly separated from his mother and exiled to Scotland, where he was held effectively a state prisoner until his death.
It is bad enough to see senior Indians kowtowing to that lazy bald bloke and his skinny wife, on the very expensive luxury holiday I am paying for, without also seeing the Indian government playing lickspittle in court.
NEW DELHI – India conducted another successful test of the Agni-I medium range ballistic missile from Abdul Kalam Island off the country’s shores on Monday morning, the missile’s developer said.
“The missile [launch] test was held as a part of the exercise of the Strategic Forces Command and was successful,” the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said as cited by the Indian IANS news agency.
The 15-meter-long missile, capable of carrying a metric-ton conventional payload, is equipped with precise navigation systems and has a 700-kilometer (435-mile) range. The missile can be fired from mobile road or rail launch pads.
The rocket was first test fired in 2002. The last test launch took place in November.
A United Nations meeting in Geneva this week could have enormous implications for United States national security, but it is being ignored by most of the media and by America’s political leaders. It deserves serious attention.
A new policy-making body called the Open Ended Working Group will consider ways to break the current impasse in efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear war. The group expects to make formal recommendations to the UN this fall. The initiative is especially important given recent studies on the catastrophic effects that would follow even a limited use of nuclear weapons.
The group was established by an overwhelming majority at the UN. The U.S. and all of the other nuclear weapons states voted against and are boycotting the meeting. Why?
Robert Wood, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, recently defended the American decision in a tweet: “agenda ignores security dimension of nuclear weapons. Only practical and realistic efforts will lead to a world w/o nukes.” His claim would have more weight if the United States were pursuing “practical and realistic efforts” instead of planning to spend $1 trillion over the next three decades to maintain its nuclear arsenal indefinitely.
The real reason for the boycott is that this meeting will explore ways to make the nine nuclear weapons states, which include Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom, live up to their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970, which requires them to negotiate the abolition of their nuclear arsenals. It very well may recommend negotiation of a new treaty that will effectively ban nuclear weapons, defining their possession as a violation of international law.
Based on the medical evidence, the nonnuclear weapons states are right to call for the elimination of these weapons.
Over the last three years, a series of major global conferences have explored the medical consequences of nuclear war. The new scientific data presented at these meeting have demonstrated the unacceptable, existential threat to humanity posed by nuclear arsenals.
Representatives of the International Red Cross have testified that the world’s leading disaster relief organization can do nothing significant to mitigate the consequences of even a single nuclear explosion, let alone a nuclear war.
Climate scientists and medical experts have presented new data showing that even a very limited nuclear war would cause catastrophic effects worldwide. The fires caused by as few as 100 small nuclear weapons, less than one-half of one percent of the world’s nuclear arsenals, directed against urban targets, would cause global climate disruption. The resulting decline in food production would trigger a “nuclear famine” across the planet and put up to two billion people at risk. A famine on this scale would be unprecedented in human history. While it would not mean the extinction of our species, it would almost certainly mean the end of modern civilization.
A limited war between India and Pakistan, using less than half of their current arsenals, could cause that kind of famine, as could the use of the nuclear warheads on a single US Trident submarine. The US has 14 of them and an arsenal of nuclear bombers and land-based missiles as well.
A full-scale war between the US and Russia using all of these weapons would cause a “nuclear winter,” with ice-age conditions across the planet persisting for a decade or more. The collapse of food production under these circumstances would lead to the death of the vast majority of the human race. It might cause our extinction as a species.
The US and Russia are now engaged in a new game of nuclear chicken in Europe and the Middle East, with the ever-present danger that one side or the other will miscalculate, or that an accident will trigger a nuclear exchange. There have been at least five occasions since 1979 when either Moscow or Washington prepared to launch a nuclear war, in the mistaken belief that they were already under attack.
The determination to hold on to these weapons stems from a deeply held belief that they somehow make a nation more secure. For most of human history, having more powerful weapons did protect us. But as Albert Einstein observed at the beginning of the nuclear era, the splitting of the atom changed everything, except the way we think and thus we head for unprecedented disaster.
If the use of even a tiny fraction of our nuclear arsenal will cause a global holocaust that engulfs us as well as the rest of humanity, how can these weapons be seen as agents of our security? They are suicide bombs. By possessing them, we are a nation of suicide bombers.
Nuclear weapons, the evidence, is now clear, are the greatest threat to our national security. We need to make their elimination our highest national security priority. The U.S. should start by joining the working group in Geneva and, as the next step toward that goal, working for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
Ira Helfand MD practices internal medicine at an urgent care center in Springfield, MA. He is a Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility and is currently the Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the 1985 Nobel Peace Laureate.
The United States has expanded its weapons business, increasing its global arms sales amid rising imports by Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
According to a new study published Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the volume of international transfers of major weapons, including sales and donations, was 14 percent higher in 2011-2015 than over the five previous years, with the US and Russia doing most of the exporting.
The biggest importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The report pointed to the Saudi-led war on Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been seeking to reinstate the country’s fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and undermine the Yemeni Ansarullah movement.
“A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly US- and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen,” senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said in the report.
The report also said US arms went to more than 90 countries.
The United States has sold or donated major arms to a diverse range of recipients across the globe, the report said.
“As regional conflicts and tensions continue to mount, the USA remains the leading global arms supplier by a significant margin,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.
“The USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 states in the past five years, and the US arms industry has large outstanding export orders,” including for over 600 F-35 combat aircraft, said Fleurant.
The biggest chunk of US major arms, 41 percent, went into Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East.
Now Scott Bennett, former US Army psychological warfare officer, says the trend does not come as a surprise “because it indicates a pattern that we’ve long seen, but has really quickened since the September 11th wars were initiated by the United States.”
Bennett told Press TV on Monday that the US governments “simply followed a policy of igniting fires around the world and then selling the equipment to put them out.”
Meanwhile, the latest report adds that Russia remains in second place on the SIPRI exporters list, with its share of the total up three points to 25 percent, though the levels dropped in 2014 and 2015 — coinciding with Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.
India took the largest chunk of Russian weaponry, AFP reported.
While the flows of weapons to Africa, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East all increased between 2006-10 and 2011-15, there had been a sharp fall in the flow to Europe and a minor decrease in the volume heading to the Americas, according to SIPRI.
The overall transfer of arms has been upwards this century after a relative drop in the previous 20 years.
China leapfrogged both France and Germany over the past five years to become the third-largest source of major arms globally, with an 88-percent rise in exports. Most of the Chinese weapons went to other Asian countries, with Pakistan the main recipient.
India remains by far the biggest importer of major arms, accounting for 14 percent of the total; twice as much as second-placed Saudi Arabia and three times as much as China.
Here Are the Lessons of History the Press Ignores
“You cannot hope to bribe or twist – thank God! – the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”
So wrote the witty early twentieth century British man of letters Humbert Wolfe. His assessment of American journalists isn’t recorded but, where pivotal issues are concerned, they have probably proved even more naïve lately than their British counterparts.
American journalistic naïveté has rarely been more embarrassingly on display than in recent coverage of the Chinese economy.
Here is probably the most successful export economy in world history, yet American journalists have somehow been persuaded that it is in such terrible shape that it needs a devaluation. CNBC, for instance, reported the other day that “most experts” believe the yuan is overvalued by fully 10 percent. This despite the fact that the Chinese currency has already dropped more than 8 percent against the U.S. dollar in the last two years.
True China’s export performance has been lackluster lately – exports were down 3.7 percent in yuan in November, for instance, and the drop was considerably greater in dollars. What is rarely mentioned, however, is that China’s exports are one of the most volatile series in global economics. Short-term setbacks of as much as 20 percent or more are common and bespeak remarkably little about China’s underlying economic health. What matters is the long-term trend, a rate of growth in dollar-denominated export revenues that has averaged more than 17 percent a year in the last fifteen years. That is a truly sensational number and its accuracy is attested by other nations’ imports.
It hardly needs to be said that, pace what the press’s “expert” sources say, the case for devaluation does not stand up to even cursory examination. After all, the point of exchange rates is to ensure that trade is conducted on fair and mutually advantageous terms. Yet for a generation now the yuan has been so undervalued that it has wreaked havoc on what little has remained of America’s once superlative industrial base.
The result as of 2014 was that America’s bilateral trade deficit with China totalled $348 billion. This accounted for the vast bulk of the entire U.S. current account deficit with the world as a whole, which totalled $389 billion (the current account is the widest and most meaningful measure of a nation’s trade). Meanwhile China enjoyed a current account surplus of $220 billion.
Even in the face of figures like this, the press has often put a distinctly negative spin on Chinese economic news. Indeed many journalists have gone so far as to entertain suggestions – emanating ultimately from Sinology’s lunatic fringe – that the Chinese economic miracle is just smoke and mirrors and that in reality China is teetering on the brink of economic or political disaster, or both.
The political consequences are hard to exaggerate. Reports of economic trouble in China not only pander to wishful thinking among ordinary Americans but provide U.S. policymakers with an excuse to procrastinate on long-overdue measures to crack down on China’s trade cheating. Meanwhile the ground is cut from under economic hawks like Donald Trump who want to get tough with China.
In the circumstances the Beijing authorities could hardly be better served and it seems clear that for many years they have been quietly promoting a “bad news” propaganda agenda. (Japan does so as well, but that is a story for another day.)
The root of the press’s problem is a poor choice of sources. Instead of proactively seeking out trustworthy, independent sources, journalists too often sit around passively heeding whomsoever happens to be within earshot. Far too often this means listening to sources artfully placed in prominent positions by the China lobby.
What is clear is that many of the top academic Sinologists seem to be congenitally pro-Beijing. Others are merely ambitious, and know that to land a big job in a future presidential administration, they have to avoid saying things that might discomfit the China lobby. That lobby is largely funded by major U.S. corporations that do much of their manufacturing in China. One of the lobby’s most obvious objectives has been to keep the yuan low, with all that has implied for the future of America’s manufacturing base. As the lobby controls large tranches of China-studies money, it has had little difficulty ensuring that America’s most frequently quoted Sinologists are on message.
As for other key sources, China-watching securities analysts and bank economists are generally even less reliable than university-based Sinologists. They are clearly constrained by a need to please their most profitable and demanding customers, among whom various financial arms of the Chinese system have long taken pride of place. (China is now a vast exporter of capital, which is, of course, great news for those Wall Street firms who find favor in Beijing.)
Of course, some frequently quoted sources undoubtedly do believe what they are saying. In particular there is a minority of far-right China-watchers who love to preach textbook American laissez-faire to an apparently benighted Beijing. This is the “Tea Party” wing of American Sinology. Its members seem to be particularly lacking in the listening skills that are essential to understanding a place like China (basically you have to listen to the unsaid – something that Tea Party types probably consider an oxymoron). Of course, precisely because such Sinologists are so often wrong, they are viewed in Beijing as useful idiots who work wonders in keeping Americans confused and disunited.
While we can rarely say for sure whether any particular China watcher is in Beijing’s pocket, most undoubtedly are. Though they would be horrified to be so identified, their agenda is pretty obvious in the way they censor themselves. Instead of speaking out on China’s trade barriers, intellectual property theft, and the undervalued yuan, they typically tiptoe away from frank discussions of such matters.
Let’s take a closer look at some of Sinology’s more problematic figures. It takes no more than a cursory internet search to turn up countless China watchers who have vainly predicted the Middle Kingdom’s eclipse, if not collapse, over the years. In a moment we’ll look at Gordon Chang, who ranks as the king of the “collapsing China” crowd, but first let’s consider a few pretenders to the throne.
One often quoted source is the Beijing-based professor and analyst Michael Pettis. Though the tenor of Pettis’s comments varies, he has often come across as a super-bear.
Here, for instance, is how he described the Chinese economy to the Associated Press in 2007: “Right now, we’re in a sweet spot. Everything is as good as it can get…. You can make a very plausible case that we have all the conditions for a serious crisis when there’s an adverse shock. There’s a lot more debt out there than we think.”
Any U.S. policymaker who was persuaded by this would have been blindsided by subsequent events. China’s exports, for instance, multiplied more than three-fold in dollar terms in the next seven years.
Among China super-bears, few are more outspoken than Arthur Waldron, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. As far back as 2002, he claimed that Chinese economic growth was make-believe. Writing in the Washington Post, he backed a madcap theory that instead of growing at about 6 percent, as officially stated, the Chinese economy had actually been contracting for the previous four years. He concluded that China’s industrial policy was “a recipe not for growth but for economic collapse.”
Another Sinologist who has played an outsize role in confusing American opinion is Susan Shirk. As the Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations at the University of California, San Diego, Shirk remains what she has long been: a notable “friend of China.” An early indication of her style came in 1994 when she published How China Opened Its Door: The Political Success of the PRC’s Foreign Trade and Investment Reform. She went on as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration to play a key role in negotiations that led to China receiving Most Favored Nation trade status.
Her claim to fame as a China super-bear is based largely on her 2007 book, China: Fragile Superpower: How China’s Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise. The book postulated a supposedly serious risk that the Chinese regime would be overthrown in a popular revolution. The consequences, she suggested, could be devastating not only for China but for the West. She urged the West not only to accord Chinese leaders exaggerated respect but to adopt an explicit policy of keeping them in power. Among other measures that presumably meant holding back on complaints about China’s trade policies.
Virtually every aspect of her analysis can be debunked but a full rebuttal would require more space than I have here. The first thing to note is that she claimed her analysis was based on conversations with numerous top Chinese leaders. That may well be so – but she evidently didn’t ask herself what was in it for them. After all they have made a fine art of keeping things secret from their own people. Why would they pour their hearts out to a mere gweilo (and a gormless one, by the sound of it)?
For now let’s simply note that for millenia, Chinese leaders have generally shown themselves uncommonly adept at nipping in the bud any signs of incipient revolution. Supreme leader Deng Xiaoping perpetuated the tradition by so brutally breaking up the Tiananmen protests in 1989. Today’s leaders moreover seem more secure than their predecessors in that they are equipped with modern methods of electronic surveillance that can provide a much earlier warning of incipient trouble than in the past.
Now let’s consider David Shambaugh, a political scientist at George Washington University. Long noted for suggestions that the People’s Liberation Army is a paper tiger, he has become outspokenly pessimistic about China’s political system in recent years. One recent essay, published in the National Interest in 2014, was headed “The Illusion of Chinese Power.”
Then in March 2015 he persuaded the editors of the Wall Street Journal to publish a commentary headed “The Coming Chinese Crackup.”
He wrote: “The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think.” Referring to Communist Party rule, he added: “Its demise is likely to be protracted, messy and violent. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Mr. Xi will be deposed in a power struggle or coup d’état.”
His analysis was so melodramatically worded that it attracted considerable criticism, not least a point-by-point rebuttal from Forbes.com commentator Stephen Harner (who, unlike Shambaugh, can claim to have spent much of his career in China).
Shambaugh’s central point was a surmise that Chinese president Xi Jinping’s efforts to curb corruption had dangerously ruffled the feathers of power rivals.
As a measure of Xi’s allegedly weakening grip, Shambaugh mentioned that on a recent visit to a Chinese campus bookstore, he noticed that a pile of pamphlets by Xi didn’t seem to be moving. This, of course, is broadly as fatuous as an illiterate Chinese visitor judging Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects from the height of a pile of pamphlets at Columbia University.
Shambaugh also noted that an increasing number of Chinese students have been studying abroad lately. This, he suggested, stemmed mainly from a morbid fear of political instability at home. He did not seem to wonder whether less sensational explanations might suffice. After all, on the latest figures, Koreans are proportionately nearly seven times more likely than the Chinese to study in the United States – and the Taiwanese are more than four times more likely. Are we to believe that the danger of “crackup” is even greater in South Korea and Taiwan than in China? The truth is that East Asian students study abroad for a variety of rather mundane reasons, most notably the chance to improve their English. The trend has been powerfully stimulated not only by East Asia’s increasing wealth but by the same advances in air travel and communications that have been generally promoting globalization.
Perhaps Shambaugh’s most important point was that many super-rich Chinese families have been buying homes overseas. But, as Stephen Harner pointed out, this is hardly news. The Chinese have been doing so for generations. The only difference these days is that they have so much more money to spend. This, of course, attracts notice and even gets written about in the press.
Probably the single most widely publicized member of the “collapsing China” club is Gordon Chang, a Chinese-American lawyer. Since he published The Coming Collapse of China in 2001, he hasn’t had a good word to say about China’s prospects. Yet between 2001 and 2014, China boosted its exports from $267 billion to $2,331 billion – a more than eight-fold rise and a compound annual growth rate of an almost unbelievable 18.1 percent. This signified a rate of sustained productivity growth that few, if any, other nations have ever matched.
Contacted recently, Chang professed to be still a convinced China super-bear. But if China managed to escape economic Armageddon in the wake of his book’s publication fourteen years ago, what’s different today? In its latest reformulation, Chang’s argument is that China is facing devastating new competition from India. Just as a rising China wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, a rising India supposedly poses a similar threat to the Chinese economy.
To a non-economist, especially one who is not familiar with Asia, this might not seem entirely implausible. In reality Chang’s argument is based on one of the most elementary fallacies in economics, the idea that success is a zero-sum game. His implicit assumption is that for some nations to win, others necessarily have to lose. This is Malthusianism and it overlooks the fact that in normal modern conditions economic growth is an expanding universe. Think, for instance, of the rise of Scandinavia. Though Norway, Sweden and Denmark now rank near or at the top of the world income league, this has hardly on balance posed a problem for a nation like Germany.
What Chang seems to be implying is that India will be accorded carte blanche to use the same super-aggressive methods on the Chinese industrial base that China has used on the American industrial base. He fails to note, however, that Washington has been asleep at the switch, with the result that China has been allowed to get away with the economic equivalent of murder. In particular China has extorted a cornucopia of advanced production technologies from America. U.S. corporations have been told that to sell their products in China they must manufacture there and bring their best technologies. To say the least, such diktats ride roughshod over China’s obligations under international trade agreements. India is unlikely to be permitted to use similar extortion techniques against China.
In truth about the only thing India and China have in common is an Asian address. In economic and political fundamentals, they are chalk and cheese. In trade, for instance, India remains a negligible force, despite many years of bullish econobabble in the West. At last count it was not only being out-exported nine to one by China but China seemed to be lengthening its lead. (Measured since 2006, India’s exports have hardly doubled, whereas China’s have more than quadrupled.)
Crucially the Indian savings rate runs little more than half of China’s. Worse, the Indian authorities seem to lack the authoritarian tools necessary to boost it. (In In the Jaws of the Dragon, a book I published in 2008, I showed how China uses authoritarian controls to suppress consumption, thereby automatically and powerfully boosting the savings rate.)
Another key distinction is that whereas China has run huge current account surpluses for decades, the Indian balance of payments remains stubbornly in the red.
A second strand in Chang’s argument is that capital flight threatens to destroy the Chinese economy. Though this again may impress a non-economist, there is again a lot less here than meets the eye. For a start, China is necessarily a huge capital exporter as a result of its current account surpluses (as a matter of simple arithmetic, every dollar of surplus represents a dollar of capital that will willy-nilly be exported).
To be sure Chinese leaders have often talked as if they are worried about capital flight. The point of such talk, however, would appear to be merely to deflect attention from the People’s Bank of China’s market interventions to keep the yuan undervalued.
What is clear is that if the Beijing authorities can control the internet and the press, a fortiori they can control capital flight (which requires mainly just a firm grip on a mere handful of major banks, most of which are, in China’s case, state-owned). What we know for sure is that historically other nations with a far more liberal tradition – the United Kingdom in the mid-twentieth century, for instance – have had little trouble maintaining effective capital controls. Moreover the investment case for the British getting their money out in those days was far greater than for the Chinese today. After all Britain’s economic performance was persistently anemic, whereas China’s current growth rate, at around 6 percent, remains one of the world’s highest. In the unlikely event that Chinese capital flight really becomes a problem, the authorities have a host of remedies available, not least an Orwellian system of electronic snooping far more intrusive than anything known in the West today, let alone in the United Kingdom of the 1960s.
So what are we left with? It is past time the American press remembered its traditional commitment to balance – and recovered its commonsense. Hearteningly, not all members of the press are incapable of learning from experience.
I will leave the last word to Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times. He cut to the core of the matter in a well-balanced commentary in 2012.
It is clearly true that China has enormous political and economic challenges ahead. Yet future instability is highly unlikely to derail the rise of China. Whatever the wishful thinking of some in the west, we are not suddenly going to wake up and discover that the Chinese miracle was, in fact, a mirage.
“My own scepticism about China is tempered by the knowledge that analysts in the west have been predicting the end of the Chinese boom almost since it began. In the mid-1990s, as the Asia editor of The Economist, I was perpetually running stories about the inherent instability of China – whether it was dire predictions about the fragility of the banking system, or reports of savage infighting at the top of the Communist party. In 2003, I purchased a much-acclaimed book, Gordon Chang’s, The Coming Collapse of China – which predicted that the Chinese miracle had five years to run, at most. So now, when I read that China’s banks are near collapse, that the countryside is in a ferment of unrest, that the cities are on the brink of environmental disaster and that the middle-classes are in revolt, I am tempted to yawn and turn the page. I really have heard it all before.
Eamonn Fingleton reported on East Asian economics and finance from a base in Tokyo for 27 years. He met China’s supreme leader Deng Xiaoping in 1986 and predicted the Japanese stock market and real estate crashes in a major article in Euromoney in September 1987. He is the author of Unsustainable: How Economic Dogma Is Destroying American Prosperity (New York: Nation Books, 2003).
This year marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which is almost universally seen in Britain as purely a war against the Nazis and their UK-bound warplanes. Unlike the First World War or the wars in Indochina and Iraq, the Second World War is somewhat unique in that it is likely the only modern war whose reputation has remained pristine throughout the decades, being regarded as the ‘Good War’. But the impetus behind Britain’s involvement was as much imperial as it was defensive. At the end of the 1930s, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden believed Germany to be a significant threat to their empire, and not Britain’s national security. Some of the ruling class entered the Second World War reluctantly, and contrary to many propaganda cartoons, British elites did nothing to aid the Poles; they did, however, evacuate a segment of the Polish army to deploy in their own objectives in 1940.
Even after the Battle of Britain, Whitehall still marginally favoured Hitler. Indeed, its objection to the Hitler-Stalin pact was merely that it gave Stalin too much power. Between the spring of 1940 (the fall of France) and 1943 (the Allied landing in southern Italy), the British army fought the majority of their battles in northern Africa. Churchill was deeply concerned about the safety of Suez Canal and the region’s oilfields, along with Saudi Arabia, which he sought to keep from Roosevelt’s influence.
The traditional view of the war, however, is a picture of democracy versus fascism, good versus evil. But this was not the motivation for the Allied leaders, as Chris Harman wrote in A People’s History of the World (Verso, 2008, p. 536):
The Churchill who demanded a no-holds-barred prosecution of the war was the same Churchill who has been present during the butchery at Omdurman, sent troops to shoot down striking miners in 1910, ordered the RAF to use poison gas against Kurdish rebels in British-ruled Iraq, and praised Mussolini. He had attacked a Conservative government in the 1930s for granting a minimal amount of local self government to India, and throughout the war he remained adamant that no concessions could be made to anti-colonial movements in Britain’s colonies, although this could have helped the war effort.
At the Yalta Conference, Churchill informed Roosevelt and Stalin that ‘While there is life in my body, no transfer of British sovereignty will be permitted’ in India. His stubbornness over the issue was so extreme that in 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, instead of pushing back the Nazis thousands of British troops were viciously suppressing demonstrations in India. Churchill’s inflexibility on the issue of sovereignty was so extreme that it led to a famine in Bengal which killed three million.
As historians like Harman and Danny Gluckstein (in A People’s History of the Second World War) have documented, the Second World War was comprised of two wars; one ‘from above’ and one ‘from below’. In a typically hypocritical act of pseudo-internationalist policy formation, during the war ‘from above’ in August 1941 Roosevelt and Churchill pledged to respect, in one of the principles of the Atlantic Charter, ‘the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live’. Applying different standards to his own actions, Churchill later stressed, when presenting the Charter to the House of Commons, that it did ‘not qualify in any way the various statements of policy which have been made [regarding] the British Empire’, since it only applied to ‘the States and nations of Europe now under the Nazi yoke’ (The Times, 10 September 1941). The war was consequently a disagreement between the major world governments about who should dominate, and not a battle against domination itself.
As early as the fall of Singapore in 1942, plans were already being made in Whitehall to reclaim parts of the empire, with the examples of Burma, Malaya, Hong Kong and Nigeria being the most notable. Churchill even drew up a plan, vetoed by the US, of taking over Thailand (covered by P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins in their 1993 study British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction 1914-1990). He also issued a stern instruction to Eden towards the end of 1944: ‘[H]ands off the British empire is our maxim and it must not be weakened or smirched to please sob-stuff merchants at home or foreigners of any hue’. Labour had long confessed a principled opposition to imperialism, though had a change of heart after assuming office in 1945, supporting the renewal of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act and the establishment of a managerial structure run by several generations of educated colonial subjects. As Ernest Bevin modestly put it, ‘our crime is no exploitation; it’s neglect’ – where ‘neglect’ should be understood in its proper sense of ‘more exploitation’ (for discussion, see Robert D. Pearce’s 1982 The Turning Point in Africa: British Colonial Policy 1938-1948).
In 1936, the Greek king appointed General Ioannis Metaxas as a fascist dictator, who sought to bring about a ‘Third Hellenic Civilisation’. A British liaison officer sent to wartime Greece, C.M. Woodhouse, believed Metaxas to be ‘benevolent’, having ‘high-minded motives for undertaking supreme power’ (The Apple of Discord: A Survey of Recent Greek Politics in their International Setting, Hutchinson, 1948, pp. 16-17). Britain supported Metaxas because, as a different liaison officer explained in 1944, three years after the dictator’s death, the Greeks ‘are a fundamentally hopeless and useless people with no future or prospect of settling down to any form of sensible life within any measurable time’. Any remnants of the Atlantic Charter had by now been long discarded from political consciousness. The Allies proceeded to bomb Athens in order to destroy the Greek resistance movement, EAM (the National Liberation Front) and its military arms, ELAS (the National Popular Liberation Army). During the war, zones controlled by EAM underwent large-scale self-government to a level of sophistication rivalling the Spanish anarchists. Residents voted for municipal councilors and judiciaries in mass assemblies, while expensive lawyers were dispensed with and regular justice prevailed.
‘Communist’ Russia also declined to support EAM/ELAS, and ordered the resistance to fuse with the government of the king. In an effort to dominate as much of the country as possible, Churchill’s coup later overthrew the Greek government while also suppressing the communists. Churchill informed General Scobie, in language to match that of any of the century’s great dictators, ‘Do not hesitate to fire at any armed male in Athens who assails the British authority or Greek authority … [A]ct as if you were in a conquered city where a local rebellion is in progress’. He later informed parliament of his view on EAM/ELAS, preferring collaborators to anti-fascists: ‘The security battalions came into existence … to protect the Greek villagers from the depredations of some of those who, under the guise of being saviours of their country, were living upon the inhabitants and doing very little fighting against the Germans’, unlike the ‘security battalions’ deployed by the Greek government who pledged loyalty to Hitler and who, according to Churchill, ‘did the best they could to shelter the Greek population from German oppression’.
Post-war Greek persecutors also worked alongside US counterinsurgency forces. Whereas Russia allowed the Nazis to crush the Polish communist resisters, the AK, Churchill actively sought the destruction of the Greek anti-fascists. In 1947 the American New Republic reported that ‘Churchill’s victory is complete – and neatly underwritten by hundreds of millions of American dollars. It could only be slightly more complete if Hitler himself had engineered it’ (15 September 1947). Like the US, Churchill also thoroughly approved of Mussolini. After visiting him in 1927, Churchill once again picked up his pen to confess how he ‘could not help being charmed, like so many other people have been, by his gentle and simple bearing and by his calm, detached poise’ (Extract from press statements made by Churchill, January 1927, Churchill Papers, CHAR 9/82 B). When Mussolini fell in 1943, Churchill promised that ‘Even when the issue of the war became certain, Mussolini would have been welcomed by the Allies’.
Earlier in the 1920s, Churchill had proclaimed his desire for justice when he confessed that poison gas would be an excellent weapon against ‘uncivilized tribesmen and recalcitrant Arabs’. This tactic was in clear violation of the Hague Declaration of 1899, calling on all adherents to refrain from ‘the use of projectiles the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases’, which Britain eventually agreed to sign in 1907. During the Good War, he added that ‘It is absurd to consider morality on this topic when everybody used it in the last war without a word of complaint from the moralists or the Church. On the other hand, in the last war the bombing of open cities was regarded as forbidden. Now everybody does it as a matter of course. It is simply a question of fashion changing as she does between long and short skirts for women’. Expressing his concern for the safety of the British public, he continued in a secret memo:
If the bombardment of London became a serious nuisance and great rockets with far-reaching and devastating effect fell on many centres of Government and labour, I should be prepared to do anything that would hit the enemy in a murderous place. I may certainly have to ask you to support me in using poison gas. We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany in such a way that most of the population would be requiring constant medical attention. We could stop all work at the flying bomb starting points. I do not see why we should have the disadvantages of being the gentleman while they have all the advantages of being the cad. There are times when this may be so but not now.
Britain engaged in what Churchill called the ‘absolutely devastating’ tactic of ‘area bombing’ of German cities instead of hitting specific military targets. Because of the power of aerial bombing, as Prime Minister Baldwin had explained in 1932, ‘The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves’. During the later years of the war, Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris took this message to heart more than any other RAF commander. He took pride in the fact that his Bomber Command has ‘virtually destroyed 45 out of the leading 60 German cities. In spite of invasion diversions we have so far managed to keep up and even exceed our average of two and a half cities a month’; that is, in spite of the existence of actual military targets to hit, Harris continued to wreak unnecessary and horrific damage on Germany.
On February 13th 1945, the Allies initiated the bombing of Dresden, an act which only hardened the resolve of the German military and encouraged it to step up its production of armaments. British and US bombers devastated Dresden’s cultural centre, the Altstadt, and destroyed 19 hospitals, 39 schools and residential areas. Meanwhile, core military and transport installation remained unscathed. Between 35,000 and 70,000 people died, and only 100 were soldiers; a civilian:soldier death ratio which would make even Benjamin Netanyahu blush. The only reason the bombing stopped was because Churchill realised that a completely demolished Dresden would leave no spoils, such as ‘housing materials … for our own needs’. Likewise, two years earlier, after the end of the Battle of Britain in May 1941, Churchill had wept over the ruins of the House of Commons, though not, strangely, over the deaths of thousands of Londoners.
After the Siege of Sidney Street in January 1911, in which Churchill, Home Secretary in the Liberal government, directed police to attack two jewelry robbers who had left three policemen dead the previous month in Houndsditch, the building the robbers were hiding in ended up in flames and all three were killed. Lindsey German and John Rees comment in A People’s History of London (Verso, 2012, p. 167).
Churchill reveled in such confrontations, and exploited the furore over the killing and the emerging popular press’s witch-hunt of anarchists to stoke up his own reputation and justify repressive methods overall. In fact the dead men were not anarchists but Latvian social democrats, engaged in what was called an ‘expropriation for the cause’.
Consequently, because of Churchill’s authoritarianism and the media’s assault on anarchists, Latvians, and Russians, one anarchist noted that ‘Anyone who walked along in a Russian blouse was considered a suspicious character and sometimes assaulted’. It’s against this cultural and political backdrop that any histories of Churchill and the Second World War should be assessed – and any judgements of the benevolent claims of present statesmen should be made.
Elliot Murphy teaches in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College, London.
World demand for gas is growing faster than any other energy source, and will grow by a third in the next 25 years, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The growing demand opens up great opportunities for increasing production and exports of gas. At the same time, it’s a major challenge, because there’s a need to dramatically accelerate the development of new deposits, modernize the refining capacities, expand gas transportation infrastructure, bring into operation additional pipelines and make new LNG routes”, said Putin at a Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Tehran on Monday.
According to Putin, Russia seeks to increase its gas output by 40 percent by 2035, reaching 885 billion cubic meters. One of the biggest tasks ahead of Russia is to boost the supplies of gas to China, India and other Asian countries from the current 6 percent to 30 percent, said Putin. Kremlin also intends to triple the LNG supplies. He added that Russia would be able to deal with all these tasks.
During his visit, Putin is meeting with Iranian leaders. He’s talked to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about energy cooperation, Syria and other key issues. Putin’s also meeting Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
While India has embarked on an ambitious renewable energy pathway, coal is likely to remain its primary source of energy for the next couple of decades at least.
India will not agree to any proposal at the climate change negotiations that will seek to restrict the use of coal as a source of energy in the near term, a key member of the country’s negotiating team said on Wednesday.
More than 190 countries will gather in Paris later this month for a two-week annual climate change conference that is expected to deliver a global agreement this year.
“We cannot agree to any proposal that will restrict our ability to generate energy from coal or inhibit our efforts to ensure energy access to all our people in an accelerated manner,” Ajay Mathur, director general of Bureau of Energy Efficiency, told The Indian Express.
While India has embarked on an ambitious renewable energy pathway, coal is likely to remain its primary source of energy for the next couple of decades at least.
In a recent projection, the government had said it hoped to bring down its dependence on coal for electricity production from the current 61 per cent to 57 per cent by 2031-32. By that year, the contribution of renewable energy — solar, wind and biogas — in total electricity generation was projected to grow to 29 per cent from the current 12 per cent.
“There is no looking away from it. Coal is going to remain India’s primary source of electricity generation for some time. We cannot agree to anything that restrains us from using coal,” he said.
Mathur said that in Paris, India will ask for a more stringent international mechanism to ensure that the developed countries deliver on the commitments they have made to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In the last few months, countries have submitted their climate action plans — steps that they intend to take to deal with climate change — up to the year 2032. There is debate over the mechanism to be adopted to assess whether all the actions are consistent with the objective of keeping the rise of global average temperatures within 2 degree celsius compared to pre-industrial times.
The climate change negotiations accept a principle of differentiation in the responsibilities of developed and developing countries in dealing with climate change. Mathur said this differentiation must extend to the compliance process as well.
“The assessment of the developed countries’ actions must be subjected to a stronger review as compared to other countries,” Mathur said.
Britain’s most famous crown jewel, the Koh-i-Noor, could be returned to India if a group of Bollywood stars and businessmen succeed in their lawsuit against the UK.
David de Souza, co-founder of Indian leisure group Titos, is helping to fund the legal action that claims the diamond – once the world’s largest – was stolen by the British during India’s colonization.
The move coincides with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK this week, during which he will meet the Queen for lunch at Buckingham Palace.
The British government has so far rejected claims to the jewel.
The 105-carat diamond was acquired by the British when Punjab was annexed by the East India Company in 1849.
The last ruler of the Sikh Empire, then 13-year-old Dulip Singh, was brought to England to present it to Queen Victoria in 1850.
It was worn by the Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons, at the coronation of her husband, King George VI, in 1937 and again by Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation in 1953.
“The Koh-i-Noor is one of the many artifacts taken from India under dubious circumstances,” De Souza told the Sunday Telegraph.
“Colonization did not only rob our people of wealth, it destroyed the country’s psyche itself. It brutalized society, traces of which linger on today in the form of mass poverty, lack of education and a host of other factors.”
A group which calls itself the ‘Mountain of Light’ – a direct translation of the Koh-i-Noor – is launching the lawsuit through Birmingham-based law firm Rubric Lois King.
Bollywood star Bhumicka Singh is adding her support to the claim.
“The Koh-i-Noor is not just a 105-carat stone, but part of our history and culture and should undoubtedly be returned,” she said.
Lawyer Satish Jakhu said the litigants are basing their case on the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which gives national institutions in the UK the power to return stolen art.
He added they would argue that the British government had stolen the diamond under the common law doctrine of “trespass to goods.”
News of the lawsuit has irked some apologists for British imperialism, with historian Andrew Roberts describing it as “ludicrous.”
“Those involved in this ludicrous case should recognize that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Koh-i-Noor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernization, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratization of the sub-continent,” he told the Mail on Sunday.
British children should be taught about the violent expansionist excesses of British imperialism, according Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn told young Labour supporters on Monday that the national curriculum should include lessons on how the British Empire expanded “at the expense of people.”
“Perhaps we could do a little bit more about how history is taught in our schools,” said Corbyn, who is a lifelong anti-imperialist and peace campaigner.
He said that while “the history of European expansion is important” there are “two other things that need to be added to that.”
“One is the expansion of one empire at the expense of people where that empire is expanding. You need to get the story from the people where that empire is expanding into rather than those that came there to take control of it.”
In July, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor made a passionate speech at the University of Oxford claiming his country was entitled to financial compensation after centuries of exploitation and foreign rule.
The video of Tharoor’s speech was viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube and reported on in the Indian press.
“Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India. We paid for our own oppression. It’s a bit rich to oppress, maim, kill, torture and repress and then celebrate democracy at the end of it,” Tharoor said in the debate.
He further said Indians had “paid for [their] own oppression” by buying British goods, arguing that by the turn of the 20th century they were the biggest buyers of British products in the world.
Corbyn also said young people should be taught about the history of trade unions and their contribution to modern Britain.
Mumbai atrocities enabled by intelligence operations of India, Pakistan and the United States
A senior Indian police officer and anti-corruption investigator last month accused the Indian government of orchestrating the Mumbai terror attacks which occurred nearly seven years ago, according to an Indian government official.
R. V. S. Mani, a former undersecretary in India’s home ministry now in the urban development ministry, testified in July that a senior police officer who investigated the 2004 ‘encounter killings’ of four Indian Muslims in Gujarat by the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch, had told him that the 2008 Mumbai attacks were “set up” by the Indian government.
The police officer, Satish Verma — currently Principal at the Police Training College in Junagadh — is well-known for his secondment to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s elite anti-corruption law enforcement agency, to lead the probe into the 2004 ‘encounter killings.’
The 2004 victims were Ishrat Jahan Raza, a 19-year-old girl from Mumbra, Maharashtra, and three men — Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar. Gujarat police authorities with the support of Indian government officials claimed that the killings were justified due to credible intelligence linking the four to Islamist terrorists.
Anti-corruption investigator blames government for terror
According to Mani, who has signed affidavits submitted to court on the encounter killings, Satish Verma privately accused successive Indian governments of “orchestrating” not only the Mumbai terror attacks, but also the December 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.
Verma made the allegations while questioning Mani on Indian government claims that intelligence proved Ishrat Jahan’s links to Islamist terrorists. According to the Times of India, the former home ministry official revealed in his affidavits that Verma had said the terror attacks were set up by the government “with the objective of strengthening the counter-terror legislation.”
Verma allegedly claimed that:
“… the 13.12. 2001 (attack on Parliament) was followed by Pota (Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act) and 26/11 2008 (terrorists’ siege of Mumbai) was followed by amendment to the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act).”
According to the Times, Verma refused to confirm or deny Mani’s account of his allegations. “I cannot speak to the media on such matters. Ask the CBI,” he said.
Neither Verma or Mani could be reached for comment.
The allegations have been used by the Indian government to cast doubt on Verma’s role in the CBI investigation
This is not the first time that the Indian government has attempted to use Verma’s work against him. In April last year, Verma complained before India’s Central Administrative Tribune that he was a target of government harassment due to its “intense dislike” of his work investigating the Israt Jahan fake encounter case, and the Gujarat government’s role in it.
Staged counter-terror operation
All three incidents — the 2001 attack on Parliament, 2004 ‘encounter killings’ and the 2011 Mumbai attacks — have been linked to terrorists from the al-Qaeda affiliated Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which also has close ties to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
The CBI’s investigation into the controversial 2004 ‘encounter killings’ found that they had been “staged” by Gujarat police forces, concluding there was no evidence justifying claims that Ishrat Jahan and her fellow victims were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The verdict, outlined in the CBI’s 2013 charge sheet, stated that the police attacks were carried out in cold blood, and “staged” by Gujarat police and the government’s Intelligence Bureau (IB):
“The above said fake encounter was a result of Joint operation of Gujarat Police and SIB [State Intelligence Bureau], Ahmedabad. In this operation the overt acts committed by the accused Gujarat Police officers have been established by the evidence on record.”
The CBI chargesheet corroborated the conclusions of an earlier investigation by an Ahmedabad Metropolitan court, which in 2009 had determined the killings were staged Gujarat intelligence and police officials.
Gujarat authorities claim that IB intelligence showed that Ishrat and the other men were planning to assassinate Modi on behalf of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
But according to the CBI probe, “the four people were illegally confined at three different farmhouses for days before the encounter on June 15, 2004.” India’s NDTV reported that the CBI probe had confirmed that weapons found near their bodies, including an AK-56, “were supplied by the Intelligence Bureau.”
India’s Intelligence Bureau: creating terror to fight terror
The Indian state of Gujarat, where incumbent Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi was chief minister during this period, is home to a sizeable Muslim minority.
Reviewing the CBI charge sheet and related evidence, Indian journalists Hartosh Singh Bal and Mihir Srivastava noted that the CBI probe had confirmed the role of senior Indian IB officials, “including at least in one case the then IB head in Gujarat, Rajinder Kumar,” who is close to Narenda Modi.
Bal and Srivastava interviewed several senior IB officials who confirmed that “the Ishrat Jahan case was a successful IB operation,” but denied that the encounter victims were disassociated from terrorism.
“The encounter was fake no doubt, according to them, but the information that Ishrat and the other three were part of a larger terror network was true. They went on to say that this was a successful intelligence operation, as the IB was able to infiltrate their sleeper cell and plant informers.”
Bal and Srivastava’s account of one of these interviews provides further alarming evidence of the extent to which counter-terrorism intelligence operations can facilitate terrorism. One high-level Intelligence Bureau executive told the pair:
“… there are hundreds of operations underway at any point of time where an informer has been planted in a sleeper network. This involves being in the company of drug and arms dealers, fake currency smugglers, explosive experts and contract killers. Some operations involve working with the mafia and dealing in and supplying arms. There are safe houses in which certain terrorists are kept, briefed and debriefed, then pushed back into the terror network to extricate information.”
In one particularly alarming passage, the journalists recount that IB officials confirm about 5,000 telephone numbers are being monitored in Delhi. On “special occasions” Indian intelligence services make bespoke IB simcards “available to terror networks and sleeper cells to monitor their activities…
“There have been a few cases where attacks were carried out by terrorists using IB simcards. ‘If these cases were to be investigated, the CBI would say the IB carried out terror attacks. We have a job at hand,’ says the IB official.”
In this context, the revelation that CBI Israt Jahan probe member Satish Verma reportedly accuses the Indian government of facilitating other terrorist attacks linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba raises fundamental questions about the extent to which the lack of democratic oversight over intelligence methods is compromising national security.
The triple cross behind the Mumbai atrocity
Those questions are also relevant in light of the fact that alleged Mumbai attack terror mastermind, David Coleman Headley, was a longtime CIA asset and triple agent.
A previous Times of India investigation in late 2013 found that Headley, who had worked for the CIA for eleven years, had penetrated Lashkar-e-Taiba on behalf of the US intelligence agency and collaborated closely with senior Pakistani ISI officials in planning the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people and wounded 304.
Senior intelligence officials from a US Joint Terrorism Task Force described Headley as a “prized counter-terrorism asset,” whose “proximity” to the attack plans allowed the CIA to repeatedly tip off their Indian counterparts. But, the report revealed, despite his instrumental role in creating and executing those plans, Headley “was allowed to remain in place even as the attack was realized.”
A US intelligence official with expertise on Afghanistan and Pakistan denied that Headley was ever connected to the CIA on condition of anonymity.
Yet Headley’s intimate ties to the US intelligence community emerged in the 2011 Chicago terror trial of Headley’s alleged co-conspirator in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Tahawwur Rana, during which Rana’s attorney Charlie Swift described Headley as a “master manipulator” who worked simultaneously for the US Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA), the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI.
Those allegations raised in court were vindicated when Swift obtained a ‘not guilty’ verdict for Rana for the Mumbai attacks, although Rana was instead convicted of providing support to Lashkar-e-Taiba.
According to the Times of India investigation by British journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, the Americans wanted to keep Headley running due to how he had gained the trust of a senior al-Qaeda operative, who was close to Osama bin Laden and among the al-Qaeda chief’s potential successors:
“Indian intelligence agents accused their US counterparts of protecting Headley and leaving him in the field, despite the imminent threat to Mumbai. Irate Indian officials claimed that Headley’s Mumbai plot was allowed to run on by his US controllers, as to spool it in would have jeopardized his involvement in another critical US operation.”
The CIA, on the other hand, pointed the finger straight back at India. One senior CIA official accused Indian intelligence of “incompetence” for failing to act on the US agency’s multiple detailed warnings of an impending Islamist assault on Mumbai.
Although many of the US bulletins even reached police authorities patrolling Mumbai, the intelligence warnings were “ignored or downplayed” by Indian officials according to the Times.
Ironically, both the CIA and Indian accusations and counter-accusations all appear to bear significant merit. US officials have maintained a studious silence on David Headley and his CIA patronage to this day, refusing to throw light on the conflict of interest that enabled the Mumbai terror mastermind to “run amok in the field,” in the words of the Times.
Simultaneously, the lack of an in-depth Indian government postmortem into the Mumbai attacks has permitted Indian intelligence agencies to evade awkward questions about their failure to pursue the CIA’s leads on the unfolding plot.
It is not just the Pakistani ISI, then, that has scrambled to cover-up its complicity in the Mumbai attacks. American and Indian intelligence agencies are also busy playing the blame game while maneuvering to conceal their own dubious roles in running ill-conceived intelligence operations enabling the terror attacks.
When under interrogation by Indian police, Headley was under the supervision of FBI officials at all times. Under his plea bargain with US authorities, he agreed to say no more than what he first confessed to the FBI, and in return will avoid the death penalty in the US, as well as extradition to India or Pakistan.
Confidential Indian intelligence records show that Headley had three local contacts on the ground in Mumbai who assisted him with his surveillance and reconnaissance activities in preparation for the terror plot. Yet for reasons unknown, Indian authorities chose not to investigate Headley’s local connections as identified in these files.
Even Headley’s alleged Pakistani handler, ISI officer Sajid Mir (also known as Sajeed Majeed) who played a major role in the Mumbai attacks, continues to operate with impunity.
This has not stopped US and Indian intelligence agencies from giving each other a helping hand where it counts, while still pointing fingers.
Under US supervision and constrained by the terms of his plea bargain, Headley told Indian intelligence officers who had flown to Chicago in July 2010 that Israt Jahan was a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s suicide bomb squad.
Yet Headley’s reconnaissance missions for Lashkar began two years after Jahan and three other men were killed in the ‘fake encounter’, staged by Indian authorities according to a CBI investigation.
Headley’s claim was leapt on by Gujarat authorities to justify their story of the 2004 encounter killings.
Both US and Indian authorities, it seems, are keen to discredit the shocking conclusions of the CBI’s anti-corruption investigators.
Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye.
He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award, known as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer Prize’, for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was selected in the Evening Standard’s ‘Power 1,000’ most globally influential Londoners.
Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Anglia Ruskin University.
Nafeez is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010).