Explaining the shift of Indian foreign policy towards the United States post 1998

Sven Egbers
2010 unpublished
This paper attempts to understand the realignment of Indian foreign policy towards the United States, a process that started after the 1998 Indian nuclear tests. It analyzes the key motives and driving forces that initiated the realignment of India's U.S. policy. For the analysis this thesis has used two different approaches of explaining the changes in Indian foreign policy. This study has shown that the theories of liberalism and realism have differing explanations and arguments to explain
more » ... shift in India's US policy. Democratic Peace theorists argue that common democratic models and shared democratic values have been the main driving forces behind the recent shift. Economic Interdependence theorists hold that increased economic cooperation had a decisive effect on the overall relationship between India and the United States and therefore contributed to the realignment process. However this paper has evidence to suggest that shared democratic values and economic cooperation can not give satisfying explanations on why India started to reorient its foreign policy in direction United States after it conducted three nuclear devices in 1998. This paper concludes that structural realist provide convincing arguments to show that national security issues were the main driving factor in this realignment process. It has been shown that a rising China constitutes the biggest major threat to India's national security, which forms the basis for Indo-US cooperation in the recent years. Structural realists recognized that India needed the help of an extra regional power like the United States to cope with the pressures of China's rise. This school of thought explains India's engagement with the United States was based on 'Balance of Threat' strategies to deal with the security challenge it perceives with the rise of China. The 'Balance of Threat Theory' model illustrates that India sought to increase its own military capabilities (internal balancing), and established a formal alliance with the United States (external balan [...]
doi:10.25365/thesis.9740 fatcat:2uvmvpjgk5ghrjqvrqy7bayubm