Last week was an interesting time, which saw President Obama make a whirl wind expedition to India and Saudi Arabia. The hand of President Obama was forced with the death of King Abdullah resulting in him cutting his visit to India short to sort out business in Saudi Arabia. Both countries are important pieces in the US strategic jigsaw. Let us start with India.

Ever since the end of the Cold War, the US has decided to give India a job to do in Asia, that involves her containing China or limiting her influence in Asia. This has not been a simple task as it involves changing the psychology of the Indian strategic leadership into believing that India can play this arduous role in pushing back China. The road has been rocky with ups and downs since the 1990s, with the Congress party not being as receptive as the BJP and it seems that in Modi the US have found their man, evident by the high level courting of Modi in his first 100 days in office, with visits by the US Secretary of Commerce, US Secretary of Defence and other senior diplomats, along with John Kerry and now President Obama that have all been pressing the right buttons in Delhi, speaking of deepening bilateral relations between the two countries and promising the inflow of US dollars if India agrees to play the strategic role that has been set for her. If one was to read President Obama’s speech, one will immediately realize the huge incentives that are being presented to India to win hearts and minds and most importantly to make a final thrust in her great game to get India fully on board.

The US had pledged to invest $4 billion and this excludes the investment that will come from private hands and prior to President Obama’s arrival an US-India investment initiative was launched that would open up India to US capital inflows into ever important sectors such as IT, roads, ports, health, education and her nuclear programme. It seems that the US have put in place the right infrastructure to push ahead in her objective but the Pakistan track seems to be holding things back in particular the Kashmir issue, which puts an heavy economic burden on India with 210 battalions stationed in the territory requiring continuous supplies. It seems that the US is eager to get this problem solved to remove this strategic headache for the Indians and Modi seems to have adopted a Reagan like aggressive policy in establishing a position of strength that would give India leverage in any peace negotiations with Pakistan. This can been seen through the aggressive Indian shelling in Kashmir and the more assertive language Modi has used towards Pakistan over the last few months. The US hand is firmly behind India at this moment in time with Pakistan being a casualty in the US strategic vision for the region, with her receiving the raw end of the deal, with her resources being burnt in ongoing military operations in the tribal areas, while India moves forward with the iron hand of the US.

Moving on now to Saudi Arabia, an artificial British construct arising from the rubbles of the Ottoman Caliphate and becoming an epicenter of Anglo-American struggle for influence in the hydrocarbon rich petrol station. Yes, I refer to Saudi Arabia as a petrol station as that is the role it seems to have played and is playing with the recent global drop in oil prices stemming from Saudi policy of flooding the markets with oil. Britain lowered her national flags to half mast following the death of King Abdullah indicating the hidden relations between the two regardless of the apparent bending over backward policy of the King to keep the US happy. With King Salman bin Abdul Aziz taking over the prized position; President Obama was quick off the mark to land in Riyadh and to court him, given his strong relations with the US through his previous control of the Ministry of Defence that has collaborated very closely with the US over the decades. This is ever important for the US to have a trusted man in the kingdom as Saudi faces numerous challenges from outside and within in particular from the 10, 000 royal family itself that is known for its internal feuds and split loyalties to the British and the US. The 18th and 19th century colonial tussles for influence have not ended but taken different forms but they continue to pervade in global politics, in particular in the Gulf which has been a natural nesting ground for the British given her leveraging of many of the presenting monarchies in taking power since her withdrawal from the Gulf in the 1970s.

The US has a strategic vision for different parts of the world whether that is to contain China through India or to control the Persian straits through the existence of pro US monarchs in the region and She has invested a lot of time in trying to execute this vision, as Proffer John Chavert, from the London School of Economics has mentioned that the US liberal project is not short term but long term that requires long term strategic thinking and leadership, which new generations of strategists, bureaucrats and diplomats are buying into given the rigorous psychological training given to them to prepare them for running the US global project. It is a shame when we look to the majority of the world in particular the Muslim world that it has become a component in the US global project, with no alternative strategic vision or leadership emerging from inside the Muslim world.