Can Washington Trust Modi's India As Key Ally in Asia?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the summit meeting of the China-Russia sponsored Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan this week. India is a full member of this alliance which has been created to counter the US dominance in Asia. At the same time, New Delhi has also joined QUAD, a group of 4 nations (Australia, India, Japan and US) formed by the United States  to counter China's rise. Simultaneous membership of these two competing alliances is raising serious questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's real intentions and trustworthiness. Is this Indian policy shift from "non-alignment" to "all-alignment" sustainable? 

2022 SCO Summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Source: Xinhua

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): 

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a political, economic and security organization designed to counter US dominance. It was founded by Beijing and Moscow in 2001. Currently, it has 8 members: China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran has signed a memorandum of commitment this week signaling its intention to join the SCO, underscoring the growing alignment between the U.S.'s top adversaries. India's participation in this alliance seems strange given its simultaneous membership of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. 

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD): 

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States that was initiated in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to counter growing Chinese influence in Asia. India upset Japan recently when it joined the Russia-led Vostok-2022 military exercises held around a group of islands known as the southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan -- a territorial dispute that dates back to the end of World War II, according to Bloomberg. India scaled back its participation in the war games -- especially staying out of the naval exercises -- in response to the Japanese objections but it left a bad taste. 

Non-Alignment to All-Alignment: 

The contradictions inherent in the membership of both of these competing alliances are already being exposed by Mr. Modi's large and rapidly growing purchases of Russian energy and weapons despite western sanctions.  “India’s neutral public positioning on the invasion has raised difficult questions in Washington DC about our alignment of values and interests,” said Richard Rossow, a senior adviser on India policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg News. “Such engagements -- especially if they trigger new or expanded areas of cooperation that benefit Russia -- will further erode interest among Washington policy makers for providing India a ‘pass’ on tough sanctions decision.”

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Comment by Riaz Haq on April 11, 2023 at 8:40pm

Why India, China's Bitter Foe, Won't Become a U.S. Ally

https://www.newsweek.com/why-india-chinas-bitter-foe-wont-become-us...


But even as New Delhi takes unprecedented steps toward shoring up relations with the Washington, there appears to be little chance the traditionally non-aligned nation will establish any formal defense alliance with the U.S.

"In fact, we do refer to India and the USA as natural allies," former Indian ambassador to China Ashok Kantha told Newsweek, "but this is not in the sense of a military alliance."

Such an alliance would run contrary to more than 75 years of India's post-colonial history after winning its independence from the United Kingdom and suffering a violent partition with Pakistan, sparking the first of several wars over disputed territory with the neighboring Islamic Republic as well as one with China six decades ago. Even during some of the nation's most dire crises, however, India has opted to not choose sides among world powers.

"We had to suffer a period of colonial subjugation lasting two centuries, and then we emerged as one of the most populous countries in the world, which was also innovative in democracy, in multiculturalism and in an open society," Kantha said. "We came to the conclusion during the Cold War period that India cannot be a camp follower of either great power, at that time the USA and the Soviet Union, that we will work with both countries."

Today, this policy referred to by India as "strategic autonomy" continues amid growing frictions between the U.S. and China, even if New Delhi saw Washington as the better partner.
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Swaran Singh, a visiting professor at the University of British Columbia with decades of experience lecturing at India's major diplomatic and military institutions, also argued that managing this relationship was essential for achieving the long-term objectives of both powers.

"De-escalation is the only way as both China and India cannot afford to derail their development trajectories and miss their imagined historic resurgence to the center stage of world affairs," Singh told Newsweek. "But as two rapidly growing economies and peer civilizational states reclaiming their place under the sun, their competition remains inevitable."

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Still, China's growing clout in the economic, military and diplomatic spheres have presented both risk and opportunity for New Delhi.

"While China has demonstrated an unprecedented economic growth that undergirds its political influence and military modernization, China's rise has made India the preferred partner for status quo powers in the U.S.-led liberal world order," Singh said. "This has opened doors for technology transfers and defense cooperation for India, making India the only neighbor that has showcased capacity to stand up to China."

India has also doubled down on its participation in another multilateral group, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad, alongside the U.S., Australia and Japan. The quartet has intensified cooperation among members and it is regularly accused by China of representing an attempt to form a bloc built on containing the People's Republic.

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"The power gap between India and China, is certainly a major factor driving the current convergence of U.S.-India ties," Joshi said. "But India's positions are mainly driven by its size and interests. It perceives a significant security threat from Pakistan, whereas the U.S. has been at various times a major military ally of Pakistan. And where it sees Iran as a relatively benign actor in the Persian Gulf and a friend, the U.S. has seen Tehran as a hostile player."

"This rules out the possibility of a formal military alliance with the U.S.," Joshi said, "something that would require a much closer identity of views."

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 1, 2023 at 6:55pm

#America’s Bad Bet on #Modi.
#Delhi Won’t Side With #Washington Against #Beijing. #India’s significant weaknesses versus #China, & its inescapable proximity to it, guarantee that Delhi will never involve itself in any #US confrontation with Beijing. #BJP https://www.foreignaffairs.com/india/americas-bad-bet-india-modi

by Ashley Tellis

For the past two decades, Washington has made an enormous bet in the Indo-Pacific—that treating India as a key partner will help the United States in its geopolitical rivalry with China. From George W. Bush onward, successive U.S. presidents have bolstered India’s capabilities on the assumption that doing so automatically strengthens the forces that favor freedom in Asia.

The administration of President Joe Biden has enthusiastically embraced this playbook. In fact, it has taken it one step further: the administration has launched an ambitious new initiative to expand India’s access to cutting-edge technologies, further deepened defense cooperation, and made the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), which includes Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, a pillar of its regional strategy. It has also overlooked India’s democratic erosion and its unhelpful foreign policy choices, such as its refusal to condemn Moscow’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine. It has done all of this on the presumption that New Delhi will respond favorably when Washington calls in a favor during a regional crisis involving China.

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India’s priority has been to receive American assistance in building up its own national capabilities so it can deal with threats independently. The two sides have come a long way on this by, for example, bolstering India’s intelligence capabilities about Chinese military activities along the Himalayan border and in the Indian Ocean region. The existing arrangements for intelligence sharing are formally structured for reciprocity, and New Delhi does share whatever it believes to be useful. But because U.S. collection capabilities are so superior, the flow of usable information often ends up being one way.



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The fundamental problem is that the United States and India have divergent ambitions for their security partnership. As it has done with allies across the globe, Washington has sought to strengthen India’s standing within the liberal international order and, when necessary, solicit its contributions toward coalition defense. Yet New Delhi sees things differently. It does not harbor any innate allegiance toward preserving the liberal international order and retains an enduring aversion toward participating in mutual defense. It seeks to acquire advanced technologies from the United States to bolster its own economic and military capabilities and thus facilitate its rise as a great power capable of balancing China independently, but it does not presume that American assistance imposes any further obligations on itself.

As the Biden administration proceeds to expand its investment in India, it should base its policies on a realistic assessment of Indian strategy and not on any delusions of New Delhi becoming a comrade-in-arms during some future crisis with Beijing.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 26, 2023 at 10:20pm

The Budding Arms Race Among China, India, and Pakistan
By Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
May 26, 2023


https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/nuclear-collision-course-south...

Security experts are only beginning to sort through the implications of China’s nuclear breakout. They would do well to consider Ashley Tellis’s new book, Striking Asymmetries, which assesses the implications of Beijing’s actions from the vantage point of the rivalries between South Asia’s three nuclear powers: China, India, and Pakistan. In a work that should be required reading for senior political and military leaders, Tellis presents a compelling case why this tripolar nuclear system, which has for decades remained remarkably stable, may be on the verge of becoming far more dangerous.

Tellis draws upon decades of experience in South Asian security affairs, unique access to senior policymakers and military leaders in the three rivals’ defense establishments, and a remarkable ability to make seemingly abstract technical concepts readily understood by those with even a passing interest in the subject matter. The result is the most comprehensive, informed, and accessible assessment to date of this nuclear rivalry—and one that cannot be ignored.

China and Pakistan have a long and close relationship, in part built around their mutual view of India as a rival. India finds itself sandwiched between these two often hostile powers. Yet despite a history of wars and persistent low-grade conflict between India and its two rivals, a general war has been averted since India and Pakistan became nuclear powers a quarter century ago. Moreover, the three countries have not found themselves caught up in a nuclear arms race. Until recently, they viewed their nuclear weapons primarily as political instruments, not as tools for actual warfighting. All three adopted a “minimum deterrent” nuclear posture, maintaining the lowest number of nuclear weapons necessary to inflict unacceptable damage to their adversaries’ key cities even after suffering a nuclear attack.


In keeping with this strategy, the three Asian rivals avoided maintaining a significant portion of their arsenals on high alert. Instead, they stored their weapons in caves, in deep underground facilities, or in other concealed locations. Rejecting American and Russian notions that “retaliation delayed is retaliation denied,” the three countries, especially China and India, forswore the need for a swift response to a nuclear attack. To be sure, they would respond eventually—in days, weeks, or even months—but they did not accept the imperative of immediacy. As a result, these countries have avoided making heavy investments in early warning systems while retaining centralized control over their arsenals.

But the prospects for sustaining this era of minimum deterrence appear increasingly shaky. The tripolar rivalry has not been locked in amber: Tellis describes strongly held beliefs among top security officials in China, India, and Pakistan that their nuclear postures are inadequate. Led by China and Pakistan, with India following in their wake, the three rivals are now on a course that will result in a dramatic expansion of their nuclear arsenals, even if Russia and the United States pursue substantial cuts to theirs.

TWO AGAINST ONE
At the core of Tellis’s assessment are the differences—“asymmetries”— driving the tripolar rivalry. One fundamental difference is that China and Pakistan are revisionist powers seeking to alter the existing order, while India remains content with the status quo. China possesses the most formidable nuclear arsenal of the three, followed by Pakistan, with India trailing.



Comment by Riaz Haq on May 26, 2023 at 10:20pm

The Budding Arms Race Among China, India, and Pakistan
By Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
May 26, 2023


https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/nuclear-collision-course-south...



There is also an asymmetry in the three powers’ strategic focus. Pakistani security officials are obsessed with India, while India’s focus is overwhelmingly on China. China’s sights, however, have shifted beyond regional to global rivalries, principally with the United States. It is this competition with Washington that is driving Beijing’s nuclear breakout. For China, India’s deterrent is rapidly assuming a peripheral role, similar to that played by China in American nuclear planning during the Cold War.

Beijing’s support for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, which includes providing Islamabad with blueprints for a bomb and fissile material, has further complicated India’s position. Pakistan’s leaders are looking to abandon minimum deterrence in favor of “full-spectrum deterrence,” where their nuclear forces cover multiple contingencies in the event of war with India. There are three central factors spurring Pakistani officials to adopt this more aggressive posture. First, Islamabad is aware that its conventional forces are weaker than India’s and believes it has no alternative but to employ, if need be, its nuclear forces to offset this asymmetry. Second, given that India is far larger than Pakistan, Islamabad believes it must be able to inflict greater destruction on India in a retaliatory strike than India will inflict on it. This requires Pakistan to maintain a larger nuclear arsenal to target India’s population and economic hubs in the event of war. Third, Pakistan also hopes that its nuclear forces prevent India from undertaking large-scale military action against it in response to Islamabad’s ongoing support for militant groups in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Tellis shows that accomplishing full-spectrum deterrence will require Pakistan to expand its arsenal substantially. For instance, he notes that stopping a major advance of Indian conventional forces into Pakistani territory would require scores of so-called tactical nuclear weapons, weapons that Islamabad currently lacks.

A FRAGILE PEACE
Although Tellis argues that Beijing’s and Islamabad’s nuclear provocations do not automatically portend growing instability in the region, the evidence he presents suggests otherwise. He finds that Beijing’s growing arsenal will not necessarily place India’s security at greater risk—but describes a set of highly plausible Chinese actions that, in combination with a superpower-sized arsenal, risk undermining India’s confidence in its own nuclear deterrent.

To begin with, Beijing is seeking the capability to launch nuclear reprisals far more quickly than ever before. This requires China to maintain a portion of its force on heightened alert, which may not have posed a threat to India when China possessed a few hundred weapons. But if Beijing placed a significant percentage of its expanded arsenal of 1,000 or more warheads on high alert, the strategic ground would shift considerably. India would now face a neighbor capable of launching a large-scale attack with little or no warning.

India’s ability to withstand a nuclear strike and retain the capacity to inflict catastrophic destruction in response is closely tied to the security of its underground nuclear storage sites. China currently lacks the ability to destroy them—even assuming it knows their locations. That could change, however, once China’s arsenal has more than 1,000 warheads, especially if China improves the accuracy of its weapons. Such a development, combined with Beijing’s adoption of increased alert levels for its nuclear forces, would set alarm bells ringing in New Delhi; Indian officials could conclude that China has the capacity to disarm India’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 26, 2023 at 10:21pm

The Budding Arms Race Among China, India, and Pakistan
By Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
May 26, 2023


https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/nuclear-collision-course-south...



India’s ability to withstand a nuclear strike and retain the capacity to inflict catastrophic destruction in response is closely tied to the security of its underground nuclear storage sites. China currently lacks the ability to destroy them—even assuming it knows their locations. That could change, however, once China’s arsenal has more than 1,000 warheads, especially if China improves the accuracy of its weapons. Such a development, combined with Beijing’s adoption of increased alert levels for its nuclear forces, would set alarm bells ringing in New Delhi; Indian officials could conclude that China has the capacity to disarm India’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

China may also enhance its air and missile defenses, making matters even more precarious for India. These defenses would minimize the threat posed by any “broken-back” Indian nuclear retaliation—in other words, an attack that uses whatever weapons survive a disarming Chinese strike. But New Delhi would surely know that employing the remnants of its arsenal to retaliate against China would leave it vulnerable to Pakistani nuclear blackmail. Put simply, India would risk being left with no credible nuclear deterrent to resist coercion by Islamabad.

Tellis is correct to note that China’s development of these capabilities is not assured. Yet during Beijing’s decades-old conventional military buildup, it has sought to match every significant U.S. capability, including stealth fighters, military satellite constellations, aircraft carriers, and cyberweaponry. Tellis recognizes that even if China creates such a set of capabilities, it must still know the location of India’s storage sites in order to target them—and have high confidence that its intelligence is accurate and comprehensive. This uncertainty could restrain Beijing. But at the same time, New Delhi may not feel comfortable simply trusting that its nuclear sites have not yet been unearthed by Chinese intelligence or presuming that Chinese leaders are wary of taking big risks.

NEW DELHI’S DILEMMA
How might India respond to China’s and Pakistan’s nuclear provocations? Tellis points out that India is not without options—but that each path has its pitfalls.

First, he shows that if India wanted to, it could easily match China weapon for weapon. Yet he believes New Delhi would prefer to maintain its minimum deterrent strategy, emphasizing its ability to inflict severe damage on its adversaries’ cities. This stems in no small part from the expense India would incur by following Beijing in its quest to match America’s nuclear arsenal. Still, Tellis acknowledges that India’s arsenal will have to expand its nuclear holdings to possess the warheads needed to inflict unacceptable damage on both China and Pakistan. And as India increases its arsenal, Pakistan is sure to do the same—completing the regional chain reaction triggered by China’s nuclear expansion.

Tellis rejects the “more of the same” option of expanding India’s underground storage facilities, showing persuasively that it would prove costlier to accomplish than it would for China to simply expand the number of weapons needed to destroy them. Rather, he argues, India’s solution is to be found in stealth and mobility. This could be achieved by creating a nuclear ballistic missile submarine force and by shifting more of India’s arsenal to mobile road and rail missile launchers.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 26, 2023 at 10:21pm

The Budding Arms Race Among China, India, and Pakistan
By Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
May 26, 2023


https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/nuclear-collision-course-south...



As for China’s air and missile defenses, Tellis points out that India might address the problem by deploying penetration aid decoys on its missiles. These decoys are designed to present themselves as actual warheads to missile defense radars, thereby inducing the defender to expend precious interceptor missiles engaging false targets. This would offset, if only partially, New Delhi’s need to expand its nuclear arsenal.


The United States could provide India with a reliable thermonuclear weapon design.
Yet even if India were to pursue these actions, it would still face significant challenges. The threat of a Chinese preemptive strike may compel India to develop an effective early warning system to enable it to reduce its arsenal’s vulnerability by sending its weapons out to sea and flushing its land-based missiles from their silos. New Delhi would also have to establish a new command-and-control system to direct the actions of its nuclear submarines. Yet while India is in the process of constructing nuclear-powered ballistic submarines, it still has a long way to go in building a significant force and overcoming the technological hurdles necessary to create a credible seaborne nuclear deterrent. Tellis notes that among these challenges, New Delhi is experiencing problems with its naval nuclear reactor designs.

Then there are India’s nuclear weapons. New Delhi has only conducted a handful of nuclear tests—not enough to validate its thermonuclear designs to offer high confidence that these weapons will perform as designed. Its most reliable weapon has a yield of 12 kilotons, whereas China’s weapons have yields as much as 100 times greater. Addressing these shortfalls may require India to resume testing—and risk incurring sanctions from the United States and other nations.

Tellis hints at a tantalizing solution to India’s problems. The United States could provide India with a reliable thermonuclear weapon design. The trilateral security pact among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States that is known as AUKUS, which will assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines, could be expanded to include India. Might the Americans also share their nuclear reactor designs with New Delhi? But for this to happen, India, which has kept the United States at arm’s length practically since its birth, would have to finally and firmly close ranks with the leading Indo-Pacific democracies and formally forsake the nonaligned strategic autonomy it has long enshrined at the heart of its foreign policy.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 15, 2023 at 6:59am

Joe Biden and Narendra Modi are drawing their countries closer

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2023/06/15/joe-biden-and-narendra...

India does not love the West, but it is indispensable to America


No country except China has propped up Russia’s war economy as much as oil-thirsty India. And few big democracies have slid further in the rankings of democratic freedom. But you would not guess it from the rapturous welcome Narendra Modi will receive in Washington next week. India’s prime minister has been afforded the honour of a state visit by President Joe Biden. The Americans hope to strike defence deals. Mr Modi will be one of the few foreign leaders, along with Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Volodymyr Zelensky, to address a joint session of Congress more than once. The praise gushed on Capitol Hill about the partnership makes no mention of Ukraine, democracy or grit in the gears of America’s new best friendship.

As our Asia section explains, the global clout of the South Asian giant is rising fast. Its economy is the world’s fifth biggest. Its 18m-strong diaspora is thriving, from America to the Gulf. And India has become indispensable to America’s effort to assert itself in Asia and deter Chinese aggression. Yet though huge, capitalist, democratic and wary of China, India is also poor, populist and, as our interview with Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, its foreign minister, outlines, dismissive of the vestiges of the post-1945 Western order. The relationship is therefore a test case for the messy alliance of democracies emerging in a multipolar world. Can both sides gain the business and security benefits of co-operation even as they share fewer principles than they may care to admit?


India’s ascent is an uplifting story. One of the fastest-growing economies, its gdp is expected to overtake Japan’s and Germany’s by 2028, even as it treads a novel path towards getting rich. In contrast to East Asia’s Tigers, India’s exports are powered by services, of which it is the world’s seventh-largest vendor. Think not just of call centres but data scientists for Goldman Sachs. Infrastructure has also improved under Mr Modi and his immediate predecessors, and manufacturing may pick up as supply chains diversify from China: Apple assembles 7% of iPhones in India. India’s chief failing is its vast numbers of unskilled, jobless young people. It is trying to help them by pioneering a digital welfare state.

Thanks in part to its diaspora, India’s soft power is world-beating. The bosses of Alphabet, ibm and Microsoft are of Indian descent, as are the heads of three of America’s five top business schools. Reflecting the accomplishment of Indian-Americans, 70% of the wider American public views India favourably, compared with 15% for China.

You might think all this makes America and India natural partners. Certainly, a 25-year effort to develop ties has been unaffected by political changes in either country. India is part of the Quad, a security grouping that includes America, Australia and Japan. In order to augment India’s hard power, America is promoting a series of defence deals, some of which may be signed in Washington next week, to enhance military-technology co-operation. The Biden administration reckons this would be the biggest milestone in the bilateral relationship since the striking, in 2005, of a civil-nuclear co-operation agreement.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 15, 2023 at 7:00am

Joe Biden and Narendra Modi are drawing their countries closer

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2023/06/15/joe-biden-and-narendra...

Yet the relationship faces two potential sources of friction. First, India’s pro-Western tilt—which became more pronounced after border skirmishes with Chinese troops in 2020—is essentially pragmatic. Ideologically, it is suspicious of Western countries and flatly rejects their claim to global leadership. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Mr Modi, India considers the post-war order to have offered it little more than another bout of domination by other countries. The result of these contradictory impulses is disorientating. India is an American strategic partner that mistrusts the West, is unlikely ever to enter a formal alliance with America and is attached to Russia, which supplies it with arms. It is not clear how much support, if push came to shove, America could expect from India. It wants to bolster its land defences against China, not fight over Taiwan.

The second sticking-point is Mr Modi’s attacks on liberal norms. Under his Hindu nationalist, Islamophobic party, India is increasingly hostile to over 200m of its own people. Lynchings and the dispossession of Christians and Muslims are becoming more common. The press is cowed and the courts are largely pliant. Though India seems sure to remain a democracy—not least because Mr Modi is almost guaranteed re-election next year—it is an illiberal one. The fact that only 60m of its 1.4bn people have formal jobs is a potentially explosive situation in a country prone to rabble-rousing.

Some suggest that America risks repeating its history with China, by showering economic advantages on a rival that ends up turning against it. That seems unlikely. Mutual suspicion of China alone should keep India close. Primly rejecting co-operation with India because its ideology and democracy do not conform to Western ideals would only empower China. It would also show that America has failed to adapt to the multipolar world that lies ahead.

Instead, America and its allies should be realistic about where India’s sympathy lies—with its interests, not theirs—and creative in their efforts to find overlaps between the two. That means layering the relationship with common endeavours. The Biden administration’s efforts to accelerate technology transfer to India seem a promising example. By boosting India’s defence industry, America hopes to wean it off dud Russian weapons and provide an affordable new source of arms for other Asian democracies. Other areas of co-operation could include clean energy and tech, where both seek to avoid relying on China.

An alignment of interests, not principles
America’s foreign policy has always combined realism with idealism. So America must speak out against attacks on democratic norms and human rights, even as it works more closely with India. For its part, India must get used to the idea that, as it grows more powerful, it will face more scrutiny. Discount the expressions of unconditional friendship and brotherhood in Washington next week. To work, the relationship will have to function like a long-term business partnership: India and America may not like everything about it, but think of the huge upside. It may be the most important transaction of the 21st century.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 20, 2023 at 5:03pm

Opinion Sorry, America. India will never be your ally.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/06/20/india-us-relatio...

By Barkha Dutt

Narendra Modi, once denied a U.S. visa, is now poised to be a showstopper at the White House. The Biden administration is sparing no effort as it prepares to welcome the Indian prime minister later this week at a state dinner, only the third under the current president.

As Modi gets set to address Congress for a second time, it might look as if India is pivoting to the United States. But don’t be naive, my dear American friends. India will never be your ally.

And this won’t change whether Modi or one of his rivals wins next year’s election. India’s collective memory of the indignities of colonization creates wide public support for an independent path.

India’s policy of nonalignment began with a refusal to be entangled in the Cold War. Today this has morphed into aggressive multilateralism. Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar says India should benefit “from as many ties as possible.”


So if you’re expecting monogamy, prepare to be disappointed. India has reserved the right to flirt with Russia, Iran — and even China — if its national interests dictate such a need.


After the 9/11 attacks, Washington asked New Delhi to dispatch troops to Afghanistan. The Indian military vetoed the request. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee withheld military support despite pro-U.S. Indian media urging him to get “on the right side of history” — a phrase often used today in the context of the Russian-Ukraine conflict. Resisting pressure from the George W. Bush administration was a brave move — and, as it turns out, the morally superior one.

These days, New Delhi similarly refuses to toe the American line on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. India’s import of cheap Russian oil continues to break records. Anyone who wants to see Indian leaders stand up and publicly assail the Kremlin — one of their main suppliers of weaponry and a valuable source of raw materials — is in for a long wait.

India has criticized the U.S. decision to block Iranian and Venezuelan oil from the open market. The government in New Delhi has actively worked to bring Iran into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a multilateral forum created by Russia and China in 2001. In May, India hosted the SCO foreign ministers amid border tensions with China and continuing antagonism with Pakistan. A fortnight later, unapologetic about the seeming contradiction, Modi and President Biden were hugging and laughing for the cameras at a meeting of the Quad, a loose security partnership that also includes Australia and Japan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 20, 2023 at 5:04pm

Opinion Sorry, America. India will never be your ally.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/06/20/india-us-relatio...

By Barkha Dutt


Of course, India’s growing cooperation in the Quad raises hackles in Beijing. And yes, India’s issues with China are grave. Just three years ago, India lost 20 soldiers in a deadly mountain clash with Chinese troops along their common frontier in the high Himalayas.

But don’t think for a moment that India will take its cue from America on China; New Delhi wants to manage the relationship on its own terms. Indians have held 18 rounds of talks with the Chinese to resolve the border dispute. Meanwhile, India remains a key participant in the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. As a founding member, India holds the second-largest number of voting shares after China, which at 30 percent effectively enjoys veto rights.

There’s no question that the United States and India have much in common. They are both open and argumentative societies. Diversity is the strength of both nations.

Even so, it’s not the romance of shared values that is bringing the two countries together. It’s the reality check of geopolitics.

India will agree that there is a strategic and urgent need to contain the spread of China, which is already throwing money at smaller countries in South Asia — Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan — to buy influence. China is also flexing its muscles in the Indian Ocean — New Delhi’s strategic backyard — and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

But let’s not confuse strategic cooperation for a long-term alliance. In a multipolar world, India will look to be a pole, not an exclusive partner.

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