Panel 1: Reflecting on President Eisenhower’s Foreign Policy Legacy

Ambassador Rich Verma, Vice Chair & Partner, The Asia Group

Susan Eisenhower, President, The Eisenhower Group

Dr. Will Hitchcock, William W. Corcoran Professor of History, University of Virginia

Eisenhower traveled to India and ten other countries in 1959, Dr. William Hitchock of the University of Virginia explained, to “go to the world with a message of peace,” as the international community continued to be gripped by the escalating tensions of the Cold War. Susan Eisenhower—president of the Eisenhower Group and the US president’s granddaughter—explained that Dwight Eisenhower “learned to see things from the perspective of the people who lived in [different] parts of the world,” partly because of his own extensive experiences living abroad.


Panel 2: U.S. Policy Toward the Indo-Pacific and the Role of Congress

Dr. Ami Bera, Member of Congress, U.S. House of Representatives

Dr. Irfan Nooruddin, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council

Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) said that “the relationship between the United States and India can be a defining relationship,” but warned that “it has to be intentional” and based on “shared values.” He admitted that while he wants to focus US policy makers on issues such as bilateral trade and investment, many in the United States are growing concerned with reports of continued government crackdowns and detention in the India-administered region of Kashmir, following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August decision to revoke the special status of the territory—which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.


Panel 3: The Dynamic Indo-Pacific Landscape

Dr. Kurt Campbell, Chair & CEO, The Asia Group

Dr. Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Dr. Ashley Tellis Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Admiral (Ret.) John Richardson, Former Chief of Naval Operations, United States Navy

“The defense and strategic relationship between India and the United States…is probably the biggest success story bilaterally of the last decade,” according to Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former US deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia. Admiral (ret.) John Richardson, former chief of naval operations for the US Navy, agreed that “one of the most important relationships we have is the relationship with India in the Indo-Pacific.” This developing partnership is a result, Ayres argued, of a growing awareness in India that the United States is “a power that can be uniquely helpful to supporting India realizing its own ambitions in the world.” This ambition to be a growing player in their region is challenged by the rise of another key regional player: China. “Indians generally believe that their time has come,” Dr. Ashley Tellis, Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said.


Panel 4: The Defining Relationship of the 21st Century

Ambassador Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, U.S. Department of State

Ambassador Rich Verma, Vice Chair & Partner, The Asia Group

Despite the challenges, Wells was confident that the trajectory of the US-Indian relationship would remain positive. She reported that US and Indian officials continue to speak regularly on issues such as terrorism, the conflict in Afghanistan, trade, infrastructure, and digital policy. She reported that a “modest” bilateral trade agreement is likely to be finalized soon, which would be “the first step towards resolving larger market access issues” and strengthening the ties between the two economies.


Tribute to Dr. Stephen Cohen:

Peter Cohen