Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Natural allies, but not always comfortable ones

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.

from Global News Journal:

Iran warns Obama’s government: “Quit talking like Bush”

Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee didn’t attend the latest U.N. Security Council meeting on Iraq. But the moment the 3-hour session was over the Iranian delegation was circulating a strongly worded letter from Khazaee that had a very clear message for the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama: Stop talking like Bush.

He was responding to less than two dozen words on Iran in U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice’s speech to the council during a routine review of U.N. activities in Iraq. Rice said that U.S. policy "will seek an end to Iran's ambition to acquire an illicit nuclear capacity and its support for terrorism.”

Those words clearly infuriated the Iranians, who have been toning down their anti-U.S. rhetoric since Obama took over from George W. Bush five weeks ago.