Tuesday, August 02, 2005

India trending our way?

This should be a no-brainer, but one would think that the United States and the largest democratic country, India, would be natural allies. Well, as a result of a Cold War hangover and our flirting with Pakistan over the years, it just has not been so.

Long overdue and a slow boil, we are moving closer and closer with India.

Peter Brooks from The Heritage Foundation has a good take on the warming realtions.
The Bush administration's most unheralded foreign policy success -- besides Libya's WMD disarmament and freeing Lebanon from Syria's iron grip -- is the dramatic upswing in U.S.-Indian relations.
Strong relations with (New) Delhi make sense for many reasons, including energy security and counterterrorism, but, perhaps, for no more important purpose today than balancing China's strategic rise in Asia.

China's emergence onto the world stage as a major regional -- and global -- power will define this century's international political landscape. Fortunately, India and the U.S. are natural, even well-suited, allies in managing and tempering China's ascendance.
BINGO. A billion plus voters that don't trust China either. Very nice. But here is the kicker. After decades of suffering under the ill-educated followers of Fabian Socialism, India is finding its capitalist footings.
India, though still a developing country, has the world's fastest-growing economy (behind China) and the world's 12th-largest, posting an impressive 7 percent growth rate since implementing reforms in the early 1990s.

The U.S. is India's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade topping $18 billion per year. America is also the largest investor in India's economy, and over 40 percent of U.S. temporary work visas go to Indians -- most for the IT sector.

On the security front, after China, India has the largest military in Asia with an armed force of 1.3 million -- not to mention a nuclear arsenal. Concerned about its security environment, Indian defense spending is up by 33 percent. ...some Indians are increasingly wary of Chinese regional intentions. (like) China's security relationship with India's long-standing rival and nuclear neighbor, Pakistan.

China provided significant assistance to Pakistan's conventional, ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs over the years.
India is also troubled by China's financing of a major port facility at Gwader in western Pakistan. Delhi fears that the Chinese navy will use the strategically located port (near the Persian Gulf) for future Indian Ocean operations.

Equally disturbing is China's robust military buildup -- ... China now has the world's third-largest defense budget (after the U.S. and Russia) at $90 billion per year. ... Beijing has the world's fastest-growing peacetime defense budget. In fact, Beijing recently announced a 13 percent addition to its defense budget, compounding more than a decade of double-digit increases. ... Indian strategists (have) taken careful notice of reports about Beijing building military airfields in southwestern China near India and its presence in nearby Burma -- both far from the Taiwan Strait.
That likelihood makes it critical that both Delhi and Washington continue to develop an effective partnership for not only addressing regional/global challenges, but for building a strategy for peacefully balancing China's inevitable rise in the international system.
As a bonus on this building trend, for the first time PACOM will have an Indian Navy liason officer on staff. Excellent.

There is another thing that goes unmentioned here. As one who went to a Engineering and Science focused University, I cracked the code early on this;
have you seen MTV India? 'Nuff said on that! That is all the reason to "cozy up to India" that a Sailor needs!

Hat tip
Dawn's Early Light via Chester.

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