Saturday, July 02, 2005

ANALYSIS: Time to Call the Bluff

They will demand that India break with Iran, get involved in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq, follow the US line on Nepal and Bangladesh, concede Pakistani demands, help to contain China, increase joint military exercises, abolish all import restrictions, privatize all state enterprises and support the Americans in the Doha trade round. In return, promises the US ambassador, David C. Mulford, they will help “India achieve its vision of being a world power in the 21st century.” The bait shows that the Americans have the measure of the politicians they are dealing with and know how easily they can be stroked into subservience. Again, the prime minister might be the exception. But he is surrounded by colleagues who are determined, no matter what portfolios they hold, to lay down foreign policy. There are altogether far too many external affairs ministers in a cabinet where, ironically, the exception seems to be the actual man whose job it is to formulate and articulate a rational statement of the country’s aims abroad and how they should be achieved.

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