I want Prime Minister Modi to succeed because I want India to succeed. It is no secret that the past few years have been challenging ones for India — political gridlock, a flagging economy, financial difficulties, and more. It is not my place or that of any other American to tell India how to realise its full potential. That is for the Indians to decide. Our concern is simply that India does realise its full potential, for the United States has a stake in India’s success.
It is also no secret that India and the US have not been reaching our full potential as strategic partners over the past few years, and there is plenty of blame to be shared on both sides. Too often recently we have slipped back into a transactional relationship.
We need to lift our sights again. The real reason India and the US have resolved to develop the strategic partnership is because each country has determined independently that doing so is in its national interests. It is because we have been guided by our national interests that the progress of our partnership has consistently enjoyed bipartisan support in the US and in India.
When it comes to the national interests of the US, the logic of a strategic partnership with India is powerful. India will soon become the world’s most populous nation. It has a young, increasingly skilled workforce that can lead India to become one of the world’s largest economies. It is a nuclear power and possesses the world’s second largest military. It shares strategic interests with us on issues as diverse and vital as defeating terrorism and extremism, strengthening a rules-based international order in Asia, securing global energy supplies, and sustaining global economic growth.
We also share common values. It is because of these shared values we are confident that India’s continued rise as a democratic great power will be peaceful and thus can advance critical US national interests. That is why, contrary to the old dictates of realpolitik, we seek not to limit India’s rise but to bolster and catalyse it — economically, geopolitically, and, yes, militarily.
It is my hope that Prime Minister Modi and his government will recognise how a deeper strategic partnership with the US serves India’s national interests, especially in light of current economic and geopolitical challenges. For example, a top priority for India is the modernisation of its armed forces.