A US-India alliance could be key for the US to remain a global superpower

The Republic of India is the world’s second most populous country and largest democracy. It will also prove to be the key to the U.S.’s survival as the world’s sole global hegemon and the preservation of the current global power structure.  

The U.S. projects more power across the globe, both conventional and nuclear, than any other nation. It spends more on its military than its next eight rivals combined. Its economy is the largest in terms of nominal GDP by more than $7 trillion and has been the largest for more than a century. It exercises so much control in international affairs and trade it is often characterized as the "world’s policeman." Its currency is exchanged globally and is the basis for numerous currencies abroad, and it is home to earth’s premiere financial market. These factors solidify the U.S.’s status as a true superpower and appear promising for the maintenance of the global status quo. But one rising power threatens this world order.  

China possesses the world’s largest population and the second highest nominal GDP (with a growth rate of more than triple the U.S.’s) and the largest GDP when measured for purchasing power parity (a more relevant statistic when measuring standard of living). Its military may not be able to rival the U.S.’s in terms of conventional warfare, power projection or overall spending, but it is specifically equipped to find and exploit the weaknesses in its greatest rivals’ armed forces. China has emphasized investment in cyber warfare, and its missiles are designed to penetrate the hulls of the U.S. Navy’s strongest aircraft carriers.

If current geopolitical trends continue, China is poised to eventually rival, and possibly replace, the U.S. as the world’s global hegemon. China’s GDP growth and military investment will allow it to at least carve out a rival sphere of influence in East Asia and possibly further. The U.S. realistically could counter this trend by recognizing and tapping into the enormous potential of India as a global military, economic and diplomatic ally. This might enable the U.S. to counter China’s dramatic rise.

India’s economy and population are increasing at among the most rapid rates in the world (faster than China’s), and their government’s creation was modeled after the U.S.’s democratic principles, making it the perfect potential diplomatic ally for the U.S. However, India kept the U.S .at arm’s length during the Cold War. As the U.S. developed strong diplomatic relations with Pakistan (India’s fiercest competitor), India drew closer to the Soviet Union. India also resents the success of the Pakistani nuclear program, which is largely attributable to the U.S. India and the U.S. have also differed on economic principles as India has, until recently, been a proponent of more socialist economic practices. These factors, as well as India’s high level of government corruption, hinder the two countries’ relationships today and will continue to be obstacles diplomatically.

China and India are historically regional rivals, with active territorial disputes and populations who actively distrust and fear imminent war with each other. India complains of unfair Chinese market restrictions, which create a wide trade imbalance between the two nations. More than half of the Indian population feels threatened by China’s rise. Politicians in India disagree over whether to take a firm stance toward China or to promote the friendly, competitive nature of the current relationship.  

As China’s power increases, India will be forced to either rapidly invest in its military or find a strong military ally capable of helping it protect its interests in the region. The U.S., which will also be looking to counter China’s rise and has the only military capable of doing so, should graciously take advantage of any possible alliance with India. As the global superpower, the U.S. may have to initiate such a change in the global diplomatic order, which will be resisted by several other nations. Such an alliance would prove mutualistic in preserving the current global balance of power and resisting China’s rising influence, serving the interests of both nations. The combination of the U.S.’s and India’s populations, militaries and economies would prove effective in containing the threat of China. The current Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has enjoyed favorable relations with the U.S., is poised to be the first Indian leader in decades who might be receptive to such an alliance.