From: raj mehta email@example.com
Subject: Letter to the Editor: "FOOT-IN-MOUTH DISEASE?" - The PIONEER Edit by Mr R. Ghosh
To: "Brig CS Kamboj, VSM (Retd)" firstname.lastname@example.org TRUNCATED.
Cc: "Colonel Kanagaraj Report Your Signal" email@example.com
Date: Thursday, 13 August, 2009, 2:10 PM
The Pioneer has chosen to publish the u/m excerpt from my mail to the Editor, in response to what I saw as unfair criticism of Admiral Sureesh Mehta, CNS and Chairman COSC.
If you consider it appropriate, the correspondence may be published in Report Your Signal.
Edit by Mr. R Ghosh: Foot-in-Mouth is (an) Incurable Disease
By Maj Gen Raj Mehta (Retd) on 8/12/2009 7:50:17 PM
Mr R. Ghosh has shocked me by his insensitivity towards the real import of Admiral Sureesh Mehta's (no relative) statement. He has done it as a serving Chief and as Chairman COSC, and in all probability, after first sounding the Government. I take his warning most positively, that as a nation, we need to change tack with regard to our China policy, and without delay.
The letter that was sent to the Editor is reproduced below:
FOOT-IN THE-MOUTH(AN) INCURABLE DISEASE
Mr. Rudroneel Ghosh has shocked me by his insensitivity towards the real import of Admiral Sureesh Mehta's (no relative) statement. He has done it as a serving Chief and as Chairman COSC, and in all probability, after first sounding the Government. I take his warning most positively, that as a nation, we need to change tack with regard to our China policy, and without delay. Our MEA as well as MoD cannot mind getting quality advice from an officer who heads his Service as also an Inter Service body and who has every right to draw attention to our lack of focus and preparedness towards China. Had Mr Ghosh chosen to read Kautilya's Arthashastra, he would have realised the real merit in the Naval Chief's advice. Admiral Mehta, obviously a well read man, has gone beyond what Sun Tzu's the Art of War has to offer, forcing me to request Mr Ghosh to read the Arthashastra before he speaks of Foot-in-the-Mouth disease again. I certainly do not want him to suffer from it, in this season of viruses of all kinds...
Maj Gen Raj Mehta (Retd), Mohali, Punjab.
The Pioneer Edit in question is reproduced below:
Foot-in-mouth is incurable disease
Navy chief and Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s admission that India neither has the capability nor the intent to match up to China’s military prowess and that the former should ensure that its policies are in consonance with this “reality” can only be described as a huge strategic blunder. The views expressed by Admiral Mehta exemplify everything that is wrong with our handling of foreign policy issues. It clearly represents a fundamental lack of understanding among our politicians, bureaucrats and the defence establishment that when it comes to dealing with other countries we have to treat each bilateral relationship separately, keeping in mind our national interests. Our relationship with Sri Lanka cannot be based on the same parameters as that with China. Similarly, the relationship that we share with Bangladesh encompasses issues that are different from our ties with Nepal..
Not only is each relationship different because of historical reasons, but also because of strategic reasons. It is the latter that we seem to be unable to grasp. Strategy is an inseparable component of international relations. Every foreign policy initiative must be backed by strategy to maximise the national interest. It is when you disregard this that you end up cornering yourself. This is precisely what happened at Sharm el-Sheikh, and again when Admiral Mehta blurted out in his National Maritime Foundation address that India could not match China “force for force”.
India and China share a rocky relationship. We have fought a war, disputes on border issues remain, Beijing’s strategic military ties with Islamabad are well known and China’s opposition to India at various international forums is hardly a secret. Also, China’s growing military clout in the region and the fact that it sees South Asia as within its ‘sphere of influence’ are common knowledge. It is in this background that the strategy component in our bilateral relationship with China becomes extremely important. When we know that China isn’t shy of flexing its muscle, the last thing we need is for our Navy chief to admit that we are not capable of matching it. This is bound to reflect in our diplomatic dealings with Beijing.
Even if we aren’t as militarily strong we should posture otherwise. If India can’t afford a war with China, China too can’t afford a war with India.
Meanwhile, Admiral Mehta would do well to read Art of War by Sun Tzu.