JE Menon wrote:>>The broad gist of US expectations of India is for it to take a committed stance far as that theater is concerned. Whether the US supports Pakistan, or it's past behaviour elsewhere in the world is completely irrelevant to our interest in keeping China in check.
Here there is a clear difference. Frankly, my position on this (as described above) cares only minimally if at all for "US expectations of India" - whether it is to take a "committed stance" or any thing else.
It is going to hurt the egos of a lot on this forum, but India cannot care minimally about anything the US says. India can choose to disagree, but ignore it she cannot. All the US had to do was send a CBG steaming into the bay of bengal to cause the collective blood pressure of the dharmic civilization to rise to this day.
Hence my stress on having a transactional relationship. Maybe you misunderstood what I meant by transactional. What I envisage is this. We have "Scenario A". In that scenario, both India and the US will look at how far our interests converge and come to a deal on that particular scenario based on give and take. The LEMOA will create a foundation within which the deal can be executed within the legal frameworks of the US and India without having to negotiate certain fundamentals every time. We can look at Scenario A and tell them, this time no deal. You got yourself into this mess which we (probably) advised against. Kindly extract yourself. Or they can tell us the same.
JEM, my understanding of a transactional relationship is one centered around a transaction with clear understanding that there is no understanding prior or after that particular transaction. The LEMOA formalizes convergence with outs, especially in the light of regular military exercises with the US and Japan.
India has already made a choice as far as our position in SE Asia is IMO. That is NOT a transactional relationship. The level and formality of that relationship is a matter of evolution. If Japan is one of the largest and committed investors in India, they come with expectations beyond transactional. The only country capable of forging an alliance and restricting China is the US. As the costs of that alliance increases, members will expect those that benefit handsomely from it to share costs. The US for example is increasingly unwilling to bear major costs of such a relationship. It has forced the UK to keep its defence expenditure at 2% of its GDP and has tried to nudge Japan and the rest of NATO, with varying degrees of success. Indian interests lie squarely in the US camp in SE Asia. India cannot care minimally what happens there and it cannot play a substantial role alone.
My sense is that this is incorrect on several levels. First of all, I start with the assumption that every country, and I mean EVERY country (including Tonga) is operating on this fundamental principle: "India should be reduced in territorial size, cut up into parts, and those parts should be further subdivided and ruled by me alone or by me with in an alliance with others. To this end, I will work to attack it on all fronts in order to weaken it, to exploit its internal differences, to undermine its sense of itself, its identity and civilisational heritage, and its sense of hope for itself and the future of its people". Broadly speaking. In short, we have zero friends, zero allies, zero well wishers. Everything that contradicts the above assumption is a bonus, with an uncertain time limit.
All that we do, everything in terms of advancement of strategic interest, is aimed at minimising the possibility of the above quoted passage coming to fruition, and to the contrary, increasing our wealth, our territorial space, our ability to act with autonomy, and our position on this planet as a civilisation of prominence and strength. To this end, we will use sama, dhana, bheda, danda to the best of our ability.
So, yes, it is in our interest to ensure that China does not circumscribe our ability to do the above, but that does not mean our "interests lie entirely in the US camp". We also have an interest in moderating US behaviour, Russian behaviour, German behaviour, British behaviour and French behaviour, etc. For this, we will work with the others where possible. Nor does it mean that the US is the only power that can moderate Chinese behaviour. Others can do so in different ways. What it does mean is that what we do has to be well informed, well calibrated in terms of our objectives, and therefore considered not just with the tactical exigency in mind, but also the long view. An India that is roiling is not good for the world, but neither is a China in that position or a US, or an EU. We have to be dharmic in our worldview, and let it sink over time that greater intervals between violent globalised confrontations is part of what that entails. That can only be assured by having consummate wealth, and military power that matches our worldview.
You have stated your worldview, here's mine. All countries are not equal in the threat pose or even the opportunity they provide. The most important as far as long term relationships are concerned is their predisposition towards India. There are those that see the relationship as a zero sum game. Only Pakistan lies in entirely in that camp, not even China. There are those that view it as capable of win-win. That does not necessarily mean they won't extract their pound of flesh. The US, Russia, Germany, British and French all fall in that camp. We don't face any threats from them bar trade disputes, which is a good problem to have. We have moderated the behaviour of all these players, even the US, with nothing more than strong diplomacy and minimal financial clout so far. China alone presents a problem which requires us to form alliances. So comparing our need for moderating with Chinese behaviour with those of the rest of the world is simply not right. The challenges they pose are entirely of a different order.
The only possible way for India to have a transactional relationship with any of the major players is if we go back to our isolated economic ways, dhoti shibbering about the Portugese, assorted East India companies, the British, yanquis, .... We could carry off the non-aligned rubbish only because we chose to isolate ourselves economically AND presented a win-win for the rest of the world by simply being a stable political system that posted no threat to the global world order with a revisionist streak. Interestingly all the bhoot-jolokia chewing nationalists are advocating exactly that.
Note: Edited to fix quoting.