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US needs Friends in Asia

By: Hari Sud
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With Chinese developing much more quickly, militarily than economically, it is apparent that sooner than later US will come in conflict with China. Economically, China has made tremendous progress in last 20 years, but its economy is dependent on consumer goods exports. As a matter of fact, power lies with the consuming nations, which also control the money supply. Producer is always dependent on them. That is where China’s economic weakness is apparent. What US fears most of China is not its economic prowess but its military.

Suppose that the current currency exchange rate woes between China & US are not resolved amicably putting China at a disadvantage or not enough goods & services are imported by China from US or Chinese deposits of a trillion dollars are held as a hostage by US or Taiwan issue comes to a head in next 5 to 10 years. Any one of these issues could lead to a confrontation. Then whom will US look forward for support in Asia? US should exclude all of Middle East, Pakistan, Indonesia and other smaller Muslim states for support. Nobody likes them in these countries. Misguided war in Iraq has earned US the displeasure of one billion Muslims of the world. Elsewhere in Africa, support for US is very minor.

Can US look forward to support of Russia against China – forget it? It is now 35 years since US went to China to militarily corner the Soviet Union (Russia). Situation now is reversing a bit. US & China are soon going to exchange blows on one issue or the other, Russia wishes to enjoy the show from the sidelines.

Hence, who is likely US’s friend in Asia and during any US misfortune on China front? It will be India.

India is a democracy. In democracy, many people share power; hence support will not be blanket approval of all US actions. Merits of support to US will be fully debated. Nevertheless, support will be provided. May it be naval escort service in the Indian Ocean, approval of over flights from Diego Garcia to China mainland, tying down a big chunk of Chinese military and air force in Tibet etc? All and any of these supports will be vital for success of any US action against China.

Can anybody else provide this kind of support to the US? No, is the answer. Can Pakistani public opinion permit the dictators in Islamabad, support against their all weather friend, China? Dictators themselves are a separate matter. They may take a few billion dollars worth of bombs and planes and betray China. But, public opinion will be against it. Also geography does not permit a huge support to US by Pakistan. Hence India’s support will be vital.

Then why does US finds it hard to evolve a new policy towards emerging India. Are the US State Department cold warriors, standing in the way? Or, Are the Pentagon generals too much pals with the military leadership in Pakistan that they prevent any policy change? Or, the civilian leadership in the US Administration and the Congress are fed misleading propaganda against India that they repeatedly prevent emergence of new India and US relationship. Some thing is definitely wrong somewhere. And it is holding up India and US becoming better friends.

Case in point is the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. It will probably be on the backburner for quite sometime. Heavens will not fall, if it stays un-operational. India will be forced into some uncomfortable arrangements elsewhere. But India will survive. But the diplomatic setback the US and India will receive will be tremendous. The current happy state of commercial relationship may continue, but it will be at a slow pace. With 70% favorable opinion of US in Indian public opinion polls that should make US sit up and take note. This favorable opinion of US will take a beating, should Indo-US Nuclear deal goes cold. Politicians who will take charge after 2008 in India & US will find it hard to salvage the deal for a long time.

My argument is, that if US is short on friends then why let a minor nuclear lobby in US dictate terms or a few Congressional members who are holding up the deal are allowed to get their way. Don’t they know that India is a trustworthy friend?

It is just a matter of time that Russia will be back on its feet again. Over enthusiastic US expansion in Eastern Europe is not sitting well with them. Just as US did not wish Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962, I do not believe Russia wishes to see American military bases under the guise of rogue nation missile interceptors near its border. A new confrontation is brewing again in Europe. US will need friends everywhere to support one cause or the other. Hence, it is wise to cement the Indo-US relations on firm footings now than later.

With China, Russia and the Muslim world not seeing eye to eye with US on most issues, the future for US influence is clouded. As a starter, US should cultivate India more. Also reduce FDI monies being sent to China. It is now helping US to buy cheap goods but also helping China to build a more powerful military machine. In addition all that money which has been spent on Pakistan in last five years is a net waste. It only yielded a few minor Al Qaeda operatives. The big fish is still out there, free and laughing. US should cut its losses and withdraw. Let Pakistan collapse under its own civil and military disorder. Deal with whatever emerges out of it, later.

Let us hope that a bit more realism prevails in the US State Department and with the US politicians. The new world order as it is emerging now is no longer US centric. For US to retain any semblance of leadership, it will need friends other than Cold War friends in China, Pakistan, Middle East and Western Europe. US can count on India as a friend. Somehow US are having trouble understanding this concept.

Hari Sud

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