The Indians featured in American history differ from the Indians found in Southern Asia. Throughout the 1800s, America’s westward push resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Native Americans – though millions fell to smallpox hundreds of years earlier. Simultaneously, English forces would crush resistance to British rule in India, beginning with the defeat of Mysore in 1799, the Maratha Empire in 1818 and the Sikh Empire in 1849. While America rose dramatically in power as the 20th century dawned, India would remain a subject of British rule, her attempt to gain freedom in 1857 viciously suppressed.
Indeed, when India finally gained her freedom back in 1947, she found herself in a different world than the one she had known. The British and French Empires were crumbling following two World Wars and a wave of nationalism across colonies. In the place of European colonial powers, the Soviet Union and the United States stood above all others. India, not wanting to be wrapped up in Cold War tensions, became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, though strong relations between the Soviet Union and India developed over the course of the Cold War. During the 1971 war, the United States backed Pakistan, a move which resulted in lasting mistrust between India and the United States. America’s continued alliance with Pakistan – a state which has sponsored terror attacks on Indian soil – has been a constant thorn in the side of Indo-American relations.
Yet, the giant of Asia and the giant of the New World must reconcile in the 21st century. The two nations share a deep common interest, both in a tactical short-medium term sense as well as long-term strategic goals. America, as an established global leader, seeks to protect its place atop the global order – the order which it has presided over with the effect of creating peace and prosperity for many nations. India, meanwhile, seeks to make its resurgence on the world stage – India’s massive population and deep history make this resurgence inevitable. Both nations face enemies in their respective missions – primarily the People’s Republic of China, along with the threat of radical Islam and Wahhabism.
Firstly, the United States must end her alliance with Pakistan. The American-Pakistani partnership has gradually weakened over the past few years, with relations severely deteriorating after Osama Bin Laden was found a stone’s throw away from an elite ISI academy. It is high time that this malformed mutant of a relationship between the United States and Pakistan ends – along with the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, the US must vastly increase its economic involvement in India. Building large amounts of ports and infrastructure, providing cheap loans, and selling military equipment to India will not only ensure that India is an American partner but also guarantee that India is a strong country which can serve as an equalizer to China. India is the only country on Earth capable of countering Chinese influence in Asia within the long-run, and America is the only country (not named Russia or China) capable of building India up to the level of China.
This new American policy also requires Indian compliance, and in order for India to fully comply, she must break with her decades-old tradition of neutrality. China’s aggressive behavior and the burgeoning Indo-Japanese alliance is already eroding at India’s commitment to neutrality. Yet, India has remained a non-commital power. The Indo-Russian alliance is decades old, with Russia being considered an “all-weather friend” in India. However, as Moscow draws ever closer to the orbit of Bejing, India will soon have to choose between an awkward alliance with Russia or a strong and fruitful partnership with the United States.
As the power of China grows, America needs to build stronger relationships in the Asia-Pacific region. While relations with European allies are important, Europe no longer controls the destiny of nations. Instead, the future of Earth will be forged in the geopolitical fires of Asia. It is in the best interest of the United States to play an active role in this forge – else, we may see a world not at all suitable to the interests of America or her people.