An article in last month’s Foreign Affairs, the venerable old US periodical argues that India does not have one of the attributes of a great power, a Machiavellian foreign policy. We’ve posted this article before. We are re-posting because Foreign Affairs has decided to make the full text available to non-subscribers until the 20th of July 2013

There have been a few articles with similar themes over the past few weeks. Were some prompted by India’s disagreement with the policy of the UK and the US to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan? India, of course, is the most enthusiastic backer of both President Karzai and of rejectionism. In both policies, there is some overlap of interest between Delhi and Tehran.

We think that the article is a bit unfair.  The author says, “countries that aspire to great-power status usually look beyond tactical challenges, imagine a world that best suits their interests, and work to make that vision a reality.” Which would, presumably, be how  the Anglo-US alliance ended up funding the Afghan Mujahideen, inadvertently paving the road to Kabul for the Taliban and then — after 9/11 — removing one of Iran’s two biggest neighbourhood threats, a government in Kabul that was in control of all of Afghanistan.  (The Anglos thoughtfully removed the other one too when they invaded Iraq). Maybe India’s officials think it’s better to focus on today’s problems and to accept that the perverse consequences of long-term positioning make it just too risky a pursuit?