Friday, November 20, 2009

Realpolitik vs. Moral Principle

Realpolitik vs. Moral Principle: A classical dilemma manifested often a time in the way nations react to each other and to issues confronting them. US today confronts this dilemma as it warily treads towards a new relationship with a economically and militarily resurgent China eager to establish a new World Order.

India's dealings with China may offer some lessons as I expounded in a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal in response to an earlier published Editorial:


India Stands Up to China on Tibet

Your editorial "Dalai Lama Lesson" (Oct. 30) points out the differences in approaches in dealing with the Chinese Dragon's bellicosity by India and the U.S., but fails to mention that China is the U.S.'s largest creditor. The Indian administration has no such constraints.

India has not budged on its principled stand regarding hospitality for the Dalai Lama and Tibetan refugees over the past five decades even as China has grown in military and financial clout. One wonders how the U.S. would have reacted to Chinese pressures if the Dalai Lama would have been a refugee here. Realpolitik and commercial pressures might have prevailed over moral principle.

The bitter experience of the 1962 India-China war has led to a wary "better safe than sorry" approach while dealing with China, and the shared belief among most Indian politicians about the need to call a bully's bluff every time a threat is made.

Regardless of the party in power in Washington, China knows that in the case of a face off it will be the U.S. that will blink first. Think of President George W. Bush and the spy plane fiasco or President Obama and the Dalai Lama's visit.

Deepak Seth
Rochester, N.Y.

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