Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 31, 2009
First Published: 14:50 IST(31/10/2009)
Last Updated: 15:09 IST(31/10/2009)
When the decision is made to expand the United Nations Security Council, said former US President George W Bush speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative, “India will be part of the mix.” He said the main barrier was less India’s credentials than the crossing the threshold of agreeing to expand the council.
In a speech that otherwise emphasised the importance of the Indo-US relationship, Bush said, “We seriously considered expanding the UN in, I think, 2006. Condoleezza Rice, then US Secretary of State, began serious discussions on the issue. But when we talked to other countries, we got blowback.” Bush said present veto-wielding countries were less than happy with the idea once they realized an expansion of the permanent membership would mean a dilution of their influence.
“The Security Council should be changed given the new realities of the world,” said Bush. “But the politics is difficult.” Japan, the world’s second largest economy, was a good candidate as were regional powers like Brazil. “India, however, must be considered as part of the mix.”
Bush’s statements made it clear he was no believer in compromise with militancy. He strongly opposed letting the Taliban takeover Afghanistan again. “They would make Afghanistan a safe haven for terrorists.” He expressed strong emotions at the idea of what a Taliban recovery would mean in terms of “suppression of Afghan women.” India and the US, he said, “had to stand together to support this young democracy.”
Bush was also vehement about his belief that spreading democracy, spreading values “shared by the US and India” was what would bring peace to the world. “In the long-term, the way to fight terrorists is tackle their ideology and for that we need to advance our values of democracy.”
Bush began his speech at the conference speaking about how he, Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had worked to bring the Indo-US partnership “into the 21st century.” He mentioned a long list of initiatives that had taken place during his administration including the civilian nuclear agreement.
“India and the US should not only have an important relationship, but also the best relationship in the world,” he said. “But this will not happen automatically.” Bush made it clear the US would still pursue its relations with Pakistan and China as well. “It is in India’s interest that a friend an ally be engaged with your neighbour,” he said.
“I believe the changes I helped bring about in the Indo-US relationship” and the strategic partnership it is creating will help underpin world peace “50 years from now.”