The US is oozing honey from all pores in wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Washington next week. Eric Garcetti, the US Ambassador at New Delhi had threatened before coming he would be working closely with human rights groups here. But now he cannot stop praising India and Modi, even fanning the ego of NSA Ajit Doval saying the village boy from Uttarakhand is now an international treasure. Does he expect Modi to sloganeer Ab Ki Bar Biden Sarkar when interacting with Indian Diaspora in America? The POTUS Joe Biden inviting 7,000 Indians for the state banquet for Modi is for the same reason – 2024 presidential election. He won’t criticize India but also not allow credible technology transfer till elections.
Inking of the GE 414 engine deal between America’s GE and India’s HAL for LCA Tejas plus India buying 31 weaponised Predator drones costing $3.5 billion is being hailed as a giant leap in Indo-US defence relations. The US is even offering transfer of technology (ToT) for Stryker armoured fighting vehicles knowing full well the DRDO-Tata WhAP (Wheeled Amphibious Platform) has entered limited service and is set for mass production.
US diplomat Atul Keshap, President of US Indian Business Council (UIBC) is gung-ho that the GE-HAL jet engine deal is expected to include a collaboration that is closer than the countries have ever had before. But he would not commit whether the ToT would be 100 percent. The Wall Street Journal says, Washington intends to allow GE to produce “parts” for the Indian jet aircraft. There is little scope of reverse engineering the GE engine and Predator drone; IPR would not permit this anyway.
European economies are reeling from inflation because of the self-imposed ban on cheap Russian energy. No European leader has the guts to denounce, leave aside exit from America’s war on Russia using Ukraine as proxy. They are coming to India not only to improve their economies but also as directed by Washington to collectively woo India. German defence minister showing largesse about sharing submarine technology forgets India sourced four submarines from HDW of Germany in late 1980s. Besides, it would probably take a decade before the first stealth submarine is inducted. What is the guarantee the foreign partner will continue; didn’t Australia dump the submarine deal with France because of AUKUS?
Being a top arms importer, America naturally wants India in its camp and wean it away from Russia. But that is not the only reason. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary can keep lying about the Ukraine counteroffensive showing visuals of empty villages captured and say Russia is running out of weapons, but that doesn’t change the ground situation. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said goals of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine have not changed and are in fact being served by Kiev’s latest offensive.
The lies of Washington have put Europe in the grinder while Biden is showing false bravado through massive exercises, indicating readiness to cross Russia’s redlines and take on China. Concurrently, Antony Blinken, with two failed missions in Saudi Arabia, is going to Beijing to soothe the Chinese.
Ashley J Tellis of Carnegie Endowment says the US must have operational control of the Indian Military as that is what interoperability is all about. Watch below:
When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, his prediction was that US troops would stay put for a minimum 50 years. In 2012, he said India being subjected to terrorism suits many (including America?). This weasel apparently has his brain dislocated lower down to equate India with Pakistan where the Pentagon would dial Pakistani Corps Commanders directly. But is he conveying this on behalf of the US Administration – what does the US want?
India and the US have inked key defence and security pacts over the years, including GSOMIA in 2002, LEMOA in 2016, COMCASA in 2018 and BECA in 2020. India wanted a comprehensive approach but the US wanted a step-by-step approach possibly to avoid suspicions. The US has also termed India Non-NATO Ally and Major Defence Partner.
On May 24, 2023, the US House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the US and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recommended including India in the NATO Plus 5. Advantages for India are being described as “seamless intelligence sharing and access to latest military technology”. Does this mean that the earlier Indo-US agreements on intelligence sharing and transfer of high-end technology were poppycock – only lip service by the US?
The “US lobby” within India is also working overtime. India has imported $9.095 billion worth of US arms and equipment between February 2019 and May 2023, apart from imports from other sources. Now more imports from the US are in the offing. Concurrently, there is speculation that the delay in importing the balance of the Russian S-400 package is our own doing to please the US. Now Iran is also importing the Russian S-400 system. An idea is also being floated that India should buy “used” American B-52 bombers.
The American charm offensive towards India must be seen in the backdrop of deliberate pressures by the US-led West on Bangladesh under euphemisms of human rights, democracy and free and fair elections; the aim being to push Bangladesh into the Chinese lap, as Western sanctions have done to Myanmar. This is despite knowing that continuation of the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh is in the interest of India and regional stability, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka are already debt trapped by China. The US apparently wants Bangladesh to go the Myanmar way so that India is fully encircled and is left with no option but to latch on to America.
This is not the only mischief the US-led West is playing to undermine India. The US and the UK have always supported Pakistan to keep India in check. America continues to maintain links with terrorist outfits in Afghanistan through the Qatari embassy in Kabul. Recent UK-Pakistan parleys and America re-energizing ties with Pakistan despite Pakistan’s support to Taliban contributing towards messy US exit from Afghanistan speaks volumes. Will the end-user agreement allow India to use the Predator drones against Pakistan? Britain continues to push India to engage with Pakistan on Kashmir while allowing Khalistani demonstrations and violence against Indians and Indian concerns in London.
All the red carpet and the recommendation to include India in the NATO Plus 5 with the lure of seamless intelligence sharing and access to latest military technology is to make India sign on the dotted line, join US as a junior partner, dump multi-polarity, dump Indo-Russian military and technical cooperation (can the big talk of predators and a jet engine match BrahMos?), and instigate China to attack India; a Sino-India war being the actual aim of Washington to serve America’s strategic and economic interests?
Finally, the need is to convey to the Biden Administration that we understand the American game plan very well and India cannot be a sidekick of the US. Would Modi tell Biden you sing your Yankee Doodle, for me it is Jai Shri Ram – we will tango with whoever we want but on our own terms?
The author is an Indian Army veteran. Views expressed are personal.