The world’s most populous democracy, approaches the close of the twenty first century’s inaugural decade, facing unprecedented strategic and economic challenge. The recent terror attack on Mumbai, dramatically underscore an urgent necessity toward addressing boarder and cultural tensions that could become flash points of conflict.

Understanding the regions recent geopolitical history, provides a degree of insight toward establishing future points of dialogue between India and her neighbors. India currently struggles, some say flounders, in responding to acts of terror not because it lacks appropriate military tactical coordination or diplomatic resources. Rather its collective political attitude toward long standing Geo and cultural differences, is out of political sync with the rest of the region.

A clouded view con-sequenced by what might best be described, as years of diplomatic malpractice by representatives of the outgoing U.S. administration. The Bush Doctrine is an influence which dominates the perception of India’s political and military leadership.

Contrary to current Secretary of State Condoleeszza Rice self aggrandizing assertion, her tenure at the helm of the U.S. State Department has been one of noteworthy accomplishment. Her designated successor, New York Senator and Former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton inherits a diplomatic corps, judged by critics at home and abroad to be institutionally dysfunctional, lacking even the traditional compliment of senior non-appointee advisers, who prior to the Bush administration, tended to serve in the capacity of A- political career diplomats.

Sadly India is but one of many nations who became unwitting players in a carefully crafted agenda designed to foster misconception among friends and foe alike. This illusion was intended to foster belief, that post 9-11 America had embraced the Bush doctrine as a permanent guiding principle of American foreign policy, independent of the party in power.

While some individuals in India’s attempted to express concern this new doctrine would be subject to limitations of office, Secretary Rice and military leaders were often dispatched to provide assurance and evidence to the contrary, Opposition was quelled when the administration demonstrated proof of America’s long term intention, by agreeing to support the principle obstacle to complete normalization, India’s lack of status in the international nuclear system.

As we prepare for the transition of power in the United States, India’s foreign policy and security posture to no little degree remain a political construct formulated on this central premise. Prior to offering guidance that can allow India to begin formulating appropriate policy, Secretary Clinton must move to aggressively dispel any illusion the new administration speaks with one voice in public and another in private.

Continued misperception contributes to the growing tension with her neighbors and prevents any hope of establishing the substantive dialogue that must eventually develop to resolve cultural and boarder disputes. It should be pointed out, New Delhi’s present attitude toward her neighbors, is in essence a natural expression of confidence she feels developed after 9-11, a kind of permanent favored partner status, consummated when the United States requested permission to deploy troops in Hindu Kush in 2001, a relationship perception which the Bush administration went to extraordinary lengths to nurture.

One of Secretary Clinton’s first problematic tasks when she assumes her duties as President Obama’s vicar of foreign policy is to carefully create a posture that allows the political leadership to save face when it dawns on them, the pledges of the past administration were promises made by a man who’s entire presidency is on the path to historical repudiation.

Once this is accomplished, responsible diplomatic inter action between the Obama administration and India can begin to occur, The Obama transition team is already drafting policy that will refocus US security interests in West Asia, Obama’s pre-election strategy to take the current conflict deeper into the Afghan-Pakistani frontiers has already been reluctantly initiated by the current president.

The change Obama will order is a conversion to a more lasting plan for US military strategic objectives in the region. It becomes inevitable Obama will call on Pakistan to take a more prominent role in American objectives and become a recipient of the appropriate quid pro quo Washington dispenses to it’s friends. 

Future American policy will be based on maintaining stable bilateral relations with both India and Pakistan, dealing with each on its own merits. Obama’ policies will inevitably be underwritten with an eye toward maintaining the balance of power, and prosecuting a more realistic, efficient and enduring blueprint for Afghanistan-Pakistan to serve its broader strategy for the region. Once Indian leadership is able to accept and embrace this vision, they can begin focusing on the path toward peace.


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