A deepening partnership between the US and India in the military and security sphere is "destined to occur" as there is too much in common between the two large democracies that share really good values, according to former American defence secretary Ash Carter.
Speaking at a US Chamber of Commerce hosted session, Carter said the two countries shared more than just the English language.
"In fact, it is destined. I think it's in fact destined to occur, because there's just too much in common between us… In interests, in functioning,” Carter, who was defence secretary from 2015 to 2017 under the Obama administration, said when asked if he felt going forward by deepening partnership with India that extends powerfully to the military and security sphere.
"I'll give you an example. The last conversation I had with (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi when I was in office. He and I were reflecting on something that wasn't germane to every particular that we were discussing. But I was remarking to him, how many Indian and Indian-American entrepreneurs there were in the tech world, in the United States. And I said, there's something kindred about mentalities there,” he said.
"It's not just the English language. It's more than that. I think two large democracies, which on their good days share really good values. I think they're destined,” Carter, currently Director of the Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, said.
Carter, however, cautioned that the United States must be aware of the past, including India's policies of non-alignment and its historic military ties with Russia.
“So, when you look back at the history of India, you find the non-aligned tradition, which goes deeply and says you've gotta be ready to take care of yourself. So don't get too dependent on your relations with any other country that's changing over the decades, but it's still there,” he said.
"Second is their links to Russia, which we had to think about as a military, because a lot of Indian equipment is Russian and they can't just throw it all out and start all over. Can't afford to do that. And, so they're going to keep working with the Russians and that's part of their history also,” Carter said.
Those two things and other things will mean that it will go steadily, but at its own pace, he said.
"I think it's destiny. And I think it's a huge thing for both of our countries. I always did everything I could to accelerate the pace, but I was also realistic because people are coming from where people are coming from,” he said.
"We do need to span that distance and we're not going to be able to operate if we're talking about China now up against China, the way we used to. We understand that. That's unrealistic. So, you do have to go longer distances. I'll give you two ways among many that you do that,” Carter said in response to a question on how can the US create a significant deterrent presence including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).
One is by having longer-legged aircraft for ISR, that is intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, which is being made by General Atomics, in order to specifically expand that distance in recognition of the fact that many in the US have now belatedly, unfortunately, finally come to the view that the Chinese are not turning out the way America wanted back in the nineties and the US needs to protect itself, he said.
“And the other way you do it is our bomber, the B-2 bomber, …, it's going to be part of this future. But the big thing is friends and allies in the region. That's the big way that we maintain America as a palpable power. That's why I was in favour of things like TPP. That's not going to happen,” Carter said.