Nothing positive in Indo-US ties since nuclear deal

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by SHASH2K2, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    NEW DELHI: Hard on the heels of India tossing out US bids for the MMRCA fighter aircraft deal, US ambassador Timothy Roemer announced he was leaving his post. Although his decision was unrelated to the MMRCA decision and was apparently in the works for a while, his decision to announce it on Thursday drew an immediate link to the Indian decision. There will be a blowback from Washington over the Indian decision, and many believe Roemer's announcement is the beginning.

    In a statement, Roemer said the US was "deeply disappointed" at losing out on the contract. "I have been personally assured at the highest levels of the Indian government that the procurement process for this aircraft has been and will be transparent and fair. I am extremely confident that the Boeing F/A 18IN and Lockheed-Martin F-16IN would provide the Indian Air Force an unbeatable platform with proven technologies at a competitive price," he said.

    Indian officials said it had been clear for some time that the US planes fell short on the technical specifications. For many who believed that political considerations could triumph, they did not take into account the current environment in the Indian government. After the massive corruption scandals involving the Commonwealth Games and 2G spectrum allocation, there was no way this government would ever be able to override the technical arguments to take a political call.

    But on a larger canvas, the Indian decision shows the level of deterioration in India-US relations. From the nuclear liability law onwards, things have not been positive on the India-US front. India believes it bent over backwards to accommodate US concerns during the nuclear deal and in its aftermath, as in the end-user verification issue. The US believed it got short shrift on India's nuclear liability law which makes it difficult for US companies to get into the Indian nuclear power sector.

    Wikileaks earlier this year put a serious obstacle in the bilateral relations, with the Indian government treating the leaks as a sort of diplomatic betrayal. The dumped documents made the prime minister seem too keen to accommodate US views, portraying the Manmohan Singh government as being "US-friendly" (which despite all the closeness, is a bad word in the establishment). It was largely due to defence minister A K Antony that the India-US strategic dialogue was pushed back from April to July.

    India believed the US served it a bad turn when Washington allowed China to do a nuclear deal with Pakistan, bereft of the kind of conditions that India had to subject itself to. China will give extra nuclear reactors to Pakistan and there will be no separation of civil and military nuclear sectors as India was forced to do. All this happened with Washington's tacit consent. That went down badly in the Indian system.

    The US, on the other hand, believes India has not kept up its part of the bargain after the nuclear deal. They believe they made a huge concession to India by overcoming the dissent in their own system to support India for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Sources in Washington said the US would probably walk back from that support.

    The state of drift in India-US relations is likely to continue. The Indian government is consumed by serial domestic crises, and there is a virtual paralysis in the government's decision-making apparatus. In the US, the situation is not much better, and with Obama going into election mode soon, unlikely to improve. Sources also said that unlike George Bush, Obama is less of a big ideas man and much more transactional in his relationships. Its unclear whether he will listen to his advisers to pay India back for its decision. The first sign will be whether he appoints a new envoy for India any time soon.
     
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  3. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

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    Bring in the Psy-Ops after F16/F18 butt-kick off MMRCA. :p
     
  4. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    WASHINGTON: In an alphabet soup of acronyms that spell informal diplomatic tie-ups featuring India, there's the newbie BRICS, the neighbourhood SAARC, the spread-out IBSA, the under-stated BIMSTEC, the formidable ASEAN, and the hoary NAM, not to speak of the various Gs that have nothing to do with spectrum: from G-77 to G-20. But there's one big association that has repeatedly failed to live up to promise for much of this decade: Ind-US.

    On Thursday, the emerging alliance was dealt a significant blow when New Delhi rejected two American firms from a massive jet aircraft deal while pencilling in two European firms for final selection.

    There was dismay in Washington at the decision, particularly since the Obama administration and proponents for a strong US-India strategic alliance had invested much energy in lobbying for the two American fighter jets - from Lockheed Martin and Boeing - which were in the race.

    "There is an acute sense of disappointment in the US government about this decision," said Ashley Tellis, a Carnegie Endowment scholar who authored a 140-page report titled "Dogfight" on the India's Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) decision. "As best I can tell, the downselect was made entirely on the basis of the technical evaluations - the cost of the aircraft or the strategic considerations did not enter into the picture."

    Indeed, Tellis, who was also a key figure in the US-India civilian nuclear deal, had indicated in his study that the Eurofighter, one of the two finalists, would edge to the top of the list in terms of overall sophistication. But, he had argued, "having an American airplane in the IAF livery would simply be transformative for bilateral defence relations and it would send an important signal about the changing geopolitical dynamics in South Asia." US officials, from President Obama to secretary of state Hillary Clinton to ambassador Tim Roemer in New Delhi, had sent out the similar messages. The Americans were also keen on the deal as an export factor which would help job creation at home.

    But New Delhi, suddenly in thrall of strengthening ties with BRICS and the European Union, remained cool to US entreaties even as the warmth of the Obama visit appears to have faded quickly. Evidently, the MRCA decision, as Tellis told ToI in an email, was largely made on technical metrics at the expense of strategic considerations.

    "The IAF, which is a fighter force, chose a fighter pilot's fighter: airplanes that are hot rods," Tellis explained, adding what this leaves India with now is a choice between two "incredibly expensive" fourth-generation jets ($85million + for the Rafale and the $125million+ for the Eurofighter by his estimates). If India goes with the former, it will end up literally bailing out Dassault which has not sold a single Rafale abroad yet, he added.

    Expectedly, proponents of the use of the MRCA decision as a strategic choice are pillorying New Delhi's call. "The UPA government's decision to reject both American proposals, of the F-16 and F/A-18, demonstrates either a poor appreciation of the geostrategic aspect or worse, indicative of a lingering anti-American mindset," said Nitin Pai, a Fellow at the Takshashila Foundation. "This move will most certainly reduce India's geopolitical leverage with the US military-industrial complex, at a time when India needs it most."

    Pai, who also edits the journal Pragati, the Indian National Interest Review, maintained that India was being "gratuitously generous" to Europe, where Italy had blocked India's UNSC candidature and other smaller countries had tried to wreck the US-India nuclear deal. "Not buying fighter aircraft from a US supplier is strategic stupidity of enormous proportions," he added, while mockingly asking whether "Europeans will use their non-declining global superpower in support of India in AfPak, East Asia, UNSC etc."

    For their part, the arms companies have played it cool, aware that there is yet more than $ 100 billion at stake as India modernizes its military. Boeing, whose F-18 Super Hornet lost out in the MRCA deal, still has its heavy lift helicopters Apache and Chinook in play in a separate deal, having already won contracts for heavy lift transport planes. "We are obviously disappointed with this outcome. We believe we offered the Indian Air Force a fully compliant and best-value multi-role aircraft for the defined mission," the company said in a statement, adding, "We will continue to look for opportunities to help India modernize its armed services and enhance its aerospace industry."

    Tellis too suggested both sides should look forward without rancor. "Whatever India goes with, I hope the commercial negotiations are concluded quickly and that the chosen fighter enters the force soon - IAF force structure will simply dissolve without the MRCA and the LCA," he warned.

    The larger question though is whether the MRCA set-back to Washington will affect the broader US-India relations, which have been frequently bedevilled by trade spats and strategic misperceptions. Already, Washington is fuming about New Delhi not keeping its end of the nuclear deal bargain. The annual strategic dialogue between the two sides scheduled for April had to be deferred ostensibly because of regional elections in India, but some analysts have suggested that it was because of the nuke deal screw-up and the impending MRCA rebuff. The sudden resignation of US ambassador to India Timothy Roemer, coming within hours of the MRCA decision being made public, is also seen as a setback although Tellis believes it is not linked to the MRCA call.

    Amid all this, the regional environment is getting increasingly complex with a toxic Pakistan upping the ante with Washington and demanding India's downsizing in Afghanistan as price for its cooperation. Former US under secretary of state and Af-Pak envoy Marc Grossman headed out to New Delhi last night on the first leg of his trip to the region where more than Af-Pak is at stake.
     
  5. ganesh177

    ganesh177 Regular Member

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    So does he indirectly mean that process was not transparent ? And why does he thinks so ?
    How about reading all the clauses of the tender and if US was willing to fulfill all ?
    US shud understand that, technology hungry india wasn't only shopping for 126 jets.
     
  6. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

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    Don't know why the denial of cryogenic engine technology comes to my mind. I'm glad that we've come a long way from those days (although our cryogenic engine isn't yet operationally proven :p )


    Regards,
    Virendra
     

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