Dr. Abdul Ruff in New Delhi
Global super power USA, in trying to reduce India’s regional superpower status in South Asia, is on its way to acquire, on a sort of indefinite lease, India’s military bases and ports for its own use, informed sources claim.
Once the agreement is inked by them, USA would have complete control of all three major powers of the region, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and, thereby total monopoly over the region where its rival Russia has military deals only with India on a regular basis and didn’t establish any real military contacts as Delhi does not seem to want Moscow to diversify its military deals in the region.
New Delhi is annoyed with Moscow’s overtures towards Islamabad for profitable military deals. Other countries in the region are dependant either on India or Pakistan and they are not considered strategically important for USA or Russia.
While Bhutan almost entirely depends on India for most requirements, Nepal looks to both China and Pakistan for military supply. Sri Lanka has been closely tied with Pakistan while it does not want to annoy India by any open and extended military ties with Pakistan. Lately, there appears to be some disenable changes taking place though. Bangladesh, now ruled by the Hasina government that hates Pakistan and seeks help and gifts from India would not like to strike any military deals with super powers but may let India go ahead with its strategic tries with USA and Russia.
A strategic deal has bound the US with India, seeking many favours from Washington apart from the traditional ally Russia, for fulfilling Delhi’s all external ambitions. None in South Asia or even Southeast Asia can match with India on resources to purchase terror goods from Moscow or Washington or even Tel Aviv on a large scale.
Under the previous UPA government led by Congress, India became a global strategic partner of the US, the Indian military became the Pentagon’s frequent partner in joint exercises, and the US displaced Russia as India’s largest weapons supplier.
Now the White House is focusing on the US “pivot” to Asia and it considers Indian role crucial in fully implementing the project. American worry is that Russia could twist Indian mindset against its Asia pivot, targeting China. India and China maintain tensed relations; expect in regular trade and India values the Chinese sport help. China is not only Asian economic power but also the continent’s sport giant. India cannot afford to upset the Chinese calculations on Indian attitude towards USA.
Modi’s pronounced tilt
It is said that India’s “big aims” have prompted Americans to try taking control of India’s major seaports and airports, making its control of the regions almost absolute. According to Indian media reports, recently the Narendra Mondi-led BJP government has begun discussions with the US on a military Logistics Support Agreement (LSA). Once finalized, the LSA would allow the US military to feel “free” to roam about the region as the new boss through India, Pakistan and Afghanistan: routinely use Indian ports and army and air force bases for refueling and otherwise staging and provisioning its deployments.
Under the LSA, the US would ostensibly guarantee similar rights to the Indian military with necessary safeguards. This, however, would be largely be one-sided, for while the USA is a global military power, the reach of the Indian military is restricted to the subcontinent and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Left parties of India are now at a crossroads having opted wrong strategies hitherto. Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM propped up the Congress-led UPA government for four years, including as it forged India’s strategic partnership with designs of US monopoly imperialism. The CPM has issued a statement expressing concerns over the BJP’s negotiations with the USA over the LSA and the two related military cooperation agreements.
The BJP, during its 20 months in office, has tilted India still more pronouncedly toward Washington, including forging closer military-security ties with the US’ most important Indo-Pacific allies, Japan and Australia.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made Obama the first US president to be the guest of honour at India’s annual Republic Day celebrations. At the conclusion of Obama’s January 2015 visit to Delhi, he and Modi issued a “US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean,” which, to Washington’s delight, included US-drafted language concerning the conflict between the USA and its allies and China in the South China Sea.
Trilateral military co-op.
In September, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her US counterpart John Kerry announced that the US and Indian militaries will cooperate in peacekeeping capacity building with a focus on training troops from African countries for UN peacekeeping missions. While in the past there has been ad hoc cooperation between the Indian and US militaries in providing disaster relief, this agreement represents the first time they will be collaborating in an overseas military operation, working together to fashion the military forces to be used policing West sponsored UN peacekeeping missions. Especially important has been the Modi government’s embrace of trilateral Indo-US-Japanese military-security cooperation, something the previous UPA government drew back from after China voiced strong opposition. Last September, Swaraj met with Kerry and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in the inaugural meeting of the US-Japan-India Trilateral Ministerial Dialogue. Soon after it was revealed that the annual bilateral Indo-US Malabar naval exercise would henceforth have a third permanent member, Japan. Soon perhaps Israel also could also be co-opted.
India seeks US support and endorsement of its occupation of Jammu Kashmir because any open support of USA for Kashmiri freedom movement can damage Delhi’s all diplomatic efforts for years. India, therefore, supports and aids US projects in the region. Even opening discussions on the LSA marks a major shift of India towards a formal military alliance with the US. Already India is deeply integrated into the US “pivot” to Asia—Washington’s drive to economically and diplomatically isolate China and encircle it militarily. Delhi now is preparing to allow US planes and ships to use Indian facilities, bringing them in still closer range of China.
The US has been pressing India to sign on to the LSA since the George W. Bush administration signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2006 with the Congress-led UPA government having a philosophy very close to Hindutva party BJP, though it never admits it openly for fear of losing Muslim vote banks.
US hopeful of LSA
Without Muslim votes Congress can never win elections in India as it has been proven in parliamentary and assembly polls. Now the BJP just pursues the Congress polices. While the UPA government held talks with the US on the LSA, it ultimately balked at signing on, because of concerns that it would imperil India’s “strategic autonomy” and rile China. BJP is expected to finalize it.
The throwing open of Indian facilities to the US military is a highly sensitive and certainly contentious issue, the BJP government has made no formal announcement that it is discussing with the American rulers ratifying the LSA. An unnamed “senior Indian military/defence official” involved in the negotiations reported on December 26 that the LSA was discussed during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s December 7-10 visit to the US and the issue is very much alive.
In a statement that underscores the huge import of India agreeing to open its military facilities to the US, the official saw no serious obstacle to New Delhi soon reaching agreement with the US on the LSA. “There is only one concern,” he announced, “what happens in the case of war?” The official added that India is seeking clarifications as to how the LSA would be applied in the event that India did not support a US military action.
Among India’s common people are hostile to US monopoly, which they rightly identify with the insane terror wars and oppression on fictitious Sept-11 hoax. Also, majority of Indians, including political and military establishment, are opposed to aligning more closely with Washington, because the US has a long history of bullying and threatening India because of the China factor.
Washington is pleased with the manner in which the negotiations are proceeding as Indian military minister Parrikar has shown an open mind on signing the LSA. The US is “hopeful” two related agreements that the US views as foundational to developing a full military partnership with India “will follow.”
More are on offer
The other foundational agreements are the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA). These agreements, which are a standard part of the US’ military alliances, are meant to facilitate and promote inter-military “communications interoperability” and “security” to bind other nations. They would involve “giving the US access to India’s encrypted systems,” a condition that has caused India’s armed forces to voice “reservations.”
Separately, the USA is pushing, under the Indo-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), for India to enter into co-production and co-development projects with the Pentagon and US arms manufacturers.
A.K. Antony, the UPA government’s former defence minister from 2006 to 2014, ultimately came to oppose the CISMOA and BECA, as well as the LSA, because signing the agreements would grant the US military unencumbered access to Indian military installations and compromise sensitive data.
However, US officials have told their Indian counterparts that if India has not agreed to the terms of the CISMOA and BECA it will at a certain point prove an obstacle to expanding the co-manufacture and development of high technology weapons systems.
Indian minister Parrikar’s visit was the first by an Indian defence minister to the USA since 2008. During the same period, there were six visits to India by the US defence secretary, an indication of the Pentagon’s push to “integrate” India into its provocations and war planning against China. Symbolizing the deepening military-security ties between the two countries, Parrikar started his US tour by visiting the US Pacific Command (PACOM) in Hawaii. Led by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, he toured the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the American nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, becoming the first Indian defence minister to ever tour a US aircraft carrier.
Source: Weekly Holiday