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Foreign Policy a la Modi
India Gets Israeli Missiles, Fires and Forgets U.S. Bid

In the latest sign of the deepening of Indian-Israeli ties, which has been going on (at least) since Narendra Modi took office, New Delhi and Jerusalem announced a major military deal over the weekend. India’s defense ministry says that it has selected Israel’s Spike anti-tank missile system out of a range of competing bidders for the deal that included, most notably, the U.S. Javelin system. The Guardian reports:

India will buy at least 8,000 Spike missiles and more than 300 launchers in a deal worth 32bn rupees ($525m), the source said after a meeting of India’s Defence Acquisition Council.

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s five-month-old government wants to clear a backlog of defence orders and boost India’s firepower, amid recent border tensions with China and heavy exchanges of fire with Pakistan across the Kashmiri frontier.

“National security is the paramount concern of the government,” the source quoted Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, who also holds the finance portfolio, as telling the procurement panel. “All hurdles and bottlenecks in the procurement process should be addressed expeditiously so that the pace of acquisition is not stymied.”

Among other business cleared by the panel, India will issue a request for proposals to supply six submarines, added the source, who was not authorised to comment on the record and did not elaborate.

This deal is one of the most concrete signs that India and Israel are going to be working together much more closely, but it is by no means the first such sign. Already, Israel is India’s second biggest weapons supplier, and this deal is only tipping the scales further.

The choice to purchase Spikes and not Javelins tells us something else about India’s foreign policy: Modi wants to increase his country’s military strength, but he is not interested in being seen as—or actually becoming—a client of Washington. It’s worth remembering that Modi himself has been subject to U.S. sanctions for human rights violations as recently as his September visit to the U.S.

So it makes perfect sense that he might be primed to fear that over-dependence on the U.S. would place his country’s military fate in the capricious hands of a Washington that imposes sanctions unfairly, at least in some cases.

The last important thing to know about this deal is that it is excellent news, economically speaking, for Japan and Israel—two countries with excellent high tech capabilities, both of which see strategic ties between their interests and India’s. This isn’t likely to be the last deal between India and Israel.

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  • John Tyler

    Also, the USA has demonstrated it is a totally unreliable ally and cannot be trusted at all. The events in the middle east, US policy attacks against Israel, the US cozying up to hated enemies demonstrate this.

    • Afrayedknot

      Indeed. I’m sure that the US refusing to resupply Israel with Hellfire missiles during a shooting war did not go unnoticed…

  • Kieselguhr Kid

    Once again., I am throroughly floored by how his blog discusses Modi and it should be an embarrassment to Professor Mead. The blog seems to imply that Modi was sanctioned unfairly. Please get this straight: Modi was a _genocidaire_.

    • shanbarani

      At most Modi is like Ariel Sharon at Sabra and Shatilla, accused of looking the other way. For 10 years, his political opponents tried to indict him, and failed in the Indian Supreme court

      • Kieselguhr Kid

        That’s ridiculous for a couple of reasons. For one thing, what happened at Sabra was a national embarrassment of which most Israelis are ashamed and I — and many other Americans — would have happily supported sanctions against Sharon for that alone, so if the analogy were to hold then it is damning.
        But it does not hold. Modi actively encouraged a genocide in words which were only just ambiguous. He continues to campaign for and with people who advocate ethnic cleansing. Again: Mead and company should be ashamed of their servitude on this issue.

        • vrichards

          The us government still owes modi an apology. What they did was despicable. Your propaganda wont work here. Modi isthe best ing to happen to india in a long time. I am hoping he can stay the pm of india for 20 years. So getused to him and control your emotions.

        • shanbarani

          For 1400 years, Kafirs in South Asia have faced terror from muslims, Modi is one of the few who reversed it. Muslims no longer dare to riot in Gujurat, no longer burn alive Hindu children and Hindu female school teachers. Since 2002, there are no more riots in Gujurat.

          Modi should be compared against South Asian muslim leaders and he comes out looking like a saint. Gen.Yahya Khan ( ex-President of Pakistan ) was a favorite of Nixon and Kissinger and with their blessings killed off 3 million bengali Hindus in 1971. Read ‘Blood Telegam’ by Gary Bass.

          As far as genocide and ethnic cleansing, look at the mirror, at what Jews have done to Palestinians . Despite the riot in 2002, no muslim has left India. or even left Gujurat.

    • partner-eh?

      Dude you forgot Bush , Kissinger, Clinton et al in the genocide……..What about Vietnam… wasit not a state sponsored genocide..

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Obama has done terrible damage to America’s reputation as an Allie. The Leftist hypocrites that turn a blind eye to the hundreds and thousands of state sponsored Islamic terrorist murders every year, while sanctioning anything that looks like the infidels fighting back is an injustice.

    • partner-eh?

      Its not jsut Obama its continuing from 1950’s …… Indians have been badly let down time and again thus moving India closer to Russian support for arms…. Well with more money at hand now, India chooses the best available ones including Russians….US has proven its track record of u-turns and support for ” moderate militants”… ( oxymoron) thus making it unreliable policy partner…

  • Brett Champion

    Can we really make all of those statements based on one weapons deal? Maybe the Indian military just really preferred the Israeli missiles over the American ones. And maybe Modi is just willing to defer to the professional judgment of his military advisers.

    • Kautilya

      And the Professional judgement is? When importing weapons / systems, ensure reliable supply, particularly during a war? Till date, India has balked at purchasing frontline offensive weapons systems / platforms from US, which are critical to the conduct of war operations. Another test should be shaping up soon; the purchase of Chinook and Apache helicopters. As a transport chopper, Chinook ought to experience fewer problems; Apache on the other hand is expected to be a tough nut. It would be interesting to observe how it unfolds.

  • B-Sabre

    “The choice to purchase Spikes and not Javelins tells us something else about India’s foreign policy: Modi wants to increase his country’s military strength, but he is not interested in being seen as—or actually becoming—a client of Washington.”
    Without out looking at the specifications of the systems being offered and their relative price tags, how can you possibly say the choice of one over the other is a snub to the US versus trying to pick the system that provides best-value to India? How do the respective weapons match up against the Indian Army’s requirements for the system? What sort of technology transfer and industrial set-asides were proposed? What was the bottom line in rupees? The Spike system has been fairly popular with countries, including several in Europe.
    India has had an embarrassing track record with weapons procurement – delays, cost overruns, blackmail (literal and figurative) by suppliers, corruption, kick-backs, etc. I’m not sure there’s any lesson to draw from one loss in one competition.

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