July 12, 2008

Unmoved by

An earlier post here was, in effect, one reason I am usually left unmoved by what's called "realpolitik". Below is another, from the same source. (There may be a third, also from there).

For what it's worth, this is not about this writer in particular. It's just that I often find reasoning like this from people who claim to look at the world not as it could be, but as it really is. Sometimes the reasoning is from an avowed free-marketer, going through conniption and contortion to defend perversions of free markets. Sometimes it is from an analyst, making abstruse distinction between supporting the Olympics but boycotting the Olympic torch run.

And it can all use examination.

"India's accumulation of power and influence in Asia will be perceived as a threat by China ... There's no reason to feel apologetic about this. Aggression and intimidation, like diplomacy and negotiations are parts of a composite toolkit." (From here.)

Fair enough: a more succinct articulation of realpolitik in our part of the world would be hard to find.

Yet the same thinker also wrote:

"India must refrain from going overboard in its support for the Tibetan protests lest this issue upset broader relations with China." (Here.)

We need not "feel apologetic" about being a "threat" to China, about "aggression and intimidation" ... but we must not "upset broader relations with China"? Is "realpolitik" always this confusing?

There's also this:

"It is not in India's interests to antagonise China, a more powerful neighbouring state." (Here.)

We need not "feel apologetic" about "aggression and intimidation" ... but we must not "antagonise China"? I mean, what exactly will aggression and intimidation do, what are they intended to do, if not antagonise?

What, really, is in India's interests? Bluster about "composite toolkits"? Or meekness before our neighbour?

Or, just maybe, steadfast conviction?


Kavi said...

Politics is all about flip-flop. Perhaps realpolitik is all about REAL flip flops !!


Sidhusaaheb said...

Wow! This writer appears to be more 'politcal' than the real politicians in India!


Ganga gaye Ganga Ram, Jamuna gaye Jamuna Ram


Nilu said...

Question for the author: is this sarcasm or satire or wit?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Kavi and Sidhu, I think "flip-flop" and so on are a little over the top. My feeling is this: Nitin (and others who think on these lines) are not fully at ease with the implications of the vision they have for India. If India is the power they suggest it has the potential to be, then how will an already muscular China react? Therefore, suggests Nitin, let's not antagonize China.

My feeling is also this: a country develops best when it simply focuses on development, in the sense of bettering the lives of its people. The rest takes care of itself. (Though I'm sure there are more eloquent ways to say this!)

Anonymous said...

India imports 70% of its oil, mostly from the Gulf states. Is projection of power, militarily, diplomatically or otherwise, not necessary to ensure a safe and assured supply of oil for the development of Indians? India's perennial river systems mostly depend on the Tibetan-Himalayan region. How can we ensure development without playing real-politik with China which currently happens to control that vast region?
Does a "focus on development of citizens" exist in vaccuum? Why is projection of power inimical to the development of our citizens?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Naveen, seems to me you meant to comment on More than three seconds. In any case ...

I don't recall asserting that the projection of power is "inimical to the development of our citizens", so would you care to show me where you got this impression?

My sole point in that post was to question the assertion: "projection of power is necessary to create the conditions for human development through trade and culture." i.e., I tried to show that there are countries that have created those conditions without first "projecting power." I also tried to show that some countries that projected power to the exclusion of all else ended up in rubble.