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[8 November 2010, Comments Off on Obama in India: Testing a New World Order, Starting with the Security Council, Tags: , , , , , , , , ]

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Date: 8 November 2010.

Publication: The Huffington Post.

Author: Daniel Michaeli.

The future of American global influence will be decided in Asia, and India’s success could be a prerequisite for America’s long-term position in the region. So President Obama just made a substantial step towards securing U.S. interests in Asia by endorsing India’s aspiration to greater global and regional influence. He declared today in New Delhi, “I look forward to a reformed U.N. Security Council that includes India as a permanent member.” Indians have been waiting for this for a long time.

Successive U.S. administrations have avoided taking a position on India’s Security Council aspirations. Diplomatic non-answers denied New Delhi a clear path to U.S. backing, a source of exasperation for many Indians. And the U.S. approach also obscured legitimate American concerns about the limits of U.S.-Indian cooperation on some foreign policy issues of great importance to the United States.

The only problem is that when Obama endorsed India’s membership “look[ing] forward,” he actually ignored these legitimate concerns, too.

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India, U.S. Policy »

Political Costs in New Delhi and Washington

India often finds itself making major demands of the United States. It asked the U.S. to rewrite global nonproliferation rules to accommodate India’s status as a de facto nuclear power (accomplished under the George W. Bush administration), to revise U.S. technology export controls so that Indian companies and India’s military can gain access to more advanced U.S. technology (a priority for the Obama administration), and to advocate permanent membership for India in the UN Security Council (a goal to which no U.S. administration has yet committed itself).

But America turns to India rarely; and when it does, in important areas from climate change to global trade to isolating Iran, India’s approach is often at odds with that of the United States. This limits the extent of the U.S.-India relationship. Indeed, many Indian politicians are sensitive about even the perception of aligning with the United States. While it doesn’t help to blindly accuse India of intransigence without understanding its policy environment, we would be equally mistaken to deny that the relationship will have limits until circumstances change.

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