World War anniversary observances in Western Europe, Russia and the United States are efforts to imprint an alien and illusionist history of little significance to India's own national narrative.
The European view that the two world wars were a fight against fascism is prime facie nonsense. Britain and France ruled the two largest slave empires and fought to protect their racist tyrannies.
The United States intervened in both conflicts to help the side it saw as the lesser of two evils and failed both times in its declared aim of promoting the global rule of law.
After World War I, Woodrow Wilson steered the Covenant of the League of Nations to acceptance by other Powers but not by the US Senate.
In World War II Franklin Roosevelt tried to hold the British to the Atlantic Charter’s vision of a free world but after his untimely death Winston Churchill in collusion with the new military-industrial elite of the United States subverted America’s own democracy and launched the Cold War. (See here for an explanation of what happened.)
Russian memories of both conflicts leave out much bitter reality. It was during World War I that a bunch of violent misfits guided by the loony ideas of Karl Marx took over imperial Russia and turned it into one large slave labour camp. World War II was indisputably a great patriotic struggle against a vicious enemy but commemorations gloss over the paranoid Stalinism behind that effort.
Obviously, none of this holds much meaning for India.
What we need to remember about the two world wars is that they had a strong role in aiding our struggle to get rid of British rule.
The million Indians who participated in World War I created a new reality in Indian politics that frightened the British into the overreaction of the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre. That radicalized Indian opinion and filled the sails of Gandhi’s Non-cooperation movement.
Three million Indian soldiers participated in World War II, and after that Britain had no hope of holding India: the day after the Naval Mutiny of 1946, Clement Attlee announced his government’s intention to transfer power in New Delhi.
I would hazard a guess that most Indians are unaware of these facts and that even our expert analysts have not kept track of how these different narratives have played out over the last seven decades.
For India, there were immediate and heavy repercussions from the British success in engineering an American coup and launching the “Cold War.” It left Britain free to Partition India and create Pakistan as a permanently failed State to be its military proxy in South Asia.
Those realities have shaped our national life ever since, and it is alarming indeed to hear Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar speak of reciprocating Pakistani terrorism. The source of South Asian terrorism is not Islamabad but London and any tit for tat policy on Pakistan will lay us wide open to British manipulation.
That would have been obvious to everyone if our geopolitical pundits had done their work honestly over the years, but they have not, and we must live with the consequences.
The latest example of dishonesty is an edit page piece in BusinessLine (21 May) by former Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan G. Parthasarathy.
Although headlined “India still a pawn on the strategy board.”the article is no more than a review of what Parthsarathy sees as Washington’s various perfidies. This hardly shows that India is a pawn, for it is only because we pursue an independent line that there is room for perfidies.
More importantly, he ignores the fact that Washington has been guided throughout the post-World War II period by the British incubus within its national security system.
That cannot be dismissed as a coffee house “conspiracy theory” because Britain’s strategic role in launching the Cold War is much celebrated in Churchill’s March 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech.
Evidence of British involvement in launching the “war on terror” that followed the end of the Cold War is not equally clear but only because there has been no focused effort to uncover the transatlantic connections behind the 9/11 attacks.
For instance, little attention has been paid to the significance of the rigged election of Bush Jr. that set the scene in Washington a few months before the attacks.
The back story to that election is the friendship between two extremely rich families, the Bushes in the United States and the Gammells in Britain. As George Bush was ambassador in China and CIA Director, Bush Jr. was spending summers at the Gammell farm in Scotland, hanging out with scion Bill, whose college buddy was Tony Blair.
Bill Gammell founded petroleum major Cairn, which became a FTSE 100 firm in a matter of years; meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's long term ambassador in Washington became so close to the Bushes he was generally known as “Bandar Bush.”
That explains why, after a group of Saudis carried out the 9/11 attacks, a plane load of their countrymen was allowed to leave the United States without being questioned and in violation of the nationwide no-fly order then in effect.
Parthasarathy seems oblivious to this whole universe of seamy and dangerous connections underlying the most pivotal events of our time. In making the case that India is a “pawn” he makes not a single mention of Britain, a country that has manipulated us at every turn for the last 158 years (counting from the uprising of 1857).
Why our strategic analysts consistently overlook Britain's profoundly negative role in world affairs (see here and here), and its especially vicious treatment of India, is a question very much in need of an honest answer.
The issue is urgent for we could well be headed for another spate of cataclysmic events as Britain pursues its furious sense of entitlement in India (not to mention Africa, the Middle East and the United States!).
Pakistan and the United States should also pay heed, for we could all be headed for the time foreseen in the Vishnu Purana when the appearance of “eight suns” brings on a great drought.
In fact, the only way to avoid some such a catastrophe might be to talk openly about who might be responsible and publicize plans to share the heat.