Alienating India

India has long been regarded as an American ally but a series of missteps by the United States may be driving a strategic American partner directly into China’s embrace. One sign of that comes from India’s ministry of defense, which released its annual report last week. Cloaked in bureaucratic language is the highly significant revelation that relations between India and China have “generally progressed well in the last year based on their strategic and cooperative partnership” and that “there has been a convergence of views and actions on various issues of international fora.” This is bad news for the United States, but an outcome largely of its own making. Washington has needlessly provoked India on a vital issue, pushing New Delhi towards Beijing.

The American blunder has come over climate change policy at the United Nations, and reached its peak at the Copenhagen conference last December. Meeting in Beijing November 29, officials from Brazil, South Africa, India and China (known as BASIC), and Sudan (chair of the Group of 77 developing countries) drafted a joint document with four “non-negotiable” elements that would guide their behavior in Copenhagen. They would never accept legally binding greenhouse gas emissions cuts, mitigation actions that are not paid for by the developed countries, international (foreign) measurement of their mitigation actions, nor the use of climate change as a trade barrier by the developed countries. Having protected their economies from outside pressure, they would then insist that legally binding restrictions be imposed on the developed countries. As Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh stated, “BASIC countries are basic reality.

The BASIC-Group of 77 bloc deadlocked the UN conference, as the U.S. insisted that no agreement was possible without some mandates being imposed on all parties. As the summit neared its end, President Barack Obama barged into a private meeting between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and demanded a compromise be reached. The resulting Accord did not impose mandates on any country, and thus should have diffused the confrontation. But the UN process continues, officially still based on conflict between the developed and developing nations over who will be required to make cuts. The next negotiating session is scheduled for April 9-11 in Bonn, Germany. It is likely two additional sessions will be scheduled before December when another large Copenhagen-style meeting is set for Cancun, Mexico.

If the Obama administration renews its push to impose mandatory emission controls on India and the other developing countries, it will push New Delhi even closer to Beijing. India understands that UN controls would be devastating to its economy, and its scientists are very skeptical about the entire climate change issue (as they should be). Washington must understand India’s position and back off, so the two countries can better cooperate on the much more important strategic interests which they share.

India and China may be allies at the UN, but they are rivals in Asia. The Indian ministry of defense report notes, “India also remains conscious and alert about the implications of China’s military modernisation….Rapid infrastructure development in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Xinjiang province has considerably upgraded China’s military Force projection capability and strategic operational flexibility.” The MoD says that, “Necessary steps have been initiated for the upgradation of our infrastructure and force structuring …along the northern borders.” Tibet is a sour spot between India and China, as it has become between the U.S. and China. Beijing declared that relations with Washington have been “severely undermined” by the February meeting between President Obama and the Dalia Lama.

Tibet has historical and cultural links to India which have been severed by China’s occupation. India moved 60,000 additional troops to the border last summer, a deployment condemned by Beijing. An editorial in the Communist Party’s publication Global Times stated, “The tough posture Singh’s new government has taken may win some applause among India’s domestic nationalists. But it is dangerous if it is based on a false anticipation that China will cave in.” The editorial went on in a very harsh tone,

India is frustrated that China’s rise has captured much of the world’s attention. Proud of its “advanced political system,” India feels superior to China. However, it faces a disappointing domestic situation which is unstable compared with China’s.

India likes to brag about its sustainable development, but worries that it is being left behind by China. China is seen in India as both a potential threat and a competitor to surpass.

But India can’t actually compete with China in a number of areas, like international influence, overall national power and economic scale. India apparently has not yet realized this.

The editorial also raised the specter of India joining with the United States and Japan in creating a “ring around China.” It is just such an alliance of Asian democracies that should be the objective of American diplomacy.

Washington and New Delhi also have a common interest in defeating Islamic radicalism. The MoD reported favorably the deployment of more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, stating that “the security and stability of Afghanistan is critical to India’s own security concerns.” The use of Pakistan as a sanctuary for Islamic terrorist has been a concern of India since long before 9/11 because of attacks in Kashmir. A government in Islamabad that sees Islamic terror as a threat to its own security, rather than an opportunity to conduct proxy wars against its neighbors, is in both U.S. and Indian interests.

The MoD report says “all parameters of proxy war are at an all time low and the current situation indicated a shift towards normalcy and peace.” This is to a large extent due to American influence on Pakistan. The problem has not gone away completely, however, as the MoD notes, “The continued infiltrations across the LoC [Line of Control] and the existence of terrorist camps across the India-Pak border however, demonstrate the continuing ambivalence of Pakistan in its actions against terrorist organisations.”

American and Indian influence and pressure on Pakistan reinforces the efforts of both nations to keep a more moderate, democratic Islamabad focused on eradicating terrorist sanctuaries to avoid a wider war.

There is a China angle to this issue as well. Beijing has long counted Pakistan as an ally against India and has been happy to see tensions on India’s northwest frontier divert New Delhi’s military resources away from the Chinese front. Beijing continues to provide Pakistan with most of its armaments, including help with its missile and nuclear programs. The Chinese are completing a new deep-water port at Gwadar, where they have also helped to build a major new international airport. Beijing intends that the port will give their expanding navy access to the Indian Ocean and to the world’s key oil-shipping routes. The U.S. and India (as well as Japan) have a common strategic interest in preventing such an expansion of Chinese power.

A new year of UN negotiations on climate change should not be allowed to disrupt U.S.-Indian relations. The Accord reached last year was the best of all possible outcomes in what has been a fatally flawed process. The Accord should be interpreted as acknowledgement that all nations have the right to pursue economic and environmental policies in their own interests. It should be seen as the end of the UN madness about climate as a zero sum game of international conflict. Moving forward, the U.S. should build on its agreement with India to cooperate in the expansion of nuclear power on the subcontinent. This is a positive program that supports growth while also minimizing green house gas emissions for those who are concerned about such things.

Climate change is a chimera that can only detract from the real factors that will govern the balance of power in Asia and thus the evolution of international politics. Handing China an issue with which it can unite the developing world against the United States has been a mistake of the first order that must be put to an end.

  • gupta

    It has been widely suspected that India is behind the latest series of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Using whatever suit to disrupt its neighbours is India's national interest, so it can dominate the south asia.

    • Nikhil

      Pakistan is suspicious of everyone at some point or other – India, Israel, US, UK, Blackwater, Xe and the list will go on. Never has it dawned upon in Pakistan that the morons behind terrorist attacks are home grown.

    • Urja

      Hey gupta, you are not a real gupta that you are implying, you are a Muslim from Pakistan or India and consequently delusional about Talibani attacks in Pakistan and blaming it on India .

      In another post you claim India is not a peaceful country but you think Pakistan and China are!!! Amazing!!! Take a deep breath and face the reality and truth about Pakistan and Islam instead of blaming India for your problems. The monster Taliban that Zia created with the help of USA is wreaking havoc in your Pakistan. You reap what you sow!!!

    • guest

      bullshit. …india does not operate this way. if it did they would have never allowed pakistan to secede from india

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PSeq9kmfbs HumanRights

      India is not democracy. Democracy and genocide do not go together. While the EU and the West pushing for war crimes charges against Sri-Lanka, India is protecting sri-Lanka, cuz India is involved in the mass massacre in Sri-Lanka as well. India is also supporting other human rights violates like Sudan and Iran, which make India natural ally of China than a friend of the US. True democracy exists in the West and Europe, What is in India is hardly a democracy.

  • logdon

    Gupta

    So Mumbai was a false flag operation orchestrated by India to kill it's own citizens?

    Islam never accepts responsibility, it's always the 'other' whether the 'Great Satan', Israel, the West or in this case, India.

    This is precisely how these dictators deflect and project the abject poverty and lack of progress in their own countries onto someone else.

    Without those eternal scapegoats, the infidel and Jews the anger would internalise and that wouldn't do at all.

    Until Muslims realise that it's their very own systems of governance of either dictatorship or theocracy (or an opportunistic blending of the two) they will remain in the backwaters of civilisation.

  • Ben Gee

    China has cut its military growth to 7.5% for the current year to show that China is NOT trying to compete with the US for military supremacy. China spend less than 2% of its GNP on defence. That is smaller than both the US or India. Unlike the former USSR, China did not make an attempt to match the US because such an attempt will bankrupt China. China want to concentrate its effort in economic development. If India do the same, it will have the same result. With the exception of India and Japan, China had settled border disputes with China's 8 other neighbors including Russia and Veitnam which had borber clashes with China in the past.

    • gupta

      You know why India is not a peaceful country as its people claim? The fact that it has not settled down any border issues with most of its neighbours, and fought several wars here and there, nail down the fact that India isinstead an aggressive country. Sometimes it is understandable countries like US, China intervenes another country's business, because they are strong enough. India, a poverty stricken country, trying to do the same thing, only proves that it is trying to mess things up.

      • Democracy First

        India is a democracy, with rule of law. It is a good guy.

        Democracies only involve themselves in another's nation's busin ess when a) the other nation is not a democracy and the government therefore does not represent the people, but rules them, and b) the same government that rules without legitimacy over its nation's people creates threats against said democracies.

        Illegitimate governments are a problem for us all.

        Pakistan is a borderline democracy. Its democratic instituions are weak. Islamists within undermine the strengthening of these institutions. They also pick conflicts with India and, as Islamists are wont to be, act with irrational fear of democratic India. Believing that they, these Islamists, have a right to rule the world, means they see India as an obstacle to that goal. They resent having lost power there. Combine Islamist resentment with Islamist paranoia, and we get the picture of Indian-pakastani relations.

        • guest

          India may be a democracy in name but in practise it is not. Re: Maoist rebels that are running rampant in large portions of your country. Obviously those groups feel disenfranchised and not represented. I don't know much about the Sikhs, Moslems and Untouchables in India but I suspect large swathes of those minoriities feel the same way. I won't even go into the treatment of Christians. It's comforting to think that if you're a democracy then you have a better society than those countries that do not but I don't think having that is enough.

          One needs EFFECTIVE representative government. That may be different from being a democracy – look at the U.S. That country can't get an effective global warming policy on tap because of special interests in Congress and Senate. Until recently heath care was being denied to ordinary U.S. citizens because of a different set of special interests

      • guest

        you need to get a reality check. you are delusional and definitely a moslem yourself that you cannot ever face the truth or history even

  • DELORES BURNETT

    HOW STUPID CAN THIS ADMINISTRATION AND ALL THEIR COHORTS BE TO KEEP ON DOING STUPID THINGS? THIS ADMINISTRATION IS SICK IN THE HEAD. THEY ARE DIGGING DITCHES THAT WILL CAVE IN ON OUR NATION AT THE RATE THEY ARE GOING. LETS HOPE THEY LEAVE ISRAEL ALONE AS THEY ARE THE BEST ALLY WE HAVE AND IF YOU READ THE SCRIPTURE YOU WOULD FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS TO COUNTRIES WHO TURN THEIR BACK ON ISRAEL. POLITICIANS NEED TO BE EDUCATED FOR THEY SEEM TO HAVE LOST THEIR SENSES JUST FROM WHAT I HAVE SEEN SINCE THIS ELECTION IT SHOWS A DOWNHILL SLOPE. BUT HISTORY WILL BE MADE EVEN BY STUPID PEOPLE AND THERE WON'T BE ANY BLAMING EXCEPT FOR BLAMING THEMSELVES. TOO BAD WE THE PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO BEAR THE BURDEN OF THEIR STUPIDITY

  • Democracy First

    No doubt Obama has, as intended, made the US somewhat less unpopular with dictators, authoritarians, and non democrats. In other words, appeasement has earned a touch of good will amongst America's innate enemies. Meanwhile, America's innate allies, fellow democracies, are catching on to Obama's antipathy at worst, neutrality at best, towards them. Hence, Britain – to whom a Churchill bust was uncerimoniously returned, Poland and the Czech Republic – who had their agreement for a US supplied anti-Russian missile shield withdrawn, Columbia – which watches Obama make nice with Venezuela's Chavez as he undermines their democracy, Canada – which watches a visiting Hillary talk down to the government about Canadian policy re international funding for abortions, Honduras – experiencing the wrath of Obama for daring to uphold their democracy against a wannabe Chazez attempting to install himself dear leader for life, and others, are beginning to reciprocate that antipathy towards the American government.

    What will be Obama's excuse for making his country less popular than had Bush?

  • guest

    obama and his voters and supporters and masters whoever they may be are a stupid ignorant bunch bent on forcing the US into a path that is mostly suicidal and alienating to even a segment of his own voters. this man and his group dont know left from right and seem to be kissing up to the worst global cloud of fascists and terrorists ever whether islamic ones or leftist dictatorship and religious theocratic dictatorships and all manner of totalitarian states that have absolutely no freedoms nor even the possibilty or will to allow freedoms in their own countries. obumbler is ABUSING and decimating all possible allies, all the natural allies of the US and whether out of sheer narcissistic stupidity and ignorance or due to messianic delusions of grandiosity , this reverse bigot will end up weakening the US economically, militarily and ethically by abandoning to their fate all global prowestern allies such as the reformists of iran, the patriots of lebanon, the christians of iraq, the victims in sudan , the christians being slaughtered in nigeria ..etc .what a shame for the US to have failed ideologists at its helm. maybe even bill monica clinton was better than this, but then that fool bombed the serbs to please genocidal moslems and he was a foolish bumbler too. sorry ive been around a long time and seen tragic fatal american messing and bumbling due to ignorants like obama,baker, hamilton and a whole slew of leftists on the bench or in universities and state dept. it really stinks by our constitutions standards and values

  • Xiao ming

    It is good for both countries. Both of us need peaceful environment for development. The US of course does not want to see that happens. That is also understandable.

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