THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE COMMENTARY A New
Strategic Partnership For the U.S. and India By KENNETH I. JUSTER October 1, 2004 U.S.
George W. Bush's recent meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh in New York on Sept. 21 set the seal on a remarkable nine months in
U.S.-India relations, and provided further impetus toward a mature and
productive partnership between the world's two largest democracies. The U.S. and India have come a long way in a very short
time. For decades, relations were stymied by differing approaches to the Cold
War world, incompatible economic systems, and concerns over nuclear weapons.
recently, however, governments in both countries, of all political stripes,
have realized that each has more to gain by cooperation than by mere
coexistence, and have made efforts to put the relationship on a stronger basis.
The path has not always been straightforward. India's 1998 nuclear tests were a particularly
contentious point between the two countries. So, while then U.S. President Bill
Clinton's visit to India in March 2000 provided momentum in moving U.S.-India
relations onto a constructive course, the impact was limited by the inability
of the two sides to bridge the gap presented by their differing perspectives on
the nuclear issue.
the situation that faced the incoming Bush Administration. Rather than
remaining stalled on impediments and history, however, the Administration chose
to deal with the realities on the ground in a way that would unlock the
potential of the relationship to the benefit of both countries without
compromising security or nonproliferation principles. Building on the two
countries' shared democratic values and overlapping interests in stability in Asia and beyond, in combating global
terrorism, and in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
and their means of delivery, President Bush sought to establish a productive
and sustainable long-term strategic partnership with India that would stand the test of time.
vision was the driving force, from the U.S. side, that led to the creation of the
Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) initiative, which President Bush and
then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee announced in January. The NSSP was carefully named. It sets out a
framework within which the U.S. and India can develop a true strategic
partnership, beginning with expanded cooperation in areas important to both
countries: high-technology trade, civilian space programs, civilian nuclear
activities, and missile defense. The NSSP is designed to progress through a
series of reciprocal steps that build on each other. It responds to India's desire for increased access to U.S. technology for peaceful purposes by
liberalizing trade in such technology in a manner that is consistent with U.S. nonproliferation laws and obligations,
and does not contribute to India's programs for nuclear weapons and their
means of delivery.
is grounded in the realization that what unites us is stronger than what
divides us. It acknowledges India's role as a major power, while
appreciating that it takes time to build a lasting strategic partnership. It
sets up a process to create and build upon successes, while establishing habits
of cooperation that extend deep into the governmental fabric of both countries.
The Sept. 21 meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Singh celebrated
the completion of the first phase of the NSSP, which included the
implementation of measures to address proliferation issues and ensure that
U.S.-origin goods and technologies are used in accordance with U.S. export-control requirements. These
measures allowed the U.S. to modify its export-licensing policies
to foster increased cooperation in commercial space programs and permit certain
exports to power plants at safeguarded nuclear facilities. Future steps will
build upon this process of enhancing security and expanding trade.
attempting to resolve all differences, the NSSP is designed to send a strong
signal to both publics of the two governments' commitment to moving forward
through joint activity. Indeed, the U.S. and India realize that the strategic partnership
requires a strong commercial underpinning that builds trust and positive
relationships throughout both societies. That is why the NSSP is combined with
engagement with the private sector through the U.S.-India Economic Dialogue and
the High Technology Cooperation Group, which together address a broad array of
trade, economic and security issues. Given the depth and range of the current
engagement, both countries can now look ahead with realism,
but without equivocation, to the kind of mature relationship that the people of
the U.S. and India deserve -- one in which the two
countries understand their common interests and work together to achieve them,
one in which they understand the problems between them and work together to
Mr. Juster is the U.S. undersecretary of commerce, and one of
the architects of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership initiative.