Obama Re-tuning

President Obama is finally realizing the value and support of key long-time democracies like India. Ofcourse, he has no option but to support some dictatorships, some unstable democracies, and some recalcitrant allies from yesteryears. These are some old allies of the United States.

But increasingly it is becoming clear that the fast-developing, emerging economies like India, Turkey and Brazil, are key players on the world stage and cannot be ignored. China unfortunately is not a democracy, but unfortunately again, cannot be ignored, so we have to add China to this balancing equation. All put together, the developing economies of the world are approaching towards controlling half of the world’s GDP and economy, and this is no mean feat, having been achieved in less than three decades.

Given the growth rates of Brazil, India and China, it is only a question of couple of years when China will become the second largest economy in the world, and Brazil + India will be within the top ten economies in the world displacing a couple of Western economies.

Hence it has become critical for the U.S., which is still the predominant economic driver of the world, to collaborate rather than “instruct” these countries to behave and support the sometimes unusual positions which it takes as a global military power. While people can fear the military might of the U.S., and respect its power, it is no longer necessary for some of the larger countries to entirely align with the U.S. We recently saw this in the embrace that Iranian President received from the President of Brazil and the Prime Minister of Turkey. Though I personally do not subscribe to Iran’s regime and its hardline philosophies, it is evident that long-time allies of the U.S. such as Turkey need to respect their own internal democratic compulsions, rather than take orders from the U.S. Government. We witnessed this when the Turkish Parliament vetoed launch of attacks on Iraq by the U.S. – it is very important to note that these decisions are taken in a democratic manner and cannot be challenged.

India has a mind of its own in all matters. While not a leader in “realpolitik”, Indian Foreign Policy is now getting expanded and aligned with its perceived status as an emerging and responsible global power. India represents almost 18% of humanity and deserves to be on the U.N. Security Council as a Permanent Member. It is anybody’s guess, but I believe that had India aligned with the U.S. in the difficult Seventies and Eighties, India would have got the all-powerful seat on the UNSC. But it did not, and its alignment with the Soviet Russia only worsened its global position apart from increasing its dependence on Russia’s poor quality military hardware (India has lost scores of the MIG-21 planes along with loss of lives of very capable pilots over the last two decades).

Well, well, it now appears that India is getting close to the U.S. While I was not hopeful of a President from the U.S. Democratic Party supporting India, it appears that the tide is turning. President Obama is coming around to his predecessor’s view that India is an all-too-important country to be messed around with, and needs to be inducted into his close circle as a trustworthy friend, notwithstanding some of its philosophies which occasionally pricks the U.S. and vice versa.

So, the re-tuning of President Obama towards India, and his personal friendship with Prime Minister Singh, are going to position India well for the future. India should take every care to leverage this support and take its rightful place on the world stage very soon.

Cheers, and Have a Great Weekend,

Vijay Srinivasan
12th June 2010


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