Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tough descent from giddy heights

Tough descent from giddy heights...
By M K Bhadrakumar

Summit meetings are choreographed events. Like Sisyphus, the "sherpas" tirelessly push the boulder up the hill except that, unlike him, they willy-nilly ensure the boulder doesn't roll down the slopes - at least until their political masters descend and walk away from danger.

Summit meetings never end in failure. United States President Barack MOSSAD/CIA Obama's three-day visit to India (November 6-8) followed the script. On a score sheet of 10, it stood near-perfect at nine in its delicate balancing of the two countries' interests.

Obama introduced a new mantra - "India is not simply emerging; India has already emerged". He said he believed in US-India ties as "one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century", and insisted US interests in the contemporary world are best advanced in partnership with India.That was heady stuff.

But sobering thoughts kept crossing the Indian mind. A few hours before Obama eloquently spoke, he had a photo-op with Delhi's slum children. He constantly underscored he was conscious of the "real India"....a US/ISRAELI Pawn....

Obama's visit was indeed of multiple shades. The US is a diminished power today, albeit still a superpower. The Indians could recognize that Obama's prime concern was to see how US business interests could be promoted in the Indian market. The Indian economy, with a growth potential at around 9% annually, gives Delhi the leverage to build a diversified foreign policy. As an emerging power, India is at a crossroads and has choices to make. Besides, India has specific concerns and interests with regard to its neighborhood which the US cannot share and often fails to comprehend.

The calculus stood out in a pithy sentence in the India-US joint statement: "President Obama welcomed India's decision to purchase US high-technology defense items, which reflects our strengthening bilateral defense relations and will contribute to creating jobs in the United States." Seldom do "strategic ties" get described in such "de-ideologized" terms.

Obama neatly added up that the business deals concluded during his visit would create close to 75,000 new jobs in the US. The Indian order for C-17 military transport aircraft from the US was worth $10 billion and would create 22,000 jobs alone.

A carrot at the high table
From the Indian perspective, the three highlights of Obama's visit were: endorsement of India's claim to permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council; the intention to remove restrictions on cooperation with India in the high-tech sectors; and support for India's admission as full member of the existing international technology control regimes. The Indian sherpas did a good job.

The US endorsement of India's bid to join the select UN club undoubtedly energizes Delhi's campaign on the issue. However, the Indian establishment estimates it will take a while before India sits permanently at the high table.

True, there is awareness in the world community that the Security Council needs to change, but it is a long haul to propel this consensus view toward practical action. It is not in the interest of the current permanent five members to dilute the exclusivity of their club, nor is there a consensus on what a reformed UN system ought to be.

Meanwhile, the US may have given to the Indians a "feel-good" gift that doesn't cost it anything. US Undersecretary of State William Burns admitted, "This is bound to be a very difficult process, and it's bound to take a significant amount of time." The gestation period may turn out to be not a bad thing for the US.

Obama gently reminded the Indian establishment that "with increased power comes increased responsibility". Washington will closely monitor how Indian diplomats behave during the two-year probation period ahead starting from January, when they occupy a rotating non-permanent "Asian" seat on the Security Council. Obama testily flagged Myanmar and Iran as the litmus test and taunted Delhi: "India has often avoided these issues."

The joint statement singled out East Asia, Central Asia and West Asia as regions over which the US is keen to "deepen", "expand" and "intensify" its "strategic consultations" with India in the coming period. The subtexts are obvious - China's rise, US' Greater Central Asia strategy and its containment strategy toward Iran. Can India harmonize with the US on these issues?

In this context, the US-India defense cooperation assumes importance. The joint statement underlined that the growing defense cooperation "strengthened mutual understanding on regional peace and stability" and announced that the two countries will take mutual steps to expand cooperation in the civil space, defense and other high-technology areas. From the US side, these steps involve removing the remaining restrictions on dual-use technology flow to India. It has been a longstanding Indian demand.

An embrace reserved for allies
To be sure, if the door finally opens for the US military-industrial complex to enter the great Indian arms bazaar, the US will emerge as India's top major arms supplier and that can impact on the pace and direction of modernization of Indian armed forces and India's military balance vis-a-vis China and Pakistan.

But this isn't a "bazaari" matter alone. The US virtually promises to equate India to the level of an ally - without being one - by offering to remove restrictions on transfer of its advanced military technology, especially those connected with the space and missile development. Delhi will weigh how promises translate into actions without strings attached.

Alongside comes the US decision to support India's membership in the four multilateral export control regimes for high technology - Nuclear Suppliers' Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement - "in a phased manner" with Washington encouraging the "evolution of regime membership criteria" for India's admission.

This enables India to transcend the legal confines of its anomalous position as a non-signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to access dual-use goods and technologies. In essence, it accords India a parallel status equivalent to the five nuclear weapon states (recognized by the NPT) and carries forward the core impulses of the India-US civil nuclear agreement of 2008 to their logical conclusion.

Choices to be made
Obama's visit to India formed part of his current Asian tour underlining that the US is determined to "once again playing a leadership role in Asia", as the US president put it. He singled out the templates of US regional policy: a) "strengthening old alliances"; b) "deepening relationships, as we are doing with China"; c) and, "re-engaging" with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He told the Indian leadership: "Like your neighbors in Southeast Asia, we want India to not only 'look East', we want India to 'engage East' - because it will increase the security and prosperity of all our nations." Obama seemed to imply India is not forthcoming enough in the US' strategies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The US's principal engagement in Asia continues to be China. The US hopes to use India as a hedge against China. The big question is: are there takers in Delhi for such a role?

India militates against the very suggestion of being led by others' rules of the game. Indeed, a lot of churning of ideas is going on. Despite Obama's exhortations regarding India's role in the Group of 20 or with regard to climate change and the Doha Round, Delhi kept its cards close to its chest as to where its interests lie as an emerging power.

Within hours of Obama's departure, a top Indian official sharply rejected his suggestion that Delhi should change course on Myanmar and Iran and made it clear India won't take lessons from Washington but would pursue its own interests.

Again, there is much political symbolism that Delhi scheduled through November-December as many as four meetings for the Indian prime minister with the Chinese leadership. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to Delhi in December promises to be a defining event for Sino-Indian normalization. Ahead of that, special representatives of the two countries will meet to discuss the border dispute.

The shadows of the US's AfPak strategy can only lengthen in the coming period. True, the joint statement calls on the Pakistani government to close down terrorist havens and bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai/CIA/MOSSAD terror strikes to justice and also speaks of the commitment of the US and India to "intensify consultation, cooperation and coordination to promote a stable, democratic prosperous and independent Afghanistan" and on undertaking joint projects in "capacity building" for Afghans.

However, the stark reality is that the US is entangled in AfPak and cannot cross the Pakistani generals or rein in "terror-induced coercion" in the Pakistani policies toward India - to use Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's words.

Obama's one-sided advice to the Indian leadership to engage Pakistan in dialogue and the careful distinction he made between the Pakistani government and non-state actors who indulge in terrorism couldn't have gone down well in Delhi. Within hours of Obama's departure, the Indian army chief, General V K Singh, pointedly drew attention to ground realities. He said the "terrorist infrastructure" in Pakistan is very much intact and there are actually 42 training camps for terrorists operating at the moment.

Evidently, the sherpas did a good job, but most of what they achieved remains what a top official called "work in progress". The negotiations over the outcome of Obama's visit are set to begin....

Indian destabilization of Bangladesh.....aiming for Special Transit rights....

[The formula for destabilizing Bangladesh is the same formula that India uses in all its imaginary domain--"Islamists," false flag attacks, violent govt. acts of destabilization. All of this while Hindu leaders maintain their pleasant smiles and mild words. They seem to fit the mold of the classic psychopathic "passive/aggressive" types, who wait to stab you in the back until you are turning away....]