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On Monday at AEI, George Perkovich, Diane Farrell, Walter Lohman and Daniel Twining joined Sadanand Dhume to discuss whether the U.S.-India relationship will live up to its potential as a transformational partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies. Perkovich argued that the relationship is oversold: the lack of U.S.-India convergence on Iran, climate change and the World Trade Organization, coupled with a stagnation of defense cooperation, solidifies the fact that expectations have not been, and will not be, fulfilled. Disagreeing with Perkovich, Farrell stressed that India and the U.S. need each other for trade: India has a rapidly expanding consumer middle class and a need for job-creating foreign investment, with up to 800,000 people per month projected to join the workforce in the years ahead.
India’s massive infrastructure projects are pushing the country to reflect on its budgetary policies and the ways in which it can attract foreign investment. While supporting a U.S.-India partnership, Lohman emphasized that while the partnership is strategic for the U.S., the same is not necessarily true for New Delhi. India will continue to do that which serves its national interest in narrow, tactical terms — an approach that threatens US-India ties.
Finally, Twining defended the relationship and described it as a U.S. “long-term bet,” hoping India will maintain its strategic autonomy and become a major player in the global system. He noted that the U.S.-India partnership is experiencing a series of convergences ranging from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar and China to the Arab Spring, all of which continue to drive the two countries together. All panelists agreed that the U.S.-India relationship is a multilayered debate engaging each state’s national interests, strategic visions and domestic issues and that a developing India will create a stronger and more democratic world.
--Jennifer McArdle and Victoria Finn
On his visit to India in 2010 — the third successive trip to the country by a sitting U.S. president — Barack Obama hailed the U.S.-India relationship as “one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.”
But while trade, military and diplomatic ties have expanded dramatically since the end of the Cold War, there’s a growing sense in Washington, D.C. that the relationship between the U.S. and India is not living up to its potential. As evidence, skeptics point to disagreements on the Middle East and nuclear cooperation as well as the slowdown in defense cooperation. From India’s perspective, U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan is a point of criticism. Meanwhile, in language harking back to the Cold War, some in New Delhi argue that India should remain “nonaligned” between the U.S. and China.
Will the U.S.-India relationship live up to its potential as a solid partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies, and have potentially transformative consequences for Asia and the world? Or are Washington, D.C. and New Delhi destined to fall back into a pattern of drift and disagreement? A panel of experts will discuss these possibilities.
Panel I: Is the U.S.-India Relationship Oversold?
Diane Farrell, U.S.-India Business Council
Walter Lohman, Heritage Foundation
George Perkovich, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Daniel Twining, German Marshall Fund
Sadanand Dhume, AEI
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Sadanand Dhume writes about South Asian political economy, foreign policy, business and society, with a focus on India and Pakistan. He is also a South Asia columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He has worked as a foreign correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review in India and Indonesia and was a Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, D.C. His political travelogue about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, “My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist,” has been published in four countries.
Diane Farrell has been the executive vice president and senior director of policy advocacy for the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) since July of 2011. There, she oversees business advocacy and membership service for Financial Services, Real Estate, and Infrastructure Development. Before joining USIBC, Farrell served on the board of directors at the Export Import Bank of the United States (U.S. Ex-Im Bank). A presidential appointee confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she was responsible for voting on transactions in excess of $10 million as well as on significant policy matters. Her portfolio responsibilities included small business, India, Southeast Asia and portions of Latin America. In addition, she was named a member of the White House Business Council. During her tenure at U.S. Ex-Im Bank, U.S.-India transactions expanded and diversified as aircraft sales and conventional and green energy projects (among others) led to India becoming the second largest country by U.S. dollar allocation in the bank’s overall portfolio. Before serving at U.S. Ex-Im Bank, Farrell was elected as the First Selectwoman in Westport, Connecticut, where she managed multimillion dollar budgets within the Consumer Price Index and maintained the town’s AAA bond rating. Farrell also served as chairwoman of the Southwestern Connecticut Regional Planning Agency Metropolitan Planning Organization and as a select member of the National League of Cities Transportation and Infrastructure Steering and Policy Committee.
Walter Lohman is director of the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, Heritage’s oldest research center. Established in 1983, its research fellows and scholars analyze the full range of policy in East and South Asia and develop recommendations to further American interests in freedom and security. Lohman joined Heritage in 2006 as senior research fellow for Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Before joining Heritage, Lohman served as senior vice president and executive director of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council for four years. There, he oversaw the council’s mission of building U.S. market share in Southeast Asia, led multiple delegations of Fortune 500 companies to the region, participated in prominent business and policy forums and regularly represented the council in its interaction with high-level ASEAN officials. In the late 1990s, Lohman was the council’s senior country director, representing American interests in Indonesia and Singapore. In 2002, Lohman also served as senior professional Republican staff advising Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on issues affecting East Asia. From 1991 to 1996, he served as a policy aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), during which time he advised Sen. McCain on foreign policy, trade and defense issues.
George Perkovich is vice president for studies and director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has worked for decades on challenges of international relations, nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation and disarmament. Perkovich is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control and of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also served as senior adviser to the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Since the early 1990s, much of his research and writing has focused on India, Pakistan and Iran. A speechwriter and foreign policy adviser to Senator Joseph Biden in 1989-90, he is the author of the award-winning history “India’s Nuclear Bomb” and co-author of the Adelphi Paper, “Abolishing Nuclear Weapons.” His recent essays “Toward Realistic U.S.-India Relations” and “Stop Enabling Pakistan’s Dangerous Dysfunction" examine U.S. policies in South Asia.
Daniel Twining is senior fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where he leads a 16-member team exploring the rise of Asia and its implications for the West. He is also a consultant to the U.S. government on global trends. He has previously served as a member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, where he was responsible for South Asia; as the foreign policy adviser to Senator John McCain, for whom he handled all foreign and defense policy in the United States Senate; and as a staff member of the U.S. Trade Representative. Twining has also served as a senior foreign policy spokesman and adviser to several presidential campaigns. He is currently completing a book on American grand strategy in Asia after the Cold War and writes regularly for leading publications in the West and Asia. He has lived and worked in India, Colombia, and Great Britain and grew up in Southeast Asia and West Africa.