BBC: Obama in Asia: US-India ties 'to define century'

Washington and Delhi’s relationship will be one of the century’s defining partnerships, President Barack Obama and Indian PM Manmohan Singh have said.

On a visit to Delhi, Mr Obama said India was a world power, and both countries would work together to promote stability and prosperity.

In a speech to parliament later, he said he would address Delhi’s bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat.

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10 comments on “BBC: Obama in Asia: US-India ties 'to define century'

  1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    What he says is largely true. I stated some years ago that George Bush’s effective courting of India into the Anglosphere would be his greatest legacy.

    Though I largely detest Mr. Obama’s ideology, when he gets it correct — as in this case of continuing Bush’s policies — I will give him the credit he deserves. His advisors must have made a great job of convincing him, as he’s definitely got it right.

    Now, if he would only transfer the recently-decommissioned USS Kitty Hawk (the last conventionally powered aircraft carrier) to the Indian Navy, he could help them become (by 2015) a four-carrier blue-water force dominating regional waters in a generally nasty part of the world.

    It would also assist India in countering China’s development of a deepwater Navy base in Gwadar, Pakistan.

  2. Andrew717 says:

    Would they want kitty Hawk? She’s terribly old, the USN doesn’t put a carrier out to pasture till she’s pretty worn out. Probably cheaper to build to suit something smaller, like the new Anglo-French carrier project.

  3. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    They are currently building two indigenously-designed carriers in what will become their [i]Vikrant[/i] class. They also have the former Soviet carrier (the [i]Gorshkov[/i], now renamed) currently undergoing extensive modification and re-fit, along with one very old ship cast off from (IIRC) the Royal Navy, soon to be retired. The [i]Kitty Hawk[/i] is robust and only about 50 years old.

    We have B-52s in active service from that same era, and the Air Force plans to keep flying the things until about 2040. [i]Kitty Hawk[/i] therefore is no piece of junk ready for the breaking yard, but was retired only as a result of her conventional propulsion.

    The French can’t even keep their nuclear-powered [i]de Gaulle[/i] at sea. The British [i]Queen Elizabeth[/i] class will be commissioned about the same time (2016-17) as the [i]Vikrants[/i] and both share a ski-jump configuration. Not really a better option, eh?

    As a worst case, the [i]Kitty Hawk[/i] would be a wonderful interim carrier for India.

  4. Vatican Watcher says:

    Bart has a point. A few years ago, I read an excellent article in The Atlantic about how the US is furthering relations at the ground level with various states in Asia and the Pacific. Selling a decommissioned carrier to India would be an excellent move.

  5. Andrew717 says:

    I hadn’t realized they’d scaled up Vikrant, I was still thinking of the roughly HMS Invincible-sized ship they’d first proposed, not the Queen Elizabeth-size ship they’re building. But I maintain, by fifty years a ship is tired. That’s not my opinion as much as my father’s, who retired a Master Chief and spent some time on the Forestall when she was that age. The B-52s are that old but have been extensively rebuilt, such as new wings. A country that is building new 65,000 ton carriers probably wouldn’t want a 50 year old 80,000 ton carrier. We’d be better served giving her to India as a technical example than as a functioning warship. And really, India is doing quite well for itself without handouts. I say this as a huge believer in stronger & deeper US-India ties.

  6. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    My father was a 20-year squid, twice the sole survivor of the sinking of his ship in the Pacific, and I grew up not far from Groton. So, 717, as one Navy brat to another, we can “talk shop” a bit.

    The Indian Navy is [i]the[/i] strategic story of the early 21st century. Their current AO (area of operation) includes three of the worlds seven SLOC (sea line of communication) chokepoints — Hormuz, Bab, and Malacca — through which 60% of world sea trade passes. For India, it is 90%. They take it seriously.

    India already have the third-largest carrier force in the world, and they may soon surpass the UK. As a side note … what’s the third largest air force in the world? Any one of the USA’s twelve big carriers. We want India as an Anglosphere ally.

    Overlooked in all this is India’s submarine fleet. They recently launched the first of six indigenously designed and built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. These are the third leg of India’s nuclear deterrent triad, which along with ours includes long-range bombers and land-based ballistic missiles. Their one and only focus is China, having not forgot 1962.

    Their attack submarine fleet is becoming increasingly robust, and in addition to ten old Rooskie kilo-class boats now includes four German [i]Dolphins[/i] — Israel has five, and it is a very potent platform. Furthermore, India are constructing half a dozen French [i]Scorpene[/i] attack subs, and have just recently leased a brand-new Russian [i]Akula[/i] (=”shark”) attack submarine.

    To people with naval sensibilities it is obvious that India intend to have a blue-water presence from the Sea of Japan (occasionally) to the Cape of Good Hope. Let us not forget that the only effective tsunami relief came from an informal collaboration of the US, Indian, Japanese, and Australian navies.

    They are also working together on Chinese containment, though this is a post about India’s, rather than Japan’s very considerable navy. The world’s oceans and commerce will be controlled and protected by the Anglosphere, along with honorary member Japan.

    As my grandfather (1885-1977), a colonel in Army intel, told me: “the really historical stuff almost never makes the news because nobody’s paying attention.”

  7. Andrew717 says:

    We line up pretty closely, Bart. The Indian Navy is going to replace the Royal Navy as our main partner, I think, and in time we’ll be playing second fiddle to them. I hadn’t realized they were building boomers. And no one scoffs at German-built subs! For SSKs they’re who I’d buy from were I in the market. Though the Russians aren’t anything to sneeze at themselves.
    With some of the tech transfer restrictions coming down we may see some AEGIS systems being sold to India. It would make sense for them to have at least something like the Spanish F100 frigates with the “baby AEGIS” if not full-bore Arleigh Burke’s like Japan’s Kongo class. And there has been talk of F-35s to go with those new carriers of theirs.

  8. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    The die was cast in 1967. English was to be a [i]temporary[/i] second official language of India for 20 years following independence in 1947, with its replacement decided by plebiscite. In the end all Indians agreed by a thumping majority to keep English as an official language, rather than replace it with Telagu, Tamil, or any of the 1500 other languages spoken over there.

    Increasingly their attitude is “Two cheers for the British Empire.” It brought them into the Anglosphere and they now understand they share more with the rest of us than they share with anyone else. It is of historic import.

    As to our long-term relationship with the Indian Navy … by mid-century we’ll be in their ocean primarily because they wish us to be there. The beauty of gifting them the Kitty Hawk is that as the former flagship of the 7th Fleet, the Indian Ocean was part of their AO.

    With our 5th Fleet in the Arabian Sea for the foreseeable future, and the 7th increasingly concerned with China’s “second line,” India becomes a tremendously logical ally. We’re not quite there yet, but even something as simple as a Free Trade agreement with India — Republicans of the 112th Congress, are you listening? — would move things a long way in the proper direction.

    Most folks don’t understand it, but the USA is primarily a sea, air and space power … [i]not[/i] a land power. My cousin, who retired as a Senior CPO rate (E-8) commented about the guys under him who’d complain about being as sea so much. “We joined the Navy to see the world,” they would say, “and we’re always out here on the G-D water.”

    John would smile and say “Three-quarters of the world is water. If you really wanted to see the other 25% you should have joined the F’ing Army.”

    What is of such great historical interest is that all the Anglosphere nations, now including India and honorary member Japan, are overwhelmingly [i]MARITIME[/i] powers. Two clangs of the ship’s bell: “Welcome aboard, India.”

  9. Vatican Watcher says:

    7. You don’t need to think. The RN is going to be surpassed by the Indian Navy sooner rather than later. The UK is going forward building its QEII carriers, but it’s essentially gutting the rest of the RN surface fleet and a good bit of the RAF to do it.

    As my brother observed the other day when we were talking about Anglo-French joint operations announced lately, budgetary concessions and the need for joint operations just to be effective will accomplish more for the European experiment than the top-down EU treaties ever did.

  10. Andrew717 says:

    It isn’t just the Brits who are gutting their surface forces. Don’t get me started on the state of the USN’s surface forces.