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India mention in US Presidential Debate: Complete Silence?

Obama and Michelle dance with School kids in India during the President’s India visit in November 2010

The last Presidential Debate in the US on Monday (10/22) was on Foreign Policy.  One wanted to know what the candidates thought of their countries ties and relationships with the main countries in the world.

Strangely, India didn’t come up even once.  Not once.  While other countries were mentioned and discussed at length multiple times:

Iran: 47 times

Israel: 34 times

China: 32 times

Syria: 28 times

Pakistan: 25 times

Afghanistan: 21 times

Admittedly, all these countries are either in trouble or next to someone who is in trouble (Israel), but so is India.

In my view, and I think many in the US realize this as well  – that American plan for Afghan withdrawal will come up cropper if India doesn’t actively work with the US and take the leftover pieces.

That is one area.  The other main area is China.  America’s policy to contain China can ONLY succeed if India is used as a counterweight along with Japan and Taiwan.  India is the key for two of the most important strategic initiatives of the US.

The issue however was that these two ways of “using” India are best understood and not spoken about.  That is why, thankfully, none of the Presidential candidates mentioned India to disclose its role in Afghanistan and / or in reference to China.

Discussion on Pakistan also was quickly diverted to other areas by both the candidates and this is where mention of India should have occurred, but didn’t.  If the Nukes can fall in the hands of the Jehadists, as Romney averred, then India will be the most vulnerable.  Also his estimation of 100 nuke warheads going towards 200 should be highly troubling for India!  And these estimates do seem correct for most part.

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In the coming years, a very significant and profound shift needs to happen in US relations with India.  From a India-Pakistan “hyphenated treatment”; the world will HAVE to move to an India-China “hyphenated relationship”.  That is no easy shift as it is going to be tough and potentially dangerous for both, India and the US.

Actually India is one country which will be central and most critical to ANY plan and estimate for foreign policy of US in that entire region.  And it was left unspoken.

Irrespective of its treatment in the debate, I do hope US President – whoever it will be – will wake up from his stupor and take the relationship with the World’s largest democracy to the next level.

 

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Desh Kapoor

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