The cold-war era policies restricting technology transfer is coming in the way of strengthening and deepening of America’s relationship with India in the 21st century, a top Obama Administration official has said.
“Right now we are in a really -- building, frankly, on the work of the last administration and that before, we are at a really critical and important point in our partnership with India,” said Michele Flournoy, the Undersecretary of Defence for Policy.
“India is, you know, a country with whom we share many interests, many values. We are deepening our military cooperation,” she said in response to a question at the Council on Foreign Relations -- a Washington-based think-tank.
“And yet, as we try to sell them equipment that they’re very interested in, we’re getting hung up on these technology-transfer issues that are really a legacy of the Cold War and have nothing to do with our modern relationship with India and the kind of partnership we’re trying to build there,” Ms. Flournoy said with a sense of frustration that the Obama Administration is not able to sell the type of military equipment required by India because of such outdated laws enacted by the Congress during the cold war period.
“Trying to explain this to them (India) is very difficult when we don’t have a lot of confidence in the system as it is today,” Ms. Flournoy said, hoping that the Department of Defence would be trying to engage itself with the Congress on this issue this year.
“The problem we see is, on the one hand, for the technologies that we really, really want to protect, the system isn’t always as good on enforcement and pursuing violations as it should be,” she said.
“For technologies that are -- you know, at the same time, we tend to undermine our own economic competitiveness and our ability to build partner capacity and work with allies by protecting all kinds of things that are really now freely available, or trying to protect things that are pretty much arguably freely available on the open market,” she observed.
“I mean, the Secretary (of Defence) likes to use the example of having found some things on the protected-items list that, you know, you could go to Beijing -- to the Radio Shack in Beijing and buy,” the Undersecretary of Defence pointed out.
“So, we really need a scrub of the whole system to build higher walls around the true crown jewels that we’re trying to protect and create a more open and transparent and workable system for the rest. That’s really what we’re aiming for,” Ms. Flournoy said.