Tillerson’s Visit Will Define Geopolitics for the U.S. in the Asia Pacific
Prior to his first official visit to India which begins today, U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson chose to make a major policy speech on October 18 at the prestigious Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, entitled “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century.”
There was much in his comments marking continuity and consolidation from steps taken by previous U.S. administrations, since President Clinton’s ice-breaking visit to India in 2000. However, there were significant new elements and formulations which will test the willingness and capabilities of both the countries.
President Clinton’s visit had followed U.S. re-evaluation after initially orchestrating condemnation and sanctions against India in the wake of our nuclear tests in May 1998. President Bush cut the Gordian knot with the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which also enabled cooperation in higher levels of technology in other areas, including defense. President Obama became the first U.S. President to visit India twice in his tenure, the first to visit as chief guest on our Republic Day, to articulate support for India’s permanent membership in UN Security Council, and to declare India a major defense partner. Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, had delivered “Remarks on India and the United States: A Vision for The 21st Century” in Chennai on July 20, 2011 touching on themes similar to Tillerson, including the potential for collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region, and had often used the phrase “Indo-Pacific” as a deliberate geopolitical signal welcoming India’s growing role in this wider region.