US Tries to Play Hardball with India

As if it weren’t enough for Washington to drive Russia and China together, its with-us-or-against-us attitude is also alienating India and is providing evermore incentive for New Delhi and Beijing to put aside their differences. Washington is upset that India continues to play a central role in the development of BRICS, maintains strong and profitable ties with Russia, and generally refuses to follow neocon orders to be a US bulwark against China in South Asia.

The US has tried to woo New Delhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the outbreak of the Ukraine war while also not shying away from applying pressure. The latter is beginning to increase as the neocons in the state department grow impatient with New Delhi’s ongoing refusal to bend its national interest to meet US demands. Washington is responding the only way it knows how: by becoming more confrontational – an approach that will almost certainly only motivate India to work out its differences with China, grow even closer to Russia and work harder to fortify BRICS.

The most recent dust up between India and the West involves the killing of a man in Canada. In June, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an advocate for an independent Sikh state, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia. Some Sikhs in Indian diaspora communities support the establishment of an independent nation called Khalistan in the Indian state of Punjab. A failed insurgency there in the 1980s and 1990s led to a sizable emigration to Canada, the UK, and the US.

Canada has accused New Delhi of orchestrating Nijar’s killing. India has denied the allegations and accused Canada of hosting Sikh extremist groups.

According to the New York Times, the US provided the intelligence for Trudeau’s claims. Importantly, however, the US came out soon after and backed Ottawa. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it a case of “transnational repression.” US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that India does not have a “special exemption” to carry out actions like extrajudicial killings.

(A quick side note: The US killed up to 16,900 people in drone strikes between just between 2010 and 2020. Obama even whacked US citizens in Yemen, including a 16-year-old who was born in Colorado. Trump later took out his eight-year-old sister.)

The FBI is also apparently warning Sikhs in the US that India might come after them too.  Canada apparently did the same for Nijar, but as The Canada Files points out, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has a long, suspect history with Sikh separatists:

CSIS’ fingerprints are all over the 1985 Sikh separatist bombing of Air India 182 which killed all 329 people on board, 268 of whom were Canadian citizens. The bombing came after Operation Blue Star led to the massacre of 5000 to 7000 Sikhs in 1984.

At minimum, CSIS knew about the bombing plot by Sikh separatists desiring the creation of a state called Khalistan from India’s Punjab region, and let it happen. Between 1984 and 1985, both CSIS and the RCMP had three informants tell them about a bombing plot against an Air India flight, but all were deemed unreliable. A CSIS agent who was a suspect in the Air India bombings, Surjan Singh Gill, knew about the bomb plot against Air India 182 and 301. An RCMP transcript indicated “that CSIS agents observed Gill and the suspects in Vancouver just days before the bombings, followed their movements and tapped their phones.”

After the bombing of Air India 182, in 1985, CSIS destroyed wiretaps of “critical wiretaps of Air India suspects”. 156 out of 210 wiretaps of Air India lead plotter Talwinder Singh Parmar’s phone calls, in the three months leading up to the bombing, were destroyed….

Nijjar had been warned by CSIS of a likely assassination plot against him back in 2022, though from whom was not mentioned by the Globe and Mail. Yet, as demonstrated by its conduct around the Sikh separatist bombing plot against Air India flights, CSIS having knowledge of plots hasn’t historically stopped it from standing by when they happen. There is certainly no proof that CSIS let Nijjar’s killing happen, but there’s precedent for them letting something of this type occur towards Canadians. At minimum, the timing of these revelations being shared has major utility for CSIS, and should be questioned.

While this is the most serious dust-up between India and the West since the war in Ukraine began, it is hardly the first.

Maybe just as important as the brouhaha over the Canada affaire, is the fact that the US has begun to enact sanctions on Indian companies – the first known measures against any Indian business since the beginning of the Ukraine war. Reuters reported at the end of August:

India has asked the U.S. to allow the release of $26 million belonging to at least two Indian diamond firms that was frozen due to their alleged trade links with sanctioned Russian diamond major Alrosa, three Indian sources told Reuters.

The funds were frozen earlier this year due to U.S. sanctions on Alrosa that were imposed in April 2022 by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, two of the sources said. Both the sources are Indian government officials, who declined to identify themselves or the companies, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

Indian commentators have written about how the US going the sanctions route will only backfire and lead to opposite of where the US desires, which is pretty much the neocons’ modus operandi, however, so more sanctions should be expected.

Washington’s vassals in the EU are also planning to indirectly take action against the Indian diamond industry via a Russian diamond ban. Belgium has recently done an about face on the issue as long as there are physical controls on diamonds and traceability using blockchain technology  that will document a diamond’s source and every step of its journey. Such a tracking system would decimate the Indian diamond industry. According to the Financial Times, removing Russian diamonds from circulation would risk hundreds of thousands of jobs in India, which relies on Russia for 60 percent of the gems it processes.

The German Greens, meanwhile,  eagerly embrace their role as neocon attack dogs and lecture India on what its relationship with Russia should be and threaten to try to involve the UN in Kashmir. German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck went off on a three-day visit to India in July, and on the very first day he started going on about how New Delhi must condemn “Russia’s war in Ukraine.” Habeck said while he respected India’s own “tradition and partnership with Russia,” the country cannot remain neutral while the war is ongoing.

Of course, German FM Annalena Baerbock towards the end of last year joined the US in trying to pressure India to cut ties with Russia by using threats over Kashmir. With Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at her side, Baerbock said “Germany has a role and responsibility with regard to the situation of Kashmir. Therefore, we support intensively the engagement of the United Nations to find peaceful solutions in the region.”

Baerbock’s comments were not well-received in India:

India has stated for decades that the Kashmir issue must be solved bilaterally, so one would think that Baerbock knew what  she was saying wouldn’t go over well. Her statements also came around the same time the U.S. State Department enraged India when it approved a $450 million deal to upgrade Pakistan’s F-16 fleet. They followed that up with  the US ambassador to Pakistan creating more tension during a visit to the Pakistani-held part of Kashmir, which he called by its Pakistani name instead of the United Nations-approved name “Pakistan-administered Kashmir.”

Elsewhere, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) just held a hearing focusing on alleged Indian abuses.  From Indian Express:

Appearing before the USCIRF for the hearing on policy options for advancing religious freedom in India, de Varennes alleged there is a “steady” and “alarming” erosion of fundamental rights, particularly of religious and other minorities in the country.

“India risks becoming one of the world’s main generators of instability, atrocities and violence because of the massive scale and gravity of the violations and abuses targeting mainly religious and other minorities such as Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others. It is not just individual or local, it is systematic and a reflection of religious nationalism,” he said.

While all of this may be true, these types of US efforts to address religious, gender, and/or ethnic issues in other countries are almost always selectively applied in order to apply pressure on or foment discord in countries the US is targeting. And the Washington Post just came out with an ongoing series of stories going after the Modi government for actions that don’t even rise to the level of what the Biden administration has done or attempted to do with the media.

Modi is also being blamed for failures in the effort to “contain” China. All of this could be a sign of a more aggressive approach coming against New Delhi for its strong relationship with Russia, as well as its role in BRICS. As former Indian diplomat MK Bhadrakumar writes:

The Nijjar affair poses an existential dilemma. Surrendering to the US  diktat will make India look a surrogate state and a laughing stock in the Global South. Indians won’t approve of it.

On the contrary, ignoring the diktat will be hugely consequential. Make no mistake, Five Eyes had a gory history against the Soviet Union; in the post-cold war era, it all but destabilised Hong Kong, and is today an active player in Myanmar and Thailand in India’s neighbourhood. Its entry in the subcontinent is ominous.

In a week’s time already, what appeared to be an investigation into a murder case has got entangled with the “rules-based order” and the working of the “international system” — and the BRICS. That is a dramatic escalation signalling  discontent with the government.

Any threat from the US, however, only seems to be speeding up cooperation with Russia. Trade between the two powers has exploded thanks to Western sanctions. From Russia Briefing:

In 2019, bilateral trade amounted to US$11.20 billion, declining to US$9.26 billion in 2020 (covid), while rebounding to US$13.60 billion in 2021. Overall, the covid pandemic was a serious obstacle to the pre-existing growth of Russian-Indian economic cooperation. It did not however derail the overall trend of growing trade partnership between the two countries. For instance, between April 2022 and February 2023, bilateral trade reached a record US$45 billion. Russia moved from 25th to 7th position among Indian trading partners, after the US, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Indonesia….

In 2022 India displaced Europe as the main buyer of offshore oil from Russia. India increased its imports of Russian oil by 16 times, making up a third of all deliveries to the country. India began buying Russian oil for UAE dirhams and roubles. Purchases of Russian oil allowed Moscow and New Delhi to quickly overcome the US$30 billion bilateral trade target that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi previously agreed to reach only by 2025. This achievement allows the two countries to even set higher standards in bilateral trade.

And setting higher standards they are doing. India and Russia continued to discuss the development of the Eastern Maritime Corridor at the recent Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. The route connects Chennai on India’s southeastern coast to Russia’s Far East and could reduce transit times by up to 16 days. There were also talks about expanding trade between the Russian Arctic and India, including an agreement for Russia to train Indians in the navigation of polar waters and a New Delhi proposal to build icebreakers at its shipyards.

Just as neocon efforts against Russia and China helped drive the two closer than ever, the same outcome could be on the horizon for New Delhi and Beijing. The two nations no doubt have their issues, including a thorny border dispute, but an understanding seems to be coalescing around the necessity of finding common ground free from Western meddling. Washington’s pressure campaign on India will only cement that feeling. From Russia Briefing:

There may also be some future rapprochement with China. New Delhi’s relations with Beijing have been problematic since the late 1950’s and related to border issues created in the wake of vagaries associated with the borders of Tibet, as well as China’s long standing support for Pakistan.

Historically, some of these were influenced by Beijing’s desire to keep New Delhi pre-occupied with security issues while it engaged on a decades-long process of economic reform. In 1960, India’s GDP was US$36 billion, today it is 3.2 trillion. To compare, China’s GDP was US$59 billion in 1960 but is now US$4.2 trillion. Should China feel that its policy of deliberately pushing India down has now run its course, then border settlements may be on the agenda – certainly as Messrs Modi and Xi appear to have good personal relations. If so, the addition of India as part of the Global South will also feed directly into its relations with Russia. Moscow of course will be happy to act as a broker.

Neocon efforts to reverse US decline continue to only hasten the imperial collapse. Their divide and rule tactics keep backfiring in spectacular fashion. Russia and China are closer than ever. The BRICS is expanding with a foundation that becomes stronger with each US-led effort to weaken it. Saudi Arabia and Iran are working through their differences. And the efforts to stir up trouble in the Caucasus via Armenia will likely only force other countries in the region closer together and isolate Armenia.

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  1. Freethinker

    Why oh why can’t we under western-vassal rule see that our politicians have sold us out totally, that they are so obviously just narcissistic puppets with no real values or beliefs of their own. How can even the greens advocate war? …..on an ideological basis, given their purported values – striding around blatantly doing the bidding of foreign masters. The puppet master is blinded by hubris and its lackeys can’t seem to jump off their bandwagon; unchecked corruption caused by unchecked power leads to a runaway gravy train. It has to crash before any possible rebuild because those benefitting from the status quo wont stop looting, while those opposed to this system don’t have the power to stop it.

    1. Altandmain

      A large portion of the US population is struggling to get by and is focused on a very much hand-to-mouth existence. That’s worsened with the recent couple of years of inflation.

      Another issue is that the American people seem to be under an enormous amount of propaganda. Intuitively, you can see that most people realize this, based on the low trust scores that Congress, the media, etc, get, but the full extent is not understood.

      Compounding this problem, the US has eliminated conscription, which means that the average American has no real understanding of warfare. Hollywood needless to say is naked propaganda. Actually, based on the poor results of the US training and equipment in the recent conflict with Russia, it seems even the military doesn’t, having focused on counterinsurgency.

      A final reason might be US culture, where distractions like sports take precedent over far more useful pursuits, such as understanding how the economy and geopolitics works.

      The same is true not just in the US, but the whole Western world. Coverage in the Western world of recent events throughout the West amounts to all yellow journalism. Witness for example the recent backfiring of the sanctions versus both China and Russia.

      1. Freethinker

        Yes, it is very similar as you say here in Europe where our ‘leaders’ cheerlead for the war with Russia like a well-drilled pack of terriers, despite most of these countries’ citizens having no interest in paying for another faraway war that doesn’t even look like self-defence. Especially when living standards are visibly declining for 90% of the population even as government incompetence and corruption get more blatant. So I agree that this apathy is hugely influenced by relentless, effective propaganda and the simple fact that most people are on a survival treadmill with no time to think deeply. Thus they are mentally infantilised, rendering them even easier to control.

  2. timbers

    I’ll make a few snap geusstimations.

    1). The US not India probably boffed Nijjar, for the obvious reason to accuse India of doing it.

    2). Rather than wasting mental energy responding the Western hypocrisy (Blinken’s perfect self protection of US crimes onto India), India should magnanimously offer to sell Russian energy to the US at a 5% discount…”We understand this has nothing to do with what you say it has, but probably everything to do with your realization you made an huge number of fantastically bad errors in the recent past regarding Russia and China, so we are willing even if you are not to move past your world wide laughing stock heep of blunders and help you out of the hole you dug for yourself.”

  3. James E Keenan

    I’d like to zero in on one phrase in Conor’s post:

    The latter is beginning to increase as the neocons in the state department grow impatient ….

    For much of my life, I’ve been under the impression that the driving force in U.S. imperialism was expressed through the Defense Department — not the State Department. Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex. When we marched against the Vietnam War, we saw the blood as being on Robert McNamara’s hands much more than on Dean Rusk’s. The State Department always seemed to be following the imperial consensus, not shaping it.

    In recent administrations, however — particularly in Democratic administrations — it seems that the State Department has become much more of the driving force. In reading critiques of U.S. foreign policy her on NC and elsewhere, I’ve become accustomed to references to the “neocons” in the State Department and to seeing State Department officials like Anthony Blinken and Victoria Nuland called out by name. But I can’t recall seeing any systematic analysis of the changing role of the State Department or of the rise within it of people who could be characterized as neoconservatives.

    Is this impression correct? If so, what would this imply for movements trying to protest current U.S. foreign policy?

    1. digi_owl

      Back then the US military was massive (still is in budget and big ticket items, but increasingly struggle to fill boots), and generals like LeMay was very gung ho about taking USSR head on.

      but after 20 years in Afghanistan Pentagon seem reluctant to start another big ticket fight, and thus perhaps the state department has stepped up to ferment proxy wars as an alternative.

    2. square coats

      I recall hearing or coming across the information elsewhere that the US State Department at some point (I think prior to Clinton, but I forget when exactly) became very entangled/involved/intermingled with the activities and personnel of the US intelligence community, so took on a leading role in various US imperial and hegemonic actions around the world, but overtly and covertly.

      I think probably I either saw this on Twitter or heard about it in a podcast. If the former, I have no idea wherein, but if the latter, it was probably the podcast Ghost Stories for the End of the World (which I highly recommend in any case for some very good history of US deep state/intelligence community/whatever activities post WWII).

      For myself, coming of age/political awareness during the Bush and Obama administrations, I think I’ve taken for granted the assumptions that the entirety of the US government is implicated or involved in driving foreign policy and that militarism pervades all branches and departments to greater or lesser extents. So I’m not sure what the implications are for protest movements but offer my assumptions along the way toward trying to arrive at some possible answers.

      (I tried to post this comment and it disappeared somewhere [not into moderation] so apologies if it appears somewhere else or here twice)

    3. Polar Socialist

      In his NSC 68 and the Political Economy of the Early Cold War Curt Cardwell builds an argument that already the US Constitution was technically a free trade agreement, based on what he calls “multilateralism”*, a larvae form of globalism, if you will.

      What ever people think of “free markets”, most would admit that in their predatory form they will not function well. During the 19th century USA expanded itself to the west and south, which mostly managed to hide the problems with what was becoming one of the main tenets of the US existence and justification.

      So, when USA eventually run of space to expand, the economy tanked, and tanked big. For a moment the Second World War and the huge public spending saved the industrialized and kicked the can down the road. But eventually the war would end, and the government money would dry out. For the believers in “multilateralism” and “free markets” there was only one way left to go – international.

      So The Council of Foreign Relations, originally founded by “high-ranking officers of banking, manufacturing, trading and finance companies, together with many [corporate] lawyers”, stepped in and took over the State Department sometimes in 1943-44, to prepare for the coming peace and a new global role for the US economy.

      What was needed was to resurrect part of Europe as a market for US products and turn Soviet Union to enemy, so that when needed the public money trough military could be used as economic stimulus. This, naturally, caused the Cold War.

      Basically, no matter how you call them, the people responsible for the US foreign policy since 1940’s have been following the idea that every market in the world should be subjugated to “multilateralism” with the US in control and the needs of US economy dominating others.

      Caveat: all conjectures and possible misunderstandings above are mine, not Cardwell’s.

      * an opposite of “nationalistic economy”, which makes an attempt to protect internal markets and maybe even produce tangible benefits to the local population at the expense of the international business.

  4. Robert Hahl

    The problem with China, it seems to me, is that its middle class is getting paid more, which means real competition for the West in education, consumption, technology, soft power, hard power, plus the threat of just being a good example. If India does the same, and BRICS enables other countries to retire or repudiate their US debts, there won’t be much supporting the dollar beside speculation; a sure fire cause for war. Don’t do it India! Give up.

    1. square coats

      I think I’ve seen that India still has very bad wealth disparity, and that while the total wealth for the country has grown dramatically, it’s been very badly concentrated, while the government hasn’t undertaken anything similar to China’s project to alleviate absolute poverty, so that the vast majority of Indians still have quite low incomes.

      I don’t know the right economic indicators to look up to find the numbers but would be very happy for someone to chime in with them (and/or to tell me I’m wrong).

    2. John k

      Us gunboat diplomacy doesn’t work well against s300/400 etc missile defenses but maybe only the pentagon has worked that out, and they’re not driving the train.
      The new great game requires diplomacy, but that’s something that we haven’t done for decades. Would require sweeping out the warmongers at state.
      Not much support for that from dems, neither leaders or rank and file.
      I’m so old I remember when the reps were the most warlike.

  5. Eclair

    Thank you, Conor. I appreciate your posts on international events. The ones I try to avoid thinking about because they seem so confusing and so …. well …. far away. But your explanations and explorations clear up some of the mystery and emphasize the interconnectedness of it all.

  6. k_r

    Sometime before he became the Prime Minister (and, when the US had blacklisted him and denied a visa to enter the US), Narendra Modi had expressed the view in a trip to Moscow that India should become closer to countries that did not have a history of suppressing Indians. During the first five years of his tenure, he also went out of his way to personally cultivate Xi Jin Ping, including hosting him at his home city of Ahmedabad (first foreign dignitary to be so honored).

    So if any Indian leader could have forged a strong Russia-China-India alliance, it was Modi.

    But the clash in Galwan valley in 2020 put paid to that. In my view, one of the biggest geopolitical blunders in this century is Xi Jin Ping unnecessarily antagonizing India in 2020 for a few pieces of rocks in the Himalayas, and foregoing a much stronger Russia-China-India grouping.

    1. David in Friday Harbor

      Could the aftermath of the 2020 Galwan Valley clash be behind the reported recent shake-ups at the China Foreign Ministry and in the PLA?

      During my late-‘70’s university studies I had a visiting prof (can’t recall his name) who in hindsight was part of the budding neoconservative trend. Ironically, through other students in his arms-control colloquium I also first met Daniel Ellsberg. The neocon prof was absolutely infuriated that I sought-out English translations of Soviet media and included quotes in my papers and presentations from little-reported contemporary speeches and articles by Brezhnev, Kosygin, and Gromyko, that contradicted his neocon orthodoxy.

      I think that the chilling earmark of the neoconservatives is their rigid xenophobia and denial of agency on the part of the “other,” in particular “the little brown people.” The obsequious and patronizing toadying by that slime-ball Biden toward Modi, and by that grease-ball Trump toward the House of Saud, has garnered exactly zero results.

    2. Kouros

      Maybe the clash in Galawan Valley was a prodding to India to cool of on US approachment and QUAD nonsense, which was revived in 2017 by Modi, after alost a decade of flatlining.

      We all have to remember that there was never an agreed border in the Himalayas between the British and the Qing Chinese, and neither after Indian independence, so things are in a way up for grabs. China just reminded India to play nice.

  7. eg

    The “unipolar moment” (1991-2007?) clearly ate America’s (and by extension their pack of Western poodles’) diplomatic brains. Every international relation with non-Western (plus Japan) nations, especially poor ones, is now reduced to hectoring lectures and bullying.

    This is “the shining city on a hill?”


  8. square coats

    I heard, I think maybe in one of Richard Medhurst’s videos, that India had refused to allow Algeria entry into BRICS during the recent summit at the behest of France, but I haven’t come across anyone else talking about this and wherever I heard it first it was just said in passing. Maybe I missed it being discussed here, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I just dreamed it in the first place. Has anyone heard anything about this?

  9. Henry Rethals

    >> China’s GDP was US$59 billion in 1960 but is now US$4.2 trillion.

    China’s GDP is $19 trillion (nominal) and $33 trillion (PPP).
    It is 5 times larger than India’s (nominal) and 2.5 times (PPP).

  10. The Rev Kev

    A smart move would have been to let India maintain their semi-neutral stance and patiently go to work on them in the coming years. It is all a matter of patient work done over a decade or more. Instead, they are going with the ‘you are with us or against us.’ Why would they do this? BRICS of course. With it’s expansion, the Collective West now sees it as a direct threat to them and a threat that must be destroyed. That organization must be picked apart.

    So they are going after India first and are trying to reduce it to a client state once more. India has been there before, done that, and gotten the t-shirt. The vast wealth that they lost they will never get back from that era. They know what will be required of them. To open up the country to US/EU financialization, to buy US military gear, to confront China on their shared borders, to host eventually dozens of US militarily bases, maybe eventually to have nuclear-tipped US missiles stationed there, to break all financial ties with Russia, Iran and all those other countries and to ship their weapons to either Ukraine or Taiwan.

    And therein lies the risk. It is ‘danegeld’. Once you pay it, it never stops. The demands get more and more while the NGOs and all the other organizations infiltrate society to change it. But India should remember that within living memory, both the US and the UK sent task forces to India to threaten it but which was stopped by – you guessed it – the Russian Navy. They know who their friends are. Modi may think himself another Erdogan in trying to play both sides against each other for India’s benefit but this time it is not an option as he must soon choose. And in any case, Modi is no Erdogan and even Erdogan stuffs up from time to time.

  11. DG2

    Great piece Conor! As a person of Indian origin, I wish India were afforded a bit of patience as it would eventually have joined the Western axis. (Left to themselves, the CPC would have ensured that with its high-handed behavior against India.) However, the neocons seem to be in a hurry to fight China – India has to choose sides right now, and off it goes to the other side! Shame.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      DG2: So what is the reason you wished for India to align with the West?

      What’s the original reason, and how do you see things unfolding in the West that might provide a continuing rationale to remain aligned West?

      1. DG2

        My reasoning does not follow 3-D chess logic. I get that India’s government would want to follow an independent foreign policy to try to give itself more sovereign space and will follow its interests.

        But no matter what path it takes, the country will be overshadowed by China – which will constantly want to throw India off-balance. I’ve never know the Chinese to accommodate in matters large or small. Best if India opts for the West as Russia may be less able to counter-balance China in the multi-polar axis.

        Also the Indian diaspora is overwhelmingly tilted to the west. We’d prefer that tilt from the Indian Government too – I guess Jake Sullivan has other plans!

      2. DG2

        I think India will want to develop economically and deepen links with the west – definitely more investment and building up the people-to-people links. This campaign of targeting Modi through media hit pieces should be abandoned – if anything this is making him more popular and willing to make peace with China on unfavorable terms.

        See Rev Kev’s comment above. He has it right!

        1. Piotr Berman

          To “develop economically” and “deepen links with the west” can be divergent goals. In long term, the growth potential of exports to “collective west” decreases compared with other markets, while as a source of materials and industrial components, western importance is small. Moreover, as a source of technologies, the West is waning too.

          Most importantly, the true goal of “rule based World order” is to prevent the rise of competing powers, preserving unipolarity by bestowing boons and poxes (stressing the latter). India is so big that if it grows as much as it needs, it INEVITABLY will be a target of those “rules”.

          Concerning the “defense against overshadowing China”, a squabble without firearms in a desolated high mountain deserts (with water, but to high for vascular plants) is hardly existential danger, so the chief Indian interest is to preserve “dignity” (it may prevent permanent delimitation of the border, but dignity matters too) while keeping actual conflict at a very, very small flame. Western influence try to inflame the conflict, Russian connection has huge potential to moderate it.

      3. Tom Pfotzer

        DG2: thanks much for the insights. Much appreciated.

        I agree on your assessments of Rev Kev’s contribution above. Liked it on way thru the first time, maybe I’ll go read it again.
        === a few mins later…
        I re-read RevKev’s piece, and he’s basically saying the West is going to (again) force India into vassal status; it’s what they do.

        And he points out India’s a member of BRICS. I’ll add that India has a central role in BRICS, and further I’m not sure why you think China will forever dominate India, unless you feel that India can’t muster the governance and social cohesion that China has. Otherwise, why is India subject to continuous domination by China?

        1. DG2

          Thanks Tom!

          I believe BRICS will eventually be dominated by China – they’re far too powerful! India doesn’t even come close – it is not we’ll organized as a country, also doesn’t have the diplomatic heft and the strategic coherence that China can impose on its population and corporate leadership.

          Also, not sure if India can survive the impact of climate change unscathed. China has dammed one of the biggest Indian rivers – the Brahmaputra and can toy around with the water supply when it wants to. Does the same with the Mekong as well (SE Asian impact). National political bench is not too deep either.

          There’s a lot India needs to catch up on and too little time. From where I stand, these challenges may overwhelm a better polity – but who knows though?!

    2. Kouros

      Badrakumar, of indianpunchline repute, has asserted in an interview with Giessen and Mercouris, that there in fact never was a border in Himalaya with the Chinese, so it is a lot of posturing there and copying the west in riding the high moral horse by India, as if they are the agrieving party. Things are up for grabs in the Himalaya and so far the Chinese have only shown patience, given the high jinx played by India: QUAD, etc…

  12. Synoia

    Does India have any high ground in world affairs considering its cast system?

    As for getting close to China, I believe India and China confront each other continually because of the unsettled border dispute between them in the Himalaya region.

    1. Piotr Berman

      Caste system is not as systematic as in old days, and this is an internal affair. But who were the wise foreign policy folks in India when India blockaded Nepal? Now China and Nepal are building a railroad through Himalayas.

      In any case, India has to play its card carefully, building quiet coalitions, bringing its house into “even better order”, and resist diktats where from the West or from the North.

    2. digi_owl

      My completely unscientific impression is that said caste system is stronger in the California than it is in India.

      What seems to happen, time and time again, is that when people move to USA, they freeze frame in their mind the culture they are leaving behind.

      Some time ago i ran into an anecdote from someone with an colleague from India, who had an elderly aunt or something visiting in order to attend a wedding. When they arrived at the ceremony the aunt exclaimed joy over once more experiencing a traditional Hindu wedding, as apparently they had fallen out of fashion back in India.

      1. alfred venison

        “What seems to happen, time and time again, is that when people move to USA, they freeze frame in their mind the culture they are leaving behind.”

        I left Canada mid-70s for Australia, now when I return to Edmonton for a visit I’m the only one at the dinner table who says “eh”.

  13. Ignacio

    The Collective West may think that the Indian globalist Professional Managerial Caste is there willing to get rid of Modi or whoever and embrace US rules based order. But what if India’s PMC is culturally different to that of the Collective West? Here I paste the concluding paragraph of an academic paper on this issue. India Inc. and globalization: The rise of neo-liberalism and a transnational managerial elite?

    Two specific insights and potential hypotheses emerged from our exploratory study where we have explored a very specific element of neo-liberalism, namely the manifestation of neoliberal management thinking.

    The main contention we develop is that top [Indian] managers have not been acting as the switchmen of change and accelerated adaptation to international trends in management. In addition it is also apparent from this study which was part of a larger cross-national project that collective mindsets take time to change and are not necessarily convergent.

    The unwritten rules, cognitive frames and belief systems persist and shape the agenda of organizations, despite the so-called “flattening” effect that many projected globalization would have. In other words, and from a sociological point of view, institutions prevail not only because of the advantages that accrue to firms in using national systems and rules but also because they have become habituated through internalization and socialization processes.

    1. DG2

      India’s PMC absolutely supports Modi and funds him to the gills. But they would support the rules-based order as well. Especially the Silicon Valley bunch who the Indian managerial class looks up to!

  14. Roger

    The US is like a declining Mafia boss who attacks the few allies he still has left in a desperate attempt to solidify his control, but all he does is drive those allies over to the opposing camp. He has ruled for so long he does not know compromise and win-win alliance building anymore.

    India may never fully align with China, but it may very well take the position of the ASEAN nations of working with China for their mutual benefit. The alliance between India and Russia goes back to the Cold War and will not be broken.

  15. Feral Finster

    “…Obama even whacked US citizens in Yemen, including a 16-year-old who was born in Colorado. Trump later took out his eight-year-old sister.)”

    The word that you may be looking for is “murder”. Obama okayed the murder of a 16-year old US citizen. Trump okayed the murder of his eight-year-old sister.

  16. chris

    I’ve mentioned this a few times, and I know Yves and others have linked to similar articles in the past too. The US is deeply reliant on India for more than half of its pharmaceutical manufacturing, especially generic drugs. The idea that we have leverage over India over something like the murder of Nijar is amazingly stupid. What will it take for us to fire all of the neocons from their positions of authority before they do more damage to our country and our people than we can bear?

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