India's Model for the Middle East

Many Middle East governments want good ties to the United States—without the disrespect.

This commentary was originally published in Defense One on June 18, 2023.

Middle Eastern governments’ interest in the so-called China model is real, but it is superficial. They admire China’s three-decade record combining an authoritarian system with the use of state capital to achieve profound economic change while tightly managing social and political change. China’s experience challenges Western insistence that only liberal systems can produce economic growth and stability. Still, while Middle Eastern states like the idea of following the Chinese path, they are often indifferent to the details.

What governments are paying much closer attention to is the “India model.” That model shows that a country can successfully combine diplomatic nonalignment with intimate ties to all of the world’s biggest economies. India has arguably been pursuing a version of the policy since winning independence more than 75 years ago but has refined it in recent years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington next week is another sign that the India model is working, and Middle Eastern rulers will be watching closely to see exactly how it is done. 

Read the full article on Defense One

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Jon B. Alterman
Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program