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Friday, September 3, 2010

Outsourcing wars- a perfect business case for the USA

Peoples Republic of China and India are among the top-10 nations of the world having largest armies with China ranking number one with 2,255,000 active troops and India at number three with 1,325,000 active troops. It means that one Chinese and one Indian soldier has 1,720 and 1,200 citizens respectively paying to maintain them. While China has a robust economy with adequate industrial infrastructure to support and afford the army, India is struggling to become an economic giant.

Whatever the ambitions, the hard economic facts can not be altered. While China has $3,758 per capita nominal GDP, India only has $1,179 and its territorial ambitions will further push more millions of souls southwards below the poverty line. The story of India’s rise to become Asian bully is very interesting; it was USSR ally and a pronounced Marxist country, a US enemy, during the Cold War having opposed USA during Afghan war. After defeat of Russia and advent of a uni-polar world, Indian statesmen exhibited the realist bent of mind and started closing in on the USA who very happily embraced her. USA had its own interest to flirt with India; it wanted to contain China’s influence in Asia. India, however, could not match China who has the capability to build both conventional and nuclear arms and equipment and has made considerable progress in missile technology. India has, therefore, decided to play master stroke in realism of its statecraft and joining USA to contain Chinese advance into Indian Ocean which India treats as “India’s Ocean”.

Times of India has reported that a noted American expert has urged the Obama administration to partner India to balance and counter Beijing's increasing influence in the region. As the Indian Ocean is becoming increasingly important to China's economic and security interests, Dean Cheng of the Heritage Foundation said that Beijing appears to be pursuing what has been widely known as a "string of pearls" strategy of cultivating India's neighbors as friendly states, both to protect its economic and security interests and to balance a "rising India".

With Chinese influence in the region growing, it is essential that the US not fall behind in the Indian Ocean, but maintain a steady presence in the region, both to signal its resolve to stay engaged and to avoid the difficulties of reentering a region, Cheng wrote. He said for the foreseeable future, Chinese strategic planners will need to pay increasing attention to China's Indian Ocean flank. In the short term, Beijing is concerned about its growing dependence on the sea lanes of communications for sustaining China's economic growth.

In 2010, for the first time, China imported more than 50 per cent of its oil consumption. Chinese President Hu Jintao has already raised the issue of the Malacca Strait.

"There is little question that it is a key choke-point on China's oil supply routes. Part of China's interest in developing alternative ports and pipelines, such as in Pakistan and Burma, would seem to be motivated by a desire to reduce the criticality of the Malacca Strait," he said. "Even if China's oil lifeline did not have to transit the Strait of Malacca, it would nonetheless traverse significant portions of the Indian Ocean. The growth of the Indian navy means that Chinese economic development is potentially at the mercy of India, as well as the United States. The forging of Indian security links with Japan and the United States is therefore a source of concern," he noted.

Another analyst, while talking about India-China rivalry has advised India to rethink its approach to great power rivalry in order to manage the contest sensibly. Mr. Rory Medcalf , in his analysis appearing in another edition of the Wall Street Journal referred to China’s denial of visa to an Indian general on the grounds that he was based in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir the visit of  Chinese warships to Burma for the first time. This stoked Indian fears of encirclement, a fire already lit by Beijing's port construction in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and its indefinite anti-piracy presence in the Gulf of Aden. India’s external affairs minister told the parliament that Beijing was showing "more than normal interest" in Indian Ocean affairs. The opposition seized on media reports of Chinese troops being based in Pakistan's northernmost corner of Kashmir. And the China chill was lead item at a meeting of the prime minister's national security committee.

In recent years, Beijing has stepped back from earlier indications that it was willing to negotiate the disputed border, over which the countries fought a war in 1962. The state-run media have begun to attack India for supposedly hegemonic designs, with some publications hinting at the merits of a confrontation. Beijing has taken offense at visits by the Dalai Lama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, over which China has rekindled a long-dormant sovereignty claim.In April, Canadian researchers exposed the systematic penetration of Indian government computers from locations in China. And Chinese support for Pakistan shows no sign of abating, although these days it involves nuclear energy reactors rather than bomb designs. 

There are mixed reports about whether India intends to snap all defense ties with China in response to the visa affront. To do so openly and clumsily would be a mistake—precisely the kind that China made with its suspension of Sino-U.S. military dialogue over this year's Taiwan arms sales. Mistrust and wounded pride are not rational reasons to strangle the communications channels that might prevent military encounters from escalating into war. Nor should New Delhi sacrifice the upsides that its complex interactions with China have produced in recent years: India's largest trading relationship; dialogue on climate change and global finance; and a leadership-level hotline arrangement, however little-used.

But India does have several opportunities to play the game of strategic diplomacy more adroitly, in part thanks to China's own wider missteps in maritime Asia. From the waters off South Korea to the South China Sea, Beijing's recent assertiveness has gone down badly with many states, including South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia. These nations, like the United States, are keen to boost economic and security ties with India. New Delhi could credibly portray its rocky relations with Beijing as being of a kind with their own, and cultivate security partnerships accordingly.

India’s leaning towards USA is not without a purpose. While USA is using Pakistan as a frontline state in its war on terror, it is flirting with India to fight China. After its withdrawal from Afghanistan, USA will be fighting proxy wars with China and Al Qaida in Indian Ocean and Central Asia through India and Pakistan respectively. For her, the proxy war will be more cost-effective than fighting herself head-on.

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