Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bush's greatest foreign policy success

On a blog that contains articles related to India, the title above seems contradictory to it. However, this article concerns India. The outgoing American President George W. Bush is known for all wrong actions and undoubtedly it is he who messed up the world big time. In contrast ,he is the best President who has over zealously changed US's foreign policy (favorable) towards India.

It was 1998 when Clinton came down heavily on Vajpayee, but Vajpayee, with his diplomatic skills completely altered Clinton's mindset. The result - the entire US senate started rethinking on its ties to India. US needed a country in SE Asia for strategic reasons to counter weigh communist China. India's vibrant democracy coupled with Indians in US contributing to US economy tilted Clinton in India's favor. The consequence was within 6 months of imposing sanctions against India it was lifted. US for the first time began to think India as a serious growing power and began to disengage Pakistan. The close proximity of US towards Pak took a back seat because of Vajpayee's pressure on Clinton. It was 1999 Kargil misadventure by Pak that convinced Vajpayee that he had to turn the tables in India's favor. So began the diplomatic journey of bringing the largest and most ancient democracies together.

The then US Secretary of State Madeline Albright was fully convinced with a growing India. When Bush came to power, nobody knew what his policy would be. With time, Bush became overzealous towards India. His thought about India, "The coming century will see democratic India’s arrival as a force in the world — a changing economy in which three of its five wealthiest citizens are software entrepreneurs" convinced Indian diplomats that Bush is going to change Indo-US relations.

At that time, Bush invited the then Indian home minister L.K. Advani. He remarked, "Mr. Advani, even before you came, your toughness and your history reached me". Advani began to establish a close association with Mr. Bush. The first thing Advani did was to put pressure on US to declare terrorist organizations like Lashkar and Hiszbul as international terrorist organizations. A declaration of this sort was not liked by Colin Powell (the then Secretary of State). However, Bush personally intervened and did what India wanted. Slowly, Bush isolated Pakistan and began to push relations with India without considering Pakistan. It was Vajpayee and Advani who made Pakistan dance to their tunes with the help of US. The entire US was exposed to the terror matrix of Pakistan and its evil intentions. Bush, particularly, realized the significance of India. The sudden supply of American jets, fighter plans, joint naval and military exercises with Indian counterparts, and many other such events were breakthroughs.

Bush is primarily responsible for changing US relations with India outside the Pakistan axis. He personally had laid foundation for nuclear deal with Vajpayee. But, government fell and before its fall Vajpayee clearly conveyed to Bush that India will not give up its right to test and will not sign either NPT or CTBT. Bush also could not go ahead with a deal with India without amending Hyde Act in American Senate. It was then Condolezza Rice who came in as the Secretary of State and worked together with Bush. Rice and Bush pushed for 123 Agreement just to deal with India. This is the greatest foreign policy deviation for one particular country which has not signed either CTBT or NPT. Bush overpowered all those opposing Senators who raised doubts about India's credibility. It was Bush who went at a lightning speed and met Indian PM Manmohan Singh and tabled the civilian deal. Of course, not to forget Indian NRIs and Indian diplomats worked round the clock to change Indo-US relations under Bush. And adding to all these was PM Manmohan Singh's personal government and credibility that was at stake. Mr. Singh's conviction helped him to remain rigid (It is another story that many assurances given by him later proved to be false). PM Singh must be congratulated for his perseverance. It was Mr. singh who really saw the need of getting close to US was more than a necessity. I am happy that both Congress and BJP stood same w.r.t US and not necessarily the nuclear deal.

The rest is known and today Bush had made it a law (It is another topic to debate on the intricacies of the deal). The single most contribution of Bush is that he got clearance from all NSG countries to deal with India. This event was not a joke. To personally convince all 45 nations to do deal with India and bring India out of nuclear apartheid was a herculean task. If Vajpayee's diplomacy changed Indo-US relations, Bush's pro India stance solidified the same.

Despite the fact that Bush has been a big failure, his biggest success has been his policy towards India. Hence, Bush is preferred more than Clinton with respect to Indian diplomacy.

Here are some of the excerpts from Bush's speech after Indo-US nuclear deal was signed:

"Even though the United States and India are separated by half the globe, we are natural partners as we head into the 21st century. Both our nations emerged from a colonial past to establish vibrant democracies. We have welcomed investment and private enterprise to become leaders in the global economy. We have stood against the dangers posed by extremists, who have carried out attacks in both our countries. We have demonstrated that we cherish liberty, honor human dignity, and respect the rule of law."

"This agreement sends a signal to the world: Nations that follow the path of democracy and responsible behavior will find a friend in the United States of America. The American people are proud of our strong relationship with India . And I am confident that the friendship between our two nations will grow even closer in the years ahead."

Such statements by an American President only signifies that India is now a significant player in US's foreign policy. Despite all this everything is not rosy. US is known for clandestine diplomatic moves. India must be cautious of this and work very smartly. Indian foreign policy since 1994 is getting mature and mature everyday. This cuts across the main parties - BJP and Congress which differ in semantics but not on protocol and policies. This will help foreign policy to a great extent.

For the complete speech, click here

But will Obama (if comes to power) be like Bush? No, he seems to be tough with India and this is a big mystery if and how he does incline to India.

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