LEMOA lemons for India
This is reference to the report “India, US ink military logistics agreement” (FE, August 31). Let it be noted that the Indo-US Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) largely obviated the need for the US seeking India’s prior permission for the use of its military bases, despite the caveat that it is ‘not automatic or obligatory for either party’. What use is making such an overvalued pact if each case involving military operation requires individual clearance? The public remain sceptical of the claim that the hitherto unpublished text of the logistical pact is limited to humanitarian issues. No matter what New Delhi says to justify the pact, the pact represents a surrender of sorts, of a rising India’s strategic autonomy and an acceptance of a subordinate role to the US. The contention that the pact is premised on the notion of reciprocity and provides for mutual sharing of defence facilities does not hold water for the simple reason that India does not seek “full-spectrum global dominance” as America does and its military might is nowhere near the superpower’s. An equal footing in defence partnership or military alliance is just not possible between two unequal powers. The LEMOA marks an open alignment with America and it reduces our diplomatic leverage and leaves us little room to manoeuvre in the international arena. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rushed in where his eminent predecessors Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh feared to tread. Our greatest dread is that once we get entangled in America’s machinations, it won’t be easy for us to disentangle from its firm grip and pursue our own independent foreign policy vis-a-vis other emerging economic and military powers and potential allies. Whether the perceived and real threats from China, Pakistan and radical jihadists warrants embracing the LEMOA is a matter of opinion. As a long-term strategy, LEMOA puts us in the shadow of the US and its disadvantages appear to outweigh its advantages.
G David Milton