Saturday, June 06, 2009

Downgrade in Indo US relations

President Obama's unequivocal endorsement of the two-state solution of the Palestinian problem and his criticism of continued Israeli settlements in the occupied region were undoubtedly high points of his speech and they have rightly attracted attention. For us in India, another point is equally compelling: his suggestion that Israel must be drawn into the NPT before long. If the US is unwilling to make an exception in the case of its staunchest ally, we must wonder where that leaves the Indo-US nuclear deal and the special dispensation it creates for India.

Expect Obama to focus on the NPT as well as the fissile material cut-off treaty. The signs are clear enough: the Obama administration does not attach quite the same importance to India as a 'strategic partner' as President Bush did. Chances are we will be pushed back into sub-continental status with a possible re-hyphenation with Pakistan. Earlier, Hilary Clinton's visit to China signalled that the US sees China as its principal partner in the conduct of international affairs, a view that appears to be getting reinforced with Treasury secretary Tim Geithner's recent visit to China.

The signals coming out from US moves in Pakistan reinforce this view. Relative silence on the release of Saeez Hafeez; a massive aid package for Pakistan in order to reinforce its war against the Taliban; Pakistan upping the ante on Kashmir. The unkindest cut of all: the US state department advisory to American nationals against travelling to India.

In his election speeches, Obama had made references to Kashmir that were not exactly music to our ears. It does appear that he sees the resolution of the Kashmir issue as an important item in his agenda, next only to the Palestinian problem, although he chose to omit any reference to Kashmir in his Cairo speech. The signs are that the US is willing to allow Pakistan to bring Kashmir to the top of the table in return on Pakistani cooperation on Afghanistan and the Taliban.

This must inevitably mean more firing across the LOC and greater infiltration into Kashmir and into India generally in the coming months. This may sound terribly grim but the US advisory does seem to point to an increase in terrorist activity in India in the months ahead. We have been patting ourselves on the back on the improved domestic outlook with the installation of the a stable government at the centre. Not to spoil the party, but it appears the domestic pluses may come to be outweighed by the minuses on the external front.


K.R.Srivarahan said...

Historically, Indo-US relations have been more fruitful (from India's point of view) when the US president is a Republican. Perhaps the Democrats view India as a tame country that can be taken for granted.The consistent inability of Indian government to convince the US about the dangerous repercussions of partnering with Pakistan is unfortunate.Non-compliance with the UN resolutions regarding the future of J & K is India's Achilles' heel. Some bold and creative decisions by Indian government coupled with relentless caution against terrorism from across the border are sorely needed.

zuko said...

India's position in the world scenario has changed drastically in the last two decades from being a listener to becoming a heard voice.
At the same time, the USA has definitely lost some weight as the King of the world, mostly due to the deepening ties of global trade and sustained growth of developing economies like China, India, Brazil, Russia, Vietnam , Mexico etc.

In the light of the above two facts, I see Mr Obama's steps as a guileful measure to restore America's supremacy in the world by doing what they have done for ages, creating allies and enemies at the same time.
USA aligning with China is more of a necessary move rather than a diplomatic one, as the two economies are so heavily inter-dependent now, that any signs of American recovery must carry a Chinese stamp.
Neither India nor Pakistan nor the USA nor the world wants another taliban, and the stimulus package to Pakistan is again not a gift but a lifeline for survival. It's better for India to have a USA backed Pakistan, vociferous, yet under control, rather than to have a Talibanistic Pakistan, a threat to the very existence of peace and prosperity in South East Asia.

As far as India and USA are concerned, India, in spite of the latest rounds of rhetoric by Mr Obama, looks to gain more than to loose. I think we had a great bargain with Mr Bush, and I see no reason why Mr Obama won't yield either, it's just about the price we are ready to pay.

The world is changing at such a drastic pace today, that even the USA aint sure it will be the force it is today, three decades down the line. India, will only improve from here.

Only time will tell how good Mr Obama will be for us, for the moment, he aint making a good salesman.

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