Misplaced Priorities

Only brave warriors fall from their horses in battle, How can kneeling cowards know what a fall is?

This quote sums up our foreign policy to a "T".
Stumbling and bumbling along from one disaster to another, India has never put a coherent strategy. Due to the inability of our foreign office mandarins (no doubt, all products of that “esteemed” bed of commie thoughts – JNU), we have always shielded from taking any proactive steps on anything. This total lack of sense and gummed up thinking is strikingly clear in our dealings with China.
After getting humiliated in 1962, we still have not realized that it is not Pakistan that is our enemy but CHINA. Pakistan has played the game of “The dog benefits when two men fight” and consistently whined and groveled its way to foreign aid. It is our inability to connect the dots together that will doom us.

My enemy’s friend is my friend – Old Saying
My frustration at our inept handling and outburst happened on reading Nitin Pai’s excellent post on the need for India to support Vietnam. Bharat Karnad in a piece in the Indian Express correctly points out, “Beijing may be apprehensive of a resurgent Japan but, of all the states on its border, it is most respectful of a militarily scrappy Vietnam, which prides itself on successfully fighting off the Chinese hegemon for ‘‘a thousand years’’. And most recently in 1979 gave the invading Chinese armies a bloody nose, which compelled Deng Xiaoping to do the prudent thing — speedily declare victory and get the hell out! BY cultivating a resolute Vietnam as a close regional ally and security partner in the manner China has done Pakistan, India can pay Beijing back in the same coin”.
Global Security sums it up aptly, “China's 1979 war against Vietnam was a complete failure. China failed to force a Vietnamese withdrawal from [Cambodia], failed to end border clashes, failed to cast doubt on the strength of the Soviet power, failed to dispel the image of China as a paper tiger, and failed to draw the United States into an anti-Soviet coalition."
Rather than cultivating paper tigers such as Indonesia and Malaysia through our "Look East" policy, the need for the hour is to draw Vietnam into a strategic relationship. In lieu of Indian investments in Information Technology and soft rates for advanced missile systems, we should ask for exclusive access to Vietnam’s deep sea harbors. All indications also point that India is in advanced stages of development for “Sagarika”, India’s first nuclear capable submarine launched cruise missile. Placed on the French Scorpene submarines and with a range of 300 km, the threat of a mobile sea launched platform in China’s soft belly would give fits of tension to China. The nuclear deterrent itself should be enough to bring China to the negotiating table.

Fight for the next decade – OIL
If India wants to retain any sort of resemblance of a world power in the next decade; it has to give utmost importance to two fronts – Oil and Information Technology. The Chinese have long acted as irresponsible brats and purposely kept the value of the Yuan low, thus providing them with a pool of money to aggressively bid for oil reserves. While erringly reminiscent of the Japanese using the Tokyo real estate bubble to acquire assets in the 1980s’, the Chinese have been this time around “blessed” with chaos in Russia and a weak American dollar and have started acquiring oil reserves all around the world. While they were repulsed during the UNOCAL bid, it is only a short time before they lay their hands on a oil major.

It is during this time that we have to realize that there is someone close to us who wants to forge a relationship with us since a long time. That country is TAIWAN. A combination of Taiwanese capital and management with Indian geopolitical skills and diplomatic clout could go a long way to secure vital energy resources. While low level contacts between the two countries have already existed, I see no reason why we consider the Taiwanese as pariahs. We should immediately recognize Taiwan as an independent sovereign country. Taiwan also boasts of a robust democracy unlike the autocratic Chinese who justify massacring their own people and guise it as “cultural revolution”. Last year China imported 2.46 million barrels per day (bpd), accounting for about 40% of current demand. By 2025, according to projections by the US Energy Information Administration (USEIA), China's oil imports will reach 9.4 million bpd of a total of 12.8 million bpd consumed. In India, meanwhile, the USEIA predicts demand will jump to 5.3 million bpd by 2025, 80% of which will come from imports. The only way to curb China’s growth is to tie up with Taiwan and pursue an aggressive policy of securing oil reserves.

It is the bone headed approach of our “South Block” people that is holding us back. We have always used Gandhi’s ways, “Someone slaps you, offer the other cheek also”. Now it is time for the Bose approach. It is high time that we recognize that China is our biggest threat and the only way to counter China and curb it is by actively pursuing each and every avenue where we can hit them and hit them hard. Taiwan and Vietnam are the just the first stops in this world wide fight for supremacy, but NOW is the time for India to act.

Update 1. I got several useful comments, both offline, via email and through the comments section. Both [Jaffna] and [Anon] have raised some pertinent questions.
I forgot to include support for Uighurs, my mistake. It is important to link again with Russia to have a "positive" influence in Central Asia, not only because China is increasingly getting a stronghold there, but because Russia on its own is incapabale of holding off the Chinese threat in Central Asia. It allows us to forment a viable front for the Chinese through the Central Asian republics and also gives us a heads-up wrt our oil dependence.

My non inclusion for the Japanese was because they tend to rattle their sabres a lot and then not back it up. Everytime, they try to assert themselves, either their own country men or the world media keeps reminding them about the atrocities commited during WW II and then they are back to their kennels. The Japanese care for only their own good being, they cannot and should not be trusted to do anything.


Anonymous said…
I am sure our Foreign Policy experts are thinking beyond Pakistan. Your thoughts on having bases in Vietnam make a lot of sense. Helping the Uighurs in Xingian province of China will also be to our benefit.

Most of us were not born before 1962. But, that does not mean we should forget the humiliation our nation went through, and forever keep this mind till we get back all of our Aksai Chin.
Anonymous said…
That comment was from Another Hokie
Thank you [Hokie]. Please identify yourself (via email if you want) so that we can have a discussion on this. Email is ujval.gandhi@gmail.com

By the way, I dont have any hope for our "Foreign policy experts". See the classic blunder they made during the first Iraq war, first they refused to join the alliance and then allowed American planes to re-fuel at Mumbai.
Jaffna said…

Brilliantly put. It is important not only to link up with Vietnam and Taiwan, but also with an increasingly assertive Japan.

Anonymous mentions the need to help the Uighurs. I would add the Tibetans.
Stochastix said…
Interesting post.
Economic diplomacy will be crucial to our success... Getting LNM to side with ONGC was a small but interesting example.

Another observation is that choosing an enemy's enemy is good strategy but it is not a long term strategy. While we befriend Vietnam and a bunch of others we also have to realize that in the long run all that matters is how much economic clout we have. (Hint: Why does China get more attention and respect in spite of a repressive regime?)

Also, while it is hard to do so, it would serve us well to remember that there are no permanent enemies in diplomacy. Let's see... oh! aren't there some oilfields in Libya. I wonder what's happened there a few months ago...
I agree India has suffered from Tunnel vision as far as foreign policy is concerned by only concentrating on Pakistan and China for enemies and Russia as an Ally while being ambivalent about USA. However, it is interesting to see finally Indian companies take interest in other countries, especially Central Asia and Africa. My question is this, haven't we learnt anything from the British East India Company?? Commerce and trade wins in the long run, not wars. I don't advocate colonization and I don't see that as being even remotely possible; however, creating a sphere of influence in those regions will be more beneficial than just concentrating on China/Pakistan/USA/Russia. The only effective and long term way of doing this is by letting Indian companies do business freely all around the world. While it is good to see India take leadership in the WTO negotiations, much needs to be done to with regards to increasing India's brand value around the world.

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