The Eagle and the Peacock: U.S. Foreign Policy toward India since Independence

The Eagle and the Peacock: U.S. Foreign Policy toward India since Independence

The Eagle and the Peacock: U.S. Foreign Policy toward India since Independence

The Eagle and the Peacock: U.S. Foreign Policy toward India since Independence

Synopsis

A diplomatic history of American foreign policy toward India since 1947 that analyzes the forces of the Cold War in setting policy both between and within the two nations.

Excerpt

No country challenged the emerging Cold War assumptions and policies of the United States during the Truman years as directly and consistently as did Jawaharlal Nehru's India. Long before the United States and India found themselves directly at odds over developments in Asia, Nehru's forceful acceptance of nationalism as the driving force in Asian affairs presaged the ultimate clash. Nationalism rendered self-determination the uncompromisable Indian objective for the Asian peoples. With good reason, therefore, Nehru refused to define India's interests in terms of communism and anticommunism because he saw that both were irrelevant to the fundamental goals of Asian nationalism. Nehru viewed communism, where it existed, as a state-building, and not an expansive, force that threatened the independence of India and its neighbors. For him communism was an internal, not an external phenomenon, contained within boundaries by the indigenous power of nationalism.

Nationalism's predominance in Asian life colored Nehru's view toward the backwardness of India and the Third World. The contrast between Asian poverty and Western affluence, especially that of the United States, confirmed his conviction that the basic threat to Asian independence lay not in Soviet communism or Western capitalism, but in the possible failure of Asia's economic progress. Nationalism decreed that the full development of the Asian economies required the freedom of Asians to define and pursue their economic interests without the burden of colonialism. For Nehru the concrete issues of aid and trade existed outside the Cold War and always carried the possibility of extensive cooperation between Asia and the West.

India's position of leadership in the new Asia required that it formulate a policy toward the burgeoning East-West conflict, one that all Asia might follow. As early as September 1946 Nehru outlined his country's basic response to the incipient Cold War. "India," he said, "will follow an independent policy, keeping away from the power politics of groups aligned one against the other." In its commitment to Asia's escape from external control, India, he added, "will uphold the principle of freedom for dependent peoples and will oppose racial discrimination wherever it might occur." Nehru committed India to the United Nations as an arena where Asian countries could engage in international activity free of Cold War identifications. Economic and . . .

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