History Other / Was The Cold War Chiefly A Clash Of National Interests, With Ideology Only Secondary?

Was The Cold War Chiefly A Clash Of National Interests, With Ideology Only Secondary?

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Autor:  anton  28 November 2010
Tags:  Chiefly,  National,  Interests
Words: 626   |   Pages: 3
Views: 258

"Emerging Trends in India's South Asia Policy"

The foreign policy of a state is essentially understood as the way in which it interacts with other countries of the world. These externally directed policies are aimed at protecting a country's national interests, security, ideological goals, and economic prosperity. These can be achieved through peaceful cooperation, through offensive-defensive principles of deterrence and power or threat balance, war and even ideological pre-eminence. Power- both hard and soft is used to achieve a nation's goals.

India has tremendous potential for soft power- its large diaspora, films, music, art and historical and cultural links with several countries around the world can all contribute to its soft power. India's regional policy after the 1990s is characterised by a shift from hard to soft power strategies. The malign hegemon of the 1980s is now trying to become a benign hegemon in the 1990s. One example of this is the Gujral doctrine. Gujral introduced the principle of non-reciprocity, emphasising that India not only had a bigger responsibility but should give more to the smaller neighbours than she would receive. This doctrine echoed domestic changes in India especially the economic liberalisation post 1991.

This shift towards soft power was not caused due to philanthropic reasons but due to various factors. First, India's hard power approach of the 1970s and 1980s was not very effective in achieving its goals. Despite her dominant resources India was not able to transform the military victory of 1971 over Pakistan into a durable solution of the Kashmir issue. The limitations of the hard power strategy also became visible in the 1990s when the conflict over Kashmir continued and sparked off bilateral crises. Therefore, it is not astonishing that India has strengthened soft power strategies like the demand for closer economic cooperation and proposals for confidence building measures. Second, the economic liberalisation after 1991 has added another new element into Indian foreign policy on the regional as well as on the international level. Finally, India's aspirations for major power status have given the region a new strategic value.

Within South Asia, India is the hegemonic power in terms of the size of its territory, population and resources. This hegemonic position is given by its very existence, its huge population and military and economic superiority. The region is blatantly Indo-centric, not only in the sense that India is located at the centre of the region, but also because India almost wholly makes up the region, holding three-quarters of its territory and population. Moreover, India is central to the geopolitics of the region, as all the other countries in the region border on it but not on each other.

The changes in India's South Asia policy are evident if one compares the regional scenario at the beginning of the 21st century with the situation in the 1980s. The Indira doctrine which aimed at keeping external powers out of the region was a major policy during the 1980s. But today, the U.S. and other Western powers are supporting the governments of Nepal and Sri Lanka without much opposition from India. This illustrates the failure of the Indira doctrine and the shift of India's new regional policy which now puts a stronger emphasis on soft power. The common interests of India and the Western countries to find durable solutions for civil war scenarios like in Nepal and Sri Lanka have paved the way for a more coordinated international action. Such a multilateral approach to deal with domestic conflicts in neighbouring countries is certainly a new element in India's South Asia policy. While it can be argued that soft power cannot be used in all situations, if used effectively, in conjugation with hard power, it can yield better results than if only hard power is used.

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