Spineless vote

Spineless vote

India has acted in an utterly unprincipled, opportunistic and pusillanimous manner by voting in favour of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that was sponsored by the US, France, Portugal and Germany. This resolution invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the UNSC to authorise actions ranging from diplomatic and economic sanctions to military intervention. It paves the way for a western military intervention in Syria on the lines of that in Libya. Fortunately, Russia and China vetoed the resolution and have thus halted, at least for now, a UN-sanctioned western invasion of Syria. Of course, it is likely that the west will go ahead with invading Syria. It will set off a bloodbath as it did in Libya earlier this year or in Iraq a decade ago. India will then stand among countries that did not oppose such an invasion. It does seem that Delhi’s desperate bid to curry favour with the Americans and the Israeli-Saudi-Qatari axis, was the reason why it abandoned principles to vote for the resolution.

Even Pakistan, which is in the grip of western aid and alliances showed more spine than India did. It abstained. If India feared upsetting the Americans, it could have abstained. Increasingly Indian diplomats feel the need to crawl when the Americans expect them to bend – a sad and shocking departure from the early decades in India’s post-Independence history, when the country stood tall and upright, as a leader of the non-aligned world. It is not our argument that India should reflexively oppose the west or duck from taking a position on tricky global issues. Rather, India should have put forward its own resolution that stands apart from Russia and China’s blanket endorsement of the Assad regime and its atrocities, and the west’s determination to overthrow it.

India has big power ambitions. Many Indians believe that it should behave like a big power i.e. show moral and physical courage that  the ‘big boys’ do. Not that it should become another bullly in the UNSC. Instead it should strive to be a different kind of big power, one that wields its influence responsibly, in a way that benefits ordinary people. The Syrian crisis provides India with an opportunity to be that kind of different big power. But first it needs to show spine in the UNSC.

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