How India is walking into the American trap
Donald Trump will ‘Make America Great Again’ but this greatness will be achieved at the cost of its allies such as Japan, South Korea – and, yes, India. By band-wagoning with the United States, India has clearly abandoned its hopes and aims of becoming a great power.
Has Modi’s steep inclining and band-wagoning towards America been the best possible option for India? Why does Washington need New Delhi for the fulfilment of its pivot to Asian policy? Isn’t India making a huge mistake by jumping into the U.S. trap? Why and how will PM Modi’s recent visit to U.S. be the beginning of a new era of destabilisation in the South Asia and Asia-Pacific region? Why did PM Modi embrace President Trump in a manner akin to an ‘infant hugging its father’? And above everything, what will be the implications of Modi’s recent visit to U.S. for India’s relations with Russia, China and Pakistan? After coming to power in 2014, the recent visit was Modi’s fourth visit to America and his first meeting with President Donald Trump. ‘The Butcher of Gujarat’ was banned from stepping on American soil before being elected the Prime Minister of India in 2014. After that, PM Modi visited Obama in September 2014, September 2015 and June 2016, and met Trump in June 2017.
India had always envisaged becoming a great power and always asserted that it was a great power in itself. This was the very reason why PM Jawaharlal Nehru along with Josip Tito of former Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, laid down the foundations of the non-aligned movement. The so-called non-alignment of India continued throughout the Cold War, overtly leaning towards the USSR. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 though, forced India to look for new friends in the West. U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush opened the way for India to come close to America. While Obama continued this posture towards India, with its Pivot to Asia Strategy in 2012, New Delhi became the new ‘blue-eyed boy’ of Washington. Before that, U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement was signed in March 2006, between President Bush and PM Singh.
India concluded Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the U.S. in August 2016, primarily to facilitate U.S. Military in maintaining a check on China. By the virtue of this defence pact Indo-U.S. militaries would be able to use each other’s facilities for refuelling and spare parts. Similarly, India annually conducts ‘The Malabar Naval Exercises’ along with Japan and the U.S. to focus on anti-submarine warfare – apparently to counter Chinese Navy in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. These two military-centric approaches are actually serving U.S. interests, not India’s.
India – due to its vast geography from Indian Ocean to the Pacific and war-driven animosity towards China – is perfect bait for U.S use.
The American planners see the growing cooperation between Pakistan and China as a threat to its national interests. Since, the U.S. has been able to significantly put pressure on China by increasing its military presence in the Pacific, China, in its counter-move has opted for its One Belt One Road (OBOR), ‘String of Pearls Policy’ and various economic corridors including the most important one – China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a part and parcel of Belt and Road Initiative. On the other hand the action space for India is squeezing down, due to its recent boycott of Belt and Road Initiative Forum held in May 2017.
The recent clashes at Indo-Chinese border near the Bhutan-China-India tri-junction are clearly linked with the afore-mentioned Modi-Trump meeting. India wants America’s complete support against Pakistan as well as China. Interestingly, the timing of the incident is not just a coincidence but a well chalked out plan. To make a point: the Indian support for the Dalai Lama is not in its national interest, but yet again it is done continuously to seek Washington’s affection.
China and Russia have not shown their willingness to give India a role in Afghanistan – unlike Pakistan who is already on board the Afghan peace process. India’s inclination towards the U.S. will also injure the spirit of SCO. With Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat’s ‘Two and a Half Front War Concept’, India is creating new enemies for itself. PM Modi during his 2016 speech at U.S. Congress said that ‘Indian activities in the Pacific are in the interests of America’; clearly these activities are not in the interests of India. Donald Trump will ‘Make America Great Again’ but this greatness will be achieved at the cost of its allies such as Japan, South Korea – and, yes, India. By band-wagoning with the United States, India has clearly abandoned its hopes and aims of becoming a great power. India has to understand that if it aims to become this great power – or, at least, a regional policeman – it has to do it while relying on its own strengths – just like China. Band-wagoning with the U.S. will not only hurt its ambitions but it is greatly against the spirit of its self-declared ‘non-aligned’ philosophy. History will prove that PM Modi led India to the American trap and made its worst move ever by becoming ‘bait’ in the power politics of the great powers.