Rice's visit to New Delhi last week boosted the
US–India relationship and demonstrated that she
and her new colleagues at the top of the State
Department view India as a rising great power. John
Kenneth Galbraith once said, "There are few
ironclad rules of diplomacy but to one there is no
exception. When an official reports that talks were
useful, it can be safely concluded that nothing was
accomplished." Ms. Rice's talks in India were
more than useful.
are the days when the State Department viewed India
myopically through the lens of India's long troubled
relationship with Pakistan. Washington has also
stopped playing nagging nanny regarding India's
nuclear weapons program.
bilateral relationship in George W. Bush's first
term changed as positively as that between India and
the U.S. This is important because of congruent
vital national interests of the two countries.
Each is an enduring target of jihadi
terrorism. Other nations will weaken and fade in the
global war on terror. The U.S. and India will not.
Each is at immense risk if weapons of mass
destruction become instruments of terror. New Delhi
and Washington, New York and Mumbai would be prime
targets. Each economy needs the continued reliable
flow of energy from the Persian Gulf, including
through protection of Indian Ocean sea lanes. Each
has a huge stake in the peaceful and responsible
emergence of China as a great power. Each would be
in serious danger if Pakistan with its nuclear
weapons and infrastructure of terrorism were to
shake apart, succumb to Islamic extremism or again
begin to export its nuclear weapons technology.
each shares the democratic values that are so much
on the march these days. When
I asked then-Governor Bush in early 1999 about the
reasons for his obvious and special interest in
India, he immediately responded, "a billion
people in a functioning democracy. Isn't that
something? Isn't that something?" The concept
of democratic India, a heterogeneous, multilingual,
secular society with its vibrant press and respect
for the rule of law, has a particular appeal for
never in the history of the U.S.-India relationship
has the State Department's seventh floor had three
policy makers with a global orientation toward
India. (Usually it has had none.) State
today has the secretary herself, Deputy Secretary
Robert Zoellick, who was the first Bush cabinet
member to visit India in 2001, and Counselor Philip
Zelikow, who directed for several years the most
prestigious nongovernmental dialogue between the
U.S. and Indian strategic elites.
note what these folks have done after only weeks in
office, under the president's guidance and with the
strong support of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. In India , Ms. Rice opened up wide the possibility of U.S.-India
cooperation on nuclear power generation;
co-production with India of multi-role combat
aircraft; intensified collaboration on missile
defense and expanded defense trade and cooperation;
and a larger role for India in international
issues had been the stuff of Washington interagency
struggle and stalemate for years. Ms. Rice in New
Delhi began to grind down the bureaucratic Etruscan
what next for the US–India relationship?
What more can be accomplished in the context of
Foreign Minister Natwar Singh's talks in Washington
next month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's call at
the White House in July, and President Bush's visit
to India at the end of this year or early 2006?
U.S. should integrate India into the evolving global
nonproliferation regime as a friendly nuclear
weapons state. We should end constraints on
assistance to and cooperation with India's civil
nuclear industry and high-tech trade, changing laws
and policy when necessary. We should sell India
civil nuclear reactors, both to reduce its demand
for Persian Gulf energy and to ease the
environmental impact of India's vibrant economic
should enter into a vigorous long-term program of
space cooperation with India . Such a joint effort
would capture the imagination of ordinary citizens
in both countries.
It is now anachronistic or worse for Washington to
limit its interaction with India's civil space
efforts because of concern that U.S. technology and
know-how will seep into India's military missile
should the U.S. want to check India's missile
capability in ways that could lead to China's
permanent nuclear dominance over democratic India?
should sell advanced weaponry to India.
The million-man Indian army actually fights, unlike
the postmodern militaries of many of our European
allies. Given the strategic challenges ahead, the
U.S. should want the Indian armed forces to be
equipped with the best weapons systems and that
often means American. To
make this happen, the U.S. has to become a reliable
long-term supplier, including through co-production
and licensed manufacture arrangements, and to end
its previous inclination to interrupt defense
supplies to India in a crisis.
should announce that in the context of the basic
reform of the U.N., the U.S. will support India as a
permanent member of the Security Council. Although
this would not happen for many years, nothing else
would so convince the people of India that the U.S.
had truly transformed its approach to their country.
At the same time, we should promote the early entry
of India (and China) into the G-8.
Their economic punch and increasing geopolitical
reach demands that they be at the head table.
we should initiate an intense and secret discussion
with India regarding the future of Pakistan,
including contingency planning.
too, has its share of antique governmental reflexes
that need to be overcome. It should now engage in a
major way to help build a civil society in Iraq. It
should join the U.S. much more actively, if quietly,
in trying to persuade Iran to give up its insistence
on a full fuel cycle and Tehran's pursuit of nuclear
weapons. (This is more important than current
U.S.-India differences over a gas pipeline to India
from Iran, which may well never be built). It should
generously fund Palestinian reform. It should become
a member of the Proliferation Security Initiative,
which calls for interdiction of suspicious ships on
the high seas. It should multiply its military
exercises with American counterparts, including on
should continue its efforts to normalize relations
with Pakistan. It should work ever more closely with
the U.S. to deal with regional instability emanating
from Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, the latter a
growing center of international terrorism. It should
substantially reduce barriers to encourage the
export of U.S. goods, services and investment to
India, in part to deal with the outsourcing problem.
It should be a much more cooperative partner with
Washington in the Doha trade round.
is an exceedingly ambitious bilateral agenda. Old
bureaucrats don't fade away; they just dig in. So
the Bush administration and the Congress government
in Delhi must push through these fundamental changes
in policy from the top down. It can be done.