The hoopla about the Obama trip has gone through the four phases, denial, anger, compromise, acceptance–and finally hit the asphalt of reality. There is a general realization that the Obama trip will not bring in the UNSC Seat, the 123 deal, or a rollback of Anti-outsourcing restrictions. Mr. Obama is in Delhi for a tourist trip cosint millions of Dollars. There is news that the trip costs $200 million per day. Those reports have been denied but no numbers have been given.
NPR is a new story sets the stage for the trip and even quotes M.J. Akbar the perennial Pakistanphobe who can’t write a full sentence article without disparaging Pakistan.
That perception will be tough to overcome as Obama seeks India’s help on a range of issues, from helping to balance the growing power of China to supporting the government of Afghanistan.
It could also hamper the president’s efforts to open some key U.S. business opportunities in India.
Pakistan Aid Package Rankles Indians
The latest sore point for many Indians is a $2 billion military aid package for Pakistan that the Obama administration is requesting from Congress, announced at the end of October.
The administration wants Pakistan to use that military equipment to fight militants along its border with Afghanistan, but many Indians believe that any military aid to its longtime enemy is a threat.
M.J. Akbar, editor of India’s Sunday Guardian newspaper, says Pakistan’s military has always been focused on potential conflicts with India.
He notes that Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has been quoted as saying his defense posture is “India centric.”
“And announcing that yet another [$2 billion] in arms are going to flow into the bottomless pocket of Gen. Kayani is not the happiest way of announcing your trip to India,” Akbar says, referring to Pakistan’s army chief.
Akbar says it was a singularly ill-timed diplomatic maneuver for the United States to announce the military aid to Pakistan so close to the president’s visit to India. NPR
There is general consensus that President Obama’s trip to Delhi is more style than substance. There is early evidence that much of Bharat‘s expectations have been been dashed. The relationship is on a rocky road and can only survive on a subsistence level.
- A weakened President Barack Obama visits India this week to counter perceptions he has relegated the Asian power behind rivals China and Pakistan, but he may struggle to seal deals to help usher in billions of dollars of business.
- Obama’s drubbing in the mid-term elections may also tie his political hands when it comes to bold policy moves on India as growing worries emerge that outsourcing in cities such as IT hub Bangalore is worsening mass unemployment in the United States.
- It was a sign of the times that Obama told the Press Trust of India that India should open up its markets to U.S. companies, a stance that may dominate a 10-day trip of Asia aimed at boosting U.S. exports and jobs, crucial for his presidency’s fate. Reuters.
With the towel thrown big on Bharat’s plans of a UNSC seat, and lifting of US sanctions on dual technology products. While Rao says that “no hasty decisions” will be made. The decisions on export controls have already been made. No deals for Delhi. India on Thursday said it will not make any “hasty decisions” on the outcome of discussions with President Barack Obama on “complex” issues of outsourcing, seat for India in UN Security Council and withdrawal of US ban on export of dual-use technology.
Seeking to downplay Obama’s remarks on Wednesday in which he did not hold out any assurances on these key concerns, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said it would be wrong to prejudge the US leader’s discussions with the Indian leadership.
NPR eloquently describes the U.S. Goals In India
India’s conflict with Pakistan colors much of its relationship with the United States.
Obama would like to promote a huge sale of American jet fighters to India, but Indian defense officials and analysts worry that such weapons may come with strings attached.
“I think we have entered into a defense relationship of buying and selling, without coordinating our strategic postures,” says Rajiv Shikri a retired Indian diplomat and strategic analyst in New Delhi.
Shikri notes that India has been buying military equipment from the U.S., but he says before the two sides can conclude any big deals, they must have a shared vision on defense strategy. That includes U.S. acceptance that India may need to use the equipment to defend itself against Pakistan, he says.
India’s defense minister has declined to say where India will make its next big purchase of warplanes, but competitors for the sale include France and Russia.
Obama would also like to open India’s retail markets to more investment from U.S. firms such as Wal-Mart, whose CEO visited India just a few weeks ago.
Shikri says the United States needs to understand India’s political concerns about foreign investment, in an arena where huge numbers of jobs could be at stake.
“In India, in small towns, large towns and villages, you have so many mom-and-pop stores and family-run businesses, which would sustain the livelihoods of millions of people. Now if they’re wiped out, it creates a problem,” he says.
Shikri says it is a problem not unlike the one that Obama raised when he complained about the outsourcing of U.S. jobs a few weeks ago.
Agreement On China
India has its own wish list for the United States, including support for its bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and greater access to technologies from the United States that have dual civilian and military uses. NPR
It would be inordinately weired if President Obama does not mention Kashmir while on his trip to India.It would confirm that serious discussions are going on about Kashmir.
The Bharati media is busy quoting Bruce Riedel whose policies have brought the US to the brink of annihilation in Kabul.
“Senior Indian officials in private say that New Delhi and Washington now share a common diagnosis of the problems, but neither has developed a strategy that promises success.”
“It is an increasingly urgent concern, but one that does not have any magical answers. Both agree that engagement with Pakistan is the only way forward, but neither feels satisfied that its engagement is working,” he said.
“The third parties also involved, particularly Pakistan’s ally China, will also figure extensively in the private talks. Obama is keen to find ways to use regional diplomacy to strengthen Pakistan, and Beijing must be a player in that process,” Riedel said.
Translating Bruce Riedel’s rhetoric is easy. He wants Bharat to stop destabilizing Pakistan and butt out of of Afghanistan. This blunt message is being cleverly couched in double-speak so that it is acceptable in Delhi and consumable in the rest of Bharat.
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