David Smith on India and 1971 USS Enterprise Sortie

In a recent interview, David Smith mentioned the 1971 USS Enterprise’s movement into the Indian Ocean as a persistent source of Indian mistrust:

The principal reason for such a persistent level of mistrust over time is obviously the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. This relationship has been on a sharply downward trajectory since 2011, but that fact seemed not to have made any discernible impact on Indian students’ perception of the direction of the U.S.-India relationship. The difficulty of forgiving and overcoming these slights is likely due to the strength of persistent historical memory in South Asia. Even after 70 years, the experience of partition continues to poison India-Pakistan relations and in large measure still fuels the Kashmir insurgency. Another example is the USS Enterprise sortie into the Indian Ocean in 1971, which continues to be seen by India as a nuclear threat made by the United States. In all four decades of the study period, the Enterprise incident repeatedly resurfaced as the classic example of American perfidy, symbolizing perhaps an unspoken fear that in the event of a future war with Pakistan the United States would intervene similarly to deny India the fruits of victory.

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