India frets over Obama's Chinamania

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by pyromaniac, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. pyromaniac

    pyromaniac Founding Member

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Chicago, Illinois
    Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechen's visit to Washington this week is notable for three reasons. One, Yang is paying a return visit in a little over a fortnight of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Beijing. The intensity of the US-China traffic is indeed extraordinary by diplomatic norms. China seems to have blithely overtaken the traditional allies of the US, such as Germany and Japan.

    Two, Yang's visit coincides with the 50th anniversary of the uprising in Tibet. Washington doesn't seem to be bothered at the coincidence. It is actually underscoring its current priorities in the US's relations with China. Tibet is an issue that arouses some animated passion in certain American circles. The US Congress and State Department have paid heed to these public sentiments

    while Beijing on its part has duly regretted the US statements, but both sides are confident that life must move on.

    Clinton made it clear during her Asian tour last month that neither Tibet nor Taiwan can be allowed to impede the serious business of Sino-US relations in the current world scenario characterized by the economic crisis.

    Three, Yang's visit has been envisaged as a significant input in the run-up to the Group of 20 (G-20) summit meeting on April 2 in London. True, the US is widely consulting other countries for opinions on solving the economic crisis. But, again, the criticality of Chinese input for the US is self-evident from the fact that Yang has a scheduled meeting with US President Barack Obama.

    But viewed from New Delhi, Yang's visit assumes an entirely different color. The intensity of US-China traffic is in sharp contrast with the virtual absence of high-level political exchanges between the Indian leadership and Obama. So much so that the former director for South Asia in the National Security Council in the George W Bush administration, Xenia Dormandy, penned an article on Wednesday in The Christian Science Monitor precisely focusing attention on the subject.

    Dormandy played a key role in coordinating the July 2005 landmark visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US that led to the new US-India strategic relationship. Titled somewhat exaggeratedly - "India: America's indispensable ally" - her article made an impassioned plea that "Obama's team would be wise not to forget it [India]". Dormandy pointed out that in foreign policy, "[The] Obama administration has started with a full sprint. Between the financial crisis and events in Afghanistan, Iran and Russia, and elsewhere, it's had to. But in rushing ahead to confront one crisis after another, it risks forgetting a crucial friend: India."

    India's first contact with the Obama administration has been in the nature of Foreign Office consultations, when the Indian foreign secretary visited Washington this week. Reading between the lines, the picture that emerges from the reports of the consultations in Washington is that the US-India relationship is entering a phase of lull.

    There seems to be no other way of describing what is afoot. Somehow, the fizz is gone from the relationship in comparison with what Indians became used to during the George W Bush era. In actuality, this is a curious paradigm insofar as the relationship is stable and is arguably irreversible, and there is a broad consensus on both sides about the far-reaching importance of the relationship for the two countries' medium- and long-term interests. Conceivably, Dormandy might have a point when she characterized India as the US's "indispensable ally".

    A recent Gallup poll shows that India is the fourth-most popular foreign country in the world for the American public and second only to Japan in the Asian region - way ahead of China and South Korea. India is the country in which opinion is the highest in the world - outside of the US - in its positive regard of America.

    So, where exactly lies the problem? The answer points in one direction: the China syndrome. The unacknowledged, delicate geopolitical reality is that Beijing has always been the silent third party to the US-India "strategic partnership" during the past decade.

    Indian policy, especially during the term of the present government that is completing its five-year term in May, has been predicated on the assumption that the "containment" of China has been, is and will for the foreseeable future be the cornerstone of the US's Asian strategy. As a result, the US accorded a unique, enduring status to India as a "counterweight" to China and as a "balancer" in the international system.

    It is debatable whether the US is to be held responsible if such a weird idea got into the head of the Indians in the first instance. It was plain to see that the US and China were fast developing a relationship of independence and that there was no question of the US confronting China or vice versa.

    Probably, it suited the US to let such an impression gather in the Indian mind, while Washington kept working on its relationship with Beijing in the direction of incrementally making the latter a "stakeholder". The result is that the Obama administration's overtures to China for a qualitatively new relationship as a global partner have left Indian strategists with a lousy feeling that they've been had. Some Indian strategists are already pleading that New Delhi may simply have to sit out until the Obamamania dies down and Washington reverts to its good old ways with its hegemonistic instincts intact.

    The acuteness of the problem is such that in the present circumstances of the US economic crisis, there is nothing in comparison with China that India can offer as a "counterweight" to what the wizards in Beijing are offering. Yang told Clinton on Wednesday that the China-US relationship was poised at a "new starting point" and that the two countries "share extensive interests and shoulder important responsibilities for world peace, stability and development".

    What it means in plain terms is that China, with its financial surplus and growing stature on the world stage, is prepared to lend a hand to help the US in various hotspots, apart from cooperating in tidying over the current economic crisis.

    Yang suggested to Clinton that both sides "should cultivate a positive and cooperative relationship, which is of vital importance not only to the benefit of both peoples but to world peace and prosperity as well".

    Clinton responded that the Obama administration would be willing to work with China to "deepen and expand" cooperation. Both sides have agreed that the G-20 summit holds "great significance" for US-China ties "at a new phase".

    The Indian consultations in Washington this week have revealed, on the other hand, that the Obama administration has its own priorities in foreign policy at this juncture. These require that the further development of US-India ties needs to be based on new forms of cooperation as compared to what the Indian side is used to.

    The US State Department spokesman made it a point to downplay the visiting Indian official's consultations regarding Afghanistan - "it wasn't so much as we were asking India to do anything specific, but the secretary [Clinton] wanted to hear the [Indian] foreign secretary's views on the best way forward in Afghanistan from the Indian point of view. And, that was, in essence, the basis of the discussion."

    The new buzzword in the US-India strategic partnership is climate change. But the tragedy is that it is simply not sexy enough for Indian strategists who saw the strategic partnership with the US as a roadway to big-power status.

    Indeed, former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was on record that the US was committed to building up India as an influential global player. On the other hand, the Obama administration has virtually put on the backburner the US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement of October 2008. It has yet to work on its global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agenda and to determine where the agreement with India fits in with any new global architecture.

    The New York Times reported on Monday that Obama had sought Attorney General Eric Holder's views regarding all "signing statements" signed by Bush while in office. New Delhi will be watching Holder's advice with bated breath.

    The Indian government has been taking the line that it is only bound by the 123 Agreement with the US and not the US legislation leading to it which place several riders on Indian policies to be worthy of cooperation with the US in the nuclear field - riders and preconditions which are perceived in Indian public opinion as a capitulation of India's right to pursue an independent foreign policy.

    Bush favored India with an immensely consequential "signing statement".

    Equally, Obama's decision to appoint Robert Einhorn as the under secretary for international security affairs and non-proliferation at the State Department causes uneasiness to Indian strategists. They are highly allergic to Einhorn's earlier opposition to the US-India nuclear deal, so much so that they take pleasure deriding him as a "non-proliferation ayatollah".

    Conceivably, Obama administration will revisit the nuclear deal with India in one form or another once he reverses the US stance on the Collective Test Ban Treaty, accelerates a new treaty on capping fissile material production and indeed once he gets talks with Russia going on a new global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.

    The Indian claim that the nuclear deal gives India the status of a nuclear weapon power and that the US tacitly recognizes such a status certainly seems a premature rush to judgement.

    The paradox of the US-India strategic partnership is that there is, really speaking, nothing as such to worry about in its trajectory of development. On such vital areas for US global strategy, such as climate change and counter-terrorism and energy security, India will always remain a valuable partner. This alone assures India of a due status in US regional policies.

    Again, it may even do a lot of good if the US-India partnership was "demilitarized", philosophically speaking, and turned its synergies instead toward aspects of life which are of immense consequence to India's development, such as public health, agriculture and education.

    Obama unwittingly may even do India a great favor by unburdening the US-India strategic partnership of its heavy baggage of the power politics of the Bush era and channel it instead into creative, benign directions more attuned to India's circumstances.

    He could indeed make the US-India relationship more predictable and durable and enrich it from a long-term perspective by broad-basing the Bush legacy of an essentially narrow and elitist government-to-government, military-to-military and business partnership to include in his agenda the Indian people and their concerns of day-to-day life.

    After all, there is nothing more central to regional stability and security in South Asia than meaningfully addressing the problems of poverty and development.

    Such an enlightened approach on the part of the Obama administration would also, fortuitously enough, prompt India to search for ways to diversify its foreign policy, compel it to mend fences with its neighbors more purposively, make it strive to recapture the verve of its traditional time-tested friendships and even address the hugely important subject of coming to terms with China's rise.

    Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
  3. yang

    yang Regular Member

    Mar 11, 2009
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    That is right

    Yang Jiechi went to visit US just for the there reasons,and Obama will meet with him.After all,the crisis is the major problem,everything between us is running smoothly.
  4. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Land of the GODS - "Dev Bhomi".
    we indians are a real US obsessive lot. people have to understand we have lived without US for the most part of our independence and if it comes to that we can do without them even now for decades and centuries to come, though that for sure would not be happening. the first thing we start doing is start equating china and india which is okay when we compete on the international arena at various theaters but not quite when it refers to some other countries strategic and foreign relations, and US always has a habit of changing both the said relations once there is a new administration and this also depends a lot on what the current circumstances are at a given point in time. obama is forced to have good relations with prc as that is the need of the hour for really other than the europe and japan it is only them who can help the US out of the economic mess they find themselves in, there is a saying in hindi,”samay aane par gadhe ko bhi baap banana parta hai”, can india fill their shoes. india is an emerging power with influence and economic might limited in its sphere and where need be the foreign secretary who is in the US has been already consulted.

    i have a few questions, does india boast of 2t usd as forex reserves, has india invested in the US treasury reserves leave alone the amount that the chinese have invested or that they have the largest share in it, has india suffered the amount of losses that prc has as those global giants went bankrupt, does india have the manufacturing base like they have or are we any where close to the export figures that prc does to the US and not surprisingly US is the largest market for the prc exports. yes strategically india will be ever important for the US till the time there is a commie rule in the prc for they hold the strength to uproot the US from its top slot a thought with which they are not comfortable but the current global economic down turn and future relations can just not be equated, one is the present and the other a future and if you fail in your present then there will be no real future to talk about. then there is the dprk issue which has always kept these two nations engaged and at a time when dprk has gone on a over drive testing the waters of the new US administration then that does leave the obama administration a little jittery, now can india change prc in solving this crisis.

    india has regional and global ambitions but we shy away when it comes to taking stands on issues, recently US had invited india to a meet on af-pak with afghanistan and pakistan also taking part in it but we shied away for there is this ever increasing fear in the minds of indian diplomats that once we fall in this “trap” of the west it wont take them long to talk kashmir in the same breath or the US would force us to join in the war in afghanistan by contributing armed forces, my question is are we so weak, and in case we are not then why do we shy away from taking responsibilities because people can only put a plate in front of us but it is only us who will have to take the spoon and put it in our mouth. india has to start making it self felt as and when there are opportunities thrown at us or else we will never really be taken seriously in the international arena.

    i have a fascination for the chinese which dates back to some 5 years now for i have seen how they go about doing their work and are a complete contrast to what we are, extremely hard working and one will find them working with their heads down and are not opinionated as we are partly because of the commie rule so what they are told to do they just do it rather than getting into the bureaucratic nuisance that we have a habit of getting into and are ever enthusiastic to come up with results. chinese are aware we are emerging and they have great respect for our IT industry and if i am not mistaken they have already clipped us in this race as well and have delivered where it matters the most, they are not like us, some cry babies. look at the contrast they have US as their benchmark and their aim is to out do them in their own game do the indian strategists even dream about such a thing, i very much doubt. yesterday i read someones comment though baised but was terming china as a super power, and then i reclined back and thought how true with an economy at 4.5t usd (come to think of it, this is when the world suspects them to have a highly under valued currency) they have to be right up there even if their military is a no match to the US, still …............, had it been us with that being the size of our economy i am sure people all over the world who have some sort of an association with india would have gone wild, here is china which has never thought of projecting this though i agree there is a commie angle to it and look at the irony, the comment passed was by a pakistani and not a chinese. we have a lot to learn from the chinese, but only if we are ready to shed our obsessions.

    seriously speaking i am one happy soul seeing all these things evolve as also the halting of gas turbines for the indian navy ships for i am sure the indian strategists would pretty well strike out the two US jets from the m-mrca jet deal. i was extremely delighted to read what Ambassador M K Bhadrakuma had to say in the last few paragraphs, there is a serious need to get realism back in this “indo-us strategic relations”, and sooner the high expectations are grounded the better, as it is US is the last to be ever trusted, dont believe me, ask pakistan.

    PS: while writing my mind i have taken a holistic approach and have generally not limited my thoughts as a response to just this article, as there is a flood of articles which have seemed rather pessimistic on the future course of relations between india and the US after the bush era.
  5. A M J

    A M J Regular Member

    Feb 26, 2009
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    Very nice post rst!!

    I too think we should not get too much obsessed with the US.
    And before thinking that US is the one not reaching to us, let us see Why That??

    I think reason is that India is still not that much pre-dominant on World Stage. Reason in my opinion being that India is not much fiancially sound. US is coming over to China because they got the money. And we all know
    "Money makes the Mare go". So it's time we fasten our seat belts to first get an Economic clout over the world, which will automatically follow the Political, Diplomatic and Military clout.

    In current situation India should atleast be in Top 5 economies first, to let other countries hear to what we have to say.

    No-one is going to pay heed to a country with no money. From money I mean Economic Strength. In my opinion That's all and That's it. For us to be on World Stage.
  6. EnlightenedMonk

    EnlightenedMonk Member of The Month JULY 2009 Senior Member

    Mar 7, 2009
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    I think as far as GDP (PPP) is concerned, we're consistenly in the top 5 countries in the world as far as that is concerned... I guess we're just behind Japan right now with US in 1st place, Eurozone in 2nd place and China in 3rd place...

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

    Feb 16, 2009
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    USA is just suckering China to keep buying the soon to be worthless US debt on top of all the worthless debt they already owe(when you owe someone money you have to sweet talk them to give you more).
  8. EnlightenedMonk

    EnlightenedMonk Member of The Month JULY 2009 Senior Member

    Mar 7, 2009
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    And China also has an interest in keeping the USA from failing miserably... Because, if China does that, then their entire internal industry which has been geared to cater to the needs of the USA and the West is in big trouble...

    USA need China's money to keep buying... and China needs that big market in the USA to keep buying (albeit using their own money)...

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