Saturday, April 26, 2008

Why lecturing the rest of the world does not work: India and Iran

A multi-polar world is re-emerging in the aftermath of the Cold War, and that foreign policy reality is far more significant than the war on terror.

India, as has been noted here on several occasions, is not only poised to become a major world player in automobile manufacture, but is also pursuing military and nuclear links with Sarkozy's France.

The Bush administration response: lecture India on how to deal with Iran.

Here's the story from The Australian News (h/t to Sukrit Sabhlok at Thoughts on Freedom)

USING uncharacteristically strong language, India last night told the US to butt out and mind its own business after Washington attempted to tell the country how to deal with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he visits New Delhi next week.

Ahead of the visit, the first to India by the Iranian leader, a State Department official offered gratuitous advice to India on how to handle him, suggesting that it should take a tough line in pressuring Tehran on the nuclear issue to "become a more responsible actor on the world stage".

"We'd also encourage them (Indian diplomats) to ask Iran to end its rather unhelpful activities with respect to Iraq, with respect to support for terrorism," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.

New Delhi officials made their displeasure clear in a statement issued last night.

"India and Iran are ancient civilisations whose relations span centuries," it said.

"Both nations are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention.

"Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral relations."

The timing of Washington's "advice" could not be worse, in the view of most commentators in New Delhi yesterday.

The Indian Government is having delicate negotiations with its leftist and communist critics over its nuclear deal with the US. These critics are sensitive to anything that signals a willingness to bow to the US.

Meanwhile, India's Oil Minister, Murli Deora, is in Islamabad to finalise a deal - despite Washington's strenuous objections - for a proposed $7billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline that is vital for India's future.

New Delhi has, in the past, been critical of Iran's nuclear ambitions, though it supports the country's right to nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

Mr Ahmadinejad is due to spend only a day in New Delhi on his way back home from a trip to Sri Lanka where Iran is involved in big development projects.

But the New Delhi stopover is important given it is the Iranian leader's first visit.

It is also important for the protracted negotiations over the 2600km IPI pipeline that has been on the drawing board since 1994, but which now seems poised to go ahead.

Here's the new reality that neither Dubya, nor McCain, nor even the DemTwins seem to get: We are living in a world that is soon to become more and more dominated by regional mega-powers than a global superpower. In East Asia: China. In Southwest Asia and the Fertile Crescent region: India. In South America: Brazil. Russia. The European Union. The United States.

Each of those regions is going to have a supporting cast of characters--nations determined to make a place for themselves as aggressive, even militaristic regimes: Iran, Venezuela, North Korea. The age of the global superpower is waning, and as it does, India will increasingly go its own way in dealing with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, or other, smaller countries.

This is not a bad development for us, or for our children, as long as the next administration in Washington DC comes to the realization that a different world calls for a different foreign policy and military structure.

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