13 June, 2021

Don't Stand So Close To Me

The new warmth in Indo-US ties holds great opportunities—and considerable perils

Don't Stand So Close To Me
"I don’t think America can give up the Central Asian presence now," says foreign minister Jaswant Singh to my wondering ears. "You will be criticised. The presence troubles Russia and China. But you won’t be able to give it up anytime soon," he continues. He then adds casually that US forces should stay on in Pakistan to help stabilise a nation that India has long treated as a mortal enemy.
—Columnist Jim Hoagland in The Washington Post

Even as Asia ponders over the implications of America’s growing engagement in the region, New Delhi has been the first off the starting block to invite Washington to enjoy an extended military sojourn here. This is remarkable considering India’s historical aversion to the US and western military presence anywhere in the region, from the Persian Gulf to Diego Garcia to Trincomalee and beyond.

Jaswant’s remark to Hoagland, and India’s enthusiastic support to US presence in Central Asia, has led many to ask: is there cause for concern that New Delhi is getting too close to Washington, too fast? Or is it that...

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