about foreigners. It must be about what Iraqis do to
drive ISIS out.
And, we all can back the Iraqis in many way, but
actually taking over the war from them would be
the wrong way.
It’s their country and they need to get their act
together — get their politics sorted out. I don’t think
India will go and meddle in a foreign war like that.
Another potential irritant is that India has had
absolutely no qualms in supporting Russia in its
actions in Ukraine. How does all this play into the fur-
thering of the US-India strategic partnership?
I would argue that this is an area where the
President has to articulate to Modi what his concerns
are, where he sees the negotiations in Ukraine going,
and seek Modi’s understanding.
He understands India’s longstanding ties to Russia.
I suspect he will ask Modi to use those ties to urge
Russia to be constructive in finding a way out of this
But I don’t think the President will ask Mr Modi to
disrupt his ties with Russia — that is most unlikely.
Prime Minister Modi comes to the US after success-
ful meetings with the Japanese prime minister and
then hosting the Chinese president. So, does this
mean that he’s already decided on his foreign policy
priorities and the US is not on top of his pecking
order and doesn’t this put the US on the defensive?
No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means that India
… is going to reach out in all directions.
India is going to have a strong relationship with
Japan, India is going to maintain its ties to China,
India is going to develop a strong relationship with
the United States.
It means that India is going to have the flexibility
to pick and choose its friends and its engagements.
That’s tradition Indian foreign policy, and it’s
smart. You don’t just have one friend, and we understand that.
We have a very privileged friendship with India.
Our values, our institutions, are quite similar and
our national interests coincide and there’s the entirety of our intense defense cooperation and we are the
single largest investor with $28 billion in FDI, so we
are in a very strong position. But we don’t expect to
be treated as the only friend.
Recently testifying before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, you argued that it is imperative
that before Prime Minister Modi arrives in
Washington for his summit with President Obama,
that the administration alleviate some of India’s con-
cerns to get off on the right track. You said, ‘rooted in
Indian perception is that they are looking for a defini-
tion of how we intend to manage our affairs in pro-
tecting the security and balance of power in Asia…
They don’t know what it is, and it makes them pro-
foundly uneasy because they don’t know where they
fit in — how we are going to manage Chinese power,
how we are going to deal with Afghanistan, and what
our plans are toward Pakistan.’
With all the administration has been swamped by
— Ukraine, Gaza, and now ISIS or ISIL — has the
administration even given a thought to his?
They’ve given a lot of thought but how they will
articulate it is another matter. I don’t know how they
will articulate it.
But core to American policy is maintaining a constructive relationship with China and at the same
time providing balance — strong friendships with
Korea, Japan, the nations of Southeast Asia, and
To keep that balance — whether they call it that or
not, that’s what it is, and I don’t have any problem at
all. I mean… from an Indian perspective that will
make sense as well.
At the same hearing, you also warned against ‘
exaggerated expectations’ and explained that India is not
your normal ally that we expect to have consultations
and have American solutions and expect a degree of
responsiveness to our ideas.
I did; I said that and I meant that. India is not
what we call an ally, where we can call them up and
say, ‘Hey, we are going to war in Iraq and I expect
you to have six planes lined up.’ That’s not India.
India is very prideful, very, very careful about her
sovereignty and where she makes her commitments.
And, India before she does anything, they have to
reflect on it and in a sense be convinced.
Coming back to trade and the world economy, the
day after the Strategic Dialogue with the US in
Delhi, India torpedoed the WTO’s Trade
Facilitation Agreement. What does this say about
I have to say I am very sorry about that. I believe
the trade liberalization agreement was in everybody’s
interest. I understand India’s reasons, and you have
to start respectfully and looking at those reasons.
But I still believe it was a sad day for the WTO,
which had worked very hard to get agreement on
trade facilitation. And lord knows, the world needs
more trade, not less.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to find himself having some very interesting and engaged discussions where the business community is going to hear a certain amount of optimism, that if he builds India, they build in India, believes Frank Wisner.
In May, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was sworn in, United States Senator Mark Warner (Democrat, Virginia), who co-chairs the bipartisan Senate India Caucus, had laid out a ‘First 100 days’
plan. It included recommendations to strengthen bilateral
relations for both the US and Indian governments.
‘I am pleased to see,’ Warner said last week, ‘US and
Indian leadership work together to make progress on
concrete deliverables during these first 100 days. By
demonstrating that we can move beyond talk and actual-
ly get things done, we can provide new energy and
Warner said, ‘In the first 100 days, Secretary of Defense
Chuck Hagel announced that Frank Kendall, under secre-
tary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, would lead
the US side of the Defense Trade and Technology
Initiative… Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unveiled
a Budget that raises Foreign Direct Investment from 26
percent to 49 percent in the several sectors including
He also noted that Secretary of State John Kerry and
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker had traveled to
Delhi for the US-India Strategic Dialogue. Warner’s recom-
mendations had called for this meeting to be held early in
Prime Minister Modi’s first term and to hold it in Delhi.
Warner said he appreciated that Kerry had ‘addressed
the issue of high-skill visas,’ and acknowledged ‘the need to
reform US immigration policies to make it easier for peo-
ple to travel and address some of India’s concerns with
regard to visa policies.’
He also pointed out, ‘The US Trade and Development
Agency announced an energy project with Gujarat Energy
Transmission Corporation Limited, to integrate increasing
amounts of wind and solar into its power transmission sys-
tem. This project, to be carried out with Quanta
Technology of Raleigh in North Carolina, will ensure load
Warner also lauded India for dropping plans ‘to
impose an anti-dumping duty of between 11 to 81 cents
per watt on solar panel imports from the US, China,
Taiwan and Malaysia.’
He said he was pleased that Amy Searight, deputy assis-
tant secretary of defense, had ‘announced that the Defense
Policy Group will convene this year ahead of the 2015
US Senator Robert Menendez, (Democrat, New Jersey),
chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took to
the US Senate floor to welcome Prime Minister Modi to
the US and reiterate the importance of the strategic partnership between Washington and New Delhi.
He bemoaned that despite the US and India being ‘nat-
ural partners,’ both countries were ‘far from realizing the
full potential of our relationship.’
Menendez, who has one of the biggest Indian-American
constituencies, expressed confidence that Modi’s visit
would ‘re-invigorate and refocus our partnership so that
concrete progress can be made in a host of sectors.’
He said, ‘This is a relationship that does not suffer from a
lack of dialogue. Unfortunately it has suffered from a lack
of results, especially since the civilian nuclear framework
was agreed to in 2005. With a strong push from the prime
minister, President Obama and the US Congress, the time
is right for these dialogues to translate into action.’
He said, ‘US companies seek to invest in India, but need
transparent governance, a fair regulatory environment, and
strong legal mechanisms to protect those investments. If
the Indian government can deliver on its plans for greater
openness for capital flows and stronger intellectual proper-
ty rights, I am confident our companies are ready to invest.’
He added, ‘India has a long and rich history of religious,
ethnic, and linguistic pluralism with a vibrant civil society.
We should also continue to work together to ensure
greater respect for human rights, and encourage a legal
framework that protects the civil rights and liberties of
the most vulnerable Indian populations, particularly
Influential US lawmakers hail 100 days of Modi
‘The US-India relationship deserves the hype’