Best criticism of Vajpayee’s US policy

Amidst all the hoopla surrounding India’s reaction to Pakistan’s appointment as a major non-NATO ally of the United States, Brahma Chellaney draws attention to one failing of the Vajpayee government’s engagement with America.

Making Pakistan a major ally outside the Nato framework is proof that the US wants to push its strategic interests in India and Pakistan without having to choose one over the other. For its part, Indian foreign policy has not only failed to persuade the US to pick India over Pakistan, but it has also left an impression that Washington need not make such a choice in order to strategically engage India. [HT]

Failing to persuade the US the choose India over Pakistan is not entirely a failing of the Vajpayee government; it is a monumental blunder committed by the Bush administration. But allowing the United States to make such a choice implies that India allowed itself to be taken for granted. That is a failure of the Vajpayee government.

However, Chellaney’s dim view of the India’s participation in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative is gratuitous. How can India hope to shape the anti-proliferation agenda to protect its interests if it does not participate in a major international initiative? Unlike what Chellaney advocates, India should not disengage and sulk, but engage and influence the PSI’s agenda.

2 thoughts on “Best criticism of Vajpayee’s US policy”

  1. Nitin, I do not think the PSI will have much meaning beyond that of an interesting acronym. As Chellaney points out, the US has scant regard for multilateral bodies or international opinion when it comes to its own interests(or agendas).

    If US realpolitik forces it to abandom some/all provsions of the PSI a few years down the line, I believe the US will do so.

    Hasn’t the US trampled on literally every major multilateral body that it is a member of when faced with a decision that was not appealing to it?

  2. I do not question the fact that the United States will use or drop the PSI or other initiatives to further it interests.

    But these initiatives are effective – AQ Khan’s nuclear supermarket and Libya’s renounciation of WMD are attributable to the PSI.

    What I’m suggesting is that instead of criticising US led initiatives from the outside, it should influence these from the inside. Its criticisms will have much more weight if it is seen as an interested party with skin in the game.

    Yes, the US has trampled on several multilateral organisations that work against its interest. But that should not preclude India from participating in multilateral organisatios that can be made to work in its interest.

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