U.S.-Indian Relations: Permanent Interests Not Permanent Friends

As the US and India begin their third annual strategic dialogue this week, which follows last week’s visit to India by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, it is important for US policymakers dealing with India to keep in mind the warning of the late British diplomat Sir Harold Nicholson: “Nations do not have permanent friends or enemies. They have permanent interests.”

While President Obama has referred to India as an “indispensable ally,” close examination of the US-India relationship over the past decade has shown that it is an exaggeration to put India in the same category as allies like the United Kingdom. Rather, while India and the US do share a number of common interests and have much to gain through cooperation, Indian interests are not identical to those of the US.

This article was originally published in e-International Relations.