NOTE: WE ARE POSTING OLDER ARTICLES BY DR. ADITYANJEE ON THIS BLOG ALONG WITH THE ORIGINAL SOURCES.
06.09.2010 · Posted in Band Pass
India and the US just finished their first strategic dialogue at the Secretary of State and Foreign Minister level from June 2nd to June 4th in Washington, DC. Trying to remove any doubts about the importance of India in the US geo-political calculus, President Obama broke the protocol and wisely attended the reception for India’s visiting foreign minister SM Krishna hosted by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Unlike the US-China Strategic & Economic dialogue, where the US was trying to balance China’s military rise, this strategic dialogue with India did not involve any peer competition, strategic reassurance or strategic rivalry. Unlike the strategic dialogue US had with Pakistan where the real dialogue was between General Pervez Kayani and the US military under closed doors with a window dressing for the world with Pakistan’s civilian masks; this dialogue was not attended by General VK Singh, India’s Chief of Army staff or the leaders of the US Armed Forces.
In reality, these were multidimensional talks between the world’s two largest democracies on 18 different subjects ranging from world economy, climate change, clean energy, health care, women’s empowerment, higher education, poverty reduction, counter-terrorism, high technology, and of course on security issues including Afghanistan. Keeping in view this multi-dimensional range of dialogue, it would be really a misnomer to call this special dialogue as merely “strategic”. It also creates unnecessary paranoid rumblings in both China and Pakistan about the nature of India-US relationship if it is portrayed as strategic only.
Furthermore, there is a realistic appraisal on both the sides that the US and India are not allies, just partners. India does need her own strategic autonomy on the world stage and can never become a “camp follower” of the US like Australia or the UK. Nor would India agree to become a client state of the US like “Pakistan” or “Chile” under General Pinochet. The US policy establishment does realize this important fact and respects India’s independent thinking now. The attempt on both sides is to increase the areas of convergence in thinking and reduce the areas of bilateral divergence and harmonize this important bilateral relationship.
Since the nature of evolving partnership between these two great nations is indeed of civilizational proportions, it may be prudent to call this dialogue as “ Civilizational and Strategic Dialogue” (CSD) because the gamut of issues involves this planet and the survival of the whole human civilization. Those who intensely abhor diplomatic hyperbole may feel more comfortable in characterizing this special dialogue as “Economic, Commercial & Strategic Dialogue” or ECSD. In any case, the nature and the depth of this relationship has not fully matured as yet. Ultimately, only the “Time” will tell the reality. However, the word “Strategic Dialogue” remains totally inadequate to describe as far as what is happening in this bilateral relationship which has been very aptly characterized as US-India 3.0 by the Secretary of State Hillary.
Before the next round of this annual bilateral dialogue takes place in New Delhi in year 2011, we need to change the name from the terminologically inexact phrase “Strategic Dialogue” to a more appropriate and factually correct but indeed a mouthful epithet of “Civilizational and Strategic Dialogue” or CSD. We will indeed be wiser if we change the name now rather than waiting for this relationship to mature and then try to change the name. Indeed, the names, like perceptions, do matter in diplomacy.
Dr Adityanjee is president, Council for Strategic Affairs, New Delhi
WE ARE POSTING OLDER ARTICLES BY DR. ADITYANJEE ON THIS BLOG ALONG WITH THE ORIGINAL SOURCES.