Military intervention in Libya: perspectives from China, Russia and India

China, Russia and India abstained on UN Security Council Resolution No. 1973, which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and the use of force to protect civilians. As military intervention in Libya enters its sixth day, what are the Chinese, Russian and Indian views and reactions?


CHINA

Officially-sanctioned views, as reflected in the People’s Daily, lambast the military intervention in Libya and cast it as a Western initiative.

  • How humanitarian is Western intervention in Libya?” asks one op-ed. “This so-called ‘humanitarianism’ is actually just the first step toward overthrowing of another country’s political power.”
  • They point to Libya’s oil resources as the underlying motive. “The military involvement of Western coalitions in the Middle East is closely associated with oil reserves and strategic interests. Iraq was invaded for oil. Now it is Libya.
  • It is noteworthy that the criticism is generally directed at the “West,” and not specifically at the United States, since “the U.S. withdrew to the second line this time.” The U.S. position is understood to be “a compromise between the realism of the secretary of defense and the idealism of the secretary of state.” Read more of this post
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Improved atmosphere in US-China relations, but constraints from domestic actors remain

By David Shambaugh

The world is safer this week than last week. The Sino-American summit between presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao succeeded in stabilizing the world’s most important relationship. After more than a year of fluctuating and deteriorating ties, causing unsettling ripple effects throughout the Asia-Pacific region and globally, US-China relations were in dire need of stabilization. 

Now the key question is how long can the new stability achieved at the summit last? Any observer of Sino-American relations should be both cautiously optimistic but skeptical. Establishing equilibrium in ties between the US and China has been hard enough over the years – sustaining it has been even harder. If there’s been one overriding characteristic in the relationship over the past 30 years, it has been fluctuation and disequilibrium.

As a result, this summit could not have come at a more propitious time. The period since President Obama’s state visit to China in November 2009 until this past week has been perhaps the worst period in two decades of relations since the Tiananmen incident of 1989. Both sides took advantage of the opportunity to “reset” the tone of the relationship. Now the hope is that a new tone can result in tangible cooperation. 

There was, in this observer’s view, an implicit wager by the Obama administration going into the summit: The American side would accord President Hu full respect and dignity befitting the leader of the world’s second largest economy – which would, in turn, hopefully produce a less truculent and more compliant Chinese position on a wide range of issues in which Washington sought Beijing’s cooperation. This was the simple, but smart, strategy. Read more of this post

Domestic politics and bilateral mistrust prevent a US-China duopoly

By Amitav Acharya

No one should be disappointed by the outcome of the US-China summit in Washington on 19 January, because nothing much was expected from it. For Hu, it was a ‘legacy’ visit, his swansong as the head of the world’s most populous and potentially most powerful nation before stepping down as the leader of the Communist Party of China in 2012. The Obama White House obliged by allowing him to make the first state visit to the White House by a Chinese leader since Jiang Zemin in 1997.

This too is not surprising. During the past year China’s image and soft power have taken a battering, especially in the Asia Pacific, where it rekindled mistrust by asserting claims over South China Sea, refusing to condemn North Korea for its aggressive tactics towards the South and restricting exports of rare earth elements. The US has gained considerable mileage out of these Chinese missteps, despite the Chinese snub to Obama at the Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009, and Beijing’s harsh condemnation of the $6.4 billion US arms sale to Taiwan and the Dalai Lama visit to the White House. As fears of China are rekindled in Asia by Beijing’s own assertiveness, there is a new recognition of America’s role there as the provider of security. The Obama administration could thus afford to look generous and reward China for taking some conciliatory steps in the months leading up to the Hu visit- like letting its currency to appreciate a bit, and allowing a visit to China by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

But for those who see the US and China as leaders of the 21st century global order, the summit holds an important lesson: while the unipolar moment in international relations is over, it will not be replaced by a China-US duopoly, at least not an effective one that addresses the global challenges of our time. Read more of this post

Obama’s Asian Journey: Prospects for US Policy

President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia was a mixed bag of achievements and disappointments. This was the assessment of a panel of experts at a recent public event on “Obama’s Asian Journey: Prospects for US Policy,” co-hosted by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Asia Society. Speaking on the panel, Deepa M. Ollapally, Alasdair Bowie, Gregg A. Brazinsky and Mike M. Mochizuki assessed the outcomes of Obama’s visit to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, respectively:

INDIA

Obama’s visit to India was a case of “low expectations, high results.”

Concrete gains for India included: clear support for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council; lifting of nearly all embargos on dual-use technologies; and U.S. commitment to work toward India’s inclusion in a number of nuclear regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Missile Technology Control Regime.

More importantly, the visit marked a shift in U.S.-India relations from the narrow, sectoral engagement of the past, to a truly broad spectrum relationship. Obama is the first US President to view relations with India as a multi-layered partnership: Read more of this post

Obama’s India visit: Beyond strategic symbolism

By Deepa M. Ollapally

Before India’s political pundits write off President Obama’s visit as nothing more than symbolic, they would do well to consider US- India relations under the Obama administration in its entirety. But in order to do that, they need to first shed their single minded focus on strategic affairs.

There is growing apprehension in India (and among some US analysts) that Indo-US relations have reached a plateau, and that no big strategic breakthroughs are on the horizon. First of all, it is unrealistic to expect strategic transformations at every summit.

Obama’s two predecessors were able to make history after the end of the Cold War by changing the course of US-India relations from one of decades-old disaffection to solid cooperation. Obama has inherited an excellent foundation for relations between the two countries, and there is little question that the US president has embraced India. Read more of this post

Indian views on President Obama’s visit

This week, President Obama will visit India for the first time since taking office. What are commentators and experts in India saying about this historic visit?

The Rising Powers Initiative has compiled a summary of recent news and op-eds from major Indian newspapers about Indian expectations of Obama’s visit and the future of India-U.S. relations:

There is a sense of disappointment foreshadowing the visit, as it appears that the U.S. is more interested in an economic agenda rather than strengthening strategic ties with India.The Indian Express reports that a personal letter from President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed America’s expectations of the visit but did not mention issues important to India. Commentators lament that China and Pakistan loom larger on the U.S. radar screen, and that the official visit has an undue business focus, when the private sector will carry on with expanding India-U.S. business ties anyway.

Nevertheless, the general public likes Obama. A spring 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than 70% of Indians have confidence in the American president, and about two-thirds express a favorable opinion of the United States.

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