Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Indo-American Ashley Tellis Helps Evolve US-India Strategy (against China and the Islamic world) ^ | Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Francis C. Assisi

Posted on 07/06/2005 3:39:04 AM PDT by Gengis Khan

04 July 2005 -- American policy makers in the Bush administration believe that they finally have new improved grand strategy toward South Asia, thanks to an Indian-American at the prestigious think-tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Mumbaikar Ashley Tellis, one of America’s foremost policy experts, has outlined the grand strategy in a forthcoming report entitled “India as a New Global Power: An Action Agenda for the United States” and scheduled for release July 14, four days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington.

As Tellis testified last month in the House of Representatives: "The record thus far amply substantiates the claim that India will be one of Asia's two ascending powers. It is expected that the Indian economy could grow at a rate of 7-8 per cent for the next two decades. If these expectations are borne out, there is little doubt that India will overtake current giants."

In the agenda Tellis argues that the United States must align with India because:

• By 2015, it will have the fourth most capable concentration of power • It will be among the five major economies in 25-50 years • Can be a counterfoil to China • Can stabilize the region littered with failing states.

And this alignment must mean that the U.S. will:

• Help India's power to grow to prevent China's dominance • End the illusory idea of military balance between India and Pakistan • Endorse India's membership in the UN Security Council, G-8, International Energy Agency • Remove objections to the Iran-India pipeline • Allow sale of dual-use technology, including nuclear safety equipment

In his policy brief, Tellis, who is a senior associate at the Pentagon-supported think tank, outlines American thinking and points out some of the potential challenges in realizing the new strategic goal towards South Asia of aiding Pakistan but at the same time recognizing India’s pre-eminence in the region. This may be the first time the U.S. is basing its South Asia strategy on positive engagement with Pakistan coupled with a clear acknowledgement of India’s ascendance. In the past, American policy makers have been afraid that support for one would upset the other - and, in fact, it did.

The objective of the strategy as outlined by Ashley Tellis in the new Policy brief published by the think tank is to enable India to become a great power while at the same time assisting Pakistan in attaining security and stability. "By expanding relations with both states in a differentiated way matched to their geostrategic weights," Tellis argues, "the Bush administration seeks to assist Pakistan in becoming a successful state while it enables India to secure a trouble free ascent to great-power status."

According to Tellis, these objectives would be achieved "through a large economic and military assistance package to Islamabad and through three separate dialogues with New Delhi that will review various challenging issues such as civil nuclear cooperation, space, defense co-production, regional and global security, and bilateral trade."

Tellis believes that "if you define power in terms of comprehensive national strength, it is unlikely that the United States will face serious peer competitors for at least another fifty years" but insists that India's continuing quest for security and for great power status must be recognized by the U.S.

It is instructive that when he spoke last year at the India Today Conclave, Tellis had put forth the following questions to his Indian audience: Can India develop a viable strategic partnership with the United States that serves both mutual interests and India's own unilateral interests? Can India develop a relationship with the United States that helps it enhance and magnify its own power?

According to Tellis, while India has every right to maneuver within the interstices of the international system, "but at the end of the day, there is one eight hundred pound gorilla that has to be engaged - and that is the United States.” He goes on to warn: "That gorilla is not going to go away. That gorilla has already put its nose for the first time in modern history, into the physical environment of the subcontinent. And it is in India's national interest, and important for its capacity to generate and magnify its power, to develop a productive and a collaborative relationship with the United States that enhances the interests of the two countries."

This transformation of relations between the United States and India, says Tellis, has occurred through a series of breakthroughs in bilateral diplomatic collaboration, military-to-military relations, counter terrorism cooperation, and public diplomacy.

And already this year, Tellis said, the Bush administration has unveiled a potentially far more radical initiative with respect to India-the United States has pledged to “help India become a major world power in the twenty-first century,” investing the energy and resources necessary to secure its untroubled ascent to great-power status.


Tellis believes that the United States should pursue the following grand strategic objectives towards India and Pakistan.

• Vis-à-vis India, the United States should aim to rapidly complete the transformation in U.S.-Indian relations that has been underway since the final years of the Clinton Administration, and which received dramatic substantive impetus in the first term of President George W. Bush, in order to permanently entrench India in the ranks of America’s friends and allies. With the changes that have occurred both globally and in India since the end of the Cold War, a close bilateral relationship that is based on the strong congruence of interests, values, and inter-societal ties, is in fact possible for the first time in the history of the two countries.

• Vis-à-vis Pakistan, the United States should aim to assist Islamabad to achieve a "soft landing" that reverses the still disturbing political, economic, social, and ideological trends and enable Pakistan to transform itself into a successful and moderate state. Because of the immensity of the problems facing that country, and because these difficulties are often viciously reinforcing, the Administration ought not to expect that Pakistan will be able to overcome all obstacles entirely by the end of President Bush’s current term. Consequently, U.S. objectives would be satisfied if Pakistan makes sufficient progress so that the trend lines with respect to good governance, stable macro-economic management, investments in human capital, foreign and strategic policy behaviors, and ideological orientation, are both positive and durable.

Tellis says he "would urge the Administration to pursue at least the following initiatives to be announced during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Washington on July 18, 2005, as a means of sustaining the momentum of the on-going transformation in U.S.-Indian relations:

• Invite India to participate in the Generation IV, ITER, and Radkowsky Thorium Fuel (RTF) international research programs pertaining to the development of safe, proliferation-resistant, advanced nuclear reactor technologies. • Declare that, pending a permanent solution to the problem, the United States would permit India to purchase the requisite quantities of safeguarded low-enriched uranium required for its next fuelling of the Tarapur 1 and 2 nuclear reactors. • Inform the Government of India that the United States would not impede the construction of the Indian-Pakistani-Iranian gas pipeline so long as New Delhi cooperates by all means necessary-including by terminating or suspending work on the pipeline-if the international community were to consider penalizing Iran at some future point in time for persisting with its uranium enrichment program."

Despite all the controversies swirling around other foreign policies of the Bush Administration, it is worth remembering, says Tellis, that as far as India is concerned the President has got it absolutely right - indeed got it absolutely right even before he took office in January 2001:

"Often overlooked in our strategic calculations is that great land that rests at the south of Eurasia. This coming century will see democratic India’s arrival as a force in the world. A vast population, before long the world’s most populous nation. A changing economy, in which 3 of its 5 wealthiest citizens are software entrepreneurs. India is now debating its future and its strategic path, and the United States must pay it more attention. We should establish more trade and investment with India as it opens to the world. And we should work with the Indian government, ensuring it is a force for stability and security in Asia."


Apart from his association with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Tellis has become a valuable bridge between India and the US and continues as an advisor to the US government. He knows the Indian aspirations because he grew up there. He knows American constraints and burdens because he became an American, having come to the US in 1985. Tellis completed his master's from the University of Bombay and his PhD from the University of Chicago.

Previously, he served as senior adviser to the ambassador at the embassy of the United States in India. He also served on the National Security Council staff as special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia, becoming the highest ranking Indian American in the White House. . Before his government service, he was for eight years a senior policy analyst at RAND and professor of policy analysis at the RAND graduate school. He is the author of India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture, coauthor of China’s Grand Strategy: Past, Present, and Future, and has recently edited Strategic Asia 2004-05: Confronting Terrorism in the Pursuit of Power.

Some analysts are already suggesting that America’s new strategy is aimed essentially at containing and thus undermining China, whose giant economic strides are causing enormous worry in Washington. They say that the US does not believe in open competition, despite drum-beating about the virtues of free trade. For Americans, free trade means they should be free to export their goods to other markets but others must not bring their goods to the US.

Almost all economists agree that, should China continue to maintain the growth rate it has achieved in the last 15 years, in 20 years’ time it will have the largest economy in the world. This is something the US is determined to prevent; hence its provocative policies and statements concerning China. India is being groomed through trade offers and enhanced military and political interactions to take on China.

Will India and America live up to each others expectations? More crucially, in a unipolar world is India capable of playing the kind of role assigned to it by the 800-pound gorilla?

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: china; defense; india; indianamericans; us
India, Big Time
In a bold new policy report, US defence and nuclear expert Ashley J. Tellis says the only option for the Bush administration is to consider India an Asian superpower

What The Carnegie Report Says

The United States must align with India because...

  • By 2015, it will have the fourth most capable concentration of power
  • It will be among the five major economies in 25-50 years

  • Can be a counterfoil to China
  • Can stabilise the region littered with failing states
To align with India, the United States must...
  • Help India's power to grow to prevent China's dominance
  • End the illusory idea of military balance between India and Pakistan
  • Endorse India's membership in the UN Security Council, G-8, APEC, International Energy Agency
  • Remove objections to the Iran-India gas pipeline
  • Allow sale of dual-use technology, including nuclear safety equipment

The estimates are in, the assessments are being made as policymakers around the world adjust to the new balance of power in Asia. The rise of India on the global stage is no longer a question but the answer. At issue: how should the world's lone superpower engage an India in full flight to join the big league? The answer: if the United States indeed wants to stay the preeminent player in Asia, it must stop treating India as part of the problem. It must shed old inhibitions, adopt new attitudes and forge ahead with India because it is in America's interest to do so. Half-hearted favours and treats won't do. Current US policy declares India a friend but its practice thwarts New Delhi's aspirations.

A bold, new report by noted defence and nuclear expert Ashley J. Tellis provides a detailed roadmap. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a prestigious and independent think-tank, looks at India with open eyes, without condescension, and dares to call for radical changes—on the American side. India as a New Global Power: An Action Agenda for the United States breaks the mould of the predictable, the comfortable, the merely tinkering-with-policy attitude that managed to obscure President George Bush's ideas for India in the first term. Outlook obtained an exclusive copy of the Carnegie report to be released next week, with former US ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, leading the discussion. During Bush's first term, Blackwill forced many positive changes in US policy despite stiff resistance, with Tellis as his advisor in New Delhi.

Why should the US bother? Well, all current analysis says India is likely to be among the five major economies in the first half of this century and will overtake Japan, Germany, Britain and France at some point in the next 25 to 50 years. "The record thus far amply substantiates the claim that India will be one of Asia's two major ascending powers. It is expected that the Indian economy could grow at a rate of 7-8 per cent for the next two decades. If these expectations are borne out, there is little doubt that India will overtake current giants," Tellis testified in the House of Representatives last month.

In the Carnegie report, Tellis quotes an internal CIA assessment where countries are ranked for national power—weighted combinations of GDP, defence spending, population and technology growth. By 2015, India will have the fourth most "capable concentration of power", after the US, EU and China. The CIA analysis also calls India the most important "swing state" in the international system—a country that could tilt the balance between war and peace, between chaos and order. The National Intelligence Council, CIA's brain trust, compared the emergence of India and China to the rise of Germany in the 19th century and the US in the 20th century in Mapping the Global Future, a public report.

Besides, India is "a potential hedge against a rising China", says Tellis in the report, tying up the threads of worry running through Washington.
US leaders are concerned about the growth of the Chinese military, its monetary policy, its vicious attacks on Japan and its increasing power projection capabilities. Both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have sharply articulated their doubts on these grounds. An unbridled China is not in the US interest and by bolstering India, the US can arrest the "growth of Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean rimlands and Chinese penetration of Myanmar", says the report.

Another big reason: the need to preserve order in South Asia. Look at the map and it becomes clear that India is "an island of democratic values and political stability in a region convulsed by religious fanaticism, illiberal governments, state sponsors of terrorism and economic stasis.
A CIA analysis calls India the 'swing state', a country which decides between war and peace.
" Every state on India's periphery has "a need to cope with state failure". Afghanistan remains threatened by the Taliban because of Pakistani meddling. Pakistan's own experiment with "enlightened moderation" is by no means a guaranteed success. Besides, its "infrastructure
supporting the jihadi groups warring against India remains intact, and continues to enjoy comprehensive state support despite Pakistan's prominence in the global war on terrorism." Bangladesh could be the "next major case of political implosion" while Myanmar remains in the iron grip of the military junta.

If India joined its neighbours "in succumbing to state failure or was threatened by its neighbours' pathologies", it would be "catastrophic" for US interests. A troubled India could unleash the disaffected into the world on a scale that would make "contemporary challenges look small in comparison.
" Given the importance of India, Bush has rightly set his eyes on enhancing relations. He assumed office wanting to pull India firmly into America's club of friends but for every new idea that bubbled up the powerful US bureaucracy, there were ten to bust it. Still,
India mustn't have to repeatedly prove itself. The report calls this US attitude 'astrategic'.
Bush and former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee, both trying to break the old habit, announced a strategic partnership, thanks to some ideas people, including Tellis.

But the much-heralded Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) was a "precarious" breakthrough, the report says. Bush's second term can make a real difference by demonstrating a true change of the American heart to the people of India. It shouldn't be a teeth-pulling exercise where New Delhi must repeatedly prove its credentials to gain anything. Such an attitude is downright "astrategic". It creates a dangerous situation where the US ends up strengthening China by default purely by denying India the technology it wants.

Instead, Bush should aid the growth of India's national power by augmenting its economic and defence capabilities, not jam the brakes. He must abolish the second-class citizenship, support India's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, pull India out of the "netherworld" of nuclear technology, offer a defence partnership and share information across the board—political, scientific, technological—to show that New Delhi is a real partner. And end the "illusory criterion of maintaining a military 'balance' with Pakistan—an untenable proposition, given the disparities in national capabilities".

Washington can begin the new era with some simple gestures. It can stop the "gratuitous public statements" demanding India sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as "a non-nuclear weapon state," a formulation that defies logic. It can call off the prosecutors who routinely condemn India's missile research. It can allow other countries to support India's strategic programmes.That's just for starters. The report is a thunderbolt of ideas, a shock wave of innovative solutions.

It is backed by meticulous research so those married to the status quo can't yawn or dismiss it.

Bush gets it. But to realise the goal, Bush should "enshrine his intention to advance the growth of Indian power in a formal National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) that provides authoritative guidance for the entire government". In other words, nothing less than a fatwa would push the American babus to move. From the earliest days, US presidents, exercising executive power like that of a monarch, have issued directives establishing new policy.

The NSDD can state that since there is an "unassailable" convergence of objectives on defeating terrorism, stopping proliferation, promoting democracy and ensuring a stable balance of power in Asia, the "fundamental strategic interests of the United States
There are good reasons for the US to support India's UN bid, even with full veto powers.
require strengthening India, supporting its democratic institutions, and assisting in the growth of its national power, integrating India as a friendly nuclear weapon state into the evolving global regime, pursuing a special relationship with it even though New Delhi continues to remain formally nonaligned...."

The Carnegie report says, "Absent such instruction, it will be difficult to ensure that bureaucratic debates actually advance the president's interests." There should be continuous high-level monitoring if the three dialogues—strategic, energy and economic—are to produce anything besides "lofty rhetoric, full of sound and fury signifying nothing". The dialogue leaders must find ways to treat India as a legitimate exception to the existing rules, specially in the nuclear arena. "Of the three outliers, Pakistan and Israel receive subsidies. Only India is currently outside the circle, yet it is expected to contribute just the same toward the realisation of global non-proliferation goals. Beyond a certain point, virtue cannot remain its own reward," says Tellis, articulating the generational frustration in New Delhi.

The energy dialogue must focus on India's growing demand for oil, natural gas and on nuclear energy. As a sign of good faith, the US should champion India's membership in the International Energy Agency, a group of industrialised countries dealing with oil supplies. It should drop objections to the Iran-India gas pipeline specially because the US has not obstructed the G-8 from energy investments in Iran. It is an incentive for Iran to forsake its nuclear weapons ambitions and it helps the Indo-Pak peace process. Nuclear cooperation will be the toughest nut to crack because of the many US and international restrictions on India for not signing the NPT. But the report offers several options.

The US could begin by inviting India to participate in international research on advanced nuclear reactors, something the energy secretary can do with a memo. It can provide useful nuclear safety equipment to safeguard Indian reactors, not the "trivial" stuff it has so far offered, and explore whether India would be willing to put more of its 14 reactors under international safeguards in exchange for "genuine access" to components. The US can also begin re-supplying uranium for the Tarapur reactor, a "contractual obligation" it reneged on.

The strategic dialogue should focus on India's membership in the UN Security Council, in the Proliferation Security Initiative, defence ties, cyber security and space cooperation. There are good reasons for the US to support India's UN bid, the report says. If expansion is inevitable, the US "will have to live with" a larger body. It can either move away from the UN, in which case supporting India has no cost. Or make the effort to shape it, in which case India's presence would "likely be beneficial because there are no inherent conflicts of interest". Tellis is the first prominent US analyst to argue that the US should "not dilute the significance of this endorsement with churlish caveats" and prematurely oppose veto power for India. The support will ring in India as nothing else can and help clean the slate on which ugly words from the likes of Nixon and Kissinger still faintly show.

Tellis has big ideas for the defence sector. He proposes "a comprehensive defence partnership" which can integrate the military-to-military relations, defence trade and production, joint research and operations into a single document that defines an "ambitious vision". Given the strain on the US military, India and the US can sign an MOU on operations in the Indian Ocean given the high-value traffic and India's geographic advantages. Meanwhile, US companies should be encouraged to invest in India's defence sector, something that can help the trade imbalance.

Even though US policymakers think they have done India a favour by offering the F-16s and F-18s, Tellis quite rightly says that defence sales don't have the same resonance in India as they might here. Besides, India can buy fighter jets from other vendors as well. Military technology can't be the main vehicle of fulfilling India's desire for greatness. Instead, Bush should offer a variety of incentives that help India's growth. A free trade agreement which imposes equal burdens on both sides would be beneficial.

On the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit in July, Tellis in the report tries to tackle questions that are always raised but never answered. For America's sake, he looks at India as India looks at itself.

If It's Strategy, Tellis Like It Is
Bombay-born Tellis is a low-key giant mind

Some say he is frighteningly intelligent, others are simply in awe. His breadth of knowledge and level of scholarship are formidable. Ashley J. Tellis, the Bombay-born superstar of strategy, today ranks as one of America's foremost experts whose clarity of thought is like a force of fresh air. His India's Emerging Nuclear Posture is considered a seminal book. His other books include Interpreting China's Grand Strategy, Limited Conflicts Under the Nuclear Umbrella and Measuring National Power in the Post-Industrial Age.

Meeting the low-key Tellis, you would never know he occupies an important place in Washington's policy stratosphere because he is without airs. Apart from being a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, a pre-eminent Washington think-tank, he continues as an advisor to the US government. Tellis has become a valuable bridge between India and the US because of his deep understanding of both countries. He knows the Indian aspirations because he grew up there. He knows American constraints and burdens because he became an American, having come to the US in 1985.

Tellis completed his master's from the University of Bombay and his PhD from the University of Chicago. He joined the Rand Corporation, a Pentagon think-tank, as a senior policy analyst producing scholarly studies and books. His book on India's nuclear programme so impressed Robert Blackwill that he asked Tellis to come with him to India as his advisor. After a two-year tenure at the US Embassy, Tellis returned in 2003 for a brief stint at the National Security Council, becoming the highest ranking Indian American in the White House.

Deeply interested in Roman history, Tellis can be just as animated by Renaissance art and classical music as by the great games he has witnessed countries play.
Here's How To Kill A Good Idea
The two countries would have been closer but for 'nagging nannies' in the US bureaucracy

It is an article of faith for the Americans to criticise the Indian bureaucracy as slow and cussed. Which it often is. But now the secret is out. The US bureaucracy can be just as prickly and hidebound—and occasionally anti-India. It has the "proclivity" to pursue its own agenda irrespective of the politicians it serves. Indian interlocutors have labelled some US officials the "ayatollahs of non-proliferation" for their penchant to punish India because it wants its own nuclear weapons. Even as they winked at Chinese proliferation to Pakistan and North Korea and Pakistan's proliferation to whoever wanted the bomb.
John Bolton raised "objections" to providing certain items for India's nuclear plan.

Former US ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, recently told The National Interest, a journal of international affairs, how he fought his own bureaucracy. "These nagging nannies were alive and well in that state department labyrinth. I, of course, did not implement those instructions.

It took me months and many calls to the White House to finally cut off the head of this snake back home." Strong words those, but the bureaucratic battles were intense.

Ashley J. Tellis documents many incidents in the Carnegie report where the US bureaucracy purposefully blocked change, even cosmetic, and therefore retarded progress. When President George Bush declared he wanted India "with us," what emerged as the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership was far weaker than envisaged, thanks to the heated inter-agency debates. "On many issues, the administration did not move as far as it could," says Tellis.

During internal discussions on providing certain items for India's nuclear programme under the New Steps for Strategic Partnership, the non-proliferation bureau led by John Bolton raised "strong objections", ultimately killing the idea. Even cooperation in cyber security has grown "too slowly" in part because of "bureaucratic fears in the US government about increasing Indian capacities prematurely". US officials decided that India was more interested in "expanding its capacity for information warfare or interdiction of terrorists involving Pakistan". As if stopping Pakistani terrorists were an unsavoury goal and as if those terrorists love America.

"Given the scale, diversity, and sophistication of terrorist networks in India, New Delhi's interest in computer forensics, network surveillance, and the protection of supervisory control and data acquisition systems as means to defeat terrorism is not only understandable but ought to be supported as part of the US global struggle against his menace," Tellis in the report says.

Then there is the "paralysing" habit of hyphenating India and Pakistan whether it is weapons sales or bilateral visits.

1 posted on 07/06/2005 3:39:05 AM PDT by Gengis Khan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Gengis Khan
"Allow sale of dual-use technology, including nuclear safety equipment"

If the Americans elect a Democrat President like the last one, this provision will not be necessary.

2 posted on 07/06/2005 4:35:35 AM PDT by Savage Beast
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gengis Khan

Ping for later

3 posted on 07/06/2005 4:43:35 AM PDT by Arabs only 600 years behind us
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Savage Beast

Your "last one" had put us under sanctions even as he transferred sensitive nuclear technology to China.

Thank God US has Bush now.

4 posted on 07/06/2005 4:47:07 AM PDT by Gengis Khan (Since light travels faster than sound, people appear bright until u hear them speak.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Jeff Head; TigerLikesRooster; Tailgunner Joe


5 posted on 07/06/2005 9:05:51 AM PDT by Wiz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson