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Peace at any cost is a prelude to war!

STRATFOR.COM Global Intelligence Update
17 March 2000


U.S. President Bill Clinton will travel to South Asia March 19-25 -
the first visit of a U.S. President to India in 22 years. Despite
lofty references to a new chapter in Washington-New Delhi ties,
India and the United States enter into the meeting from divergent
positions. India intends to increase investment and hopes to re-
establish itself as a key regional and international player. The
United States wants to open India's markets, discuss nuclear
proliferation and Kashmir, and pre-empt Chinese or Russian
influence in South Asia. Given the wide range of issues on the
table, substantial progress is unlikely.


U.S. President Bill Clinton is traveling to India, Bangladesh and
Pakistan March 19-25. It will be the first visit of a U.S.
president to India in 22 years - and the most extensive ever.
Characterizing the visit, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright said Clinton "will seek to begin a new chapter in [U.S.]
relations." But the mission will likely yield little; the
countries' positions and goals differ greatly, and they both bestow
different levels of importance to the visit.

Relations between the United States and India, strained throughout
the Cold War, have improved little following the collapse of the
Soviet Union. India, a key member of the non-aligned movement,
later signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union. Relations
with Washington remained strained as India took on the role of
spokesman for developing nations, chiding Western nations for
perpetuating economic colonialism.

Washington perceives India as fundamentally little more than a
developing nation - albeit a very large one. It continues to view
India as a prize to be won in order to counter the similar
competing interests of Russia and China. Thus in talks and
negotiations, the United States accords India a lower status than
when dealing with nations like China or Russia.

India, however, has clearly shown it wishes to be treated as equal
to other regional powers; it has shunned advances from China and
maintained a distance from Russia.

This fundamental difference underlies and hinders Washington-New
Delhi relations. Clinton's visit represents one of a great power to
a minor nation. The U.S. agenda includes opening India's telecom
markets to U.S. businesses, obtaining India's pledge to end nuclear
testing and bringing stability to the Kashmir region. India views
the talks as an opportunity to garner greater U.S. investment,
easier access for Indian workers to the United States and the
respect due a growing regional power.

Isolated by deserts and mountains, India is nonetheless militarily
and economically well positioned, straddling the sea route between
the Middle East and Asia. India now asserts its independence after
years of being constrained by Cold War animosities among China,
Russia and the United States.

New Delhi has already shown clear resolve to reject treatment as a
pawn in the multi-player game. India's nuclear tests in 1998, which
strained relations with Washington, broadcast India's importance to
the world, as well as to Pakistan. Despite this, the United States
continues to treat India as a lesser priority to China.

U.S. imports from India in 1998 amounted to less than 12 percent of
those from China, according to U.S. trade data. Exports to India
amounted to just 25 percent of those to China. Further, U.S.
foreign direct investment to India in the financial year to March
1999 was barely 12 percent of that invested in China, according to
an Indo-American Chamber of Commerce official cited by Agence
France Presse. For India, as one of the world's largest democratic
nations, it is an insult that Washington apparently has a greater
interest in relations with communist China.

Clinton's visit to India will likely be frustrating and
disappointing, accentuating the apparent friendliness of Pakistan
during his brief stopover. Already claiming Clinton's Pakistan
visit as a victory over India, Islamabad will willingly discuss
Kashmir with Washington.

It is yet to be seen whether India will succeed in its goals to be
treated as an equal among Asia's powers. However, New Delhi's
determination to assert its status will clash with Washington's
moves to recruit India as a subordinate South Asian ally. Clinton's
visit will likely accomplish little, considering the widely
differing perceptions of its importance.

(c) 2000, Stratfor, Inc. http://www.stratfor.com/

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