Obama endorsement, a bold foreign policy stroke: US experts

November 9th, 2010 - 10:58 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 9 (IANS) Leading US foreign policy experts agree that President Barack Obama’s endorsement of India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council is “a bold foreign policy stroke” that may hasten UN reforms.

“Beyond deepening the US-India strategic partnership launched by the Bush administration, it may help break the logjam that has kept the UNSC’s permanent membership mired in the world of 1945,” said Stewart M. Patrick of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Indians, who have long regarded permanent UNSC membership as the holy grail of Indian foreign policy, are naturally ecstatic,” said Patrick, Senior Fellow and Director, Programme on International Institutions and Global Governance at the think tank.

“What Obama did not provide, however, was any strategy for bringing UNSC reform about,” he said asking Obama to “follow up on his dramatic announcement by launching a comprehensive plan for Security Council enlargement, based on clear criteria for permanent membership.”

“It’s a bold move - no president has said that before,” Richard Fontaine, a former adviser to Senator John McCain who wrote a critical report of Obama’s India policy last month for the Centre for New American Security, was cited as saying by the New York Times.

“It’s a recognition of India’s emergence as a global power and the United States’ desire to be close to India.”

“For India, going back to the earliest days since independence, there has always been a very strong attachment to strategic autonomy,” noted Teresita C. Schaffer, director of the South Asia programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Americans throw around the word ‘ally’ with gay abandon.”

The Wall Street Journal cited Arvin Subramanian, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, as saying that by laying down the marker, Obama had changed the conversation and put India in any talks about a new council.

But William Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, wouldn’t say whether the US backed veto power for India, according to the Journal.

He said Washington hasn’t laid out any actual plan for a reformed Security Council, and that it would take “significant” time to work it out. He also said the administration wasn’t backing away from Washington’s longstanding call for a Japanese permanent seat.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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