US-India relations The elephants are mating

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by SHASH2K2, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Sceptics of the US-India engagement, who had contemplated President Obama’s recent state visit to India with noisy lip smacking in the gleeful anticipation of failure, have been left bemused by the outcome. On the one hand, there was friction and public jostling, including American-style homilies on free trade and the duty to foster democracy in Myanmar; and Indian-style obstinacy on the nuclear liability bill. On the other hand, Obama greatly pleased India by linking Pakistan with terrorism, and by backing an Indian permanent seat on the UN Security Council.


    Welcome to elephant mating, the coming together of fractious democracies. The grass gets trampled, but there are tangible, positive outcomes. A polarised Indian intelligentsia, and a trivialising media, which have made an easy living from milking positional divergences to predict doom for the US-India relationship, must learn to abandon such simplistic linkages. Trampled grass could also indicate a great communion.

    The ardour and pace of the US-India courtship has been apparently masked by the friction that has accompanied it. Compare the relationship of a decade ago --- the blink of an eye in strategic time --- with where we are today. In 1999, reacting to India’s nuclear weapon tests, Republican senator Jesse Helms, the influential chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared that “The Indian government has not shot itself in the foot. Most likely it has shot itself in the head.” That Quixotic statement was positively respectful compared to America’s Cold War view of India. On 5th Nov 1971, as India readied for war with Pakistan, President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, heartily agreed that Indians were “a slippery treacherous people” and “the most aggressive goddam people around”. Kissinger referred to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as “a bitch”; Nixon termed her “an old witch”.

    All that ice is turning rapidly into steam. From Jaswant Singh’s dialogue with Strobe Talbott, through the Clinton and Bush visits, the 18th July 2005 declaration; the defence pact of that same year, the nuclear deal of 2008, and now Obama’s cool-but-enthusiastic embrace of India, US-India relations have hurtled along dizzyingly. But India’s strateratti has been so fixated on the inevitable differences, while Washington and New Delhi try to harmonise issues like (a) commercial and trade relations; (b) civil nuclear commerce; (c) intelligence sharing and homeland security; (d) defence trade and partnership; and (e) technology sharing; that analysts have overlooked the convergence on the really big issues: counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing, a rising China, India’s ambitions in the Indian Ocean and East Asia, and --- in private discussions --- even on the future of Pakistan.

    The US-India relationship will continue to be misread until India recognises that relations with a democratic superpower --- tossed about by the expectations of two separate electorates --- will be inevitably more complex than the stolid handshake of the Soviet Union, or the posturing and sloganeering of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

    India’s expectations from the American partnership remain coloured by the India-Soviet Union experience, where superpower partnership was essentially a free ride. During the Cold War, India had only to provide the Soviet Union with the badge of political support from a third world leader, to reap rich dividends of development, technological and military aid. This was often politically embarrassing, especially when the Soviet Union indulged its proclivity for invading neighbouring countries, but New Delhi held its nose and shut its eyes and was repaid by unwavering Soviet support at crucial periods, such as the 1971 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, Article IX of which invoked Soviet intervention if a foreign power --- China or the US were key concerns then --- intervened militarily during India’s liberation of Bangladesh.

    Today, with India’s foreign policy based on simultaneous, and synergistic, engagement with every global power centre --- call it multi-alignment --- New Delhi’s careful engagement of Washington is radically different from its old, no-questions-asked support to Moscow. Not even the staunchest enthusiast of US-India partnership advocates that New Delhi hitches its wagon --- poodle style --- to Washington, backing its foreign policy follies and participating in its military adventures. But Indian expectations are asymmetric: many Indians expect that New Delhi can legitimately choose where it will support Washington, but the US must support India everywhere.

    While this is clearly unrealistic, America’s image in this country is challenged by the fact that Washington’s imperatives in AfPak --- an emotive symbol in much of India and, especially in policy and media circles --- are damaging to Indian interests. Diplomats contrast this with the Soviet Union, recalling its hands-off policy towards South Asia, and correctly pointing out that Moscow never imposed political costs on India by its actions in our region. But the world has changed, our backyard is a key battleground against terrorism, and so pragmatism, not petulance, will bring Washington around.

    Given Pakistan’s control over land routes into Afghanistan, there is a practical logic behind Washington’s tolerance for Islamabad, even knowing that it is being backstabbed. That contradiction between America’s imperatives in Afghanistan and its frustration at Islamabad’s double-dealing will work to India’s advantage after a US military pullout. But India has its own contradictions: New Delhi wants US troops to remain in Afghanistan, knowing well the dependence this creates on Pakistan.

    These complexities make AfPak the most challenging of diplomatic tightropes for Washington and New Delhi. That Obama publicly linked Pakistan with terrorism may have gratified his hosts, but that statement says less about any willingness to block India-directed terror, than it does about Washington’s intense desire to place the India relationship on a firmer footing. Post-Obama, the partnership is in cruise mode, being carried along by the sheer breadth of the engagement, especially the people-to-people dynamic. All that can derail this momentum is another major blunder like Obama’s ill-considered G-2 offer to China, essentially offering it the role of assistant superpower, which would presumably lord it over India. But Obama, it seems, is learning on the job.

    http://www.indian-military.org/news-archives/indian-air-force-news/1163-us-india-relations-the-elephants-are-mating.html
     
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  3. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    President Barack Obama's enthusiasm for a stronger Indo-US relationship is not to"counterbalance"China's growing influence over Asia, a top American official has said.

    "I don't think you heard anybody say that in the course of the President's three-day visit (to India), we're looking to counterbalance China in any way,"Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, told journalists in New York and Washington during a digital video press conference.

    "The President repeatedly made clear that we want a positive, cooperative and constructive relations with China in the same way that India does,"he said.

    Blake asserted that Obama's trip was to support India's expanding role in global institutions and Asian institutions, but the backing is not at China's cost.

    "I think this is much more about how to expand India's role in some of these global institutions and in some of the Asian institutions, and we expressed clearly our support for that. But we do not see that growing role as coming at the expense of China,"he said, pointing that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had recently said that"we do not seek to contain China."

    After Obama endorsed India's bid for Permanent Membership in the UN Security Council, US media pointed out that this was to counterbalance China.

    "By endorsing India for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, President Obama on Monday signaled the US'intention to create a deeper partnership of the world's two largest democracies that would expand commercial ties and check the influence of an increasingly assertive China,"New York Times said.

    The Los Angeles Times reported"the endorsement, though of little practical value at the moment, is aimed at boosting relations with India, and is a signal of the administration's vision of Asia at a time when China's influence is growing."

    Acknowledging former President George Bush's trip for the civil nuclear deal, Blake asserted New Delhi and Washington were entering into a"more mature"relationship following Obama's visit.

    "It will mark the first time that we have real embarked on serious specific global cooperation,"Blake said, ticking off several areas such as agriculture, cooperation in Afghanistan, women's development and maritime cooperation.

    "This is really a global strategic partnership now and we've started to put the flesh on that in very concrete ways,"he added.
     
  4. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    In about a year’s time, US President Barrack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh held a second summit aimed at carrying forward the “strategic partnership” to new heights between the two countries.
    Barrack Obama visiting India during his first term in office broke a record of all his predecessors. A year earlier he did the same by inviting Prime Minister Singh as the first foreign Head of Government to the White House. These symbolisms indicate the inner will of President Obama to upgrade, what he repeatedly mentions, the “defining relationship” of the 21st Century.
    This new partnership between the strongest and the oldest democracy — the United States and the largest and the fastest rising democracy was initially shaped by the efforts of two earlier American Presidents — Bill Clinton and George Bush and two Indian Prime Ministers --- Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. That these four leaders belong to different political parties in their respective countries vividly testify that Indo-US strategic partnership has broad bipartisan support in both the countries.
    While the main edifice of the strategic partnership was constructed during 2000-08, the structure remained incomplete when President Obama landed in Mumbai on 6 November. In fact, the skepticism surrounding the future of Indo-US strategic partnership emerged ever since the election of Obama as the American President and persisted until he won the hearts of millions of Indians through his address in the Central hall of the Parliament.
    Several meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Singh on the sidelines of international conferences had done little to erase the impressions of Indian and American skeptics. While the expectations were really high when Obama invited Singh to be his Administration’s first state guest, but the summit delivered little in substance. The joint press conference was lack-luster and the statements by the two leaders were high on symbolism and low on substance.
    Foreign policy analysts in both countries soon became aware that the Obama Administration paid inadequate attention to the country’s relations with India. There were concerns in both nations that the new edifice of bilateral strategic partnership faced the danger of becoming part of history with no bright future.
    Statements from Washington on Kashmir issued periodically produced bilateral tension; steps to implement the 123 Agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation moved at snail’s pace; rhetoric on NPT and CTBT created occasional apprehensions in India; differences over the Doha Round of trade negotiations and environmental issues became more pronounced.
    In addition, counter-terrorism cooperation faced road blocs due to the Headley episode and the Obama Administration’s Af-Pak policy did little to make New Delhi comfortable about Washington’s South Asian strategy.
    On the trade and investment front too, the US-India cooperation during the Obama Administration did not provide any bright picture. While throughout the Cold War era the US remained the largest trading partner of India and brought maximum foreign direct investment to India, in recent years China replaced the US as India’s largest trading partner. The US share of India’s total exports has almost halved! Moreover, the US has ceased to be the largest foreign investor in India and now has been relegated to the third position.
    The story does not end here. The American economic downturn and the importunate recession induced President Obama to adopt protectionist measures that pinched Indian companies and workers right on their noses.
    Against the backdrop of all these developments, Obama’s trip created little enthusiasm or excitement in India, of course, until after he landed in the finance Capital of our country. Once in India the US President unleashed his charm offensive that slowly pleased perhaps the entire nation in a span of a mere three days.
    He inter-acted with school and college children; business community; victims of the 26/11 terror attacks; Indian MPs and, of course, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Cabinet Ministers. By signing about 20 deals worth $10 billion dollars, Obama created more than 50, 000 job opportunities in his country.
    Importantly, by pronouncing his opposition to Pakistan-linked terrorist activities in India and promising more cooperation in homeland security he instilled a sense of security in the minds of millions of Indians. By extending American support to Indian membership in technology denial regimes, such as NSG, Australia Group, Wassenar Arrangement and MTCR, he pleased the Indian security establishment.
    In addition, by promising to lift sanctions from Indian R & D organizations, such as ISRO, DRDO and BDL, Obama enormously delighted the Indian scientists who suffered a great deal due to lack of advanced equipment and materials for higher scientific research.
    As a result of the Singh-Obama summit, high technology trade between India and the US now promises to benefit both the parties. At a time, when the US is struggling hard to come to terms with persistent recession, it would profit a great deal by selling high technology items to India. Our leaders and high officials have been seeking duel use high technology from the US for decades to increase the momentum of India’s military modernization and industrial growth. Now this seems feasible.
    Last but not the least, President Obama pleased every Indian heart by recognizing the new status of the country as a world power and by extending support to India’s inclusion in an expanded UN Security Council in the future.
    Clearly, the Obama visit will go down in history as a memorable three days of optimism and fellowship in the history of relations between the two countries. Both our Prime Minister and the American President agree on the needs to play ball together to maintain peace and stability, not only in South Asia but also in Asia and the world at large.
    True, President George Bush’s contribution to cementing a strategic partnership with India is memorable contribution for India. But Obama has moved quite a few steps ahead in an effort to give the ties a stronger footing and concrete shape.
    However, when sober analysis would be made in the near future, it will be clear that while putting into action promises made during the second Singh-Obama summit, hurdles and road blocks will certainly arise. The next step would be removal of the future hurdles.
     
  5. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    India and the United States have tremendous opportunity for cooperation in the domain of clean technologies to ensure sustainable energy security for both countries. A joint report by the Atlantic Council and CII released today, ahead of US President Barack Obama’s India visit in November, suggests that expanding cooperation will be essential to overcoming energy shortages in the coming decades. Numerous opportunities for cooperation are identified in the report; both countries should establish an umbrella Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that covers all promising clean energy technologies such as clean coal technologies, bio-fuels, hydrogen/fuel cells and renewables.

    “Given complementary strengths of India and the US, mutually advantageous co-operation in clean technology domain should be strengthened that can help both countries meet the common goals of energy security and climate change mitigation”, says Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Chairman, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) & Former Minister of Power, Government of India; Co-chair of the US-India Dialogue on Sustainable Energy Security from the Indian side.

    Promotion of innovation and technical collaboration is needed in all key energy sectors. Momentum for R&D should be maintained by funding and organizing specific projects and programs in the identified areas of Second generation bio-fuels, Clean coal technologies, Sustainable transportation, Wind energy, Micro-hydro, Advanced Biomass, Solar and other renewable energy technologies.

    The report also stresses the need for maintaining a favorable investment climate by opening domestic markets to international expertise and capital, removing limitations on foreign investment in new technologies and service companies, strengthening intellectual property protection for Indian and US products and processes, and sharing experiences in developing effective programs and policies.

    “Clean Technology Innovation Hubs could be established through Indo-US co-operation, wherein multidisciplinary teams would undertake high-risk – high-rewards projects to exploit the full potential of promising technologies and also to encourage innovation”, says Gen Richard Lawson, Vice-Chairman, Atlantic Council; Co-chair of the US-India Dialogue on Sustainable Energy Security from the US side.
    http://www.acus.org/files/publication_pdfs/3/AtlanticCouncil_USIndiaEnergy.pdf
     
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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