Will India Ever Really Be America's Partner? Ten big things Washington is still waiti

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  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Will India Ever Really Be America's Partner?
    Ten big things Washington is still waiting on from New Delhi.

    Secretary of Defense Panetta told an Indian audience last week that "defense cooperation with India is a linchpin" of U.S. efforts to "rebalance" its defense presence in the Asia-Pacific. At a time when most American allies are plagued by shrinking economies, aging workforces, and contracting militaries, India stands out as a potential "net security provider" in Asia. Even though the Indian economy has hit a rough patch in the last few months, overall it is expanding -- along with the country's population and military. The problem is that India does not necessarily share the U.S. vision of an ever-closer strategic relationship. Distant for much of the Cold War, the U.S. and Indian defense establishments began intermittent flirtation in the 1990s punctuated by a three-year halt after India's 1998 nuclear tests. In 2001, the United States and India resumed defense cooperation. But after a decade of hard work, Washington still wants New Delhi to do more. Here are the top ten things on Washington's wish list.

    Be ready for a conflict with China

    Much strategic discussion in Washington today focuses on how India might help the United States in the event of a Sino-U.S. conflict. But India has its own troubled history in past fights with China. On November 19, 1962, in the latter days of the Sino-Indian war, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote two desperate letters to John F. Kennedy, begging for "assistance if the Chinese are to be prevented from taking over the whole of Eastern India." Fortunately, China declared a ceasefire soon after Nehru's request. But the lesson is that if either capital cares about how the other might fare in a future conflict with China, they need to start preparing today. The United States also has an interest in a modern Indian military because it compels China to split its forces between the interior west and its eastern seaboard.

    Concern over China is one reason the United States has pushed for more joint military exercises, more training, more defense sales, and more technology cooperation. Alas, India has occasionally restricted its military and diplomatic engagement with the United States for fear of offending Chinese sensitivities, most notably by curtailing multilateral exercises involving the United States after large naval maneuvers in 2007 aroused Chinese concerns. India fears that the United States will do just enough to provoke China but not enough to defend India if the going gets tough.

    Fight fires in the Indian Ocean

    The United States and India signed a maritime security framework in 2006, and naval cooperation is frequently given priority in official statements. In New Delhi, Panetta described the U.S. vision of "a peaceful Indian Ocean region supported by growing Indian capabilities." The United States will continue to operate in the region, but it has sought a more active Indian role -- in efforts like anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa. Unfortunately, Indian hesitance to work in coalitions, particularly those that might include Pakistan, has limited India's contributions. We want India to do more in the Indian Ocean region so we can do less -- focusing our regional attentions instead on the Middle East and East Asia -- and we want to do more with India so we can do fewer things alone. But so far India is playing only a modest role in its own backyard.

    Help with the transition in Afghanistan

    Washington has long welcomed India's sizeable civilian and economic aid program in Afghanistan. India is by far the most significant regional donor, having pledged over $2 billion towards reconstruction and development to date. India's commitment is unique both in terms of its scale, and because it represents the only "whole-of-government" approach that India has ever taken in its outreach with another state, with Indian diplomats, aid workers, road engineers, and military officers working to achieve Indian goals. Historically, Washington and its NATO partners have been wary of Indian involvement in the Afghan security sector, concerned that Pakistan's countervailing reaction would more than outweigh any benefit generated by India's help.

    In the last month, that calculation has apparently changed, with Secretary Panetta asking publicly for Indian "help for Afghanistan's security forces" last week. Although Washington does not want to give the appearance that India will be left holding the Afghan "bag," it apparently has concluded that India is one of the last remaining partners with the capacity and will to expend real resources on the Afghanistan mission. Pakistan's sensitivities simply do not mean as much as they used to, and Afghanistan may be the one problem where India has wanted to do more and the United States has wanted India to do less.

    Pressure Iran

    The United States wants New Delhi to pressure Iran into abandoning the most dangerous aspects of its nuclear program. But, simply put, India needs Iran -- for transit into Afghanistan and Central Asia, and, most importantly, for energy to feed the growing Indian economy. As a result, India has been hesitant to censure Iran internationally, and India's oil imports provide an economic lifeline to the increasingly isolated Tehran government. The United States wants to ensure that India is not a safe harbor from the storm of international pressure directed at Tehran, but New Delhi is deeply skeptical that the United States can roll back Tehran's nuclear program. The United States will not make its defense relationship with India contingent on New Delhi's help with Iran, but American officials will continue to press the point and the issue will remain a major irritant in the relationship until India is convinced that U.S. strategy toward Iran is in India's interests.

    Build a better bureaucracy

    India may have the ambitions of a great power, but it has the foreign policy establishment of a developing country. According to Indian official figures, India has a mere 600 foreign service officers to staff 162 embassies and consulates -- that's less than one-tenth the personnel of the U.S. State Department. The situation is even worse for India's military, which has few defense attaches or liaison officers abroad. Nearly every aspect of U.S.-India cooperation has to funnel through a single official. At the Indian Ministry of Defense, one official -- the Joint Secretary for Planning and International Cooperation -- is responsible for coordinating India's global defense engagement. There are probably ten times as many officials in Washington working on India than there are Indian officials in New Delhi working on the United States.

    Washington is a quiet cheerleader for improving and expanding India's national security bureaucracy. Not only does India's tiny bureaucracy act as a bottleneck on bilateral cooperation with the United States, it greatly reduces India's global influence. Expanding the bureaucracy will remove a brake on enhanced cooperation with the United States, and help India have a meaningful voice in more areas of the globe. For example, it is difficult to imagine how India could maintain an informed, permanent presence on the United Nations Security Council without a foreign service two or three times as large as it presently is.

    Play a role in Southeast Asia

    The United States has lobbied for and encouraged Indian involvement in the alphabet soup of Asian regional forums, as well as supporting closer Indian cooperation with ASEAN states. Indian engagement helps ASEAN members resist Chinese pressure and gives both India and China an incentive to build norms for responsible behavior in the Asia-Pacific. President Obama told the Indian parliament in November 2010, "Like your neighbors in Southeast Asia, we want India to not only ‘look East,' we want India to ‘engage East.'" That goal requires more Indian diplomatic personnel in the region, more Indian military exercises with Southeast Asian partners, and enhanced U.S.-Indian dialogue about common concerns in Asia. India and the United States have begun regular discussions on Asia, but India's ability to engage with its eastern neighbors remains very limited.

    Reform the procurement process

    The United States places great emphasis on selling weapons to India, with defense sales featured prominently in White House press releases accompanying President Obama's 2010 visit. Sales of American military equipment are a way to support jobs at home and to create economies of scale for manufacturers that can then sell weapons to the Pentagon more cheaply. American officials also believe that our hardware will make the Indian military more capable, and it is easier for our forces to conduct joint training, exercises, and operations if U.S. and Indian troops use the same stuff.

    The problem is that India's defense procurement process is arbitrary, cumbersome, and corrupt. Other foreign defense suppliers may occasionally resort to greasing the wheels of India's bureaucracy with graft, but the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prevents American firms from playing that game. U.S. companies have become so frustrated with Indian procurement policy that they are threatening loudly to cease competing for contracts. They believe that Indian requirements for so-called defense offsets and technology transfers are so costly and unrealistic that they make even sure-fire bids uneconomical. India understandably wants to extract as much technology as possible through defense imports in order to build up indigenous industry. But India may have less purchasing power than it suspects.

    Prepare for the worst with Pakistan

    Despite Secretary Panetta's recent complaint that the United States was "reaching the limits of our patience" with Pakistan, the United States and Pakistan will likely remain "frenemies" for some time. Safe havens for Afghan militants are deadly for U.S. troops but by and large do not threaten the U.S. homeland. By contrast, Pakistani state failure would be catastrophic, and any response would involve a huge role for India, which would have to contend with thousands if not millions of refugees and to prevent the leakage of nuclear or other dangerous material into its territory.

    Unfortunately, Indian officials believe that U.S. policies toward Pakistan have been naïve, bolstering a military-dominated regime inimical to its interests. Given decades of U.S. misjudgment on Pakistan in Indian eyes, they are understandably doubtful of the benefits of discussing Pakistan's future. Both Indian and U.S. military officers and civilian officials will have to trust one another much more than they do today if they hope to confront worst-case Pakistan scenarios. That confidence will only come from practice in exercises, familiarity through shared training, and common experiences in combined humanitarian and other operations. But it has often been difficult to find such opportunities.

    Sign cooperation agreements

    The United States is a government run by lawyers, where signed agreements are necessary to permit most types of cooperation. India is a country uncomfortable with signed agreements, particularly those that come with any perceived infringements on Indian sovereignty. The United States believes in cookie-cutter solutions, while India believes it is a unique power that deserves special treatment. Indian civilian officials have also concluded that their military can get by without whatever benefits might come from easier logistics support from the United States, or better maps, or better communications equipment. The result is that a variety of draft defense agreements sit un-negotiated and unsigned. Perhaps the biggest misconceptions surround the proposed Logistics Support Agreement, which is an accounting arrangement that would allow the U.S. and Indian militaries to exchange goods in exercises or operations. Water could be traded for fuel, spare parts could be exchanged, and if the value of such goods was not precisely equal, then the militaries could bill one another for the difference. Somehow India has come to see this run-of-the-mill agreement -- which the United States has signed with more than 75 other countries -- as giving the United States basing rights in India, something it most certainly would not. Sometimes perceptions drive reality, however, and in this case Indian politicians have chosen to hit the brakes.

    Conduct more exercises

    The U.S. military wants to conduct more exercises, more frequently, in more complicated ways with its Indian counterparts, but it is being stopped by an Indian civilian government that wants to manage the pace of cooperation, even if it means fewer opportunities for the Indian military to share best practices with the world's leading power. In part a function of a civilian desire to micromanage Indian armed forces and in part to keep India's international profile balanced, the result has been fewer U.S.-India exercises than both militaries desire. Such exercises not only hone skills used every day, but they also prepare both militaries for cooperating in any future large-scale contingency. To return to the beginning of this list, if India and the United States face a major challenge in the future, routine cooperation today provides a foundation for a joint response at that time. Why is the United States pushing so hard for so many little routine things with India, even in the face of apparent disinterest by some Indian politicians and officials? Because in the future, the United States and India may be forced to work on some very big problems together, a task made much easier by preparation today.
     
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Re: Will India Ever Really Be America's Partner? Ten big things Washington is still w

    In a sense USA is looking for 2nd rung partner in india like japan and south korea.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Re: Will India Ever Really Be America's Partner? Ten big things Washington is still w

    Your Move, Delhi:Let's see evidence that India is willing to be a U.S. partner.

    American Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week told his Indian counterpart that India is a "linchpin" of the Obama Administration's pivot to Asia. In particular, he wants New Delhi to play a bigger role in training for Afghan troops. It's in India's self-interest to help out, lest Afghanistan once again become another nearby haven for jihadists.

    The Bush Administration was reticent about Indian involvement in the past for fear of upsetting Pakistan, which wants to monopolize influence over Afghanistan and fears that its larger eastern rival might gain that position today. Islamabad's modus operandi is then to weaken Kabul's strategic autonomy by destabilizing the elected government there. That's why its intelligence agency is thought to be aiding terror groups like the Haqqani network.

    Washington has had enough of this double game, so many observers have rightly read Mr. Panetta's overtures last week as a signal that Washington doesn't care to tip-toe around Islamabad anymore. In Kabul Thursday, the Secretary also warned Pakistan that he and his colleagues were "reaching the limits of our patience." Islamabad is on notice that it is no longer considered an indispensable American ally.

    More importantly, there's a message for Delhi. Indian elites complain that President Obama started his term by giving Pakistan an easy pass and worsening U.S.-India ties. The Administration has visibly changed tack, so the ball is now in India's court.

    The good news is that in the past year Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government has begun talking with Kabul to equip and train more forces. As of now, only 300 Afghan officers trained by India would serve in the Afghan army once NATO leaves. The next step would be to conclude the ongoing discussions and tell the Pentagon it wants to train battalion-strength units. These units could learn much from India's armed forces, who have been fighting insurgencies for five of the more than six decades they've served a civilian democratic government.

    Surveys show Afghans think very highly of India, yet Mr. Singh has been cautious about capitalizing on this soft power. Last week, Indian officials appeared lukewarm about the Obama "pivot" toward Asia. Corruption scandals and an economic slowdown are weakening Mr. Singh at home, so his capacity to project power abroad is reduced.

    India has long resisted asserting itself in its neighborhood and disdained championing the cause of liberal democracy in Asia. This year, it kowtowed to China by suppressing Tibetan protests at home and shored up ties with Iran. Afghanistan, where India has a direct interest in a democratic government, is then a good case to demonstrate that it is willing to shoulder more responsibility. The world's largest democracy is often talked up as a possible partner for the U.S. It's time to see some evidence that it is willing and capable of becoming one.
     
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Re: Will India Ever Really Be America's Partner? Ten big things Washington is still w

    India's cold shoulder
    Courting India as hoped-for 'strategic partner,' the U.S. has given the nation $8 billion in arms over the last 10 years. In return, U.S. goals have been mostly frustrated while nuclear nonproliferation efforts have been undermined.

    There's a party in the Asia Pacific, and the United States wants India to be its date. As U.S. foreign policy "pivots" away from the Middle East and Europe and toward Asia, U.S. officials are doing everything they can to cozy up to the nation that Mark Twain once called "the cradle of the human race."

    America's courtship — a bipartisan effort — has included the great-power equivalent of sending flowers (civil nuclear technology underGeorge W. Bush), chocolates (more than $8 billion in U.S. arms during the last decade) and love letters (India is the only state deemed a "strategic partner" in the Pentagon's most recent strategy review).

    The flirting has lasted so long that U.S. officials are starting to recycle old pickup lines. Quoting former President Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said while visiting New Delhi last week: "India and America are natural allies, two nations conceived in liberty, each finding strength in its diversity, each seeing in the other a reflection of its own aspiration for a more humane and just world."

    The attraction is undeniable. India is the world's largest democracy, a rising economic power and a potential counterweight to Chinese influence in Asia. There's only one problem with America's entreaties: India is nowhere near saying yes.

    Before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sits down with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Wednesday in Washington for the third meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, U.S. officials would be wise to take a hard look at the outcome of past overtures.

    In our zeal to improve relations with India, we've undermined our own nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Giving India nuclear technology without making it a party to the nonproliferation treaty created a double standard that encourages a dangerous, alternative path for aspiring nuclear powers. In April, for example, as U.S. officials were warning North Korea against its planned missile launch and criticizing Iran for its lack of transparency, India launched its own long-range, nuclear-capable missile.

    As India's nuclear capabilities grow, so doesPakistan'sparanoia. In response to India's April test, Pakistan launched its own nuclear-capable missile six days later and has since conducted four more tests. Worried about falling behind India in nuclear arms, Pakistan is racing toward the completion of its fourth nuclear reactor and has doubled the size of its nuclear arsenal since 2006, according to estimates by the Federation of American Scientists and the Institute for Science and International Security.

    India has also made a habit of abandoning the United States at the international altar. In 2011, the year after President Obama announced support for giving India a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, India voted with the U.S. only about 33% of the time in the United Nations General Assembly. In its temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council, India often sides with Russia and China, who dismiss international efforts to protect human rights as meddling in other nations' domestic affairs.

    To be sure, the United States and India have made progress on a number of strategic fronts, expanding joint military exercises and exchanges, for example. But overall, relations consistently fall short of the warm-and-fuzzy rhetoric that U.S. leaders of all political stripes have grown accustom to voicing.

    Rather than continue their charm offensive, U.S. officials should push India to articulate its view of the U.S.-India partnership and India's larger role in the international community. The South Asian power has expressed its intent to become a leading global power, but it has shied from assuming responsibilities that come with the territory.

    Getting a clearer picture of India's intentions will allow U.S. officials to recalibrate expectations about where the relationship stands and where it is heading. Like the overhyped "reset" in relations with Russia, unrealistic expectations about U.S. relations with India only make it harder to manage tensions when they arise. India is not Russia, of course, but neither is it a traditional ally like Britain, and when it comes to the Asia Pacific, it's also not Australia, Japan or South Korea.

    If necessary, U.S. officials should also consider introducing some sticks into what has largely been a carrot buffet of diplomacy. The United States has significant leverage on a number of issues important to India, such as sharing aerospace and defense technology. Further U.S. assistance in these areas should be contingent upon India's support for top U.S. foreign policy priorities such as tightening sanctions against Iran and funding and training Afghanistan'ssecurity forces.

    Approached correctly, India can still become a key ally in advancing U.S. strategy in the Asia Pacific. But forging a stronger partnership requires first admitting that America's love for India remains largely unrequited.

    Jonathan E. Hillman is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.
     
  6. Tronic

    Tronic Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Re: Will India Ever Really Be America's Partner? Ten big things Washington is still w

    What dribble! More like India has given the US $8 billion of arms deals the last 10 years!
     
    sehwag1830 and Bangalorean like this.
  7. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Re: Will India Ever Really Be America's Partner? Ten big things Washington is still w

    Exactly! The way some idiotic reporters make it sound, as if the seller is doing a favour to the customer by selling his goods! Silly reporters!
     
    W.G.Ewald likes this.

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