America’s President Makes a Point
India has a larger role in a collaborative world
In his commencement speech at West Point military academy, US President Barack Obama outlined his vision of the use of American military power in the world. It called for a less trigger-happy and more collaborative approach while reserving the right to use force, unilaterally if found necessary. Unilateralism aside, this call to raise the bar for military intervention is welcome and has implications for nations across the world. As the attack on India’s consulate at Herat showed, the decision to wind down armed American presence around the world has direct and indirect implications for India as well.
At one level, the Obama doctrine is recognition of the growing interdependence of the world in economics and politics and the need for all nations to collaborate and cooperate in multiple ways to tackle common and interdependent problems. The call to strengthen existing global institutions such as the United Nations is welcome. At the same time, it places greater responsibility on a country like India to apply its mind to the manner in which such cooperation is to be exercised and the opportunities for regional and multilateral collaboration. Clearly, the world is turning increasingly multipolar, despite brute US military superiority. India needs to enhance its relevance as one of those poles that count and enhance its own direct engagement with those poles.
The US is not proposing to withdraw from the global stage but to refashion its role to reduce its military component. The point, for New Delhi, is to identify areas of overlap between claimed US support for democracy and India’s own national interests. Equally important is the overlap between India’s interests and the spillover effects of US failure to extend its support for democracy to its policy towards authoritarian Arab regimes and Israel’s obstructionist approach to Palestinian statehood. India has a vested interest in the democratisation and modernisation of the region that goes beyond the security of Indian migrants in the region. It is time India accepted this and worked out what to do.