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Neoliberal and neoconservative foreign policy in South Asia

If you really analyse deeper between the conservatives and the neo liberals, when it comes to issues of foreign policy decisions there is a very thin line that divide the two.

In fact, the line of demarcation between neoconservatives and neoliberals in the United States and across the Western world is thinner than some people realise. In terms of interventionist politics and foreign policy; support for the ramifications of globalisation, some of which are the corporatisation of agriculture and structural adjustment programmes in the developing world ( especially in Africa) and being harbingers of “peace” through preemptive strikes, the two have much in common.

Taking you back in history, I strongly believe that subsequent to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, India lost its powerful ally. India’s relations with the US before the Soviet disintegration reeked of distrust and paranoia. This worsened when senior officials in the first Clinton administration questioned the legality of the status of Kashmir as a part of the Indian Union.

The nonproliferation agenda of the US in South Asia actively undermined India’s proliferation strategy in the early and mid-1990s. Washington’s agenda was propelled by the fear that the South Asian region had burgeoning potential for a nuclear war in the future. Pakistan’s policy of abetting insurgents in Kashmir and Afghanistan led to its political insularity and seemingly legitimised India’s proactive approach. The US adopted the policy of persuading both India and Pakistan to actively participate in the nonproliferation regime by agreeing to comply with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to an interim cap on fissile-material production according to political commentator Strobe Talbott.

Washington’s political volte face became apparent in 1999 when it explicitly demanded that Pakistan withdraw from occupied Indian positions and maintains the legitimacy of the Line of Control in Kashmir. It was implicit in this demand that it saw Pakistan as the egregious aggressor. In his construction of Pakistan and Afghanistan, President Trump together with his security advisors have reduced the two countries to safe havens for “terrorists”. Although President Trump would have us believe that his government has no intention of telling Afghans how to run their country, it is a glaring fact that military aid, in any way, shape, or form, always comes with strings attached.

Washington’s incrimination of Pakistani’s stance mitigated India’s fear that internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute would spell unambiguous victory for Pakistan. India’s strategy of coercive diplomacy increased the international pressure on Pakistan to withdraw its forces from Indian territory. India took recourse to limited conventional war under nuclear conditions, prior to President Clinton’s

March 2000 visit to New Delhi. At this point in time, proliferation was relegated to the background in Indo–US relations.

The Kashmir issue further receded to the background during the Bush administration. The neoconservatives in that administration zeroed in on India as a country in the Asia–Pacific region that would offset China’s burgeoning economy, which in my view is nothing but an attempt to reconstruct the cold-war paradigm. President Trump’s avowed support for further building ties with India in order to enhance its economic and military dominance in the Indo-Pacific region gives Indian President Modi’s government and its ultra right-wing Hindutva party agenda a pat on the back.

US strategic ties with India were further consolidated in the wake of September 11, 2001, when the links between militant/ insurgent groups and Pakistan’s military and militia forces were underscored. As one of the consequences of the decision of the Bush administration to eliminate Al-Qaeda and its supporters in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s President at the time, General Pervez Musharaff found himself with no option but to sever ties with the Taliban. Following this drastically changed policy decision to withdraw political and military support from the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Pakistan found itself unable to draw a clear line of distinction between “terrorists” in Afghanistan and “freedom fighters” in Kashmir. Pakistan’s  quandary proved India’s  trump card.

India’s strategy was validated by US military operations in Afghanistan, and the deployment of US forces in and around Pakistan to restrain Pakistani aggression. India was assured by the US that it would stall any attempt by Pakistan to extend the Kashmir dispute beyond local borders, which might disrupt its operations against the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Also, deployment of the US military in Pakistani air bases strengthened India’s confidence that Pakistan would hesitate to initiate nuclear weapons use. The result of India’s policy of coercive diplomacy was that the Musharraf regime was pressured by the US to take strict military action against the mercenary and militant groups bolstering the insurgency in Kashmir. Regardless of the possibility of nuclear restraint in South Asia, a resolution of the Kashmir dispute and insistence on accountability for human rights violations through transitional justice mechanisms would put a monkey wrench in the drive in both countries to beef up their nuclear arsenals. It would also dampen the belligerence of an interventionist American foreign policy, hence my sense of déjà vu.

Global Politics



And the gladiator found his beloved city in ruins

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