Opinion: India - US Trade And How It Will Impact Kashmir
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
(Dr. Fai is the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness and can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435 OR firstname.lastname@example.org. )
While the hullabaloo over Modi’s
rise on the international stage has been on the verge of being a circus, with
all the elephants of trade on parade, it is a distraction from the recent
collective beating of chests being put on by joint Naval forces of India, the
United States and Japan in the South China Sea, called Exercise Malabar, an
annual event since 1992 bilaterally between India and the U.S. Japan joined just last year. It has been held in previous years in the
Indian Ocean and other areas closer to home for India. But the hegemonic ambitions of this odd
couple now reflects the deepening commitment the two countries have made to
sharing a strategic military alignment against China for dominance in South and
A 2011 report to Congress by the U.S. Department
of Defense on U.S.-India Security Cooperation explains clearly the focus and
intensity of military cooperation between the two countries. “Our defense relationship,” it states, “involves a robust slate of dialogues,
military exercises, defense trade, personnel exchanges, and armaments cooperation.” “U.S.-India military exercises have
grown dramatically in size, scope and sophistication. We now have regular
exercises across all services that help to deepen our military and defense
However non-aligned India’s posture
would pretend to be, if that’s not an alignment, I don’t know what is. The sharing of “our most advanced
technologies,” of military tactics and strategy, is vital to security and leads
to sensitivities across the board that seriously compromise any supposed
“non-aligned” status. In any war, a side
has already been chosen. In any dispute,
the U.S. can be expected to have India’s back.
It seems simple enough, but it
isn’t, however, because neither country is at war with China, and other relationships,
primarily economic, have been engaged that greatly restrain such an
impulse. The weight of those
relationships is therefore important in determining how that risk is viewed,
As stated in my
previous article, Reflections
on Modi's Visit to the U.S: What's in it for Kashmir?, U.S. neocons have long had both Russia and China in their
sights. Both countries represent a threat to America's economic and political
dominance in the world. At the moment, that
alliance has been viewed as too strong for the war machine to take on either
country directly. But the agenda follows
policy long established by neocons like Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Dick
Cheney and John Bolton (now prospective Secretary of State during Trump
administration) and others who, through Project for a New American Century, for
years advocated confrontation rather than accommodation and have continued to
be the leading neocons who have had the ear of successive administrations.
“Thanks to the greed of US corporations that boosted their
profits by outsourcing their production to China,” former Under Secretary for
President Ronald Reagan Paul Craig Roberts writes, “China is
modernized many decades before the neocons thought possible. China’s military
forces are modernized with Russian weapons technology. New Chinese missiles
make the vaunted US Navy and its aircraft carriers obsolete.”
India belongs to the BRICS financial
group of countries which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South
Africa. They now have upwards of $100
billion to invest in developing countries in direct competition with the World
Bank and IMF through their New Development Bank. They are developing systems
that compete with SWIFT, the mechanism for identifying funds transfers. Since 2012, BRICS have also been developing
an optical fibre submarine communications cable to carry telecommunications
among BRICS countries called the BRICS cable.
BRICS is naturally seen as a threat
to the existing global market system and the dominance of the U.S. dollar. The opportunity for manipulation of various
markets that has been in the hands of the World Bank and IMF has more often
than not served the global political ends of the world powers at the expense of
countries that were less than cooperative.
The IMF had in fact warned Britain before it held referendum this year that
exiting the European Union would have negative financial consequences, saying
in other words that its willingness to loan money might be affected.
India’s growing alliance with the
U.S. seems strange in historical context, given the fact that China is, or
should I say, has been, India’s largest global trading partner. Trade between
the two countries had increased from $2 billion in 2001 to $70
billion in 2014, and the current vision is to continue growing. So India’s actions in the South China Sea
seem to run somewhat counter to its interests.
India’s need for Chinese-made goods far surpasses China’s need for
Indian products, leaving a substantial deficit.
Indian administration officials have not responded to questions about
this seeming conflict in India’s agenda and what appearances suggest, but officials
have pointed out that “the warmth in Washington doesn’t necessarily mean a chill in
India wants to pursue its long-held belief that China is an existential threat and needs
to be balanced by other friends in high places.
The weight of U.S.
cooperation with India is not insignificant. Business
reports that “Members of the US-India Business Council
have already invested $28 billion in India since September 2014 and investment
of another $45 billion is in the pipeline,” as Council Chairman John Chambers
told Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the two met in Washington during the
latter’s visit to the nations Capitol.
US trade with India has actually
overtaken Indian trade with China and now stands at $100 billion per year. But that’s just a nickel in the tip jar on
top of the Steinway. In a formal statement by U.S. Under Secretary of State
Catherine Novelli on April 15, 2016 points out that “President Obama and Prime
Minister Modi have committed to raising our bilateral trade another five-fold
to $500 billion dollars.”
India suffers a trade
deficit with China that was close to $50 billion in 2014-15, while enjoying a
$20 billion surplus with the U.S. India
is losing big money to China while gaining some of it back from the U.S. It would seem that India intends to maintain good relations
with China but sees more substantial benefits in developing ties with the U.S.
There’s no question
that Prime Minister Modi has hegemonic notions of his own. His policies toward Kashmir are a clear
example. No doubt, he has no interest in
trading India’s new-found independence and strength for second-class colony
status, whether it be the world’s largest wage slave, labor camp or not. He is
more interested in selling India’s poor on the open global market to investors
who like cheap labor and handsome profits.
The cost of corporate greed is that human rights will always take a back
seat. It is clear from a report in The Guardian, dated November 8, 2016,
entitled, “India’s crackdown in Kashmir: is this
the world’s first mass blinding.” It stated, “A bloody summer of protest in
Kashmir has been met with a ruthless response from Indian security forces, who
fired hundreds of thousands of metal pellets into crowds of civilians, leaving
Trade and commercial
deals are important but not at the expense of the high moral ground American
exceptionalism has always claimed. Moral values and human rights are the very
essence of even being called civilized.
India has a long
history of attempting to remain non-aligned, and certainly her recent history
as a British colony has not been forgotten.
But commitments militarily as well as financially with the U.S. are
shifting the long-held balance rather awkwardly off scale. Don’t look for much moralizing from U.S.
officials on the problem of Kashmir anytime soon, given the new realities
within the Beltway in Washington, D.C.
however, will have a bonus in the long run. History tells us that international
investment is never safe in a conflict zone. Troubles on the home front are
never good for business. Oil pipelines can be blown up, interrupting
international markets and commerce, power outages make it impossible for almost
anyone to do business, and terror itself is very costly to the economy when
people are afraid to go out and buy things and tourism comes to a halt. India’s penchant to present her perspective
before the international community ignores fundamental root causes in the abuse
of the rights of Kashmiris, and the risk of nuclear confrontation itself
shrinks all other complaints to silly whining.
Madeline Albright, former US Secretary of State was right when she said on July
1998 “I have spent my entire life looking at the issue (Kashmir) and that is
the basic issue between these two countries.” So, resolving the
dispute over Kashmir will lead to peace in the region which must eventually be
seen as vital to maintaining a stable market and global trade.
Companies that have billions of
dollars on the line will do much to influence policies that will protect their
stockholders. So trade and commerce between India and the U.S. as well as other
countries is a good thing, and will likely provide the necessary leverage to
resolve the Kashmir issue peacefully. In this context it is significant to note
that when India and Pakistan were at the brink of a nuclear confrontation in
2002, Thomas Freedman wrote in the New York Times on August 11, 2002,
"...it was the influence of General Electric, not General Powell, that did
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