The New CIA... China, India and America
The decline of Sino-US ties is an opportunity India must seize, and place itself firmly in the middle to have the best of both worlds
SHAKESPEARE WISELY SAID, , “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” Such a window of opportunity has now opened for India to join the ‘A’ league of powers. The election of Donald Trump has opened this window.
A rocky, probably even turbulent, road lies ahead for US-China relations. Even before taking office, Trump has challenged China on many fronts, from trade to Taiwan. In the face of this, India has two choices. It can sit back and smack its lips with satisfaction watching the travails of Beijing as it handles the mercurial Trump. Or it can cunningly exploit this new turbulence in US-China relations to catapult itself into a new ‘A’ league of great powers, best captured in the acronym: CIA. CIA will now stand for China, India and America.
The big question here is whether India can be cunning. Calm and detached cunning geopolitical calculations are supposed to be the hallmark of strategic thinking. It is therefore puzzling that sometimes petulance seems to trump cunning in Indian strategic thinking. Every time a new ‘slight’ appears, India responds with great emotional agitation rather than with an effort to see if adversity can be turned into an opportunity. Pakistan is the biggest drag on India’s foreign policy. Given the history, a love affair between India and Pakistan is not on the cards. However, many erstwhile adversaries, like France and Germany, China and Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, have achieved normal relations. For example, they conduct ‘normal’ trade with each other. India and Pakistan do not. This is why India should reconsider its refusal to join the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative of China. Contrary to a few paranoid voices in New Delhi, OBOR is not an evil scheme designed by China to exclude India. Instead, it is China’s insurance policy to develop land links in Central Asia to overcome any possible maritime encirclement by America against China. OBOR was a defensive, not offensive, move. If India wants to be truly cunning, it should enthusiastically join OBOR and use it to create a whole new web of trade and energy links with Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia. In the middle of the web will be Pakistan. Such a web will also help normalise India-Pakistan trade relations and liberate India from a geopolitical burden.
To achieve all this, India will have to look at China with fresh eyes. India and China have had a tumultuous history due to now-dormant border disputes as well as the issue of Tibet. The Indian