India-Pakistan: August 10, 2001

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The Bush Administration has been making surprising diplomatic progress in an area that the media has overlooked, with India. India is a major nation, with a large military and a market that is nearly the size of Chinas. India is democratic and considerably less corrupt than China, making it much friendlier for US investment and exports. A steady stream of top officials of the Bush Administration have been making trips to India. During a recent visit to Washington by Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, President Bush (scheduled to "stop by" talks with him) turned this brief stop into an extended and far-ranging meeting, then sent Singh to an unscheduled Pentagon briefing where he was met with a full honor guard reserved only for the closest allies such as Britain, Canada, or France. While India has previously parroted the Russian line that missile defense was bad for global stability, India has suddenly reversed itself (as Germany and Britain have) to declare that the US is clearly working for a new concept in global security. Indian newspapers gush with love in describing how nice the US officials are and how well the various negotiations are going. India has recently agreed to invite US officers to take special courses in mountain and jungle warfare at Indian training centers with a reputation on par with Fort Irwin. The Bush Administration crows that it has made more progress with India in five months than the Clinton Administration made in eight years. Playing the "India card" is long overdue. India has placed its bets with Russia, and lost them all. For decades, Indian officials could not find anything too insulting to say about the US. Five decades of Indian socialism have left the economy stagnant, and Indian officials seem willing now to try ideas that are more western than have previously been considered. The Bush idea that peace and stability are built by strength and deterrence is music to India's ears; the Indians had rejected the Clinton passion for arms control treaties as superior to military force as a means of national defense. While previous US administrations could not see beyond the India-Pakistan feud, the Bush-2 Administration focuses on India as a strategic counterweight to China. The US has also distanced itself from Pakistan, as there is no need for good relations there to assure CIA access to Afghanistan and to counter Russian influence in India. The US is confident that it can deal with Russian influence in India head on, with its vast economic power. The US is more than slightly annoyed at Pakistani support for Islamic radical and terrorist groups, which Islamabad allows to freely cross the Afghan-Pakistan border. Extremely unhappy over the Pakistani nuclear tests, the US has begun to list Pakistan as a "rogue nation" in the same sentence as Iran and North Korea. The Bush Administration has hinted about lifting the 1998 nuclear sanctions on India, but not on Pakistan.--Stephen V Cole 

 

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