Is Obama figuring out who our friends are?
This administration has been roundly criticized for neglecting traditional allies in Europe, roughing up friends (like Israel, Honduras, Poland and the Czech Republic) and showing undue deference to despotic governments. But there is a ray of hope that it may be readjusting its approach.
The president and those who advised him deserve credit for building upon George W. Bush's efforts to nurture the U.S.-India relationship. By traveling to India, stressing the two democracies' common interests and suggesting UN Security Council status for India, Obama indicated a rare bit of recognition regarding the value of cementing critical alliances. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is paying off:
India has tightened the web of sanctions around Iran by barring Indian companies from a range of deals transacted through a key trade-finance clearinghouse.
India is Iran's biggest trading partner in business done through the Asian Clearing Union, originally set up by the United Nations in 1974 to help facilitate trade in South Asia and headquartered in Tehran.
We should not fool ourselves that sanctions are the solution to our Iran problem. (As the Journal reported,"Iran has offered no indication that it's willing to slow its nuclear program as a result of the sanctions. Some Middle East officials believe Tehran will find ways around the restrictions. Iran's abundant supplies of oil are a lure for traders around the region.") But the cooperation of India on this national security issue and the potential for further mutually beneficial strategic actions should be applauded.
Indeed, given the belligerent behavior of the Chinese of late and the ongoing corruption and unreliability of Pakistan, the administration would do well to redouble its efforts not only with India but with other pro-American Southeast Asian nations.
| December 29, 2010; 12:02 PM ET
Categories: foreign policy
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