India feels snubbed: Can Delhi avoid being ignored?

India feels snubbed: Can Delhi avoid being ignored?

For the past fifty of the last sixty years, the diplomats in Delhi have opposed every US policy around the world. During the Cold War, the Socialist Nehru dynasty (still in power after fifty years) opposed the US on 95% of the votes in the United Nations. Bharati (aka Indian) politicians and the entire country opposed the liberation of Afghanistan and supported the USSRs invasion of that country.

The reason for the Bharati support of the USSR was because according to Delhi’s calculations the USSR would win the Cold War and because the Socialists in Nehru’s government thought that supporting Moscow was in the interest of Delhi. Bharat’s support for the Soviets was because of the ideological support for World Socialism, but also because of the deep rooted hatred for what it called “US Imperialism” and “Ugly capitalism”. The Indian politicians firmly believed that by supporting Stalin and Kruschev and they would be on the winning side.

Since the 50s, the Bharatis condemned Pakistan for being a founding member of SEATO and CENTO, and called Pakistan a US lackey–ironically Delhi was more loyal to Moscow than Cuba.

Vir Sanghvi of the Hindustan Times has written a very strange article. On the one hands, he describes the usual company line of Bharat in criticizing Pakistan for its support for its traditional alliances with America–on the other hand Sanghvi laments the so called American tilt towards Pakistan. Sanghvi then dives into a never ending diatribe against everything American. Of course the purpose of his rhetoric is to malign Pakistan. However his ineptitude describes US policy and why it should be subservient to Delhi’s interests.

After the destruction of the USSR, Delhi found itself surrounded by a belligerent China, an antagonist Bangladesh, a fearful Nepal, and an aggressive Pakistan. It was at this time the Delhi found the good practices of America and fell in “love” with America.

In less then a decade the Bharatis have been able to antagonize the Americans to such an extent that Washington doesn’t want much to do with Delhi, except invite the Prime Minister to “State dinners”, even though state dinners are held for Presidents and head of states (and under the Bharati constitution the President Patil is the head of state).

Sanghvi describes the new found Bharati irritation with Washington.

There are two traditional irritants in the relationship between Washington and Delhi. The first is what India sees as America’s desire to order the world according to its own best interests. For instance, in the 1950s, when Washington asked each country to take sides in the Cold War, the Indian establishment reacted with anger: why should India be forced to get involved in somebody else’s war?

Delhi wants to dictate American interests and who Washington’s friends should be. It cannot fathom that American interests may lie anywhere outside the parameters laid down by India.

The second is Pakistan, a small country of no great consequence that has always made itself valuable to Washington by serving US interests in third countries. In the 1950s and 1960s, it served as a base for US spy planes as America kept a watch on Russia. In the 1970s, it was America’s gateway to China. (In the 1980s, it became a virtual American aircraft carrier in the battle to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. And so on.

What Sanghvi calls “American air craft carrier” was the front line state against Soviet expansionism supported by the US, the UK, Europe, China, the Non-Aligned movement and the entire free world. India of course at the time was on the wrong side of history and supported Moscow’s downward drive to the warm seas of the oil rich Gulf.

Both irritants have come into play once again. Rightly or wrongly, a perception has developed among educated Indians that America expects India to toe the Washington line on key global issues. For instance, the sub-text to the recent climate change controversy (over which key Indian officials resigned) is the suspicion that India is under pressure to overturn our long-standing policies to suit Washington’s own interests.
Similarly, much of the opposition to the new Nuclear Liability Bill is predicated on the belief (hotly denied by the government) that the legislation is being enacted to insulate large American companies from liability even when the equipment they have supplied costs Indian lives.

Sanghvi is not alone in his deep rooted Anti-Americanism. Much of the Indian/Bharati establishment is resentful of any American policy that slightly differs for Bharat’s global aspirations. According to the Delhi’s mode of thinking, the USA is to be used against Pakistan, and as a bridge on way to Bharati quest of world power status. In Delhi’s demented mindset, America is on the decline, and India should take full advantage of its weaknesses to build itself up as a rival to the next set of world powers.

The Delhi pundits abhor traditional American policy that has served America well. The Bharati politicians want Pakistan to go away–like Sikkim. Delhi wants Islamabad as subservient as Bhutan. Delhi has a tough time recognizing that Maldives, Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sikkim and Pakistan are independent sovereign states with their own interests.

There are many other examples of perceived US pressure on the government. Many fears may well be misconceived but they derive their power from a fresh development: a shift in America’s foreign policy to favour Pakistan.

Once again, Pakistan has offered itself as a route to a third country. The US finds itself in a war it cannot win in Afghanistan. The only way it can extricate itself from that mess is by coming to an understanding with the very people that it has been fighting: the Taliban.

Bharati government officials are confounded by the profound analysis of the Indophile Stephen Cohen so now says American strategy does not see a long term relationship with Delhi.

It is no secret that the original Taliban was the creation of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and it is widely believed that Pakistan still has leverage with Taliban leaders. Now that US policy is to seek some sort of accommodation with ‘good Taliban’ (whatever that means), Pakistan has two uses. One: it can facilitate an understanding with Taliban leaders and offer some guarantees of stability once the US moves out or scales down its presence in Afghanistan. And two: it can crack down on ‘bad Taliban’ (such as the Pakistan Taliban and those Afghan leaders opposed to Islamabad’s Taliban friends) within Pakistan’s own borders.

In recent months, Pakistan has performed both tasks. Back channel negotiations with ‘good Taliban’ are in progress and the Pakistani army has launched a massive operation against the Taliban while denying safe haven to many of those who are fighting the US in Afghanistan.

From an American perspective, this is invaluable. Not only is the Pakistani government facilitating a face-saving exit from a deeply unpopular war but the Pakistani military seems at last to have found the will to take on Islamists. This accounts for the US’s current love for Pakistan, for the pictures of Hilary Clinton posing cosily with Mehmood Qureshi and for Washington’s praise of Pakistan’s army.

The government of Bharat does not understand the US and Pakistani interests have aligned, and that Delhi is not part of the new equation in Afghanistan. Even long time Delhi loyalist Mr. Karzai wants Delhi to back off and have a low key non-presence in the Hindu Kush.

Delhi blackmailed America and attempted to force it to do its bidding for the past decade. Fearing an end to the blackmail, it set up false flags in Bharat and tried to blame Pakistan for all evil on this planet. Right after 911, Bharati intelligence fed false wires to Washington which identified Pakistanis as the root of all evil. One false wire dont them that an attack on the White House was imminent. That fake warning was then proven to be incorrect.

Naturally Islamabad wants payment in return: an India-style nuclear deal, arms to use against India, an ejection of Indians from Afghanistan, some resolution of the Kashmir dispute etc. Washington cannot give the Pakistanis everything they want. But equally, Pakistan has to get something as payment. And that will be at India’s expense.

When you consider President Obama’s options dispassionately you can see why he needs to court Pakistan. But, equally, Washington needs to do something to reassure New Delhi. Instead, America gives the impression that it takes India for granted. The refusal to extradite David Headley and the repeated flip-flops over allowing Indian investigators to question him suggest a complete insensitivity to Indian public sentiment.

While Delhi comprehends the imperatives in Afghanistan, it does not like the fact that the war is coming to an end, and Delhi’s blackmail of America will decline.

In the light of what America is doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it rather seems as though Washington has had a change of heart: why fight a war on terror when you can simply do deals with the terrorists?

It is hard to see why Washington is letting the goodwill it has enjoyed in India over the last few years slip through its fingers. Public suspicion of the US in India has now reached the stage where no matter what the government does — talk to Pakistan, for instance — it is accused of following orders from Washington. These suspicions extend to the ruling party: even Congressmen fear that America has too much leverage over India.

Bharat has traditionally been anti-American for fifty of the past sicty years. The last ten years was an anomaly. On the other hand for fifty of the past sixty years, the US has enjoyed ubiquitous appreciation and admiration in Pakistan–the last decade being an aberration. In 2010 things have tending to become more normal and revert to the status of the second half of the 20th century. Pakistan is extremely important for American interests—a lynchpin of the free world. The planet recognizes this fact. Delhi has to come to terms with the existence of Pakistan and the new realities that are relevant to international affairs of West Asia.

In the short-run, Pakistan and Afghanistan are important to Washington. But in the long-run it is India that America will need if it is to counter China. Washington’s behaviour suggests that it has forgotten that national pride and patriotism are non-negotiable for Indians.

No matter how much affection Indians have for American culture, India is too large and too important to be taken for granted. And Indians have long memories. No snub is ever forgotten. Hindustan Times. The views expressed by the author are personal

Threat from Delhi may fall on deaf ears in Islamabad–and Washington is not trembling of filthy and ancient dinosaurs called elephants.

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