One of my uncles recently told me to read up the Longer Telegram and do a blog article on the subject.
As to what is the Long Telegram, it was an 8000 word telegram sent (in 1946) by a US diplomat posted in the USSR and it gave the intellectual framework that formed the US policy towards the communist state. The longer telegram is about China and it describes the strategy that the USA should adopt to deal with the Chinese challenge to its power. It is very recent.
The text of the Longer telegram is in the link below:
Now I am not a professional diplomat and I hesitated before writing this article and commenting on a subject where I have no expertise. But there is a saying in Zen Buddhism – In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s there are few. So, I am writing with the beginner’s mind with the hope that I may (ideally) point to a possibility that has escaped the expert’s notice. That is not very likely but the possibility is the reason I have written this article.
My first comment is that the USA is waking up to the challenge to its superpower status that it faces from China. And it is going to be a battle royale between two nuclear armed states that are also economic powerhouses. At the same time the world economy is an interconnected and interdependent whole. Any action taken by anybody anywhere in the world can affect the world economy in unpredictable ways. So the USA – China economic war is going to affect India and its residents as well.
Secondly if the USA and China are going to come to blows then it may make sense for India to stay neutral and watch which way the battle unfolds. At the very least, if we are forced to side with one or the other party before the battle ends, then we need to assess who will turn out to be the winner and take their side.
Now China is an economic powerhouse and has a trade surplus of many hundreds of billions of dollars with the USA. It has built up an impressive war chest and it is using it to expand its influence over countries that are not economically very strong like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and so on. This is not dissimilar to what the USA has done successfully over the past 70 years. The USA (like all other countries) tries to maximize its influence over other countries. India needs to develop its economic, diplomatic and cultural strengths so that it can do the same. In international diplomacy the rule seems to be – Do unto others before they do it unto you.
But the threat that India is facing from China is that we are being encircled by countries that are subject to Chinese dominance. It may be better or worse than US dominance but that remains to be seen.
The best case scenario regarding this question is that – ideally – we should be able to do to China (or USA) before they do it unto us. We need to develop our cultural, economic, diplomatic and military might so that we can be dominant over countries that threaten us or challenge our interests.
For that we need to develop what the author of the Longer Telegram called STEM. STEM means Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The author wants investment in these fields of knowledge to be done on a war footing so that the USA can maintain its superpower status despite the Chinese challenge.
It should be obvious to anybody that this is something that India also needs to do and is probably doing right now. The USA is the highest debtor country in the entire history of civilization with a total debt of trillions of dollars. But at the same time it dominates the world economy being 15.93% of the World GDP. And the customer is always right. That give us a clue as to why American culture and Hollywood are so dominant.
But how can the USA pay for its consumption needs and why is it credit worthy despite being heavily in debt. The answer is its strengths in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The large tech companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Tesla and Twitter are all US based. And the total value of the stocks of these companies is well in excess of a trillion dollars. These companies have only come up in the last 20 to 30 years and they have created wealth for the USA and the world. It is this happy merger between American entrepreneurship and STEM knowledge that gives the USA its dominant position in the world despite its spendthrift ways.
India needs to follow the example of the USA in this respect if we are to become strong in world affairs.
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