With an eye to the east : the China factor and the U.S.-India relationship, 1949-1979
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In recent years, as China has continued to rise as an economic, political and military power, there has been increasing interest in the U.S. in developing a strategic relationship with India in response. Most have seen this as a relatively recent framework for building U.S.-India relations after five decades of viewing the bilateral relationship either through a U.S.-India-Pakistan lens, or through a Cold War lens with India seen as a leader of the non-aligned movement and subsequently a de facto ally and security partner of the Soviet Union. A much-debated question among academics and policymakers has been whether India and the U.S. will ally or partner against China in the future. One set of answers asserts that a China threat-driven U.S.-India partnership is inevitable; a second contends that a China-driven U.S.-India alignment or partnership is highly unlikely, if not impossible. This dissertation shows that China has played an important role in shaping U.S.-India relations since the People's Republic of China came into existence in 1949. It explores past US-Indian interactions vis-à-vis China between 1949-1979 and makes evident that a US-India partnership against China is neither inevitable nor impossible. India has partnered, one could argue even allied, with countries against China--with the US in 1962 and the USSR in 1971. On the other hand, at other times, even when Indian and US policymakers have considered China to be threat number one, the countries' partnership has not been sustainable. The two countries have come together against China, but only when certain conditions are in place. This dissertation shows that they have partnered against China when they have agreed on (a) the nature of the threat, (b) the urgency of the threat, and (c) how to deal with the threat. In laying out this argument, this dissertation offers insights related to the future of the China-India-U.S. strategic triangle. More broadly, it also emphasizes that in considering when countries ally or partner, it is insufficient just to focus on threat itself or even perceptions of threat; it is also necessary to consider means: how states best think a threat can be met.