WASHINGTON, October 28—President Obama departs for India next week on his first presidential visit to the world’s largest democracy. In a new paper, Ashley J. Tellis writes that Obama has a unique opportunity to cement a global partnership with a rapidly emerging power—and India has the potential to be America’s most important strategic partner. A strong bilateral relationship with New Delhi will help Washington manage China’s rise, promote democracy globally, and protect broader American interests.
Key Recommendations for the United States:
- Pay greater attention to India. While Obama has understandably focused on competing priorities—including the troubled U.S. economy and ongoing wars abroad—Washington must devote more resources to its relations with New Delhi. India plays a critical role in Afghanistan, international economic recovery, and preserving a stable Asian order—all priority issues for the United States.
- Reaffirm U.S. support. The White House should endorse India’s quest for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. This bold move would reassure Indians of America’s dedication to the relationship.
- Integrate India into the global nonproliferation regime. The civil nuclear agreement between the United States and India was the first step in bringing India out of its nuclear isolation. Washington should broaden its efforts to involve everything from aiding the expansion of nuclear power in India to improving collaboration on nuclear security.
"By reaffirming the U.S. commitment to aid India’s growth in power and emphasizing America’s fellowship with India, Obama can help bring the two countries together on shared interests and move their relationship forward significantly," Tellis writes.
Ashley J. Tellis is a senior associate in the Carnegie South Asia Program. He specializes in international security, defense, and Asian strategic issues and was intimately involved in the negotiations associated with the U.S.–India civil nuclear agreement. Previously, he was a senior adviser to the U.S. ambassador to India and was a special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia in the National Security Council.
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.
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