Amer­ica’s Pres­i­dent Makes a Point

In­dia has a larger role in a col­lab­o­ra­tive world

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

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.

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