GZERO Media logo

The US and India: 2+2 To Tango?

The US and India: 2+2 To Tango?

In the most important geopolitical region in the world, the Asia Pacific, the Trump administration has its bets placed squarely on India. Its strategy, which includes a rebrand befitting a salesman turned president, depends on closer relations between the US and India and India playing a larger role throughout Asia.


So as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrive in New Delhi tomorrow for the 2+2 dialogue (so-called because it involves foreign ministers and defense secretaries from each side), one of the highest-level dialogues between the two countries since Trump took office, it bears asking – How are things going?

On many fronts, relations between the US and India are on an upward trajectory. Perhaps the strongest area of cooperation is on arms sales—where India went from importing zero US-made equipment in 2008 to around $15 billion in the decade since. Secretaries Pompeo and Mattis are looking to use their trip this week to sign a long-stalled defense pact that would enable billions more in weapons deals and expand military ties, including the sharing of encrypted communications and communications systems. The recent US decision to cut off military aid to Pakistan should certainly help boost trust.

But there remain points of friction, particularly on economic issues, that could ultimately limit the deeper cooperation envisioned by US strategy. India has a large trade surplus with the US, a particular bone of contention for President Trump, and was hit by US steel and aluminum tariffs earlier in the year—which though not yet economically damaging have proven to be an irritant. In addition, the US is currently considering two different sanctions packages against India—one for its planned purchase of a Russian-made air defense system, the other because of its continued reliance on Iranian oil imports. Trump’s tendency to mimic his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is certainly not helping his administration’s efforts to cozy up to a man who oversees one-sixth of the world’s population.

Even if they can get along, there’s a broader question: Could India ever provide the US the reliable foothold it wants in Asia? Here, the US faces two problems. First, India remains a reluctant power that will struggle to challenge China strategically in the region. Second, deeper ties with India will do little to combat China’s growing economic clout—of which India is, and will continue to be, a willing beneficiary. For the US, it will take more than 2+2 to tango in Asia.

Visit Microsoft on The Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. Subscribe for the latest at Microsoft on the Issues.

On Wednesday, Joe Biden will become president because eighty-one million Americans, the highest tally in US history, voted to change course after four years of Donald Trump's leadership. Like all presidents, Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, take office with grand ambitions and high expectations, but rarely has a new administration taken power amid so much domestic upheaval and global uncertainty. And while Biden has pledged repeatedly to restore American "unity" across party lines — at a time of immense suffering, real achievements will matter a lot more than winged words.

Biden has a lot on his agenda, but within his first 100 days as president there are three key issues that we'll be watching closely for clues to how effectively he's able to advance their plans.

More Show less

We're only a few weeks into 2021 and that 'fresh new start' that so many had been hoping for at the end of 2020 has not exactly materialized. But what gives World Bank President David Malpass hope for the coming year? "The promise of humanity and of technology, people working together with communication, where they can share ideas. It allows an incredible advance for living standards." His wide-ranging conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

It wasn't pretty, but we made it to Inauguration Day. These last four years have taught the US a lot about itself — so what have we learned?

More Show less

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and it is the last full day of the Trump administration. Extraordinary four years, unprecedented in so many ways. I guess the most important feature for me is how much more divided the United States is, the world is, as coming out of the Trump administration than it was coming in. Not new. We were in a GZERO world, as I called it well before Trump was elected president. The social contract was seen as fundamentally problematic. Many Americans believed their system was rigged, didn't want to play the kind of international leadership role that the United States had heretofore, but all of those things accelerated under Trump.

So perhaps the most important question to be answered is, once Trump is gone, how much of that persists? It is certainly true that a President Biden is much more oriented towards trying to bring the United States back into existing multilateral architecture, whether that be the Paris Climate Accord, or more normalized immigration discussions with the Mexicans, the World Health Organization, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, some of which will be easy to do, like Paris, some of which will be very challenging, like Iran. But nonetheless, all sounds like business as usual.

More Show less
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal