Time for plain speaking

PM-Obama Summit

As Dr Manmohan Singh visits Washington for his meeting with President Obama one thing is clear. Unless President Obama satisfies Dr Singh with the private briefing of his China visit India should be prepared to fundamentally alter its attitude and policy towards America. President Obama’s public posture regarding China’s role in South Asia may not conform to his private endeavor. America is critically dependent on China’s goodwill right now. Only Dr Singh from his closed door talks will be able to assess the direction of President Obama’s roadmap in South Asia. The rest of us will have to watch both the US and Indian government very closely in order to judge whether or not India’s national interest is being irrevocably compromised.      

In their joint statement President Obama and President Hu agreed that USA and China together would “support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan”. This must be sweet music to China. It puts America’s stamp of approval to the efforts of China’s proxies in South Asia that attempted to make China a full-fledged member of SAARC. 

This scribe had written earlier that a peace agreement with Pakistan must precede any final settlement with China. Otherwise Beijing would play peace maker between India and Pakistan and become the big brother in South Asia to render India into one of its client states. That is precisely how things are shaping up. 

This scribe has repeatedly drawn attention to the corporate lobby in America which was described as the real axis of evil. In its indiscriminate search for profit it made America a huge debtor nation of China and seriously compromised US security. This lobby has overwhelming influence over American politics and mainstream media. It has hobbled US presidents in their first terms and compromised them through scandal in their second terms to extract obedience. Only President Bush succeeded in avoiding vulnerability to blackmail in his second term. He then attempted to undo some of the disastrous policies imposed on him by the Neo-Conservative lobby during his first term. He initiated the Indo-US Nuclear deal as an opening to a strategic alliance with India that would have created an Asian balance of power with China. 

That was not to be. The US-China corporate lobby with its long reach scuttled any such move by manipulating Indian leaders of the Left and BJP to join hands in scuttling the real intent of the deal to reduce it to a mere energy issue. Little wonder that during the recent Hindustan Times Summit when asked why China got so much importance over India, Bush replied coldly and with a tinge of bitterness: “You must learn to live with that.” 

Why the recent Obama-Hu statement on South Asia should cause worry is that President Obama appears very much to be a creature of the US-China corporate lobby. This scribe never had doubts about that even during the US election campaign. On November 23, 2008 he pointed out:

“Obama could afford to spurn Federal poll funding and managed to acquire the biggest campaign fund in US history. He has exceeded the Bush campaign fund for the second term. Obama is spending more than four times what McCain does on advertising. So how can he lose? Thanks to Goldman Sachs and buddies who first displayed confidence in him, Obama’s list of donors continued to swell. After his expected victory -- poof! The global crisis will start to fade and disappear.”

Warnings about the US selling India short had been issued in these columns much earlier. The basic choice was: Should South Asian stability be achieved through China becoming hegemonic and imposing peace in South Asia on its own terms, or by creating an Indo-centric South Asian Community based on cultural unity that would act as a bloc to balance China. As early as November 23, 2005 it was written in these columns: “Due to economic compulsions America desperately wants China to democratize itself. That was the purpose of President Bush’s visit to Beijing last week. America’s security establishment is now silently battling with its business establishment. President Bush is caught in the crossfire. 

Would not America therefore gladly sell India short in an effort to buy China’s cooperation? That is why the Indian government should think twice before accepting American advice related to China or Pakistan. It must evolve an independent security paradigm relying on its own strength.

On June 21, 2008 it was written: “
Has the US decided to dump China? No way... The US seeks closer ties with India without weakening ties with China. What the Indian government must be very cautious about is the exact opposite of what worries (Indian critics). The government must remain alert that closer Indo-US ties will not be at the cost of India’s interests to the benefit of China…the preponderant view in China up till now is to deny India its legitimate space.” 

The recent Obama-Hu summit makes these concerns real and urgent. It remains to be seen how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acquits himself in Washington.  


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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