Militarism Faces Resistance in Asia

The political opposition in Seychelles has blocked the ratification of the 2015 Seychelles-India base deal amidst intense rivalry between China and India for dominance over the Indian Ocean, a key international trade route through which millions of barrels of oil pass each day.

A similar movement has been building for years in the Japanese island of Okinawa. Home to 32 US bases, systemic rape by American GIs has catalyzed popular anti-base sentiment that has been brewing for years. Washington’s attempts to relocate one of the bases near to a reserve for endangered dolphins have met huge local resistance. Last February’s election saw the defeat of the anti-base mayor first elected in 2016, a blow to the movement.

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Anti-base protesters on Okinawa, Japan

Like Japan, India is seeking to project its power by enlisting in America’s ‘Pivot to Asia’: a broad diplomatic, economic and military offensive against China. Like India,Japan’s imperialist resurgence is being lead by the country’s most right-wing government since the 1940s. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet hail from the most reactionary bourgeois layer which, with its allies in revisionist academia, has long sought to whitewash the horrific history of the Imperial Order for which they are so nostalgic.

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2015: Japanese demonstrators protest Japan’s imperialist resurgence

India’s Prime Minister Narendi Modi, meanwhile, has accelerated tensions with neighbouring Pakistan, a fellow nuclear-armed power whose long-time sponsorship of terrorism against India almost sparked war following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, while encouraging a racist frenzy endangering India’s Muslims. Complicit in the 2002 Babri Mosque massacre, Modi is an adherent of the Hindutvati ideology. One of its pamphlets praises Hitler and the Holocaust*.

Asians remember the horrors of WWII and the Korean War. During the former, millions were slaughtered by Japanese invaders. During the latter, the American air force wiped out “almost every city north and south” (Gen. Curtis LeMay), killing 2 million people.

As the spectre of conflict increases, anti-militarist fervour is bound to increase. This provides a glimmer of hope for humanity, whose very survival is endangered by the prospect of a US-China nuclear war. If these localised movements link together in a common struggle against militarism, they may have a voice with which to reach out to their fellow ordinary people in the West. A global fight to unseat the Pentagon’s war plans is essential.

*Arundhati Roy on Modi, YouTube

Two Occupations: Why Are We Silent on Kashmir?

Beneath our silence lies India’s enduring occupation

With its 700,000+ security forces, the Indian occupation of Kashmir is the densest and oldest in the world. With her population of 5.5 million, the ratio is one Indian soldier for eight Kashmiris.

Kashmir, says the Indian constitution, is “an integral part of India”. In reality, both India and Pakistan are “an integral part” of the common subcontinent, which was partitioned in 1947 into what were hence wholly artificial constructs at inception: Hindu-majority ‘India’ and Muslim-majority ‘Pakistan’. Such reactionary origins underscore the futility imbuing their disastrous petty-nationalist rivalry.

When the Kashmiris took up arms against Indian occupation in the 1990s, they were met with horrifying repression. Homes were set alight, women were raped and civilians were sadistically tortured and mutilated by Indian troops. In total, 50,000 innocent men, women and children are believed to have perished during this bloody period of the 90s.

This had some degree of coverage in the West, but beneath our silence lies an enduring occupation of which even the left has spoken little in comparison to Palestine.

History is replete with injustices that acquire an international symbolism. In this regard, Palestine has been rightly compared to Apartheid South Africa. Like the latter, Palestine is becoming a symbol for the world’s oppressed and their plight, whose endurance no longer remains a source for pessimism (apartheid was almost a century-old before it ended). Slowly but surely, the movement for international solidarity with Palestine is growing daily.

The sheer infamy of Apartheid as an historic injustice that was reversed by an international solidarity movement may well justify the standard comparison by the Free Palestine movement. Yet, on purely theoretical grounds, Kashmir is a far more apt comparison to Palestine. As such, we should strive for the liberation of both with equal tenacity and solidarity.

The anti-war left linked the struggle for the liberation of Palestine with that of Iraq and Afghanistan. So why are there no corresponding calls for the liberation of Kashmir among antiwar activists/commentators?