What Did Roemer Achieve as U.S. Ambassador? The news came on the same day as Indian officials said U.S. companies had been shut out of one of the biggest Indian defense deals in years: The purchase of 126 fighter jets worth some $10 billion. The timing may be coincidental â€” Mr. Roemer in his resignation statement said he was resigning for â€œpersonal, professional and family considerationsâ€ and said nothing of the fighter contract â€“ but is nonetheless significant. For while the U.S. has tried mightily during his two-year tenure to alter the economic dynamic between India and the U.S., there is little to show for it. Most significantly, the civilian nuclear energy deal that was supposed to be the cornerstone on which the new strategic partnership between the U.S. and India was built has crumbled. Despite persistent efforts, neither Mr. Roemer or U.S. industry has been able to make the pact operational after Indiaâ€™s parliament passed a law that imposed liability on equipment suppliers, something unacceptable to U.S. companies. After the nuclear disaster in Japan, it is hard to see how this deal will become any more significant than the paper it is written on anytime soon, even though India remains committed to expanding nuclear power. Mr. Roemer and other U.S. officials tried hard to portray the deal as a breakthrough nonetheless that set the stage for a much wider range of economic cooperation between the worldâ€™s two largest democracies. And, to Mr. Roemerâ€™s credit, he never stopped trying: New Delhi has been inundated with State and Commerce Department officials hawking American initiatives. There have been some successes, as the U.S. embassy noted in its release announcing Mr. Roemerâ€™s resignation: The sale of C130J aircraft and the pending sale of C-17 aircraft. But the fundamentals of the economic relationship havenâ€™t changed. President Barack Obama has continued to stoke the American publicâ€™s negative perception of India as a country that sucks away American jobs. And India hasnâ€™t passed any meaningful reforms that open its market in a way that would add substance to all the happy talk about a U.S.-India strategic partnership. This is a disappointing result given how much talk was dedicated to it in the last two years. In the end, Mr. Roemerâ€™s legacy in India may come down to two of the areas of expertise he brought into the job. He is clearly a politician of great ability, bringing to the ambassadorâ€™s job the kind of reach-out-and-touch-somebody approach that had been lacking in the post. At conferences, he would make his speech and then wade into the crowd, microphone in hand, to answer questions. There didnâ€™t appear to be a square foot of India where he hadnâ€™t traveled to shake hands and promote the soft side of American diplomacy. In his statement, he noted his extensive touring, â€œwhether I was playing basketball with Muslim girls in Lucknow, seeing the majestic tiger in Ranthambore, or observing the â€˜aartiâ€™ on the banks of the mighty Ganga in Varanasi.â€ The U.S. embassy in New Delhi declined to make Mr. Roemer available for an interview. Mr. Roemer also was well-suited to the job because of his national security experience, having served on the 9/11 Commission that investigated the 2001 U.S. terrorist attacks. He seized on the opening thrust on both countries by the Mumbai attacks in 2008 to meaningfully expand security ties between the two nations with a counterterrorism cooperation initiative. There were major areas of friction, particularly regarding Indiaâ€™s request for access to Mumbai plotter David Coleman Headley. But India ultimately reached Headley.And the bigger picture is that coordination between the two nationsâ€™ security establishments has never been stronger. And India and Pakistan are talking, which the U.S. has taken pains not to be seen to be encouraging but which some give it credit for helping along nonetheless. S. Chandrasekharan, director of New Delhi-based South Asia Analysis Group, said that during Mr. Roemerâ€™s tenure there have been â€œmore ups than downs,â€ citing the decrease in anti-American sentiments in the Indian public and the resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue. â€œHe mostly worked quietly and was accessible to all,â€ Mr. Chandrasekharan said. The big question now is whether the visit to India by Mr. Obama in November marks a high point in India-U.S. relations or is genuinely the beginning of the defining partnership of the 21st century that the U.S. wants. Mr. Roemerâ€™s successor may not be in control of the answer given the big geopolitical winds that are blowing through the region. In part thanks to Mr. Roemerâ€™s efforts â€“ he was involved in regional as well as national security initiatives â€” India has been willing largely to go along with American assurances about the wisdom of its strategy in Afghanistan. But with the endgame for the Afghan war already underway and Pakistan already aggressively pressing its own agenda, the risk now is that India will see that its interests are not being fully represented by its biggest western ally. Some in New Delhi already are chattering about how India has given up too much by toeing the American line and the next few years may see that friction come to the fore as the future of Afghanistan â€“ and the region â€“ is decided.