Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Obama in India next month; ripples in the region

October 23, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama takes part in a town hall meeting at Concord Community High School in Elkhart, Indiana, February 9, 2009. REUTERS/Jim YoungU.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India is still a couple of weeks away and there is the huge U.S. election before then, but it has already set off ripples in the region. The Chinese have especially cottoned onto Obama’s Indian journey, fretting over what they see as a U.S. attempt to ring fence China by deepening ties with countries around it. And continent-size India with a population of over a billion and an economy growing at a clip just behind China’s is seen as a key element of that strategy of containment.

Qui Hao of the National Defense University, writes in the Global Times that while U.S. military alliances with Japan and South Korea form the backbone of the “strategic fence” around China, the “shell” is the partnership that Washington is building with India, Vietnam and other nations that have territorial disputes with China.

India, Qui cautions, would do well not to blindly follow America’s policies in the region, especially if it really wanted to be a global player. India, China and the United States were bound up in a triangular relationship, and as the two weaker parts of that relationship, it was important that they maintained stable ties so that Washington didn’t exploit their differences, Qui wrote.

Quite remarkable, since for decades and especially so in recent years, the Chinese have hardly seen India as little more than a regional player locked in disputes with its neighbours, much less an equal in a three-way relationship involving the United States.

Qui is not alone. Du Youkang who heads the center for South Asian studies at Fudan University said the rise of India and China was the 21st century’s biggest development, and both countries must work to deepen ties. Some Western countries and the media were trying to drive a wedge between the two neighbours , Du said in the China Daily, urging both to be vigilant against elements inside their countries and outside trying to stir trouble and derail a growing relationship. There was much that was common between the two countries, not least their desire to meet the challenges  globalisation in  a Western-dominated international  economic  system.

China and India share a lot of common views on many major international issues such as a multi-polar world, reform of the international economic and financial system, South-North relations, democratization of international relations, climate change and World Trade Organization talks. In recent years, the two sides have enhanced coordination and cooperation over these issues to protect their as well as the entire developing world’s interests.

China is not the only one watching Obama’s passage to India. Arch rival Pakistan will be closely following the trip, beginning from Mumbai and indeed the very hotel which was one of the centres targeted by Pakistan-based militants in deadly attacks in 2008.  Pakistan, and by extension Afghanistan, will by themselves be the elephants in the room when Obama sits down for talks with his Indian hosts. Any tilt, or a perceived slight or remarks such as the one made by British Prime Minister David Cameron when he was visiting India, saying Pakistan couldn’t look both ways in the fight against terrorism, run the risk of further souring U.S.-Pakistan ties.

Already the very idea of Obama visiting India while ignoring Pakistan, which is supposed to be a frontline ally in the war against terrorism and has paid a heavy price in terms of human lives  in that fight,  rankles with many in Pakistan. Imtiaz Gul, who runs the Centre for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, says Pakistan may have conveyed its displeasure during high level talks with U.S. leaders this week. Washington has promised a presidential trip next year.

Skipping Pakistan will only inflame a Pakistani public already seething over the U.S. invasion of Iraq, America’s military involvement in Afghanistan, and of course what is perceived as unquestioning U.S. support for Israel to the detriment of Palestinians. Such slights always feed into the narrative that al Qaeda and its Pakistani auxiliaries love to promote: American disdain for and discrimination against Muslims.

But the process of dehyphenating U.S. ties with India and Pakistan is now a decade-old. It began in 2000 when U.S. President Bill Clinton spent five days in India followed by a five-hour finger-wagging trip to Pakistan . That was before the September 11 attacks, which set U.S.-Pakistan ties on an even more different course than the one it has pursued with India.


May be that after receiving the Nobel prize, he is looking for a Gandhian prize from the Indian leaders for non violence?
What a farce, he expects from the Palestinians non violence approach and in between “yes we can, meaning you can” from the domestic audience, and in Afghanistan the military approach. Despite this he managed to convince the Nobel Prize committee that the one who uses the violence can only be the right candidate for peace. He does deserve a prize for making fool of so many in the world.
Rex Minor

Posted by rex Minor | Report as abusive

US maintaining friendly ties with India is OK as far as it
is only a friendly tie is concerned. To build on it a defense tie to contain China would be the biggest blunder of US Foreign Defense Policy.

India is a divided Sub Continent already many states are waiting for an opportunity to secede like once it was the condition in Russia. India though may seem to be a growing economy power but in fact is poor with social, religious and a homegrown terrorist problematic country. Moreover its ties with Iran, and adverse ties with other Eastern Countries would put US in Jeopardy in time of need because of its being long time ally of Russian Block.

American may like before deciding to strengthen India find out at what cost. It is time to assess that to purchase have to pay more and when to sell get less. Moreover, not all-political major parties in India will tow the chain of US as it has already has another super power to help diplomatically as well as physically where as US can help physically not diplomatically. Therefore, if they buy US bait then will have to find out with what intent and price. Will such strengthening be fatal for the existence of Pakistan and Bangladesh with the anti democratic government in power.

Time has come for US to brood over the mistakes it committed during its hay days. Now it is the other way around. To find real friend would be difficult. When the time was there, you misused your friends and used them like toilet papers. Now, have to stoop down for everything every now and then. These have happened why and whom were responsible find them. However, finding them now when the sun is posed to set in the west would it be of any use? US greatest blunder was its Foreign Policy makers that added most of the friends as its enemies in the already list of existing enemies.

Last of all US will have to think hundred times repeatedly whether to contain China on the north would India shed blood that would be need to contain. It seems it will but alone it is impossible. It is already in panic as china the silent Dragon is in no hurry swoop down.

US would need to weigh the issues for a couple of years in regard to its fall out on world Economy and diplomatically and particular on US at this time of the crisis within the country if US goes in to action with the mission. Certainly reaction would be there .

The same would be applicable to any supper power with the thinking to fence US. However, Both China and Russia have grown big as once a lone super power US has grown big and old too but now with competitors. Therefore, the best is to think before jumping to action rather then to act and think.

At the conclusion India to save it self from China coming down, it is suggested that let India do itself without US mingling in the fray between China and India. In keeping aloof, US will gain much.

Posted by KINGFISHER | Report as abusive

I think we cannot blame one man for what is happening. We have to work to make all citizenry aware of their own power. None of us are puppets, we are all thinking people, and have to take responsibility for what we go along with. President Obama is in a very difficult position, we do not know the pressures he is under. When he was running for elections, he said that he liked having Gandhi’s photo in his office as it reminded him that the change in Washington had to come from the people. We the people have to wake up and make the world we want to live in, the communities with ethical relationships between people. No wars can be fought, or unrighteousness carried out without the willing participation and cooperation of the people We have to start really talking with one another, and coming to consensus on our ethical ideals, then follow their light.
I think President Obama is trying very hard. I would love to be able to meet him when he is in India. I hope he will visit our state, Kerala.


India is not going to get much from this visit, it will be more of economic/buisness trip for Obama who is going to lose his grip in USA itself.

There is no point is seeing India and pakistan as same countries and both can not be compared and pakistan should not be considered as an ally in fight against terrorism- pakistan is being paid in dollars for every servise they render to USA.

Bottom line is that India has to stand alone and stand firm to survive in this neighbourhood.. and I do not agree with the writer..

Posted by B Singh | Report as abusive

India can’t blindly follow the advise of the ultra treacherous Chinese either. Lessons of Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai before the outright stealth of Tibet by China, neither the 1962 war, has been forgotten in India.

If Chinese strategists feel that India should trust China more than the US, then actions must follow. Just as India has accepted that Tibet is an integral part of China, China has not yet accepted Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India. Chinese intent and actions would speak louder than words of advise.

If the US has something to offer to India while protecting its own interests, India should grab the opportunity with both hands.


Re: Pres. Obama visit to India, he has nothing left much to give India, he is already under pressure CHANGE is coming, while 2 years on no change has come only one change is come that is more jobless at home and more deficit. Mr Geither and Ben & company to ask print more to shore up get another QE2 and may be qe3 coming soon.
Reg trust Mr Qui comments, does India or world know how is China’s actual BUDGET, what are China GOVT. real earning or spending? Chinese growth is coming from huge state run companies and banks losses in RMB, where there are only one reason to keep all workers in job avoid social unrest and keep earning foreign currencies in Euro/GBP/Dollars and YEN. whatever RMB’s went in the state run system from town to dist. to city to state and central and fully spent, forget the interest on that money, that landed money itself never come back to its lenders. so you can judge how much that debt. has been piled up in that well? poss few K trillions, beware of the debt explosion coming very soon. it will lead to Asia under Sea water, for very long time. Advise for India don’t trust what you see, watch every step and than deside what to trust and who to trust.

Posted by Shyam | Report as abusive

What ever said and done, as Indians and as world citizens, all of us must acknowledge the power China has, not just military but their control over world economy and technology, due to this neighboring countries have to watch what they claim, luckily India does not have too many border disputes with China, but the other nations do not have much of a choice, China has the strength of meddle into Obama’s visit into India, we know that, they will continue to control and dictate not only their currency, but world policy.


This region is preparing for the next world war and a catastrophic one. How soon and when it will happen will be determined by Indian attitudes and policies. If existing trends continue it will be a wonder if we get 15 peaceful years in the region which Clinton during his India Pakistan dehyphenating visit called something like the “powder keg or most dangerous place”

Posted by Upnay | Report as abusive

Mr Obama is not a diplomat in the sense to tight lip, his opinion. He publicly said to the French bona Part that he cannot demand of muslim women, what dress to wear and rebuked France and Germany to allow Turkey to join the European union. His comments were not heeded and he made the USA position very clear. He is not very popular in the muslim world and after his departure he wo’nt be popular in Indioa as well, for he is certainly going to speak up his mind in public anout Kashmir.
India does not have the history to accept foreign critic; the labourite foreign minister in Blair govt. criticised India on Kashmir and was blasted by the Indian Govt., whereas,the current UK Prime Minister criticised Pakistan for not curbing the terrorist activites, Indian leadership showed a great pleasure.

Rex Minor

Posted by rex Minor | Report as abusive

CHINA: Cannot afford to be stretched to its west by the mighty India. WW3 is out in todays day and age of Nuclear arms, China could dessimate India but a few nukes into Shanghai, Guangdong, HongKong and Beijing will lead to the collapse of the china too, SO lets keep military muscles aside.

Economically China was a PLUG N PLAY model of the US corporate world. It will take US-JAPAN approx 12 months to create the same manf capacity in Bangladesh, Srilanka, Afghanistan, Burma as in China, Paid for and set up by TATA, AMBANI, BHARTHI, MITTAL et al of INDIA. SO cut the China miracle story. These countries are wretched 3rd world and will kill china with their costs.

PAKISTAN: Is nothing but a wh*$£ that has to sleep with the Customer (Alqaeda), PIMP (China) and the law enforcing policeman (USA) to satisfy all.
India is the devil step mother that has driven the grumbling Pakistan into wh*$£ing. So the pimp and the wh*$£ give the poor mum a hard time while the cop plays ball, fondling the mum and the wh*$£.

The pimp and the cop use the wh*$£ to gain the mums affections. SO the wh*$£ has to die once the mum decides on her beau…………

Posted by raju mudaliar | Report as abusive

I have gone through the comments of the commenter and found some of my learned commenter friends contributed very cautious comments of the visit and some of my friends commented emotionally attacking Pakistan in naked accusation, which is regrettable.

However, Analysts talking about war is different from people on the street talking of the same. Both talk may result positively but with one with more certainty and the other miraculously.

Here, the game players basically will be India and China. However, USA, Russia with other supper powers will not be sitting idle. These suppers power will act as audience of a football match. Their role will be obviously dubious but will continue changing side as the war progress. At the end will congratulate the Winner, and that is where the India needs to stress both diplomatically and militarily. In the game Nuclear, armaments will not be enough as I would think positively that nuclear armaments would be of no use as those will never be used.

Recently the Indian Chief of the army has opened his mouth demanding increase in armed force expenditure. I would think that is what India would need to do. And if India goes for the increase to compete with China’s war Machines the Economical emerging power may stumble many times before it can stand erect. The fact has to be accepted, because it is not Pakistan that India would face. To face Pakistan army Indian army has to drink water in gallons what would happen if India has to face China. It is for this that the army was very correct to raise the demand.

A commenter friend mentioned about land garbing and praised India’s position. Probably my friend does not know that in the world community knows that India is not giving back a few acres land of it tiny neighbor Bangladesh for the last 30 Years even after Bangladesh handed over Indian Land Years back in good faith. Our record in west may not be up to date but My Indian friend’s about is country’s mean Behavioral land garbing habit should have been up to date.

The President of US is the President of a continent much bigger than India, will step in India not to show his face but to hear and say hard facts not to hear and say fairy tales, few of my commenter friend typically of Indian mentality tries to show the President as a lame duck after the 2010 election.

Let me remind my knowledgeable friend that In US what one regime leaves unfinished the incoming regime finishes it unlike in many eastern countries. Therefore, What President Obama will say and do now will be followed and carried out once he leaves things unfinished very unlike some of the East Asian countries and political system

The last thing is President will not offer chocolates and candies’ to India that India will have to take or leave. The President is a very straight forward person whatever he has to will say point blank be it about Kashmir or any on any subject and will not wait to see Indian government’s Positive or negative reaction. he will definitely say in a decent way the truth not to make any group or party happy or unhappy. He does not need to be diplomatic as he has his diplomatic core to do that job for him

Posted by KINGFISHER | Report as abusive

Strategic games like this are far more complex and subtle than it may appear at first.

Now the main topic is about “containing” China through an alliance between the United States and India but this is just one possible outcome.

Most people may know that the United States’ influence extends deep into Japan and South Korea as a result of the Cold War (switching to North Korea as of recent) and now is a convenient force against “threats” in the region but what is to say that the United States won’t use the “China Threat” to gain influence into India and surrounding regions in a similar fashion.

In this triangle relationship, let’s say that the US-India grouping wins, then what is stopping the US from turning against India. Is there something inherently special about the US-India relationship that it “works” or is it just a strategic relationship based on function but not substance, in which case there runs a risk of a “fallout” once there is no more need.

Also, many may remember that the United States ran a covert operation to resist Soviet influence in Afghanistan back in the 80′s and at first that was deemed a huge success but as can be witnessed in today’s ongoing war in Afghanistan, that success manifested into unintended conflict. Can the same thing happen here?
Let’s say the US “interferes” in the Indian region against “Chinese influence” then after the operation is deemed a success, can the same unintended conflict inflict the Indian region. Afghanistan came to bite the US in the behind many years after so what is to say that the current agenda won’t come back to haunt the US in another 20 years?

Do people in India see the United States as treating India as an equal or is the US just using India like a pawn in the “Great Game” of the 21st Century? How many actually think the US would empower India because there is very little chance that the US would allow India grow beyond the United States’ own power.Thus this alliance would only be a short term solution since if it were India on top it would be using another country (Pakistan?) to “contain” India.

As a side note I would like to hear some Indian opinion on some issues in reply.

KINGFISHER you said: “India is a divided Sub Continent already many states are waiting for an opportunity to secede like once it was the condition in Russia”

Is there any other sources for this? Can any Indians give an opinion on the truth (or false) of this? KINGFISHER if I were to ask you to give the probability of fracture of the states what would you say and are there sources to back up your claim?

Also, can any Indians comment on the tensions between India and Pakistan? I want to hear some real Indian opinions about what are the causes of conflict and where do they see the relationship in the future. Thanks

Posted by epi | Report as abusive

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