Finish What You Started

Source: Getty
Op-Ed Indian Express
Summary
Vice President Joe Biden’s strong record on U.S.-Indian relations raises hopes for his visit to New Delhi.
Related Media and Tools
 

It is not often that American vice presidents show up in India. In any case, vice presidential visits abroad don't get too much attention either in the United States, or the host country. But there are good reasons to take U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit this week to Delhi and Mumbai seriously. U.S. vice presidents are no longer inconsequential in the making of American domestic and foreign policies. Biden's two predecessors, Dick Cheney and Al Gore, had considerable influence in defining the national agenda during the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations respectively.

Mohan is a nonresident senior associate in Carnegie’s South Asia Program, where his research focuses on international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues.
C. Raja Mohan
Nonresident Senior Associate
South Asia Program
More from this author...
Biden enjoys the full confidence of President Barack Obama, who has cut much political space for his vice president. Biden played a key role in contributing to Obama's victory in both the presidential campaigns. Folksy and combative, Biden was a valuable foil to Obama, who tends to be professorial and finds it difficult to connect with ordinary people. Biden's vast international experience has often come in handy for Obama in coping with the major foreign policy challenges that he inherited from Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan. Biden's pragmatism has helped cut through the arguments of the ideologues on the left and right, who tend to dominate the foreign policy discourse in Washington.

One hopes Biden will bring the same common sense to bear upon India-U.S. relations, widely perceived to be in a trough. Biden was among the key people in Washington who helped transform the India-U.S. relationship over the last decade. The Democratic Party's foreign policy establishment reacted vehemently against the historic civil nuclear initiative unveiled by former President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh eight years ago this month. Hillary Clinton, then in the race for the presidency, chose to stay quiet. Obama, a freshman senator who was finding a niche for himself, was critical of the deal and demanded changes. In contrast, Biden eagerly embraced the civil nuclear initiative, helped reduce the suspicions among the Democrats and ensured its passage in the U.S. Congress twice over. Few political leaders in the Democratic Party can claim ownership of the civil nuclear initiative in the manner that Biden can. The vice president, however, comes to India at a time when there is a sense of drift in India-U.S. relations. His principal task would be to find ways to impart new momentum to them.

Although the India-U.S. engagement has expanded and deepened beyond anyone's imagination over the last decade, there is no hiding the disappointments on both sides. Some would say India and the U.S. are simply moving from an extended honeymoon to the challenges of making a marriage work. The romance has inevitably yielded to a tiresome routine. Staying with the metaphor of marriage, Biden and his Indian interlocutors must focus on five guidelines to make the relationship robust and enduring.

First, renew the political vows. Former President Bush and then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were not just animated by a narrow strategic calculus when they chose to define a new direction for bilateral relations. They were moved by a strong conviction that after five wasted decades, Washington and Delhi could and should be natural partners. The initial vision that drove the partnership has been lost with bureaucracies on both sides slowing the momentum. All partnerships require mutual faith, and restoring it should be at the top of the agenda in the conversations between Biden and the Indian leadership.

Second, remember the shared long-term interests. Delhi and Washington need each other a lot more today than a decade ago, whether it is in accelerating economic growth or promoting national security. America's unipolar moment has passed, and the expectations about India's rapid economic growth have dimmed. Delhi and Washington help themselves by deepening the partnership with the other.

Third, finish what you started. The time has come for the political leadership in both capitals to emphasize the importance of completing the ambitious agenda unveiled in 2005. Delhi and Washington must quickly iron out the remaining wrinkles in the implementation of the civil nuclear initiative, facilitate commercial agreements between American vendors and Indian operators, and intensify the effort to complete India's integration into the global order. On the defense front, Washington must keep its word on liberalizing technology transfer. In turn, Delhi must make it easier for U.S. defense and high technology companies to invest in India.

Fourth, don't be too transactional. All good relationships are based on give and take. But they can't be sustained on the basis of constant accounting of what has been delivered by the other side. Exaggerated notions of what one or the other owes, leads to recrimination, bad blood and separation. Delhi and Washington can't allow the India-U.S. partnership to become a nickel and dime operation, with senior figures in both capitals obsessing about the trivia and forgetting the big picture.

Five, intensify strategic cooperation in Asia. During the Cold War, the central problem for India and the U.S. was their conflicting approaches towards Asia. The improvement of the bilateral relationship in the last few years has been rooted in greater convergence of their interests in Asia.

As Delhi and Washington try to develop separate, special relationships with Beijing, there is a danger of misreading each other's intentions. Both India and the U.S. want a secure Afghanistan and moderate Pakistan, but their approaches are not always in sync. An honest conversation between Biden and the Indian leaders on the changing regional balance is critical at this juncture to prevent misperceptions from derailing India-U.S. security cooperation in Asia.

This article originally appeared in the Indian Express.

End of document

About the South Asia Program

The Carnegie South Asia Program informs policy debates relating to the region’s security, economy, and political development. From the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan’s internal dynamics to U.S. engagement with India, the Program’s renowned team of experts offer in-depth analysis derived from their unique access to the people and places defining South Asia’s most critical challenges.

 

Comments

 
  • Report Abuse
Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/07/22/finish-what-you-started/gg58

More from The Global Think Tank

In Fact

 

45%

of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.

30%

of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.

140

charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.

2.5–5

thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.

92%

of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.

$2.34

trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.

37%

of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.

72%

of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.

90%

of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.

13%

of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.

17

U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.

40%

of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.

120

million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.

60–70%

of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.

58%

of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.

67%

of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.

50%

of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.

18%

of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.

81%

of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.

32

million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3

Syrians

now needs urgent assistance.

370

political parties

contested India’s last national elections.

70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

Stay in the Know

Enter your email address in the field below to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
 
 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
 
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036-2103 Phone: 202 483 7600 Fax: 202 483 1840
Please note...

You are leaving the website for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy and entering a website for another of Carnegie's global centers.

请注意...

你将离开清华—卡内基中心网站,进入卡内基其他全球中心的网站。