Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is India Really Unhappy with Obama?

An Op-Ed in the New York Times declares that India is "Wary on Obama." Really? Yes, the U.S.-India "strategic partnership" could be considered George W. Bush's one foreign policy success, but to achieve that he had to punch large holes in some of the key nonproliferation agreements.
President Obama has gotten on India's bad side by talking about pushing for a permanent settlement on the Kashmir issue. He appointed a special envoy to South Asia, and India lobbied hard--and successfully--to not be under his jurisdiction with the "bad" countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Secretary of State Clinton talked extensively about the importance of China, but has barely mentioned India, and has not yet visited. Apparently India also felt snubbed that it was not one of the first congratulatory calls Obama returned.
The main area of dispute is that India fears that the Obama administration is returning to a regional South Asia policy rather than the "de-hyphenated" separate India and Pakistan policies Bush introduced. While I strongly support the de-hyphenation, the countries in the region do obviously have a major impact on each other, and to pretend otherwise would be naive. The Pakistani military is unwilling or unable to fight a successful counterinsurgency campaign against the militants threatening the country because it is designed to fight against India. Additionally Pakistan feels threatened by Indian involvement in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. India needs to act like the great power it aspires to be and recognize that its actions have both negative and positive effects in the region. Unfortunately whenever the subject of Pakistan comes up India goes back to its petty, juvenile posturing.
The first of India's five rounds of national elections started this week, and unlike in recent events such as the no-confidence vote that forced the ruling Congress party to scramble to retain its control, the U.S.-India nuclear deal--and by proxy the relationship with the United States--is not a major campaign issue. Obama does need to pay more attention to building the relationship with India, but no matter whether the Congress party retains the majority or the BJP takes over India is unlikely to turn sharply away from its closer ties with the United States.

No comments:

Post a Comment