India / Theoretical / Foreign Policy Shyness (Pant, 2009, p. 251). Pant's latest scholarship on India's foreign policies (2009, p. 253) is far more forceful and impactful than the narrative in his 2008 book. He chides India for not letting go of its Cold War foreign policy strategy. "The Cold War officially ended almost two decades ago,"
Pant writes (p. 253), and yet India continues to debate "the relevance of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)." That attitude among India's elite foreign policy experts "…is merely the clearest sign of the intellectual sloth that has infected the foreign policy discourse," Pant states. "Intellectual sloth?" Nowhere in Pant's 2008 book are there phrases so vigorous and persuasive. He stresses that it is "irresponsible and dangerous" for India to "cling to ideas that served a different strategic context" (p. 253).
Theoretical Approach / India Foreign Policy (Robert Gilpin / John J. Mearsheimer):
Professors Robert Gilpin (Princeton University) and John J. Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) go where Pant and Sikri didn't often go -- the theoretical approach to states that are powerful or becoming powerful. But Gilpin adds to Pant and Sikri; he says that "a more powerful state…will select a larger bundle of security and welfare goals than a less wealthy and less powerful state"
(Gilpin, 1983, p. 23). A change in the "relative costs of security objectives and welfare objectives, or a change in state's power and wealth usually causes a corresponding change in the foreign policy of the state" (Gilpin, p. 23). So, where is the change in India's foreign policy now that they are clearly undergoing a change in power and wealth?
Gilpin adds that it is "the mix and trade-offs of objectives rather than their ordering" that is quite critical to understanding a state's foreign policy. What are India's objectives? To merely dip a toe in the waters of power? Where is the leadership? Pant's 2009 essay quotes "the eminent" international relations theorist Hans Morgenthau, who states that the interests of any given state are "shaped by its power" (Pant, p. 254). As a state accumulates more power, Morgenthau explains, "…its interest in the foreign policy realm will increase concomitantly"; and as it rises in the inter-state hierarchy, which India surely has been, it will "try to expand its economic, political, and territorial control; it will try to change the international system in accordance with its own interests" (Morgenthau, from Politics Among Nations, quoted by Pant, p. 254)
Meanwhile, John J. Mearsheimer writes that "great powers are primed for offense" (Mearsheimer, 2003, p. 3). The very structure of the international system "forces states which seek only to be secure nonetheless to act aggressively toward each other,"
Mearsheimer continues. He admits that this situation "is genuinely tragic" because "great powers that have no reason to fight each other" -- because their own survival, like India's need for energy resources to keep its economic humming -- "nevertheless have little choice but to pursue power…" (p. 3).
Which book is more forceful? It is this writer's opinion that Sikri's book has more energy, albeit Pant is thorough and interesting, and Pant takes the blue ribbon for flushing out Indian-American dynamics. Sikri provides about 7 pages on U.S.-Indian dynamics while Pant offers about three times that much narrative. On pages 122-23 Pant spells out two problems while discussing just one. The United States has been critical of India's relationship with Iran, and has "urged India to rethink" the ambitious India-Iran gas pipeline deal -- and other energy-related cooperative projects -- or face the possibility of sanctions (Pant). How cold and brazenly haughty is the big bully of the West! Truly, India should be free to make deals with any state it feels comfortable dealing with.
Brutal frankness is vital in discussions about India's future alliance with any nation -- most notably with the United States. I contend that India should never allow itself to be bullied by the U.S. And moreover, India truly needs to find leadership within its policy or scholarly ranks to put a plan together to do what Mearsheimer refers to as "offensive realism" -- the fortunes of all states "…are determined primarily by the decisions and actions of those with the greatest capacity" (p. 5).
Works Cited / Bibliography
Gilpin, Robert, 1983, War and Change in World Politics, Cambridge University Press: New York.
Mearsheimer, John J. 2003, the Tragedy of Great Power Politics, W.W. Norton & Company: New York.
Pant, Harsh V., 2008, Contemporary Debates in Indian Foreign and Security Policy: India Negotiates Its Rise in the International System. Palgrave / Macmillan: New York.
Pant, Harsh V. 2009, 'A Rising India's Search for a Foreign Policy', Orbis, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 250-265.
Rachman, Gideon, 2009, 'Democracy: The Case for Opportunistic Idealism, the Washington Quarterly, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 119-127.
Sikri, Rajiv, 2009, Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India's Foreign Policy, Sage: New Delhi.
R. Sikri (2009), Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India's Foreign Policy, Sage, New Delhi, p. 23.