“India, like the United States, is entering a complex geopolitical environment that is likely to survive for at least another two decades. This environment will be characterised by the continuing dominance of the United States in the global system. However, the centre of gravity in international politics, which is certain to shift from Europe to Asia, will produce at least four candidates for great powers that could challenge Washington over time, which are Russia, Japan, China and India. From this list, however, only China?for various reasons explored in the lecture?is likely, not certain, to materialise as a peer competitor to the United States in the future, analysed Dr Ashley J. Tellis while giving a lecture on ?India in Asian Geopolitics? in Delhi organised by The Professor M.L. Sondhi Memorial Trust and The M.L. Sondhi Institute for Asia-Pacific Affairs.
The function was organised in memory of Prof. M.L. Sondhi and the Professor M.L. Sondhi Prize for International Politics-2006 was awarded to Dr Ashley Tellis on the occasion. Dr Ashley Tellis is a post graduate from Bombay University and PhD from University of Chicago, and ranks as one of America'sforemost strategic thinkers.
Today, apart from being a senior associate at the prestigious Carnegie Endowment for international peace in Washington he continues as an advisor to the US government.
Dr Tellis said that the American response to this possibility currently does not comport with the classical realist, the conventional realist, or the liberal internationalist prescriptions in their pure form: The United States rejected the option of preventive war, which would be advocated by classical realism. It has also demurred from implementing a containment strategy, which would be advocated by conventional realism. And, it is uncertain whether the solutions of democratizing China or tightly increasing economic interdependence with Beijing?the solutions issuing from liberal internationalism?would prevent future geopolitical rivalry between the two countries.
Washington'scurrent approach to the emerging challenge of Asian geopolitics, therefore, reflects its own heritage of American exceptionalism, which combines elements from both the realist and the liberal traditions. First, it emphasises not constraining Beijing but engaging it, while simultaneously increasing the strength of other states on China'speriphery. Second, it seeks to protect the American capacity for sustained innovation. Third, it continues to invest in the technological bases for ensuring military superiority and uninterrupted access to the Asian continent. Fourth, and finally, it endeavours to adapt its existing alliances to meet future challenges, while concurrently building new strategic partnerships in Asia, Dr Tellis explained.
This multifaceted strategy is driven fundamentally by the conviction that the emerging Asian geopolitical environment will not be characterised solely by strategic rivalry?as was the case with the former Soviet Union?but rather by different kinds of security competition that will coexist with deepening economic interdependence.
The presence of growing economic interdependence among states that might otherwise be political rivals implies that a country will aid its competitors in producing the very national power that may be used against itself, just as its competitors, in turn, would contribute to the production of that very national power which could be used against themselves as well, he added.
Dr Tellis sees some peculiar reality which implies that India, like the United States, has to cope with a new Asian geopolitical universe where strategic threats are diffused and attenuated, but never disappear and, more importantly, where the very forces that increase one'sprosperity also contribute to the increase in the dangers confronting oneself. In such circumstances, New Delhi will be confronted by three unsettling certainties. First, India, like the United States, will not have the freedom to pursue simple and clear strategic policies, but only complex and ambiguous ones that will leave no single constituency?foreign or domestic?fully satisfied. Second, India, like the United States, will have to perform a delicate juggling act which involves developing deep and collaborative bonds?political, economic, strategic?with a set of friends that are likely to be of greatest assistance to it (in relative terms), even as it seeks to pursue deepened interdependence with its prospective competitors. Third, and finally, India, like the United States, will have to develop the organisational and psychological capacity for diplomatic, political, and strategic agility because of the perpetual course correction that will be essential for geopolitical success in a globalised world, Dr Tellis observed.
?This prize remembers Professor M.L. Sondhi, who was a versatile and many-faceted personality. He was recognized internationally as a foremost international relations scholar and an expert,? said Shri Shyam Saran, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. ?I am happy to be here and I am proud to say that Prof Sondhi served the country early after Independence from 1956 to 1961 when the country'sdestiny was linked with Asia. He was also an early proponent of India'srelation with South East Asia?, he added.
Prof M.L. Sondhi was in favour of better Indo-US relationship and advocated the same in the BJP Councils frequently as a national executive member of the party. He was the first one from the party to visit the US to discuss with various Senators of the US government and other intellectuals seeking for Pokaran test, said Madhuri Santanam Sondhi in her introductory remarks on the occasion. While describing Professor M.L. Sondhi'sideas, she said that, in Asia'sgeopolitical scene India'squest for strategic safety was quite perfectly legitimate and Indo-US relations in its basics has been affected and in nuclear field India has been and will always remain a responsible power. S.J.S. Chhatwal, former ambassador, welcomed the guests on the occasion.