Author(s)Kronstadt, K. A.
KeywordsGovernment and Political Science
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AbstractLong considered a "strategic backwater" from Washington's perspective, South Asia has emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core U.S. foreign policy interests. India, the region's dominant actor with more than one billion citizens, is often characterized as a nascent major power and "natural partner" of the United States, one that many analysts view as a potential counterweight to China's growing clout. Washington and New Delhi have since 2004 been pursuing a "strategic partnership" based on shared values such as democracy, pluralism, and rule of law. Numerous economic, security, and global initiatives, including plans for civilian nuclear cooperation, are underway. This latter initiative, launched by President Bush in 2005 and finalized by the 110th Congress in 2008 (P.L. 110-369), reverses three decades of U.S. nonproliferation policy. Also in 2005, the United States and India signed a ten-year defense framework agreement that calls for expanding bilateral security cooperation. Since 2002, the two countries have engaged in numerous and unprecedented combined military exercises. Major U.S. arms sales to India are underway; more are anticipated. The influence of a growing and relatively wealthy Indian-American community of more than two million is reflected in Congress's largest country-specific caucus.