The Macksey Journal


This paper explores multi-decade tensions in Indo-American relations, emphasizing the formative nature of the colonial legacy on India’s foreign policy and resulting conflict with the Truman Doctrine. By examining the popular perception of foreign policy through political leaders, newspapers, ideological conflicts and State Department records, I illustrate how each nation’s sovereign agenda colored their reception of the other’s global initiatives.

The year 1947 marked a point of departure in American foreign policy in two respects; a renewed commitment to economic and military engagement with global affairs under the presidency of Harry Truman, and an expanded interest in diplomacy with developing nations, such as the Republic of India. Contrary to expectations, the promising beginnings of 1947 found no realization amid accelerating hostilities, ultimately leading to the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty of 1971.

This paper analyzes this understudied period in Indo-American relations – probing the underlying causes behind the devolution of relations from 1947-1971. Existing scholarly reflection on this topic has focused on the formative years of the 1950s or the immediate aftermath of 1971. This overlooks key conflicts and geopolitical events such as the annexation of Goa that further disparaged hopes for alliance in the late 50’s and 60’s.

I conclude that the gap in Indo-American relations developed from both ideological and diplomatic misgivings as well as shifts in relations for both powers with China and Pakistan. Finally, I discuss the repercussions of intransigence in US Cold War grand strategy through the Indian example, in an era where such policy is resurgent.