Is India an Unreliable US Ally?

“The notion that India might assist the United States diplomatically or militarily in some future conflict with China is unrealistic. This “counterweight” theory reminds one of the arguments made by the first Bush administration in the 1980’s, when it contended that the United States should export sensitive dual-use equipment to Saddam Hussein in order to build up Iraq as a counterweight to Iran. U.S. pilots were later killed in Iraq trying to bomb things that U.S. companies had provided. History shows that such predictions can be dangerously wrong.”

– Kelly Motz and Gary Milhollin

The shift in the Unites States’ South Asian policy in the past two decades mainly focuses on creating political and strategic exceptions for India as part of its Asia Pacific strategy in order to maximize India’s power to counter China’s growth. Several segments, which play a role in U.S. policy making, support this shift. Some believe that economic opportunities lying in trade with India are immense and some want India to play a strategic role in achieving U.S. interest of maintaining the superpower status by sabotaging any not-like minded state. For instance, former U.S. Ambassador to India Robert D. Blackwill once said that if it weren’t about this U.S. objective, the Bush Administration would not have sealed the civil nuclear agreement and nuclear trade waiver to India.

Now the point to ponder here is; did the United States take a legal documented guarantee from India in return that it will counter China? If not, then that agreement was the biggest tragedy in international relations’ history. The nuclear trade waiver has ignited an unending Indian horizontal and vertical proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Even the analysts who try to substantiate Indian narratives in U.S., like the recently published Belfer Center’s paper ‘The Strategic Postures of China and India: A Visual Guide’ could not justify why India is not serving the interests of U.S. strategic partnership.

Indian military posture, its troops, air force and strategic missiles deployment is not China-centric. Instead, their data clearly projects that around eighty percent (80%) of the Indian military deployment is against Pakistan. The rest of the deployment is divided against China and other neighbors. Actually, India is just dramatizing threat from China and instead, its military expansion and military doctrine i.e. Cold Start (CSD) is Pakistan-centric.

Although India has been a part of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) for all its existence yet it allied with Russia for decades to acquire weaponry. India is the top recipient of U.S. economic aid and now it is spending American money to buy Russian advanced weaponry, including the S-400 defense missile systems. It has struck more than a dozen shady nuclear deals since 2008 U.S. sponsored NSG waiver and has imported thousands of tons of uranium to divert to unsafeguarded nuclear program for bomb making.

Some experts have expressed disappointment in relationship with India and suspected the U.S. bet on India might fail and can cause significant harm. Future U.S. administration must work to bring a policy, which can settle Indian unreliability fear through; first, a strong Afghan peace agreement minus India, second, forcing India to resolve Kashmir issue on the basis of Kashmiri’s freedom wishes and international obligatory resolutions and third, by ending nuclear apartheid against Pakistan.

A balanced shift is needed in U.S. political and strategic policy towards both, Pakistan, and India. South Asian regional stability lies in keeping a non-discriminatory U.S. behavior towards both regional powers. Indian dream to be recognized as a permanent member of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must be denied as it is a state sponsoring terrorist activities and committing horrific crimes against humanity in occupied Kashmir valley in grave violation of UNSC resolutions. In the same connection and given India’s incessant obsession with Pakistan, any aggression by Indian armed forces towards Pakistan, like, last year’s February incident could bring a bad news for global strategic stability, because Pakistan would not hesitate in giving a measured response.

Indian actions contradict its promises, under extremist mindset. It is the 2nd largest importer of arms in the world since almost a decade now, resulting in arms race and security instability of South Asia. Indian cut down of trade ties with China, which is around $100 billion could be disastrous for Indian economy and its military buildup is not to daunt China. For instance, doubts are now being raised, after Indian Doklam standoff with Chinese, about American regional strategic favors to India. India is just playing word games till now, while covertly running dangerous operations like making thermonuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

It is more likely that India is going to use such weapons to threaten its neighbors and other major U.S. allies like Japan, Australia, and European states. India is only building its air, land, and sea forces with imported weapons from U.S. and its allied states to keep them at par with a touch of advance weapons acquired from Russia. Nevertheless, Indian national security influencers consider U.S. as unreliable ally but support the idea of using U.S. for arms and economic aid. Therefore, Pakistan instead of India is more suited to play a suitable role in guaranteeing a stable net regional security. The United States must immediately reinvigorate its political, economic, and strategic ties with Pakistan for balancing its Asia Pacific policy.

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