The Narendra Modi government has tough diplomatic, political and economic minefields to navigate following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegation that India may have had a hand in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar last June.
There is now little doubt that to the Canadian Parliament was that of Uncle Sam.
Trudeau’s lips are moving on the orders of Uncle Sam, the Ventriloquist. It is the US which wants to bring India to heel over this issue.
Before we answer two questions — why, and why now, three months after the Nijjar killing — it is important to acknowledge that the US will always be a frenemy —a friend when it suits it, an antagonist when that works better for it.
At G20, we saw the friendlier face of Uncle Sam. Now it is the latter. The US wants India inside its geopolitical camp on its terms and not as an equal. It wants a weak and manipulatable India, not an assertive country that speaks for its own interests.
In the short run, India has very little leeway to bargain for a better deal even if it is to protect its own national interests, unless the US agrees. And in the Nijjar case, regardless of whether India actually had a hand in his killing or not, the US is sending us a clear message with Trudeau as messenger.
And the message is: “We will decide who will have how much freedom to operate from the soil of the Anglosphere. We will tolerate Khalistani aggression and targeting of India as long as it does not affect our interests. We will draw the red lines on what you can or cannot do in our backyard, not you”.
The US sees its geopolitical interests being served best by aligning with a weak India. This would be an India that is forever bogged down in holding itself together and not focusing on any external threat (except a threat identified by the US as its own enemy, for example, China).
In terms of government, a weak coalition is what the Americans would want. A coalition with multiple partners, each with their own narrow interests to defend, is easier for America to infiltrate and subvert, than a majority government that can control such interference.
This is one reason why the US pushed so hard to get the India-US nuclear deal through during Manmohan Singh’s time. The UPA kind of government is what Uncle Sam would like to see in power in Delhi.
This is why the US probably goaded Trudeau to speak out, based on “Five Eyes” intelligence fed to him.
Five Eyes is the intelligence sharing arrangement between five Anglo-Saxon nations (the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). For more on Five Eyes, read , though any Google search will give you hundreds of reading materials.
Nobody should have any doubt that Uncle Sam’s is the Big Eye. In fact, one should be in no doubt that it is not Five Eyes, but One Big Eye (America’s) and Four Ayes (read to see what some books say about the pecking order among the Five Eyes).
The other eyes open wide when the US says you can do so. Else, they do the bidding of the Big Eye.
Of course, there is no mystery any longer on who is really driving the Indo-Canadian spat, which turned ugly over the last few days after Trudeau said that he had that India may have had a hand in Nijjar’s killing. Since then India has accused Canada of providing a , and stopped issuing visas to Canadians.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made a pointed reference last Thursday (22 September) to the Nijjar killing and said that India did not have any “special exemption” for operating on foreign soil.
Any credible journalist would have asked him in that presser who had a “special exemption” (the US and Israel perhaps?), but nobody asked this question. This shows how US media simply accepts what is fed to it by its government, especially about India.
A day later, Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, said that the US government was actively engaged with India to help Canada complete this investigation.
The Economic Times as saying: “From our perspective, it’s critical that the Canadian investigation proceed, and it would be important that India work with the Canadians on this.”
In short, he is inviting India to incriminate itself, or commit political hara kiri. No worthwhile journalist asked him whether he also asked Canada to cooperate with India on the latter’s concerns over offering a safe haven to terrorists in Canada.
If targeting Canadian citizens, even if they are terrorists, on Canadian soil is wrong, surely Khalistani gangsters ordering Indian citizens to be bumped off in India should be off limits too.
But then, why would the Canadians be asked to self-incriminate? Once again, the US media showed it had no interest in asking a difficult question of the Joe Biden administration.
With the US now clearly coming on Canada’s side, Trudeau seemed cock-a-hoop and is doubling down on his statement. The Times of India today (25 September) quotes a New York Times report on Trudeau’s meeting with the newspaper’s publisher and editors.
Trudeau was quoted as saying that a resolution of the situation would be in “seeing a number of people thrown in jail, convicted”. He also wanted “a series of lessons learned and changes made to the way the Indian government and the intelligence services operate”.
It is not clear if those NYT editors advised Trudeau to get his own house in order by distancing himself from violent elements that threaten India’s sovereignty. Any journalist worth his salt should have been asking tough questions of Trudeau, but they probably didn’t.
The answer to the question “why” Canada is being used to send a message to India is simple: the US wants to tell us that we cannot do anything in the Anglosphere without its concurrence. The Anglosphere is America’s primary geopolitical backyard, and no one can enter without its permission.
The “why now” question can only be answered with a conjecture. If the US knew a lot about what was going on in the Nijjar case — which happened three months ago — why did it wait till mid-September to tell Trudeau to shoot his mouth off?
After all, it is not as if America did not know about any Indian involvement, if proven, in June itself. Or else, why would the US Federal Bureau of Investigation be telling after the Nijjar assassination?
The answer may lie in the US using both carrot and stick with India. In the G20 summit, where India pulled off a consensus New Delhi Declaration on Ukraine, it was clearly the US which enabled this.
Uncle Sam was showing his “good cop” face then, telling India that when we want things to happen for you, we can make it happen.
While Russia could still have ruined a compromise, it would be fair to assume that this long-term friend of India would not have wanted to humiliate India when the declaration did not name it directly.
The Trudeau affair, orchestrated by Uncle Sam, is the US baring its teeth, both directly and indirectly. This is the bad cop routine orchestrated for India’s benefit.
The US is telling us, “Listen buster, don’t grow too big for your boots. In the Anglosphere, we decide what can or cannot be done. If you don’t listen, see what will happen to you.”
India, clearly, cannot go against the US. It cannot back down on its stand on Khalistanis operating with impunity in Canada either.
Nor can it make a sacrificial offering of its own agents, assuming they had something to do with the Nijjar killing, just to keep Uncle Sam in good humour.
So what are our options?
Basically, it means we have to “manage” the US, and quietly (behind closed doors) inform it that we can operate broadly within the red lines indicated, but in turn it must also rein in the Khalistanis in Canada, Australia, the UK and the US itself. Hopefully, this will work.
Secondly, no matter what the US decides, it means we must maintain a two-faced stance in our diplomacy. We must talk less about our interests in public, and ensure that our views are heard behind the scenes. Taking assertive postures in public is not going to work, since it alerts our enemies to our future potential.
India can speak assertively when it is a $10 trillion economy. Till that happens, hopefully some time in the early 2030s, we need to talk softly and focus on acquiring a big stick. We can be more assertive from 2032-35.
Like China, Uncle Sam is too important for our economic and political rise right now to alienate too much, too soon
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