The New Indo-USA Partnership Poses Challenges
for the Future Us Administrationsby Dr. Adityanjee
The need for a tectonic paradigm shift in the US foreign policy establishment in order to nurture the increasingly important Indo-US economic, scientific, cultural and strategic relationship can not be ignored anymore. The US needs to take unilateral, tangible, concrete and quantifiable confidence building measures (CBMs) in order to reverse the repetitive past sanctions and correct the past wrongs done to a fellow democracy. Meeting these benchmarks will remove the fundamental irritants in the bilateral relationship and enable India to perceive the US as an equal, dependable and reliable strategic partner. US rhetoric must match the action on the ground. Acceptance of genuine reciprocity in bilateral relations will serve as the guiding principle for future.
There has been increasing warmth in Indo-US relations. America’s strategic opportunity with India has been talked about in recent months. Karl Inderfurth and Bruce Reidel advocated open US support for India’s membership in the UN Security Council and India’s inclusion in G8 in the “National Interest” magazine. High hopes and expectations for future were expressed by the charismatic and hardworking diplomat R. Nicholas Burns in Foreign Affairs magazine. In the same issue of Foreign Affairs republican presidential hopeful John McCain, while advocating for cementing US’s growing partnership with India, writes :”We need to start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India”. Similarly warm sentiments about India were expressed by the democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton who writes” In Asia, India has a special significance both as an emerging power and as the world’s most populous democracy. As co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, I recognize the tremendous opportunity presented by India’s rise and the need to give the country an augmented voice in regional and international institutions, such as the UN. We must find additional ways for Australia, India, Japan, and the United States to cooperate on issues of mutual concern, including combating terrorism, cooperating on global climate control, protecting global energy supplies, and deepening global economic development”. Richard Holbrooke has advocated India’s membership of UN P5 while also lamenting the absence of India and China in the G8 meetings. These recent sentiments were not possible if the 14-rounds Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott dialogue had not built an earlier foundation of mutual understanding. Policy Continuity plus (PC Plus) as proposed by Inderfurth & Reidel should be the cornerstone for the future US administrations.
Clearly, the mutual warmth in the bilateral Indo-US relations could not be better than any other time in the recent history. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had characterized the US and India as natural allies. Current Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh has described the US President George W. Bush as the friendliest US President to India. Credit for this bonhomie also goes to the scholarly Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the strategic Guru of the current US president, who was chiefly instrumental in changing the rigid, inflexible, orthodox and historically anti-India mindset of the US Department of State and in steering the White House’s thinking towards India in a positive direction. Undersecretary R. Nicholas Burns himself has worked very hard and has made numerous trips to India. He has always been optimistic about the future of Indo-US relationship. He is indeed right when he talks about the lost bilateral opportunities in the past 60 years and a bright potential for the future along with the immense need to do it right this time. Henry Kissinger admitted that he and others in the US never envisaged that the two countries will be so close. Despite this upbeat mood of the top executive branch of the US Administration, Congressional minions and the Foggy Bottom mandarins have laid down an elaborate “prescriptive plan making extremely narcissistic demands” on the Government of India to harmonize her national laws, foreign policies and strategic interests according to the foreign policy objectives and strategic vision of the US as enshrined in the Henry L. Hyde Act and the 123 agreement.
In this context, one recalls the famous words of a former US President John F. Kennedy who once said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”! The same aphorism aptly applies for the US policy czars, mandarins, and visionaries current and future included. Rather than US policy planners asking what India can do for the US global strategic interests, the more appropriate question is what the future US administrations would do for India. This would be an important out-of-the-box next step by the US in the avante garde strategic partnership in order to engage India “constructively”. A state department document somewhat patronizingly asserted that the US will assist India achieve a global power status in the 21st century. Nobody makes anybody a global power. Nations achieve that status on their own strength. Of course, India shall do so on her own strength in the near future. From the Indian perspective, the US rhetoric does not match its action in harmonizing US’s actual behavior with the ostensibly stated intent or the verbiage. The fundamental irritant in the bilateral relationship between the two fellow democracies is the repetitive use of wide-ranging sanctions against India by successive US administrations. That regime of still-existing sanctions will have to be completely dismantled by the US unilaterally without seeking anything in return from India. Therefore, a major tectonic paradigm shift is required in the US foreign policy establishment.
The steps for the mating dance Undersecretary Nicholas Burns asked India to learn are strategically inappropriate and potentially self-injurious for India. India might break her femur while dancing to Uncle’s Sam’s seductive music; the tunes, the lyrics and the whole ensemble, of course! Indian civil society perceives duplicity & doublespeak if not outright deception in some of these friendly US overtures. A camouflaged or sugarcoated policy of “Congagement” of India under the garb of engagement certainly will not work. Future US administrations should ask themselves important and pertinent questions like how the US government can change its own behavior and policy framework to accommodate a rising India’s national and strategic interests and democratic aspirations in a global framework that has essentially been decided by the successive US administrations following the 2nd World war. International strategic space can not be occupied indefinitely by the victors of the 2nd World war. US policy wonks should seriously calculate the total long-term costs to the US of “losing India” once again by failing to genuinely engage India in the 3rd millennium.
So far, US attempts to engage India have been ambivalent and half-hearted. US diplomats fail to understand India’s genuine national interests, aspirations and foreign policy and strategic concerns globally. India is not just another banana republic. India does have a proud history of 5000 years’ old civilization whereas in historic terms US is only a recent geo-political entity. True, US is the global “hyper-power” at this juncture! India is rising fast as a serious economic, industrial, intellectual, cultural, civilisational and strategic power-house in the international arena despite numerous mis-steps in the past 60 years. Train India Express cannot be stopped any longer despite laying out railroad blocks; the only real alternatives are to board the train or be left behind on the platform! In the current scenario, the US needs India more than India needs US. Of course, India does need the US in this era of globalization and free trade. India may have been coy or confused in the past about articulating her strategic interests. That situation is no longer likely to be true for a newly resurgent India. The strategic implications of this changing global balance of power dynamics cannot be minimized any longer by the future US Administrations as the world transforms from its current uni-polar moments to a newly emerging multi-polar reality.
It is important to recapitulate the historical antecedents of Indo-US relationship since 1947. The US generally tends to disregard history for short-term policy gains. Without understanding the historical context, proper corrective actions are impossible.
Missed Opportunities & Recent Snafus:
After India’s independence, the US as the imperialistic inheritor of the world order following the end of World War II tended to hurt India’s strategic interests by cultivating Pakistan as a client state. Part of the blame does lie at the doorstep of India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. Characterization of India’s non-alignment stance as “immoral” by John Foster Dulles epitomized the US mindset as essentially blocked with tunnel vision.
Besides the famous tilt to Pakistan, abusive language used by Nixon- Kissinger duo against a former female Indian Prime Minister and also “stereotyping” of Indians in private but taped conversations in the oval office betrays the contempt successive post WW II US administrations held India in. In the mid-eighties a young Indian Prime Minister visited the US. Bilateral agreements on scientific and technological collaboration were signed. The US under the leadership of President Ronald Reagan agreed to sell two Cray supercomputers to India for predicting Monsoon and other weather patterns. Only one Cray supercomputer was delivered; the US non-proliferation ayatollahs blocked the sale of second one forcing India to develop her own parallel processing PARAM supercomputer system.
The US Department of State has been particularly insensitive in the past about the need to engage India in a diplomatic, courteous and honorable manner. For example, Robin Raphael, the former Assistant Secretary of State in the first Clinton administration went on to deny the authenticity of the Instrument of Accession that was signed between the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir and the Government of India in 1947. She also made the notoriously disparaging statement that it is very easy to start a storm in a teacup in New Delhi! The same Robin Raphael is now on the payroll of the Pakistani Government as a paid lobbyist of Pakistan. One wonders how long she had been on the payroll of Government of Pakistan! Immediate and ungrudging US acceptance of the India’s position on the state of Jammu & Kashmir is the need of the hour. Most recent example of such lost opportunities caused by the US arrogance and chutzpah was the undiplomatic behavior of General Colin Powell who as the US Secretary of State visited New Delhi in 2004 and announced the “NSSP: Next Steps in Strategic Partnership” initiative. He was in Islamabad 24 hours later declaring Pakistan as the “Major Non-Nato Ally” (MNNA). Indian sensitivities were not considered. No prior consultations were done. This caused dismay and hurt in the Indian establishment. General Powell gave a lame excuse that he “forgot” to discuss MNNA with his Indian interlocutors just 24 hours before. Elementary my dear Watson, perhaps, this was a severe case of amnesia induced while one General was trying to be the knight in shining armor to rescue his General in distress!
Failure of the US to acknowledge till 9/11 that India is a victim of cross-border Jihadist terrorism from Pakistan remains a sore point for India. In the 1980s, the US covertly supported Khalistani terrorists under the garb of “Human rights” who had committed heinous crimes against innocent Indian civilians. Labeling terrorists as freedom fighters, the US lost any credibility with the civil society in India despite a strong fascination for the US by the burgeoning Indian middle class. The Wlliam Jefferson Clinton administration chose to remain silent in March 1999 when the two Bamiaan Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban. The US was trying to negotiate an oil pipeline with the Taliban at that time! When Pakistani Jihadist terrorists hijacked an Indian civilian airliner to Kandahaar, Afghanistan in December 1999 the US did not sanction or even admonish Pakistan or Taliban. Perpetual US reluctance to genuinely condemn the terrorist crimes against India over last several decades was the greatest diplomatic folly. Though some former US officials have acknowledged their mistakes now, there is no corrective policy change as yet.
Successive US administrations (Bush-41, Clinton, Bush-43) have scuttled any serious attempts to reform and expand the Security Council of the UN that would have enabled India to be one of the permanent members of the SC. For the US, the sole objective is to maintain its hold on the world body and not allow anyone else to have a say in world affairs. Except for making some vague noises on the principles of reform, the US has not come out categorically in India’s favor as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Inderfurth and Reidel advocate that future US administration should openly support India for the Security Council membership. US could have graciously supported India’s candidate Shashi Tharoor for the UN Secretary General’s position. Reportedly, the US secretly vetoed his candidature enabling Ban Ki Moon to win. Shashi Tharoor would have certainly made a far better UN SG than Ban Ki Moon. Ban ki Moon has been wasting the UN budget on a massive increase in personnel and on staff salaries instead of developmental programs. He has been accused of packing the UN posts with his South Korean cronies who keep on having side-talks in Korean instead of using official UN languages! US lost a golden chance to reform the UN along with a democratic partner, India and Shashi Tharoor as the SG. But alas! Chutzpah, thy name is US Department of State! The Bush administration again in October 2007 voted for the Canadian candidate instead of India’s Finance Minister, P Chidambaram to head the International Monetary Fund’s Monetary and Financial Committee — the IMF’s influential policymaking body. It was the second time in less than two years that the US had let down India. The US vote for Canada instead of India attracted concerns about cronyism.
Morality, Pragmatism and the Us Foreign Policy:
Lack of harmonization and congruence between the US foreign policy objectives and India’s stated positions is owing to Machiavellian tendencies. Such practices have blinded the US diplomats to India’s moralistic stance whether in the arena of the non-alignment movement, in the interests of the third world countries, in the GATT, in the WTO, in the NPT and its various avatars. Americans are fond of rationalizing their blind and irrational tactical and strategic support for tin-pot dictators and coup plotters world-wide by stating; “Well, he may be a son of a bitch but he is our son of a bitch”! This crass characterization of US self-interests alone as supreme in selectively supporting military dictators worldwide while chiding India for not being democratic enough represents the “Narcissistic Entitlement Syndrome” the whole US foreign policy establishment suffers from. The height of brazenness was reflected when a CIA inspired New York Times correspondent Barbara Crossett in the 1990s tried to sell her characterization of India as a “Rogue Democracy”. Being a democracy is not good enough! You have to be the “Right Democracy” on the right side of the US otherwise you would be labeled as a “Rogue Democracy”! A nation that cannot conduct its own presidential elections right and selects the presidents by judicial order has forfeited any rights to comment on India’s vibrant democracy!
It is unlikely that the US-India civil energy accord will be fully implemented in near future despite last minute efforts to revive it. The US Congress unfairly moved the goalposts. Undersecretary Burns has already submitted his resignation. Its slow death despite attempts to resuscitate is currently causing consternation in the US. The US establishment, including Ambassador David Mullford, is unable to fathom Indian concerns about this deal that is more about US non-proliferation objectives rather than tending to India’s growing energy needs. Something that was initially negotiated in good faith as civil energy accord can not be exploited to satisfy the unrealistic objectives of the US non-proliferation lobby. The alphabet soup (NPT, CTBT, FMCT, MTCR, PSI) that tends to drown India strategically has been cooked by the chef US in order to maintain the dated nature of the P5 club membership. The US tied itself into the knots by creating NSG as an instrument to contain India after the 1974 “Smiling Buddha” nuclear test. It is for the US to extricate itself by untying these knots. The world cannot be frozen into strategic status quo. When India under the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee conducted Pokhran II nuclear tests, the Clinton administration went on record to ask a fellow democracy India to CAP, ROLLBACK and eventually ELIMINATE her strategic nuclear assets. Let it be categorically stated that India shall not cap, rollback and eliminate her strategic nuclear program come what may! India values her strategic autonomy and independence. The only way out for the US and other members of the “nuclear club” is to realize and accept India’s exceptionalism; make amends to the NPT and welcome India as an advanced nuclear weapon state with full privileges and ‘rights” of the “club membership”. Any second class citizenship of the “club” would not be acceptable to future Governments of India. Unconditional and immediate acceptance of India as a de facto and de jure nuclear weapon state as defined by a revision of the NPT is called for. Short of that tectonic change in the US attitude, there is not going to be a nuclear spring. Any future Government of India that signs a bilateral or multilateral nuclear agreement restraining India’ strategic nuclear program will not survive the next elections. The only nuclear non-proliferation regime India will consider has to be time-bound totally non-discriminatory universal nuclear disarmament in accordance with the New Delhi Declaration of 1988 signed by the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and ex-Soviet leader Mikhael Gorbachev. Since both the Bush administration and the Man Mohan Singh government are lame ducks now, future elected officials will deal with the issue of nuclear rapprochement! It is an issue of very grave concern that Richard Boucher wants approval of the nuclear deal by stealth and by backdoor when he claims that a caretaker government of India or a minority government’s signing the nuclear accord would be “kosher” from the US perspective. This raises doubts about the indecent haste in trying to formalize and implement a bilateral accord by both governments on their last legs.
Securing Indian Subcontinent:
India is surrounded by countries that are either failed states or are on the path to become failed states. The inability of these failed states to sort out their internal problems generates neighbors’ envy and of course tendency to adopt a “victim” role and internationalize any minor problems. Overzealous US support for the now defunct Gujral Doctrine further emboldened some of these failed states to project their internal problems on to India. Some of these failed states have tried to play global power politics by inviting superpowers into the region to contain India’s economic, industrial and military rise. These failed states in the Indian subcontinent have historically played their China card or US card against India on numerous occasions. Rationalization of state sponsored cross-border terrorism directed against India by US diplomats in the pre 9/11 era is still fresh in the minds of Indian policy planners. Though India does not wish to become an authentic regional hegemon, she may have to bring order in this very chaotic region in her backyard owing to deep cultural, historical and civilizational ties along with the tyranny of geographic proximity. India cannot wish away these troubled neighbors even if she wished to do so. However, India cannot afford to have instability in her vicinity. From Indian perspective, these failed states need to undertake structural reforms, democratize genuinely and become prosperous so that terrorism can be eliminated from the region. India can and will help them.
A rising India would like both the US and China to stop trying to spread their influence country after country in the immediate vicinity of India. India would not condone alien superpowers if they invade India’s sacred strategic space. Near abroad region around India should remain free of the superpower rivalry between the US and China. Just like the US did not tolerate nuclear missiles in its backyard triggering the Cuban missiles crisis in the 1960s or the Russia currently having difficulty tolerating Poland and Czech territories as part of US’ Strategic Missile defense shield, India certainly would not wish to see a nuclear armed and unstable Bangladesh or a nuclear armed and unstable Myanmar joining the company of a nuclear armed and unstable Pakistan. India as an emergent global power would like to manage her own backyard and shall brook no interference from any quarters however benign. If the interference does not stop, a resurgent India may have to take appropriate pre-emptive, remedial steps so that Indian strategic interests in her neighborhood are not jeopardized. India certainly would not look for any one’s permission to do so and no one should be surprised if that happens in near future.
Historic Tilt towards Pakistan:
The soft underbelly of the US giant is the failed state of Pakistan and Jihadi Terrorism emanating from Pakistan. As we speak, the unraveling of recent events in Pakistan, murder of Benazir Bhutto and the continued US support to the failing dictatorship of General Musharraf reflects the intellectual bankruptcy of the Bush-43 foreign policy team. Robust support for serial military dictatorships in Pakistan has been the normative behavior of successive US administrations. The infamous tilt shown historically by US administrations towards Pakistan and directed against India’s strategic interests did affect the nature, quality and dimensions of Indo-US relations in the past 60 years. Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark in their recent book entitled “Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons” accuse the US Department of State of suffering from a severe case of “Clientitis” vis a vis Pakistan. Since 2001, the US has provided the terrorist state of Pakistan military aid worth 11 billion dollars without any results. You do not fight terrorism by providing Pakistani military machine with nuclear capable F16 fighter jets. The US policy on Pakistan can be summarized in one sentence:”Support the latest military dictator”! Nation states do make historical mistakes and reap the harvest of those mistakes. The now defunct Soviet Union did commit strategic mistakes and certainly paid for it. India also has committed strategic mistakes and has paid dearly for them. The same holds true for the only global “hyper-power”. George Santayana once said: “Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are condemned to repeat the history”. If the US has to come out of the Terroristic & Talibani quagmire of Jihadistan (the geographically contiguous region of Afghanistan, Waziristan & Pakistan), there is no other alternative for the US but to do a course correction after a deep introspection of its past thinking, theories, behaviors and actions. Accepting the past mistakes will certainly help the US in preventing it from emulating the Soviet fate in this region. Myanmar versus Pakistan, US concern for democracy in the Indian subcontinent is highly selective.
In the post-Cold war era de-hyphenating the relationship with India and Pakistan alone is not enough for the US. There has to be an exercise of deep national introspection on failed foreign policies of successive US administrations in relation to Pakistan. There has to be a public contrition by the US for the past sins along with promises of future actual, measurable good behaviors. There is a dire strategic need for the US Administration to bring out an un-sanitized, un-redacted and complete white paper on its entire gamut of relationships with Pakistan in totality since the inception of that state in 1947. A formal declaration by the US characterizing Pakistan and its chief financial backer, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as rogue states sponsoring terrorism will definitely help. The past sins of previous US Administrations can certainly “forgiven” by a magnanimous and an indulgent India but they cannot be “forgotten” altogether. Future “good as well as bad” behaviors of the US administrations are likely to be scrutinized very closely by the future Governments of India.
India, Us and China:
Since 1970 the US cultivated communist China as an ally to the horror of the entire democratic world. During the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, Nixon & Kissinger encouraged China to attack India. Later on, while India was targeted as an enemy nation by the 301 and the super 301 trade protection laws, China was granted most favored nation (MFN) status annually by the US Congress. China’s transfer of nuclear technology and bomb design to Pakistan in 1988-1989 did not evoke any US response from the George H. W. Bush administration. The horrors of the Tiananmen Square massacre did not cause outrage in the Bush-41 administration. The US missed an opportunity to leverage the international community in order to solve the problem of Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1989. Chinese transfer of Ballistic Missiles in the early 1990s to Pakistan did not elicit any sanctions from the William Jefferson Clinton Administration. Though the US honeymoon with China is now over, the US continues to allow communist China to buy nuclear reactors but sanctions a democratic India even now. Even now with China’s brutal repression in Tibet, the US has been waffling on any strong measures to censor China’s brazen conduct.
India does not wish to be used as a US proxy to contain China in the Asian theatre as India believes genuinely in the inevitability of a multi-polar world. A newly resurgent India will deal with China on her own steam. India does not need to ally with US against China as it certainly would not gang up against US in company of Russia and China in accordance with the Primakov Doctrine. Yes, Chinese behavior does cause for concern in India. China needs to understand that India will engage each and every nation and geo-political entity on the basis of her own strength, sovereignty and national aspirations without being bullied by anyone. India is a democracy and would definitely find it easier to work with other democracies in the international arena. A resurgent India will not feel apologetic about her bilateral and multilateral relationships with other democratic nations in Asia and elsewhere. If China needs to work “harmoniously” with India, it needs to speedily transform itself into a mature, pluralistic democracy as Indians know it. China should not whine about India’s relationship with the US or with any other democracy as it will not help China diplomatically. Similarly, the US should not expect India to become a subservient junior partner helping it contain or balance China in the Asian theatre. India is too proud a nation to do that and will never do that. Nor should US contemplate ganging with China and others to hamstring India’s strategic options whether in the SCP5, NPT or NSG. In the ultimate analysis, a resurgent India will always be pro-India, and not pro-US, pro-Soviet, pro-China or pro-Russia or pro-Whatever!
While the world’s oldest democracy and the largest democracy are natural allies, friends and natural allies certainly do not spy on each other. Such episodes are serious impediments to improvement in bilateral relationship. Perhaps, the future US administrations will have to relearn that honesty counts in friendly relationships between two nation states as it counts among individuals. Espionage activities directed towards India need to stop immediately. It is not something new; each decade has witnessed US attempts to infiltrate India’s politicians and bureaucrats. In the 1970s, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared that there was a CIA agent in her cabinet. Later on, Seymour Hirsch claimed that the CIA agent in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet was the former Prime Minister Morarji Desai. Former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh wrote in his book about a US Mole in the Prime Minister’s Office in the mid 1990s during Prime Minister Narsimha Rao’s time. Two recent episodes of espionage were described in depth by Major General VK Singh in his book entitled “India’s External Intelligence”. These episodes cast the US in a very poor light as a friendly nation to India. The first episode happened in May 2004 when CIA mole in the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) Rabinder Singh was spirited out of India to the US. More recently in 2006, Rosanne Minchew, a young female US embassy official was involved in breaching Indian security in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). She obtained sensitive data on USB drives copied from the computers of the NSCS from R&AW staff. She made several personal trips together with Commander Mukesh Saini who introduced her to his subordinate SS Paul, a computer analyst. This was a classic case of “honey trap” in which sex and money were used to spy on India. There were also CIA inspired plans to encourage secessionist activity in the North-east part of India specifically a blue-print for creation of “United States of Assam”. If the US is serious about cultivating strategic relationship with India, espionage activities targeted against a fellow democracy will have to cease completely.
The Long Journey Ahead, Indeed:
Since thinking as well as the behavior of recent US administrations is still conditioned by the past prism of cold war, it will be appropriate for the future US administrations to change the basic mindset while dealing with India. In the 1971 during the Bangladesh liberation war, the Nixon administration had sent the US Navy’s 7th fleet to the Bay of Bengal to covertly threaten India with “consequences”. A formal apology by the US for sending its 7th fleet in 1971 in the Bay of Bengal during the Indo-Pak war of 1971 is still awaited. More recently, the US troika of Henry Kissinger, Henry M. Paulson and David C. Mullford attempted to coerce India and lobby the leaders of opposition to kow-tow to the US strategic interests and approve the 123 agreement in the Indian parliament. There have been overt and covert threats from these distinguished worthies about linking permanent membership of the UN Security Council with smooth passage of the 123 agreement in the Indian parliament.
Credibility of the US as strategic partner of India shall depend upon changes in actual US behavior. The US rhetoric must match its action on the ground. Continuation of “prescriptive” approach and frequent demands on India to change her foreign policy in accordance with US strategic objectives by insignificant members of the US Congress or minor bureaucrats will not take future US administrations anywhere. Opportunistic shifting of goal-posts in civil nuclear energy deal and reneging on previously negotiated bilateral and multilateral agreements in the past do not inspire confidence. India’s sensitivities as the largest functioning democracy have to be understood clearly. In a democracy, all important decisions are taken by the people & the parliament of that country and not by demarches of foreign governments! India will continue to have multi-dimensional relationships with other nations including Russia and Iran despite having good relations with the US.
As the Indian diplomats and politicians of this era, fearful of the breach of diplomatic protocol, may not speak so bluntly, may not articulate a pro-India view so cogently, may not enunciate India’s hopes and aspirations so clearly; someone, albeit a private individual, has the responsibility to call a spade a spade and convey the true feelings and sense of a resurgent India to the future US administrations that the diplomatese jargon can not express. Future efforts at containment and congagement of India and her strategic nuclear program will not work. Nor would work any attempts to lay a “honey trap” to contain India’s strategic options. The relationship has to be of genuine reciprocity between two equals or between two brothers rather being master-slave relationship. For lack of a better expression, it can be called Adityan Doctrine! The US policy and strategy establishment will have to seek a successful cure for the “Narcissistic Entitlement Syndrome” it has historically suffered from. The US will have to learn to be humble and honest while dealing with a rising India. And India will have to be more assertive and articulate in expressing and delineating her strategic interests. It is true that India and the US will have to indulge in a complex and ritualized mating dance with very intricate footwork and steps for future engagement. Mere need for such a mating dance should not be usurped to foist the suicidal role of “Bhasmasura” upon India while the US seductively portrays herself as a coy “Mohini” on the dance floor in the disapproving presence of the international ayatollahs of non-proliferation theology!
Guiding Principles and Benchmarks for Future:
We certainly have the glorious opportunity to synergize the strengths and creative energies of two largest democracies. There are people to people relationships now. Pew research survey of world-wide attitudes suggests a lot of goodwill in India about the US. For the strategic relationship to move forward, the US will have to make unilateral concessions by making a clean break from its past. Since both the Bush administration and the Man Mohan Singh government are lame ducks now, new beginnings can be made by future US administrations in dealing with a resurgent India. Let the US policy establishment free itself from the shackles of the ayatollahs of non-proliferation theology. A new dawn in Indo-US relations can start with the US giving its immediate, unconditional, unqualified, un-hesitating, unequivocal and open support for India’s bid for the permanent membership of the UN Security Council without beating around any bush. Another significant unilateral CBM involves facilitating India’s reprocessing rights on the spent nuclear fuel for the Tarapore Atomic Power Station (TAPS) to help with India’s growing energy needs. A formal US apology for unilaterally abrogating bilateral agreements on supply of nuclear fuel for the TAPS and payment of monetary damages for the losses suffered thereby consequent upon US failure to supply the nuclear fuel is necessary in mitigating the past hurts. India would not like her bilateral relationship with US being constrained by her relationship with a resurgent Russia or with Iran with whom India has civilization links for more than five thousand years. There is no zero sum game in these multi-dimensional relationships India has with various countries and the US policy makers should refrain from putting conditionalities on India.
Following 5 Mantras and 10 Commandments have been enunciated for the future US Administrations so that they do not blunder yet again in making wrong and self-defeating strategic choices vis-à-vis India. Though not proposed as benchmarks, these will become de facto benchmarks to judge future US behavior towards India. If the US policy planners and government officials adopt and internalize the proposed 5 Mantras and 10 Commandments, the relationship between the two great democratic nations would be smooth. The future Indo-US relationship will be predicated on the following bench-marks:
India is a re-emerging superpower that cannot be stopped!
India is a pluralistic democracy.
India is an ancient civilization that is proud of her glorious past, aware of her current limitations and fully cognizant of her future potential, roles and responsibilities.
India cannot be contained as she shall not bow or bend.
India shall prevail over all the adversities with resilience.
Thou shall not interfere in the internal affairs of India.
Thou shall not block India’s entry into the P5.
Thou shall not spy on India.
Thou shall not expect India to change her independent foreign policy.
Thou shall not place trade restrictions and visa obstructions in the path of Indian scientists and professionals who provide important services.
Thou shall not send Evangelist, Baptist, Christian missionaries to India under garb of tourists and CIA agents under the garb of journalists.
Thou shall express sincere apologies for “breach of a bilateral contract between two sovereign nations” on Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) and make amends for the same.
Thou shall not prop up serial military dictatorships of Pakistan on one pretext or another.
Thou shall not play the China card against India.
Thou shall not act as the policeman of the Indian subcontinent.
April 6, 2008
Dr. Adityanjee is the President of Council for Strategic Affairs, New Delhi
An abridged version of this paper appeared on the southasianalysis.org website on Feb 8th 2008.