Dangers of a tight embrace

I was in Washington DC for a panel discussion on “India’s Asia-Pacific Outreach and Relations with China” at the Heritage Foundation on May 25. In the three days spent in the US capital meeting a number of Beltway thinktankers, what was palpable was the disappointment on several counts with the right-of-centre Bharatiya Janata Party government. The Wall Street Journal (May 26) published an interview-commentary as a curtain raiser to prime minister Narendra Modi’s second visit in two years that highlighted his inability or unwillingness to initiate “big bang” economic liberalization measures. Modi was damned, if not in so many words, as a waffler and only a more bombastic version of his predecessor, Manmohan Singh.

The economic interests in the US will be pacified if Modi signs up for a gigantic and manifestly unaffordable contract for Westinghouse and General Electric light water reactors as power plants under the rubric of controlling carbon emissions and climate change. The danger to India from the deal and from the dependency on imported power plants has been detailed in my writings and those of nuclear stalwarts like the late Dr PK Iyengar, AN Prasad, and A Gopalakrishnan against the nuclear deal — arguments that were convincing enough to fire a public campaign that all but stopped that deal with the US in its tracks in Parliament in 2008 (and available in the 2009 book comprising a voluminous compilation of these writings — ‘Strategic Sellout: Indian-US Nuclear Deal’ [New Delhi: Pentagon Press]).

In the ultimate analysis though, whether India matches the economic pace of the East Asian dragons or remains the perennial laggard matters less to US security enclaves who, with the strategically assertive China in mind, increasingly define the US interest in India. One of the metrics held up to judge the success of the visit is whether Modi will sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement. LEMOA, a differently worded version of the standard Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) the US insists on with its treaty allies and partners, is one of the three accords considered as prerequisite for close US military cooperation with India, along with the Communications Inter-operability and Security Memorandum of Agreement and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement concerning geo-spatial information (and the sharing, for instance, of digitized target coordinates). It will allow US armed forces to repair, replenish, refuel at Indian air and naval bases, and to afford its fighting personnel rest & recreation, enabling the US military to pull sustained operations in the Indian Ocean region and to cut a more active profile landward.

Peninsular India as supply-support base perfectly fills the logistics gap in the large oceanic and air expanses between the US bases in Bahrain in the Gulf and Diego Garcia in the southwestern Indian Ocean, and Singapore on the southeastern littoral.

Washington’s perception is that in recent years India has wriggled out of committing forcefully to contain China owing to two factors of Cold War vintage: America’s inhibition about selling and transferring advanced military technology to India, and its worrisome relations with Pakistan. The US is minimizing the basis of these “excuses”. In the past fortnight, the US Congress voted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act placing India in the same league as Japan and South Korea, and removing the legal barriers to its acquiring advanced US military technology.

Islamabad’s policy of asymmetric warfare using terrorist groups to discomfit India has boomeranged because many of these same outfits (the Haqqani Taliban faction, in particular) are fighting the Pakistan army and US forces instead upending, in the process, the peace plan for Afghanistan and raising the human and financial costs of American military intervention. So, US Congress has mandated vetting of Islamabad’s anti-terrorist stance prior to the disbursal of some $450 million in annual aid. Further, the US legislature vetoed the subsidy component in the $750 million deal for the sixteen F-16 combat aircraft on order, requiring Pakistan to ante up the full cost. The bad optics of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that will establish a Chinese Naval presence in Gwadar in the future, haven’t helped Pakistan either.

But such de-hyphenation measures do not preclude US’s continued contributions to critically enhancing Pakistan’s military capabilities. Such as providing technical fixes for the naval Harpoon missile so it can be fired from F-16 aircraft to attack land targets – the reason why the Modi government strongly protested the sale of this fighter plane to Islamabad.

The developments at the US end are motivated by a higher geostrategic purpose, of course, but are being dressed up as uniquely India-friendly actions. The scheduled address to the Joint Houses of the Congress during his June 7-8 visit by Modi is to massage his ego in the hope this will get the Obama Administration what it wants. Lest the Prime Minister be overly impressed by this gesture, he should be alerted to the fact — which MEA surely hasn’t done — that, considering it is election season in America, he’ll find the benches filled mostly by young Congressional pages and petty officials instructed to fill the hall rather than by US legislators who will be in their constituencies.

Because LEMOA is sort of an American litmus test, it is imperative Modi appreciates what is at stake, and the gravity of the situation that will obtain should he make the wrong decision.

The draft-LEMOA has not been made public. But its wording is unlikely to violate the existing LSA parameters, or deviate much from Section E2.1.10 of the US ‘Department of Defense, Directive number 2010.9’ which describes the “Logistics Support, Supplies, and Services” that India is expected to provide. It will formalize the US basing option in India. So, calling LSA by another name will not detract from the reality of the US gaining the right to pre-position stores and set up military base structures and mechanisms in India under its control, and requiring related jurisdictional agreements to protect American military assets and personnel.

As has been detailed in previous posts on this subject, the fallout will include a grounding of the Indian conventional military forces as Russia will retaliate by slowly choking off the spares supply, and begin seriously to explore the sale of sophisticated armaments to Pakistan and, most damagingly for India, possibly consider pulling out of sensitive Indian strategic R&D programmes. And, extremist Islamic groups everywhere will gear up to attack the politically juicy US military targets in India and completely roil the already uncertain conditions of internal security.

To sum up, formally allying with the United States will result in a loss of India’s ‘Russia card’ and its room for diplomatic maneuver and policy freedom, which New Delhi has hitherto prized and jealously guarded. It will gut high-value weapons development projects, militarily strengthen Pakistan, encourage terrorist activity in the country, disturb domestic politics, spawn unmanageable internal security problems, and reduce India to the status of an American camp follower. How does this serve the national interest, especially when China can more effectively be constrained, as repeatedly argued on this blog, by India and the US acting separately but unpredictably to dilute the Chinese footprint in the Indian Ocean region and in Southeast Asia?

The Modi regime, however, is entertaining a slightly different agenda of gaining membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to achieve which aim the PM will go, cap in hand, for support among the extant members of NSG as disparate as Switzerland and Mexico (included in this foreign trip). This is a show of unnecessary desperation that will fetch India nothing. Try as Washington might — and there are serious doubts about how much the Barack Obama Administration will put out for India, its NSG admission depends on China’s not objecting to it. Beijing has made it clear that its contrary hyphenation scheme — India gets in only if Pakistan too is admitted, is what it will stick with. The problem for New Delhi is that it wants to rouse the bulk of the NSG states to separate India and Pakistan and contest China’s position when, quite honestly, no one gives a damn whether India gets in or not. So, it will be, as usual, a futile effort with Obama making the usual promises to push India’s case, which means nothing.

This is what comes of nearly five decades of the Indian government raising Pakistan’s status as this country’s primary military threat — when it is nothing of the kind. Except it has helped, and continues to help, US, China, Russia, and any other country which wants to play the game, to place the two South Asian countries on the same scale — an end-state GHQ Rawlpindi cannot but be overjoyed by.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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23 Responses to Dangers of a tight embrace

  1. MS says:

    Alas, your analysis is true. And with the present dispensation keen on signing the accord – the majority of Indians who vote do not understand this may also be an assumption – in the hope of getting some membership here and there, it is by the sheer luck and destiny that the accords may not get signed.

    Who do you expect to stand up and inform the leader concerned that it will be a disaster? Why should someone stick his neck out and risk his position.

    America would have respected us lot more if we marshalled our resources to create offensive war capabilities, and looked like we could create a balance. That would help America too possibly.

    It is a little frustrating so I will stop here.

  2. andy says:

    Instead of going on a world tour begging sundry nations to endorse India’s entry into the NSG,the PM should have stayed put in Delhi and ordered imposition of anti dumping duties on all cheap and shoddy Chinese exports that result in a trade imbalance of more than $54 billion in China’s favour to the detriment of Indian industry, whose bottom lines are suffering due to this reason.The main reason Indian industry is not expanding is due to this humongous trade imbalance caused by cheap Chinese goods.

    Imposing economic costs on China is the only way to bring them heel.Fast tracking the Brahmos missile transfer to Vietnam is another way to get their goat.Also granting a $5 billion crediline to the viets,instead of the $100 million currently granted for arms imports from India.This could be used to build some potent warships for the same country(a couple of Shivalik class Frigates and a Kolkata class destroyer would do very nicely thank you) a couple of squadrons of the Rudra attack helicopter and a regiment of the Arjun MBT would really be nice pay back for the Chinese arms transfers to pakistan.A battery of Agni 3 missiles could be thrown in for good measure if the PM was feeling really magnanimous. After this ,all the PM would need to do is sit back and watch the chinks squirm in discomfort, the way Indians have been doing each time they have supplied missiles and other armament to the pakistanis.

    Each time the chinese needle us, whether by stalling Indian resolutions in the UNSC or by blocking our entry into the NSG,India needs to up the ante by more vigorous arms transfers to South china sea littolar states.

    Taking up a few more oil blocks for exploration off the Vietnam coast would be pay back for chinas temerity of building the CPEC through disputed Indian territory in pak occupied Kashmir.

  3. Another of piece of fantasy and hallucinations!!!

    India needs to sign to Lemoa so that American Airforce can operate from Indian Bases in order to take out Pakistani Nukes and to put an end to Pakistan’s misery.In return India gets access to American Technology.

    As far as Russia selling weapons to Pakistan is concerned if Pakistan has the money to foot the bill then Pakistan can get weapons out of demon hole.

    You talk a lot about Russia helping India in weapons R&D.Well Russians have never given any help in any kind of weapons development.India carried Russian arms industry on its Shoulders and in return India was thrown a few morsels like a dog.The terms of technological help were not favourable.

    The reason why Israel and South Korea are today Technological giants is because they were given access to American Technology at very favourible terms.South Korea never carried American R&D on its shoulders.SOUTH KOREA did not bankroll F-35’s development and then buy 200 pieces.

    SOUTH KOREA is negotiating a deal with America to buy 36 F-35 for not a penny more than $7 billion and in return American will help them in developing a 5th gen aircraft.South Koreans are pushing for 24 technologies in OFFsets.Well Americans are resisting but even if South Korea gets 20 technologies in offsets!!! It’s great !!! NOW THIS IS CALLED TECH TRANSFER!!!

    • India, historically, has had much greater success in manipulating Moscow and, in turn, since 2000 US has had like success in manipulating New Delhi. In the event, to rely overmuch on Washington’s promises is to court serious disillusionment and huge military capability falloffs unless, of course, India seeks its own reduction to South Korea’s size and status in the US scheme of things.

      • History is past!!! We have to move towards a better future.What has India got out of Successfully manipulating Moscow.

        This Putin’s regime is very revisionist.Russia is a petro-dollar state like Saudi Arabia with nukes and Still talks like an Industrial giant.It wants to regain its old Soviet Empire.Now India was a Soviet Clown.DO YOU WANT INDIA TO AGAIN BECOME A RUSSIAN SATELIITE State ?

        India did not choose garbage called Mig 35 and American F-18 or F-16 for MMRCA competition.India choose French Rafale.Good or bad but it was India’s decision.AMERICAN president did not wrote a letter to Indian PM Manmohan Singh demanding an explanation for India’s decision of not selecting American F-16 or F-18.Relationship with America is based on far greater fundamental interests than just Arms sale to India.Besides Americans do not really care for $10-15 billion.

        India wants to build its own Futuristic Infantry combat Vehicle.Americans in 2008 requested India POLITELY and RESPECTFULLY to consider Stryker ICV.India refused to buy Stryker ICV and continued with its own FICV project.After that Americans never directly pressurized India to buy Stryker or never tried to sabotage it by other means.Compare this with RUSSIANS.In 2012 Putin was to visit India.They demanded from India that India cancel its FICV and select 1980s vintage BMP-3, as if India is a slave.They wanted India to lay down a $10 billion gift for PUTIN’s landing in India## While now Mahindra and Tatas are partnering American(WESTERN) companies in Co-developing an FICV in India.Transferring the know-how and know-why to India and creating a capability in India’s private sector to do R&D.

        Well after 20 years of effort India developed 1970s era SAM Akash.In 2008 it passed its user trials and was about to be put into service.WHO WAS bribbing, sabotaging Akash Project ? You may guess it was America!!!

        In dec 2014 Putin visited India. Before coming to India he called modi and demanded that India select Russian Kamov helicopter for India’s light copter tender.While Obama never demanded from India to consider Bell 407 before he landed in jan 2015.India is already developing its own LUH.Russian Kamov will be junked when this Rafale saga ends and Russians will be kicked out.

        America is not behind sabotaging Arjun Tank Project.In 2008 Indian army very nearly packed up Arjun Tank in trials.In 2010 Indian army came up with specification of a new FMBT.It was 50 ton weight with 4 man crew.Russian T-95 failed and so did Indian Army cancelled the entire FMBT.How on god’s green earth were the specs of Indian Army’s FMBT same as Russian T-95 ?

        I can go on and on and on forever.Russians are ruining India.

        TELL ME ANY ONE INDIAN DEFENCE PROJECT THAT Americans have tried to sabotage or stop and instead wanted India to buy their stuff!!!!!

  4. India has untill now supported Russia on Ukraine, crimea and other issues.If Russians cut off Spare parts supply then India will stop supporting Russian on these issues. And by the way America can supply India with all the Spare parts India needs to keep Russian armaments Running.India will only move faster towards an embrace with America!!!

  5. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    1) Koodankulam,
    2) Shakti tests and nuclear industry in India,
    3) Nag+Namica,
    4) LCA,
    5) Nuke Sub development,
    6) Sub design within Indian Navy in general
    7) Trying to buy the entity behind the Indian Navy sonar codes
    8) Successive Ballistic Missile developments since early times
    9) Successor to Mi-26 which to begin with as offered for co-development to India
    10) Cryo engine tech,
    11) UAV developments over long history

    Ok good shagun with number 11.

    So what do these have in common. heh heh.

    LEMAO-Wemoa is all nonsense. Fit only for Butlers in uniform that crowd our top echelons and a thin sliver of babus whose main contribution to Indian strategic heft in the last 10 years have been to rename LSA as LEMOA. And now these imbeciles want the rest of the country to strive hard to achieve the same fate of a well dressed butler.

    The patriots within our Establishment have to understand that the reason India is useful is because India already has enough real Shakti. And more Shakti will help our cause not hobble it. And nobody ever gained real Shakti allying with US. All they gained was a vassal status. It is ok to partner in common goals with anybody including China and US. But nobody will ‘help’ us manage China. We have to be able to do that ourselves. In fact if we take real steps doing that, then we become even more useful for Americans. Stop this inertia of trying to fit into the US made ‘security architecture’. We have been independent for more than 70 years now. If the situation has not changed since Yashwantrao Chavan days then probably there are bigger truths out there that made it so. You want to provide ‘supplies’ do that. But don’t create rights and obligations. Else the three Sena Pramukhs will have only one KRA left to them – get the supplies invoice/debit note, reimbursed from Pentagon. Some of them may not mind it but then that is not the job befitting our Establishment.

    Note, the list does not even mention cases where our personnel and general populations, had to lay down their lives due to meddling in our part of the world by the Americans. There actually is such a thing as, shame for not having stood up for them.

    • Well I said tell my any one Indian defence project scuttled by Americans and America wanted India to buy its weapons.

      #1 Koodankulam is not an Indian defence project.Its completely Russian reactor which India bought.
      #2 Nuclear Industry in India began with American help in 1950s.India purchased Canadian Cirus reactor, which if americans wanted could have blocked its sale.India’s PHWR are based on western(Canadian) Candu reactors.Breeder reactor tech came initially from France.Now this is very long topic and I can go on forever.

      Agreed that America was against India testing nuclear weapons but America was and is the only Superpower.Even if Russia had been the only Superpower then even Russia or any other country would not have liked India become a Nuclear Power.In 1960s when CTBT was being formulated even Russians pressured India to sign it.At Russians wanted to physical dominate India like they controlled east european states.The main reason Chinese ditched them.

      #3 Now Nag+ Namica may have been scuttled by Israelis.Americans do not bribe for taking defence contracts.

      #4 Boy LCA began with American help.Without American help India would have simply not been able to fly LCA in 2001.LCA was supposed to be developed in very close co-operation with American defence industry.But when India tested nuked in 1998, American imposed Ban.What is so nasty in it ?

      #5 American is basically a naval Power and it sees Its security based on the control of oceans ans sea.America did not wanted India to make a nuke sub, well accepted.In 1970s and 80s India was a soviet Satellite.Naturally Americans did not wanted India to be able make a nuke sub.But now that has changed.
      From 2008 onwards a new era began.Now Americans will not scuttle India’s quest to make a nuke sub or Submarine design in general.

      ### To cut a long story short Now America has nothing against India.They will not pressurize India to stop ballistic missile developmnet, Cryo engine or anything for that matter!!!!

      • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

        Re. 1) Koodankulam – And the americans could not digest the fact that somebody could deliver the goods before they had arm twisted India into a Nuke Liability dilution and saddled India with junk rate nuke tech in exchange for the 123.

        Re. 2) Nuclear industry in India had started already before Americans even before came to the picture. Bhabha in fact was probably the only guy outside Russia who had figured why all of the bomb related experts had gone silent. This is what Nehru (of all people) said in 1948 – “We must develop this atomic energy quite apart from war – indeed I think we must develop it for the purpose of using it for peaceful purposes. … Of course, if we are compelled as a nation to use it for other purposes, possibly no pious sentiments of any of us will stop the nation from using it that way.”

        Whatever little we bought from the Americans was actually again to help them in their, then current, view that Purex waghera should be commercialized. Unfortunately for them nobody else bought from them. Later they figured that Purex too has proliferation risks and they banned it. Again some decades later they realized it could be shared with ‘trust but verify’ but Purex was hardly something anybody required from US. In fact the reason Purex etc. is kept in the tightly restricted list of NPT is because nearly everybody can develop it easily. The aqueous process is a relatively straight forward process. The Purex plant that was sold to India was a smaller 20 ton capacity plant and the main reason such purex plants are even considered for sale is because they are expected to be co-located with the reactor to make it difficult to steal the plutononium extracted. Project Phoenix was 20 ton only because we were expected to be satisfied with CIRUS for the rest of our lives.

        In most cases including CIRUS and later CANDU they always came to realize the importance of banning it for India, quite late in the day. No doubt US could have banned CANDU for India. They did sabotage Avro Arrow and the stupid Canadians complied. But that would have been the Canadian fate, something they deserved. Unfortunately the Americans were always late to have gathered the importance of Indian moves. Even during the early 60s Americans were being the general double faced liars they truly are. One group promising things even as the NPT was being framed such that China got favored while India was expected to bear all costs.

        The desire to cooperate with India begins to make sense only when you also observe that in fact, CIA knew very well that India could have gone nuclear as early as 1964 (check out the latest declassifications under FOIA). That is also why the NPT was introduced. First they tried to control us. When they failed, they tried to ban us. But off course all this lasted, only till , the Agni tests, the Shakti tests and subsequent Resurgent India Bonds showed them what exactly was the net result of their sanctioning. Again late.

        Even today they know that India out of NSG can be more independent since India has not signed NPT, with all, the indigenous tech available without any strings attached e.g. in tritium purification and much more. They know that in future a non-NPT-signatory India will be difficult to manage and NSG is just chooga to keep us in good mood. Nothing different from MTCR which is being helped only so that our armed forces can go in for even more imports and in the process kill off indigenous capacity.

        Re. “America was and is the only Superpower” – that is your problem not mine.

        And please get some history lessons before you embark on Sino-Soviet relations. It was the Chinese that saw relaxed soviet policies in European sector as being tied to relaxed American policies in Far East and Himalayas. It was the Chinese that suggested a communist-pact for world domination. The very same relaxed American policies that were introduced just after 1962 to betray Tibetans the quid pro quo from the Chinese side being the attack on Soviets in 1964. In fact post 1962 the main contention of the Chinese was that Russians were not coming down hard on India. While the main contention of the Americans was that Krishna Menon be removed from picture because he was critical of Pakistan and big supporter of throwing Portugal out of Goa. Thanks to the likes of Krishna Menon, we did not have to go into 1971 war with an American base in Goa ready to kick our asses. Pah! Just get some history lessons.

        Re. 3) Nag+Namica – How exactly are the Israelis to be blamed where the Americans must be absolved? What is it that the Americans did different from the Israelis? :). BMPs have been modified since eons. But somehow India could not do it till very late.

        Re. 4) LCA with American help – Now that is some news to play on the channel, after all, a man biting a dog is always a news.
        Well actually LCA did start with American help. Kind of. You see making a smaller jet is a more difficult task. Nearly nobody started their military aviation industry with a smaller sized jet. Except when some bunch of people are more than willing to push India along that path for varying reasons. Some of the main players involved in deciding that LCA be smaller had more than a mere passing western influence in their careers. Some of them went over to live in western countries after retirement. Some of the main detractors of LCA since early times were people influenced heavily by their experience of western goods. There actually was no real reason for us to hold ourselves to the limitation of a smaller jet, except ……. when miniaturization was to be used and abused in future to make sure only a certain pedigree of technology is mated to LCA. Don’t want to name people or establishments but you can take a guess.
        But for a man asking “when India tested nuked in 1998, American imposed Ban.What is so nasty in it ?”. Your guess are not going to be any good.

        Re. 5) America did not wanted India to make a nuke sub, well accepted.
        There was no great inflexion point encountered in 2008. It was just another 366 day year on the calendar. American desires do not matter one bit when it comes to our submarine requirements. Truth be told the Americans are again late in this department. India is not dependent on Americans for submarine technologies. Only real sore point is the towed array tech and in time even that will be completed properly. Arihant reactor has been critical for 3 years now and running :). In fact being handed over now for real work. Says something important, does it not?

        Re. ### “They will not pressurize India to stop ballistic missile development”
        Remember Agni-5 postponements and MIRV postponements. Any different from sanctions of the 90s? Care to change views?

  6. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    @BK, wish you were taking a little more interest in economic strategy for India too.

    Paul Sheard, chief economist of Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, was in India to meet policymakers and India Inc. profers:
    “Governor Rajan is a highly reputable economic professional. When he was appointed governor of RBI, I, as many other people, said that this is a wonderful appointment. This is again the ability of India to draw on its diaspora and attract top talent back into the service of economic development. He has done a great job in modernising the RBI. His reappointment will be taken well by the markets.”

    Says far more than what I could have shouted in my whole life. I think Paul Sheard is the first foreigner who is standing up for this imported stuff. Till now it was mostly Indian passport holders doing that for him.

    • Honestly, don’t know enough of economics — theory, models, plans, policy and practice, to wade into that mess.

      • MS says:

        well, I come here for your perspectives on strategic and tactical military affairs, and their relvance to our possible increase in influence and also the ‘need’ to make gains (lest we just continue sleeping)..

        I have commented before about the need to match China but I am not in favour of banning chinese import. I would like to see our govt to create room and open the doors for our products like Pharma.

        Indian companies are behind China and way behind the south east asian. I still ask a shop dealer for japanese/korean product made in Thailand than India. We are good looking people but we just do not make beautful, reliable and good products in India. So, the only things we could export to China are IT and Pharma products.

        Things can improve when we open to the world economy like China. Chinese leaders are able to extract so much from everywhere in the world.

        Now the question could be-how have Chinese leaders raised their level of competence that translated into the marvelleous momentum imparted to their economy? Are there think tanks that work dynamically with the govt?

      • S3 says:

        Your commentator MS overestimates the level of competence of the Chinese.

  7. andy says:

    The impression gaining ground in India is that after the signing of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), New Delhi and Washington will soon become close allies. There is also a feeling among a growing section of people that India and Russia are drifting apart. The fact is that these are just rumours without substance, but like in all rumours there is a kernel of truth.

    India and the US are coming together, but the glue is not strategic. During the 1991 Gulf War, American C-141 military aircraft were refuelling in Mumbai at the rate of two a day. No strategic realignment of ties came off that.

    If there’s any glue, it’s economic. The Narendra Modi government wants to emulate China’s grand opening of 1971 when Beijing declared that it didn’t matter what colour the cat was as long as it caught mice. This policy proved to be a windfall for Beijing as it opened the floodgates to American outsourcing.

    However, India must never forget it is the US that needs India more than India needs the US. So India should extract maximum concessions in return for opening up its market to the US. Here’s a short and reasonable wish list.

    One, India must acquire high-end US defence technology and not just screwdriver technology.

    Two, Washington must open its doors to more Indian engineers, doctors and other skilled category professionals.

    Three, the US must downgrade its ties with Pakistan and quicken its disintegration.

    Four, the US must not come in India’s way to play a more prominent role in Afghanistan.

    Expedite MTCR membership so India can legally acquire Russian technology for missiles with a range of over300 km legally.
    If India can get these boxes ticked, then it’s a win – win for both. If not, then India would be the loser.

    According to some observers, one of the spinoffs of the LSA is that it will give India leverage in the US. But this is being overly optimistic. Take the India-US nuclear deal of 2005. Has the US built even a single nuclear plant in India? In the meantime, Russia has built two units at Kudankulam and plans to build several more. Clearly, there is more substance in India-Russia relations than in India-US ties.

    Since the early 1990s when India opened up to the world, starry-eyed Washington think-tanks have hyped up India’s potential as a force multiplier on the US chessboard. Mostly they prescribe a transactional relationship where the US helps India grow into a global power on the condition New Delhi helps the US to “manage” China’s rise. This is exactly what the warlords in Washington have offered the likes of Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic countries for “countering” Russia. The problem with this view is that it implies the US has very little use for India if not as a bulwark against China.

    But since 2012, when India started aiming its Agni-V nuclear missiles at downtown Beijing, the Chinese have started talking about India-China “being the most important partnership of the 21st century”. Once some more of India’s ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-armed mountain divisions become operational, Beijing will come to the negotiating table. India doesn’t need the US to “manage” China.

    According to Wang Jisi, dean of the School of International Studies, Peking University, after decades of trying to contain India and having failed, China now wants a reset with India. Plus, the rise of Islamic terror in China through Uighurs trained in Pakistan has got the Chinese thinking. The communists have realised belatedly that the Faustian bargain they struck with Islamabad is coming to haunt them.

    “We have to fend off extreme Islamic terrorism from getting into China from Pakistan,” says Wang.

    Whether India-US ties move up or sideways, it does not mean downgrading of ties with Russia, which remains a strategic partner. India and Russia initially came together because of mutual need; New Delhi wanted quality weapons at a good price and Moscow was seeking a respectable friend in Asia; but the relationship has since grown organically.

    When Russia was facing economic collapse in the early 1990s, India settled terms of its rupee debt generously in Russia’s favour. There was criticism in the Indian media as the settlement made no economic sense for India, but it was bailing out a friend who was in dire straits.

    Moscow has in turn helped India by offering the crown jewels of its military industrial complex such as the Sukhoi Su-30MKI jet fighter, which raised the bar for all Sukhois globally, and providing help in building nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. More importantly, the military assistance came without restrictive end-user monitoring agreements.

    Moscow is also set to play a key role in India’s energy security. Besides cooperation in the areas of nuclear power, India is buying stakes in key oil and gas fields in Russia. Gas pipelines are in the works.

    The bonhomie of the Indo-Soviet days lives on in the hearts and minds of people in both countries. Where ties were once close, and emotional, today they are based on realpolitik: India and Russia do not have divergent geopolitical goals.

    • Ofcourse Strategic relationship between India and US is based on countering China.But this is not enough, America also wants India to not buy Russian arms and Subsidize its arms development.This is the reason why America has offered India access to High tech the way America has helped Israel and South Korea.

      Indo-Russian defence trade has run its course.India is no longer interested in buying 1970s-80s era arms.America is offering India tech at far better terms than Russia has ever.Besides India-US Strategic partnership is based on far greater Strategic interests than just India buying arms from America.America does not need Indian defence orders to keep its defence industry afloat.Americans will not give India any technology because India buys their weapons.America will give india tech because India should not buy any Russian arms and America needs India’s help in countering China.

      There is no need for India to buy any arms from America at all, if India can make it on its own.Its just that India cannot make high tech weapons so India has to buy.Unlike Russia, America is not a burden on India’s shoulders.There is no compulsion on India to Buy American weapons.India can buy arms from France, England or in future from Japan.

  8. andy says:

    US weapons aren’t all they are hyped up to be. American weapons look great on CNN, but their performance in real combat is not so good.

    A report by the Pentagon testing office says the Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, which the Indian Navy operates, “is not effective for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission and is not effective for wide area anti-submarine search”. Flaws in the aircraft are almost everywhere: radar, sensor integration and data transfer.

    The success of US weapons has come against poorly trained and relatively small defending forces such as those of Iraq, Serbia and Libya. On the other hand, India’s armed forces have used Russian weapons with spectacular results against Pakistan’s US supplied military.

    India must, therefore, be wary of buying weapons that may have limited utility and questionable effectiveness.

    Since the Holding amendment elevates India to the level of America’s closest allies, look at how the US treats South Korea, a really close ally. According to Forbes magazine, the US doesn’t trust the South Koreans with four “core technologies” needed for its KFX stealth fighter project. It says: “The Koreans have professed bitter disappointment over the refusal of the US to entrust its ally with the highest-tech stuff they say is needed for the KFX not only to have stealth capabilities but to be able to find and track hostile targets with the latest state-of-the-art radar.”

    Similarly, in its dealings with India the US insists on discriminatory end-user agreements because it fears leak of technology to Russia. On the other hand, Russia trusts India enough to make it a key partner in its own stealth fighter programme without making India sign such agreements. Again, where the US exports stripped down versions of its latest weapons, Moscow provides India with Su-30MKI aircraft that are more modern than the Sukhois in its own airforce.

    • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

      P-8I is the worst of the lemons.
      1) It cannot detect submarines in any useful manner because the ultra high resolution ISAR is removed. So you can detect subs only as a surfaced ship.
      2) Nobody bothered to order (intentional!!!???) the radio-sonobouys and Indian Navy is short of sonobouys. So much for the vaunted submarine detection.
      3) It cannot target Karachi port because 1ft & 3ft resolution SAR is removed.
      4) It cannot even launch brahmos because there is no Over The Horizon targeting capability.
      5) The data link is probably like 19 kbps. Much much lesser than even the now to be replaced line of sight datalinks like Link-16.
      6) The large surface search mode is 200 NM (370 km). Even a bloody BARS will detect a ship between 120-250 km (depends) and later AESAs will be even better.
      7) The radar has lesser carrier wave beams which implies it will be predicted, jammed and blinded by a much more powerful ship based MFR in continuous wave mode. Something the Chinese will bring along later in the decade. But something we will be able to detect only after the Americans have struck a deal with the Chinese.

      But its American made. Hence…. whatever it does, it is not a burden.

      Only thing a P-8I is good for is gather frequent flying credits.

      And our own people are paying our money to the Americans to enslave us. WTH.

  9. US has the most advanced military industrial Complex in the world.Russia was always a generation behind America in military R&D and the gap was only increasing by the time Soviet Union in 1990.
    As far as performance is concerned You should look at how Russian Weapons performed in Israeli-Arab Wars.Mig 21 was virtually blown out in both 1967-73 engagements.Russian tanks were blown like chickens in all the 67,73,82 Wars.

    South Korea as agreed to buy only 40 F-35 for $7 Billion.In return American has agreed to share 20 technologies in offsets and help design the Korean Fighter.It is still the best offer South Korea can get from anywhere.Now DO YOU THINK AMERICA WILL GIVE ALL THE HIGH TECH STUFF ON A PLATE FOR $7 Billion.

    Russia’s co-development of 5th gen fighter aircraft with India is bullshit of highest order and nothing else.Russia wants India to bankroll development of 5th fighter aircraft , the way India had bankrolled Su-30’s development.In 1990s India gave Russia $3.5 billion for development of Su-30, Which Russia later on sold onto China. India only license manufactures Su-30.Not a single penny worth of technology was shared with India.There is no real co-development in real and Substance between India and Russia in FGFA Project.


  10. andy says:

    Please read Bharat Karnads post ‘Khibiny Blinder/Silencer’ posted on 28 april & also the replies, to get rid of any doubts regarding efficacy of Soviet/Russian weapons.

    The Israeli Defence Forces are one of the most potent forces in the world, they are not only superbly trained but also deploy superior tactics ,their patriotism & commitment to the national cause is probably unparalleled in any other country,its no wonder then, that the poorly trained & probably not as committed Arab armies suffered at the IDFs hands.The Israel defence forces are a behemoth.

    On the other hand as compared to the Arab armies, the Indian armed forces in the 1971war showed what Russian weapons could achieve in the hands of a committed & professional fighting force.The same MIG 21s forced the Pakistan Airforce to hide their American aircraft in Iran lest they be annihilated by the IAF.The Russian origin tanks of the Indian army sliced through the Pak defences in East Pakistan and forced the surrender of more than 90000 personnel of the Pak army.The Indian Navy was not to be left behind, INS Rajput(a Russian origin ship)sank the PNS ghazi ( an American origin submarine) off the Vishakapatnam port,the Navy in a daring raid,further used its small Russian Osa missile boats,armed with Styx missiles, to blow up the Pakistani oil dumps at Karachi port,the fire raged on for more than a week,an IAF pilot returning from a recce mission said ‘it’s the biggest bloody fire in the whole of South asia’.

    In Kargil war the fearsome MIG29s of IAF flew combat air patrols, providing top cover for other aircraft like Mirage 2000 to make their bombing runs ,unchallenged by enemy fighters.It was this singular aircraft that forced the F16 Pilots of the PAF to keep well inside their own airspace or risk being shot down.

    If you want to know what commitment can do for the morale of a fighting force look no further than the Vietnam war,where the full might of US forces with all their much vaunted weapons ,was defeated by the Vietnamese army & militia armed with…..guess what?…..Russian weapons!

  11. andy says:

    The India specific Su30 MKI is an improved version of the SU27 flanker series,which was already a complete aircraft but the IAF wanted it modified to its own specifications by adding canard fore planes,2D thurust vectoring, better avionics,HOTAS system & some other truly cutting edge technologies that were not available on the simple SU27.This was done with help from French & Israeli companies with Indian inputs to make the SU30 MKI the air dominance fighter the IAF coveted.The range of the SU30 MKI is 8000 kms with in-flight refuelling & 5200 kms for the MKK version.

    The SU30 MKk that the Russians supplied the Chinese ,lacks the above mentioned improvements & is a lesser performer than the SU30 MKI in the air dominance role.So it’s a fallacy to state that the Russians supplied the same version of the SU30 to the Chinese.

    If one was conversant of the benefits the Indo-Russian joint development of Brahmos cruise missile has endowed upon Indian defence forces ,then one probably wouldn’t question what benefits joint development of the FGFA would bring to India.Its another matter that HAL has unilaterally given up 35℅of it’s work load & simply wants to piggyback on the Russian efforts in building the stealth fighter.

  12. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    This is laughable.

    “However, unlike the previous 2015 joint statement, two notable issues were missing from this one — a reference to the Haqqani network was quietly dropped and there was no direct reference to South China Sea in the document either.”

    But we get, drones (which are obviously very very urgent).
    Also we will get Westinghouse Reactors without which the whole of India will remain in dark. From people who have tried every trick in the trade to sanction us and keep us in tech-denial.

    “LEMOA allows each military to avail logistics support facilities — fuel, spare parts, mechanics, etc. — of the other while on joint training, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), and port calls. The agreement lays out the procedure for billing for these facilities as part of a larger accounting transaction, and details are contained in the clarifying protocols annexed to LEMOA. Under LEMOA, while Indian logistics support will be available to the US military, Indian armed forces will benefit from access to a large number of US military bases globally, particularly while undertaking HADR missions in a diaspora crisis. It will allow India to respond promptly to emerging situations or humanitarian crises, and will expand Indian military’s operational environment globally.”

    Told you so.

    Our crisis management is already too good, that is why US needed India in the first place. Apparently we will use Diego Garcia for humanitarian efforts now.

    And our Sena Pramukhs will be summoned to Pentagon for explaining reimbursement claims more than they will be visiting MoD. Congrats.

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