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HomeGeopolitical CompassSouth & Southeast AsiaThe Surprising Success of the U.S.-Indian Partnership

The Surprising Success of the U.S.-Indian Partnership

Author: Ashley J. Tellis

Affiliation: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Affairs

Date/Place: February 20, 2020, U.S.
Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 1440

Link: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/india/2020-02-20/surprising-success-us-indian-partnership

Keywords: Indo-Pacific, Defense trade, Trump administration. 

Brief: 

President Donald Trump’s “America first” agenda has strained relations with many traditional US allies, but this agenda seemed incompatible when it comes to India-US relations, opines the author. After the success of the “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston, Texas, last September, India is set to host President Trump on a grander scale featuring public extravaganza and showcasing the deepening ties between India and the US. The Trump administration’s focus on great-power competition, its designation of China as a strategic competitor, and its pursuit of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” all gave India renewed importance. However, the bilateral relations are dogged by persistent trade disagreements, which India shows no inclination to settle. The Trump Administrations’ leniency towards India’s uncompetitive trade practices, and its silence on India’s feared drift toward illiberalism, is enabling both countries to push ahead on strategic, especially defense, cooperation. The special trade status granted to India, that only NATO allies enjoy when it comes to licensing requirements for high-end defense-technology sales, and Trump’s assurance of potential future defense trade with India comes as a part of the US’s greater vision for India to become a dominant power across the wider Indo-Pacific. However, the Indian military’s conservative mindset, tactics and doctrines have made it a frontier defense force, unable to project power beyond the subcontinent. The future of the US-Indian defense relationship hinges on India’s ability to maintain prosperity, stability, social cohesion at home and modernize its military fast enough to project power beyond the Indian subcontinent. 

By: Usman Khan Pathan, CIGA Research Associate

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