Friday, March 18, 2011



I can understand the decision of India, Russia and China to abstain in the voting in the UN Security Council (UNSC) on March 18,2011, on the resolution authorising the enforcement of a No Fly Zone over Libya to prevent Libyan air stikes against anti-Muammar Gaddafi rebels and civilians and a humanitarian intervention not involving the use of ground troops.

2. Explaining the likely implications of the resolution for Libya to the White House media, President Barack Obama said: " "Now, once more, Muammar Gaddafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately.That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Gaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi; pull them back from Adjadbiya, Misrata and Zawiya; and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Gaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action."

3. The Gaddafi Government has announced an immediate cease-fire in response to the resolution, but rebel sources have doubted its sincerity. They see it more as a tactical move to buy time and to create divisions among those who supported the resolution. They would, therefore, like the enforcement of the No Fly Zone and the humanitarian intervention to be accompanied by a joint action by the West and the Arab States to bring about a regime change.

4. Obama has ruled out---at least for the present--- any military action to bring about a regime change. He seems to believe that the regime change must be brought about through international psychological pressure and not through military action. Obama said during his interaction with the media: "I also want to be clear about what we will not be doing. The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya, and we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in Libya. In the coming weeks, we will continue to help the Libyan people with humanitarian and economic assistance so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully."

5. This is meant to reassure abstaining countries like India, Russia and China who fear that the world might be witnessing a re-enactment of Iraq in Libya. In Iraq, the West exploited a vague UNSC resolution on a No Fly Zone to mount a military operation for a regime change. The resolution on the No Fly Zone on Libya is as vague as the resolution on Iraq was. It is silent on the command and control of the operation. Commenting on this, the BBC said: "Those countries taking part in the coalition still need to decide who leads this mission, and what action they will take if the ceasefire breaks down. It is not yet clear who the commander of the operation will be, where it will be headquartered and what Nato assets might be used."

6. While India and China refrained from spelling out in detail their concerns and reservations about the way the resolution was drafted, Russia did. It made it clear during its interventions in the UNSC debate that while it had no objection in principle to a No Fly Zone, it cannot support it unless the command and control was decided beforehand.

7. The US and other NATO countries have seen to it that all decisions regarding command and control will not be taken in the UNSC, but outside. The Foreign Ministers of France and Britain and the US Secretary of State are scheduled to meet in Paris later today to discuss, inter alia, about the command and control. In Iraq, the US and the UK manipulated the denouement in such a manner as to keep all major decisions in their hands. Even France was unhappy over this.

8. In Libya, a triumvirate consisting of the US, France and the UK is trying to retain in its hands the responsibility for all major decisions. Hence, my understanding and support for the decision of India to abstain along with Russia and China.

9. But, India's abstention should not mean that it abandons the interests of the anti-Gaddafi forces and the civilians supporting them. We are entering an uneasy period similar to what happened in Iraq----with the Kurds in the North retaining de facto autonomy with the help of US forces based in Turkey and Saddam Hussein's control restricted to non-Kurdish areas. In Libya, the anti-Gaddafi tribals will be helped by US-led forces based in Egypt and Tunisia to retain their de facto autonomy in their areas, with Gaddafi's control restricted to areas, including Tripoli, the capital, where tribals still loyal to him are strong.

10. In this unconfortable situation, India and Russia should mount a humanitarian mission of their own which would not come into conflict with the UNSC-authorised mission. It should have as its objective assisting all civilians in equal measure---whether they are in Govt-controlled areas or in areas under rebel control. India and Russia should enter into immediate consultations to discuss whether this is feasible and, if so, how to do it. They should keep the US, the UK, France and the Arab League informed of their moves. (19-3-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )



The Wikileaks cables will not most probably be accepted by a court of law.

But they will be accepted by large sections of the people of this country as indicating how rotten the State of India has become .

We have had instances of political bribery in the past too.

But those who committed bribery in the past to distort the democratic process understood they were committing a shameful act.

Those who have committed bribery under your watch as the Prime Minister of this great country, which held its head high as the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, did not show the least sign of shame over what they were doing. They proudly admitted to junior US diplomats their lack of political morality and their readiness to stoop to any methods, including payment of bribes, in order to survive in power.

What will these foreigners think of us? That question never even came to their mind.

When "The Hindu" published the cable from the US Embassy to the State Department on this subject yesterday, many of us who continued to think well of you despite all the corruption allegations of recent months that have led to a melt-down of our public and political morality, expected strong reactions from you as the person who is constantly projected as the most honest Prime Minister the country has produced since Independence.





A determination not to tolerate any more of this political immorality even if you have to lose office in the process.

Instead, what reactions we got?


More denials.

And yet more denials.

Not even by you directly.

But by those in your entourage.

And after a day of silence by you, we have been told that you never authorised any bribery.

What does it mean? Does it mean that those who committed it did so without your knowledge or permission?

Presuming this is correct, is it a mitigating circumstance in judging the state of political morality ?

Doesn't this reflect badly on the state of affairs that such things can happen under your Government without your knowledge and that when they come to your notice, you react as if such things are part of the normal processes of democracy that one has to understand.

Previously, you used to speak of what you call the coalition dharma under which you had to close your eyes to undesirable happenings in the interest of coalition stability.

Now, you have introduced a concept of bribery dharma under which you have to close your eyes to widespread corruption around you in the interest of the stability of your Government.

Is the survival in office under such conditions worth it?

As one watches with shame and bewilderment what has been happening since yesterday, one doesn't know whether to laugh or cry . (18-3-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. E-mail: )