China’s aggression towards India is helping US get closer to former


The US, for a long time, have been trying to get friendly with India and them on their side with its military. But India has been dealing only partly with the US, as it has kept its doors open to rest of the world.

Now, the chances of securing India’s interest with the US is higher than ever. The recent India-China border clash stand to accomplish what years of Pentagon and White House outreach has struggled to achieve.

While India has historically tried to balance its ties among global powers, the clashes with China at 14,000-feet laid bare the potential longer-term risks of not having the US more clearly behind it.

The relationship between Modi and Trump has been ‘friendly’ in most cases. In addition to that, in the last year Trump has openly shown his interest to help India with its border issues with Pakistan and China, only to be declined. Yet their relationship has been on relatively good terms.

“My former Pentagon colleagues see the India dust-up as nothing you’d want but a great opportunity for further strengthening U.S.-India cooperation,” said Randy Schriver who stepped down as assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Affairs in December. “Our defense strategy is really getting a boost from all this.”

Closer ties would represent a big strategic win for Donald Trump. The American president has courted Prime Minister Narendra Modi since taking office in 2017. In 2018, the two nations signed a defense agreement that allowed India to purchase advanced American weapons and share sensitive military technology. In 2019 the U.S. approved the largest defense deal between the two countries in four years when it confirmed the sale of $1 billion in naval guns to India.

Last year the U.S. and Indian militaries also conducted their first-ever joint land, sea and air exercises. In February, just before the Covid-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S., the two leaders confirmed that $3 billion in defense deals would go forward, including $2.6 billion for MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters built by Lockheed Martin Corp. They promised more to come.

Then came the border clash on the Tibetan plateau, just as tensions were soaring between Washington and Beijing. Trump, who used to regularly praise his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, now lambastes Beijing over the origins of the coronavirus, its growing intervention in Hong Kong and its treatment of Muslim Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang.

That’s all playing out to New Delhi’s benefit as well as Trump’s.