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.
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.
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