November 23, 2009


Roemer key to U.S.-India relationship (DANIEL LIBIT & LAURA ROZEN, 11/23/09, Politico)

[W]ell before Roemer’s arrival there were concerns in New Delhi about the news administration. Those concerns have continued, making the state visit this week of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in the words of Nicholas Burns, a high-ranking State Department official, “a very big symbolic gesture toward India” by the new administration.

Shortly before the 2008 presidential elections, Obama created considerable anxiety in New Delhi when he told Time magazine that as president he would seek to mediate the Kashmir dispute, even mentioning Bill Clinton as a possible envoy for the task. India was none too pleased, and vigorously and successfully lobbied against it.

Just last week, Indians took great offense to two speeches Obama made on his trip to Japan, China and Korea. In Tokyo, Obama gave a speech on the importance of Asia, without once mentioning India. And in a joint statement with Chinese Premier Hu Jintao Indians saw signs of Obama encouraging a larger Chinese role in mediating relations between historic rivals India and Pakistan.

While perhaps inadvertent, such slights suggest “that nobody in the Obama administration is standing up now for India,” said C. Raja Mohan, a professor of South Asian studies currently on a fellowship at the Library of Congress.

Obama’s failure to understand Indian distrust of China: "At a time when Indian public opinion was looking forward to fruitful results from the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US, reports from Beijing on Obama's visit to China would strengthen the impression that Obama is not India's cup of tea." (B.Raman, November 19, 2009, Sri Lanka Guardian)
The failure of President Barack Obama to understand the distrust of China in large sections of the Indian civil society has landed the US in a situation in which the considerable goodwill between India and the US created during the administration of his predecessor George Bush stands in danger of being diluted by his unthinking words and actions.

The distrust of China in the Indian civil society is much deeper than even the distrust of Pakistan. Even today, despite Pakistan's continued use of terrorism against India, there is some goodwill for the people of Pakistan in many sections of the Indian civil society. As against this, outside the traditional communist and other leftist circles, one would hardly find any section which trusts China ---its Government as well as its people.

The Indian distrust of China arises mainly from three factors. First, the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Second, China's role in giving Pakistan a military nuclear and missile capability for use against India. Third, the Chinese blockage of the pre 26/11 efforts in the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council to declare the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the parent organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), as a terrorist organisation and its subsequent opposition for a similar declaration against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JED).

The dubious Chinese stand on the issue of Pakistani use of terrorism against India is viewed by many in India as amounting to collusion.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 23, 2009 6:38 AM
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