02 October, 2020

Prospecting A War

India should try and orient Washington's expected war on Iraq to suit its own interests in the region

Prospecting A War
A fortnight before he left for New York, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee gave his first-ever interview to the Arab media. The timing was apt: President George Bush was all set to divulge US plans on Iraq. Here was the chance to reiterate India's commitment to oppose arbitrary exercise of force to oust sovereign governments. Here then was the chance to assure the Arab world, which accounts for two-thirds of India's crude imports, that India wanted the US to respect international law.

Vajpayee did get his chance, at the fag end of the interview. Asked what he thought of Bush's "axis of evil definition" and whether India would support US military action to usher regime change in Baghdad, Vajpayee's response was timid: "India is vitally interested in the peace and prosperity of the Gulf region and has, therefore, supported all efforts to defuse the crisis relating to Iraq. In that respect, India supports the resumption of diplomatic efforts under the auspices of the United Nations." Some diplomats feel there couldn't have been a better study in pusillanimity.



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