Collision course: Energy policy in India, US grand strategy

July 2, 2012

India’s economic growth (in some sectors) and its energy infrastructure on on different trajectories – the former are accelerating while the latter is stagnant.  The energy demands for some sectors of the Indian economy are rapidly outstripping the capability of the nation to even marginally supply it.  As Walter Russell Mead notes, “America’s grand strategy in Asia depends, among other things, on continued high growth in India. Right now, India’s energy problems may be even more a threat to long term US hopes for peace in Asia than the whole Chinese fleet.”

India’s need for energy presents an entirely different problem than China’s need.   As you read Mead’s account, you realize that India lacks both the political ability and the built infrastructure to enter the market.  On the other hand, China is a forceful participant in the global market for energy, putting pressure on traditional sources of supply.

At its core, US grand strategy is built around the continuance of the global economic system as described by Long Cycle Theory; Chinese (and other rising power) pressures within that system are broadly accounted for, but failure and collapse in India would undermine the very foundation of that model.   That could signify not simply and end to the current cycle in the global system, but an end to the 500 year system itself and a shocking transition to an entirely new world system.  George Modelski, one of the seminal figures in Long Cycle Theory describes it as “evolutionary politics;” a collapse like this would cease being evolutionary and usher in a truly revolutionary period.


One comment

  1. […] a problem after it has already occurred, but Walter Russel Mead was prescient when he wrote (and we commented upon) a month ago:  “America’s grand strategy in Asia depends, among other things, on continued […]

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