The US is courting India as an ally. There is currently an opportunity to do so during the state visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington. US President Joe Biden hardly leaves out anything in his charm offensive: red carpet, state banquet, speeches by Modi in the Capitol. Washington currently needs India on several fronts. That can also cost something.
Modi is staying in the United States for several days at Washington’s invitation, and was received with dinner at the White House on Wednesday. Topics covered by the state visit include political and military cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and cooperation in the fields of defence, technology, energy and space.
The Financial Times called the “red carpet” rolled out by US Modi something between “lavish” and “wasteful” in an analysis Thursday. Biden’s “India charm offensive is all about China,” the British newspaper wrote.
Turned a blind eye
“Operation Narendra Modi seduce” is not new in itself, the British newspaper etched. But Biden is taking the flattery for Modi to a new level. It is possible that Washington is overlooking autocratic and problematic features of its government.
The Financial Times pointed out that the Indian head of government was being accorded honors in the United States that only Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela had enjoyed before him. The state banquet for Modi will remain the “glitziest” of Biden’s presidency. “Under these circumstances, India’s head of government could get the impression that America admires him.” The “New York Times” wrote on Thursday of a pompous state visit. The US newspaper also referred to the strategic relevance of the alliance from the US perspective.
Red carpet, politics and geography
The “thickness of the red carpet” has absolutely nothing to do with Modi’s politics, but everything to do with geography: Biden’s foreign policy course has a strong focus on Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, such as the conflicts over Taiwan and claims in the South China Sea.
Beijing had recently come close to Taiwan several times with fighter jets and warships. In 2021, the USA, together with Australia and Great Britain, founded the trilateral military alliance AUKUS with a focus (not explicitly mentioned) on the Indo-Pacific and China.
In order to oppose Beijing in this huge region, India, the economically booming country, the largest democracy in the world with around 1.4 billion inhabitants, is an important and important ally. “No other country has the size or potential to act as a counterweight to China,” wrote the Financial Times.
Accordingly, India is currently the most important ally for the United States, and Modi is being dealt with accordingly gently, even when it comes to New Delhi’s “neutral” position on the war in Ukraine and growing oil imports from Russia. If Saudi Arabia were to “trade places” with India, the US would “hardly resist praising conservative Islam.”
Who needs who?
What Washington overlooked in the “charm offensive”: The United States does not need India as urgently as they thought it did, concluded the analysis of the “Financial Times”. India by no means has all the cards in hand.
The country is “incomparably” more threatened by China’s military might than the US. It shares an almost 3,400-kilometer border with the People’s Republic, parts of which are disputed, the Indian army is no match for the Chinese people’s army. In a conflict, only the United States could militarily help India.
“More Reliable Friends”
The Wall Street Journal commented much friendlier on Modi’s reception in the United States. It symbolizes the “US desire for closer ties in the dangerous Indo-Pacific region, and it’s a shame the ties aren’t already closer.” The US is the world’s largest economy, and India is the world’s most populous democracy.
Both have many common interests, especially when it comes to “fighting China’s ambitions for regional dominance”. As a “new competitive era” with China dawned, the US “needed more reliable friends. India is a crucial friend, arguably the most important in the Indo-Pacific after Japan.”
The United States is definitely willing to pay for the strategic partnership with India – and not just in financial terms. The “Wall Street Journal” not only reported on Thursday about a multi-billion dollar sale of modern drones to India. The two countries also wanted to jointly build engines for the next generation of Indian fighter jets.
According to the US newspaper, the USA is also handing over sensitive technical know-how in a way that they don’t usually do. All of this together looks like the price Washington is willing to pay. The “Wall Street Journal” also referred to the strategic importance of India for the USA in the Indo-Pacific – and also the attempt by the USA to curb Russian influence on emerging countries or, in this specific case, to decouple India from Russia.
Russia India’s major arms and oil supplier
In recent years, Russia has sold 20 times more arms to India than the United States, the Wall Street Journal wrote, citing figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI): tanks, aircraft, air defense systems, ammunition. According to SIPRI, Russia was India’s largest arms supplier in 2021 and 2022 with arms worth almost three billion euros. It could take years for New Delhi to free itself from military dependence on Moscow, the US newspaper wrote.
Source : orf.at