Ramtanu Maitra is a regular columnist with the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), a news weekly published from Washington DC. He writes columns for Asia Times of Hong Kong, Frontier Post of Peshawar and some other newspapers in Asia on South Asian political economy and Asian security. He has written on terrorism in a number of publications in the United States and India.
At the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit this October, the now-decrepit former National Security Advisor (NSA) Brajesh Mishra was trotted out to warn us of the “unprecedented challenge” facing India on simultaneous fronts with Pakistan and China. Vajpayee administration’s intelligence chief highlighted his concerns about China’s rising military assistance to Pakistan. “China is supporting Pakistan and especially the Pakistan military,” Mishra said. “China’s help to [the] Pakistan military is a very important factor in aiding and abetting its designs on India.”
Knowing the background of this mediocre babu, who rose to become the NSA simply because at the time he was put in that post by Prime Minister Vajpayee there was no one in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who had a clue about the protection of India’s national security, it is important what he is pushing now and for whom. A signature voice of Tel Aviv, Mishra was always inadequate, but did not lack cleverness. After 911, he got himself attached quickly to the US neo-cons and the American Zionist lobby to become a frontline promoter of the Israelis in India.
Those who remember would recall Mishra’s push to consolidate the India-US-Israel compact at the strategic level in the post-911 days. In May 2003, Mishra was in Washington to form the India-US-Israel axis. In a clear public announcement, made in front of 1,200 dinner guests of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Brajesh Mishra spoke in support of a triangular bonding between India, US and Israel. Mishra proposed, offered and expounded on just about everything to make the case that these three countries must fight terrorism together.
That speech by a non-political authority in a sort of private gathering was just one among many defining moments in a longer process. The then Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, who is now fighting for whatever little is left of his-political life, was in Washington that June and his brief visit included dinner at the elite Cosmos Club, courtesy of the AJC. “It’s a natural alliance between Israel and India,” said Jason Isaacson, the committee’s director of government and international affairs at the time. “It’s about trade and common interests between democracies [and], complementing what is the growing relationships between Indian Americans and American Jews,” he said.
Isaacson has visited India seven times since 1995, and the AJC said it had plans to set up a liaison office in India that year. As evidence the ties have “come of age”, the AJC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the US-India Political American Organization hosted a joint reception for Congress on July 16 of that year.
Mishra was also involved in building bridges with the US neo-cons—an extension of the Zionist lobby, and went whole hog supporting them on their Iraq invasion, which was based upon lies built on lies, and Afghanistan, of course. For Mishra it was an opportunity to win the hearts and minds of Tel Aviv by being aggressively anti-Muslim, throwing caution to the wind.
As Jim Lobe pointed out in his analysis in the Asia Times on May 27 2003, some of the biggest boosters of US-Indian military ties both in and outside the Bush administration at the time were also prominent neo-conservatives with close ties to Israel’s ruling Likud Party.
In bed with the Neo-Cons
With the support of hardline officials like Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith - whose law partner is a spokesman for the settlement movement on the West Bank and whom the US Gen. Tommy Franks described as “the f*****g stupidest guy on the face of the earth.” ...- a group of leading neo-conservatives had formed a new think tank, the US-India Institute for Strategic Policy, precisely to promote military ties, according to Conn Hallinan, an analyst at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Members of this policy group were the neo-con luminaries, such as the head of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney, and a founder of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Michael Ledeen. Both have promoted India-Israel military ties as well, Lobe noted.
Earlier that month, Mishra had laid bare his Israeli face at the gala dinner of the annual convention of the American Jewish Committee. The US, India and Israel, he said “have to jointly face the same ugly face of modern-day terrorism”, adding that “such an alliance would have the political will and moral authority to take bold decisions in extreme cases of terrorist provocation”. Given their democratic governments, “vision of pluralism, tolerance and equal opportunity...”, Mishra said, “stronger India-US relations and India-Israel relations have a natural logic”.
After those salad days when Mishra was embraced, and used, by the US neo-cons and Tel Aviv, Mishra was in hibernation for a while. He stuck his neck out on behalf of his “friends” in supporting the US-India nuclear deal, although the BJP, the party he nominally belongs to, had strongly opposed the deal and tried to bring the Manmohan Singh government down in an up-and-down vote at the Indian Parliament. It is interesting to note that within the BJP there was not much cacophony criticizing Mishra for his support to the deal violating the party whip.
Now, once more, Mishra has been trotted out by his benefactors to speak out against normalizing relations with China and Pakistan. It must be pointed out that Mishra’s statements, which undercut India’s efforts to get a land access to Central Asia and become a part of the India-China-Russia grouping to fight terrorism, promote economic development, help India to emerge as a global power and participate in the development of a new international financial system from the strength of its economy, manpower and technological capabilities, were done at the behest of his two clients – Israel and Britain, in particular.
Both Britain and Israel want India to remain immersed in the historical conflicts with both China and Pakistan. As long New Delhi fails to resolve these conflicts, status quo remains intact. In other words, India’s ability to move northwards and westwards remain constrained and the drug and gun-running apparatus in the country remain untouched.
Israeli Drug Network in India
It is no secret that Israelis are deeply involved in the drug trafficking within India. In fact, they have gone beyond trafficking, they are, in fact, growing cannabis in India. A news report, “Manali Drug Traffickers: Growing Menace,” penned by Harish Thakur (http://www.vijayvaani.com] pointed out that like Goa, Delhi, and Rajasthan, the state of Himachal Pradesh, bordering Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, has turned into a major attraction for drugs for foreign tourists. The article cited Allan D’Sa, Deputy Superintendent of Police and Anti-Narcotics Chief of Goa, admitting on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, that “Goa has become a transit point for all the drug peddlers, and from here drugs like charas, hashish, and ganja are being pushed, and Ecstasy, LSD, and cocaine come into Goa from western countries.” He said drugs entering Goa are mostly from Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, besides Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal.
In recent years, Goa has become well known as the transit point for drugs shipped out to various European countries, and a production center for synthetic “party drugs.” In keeping with the trend among drug smugglers worldwide in adopting innovative ideas to escape the law, drug lords based in Goa are using minors as drug-smuggling “mules,” and carbonized suitcases to ship their drugs to Europe.
What Thakur pointed out about drug activities in Himachal Pradesh is an eye-opener. It shows how deeply rooted the problem has become. The Soviet intrusion of Afghanistan and consequent settlement of displaced Afghans in Kullu, in Himachal Pradesh, led to the first planned business in trade and cultivation of narcotics in that area. Afghan settlers preferred the hilly terrain of Kullu-Manali for climatic reasons. They gradually developed links with local youths, and soon heralded the era of “smack, heroin, and brown sugar” in that region.
As a result of these developments, which went wholly unreported, the narcotics trade has assumed a horrific shape in Kullu, where a large number of tourists, mostly Israelis, visit every year. Nearly 50,000 foreigners visit Himachal Pradesh annually, and they move around in different parts of the state, such as Shimla, Kullu, Manali, Dharamshala - the abode of the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and his contingent.
The presence of drug users among the tourists has inspired local farmers to clandestinely cultivate poppy or cannabis crops to earn some quick money. What is of particular interest is the presence of a large number of Israelis in the drug trade. Thakur says Israeli monopolization of the trade has become plainly visible from the fact that people of Kasol village in Kullu have learned to speak Hebrew! Cannabis took root in the area after 3,000 Israelis made Kasol their home.
Drug users and traffickers have also come from Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Holland. “Every year the area under cannabis cultivation has been increasing, thanks to the patronage of foreigners,” a senior police official told Thakur. “One set of foreigners gets hybrid cannabis seeds, and another sets up residence here and monitors the cultivation through local folks. The produce is then smuggled out by villagers to Delhi, Mumbai, and Goa to be shipped abroad. The new inhabitants have re-christened their habitats. For instance, the valley next to Malana, about 15 km from here, is called ‘Magic Valley.’”
An Israeli revealed to Thakur some pertinent facts about the trade. Kutla, a remote village in Parvati Valley, is the hub of charas cultivation. Police have little access here and people work fearlessly. Foreigners hire one acre of land for just 10,000 rupees (about $223), and raise about 40 kilograms of charas. Cheap Nepali labour makes things easy, as villages such as Malana, Kasol, and Tosh compete for higher production. The drug mafia has set up “headline fields,” which can be sacrificed if the police carry out a raid. But fields in the higher slopes of the mountains have been left untouched, and production there thrives. The trade in this area is mostly controlled by drug cartels from Israel and Italy, Thakur said. According to a State Narcotics Report, over 3,000 acres of mountain land in Himachal Pradesh is under illegal cannabis cultivation, run by the Italian and Israeli drug mafia through local residents.
Israeli Soldiers Running Drugs?
In addition, Jewish Post of New York in 2008 published an article, Former Israeli Soldiers “Flipping Out” in India, penned by Claus Mueller, that said ex-Israeli soldiers spend their winter months in the Himalayan mountain areas and for the summer months the “Israelis migrate to Goa to continue enjoying a lifestyle of large parties, use of virtually all drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and other hard drugs.” Mueller also said relations between the Indians and the Israelis are pragmatic but not friendly and one Israeli pointed out to him that the Indians are like Arabs.
“From the perspective of one former soldier who has been living in India for more than six years and served as a commander of an Israeli elite unit there is a fine line between sanity and madness, a borderline condition that can be discerned in the portraits of this documentary. There is a frenzied look of people, incoherent statements suspending the reality context and rapid motion activities. Yet at the same time others seem to be in a state of drug induced bliss, totally cooled out, and regressed to childlike states The former commander suggests that, military service destroyed the identity and meaning of life, and that staying on drugs rehabilitates former soldiers by getting ‘the crap’ out of their system. In the army he faced disgraceful things and his hand caused death and destruction. Yoav Shamir presents none of the female ex-soldiers who live in Israeli communities in India and also take drugs and seems to imply that females adapt better to the stress of military service.” Where the Jewish Post did not come clean is the drug trafficking network that lubricates the Israeli drug-addicted population in India and bring back home some cold cash.
If Mishra did not know about the Israeli drug and gun-running network that feeds not only various secessionist groups within India, but has already destroyed a large number of Indian youths and families, it is a pity since he was at the top of Indian intelligence. On the other hand, if he knew all this and yet these networks were allowed to grow and expand, undoubtedly he needs to answer them at the earliest.
Brits and their “little lies”
Mishra’s anti-China, anti-Pakistan warnings were also picked up by London’s Financial Times, a mouthpiece of the City of London, which benefits immensely from the drug money that gets laundered through offshore banks. In its article, Financial Times warned India on the potential threat from China and identified Mishra as one who is not only close to former Prime Minister Vajpayee, but also to the present premier, Manmohan Singh. This “little lie” that Mishra is “close to Manmohan Singh” was propagated in order to “convince” the readers that it is not the decrepit Mishra who is saying this, but the statement has its genesis at the very top.
The British interest in keeping the conflict going is not difficult to understand. This country was broken up by the British colonials by cutting India’s both wings to prevent India from moving eastward or westward. India’s 1962 border clash with China, and the inability of both Beijing and New Delhi to resolve this conflict during the last five decades, has hurt both nations and has spawned various secessionist groups in India’s northeast, who were financially aided by the drug trafficking networks using drug money. But that drug money is what keeps the City of London somewhat liquid with cash. An imperial nation, ostensibly democratic, but that which has kept the icon of its brutal colonial past, in the form of a moth-eaten feudal head ensconced in Buckingham Palace, cannot change its stripes. Too bad, Mishra does not have the wherewithal to get it.