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India-US Relations  

Tanvi Madan

Policymakers and analysts have traditionally described US relations with India as moving from estrangement during the Cold War and immediate post–Cold War period to engagement after 1999. The reality has been more complex, interspersing periods of estrangement, indifference, and engagement, with the latter dominating the first two decades of the 21st century. The nature of the relationship has been determined by a variety of factors and actors, with American perceptions of India shaped by strategic and economic considerations as well as the exchange of ideas and people. The overall state of the US relationship with India after 1947 has been determined by where that country has fit into Washington’s strategic framework, and Delhi’s ability and willingness to play the role envisioned for it. When American and Indian policymakers have seen the other country as important and useful, they have sought to strengthen US-India relations. In those periods, they have also been more willing to manage the differences that have always existed between the two countries at the global, regional, and bilateral levels. But when strategic convergence between the two countries is missing, differences have taken center stage.


The Nixon Administration and American Foreign Relations  

Luke A. Nichter

Assessments of President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy continue to evolve as scholars tap new possibilities for research. Due to the long wait before national security records are declassified by the National Archives and made available to researchers and the public, only in recent decades has the excavation of the Nixon administration’s engagement with the world started to become well documented. As more records are released by the National Archives (including potentially 700 hours of Nixon’s secret White House tapes that remain closed), scholarly understanding of the Nixon presidency is likely to continue changing. Thus far, historians have pointed to four major legacies of Nixon’s foreign policy: tendencies to use American muscle abroad on a more realistic scale, to reorient the focus of American foreign policy to the Pacific, to reduce the chance that the Cold War could turn hot, and, inadvertently, to contribute to the later rise of Ronald Reagan and the Republican right wing—many of whom had been part of Nixon’s “silent majority.” While earlier works focused primarily on subjects like Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union, the historiography today is much more diverse – now there is at least one work covering most major aspects of Nixon’s foreign policy.


South Asian Migration to the United States, 1700s–2010s  

Uzma Quraishi

Empire looms large in the history of migrations from South Asia to the United States. Although the South Asia region generally denotes the broader Indian subcontinent, historically, most of its US-bound migrations originated in the early 21st-century nation-states of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, that is, formerly British India. Beginning in the 1700s, migrant streams from South Asia included such varied categories as coerced and free labor, farmers, students, high-tech workers, and temporary, cyclical, and permanent residents—warranting the use of the term migrants rather than immigrants. In the 18th century, people from the Indian subcontinent were ensnared in British and American imperial circuits of slavery and indenture. A century later, they forged new migration pathways for trade and labor. Employers desired South Asian labor, even as ordinary Americans both spurned South Asians and fetishized their “exotic” goods and exoticized spirituality. In the early 20th century, South Asian migrants on the Pacific Coast mounted a US-based resistance effort to overthrow the British Raj, prompting close state regulation of South Asian migration into North America. Groups such as the Asiatic Exclusion League successfully pressured legislators to pass exclusionary federal immigration policies and legally mandated racial segregation at the municipal and state levels in western states. In the early 1920s, the US court system denied South Asians the right to naturalized citizenship, although ultimately, all Asians per the 1870 naturalization statutes and various Supreme Court rulings. Resident South Asians resisted these strictures for decades, finally meeting with success during World War II. The mid- to late 20th century provided fresh opportunities and challenges for skilled workers from South Asia, though these migrations derived from US global dominance and consolidation of its empire in the postwar era. Throughout, the rights of South Asian migrants, imperial subjects, and citizens were subject to the inconsistent whims of the state.


The United States and the Soviet-Afghan War, 1979–1989  

Conor Tobin

In December 1979, Soviet troops entered the small, poor, landlocked, Islamic nation of Afghanistan, assassinated the communist president, Hafizullah Amin, and installed a more compliant Afghan leader. For almost ten years, Soviet troops remained entrenched in Afghanistan before finally withdrawing in February 1989. During this period, the United States undertook a covert program to assist the anti-communist Afghan insurgents—the mujahideen—to resist the Soviet occupation. Beginning with President Jimmy Carter’s small-scale authorization in July 1979, the secret war became the largest in history under President Ronald Reagan, running up to $700 million per year. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) acted as the war’s quartermaster, arranging supplies of weapons for the mujahideen, which were funneled through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), in coordination with Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, and others. No Americans were directly involved in the fighting, and the overall cost to the American taxpayer was in the region of $2 billion. The Afghan cost was much higher. Over a million Afghans were killed, a further two million wounded, and over six million refugees fled to neighboring Pakistan and Iran. For the Soviet Union, the ten-year war constituted its largest military action in the postwar era, and the long and protracted nature of the conflict and the failure of the Red Army to subdue the Afghans is partially responsible for the internal turmoil that contributed to the eventual breakup of the Soviet empire at the end of the 1980s. The defeat of the Soviet 40th Army in Afghanistan proved to be the final major superpower battle of the Cold War, but it also marked the beginning of a new era. The devastation and radicalization of Afghan society resulted in the subsequent decades of continued conflict and warfare and the rise of militant Islamic fundamentalism that has shaped the post-Cold War world.