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Obama may change US policy on China: Brajesh Mishra
A Rediff correspondent | November 26, 2008 00:44 IST
Despite the historic victory of Barack Obama [Images] in the Presidential elections and 'the change' he has promised, Unites State's foreign policy would continue to be guided by its national interest as it has been since World War II, feels former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra.
Chairing a discussion on 'Indo-US Nuclear Deal: Impact on Asian Security Framework' at Observer Research Foundation, Mishra said the Bush administration had been working on two key US strategies -- expanding eastward in Europe and balancing China.
"There would be continuity (in its foreign policy) though there may be some differences," he said.
"Obama is not going to be hostile (to India), but at the same time, he is not going to be as friendly as President Bush," he added.
Mansingh said that though President George W Bush [Images] articulated the Indo-US agreement, it had really taken off when the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency's studies stated that India was a 'swing state which would make the difference between war and peace.'
He described 1998 as a point of departure as far as the India-US relations were concerned, with the Clinton administration making a U-turn, months after it imposed sanctions on India after the Pokhran II nuclear tests.
A strategic partnership with India will help US balance the China factor, he explained.
Former diplomat and strategic thinker M K Bhadrakumar, however, expressed a different point of view. He pointed out that the central issue was not Barack Obama's political personality, but certain new realities in the international system. Evidently, the crisis in the US economy cannot be viewed as a cyclical recession amenable to traditional remedies such as monetary and fiscal policies or 'spending the way' out of the depression.
He pointed out that the US needs huge infusion of funds from outside, and China was the only real source available for that. He reminded the audience that China was finally becoming -- what World Bank President Zoellick once termed a 'stakeholder' -- in the international system.
This leaves the US with no option but to revisit the thinking behind the containment strategy towards China, which has been noted in today's discussion as a major impetus behind the US-India strategic partnership and the nuclear deal.
"The Americans may survive their closer relations with China," said Bhadrakumar.
Bhadrakumar also believes that the war in Afghanistan will be the top priority for the Obama administration, as the outcome can well determine Obama's re-election bid. At any rate, Obama would want to avoid Lyndon Johnson's tragedy of inheriting a war that ended up consuming his presidency and destroying his political career, he added.
Given Pakistan's crucial role, Obama will be compelled to define its 'legitimate' interests. "At the every least, we should expect an even-handed US policy towards Pakistan and India. That is to say, another postulate behind the nuclear deal, namely, that the US is committed to make a great power out of India, may prove a chimera." He said.
He also spoke of the possibility of increased civil nuclear energy cooperation with Japan, which has stakes in both US and French nuclear energy firms.
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