Memorandum of agreement
India and the US had recently agreed in principle to the logistics exchange agreement to enable both militaries to use each others assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
,LEMOA is a tweaked version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which facilitates the provision of logistical support,supplies and services between the US military and the armed forces of partner countries on a reimbursable basis, and provides a framework that governs the exchange of logistics support, supplies and services.
,Under the LSA, the two sides can access supplies, spare parts and services from each otheru2019s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
,The big question is: Does India need the foundational agreements?If India intends to maintain its relations with the US at the current level, it can live without them.
,What would India gain by them? ,The LSA can theoretically extend the reach of the Indian Navy deep into the Asia-Pacific region, where it has no base facilities.
,But this begs the question: does India intend operational deployment in those areas anytime in this decade?The only US bases in operational reach of India are Diego Garcia and Djibouti,The Indian perspective remains clouded because it has no declared national security strategy, and hence it is difficult to determine what exactly it is seeking from its relationship with the United States.
The most obvious and general answer is that it wants high-technology, trade and good political ties with the worldu2019s primary power which would aid its economic growth.
Only the US has the clout to line up the Nuclear Suppliers Group to waive its rules governing civil nuclear trade, as it did in 2008.
American blessings are needed to get rid of other technology restraints arising from the Wassenaar Arrangement or the Australia Group, and for the big prize u2013a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
,So ,the one calculation that India has to make is whether the balance of power in its region has become so skewed and the situation so dangerous in its relations with China that it needs a military alliance with the US to maintain the balance of power.
,If indeed India feels that we need US muscle to deal with China, we need to clearly assess whether or not Washington and New Delhi are on the same page on issues relating to not just the South China Sea, but the Sino-Indian border, the Sino-Pakistan relationship and so on.
We need to gauge whether the US will be there for us if we need them.
And that is where we go into an entirely new realm of analysis.
,If history is any indication the answer would be the opposite .
whether it be 1965 or sending USS enterprise in Bay of Bengal in 1971 or the more recent sanctions following the Pokhran nuclear tests ,India has been opposed at the UN and on ground by US .
,Is there a behind the door deal that we donu2019t know about? ,The current deal seems pretty one sided and Narendra Modi government wouldnu2019t have taken it if they didnu2019t see the worth ,So the question begs to answer if there is a behind the door deal .
If yes, what is it? Is it worth it? And more importantly, when a new US government is elected to power in November will it still uphold it?,Did India succumb to pressure at the Diplomatic Table?India has a long history of not doing well at the diplomatic table ,From Lal Bahdur Shastri at Tashkent to the WTO convention at Geneva to further the Bali talks.
,The other instances is the Iran u2013Pakistan -India oil pipeline which is said to have failed as US wanted a different deal to counter Iran ,Actually, the real problem with India is its inability to be cynical about its relationship with the US.
It tends to go overboard, and this is a special weakness of the NDA which when asked to bend, tends to crawl before Uncle Sam.
In 2003, when the US asked for Indian troops to participate in the Iraq War, almost the entire NDA Cabinet backed the decision.
It was just one wise man, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who stood against his entire cabinet committee on security lineup, and said u201cNo.
u201d,u201cNDA governmentu2019s decision to sign Logistics Support Agreement with the US is the beginning of the end of the independence of Indiau2019s foreign policy and strategic autonomy .
It is a disastrous decision.
Government should retract the decision and should not sign this agreement and other foundation agreements,u201dsenior party leader and former defence minister A K Antony said.
Antony insisted that by signing this agreement, India would gradually become part ofthe American military bloc.
u201cWhen UPA was in power, India had all along resisted such proposals.
India had traditional relationship with Soviet Union, now Russia from the very beginning.
Of late, we were steadily improving our relations with the US also.
We always resisted pressure from everybody to be part of a military bloc,u201d he said.
Noting that by signing this agreement, India will allow U S Military, mainly Navy and Air force, to use its facilities for their smooth operations, he said u201cThey can refuel their ships and aircraft etc and, if necessary, keep their military equipment on Indian soilu201d.
Antony said India rarely operates beyond its shores.
u201cThis agreement practically gives very little advantage to it, but gives enormous opportunity to US Military.
u201d This is especially true at a time when the US has announced that in the next three years, 60 per cent of its Marines will be placed in Asia-Pacific region, he said.
u201cIt means gradually India will become one of their major facilitators.
It is a dangerous game.
It will become part of military conflicts.
It will affect our strategic autonomy.
In eyes of the world, India will become part of the US military bloc,u201d he added.
A spokesperson from Indian nation congress also said that refueling, maintenance and repair facilities for American ships and airplanes will require stationing of US armed forces personnel on Indian soil on a regular basis unlike what Manohar Parrikar claims.
Is this the end of Indiau2019s foreign policy?For years India has remained Non-aligned and autonomous .
It has an international reputation of not taking sides ,a reputation which has allowed it to pursue many alliances and partnerships in trade and commerce,With India signing LSA countries could view India as a part of US military bloc .
This could have a devastating effect on the Indian Foreign relations .
,Russia has been the closest military ally since independence .
Most of Indian Military hardware is Russian and is going to be so at least for the next decade and a half .
,India is pursuing a strategic partnership with the Arab league and many of itu2019s countries do not have positive relations with US,India proposed to invest $20 billion in Iran and develop its Gawdar port to corner Pakistan in the area.
,Myanmar and US have historically tense relations and with India is aggressively pursuing good relations with Myanmar to tackle the influence of China,India is one of the few countries having a diplomatic mission in North Korea which has extremely tense relations with US,Many countries with Indian Diaspora like Fiji have tense relations with US.
,What should India Do?New Delhi should learn from the way other US allies and proto-allies have dealt with Washington.
Countries like Turkey, Pakistan, and even China have gained a great deal of political and strategic support or military aid by lining up with the US.
But at the end of the day they have played their own game.
The trick, as discerning readers will detect, is not to be carried away by the rhetoric, and to relentlessly pursue the national interest (provided you have a clear idea of what the national interest is).
, At the bottom of all this is the vision you have for India.
If you think partnering with the US will take you there, by all means do so.
But first figure out where u201cthereu201d is.
Is it a u201cgreat nationu201dstatus, or an independent pole in a multi-polar world? Or do we have the gumption to dream, like China does, of becoming the lead?