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War Hawks in Bangladeshi Sky

May 23, 2012

This month witnessed arrivals of some international political big-wigs. But it was the visit of the Madam Hillary that drew much attention to and that was well covered by local media.

During her stay at Dhaka, two countries officially disclosed that both the countries initiated a dialogue on how to consolidate a strategic partnership. Madam Hillary also stressed on signing a Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA).

Preparatory talks of a defense cooperation kicked off before the arrival of madam secretary. A State Department official Andrew J. Shapiro, known as War Hawk, held closed-door talks with Bangladeshi officials on this regard.

Madam Hillary also took part in a live TV talk-show at the coffee-sipping green zone of Dhaka. Unlike the similar interview that held in Kolkata, it was not well-publicized and limited to a closed circle of Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC) members, most of them have come from right-wing elite families. She spent a long period of time in discussing with Khaleda Zia. What was interesting both Begum Zia and BYLC secretary Ejaj Ahmad ended their conversation with Madam Hillary hoping her to see as the next president of USA.

Almost two weeks have passed since Madam Hillary left Dhaka, still op-ed pages of local dailies are full of views and opinions on her visit.

It seems to me there is a trust-deficit among Bangladeshis, excluding those who are advocating a partnership.

The reason of this trust-deficit lies on the answer of a crucial question. Did American deeds match with its words in most of the cases in the past?

The answer is no.

It sounds like a joke to me when the Secretary of State said Americans wanted to see democracy flourishes in Bangladesh. Where is the killer of Bangladesh’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman? Where is the principal staff officer of former CMLA Lt. Gen. Hussain Muhammad Ershad? Where are the former military spy chief, military chief and chief advisor of un-elected caretaker government of 2007-2008?

U.S. officials and Madam Secretary expressed their concern over the working conditions in the manufacturing sector and the death of a trade union leader. But do they know thousands of illegal Mexican kids are recruited to pluck peppers in North Carolina?

Us ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W. Mozena, talking to the journalists in a program organized on the installation of a scanner that could detect radio-active material, told that Bangladesh would become the number 1 garment exporter country in the world. The following day, the US government took away the GSP facility from the Bangladeshi made sleeping bag!

Just look at the kind of change U.S. backed Arab Spring brought to Maghreb. Islamists are taking full advantage of the power vacuum in that region. Leading political commentators are backing such change on the ground of long term objectives. US seems little bothered. Remember the Nazi rise? They were also the stakeholder of democracy!

Egypt and Pakistan also received millions of dollar worth military aid. Did this aid bring stability in these countries? Army plays a behind the scene role in manipulating the political situation and hampering democratic process.

U.S. wants India to play a bigger role in this region, but it is reluctant to see the rise of a stronger India. In fact, Shapiro’s office blocked a proposal on the transfer of Javelin missile technology to India. Often it does not mean what it says! U.S. blamed Pakistan for Mumbai attack, but it is noticeably quiet on the issue of detaining Hafeez Said, one of the perpetrators.

It seems to me US is trying to prop up a Bangladesh that could be used to play against both India and China. But on May 21, in a discussion organized by a local think-tank, Ambassador Mozena clarified the nature of this strategic partnership. He stressed that it was not intended to contain China. Then what is its very purpose?—- the question eventually comes to one’s mind.
In this context, if one raises eye brows on American desire to see Bangladesh playing a bigger role in the Bay of Bengal, we could not blame him much. Analyst Dr. Subhash Kapila correctly questions U.S.’s intention in this part of the world:

However, what is definitely intriguing is the American emphasis on Bangladesh’s role in the maritime security of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. One would have thought that the United States under its Strategic Partnership understandings with India would have acceded that role to India as the dominant naval power in the region. What maritime role for Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal is the United States envisaging?

Should Bangladesh trust a USA with double visage? Much of Bangladesh’s chagrins and maladies are due to past American actions. America is a country that Bangladesh cannot trust, but can work with on some issues that have common interest! At best, U.S. could be a working partner. But Bangladesh should not sign a defense cooperation agreement with US as it has déjà vu repercussions! Just go through the pages of Pakistan’s history you will see such treaty neither gives a secure Pakistan nor ensures internal stability. So, do not dig in troubles!

Yes, Bangladesh has to send combat troops to Afghanistan. Yes, Bangladeshi political parties have to start a dialogue on the framework of a neutral interim government to hold a free and fair election. Yes, Bangladesh has to end corruption. Yes, Bangladesh has to ensure worker’s right. Yes, Bangladesh has to improve its relationship with India. Bangladesh has to do these things for its own sake. Not to comply with American demands!

To America, security interest gets utmost priority when it faces a set of different choices. Any slight deviation from that is unthinkable! To safeguard that interest, it even compromises with democracy and human rights.

So America should be judged by what it does, not by what it says.

As I was wondering how I could wrap up this write-up, I came across this truck image on the internet. Keep Distance —-the message on that truck’s back is the best piece of advice for Bangladesh in its dealing with US Strategic Partnership proposal.


From → Analysis

  1. Mijanur Rahman permalink

    Finished ur article in a breathe – very well explained!

    But you know what? Our political leaders don’t have their common view to save their country – they can sell the country within minutes! So we can just shout and say ‘Bangladesh should be careful enough on it’s each step towards America’ but who will represent the view of ‘Bangladesh’? Maybe the political parties? But America can spend money to change the govt. to establish their agenda at this semi-democratic environment.
    Maybe we just need to hope and pray to be safe from this ‘Hyena’, what else we can do!

  2. Rezaul Hoque permalink

    Thanks a lot Mijan.

    But, I do not think America is conspiring against Bangladesh to install a more pro-US govt. here.

  3. Adnan R. Amin permalink

    I was searching TICFA related info and found your blog. Do you have any specific information regarding what the TICFA really entails? Thanks.

    • Rezaul Hoque permalink

      I’m also looking for info about TICFA. Very few people have seen the agreement.I’ve not seen yet any in-depth analysis on the subject.On bangla blogosphere you may come across some thought provoking posts on the topic. Thanks

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