August 2, 2014
In a fairly surprising development and while the US Government’s Secretary of State, John Kerry was physically in Delhi, the newly elected Narendra Modi government refused to sign a WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation thus scuppering the long negotiated deal, obstensibly because agreements on Food Security had not been finalized.
Modi, as per the Times of India, told Kerry directly that his first responsibility was “for the poor” even though the Trade Facilitation Agreement was “good for India (business)” which is a pretty stunning statement in itself. Kerry – who stands for a Government policy that has long promoted business interests versus any collateral damage on the poor – expressed confusion on Modi’s position (which he thought was all pro-business) and later said that the Image of India was undermined by the WTO Stand and that it was sending a “wrong message” to the “international community”.
While the pros and cons of the effective Veto, the impact on the viability of WTO are topics that are better covered by experts elsewhere in the media and blogosphere for the interested reader, this blog is about the media coverage of this event and the predictable aftermath.
What is relevant here is this: the US government, who supported the deal, is pissed. (Doubly so since Kerry was in Delhi personally appealing to the Modi government when it was rebuffed). And so is the “international community” which – whenever the US government refers to it – means the community that is captive to the US financial hegemony. (It in no way reflects the actual number of people on the planet who may be positively or negatively affected by something; it refers to – what in US domestic policy terminology is called – the 1%s).
The geopolitical backdrop of the non-signing of the deal is of course the BRICS alliance which having concluded its Sixth Summit in July with the inauguration of the New Development Bank is essentially building up as an alternative to the Western (read US dollar) financial hegemony that controls the World today, a development that has not gone unnoticed (see “India Slams US Global Hegemony By Scuttling Global Trade Deal, Puts Future Of WTO In Doubt”).
What’s interesting is what happens next. Not so much about the deal, but the inevitable Western backed media propaganda campaign against Modi to pressure him to cave.
The US corporate owned Reuters organization which distributes its wares globally, was quick off the mark with headlines like
Whose “doubts” you may ask. Perhaps it’s the wretched poor? This mystery is solved by reading further down the line and it’s apparent that these doubts emanate from Kerry and the US National Association of Manufacturers. Of course.
There is also this tit-bit
Days after he returned from a BRICS summit in Brazil last month, he summoned two top ministers to his house to finalise India’s position on the trade facilitation deal.
There were no aides present at the July 22 meeting, where Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Trade Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took the decision to oppose the pact unless there was movement on food security.
What will get interesting to watch is not just that there will be a lot of criticism about the business implications of the veto in Western business media outlets (and their proxies in India). Expect thundering articles denouncing this move in The Economist, FT, the New York Times as well as Reuters.
The truly interesting part will get when these Global outlets and various blogs – which had been recently silent on Modi’s past (following his landslide election victory) as the US government start to engage with what they hoped was a “business (ie US Government) friendly leader” – will once again start hammering away at Modi and the BJP’s past and hardline policies. Once Modi has been identified as a threat to US hegemony and that he now has apparently bought fully into the BRICS framework (as opposed to paying simple lip service to it) expect the rhetoric ratchet up to a carefully choreographed full Putin-level hysteria unless Modi gets the message somewhere along the way and starts accommodating US Government and business interests.
For sure there is much to be criticized about the BJP’s attitude for example towards the endemic rape situation in India, their Hindu chauvinism, issues that the vibrant if chaotic Indian media, NGOs and the like are fully involved in.
What is odious will be the USE of these vital and necessary domestic platforms for democratic debate and cultural change by the US Government for its own purposes which have NOTHING to do with “Freedom” and “Democracy”.
So sit back and watch the anti-Modi bashing rise in the Western media, reports that will freely be quoted by the US-paid for agents within Indian media organizations and NGOs (who will also be a source of commentary for the Western media). (For those who roll their eyes at this, they may not be aware of Operation Mockingbird revealed in the 70s that investigative reporter Carl Bernstein (of Watergate fame) in a 1977 article entitled “CIA and the Media” estimated involved over 400 US and foreign journalists working for the CIA to spread propaganda, including personnel from the US based global reach New York Times and Time magazines. Of course that was what was revealed then. Surely the CIA who was just caught effectively spying on their Government looking into their malfeasance, is no longer engaging in that sort of shenanigans now!)
There will also be those truly independent media, NGOs and liberal intellectuals (who have not forgotten or forgiven the anti-Muslim pogroms) genuinely protesting Governmemt policies, intransigence and ineptitude who will inevitably get caught up in the Western anti-Modi campaign as useful pawns.
Were Modi not to deviate from a policy of independence from US foreign policy, he can and eventually will be portrayed as a threat to the “World”. (We already see that as part of immediate rhetoric following the collapse of the TFA). His attempts to continue relationships with that “pariah Putin” and that “threat in the East, China” will be highlighted. And on it will go.
This is the no-win situation that US government strategists will hope Modi will be backed into. Either he caves in which case the rhetoric of all the ills of his government will slowly fade (but not die, just on simmer – as a threat for ratcheting up in case he gets out of hand again) or he hardens his stand which will just be fodder for the media to prove his “authoritarianism”.
This is a standard playbook for how US governments bring intransigent World leaders and governments to heel (along with a whole host of behind the scenes maneuvering).
It will be interesting to see how the Modi government plays this.