Asian Diplomacy: US aligning its interests with India — China too
July 29, 2011
After militarily engaging itself in Afghanistan for 10 years, the US has come to the conclusion that it is ultimately diplomacy not muscle power that will solve the Afghan riddle.
According to the estimates of an American think tank, the US is presently spending $ 3.6 billion per month on its military mission in Afghanistan. Since September 11, 2001, it has spent on anti-Al-Qaida campaign in Afghanistan up to $2.7 trillion and the war has caused 224,000 to 258,000 deaths.
The US is going to pullout out by the end of next year the surge forces comprising 33000 soldiers it had led to Afghanistan from Iraq in 2008 with a view to turn tables on militants (read it Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives). The rest, 90,000 will be pulled out in phases while July 2014 is set as a deadline to end its military stakes in Afghanistan.
When Obama’s drawdown plan is out, all efforts of Ms. Rodham Clinton are now directed at making the plan a success story. She was recently in India to urge it play a wider role in Asia where China is on the rise.
“This is not a time when any of us can afford to look inward at the expense of looking outward. This is a time to seize the opportunities of the 21st century and it is a time to lead," she said in Chennai on July 20 while addressing students and intellectuals.
Clinton's speech is, as circumstantial evidences suggest, an outline of Washington's vision for the U.S.-India collaboration in the current and coming century.
The partnership US wants to develop with India is based on latter’s pluralism and its commitment to a democratic model of economic development.
The proof lies in the pudding: India has held diversities together through staying democratic; its economic liberalization policy has yielded it more than 8% GDP growth rate at a time many developed and developing democracies have landed into bankruptcy.
Ms. Clinton is sure that that India’s success both on political and economic front can inspire not only its citizens but also others ‘to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance’. “We think that America and India share a fundamentally similar vision for the future of this region," she declared adding “Our interests align and values converge”.
It was during this visit that she spelled the US vision about India: “the United States supports India’s Look East policy, and we encourage India not just to look east, but to engage East and act East as well, because after all, India, like the United States, where we look to the Atlantic and to the Pacific, India also looks both east and west. And its leadership in South and Central Asia is critically important”.
It is not that India is so much eager to dance to the tunes of the US. Yes, it aspires for permanent seat in the UN Security Council and the US can play an important role in alleviating its international status. But it does not mean it will not act independently if taking sides means confrontation with one or the other global player.
India, before the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held its annual summit meeting in Astana this July, had requested for full membership of the regional body dominated by Russia and China. Currently it has an observer status, like Pakistan and Magnolia.
Times of India reported five days after Ms. Clinton’s address in Chennai that China had written to New Delhi that it would like India to play a bigger role in SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), the six-nation body which holds the key to not just resource-rich central Asia but also the security situation in Afghanistan as the US drawdown starts taking effect.
It is worth mentioning the rest of the five members (Russia and Central Asian states) have already given a green signal for India’s full membership. Pakistan has also secured support of the SCO members for a full membership.
If the two South Asian neighbors formally join the Asian Club, which is being tipped as a counterweight to NATO, the most astounding development would be that the famous Asian Dilemma will be resolved facilitating a new era of cooperation in the region. Asian regionalism will get a boost facilitating free trade among the member states.
Yes, it is India which has to decide which way to go. There are chances that it will not take sides, as it did during the Cold War era. The maximum effort of the Indian policy makers would be to avoid the situation in which its choice is limited to either Asian Club or the Atlantic alliance. But if such situation arises, it would certainly prefer its giant neighbors over the distant friends.