With India planning to buy $100 billion worth of new weapons over the next 10 years, arms sales may be the best way for the US to revive stagnating US-India relations, according to two US experts.
Even as non-military trade and investment and social and cultural ties between India and the US have advanced in recent years, Washington remains of two minds about its relationship with New Delhi, Sunil Dasgupta and Stephen P. Cohen wrote in the Foreign Affairs magazine.
Much has been made of US President Barack Obama’s pledge to support India’s push for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, but the real story from his visit was its implications for bilateral military trade, they wrote.
During the trip, Obama announced that the US would sell $5 billion worth of US military equipment to India, including 10 Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft and 100 General Electric F-414 fighter aircraft.
Although the details are still being worked out, these and other contracts already in the works will propel the US into the ranks of India’s top three military suppliers, alongside Russia and Israel.
Dasgupta teaches political science at the University of Maryland and Cohen is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. They are the co-authors of “Arming Without Aiming: India’s Military Modernization”.
The US clearly has the technological edge to win Indian military contracts, but the US law banning the transfer of technologies that have military uses is a major stumbling block, they wrote.
The US can get around its own legal restrictions on technology transfers by pursuing ambitious long-term projects because if a technology does not currently exist US law does not protect it, Dasgupta and Cohen wrote.
So far, however, the Obama administration has not wanted to think big and seriously consider joint technology development, they said.
“This is a mistake. Short-term differences between India and the United States caused their estrangement during the Cold War. A similar rift now would not be in the long-term interest of either country,” Dasgupta and Cohen wrote.
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