US-India strategic relationship: the Chinese dimension

Of motives, intentions and capabilities

Bill Rice of Dawn’s Early Light and Joe Katzman of Winds of Change have a discussion going on the emerging strategic relationship between India and the United States. China is an important factor in that relationship, though not the only one.

In this post, Dawn’s Early Light will attempt to:
1. Provide a brief summary of the growing Chinese military capability
2. Describe the challenge China poses to Taiwan and other interested nations including the US, Japan, India and Australia
3. Argue why the US will create strong alliances with India and continue to strengthen its Japanese and Australian security arrangements to avert a war over Taiwan and wait out for a democratic China. [DEL]

Joe Katzman looks at the relationship beginning with the United States’ offer to sell (and co-produce) F-16 planes to India, concluding that India is not quite likely to take it up, for now.

3 thoughts on “US-India strategic relationship: the Chinese dimension”

  1. The prospects of an India-US strategic alliance sounds good on paper and seems like a natural progression to the hype that has pervaded the India-US rapprochement since the NDA took power and made a determined attempt to court the US. The keyword here is hype. The events since 9-11 and the growing US-Pakistan relationship has dampened the hype and brought a sense of realism to the US-India equation that was sorely lacking earlier.
    A healthy dose of skepticism is needed in digesting the offer of “we’ll help you become a major power and transfer technology” and national self-interest should guide the next steps for India. As mentioned in the referenced blogs, the F16 deal seems to indicate a further complexity in our defence platforms and also militate against the indigenous defence establishment. So, thanks but no thanks should be the response.
    However, there is definitely a need to cooperate with the US in Ballistic Missile Defence from the start viz. Patriot, Arrow and the works.
    The other pressing need of the day is to obtain advanced US nuclear reactor technology and the safeguards to ensure our energy security. These should also be used to monitor US adherence as a reliable supplier.
    In the same breath, there seems to be an unholy hype associated with the Wen Jiabao visit and I hope that we haven’t signed away any rights to our territory as obtained in our Parliamentary resolution from the 60s.

  2. I’ve been surprised by the “unholy hype” over Wen’s visit as well. It doesn’t appear that the document signed regarding the boundary dispute resulted in either side agreeing to much of anything, other than to hold talks on the matter again. My guess here is that the Chinese won’t part with an inch of Aksai Chin without getting Tawang in return. From the Chinese perspective, there’s a good military rationale for this stance: the only direct road between India and the Tibetan capital of Lhasa runs through Tawang, and if the Chinese were to control Tawang, they would have the high ground on any Indian force attempting to move on Lhasa, which is only about 200 miles away from the Indian border.

    And while the economic relationship between the two countries is definitely on the upswing, it would be pretty naive to think that better economic ties translate into a more peaceful political relationship. Japan’s trade with China is about 10x that of India’s, yet as recent events demonstrate, that doesn’t mean the countries are the best of friends. The same goes for America. China’s trade with Taiwan is more than 3x its trade with India, yet Beijing continues to make threats of invasion.

    I think that when it comes to China, the Indian foreign policy establishment remains traumatized by the events of 1962. Which is kind of sad, considering that India dealt Pakistan a much greater blow in 1971, yet the latter country managed to remain as belligerent as ever. This is one field where India could learn a lesson from its western neighbor.

  3. The U.S.-India strategic alliance is a hype based on illusions on behalf of both sides. First, the Indian illusions. Mnamohan-Montek combo believes that by becoming a partner of the U.S. in the strtaegic alliance, Washington will open up the spigot of FDI. Manmohan Singh fools himself by believing that hundreds of billions of dollars of FDI will pour into India helping him to pump all that into the dilapidated infrastructure and catch up with China.
    The problem with this thinking is that New Delhi does not want to believe how bankrupt the United States is. Living with money flowing in daily to the extent of 4.-5 billion dollars from China, Japan and elsewhere, U.S maintains bubbles and consumer debt. If the U.S. investors would like to invest anywhere, it would be in sectors where the return is fast and sure. In frastructure is definitely not one such sector. Selling of arms? Yes.
    Second Indian illusion is the mother of all illusions. It is: Somehow, for some reason, Washington would see once for all with clear eyes why India is more important than Pakistan. At theat magical moment, all wrongs would be righted and Islamabad would be dumnped by Washington and the Kahsmir issue would become history.
    Let me tell you Pakistan is important for Washington for very many reasons. One such is for maintaining control over Islam-dominated oil and gas rich countries. Pakistani establishment possesses military and ahighly flexible sense of morality. Do not blame Islamabad for that. It is their path of survival — howevertemporary that may be.

    On the other hand, India is important for very many reasons. One such reason is to use India to act as the bulwark against surging China. Therein lies the American illusion.

    Washington believes Japan will guard the Pacific and India the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. This would contain the eventual hegemon -China from attacking U.S.A or thevital U.S. interests. The illusion is buried in the fact that the United States does not understand the Indian military. Some third-rate American academics, who would write any amount of garbage in order to secure a grant from the administration, with links to American intelligence have created impressions of the Indian military which is unreal. Pentagon has no idea that the Indian military, unlike the Pakistani military, woiuld never allow Washington to set up shops, or lilypad bases, in its vicinity. Like the Chinese military, the Indian military establishment (not single individuals who may suchk up to Washington for money) considers security of the region is a sovereign right of the Indian military.
    The corollary to this illusion is that India, not really represented by the two Sardars in New Delhi, trusts United States. It doesn’t and there are many reasons why so. But the bottomline is : Indians do not trust the Americans. They like many things Americans, but they do not trust them.
    Under such circumstances, to expect the Indians will lay down their lives for the Americans in case China gets into a conflict with the United States is not only absurd, but it verges on retarded thinking.
    Thirdly, New Delhi has no choice but to be good friends of China. While keeping its interests intact, China will also seek friendly relations with India. Beijing is weary of India getting hornswoggled into a pro-America position. Beijing does not want that and will make sure India remains minimally neutral in case a conflict breaks open with the United States.

    So, then, where is the strategic alliance?

Comments are closed.