While the world has focused on how China abets the Burmese generals, in recent years the policies of India, the world's largest democracy, could be described in exactly the same way, and are just as craven.
For days, thousands of average Burmese and respected Buddhist monks have paraded through the streets of Burmese cities, calling for democracy and picking up supporters as they march. The events of today are reminiscent of 1988 when the Burmese military took power, convinced that there would be no sanctions from the international community. Twenty years on, history is in danger of being repeated.
On September 27, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the National Bureau of Asian Research hosted an event launching the publication of Strategic Asia 2007-2008: Domestic Political Change and Grand Strategy. Panelists discussed the meaning of Indian domestic opposition to the US-India civilian nuclear deal, as well as the future of the military regimes in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Against the odds of staggering poverty, conflicting religious passions, linguistic pluralism, regional separatism, caste injustice and natural resource scarcity, Indians have lifted themselves largely by their own sandal straps to become a stalwart democracy and emerging global power.
The U.S.-India nuclear agreement was completed in Washington. Unfortunately, the concessions made by the United States at the end of the process may damage the Bush administration's broader efforts to rein in nuclear proliferation.
Once at the vanguard of democratization in the developing world, South and East Asia now find their democracies in peril. Only months after the Thai military made its move last summer, the armed forces in Bangladesh and Fiji also grabbed power. Meanwhile, rulers in Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Pakistan and the Philippines have taken steps to further stymie democratic reform.
Pakistan’s military is complicit in the worsening security situation in Afghanistan—including the resurgence of the Taliban, terrorism in Kashmir, and the growth of jihadi extremism and capabilities. Current Western policies reinforce Pakistan’s political weakness and contribute to regional instability by allowing Pakistan to trade democratization for its cooperation on terrorism.
On July 10, 2007, the Carnegie Endowment released a new and timely report, Rethinking Western Strategies Toward Pakistan: An Action Agenda for the United States and Europe, by Visiting Scholar Frederic Grare. Stephen Cohen from the Brookings Institution and Mark Schneider from the International Crisis Group served as discussants, while Carnegie Vice-President George Perkovich moderated the event.
As Japan reformulates its foreign policy in the quest to assume a greater leadership role in Asia, it finds it shares an unprecedented convergence in interests, values and strategies with a rising India. The India-Japan relationship can become a key driving force in the emergence of a new security architecture in Asia based on the protection of democratic values and market principles.