Tag Archives: International Relations

Placing India on the Global Front

Guest blog by Madhu Nair

Over the past two decades India’s stand on foreign affairs has undergone a sea change. Its view of the world and itself, as well as the world’s perception of India has undergone profound changes. From a country that was rather conservative in foreign matters to the present one that is actively engaging itself with world powers – it is a welcome change. The changing dynamics in geopolitics and the fluctuating economic condition has made sure that India makes the necessary correction in its foreign code to prepare itself better for the future. For years, India has tried to maintain a balance when it came to managing relations with external powers. Be it the unstable neighbors, the unreliable west or the fluctuating middle-east, India has been managing them with good care.

Dealing with international relations is a tricky affair. Any let up could scumble India’s image as an international player thereby causing harm to its political and economic interests. According to Dr. C. Raja Mohan, a leading foreign policy analyst, there are five challenges that the nation faces in the near future. These include:

•    The creation of an area of peace and prosperity in the South-Asian Subcontinent
•    The construction of a stable architecture for peace and cooperation in Asia
•    The peaceful management of Asia’s maritime commons
•    A new internationalism that will be shaped by a deepening integration with the global economy and an effective contribution to the management of global problems
•    A clear line between celebrating its own democratic values and imposing them on others.

To meet these challenges India’s foreign policy needs a pragmatic approach with dedicated efforts from all quarters of the establishment; the polity, the bureaucracy and subject matter experts. The credit to the positive change in the last few decades may well go to dynamic foreign affairs officials whose sole objective was to place India on the global map.

The first name that crops up in the list of illustrious diplomats the country has seen is that of Late Ambassador Bimal Sanyal. Mr. Sanyal is remembered as one of the most sincere and hardworking diplomat who pioneered many firsts in the service. He was the very first Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs exclusively entrusted with ‘Economic Relations’ as a tool of diplomacy which has since become a mantra for India’s modern day diplomacy. The Association of Indian Diplomats awards The Ambassador Bimal Sanyal Memorial Medals to outstanding officers each year. It awards a Gold medal for the Best IFS Officer trainee each year and a Silver medal for the Best dissertation.

The architect of India’s modern foreign policy, Brajesh Mishra is undoubtedly the next in line. Principal Secretary to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mishra was also the first National Security Advisor. Known for his tough stand on various issues and his ability to make things work, Mishra built a good rapport with officials, ministers and diplomats alike. A troubleshooter in many ways, his sole motive was to make India’s position known on a myriad of issues. Mishra’s death leaves behind a legacy that has become a cornerstone for many aspiring and serving officers of the time.

Shiv Shankar Menon, India’s present National Security Advisor is yet another torchbearer of India’s interest on the international platform. Menon was instrumental in shaping the Indo-US nuclear deal which remains a milestone in US-India relations. Coming from a family of diplomats, Menon has helped India come out of the age-old nonalignment concept which has brought India closer to the West.

The year 2012 has rather been regretful for India. The arrest of the Italian marines and the following controversy has cast a shadow on India-Italy relations. Norway’s displeasure on the cancellation of 2G licenses to Uninor, a telecom joint venture by Telenor and Unitech India, has put the relations under strain. Perhaps the only silver lining for this year, the FDI in retail, too has come under tremendous pressure from opposition parties and is giving the government sleepless nights. With the 2014 elections coming close, the year 2013 will play the decider in which way the tide moves.

India’s foreign policies must be framed around how the world stands and not what it feels it should be; a problem that still plagues the country’s leadership. Though it has come a long way from being unrealistic, India still needs to make concentrated efforts to make itself relevant on the global stage. Much of it again will depend on the men who manage India’s foreign affairs.

Disclaimer: All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of USINPAC.

US Repeating Brezezinski-Casey Mistake

When Zbigniew Brezezinski and William Casey implemented a policy of training, funding and equipping Wahabi extremists in order to do battle against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, the international security consequences of that decision were glossed over. Even a cursory reading of the printed material used by the Wahabi cadres were ought to have shown the disconnect between their world-view and that of modern civilization. The literature teemed with references to historical events such as the crusades, and in particular, the re-occupation of Spain by the Christians. Any reference to Jews and Christians was – to put it in a highly diluted form – uncomplimentary. Given the huge staffs that both had at their elbow, Brezezinski and Casey ought to have figured out that the next target of the Wahabi fanatics, once the USSR was sent packing from Afghanistan, would be the western world.

It was not that there were no options to the recruiting of Wahabi jihadists. At that point in time, the Pashtun community in Afghanistan was almost entirely moderate, and nationalists within them would have eagerly accepted a U.S. request to get launched into battle against the colonial forces of Moscow. Instead, the moderate and nationalist Pashtuns were ignored, and help channeled only to the most virulent and extremist of the Pashtun community; elements incompatible with the co-existence of other elements in any society. It speaks for the lack of accountability within the U.S. strategic community that as yet, neither Brezezinski nor Casey have suffered any damage to their reputations as a consequence of their empowering of Wahabi fanatics into becoming the destructive force they now are. Certainly the defeat of the Soviets was a worthwhile objective, but it is assumed by those covering up for Casey and Brezezinski that this could only have been done by the fanatics. The option of using nationalist and moderate Pashtuns was – and has remained – forgotten. The consequence has been the radicalization of the Pashtun community and the empowerment of the Taliban, that “nurturing solution” to Al Qaeda.

Although 9/11 weakened the warm ties between the NATO powers and the countries and entities nurturing Wahabism, the 2003 Iraq war had the unfortunate and unintended consequence of creating an opportunity for the Wahabists to escape from the box into which they had been penned after the WTC and Pentagon attacks. The grounds for this had been prepared earlier, when Vice-President Dick Cheney decided that the U.S. would implement a strategy of outsourcing the war against the Taliban to the Pakistan army, the very force that saw the extremist militia as an auxiliary force. From 2001 permission given to thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters to escape from Kunduz, to the funds provided to Taliban elements deliberately identified as “anti-Taliban” by the ISI, to the NATO-assisted removal of Northern Alliance elements from the Afghan government and their replacement with pro-Taliban elements. It is the NATO which has been responsible for the return of the Taliban, and to such an extent that the alliance is now suing for peace with the militia, although aware of the terrible consequences to the Afghan people and to regional security in general of a Taliban takeover.

2011 saw a full-blooded return of the Brezezinski-Casey doctrine of boosting the offensive capabilities of Wahabi extremists. This columnist had warned – at the start of the Libyan intervention – that the so-called “democracy warriors” active against Muammar Gaddafi were largely Wahabi in composition, and cut from the same cloth as the Taliban. That this was so is clear from the literature they have been spewing out for decades, tracts which reek of prejudice against moderates and other faiths, and which faults Gaddafi not for being a dictator, but for allowing women to go about unveiled, and for not implementing a Wahabi version of Sharia Law. To their shame, western media have dropped Libya off the radar after the killing of Gaddafi, thereby allowing the imposition of (a Wahabi version of) Sharia Law in much of Libya, as well as the killings and torture of thousands, to go unreported. The forecast that Libya would become another Taliban-led Afghanistan, a safe haven for extremists, has come true.

Now in Syria, once again NATO is arming and otherwise assisting elements that will turn on the West as soon as they dispose of Bashar Assad. Intervening in the Wahabi battle against the Shia is as future-disastrous for NATO as Ariel Sharon’s 1982 intervention in Lebanon (on the side of the Maronite Christian militias against the Shia) was for Israel.

Civil wars in Arab countries need to take place without external intervention, especially those having a Wahabi-Shia hue. Hopefully, Hillary Clinton will avoid listening to the big donors from the Middle East to her husband’s charities and foundations, and go by common sense. The repeat of the Brezezinski-Casey strategy of arming Wahabi extremists in first Libya and now Syria is a geopolitical error of the first magnitude.