Choice for the United States

Today is 9/11, the 11th of September, marking the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S. by airborne terrorists.

That eventful and unfortunate day marked only the second time of an attack on U.S. soil, since the U.S. was hit after the Pearl Harbour attack almost seven decades ago by Japan.

In the last one decade, the U.S. has become more insular and security-conscious than any other large country in the world. It has probably spent USD 3 to 4 trillion dollars on the wars it has waged in Iraq, Afghanistan and West Pakistan, as well as in enhanced security protection by creating the Department of Homeland Security and other measures. It is another matter that when it has to create a jobs plan for Americans at some USD 447B, the government faces stiff opposition !

While the U.S. has successfully avoided any fresh terrorist attacks, India has endured more than a dozen acts of terrorist activities leading to significant loss of life. It shows the differing approaches in securing the security of citizens, some of the U.S. actions might have sacrificed the individual privacy of its citizens but such actions were required. India is still caught in a political quagmire, unable to execute a well thought-out security strategy which would take no prisoners. At the end of the day, it is the unrequited anguish of common people which will bring down the Indian Government, not enemy gunfire, and it is very surprising to see a government which does not realize this, or is refusing to learn from its own past failures and global examples.

The idea of this piece of writing is to point out the inevitable merger in the philosophies and practices of the world’s most powerful and its most populous democracies, which ought to have been a natural phenomenon all these years. Unfortunately the U.S. and India never saw eye to eye on most matters over the past six decades. Only after India aligned with the U.S. quickly in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and pledged its total support, did the U.S. figure out that is is only prudent to develop closer relationship with a tough, noisy, quarreling, yet dependable partner in India.

Over the past decade, the U.S. and India have come a long way, despite changes in government in India as well as in the U.S., though I would again state unambiguously that President Obama is not as focused on forging an even tighter relationship with India as did President George W Bush. Nevertheless, the point is that we are clearly set on an irreversible path of ever closer partnership with the Americans, and ultimately this partnership might lead to a strong military alliance, though the Indian Government will never get voluntarily drawn into such a discussion. I think it makes a lot of sense to formulate a straight U.S. – India alliance to safeguard the Indian Ocean and deepen the strengths of both in future-proofing the South Asian region. I would not advocate an extension of this partnership to include Japan or Australia, as that would be regarded warily by other countries in the neighbouring regions.

What is important is that the U.S. pledges its military support to India, like it has done with the NATO countries, to ensure democracy thrives in the region and peace and stability resulting from such an alliance would lead to increased business for all and prosperity for more than 2 billion people. It is critical to make intentions clear in this complex world of diplomacy, strategy, and mind-boggling Machiavellian manipulated political science, so that the potential adversaries take the new equation into their plans before launching inadvertent actions against India.

For the U.S. the choice should be clear – it should work on drawing India into its sphere of closer partnership, share technologies which would enhance the lives and security of 1.2 billion people, work on neutralizing the terrorists in collaboration with India, formulating a mutual security partnership and driving mutual business prospects for both nations into the 21st Century.

I would say that this is inevitable actually. Only time will tell. This requires the “open” thinking that Condoleeza Rice and President Bush brought to the table, and the leadership shown by Prime Minister Vajpayee in 2001.

Vijay Srinivasan
11th Sept 2011


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