During her recent visit to India, US Secretary Hilary Clinton appealed to the Federal Government in New Delhi to be more assertive in world affairs.
She suggested that the Foreign Policy of ‘Emerging India’ should match its increased economic clout.
An instinctive reaction to this would be to accuse the US of wanting a counter-balance to China. The US State Department is losing sleep over China’s rather intimidating growth and would warmly welcome any ally to stem its charge.
Is it a given that India will take a ‘China Negative’ stance? Despite their rocky history, would India and China form an informal alliance against Western powers that still regard their military and economic dominance as a birthright?
I certainly feel that it would be no-done deal for India to tow the American line.
India may loosely join ranks with the Red menace, disrespecting Clinton’s strong desire for India to be hard on countries perpetuating human rights violations.
India can see Clinton’s wish as ridiculous. Both the US and India hold no true shining torch aloft for the rights of man.
Sceptics would propose that this American preoccupation with human rights is because this moral high stand is used as a bargaining chip in international trade rather than any warm Christian spirit.
I do not know if it is that contrived or not, but certainly walking up to this lofty pulpit is terribly bad for business.
The Oil Advantage
China is Africa’s leading trading partner. It conducted $US120 billion of trade with the oil rich Continent last year. This was achieved in a short span of time, without giving a moment’s pause to reflect on the niceties of dealing with militias.
In fact, that has been China’s huge advantage. Supplying the Sudanese fighters (who raped and pillaged) with antiaircraft guns pays off a million-fold when oil exploration rights are awarded.
US President Barack Obama said that India was “not emerging but had risen,” and in this new paradigm, it was starved of energy.
If an already energy famished India is to have even a vague semblance of the Western consumption of hatchbacks and stainless steel fridges, this famine will become more acute. India must become more aggressive and take a page from China’s musket and blanket diplomacy.
India must flatly ignore American histrionic pleas for her not to trade with badly behaved States. This will be far easier to execute if India and China were to form a ‘disobedient cooperative,’ refusing to interfere in other States’ human rights affairs and refuse to be assessed by other countries.
Could this eventuate? Rather than India indulging the West by pointing a finger at China’s appalling human rights record, I think they could, for a time at least, pretend to have a relationship of convenience with China.
These countries could enjoy sharing the commonality of furiously wanting to reclaim their destiny, at whatever cost, no matter how dear.
For, in the vast scale of history, it was only late yesterday evening that Western powers have become born again greenies and well-dressed social workers.
It is like a condemned murderer who, out of sheer terror, finds Jesus on the eve of his execution.
Australia, lately plagued by bribery cases and animal rights atrocities (My Hindu wife nearly passed out) is a classic example. They are struggling to be competitive in a world that has increasingly powerful players who do not give a water boarding about any rights abuse, or environmental agenda, in any form.
Australia’s competitively expensive and embarrassingly incompetent attempt to join New Zealand in some form of emissions trading scheme is not lost on anyone. The Carbon Tax, its predecessor, was bewildering for a country that survives almost exclusively by embracing its carbon footprint.
Expecting Asian countries, deprived of a hundred years of industrial progress, to follow the piper is a bedside story. It is as futile as an Australian tourist visiting a Hong Kong gambling den and ill advisedly insisting that all the punters immediately stop smoking because you’d get a fine in St Kilda.
Scandal in Australia
Another great example presented itself recently.
The Securency Scandal has thrown several executives into a terminal state for allegedly bribing wonderfully colourful Colonels of shady intelligence agencies in every backwater of the world. India and China would see that as standard operating procedure, hardly worth the effort of a memo.
In Australia, it is corporate Armageddon and voluminous fill for newspaper spreadsheets. This compels the companies to awkwardly compete in an international business environment that does not play by the Queen’s rules. It is like fighting bare-knuckled Thai kick boxers with a pair of woollen mittens knitted by Mommy.
India should take full advantage of this handicap and enter countries that make Bihar look like Sussex. It must build oilrigs on fields that no sane man would tread.
Dam rivers with political prisoner labour, wipe out cute endangered otters and flood areas the size of the Waikato. Much like the Western Hemisphere has done for hundreds of years.
Clinton had better pray India does not find this inner shark. Ambitious India is not the Ganga Din they know and love.
New Zealander Roy Lange is our Columnist based in Melbourne, Australia.