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March 25, 2005




You have an optimistic (from India's point of view at least) take on the matter.

But any analysis of China cannot ignore the 'indirectness' of China's strategy. It has cultivated Pakistan to indirectly keep India down, and North Korea to keep Japan and the United States down. It helped Pakistan with the nukes, and the North Koreans with the missiles, who then helped each other.

Putting US technology in Pakistan's hands clearly risks letting China have a rather uncomfortably close look at it. There's a precedent for it: during the Vietnam war era, Pakistan allowed China to take a rather close look at the F-104s that it had received from the US.

But hey, let's hope you are right!


I'll need time for your argument to sink in. However, my first thoughts...

1. Nitin is right that the China-Pakistan angle is important, but he misunderstands it. PRC-IRP-USA have an old working-alliance going back to Nixon. During the closing decades of the cold war the three worked together to check Soviet power. Nor is America overly concerned about Chinese acquiring technology -- Israel regularly works with China as an American proxy. I think Bush's care for Pakistan relates to this, and particularly the concern that if America abandons Pakistan it will reinforce a Beijing-Islamabad axis.

2. Robert is right that Rice is courting regional powers. But this was Powell's aim too, and he was very successful at it. Under GWB America never had better relationships with Russia, India, China, or Japan. It's this tradition which makes the Pakistan sale otherwise puzzling.

3. We have to be careful with talk of "containment." Bush is clearly trying to create a sustainable balance to China. But China is emerging as a force for good. Hedging our bets is not containment.

4. Bush's generally pro-democracy push always makes the sale strange. Pakistan is a terrible country, combining North Korean proliferation with Saudi repression with BS Saudi-style diplomacy. If America would be able to secure nuclear installations an Islamist government would be a step up from Musharraf.

Duane Henry

Comparing this artical to your article on Cope India a couple of weeks ago really highlights a dramatic change in US policy in the region. coming from a military 'grunt' point of view, the sale of top US technology to Pakistan is scary. How much US technology and tactics will be discriminated how far? India already proved themselves (agian refrencing DEL artical a couple of weeks ago) far more advanced than we knew, how much more will this help more hostile nations advance? Thanks for the new perspectives, very thought provoking.




Your points about China's diplomatic moves are valid, however the proof of what I am arguing will have to wait to see whom India selects for the aircraft order. If India selects the US, after the United States made the move of selling F-16s to Pakistan, I truly believe it can only be because Sec. Rice offered a long term strategic partnership with India.

Rice speaks often of wanting US-Pakistan and US-India (non hyphenated between the India-Pakistan). There is no reason India cannot provide the better of two models for development in Asia between India and China. Since the US' principal threat in the Pacific in the future lies with North Korea and China (both Communist) nations, it would follow that the United States would try to counter-balance these threats especially with respect to China.

Why wouldn't India accept a US offer to promote it over China and accept the opportunity to begin buying high-tech American weapons instead of Russian and French designs? If the list of items for sale grows over time, the US would be a better supplier than the French or Russians, however the US would be a more fickle seller.

Of course, I could be wrong. But when India decides whom to buy from, I think we will see.

It is important to not underestimate the Bush Administration's goal of supporting and expanding democratic governments. India is a logical choice, when we are faced with an assertive and growingly aggressive China next door.

Best regards,

Bill Rice
Dawn's Early Light


Thanks again for your insight, Bill. As a Catholic I'm knowledgeable of China's repression. However, they are not a particularly aggressive state.

Over the past few years China has been pushing a "status quo" policy with Taiwan. Over the same period they have leaned on North Korea, but never encouraged any Pyongyang outburst. I don't believe they are interfering with US missions in Mongolia or the 'stans.

China is moving in the right direction in a lot of areas. We have to hedge against them, but we shouldn't be unduly frightened.




The deal which the US has offered India does make a lot of sense. The best evidence that India is considering it seriously comes from the worried Russian response.

But defence procurement is a politically sensitive affair in India (as in the United States). Be prepared to see the loony Left and India's own cold-war dinosaurs to create a lot of noise over this.

The good news is that India's defence minister has already made very positive noises about buying American gear.

But Dan's point about the US being little bothered about China getting its hands on advanced American technology bothers me a lot.

Robert Mayer

God, I'm rereading what I wrote, and slowly biting my tongue over the typographical errors. Nothing too bad, but accidentally typing Indonesia instead of India really highlights how tired I was!


I'm with Dan. The first assumption that needs addressing is whether China is a competitor or a potential ally. It's early days but the latter is more likely, especially given the closer economic ties betweent the two. Next is dealing with "rising India" - in that you're right that Rice is playing the next decade's game. Also China and India recognise each other's rise and our currently undergoing a rapid rapproachment over such issues as the border and Tibet. It's not about containment, it's about strategic balance.


Wow. The greatest blogger on Asian affairs in history agrees with me. This makes my day.



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