India and friendly diplomacy
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with India's Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna on Tuesday.
May 8th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

India and friendly diplomacy

In an interview Tuesday with CNN, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauded India's efforts to reduce its imports of Iranian oil but urged it to cut them further to keep pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program.

"India has reduced its dependence on Iranian oil. I know their refineries have stopped asking for orders to purchase Iranian oil. So they certainly have taken steps," Clinton said. "India shares exactly our goal; their goal is our goal, and that is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons nation."

What role does India play in global diplomacy, specifically with Iran? Here's a re-post from a March look at India's "friendly diplomacy" to offer some perspective:

India is America's friend, Israel's friend and Iran's friend. Amid all the talk of an Israeli strike on Iran, how is India managing to stay friends with everyone? What in the world is going on?

India is being criticized here in America for continuing to trade with Iran despite coordinated sanctions on Tehran. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a staff editorial calling New Delhi "the mullahs' last best friend." It also criticized India for casting its lot with Moscow and Beijing "for a handful of rupees."

Let's get some perspective.

New Delhi's defense is this: Iran is the world's 4th largest oil producer. It's biggest customer is India, which happens to be among the world's largest oil consumers and importers. The type of crude best suited to India's needs happens to be Iranian oil.

So there's an economic argument here – India needs Iran's oil as much as Iran needs to sell it. There have been reports the two countries reached a trade agreement to circumvent sanctions. Iran can't trade in dollars, so it is selling oil to India for rupees and bartered goods instead.

But there are also geopolitical concerns. India lives in a rough neighborhood, with an intense rivalry with Pakistan. Pakistan has for decades believed that it needed to limit India's influence in the region, particularly in Afghanistan. Islamabad has supported the Taliban against the Indian-backed Northern Alliance. And who helped India by siding with the Northern Alliance as well? Iran. The Iranians have always been hostile to the Pakistan-Taliban axis.

Outside of what it views as core interests, India is nowadays inactive on foreign policy. It has rarely been a force for good in the region or around the world. When the Maldives recently had a coup, New Delhi remained passive. During years of unrest in Myanmar, India rarely took a firm stance against the country's brutal military junta. And so on with other crises in the region in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and more. Compared to the clout it wants to have, New Delhi has paid only mild attention to its foreign policy. The Economist recently pointed out that India, with its population of 1.2 billion, has fewer diplomats than New Zealand, with a population of just 4 million!

Americans tend to believe that all good things go together. They befriend India, another democracy, so they will have identical views of foreign policy – the same friends and enemies. But India has different economic and geographic interests. Indians, for their part, think they can be free-riders on the international system, exploit the stability and security of the current set up and narrowly pursue their own interests. But for the world's largest democracy, that's an unworthy mission. India does have a tryst with destiny – and it isn't to buy cheap oil from whomever and damn the consequences.

Topics: Foreign Policy • India • Iran

soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. buddha

    this is quite entertaining – I'm sure Fareed Zakaria is getting a kick out of all this!

    May 10, 2012 at 11:46 am | Reply
    • krm1007

      What is so entertaining?...this is serious matter. The moral of the story is those (Indians) who beg americans for assistance need to payback also. So do as you told and quit double dealing in Iran. There is no such thing as free daal for lunch!

      May 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  2. buddha

    Alas, Pakistan is the price India has had to pay for freedom from the brits; Created with the intent of slowing down it's progress! All this bickering is a waste of energy- I say confrontation is best – let's see whose nukes work better- Made in China or India. We all know the answer that one 😉

    May 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Reply
    • krm1007

      Correction...If it wasn't for a Pakistani leader called Jinnah, India would still be enslaved to British and hiding in trenches as now with respect to Talibans. Second, nukes to India were gifted by South Koreans (Americans looking the other way) ... surplus property, I suppose, with questionble potency. Confrontation is inevitable and the only solution as Indians understand only one thing...force. Chinese know that well.

      May 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Reply
      • buddha

        ur forgetting Jinnah's daughter was getting banged by a rich Indian industrialist – and then he married her off to an Indian for much for decency!

        May 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  3. Chicken Tikka Masala

    Fareed should put such postings out there more frequently. The comments are indicative that India just can't get no respect. RIP Rodney Dangerfield.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
    • Buniyaa

      Well said. After centuries of existence this poverty stricken country called India is still struggling. They can't figure it out. They have tried to be grilfriend to the Mongols, Persians, Afghans, Moghals, Soviets and now Americans but still cannot survive on their own. Time to implode this bloated elephant called India into smaller states that will generate much more economic demand that the western countries need for their survival. Only way to get over the economic malaise we are currently in. Break up India just like we did Soviet Union. Sum of parts is greater than the whole is the wisdom of the day. Let's do it.

      May 11, 2012 at 9:02 am | Reply
  4. Szechuan Beef

    Wonder if the Indians fed Hillary some beef curry stew or beef shanks. I must say though that the best beef is in Argentina. Cows too skinny in India it seems. No meat on the bones.

    May 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  5. buddha

    why is calling someone a Paki in London an insult?...I've always wondered

    May 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Reply
    • Buniyaa

      Have you also wondered why hindus and indians are looked down upon in the world?

      May 11, 2012 at 9:06 am | Reply
      • buddha

        Really? Then why does is take a Pakistani 5 times longer to get a visa to most parts of the world than an Indian? Get your facts right first...

        May 11, 2012 at 11:09 am |
      • Pedro Martinez

        Pakistanis are most welcome In South America. Indians no visa as they smuggle illegally into USA from Mexico. Indians No Mas. quítate de aquí!

        May 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  6. buddha

    this is fun...playing with these Pakis is great fun... It doesn't take much to anger a paki!

    May 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Reply
    • Buniyaa

      Pathetic . Low level of indian intellect on this forum. Americans said "Jump". Indians responded: sarkar how high? Not complicated.

      May 11, 2012 at 9:05 am | Reply
  7. Simple Sam

    Reply to krm1007 – I would suggest you first get your primary history right about your own country and then of others. Jinnah was one among the ones rallying to abolish slavery in the Indian sub-continent. IT was a team effort headed by Gandhi. And while you talking about Indians backstabbing isn't that what your country is best at. It has no good relations with any of its neighbors and its once biggest ally the US has also turned its face away.Every country has its flaws and pros so stop being childish and grow up. This discussion is not about your country and India but about pressuring India into letting go of its allies for someone else's enmity. Many countries have benefited. from the US and in return US has been benefited. Similarly your country population with millions in aid, study visas and work visas for your higher population and else. I am pretty sure you must some sitting wearing an Adidas shoes, driving a ford or wearing Tommy Hilfiger and using the windows to write these posts. So stop whining about what Indians have taken or not and first GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

    May 11, 2012 at 5:46 am | Reply
    • Buniyaa

      Thank you for raising this issue. Here are some facts and some statistics for you to digest regarding India.
      "In India, millions of girls are strangled, slowly starved or simply tossed in the trash. Moreover, in India, at least 1,370 girls are aborted every day. As a comparison, some 250 Indians die every day in road accidents. Terrorists killed about six people, on an average, every day in 2009. In the last two decades of economic progress, 10 million girls have died as such in India.
      Indians have killed more human beings (girls particularly) than Al Qaeda and Talibans put together."

      May 11, 2012 at 8:53 am | Reply
  8. ss

    whole of pakistan should be nuked or be invaded by U.S & INDIA.problem of terrorism solved.

    May 11, 2012 at 7:47 am | Reply
    • Buniyaa

      Don't insult USA by naming it next to India. USA considers India as janitor they are using to clean up the trash they left behind in that region and as RR area for their soldiers similar to Bangkok during Vietnam war. Let's call spade a spade.

      May 11, 2012 at 9:11 am | Reply
    • buddha

      AMEN to that!

      May 11, 2012 at 11:06 am | Reply
      • Harry Buck

        To what? Are you proud they are messing around with your womenfolk? Only in hindu culture. Ay Caramba!

        May 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  9. Buniyaa

    INDIA: On a Goat and a Stick:

    The problem with India is that is built on a system of cultural and societal values based on Hinduism which is a cult. Nations built on a cult seldom survive in the long run. You can only take it so far based on symbolisms of a goat and a stick with a skinny little man aka gandhi banging boys at night and spinning wheels during daytime

    May 11, 2012 at 8:49 am | Reply
    • buddha's survived for 10,000 years, and outlasted many great civilizations including ancient egypt, rome, and greece. Pakistan can barely make it past 50 its a failed state and terror central. You're forgetting that pakistanis are chips off the same block – India. Because of India's great diversity and inclusiveness, it will survive forever as it has.

      May 11, 2012 at 11:17 am | Reply
      • Harry Buck

        What's this obsession with Pakistan? Didn't they kick the Indians out many years ago? Great decision.

        May 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • buddha

      ur forgetting Jinnah's daughter was getting banged by a rich Indian industrialist – and then he married her off to an Indian for much for self respect and paki pride..LOL I guess with that Jinnah set the tone for modern day pakistan.

      May 11, 2012 at 11:20 am | Reply
      • Harry Buck

        Indian parting with money???? Shakespeare invented Shylock based on Indian character!!! Rather sell their mother/sisters than part with money. LOL.... Who are you kidding!

        May 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Buniyaa

      Apparently gandhi had a lot of boys in his harem.

      May 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  10. Harry Buck

    Apparently Hillary is fumigating herself from her India travels. She has called in Terminix to rid her of the stench.

    May 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  11. Pedro Martinez

    Indian government should immediately stop sucking oil from Iran and obey americans. After all what are friends for if you can't trust them? No like friends like Indians.

    May 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  12. Andiamo

    Si Senor Pedro. Indians no good. Not welcome in america. Not good friends...very selfish.

    May 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Reply
  13. David Esperenza

    Why in the world are Indians picking a fight with Americans knowing fully well they will lose.

    May 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • buddha (not the impersonator)

      I believe they are picking a fight with Pakistan..knowing full well they will win.

      May 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
      • Buddha (not the impersonator)

        Right now the Americans have very clearly said to Indian Govt either do as we say in Iran or we will put you back to medieval/stone ages. Mama Mia !

        May 12, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  14. Buddha

    Indian leaders are spineless. Can't take a stand against western nations. Shastri died during a summit with Pakistan Presdent as he was so scared of him. Nehru and Gandhi were cowards and hid behind Pakistani leader Jinnah when Jinnah fought the British for Independence. Manmohan Singh is His Master's Voice i.e. Obama/Hillary combo. So we will have to listen to Americans and do what they want us to do.

    May 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  15. buddha (not the impersonator)

    isnt that what the mullahs in pakistan are saying...Paki leaders letting America walk all over them? When's the next coup due..coming up soon I think. This time it should be the Indian

    May 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  16. Buddha (not the impersonator)

    CNN reported an attemted coup de etat attempt in India a few weeks ago. The India Army was on way to New Delhi to topple the government. Wonder what happened. Was the army paid off to save off...knowing how corrupt the indian society is...anything for money.

    May 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Reply
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