/**SNAP Code begin **/ /**SNAP Code end **/

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A General's Overview of India-US Military Relationship

Retd. General V.P. Malik talks about, at a high level, India-US military relationship, at a lecture series at Indiana University - where Sumit Ganguly is. Gen. Malik makes some interesting points on how the strategic issues are dealt with in India and the hands off attitude of most politicians when it comes to strategic matters. While being positive about India-US ties, he proposes boundary conditions for the relationship which he says can never become strategic and gives some reasons why.

The first thing we must remember is that India's political class is strategically weak. Historically, India's vast diversity has made Indians culturally, a strong soft power with a global philosophy of Vasudeva Kutumbakam -- the world is one large family.

The ability to generate hard power, and the will and the ability to make use of that, is not their strong point. We tend to remain internalised, fixing each other rather than fixing outsiders. There is too much of political infighting and too less political consensus. Most of our political leaders grew up conjuring the idea of a morally superior India; professing peace and harmony in a world where nations indulge in cut-throat competition. Value-based politics is morally superior. However, as we all know, that does not reflect international realism.

But one cannot blame the political class entirely. The British never permitted Indian political leaders, or civil servants, to deal with defence matters. Even 60 years after Independence, knowledge and experience of defence and military issues is lacking in most of our political class...

It is clearly not a strategic alliance. 'Evolving entente' as defined by Devine Hagerty is perhaps a better word for it. The partnership will remain fluid. I do not see this turning into a strategic alliance because I doubt if India would let this partnership dilute its strategic relations with other nations including Russia and China, or be perceived as a hedge against China, or accept the US policy of ensuring peace between India and Pakistan through a 'military balance'. [Indo-US military ties are inevitable - Rediff]