A chapter written by Teresita C. Schaffer in Strategic Asia 2008-09: Challenges and Choices, edited by Ashley J. Tellis, Mercy Kuo and Andrew Marble.
With a booming economy, an increasingly trade-driven foreign policy, an expanding footprint both in Asia and on the global scene, and strong relations with the great powers, India’s strategic horizon is generally positive. The U.S. is India’s most important outside friend, and the new relationship between the two countries is based on important common interests, especially in Asia and in Indian Ocean security. Yet at the same time India’s foreign policy outlook rests on a strong political commitment to “strategic autonomy”—avoiding even the appearance of undue outside, and especially U.S., influence on its policy. U.S. experience with partnerships, however, involves mainly working with junior partners. This disconnect complicates the task of developing the U.S.-India partnership.