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US fighting some of India's battles: Kissinger
March 20, 2006 21:40 IST
Describing the emerging cooperation between India and United States as 'positive and hopeful,' former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has said Washington was 'fighting some of India's battles' as the two have parallel objectives in the struggle against terrorism.
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However, in a lengthy piece titled Working with India: America and Asia Stand to Gain from This New Partnership' in Monday's Washington Post daily, Kissinger also said that India would resent being used as a 'foil' against China.
"In a period preoccupied with concerns over terrorism and the potential clash of civilizations, the emerging cooperation between the two great democracies, India and US, introduces a positive and hopeful perspective," he wrote.
Noting that India had also seen the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism supported by elements in the region and involved in conspicuous acts of terrorism, he said, "Contemporary Indian leaders have understood that if this demonstration of global restlessness spreads – even more, if it succeeds - India will sooner or later suffer comparable attacks."
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Kissinger argued that nuclear cooperation with India should be considered in the various roles of India in international politics as also the changing realities of the post Cold War era. But such cooperation needed an explicit commitment from India not to spread nuclear materials to other countries.
"Too often America's India policy is justified - occasionally with a wink - as a way to contain China. But the reality has been that so far both India and America have found it in their interest to maintain a constructive relationship with China. America's global strategy benefits from India's participation in building a new world order. But India will not serve as America's foil with China and will resent any attempt to use it in that role." He observed.
The analytical precision with which Indian policy makers go about meeting national security issues has left the country involving its self at various levels in international affairs and cautioning those who traditionally come to the conclusion that Washington's New Delhi policy is a 'way' to contain China, he said.
Kissinger warned that the scope of nuclear cooperation should avoid the rhetoric and reality of a nuclear arms race in which China could be tempted to support nuclear programmes in Iran and Pakistan as a counterweight.
"The goal should be an Asia that navigates between an unacceptable hegemony by any power and an arms race that replicates in Asia the tragedies of Europe only with fiercer weapons and even vaster consequences," he said.
US will also have to be careful on how it defined its relations with Pakistan, as balancing the role of Islamabad in the war on terror and the emerging partnership with India 'will require extraordinary sensitivity and an ability to keep in mind that each country's national obsession is the other and they will interpret American actions not by America's pronouncements but by their own preconceptions."
Pointing out that the future of South East Asian region would be largely determined by economic and political relationships in which the principal players will be China, India, Japan and the US, Kissinger said, "Here American and Indian interests are - or could be made to – be quite congruent." However, since India was neither interested in spreading its culture nor its institutions, it was not a comfortable partner for global ideological missions, he added.
Kissinger said that a geo-political confluence of interests has emerged in the post-Cold War era with New Delhi's Cold War attitude of aloofness towards the US running the risk of leading its isolation given the emergence of China and a more assertive Japan.
"Globalisation has reinforced the incentives for cooperation," Kissinger said, pointing out, "The success of globalisation bred a temptation for protectionism and the need to combine technical achievement with human concern."
He noted that with respect to smaller states in South Asia, India's foreign policy had been comparable to America's application of the Monroe Doctrine in the Western hemisphere: an attempt to maintain Indian hegemony if necessary by the use of force. But to the North, India has fashioned a different approach, pursuing the traditional remedy of a great power confronted by a comparable rival - a security belt against military pressure, he added.