Friends With Benefits: The Untold India-US Story of History

by Nancy Singh advertisement
India has emerged as Washington's chosen partner in an era characterised by China's ascent and its projection of political and economic might. This wasn't always the case; Washington's sanctions on New Delhi over its nuclear programme in the late 1980s and early 1990s cast India in a negative political light. However, during the past thirty years, the two democracies have travelled the path from alienation to interaction. Why did it take the two nations so long to arrive here? What part did China play in this transformation? Are India and the United States now prepared for a partnership on an equal footing, or will they remain "friends with benefits"?

Seema Sirohi reveals in her new book Friends with Benefits: The India-U.S. Story how the historical rivals become friends while decade-defining events take place on the international arena. She portrays the evolution of one of the most important partnerships of our time by drawing on first-hand reporting and interviews with significant diplomats.


There is something unique about the United States and India that will always be interesting to discuss and new information to learn. Even if the United States may not pay much attention to India in the media—and for good reason—the craziness with which the Indian media covers the few trips made by American presidents is on plain display for everyone to see.

The analysis by Seema Sirohi of the relationships between the biggest democracy and the supposedly oldest democracy is more than just another book on the library shelf. This is a thorough overview of the change from the Cold War's supposed conclusion to the growing Indo-Pacific and South Asian realities. And it's all done in an easy-to-read, plain manner.

Companionable Acquaintances

How a superpower like the United States may be surprised by developments on the ground is only one of many aspects of the India-United States relationship that are mysterious. Sirohi effortlessly takes the reader through the pages of Democratic and Republican presidents who toiled to define and govern a new relationship fraught with the possibility of political eruptions on both sides.

To the issue, "Are Republicans or Democrats better for India?," which went beyond the realm of academic discussion, Sirohi offers a circumstantial response. No alternative is superior to either. Washington, D.C.'s path to power may have been paved with good intentions, but it has been obstructed at every point by deeply held convictions that no government can dispel.

It's not like Washington's decision-makers were blind to Pakistan's involvement in inciting interstate terrorism or acting as the hub of all terrorism worldwide. The Generals and the ISI have frequently misled Washington in Islamabad into thinking Pakistan is crucial to the fight against terrorism or to finding a solution to the Afghan problem. This includes the pathetic cry that Pakistan is a "victim" of terrorism, which was stifled in American political circles. Beginning with President Bill Clinton and ending with President Donald Trump, Sirohi has drawn attention to each of these. Joseph Biden, the vice president, isn't far behind either.

In addition, despite widespread apprehension and opposition to a Trump administration, both countries have benefited greatly, with the massive galas in each country adding to the joyous atmosphere. Trump's tweetstorm against Pakistan on January 1st, 2018, in which he claimed that $33 billion had been spent because Islamabad could deceive American authorities, according to Sirohi, did strike fear in the hearts of Pakistani people and brass hats. Since 1947, $70 billion in public money may have gone to Pakistan. But even Trump was forced to retract his first claims. A financial paper trail was created very quickly.

Stories inserted between more serious readings are pertinent to the topic. There are brief talks, for instance, of the Indian American community, which has recently come to play a large role in domestic politics and government in the United States.

Not only are there five Indian Americans in Congress, but the community also has a big say in policy and how administrations are run, as was the case with the civilian nuclear deal. Once more, the author highlights the unheralded effort of community leaders in discreetly influencing members of Congress in contrast to others who appeared to be flaunting their "connections" to further their political careers. The author clearly outlines the challenges, emphasizing the unintended but harmful impacts of the Indian Embassy's and the neighborhood's operations.

The book relies on both reliable sources of information and the author's interactions with the players, some of which are not admissible in the official record. This book is a great resource for anyone who has witnessed events personally and for everyone who, for whatever reason, maintains track of ties between India and the United States. When veteran journalist Seema Sirohi arrived in Washington, DC, thirty years ago, ties between India and the United States were at an all-time low. Media coverage of Pakistan and China on the political scene expanded throughout the 1990s and subsequently. In the eyes of the leader of the free world, India was unimportant. Before the turn of the century, the United States and the multilateral organizations to which it belonged had India go through a lot of red tapes. The United States' final straw came in the form of India's nuclear tests in 1998.

What did it take these two countries so long to realize was essential for progress? What recent events caused the United States and India to finally sync up their dancing moves? Did political leaders take the initiative to encourage policy wonks to be innovative when it came to implementing reforms or was it the other way around? Who precisely is China to blame for our relationship's abrupt change? Will India and the United States develop into anything more than "friends with benefits" or will they continue down that route in terms of their relationship?

This best book to read takes the reader on an exciting journey through decades of international and bilateral diplomacy as they go back to the closing stages of the Cold War in quest of answers.

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About Nancy Singh Advanced   advertisement

76 connections, 2 recommendations, 234 honor points.
Joined APSense since, September 12th, 2019, From Mumbai, India.

Created on Feb 21st 2023 00:34. Viewed 50 times.


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