Change of regime in the USA : strategic implication for the Indian subcontinent

Posted on January 21, 2009. Filed under: Afghanistan, China, economy, India, Muslims, Pakistan, Politics, Taleban, terrorism, USA | Tags: |

Obama’s takeover could actually be a dampener for all those hoping to see more positive action in favour of India. His primary concern will be restoration of the US economy. US strategic interests in Asia will therefore be intimately tied in with strategies for growth of the US economy. In spite of rhetoric, economic calculations will impose restrictions on where and how far Obama will go. It seems most unlikely that Obama will increase overseas military commitments and war or surgical strikes against Iran is most unlikely unless Iran deliberates provokes US into a position where it will be embarrassed internationally if it does not retaliate. Obama will try to hold the “line” rather than expand or contract. His main tactic will be to retain the bluster to outshine Bush in foreign affairs but basically do nothing. He will try to achieve more with bluffs and diplomatic pressure and nerve wars rather than do anything that escalates military commitments. He will be under pressure to be seen not to retreat compared to Bush’s legacy, which will be a dampener for those within and outside US who hope that Obama will reverse many of the aggressive Bush moves.

For the subcontinent, Obama’s main strategic steps will be to reassure and to a certain extent increase cooperation with India mainly in the economic arena. Obama will also see to it that Indian regimes are not penalized at the elections by not taking aggressive retaliatory measures against Pakistan. Obama’s tactic will be to increase public visibility of military collaboration with India, and a declared programme of strengthening defence capabilities of India, and maybe even some kind of enhanced NATO type guarantee of alliance/protection in case of third party aggression. Similarly Obama will see to it that any Pakistani regime is not penalized by the people, by holding off India from POK. If India can bargain here properly, it can wrangle out an agreement to station troops on the eastern border of Afghanistan as part of a strategy of anti-terror and disruption of Taleban supply lines to the POK.

The key here again will be to stabilize rather than expand. This is here where Obama and US policy will begin to unravel. The situation in the Afghan+Pakistan front needs expansion and dynamic rather than stabilization. Stabilization of control would mean the beginning of loss of initiative on NATO part and the turning point of the campaign. The reason static war would be disastrous for the US, is because of the peculiar ground situation. So far the anti-US forces have been fighting Chinese Red army style mobile warfare. Such war style can only be matched by continuous positional movement and encirclement of mobile warriors. As soon as this movement is lost, the mobile warriors gain advantage. For now, in an unfamiliar and unaccustomed territory, positional static NATO can be picked off at ease by its opponents.

Obama’s concentration on economic affairs out of necessity, is likely to lead to less stress on foreign affairs that are seen to be expensive and without direct long term benefits. This in turn is likely to lead to less clarity on strategic military objectives, and a corresponding confusion in the military command over operations. It will not be as if Obama himself will be directly responsible, but his preoccupation with internal affairs and priority to world economic manipulation will lead to a neglect of military expansion and therefore adoption of stop-gap stabilization tactics. Obama will try to get India onboard for the US economic recovery programme, and formulate joint policies to counter China. Strategically, this can benefit the entire Indian subcontinent, especially those economies in a position technologically and educationally to benefit from such US-India relationship – especially India, Bangladesh and SriLanka. But this will also be a great opportunity for India to push through in strategic initiatives of its own about the central Asian republics. India can shrewdly play around to force US acceptance of Indian military presence, if India offers to provide substantial military and economic help directly to the Afghan government. Most diplomatic pressures are only effective when the other party realizes that the pressurizing party will go ahead and do something anyway – and that it is better to join in before it is too late to appear to be a reliable “friend”.

US current needs coincides with India’s on the economic front, primarily against Chinese capture of world markets, and I think there will be no problems in the evolution of collaboration here. But overall this economic movement will subtly and in a very complex way, leave its mark on the military/political strategic scenario, whereby the US and the NATO will ultimately retreat from the Afghan front. This is both a danger as well as an opportunity for India, if it has the correct leadership.

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2 Responses to “Change of regime in the USA : strategic implication for the Indian subcontinent”

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It wasn’t a takeover … Mr. Obama has been democratically elect …

Your article concludes with the assumption that ” – if India has the correct leadership “.
Well, when did India have the kind of leadership it needed ? Except for a short spell of Lal Bahadur Sashtri, and Indira Gandhi in patches, India has never seen leadership that can protect India’s interests. Indira Gandhi’s greatest blunder was to let Pakistan go intact on the west in 1971. If Israel was in place of India, not only Pakistan would be broken into pieces on the west, their nuclear sites would be bombed to rubble, every time they tried to build one !


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