Tuesday, August 9, 2016

US imperialism, Israel and the militarisation of India


The escalation of India's military capacity provides an excellent means of assessing US-led regional planning. It is not difficult to observe and reveals certain readily identifiable methods of operation: there is little ambiguity surrounding US positions toward India, regarded as a western-backed buttress against China.

There are also other items of interest on US-led defence and security agendas as they seek to counter the hegemonic challenge to their position from China. India is developing arms manufacturing together with other related industries clearly aimed at extending US-led diplomatic initiatives with numerous countries across Asia and the Pacific.

Indian “Defence” Budget

India has begun a massive increase with its defence budget. According to the Stockholm Peace research Institute (SPRI) their military budget for 2014-15 only increased by 0.4 per cent. This year it will increase by eight per cent. (1) In the period leading to 2020 it will increase still further.

In only three years, 2017-20, India has proposed to increase its defence budget by 27.8 per cent to a total of $64.8 billion. (2)

It is easy to establish the reason for the dramatic increase in arms spending. India, due to its geo-strategic position, is used by US-led western defence and security planners as a buttress against China. The rise of China as a regional and global power has been regarded by the US as a hegemonic threat to 'US interests'.

India, already a regional military power, has regularly joined US-led war-games. It is, at present, preparing to join naval exercises, called Malibar, with other regional partners in the Western Pacific. (3)

Involvement in US-led manoeuvres, however, has led India to the realisation that problems exist with their existing defence industries. Hindered by bureaucracy, inefficiency and corruption, India has developed a reliance upon imported armaments which are also compatible with western defence and security systems. (4)

It is therefore no surprise to note the dramatic increase in arms imports and their country of origin.

India and Israel

In the period leading to 2014 India became one of the largest arms importers in the world, many of which were purchased from Israel. In the four years to 2015, India was responsible for importing 14 per cent of all globally traded arms. (5)

Israel has regularly undertaken work on behalf of its US supporters, particularly in sensitive regions of the world where open US operations would prove diplomatically embarrassing. (6) The Central America region has been, historically, just one example. It remains a common feature of Israeli foreign policy. They also specialise in using 'third countries' for arms deals. (7)

The high-level diplomacy between India and Israel and their defence industries has been an important feature of national budgets. In fact, it was acknowledged by Israeli Ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon, when he said 'the defence cooperation for many years has been the central pillar of our relationship'. (8)

Early this year India announced it was close to approving defence contracts to purchase Israeli Spike ATGM equipment. The deal, for 275 launchers and 5,500 missiles, was eventually finalised in May. (9)

Announcements, by the Indian government, to relax foreign investment laws in the defence sector have also formed part of the current trend of militarisation. Foreign corporate business organisations will now be allowed to own 100 per cent and control Indian-based defence industries. Currently they are limited to stakes of 49 per cent in jointly-controlled enterprises. (10)

India is also seeking to develop strong “defence” capabilities with the view to becoming an 'aero-space and defence manufacturing hub for the region and beyond'. (11) Military planners, clearly, are seeking to use India as an arms exporter for the wider region. The 'defence manufacturing hub', however, will not be solely concerned with military hostilities between states.

Other serious related implications arise: Israeli defence industries and their military capability are specialists in domestic defence and security systems for intelligence purposes and counter-insurgency: state power and repression. What proportion of India's defence budget has been allocated for domestic crowd control and related counter-insurgency provision has yet to be established. Likewise, the proportion of the budget allocated for Electronic Warfare (EW) and surveillance systems is also not clarified.

Asia-Pacific region riven with internal conflict, struggles against exploitation occur daily.

It should be noted computer software and hardware together with telecommunications has attracted a total of nearly $40 billion in India during previous years. (12) The latter are an essential feature of military interference in domestic political affairs: one piece of electronic equipment can easily be converted for other uses, if required, as in the case of computer systems for repressive measures.

There are important historical parallels elsewhere, in regions where 'US interests' were threatened, Central America following the Sandinista Revolution being one example.

In the late 1970s, when the US stopped all forms of arms transfer to Guatemala due to horrific human rights abuses against opposition figures, Israel stepped in and conveniently took over the role for Washington. Israeli-manufactured computer systems were used by various Guatemalan government departments to monitor 'electricity and telephone usage and records of data on individual movements taken from police checkpoints' to establish 'evidence' of political activism and safe-houses. The information was initially collected for ulterior motives: state power and repression. Once collected and collated, the information was passed to 'operations'. Israel military advisors also worked closely with their Guatemalan hosts and police intelligence, G2, to coordinate death-squad and elimination tactics of opposition figures. (13) 

In neighbouring Honduras, during the early 1980s, when the country was being used for military base facilities to train Contra terrorists to destabilise Nicaragua, Israel sold arms and 'electronic devices' together with the provision of military advisors and trainers. (14) 

Across the Central America region during the period, following the US government implementation of the Boland Amendment, 'taking advantage of the restrictions on military aid to Nicaragua, Tel Aviv offered to supply the Contras with the weapons they needed'. (15) The method of operation and source of revenue, should be noted: following high-level diplomatic initiatives within the Reagan administration and the Israeli government it was resolved the arms would be transported by a 'foreign flag' and delivered to the Contra. (16) The massive transportation of drugs, used to fund the covert operations, was subject to denial and diplomatic silence. 

There are numerous other examples of Israel undertaking sensitive work for the US.

There will be little doubt, however, who will really be pulling the strings behind the scenes in India with increased defence budgets. And who they rely upon for their objectives.

Such developments should not be underestimated by progressive-minded people. We should be on our guard and brace ourselves for an arms race as India begins sales to numerous countries in the region, often bitterly divided internally and subsequently raising questions of legitimacy for government and political systems. It is not difficult to envisage the logical outcome.

It is also not reassuring to note Australia has historically and steadfastly left criminal behaviour conducted by Israel, its military and intelligence services, unchallenged. It remains Australian foreign policy to use diplomatic silence when Israeli actions including gross human rights abuses, theft of identity pending passport fraud and information concerning nuclear weapons, occur. (17)

'Israeli interests' are best defined as belonging to a state where war-crimes, criminal activities and weapons of mass destruction merge with intelligence operations to the applause of western defence and security systems.

With India now becoming the chosen theatre of operations for Israeli interests, sensible people in the region ignore the challenge at our peril.


1.     Website: Dawn – Stockholm Peace Research Institute, 5 April 2016.

2.     India blasts away defence barriers, Australian, 23 June 2016.

3.     Chinese warship near islands angers Japan, Australian, 10 June 2016.

4.     Australian, op. cit., 23 June 2016; see also, The $10 bn business: How Israel became India's most important partner in arms bazaar, Economic Times, 23 September 2012.

5.     Australian, ibid., 23 June 2016.

6.     Israel: State of War, pp. 1-19, Information Department, PLO Office, London (n.d.).

7.     The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassifed History, Peter Kornbluh and Malcolm Byrne (ed.), (New York, 1993), Document 72, pp. 264-69.

8.     Revealed: India close to approving military deals worth an estimated $3 bn, The Diplomat, 10 February 2016.

9.     India completes price negotiation for Israeli Spike ATGMs, IHS Janes 360, 25 May 2016.

10.   Australian, op. cit., 23 June 2016.

11.   Ibid.

12.   Ibid.

13.   Israel: State of War, op. cit., page 16.

14.   Ibid., pp. 17-8.

15.   Killer Elite, Michael Smith, (London, 2006), page 149.

16.   Ibid., pp. 149-50, with reference to a 'third country' using either their own or a
        'flag of convenience'.

17.  *Website: List of Israeli assassinations/Wikipedia – lists hundreds of 'black operations'
        conducted by Israel during the period, 1956-2015. In the period 2002-08, at least 387
        Palestinians died from 'targeted killings'.
       *'MOSSAD' hit snares Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 February 2010,          provides information about Israeli agents and theft of identity procedures, also,
          'Aussie spy held for treason', Australian, 14 February 2013, provides further
           information about Israeli agents fabricating passports of Australian citizens for
           covert operations.
        *Australia still denies Israel's open secret of a nuclear arsenal,
           The Age (Melbourne), 15 April 2014.

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