Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill, President, Barbour Griffith and Rogers International, introduced this latest report and opened the event by commenting on the value of transforming U.S.-Indian relationship.
"India As a New Global Power: An Action Agenda for the United States" offers a detailed plan for successfully implementing the Bush Administration's decision to assist India in becoming a major world power in the twenty-first century.
To launch this report, Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill, President of Barbour Griffith and Rogers International, Carnegie Vice President for Studies, George Perkovich and Hudson Institute Senior Fellow S. Enders Wimbush, joined Dr. Tellis for a two hour discussion reviewing the report's analysis and conclusions.
Ambassador Blackwill began his introduction by asking audience members to imagine India as a European country. Similar to European countries, India shares common democratic values and national interests with the United States. But India’s rapidly growing economy and military, and proximity to the Persian Gulf set it apart from all European states in terms of power. Moreover, India’s four most vital national interests mirror those of the United States: winning the war on terrorism, dealing with weapons of mass destruction, managing the rise of China, and maintaining energy security in the Persian Gulf.
Due to these common interests and India’s rising importance in international affairs, Ambassador Blackwill concluded that the United States must deal in increasingly collaborative ways with India, and that Tellis’ report provides an excellent way to begin this process.
After Ambassador Blackwill’s introduction, Tellis provided an overview of his action agenda in which he emphasized the following points:
• The need for a new Presidential National Security Decision Directive on India
• The possibilities and the limits of U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation
• The terms under which India should be integrated into the global nonproliferation order
• The politics and challenges of the Indo-Iranian-Pakistani gas pipeline • The issue of U.S. support for UNSC membership for India
• The desirable structure of future U.S.-Indian defense cooperation
• The suitability of a new U.S. approach to India’s nuclear weapons, missile, and space programs
• The necessity of enhanced U.S.-India cyber-security cooperation
• The value of a U.S.-India free trade agreement
To facilitate discussion of Tellis’ report, Carnegie Vice President for Studies, George Perkovich and Hudson Institute Senior Fellow S. Enders Wimbush each took about 10 minutes to voice their comments and criticisms.
Perkovich described the report as “exceptionally detailed and comprehensive,” but also noted several points of contention.
First, Perkovich believed that too much value was assigned to military power, in particular to strategic weapons systems, rather than the economic issues (rural development, regional inequalities, etc..) that are the greatest threats to India.
Second, Perkovich cautioned that even the best-made plans of strategists like Tellis could be derailed by inward-looking domestic interests within the Indian or American democratic governments. India’s parliament will always contain many members with ideologies, worldviews, and interests at odds with those of many members of the American Congress. Recent examples include hostility in India about the Iraq war and fear in the United States about outsourcing.
Third, India will not want to get so close to the United States that it alienates China. Since the 1998 nuclear tests, the Indian government has been quite adept at playing the triangular U.S.-India-China relationship to its advantage, India’s desire to develop a strong relationship with China could impede its relations with America.
S. Enders Wimbush had a different response to the report. Rather than expressing the need to look at variables that could mitigate Tellis’ recommendations, Wimbush emphasized the need to forge an even deeper relationship with India. Wimbush felt that Tellis’ report did not go far enough in two areas.
First, with respect to proliferation, Wimbush predicted a 21st century in which the number of states possessing nuclear weapons will increase and the old rules of deterrence and crisis management no longer apply. In order to manage this chaotic world, Wimbush suggested that the non-proliferation regime would have to adapt and find new types of diplomacy and surveillance to prevent rapid acquisition and possibly even use of nuclear weapons. While the current regime has pursued an outdated policy of seeking to prevent Indian acquisition of nuclear weapons, Wimbush believes it is now time to focus on persuading India to be a responsible nuclear actor. In fact, Wimbush argued that the U.S. should engage India and encourage it to take the lead in non-proliferation in areas, such as Iran, where the United States has had little success on its own.
Second, Wimbush noted the absence of any Asian multilateral security organization that could effectively hold the interests of the United States and suggested that India could become a leader in working with the United States to craft such a relationship, that could also include China.
When the event moved on to the question and answer section, the discussion focused largely on proliferation issues. Ambassador Blackwill opened the discussion by arguing that recognizing India as a great power is incompatible with maintaining the current non-proliferation regime because of India’s need and capacity to use civilian nuclear power. He pointed out that Indians put a lot of weight on the development of their nuclear power industry and that nuclear power would have to be a central component of a stronger U.S.-India relationship.
Tellis added that, at some point, the United States would have to make India an exception to the traditional non-proliferation framework. Unlike Iran, India has not violated any non-proliferation obligations and it is asking for a normal relationship. In fact, India is not asking for assistance that would blatantly violate the current regime so it may be possible to assist India without looking hypocritical in relations with other states. Providing India access to fuel and involving India in international R&D efforts can be done without undermining American negotiations with Iran, and India would place great value on these forms of assistance. Tellis acknowledged, however, that an exception would probably have to be made in the future and that this would require effective and quiet diplomacy to prevent the nuclear regime from unraveling.
Perkovich admitted that, in the past, the United States put too much weight on the nonproliferation objective of making India give up its nuclear explosive work, and India resisted. Now the United States is adjusting its objectives and policies, but Perkovich warned that India is currently putting too much weight on its nuclear objectives, and too much emphasis on obtaining foreign nuclear reactors at the expense of the international nonproliferation system. Perkovich recommended that the United States should try to fashion an international accommodation with many of India's interests, seeking agreement among key states to adjust rules regulating nuclear commerce with countries that implement state-of-the-art, reliable nonproliferation controls. But much as India resisted the most excessive American nuclear policies, the United States should resist India's excessive emphasis on radically abolishing all of the key elements of the international nonproliferation system, especially controls on reactor exports. Much as the United States has had to adjust to Indian acquisition of the bomb, Perkovich argued that India should adjust to the importance of preserving cohesion among the countries necessary to strengthen and uphold the international nonproliferation regime.