Indo-US changing Strategic Scenario

Published: December 25, 2019

President Obama was the first president to visit India twice (in 2010 and then in 2015), which highlighted the importance of the country. Obama was present at the 2015 Republic day, a show of India’s strength and presentation of its strategic intent. His visit laid the foundation for a lasting relationship with India , which had been earlier strengthened by Bill Clinton and George W.Bush.

Under Obama, India looked to fulfil Washington’s strategy of checking China’s hegemony in Asia. In late 2015, Modi visited the US to further facilitate the interests of the US. The year 2016 saw India sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) thereby increasing the interoperability of the two militaries. However with the new President at the White House, there was a shift from the US pivot to Asia, which was now backed by self-interest. There has been a shift from the global view to a self centred view where relationship between the countries is now seen with the lens of trade deficits and American Jobs.

With Trump’s change in policy of forging multilateral coalitions, India now works to establishing linkages with other institutions in the American system, which still see India as a balancing figure with respect to China. Despite of the disruption due to Trump, the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement in 2018 with the US and joining the Quad is an indicator of the importance of US in India’s foreign policy.

The aversion of the US to finance and sustain geopolitical balance around the world is a reminder that India cannot rely on the US to handle strategic problems. As the US looks to pull out troops from Afghanistan and lack of interest in a global strategic policy, India looks to shift its strategy towards other crucial players like Japan, Russia, Australia and Indonesia. The vacuum which is being created by the US, is providing an opportunity for India to take bold steps in the Indo-Pacific as well as South-Central Asia.

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