A retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who spent much of his career working in and on South Asia has written a carefully researched, balanced and thoughtful account of U.S.-Indian relations during the past half-century. There are chapters on each U.S. president's policy toward India, from F.D.R to Bush. There is a particularly good account of how Nixon and Kissinger misread the Bangladesh crisis of 1971 and, with their pro-Pakistani bias, succeeded in needlessly transforming a regional dispute into one that threatened to become a great power showdown. The main consequences were severe and long-lasting damage to U.S. relations with India and enhanced Soviet influence in New Delhi.
The end of the Cold War should in theory have a positive influence on U.S.-Indian relations. By removing the two principal sources of past friction U.S. arms to Pakistan and India's close ties with the Soviet Union the altered international environment offers a new point of departure for both sides. Indo-U.S. relations no longer need be hostage to U.S.-Pakistani and Indo-Soviet relations. But the author is properly cautious about whether the two countries will take advantage of this opportunity. One of the main obstacles is the often negative attitude toward each other of the foreign policy and national security establishments of the two countries.