Nos. 33 & 34, December 2002
Appendix I: US Declares
India a Strategic Pillar
I would like all of us on this occasionincluding during our question and answer sessionto stay entirely focused on the transformation of the US-India relationship, a recent extraordinary development of encompassing strategic importance in this part of the world, and beyond.
Twenty months ago, under the 1998 US Pokhran II sanctions regime, the United States and India seemed constantly at odds. Today, President Bush has this to say about India, The Administration sees Indias potential to become one of the great democratic powers of the twenty-first century and has worked hard to transform our relationship accordingly. The President waived the 1998 sanctions, and drastically trimmed the long Entity List which barred Americans from doing business with certain Indian companies from over 150 Entities to less than 20.
Twenty months ago, the American and Indian militaries conducted no joint operations. Today, they have completed six major training exercises.
Twenty months ago, American and Indian policymakers did not address together the important issues of cooperative high technology trade, civil space activity, and civilian nuclear power.Today, all three of these subjects are under concentrated bilateral discussion, and the top of both governments is determined to make substantial progress.
President Bush and Prime Minister Vajpayee champion
this powerful and positive bilateral interaction, reinforced by an unprecedented
stream of Washington policymakers who have traveled to India. Since Sept
1, 2001, five members of the Bush Cabinet have come to India, some more
than onceSecretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld, Secretary of the Treasury Paul ONeill, US Trade Representative
Robert Zoellick, and Director of the Environmental Protection Agency Christie
Todd Whitman. Their efforts have been underpinned by nearly 100 US official
visitors to this country at the rank of Assistant Secretary of State or
higher, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard
Myers, and Director of the FBI Robert Mueller. Robustly engaging with
their Indian counterparts, these US policymakers give attention to diplomatic
collaboration, counter-terrorism, defense and military-to-military teamwork,
intelligence exchange, law enforcement, development assistance, joint
scientific and health projects including on HIV/AIDS, and the global environment.
Transforming US-India Relations: Geopolitics in Asia
In my view, close and cooperative relations between America and India will endure over the long run most importantly because of the convergence of their democratic values and vital national interests. Our democratic principles bind usa common respect for individual freedom, the rule of law, the importance of civil society, and peaceful inter-state relations. With respect to overlapping vital national interests, let me now briefly share with you my Big Three for the next decade and beyond. They are to promote peace and freedom in Asia, combat international terrorism, and slow the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
In this context, Asia is poised to become the new strategic center of gravity in international politics. With this historically momentous shift, for the first time since the modern era began with the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the single largest concentration of international economic power will be found not in Europenot in the Americasbut in Asia....
In such circumstances, peace within Asiaa peace that helps perpetuate Asian prosperityremains an objective that a transformed US-India relationship will help advance.
....Henry Kissinger wrote twenty years ago, the management of a balance of power is a permanent undertaking, not an exertion that has a foreseeable end.
Achieving this objective requires the United States to particularly strengthen political, economic, and military-to-military relations with those Asian states that share our democratic values and national interests. That spells India. A strong US-India partnership contributing to the construction of a peaceful and prosperous Asia....
If promoting peace, prosperity and freedom in Asia, and defeating international terrorism are two important long-term objectives of a transforming US-Indian relationship, the third and final strategic challenge underlying this radical reform of our bilateral ties is to curtail the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Asia, and the means to deliver them. Today, Asia has eight nations that either have nuclear weapons capabilities, or are trying to acquire them. Nine countries have biological and chemical weapons or are attempting to obtain them. Eight nations have ballistic missiles with ranges exceeding 1,000km.
No other part of the globe has such a concentration of WMD nations and capabilities, and these disturbing trends could worsen. As WMD programs have become more advanced and more effective as they mature, many countries of concern have become more aggressive in pursuing them.
Both India and the United States share a common vital
national interest in restraining the further proliferation of WMD, and
their means of delivery. Both countries face a significant risk within
the next few years of confronting either terrorists or rogue states armed
with such WMD capabilities.
Transforming US-India Relations: Collaborating to Advance Stability
In June and July 2002, the Indian Navy Ships Sukanya and Sharda conducted escort patrols for American ships through the Malacca Straits in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Knowing what they would be up against if they had to deal with the Indian Navy, the pirates sensibly stayed away. The US Army 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment welcomed 80 soldiers from Indias 50th Independent Parachute Brigade to conduct Geronimo Thrust in September, the first-ever live fire exercise between American and Indian paratroopers. The jawans flew to Alaska in an Indian Air Force IL-76. This marked the first time that an Indian Air Force combat aircraft has landed on US soil.
With American warships now routinely refueling in Chennai and Mumbai, we saw in September and October the largest-ever US-India naval exercise, called Malabar. Over 1,500 American and Indian naval personnel participated during this four-day event, which featured flying operations, anti-submarine warfare exercises, and replenishment at sea.
In October 2002, again in Agra, an air transport exercise named Cope India-02 developed a baseline for future interoperability that will lead to a fighter aircraft exchange. USAF personnel, on board Indian aircraft, observed the drop of Indian paratroopers and heavy equipment. Both air forces learned each others formation flying techniques. The Indians marked the difference in the way the Americans drop cargo with drag-parachutes and prepare drop zones. By the end of the exercise, Indian paratroops dropped from US C-130 Hercules transporters.
In addition to all of this, in the past six months:
The Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagons key think tank, conducted its first seminar in India with counterparts in the Integrated Defense Staff. That seminar will lead to future exchanges between the defense research and analysis communities in both countries.
The US Joint Staff in the Pentagon and the Indian Integrated Defense Staff established a formal relationship in April during the first Joint Staff Talks in Washington. These talks will emphasize tri-service institutions, military planning, and tri-service doctrine.
The US and Indian Defense Intelligence Agencies instituted a formal relationship.
Indian and American Army Training and Doctrine Commands began a formal exchange on doctrinal matters that will bring our armies closer together at the operational and strategic level.
Finally, Indian experts participated in a missile defense simulation in Colorado in June, and Indian defense officials visited the United States to talk specifically about Indias future involvement in US missile defense programs.
The Bush Administration has worked with the American Congress to amend the law requiring congressional notification of all applications for export to India of items on the US munitions list. Since October 24, 2002, only those Major Defense Equipment (MDE) items above $14 million now require congressional notification. This change puts India in a category with American Treaty Allies such as South Korea and Japan.
India is leasing several additional US fire-finding/weapon locating radars, in addition to those already contracted for purchase;
Spares for Sea King helicopters are on a fast track for delivery;
The Pentagon is expeditiously processing the Indian Armys request for significant Special Forces equipment and border sensors; and
The Bush Administration approved the sale of General Electric engines and advanced avionics for Indias indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA).
Community of Democracies
Deeply grounded in our mutual pluralist convictions and our compatible vital national interests, and in the welcoming attitudes of the American and Indian people, the United States and India will make this a more peaceful, prosperous and free world. It will not be easy. It will not be quick. But working with like-minded nations, we will accomplish this noble tasktogether.
What he did not say was as revealing as what he did say. In a 45-minute address to business leaders in Bombay, Mr. Blackwill, a former Harvard professor who was one of several advisers to Mr. Bush on foreign policy during the presidential campaign, never criticized India for beginning nuclear tests in 1998.
Instead, he extolled the common ground that the two nations have recently found on nuclear issues, strongly suggested that the administration would soon approach Congress on the lifting of sanctions imposed on India after the tests and pledged that the United States will not be a nagging nanny.
The tenor and substance of the ambassadors remarks signaled a calm acceptance of Indias nuclear status. And that is a change.
Even when Bill Clinton visited India last year on a presidential tour that was more lovefest than slugfest, he gently scolded India, saying its decision to conduct the tests had eroded barriers to the spread of nuclear weapons. He also urged India to sign the nuclear test ban treaty, another issue Mr. Blackwill did not mention.
The Bush administrations respectful treatment of Indias nuclear ambitions is part of a broader diplomatic strategy to engage India on a range of issues, including liberalized trade, counterterrorism, Mr. Bushs missile defense initiative and collaborative efforts to ensure the uninterrupted flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.
President Bush has a big idea about India-U.S. relations, Mr. Blackwill said. My presidents big idea is that by working together more intensely than ever before, the United States and India, two vibrant democracies, can transform fundamentally the very essence of our bilateral relationship and thereby make the world freer, more peaceful and more prosperous.
In coming months, the ambassador said, a stream of cabinet members and administration officials are already scheduled or likely to visit India. They include Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Treasury Secretary Paul H. ONeill and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser.
Those visits will certainly be a change from the first two years of the first Bush administration, from 1989 to 1991, when not a single cabinet-level officer working for Mr. Bushs father visited India, according to Dennis Kux, an historian on Indian-American relations.
India was really off the radar scope then, Mr. Kux said today. There was practically no American investment in India. The cold war was ending, and the focus was there. And Pakistan was the main plank of our interest in South Asia because of the Afghan war.
Daddy ignored India, Mr. Kux said.
Junior is embracing it.
Add the Bush push for missile defense to a long list of items separating India and China. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayees government likes it. Beijing hates it. Therein lies a tale of Asias most dangerous long-term tensions and Americas obligation to avoid making them more dangerous.
It is time for a bit of strategic heresy: The chances of serious conflict between India and China may now outrank the more obvious antagonisms between China and Taiwan as a threat to global stability. The balance of power across the Himalayas could be more tenuous than the confrontation across the Taiwan Strait.
The standoff in the Taiwan Strait is carefully studied and calculated by each side and by the United States. President Bush has made clear U.S. commitments to protect Taiwan in a way that adds to stability.
Chinas leaders are emotional about Taiwan. But I assume that they are also rational: They will presumably not launch an invasion that will surely fail. Chinas growing economic power should give Beijing increased confidence to wait for reunification to occur peacefully (and democratically).
But there are fewer established rules of the game between New Delhi and Beijing, which went to war in 1962 and which remain locked in bitter and fundamental disagreement on matters ranging from Indias bid to have its status as a nuclear power internationally accepted to future membership for India on the U.N. Security Council.
Danger arises not from plans by either side to go to war but from the miscalculation and misunderstanding that could emerge as China seeks a sphere of influence in Asia commensurate with its new power. For all their hostility, Beijing and Taiwan know how to communicate with each other. That is yet to be established for India and China.
Their long-simmering differences escalated onto a new plateau when India stunned the world by testing nuclear weapons in May 1998. Pakistan, which has received significant nuclear help from China, immediately followed suit.
But Pakistan, now a borderline failed state, is largely a problem of the past for India. Vajpayees nuclear strategy is centered wholly on China. As Vajpayee informed President Clinton immediately after the tests, India could no longer ignore Chinas growing nuclear missile force and the assistance Beijing was providing to Pakistan as part of an anti-India policy.
Vajpayees plea for understanding and a rethinking of the global nuclear order fell on deaf ears. Clinton denounced the nuclear tests and imposed unilateral U.S. sanctions on both India and Pakistan.
The United States also joined China in threatening to keep India out of any future expansion of permanent Security Council membership as long as India did not renounce nuclear weapons. Keeping Japan or India from gaining a permanent seat is a constant feature of Chinas strategy to be the dominant Asian power.
There is new thinking about nuclear doctrine, and India, at the White House. Bush intends to end the sanctions in a matter of months, according to aides, and wants a new strategic relationship with India. The president has nominated as his ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, an experienced diplomat and broad strategic thinker who was one of the half-dozen advisers briefing Bush on foreign policy during the 2000 election campaign.
China noticed Bushs unusually warm welcome of Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh for an Oval Office chat about missile defense in April. Since then, India has been more supportive of Bushs plans than all but one or two of Americas European allies.
Missile defense could reinforce Indias declared strategy of minimal deterrenceto deploy just enough warheads to ward off Chinese attack. On paper that resembles Bushs hope to cut U.S. offensive nuclear weapons.
China, however, sees the Bush strategic defense plan as aimed specifically at neutralizing its small but growing nuclear arsenal. A significant warming of U.S.-Indian ties, powered by conceptual agreement on missile defense, could cause the Chinese to expand and accelerate their nuclear upgrades, to poke at India through help to Pakistan and take risks that have not been well calculated.
A re-weighting of Americas Asia strategy in Indias
favor is long overdue and is possible under Vajpayee and Bush.
All material © copyright 2015 by Research Unit for Political Economy