While taking a wrong approach on the nuclear deal once again a section of Indian strategic community is vigorously pursuing the agenda of India – NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) dialogue. This is only a precursor for a future alliance with NATO.
Thanks to Wikileaks it is now in the public domain as how the Indian foreign policy is been pursued keeping the interest of western powers above the national interest. Almost majority of international and strategic analysts in India subscribe to the realist paradigm and argue that national interest has to be the guiding force for all the decisions pertaining to international relations. For them the best example is the US, which always tends to maximise its interest. For Indian realists, the US is an ideal country and we have to conduct our foreign policy on the similar style. It is an irony, that while advocating such a line the Indian national interests are not given due importance and some time we get into the trap of making the mistake by associating the national interest of the US with that of India. During the debate on nuclear deal Indian strategic community ignored valid opposition of the left and had avoided taking any position on the Hyde Act. As per the Hyde Act, Indian foreign policy has to be congruent with that of the US in order to permanently avail the nuclear material for its power plants. The deal was championed as historic turn in the Indo-US ties. While taking a wrong approach on the nuclear deal once again a section of Indian strategic community is vigorously pursuing the agenda of India – NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) dialogue. This is only a precursor for a future alliance with NATO.
NATO was a cold war creation but even after the fall of the Berlin wall it was not dismantled. Infact, in the present world order NATO is involved in conflict ridden Afghanistan and had disclosed a very ambitious future plan in the form of its New Strategic Concept (See URL: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-ABB89C02-2373595B/natolive/official_texts.htm) . Keeping aside the fact that NATO is an important organisation; India is not going to be benefitted by any sort of partnership with NATO. It is been argued that India had strategic partnership with the European Union (EU) and with the US, thus, having a strategic partnership with NATO is just an extension of partnership to a Euro- Atlantic security organisation. The issue is not that simple as it appears and there is a need to look the other side of it. The EU is not a security organisation and the US with its entire imperialist agenda, is not primarily a security oriented country. There is a democractic structure in the US and government adhere to certain other norms for the conduct of its foreign policy. The same is not true with NATO, which is essentially a security organisation limiting its role in international relations.
Several analyses are put forth by the scholars hailing the democractic structure of NATO. For the western scholar like Celeste Wallander, NATO’s existence after the cold war reflects its assets counted in the terns of its democractic organisation. This is a superficial explanation because it is the US which holds the key of NATO and controls its command. Even in Afghanistan it is the US forces, which are at the forefront and majority of European countries are there on the persuasion of Washington. Trapped in Afghanistan, NATO is facing stiff resistance from Taliban. At the same time there is sharp decline in the support for war in Afghanistan and European countries cannot ignore the public opinion for a longer period. There is a debate in the EU for having its own defence mechanism and to get out of NATO. Although with support of Britain and with few East European countries NATO will survive but no doubt, its legitimacy and credibility is under question. In the given situation any strategic cooperation with NATO will be regarded as cooperation with the US led security organisation giving away our age old position of neutrality in regard to such security organisations/ blocs.
The other important question - what is a need of NATO in the present world order? NATO derives international legitimacy by projecting that it is carrying out operations on the mandates of United Nations Security Council (UNSC). During Kosovo crisis it was UNSC resolution 1244 and in Afghanistan it is UNSC 1510, which provided mandate for NATO to act on the behalf of international community. This is an erroneous understating and it also undermines the significance of United Nations. When UN is in the position to undertake peace keeping missions there is no need for handing its responsibility to US led security organisation. This creates imbalance in the world and ultimately contradict the founding objectives of the UN, which is to maintain just and equitable international order. It would be better if the UN would intervene itself in the conflict ridden areas rather than giving mandate to others. NATO only strengthens US position in the international security ambit disregarding the Indian declared commitment for multipolarity. This is reason enough for India to maintain distance from NATO.
Indian ambition of getting prominence in the international relations cannot be fulfilled by joining the US bandwagon. For the US its interest is on the top and we know how the Hilary Clinton ridiculed Indian campaign for the permanent membership of the UNSC and termed New Delhi “as a self-appointed front-runner for the permanent UN Security Council seat”. Even in the David Headley case (one of the prime conspirators in 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks) US had rejected the entire Indian plea for extradition. The US intelligence agencies had not even shared the complete information on the Mumbai terrorist attacks and these are on records. National interests cannot be defined in the narrow prism and when NATO is projected as a relevant security organisation for partnership it is not that simple. There is a need to remain vigilant of any such move and in the true national interest partnership with NATO has to be opposed.