Hanging around the Y-junction

It was interesting to see, towards the end of Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars, members of the Obama administration realise that the United States is in the same place today as it was in early 2009. Recent events validate that assessment. Frustrated with the Pakistani army’s refusal to shut down taliban safe havens, the US-led forces attacked across the border killing Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani military retaliated by shutting down the supply route, letting taliban militants destroy some trucks and show that it has the ability to inflict some pain. This was roughly the state of affairs when Barack Obama took over as president.

This is exactly what we had argued, “Sooner or later, the Obama administration will come to realise that it has no way to make the Pakistani military establishment seriously fight and defeat the jihadi groups, which includes the Taliban, al-Qaeda and outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba. When that moment comes, Barack Obama will need to choose between direct confrontation with the Pakistani military-jihadi complex and colossal strategic defeat.” (Operation Markarap)

What now? It is unlikely that President Obama would choose “direct confrontation with the Pakistani military-jihadi complex” just yet. The race to find options short of that is almost certainly on, and a “throw them a bone” alternative will be sought. There are three possible bones. First, to accept a pro-Pakistani political dispensation in Afghanistan. Second, to accept the “legitimacy of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons”. Third, to press India to compromise on Kashmir.

The first option doesn’t appeal to General Ashfaq Kayani at this stage because he believes he can get there without the United States. The second option is a status symbol they can do without, not least because China continues to support the expansion of the Pakistani arsenal. The third option might just do the trick, because which Pakistani general is immune to the potential glory of being the one who won Kashmir?

So expect Washington to exert pressure on India over Kashmir. Expect pressure to restart the composite dialogue and suchlike. It’ll take the Obama administration a year or so to realise that this is a dead-end. General Kayani will probably realise it a little before Washington does. And then what?

Well, we told you already. Barack Obama will need to choose between direct confrontation with the Pakistani military-jihadi complex and colossal strategic defeat.

The US-India Relationship: Creating a new model of balanced partnership

Welcome to the USINPAC Blog on U.S.-India Relations. I welcome all constructive comments and dialog on this important topic for both the USA and India.
I believe that we as Indian-Americans have a unique perspective, with strong roots in India and equally strong commitment to our chosen homes in the USA. The 2.7 million Indian-Americans make substantial contributions to daily life in the USA as doctors, lawyers, IT professionals, hoteliers, corporate executives, small business owners, public servants, politicians, and in several other community enriching occupations. Most of us also have family and friends in India and cherish our deep and historic heritage. Therefore we experience at a deeply personal level the desire for close and mutually beneficial relations between these two great societies.

After decades of mistrust, both the U.S. and India have moved closer to each other over the last 10 to 15 years. Today, few persons are against closer ties, and one often hears calls for more effective cooperation between the “world’s oldest and largest democracies”. We must, however, go beyond the talk and rhetoric and develop mutual trust at the working levels on key issues of national priorities for each country, such as:

o Geopolitical Military Cooperation
o Countering Global Terrorism
o Curbing Nuclear Proliferation
o Economy and Trade
o Preserving the Global Environment

In the modern interconnected world, each of these areas is critical for the national security of both countries. Moreover they are central to preserving and furthering both countries’ ideals of a free and open society where the rights of individual citizens are fiercely protected.

We at USINPAC authored a Policy Paper on “US National Security and US-India Strategic Relations” which I encourage you to view on the USINPAC website.

From the U.S. perspective, it needs a stable partner in Asia who shares its values of democracy and freedom. The U.S. is embroiled in two wars in Asia; threatened daily by global terror from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of the Middle East; must address nuclear proliferation from North Korea and its allies; must protect international shipping channels; must balance growth in Asia with its energy and environmental consequences; and the U.S. faces increasing nationalist aggression on multiple fronts from China. The USA cannot address all these vital issues on its own. It needs a strong stable Asian partner to work with. India is the obvious choice.

As India increasingly becomes a global power, it too benefits from a close relationship with the USA. India needs access to the latest technology, training, and markets for its National Security and to realize its dream of becoming a world power.

The logic for a strategic relationship between India and the USA is irrefutable. However, a lasting positive relationship can be built only through mutual trust, and it must be built before a crisis situation arises. Additionally, a lasting relationship should benefit both partners. Most relationships that the U.S. has today tend to be one sided. Every country wants something from the US, but few, if any, offer meaningful benefits in return. India has the potential to offer a new model of a truly balanced partnership with the USA.

There is a need for concrete achievements to steer the nascent US-India relationship in the right direction. The upcoming trip of President Obama to India could be a milestone if the two leaders are able to show results in specific areas for cooperation. This should, however, become a continuing process, and not a one time photo opportunity. It is worth the effort since the potential benefits to both India and the USA are enormous. We hope our respective leaders are up to the challenge.