Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Ashley Tellis Wants Trump to Continue US Policy of "Strategic Altruism" With Modi's India

In a piece titled "The India Dividend: New Delhi Remains Washington’s Best Hope in Asia" published in Foreign Affairs journal, authors Robert Blackwill and Ashley Tellis argue that the Trump Administration should continue the US policy of "strategic altruism" with India that began with US-India nuclear agreement. They want President Trump to ignore the fact that the US companies and economy have only marginally benefited from this policy. They see India as a "superpower in waiting" and urge Washington to focus on the goal of having India as an ally to check China's rise. They see Chinese support for India's archrival Pakistan and China’s growing weight in South Asia and beyond as threat to India.

Who is Ashley Tellis:

Ashley Tellis was born and raised in Mumbai, India. Back in 1999 as a “researcher” at RAND Corp, he contributed to a report for US Department of Defense (DoD) that forecast Pakistan would “disappear” by 2015. It proved to be wishful thinking.

Here are the Key Points of Pentagon's Asia 2025 Report on South Asia region that Ashley Tellis contributed to:

1. Pakistan is "near collapse" in 2010 while India is making "broad progress".

2.  Iranian "moderation" in 2010 while Afghanistan remains "anarchic hotbed".

3. Pakistan is "paralyzed" after an "Indo-Pak war 2012".

4. US launches conventional strike on "remaining Pakistan nukes" after the "Indo-Pak war 2012.

5. China "blinks at US-India Collusion".

6. Pakistan "disappears".

Source: Pentagon Asia 2025 Report

He is promoted as a South Asia "scholar" by various Washington Think Tanks he has worked for. Currently, he is with Carnegie Endowment For International Peace in Washington DC. His hostility toward Pakistan shows through in all his work.

Criticism of Trump's India Policy:

Blackwill and Tellis have praised Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama for ignoring long-standing US policy on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and for pushing US-India nuclear deal through.  At the same time, they have criticized Trump for "leaving even staunch pro-U.S. stalwarts such as Modi wondering whether India could ever count on the United States to come to its aid in the event of a major crisis with China".

The authors take President Trump to task for "focusing less on India’s potential as a partner than on its unbalanced trade with the United States". The Trump administration has  recently withdrawn India’s privileged trade access to the United States under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.

Trump's Afghan Policy:

The authors are unhappy with administration’s approach to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan for for failing "to consider Indian interests".  They complain that their expectation that "Trump might put less pressure on India regarding....its relations with Pakistan" have not materialized.

Blackwill and Tellis don't explain how Trump can end America's longest war while protecting Indian interests in Afghanistan.

Strategic Alturism:

Blackwill and Tellis want Trump administration to continue "generous U.S. policies" not merely a favor to New Delhi but a "conscious exercise of strategic altruism". They praise the US administrations that preceded Trump in the following words:

"A strong India was fundamentally in Washington’s interest, even if New Delhi would often go its own way on specific policy issues. Both Bush and his successor, Barack Obama, turned a blind eye to India’s positions in international trade negotiations, its relatively closed economy, and its voting record at the United Nations, all of which ran counter to U.S. preferences".

Summary:

Robert Blackwill and Ashley Tellis argue that the Trump administration should continue "generous U.S. policies" not merely a favor to New Delhi but a "conscious exercise of strategic altruism".  The authors are unhappy with administration’s approach to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan for for failing "to consider Indian interests".  They complain that their expectation that "Trump might put less pressure on India regarding....its relations with Pakistan" have not materialized. In other words, they want US-India relations to be a one-way street where all the benefits flow from US to India in the expectation that at some point in the future India would be useful to counter China's rise in Asia.

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

They Seem More Loyal To India Than To Their Own Country

Riaz Haq said...

Why must #Trump mediate in #Kashmir crisis and help resolve it. #Washington Times - Politics, Breaking News, US and World News by Jack Rosen, American Jewish Committee

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/2/why-us-must-mediate-kashmir-under-nuclear-shadow/


You don’t have to be Jewish to know that land disputes between nations can be volatile and intractable things. Today, one such dispute finds two nuclear powers facing off, and its resolution — in which one-fifth of the world’s population hangs in the balance — is in President Trump’s power to shape.

One year before Israel was born, an autonomous region known as Kashmir came into being, a result of the end of the British Empire in India and the establishment of a neighboring Muslim-majority nation called Pakistan. And since that day in 1947, India and Pakistan have been in conflict over Kashmir, which lies between them. Two weeks ago, India announced that it would abandon Kashmir’s autonomous status and moved quickly to further militarize the region, creating a virtual blackout of information and electricity for millions of residents.

Kashmir is a delicate issue that the United States and the United Nations, as well as India and Pakistan, have worked hard to balance over the years, especially given the nuclear stakes. India’s move is thus a break with this tradition of diplomatic even-handedness and military restraint. If the lessons of Israel-Palestine teach us anything, it is that blunt, unilateral force is not a true solution but a path to conflict and war. Indeed, pressure is building upon the Indian and Pakistani leadership to take decisive action.

Given that India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers, escalation of tensions between the two countries is incredibly dangerous. Just last month, President Trump, in a meeting with new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, offered to personally mediate the dispute.

America is now in a complicated position on the issue. We have forged trading and security alliances with both India and Pakistan over the decades. Each country has a large diaspora in the United States. While nuanced diplomacy has ensured that the United States has not faced a zero-sum game between the two, it is time the United States use its moral and strategic leverage to get both sides to the table to address the issue of Kashmir once and for all. There are humanitarian, legal and security interests in such intervention.



The first step is for the United States to convince India to return to the status-quo-ante: the Line of Control prior to the recent crackdown. That step will build confidence, calm simmering tensions, respect long-standing international agreements and create room for negotiations. Those negotiations — given the scale and gravity of the Kashmir issue — must be mediated and multilateral. Indeed, until President Trump’s offer to mediate, the dispute has festered as a bilateral standoff.

The most immediate benefit to talks will be to the the 12 million people of Kashmir, who continue to suffer. Their plight must be addressed and a number of international organizations like the United Nations and NGOs such as Amnesty International are sounding the alarm bell over human right violations — including persecution of minorities — in the region. Peace between India and Pakistan means security for them and the possibility to at last develop and grow.

It would be hard not to see the applicability of Israel-Palestine. Like Kashmir, this delicate piece of land the size of New Jersey hangs in a balance maintained by international organizations, the United States, and neighboring countries. The U.N. Partition Plan for Palestine sought to give self-determination to two groups, the Jewish people and Palestinian Arabs, in a region that had chafed under British and Ottoman rule.

Riaz Haq said...

#Biden2020 in #DemocraticDebate debate in #Houston last night: "We can prevent the United States from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing for bases — insist the Pakistanis provide bases..." #Pakistan #Afghanistan https://taskandpurpose.com/biden-us-troops-pakistan

Biden, who is attempting to secure the Democratic nomination for president in the 2020 election, mentioned his plan during Thursday night's Democratic debate in Houston.

When asked if President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 was a mistake, Biden said no and quickly changed the topic to Afghanistan.

"We can prevent the United States from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing for bases — insist the Pakistanis provide bases for us to airlift from and to move against what we know," Biden said. "We don't need those troops there. I would bring them home."

But given the Pakistani military and intelligence service's connections to the Taliban and terrorist groups, it is extremely unlikely that Pakistan would agree to host a U.S. counter-terrorism mission, said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, D.C.

Pakistan has long supported the Taliban's efforts to defeat the United States in Afghanistan, said Roggio, managing editor of The Long War Journal. Meanwhile, the Taliban continues to shelter Al Qaeda.

"American political leaders seem to have magical theories about what to do in Afghanistan and don't really want to do the heavy lifting in order to take on the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other jihadist groups there," Roggio told Task & Purpose. "The sooner American political leaders realize that Pakistan is an enemy and not an ally of the United States, the sooner we can move forward and deal with the problem."

Thursday's debate also gave Biden an opportunity to re-litigate the Obama administration's decision in December 2009 to drastically increase the number of troops to Afghanistan. Biden said he was opposed to the troop surge because he favors a more narrowly tailored mission in Afghanistan.

"The whole purpose of going to Afghanistan was not to have a counterinsurgency – meaning that we're going to put that country together. It cannot be put together. Let me say it again: It will not be put together. It's three different countries. Pakistan owns the three counties – the three provinces in the east. The point is that it's a counter-terrorism strategy."

It was not immediately clear if Biden is in favor of partitioning Afghanistan. In 2006, he co-authored an opinion piece in the New York Times calling for Iraq to be decentralized into Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish autonomous regions, but he later denied that he advocated for Iraq to be broken up.

Riaz Haq said...

#US-#Pakistan Relations Getting Back On Track. Pakistan to become an important U.S. key strategic partner following the U.S. troop withdrawal from #Afghanistan, says former acting special representative for AfPak Laurel Miller. #Taliban #India https://nayadaur.tv/2019/09/us-pakistan-relations-are-getting-back-on-track/

Miller said, “the U.S. will look to step back up to some degree its military relationship with Pakistan. The U.S. will look to Pakistan as a significant counter-terrorism partner in the region.”

Initially, she explained the U.S. will seek “the first option for the U.S. to have a reliable and capable partner in Afghanistan,” but she said “if that is not a long term solution…. then my prediction…” she emphasized, “not a policy recommendation” the U.S. would turn to Pakistan to partner work with them in the region — as they have previously.

She added, “I suspect once a U.S. withdrawal finally happens, we will hear the pentagon say…. even those who said we need to maintain a presence will shift their narrative to – ‘we can look after this form over the horizon’.”

But she added “there will be a desire to have a relationship on the ground within the region.” That is when she predicted the U.S.-Pakistan relationship in the region will be resurrected, “if the Pakistan and Afghanistan area looks to be a fertile ground for terrorist groups, “she said, “then I suspect the U.S. will look again to Pakistan.”

READ Pak-US Relationship After PM Imran Khan And President Trump Meeting Based On Dynamic Process Models
Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Jarett Blanc, echoed Millers views. Blanc distinguished between the geostrategic and counterterrorism areas that were going to drive the strategic outcomes in the region.

He explained that from a geostrategic perspective U.S interests are only served by a withdrawal from Afghanistan as the U.S. military was limited in scope, “our troops are hostage to the G locks and the A lock in Pakistan…” he said, “we have no choices with our relationship with Pakistan if that becomes the necessary form of objective in our relationship.” Although if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, this opens up the possibility for a different course in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Blanc agreed with Millers “prediction” for resurrecting the U.S.-Pakistan military relationship in the region.

Eds: This event was held before President Trump cancelled the talks.

Riaz Haq said...

#American Enterprise Institute's Derek Scissors: #Modi's #India "conducts policy as if it is already rich". "we should stop clinging to that (India's) potential and start to face reality" #Hindutva #economy http://www.aei.org/publication/time-to-give-up-on-india-economically/

India has an economic policy disease. While needing enormous productivity increases to become rich, it conducts policy as if it is already rich. What’s needed for a boom has been clear for a long time — land and labor reform. Instead, the discussion is of interest rate cuts and central government borrowing. Until that changes, the “India rising” story should be shelved.

There has been an overdone fuss over a quick drop in Indian gross domestic product (GDP) growth, from 8 percent a year ago to 5 percent in the most recent quarter. Most likely GDP decelerated before this year’s election but was manipulated to avoid showing this. The sharpness of the decline is probably due to official data catching up to reality.

India’s obsession with GDP is a more durable problem. GDP is merely correlated with vital outcomes such as employment and wealth; it should not be the performance benchmark. Five percent GDP growth would be adequate if household incomes outpace it, and if it is labor-intensive. We can’t tell because joblessness has never been properly measured. No one in Delhi has wanted to know.

This has become a crippling failure; the principal reason to expect a decade or more of fast growth is the surge of India’s working-age population. The primary goal of policy should thus be gainful and productive opportunities for potential labor market entrants. However, decision makers don’t even see the true state of the labor market, much less make policy on this basis.

It follows immediately that core reforms have little to do with more spending. First, measure joblessness. Second, liberalize labor markets. The vast majority of Indian firms, and all firms with 300 or more employees, cannot fire workers freely. The obvious impact is that they also don’t hire freely. They miss growth opportunities, which means the economy misses growth opportunities.

The same phenomenon put another way: India can only become richer if it becomes more productive. Productivity is hamstrung when basic hiring and firing decisions are warped by the state. Officials talk incessantly about demographic expansion, but labor policy devastatingly discriminates against making new workers productive. Against that failure, government spending pales.

Land reflects labor. The foundation of all development is escaping subsistence farming. Indian policymakers actually fear this because labor restrictions mean the economy can’t absorb the workers created if farming moves beyond subsistence. Rather than trying to boost agricultural productivity, they pass truly abysmal land laws and offer subsidies that do nothing to bring farmers prosperity.

The standard response is that such labor and land liberalization is politically impossible. India can indeed boom for 20 years, with near double-digit annual income growth, to become the third-largest national economy. But if Prime Minister Narendra Modi can’t even start to make it happen after a second, sweeping election victory, we should stop clinging to that potential and start to face reality.

Riaz Haq said...

#WTO says #India violated global #trade rules by providing $7 billion in #export subsidies to its companies, after #UnitedStates had challenged #NewDelhi’s incentive schemes. #Trump revokes trade preferences for #imports from India. https://www.ft.com/content/66e5b84e-fc06-11e9-a354-36acbbb0d9b6 via @financialtimes


The decision was hailed by Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, as a “resounding victory” that would allow American companies to compete “on a level playing field”, despite the fact that the Trump administration has questioned the effectiveness and fairness of the WTO’s dispute settlement system.

India’s ministry of commerce and its embassy in Washington declined to comment on the ruling and whether it would appeal.

The Trump administration launched its case against India’s export subsidy programmes in March 2018, alleging that India gave prohibited, rapidly expanding support in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, textiles, steel and technology products.

New Delhi said it was entitled to pursue those policies under exemptions allowed for developing countries, even if they were transitioning away from that status. The panel rejected the claim. The WTO urged India to withdraw the export subsidy schemes within six months. If it fails to comply, it could eventually face punitive tariffs from Washington.


The WTO ruling comes at a tricky time in US-India trade relations. This year, the US administration said it would revoke preferential tariff treatment given to Indian imports, amid rumblings that Washington might launch an investigation into unfair trade practices similar to the one that forms the legal basis for its tariff war with China.

But good relations between Donald Trump, US president, and Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, have staved off any serious escalation in tensions between the countries.

Although the Trump administration has been vigorously litigating cases at the WTO and trumpeting any decisions to its benefit, Washington has blocked the appointment of judges to its appellate body after disagreeing with its methods and some of its rulings. By December, the appellate body will not have a sufficient quorum of judges to continue operating, throwing a spanner in the works of global trade dispute settlement.

The US has called for reforms of the system, but officials in Geneva, where the WTO is based, said there had been little progress towards a solution.

The EU, Canada and others have been working on developing alternative dispute settlement regimes while the WTO appellate body is frozen.

Riaz Haq said...

#US court rejects challenge to #Trump administration's requirement for #IT service companies (aka #Indian body shops) to file more evidence when hiring #H1B workers. 70% of 85,000 workers each year come to the #UnitedStates from #India. http://toi.in/ugtlTa72/a24gk via @timesofindia

-------------------------

Trump to Visit India as Trade Fight Overshadows Strategic Ties. #Trump removed #India from preferential #trade program, cut #H1B visas, then went further, and removed India from another program that shielded low-income countries from #US trade reprisals

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/us-court-sets-aside-plea-it-service-companies-will-need-to-file-more-evidence-when-hiring-h-1bs/articleshow/73549070.cms


India and the United States hope to reach a limited trade agreement in time for U.S. President Donald Trump’s first visit to the country this month, but experts question whether the larger strategic relationship both sides have cultivated for more than a decade is being sacrificed to Trump’s niggling trade demands.

On the one hand, U.S. administrations beginning with George W. Bush and continuing under Barack Obama have indicated they need India as a strategic partner to help counter China’s growing influence. On the other hand, under Trump, Washington is now publicly browbeating India over the price of walnuts and Harley-Davidsons.

“The administration does not have an integrated policy toward India or anyone else for that matter,” said Ashley Tellis, an India expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

U.S. national security officials have their own view of India’s place in America’s Indo-Pacific strategy and have built on the Obama administration’s efforts with closer defense cooperation, especially in the navy, and through increased arms sales. But U.S. trade officials, obsessed by trade deficits, have their own narrow agenda focused on prying open parts of the Indian market—a view entirely divorced from the bigger picture.

“The fruits of a schizophrenic policy are becoming evident,” Tellis said.

Ahead of Trump’s big state visit on Feb. 24-25, U.S. trade officials led by Robert Lighthizer have been trying to secure a tiny trade breakthrough with India that will give Trump some sort of trade victory with a country long known for hardball negotiations and a reluctance to open its market.

The trade talks are the culmination of three years of escalating tension between the United States and India, which kicked off when the Trump administration levied tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from India (and many other countries, especially allies). India eventually responded with higher tariffs on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices—prompting the United States to retaliate by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program that gives developing economies a chance to export on favorable terms to the world’s biggest market. Just last week, the Trump administration went further, removing India from another program that shielded low-income countries from U.S. trade reprisals.

The Trump administration’s approach to trade talks with India, like those with China, Europe, and others, is driven by the president’s obsession with the trade balance: Countries that export more goods to America than they buy in return, he feels, are cheating the United States. India is a top 10 trading partner for America, and the United States runs a trade deficit of about $25 billion—a small fraction of the huge trade gap with China.

To remedy that, U.S. trade officials have tried to force open the Indian market to more U.S. exports, including farm goods, medical devices, and dairy products. The mini trade deal taking shape this month appears to include some Indian concessions on agricultural tariffs and a slight reduction in tariffs on industrial goods like motorcycles—but is a far cry from any sort of comprehensive trade agreement that would address big underlying issues like India’s penchant for protectionism or its treatment of data and e-commerce.

Riaz Haq said...

Non-Allied Forever: India’s Grand Strategy According to Subrahmanyam Jaishankar - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Ashley Tellis review of Jaishankar’s book

https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/03/03/non-allied-forever-india-s-grand-strategy-according-to-subrahmanyam-jaishankar-pub-83974

The conviction that “India has little choice but to pursue a mix of multiple approaches, some orthodox and others more imaginative” (6)—all involving diverse partnerships, where “leveraging them all may not be easy but [is] still no less necessary for that” (7)—is colored significantly by the Trump presidency during which Jaishankar’s book was published. This era shaped several of his key assessments: that there is a growing diffusion of power internationally, with the United States no longer the fountainhead of order; that a consequential fracturing of globalization exemplified by protectionism and reshoring has occurred; and that the postwar international system has irretrievably eroded thanks to both Trump’s refusal to uphold Washington’s external obligations and the recrudescence of nationalism, parochialism, and identity politics within the United States and abroad. All together, these judgments lead Jaishankar inevitably to the conclusion that New Delhi faces not so much “the end of history” but rather an unmistakable “return to history” (111) characterized by renewed self-regarding behaviors, international contestation, and above all, “the natural state of the world,” which is “multipolarity” (12).

Riaz Haq said...

#US-#India #military #tech collaboration: #Raytheon to invest $100 million in setting up production/research facilities in #India. #Boeing interested in Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul hub for systems like the P8I maritime reconnaissance #aircraft. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-shares-document-outlining-military-tech-cooperation-with-us/articleshow/90965405.cms

New Delhi: India has shared a document with the US outlining emerging areas where military technology cooperation can be undertaken by the two nations and specialised teams are likely to conduct visits in the coming weeks to take the proposals forward, highly-placed defence ministry officials have told ET.

The document, which specified the emerging technology areas where joint development and production would be beneficial, was shared during the recent two plus two dialogue in the US,with officials saying that it was greeted positively and with enthusiasm.

Describing the dialogue as "very warm, receptive and cordial", officials said several areas of mutual cooperation have been identified that are set to be taken ahead in the coming months. US defence companies, including those which met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, are also likely to invest in India, officials said, adding that India's commitment to self-dependence has been received well.


Major US arms manufacturer Raytheon is likely to invest $100 million in setting up production and research facilities in India, while Boeing is exploring the possibility of creating a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul hub for systems like the P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft that are used by both nations. Plans by Raytheon could result in the creation of over 2,000 jobs in India.

Co-production of military systems was a key component of the talks, with emerging technology areas including artificial intelligence, cyber defence and space cooperation on the table. "There is now a clear understanding by both sides that jointly working on futuristic technologies is the way forward. It's a major step above a simple buyer-seller relationship," officials said.

The Indian side also pitched its shipyards for upcoming purchases planned by the US Coast Guard, showcasing their capability to deliver low cost, high quality products as well as a proven track record on delivery.

US teams are also expected to visit India soon to take forward a proposal to utilise Indian shipyards for repair and overhaul of American warships in the region. Such an arrangement, where US warships can be quickly turned around at Indian facilities, would be a key signal on the level of strategic partnership achieved.

"Closer military-military cooperation, increased engagement, information sharing and possible joint patrolling were discussed, with a focus on high end technology sharing," officials added.

On the strategic front, the security scenario in the Indo-Pacific was discussed, with both sides sharing their commitment to peace and open access to all. The importance of the Quad initiative was appreciated during the talks and enhanced cooperation discussed. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to visit the remaining quad nations -- Japan and Australia -- in the coming months.

On the Russia front, officials said that India's position on the matter was explained in detail and has been understood by the US. All official statements regarding the talks remained positive and constructive.

Riaz Haq said...

America Has Never Really Understood India
The two countries conceptually seem destined to be partners, yet for decades have held remarkably divergent worldviews.

By Meenakshi Ahamed


https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/joe-biden-narendra-modi-us-india/629823/

Partly as a result of all these factors, India came to rely heavily on the Soviet Union for its military equipment. The Pentagon, suspicious of the Indo-Soviet relationship, refused to sell India sophisticated weapons or computers and continued to strengthen Pakistan’s military. Nor would the U.S. permit India, which was keen to be an independent actor, to manufacture arms domestically through joint ventures or cooperation agreements. The Soviets were more accommodating to India’s goals and soon became the country’s primary arms supplier. India has long worried about its military dependence on Moscow, but though it has made recent moves to diversify its suppliers, Russian military equipment still accounts for the majority of India’s total defense stock.

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On the surface, this apparent distance between Washington, D.C., and New Delhi will seem odd. For more than a decade, the U.S. has sought to build a strategic partnership with India, and the two countries have much in common, including their democratic political systems and their shared concern over China’s rise. Analysts have largely attributed India’s unwillingness to turn against Russia to its reliance on Moscow for military equipment and energy exports. These are undoubtedly significant factors, yet they underplay just how uncertain and shallow the U.S.-India relationship remains.

In fact, the U.S. and India—two countries that conceptually seem destined to be partners—have for decades held remarkably divergent worldviews, finding themselves all too often pursuing conflicting objectives.

To make sense of the course India has taken in 2022, it is helpful to understand India’s relations with the U.S. during the Cold War.

When India became the world’s newest and largest democracy in 1947, its relations with the U.S., the world’s most powerful democracy, should by all accounts have been friendly. Both countries subscribed on paper to the same set of values—a commitment to a rules-based international order, a belief in free and fair elections, the rule of law, civil liberties, and free speech. Yet time and again, they saw things through very different lenses, misunderstanding each other’s goals in the process, ultimately leading to periods where they worked at odds with one another.

Riaz Haq said...

America Has Never Really Understood India
The two countries conceptually seem destined to be partners, yet for decades have held remarkably divergent worldviews.

By Meenakshi Ahamed


https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/joe-biden-narendra-modi-us-india/629823/



America’s transactional approach to aid also disappointed Indians. Nehru felt that begging for assistance was demeaning, but he had hoped that as the richer, more established democracy, the U.S. would offer India a helping hand. The U.S. Congress was governed by different sentiments. Some lawmakers argued that any country receiving American aid should show gratitude and were irritated that India had not supported American positions at the United Nations on Israel and the Korean War. “Our relations with India are not very good, are they?” Tom Connally, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in 1951. “Nehru is giving us hell all the time, working against us and voting against us.” The same year, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge asked, “What are the Indians going to do for us?” His conviction that India would show no appreciation for American help was shared by many on Capitol Hill.

Beyond aid, economic relations were fraught. Nehru had embarked on an ambitious plan after independence to industrialize India and make the country self-reliant, a key Indian goal, but a lack of capital and expertise required the country to partner with others. As part of these efforts, the U.S. held protracted negotiations with India to build a large steel plant in the eastern-Indian city of Bokaro, a project that had become a symbol of Indian national pride, but fundamental differences in economic ideology ruptured negotiations. In the end, the Soviet Union stepped in to rescue the plans.

After Nehru’s death, other disagreements over aid and economics exacerbated the distrust. When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, traveled to Washington, D.C., in March 1966 to request food aid in the middle of India’s worst famine since independence, the World Bank and the White House put pressure on her to devalue the rupee as a precondition. Three months later, she did just that, though against the wishes of several members of the government who accused her of auctioning the country. The aid promised to India in return was slow to arrive and it wasn’t the economic success that she had hoped for. Domestically, the entire episode was a political disaster, and to recover support from the left, Gandhi criticized U.S. policy in Vietnam, which enraged then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. He responded by delaying food shipments to India that had already been approved by Congress. Indians were appalled that Johnson was using food aid as a weapon and began to sour on America.

Relations between the U.S. and India have warmed considerably in the past couple of decades. By 2000, India’s economic reforms had propelled growth, which, combined with the country’s military strength and nuclear capability, made it an attractive counter to China’s rise. George W. Bush, who sought to cultivate India as a potential strategic partner, undertook the herculean task of getting congressional approval for a special nuclear deal with India, and relations improved further when Modi was elected India’s prime minister in 2014: He made good relations with the U.S. a cornerstone of his foreign policy.