Skip to comments.India, US make a tectonic move
Posted on 07/22/2005 3:26:33 PM PDT by naturalman1975
THOUGH all Australian eyes were on John Howard in Washington this week, the big action in the global capital was taking place with another, altogether more unlikely, prime minister. In one of those moments when you can feel the tectonic plates of geo-strategic power shifting, US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were transforming the global equations.
But first a little background. Some little time ago a senior US defence official received an admiral of the Indian navy. The Indian admiral explained that his country's military doctrine envisaged in due course Indian nuclear-armed submarines permanently in the Pacific Ocean. That would be unacceptable to the US, said the American defence man (or words to that effect).
The Indian made two replies. First, he said, the Pacific doesn't belong exclusively to you and we can sail there if we want to. But also, consider the effect that our having nuclear subs in the Pacific would have. It would mean that the cities of northern China, presently beyond the range of our land-based missiles, would be covered by our nuclear deterrent.
Well, of course, said the American, in that case we can probably make a deal. And what a deal they have made.
Singh is one of the most consequential, and in his way attractive, democratic leaders of the past 30 years. It was he, as finance minister, who 15 years ago set India on the path of revolutionary economic liberalisation, from which all of India's subsequent rapid growth and new power have flown. Now, as Prime Minister, he is cementing the geo-strategic transformation of India. As he said in his joint press conference with Bush in Washington: "The President and I share the goal of making this one of the principal relationships for each of our countries."
But it was Singh's speech to a joint session of the US Congress that was most masterful. It was beautifully crafted for an American audience. The Congress was packed. Both sides of US politics have bought into this relationship in the biggest way. And Singh touched every right note for the Americans - India and the US are common democracies, one the oldest democracy, one the largest. They are united in the war on terror. At the press conference Singh lavished praise on Bush for his leadership in the war on terror. He told Congress that the two nations shared values and interests. India's success, he said, was in the national interest of the US.
One of the delightful touches in the speech was that it completely omitted mention of Pakistan, the most exquisite punishment an Indian leader in Washington could possibly administer to his troublesome neighbour. It is a sign of the decoupling of India and Pakistan in the Western mind, and the way in which India is moving forward on a much higher economic and strategic plane than Pakistan.
Singh emphasised that what he and Bush have embarked on is a broad-ranging partnership, ranging from IT investment and agriculture to heightened defence co-operation. Astoundingly, one of Singh's greatest applause lines was: "I would like to reiterate that India's track record in nuclear non-proliferation is impeccable."
It is certainly true that India has never given nuclear technology to anyone else, but India has also never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and, less than a decade ago, earned great US and international condemnation for testing a nuclear weapon. Singh's Washington visit is the emphatic end point of any sense of illegitimacy of India as a nuclear power.
This is especially evident in the agreement by the US to begin serious nuclear technology co-operation with India, confined to its non-military energy sector. This is a fundamental turning point. The new US-India partnership is not solely about balancing China but there can be little doubt that India would not have got this agreement without the China factor weighing so heavily in the US.
Clearly, the US sees India as a critical strategic counterweight to China. This does not involve Washington crudely "playing the Indian card". India is too powerful and independent for that. No one can play the Indian card except the Indians. But just by being there, being economically successful, modernising its military, demonstrating the prestige of democracy in a big, developing country and embracing such a close relationship with the US, New Delhi has fulfilled almost every wish Washington could have for it.
The other strategic counterweight to China is Japan, an even bigger economic colossus and also an Asian democracy.
This is a relationship that India and the US want with almost equal ardour. It is bipartisan in both countries. The moment of truth came at India's last election, last year. The more nationalist BJP government had pioneered a new approach to the US and it was unclear whether the new Congress Government of Singh would maintain this.
As it happened, shortly before the election I was in New Delhi and had the chance to visit Natwar Singh (no relation to the Prime Minister), now the Foreign Minister, at his home. A charming and formidable man, Natwar Singh was nonetheless full of old-fashioned non-aligned movement rhetoric and I wondered whether he would, if foreign minister, take India back to the old days of denouncing the US. That question has been definitively answered in the negative. That's why we can see this shift as a genuine paradigm change.
Oddly enough, one of the more difficult areas of US-India collaboration will be conventional defence co-operation. This is essentially because India still finds US defence equipment expensive. There are only four sources of defence hi-tech: the US, Europe, Russia and Israel. India is developing a substantial defence relationship with Israel. This is almost as remarkable as the US relationship, given that the governing Congress Party traditionally represents India's huge Muslim minority and has traditionally made a lot of its solidarity with the Palestinians.
India was disappointed that, at the moment at least, the US has decided not to support immediate plans to expand the UN Security Council. But the Indians certainly weren't going to let that get in the way of the new relationship. With two such big and intensely democratic nations as the US and India, there will always be disagreements. The relationship will require continued high-level attention on both sides.
It almost (but not quite) goes without saying that the opportunities for Australia in the new US-India strategic entente are entrancing. I hope we're up to taking advantage of them.
Anglosphere in high gear.
While India's "counterbalance" with China is vital equally vital is the counterbalance with Pakistan and the rest of central Asia.
The Paks will soon see that the economic growth in India is desirable for their country. If they want to market themselves to businesses they will need to grow their relatonship with India and the west and reduce their ties to the backwards middle east.
I like India :)
It's really not clear to me that any Muslim country is capable of making informed decisions like this. Envy and terrorism seems like the more probably reaction.
People are naturally greedy.
One of the problems in the oil states is that all of the oil businesses are nationalized and no one has a chance to make a buck for themselves.
This is a good move. It makes sense strategically, and it makes sense on other levels. As the Indian economy modernizes, we and they are becoming ever more intertwined. Culturally there has been enough cross-fertilization that we are no longer so foreign from one another as we once were.
Technically they are becoming a force in their own right.
And we are both faced with potentially common adversaries. No one wants a war with China, we prefer to do business. But if China goes toxic, there is no other possible ally of any use in such a war, India is it. They have already fought China twice, and while they would also prefer to do business, they could also use a friend should push ever come to shove.
And we both must deal with radical Islam. There things get a little complicated, where Pakistan is India's primary enemy, and we rely on Pakistan's cooperation to get at the bad guys who have taken refuge there. But in large part Pakistan's cooperation comes thanks to India's playing bad cop to our good cop, and we may as well recognize whose help it is that comes grudgingly and whose it is that is offered willingly.
I was tossing a football with an Indian grad student the other day, and he had the better spiral.
In this case as with all totalitarian regimes, the word "nationalized" is a euphemism for "owned by the thugs who run things". This would include just about every Muzzim country in the world.
Isn't the term "Indians" offensive?
Shouldn't we be calling them something like native sub-continentals?
Exactly, because that's the easy way out.
Kinda like the race baiters here in the US...much easier to blame Whitey than to actually get an education and take some responsibility for oneself.
If we decide to help India to become a blue water super power in the Western Pacific, China can kiss their plans for dominance in the region good by forever. The Chi Coms must be sweating bullets. I wonder if the agreement had anything to do with that brazen threat by the Chinese General about Taiwan? My guess is that the Chinese caught wind of it and that was their knee jerk reaction.
As usual the MSM completely misses the story. Quck back to "Get Karl," missing teen in Aruba, any more runaway brides out there?
this is a most facinating political event.
again our president thinks way ahead of the
it just has to kill the dems to see president Bush
being the great leader he is.
Good point. And, it makes it easier for the gov to buy voters with handouts. A bad combination.
Musharraf(spel?) has his a$$ in a vice. The Jihadist want him dead, and they keep trying to prove it. Pakistan has nukes. What if they are successful in murdering Musharraf? Militants will control the nukes.
Its got to do more with the kind of governments they have than the people.
Look at Malaysia, they are a Muslim country and all they want to do is business. Malaysia is not completely democratic but is more democratic than any other Muslim country.
By the way India has the 2nd largest muslim population in the world and the muslims in India are interested in making money. Look at Azim Premji Chairman of WIPRO a software giant and is the richest man in India. Networth I think was 10 billion dollars. Thats the role model muslims have in India not Osama Bin Laden
"What are we to do about Pakistan?"
That is the question. And because we must ask it without any good answers, we should know that letting Iran get Nukes is not an option.
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