Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Ten things Washington wants from New Delhi

Extract from: Christofer Clary, "Will India ever really be America's Partner", Foreign Policy, June 2012 http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/11/will_india_ever_really_be_americas_partner?page=0,0

Top ten things on Washington's wishlist for New Delhi:

1. Be ready for a conflict with China: Much strategic discussion in Washington today focuses on how India might help the United States in the event of a Sino-U.S. conflict. But India has its own troubled history in past fights with China....Concern over China is one reason the United States has pushed for more joint military exercises, more training, more defense sales, and more technology cooperation. Alas, India has occasionally restricted its military and diplomatic engagement with the United States for fear of offending Chinese sensitivities, most notably by curtailing multilateral exercises involving the United States after large naval maneuvers in 2007 aroused Chinese concerns. India fears that the United States will do just enough to provoke China but not enough to defend India if the going gets tough.

2. Fight fires in the Indian Ocean: The United States and India signed a maritime security framework in 2006, and naval cooperation is frequently given priority in official statements. In New Delhi, Panetta described the U.S. vision of "a peaceful Indian Ocean region supported by growing Indian capabilities." The United States will continue to operate in the region, but it has sought a more active Indian role -- in efforts like anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa. Unfortunately, Indian hesitance to work in coalitions, particularly those that might include Pakistan, has limited India's contributions. 

3. Help with the transition in Afghanistan: Washington has long welcomed India's sizeable civilian and economic aid program in Afghanistan. Historically, Washington and its NATO partners have been wary of Indian involvement in the Afghan security sector, concerned that Pakistan's countervailing reaction would more than outweigh any benefit generated by India's help. In the last month, that calculation has apparently changed, with Secretary Panetta asking publicly for Indian "help for Afghanistan's security forces" last week. Although Washington does not want to give the appearance that India will be left holding the Afghan "bag," it apparently has concluded that India is one of the last remaining partners with the capacity and will to expend real resources on the Afghanistan mission. Pakistan's sensitivities simply do not mean as much as they used to,

4. Pressure Iran: The United States wants New Delhi to pressure Iran into abandoning the most dangerous aspects of its nuclear program. But, simply put, India needs Iran -- for transit into Afghanistan and Central Asia, and, most importantly, for energy to feed the growing Indian economy. As a result, India has been hesitant to censure Iran internationally, and India's oil imports provide an economic lifeline to the increasingly isolated Tehran government. The United States wants to ensure that India is not a safe harbor from the storm of international pressure directed at Tehran. , but New Delhi is deeply skeptical that the United States can roll back Tehran's nuclear program. The United States will not make its defense relationship with India contingent on New Delhi's help with Iran, but American officials will continue to press the point and the issue will remain a major irritant in the relationship until India is convinced that U.S. strategy toward Iran is in India's interests.

5. Build a better bureaucracy (esp. diplomatic corps): India may have the ambitions of a great power, but it has the foreign policy establishment of a developing country. According to Indian official figures, India has a mere 600 foreign service officers to staff 162 embassies and consulates -- that's less than one-tenth the personnel of the U.S. State Department. The situation is even worse for India's military, which has few defense attaches or liaison officers abroad. Not only does India's tiny bureaucracy act as a bottleneck on bilateral cooperation with the United States, it greatly reduces India's global influence. 

6. Play a role in Southeast Asia: The United States has lobbied for and encouraged Indian involvement in the Asian regional forums. Indian engagement helps ASEAN members resist Chinese pressure and gives both India and China an incentive to build norms for responsible behavior in the Asia-Pacific. President Obama told the Indian parliament in November 2010, "Like your neighbors in Southeast Asia, we want India to not only ‘look East,' we want India to ‘engage East.'" That goal requires more Indian diplomatic personnel in the region, more Indian military exercises with Southeast Asian partners, and enhanced U.S.-Indian dialogue about common concerns in Asia.

7. Reform the (defense) procurement process: The United States places great emphasis on selling weapons to India, with defense sales featured prominently in White House press releases accompanying President Obama's 2010 visit. Sales of American military equipment are a way to support jobs at home and to create economies of scale for manufacturers that can then sell weapons to the Pentagon more cheaply. American officials also believe that our hardware will make the Indian military more capable, and it is easier for our forces to conduct joint training, exercises, and operations if U.S. and Indian troops use the same stuff. The problem is that India's defense procurement process is arbitrary, cumbersome, and corrupt.

8. Prepare for the worst in Pakistan: India needs to partner with US in preparing for worst-case scenarios in Pakistan.

9. Sign cooperation agreements: The United States is a government run by lawyers, where signed agreements are necessary to permit most types of cooperation. India is a country uncomfortable with signed agreements, particularly those that come with any perceived infringements on Indian sovereignty. The United States believes in cookie-cutter solutions, while India believes it is a unique power that deserves special treatment. Indian civilian officials have also concluded that their military can get by without whatever benefits might come from easier logistics support from the United States, or better maps, or better communications equipment. The result is that a variety of draft defense agreements sit un-negotiated and unsigned.

10. Conduct more military exercises: The U.S. military wants to conduct more exercises, more frequently, in more complicated ways with its Indian counterparts, but it is being stopped by an Indian civilian government that wants to manage the pace of cooperation, even if it means fewer opportunities for the Indian military to share best practices with the world's leading power.

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