The growing importance of Bangladesh

Sheikh Shahriar Zaman

Sheikh Shahriar Zaman

Bangladesh and US engagement is intensifying in line with the growing Washington’s interest in the moderate Muslim country. The visit of Bangladesh foreign minister, Dipu Moni, in Washington last September and her US counterpart, Hilary Rodham Clinton, counter visit in Dhaka in May and subsequent signing of a Partnership Dialogue are manifestation of the growing relation.

The first consultation under the partnership dialogue will be held in September where foreign secretary Mohammed Mijarul Quayes will lead the Bangladesh side while US delegation will be led by Political Affairs under secretary at the State Department, Wendy Sherman, the third influential person in the US foreign ministry.

Bangladesh is a moderate Muslim country where democracy is practiced and its policies are value-driven and all these factors have immense importance to US. Bangladesh’s zero-tolerance stance against extremism has also paved a way for more security cooperation between the countries. Now US is providing training to Bangladesh’s law enforcing agencies and defence force and there is also a possibility of having more military-to-military cooperation in the future. Washington also wants to explore the growing business opportunities to expand trade and women empowerment through providing jobs in the textiles sector is another area where US has interest.

In the regional context, Bangladesh has adopted a good neighbour policy under which it pursues more engagement with regional countries. Bangladesh-India relationship has reached a new high with extensive diplomatic engagement and it also pursues regional cooperation in the area of trade, energy, water and other areas. Washington has immense interest in the South Asian regional in particular and Asia in general.

From the country perspective and regional context, Bangladesh’s importance in the US is growing. Washington wants a predictable behaviour of Dhaka. The more predictable behaviour US wants from Bangladesh, the more bargaining chips Dhaka will have. If Bangladesh can play its card right, in the predictable future, it can gain many things from this relationship.

195 Responses to “The growing importance of Bangladesh”

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    Khondkar Abdus Saleque

    US has to have good growing relation with Bangladesh post 2014 when its presence in Afghanistan will be significantly reduced .US has to remain close to China and India . While dealing with US we must be very guarded and careful. USA do not favor any country unless it serves its purpose. Bangladesh has allowed US Energy giant Chevron to take control of our Gas System upstream Segment . Another US Company Conocco Philips wants preferentail treatment in offshore bidding .USA did not exert its influence on WB while it cancelled Padma Bridge loan agreement hurrieldy We must understand US intention and act accordingly. With election round the corner government must step very cautiously in developing bilateral links with major countries.

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    Sonny KAHN

    Why will any country, let alone the US, come to Bangladesh and invest or open their markets for BD. A hawkish stance have taken BD no where. Bangladesh needs to internationalize itself first and not turn away friendly nations. No nation favors another nation unless both their purposes are served. Does either India or Myanmar serve BD’s purpose for BD’s interest. Not even by a long shot. Bangladesh must develop its own potentials and skills in how to best manage herself and her relations with other nations for what ever purposes, whether national security and/or economic prosperity. Not be suspicious and cautious in by doctrine. Bangladesh, without understanding its own self, on how to best utilise its own resources, manage its own institutions and govern its own people, can never understand, appreciate and embrace another nations intention and will. It must give something good and large enough to receive something equal in return. Large super & regional powers like the US & China respectively, have always gone for internationalization of trade, in another common word used these days termed “Globalization”, language, education, communication and through other exchanges and in some specific cases defense & security. Those who have realized it earlier the better they are today, smaller nations in particular, without which is tough to survive in this small world. Political and economic relationships with other nations have thus far been the most important and effective means of any successful nation. The obvious growing importance of Bangladesh as a nation over time has changed quite significantly as a result. Today the US and China wants to play Bangladesh to their own strategic interests and advantage. This is understandable due to Two Principle Factors:

    1. Geopolitical Aspirations – Maintain A Stable India
    2. Economic Dominance.

    Without a serious Internationalization process Bangladesh in the recent geopolitical strategy and reshaping of South and South East Asia cannot be successful in any way shape or form. The big powers’ like the United States and China in their long term strategic view possessed and continues the need to bring Bangladesh into their fold of aspirations both in national security and economic interests. A basic fact and necessity that is very understandable when it comes to exercise and govern a nation comes within the folds of internationalization, a fact that has been long ignored in our country due to its extreme poverty, poor literacy resulting in weak outlook and policies. Too many forces have played poker with our national interests and bluffed our people and we have lost our deterrence and respect internationally. Our civil administrations have driven our political establishments to rule majority of the times with their hearts instead of their heads. Our intellectuals and media scream and cry every time they hear something foreign without even authenticating its truthfulness. Every time any one newspaper or section of people successfully set us off in the wrong direction.

    The British practically left every spot in shambles under their conquer in counter retaliation to having been forced to leave the areas by the Roosevelt Administration in 1944. The reasons became tacitly clear starting with the Truman Administration. In South Asia multiple problems in the region that were created and left unresolved had later taken root in unresolved territorial disputes, problems of incomplete national integration since independence, inequitable socioeconomic systems, scant natural resources, burgeoning populations and dysfunctional political economies. Besides, issues along the related India-Pakistan rivalry and the Kashmir dispute, create an ever present risk of conflict. India is beset with militant separatist movements and associated terrorist violence and government repression. At the same time, India has long blamed its neighbor nations for its own racial and ethnic based conflicts, and continues to heavily invest their resources in keeping those nation demoralized, disunited, misled, and subsidiary to them for geopolitical and economic gains. The prospect that this will get worse rather than better is the foreseeable future unless Bangladesh goes for more internationalization, communication and cooperation with the outside world.

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