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

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

As Much An Anti-Indian as Anti-Taliban?

US latest iteration of war in Afghanistan effort is being unrolled with lot of confusion as to what the goal will be, how many more troops will be sent, and how quickly US will leave Afghan. Manmohan Singh was just in DC with nothing to show for publicly for his long travel - no deals were signed, no promises about next steps made - nothing was achieved. B. Raman explains the lack of substance of this trip dismantling Manmohan Singh's media spin maestros on trip - nothing on counter terror partnership, nothing on wrapping up the nuclear deal, and nothing on economic issues. One wonder if Manmohan traveled half way across the globe just to attend the first state dinner of Obama - apparently the prawns served during dinner are an indication of the strong and stable strategic relationship.

How this relationship between US and India can be strategic partnership is a mystery. One hopes there were substantial talks on China and Pakistan. But there is no indication that Manmohan Singh pressed Obama on any issues related to China that we identified in our earlier post. On Pakistan, US seem to be sliding backwards from seriously understanding issues impacting us - sliding back to 80s, in fact, when Pakistan made demands and US obliged with serious implication to India's and world's security decades later.

Soon after Manmohan left D.C., reports of a secret offer by Obama to Pakistan, given about a month ago, to expand US patronage of Pakistan came to light. Obama offers more military and economic aid and support, meaning bribe, to apparently make Pakistan fight terrorists, with an 'or else' warning that US may take matters into its own hands.

President Obama has offered Pakistan an expanded strategic partnership, including additional military and economic cooperation, while warning with unusual bluntness that its use of insurgent groups to pursue policy goals "cannot continue."

The offer, including an effort to help reduce tensions between Pakistan and India, was contained in a two-page letter delivered to President Asif Ali Zardari this month by Obama national security adviser James L. Jones. It was accompanied by assurances from Jones that the United States will increase its military and civilian efforts in Afghanistan and that it plans no early withdrawal.
It is like watching a really bad movie being repeated again, but with real consequences to the security and well being of India (and Afghanistan.) Pakistan is very good at playing this game. It just got $6.5billion in aid with conditions that don't amount to much. Pakistan's president was reported to have to formally given the power over nuclear weapons to its prime minister, who is backed by Pakistan military, meaning, the president's formal powers are diminished significantly.

As if this bad movie repeating was not enough, Obama's Afghanistan plan seems to specifically aim to assuage Pakistan interests rather than actually fighting terrorists in Afghanistan. Obama's plan includes a surge of troops, followed by withdrawal of most troops, but continued long term presence in Afghanistan. The plan to stay in Afghanistan on a long term basis, it seems, has nothing to do with fighting the Taliban but to guarantee Pakistan's rite over Afghanistan policy to the determent of India.
Officials of one allied nation who have been extensively briefed on the president’s plan said, however, that Mr. Obama would describe how the American presence would be ratcheted back after the buildup, while making clear that a significant American presence in Afghanistan would remain for a long while. That is designed in part to signal to Pakistan that the United States will not abandon the region and to allay Pakistani fears that India will fill the vacuum created as America pulls back.
Did Obama brief Manmohan Singh on this specific issue? Did Obama provide contours of his Afghanistan war plans to Manmohan Singh during the his "first state dinner" visit? If so, what was Manmohan's response to the plans? If not, what is the nature of US-India relationship? It surely is not a strategic relationship - it doesn't even seem to be a rather friendly relationship.

Obama's Afghanistan war strategy seems to as much an anti-India strategy as an anti-Taliban strategy. India's military and intelligence better plan ahead of this US strategy to strengthen itself in Afghanistan and prepare for the blow back a decade or two from this rather recycled fallacious US policy, learning from American previous missteps.