August 20, 2007

HARRISONBURG—In his biweekly “Conservative Columnist” feature for National Interest online, the web edition of the foreign policy journal The National Interest, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, argues that while China’s growing involvement in Africa are the cause of anxiety, India’s expanding relations with African countries should not.

According to the article, “India’s advances in Africa are driven by many of the same motivations as China’s, including quests for resources, business opportunities, diplomatic openings and strategic alliances What is different, however, is that, given the dynamics of the emerging U.S.-Indian strategic partnership, New Delhi’s increased African engagement, unlike Beijing’s, ought to be welcomed in Washington.” Two reasons are cited for this:

First, India’s modus operandi on the continent not only benefits Indians, it also benefits Africans…the lessons which India learned while freeing itself from the oppressive “Hindu rate of growth”…while building the world’s largest democracy…are precisely those African states need to study for their own development…Second, the burgeoning Indian-African relationship is good for the United States overall, especially given the strategic ties which the two countries have forged in recent years, a bilateral relationship that may go down as one of the longest lasting foreign-policy accomplishments of the Bush presidency.

However, Dr. Pham cautions:

Of course, the United States can hardly expect a proud and democratic nation like India to always follow its cue. After all, as Hans Morgenthau taught in Politics Among Nations, “Diplomacy must look at the political scene from the point of view of other nations”, noting that “minds not beclouded by the crusading zeal of a political religion and capable of viewing the national interests of both sides with objectivity, the delimitation of these vital interests should not prove too difficult.”

 In short, the U.S.-Indian relationship should not be judged on its short-term results, but over the long-term as national interests gradually converge, including in remote theatres like Africa.

 The full text of Dr. Pham’s essay, “Welcoming an Asian Elephant in Africa,” can be accessed by clicking here.