In this tragedy, there is an opportunity

Somehow, in the debate over globalization and geopolitical
strategy, India has been a sort of bastard step-child. Due to
understandable economic concerns — China holds much of our debt,
produces much of our consumer goods, and has had eye-popping
foreign direct investment driven growth — our focus has been on
China.

Yet India’s population is still growing, its universities are
first tier, and it is integrated into the West intellectually,
psychologically, scientifically, among others, like no other Asian
county. Part of this is because they speak the lingua franca of the
West, English. I am not going to argue that China is in strategic
decline, but rather that if we had to pick a friend in Asia, India
may be a more natural friend.

Now. The
Telegraph
has described the attacks as “aimed at Western
targets”. USA
Today
offers the headline, “Attack forces India onto front
lines of global war on terror.” (undoubtedly, the Indian government
would be displeased with the words, but perhaps not the framing?)
Meanwhile everyone is saying that these attacks were too
complicated and sophisticated to have been executed by
native-Indian terrorists.


Members of the European Parliament
were in the hotels and
undoubtedly put a more local face on the attacks in Europe,
including a Muslim Tory MEP. So a Brit, a German (and one of the
leading Atlanticists of the European Left), and a Pole can now be
witnesses both within European institutions and within their
national institutions on the importance of the relationship with
India.

It seems that this attack offers an opportunity for the US and
Europe to step up and engage with India. This framing could be
helpful in a number of ways. They have credibility in the
non-Western world that we could not match as a developing Asian
state and a former colony. The attacks on the West simply do not
apply to them. We have resources and assets that they cannot match.
And we share similar values and see common strategic opponents.

Now is the time for Barack Obama to step up. Engage the Indians
and exploit Obama’s personal capital, especially with the Muslim
world. Obama, Manmohan Singh, Japan, and EU leaders. There are
tremendous opportunities here. Let’s grab them.

Categories: Syndicated