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We're in this together

India and America are natural allies and share ideals and enemies. A recent cooperation initiative will help make their relationship the defining partnership of the 21st century. Timothy J. Roemer writes.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2011 18:06 IST
Timothy J. Roemer
Timothy J. Roemer
Hindustan Times

When I was growing up, it was clear that our main challenge was the Cold War and the perceived threat was nuclear annihilation. Today, terrorism is a global threat and terrorists and transnational groups with a keen interest in a nuclear capability are our common enemy. India and America have worked tirelessly to improve security in both countries and are increasingly cooperating on regional issues. We shared information on the 26/11 investigations, we are constantly exchanging best practices in policing and forensics, we are discussing global non-proliferation issues and we provided Indians access to terrorist David Headley.

The recent signing of the Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative (CCI) was another milestone in security cooperation between the United States and India. It recognises the positive trajectory of the bilateral relationship, reaffirms our determination to work together to fight terrorism and transnational crime, and outlines objectives for the challenges ahead. With the new CCI in place, the two countries will now expand our collaboration on transportation security, border security, cyber-security, countering terror finance threats, and much more.

The CCI is designed to anticipate and be proactive to the changing nature and threat of terrorism and terrorist groups. No longer are such groups working alone in one country focused on a single ideology. As National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June, "Terrorist groups are networked to an unprecedented extent and it is no longer possible to segment them by origin or ideology or targets." What has made the world a smaller place — communication networks, technology, transportation — has expanded the reach of terrorism, leading to greater collaboration among terrorist groups, which threatens all countries. One such example is Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, which started out focused on destabilising India but has

now grown into a menacing threat to regional and international stability.

As the nature of terrorism has changed and adapted, so too must our planning and cooperation. Peace and security can't be delivered by a superpower or one country alone. As President Barack Obama said, "No one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century on its own, nor dictate terms to the world." Under President Obama's leadership, the US has worked relentlessly to strengthen our existing security relationships with traditional allies such as the European Union, Australia and Japan, and expand our spheres of cooperation with emerging powers in every region of the world.

India is one of the leading global powers that the US has partnered with on security issues. We are natural allies as both countries are steadfast against terrorism, born from the experience of horrific attacks in New York and Mumbai. Both countries have a common interest in seeing a secure, prosperous, and stable Afghanistan. Both countries have an interest in an economically successful and politically stable Pakistan. And both India and the US can learn from each other in counter-insurgency, anti-piracy, and cyber-security issues. Combined with our shared values of the rule of law and respect for religious diversity and human rights, India and the US are natural partners to promote stability, prosperity, and peace in Asia and around the world.

Prior to the CCI signing, security cooperation between the two countries was already on the upswing. Since the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, our law enforcement agencies have shared best practices in forensics, mass transit security, and biometric capabilities. Last week, a US multi-agency team worked with Indian law enforcement officials in New Delhi and Bangalore on improvised explosive device recognition techniques and post-bomb blast investigations, resulting in improved methods to detect and counter-attacks, to increase public safety, and to bring terrorists to justice.

We strongly supported India's efforts to become a key member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the premier standard-setting body for protecting the global financial system. We look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder with India on developing robust anti-money laundering and terror financing regimes. As an FATF member, India's voice and action will carry significant weight in addressing a variety of illicit financing threats in South Asia and globally.

We're entering a new era of global cooperation. With the signing of the CCI, we will be able to improve our current areas of security cooperation and expand into new arenas. Possibilities now exist for us to work together to safeguard the global commons and optimise the use of shared sea, air, and space domains. Cyberspace is a key area of new collaboration. We intend to strengthen cooperation in the field of cyber-security, insuring the free flow of information since, as President Obama said, "The more freely information flows, the stronger society becomes." Our expected increase in exchanges between our Coast Guards and Navies can promote cooperation to identify the early detection of maritime threats like piracy, keep vital sea lanes open, and ensure the constant flow of commerce. This is crucial to India's economic growth and the world's recovery from the global economic crisis.

The US and India have shared ideals and shared enemies, making our strategic partnership very important in achieving our common goal of promoting global stability and security. As Prime Minister Singh stated, "The two leading democracies must play a leading role in building a shared destiny for all humankind." With the CCI in place, we move closer together to fulfilling both President Obama's and Prime Minister Singh's vision and making the US–India relationship the defining partnership of the 21st century.

Timothy J. Roemer is US Ambassador to India. The views expressed by the author are personal.

First Published: Aug 17, 2010 21:31 IST