Magazine Article - India & Global Affairs

Priorities Before the President

| January/February 2009

As Barack Obama takes over as the 44th President of the United States, India too will have a national election before May and possibly, subsequently, a new leadership. With these changes, one might suppose that predicting the future direction of U.S.-India bilateral
relations would be highly uncertain.

In contrast, notwithstanding how little India was discussed during the U.S. election process, one can predict with some confidence the general outline of a new Obama Administration's policy. Three facts provide guidance. First, the Bush Administration's much vaunted 'new' U.S.-India bilateral relationship was in fact first launched by President Bill Clinton when he visited India in May 2000; it is a bipartisan policy (as it is in India). A more recent signal of the new administration's policy stems from both Barack Obama's and Vice-President-elect Joe Biden's support of the civil nuclear deal during its progress through the U.S. Congress. Both recognised that a stronger U.S.-India relationship was necessary to enhance America's national security. And finally, in the words of Obama himself, "With India, America has one of its most important relationships in an uncertain world."

The Bush Administration has described its policy towards India as one of its greatest foreign policy successes. The relationship has been 'transformed' and, in recent years it has become, semantically at least, a 'strategic partnership'. And yet, this description is not accurate today. Instead, this goal will be passed to the next administration as then-
Senator Obama recognised during the election campaign stating, "I will move forward to build a close strategic partnership between the U.S. and India..."

The full text of this article (originally published in India & Global Affairs, January/February 2009 (c)) is available as a PDF below.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Dormandy, Xenia. “Priorities Before the President.” India & Global Affairs, January/February 2009.