Wednesday, October 21, 2009


To contain the power of the Soviet Union, the U. S. undertook the creation of certain defensive military alliances. North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO was established in 1949. The Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) both were created a few years later. The United States would have welcomed India's membership in these military alliances. Nehru was not amenable to any such partnership. Having received a cold shoulder from Nehru, the United States turned to Pakistan as a junior ally. Pakistan became a member both of SEATO and CENTO. Pakistan was not sincere in its anti-Communist zeal. Russia and China were not the enemies. It joined the military alliances for opportunistic reasons in order to receive American military aid. The weapons could then be used against India.

Spurned by America's military aid to Pakistan, India gravitated towards the Soviet Union. It consistently opposed the United States in the UN. For example, India championed China's admission to the UN. The United States opposed it. India supported Arab position against Israel. The U. S. took the opposite stand. It may be noted parenthetically that India's support of the Arab cause was rooted in its domestic politics. Anti-Israeli policies were popular with Indian Muslim voters, who constituted an important voting bloc for India's ruling Congress party. While these pro-China and anti-Israeli policies were popular at their time in India, history has shown them to be "failed" policies. These policies did not serve India well.

Indo-American relations reached a low point during the 1971 Bangladesh war. India supported Bangladesh's struggle for freedom from Pakistani war of genocide. America "tilted" to the side of Pakistan.

Indo-American relations improved a bit in the 1980s during the Reagan presidency (1980-88). The upward movement in relations continued during both the Bush presidency (1988-92) and the early years of the Clinton presidency. The two countries engaged in a dialog to redefine their "strategic relationship."  Then Pokharan I and II happened in May 1998. India test- exploded its nuclear devices. This derailed the burgeoning Indo-American relations.

The United States government took a hard stand against India becoming a Nuclear power. I believe America's opposition to India's minimum nuclear deterrence is indefensible. It ignores India's legitimate security needs against rival China and unstable Pakistan.

--Dr. Madan Lal Goel


Dr. Madan Lal Goel
University of West Florida

No two countries are as misunderstood by each other as the United States and India. The misunderstanding goes back to a period after WWII, to a period when India achieved its independence from colonial rule and the United States emerged as one of the two global superpowers. Partly this is due to the relative lack of historical contact between India and the U.S. This lack of historical contact between India and the United States is in contrast to America=s much longer contact with two other Asian civilizations: China and Japan.

Indians generally misperceive the history of Indo-American relations. Many people in India have heard about the Boston Tea Party, and some believe that goods imported into the colonies from India were a major cause of the American Revolution. This is not so. All that happened was that tea that originated from India was dumped into the Boston Harbor by American freedom fighters to protest the British monarch=s policies of mercantilism.

Lord Cornwallis, Governor General of India from 1786 to 1793, provides another minor footnote to history. Before being sent to India, Cornwallis was the British General deputed to deal with the American revolutionaries. He was defeated at Yorktown in 1781 by American freedom fighters, thus sealing the fate of British power in North America. After his defeat, Cornwallis was sent to India as the Governor General of the East India Company. This development did not lead to any meaningful relations between India and the U.S.

It is interesting to note however that the British colonial yoke was imposed on the people of India just as it was lifted off the backs of the people in America. Along with Robert Clive and . . .
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