Skip to comments.Bush's journey to India
Posted on 02/25/2006 5:09:27 PM PST by milestogo
NEW DELHI--Where, in a world rife with anti-Americanism, can you find most people owning up to warm feelings for the Bush administration? One of those few places is here, in the South Asian giant of India, where President Bush arrives this week to mark rapidly warming relations between the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest.
A recent poll found that nearly 3 out of 4 Indians hold a favorable impression of the United States, solid base for the visiting president. "I like Bush," volunteers a young Indian riding a train bound for the capital, New Delhi, from his home in Agra, best known for the famed Taj Mahal. Adds Mohandas Pai, chief financial officer for Infosys Technologies, one of India's IT whiz companies in the southern city of Bangalore, "He's good for the world. He's the only person who can stop the spread of al Qaeda." Predictably, India's still-strong leftist parties are planning anti-Bush protests, and some ultranationalists also oppose closer ties with Washington. But the government here seems determined to produce happy images for the Bush visit.
The president's stops in New Delhi and the developing high-tech center of Hyderabad will underscore a remarkable turnaround in the once prickly relationship. In the Cold War days, Indian governments viewed the United States as a bully that propped up archrival Pakistan; American leaders were angered by India's pro-Soviet tilt as a leader of the so-called nonaligned movement. India's nuclear test blasts in 1974 and again in 1998 ran afoul of U.S. nonproliferation laws, leading, for a time, to sanctions and to this day to a ban on nuclear trade. But the mood has come nearly full circle. The Bush administration is now engaged in an audacious bit of geopolitical engineering: Its goal, a senior administration official said last year, "is to help India become a major world power in the 21st century. We understand fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement."
Despite enormous problems with poverty, infrastructure, and corruption, signs of India's rise can't be ignored. The economy is projected to double in size in a decade, growth fueled by continuing reforms and privatization. Indian companies are buying rights to foreign oil fields and acquiring computer and steel firms in the United States. Its IT sector is growing at 15 percent a year. India is the No. 1 arms buyer in the developing world, last year eclipsing China and Saudi Arabia, and its active armed forces rank No. 3 in size, behind China and the United States. Its population, already about 1.1 billion, will surpass China's within decades. And Washington gets it. Says Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, "I think if you look at American foreign policy worldwide, the greatest change you will see in the next three or four years is a new American focus on South Asia, particularly in establishing a closer strategic partnership with India."
Deadline. Already, this is reflected in a broad set of initiatives on trade and investment, energy, democracy promotion, space exploration, HIV/AIDS, agriculture and science, and defense. Last week, Burns flew here to try to rescue what is supposed to be the centerpiece of the Bush trip: a breakthrough deal on civilian nuclear cooperation. Indian officials reported progress in the talks, though it was unclear whether key obstacles had been resolved. Washington's terms for lifting trade restrictions on nuclear technology would require India to separate civilian from military facilities and accept international nonproliferation inspections. India's powerful nuclear establishment, however, has dragged its heels out of fear that its nuclear arsenal--believed to amount to 30 to 100 weapons--will be constrained from further growth. India, which touts its record of never having transferred nuclear know-how to others, is keen on shedding its status as a nuclear pariah--and on getting badly needed access to nuclear fuel and new technology. The deal "effectively means recognizing India as a nuclear power," says Sanjaya Baru, spokesman for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
For that reason, the deal is controversial. Nonproliferation specialists warn that carving out an exception for India to the rules of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty--which India never signed--could encourage other countries with aspirations for the Bomb while doing little to restrain India's nuclear arsenal. The Bush administration counters publicly that the deal will strengthen the overall cause of nonproliferation by placing first-ever safeguards on India. But it is also engaged in some realpolitik. "India is special because of its size, because of its potential," explains a senior administration official. The president concluded, says the official, that "we'd be better off creating a special niche for India."
The administration is not alone in its zeal for India. The advocates for closer ties begin with powerful U.S. business interests. India's nuclear market, if opened to the world, could be worth upwards of $100 billion. And Washington has freed contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing to pitch sales of F-16 and F-18 fighter planes. American corporate giants have made India, with its low-cost English-speaking workforce, a top destination for IT and business-processing operations. The Indian-American community, nearly 2 million strong and increasingly active politically, is also lobbying for closer ties.
Hastening India's rise draws support across a wide ideological spectrum. Foreign-policy realists in the United States want to harness India's clout on counterterrorism, weapons proliferation, and revision of global rules on trade and investment. Backers of Bush's spread-democracy theme see India's multiethnic democracy as a powerful model for other countries. Likewise, India's fight against terrorism by Islamist militants--an outgrowth of the ongoing conflict over Kashmir--makes it a country confronting the same threat as the United States. Some neoconservatives bluntly view India as a counterweight to communist China. After the December 2004 Asian tsunami struck, the U.S. Navy joined with those of India, Japan, and Australia to rush humanitarian relief to the devastated areas. That effort may have been a harbinger of power politics: the region's militarily capable democracies banding together--sans China. The administration, sensitive to not offending China, plays down such considerations. Yet a former senior official recalls Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as focused on India's strategic value: "They look at India as a counterbalance to China, which they see as the Soviet Union of the 21st century."
That view, if it ever emerges as official policy, will encounter heavy resistance in India. Here, autonomy and independence are enshrined as core values of the state. So it was not surprising that a firestorm erupted a month ago when U.S. Ambassador David Mulford predicted--in stating the political reality--that the U.S. Congress might kill any nuclear deal if India did not join in censuring Iran for its suspected drive for nuclear weapons. Indian officials bristled at the link, and leftist lawmakers demanded that Mulford be recalled. He was not, and, as it turned out, India did vote with the United States at the International Atomic Energy Agency.
But the flap serves as a reminder that India's hard-won independence still colors its view of other powers, including the United States. "Anybody who thinks you can turn India into a client state hasn't spent a lot of time here," allows a senior U.S. official. The Indians couldn't agree more.
I think one of the legacies of Bush would be his adminstration's embrace of India. Clinton started it during his final years, and I thought Bush would be more inclined towards the cold-war stage. After all, India is a socialist country with most parties lauding "samajwadi"(literally socialist) philosophy. But the terrorist attacks of 9/11 altered Bush's approach.
I remember from early 2000, while he was campaigning, Bush was against the more proactive foreign policy. His mantra was that USA was should not and will not police the world. That was too Clintionesque. My, how this has shifted... now the Democrats are against the more proactive US role in the world, while Republicans tend to bring war to the enemies.
"I like Bush," volunteers a young Indian riding a train bound for the capital, New Delhi
Lovely people :^)
I think socialism is past history for India. I have heard Indians say, we know all about socialism. We starved. I think clinton's policeman of the world is very different from what bush has been doing. Clinton dispatched the military on 14 different missions which didn't accomplish much. Bush picked a couple and is seeing them through a la Korea, Japan, and Germany. This article does not get at the main thrust of our economic initiative twoard India and China. It is clean power and water treatment systems. Those big ticket items could balance the trade.
My first impression is that the rise of India to superpower status should not cause the kinds problems we see with China. Indian interests have usually been contrained by geography to the South Asian demi-continent - no history of foreign conquests like China, and no cultural inferiority complex which requires foreigners to kowtow (like China).
In future, the area most likely to be impacted by an Indian rise is Southeast Asia - they may feel like they have to chose between China and India, which could result in instability and proxy wars.
All that said, I'm not much of a scholar on India so would defer to an expert.
Over the last few years I only met one I didn't like. The rest of them were really nice young folks with good manners.
Adds Mohandas Pai, chief financial officer for Infosys Technologies, one of India's IT whiz companies in the southern city of Bangalore, "He's good for the world. He's the only person who can stop the spread of al Qaeda." Predictably, India's still-strong leftist parties are planning anti-Bush protests, and some ultranationalists also oppose closer ties with Washington. But the government here seems determined to produce happy images for the Bush visit.
"I think socialism is past history for India. "
India has a grass-root socialist movement. There are also more hardcore communistic movements. Most lower classes and under priviledged people are socialist(their leaders being upper classes, of course).
"I have heard Indians say, we know all about socialism."
You probably heard either from upper-middle class Indian immigrants or English speaking/understanding urban Indians who are out of touch with reality. The poor and the rural folks are naturally socialistic. They don't understand basic economics. Rise in the price of gas is the cause for protests. Although it might be changing, but the country is firmly socialistic.
For example, the last time a political party tried to pump up its capitalistic philosophy, it got massacred in the polls. And the communistic-socialist alliance is now ruling New Delhi.
At least the President will be able to observe in person all the new jobs created under his administration.
I love Bush (in a very manly non-gay way)....
"His mantra was that USA was should not and will not police the world. That was too Clintionesque. "
Umm, the position of believing that the USA should not be the world's policeman is not clintonesque. Actually, it is more paleo-conservative.
Clinton/Gore were in favor of America being the world's policeman. Somalia, Yugoslavia, etc???
Your analysis of the 2000 campaign, and the issue of the US policing the world, is incorrect.
Thanks for the ping carrotandstick.
It's good to see that a lot of Indians like Bush :)
"Most Indians are socialist and don't know who Bush is."
Looks like "ckwilliams" signed up on Feb. 26, 2006, just in time for Pres. Bush's visit to India. His previous posts (over the last few hours) on India have been suspiciously negative and he has been poisoning every India thread.
Chicom or Paki propagandist? You decide.
Chicom, definately. Their appologists always have the same talking points. :-)
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