India, China oppose Libyan air strikes
March 22, 2011

India and China along with Russia have condemned the air strikes by the western world on Libya. Fearing another Iraq or Afghanistan, neither of the energy guzzling nations can afford another war over oil nor the scorching price rises that have become the norm of late. On a more moral stand, they unanimously oppose the imposition of a third power in the internal conflict of a sovereign nation.

The U.S.-led international coalition has no right to interfere in Libya’s affairs, India said on Tuesday, stepping up its condemnation of the military strikes on Muammar Gaddafi’s forces to establish a no-fly zone. “What is happening in a country, within their internal affairs, no external powers should interfere in it,” Pranab Mukherjee, India’s finance minister and leader of the lower house of parliament, told lawmakers on Tuesday.

“Nobody, not a couple of countries, can take that decision to change a particular regime,” Mukherjee said. “Whether a regime will change or not will depend on the people of that particular country, not by any external forces.” India’s Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna called for the “cessation of armed conflict” on Monday, a day after his ministry issued a statement expressing “regret” over the air strikes.

China too expressed its regret and opposed the use of force in international relations in a foreign ministry statement when commenting on the Libyan crisis and the Western-led air strikes. “Following the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, a military strike against Libya is the third time in this century that a number of countries wielded force against a sovereign state,” said a signed commentary in China’s main newspaper the People’s Daily.

“It should be noted that attempts to resolve the crisis using military means affects the U.N. Charter and the norms governing international relations. “In today’s world where some people with the Cold War mentality are still keen on the use of force, people have reason to express concerns about the effects of the military action,” added the commentary entitled “Do not abandon hope for peaceful resolution to Libyan crisis.”

India more than China cannot afford oil prices to rise further. Consider four metrics: a country’s oil intensity (how much oil it takes to produce a unit of output), its energy trade balance, its current level of price inflation, and the government’s fiscal position. The first two give an indication of a country’s exposure to higher prices; the latter two suggest how much scope it has to absorb and defray them through fuel, electricity and food subsidies. By that reckoning, China scores bad, but India scores worse.

Uniting in their fight against western armed forces in Libya, both China and India are looking for more amicable solutions to peace in the Middle East. Interference into domestic affairs is a major reason India and China feel threatened by western powers who tend to impose themselves on smaller weaker regimes and exploit them for oil. However the two nations also fear a third consequence – that if Gaddafi wins, that would leave a powerful and bitter enemy of the West in North Africa, which would unleash a wave of refugees into the entire Mediterranean region (including Europe), and would increase support for al-Qaeda among the rebels.

In whichever direction Obama plans to move, he is sitting on a very sensitive zone, he knows he can’t repeat the mistakes of his predecessor from whom he wanted ‘change’, it might not be too late to pull out and let Libya handle the crisis on her own.

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