U.S. and India Relations: The Making of a Comprehensive Relationship

Article excerpt

[The following are excerpts of the speech given at the Army War College, Indore, India, August 23, 2004.]

The military to military relationship between the United States and India is more robust than ever. Without any doubt, our military ties have played a crucial role in the ongoing transformation of the U.S.-India relationship. My visit to Indore and to the Army War College gives me the chance to talk about the deepening relationship between our two countries. My plan is to speak broadly about our bilateral relations, touch on some key themes that your director Lieutenant General R. B. Singh shared with me before my coming, and then leave plenty of time to take your questions--on any subject you may wish to discuss.

The Transforming Relationship

During the past few years, we have seen a fundamental transformation in relations between the United States and India. Observers from both countries have said that relations between our two countries have never been better. I agree. People ask me when this transformation began. Although there have been many key points, I don't think there is a single event that marked the turning point, as much as a realization by our leaders and countrymen that ties between our two countries should not be burdened by the decisions and actions of the past. This transformation, an ongoing one, has its roots in our common values and interests as democratic societies committed to political freedom, tolerance, representative government and the fight against terrorism and other transnational threats such as the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the drug trade, human immuno-deficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome and trafficking of women and children.

There has been some speculation and even some reporting that as the United States prepares for its Presidential elections in November, our bilateral relationship may lose some of its momentum--or get sidelined by domestic concerns. Let there be no doubt--the U.S. commitment to this bilateral relationship is bipartisan, deep and growing--and this is true no matter what the outcome of the Presidential elections this fall. Whether our country's elected leader is a Republican or a Democrat, the U.S. commitment to our bilateral relationship will remain strong. The relationship between our two countries transcends domestic politics, just as it did during the Clinton and Bush transition in 2001 and the BJP-Congress transition earlier this year. In both instances, the incoming governments reiterated what had been committed to in the previous government, that bilateral relations must continue to grow and expand. In their first conversations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, President Bush and Secretary of State Powell found a shared desire to build on the solid foundation developed in recent years. The reasons for this foundation are numerous, and let me take a few minutes to mention some of the highlights.

U.S. and India Bilateral Ties

First, let me set the stage by saying that the United States recognizes the vitality and importance of India to American long-term interests. India's emergence as a rising world power and a mature market economy are significant to the region and the world. We have jointly taken important steps to bridge previous mistrust and to lay the basis for a solid partnership for the 21st century.

Our common interests are growing. We are committed to defeating terrorism. Both of our nations have suffered at the hands of terrorists and recognize the necessity of eliminating this inhuman threat to our people. We are committed to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and increasingly we are cooperating to stop their further spread. We both seek a freer and more equitable international trading system. The cooperation between India and the United States was a key factor in the recent agreement on a framework at the World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva. …