Weekly Insights and Analysis

The United States and South Asia

October 1, 2008

By C. Raja Mohan

After years of relative marginalization, South Asia is steadily increasing its influence in international affairs. All major powers, including the United States, European Union, China, Japan, and Russia, are expanding their engagement with the Subcontinent. On the economic front, India’s high level of performance in recent years has brought the region into sharp focus. However, such high growth rates are also visible across the Subcontinent, making it the second-fastest growing region in the world ” after China. India is now an important factor in managing new international trade, energy, and environmental challenges. On the political front, most major issues that confront U.S. policy ” international terrorism, Islamic radicalism, weapons of mass destruction, proliferation, state failure, nation building, and promotion of democracy ” are ingrained in the South Asian Subcontinent. South Asia will become increasingly relevant to a number of new challenges confronting U.S. foreign policy, such as Asia’s regional balance of power, maritime security, and global warming. South Asia is at the crossroads of a rising Asia, making its geopolitical relevance significant. Strengthening the U.S. partnership with all the South Asian countries is likely to have positive spillover effects in East Asia, the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. A strong Subcontinent, in harmony with itself and engaged with the United States, can emerge as a force for peace and stability across the Indian Ocean and its littoral. Read the full chapter.

C. Raja Mohan is currently a professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Dr. Mohan was one of the three Asian co-chairs for the recently released book, “America’s Role in Asia: Asian and American Views”. Below is an excerpt from his chapter, which provides recommendations for a new U.S. administration’s foreign policy towards South Asia. Dr. Mohan’s insight was recently featured in India-West’s news article, “Asia Foundation Urges Increased Role for U.S. in Asia”.


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In Asia is a weekly in-depth, in-country resource for readers who want to stay abreast of significant events and issues shaping Asia's development, hosted by The Asia Foundation. Drawing on the first-hand insight of over 70 renowned experts in over 20 countries, In Asia delivers concentrated analysis on issues affecting each region of Asia, as well as Foundation-produced reports and polls.

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