Narendra Modi, who is emerging as the star of the UN General Assembly session and whose first steps on the world stage have been more impressive than the actions of many world leaders with much longer tenure in office, reminded the world in his speech over the weekend that India is a victim of terror and very much engaged in the global struggle against radical Islamic violence and terror. The NYT:
Twenty years ago, world leaders used to call it a “law and order problem,” he said, suggesting that only now had they had come around to understanding India’s concerns. “Some countries are giving refuge to international terrorists,” he said. “They consider terrorism to be a tool of their policy.”Mr. Modi signaled his support for the United States’ renewed focus on fighting terrorism, and showed that he clearly understands the value of political symbolism. Even before he arrived at the United Nations, he paid a visit to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in lower Manhattan. In his meetings at the White House scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, security and counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries is certain to be on the agenda, including a discussion of the American-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said.
India’s two biggest strategic interests—fighting terror and promoting the emergence of a peaceful and prosperous Asia that China doesn’t dominate—coincide very closely with top American priorities and despite the spats and misunderstandings that from time to time flare up, this is the basis for far reaching cooperation between the world’s largest and the world’s oldest democracies.
India, one of the few countries where George W. Bush was widely popular, has from time to time had problems with the Obama Administration. Modi’s visit to the U.S. offers an opportunity for a fresh start on both sides. As Ambassador Nicholas Burns, one of the finest diplomats this country has produced, argued in a must-read piece in Foreign Affairs, a smart policy would “put India where it belongs: at the center of U.S. strategy in the region.” Let’s hope President Obama and Prime Minister Modi reach a meeting of the minds.