Modi Rising
The World’s Biggest Election Culminates in Divided Town
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  • Andrew Allison

    “While most of the Western world is focused on Ukraine and the upcoming European election, something of far greater importance for geopolitics and for Asia’s future is happening in India.” Surely you jest? The geopolitical importance of regime change in India pales in comparison with what’s going on in Ukraine.

    • Corlyss

      On this call I have to agree with the author of the article. India is of far greater importance to the future of the international system, the evolution of South China Seas issues, democracy in the third world, trade, energy policy, and that’s just what I can think of of the top of my head. Ukraine is a largely regional issue playing out IAW patterns established long ago in Europe. In fact sad as it is for all the yearning hopeful democrats in the region who thought they had been rescued from both history and geography, their vacation is over. Their real world is back.

      • Andrew Allison

        Of course India is important, but what I questioned is the geopolitical importance of a change of government in the world’s largest democracy.

        • Thirdsyphon

          Well, the challenging party’s philosophy is nationalistic. Their victory could result in a military buildup similar to the one that’s been underway since Abe’s win in Japan, and a shift in diplomatic tone to a more belligerent posture. The geopolitical ramifications of that could be far-reaching and hard to predict.

        • Corlyss

          I still disagree. The Congress Party has had a lock on the system for 75 years. As 3rd notes, we’re sailing into unknown waters with the tenor of the new administration and the direction it plans to take India. Depending on the controlling sentiments and the governing ability of a party that’s never had a chance to run the whole show before, and is already under some cloud over its attitude toward the troublesome Muslim population, we could be in for a pretty rocky road at the same time China is getting feisty and menacing our other regional allies as well as the principle of freedom of the seas.

          • Andrew Allison

            I respectfully suggest that, given the ineptitude and corruption of the Gandhi dynasty, Modi will have his hands pretty full with domestic issues. I still [/grin] maintain that a democratic change of government in India has little geopolitical significance. How the new government chooses to behave toward its Muslim population (or even that of Pakistan) is local, not geopolitical. The fact that Modi is “no friend of the US” is irrelevant — the Gandhi’s have, overall, been no friends of the US either. A nationalistic government in India might be just what’s needed to offset China’s belligerence. That, in fact, is the sole potential geopolitical implication. Meanwhile, the West’s failure to respond to a newly aggressive Russia is seriously threatening. Think Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, and the consequences of the Great Powers failure to recognize that only force would stop Hitler.

          • Corlyss

            “How the new government chooses to behave toward its Muslim population (or even that of Pakistan) is local, not geopolitical.”

            I don’t know how you can say that when the cauldron of ethnic hatred and 200 years of Great Power politics (known as “The Great Game”) that is Kashmir is basically at the heart and driver of the wars in and around the South Asia region. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmir_conflict But for Kashmir, the Pakis would have no need to meddle constantly in Afghanistan, no need for nuke-based war-plans with India; India would have no need for nukes to repel Pakistan’s existential threat; China would not have to worry about anybody but Russia and North Korea (for different reasons), and the US would not have to worry about the politics in the Indian Ocean.

          • Andrew Allison

            No argument that two centuries of Great Gamesmanship have created a mess in darkest North-West Asia. But it has, in my never humble opinion, nothing to do ethnic hatreds, unless you count the refusal of the Muslims there to be ruled by outsiders as ethnic hatred. India set the tide of its Muslim problem with partition, and will reap the whirlwinds from East and West (Pakistan and Bangladesh).
            The nightmare in the mid-East is a completely different kettle of fish resulting from the misbegotten carve up of the Ottoman Empire following the Great War by the winners. One might argue that Yalta had the same effect on greater Europe.

          • Corlyss

            The ethnic hatreds give each Great Power a participant to exploit to achieve their own objectives. The proxy war thing.

      • qet

        That’s like saying France is of far greater importance to the international system than Serbia in 1913, or the United States is of far greater importance to the international system than Poland in 1938. Those little places were largely regional issues, too. And India has its Punjab just as Europe has its Ukraine and China its Senkaku Islands. I don’t disagree about the importance of India generally, but the world has been shaped more by matters of less importance than by matters of more.

        • Corlyss

          Qet,
          I don’t get your analogy at all. Can you amplify?

          • qet

            Just that a crisis in or involving a seemingly “minor” nation often is of “far greater importance to the international system” than is the electoral politics of a larger nation. Of course, I recognize that everything is inter-connected: that the invasion of Poland by Germany commenced WW2 had everything to do with German electoral politics in the early 1930s. But I agree with what I take to be Andrew Allison’s gist that at the moment we cannot confidently say that the current Ukraine matter won’t end up being far more important to the international system that the present election in the world’s most populous democratic state.

          • Corlyss

            Okay. Now I understand. If you’re saying the only thing that made Serbia and Poland significant was their misfortune to lie in the Bloodlands between grinding Great Powers and who backed the little guys respectively, I’d agree.
            I’ll go out on a limb and take the bet that India’s election will turn out to be more important. Since we hadn’t agreed on what constitutes the measure of “importance,” neither of us will lose.

          • qet

            I was concentrating on your remark “of greater importance to the international system,” which latter phrase I take to mean international relations, the international order at a particular time, geopolitics, that sort of thing. I am skeptical of your claim that India’s domestic electoral politics is or will be “of greater importance” than the goings on in and about the Ukraine insofar as that international system/order is concerned. If the situation in the Ukraine were to escalate, then the resulting changes to the present international order could be far more significant than which party wins in India today. True, we haven’t defined “importance.”

  • Thirdsyphon

    I think you mean that it’s hard to overstate the importance of India’s election.

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