Following two panels illuminating the strategic context presently dominating relations between China, India, and Pakistan, the conference concluded with a presentation focusing on the implications for U.S. foreign policy. The panelists were U.S. Navy Admiral (ret.) Timothy Keating and Jack Gill of the National Defense University. John Foster, co-chair of the Nuclear Strategy Forum, moderated.

  • Defining U.S. Interests: Any discussion of U.S. policy must begin with a discussion of how the United States defines its interests in a particular situation, explained one panelist. In southern Asia, he said that these interests might include:

    • Ensuring stable domestic politics and advancing levels of economic development throughout the region.

    • Preserving free and open sea lanes for commercial purposes, given that at least 90 percent of the world’s manufactured goods pass through sea lanes in that region at some point in their life cycle.

    • Securing the United States from conventional and non-conventional threats, including international terror groups and nuclear weapons.

  • Changing Circumstances: Panelists agreed that the United States must prepare itself for rapidly changing conditions in this region, including tenser, more militarized borders and the movement of power projection capabilities to sea.

  • Continued Engagement: One panelist strongly advocated for continuous U.S. involvement in the region, saying that in the minds of many within the region the United States remains an “indispensable partner,” even if that is not true on all issues or occasions. The panelist recommended that the United States find new ways to maintain a palpable presence that do not necessarily involve “boots on the ground,” noting that U.S. partners find the relationship more comfortable when U.S. presence is nearby but not too close to home.