Dawn's Early Light discussed, during Secretary Rice's trip to Asia, the US's desire to sell 125 F-16s to India. The French and Russians are competing for the same contract, and currently India does not fly US fighter aircraft. Instead, the IAF flies the Mirage 2000 from the French and the SU-30, MiG-29 and MiG-21 from the Russians (as discussed in DEL here). The contact would be extremely valuable to Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-16. With sales in 2004 of $35.5 billion, Lockheed Martin is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, with subsidiary operations in a number of states, including Texas. The F-16 is manufactured in Fort Worth, and continuing the line would mean the preservation of 5,000 jobs. (For a breakdown of Lockheed Martin worldwide operations, click here.)
When the US announced today that it was selling F-16s to Pakistan, my initial reaction was that the US must not have been able to secure the F-16 purchase from India, and therefore was less concerned about the the diplomatic fallout in India. However, I now believe that Secretary Rice made an offer to India that is in its strategic and economic self interest. My guess is that Secretary Rice offered the following:
- India should purchase the US F-16s (up to 125 aircraft)
- The US will approve a smaller sale of F-16s to Pakistan, with New Delhi's knowledge
- The US will offer future, more advanced military hardware including:
- missile defense
- nuclear reactor technology
- high tech programs
- other advanced US weapon systems
- The US will engage in a long-term strategic relationship with India to contain China and proactively work to propel India into being a major 21st century world power.
While the LAT (doesn't even mention the word "China"), NYT and WaPo (which argues the move will push India closer to China) play the US sale of fighter jets to Pakistan as angering New Delhi. I imagine the US and India have cut a deal for a closer relationship to strengthen India in line with the Bush Administration goal of supporting democratic governments. Why does DEL go out on such a limb with a counterview to the major US newspapers? Read this article "US Wants to Help India be a Superpower" from the AFP via Sify News, owned by an Indian tech company:
"The United States unveiled plans Friday to help India become a "major world power in the 21st century" even as it announced moves to beef up the military of Pakistan.
Under the plans, Washington offered to step up a strategic dialogue with India to boost missile defense and other security initiatives as well as high-tech cooperation and expanded economic and energy cooperation.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has presented to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the Bush administration's outline for a "decisively broader strategic relationship" between the world's oldest and largest democracies, a senior US official said."
The long-run goal of the United States is to diplomatically and militarily contain China by supporting the democratic governments in the region, thereby applying the soft power and hard power that the United States often is criticized for not demonstrating. If the Bush Administration has New Delhi on board, this will complement the strengthening of the US-Japanese alliance (see DEL here and here).
it will be interesting to see if the US is also in favor of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the world's largest democracy as well. I could be wrong, but I believe Secretary Rice is sharp and is thinking several steps ahead of the MSM in promoting the Bush Administration's democratic and national security goals.
Update: Robert Mayer of Publius Pundit emails several excellent follow up points:
The MSM was certainly dumb on this. With Condi as our new Secretary of State, we've been diverting much more to regional powers of late. A major case thus far has been India. India has done an amazing job with helping in the tsunami crisis, and currently they are handling the democratic crisis in Nepal. The new U.S. foreign policy seems to build strong democratic societies that can then exert influence on budding or established problem/communist states. With China enforcing its naval power in the straits and Indonesia, a powerful and populous ally against the communist mainland right next door is certainly in our strategic interest.
Largely, however, liberals are still so stuck on the "unilateral world policeman" slogan that they haven't noticed this deferment of power to regional players. And since we all know the MSM is largely liberal, well, there is certainly some cause and effect there.
Update 2: The discussion continues below with several great comments from Nitin (The Acorn blog) and Dan (TDAXP ~~ the experience blog). Hopefully Simon will chime in a really get the debate going (He is gone until Wednesday celebrating Easter).
Please feel free to join in the discussion.