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As the Dust Settles: Clinton in the SubcontinentBy


Vijay Prashad

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 holes 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. CPI (M) 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!