Pawn in a Bigger Game: Why Washington is Interested in Bangladesh

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Washington has twice left Bangladesh out of the Summit for Democracy while it has invited Pakistan(!) to the same conference; it has imposed visa restrictions on different Bangladeshi officials. As the January 7th election approaches, the list of US expressions gets more and more impressive

Imagine the India that was, about twenty years ago. A huge market, driven chiefly by domestic consumption – a foreign investors’ delight. It had a young, upwardly mobile urban population that was moderately educated and with a minimal sense of identity. They sought full Westernisation, were driven by individualistic consumptive patterns and aspirations, and were poised to set the trend among the rest of the country.

The intelligent ones remained busy looking out for and migrating to greener pastures for career growth – mostly in Western nations like the USA, the UK, France, Germany or Australia.

There used to be a weak political and bureaucratic class that was chiefly driven by opportunism, bribery, and blackmail. India, just a few decades ago used to be a soft-state with terribly weak internal security, and a cosmetic international presence that survived on Western validation; it was a country fairly dependent on the USA – a copybook vassal.

Do not, not even for a moment, think that this was natural. This needed a lot of hard work by the West. We now realise as we uncover the money trails, the NGOs and business houses, the brokers and industrialists, the subversive networks, the paid-media, or the subnational elements within academia, politics, and bureaucratic apparatus.

Creating a condition like this needed a tremendous amount of investment, both in terms of resources and time, something that the West did not mind investing in – from paid shills to hired terrorists, and everything in between.

Why?

This is what you could call the USA’s idea of an ideal marketplace. Think about the European Union and maybe you will understand a bit. A bunch of gaslit, affluent first world citizens who suffer from lack of historic, cultural and religious identity; who are driven by consumerism excesses, who keep playing the game to make money for their masters, while remaining bogged down with the right proportion of internal conflicts and chaos that prevents them from thinking beyond their immediate concern – that of staying financially solvent. They have the right balance of greed and fear, they have been made to believe that the former keeps the latter at bay.

The fear of ‘outsiders’ has always worked well to keep the Europeans wary. Their inability to assimilate within themselves led to two devastating wars during the last century; and the USA-UK duo played, first with the fear that the ‘Soviets are coming’ to steal Europe, and then again with illegal immigration in the 21st century.

Today, the European population has been injected with Turkish, Arabic, North Africans, and, since the Ukraine War – East European Nazis. All along, the incapability to assimilate remains very real, and a very European trait.

Indeed, you would find the same broad strokes everywhere wherever the US planners have touched upon – even if it is their own homeland. The average American earlier was made to believe that the ‘Commies were coming’ to get them and their way of life.

Today, after a continuation of the same in the shape of ‘Bin Laden is coming’, or ‘Saddam is coming’, and actually filling up the academia with Marxists, or the streets with illegitimate asylum-seeking Hispanics, Bangladeshis, and Arabs (predominantly non-economic migrants) – peoples who refuse to assimilate with the mainstream – the government thinks it has the right kind of a marketplace: American consumers who bank on their greed to forget their fears while hoping that their government would keep them safe.

Coming back to India, the initial threat was territorial, delivered through Pakistan and China. More than the threat of the Islamists’ bombs and terror attacks, it was the imagined ignominy of the Kashmir valley breaking away that stayed alive through the 80s to the 2000s; more than the fear of an actual war with China, it was the Chinese salami-slicing of Indian territories that dangled in front of us.

The only deliverer of a semi-working guarantee – like in the case of West Europe – were the mighty Americans, as Washington kept assuring New Delhi throughout the 90s till about 2010 that things were just fine. Parliament attacks, 26/11, Kargil – all were ‘fine’; Pakistan was a remarkably well-behaved, sensible strategic ally. And as times changed, as it did for the Europeans or the Americans, India today has Bangladeshis and Rohingyas settled conveniently almost all throughout the country, and eating merrily into the domestic wealth. While the US deep state, in its latest effort keeps pushing Khalistani separatists, or triggering the radical Islamists within.

Just the right amount of destabilisation around crucial geographies of the globe (especially among its so-called allies) is the idea for the USA deep state to maintain its global hegemony. The only two territories where their global engine has faltered a bit are Russia and China (incidentally, these are hostile entities), and then too, trying to foment border troubles with Russia along east Europe or the Caucasus, or sabotaging China’s global ambitions seems to be proceeding almost as planned.

This is where Bangladesh becomes important. Propping Pakistan to keep India looking over its shoulders notwithstanding, the gradual transformation of the Bangladeshi society at large – from being anti-Pakistan back in the 70s to being pro-Pakistan today – is something that the US government would not fail to exploit. Wherever there is an affinity for Pakistan, there is bound to be an affinity towards different forms of Islamist radicalism – from intolerance towards other faith-religion-culture, to illegal emigration or the exporting of terrorism – and Bangladesh has witnessed a rise in all the three during the past decades.

This reflects in the predicament that the present leader of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina faces. A revivalist, pro-Pakistan, radical Islamist sentiment among the population has kept her government from functioning optimally. This is bound to be music to the US government’s ears. The best arrangement now would be a pro-Islamist, pro-Pakistani government in Bangladesh. Among others, this would always translate into an opportunity to convert West Bengal/Assam into a kind of ‘Kashmir of the East’ for the next few decades.

Does New Delhi have the kind of acumen needed to deal with it? Afterall, Assam opens up to the Indian north-east (something that remains restive even 75 years after independence), while Bengal provides a corridor to the Maoist tribal belt – geographically, these regions would have much bigger consequences than Kashmir. Add to this the impact that the illegal Islamist settlers from Bangladesh or Myanmar would create wherever in India they remain hiding.

The paid media has got to work already. The increase in negative analyses about Bangladesh and Sheikh Hasina government is noticeable. The USA considers the present government oppressive towards their opposition; Washington has twice left Bangladesh out of the Summit for Democracy while it has invited Pakistan(!) to the same conference; it has imposed visa restrictions on different Bangladeshi officials – as 7th January election approaches, the list of US expressions gets more and more impressive.

It is a predictable behavioural pattern: Washington doesn’t have a problem with the Pakistani military so it orchestrates to throw democratically elected Imran Khan out. It doesn’t have a problem with the Myanmar military-led government as long as they are willing to sit across the table to allow the US/Five Eyes to have an internal stake in their country. However, they have a problem with democratic Bangladesh because they suspect that Hasina is not democratic enough and that elections must always be ‘free and fair’.

What if Hasina wins? Depending on the US planners’ priorities, Bangladesh could be shelved temporarily. But since it would be good to have India back to the way it was about twenty years ago – pliable, identity-confused, and scared – an election win for Modi could see the stirrings of a colour revolution in Bangladesh.

No one is going to war here; definitely not the US. One believes Afghanistan and Ukraine are enough for the time. What they would do is shoot down all of the Global South initiatives like the BRICS, or the de-dollarization plans. Like the way Washington would love to limit China into what it was – a silenced sweatshop with a billion workers manufacturing cheap goods that kept the Western market tech-happy, or warm and fuzzy, India in the same manner would be best preserved as a soft vassal forever apprehensive of China, Bangladeshis, Rohingyas, or Islamists, while behaving all along just the way it used to, twenty years ago.

And countries like Bangladesh would remain pawns in a bigger game.

Source: First Post