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How individuals tip the balance in diplomacy | Opinion – analysis


Diplomacy and interstate relationships often depend on four factors: larger historical forces; individual leaders; the “national interest” of the actors, as defined by a set of institutions within each State and mediated through political and bureaucratic channels; and events

It is the balance of these forces that can explain the key changes.

The rise of China, for example, can be attributed to larger forces (population, size, geography), leaders (Deng Xiapoing’s decision to open the economy and move beyond a Maoist framework and now Xi Jinping’s policy of projecting Chinese power), its redefinition of national interest (commitment to the United States; economic integration with the world while remaining politically closed; and until about 2010, focusing on internal affairs, which has now been replaced by a more aggressive stance ); and events (the financial crisis of 2008 eroded the economic strength of the United States; the “war on terror” since 2001 distracted him from his role in Asia-Pacific; and the election of Donald Trump turned him further inward, everything which helped Beijing).

A similar framework can be applied to the India-United States relationship and the radical change in ties.

Larger forces have driven it. The end of the Cold War saw India rethink how it saw the world, and left it with few options other than deepening its commitment to the only superpower at that time. The economic reforms of 1991 made India more open and caused the United States to slowly wake up from the potential of the Indian market. The rise of China provided a strategic glue. The growing role of the Indian diaspora in the US UU. He saw the emergence of a key group invested in deeper ties. The role of the soft power of the United States, from popular culture to educational institutions, changed the attitudes of the Indians towards it.

Based on this, there was a redefinition of the national interest. India began to see the United States as a valuable source of investment, technology and as a form of geopolitical insurance. The United States began to see India as a valuable market, a democratic counterweight to China and a source of stability in the international system dominated by the United States.

The events helped. The 1998 Indian nuclear tests antagonized the US. UU., But paradoxically, they also opened the doors for a deeper commitment, from Bill Clinton’s visit to the nuclear agreement. The Kargil War made India recognize that the United States could be a source of support in tensions with Pakistan, which was further reinforced after the attacks of Parliament. The attacks of September 11 changed the attitudes of the United States towards terrorism and made it more comprehensive with the Indian experience, even though it increased its dependence on Islamabad.

And the leaders played a key role. From PV Narasimha Rao to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, from Manmohan Singh to Narendra Modi, each Indian prime minister has worked in the association. On the US side, while Clinton and Barack Obama deepened ties, it was George Bush who made a strategic commitment to the nuclear agreement.

While Trump visits India this week, there is continuity and rupture. The larger forces are still driving the relationship, particularly the strategic imperative to counter China. But the internal economic turn in the USA. UU., Together with slower economic growth and protectionist tendencies also in India, have raised doubts about the economic subtext of the relationship.

But the most significant deviation is in the personality of the leader, particularly Trump. Do not follow any diplomatic playbook. Its priorities, and the priorities of the US establishment, are not necessarily aligned. It is driven by a high degree of personal vanity. It is unpredictable and you take liberties with the truth. It has been useful for India, but also publicly antagonistic.

India’s goal with the visit is essentially a way of administering to the individual, so an excessive focus on the results is confused, even when Delhi expects larger forces, national interests and events to continue to unite the two countries.

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The opinions expressed are personal.

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