India's Hopes And Concern About Powell's Appointment
July 7, 2008
New Delhi (CNSNews.com) - The appointment of Gen. Colin Powell as America's next Secretary of State has evoked both hopes and concerns in India, analysts said on Wednesday.
Powell's backing for the National Missile Defense (NMD) proposal is one area of concern in a country strongly opposed to the idea.
"India will have to carefully assess the potential for tectonic shifts in the U.S. nuclear doctrine and adapt its own nuclear security and arms control position," said Santosh Jha, a foreign policy analyst at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Powell said last weekend: "We will stand strong with our friends and allies against those nations that pursue weapons of mass destruction, that practice terrorism. We will not be afraid of them. We will not be frightened by them. We will meet them. We will match them. We will contend with them. We will defend our interest from a position of strength."
Jha said New Delhi would have to answer several questions before formulating its own strategy, including: Would nuclear defenses necessarily be bad, as India has argued up until now? Could India support a radical reduction in global nuclear arsenals, coupled with a new emphasis on missile defenses?
Calling the U.S. plans for a "defensive shield" against missiles an essential part of the Republican security strategy, Powell said the objective was to "start diminishing the value of offensive [nuclear] weapons."
The American plan to build the NMD has evoked strong criticism from India, Russia, China, and has even worried some U.S. allies in Europe.
In another foreign policy area, India may not see eye to eye with the Bush administration. India, along with Russia, France and China, has been calling for an easing of sanctions against Iraq.
Indians expect the appointment of the Gulf War hero, as Secretary of State, will lead to a hardening of Washington's stance toward Baghdad and possibly fresh sanctions.
"India had its own strategic interest in Iraq and [this] was evident during the Gulf War," said foreign policy writer Ramesh Sharma of Delhi University. At the same time, he noted, New Delhi had "salvaged some diplomatic points" with the U.S. by permitting U.S. warplanes to refuel clandestinely in Bombay during operations.
On terrorism, the two sides can expect greater cooperation. India's foe, Pakistan has close links with the militant Taliban authorities in Afghanistan, whom the U.S. accuses of sheltering anti-western terrorists.
"Washington and New Delhi could formulate joint actions to contain the spread of terrorism," Sharma predicted.
When it comes to intervention in the affairs of other nations, Powell said the U.S. must only do so to pursue clearly defined political objectives, and when it does, do so with "overwhelming force."
For Sharma, this means the transition from the Clinton to the Bush administration will effectively be "from the liberal internationalism of the last eight years, to a more conservative internationalism under the Republicans."
"New Delhi should find itself more comfortable with a less interventionist administration in Washington, especially when Pakistan has been seeking U.S. mediation in the Kashmir issue."
India and Pakistan have already fought two wars over the disputed Himalayan territory.
An area of hope for India is Powell's recognition of a new world order.
"The old world map as we knew it, of a red side and a blue side that competed for something called the third world is gone," Powell said. "And the new map is a mosaic, a mosaic of many different colors spreading around the world. If you want to be successful in the 21st century you must find your path to democracy, market economies and a system which frees the talents of men and women to pursue their individual destinies."
Analysts said India's economy would emerge strongly in the 21st century, with the Information Technology sector in particular continuing to grab the attention of many nations.
"A strong middle class and potential market for many consumer goods and the booming IT sector in India would be a great bargaining chip for New Delhi in the international arena," said Alka Verma, an economist with the Institute of Economic Growth, a policy think tank.
Meanwhile, a U.S. intelligence study has predicted that India will be an "unrivalled regional power" by 2015, while Pakistan will be "more fractious, isolated and dependent on international financial assistance."
The Global Trends 2015 report, prepared under the direction of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), foresees an India with a formidable military, inclusive of naval and nuclear capabilities, and a dynamic economy.
It sees other South Asian nations such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal becoming more dependent on India and its economy. Afghanistan, on the other hand, is likely to remain weak and a destabilizing force in the world.
India, being wary of China, will look increasingly to the West.
But the NIC-sponsored study also talks of the possibility of China, India, and Russia forming a de facto geo-strategic alliance in an attempt to counterbalance American and Western influence. It also visualizes a collapse of the US-European alliance, partly due to the intensified trade disputes and competition for leadership in handling security questions.