Great Expectations? Assessing US-India Strategic Relations


This is a listing of older East-West Center events (newer listed first).  See Events to get the list of current or upcoming events.

When: Jul 29 2014 - 12:00pm until Jul 29 2014 - 1:30pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room

Great Expectations? Assessing US-India Strategic Relations

An Asia Pacific Seminar featuring:

Dr. Dinshaw Mistry
Visiting Fellow, East-West Center in Washington
Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati

Dr. Stephen P. Cohen (Discussant)
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy-India Project, The Brookings Institution

Great Expectations? Assessing US-India Strategic Relations from East-West Center on Vimeo.

Dr. Dinshaw Mistry outlines issues of convergence and divergence between the United States and India.

American enthusiasm for a strategic partnership with India has risen and fallen over the years. Optimism about US-India relations in the 2000s has been tempered by pessimism about these ties in the 2010s. Was the initial enthusiasm about US-India relations inflated? How valid are more recent skeptical perspectives? In his presentation, Dr. Dinshaw Mistry discussed these questions, drawing upon ten contemporary cases where New Delhi’s policies converged with or diverged from Washington’s expectations. 

Throughout his talk, Dr. Mistry emphasized that the current state of US-India relations depended on the degree of convergence both countries had on a wide range of issues. To illustrate this, Dr. Mistry outlined several issues from highest to lowest degrees of convergence between the United States and India. On the high end of the spectrum was export controls, with the civil nuclear agreement acting as an incentive for the Indian leadership to agree to support the United States' goals regarding exports. However, even with this high convergence, domestic politics in India prevented full agreement on this issue due to invested Indian business interests.

Domestic politics also hindered full cooperation between the United States and India on two other issues: Iran and nuclear rewards. Iran represented a moderate level of convergence, with the United States and India largely agreeing on defense and security issues. India drew the line at full pressure on Iran however given the need for it to have Iran remain an oil supplier and a buffer against an even bigger concern: Pakistan. Nuclear rewards highlighted the lowest degree of convergence between the United States and India. Under India's current legislative politics, the liability rules surrounding its domestic nuclear agenda continue to be at odds with the United States' goals, presenting yet another hurdle in this already sensitive issue.

Dr. Mistry gave special attention to one final issue in the United States and India's relationship: that of whether or not India should help balance China in Asia. He pointed out that while India has been increasing its military strength, this has not been solely about countering China. Furthermore, he argued that even with these new improvements it remains to be see as to whether or not these will be enough to counter China should the need arise. Even though India has been keeping a close watch on China, its policy of no alliances has led to a lesser degree of convergence with the United States than one would suppose, given both countries' democratic regimes. Dr. Minstry ended his talk with optimism about the future of convergence between the United States and India, stating that while it will be a long-term process strategic issues such as China do in fact present the greatest opportunities for convergence to occur. 

Dr. Stephen Cohan believes that nuclear nonproliferation could unite the United States, India and China.

In his remarks, Dr.Stephen Cohen focused on how not just the United States and India but China as well could unite over their shared interest in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Building upon his conclusion that nuclear weapons make "industrial-scale war" impossible, Dr.Cohen highlighted the rise of religion and ethnicity as the determiners of organizing one's life following the demise of the Soviet Union. With this has come the increased radicalism of religion, a problem that all three countries share and would benefit greatly from trilateral cooperation.


For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 

Dr. Dinshaw Mistry is an associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, and a 2014 Asia Studies Visiting Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington. He has previously been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center; the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University; and the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University. His specialties include international relations and Asian security. He has written extensively on strategic issues and US-India relations, and is author of The US-India Nuclear Agreement (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, 2014).

Dr. Stephen Cohen is a Senior Fellow with the India Project in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. In addition to a career as professor of political science and history at the University of Illinois, Dr. Cohen has taught as a visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, Keio University in Japan, and Andhra University in India. He is the author or editor of several books on South Asian security issues, including Shooting for a Century, The India-Pakistan Conundrum (Brookings Institution Press, 2013) and India: Emerging Power (Brookings Institution Press, 2003).

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Grace Ruch Clegg
Phone: 202-327-9762