Posts Tagged ‘India’
Here are some news stories that deserve more main stream coverage.
[The Financial Times] termed the actions of the Chinese warship as the latest example of Beijing’s assertiveness which had irked India and Vietnam. China claims South China Sea in its entirety, rejecting claims by other nations like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan over the resource rich region.
Maritime disputes between the world’s two most populous countries are a growing concern, especially as China grows more confident in its military capabilities.
At one unguarded facility, empty packing crates and documents reveal that 482 sophisticated Russian SA-24 missiles were shipped to Libya in 2004, and now are gone. With a range of 11,000 feet, the SA-24 is Moscow’s modern version of the American “stinger,” which in the 1980s helped the US-backed Afghan mujahideen turn their war against the Soviet Union.
Though Libya’s SA-24s are reportedly the variant without the “gripstick,” which means they cannot be man portable and shoulder fired, they are still a major air defense weapon. In in the wrong hands they could be used as an offensive capability by guerrilla fighters or terrorists. The small arms and light weaponry looted from Libyan stockpiles is a growing security concern, especially with regards to the missing remnants of Qaddafi’s chemical weapons program. John Brennan worries that Libya could become an “arms bazaar” for terrorist organizations.
“Currently, the situation is so-called post-Gaddafi. And it is not NATO’s intention to stay on top of this situation. The UN should take the reins in its hands, and we are ready to support it, should we receive such a request,” NATO Assistant Secretary General Dirk Brengelmann told reporters.
The UN and NATO are likely to have a major hand in the development of post-Qaddafi Libya. Yet, there has not been an established framework on how they are going to conduct state building in the country and help Libyan rebels create viable governing institutions. Sooner rather than later this needs to be addressed by all the interested parties.
Afghan and NATO officials have long struggled to entice young men in the heavily Pashtun south — the Taliban heartland — to join the Afghan Army. Despite years of efforts to increase the enlistment of southern Pashtuns, an analysis of recruitment patterns by The New York Times shows that the number of them joining the army remains relatively minuscule, reflecting a deep and lingering fear of the insurgents, or sympathy for them, as well as doubts about the stability and integrity of the central government in Kabul, the capital.
Building a professional and representative Afghan National Army is one of the top priorities of America’s strategy in Afghanistan. However, serious problems remain regarding professionalism, recruitment of quality soldiers, and abuses by ANA personnel such as thievery. Many parts of Afghanistan are skeptical of the rank and file ANA because they are viewed as miscreants from across the country who are sent into the army by tribal leaders tired of having them in their village.
In international relations, power can be measured in absolute or relative terms. When it comes to economic power, a country is mostly likely said to be better off if its economic power increases in absolute terms. But, when it comes to diplomatic power, a country is more concerned with its relative power vis-à-vis others.
That’s why this article by Brahma Chellaney in Forbes’ Magazine, “Behind the Sri Lankan Bloodbath,” sheds interesting light on the state of India’s power in South Asia. Because while India may be one of the strongest regional actors in terms of trade, population and military might – it is still struggling to assert itself in the diplomatic arena.
Even the small island-state Sri Lanka, which is proximate to India in many ways, does not operate as a client or as India’s sole beneficiary, instead pledging allegiance to other states (especially China and Pakistan) in return for counterinsurgency support against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
As Chellaney notes, Sri Lanka “practiced adroit but duplicitous diplomacy” which often contradicted India’s interest but was in-line with Sri Lanka’s sovereign interest:
[Sri Lanka] assured India it would approach other arms suppliers only if New Delhi couldn’t provide a particular weapon system it needed. Yet it quietly began buying arms from China and Pakistan without even letting India know. In doing so, Colombo mocked Indian appeals that it rely for its legitimate defense needs on India, the main regional power. It was only by turning to India’s adversaries for weapons, training and other aid that Colombo pulled off a startling military triumph. In any event, Colombo was emboldened by the fact that the more it chipped away at India’s traditional role, the more New Delhi seemed willing to pander to its needs.
Accordingly Chellaney reports, “India’s waning leverage over Sri Lanka” manifested itself in how “it has to jostle for influence there with arch-rivals China and Pakistan.” As an example, Chellaney uses the billion-dollar seaport being built by Beijing in Sri Lanka’s southeast as a symbol of China’s strategic challenge to India.
In a broader sense, India’s inability to exert diplomatic leverage over other powers becomes apparent with the global influence China has compared to India despite their approximate similarities in demographics, military capability and economic strength. India’s waning regional influence is exemplified by the Sri Lanka case.
Now, what are the reasons for India’s lackluster ability to project diplomatic power? In regards to Sri Lanka, Chellaney believes India’s foreign policy suffered because it was not driven by “resolute, long-term goals, but by a meandering approach influenced by the personal caprice of those in power.” Additionally, I would add that India’s foreign policy is hindered by domestic and border concerns that often receive paramount attention. And India’s “meandering” approach can be explained by its inability to overcome these critical constraints at home. ♦
On most accounts, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India this past week was a diplomatic success. She addressed India as it is – a burgeoning global power that deserves our attention. And although her trip didn’t result in much headway on global warming it did move forward a civilian nuclear power partnership, a defense deal that includes “end-use monitoring”, and the start of a procurement contract which may help US companies sell India up to 126 multi-role fighter aircraft.
Yet South Asia’s diplomatic challenges still abound. I think there are legitimate concerns that an increased US-India defense partnership may distract Pakistan from its internal counterinsurgency fight by shifting focus back to their conventional India threat; which, in turn, could hinder US goals for the Af-Pak theatre.
Additionally, the visit did little to push forward Obama’s nuclear non-proliferation goals, such as a reinvigoration of the NPT and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).