Observer Research Foundation US Engagement in the Indo-Pacific: An Assessment of the Trump Era
Harsh V Pant and Kashish Parpiani

There is no dearth in analyses that sound the alarm on the current United States (US) administration’s policy in the Indo-Pacific. This paper conducts an evaluation of the US’ engagement in the region, and finds it to be contrary to alarmist predictions. President Donald Trump’s administration has reaffirmed commitments towards traditional allies, built on the predecessor president’s courtship of nascent partners, and encouraged partners to be more vocal with their policy positions. Moreover, as an exception to the president’s ‘America First’ rhetoric, his administration has embraced development finance and multilateralism to promote the development of regional infrastructure. It has also worked to bridge the destinies of the Indian and Pacific oceans by resolving policy divergences with India and supporting the latter’s capacity-building in the naval domain. As it reorients US national security around ‘great-power competition’, the paper notes, the Trump administration has put China under pressure on multiple fronts.



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Observer Research Foundation A Primer on US & EU Response to India’s Abrogation of Article 370
Kashish Parpiani and Abhimanini Sawhney

This paper outlines the responses of the US Congress and European Union (EU) parliament to the Indian government’s abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and the surrounding events, including the communications lockdown in Kashmir. It notes contrasting responses: the US Congress showed a binary reaction of moderate and extreme calls to action, and the EU parliament honed a more expansive approach to address India’s apparent “democratic backsliding”. The paper argues that even as the responses of the US Congress and EU parliament differed, they risk India’s most consequential ties with the Western world. It offers recommendations for India to navigate the diplomatic fallout of its actions in Kashmir, as reflected in American and European apprehensions.



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Observer Research Foundation India-US Defence Trade Continuity Under Trump
Kashish Parpiani

This brief explores the factors informing the Donald Trump administration’s continuity on the US’s defence trade with India. The administration’s impetus to maintain US-India defence trade stems from factors like the ‘reverse revolving door’ policy that has increased the influence of US defence contractors, its ‘Buy American’ policy to boost US arms exports, and defence trade being construed as an incremental means to correct the bilateral trade imbalance. Further, in the Trump administration’s attempt to iron out policy divergences with India over the Indo-Pacific construct, this brief notes an evolving focus on Indian maritime surveillance capability in US-India defence trade. Given India’s interest in guarding against rising Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean, the brief makes recommendations for New Delhi to actualise gains.



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Observer Research Foundation Towards an India–US consensus on counterterrorism cooperation
Kashish Parpiani and Prithvi Iyer

This paper examines the environmental and policy-level challenges to the actualisation of US-India counterterrorism cooperation. Indeed, despite their seeming convergence on the imperative of effective counterterrorism, there has been limited cooperation between the two countries. While the US’ sense of “American exceptionalism” and its hegemon status purports a utilitarian notion of the adversary, India’s regional power status makes its threat perception of terrorism more defined and region-specific. This divide manifests on the policy level as an incongruent understanding of regional terror organisations’ links to transnational terror networks. Moreover, continued American utilitarianism impedes any change in its outlook towards Pakistan. This paper offers recommendations to unite these divergences by exploring a new counterterrorism consensus in the Indo-Pacific matrix.



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Observer Research Foundation Understanding India–US trade tensions beyond trade imbalances
Kashish Parpiani

The United States (US) has revoked India’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and imposed Section 232 tariffs on Indian steel and aluminium. In response, India announced retaliatory tariffs. This brief probes the ongoing trade tensions between India and the US, despite a reduction in the trade deficit. It discusses the heightened influence of the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and outlines its apprehensions against the three big issues plaguing India–US trade: insistence on data localisation, price caps on pharmaceutical imports, and certification of dairy imports. Finally, the brief recommends ways of de-escalating tensions between the two nations.



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Observer Research Foundation Cultivating the Bipartisan Consensus on India in the 116th US Congress
Kashish Parpiani

Amidst the current climate of intense polarisation in the US, the bipartisan consensus on India has largely remained as a rare point of convergence between Republicans and Democrats. This paper discusses the seminal role of the US Congress in the cultivation of US–India ties, and how crucial legislations—led by the India caucuses in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate—have paved the way for greater strategic cooperation between the two countries. This paper argues that India must adopt a pointed approach in its engagement with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to develop the bipartisan consensus beyond the House and Senate India Caucuses.



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Marine Corps University Journal Prescribing an American Grand Strategy for the Era of Renewed Great Power Competition
Kashish Parpiani

Donald J. Trump’s declaration of the reemergence of “great pow-er competition” comes at a pivotal juncture in American history. The Trump administration has borne traits of activist grand strategies toward preserving American primacy with the announced great power competition against China and Russia. This article prescribes a tempered approach for America to pursue its primacy while also addressing the pitfalls of the current system, which coun-terintuitively accentuate Russian and Chinese insecurity to feed their revisionist approach to the liberal order. The United States must sustain its military edge and challenge Chinese and Russian transgressions, but it must also reform in-stitutions, recalibrate partnerships, and reinstate credibility of the liberal order.



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Rising Powers Correlation between American policy schizophrenia with China, and Indian Funambulism on Integrating with the U.S.-led Liberal Order
Kashish Parpiani

In recent times, Indo-U.S. relations have steadily progressed –– mainly in the realms of defense trade and defense interoperability. However, India –– to U.S. policymakers’ frustration, has not transitioned into fully engaging with the U.S. –– and integrating into the U.S.-led liberal order by extension. Instead, New Delhi has pursued ties with nations adversarial to the U.S., and even invested in parallel institutions that seek to challenge the U.S.-led liberal order. Indian policymakers often attribute this diversification of its foreign policy stock to its quest for “strategic autonomy”. However, one may argue the same to also partially stem from a degree of insecurity over American policy incoherence vis-à-vis China. In responding to China’s rise, the United States has alternated between a liberal internationalist prescription of engagement, and a more unilateralist primacy-driven containment agenda. Given this policy schizophrenia, Indian policymakers and commentators often deem the U.S. to be an unreliable partner. This has stoked Indian insecurity, to spur abandonment or entrapment concerns (à la Glenn Snyder) on either being shortchanged in face of a prospective US-China grand bargain, or chain-gained into an American conflict with China. The Trump administration’s approach to China however, may dampen that correlation holding back India’s integration into the liberal order.



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Observer Research Foundation Chapter on US-India Ties
Harsh V. Pant and Kashish Parpiani

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Observer Research Foundation Institutionalising India-US defence ties in American legislative precedents
Kashish Parpiani

This brief probes the role of the current 116th US Congress in strengthening India-US relations in the realm of defence trade and technology transfers. The analysis is done in the context of the Trump administration’s relaxation of arms export policies, as well as a rise in conservative nationalism which abhors arming partner nations that prolong US conflicts overseas. Furthermore, as the Democrat-majority House of Representatives appropriates a stronger role in foreign policymaking, there will likely be stricter oversight on the US’ global arms trade and a tightening of technology transfer processes. The brief offers recommendations for India’s diplomatic engagement with the US in this climate.



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Observer Research Foundation India-US Relations Under Trump: Guarding against Transactionalism by Pivoting to the US Legislature
Kashish Parpiani

The dynamics of the India-US relationship under the Trump administration bear significantly on the two countries’ security partnership. This relationship, however, is being challenged by President Donald Trump’s increasingly apparent transactional worldview. As witnessed in the case of the United States’ relations with its allies and partners across Europe and Asia, Trump has often linked US defence commitments and partner nations’ security dependencies with trade imbalances and immigration issues. In exacting “fair” deals, this transactional approach risks hampering the otherwise positive dynamic of the Indo-US relationship. This brief observes an ongoing shift in the division of power and responsibilities between the legislative and the executive branches of the US government on the conduct of its foreign policy. New Delhi must capitalise on this shift and use a tempered approach to dampen the prospects of President Trump linking security issues with inconsistencies on trade and immigration fronts.



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The Institute for National Security Studies Egypt Rearms (Coauthored with Lt. Col [retd.] Yiftah Shapir)
Yiftah S. Shapir and Kashish Parpiani

On June 26, 2016, the Egyptian navy’s new Mistral amphibious attack ship, Gamal Abdel Nasser, arrived in the port of Alexandria.1 Her sister ship, Anwar el-Sadat arrived on October 6, 2016.2 These arrivals marked another step in Egypt’s drive in recent years for massive rearmament. It also marked a major step in Egypt’s attempt to diversify its weapons sources and to relieve itself from exclusive dependence on the United States. This paper reviews this trend and analyzes its ramifications for Egypt and the region.



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International Relation and Affairs Group Perils of Proximity
Kashish Parpiani

This paper addresses the paradox that lies in advocating greater proximity between policy maker sand the intelligence community. In view of the scholarship that has been produced on this subject, scholars that prefer distance over closeness have been labeled ‘Traditionalists,’ where as those who prefer closeness over distance have been labeled ‘Activists.’ The activists’ argument is centered on the belief that politics and intelligence (community) must attain a symbiotic relationship. The paper employs the Government Politics Model (à la Allison & Zelikow) to argue that greater proximity instills comprehensive debates between the two factions to ultimately yield nuanced decisions and policies. The constructive role of intelligence in the American discovery of ballistic missiles in Cuba (in the prelude to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962) is briefly recounted. On the other hand, the traditionalists’ stance is addressed by first highlighing the tendency of policy makers to perceive intelligence as enhancing uncertainty. Experiencing this pushback from policymakers, intelligence analysts then begin to engage in ‘analyses to please.’ With their objectivity compromised, the possibility of proximity breeding politicized intelligence is heightened. The findings of the ‘Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S.Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq’ are recounted to substantiate the proximity-politicization link.

In conclusion, the paper purports that avoiding proximity is therefore imperative for the intelligence community to effectively fulfill its duty of ‘speaking truth to power’ and to keep its objectivity intact



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