America's Pivot to Asia: A Report Card  (Page 3 of 6)

2. Deepening Partnerships With Emerging powers

The U.S. has done important work reaching out to Burma and Vietnam, but in the Asia-Pacific “emerging powers” primarily means India and Indonesia.

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Both countries are traditionally non-aligned, and were never about to rush into the American embrace. “The starting point for most Asian countries, including India and Indonesia, is that they would prefer to be without security partners,” observes Huxley.

Yet progress is being made with both countries. With India, talks continue on moving forward with the breakthrough civil nuclear deal of 2005; last year former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta promised India access to the best American weapon systems, with New Delhi having already procured $8 billion worth of U.S. equipment; and deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is heading up a new India defense trade initiative. As for Indonesia, President Obama’s November 2010 speech in Jakarta set the tone for improved relations as embodied in the new US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership. Indonesia is generally supportive of the U.S. pivot, insofar as it helps maintain the regional balance.

Yet India not Indonesia still incline towards strategic aloofness when it comes to U.S. co-operation. They are partners, but definitely not allies. Washington has half-convinced them, but some smart diplomacy will be needed to make further gains. “The danger for the U.S. is in trying too hard,” suggests Huxley, who suspects that excessive attention could have an adverse effect on instinctively non-aligned countries.

Policy Area Progress Rating: 6/10

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