ON THE ROCKS
In his critique of U.S. President Barack ObamaÕs India policy, Nicholas Burns (Passage to India, September/October 2014) correctly identifies the issues that have bedeviled U.S.-Indian relations, such as differences over international agreements on climate change and trade. But he overestimates both IndiaÕs desire to improve the relationship and the benefits doing so would bring.
Like many advocates of stronger U.S.-Indian ties, Burns fails to recognize that two countries with the same system of government do not necessarily develop similar interests or policies. In the case of India, the burdens of colonialism and economic underdevelopment have led it to oppose much of the U.S. agenda. Like China, India continues to view the United States as a presumptuous superpower and competitor. And if India realizes its goal of becoming an economic powerhouse with global influence, New Delhi’s rivalry with Washington, particularly in South Asia, will likely intensify.
NICHOLAS BURNS is Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.
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