Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jones Visits AfPak (+ India)

Normally I praise former President George W. Bush only slightly more often than Kieth Olbermann (deservedly so; the very thin document produced in late 2008 on "The Accomplishments of the Bush Administration" makes hilarious dramatic reading while enjoying adult beverages with a few friends), but his administration did a good job of improving relations with India. Sort of.
I often get asked my opinion of the U.S.-India nuclear deal. I tell people it depends on which half of my brain you're asking. The nonproliferation side says it's horrible; we didn't get anything, even a testing moratorium, and set a terrible precedent. The South Asia-loving side of my brain says the Bush Administration did a good job of winning Indian support by trading something now for a "player-to-be-named-later." Not a specific card to trade in, because I don't believe India is an automatic ally we have bought, but the effort we put into getting the Deal through has paid big dividends in terms of U.S. soft power in India.
Apparently the Obama Administration agrees. National Security Advisor General James Jones visited India (after a stop in Pakistan) and met with Indian National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, saying he hoped to build on the successes of the Bush Administration. It doesn't seem that Jones was forceful during his meetings in either Pakistan or India. He did not pressure India to re-start negotiations on Kashmir. Oddly, many Pakistani bloggers and Twitterers seem to believe that Jones' visit was designed to negotiate a massive deployment of Indian troops into Afghanistan.
Many of the best South Asia hands from the Bush Administration are still around, including Donald Camp advising on India. I'm glad the Obama Administration continues to recognize good people and build on progress made by the other party.

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