P. R. Chari
In a crisp presentation, Prof Cohen critically looked into recent
developments in Indo-US relations over recent decades. According to him
India and the United States
have moved closer than before; there are absence of strategic rivalries and
bilateral relations on various aspects have remarkably improved. A new element
of personal ties has come into place in the belief that “there are no permanent
interests, but only permanent friends.” US perceive India as an emerging soft
power; it is easier to talk to and deal with; there is no threat from it and
there is no competition between the two countries. Both are sustained pluralist
democracies and they could help order and stability in Asia.
At the same time
China and Pakistan continue to intrude into Indo-US relations.
is important to the US; and this importance has increased because of
Bush continues Clinton’s rapprochement policy of US vis-ÃƒÂ -vis China. US did not
have a specific Pakistan policy till recently, but 9/11 changed it all. Though
Bush has his reservations on Musharraf, there is no alternative.
assistance to Pakistan is not military related, but development-oriented.
Closer economic interdependence between
India and the United States is
desirable. The FDI from the US has increased; business outsourcing from
has also improved despite its adverse impact on unemployment in the US. Given
the fact of electoral influence of Indian Americans in several states, the reach
of US political leadership towards India is not surprising.
The interactive session after the lecture elicited the
What are possible options other than war in
There is a school of opinion in the
for greater involvement in Kashmir. What more could be done when almost all
possible solutions have been tried?
War in Iraq is totally different from ‘war on terrorism’. There is emerging a
new debate now in the US on the “imposition of democracy”. There is no
possibility of absolute democracy in the near future in Iraq. At the same time
there is also no possibility of a dictatorship on the Sadam model. As far
Kashmir is concerned it can be managed better. A possible American role could be
in this direction. There is no question of mediation and not even facilitation.
What we need is a forward looking policy.
Domestic politics in America is vital in looking at its foreign policy. After
9/11 neo-conservatives have gained ascendancy and its views have gained wider
support. Do you see this trend continuing for sometime?
I can see this trend to continue indefinitely as long as the international
environment such as the current one continues. There is a public support for
India and Pakistan seem unable to come together to arrive at a settlement over
Jammu & Kashmir. What overt and covert steps could
take towards this?
Various options are available. Firstly, all kinds of confidence building
measures could be tried out. Secondly, it is better not to propose a particular
kind of solution to Kashmir. And thirdly, slow dialogue, accommodation and
inclusion of economic diplomacy would work fruitfully.
What is your opinion on US-Pakistan military nexus in the light of India-US
The military will continue to govern
and will not let anyone govern the country at least for sometime. The military
believes that it is the sole defender of the country and does not trust
politicians. Washington does not support military rule, but at the same time
democracy is not in sight. We understand this ground reality.
The situation in Afghanistan has not yet stabilised. Do you see any room for
cooperation between India and US in this regard?
Bringing stability in Afghanistan is a long-term investment. The US has tried to
maintain balance by inviting everybody, including India, in developing the war
torn country. But Pakistan
thinks that Afghanistan is its natural territory of influence. Unless this
thinking goes there is a problem in any kind of smooth and sustained involvement
of India in Afghanistan.
What is the end state of India-US defence cooperation?
The end state of India-US defence cooperation is one without mutual suspicion.
Such a state is a few years away. Now Pentagon is a major protagonist of such
cooperation. The focus however should be on technology and economic aspects of
defence rather than joint exercises and exchange of visits.
There is a mention of dialogue between democracies. How viable is it?
There is asymmetry in relations between
and the United States. However, if India changes its economic policy it could
gradually get away with the asymmetry. India is also culturally strong and
Indian Americans are influential.