Bush transformed India-US relationship: Newsweek

August 11th, 2008 - 10:55 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Aug 11 (IANS) The developing strategic relationship between India and America would stand them in good stead whatever the future balance of power in Asia, says Newsweek magazine, giving US President George W. Bush credit for transforming bilateral relations. A recognition that the rise of China upsets the strategic balance in Asia had led Washington to deepen the strategic relationship with Japan and to develop a new one with India, says the influential weekly, assessing what Bush has done right in American foreign policy.

In the case of India, “Bush deserves credit for having transformed the relationship”, says Newsweek international editor Fareed Zakaria in the cover story of the magazine’s latest issue.

“While Indo-US ties were warm under Bill Clinton, they were always limited by the controversy over India’s nuclear programme,” he writes, noting: “The Clintonites refused to legitimise India’s nuclear programme, but for Indians their nukes were absolutely vital.”

“Bush broke the deadlock by accepting, in large measure, that India would have to be treated as an exception and be brought into the nuclear non-proliferation regime as a nuclear power, not a renegade,” says Zakaria.

“Now India and America are developing a strategic relationship at many levels of government, which will stand both countries in good stead no matter what the future balance of power in Asia looks like,” he says.

But if the US hasn’t engaged with this emerging world actively enough, other countries have done even less, the weekly notes, citing political scientist Daniel Drezner.

While the Bush administration has sought to give China, India and Brazil more weight in international institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the G8 and other such bodies, the fiercest resistance to such reforms comes from Europe.

For if power in international organisations is going to be allocated on the basis of the current configuration of power, European nations, which are shrinking as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), will lose influence, Zakaria notes.

An obsession with terrorism has also made the administration devote too little time and energy to the defining feature of the new world order - “the rise of the rest”, he says, referring to the growth in economic and political power of countries like China, India, Russia, Brazil and a series of regionally prominent nations like South Africa, Nigeria, Mexico and Kazakhstan.

In some cases its policy positions are divided and incoherent, as in the case of Russia, but in several crucial instances they’ve pursued extremely sensible strategies, says Zakaria, describing the one with China as “the most important one, without question”.

“The bilateral relationship between China and America will be the most significant one in the 21st century,” he says, noting the administration’s China policy has moved from “a confrontational approach to Beijing” at the beginning of Bush’s term toward recognising the centrality of the relationship.

Noting failures in American foreign policy, Zakaria says: “Bush’s basic conception of a ‘global war on terror’, to take but the most obvious example, has been poorly thought-through, badly implemented and has produced many unintended costs that will linger for years if not decades.”

“But blanket criticism of Bush misses an important reality,” he writes. “For whatever reasons and through whichever path, the foreign policies in place now are more sensible, moderate and mainstream. In many cases the next president should follow rather than reverse them.”

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