August 25, 2007


India and the US-sponsored Pax Democratica (B. Raman, August 24, 2007, rediff)

In his address to Japanese Parliament, Dr Singh spoke of India's vision of an 'arc of prosperity' extending from India to Japan. Is there a well-concealed additional vision of an 'arc of democracy'? That is the nagging question in the Chinese mind. It will nag even more after they have read Dr Singh's positive reaction to the idea of 'closer co-operation among the major democracies of the region'.'

Indian leaders and policy-makers have been repeatedly stressing that India's developing relations with the US, Japan and Australia are not directed against China or any other country. This has not satisfied the Chinese because they see quite the opposite being said by analysts in the US. They saw and continue to see the agreement in principle on Indo-US Civil Nuclear Co-operation reached by President Bush and Dr Manmohan Singh during the latter's visit to Washington in July 2005, as an American quid pro quo for India agreeing to be a US surrogate against Iran and China. The expected role of India against Iran finds mention in the Hyde Act, but not its expected role against China.

Similar concerns are nursed by the military junta in Myanmar since Bush's visit to India in March 2006. This should explain their reported post-March 2006 decline in enthusiasm for the sale of gas to India from the gas fields in the Arakan area. It is even alleged by some sources that there has also been a decline in enthusiasm for energy co-operation with the military junta of Myanmar in New Delhi after Bush's visit to India.

The forthcoming joint exercise by the navies of India, the US, Japan, Australia and Singapore in the Bay of Bengal in the beginning of September has added to the concerns in China as well as Myanmar. The exercise has been projected partly as humanitarian to improve their co-ordination for disaster relief and partly to test their capabilities for joint or co-ordinated action against non-State actors such as pirates, maritime terrorists and maritime smugglers of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction material.

This projection has not carried conviction to Beijing [Images] and the Myanmar military junta. China tends to see it as one more step in the US designs to contain its naval power. Myanmar sees it as a US attempt to pep up the morale of the pro-democracy elements in Myanmar. For the first time in recent months, there were demonstrations by pro-democracy elements in Rangoon and some other parts of Myanmar on August 19 and 22, 2007. The demonstrations were ostensibly against the recent increase in fuel prices and the economic hardships of the people. The military junta seems to see a link between the recrudescence of unrest by pro-democracy elements loyal to Aung San Suu Kyi and the forthcoming naval exercise. Their fears may be imaginary, but may result in a further suppression of political dissidents.

...the Axis of Good is hidden from professional diplomats but obvious to even dissidents in Myanmar?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 25, 2007 9:00 AM

The word 'good' has no real meaning to a professional diplomat. In fact, good people (Havel, Thatcher, Sharansky, even Golda Meir) are anathema to diplomats. Good is an inconvenience to diplomats, often a very big one.

Posted by: ratbert at August 25, 2007 5:38 PM

Of course, Solhzenitsyn is the most prominent example.

Posted by: ratbert at August 25, 2007 5:40 PM

The disturbing thing is that Raman is a former? member of the Indian Intelligence Service; the
Research & Analysis Wing.

Posted by: narciso at August 25, 2007 7:40 PM