Washington Extra – Natural allies, but not always comfortable ones

November 8, 2010

The United States and India are, to borrow the phrase of a recent paper by the Center for a New American Security, “natural allies.” The world’s two biggest democracies, with proud traditions of free speech, separation of religion and state, and racial and ethnic diversity, have much in common, and Indians tend to have more favorable views of the United States than most Europeans.

indiaTies had deepened first under President Bill Clinton and then improved significantly under President George W. Bush, but progress seemed to have stalled in the first two years of the Obama administration. So it was heartening for Indiaphiles to see President Barack Obama finally putting some weight behind the relationship on his trip there, with an array of business deals and an endorsement of India’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Obama is right in seeing relations between the two countries as one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, and there will be real power in their alliance where they can find common ground. But the relationship will not always be an easy one. Not only do they see countries like Iran, Myanmar and Pakistan in very different ways, they have often found themselves in opposite corners on trade and climate change. India also has a long tradition of non-interference, a byproduct of its anathema to internationalizing its own conflict in Kashmir. The CNAS paper also noted that in the past year, Indian and U.S. votes matched in the U.N. General Assembly just 30 percent of the time.

Read our coverage of Obama’s trip here.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

BP, firms did not cut safety over money-panel

The White House oil spill commission has found no evidence to support accusations that the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history happened because BP and its partners cut corners to save money. “To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety,” the commission’s Chief Counsel said at a meeting exploring the causes of the Gulf of Mexico spill.

For more of this story by Ayesha Rascoe, read here.

For highlights of the commission’s proceedings, click here.

For a factbox on the commission’s preliminary findings, click here.

Obama returns fire after China slams Fed’s move

President Obama defended the Federal Reserve’s policy of printing dollars after China and Russia stepped up criticism ahead of this week’s G20 meeting. The summit has been pitched as a chance for leaders of the countries that account for 85 percent of world output to prevent a currency row escalating into a rush to protectionism. But there is little sign of consensus. “I will say that the Fed’s mandate, my mandate, is to grow our economy. And that’s not just good for the United States, that’s good for the world as a whole,” Obama said during a trip to India.

For more of this story by Patricia Zengerle and Krittivas Mukherjee, read here.

Republican Issa would reject 2-yr tax-cut compromise

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa said he cannot accept a potential compromise that would extend tax cuts for the wealthy for two years while making them permanent for everyone else. Issa said on ABC’s “Good Morning America, “Tax certainty is important and it’s important for the investing class probably more than anybody else.”

For more of this story, read here.

Key Republican vows to challenge Obama on security

The congressman in line to chair the homeland security committee plans to challenge President Obama on terrorism. Representative Peter King of New York said one of his “main priorities” will be to stop Obama’s plans to transfer detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States to stand trial in civilian courts.

For more of this story by Thomas Ferraro, read here.

U.S. expands cargo security in wake of bomb plot

The Obama administration has banned all cargo shipments to the United States from Somalia, expanding a ban imposed initially on shipments from Yemen in the wake of a recent foiled bomb plot.

For more of this story, read here.

World Bank chief surprises with gold standard idea

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For more of this story, read here.

What we are blogging…

Republican Issa backs off Obama corrupt comment

What a difference an election makes to one’s perspective. Republican Darrell Issa now says it was in the “heat of the campaign” that he shot off the comment about President Obama heard around the blogosphere. Memory refresher: It was on Oct. 19 that Issa said on the Rush Limbaugh show:  “There will be a certain degree of gridlock as the president adjusts to the fact that he has been one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times. He has ignored the very laws that he said were so vital when he was a senator.”

For Tabassum Zakaria’s full post, click here.

Gibbs puts foot down (literally) for “the White House Eight” in India

Robert Gibbs has had his share of confrontations with reporters. But it was he who came to their defense when Indian officials tried to limit access to a meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Gibbs went so far as to risk getting his foot jammed in the door to help gain access on behalf of journalists who were about to be blocked from covering the bilateral meeting. He also made clear that if the full contingent of eight “pool” reporters was not allowed in, Obama was prepared to cancel the meeting.

For Caren Bohan’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

Champagne beer aims to lift drink’s image

Boston Beer Co Inc’s Samuel Adams is launching a champagne-like brew later this month to prove that beer can be worthy of a New Year’s toast. The limited run beer, called Infinium, will be sold in 750-ml bottles with foil-covered cork tops, like champagne. “Beer has all the same dignity and nobility that wine has, it just hasn’t been accorded the same level of respect — frankly because brewers haven’t treated it respectfully,” said Boston Beer’s founder. “Beer has been marketed with a lot of sophomoric humor and scantily clad women.”

For more of this story, read here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed (Obama  toasts alongside India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at state dinner)

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I beg to differ from the premise of India having a democracy and separation of religion and state.

Indian laws are classified as HINDU laes and have to be accepted by the non hindu citizens.
India practices a thousands of years old caste systems and low caste people are discriminated in education and employment.
India has retained a colonial structured military to suppress any unrest or public demonstrations .
The use of the military is not compatable with democracy.

Has the author not witnessed the massacre of Sikhs in India, forcing hundreds of thusands to flee and seek asylum in the west.
Has the author not witnessed the violent and shabby suppression of Kashmiris, forcing them to flee the West, and those who have remained are experiencing a military rule in their country.
India is in violation of the UN security council ruling on Kashmir.

Now just because the current Obama administration has brought the USA economy to ruins, with no solution for unemployment in the USA, India is being identified as natural allies. Why not call China as blood brothers and Cuba first cousins.

Whereas Hisponic people have been pouring into the USA to support the service industry, India is directly responsible for transfer of jobs moving from the USA, simply because of their low salaries.

Let us not fool ourselves, India is the natural ally?

Rex Minor

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