How Bam’s losing India
By ARTHUR HERMAN, NY POST
Arthur Herman’s most recent book is “Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rival that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age.”
Some people weren’t at all surprised to see a Pakistani- American trained in Pakistan terrorist camps trying to blow up Times Square. These are the families of the 173 killed in the Mumbai bombing two years ago — and those of a Pakistan-linked bombing in Puna that killed 17 in February.
What New Yorkers were spared, Indians have been suffering for years. Indeed, authorities in New Delhi are still waiting to question another Pakistani-American, David Coleman Headley, a plotter of the Mumbai bombing who’s being held in Chicago — although the Obama administration has been slow to act on their request.
In fact, Obama’s feckless approach to cooperation in the War on Terror has been steadily driving a wedge between the United States and the world’s other big democracy. The partnership with India that George W. Bush carefully built is in shambles — jeopardizing our future in Asia.
One wedge issue is Obama’s deceptively cozy relationship with Pakistan. What the Pentagon and the media trumpet as Pakistan’s new “cooperation” in fighting the Taliban, Indian experts see as simply one jihadist wing of Pakistan’s secret service (the ISI) surreptitiously taking out the others, with our Predator drones doing the shooting.
New Delhi fears Obama is being duped into preparing the way for Pakistan’s domination of neighboring Afghanistan once the US withdraws — and effectively facilitating more terror bombings like Mumbai or those in Afghanistan that have killed more than 100 Indians working there, not to mention more Times Square attempts in this country.
A second red flag has been Obama’s obsessive drive to get India to sign on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Indians resent being pressured to sign away what they see as their most important strategic deterrent for dealing with their old rival, Pakistan, which has its own nukes — even as Obama can’t find a way to halt a nuclear-armed Iran, the biggest rogue nation of all.
Then there’s Kashmir, the longstanding bone of contention that has led to Indian-Pakistani tension and even war for decades. Just as the two countries were about to enter negotiations over how to resolve the issue, Obama suggested last November that China — another longtime rival of India’s — might be able to help to break the impasse.
As the Indian press noted at the time, nothing could be more calculated to arouse New Delhi’s wrath than the suggestion that not one but two erstwhile enemies should have a say in the fate of what is still sovereign Indian territory.
But the problem runs deeper. Obama seems determined to run down America’s influence in the world — just as he seems set on imposing the kind of statist and redistributionist economic policies that put India’s economy in the tank for decades and deeply corrupted its political system. That is, until Reagan-style economic reforms in 1991 gave it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
Obama’s embrace of decline undermines Indians’ desire to be seen as an American partner. No one wants to be linked to a loser, especially when that partnership threatens one’s own strategic goals.
For India does need a strong partner to act as counterweight to China’s growing military presence in Asia. And if the United States can’t or won’t play the part, then India will find someone else.
In March, New Delhi signed a multibillion-dollar deal for military hardware from Russia, its old ally from the Cold War. And after the Obama team mothballed the recently retired aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk rather than sell it to New Delhi, India bought a Russian carrier instead, along with 16 nuclear reactors and a fleet of new MIG 29 fighters — a contract that Northrup Grumman had hoped to land.
The Russian deal means more than another lost opportunity for the United States — and another troubling expansion of Moscow’s influence in the region. It also represents a growing perception among Indian policymakers that they need to adjust to an Asia in which America plays little or no role, especially if the US economy buries itself under a mudslide of debt.
A loss of trust between the world’s two biggest democracies is deeply troubling. A loss of American influence in Asia is a catastrophe. We made the mistake of scorning India once, during the Cold War. That estrangement seriously hurt the subcontinent and helped foster decades of unnecessary turmoil from Kashmir to Tibet to Vietnam. Repeating that mistake will now hurt us and our ability to make our voice heard in that vital hemisphere.