The next US president must be ready to welcome Indians with “open arms” and should work with Congress to reform America’s outdated export control policy that is limiting its defence cooperation with India, two Republican party members have said. “The next American President must be ready to welcome the Indians with open arms into the US re-balance,” wrote Puneet Ahluwalia and Alexander B Gray in a joint op-ed in the latest issue of the ‘National Interest’ magazine.
Ahluwalia was recently appointed to the Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee of the Trump Campaign while Gray has formerly served as Senior Advisor to a Member of the Armed Services Committee of the US House of Representatives. “To begin with, the American foreign policy establishment should begin referring to the ‘Indo-Pacific’ with greater regularity. This is not only an accurate description of the map on which the United States and China will be competing, it is also an important rhetorical recognition of India’s strategic importance,” they said.
The next administration can work with Congress to reform the “antiquated” export control regime that is limiting defence cooperation between Washington and Delhi, they said. They said these rules were preventing Washington from selling India the armed version of the Predator drone, despite having already provided India the unarmed version.
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“Similar restrictions are hampering technology transfers and defence cooperation across the board, particularly in the naval and aerospace domains, and need to be revised. “The US has long castigated India for its byzantine bureaucracy; it is time the US fixed its own paperwork deficiencies to strengthen this relationship,” the op-ed said.
Ahluwalia and Gray said regardless of the outcome of November’s presidential election, the US is poised to continue its re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China’s growing military might and increased belligerence.
“While Beijing’s brinkmanship in the South and East China Seas and bullying behaviour toward US partners like the Philippines, Japan, Australia and Singapore have most occupied Washington policymakers, there is another important but underused arrow available in the US quiver to fully implement the much-heralded ‘re-balance’ to Asia,” they wrote.