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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 51 New Delhi December 10, 2016

LEMOA: Dark Cloud over Indian Sovereignty

Sunday 11 December 2016

by Abhimanyu Kohar

Today in the 21st century it is not easy to directly put a nation under slavery. But for the last 20 years, various Western agendas and treaties of powerful nations are indirectly driving the weaker nations to slavery. Amidst such agendas, there is a new treaty, LEMOA, under which America can deploy its soldiers at any place at any time in India. Nobody has any realisation of the problems we have invited after signing this treaty. After concluding this ‘Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement’ (LEMOA), like other nations we will be left with no choice but to accept every initiative taken by America. A matter of grave concern is the fact that the documents which the Government of India signed in this regard haven’t been made public yet. And if the civilians won’t pressurise the government, there is a bleak possibility of the documents ever being made public.

Some Indian intellectuals who claim that LEMOA is only a logistic agreement are actually being fooled. It is a military agreement under the garb of a logistic deal. After World War II, when the USA started dreaming of conquering the whole world, they began deploying their troops in different countries under different names to ostensibly uphold democracy and human rights. But America suffered a huge amount of human loss in the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. So the US Government faced domestic pressure from the American civil society on the issue of deploying permanent military troops on any foreign soil since the civil society in the US was against any such deployment of American troops on foreign soil. Now the trick is here: soldiers are deployed as engineers for repairing and refuelling aircraft. Furthermore unlike any Army base, the American Government won’t have to pay any customs duty for either all the equipment or other stuff that will come to India with these foreign troops. Imperialist America has installed as many as 800 bases in the world and a majority of them are in the name of logistic.

We will have to bear the consequences of such deals. Russia till date has been sharing and developing some of the finest technologies like Su-30 MKI, Brahmos Cruise Missile, T-90 tanks and Fifth Generation fighter aircraft Su-50 PAK FA FGFA etc. with India. But after the LEMOA deal, where American soldiers will be deployed on Indian soil, Russia is planning to take a stance of not helping India to develop some of the finest war technologies. Till date, Russia has unconditionally shared its top technology with India under the transfer of technology scheme. We can infer the same from the examples of sharing the Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet technology. Neither has any nation provided such enormous military support to India, nor can any nation provide it in future. Under the LEMOA deal, America has offered India a manufacturing line of a 50-year-old obsolete fighter jet F-16, which stands nowhere in comparison with Russia’s fighter jet Sukhoi-30 MKI. A fact worth mentioning is that America is itself replacing the F-16s from its arsenal and introducing a better fighter jet (F-35) in its Air Force. There is another consequence which India may have to bear; it is that Russia has started forming military alliances with nations like Pakistan and China which can isolate our country within Asia.

India will have to surrender its free foreign policies to America after the LEMOA deal. This is yet another matter of serious concern. So far there have been so many nations that have forged friendly relations with India but are hard-core enemies of America. With an investment of Rs 2000 crores, India established the Chabahar port in Iran in consonance with its strategic interests. The question is: will India now succumb to America’s pressure and stop using the port? It has been well-proven in history that America imposes its own policies even on nations which are its allies. So now is America going to direct India regarding our foreign policies too? Will India’s foreign policies be pawns in the hands of America? Under America’s pressure will India cut its ties with all the nations that oppose America? After signing the LEMOA deal, the answers to these questions will be left to America. After signing the LEMOA, America will certainly be an integral part of India’s foreign policy schemes, a matter of grave concern. India will be no less than a slave to America which will act as its master and we will have to be ready to serve it at its beck and call.

We might have to bear for many years the social consequences of this deal as well. When Colombia struck a similar deal like LEMOA with America allowing the US forces in that country, it was forced to agree upon yet another treaty SOFA (State of Forces Agreement), under which a deployed American will not be convicted no matter what crime he commits at the other country’s base. Such personnel were free from any trial in the court despite making pornographic videos of 54 innocent minors in Colombia. Since 59 years, as many as 28,000 soldiers of the American Army are deployed in Japan’s Okinawa city. These Army personnel have been found guilty of heinous crimes like rape, eve-teasing and smuggling of drugs. Despite committing such crimes, no Japanese court has the right to put them directly behind bars because they are protected by the SOFA agreement. India also will have to suffer the same plight after deployment of American soldiers on its territory. A big question which arises is: will the Indian Constitution vest powers in the hands of the judiciary under which American convicts can be punished? During the Second World War, as many as two lakh American soldiers were deployed in India. British reports of that time convey that only after these deployments did illegal smuggling and eve-teasing start on a mass scale wherever they were deployed. Has our Indian Government given a thought to such matters of grave concern? Has the Indian Government considered as to how it would tackle such problematic situations?

In the year 2000, a man named Booz Allen was sent by America to India to read the minds of the Indian military leadership. According to the report published by him, the Indian military leadership thought that the whole world purposely kept them away from advanced technology. America tried to trap India through a deal that specified that if India signed four treaties, it would get access to advanced technology. The first among these was GSOMIA which was signed by the Vajpayee Government in 2002, and now after 14 years the Modi Government has signed the LEMOA treaty. After LEMOA, India will be asked to sign CISMOA. Under this treaty, India will have to share its entire military communication data with America. In the era of cyber warfare, if we are forced to unlock our encryptions for America, where will our security lie? Furthermore, in the war period, all data by the command centre is sent through such secured communication lines in the form of codes. If we are asked to share our communication codes, America can easily track our military movements. After CISMOA, India will be asked to sign BECA under which we will have to share all the information regarding our space satellites. It will have a highly negative effect for an independent nation like India.

Remember, only two equal countries can agree on deals. There is a huge difference between the military powers of India and USA. The government says that the armed forces of both the countries will be allowed to use each other’s base, but my question is: why do we need their base? Unlike the blue water navy, our Navy requires strategic powers only up to the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. Why would a nation like India, which is itself a victim of terrorism and extremism, need to set up its base in America? We can’t fulfill any of our strategic interests by sending the Indian Army to an American base, nor do we have the resources to send our Army so far.

For long years in the past, India has been a part of eminent bodies like the NAM and BRICS, which claim to be independent of and unbiased towards any ulterior political agenda. Only because of India’s independent stature, the whole world respected it and kept it on a high pedestal in the past. Back in 1948, when every nation agreed to the annexation of Palestine by Israel, it was India that stood for the people of Palestine and declared: “Palestine is the birthright of Palestinians and nobody has the right to acquire it.” But it is disheartening to witness India losing its independent stature by signing deals like LEMOA and GSOMIA.

A perception put forward by some intellec-tuals is that America would now support India in its war against China. This is quite amusing. In 2007, a similar deal like LEMOA was struck between the Philippines and America, but America did not come to its help when the Philippines was confronted by China on an island issue. Enduring such a wicked attitude, that country’s President has now ordered America to withdraw its troops from the Philippines. It is very much evident that we don’t have friendly relations with China but only negotiations can help resolve the issues resulting in conflicts with it. But if there comes a call for military conflict then we have to become strong enough to tackle China.

Signing a treaty like LEMOA will be India’s biggest strategic failure. Concluding such a deal and sitting on the lap of a powerful nation is indeed no strategy at all. Agreeing to LEMOA is not being mindful of our vital interests but kowtowing to the sole superpower. This can again lead India to the never-ending tunnel of slavery. Therefore let us Stand Up and Start Resisting this Black Agreement LEMOA in order to Save our Freedom.

The author, a social activist, is the convenor of Yuva Kranti, a youth organisation which has raised its voice against the black agreement (LEMOA) from different platforms. Already it has organised a meeting of more than 25 organisations with the purpose of building a wider movement against LEMOA.