January 2, 2009

Mumbai - more analysis

In light of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, it seemed possible that the United States could turn the problem into a renewed relationship opportunity with India. Given the timing and the impracticality of action during a lame-duck presidency, the opportunity may have been missed. Condoleeza Rice has demanded that Pakistan come clean and co-operate. Or else? Not much. There's no carrot, and no real stick in play here. And consequently, the U.S. offers little to India that India cannot get elsewhere and more to it's advantage. Meanwhile Pakistan has gone back to the path of denial. And now InterPressService is reporting that India is seeking support from China in dealing with Pakistan.

According to sources, Mukherjee has conveyed New Delhi's dissatisfaction to Washington.

"With six American citizens killed in the Mumbai attack, we expected that Washington would apply effective pressure on the Pakistani military,’’ Uday Bhaskar, leading strategic analyst and former deputy director of the Indian ministry of defence -funded Institute of Defence Studies
and Analysis.

"That Washington could not act beyond a point proves that the U.S. dependency on the Pakistani military for the safety of its supply convoys to support its troops in Afghanistan is a greater priority,’’ Bhaskar said. ‘’There is "an understanding on both sides that there are limits to the extent to which the U.S. can prevail upon the Pakistani military to deliver apropos of

So an opportunity has been squandered. At least in the short term, since I'm sure there's more the United States government could do in the region that would be of more benefit to India. And there is urgent reason to do so. The Cato Institute in an article from the Dallas Morning News, touches on the implications of reliance on Pakistan.

After months of increased attacks on supply trucks, U.S. and NATO officials are scrambling for alternative routes to sustain its forces in land-locked Afghanistan. Today, three-quarters of NATO provisions bound for Afghanistan must travel through the deteriorating security environment in neighboring Pakistan. If U.S. and NATO leaders intend to establish new routes
for the mission, they will have to make concessions to surrounding countries including Iran and Russia.


For the time being, the U.S. and NATO will have to rely on Pakistan. America's foreign policy in the region remains hostage to events in that increasingly unstable country. Washington would be wise to take steps immediately to repair relations with either Tehran or Moscow if it wishes to have another feasible option for sustaining the Afghanistan mission.

Stemming the rising tide of violence in Afghanistan is crucial to America's "war on terror." Success requires the ability to supply U.S. and NATO forces in that country, which in turn, requires the wisdom to engage in effective diplomacy with key powers, especially Iran and Russia.

Clearly the alternatives are unsustainable. Iran, Russia? Not good bets. Being able to leverage forward bases in India would be a way to mitigate the problem, but it requires considering their interest instead of just America's - the relationship has to be mutually beneficial. As it could be.

Instead, it appears India will look elsewhere for support, a supporter of Pakistan in the Kashmir dispute, and a competitor to the US on the world stage. Not a good triangulation for the US or India. For the US this seems like a lose, lose, lose scenario. They lose a potential relationship builder with India, they lose the opportunity to open a new forward supply station for Afghanistan-based troops and they drive a potential ally towards a potential economic and military threat. There's triangulation worth working around.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This