Libyan intervention and implications for U.S. relations with China, Russia and India

In previous posts, this blog reviewed the foreign policy debates in China, Russia and India, and examined how these three countries have reacted to the military intervention in Libya.

Continuing this discussion, the latest edition of the Sigur Center Policy Brief  looks at the implications for US foreign policy in managing its relations with these major powers:


The realism and pragmatism in Chinese foreign policymaking means that the Chinese leadership will continue its efforts toward maintaining a stable relationship with the U.S. However, the US should not have any illusions of a G-2 partnership with China, says David Shambaugh. Furthermore, China is simultaneously playing a “global competition game” on strategic, diplomatic and commercial fronts. This is evident in the Middle East, where China’s economic presence is growing. Thus, as the US responds to and manages the potentially sweeping changes in the region, it will be important to consider how China’s management of its relations there will affect the US role in the medium to long term.


With Russia, its mixed reactions to Moscow’s stance on Libya reflect the continued sense of uncertainty about Russia’s role in global politics. This serves as a reminder that the “re-set” in US-Russia relations cannot be taken for granted, despite important milestones such as the recent signing of the new START treaty. It is too early to say whether the intellectual orientation of Russia’s foreign policymaking might evolve, but its domestic vulnerability, coupled with possible changes in its external geopolitical environment, means that Russia will continue to behave as a “price taker, not a price maker” in international politics, according to Andrew Kuchins.


India perhaps offers the best chance of substantive cooperation in the region, despite its current reluctance or even aversion to such an idea. The growing influence of pragmatists in the country’s intellectual landscape means that there will be increasing support for strengthening relations with the United States, despite the inclination of traditional nationalists to avoid alliance politics. India’s economic interests in the Gulf states make a practical case for a more active Indian foreign policy in the region, which could complement its strategic preference for hedging against China’s influence. US policymakers should consider whether this opens avenues for substantive cooperation with India in the critical Middle East region.

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