Five Reasons Why Uncle Sam Sees India Not Just As A Friend, But Also A Threat

Five Reasons Why Uncle Sam Sees India Not Just As A Friend, But Also A Threat

by R Jagannathan - Tuesday, October 11, 2022 11:57 AM IST
Five Reasons Why Uncle Sam Sees India Not Just As A Friend, But Also A ThreatUS President Joe Biden. 
  • There are five reasons why our relationship with the US will always be rocky, and why we cannot take Uncle Sam’s friendship for granted.

In just a matter of weeks, the US has sent us three strong signals that we will remain frenemies, and not real friends based on equality or a convergence of democratic values.

First, the US announced a $450 million package for refurbishing and modernising Pakistan’s F-16s.

Then, the US envoy in Pakistan made it a point to visit Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and referred to it as Azad Kashmir.

A few days ago, America’s European ally, Germany, referred to the possibility of a UN role in resolving the Kashmir issue.

Germany may indeed have its own policy on Kashmir, but a US nudge is likely to have been the most likely reason for raising this issue right now, in the middle of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

It would be simplistic to conclude that all this negative signalling is because of India’s independent stand on the Ukraine war. That is certainly a factor, but the US has more longer-term objectives in India that are not benign.

There are at least five reasons why our relationship will always be rocky, and why we cannot take Uncle Sam’s friendship for granted.

First, the lesson the US has learnt from using China as a counter to the former Soviet Union is simple: a country of that size cannot ultimately be trusted to back US foreign policies without question.

During the Cold War, the US used China to keep the Soviet Union off balance, and additionally gave the Chinese a free pass on everything: a veto-wielding UN Security Council seat, easy entry to the World Trade Organization, and free market access to Chinese goods produced largely by American and European companies in China.

In return, the Chinese stole US technology, and built their own military and technology strengths, which the US cannot effectively counter any more.

Now that China is clearly the No 2 superpower, it has started baring its fangs, and the US realises what a mistake it was to support the Dragon’s rise.

The US does not want to make a similar mistake with India, which will become the world’s most populous country shortly, and by 2030 will be a $7-8 trillion economy.

India could be a $10 trillion economy by 2032-33, with its own growing military clout.

So, the US policy will be to slow down India’s rise, and this could mean being friends even with terror-supporting countries like Pakistan and exploit internal fault lines.

What the British did before independence, the US is doing now, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Second, the US’s sometimes-hot-sometimes-cold attitude to India also relates to future trends in Europe and Central Asia. The US’s strongest allies in Europe are Britain and Germany, and Japan in Asia.

Two of the three are defeated powers in the Second World War, and thus have a yes-sir attitude to Uncle Sam.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has showed Germany that it must develop its own military capability, and when that happens, Germany will be more like France, developing its own security doctrine for Europe. It will not remain a US yes-man.

This explains why the US took such an energetic and hostile stand to the Russian attack on Ukraine: it needed this war to keep Germany in line, using some of the smaller European states on the borders of Russia to nudge Germany closer to the US position on total war with Russia.

Now Europe is paying the price, as inflation hits the roof and rising interest rates push the continent towards a serious recession. Germany knows it is paying a huge price for backing the US in this conflict.

If the US wanted to stop the war, it could easily have engaged with Russia and made iron-clad promises on not extending NATO to the latter’s borders, but the US instead helped Russia precipitate the war, and is now sending highly sophisticated weaponry to the Ukrainians.

The US, as the pithy statement goes, will now fight Russia to the last Ukrainian. And Europe will pay the price.

At some point, Germany will say enough is enough, but the US objective is to delay the inevitable as long as possible.

The Ukraine war helps seal US hegemony for some more time, but whenever it ends, Germany will rise as the strongest power on the European continent.

The US does not want a situation where Europe, China — and later India — become military superpowers, challenging its supremacy. Keeping Europe at war, and India on edge achieves both objectives.

Third, as the locus of growth and geopolitical power shifts to Asia, China, India and Central Asia will loom larger than ever.

Both China and Russia are already big players in the oil-producing hubs of West Asia and parts of Africa, and Central Asia will be the arena where Asia meets the newly-rising parts of Eastern Europe and a militarily rising Germany.

If the US does not create conflicts in these zones, it will be reduced to becoming an over-grown island on the other side of the Atlantic, with little leverage in the fastest-growing regions of the world, including Eurasia.

The pivot to Pakistan is intended to keep a foot in the door, and also to keep India on edge and the Chinese at bay. The US is a continent all by itself, but its power will start waning as Asia and Africa rise.

It thus helps to keep both Europe and Asia at war, so that the US can still play a tilting role in these two continents.

Fourth, the US has discovered that on many issues — including the Russia-Ukraine war — Indian and Chinese interests partially converge.

Even though we assumed that China was the biggest beneficiary of the Ukraine war, the fact remains that both India and China have no interest in the war being prolonged endlessly.

Neither side wants the Russians to be so humiliated that they collapse from within. The US sees this reality, and wants to continue the war as long as possible, since this helps it economically (with the military-industrial complex counting the shekels) and geopolitically.

The last thing the US wants is for India and China to become more friendly towards one another. India recently abstained in a vote involving human rights abuses in Xinjiang, helping China. This is the correct stand.

While India has an interest in what China does in Tibet, the rights of the Uyghur minority can hardly be a priority.

Its something we learnt from decades of backing the Palestinian cause against Israel, for no apparent gain, when our interests actually converge more with Israel.

The Uyghur problem is for the Muslim world to solve with China, and if they are not interested, India should hardly be the one taking a moral stand on it.

Fifth, in pursuit of its long-term strategy of keeping India off-balance, the US Deep State — which means its global surveillance agencies, its bureaucracy, its academic institutions, its human rights watchdogs, and its media — makes sure that India is constantly destabilised.

The media and academic institutions manufacture atrocity literature to haul India over the coals over human rights abuses and religious freedom.

Internal fault lines are being exploited by co-opting disgruntled Indians in academic institutions to produce more ideological schisms.

Rajiv Malhotra’s Snakes in the Ganga documents how Indian interests are being subverted by Indians themselves, since studying and working in America is part of the middle-class dream.

Even businesses are coaxed into funding such intellectual subversion by being offered ego-boosting avenues for funding “research” and board positions in American companies.

Harvard, says Malhotra, is the epicentre for such 'Breaking India' forces. These forces are constantly egged on by evangelical institutions and the strong Islamic lobby in the US, which can be counted on to abuse and demoralise India and Hindus in particular.

Indians tend to come to glib conclusions about why we are the flavour of the season, and how the US has no option but to partner with us in their long-term rivalry with China. Uncle Sam is unlikely to be that kind of friend.

As Henry Kissinger, author of the US’s famous China tilt in the 1970s famously said, “To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal”.

India, which is a frenemy to the US, may find that managing Uncle Sam’s mood swings will need far more diplomatic and other resources than ever.

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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