Avoiding a collision course with India, warontherocks.com

Sameer Lalwani, senior fellow at the Stimson Center and Tyler Sagerstrom, research assistant at the Stimson Center.

After the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, some of the harshest criticism of America’s credibility has come — surprisingly — from India. One prominent commentator projects the end of “Pax Americana” and another argues that the Taliban’s victory constitutes the “first significant setback” of America’s “Indo-Pacific project.” These Indian strategists see the end of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan as a sign of unreliability. Without U.S. troops on the ground, New Delhi will be challenged to contend with a Taliban government that tilts toward Pakistan and China. […]

Where India remains uncertain is whether Washington will steadfastly support India’s long-term defense and deterrence needs. These lingering doubts have intensified with the looming threat of U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which India could be subject to when it takes delivery of the Russian S-400 air defense system at the end of 2021. These doubts could abate if the Biden administration is able to work with Congress to issue India a sanctions waiver, and allow strategic and market incentives, rather than punishments, to shape India’s defense partnership choices. […]

Originally, Congress enacted CAATSA to more effectively punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine and its engagement in cyber attacks, particularly its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The United States has sought to limit the sale of Russian arms to foreign states by threatening to apply secondary sanctions to any entity that does business with sanctioned Russian contractors. Such broad powers, though, which were written in haste, are liable to create tensions with U.S. partners if overused. Läs artikel