Welcome To India, Obama Sahib

by Eric Margolis

Getting out of the Washington goldfish bowl is also good for American presidents, particularly after an electoral shellacking.

It must have been a relief for President Barack Obama to see smiling Indian officials on his visit to Delhi rather than snarling Republicans back home.

India is a hugely important nation by any measure, so it was right for the president to continue the Washington-Delhi dialogue begun by former President George W. Bush.

After six decades of hostility and distrust, the United States and India appear set on a course of warm relations and strategic cooperation.

One million talented Indians already live in the United States, with many more to come. They already play an important fundraising role in US politics.

The catalyst for US-Indian amity was the 9/11 attacks that shocked the US and India into an alliance of convenience against foes in the Muslim world. But the looming threat of China, and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal that worried Israel, also played a key role. To Republican strategists, the most obvious way to contain China’s growing power was to build up its great rival India as a counterweight.

India is now the latest international Klondike. Its $1,070 trillion economy, freed of oppressive government regulations know as the “license Raj,” is booming at over 8% annual growth While the US has a mostly negative image around the globe, it is wildly popular in India.

US arms makers and high-tech industries are salivating at the thought of entering India’s market. India’s rapidly expanding military forces need modern equipment and replacement for aging Soviet-supplied weapons systems. America’s military-industrial-financial complex pushed Bush hard to make nice to India and pry open its formerly sealed gates. The pressure continued on Obama who dutifully continued Bush’s Indian policies.

However, some perspective is in order. The GDP of 1.2-billion person India is still only half of that of Italy. Forty percent of India’s 1.2 billion people subsist below even that nation’s dire poverty level. Almost half have no indoor plumbing. Childhood malnutrition and child labor are rampant. India’s evil caste system remains entrenched in spite of government efforts to uproot it, a racist system that condemns darker skinned Indians to a life of penury and servitude.

While the western media fulminates against Taliban’s or Iran’s treatment of women, a leading British medical journal reports an estimated 40,000 Indian women are burned alive each year by their in-laws to grab their dowries. Infanticide of female children is endemic. But few in the west seem to care.

India is a giant with feet of clay. A senior western diplomat in unhealthy Delhi told me that at any given time, half his staff is ill with serious maladies. India is plagued by grave health and environmental problems.

India is really two nations: modern, dynamic, high-tech urban India of about 100 million, and antique, timeless rural Mother India of 1.1 billion souls. The two are often in conflict and uneasily coexist. Per capita income is about $1,050, up 10% in 2010. By contrast,per capita income in rival China is three times higher – provided we believe Beijing’s statistics.

To China’s annoyance, President Obama proclaimed in Delhi that India should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India is becoming a great power and deserves a seat among the world’s big boys. But so do Germany, Japan, Turkey and Brazil.

India and its people, long disparaged by British racist jokes, are delighted to be called equals by the great powers. In fact, nuclear-armed India sees itself very much as regional hegemon of the entire Indian Ocean extending from East Africa to Australia.

The Bush administration’s deal with Delhi to sanctify and facilitate India’s nuclear weapons programs was thought at the time a clever move. But it dismayed the rest of the world, made a mockery of non-proliferation, and outraged the entire Muslim world, which has been blasting the US for hypocrisy by threatening war against Iran, which is under UN nuclear inspection, while playing nuclear footsie with India, which rejected all UN inspection.

India’s leaders are no fools and will not be easily pushed or bribed into a stronger anti-China and anti-Iran stance by Washington – unless doing so suits Delhi. India needs oil from the Gulf even more than the US and is expanding its naval power to assure its supply lines.

Delhi maintains cool but correct relations with Beijing, but behind the wintry, trans-Himalayan smiles lies growing rivalry over Chinese-occupied Tibet, Indian-ruled Ladakh and Kashmir, their long, poorly demarcated Himalayan border (another gift of the British Empire), strategic Burma, and their intensifying nuclear and naval rivalry.

India claims China is trying to surround it, using Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Burma. The two Asian superpowers have been locked in a strategic and conventional arms race for a decade. In 1999, this writer postulated that the two giants would one day clash over their contested borders.

India will follow its own strategic and diplomatic interests – which are not synonymous with those of the United States.

Delhi has a long record of clever diplomacy that has isolated Pakistan and kept the world and UN out of the burning Kashmir problem, where 40,000–80,000 Kashmiris have died in a long independence struggle against Indian rule.

But the United States is now slowly being drawn into the dangerous Kashmir dispute – which triggered the 2008 terror bombing in Mumbai. Just look for example at the embarrassing revelations that one of the men involved in the 2008 Mumbai massacre was working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

The more Washington backs and arms India, the more its relations with China will deteriorate. Japan is also quietly building up India against China, to Beijing’s mounting anger.

The US could even be drawn into an India-China regional conflict. So caution is advised to US diplomats as they charge into the murky, tangled, poorly understood geopolitics

of South and East Asia.

We also wonder if President Obama was briefed on India’s growing strategic arsenal. India has been steadily developing a family of long-ranged intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads behind the cover of space-launcher vehicles.

Delhi already has enough medium-ranged Agni-series missiles to cover potential foe China. Why then is Delhi spending billions to develop a reported 12,000 km ICBM whose only targets could be North America, Europe or Australia?

India is also developing nuclear submarines and subs armed with nuclear-armed cruise missiles capable of striking distant targets, as well as the powerful BrahMos anti-ship missile whose primary function is to attack aircraft carriers and large warships. Only the US Navy operates such large vessels in the Indian Ocean. India is also intent on building more aircraft carriers to project power.

The US and India appear destined to become rivals for Mideast and Central Asian oil and influence. There is no guarantee that today’s bonhomie between Delhi and Washington will be permanent. Great powers have their special interests – and no permanent friends or enemies.

Euphoria over the new US-Indian love-in should not cloud our judgment of South Asia’s realities, nor make us believe we can cajole India into becoming a regional policeman for US interests.

Meanwhile, Pakistan, Washington’s vital ally in the failing Afghan War, is seething with ill-concealed fury over Obama’s Delhi love-in and his claim that India has an important role to play in Afghanistan – which Pakistan sees as its strategic backyard.

South Asia is a minefield. Caution, and more caution, is advised.

(Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles appear in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times and other news sites in Asia).

 

NOTE:This is a cross post.

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Comments

  • Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui  On November 10, 2010 at 6:14 am

    “The more Washington backs and arms India, the more its relations with China will deteriorate.”

    Americans and allies must always keep in mind a simple fact that all Those men and women living behind the Great wall with their dangerous force of myterious Silence are no more addicted with Cocaine and Morphine..

  • S U Turkman  On November 10, 2010 at 7:45 am

    What Mr. Siddiqui said sounds ridiculous because his Philosophy is clearly 16th Century. China can not dream of bad relations with its own creator of advancement, progress and the biggest Customer of her exports. Who were the Industrialists that had moved their factories to China closing down their factories in USA from 1981 on to make China move in to 21st Century?
    Who have created millions of jobs in China?
    Not Americans?
    Margolis has used Pakistani numbers telling, how many have died in Indian Kashmir because he works for ISI. He wrote, “The more Washington backs and arms India, the more its relations with China will deteriorate”. The same point of view that ISI has because ISI wants China to subdue India since Pakistan can’t, when China is so lame that she has not even taken over her Taiwan 100 miles away in scare of making USA mad. What a laugh …!
    Its hard to imagine China would want to deteriorate relations with her $ 300 billion a year Customer and the biggest reason of all her progress, USA.
    He writes, “The US and India appear destined to become rivals for Mideast and Central Asian oil and influence” just like ISI dreams, when everybody knows, USA does not get even half of her oil from Saudi Arabia and there is not enough oil in Central Asian Countries north of Afghanistan. India also has no hostile designs over Middle East like Pakistan used to have until 1971.
    Everybody knows, Oil Rich Countries sell Oil to whoever pays them money and USA has plenty of money to buy Oil from anywhere she wants. There is no example in the history that USA has gotten anything for free from any country like Pakistan has been for last half century from Baluchistan (Natural Gas) and Swat (Precious Stones) but Pakistanis believe USA is just like them and Mr. Margolis, on ISI’s Pay Roll has no choice but to propagate this though he knows the truth. Look, what greed of free ISI money can do …!
    He writes, “Why then is Delhi spending billions to develop a reported 12,000 km ICBM whose only targets could be North America, Europe or Australia?” just like ISI, when there is no such report that India is doing that. ISI wants to tell the Europe and USA that India is a dangerous country, not Pakistan, where all the Sneak Attack Terrorists get their Training. Look she is developing ICBMs to attack you … and the world is laughing at this Pakistani Conspiracy Theory.
    He writes, “But the looming threat of China, and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal that worried Israel, also played a key role”. This is new. This is the first time he has spoken these crazy words of stupid ISI. China’s Nuclear Arms are feared by Israel?
    Why would China attack Israel?
    What has Israel been doing against China’s interests?
    Has China become a Moslim Country because she is being claimed a fast friend of Pakistan by Pakistan and Israel has to be afraid of her? What a joke.
    Pak Nukes are a threat to Israel?
    How can a Beggar country like Pakistan dare to attack Israel, when she has been living off Charity of Aid and Loans of USA? Another joke for the world to laugh on.
    He writes, “Infanticide of female children is endemic (India). But few in the west seem to care”. … Fact is, ratio of Females in population of India is 94 to 100 Males and Pakistan’s is 92 Females so, the West is not caring about Pakistan more than India but despite knowing this, he had to insert this to make ISI happy.
    He writes, “To China’s annoyance, President Obama proclaimed in Delhi that India should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India is becoming a great power and deserves a seat among the world’s big boys. But so do Germany, Japan, Turkey and Brazil”.
    This is what a jealous ISI Officer or a Pak Army General would have written that he has copied down in this article. The fact is, China has neither shown any annoyance nor opposed this idea.
    Through him ISI points out other countries, who should get UN Security Council seat instead of India but may I ask, which of these countries has ever requested for it?
    If they do not want to be member of Security Council, why should they be forced to take that seat?
    Oh I know, because it would make jealous Pakistanis happy.
    He writes: “Euphoria over the new US-Indian love-in should not cloud our judgment of South Asia’s realities, nor make us believe we can cajole India into becoming a regional policeman for US interests” whereby exposing what Pak Army is afraid, USA wants to do this.
    He writes, “Meanwhile, Pakistan, Washington’s vital ally in the failing Afghan War, is seething with ill-concealed fury over Obama’s Delhi love-in and his claim that India has an important role to play in Afghanistan – which Pakistan sees as its strategic backyard”.
    I disagree again. Pakistan Army does not see it as its backyard. Pak Army considers Afghanistan a Pakistani Province. A country to occupy since nothing around is left to occupy and loot like Baluchistan and Gilgit.

  • Iqbaluddin Ahmad  On November 10, 2010 at 9:31 am

    An excellent and correct to the core analysis of the situation. But, don’t worry Pakistanis know how to face India. India is lucky that Pakistanis separated from them, otherwise whole of this continent would have been on fire all the times.

  • Syed Mustafa Zaidi  On November 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    “Very good article.America need to understand, unless they influence India to leave Afghanistan there will not be peace in Afghanistan. No Government wants hostile government in its neighbor. Simultaneously Pakistan should bring the Northern Alliance in its fold.”

  • Dave Makkar  On November 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Israeli Defense Ministry Director David Ivry: Israel has been selling arms to China but refused to describe the arms sold or their value.

    Early in 1992, Robert Gates now Defense Secretary, then director of the CIA, charged that China had illegally obtained ballistic missile secrets from the American-made ”Patriot” ground-to-air missile system, which figured prominently in defending both Israel and Saudi Arabia during the Gulf war. While Patriot missiles deployed to Saudi Arabia had U.S. crews, however, some of the Patriots in Israel were manned by Israeli crews. Gates said Israel was suspected of supplying China with these secrets, thereby making public suspicions that had circulated within the Pentagon since allegations of technology theft against Israel were formally raised immediately after the end of the Gulf war.

    Not long after the Patriot brouhaha subsided, Israel again was denying charges that it illegally exported U.S. technology to the communist regime in Beijing. This time, the suspicions revolved around the ill-fated Lavi fighter. Israel spent more than $1 billion in U.S. aid on the aircraft, which was based on the U.S. F-16 Falcon. After Israel ditched the program at Washington´s insistence, intelligence reports said Tel Aviv was selling the F-16 avionics technology to China for incorporation into that country´s new F-10 ground-attack fighter.

    The Cox report confirmed the suspicion in 1999, stating, “Significant transfers of U.S. military technology have also taken place in the mid-1990s through the re-export by Israel of advanced technology transferred to it by the United States, including avionics and missile guidance useful for the PLA´s F-10 fighter.”

    Recently Israeli lobby lead by Prof Steven Cohen of Brooking Institution wanted Civilian Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan so that the imbalance created in South Asia by United States-India nuclear deal can be rectified. They were backed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was also in favor of parallel approach to India and Pakistan on nuclear matters. That is besides the point in April China & Pakistan signed an agreement for two 300 MW’s reactors to be financed and constructed by Chinese companies. There are no stringent conditions attached to this deal like in case of India. Pakistan will not open its facilities for IAEA inspections or has agreed to similar safe guard imposed on India.

    CONCLUSION
    The writer is either brain dead or living on drugs and do not understand America is a 2nd Israeli colony after Palestine. President Obama a gifted orator mesmerized Indian Public & Parliament with his speech with repeated reference to Mahatama Gandhi on his recent visit to India. He never explained the rationale behind most sophisticated Free Arms to Pakistan which are primarily used for terrorism in India and most sophisticated military technology to China another hostile neighbor of India via Israel.
    Obama wants to involve Indian private business houses with American Defense contractors & opening of Banking just to benefit his Master’s Israel/Zionist controlling multi trillion dollar War Industry and world Banking.

    THE AIM OF ISRAELI CONTROLLED AMERICA IS ONLY TO DESTABALIZE THE WORLD WITH THEIR CON BANKING & ARMS INDUSTRY.

  • Nasim Hassan  On November 11, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Eric is one the few journalists who write without prejudice and base their analysis on first hand experience.

    I trust his views instead of those armchair intellectuals who write in Wall Street or NY Times.

    Nasim

  • mian saleem  On November 11, 2010 at 8:50 am

    All said and then India’s middle class of about 500m has purchasing power, that is what attract US. Furthermore India has now the blessing of US for becoming a permanent member of SC, it may take some time but eventually the target will be achieved. Pakistan has to take steps now to block this move, secondly transfer of technology and armaments, this may be very dangerous for Pakistan. I wonder our Pundits are aware of the seriousness????? WE cannot be complacent and ponder what Obama has said publicly and in whose favour.

  • Bajwa  On November 11, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I have no quarrel with US cultivating India as a strategic partner. That was bound to come one way.

    US should not allow India to threaten Pakistan’s security and help Pakistan to maintain its deterrent.

    Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan has a Pashtoon bias and Pakistan cannot help that. After most of Pashtoon live in Pakistan and others benefit economically. If US wants a domination of Northern Alliance over Afghanistan instability will be the result. Both us AND India should avoid that course.

    Pakistan should help Afghanistan economically by applying GATT in de facto manner in anticipation of Afghanistan’s membership of WOT, and so should US. That would mean allowing transit facilities for Afghan fresh fruit.

    Pashtoons should sort out their differences and live in peace with the world.The lesson of history for them is that strife only lead to misery for the people, and avoidance of misery should be the categorical imperative for both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and not playing “buzkashi”.

    A.Bajwa

  • Hosting  On November 11, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I just know that sahib is india language 😀

  • Hamid Hasan  On November 14, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    S U Turkman seems to be an ISI-obsessed Indian mad dog who is blinded by Pakistan’s hatred and thus annoyed by any logical and rational analysis by a non-partison writer just because he has pointed out some of India’s glaring ugly realities and because some of his remarks seem to favour Pakistan. It is good to have people blided by hate and prejudice as your enemies because the world can see through the nonsense they are talking.

  • thai seo  On November 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    hello Pakpotpourri2

  • 網路創業  On November 20, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Actually genuinely great weblog article which has received me considering. I by no means looked at this from the stage of look at.

  • am malik  On December 12, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Mr Bajwa
    If wishes come true horses would fly. This is more true of India. Have we not tested their mindset and did our forefathers did not test them as well? The common adage that a dog’s tail kept for a hundred years would still be bent. But in the case of India, instead the pipe got bent. Any hopes in Afghanistan viz India will be uphoria. Allah hafiz
    am

  • oscilloscope usb  On March 31, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    sharing with us your post. Continue remarkable.k!

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