What Obama means to India – The Times of India
Barack Obama’s victory in the US Presidential elections set of a wave of euphoria and congratulations in Indian media. It has been clear from the beginning that the Hillary Clinton, McCain and Barack Obama were three sides of the same coin – in spite of the physical impossibility. Yesterday’s post (linking to Shankaracharya’s hagiographic account) was (hopefully) the nadir of such reporting. Today’s Times Of India had a sobering Op-ed peice. Clearer and realistic. It cautioned, that
euphoria should be tempered. Because of its “soft power”, the US presidential election gets such extensive coverage internationally that its import gets exaggerated. This election decides the fate of two competing candidates, not that of the world.
The writer draws out the (negligible for us) distinction between the two candidates actually
“the contest is not between two radically different visions of US foreign policy; it is about advancing US interests best.” On the important internal issues, and “On basic assumptions, such as US global pre-eminence, preventing the emergence of any other power that can challenge Washington’s dominance, the goodness of US intentions and actions, superiority of American values, the responsibility to maintain international peace and stability, its exceptionalism providing the right to act unfettered by multilateral constraints if required and keeping America safe against non-proliferation, there is internal consensus in the US.”
To all those with the audacity of hope, mooning about the difference, should note (Sibal reminds) that,
“When Obama talks of change and hope, he is addressing the American people, not the outside world.” and when he “is talking of change, not in the basic premises of US policies, but from the excesses of the neocons.”
Many in the Developing and the Third World have raised hopes about Obama’s Presidency. The writer also takes this opportunity to emphasise that it is,
“naive to think that he will identify himself with the concerns of developing countries. That he is black does not mean ipso facto that he will be more sensitive to the world’s underprivileged and dispossessed and push for a more inclusive management of world politics and economics. Africa, for instance, has traditionally benefited little from African-American politicians. ”
To Manmohan Singh, who confirmed to Bush that people of India deeply love him, he sums up that
“India’s view of the US has been heavily coloured by the nuclear deal. Politically and professionally, the excessive public show of gratitude to Bush, however appropriate in private for his staunch support for India, was inadvisable as it needlessly made the India-US relationship look personality — rather than interest-driven. We showed psychological weakness in making the deal appear as a favour dispensed to us. … public expressions of gratitude to any foreign leader, especially one so unpopular in many parts of the globe where we have interests, are self-diminishing.”
“Far more problematic is Obama’s advocacy of a quick resolution of the Kashmir issue in order to free Pakistan to conduct the war on terrorism on its western front to greater US satisfaction. The US will once again be seen as seeking to reward Pakistan for doing what it must at India’s expense. His toying with the idea of appointing former president Bill Clinton as special envoy on Kashmir is “old think”.
After yesterday’s article by Shankar Acharya, this realistic view by Kanwal Sibal, a former foreign secretary with the Government of India. was refreshing.
Coming back to the question, “What does Obama as US President mean to India?” The answer is nothing much, except newer headaches!