Indian decision on fighter deal no snub to US: Foreign Policy
While India's decision not to buy American planes for its multi-role combat aircraft deal is indeed "disappointing", sceptics are wrong to view this as yet another Indian snub to the US, according to Foreign Policy magazine.
Asserting that the sceptics charge "that American proponents of closer cooperation with India have oversold India's willingness or ability to partner with the United States," was wrong, it said: "While India's decision is certainly disappointing, this analysis is flawed."
"First, the United States has a national interest in Indian strategic autonomy, because one important consequence of India's geopolitical ascent is the ballast it provides to an Asian order not subject to China's tutelage," the prestigious US magazine said.
"From an American national interest perspective, it is vital that India retain strategic autonomy by growing its internal capabilities and building external partnerships with a range of important powers, including not just America but also Japan, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, and European states," it said.
"Second, India is not non-aligned, whatever the results of one defence sale," Foreign Policy said noting: "Beyond the United States, India's growing set of partnerships are almost entirely with states along the Indo-Pacific littoral that fear the consequences of overweening Chinese power and seek to balance it."
"India's double-digit annual defence budget increases, and India's emergence as the biggest arms importer in the world, aren't directed at the United States, or Europe, or Japan," Foreign Policy said noting, "They are undertaken with an eye on China first and Pakistan second."
Also from New Delhi's perspective, "despite considerable progress in recent years, the United States historically has not been what Indians would call a reliable supplier of military hardware."
"To the contrary: It has sanctioned India repeatedly, cutting off sales of military platforms, technologies, and spare parts over several different periods. The United States has also provided advanced weaponry to India's key rivals (Pakistan since 1954, China during the 1980s)," it noted.
"India will do fine with its Rafales or Typhoons," the magazine said.
"But it's a shame longer-range, strategic considerations didn't seem to drive this decision."