In a desperate bid to contain China, The United States is seeking allies from all over the world. Amongst the strongest and most promising of these is India. With the fifth largest GDP in the world and an economy that is expected to be the third largest by 2028, it is seen as a vital prospect.
And yet, despite inviting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a state visit, and forging the most important transaction of the 21st century, the ceremony hides a distant truth about Indian-U.S relations. In this article, I’ll exploring U.S relations with India and shedding light on why this partnership is at best, a tenuous one.
U.S Relations With India – A Matter Of Convenience
For the United States, the biggest threat to the world order is China. In recent years the country has grown strong and now threatens U.S dominance in Southeast Asia.
America wants to work with India in containing the Chinese threat and it’s not alone. Along with Japan and Australia, the four of them form the quad, a group which the Chinese have complained about and called ‘The Asian Nato’.
But this loose defence pact is hardly as rigid as the one the United States has with Europe. Furthermore, this loose partnership seems to be as far as things can go between these two lovers.
They’re Just Not That Into You
In an article for foreign affairs, Ashley Tellis pleaded America to not get its hopes up and insisted that India was only using America to defend itself against further Chinese aggression. Whether it would actually help America in a fight with China was highly dubious.
And this is where things get really interesting. Through offering Modi a state visit and forging military and technological deals, the United States seems to be adamant about bringing the countries closer together. And India may have even considered, had it not been for their eminent foreign minister
The problem lies not only Modi but in India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Championing Indian self-interest above all else Jaishankar is hesitant about forging any formal alliance. India has good relations with Russia and Jaishankar fears that any closer alliance would limit India’s freedoms.
“We would like to have multiple choices. And obviously try to make the best of it…Every country would like to do that. Some may be constrained by other obligations, some may not.”
His policies have drawn praise from former secretary of state and master of realpolitik Henry Kissinger. Having formerly called the Indians “the most goddamn aggressive people in the world” the former cold warrior has since moved on and praised the country for their balance in foreign policy.
“I have very high regard for the way the Indians conduct their foreign policy now, because it shows balance.”
Having begun as a British colony, India has developed into a regional power and is adamant about pursuing its own policies. For Jaishankar, India can’t afford to be tied down to any long-term commitment. It needs to be free in order to flourish in the new world order.
If refusing to make things official between it and the United States is what it needs to do, then so be it. All we hope is that this growing sense of detachment doesn’t result in estrangement, war and nuclear destruction.