Saturday, September 19, 2009

Obama Cancels Missile Defense Plan—India Set to Gain

It’s a fantastic development! Obama has cancelled Bush- proposed European missile defense plan which would build a radar system in the Czech Republic and base interceptor missiles in Poland. Based on intelligence estimates, as the US said, the threat to the US and its allies is not from Iranian longer range missiles which are yet to be developed, but from medium and shorter range missiles. Therefore the US has decided to rely on ship based mobile interceptors, at least initially. The scrapping of the European missile defense plan which Russia viewed as a threat to its landmass has been welcomed by the Russian President and Russia too has cancelled its anti-US missile project. The NATO Secretary General has called for a greater strategic partnership with Russia and also has called upon Russia to join the NATO missile defense project. Thus the US Russia relationship has entered into a new era and I am certain the US will seek a greater Russian role in major world problems---the North Korean nuclear crisis which the US has failed to solve, the Iran nuclear crisis which remains a thorn in the US throat and the Afghanistan quagmire which, as the experts says, might repeat the Soviet plight for the US. So a greater US Russia participation as well as a greater reconciliation between the erstwhile rivals is going to herald a new era.
But the question is -----wherein lies the Indian opportunity?
India, at least during the last one year, has been witnessing an aggressive China. Coupled with Pakistan, China is all out to harm India. Again due to the growing Indo-US proximity, Russia began to view India with suspicion,. Russia began to drift away towards China. Russia focused on building the SCO as a counter to NATO and held massive military exercises with China. Russia- China friendship touched a new high.
But with the Russia-US friendship entering into a new era, India is set to gain. India has a cordial relationship with both the countries, it maintains military relationship with both of them. So any military assistance from any of them will not be viewed with suspicion by the other.
Considering all types of N-capable missile threats from China & Pakistan, the anti-missile system or missile defense system is a subject which India cannot overlook. India is building its own missile defense system. But if Russia joins the US missile defense network, India can join the network which it cannot join now because of angering Russia. So if Russia joins the network, the psychological and diplomatic fallout for China will be damaging and India will be a partner to the most efficient technologies in this regard.
Furthermore, if Russia joins the US in dissuading Iran from going nuclear, India will find a common ground for maneuver and the Indo- Iran relation will improve and alienate China from diplomatic and military grounds with Iran. India then perhaps will secure oil and gas from Iran without the US dissent.
Again in Afghanistan, India faces increasing pressure from Pakistan. The US is also skeptical about India’s role there. Thus if Russia joins the American effort to eliminate Taliban and Al Qaeda and stabilize Afghanistan, India will have a stronger hand to deal with Pakistan.
Again North Korea perhaps will not be able to dance to the Chinese tune if Russia joins the US side.
So a strong Russia- US relationship will diminish the Chinese influence world over and create a favorable strategic space for India.
So let us pray and even mediate to ensure that Russia –US relationship reaches a new high. The sooner, the better.

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