Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

As India Threatens Neighbors, U.S. Backs India

Posted by redpines on February 2, 2011

Dr. Binayak Sen -- victim of India's 'tolerant democracy'

The following excerpts are from a talk given by Robert O. Blake Jr., US Assistant Secretary of South and Central Asian affairs, on January 19, 2011.

Blake indicates that the US “strategic partnership” with India is one of the Obama administration’s top priorities in the region, second only to continuing the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Blake repeats all the usual platitudes about India: how its democracy, commitment to diversity and its knowledge-based economy make it “special”.

In reality, these  features of the Indian state only extend to a fraction of its population. Diplomats like Blake repeat these platitudes to put a human face on their brutal alliance.

Increased cooperation between the US and India means more repression for India’s poor and marginalized peoples. It means more ‘counterinsurgency’ operations against tribal people, more famine and economic instability in rural areas, more pressure to exploit the country’s natural resources and more capitalist-driven inequality.

The US wants to ensure India’s military is strong and compliant, not only to aid the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but to address the significant counter-hegemonic threats in South Asia. Though Blake doesn’t mention them, the US is extremely wary of challenges to India’s legitimacy from separatist movements in Jammu and Kashmir to the revolutionary communist CPI (Maoist). Nepal receives slight, if ominous, attention in Blake’s report.

The subtext is that the Maoist revolutions are India’s problem to solve—with U.S. political, military and financial backing.

Stop the U.S. Backing for Counterrevolution! Remove the Maoists from U.S. Terrorist Lists!

The full transcript is available here

The Obama Administration’s Priorities in South and Central Asia

Robert O. Blake Jr.

For many Americans this part of the world is primarily defined by the challenges we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but it is also marked by great promise and opportunity.  Central Asia lies at a critical strategic crossroads, bordering Afghanistan, China, Russia and Iran, which is why the United States wants to continue to expand our engagement and our cooperation with this critical region.  And South Asia, with India as its thriving anchor, is a region of growing strategic and commercial importance to the United States in the critical Indian Ocean area.

Administration Priorities

Given this dynamic regional context, we have three primary objectives in the South and Central Asia region:

·         Support international efforts in Afghanistan;

·         Build a strategic partnership with India; and

·         Develop more durable and stable relations with the Central Asian countries.

South Asian countries also have supported international efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.  Bangladesh’s largest NGO, BRAC, runs activities in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces.  India has been a major contributor to reconstruction, with more than $1.3 billion in assistance so far, including the construction of highways, transmission lines, and the parliament building.

As a sign of our close partnership in the region, the President announced during his landmark visit to India in November that we would work with India on women’s empowerment and capacity building in Afghanistan.

Advancing the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership

These projects with India in Afghanistan mark a small but important part of a significant new global development  – the emergence of a global strategic partnership between India and the United States.  As President Obama said in his November 8 speech to the Indian Parliament, “For the first time ever, our governments are working together across the whole range of common challenges that we face.  Now, let me say it as clearly as I can:  The United States not only welcomes India as a rising global power, we fervently support it, and we have worked to help make it a reality.”

India’s democracy, diversity and knowledge-based society make it special, a model of a tolerant pluralistic society in the region, and one that now actively seeks to work with the U.S. and others to help solve problems on a global level…

Bilateral trade has more than tripled in the last decade, creating jobs and opportunities for both of us. Cooperation in counter-terrorism and defense modernization is at unprecedented levels.

The strength of India’s economy makes it the powerhouse of South and Central Asia’s growth.  India’s economy grew about 7.4 percent in 2010, one of the fastest in the world, and by 2025 India is expected to become the 3rd largest economy in the world, behind the United States and China.  Its middle class now numbers 300 million and is expected to double over the next 20 years.

India’s growing economic power has also made it among the fastest growing investors in the United States.  Over the last decade, investment from India to the United States grew at an annualized rate of 53% reaching an estimated $4.4 billion in 2009.

Engagement across the U.S.  and Indian governments has never been as robust and comprehensive as it is today.  The President’s dramatic visit to India highlighted the vast ties between our two countries, and our cooperation on critical issues ranging from climate change, to counter-terrorism, nonproliferation and energy diversity.  President Obama acknowledged India’s growing role in the world by endorsing India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Our people-to-people linkages likewise have grown tremendously.  During his stop in Mumbai, President Obama announced business and defense deals that exceeded $14.9 billion, with $9.5 billion in U.S. export content, supporting the creation of over 50,000 jobs.

We will build on the President’s visit in the coming year through an intensive program of collaborative activities, high-profile visits and even greater engagement.  Of particular note, we welcome the opportunity to work with India closely during its two-year tenure on the UN Security Council, which started January 1.

On the business side, Commerce Secretary Locke will travel to India in February to attend Aero India, the biannual Indian aerial fair that has grown in importance as India itself has grown.  India will soon announce the winners of a tender worth up to $12 billion to supply 126 medium multi-range combat aircraft – a competition in which both Boeing and Lockheed Martin have entered their jets.

Secretary Clinton and other Cabinet officials will also travel to India this spring for the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, which oversees the entire spectrum of our cooperation.

I could go on into our joint activities to promote healthy families, reinforce food security in Africa, engage in regional consultations, develop innovative clean energy, bring monsoon forecasting data to farmers…and the list goes on.  What we ultimately aim to do is develop the habits of cooperation that establish a partnership that will shape the 21st century in a way that bring peace and prosperity to the world…

The Other South Asian Countries

Nepal and Sri Lanka have both ended terrible internal conflicts in the last few years, but each must now secure the peace.  In Kathmandu last week, the UN Mission for Nepal withdrew, putting responsibility for completing the peace process squarely in the hands of Nepal’s fractious parties.  I spoke with Prime Minister Nepal and Maoist Chairman Dahal last week to tell them that the United States Government will continue to support the peace process.

I urged all the parties to continue to respect their own commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and said it is incumbent upon Nepal’s leaders to bring the peace process to a much needed conclusion.  The U.S. was pleased that the parties reached agreement on arrangements to continue the monitoring of arms and the armies.  We hope that same spirit will help the parties reach agreement on the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist army personnel into the Nepalese army and police, and on a new constitution…

One Response to “As India Threatens Neighbors, U.S. Backs India”

  1. Mysoft101 said

    Today’s DemocracyNow! focused on Obama’s visit to India, including a lengthy interview with Vijay Prashad (who also had a piece in Counterpunch on BO’s trip over the weekend.)

    The last few minutes of DN! included an interview with Arundhati Roy, and addressed (albeit briefly) the “issue” of the maoists.

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