The idea is that India and the United States are natural allies. But some are skeptical that India is ready to assume the mantle of responsible world power. Closer ties with an ever more authoritarian Russia don’t bode well. ~Michael Goldfarb

I don’t assume India and America are “natural” allies, since I don’t think any such thing exists.  Relative to other states in the region and for the time being, India is the most desirable ally to have to advance American interests in southern and western Asia and to help balance against the rise of China. 

Michael Goldfarb, the Standard’s new blogger, exhibits about as much foreign policy realism and understanding as the Foreign Policy contributor whom he cites in support of his implicitly anti-Indian post.  Closer ties with Russia are hardly surprising, nor should they be the cause of any turning away from India on our part.  Good Russo-Indian relations have been a fact of life ever since the realignment with China in 1972 that led to our leaning towards Pakistan over India (since Barbara Crossette in Foreign Policy insists on talking about the nastiness of 1971, we might remember that CENTO lent some support to Pakistani operations during the war, which did involve many Pakistani atrocities in their attempts to retain control of the Bengali-speaking East).  Contemplating weakening our connection to India because India continues to have good relations with Russia, whether it is authoritarian, democratic or anarchosyndicalist, is the height of moralistic stupidity and precisely what I would expect from the Standard.  The solution for the smart foreign policy thinker is to stop harrassing and alienating the Russians and to form a triad of great powers linking Moscow, New Delhi and Washington.  

Since both of the other powers have good relations with Iran (something that Ms. Crossette foolishly counts as a liability against an Indian alliance), and since it is blindingly obvious that rapprochement with Iran is in our interest, this triad would present a number of possibilities for securing our interests across the continent.  However, so long as we have ridiculous foreign policy thinkers who are more worried about Russian authoritarianism, the caste system and Kashmir than they are about the American interest, we will not succeed in forming such an alliance. 

Most of the examples Barbara Crossette lists as examples of India as bad international actor come from at least twenty years ago–consider how absurd it is to govern current Iran policy by memories of 1979, and you begin to appreciate why talking about India’s role in fomenting the 1971 war is remarkably irrelevant to the question of whether America should cultivate close ties.  By the by, the separation of what was then East Pakistan did have the effect of making future full-out Pakistani attacks on India extremely difficult, and this has contributed to the relative stability that the region has enjoyed for thirty-five years.  The 1971 war was very ugly and brutal, but there have at least been no more such wars–partly because of Indian policy.  That should be counted in New Delhi’s favour, should it not?

We should not enter into any connection with India on the basis of delusions of common purpose or common values.  A very small minority in India shares anything like the “values” most Americans possess, but most are radically alien from us in religion, culture and politics.  That is as you would expect.  Any connection with India must be founded on an understanding and respect for the respective nations’ legitimate and just interests and an appreciation of those points where our nations’ interests coincide.  Where they do not coincide, as they sometimes will not, we should demonstrate a certain degree of patience and toleration without, however, surrendering our appropriate claims.  It very much suits Indian interests, for instance, to have a great deal of outsourcing and offshoring, whereas it does not suit the interests of much of the American people to have their facilities and jobs sent overseas.  That will have to be flagged as an area where there will not be much room for accommodation in the future, which should not preclude cooperation on security, intelligence and other commercial fronts.