Every now and then, Congress does something worthy of praise. And it’s important to recognize it, to encourage similar behavior. Tucked into the conference report for this year’s defense authorization bill, a small provision provides waiver authority from sanctions on those doing business with Russian defense agencies. While this may seem like a significant concession to Russia, it is actually a critical correction — both for our most important global relationships and our own national security.
Sometimes two of America’s strategic international objectives collide. With a foreign policy as vast as ours, it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often. Such collisions are often due to the law of unintended consequences.
The most recent important collision pit Russia, a fading global power, against India, an upstart one. Congress, in its understandable zeal to punish Russia for interference in the 2016 election, had put India in the awkward position of having to choose between doing defense business with Russia and doing defense business with the United States. While the choice for India may have been crystal clear to American policymakers, to Indian ones, it was anything but.
Combining a weak domestic defense industry with a drive to transform into a major military power, India has quickly become one of the biggest arms importers in the world. From 2012 to 2016, India accounted for 13% of global arms imports, more than any other country, according to a Swedish think tank. India is buying defense equipment from abroad at a torrid pace. And over the next 10 years, this pace will only increase.