‘Obama does not have much of an option but to make India its leading partner’-kS

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by ajtr, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    ‘Obama does not have much of an option but to make India its leading partner’

    Shekhar Gupta: I am in front of South Block and my guest is one of the longest, oldest members of this hallowed building and someone who shaped its mind on India’s strategic policy making, India’s entire worldview for more than five decades now—Dr K Subrahmanyam. The world is a very different place now... from when you came here in the ‘50s.
    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Yes, very much so. When I came here, within a couple of years, we had Bulganin (Nikolai) and Khrushchev (Nikita) visiting Delhi and that was the time the Indo-Soviet relationship started developing. And that was also the time when the US’s relationship with Pakistan intensified.

    Shekhar Gupta: As we talk now, in a couple of weeks, Obama’s coming. The third US president in a decade, when the previous one took 25 years. So, it’s all changed... for the better?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Very much for the better, no doubt about that!

    Shekhar Gupta: So what are Obama’s options? Does he have his options closed, no choice?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: No, I think Obama will be developing his options. His challenges today are from two sources—one is from jihadi inspired terrorism and the other challenge is that China has become the second power of the world and is trying to catch up with the US. China is the only major country in the world that has not accepted democracy as its value system. Even Russia has. And therefore, a more powerful China expanding into Asia, South Asia, West Asia and East Asia is posing a challenge to the US and is trying to counter the influence of democratic powers. And how to deal with this challenge is something which should preoccupy Obama.

    Shekhar Gupta: And when this comes up, what should Dr Manmohan Singh be telling him?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: I think they have already said that they share these value systems. The main point is, how do these democratic countries, which today form 50 per cent of the global population, counter this value system—of the two challenges of jihadism as well as one-party authoritarianism which denies pluralism. I think the only way of doing this is for them to get into a network of partnerships. Because this is not a military threat and it cannot be dealt with by a military alliance.

    Shekhar Gupta: It’s also a philosophical and a political threat.

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Yes, and therefore, it is for the other democratic powers to get together and apply their combined efforts creatively to counter these challenges. And there can be a lot of cooperation among them in terms of exchange of intelligence and combined efforts to stop flow of financial resources to jihadi people. These things are quite possible. And the more democratic powers assert themselves, it will have its own impact within China because as it has been pointed out, a country which has reached this level cannot go further in innovation unless it democratises itself. Therefore, the Chinese are worried about it, the rest of the world should increase pressure on the Chinese.

    Shekhar Gupta: So, if India and America come together, as you are saying they logically should, this will not be some old fashioned kind of alliance with military implications against another power, it’s a philosophical alliance to maybe moderate the conduct of another power?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Yes, in fact the engagement of China should be intensified. Commerce and trade with China should grow. And the only way of effectively countering China’s authoritarianism is to expose the Chinese population to democracy in a more and more intensified manner.

    Shekhar Gupta: So, if that is the idea, and I think that idea took root about 15 years ago and got underlined with President Clinton’s visit and is now growing, you think Obama coming in place of Bush is a setback?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: No, not at all. In fact, Bush looked at India in terms of classical balance of power and Bush’s framework was still a 20th century framework.

    Shekhar Gupta: And in a manner, a bit imperialistic?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: In a manner that the US was an exceptional country and the leader of the world. I think Obama understands much more this need for a network of nations, in which all other nations will have to cooperate and that the US cannot any longer exercise its leadership vis-a-vis China unless it has a partner in terms of a knowledge reservoir, because China has got four times the population of the US. And therefore when the Chinese start producing engineers, doctors, technicians...

    Shekhar Gupta: Or fighter pilots?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: I’m not so much worried about the military aspects because militarily, the US can still maintain its lead for some time to come. But the US can be number one only if it has its lead technologically and organisationally. And this cannot be done unless the US has a partner, which is equal in population with China, is democratic, pluralistic, shares the same value as the US, with which US already has a population to population relationship. Indians contribute to American growth and American technology and American organisational skills. And therefore, Obama does not have much of an option but to make India its leading partner.

    Shekhar Gupta: After having lived through decades of hostility, when life was very simple—America was hostile, Soviet was an ally—how tough was it to bring about a paradigm shift?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: I would say that the shift came about in a very natural manner to the US because most of the things that happened to the US, all in a way are kind of nemesis.

    Shekhar Gupta: Why nemesis?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Well, they went and dealt with Vietnam in a particular way and it blew up on them. They allied with Pakistan to create jihadism.

    Shekhar Gupta: The earlier jihad, good jihad, if I may say so.

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: And the jihadism has blown up on them. For 30 years, they helped China become the factory of the world and China’s advance today is now challenging the US. And therefore, to a considerable extent, the US has turned itself against the mistakes it had perpetrated. And so far as we were concerned, we always admired the US and from the very beginning, Nehru went and addressed the US Congress, in which he pledged that if freedom was in peril and endangered, India will not stay neutral. And therefore, we didn’t have any problem in becoming friendly with the US.

    Shekhar Gupta: How does our record with the ‘70s square? Our voting record on Cambodia, Afghanistan, the Prague Spring? It was quite disgraceful.

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: I would only apologise or feel defensive about Prague and Hungary. Cambodia, I would still say that we were right. Supporting Pol Pot is one of the greatest disgraces for American democracy. We opposed him. Therefore, we have nothing to apologise for. Similarly, on Afghanistan, it is the Americans and the Pakistanis who have created this jihadism. We virtually stayed out of it.

    Shekhar Gupta: But could we have nuanced our earlier Afghanistan policy better? In the ‘70s and the ‘80s?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: No, we tried our best. After all, when the Soviets moved into Afghanistan, which was a result of the provocation by the Pakistanis and the Americans, Indira Gandhi sent special envoys to Zia-ul-Haq—Swaran Singh went there, then Narasimha Rao went there. We tried our best to reassure the Pakistanis. But they weren’t looking for reassurance. They wanted to become a nuclear weapon power, which is the price the Americans had to pay in order to get Pakistani support. They had to look away from the Chinese arm in that. And once the Pakistanis got nuclear weapons, they didn’t want to just drop it on anybody, which is what the western strategists talk about. The Pakistanis got the derivative of nuclear weapons, which was terrorism. And they are using the derivative terrorism not only against US but against the US, UK and Europe.

    Shekhar Gupta: Using the backup power of nuclear weapons?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Deterrent power gets them the shield. And therefore, they are able to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

    Shekhar Gupta: So to that extent, they were successful?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Till today, yes, they have gotten away, but I don’t know for how long.

    Shekhar Gupta: You look far ahead. I’ll ask you three questions. First of all, when could you anticipate this turn in India’s position in the world —in ‘70s, ‘60s, ‘50s, ‘90s? When could you anticipate this?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: I would say only by mid-90s.

    Shekhar Gupta: And before that, when Mrs Gandhi met Reagan?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: No, that was a balancing act. Reagan was being nice to Mrs Gandhi, and at the same time permitting Pakistan to get nuclear weapons.

    Shekhar Gupta: But she did break ice with him?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: There was a time when the Reagan administration was nice to Mrs Gandhi.

    Shekhar Gupta: So mid-’90s is when you saw the change coming? That’s when they say Dr Subrahmanyam’s tone also changed because you led the intellectual drive, isn’t it? The third stage of the rocket of Indian foreign policy again came from you.

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: All that I would say is that yes, I started writing about it but there were others as well who contributed to it.

    Shekhar Gupta: And three Prime Ministers.

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Narasimha Rao, in a sense Rajiv Gandhi, but much more so Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. Both Vajpayee (Atal Bihari) and Brajesh Mishra also contributed.

    Shekhar Gupta: Now my second question, again looking ahead. You say Pakistan has been successful so far. Where do you see Pakistan with this strategy, five years or ten years from now?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: They’re playing with a venomous snake. And there is no doubt about it that one of these days, the snake is going to bite them. And the Pakistanis are going to pay a high price, when the various jihadi organisations are going to turn on the Pakistani state and the Pakistani army. One of them has already—the Pakistani Taliban. But it is only a question of time when others also do.

    Shekhar Gupta: My third and last question. If you read accounts of Nehru’s conversations with Eisenhower, in one of those, Eisenhower is very worried about what the Chinese are doing in Korea...the Chinese have taken prisoners and he’s very angry about that. And Nehru makes a very interesting and prescient statement—he tells him not to be neurotic about communism. He says that the seeds of destruction lie within the ideology of communism. But for Nehru to say that in the early ‘50s was prescient.

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: In a sense, Nehru was prescient. Nehru started cultivating the Soviet Union mainly because even in the early ‘50s, he saw that the Soviet Union and China will not get along with each other and therefore, if we have to have security vis-a-vis China, we had to cultivate the Soviet Union.

    Shekhar Gupta: So Nehru was not an ideological fool?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: Nehru was perhaps one of the most pragmatic and realist politicians.

    Shekhar Gupta: So, when there is conversation today between Dr Singh and Obama, what tone do you see it taking? Do you see some of the same conversation happening, although Obama is different from Eisenhower and Dr Singh is different from Nehru?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: I don’t think Obama has to be convinced that he’s facing a Chinese challenge. Of course, he himself has called Pakistan a state afflicted with cancer. And therefore, he doesn’t have to be convinced that he’s facing these challenges. The point is that they have got to devise ways and means of how to respond to these challenges. That will be the job before them.

    Shekhar Gupta: And if you see Bob Woodward’s latest book, does it look like he has it in him?

    Dr K Subrahmanyam: I am very positive about Obama. I think he’s a highly intellectual person and he can think through problems.

    Shekhar Gupta: I can see that you’re optimistic. And I can see that you’re optimistic not just five years ahead but 10 years ahead, so hopefully we’ll have more conversations as we go ahead and hopefully everybody will still be getting wisdom from you. And as usual, following you. For 50 years, nobody in this country has been able to stay ahead of you and may it remain like that.

    Transcribed by Ayushi Saxena
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Mr Obama, do you have real business to talk with us?

    DNA / R Vaidyanathan / Tuesday, October 26, 2010 3:10 IST
    The next two weeks will be full of atmospherics and inanities linked to the visit of US president Barack Obama. Indians are known to derive satisfaction from symbolism rather than substance. When Diwali was supposedly celebrated by George Bush’s White House — a celebration in which the US president did not participate — we went into raptures. When Rajan Zed of Nevada was called to chant Vedic hymns at a Congressional opening, we were ecstatic. Similarly, when Obama visits India next month, we will drool over Michelle buying Kanjeevaram sarees or Obama savouring a paratha at a Delhi dhaba — or some such meaningless events. There is a move to take Michelle to the Red Light areas of Mumbai to get a feel of “inclusive” growth. Imagine Gursharan Kaur being paraded in Soho in London as part of her itinerary. Sikhs are pleading with Obama to visit the Golden Temple, even if he merely wears a baseball cap to cover his head.
    This is how we barter away our self-respect, even as our civil aviation minister Praful Patel is charged a hefty free (£480) for using the lounge at Heathrow airport. Our high commissioner in London had to hurriedly pay for it. In India, even head clerks and deputy assistant undersecretaries of the Anglo-Saxon establishments command red carpet treatment and free VVIP lounges at airports. When Obama arrives, he is going to come as a wounded tiger from a declining empire. His party of change would, by then, have lost its last dime in the Congressional elections to be held on November 2. He could well end up as a one-term president. When American presidents are hurt at home, they try to show off abroad. Nixon made his China trip when his fortunes were going downhill back home. Clinton did mischief in J&K and Bush in Iraq.
    Democratic presidents come across as more sanctimonious humbugs and self-righteous compared to Republicans. The latter just bother about business; the former want to be seen as backing causes like human rights — as long as it is done abroad.What should our agenda be with Obama? First, we should ask him to remove every Indian entity which is on the banned export list of the US. Second, if he even mentions Kashmir, we should request him to carry on to Indonesia — his next stop. We should recognise Bangladesh as the successor country to a united Pakistan because of its size and the number of members in it had in parliament before the break-up. If at all anyone has a say in Kashmir, Bangladesh as the successor entity has a more legitimate case, Obama should be told.
    Third, we should insist on the need to split Pakistan into many more countries in the interests of world peace. Pakistan’s army is the world’s terror central and a constant threat to world peace. The David Headley saga reveals that US intelligence and enforcement agencies such as the FBI, CIA and DEA have been infiltrated and compromised by the Pakistani ISI and its creations like the LeT. The billions given to appease Pakistan will not help world peace and it will only increase global terror. Hillary Clinton says her heart is in Pakistan and one wishes her a hale and healthy heart. We should remember that her husband, through Robin Raphael, was instrumental in creating the Hurriyat in the Kashmir Valley.
    The fourth point is that India should not bother with the talk-shop called the UN Security Council. It has lost its purpose and role. It helps some Indian government bureaucrats to have untaxed pensions. The only important member is China and we can deal with it directly. Becoming a permanent member of the UNSC is not exactly a big payoff for us. Many UN agencies are a joke. What is one to make of the fact that Saudi Arabia and Libya are on the human rights panels, and Pakistan is heading the International Atomic Energy Agency (no doubt, by rotation), after proliferating nuclear weapons and sponsoring terror.
    The fifth point we need to tell Obama is that India will not look at China through the US’s lenses. We will deal with China on our terms. We have no need to play sidekick to the US when it deals with China. A British political leader during World War II is reported to have said that Britain would fight the Germans to the last Indian. We do not want to be in the same situation with regard to US-China conflicts.The sixth point is that any enlarged scope for US companies to do business in India should be linked to India getting unrestricted access to the US markets for onshore and offshore software services, including visas for our professionals. Every additional Coke bottle consumed in India or insurance policy sold should be dependent on how the US puts Pakistan on leash. We need to unashamedly and unequivocally link commerce with US pressure on Pakistan on terrorism.
    Declining empires do listen to rising powers if they want market access. We need to ask Obama to address our real concerns instead of getting carried away with all the soft praise he may shower on us. We have to grow up.
  5. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Land of the GODS - "Dev Bhomi".
    tell you what prof vaidyanathan has chosen a wrong career by joining IIMs, if he can say as much in the most diplomatic manner as possible then he should have taken to foreign services. would rate it second to Mr Sibal's article, which i thought was very well composed and covered most of our concern areas. this article is as blunt as it gets and to the point!
  6. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Aug 25, 2010
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    What a wonderful article...took the words right out of my mouth.

    Make R Vaidyanathan pm of our country.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  7. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

    Mar 31, 2010
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    Bangalore, India
    Straight-forward and a real piece of talk. Nice article.
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Headley: Fly in the ointment

    India-US: The Headley fly-in-the-ointment

    Rajiv Singh
    28 October 2010

    Suspicion has been gaining ground for quite some time now in India that the so-called 'defining relationship of the 21st century' that the United States likes to tom-tom in respect to its relationship with India is in reality nothing more than word-play designed to keep India subservient to over-riding US concerns in the Indian sub-continental region.

    Nothing confirms this suspicion more strongly that a small matter related to a certain US double agent called Daood Syed Gilani, aka David Coleman Headley.

    Less than a fortnight before US president Barack Obama visits India, Indian home secretary GK Pillai has once again asserted that Washington never shared specific information regarding Headley with India.

    Had the US passed on information regarding him, Pillai said, he would have been arrested during any of his nine visits to India between 2006 and 2009, and the 26 / 11 terror attacks could have been averted.

    Pillai said India was "disappointed" with the US action.

    Headley visited India eight times before 26 November 2008 and even visited again in March 2009. His were reconnaissance missions for the 26 / 11 attack and in the course of these visits he made videos of 50 targets for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

    Gilani, aka Headley, was finally picked up by US authorities on 3 October 2009 even as he was readying to leave for Europe on a visit to line up attacks over there. Apparently, attacks against India are alright in US eyes but those against Europe have to be acted upon with alacrity.

    Ever since two of Headley's ex-wives let it be known recently that they had - independent of each other - explicitly warned US authorities of Gilani's links with terror outfits and other shady individuals but their concerns had been cold-shouldered, US authorities in Washington and in India have been indulging in considerable amount of verbal acrobatics trying to explain away the embarrassing fact that they deliberately kept information about Gilani away from India so that their own operation of keeping tabs on terror outfits and Pakistan through Gilani was not jeopardised .

    According to US media reports, Headley's American wife had tipped the FBI in New York about his LeT links in 2005 while his young Moroccan wife had told authorities in the US embassy in Islamabad, less than a year before the 2008 Mumbai attacks, that he was plotting a terror strike.

    With president Barack Obama's state visit to India looming large on the horizon, US authorities, particularly the ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer, are now making energetic efforts to dispel the notion that the 'defining relationship of the 21st century' is nothing more than the proverbial hot air and gas.

    As is their wont, US authorities have been on a media offensive trying to build-up the impending presidential visit. The problem is that unlike other times, or unlike the Delhi establishment which is trying desperately hard to prop up its US initiative, the Indian media is increasingly sceptical of American assertions. Invariably, ambassador Roemer gets stuck with questions about Headley and, invariably, he makes assertions that hold the potential to embarrass Delhi.

    The problem is that if the US assertion, that it had indeed warned Delhi about Gilani, aka Headley, is correct then Delhi has to explain what it was doing allowing this man to travel around the country – not just prior to the Mumbai 26/11 attack- but also after the attack in March 2009?

    On Wednesday Roemer asserted, "The US shared intelligence on a regular and consistent basis with the government of India prior to the Mumbai attacks."

    Reacting to Pillai's statement, he also said ''...the US had shared information with the government of India after the Mumbai attacks."

    To make his stand more credible Roemer has pointed out that the US had warned India thrice before the 26/11 attacks.

    Indian Intelligence sources have responded that these three alerts were about an impending attack by the LeT on the Taj and Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai but that these alerts never mentioned Headley. Indian intelligence issued alerts 19 May 2008 and then again on 7 and 9 August 2008, based on American intelligence tip-offs, but not one word was mentioned about Headley.

    Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao also asserted last week that India received nothing more than very general, non-specific information on such warnings and threats.

    "In the last few months, once Headley case surfaced, we have had interactions and exchanges with the American authorities into investigations. Before 26/11, we did not have anything more than very general, non-specific information on these warnings and threats," she said.

    Skirting Indian specifics on Headley's trips to India the US ambassador has now taken recourse to pointing out that the US decision to allow India access to Headley in an American federal prison in Chicago was an example of the level of cooperation it was willing to extend.

    "When India asked America for access to Headley, we gave it," he said. "India is our strategic partner and our friend and somebody with whom we share intelligence on regular and consistent basis. So, India could sit down with Headley and ask him what happened prior to Mumbai...We are not afraid what he will say. In fact, we provided that opportunity to India to ask anything they want."

    Contradicting this assertion Indian intelligence sources point out that Headley was given access to the Indian interrogation team from 3-9 June 2010 only in the presence of Headley's counsels, FBI prosecutors and FBI officials. No audio and video recording was allowed.

    If, as Roemer claims, the US was not afraid about what Headley would disclose to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) team from India then why did FBI officials remain present during NIA's 34-hour interrogation session with him spread over six days between 3-9 June?

    The net result of this deliberate ploy to ensure that Headley did not speak more than was strictly necessary, NIA's interrogation did not even touch upon his alleged links with US agencies or his previous involvement with crime in the US and its aftermath when he got recruited as a double agent by the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

    Government sources now reveal that NIA officials had to laboriously write down the entire interrogation. The question naturally arises why no audio or video recording of the interrogation was allowed? Obviously since the interrogation report has been drawn up from notes taken down in writing by NIA officials it has no legal sanctity in a court of law and can be easily rejected by Pakistan.

    The American ploy actually makes the Pakistan establishment safe as a number of Pakistan Army officers were mentioned by Headley. India was also allowed access to Headley only after he entered into a plea bargain with the US Justice Department which rules out any scope for his extradition.

    Roemer also likes to point out that as a member of the US 9/11 Commission which investigated the synchronised terror attacks on various American targets by al-Qaeda in September 2001 he too was denied access to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the accused and the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

    In the light of the Headley experience we should not have too much problem in addressing this particular conundrum – like Headley, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed too may have been a double agent and it would have been just too much for the Americans to allow this fact to come to light. :mrgreen:

    The 9/11 Commission was a public body after all, whose report was meant to be made public. Just imagine the impact of the revelation that the mastermind of 9/11 was a CIA agent! :mrgreen:

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