Things look pretty grim. The so-called ‘cold-war dividends’ seem a distant past. The United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reportedly preparing herself for a “face-to-face” showdown with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov as the countdown begins for the international conference sponsored by the United Nations, which takes place in Geneva on Saturday. Clinton is travelling to St. Petersburg en route to Geneva for this mother of showdowns in the post-cold war era.
Just as well that Clinton provided some comic relief before leaving Washington. Clinton decided with aplomb to recommend to the US Congress a “waiver” to China on the Iran sanctions on the basis of her “determination” that China “significantly reduced” its oil imports from Iran. But Clinton wouldn’t say how she arrived at this intriguing “determination”. Mum is the word.
The point is, Washington is slithering away from a showdown with Beijing. Life can be very simple at times: You just don’t bite the hand that feeds you. A trade war with China is the last thing the US wants.
The US made repeated demarches with China over Iran sanctions. Top US officials including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner travelled to Beijing to plead the case. But China ignored them and kept insisting it will only comply with the UN sanctions. The Chinese foreign ministry insisted last week that its purchases of Iranian oil are “legitimate”.
What are the facts? True, there was a reduction in China’s oil imports in the first months of the year due to a pricing dispute (which has since been resolved). The facts are that China’s oil imports from Iran have actually jumped by 39% from April to more than half a million barrels per day. Experts predict that Chinese imports are likely to further rise in June and July.
But the US prefers to look way. Isn’t there something in this bizarre episode for India to learn?
Clearly, our pundits had no reason to roll on the ground in panic and endlessly agonize over American wrath on India over the Iran issue. The Indian market too is something that the US cannot easily do without, especially for its highly lucrative arms exports. The American arms manufacturers do not even compete in open tenders.
The fact that a former US secretary of state has been camping in Delhi to plead Wal Mart’s case shows which way the wind is blowing. Where else other than India can Wal Mart hope to tap into a $430 billion market in the remaining part of the 21st century?
The “waiver” for India (which was announced in Washington on the eve of the US-India Strategic Dialogue) was actually a waiver Washington granted for itself in its best interests.
Posted in Uncategorized.
– June 29, 2012