(By IDC correspondent in USA)

New Delhi, 4 May 2001

US to Press Ahead with Building Missile Shield –– INDIA Supportive

On May Day, while many capitals of the world were having public demonstrations either in support of the labour cause or anti capitalism/free trade, President Bush in his address at the National Defence University, committed the US to building missile defence shield, which may require the 1972 ABM Treaty to be replaced, eliminated or changed in a fundamental way. The Pentagon plans are to build a multi-layered system that would have ship-based radar (like Aegis) and interceptors (including laser), in addition to land-based and space-based elements. The aim is to defend not only against attacks from rogue states like North Korea, Iran or Iraq, but also accidental or unauthorized launches possibly from China and Russia.

In exchange for making the ABM Treaty defunct Bush has offered major unilateral cuts in nuclear arms (upto 70%) and negotiations for creating an alternative framework for disarmament with Russia and all other major nations of the world. The announcement was no surprise as the US media had already started giving out various statements by Administration officials on such a possibility from 29 Apr onwards.

At home, the Democrats have crticised it as a politically and financially reckless step to start building an antimissile system before the technology is perfected. Abroad, it has given rise to a plausible fear of starting a new arms race, the harshest of them being China. The fact remains that US has historically displayed an abiding love for newer technologies in all walks of life, more so in defence and nation’s  security. They were the first to develop and use the atom bomb and will go any distance to make their land and people as secure as humanly feasible, against any outside missile attack be it conventional or nuclear. (More detailed analysis next week)

Analysis By Our India Editor

IDC has followed this big development from India too. IDC vistors should know that Condolezza Rice was good and clever enough to contact EAM and RM Jaswant Singh before President Bush's announcement and Jaswant Singh has supported USA immediately on jts new tack. Jaswant met Rice recently and Jaswant is a balanced but over worked Minister. George Fernandes is out for the time being and could never have taken such a pragmatic decision. George is very anti USA and Madhu Limaye's two fantastic books ‘THE JANATA EXPERIMENT’ can tell you all about Manohar Lohia , Vajpayeeji, George, Subramaniam Swamy and the whole kaboodle of the Janta people, who became the BJP or their supporters.

Whilst Bush has declared he is making a  Defence shield and sheathing the sword, Jaswant Singh and MEA have said they support the break from the past from deterrence to a shield . Very clever words, as Bush has promised to reduce nuclear arsenals. Bush wants the 1972 ABM treaty dissolved.

IDC sees this as a very clever move by India.  We hope the sanctions will get lifted in the bargain. There must be quid pro quo. We have to be a little pragmatic and at this stage as Russia and USA want to woo us and China is looking for stability as its economy zooms ahead, IDC feels let us play ball to keep our own economy going. As all now know Russia and China are to sign a big treaty of cooperation when Jiang Zemin visits Moscow in July and the drafts are ready as Putin discussed this when he visited China.

Russia has told India in no uncertain terms that the unipolar position of USA needs to be broken and China has also shown this by its stance on the EP3 SPY PLANE, which has angered Bush. Vajpayee is to meet Bush later this year.The only point IDC can add is an ARMS RACE HAS BEGUN and we will present that soon.

Bush Completes 100 Days in White House

President Bush’s completion of 100 days in office has seen much media hype, with photographers having a field day in the White House capturing every action of his from morning till night.  Bush has passed his first major test through a combination of caution, luck and a commendable ability to take good advice from an exceptionally competent, mature and experienced team of carefully selected executives. His sunny self-confidence, CEO style of working and penchant for bankers’ hours with long weekends, have made him an acceptable figure among the American public, despite having lost popular vote to Al Gore. He has kept his focus on the themes he campaigned on viz cutting taxes, reforming education, expanding access to health care while reforming Medicare, creating personal Social Security accounts, strengthening military and intelligence capabilities and bringing honour and dignity back to the White House.

Both in domestic and foreign policy fields he has shown a tendency to go ‘right’ and seemingly pro-active. To those outside US, what will be of interest is to watch the tussles between his Secretary of State Colin Powell, a diplomatic moderate and Defence Secretary Donald Rumfeld somewhat a hawk, with Vice President Dick Cheney in the latter’s camp and Security Adviser Condolezza Rice on Powell’s side. May be the combinations and the roles are intentional so as to arrive at the best decisions. In general, Bush has passed the test and people see his steady activity with an impression of a person determined to give US a dynamic and positive leadership.

Whites in Minority in Many Big US Cities

An analysis of the year 2000 census has revealed that whites are now a minority in 52 of the biggest 100 cities in US. This change is coming about more in the faster developing cities/urban population centers like Las Vegas and Phoenix. The growing non-white population is a mix of Blacks, Hispanics and Asians. At the moment, this change is perceived largely in terms of potential problems in providing public services and creating new political divisions. Those in the Local, State and Federal administration are duly conscious of their society continuing to be a cauldron of immigrants and determined to face the changes in a positive manner without lacking awareness of their contribution. This is something that needs emulation by all mixed societies in the world and more so in India.

US May Get the Spy Plane Back

In what appears to be the first step to return the US spy plane, China has agreed to allow American personnel to inspect the damaged aircraft at Hainan airfield. A team of experts has arrived there to assess the damage and work out the modalities of bringing the plane back. It is also understood that US has agreed to make a payment towards the expenses connected with its return.

Anatomy of Sino-US Relations

China has been pushed around, plundered and carved up by one country after another, ever since Britain went to war with it in 1839 to force it to buy opium. Such predations created ferocious waves of nationalism. In 1899-1900 the ultra-nationalist group of Boxers rampaged against foreigners under the slogan ‘protect the country, destroy the foreigner’. The Boxers slaughtered foreign missionaries and killed a far greater number of Chinese Christians. Later the communist movement was another form of nationalism borne out of deprivation by the well-to-do class, which to common people’s mind was supported by the foreigners including the Americans.

A still newer face of nationalism now is something that the Communist Party started after Tiananmen, as a possible glue to unite the country. With the break-up of the Soviet Union, Communism as a bulwark of unifying force, was discredited hence leaders like Jiang Zemin used the education system and propaganda apparatus to nurture a prickly national pride and suspicion of the outside world. The new unifying force in China is patriotism and such movements always have extremist possibilities. The rapid economic development leading to the modernization and strengthening of its armed might, have given China a vision of an emerging super power –– a substitue to the Soviet Union. As China has become more open in recent years, public opinion has come to matter more, a development which may make it more complex, nationalistic and obdurate.

The growing US–China economic relations have caused envy and resentment among the Chinese people, something like a love-hate relationship. Many Chinese believe that the US is a bully and Beijing should stand up more firmly to Washington and Tokyo alike, that Tibetan monks should be tossed in jail and any move by Taiwan toward independence should be dealt with militarily by occupation. A more democratic China is not necessarily less nationalistic China. The government in China today seems more afraid of the people than the other way around. The leaders know that protests by students, workers or even peasants could paralyze the country and even provoke a coup d’etat. The taste of newfound freedom of thought and action brought in by the injection of capitalism through privatization of economy and entry of multinationals has encouraged nationalistic fervour, a force to tackle the inferiority complex vis-à-vis the United States.

The bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the loss of a Chinese fighter pilot and aircraft, due to collision with American spy plane, are not seen as isolated incidents but a continuation in the string of over 200 years of  “guochi” meaning national humiliation –– another attempt by foreign powers to weaken China and hold it back. What has further complicated the mutual relationship is President Bush’s change of terminology from ‘strategic partner’ to ‘strategic competitor’. In an interview with the Washington Post on 24 Apr the President described ties with China as "maturing" and that "people are beginning to understand what I mean by strategic competitors — that it's not necessarily a bad thing. I say the Chinese are beginning to understand what that means. That there's areas where we can agree, like trade, and there's areas where we won't agree, and that is the defense, the serious defense of Taiwan."

Bush has made it clear that if Taiwan came under attack from China, he would order whatever it took to help the island defend itself. During his presidential campaign he had questioned the wisdom of ‘strategic ambiguity’ about how US would react if hostilities broke out across the Taiwan Strait and asserted that he would be clear about Taiwan, which he seems to have done in the wake of the spy plane incident.

In the Senate, the opposition (Democrats) have called this to have profound implications for the country and termed it as a major policy change that would serve neither “our interest nor Taiwan’s”. No other President in the past two decades had made such a categorical statement.

What gives optimism and hope of better mutual relations is, however, the presence of practical thought among a large number of Chinese people too. They understand that they have to trade with US and that if relationships with US were damaged then their living standards would be damaged. All the same any complications in US–China relationships will also create challenges to Indian diplomacy in redefining the bilateral as well as multilateral relations with both these countries as well as Russia and Japan

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