Bush foundation should be used by Obama to build relations with India

March 5th, 2009 - 5:43 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington, Mar 5 (ANI): During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama accused his predecessor George W Bush of bullying allies and suggested that he would do a better job of reaching out to old friends and finding new ones.

Most American allies welcomed Obamas election, but at least one country hoped less for change than continuity, said Kim Holmes, a former Assistant Secretary of State and vice president at the Heritage Foundation.

Bush engineered a civil nuclear cooperation deal with India, expanding counter terrorism and defense ties with that country. He also defined separately Washingtons relations with New Delhi and Islamabad, The Washington Times quoted Holmes, as saying.

By strengthening ties with India, Bush enhanced Americas strategic position in Asia. The question is: Will Obama continue and build on that relationship?

Holmes pointed that during the campaign, Obama suggested that the US should help resolve the Kashmir issue, but this statement did not go down well in New Delhi.

Obama as president has not repeated this campaign statement, but US experts on India are also buzzing that the Obama Administration may be backing away from Bushs emphasis on the importance of our common democratic values, which would be a huge mistake.

Obama should follow the recommendations of Lisa Curtis, who argues for not only keeping current commitments to India, but expanding them in concrete ways.

She suggests that we keep the common values agenda and expand upon it by encouraging Indias permanent involvement in what has been the trilateral US- Japan-Australia dialogue, the paper reported.

We need to break down barriers to sharing intelligence by raising the level and frequency of our intelligence exchanges and diplomatic interactions, exchanging ideas on best practices through the US-Indian Counter terrorism Joint Working Group, which has met too infrequently since its inception in 2000, Holmes said.

New ways should be found to organize and streamline intelligence-gathering, and more thought should be given to finding common ground on the ideological challenge of extremism, The Washington Times reported.

The Obama administration also should step up military cooperation with India. We should ease restrictions on military sales to India and explore the possibility of helping India develop land-based laser defenses against ballistic missiles.

Areas of disagreement could be reduced if progress is made on all these fronts. The Bush Administration left Obama a strong foundation on which to build an even better relationship with India, Holmes concluded. (ANI)

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