Tsunami and Indo-US relations

When the Congress Govt. with Communist support came into power in India there was a fear that the relations that the previous NDA Govt. had built with United States and Israel would erode. But on the contrary, the relation seems to be going fine, even though many of us don’t like the kid glove treatment that the General across the border is getting.

What does all this mean geopolitically? First, there is the fact that the left-of-center Congress Party-led government willingly worked with the United States in responding to the tsunami. In the past, such a regime would have gone to great lengths to torpedo any American effort to provide relief in the region. For example, when a massive cyclone hit Bangladesh in 1991, leaving extensive devastation in its wake, India expressed misgivings about the U.S. response, which was called “Operation Sea Angel.” These anxieties, a product of the cold-war years, have steadily dissipated over the past decade, replaced by a willingness to work with, and even court, the United States on a range of issues, from anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean to jointly confronting terrorism. Indeed, the growing scope of military-to-military contacts between the two countries over the past several years (a centerpiece of the new Indo-U.S. relationship) made it possible for the two states to play a leading and coordinated role in post-tsunami relief. To be sure, the countries remain at odds over certain issues, such as India’s ties to Iran and the brutal regime in Myanmar. But the signs point in a positive direction. For example, in a sharp departure from the past, the ongoing U.S. military presence in Sri Lanka to provide humanitarian assistance has not elicited any visceral, reflexive comments from New Delhi officialdom. The latent suspicion of all American initiatives in the region that until recently preoccupied India’s foreign policy elite now appears to be in steady decline. [Assist Leader via Dan Drezner]

After the nuclear tests, there was a series of discussions between India and United States in which both the nations understood each other more clearly. During the Kargil crisis, United States sided with India, much to the surprise of New Delhi, according to Strobe Talbott.
But one of the important reasons for the removal of suspicion is improved trade relations between the two countries and India was one of the three countries which supported Bush’s re-election.

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