Monday, July 04, 2005

us news: an emerging alliance with india

jul 4th

interesting that this commentator thinks this is a good deal for the us, and sees the value in an asia-pacific alliance aimed at containing china: the moral equivalent of NATO which was intended to contain the soviet union.

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneweb/mb_050701.htm

3 comments:

san said...

I came across this article on
The Shanghai Five Cooperative Group

Basically, this is a joint Sino-Russian forum for them to maintain control over Central Asia, which they regard as their soft underbelly or rear. India and now also Pakistan have become observers at this group forum.

So far India has shared a common interest with Russia and China in combatting Islamic fundamentalism in that region. On that goal, Pakistan has been the odd man out.

However, with the relatively recent entry of US into Afghanistan, the stalemate in combat against Islamic fundamentalism has now given way to newer attempts to promote freedom and democracy in the region, at the expense of the authoritarian regimes there. Naturally, Russia and China are alarmed by this, as it would mean the loss of control of neighboring buffer states (a la Ukraine). Pakistan already lost its tenuous control of its regional proxy buffer Taliban, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

But what is India's position on the issue of wider democratization of Central Asia? Isn't there a useful strategic opportunity for India here?
Unlke Pakistan, India is not directly a littoral state to Central Asia, which might offer it some useful insulation.

As US thinkers have pointed out, the very existence of politically repressive authoritarian regimes in Central Asia provides the resentment that fuels the jihadists. And Pakistan freely milks the jihadist adrenaline to despatch militants into India. Therefore, in the long run, it would be in India's interests to see the authoritarian regimes removed.

But do we want the communist bosses removed just to see them replaced with Islamists? Obviously not.

And here is where it comes down to replacing the local legacy-holders of Soviet-era communism with fresh identities other than Islamism. Here is where Uzbek ethnic national identity, Tajik ethnic national identity, Turkmen ethnic national identity, etc, are rivals to the Islamist identity and ideology. Just like Sindhi, Baluchi, Pathan instead of Pakistani.

It is these ethnic identities which need to be promoted to fill the gap as communist authoritarianism is unravelled. It is the USA's failure to move in this direction which has caused it so much grief in Iraq and Afghanistan. They've removed the stifling regimes in these countries in the name of freedom, but without providing a new directional stability to fixate on (ie. ethnicity). The resulting anarchy has allowed the former enemies to insert themselves back in to fill the vacuum, or at least prey on the vacuum.

If India can support the USA in removing the authoritarian regimes in Central Asia and replace them with the stable clarity of ethnic identity, then this will keep out the Islamists. Naturally, this could lead to the shifting of borders of Central Asian states, where artificial borders have cut through various ethnic groups to artificially split them. The resulting domino effect might even make its way to Pakistan's borders, which would be to India's advantage. If for example, Uzbeks and Tajiks in Afghanistan were to combine their territories with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, then the resulting Pashtun rump-state of Afghanistan would try to recombine with Pakistan's NorthWest Frontier Province.

I would imagine that since Pakistan is quite sensitive to this possibility, that's why the US has avoided promoting local ethnicity as the natural stabilizing remedy to Islamism. But this then forces the US to resort to its own raw military presence (authoritarianism?) to keep the Islamists at bay. Not working. Just enshackling the US into an Atlas holding up the sky.

While the US may be deferring to Pakistan's sensitivities for the time being, Pak is nonetheless not offering the US any alternative path, other than raw collapse of US military presence through exhaustion and battle fatigue.

As the burdens and costs to the United States mount in Central Asia, then India needs to step in and dialogue with the Americans, pitching to them the ethnic solution as the alternative to Islamist fundamentalism. That would be a better stabilizing path with firmer limits than this currently nebulous "freedom policy" which simply a form of vacuum and anarchy that hasn't decisively stopped the Islamists.

And if Pakistan's northern borders eventually fall under pressure and even collapse, then it's a small price to pay for wider stability.

Anonymous said...

Lack of extensive reporting has dimmed the role of India in the CAS. India enjoys a lot of goodwill - thanks to Bollywood and cheap pharmaceuticals and various other subsidies that India doles out. Of course all these efforts are subsumed by the massive presence of Chinese companies, so it is imperative to cash in soon.
I am not sure if one has to side with the US in their efforts for active presence in CAS - it is in their best interest to keep the tin pot dictators in place and help prevent Chinese invasion. We could keep in mind the following saying "behti hui ganga mein apne haath dho lo"

Chamed Ahlabi said...

san,

interesting analysis again..
are u a blogger ? can u post a link to u'r blog ? i'd like to see what else u have to say..

u seem to link to a profile that isnt public(http://www.blogger.com/profile/3203174)