Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Trump-Modi “joint statement” strongly affirms US-India security ties



By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 27th Jun 17

Leading into Monday’s meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, both sides had conspicuously pitched expectations low, portraying it as a “getting-to-know-each-other” summit.

Surprising many, the joint statement, issued by New Delhi and Washington after one-on-one and delegation level talks, turned out to be an assertive endorsement of shared security interests and an expanding strategic partnership.

Whether on cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, on combating Pakistan-backed terrorism, regional issues like Afghanistan and North Korea or US-Indian defence sales, there was convergence enough to compensate for the mild divergences in trade and commerce.

The Indo-Pacific

Trump’s blow-hot-blow-cold vacillation on China had observers anticipating a downgrade in Washington’s formerly vigorous cultivation of New Delhi as a strategic hedge to China. However, that was put to rest in the very first section of the joint statement.

Echoing the “Joint Strategic Vision” spelt out during Barack Obama’s January 2015 visit to New Delhi, the document “agreed to take further measures to strengthen their partnership.” This was outlined in the statement as a set of principles that regional countries were urged to adopt.

These included the Chinese bugbears of “respecting freedom of navigation, overflight, and commerce throughout the region”; and a call to nations “to resolve territorial and maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law.”

This is directed at Beijing, and its aggressive assertion of claims over territory and waters in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also rejected the ruling of an international court of arbitration that rejected China’s “historical claim” over most of the South China Sea, as expressed by its so-called “Nine Dash Line”.

Former White House staffer, Josh White, has noted that a joint statement’s structure is designed to send a broader message. He tweets: “In this case, leading off with a section on the Indo-Pacific sends a signal that the emphasis embodied in the [Joint Strategic Vision 2015] is still operative…”

In another broadside directed at Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the joint statement supports the creation of infrastructure for boosting regional economic connectivity, but only “while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment.”

India has ostentatiously rejected the BRI on the grounds that its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) violates India’s territorial integrity, being unilaterally routed through Gilgit-Baltistan, which India claims as part of Jammu & Kashmir.

Pakistan-backed terrorism

Another Indian gain is the strong statement against terrorism, especially that originating in Pakistan: “The leaders called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. They further called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.”

The joint statement resolves to cooperate in combating “terrorist threats from groups including Al-Qa’ida, ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria], Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, D-Company [Dawood Ibrahim’s group], and their affiliates.”

Leading into the summit, there were Indian apprehensions that Trump’s anti-terrorist preoccupations were restricted to West Asian groups like ISIS. As it turned out, Trump ticked all the Indian boxes, calling out Pakistan unequivocally.

Also gratifying to India was the US administration’s designation, just prior to the summit, of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief, Syed Salahuddin, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

China, in contrast, continues to block India’s bid to place Azhar Masood, the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, on a UN terrorist threat.

In last night’s US-India statement, “the leaders welcomed a new consultation mechanism on domestic and international terrorist designations listing proposals.”

While Obama had been reluctant to do this, Trump agreed to affirming “support for a U.N. Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism.”

“Major defence partnership”

Putting meat on the bones of America’s recent designation of India as a “major defence partner”, the joint statement equated India with the closest US allies. “The United States and India look forward to working together on advanced defence equipment and technology at a level commensurate with that of the closest allies and partners of the United States.”

As expected, the joint statement noted that the US has offered India the sale of Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems, to “enhance India’s capabilities and promote shared security interests.” The over $2 billion sale proposed is for 22 Guardian systems.

Also in the delivery pipeline are four Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime aircraft for a billion dollars; about $3 billion worth of helicopters – including 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy lifters – and a $700 million order for 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers.

Separately, on Monday, the US Congress was notified about a proposed sale to India of a C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift transport aircraft for an estimated $366 million.

As Business Standard had revealed (“No F-16 deal during Modi’s visit to US), the proposal by Lockheed Martin to transfer its production line from the US to build the F-16 in India was discussed, but not included in the joint statement.

Votaries of the F-16 would take heart from Modi’s remarks to the media, in which he said: “President Trump and I have also spoken about strengthening bilateral defence technology and our trade and manufacturing partnership, which we believe will be mutually beneficial to us.”

While the two countries’ navies already exercise together in the annual Malabar exercise, which will be held next month, the US could also be joining the biannual Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), which is restricted to littoral countries.

With India already admitted to the Missile Technology Control Regime, the joint statement expressed strong support for “early membership” to the other three global proliferation regimes – the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group.

Trump also reaffirmed American support “for India’s permanent membership on a reformed U.N. Security Council.”

6 comments:

Alok Asthana said...

See what expense India has had to incur for Trump's warmth ----$2 billion sale for 22 Guardian systems, four Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime aircraft for a billion dollars; about $3 billion worth of helicopters – including 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy lifters – and a $700 million order for 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzer. For this amount of business to a dying US armament industry, Trump should have more than just hugged Modi.

Anonymous said...

It is good to know we are on the right side of western countries, however we need to work very hard to translate all this first into jobs and next locally develop matured technology across all industries, not just arms.

We should look at making chipsets and displays fir all the electronics today assembled in our country. (We import 20+ BUSD of electronic every year)

Anonymous said...

to broadsword,

wow, 366 million for single C16
91 million for single predator drone.
81 million for each helicopter.


we were complaining vikramaditya price increase. if our country had spent 4-5 billion on homegrown c17,kc390 like china did y20,things would have been better.

Alok Asthana said...

So, India has managed to enroll US in the universal war on terror, or maybe it is the other way around. But who exactly are we (India & US) fighting? Do look up USAs record. After the 9/11 attacks, they jumped into it with traditional gusto and bombed the hell out of Afghanistan and Iraq, without even knowing why a few men made the attack which no terrorist group has claimed even till date. But, with a war declared, some enemies have to be killed. If not the actual terrorists, a few lakh people having sort of affiliation with them, however remote, will do. Is exactly what is happening in India too. The sentiment, too, is same - 'You are either with us or with the terrorists'.
A good war needs people to admire it and clap. Never mind who gets the bullets. Suddenly, poor and defenceless people all over India are paying the price. Citizens must ask the government - what have you done to ensure that the desperation and anger which forced some people to blow up the 3 planes in US, is not allowed to rear itself in India? Why are school girls throwing stones in Kashmir? The world is round. What goes around, eventually comes around. The jehadis of today ( including Osama Laden) were given birth by none else than CIA/USA in its war against Russia in Afghanistan. Military dictatorship in Pak, too, was propped up by USA itself. US embrace is usually deadly. Beware of the hug.

Anonymous said...

Karnad was right in his judgement of Indian Security management system when he said that "India wants Security for free" - Nuclear umbrella for free, Submarines for free, artillery guns and tanks for free and ships for free or in exchange of bananas. However, our elites at the same time would not mind looting the Banks, our coal mines, our airwaves and stash that loot in British Banks, in Singapore or some other foreign country. India could have bought many weapons with that loot.There is another group of people who would want to buy security with mortgaging Kashmir, Siachin, our northern borders and even our cultural and religious identity. Some others do feel spending on Security means looting the money that actually rightfully belongs to them - DODOs being in forefront in that category along with Arundhati types. Having been subjugated for centuries precisely due to Security failure in the continent, we continue to give a damn to our security and still want Russian tanks for bananas. Some on pseudo experts, you are not going to get security by being cynical and by throwing stones at the Yankees along with Jehadies.

Anonymous said...

From the hug one can tell who the man is. lol

Why does a man who is in-charge of 1.3billion de-mean himself. Every white person who saw the pic was commenting that Moodi looks like he is hugging his daddy.

Prasun