Obama’s second wind
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Here's why the US will only deepen its partnership with India in the next four years
Many commentators, both in the US and India, do not believe that President Barack Obama's victory and his second-term foreign policy will lead to any surprises to US-India relations. They see more of the same. They should be proven wrong.
Yes, the last four years have been a period of consolidation in India-US relations. They saw incremental improvements that built on the historic transformation of India-US ties over the previous decade. But the next four years hold the potential for major breakthroughs in trade, security, Asian regional cooperation and joint efforts to address global issues, especially climate change and food security.
The conditions for new departures in India-US relations are promising. Indian and US foreign policy interests and outlooks have continued to converge and form the basis for new levels of interaction. Leadership, early attention and persistence will be needed on both sides to achieve far-reaching goals.
On the US side, Obama's re-election will empower him to pursue more ambitious foreign policy tasks. Even though his popular vote margin was narrow, he enjoys a virtual mandate, having come out on the right side of demographic changes that will continue to reshape the US electorate. And in his second term he will be concerned about his presidential legacy rather than re-election, so he will be freed from some domestic political constraints.
The alignment of Obama's first-term foreign policy with the preferences of the majority of Americans also augurs well for initiatives the administration may take in the second term. According to the 2012 Chicago Council Survey released in September, most Americans are war-weary and war-wary, and want national attention and resources to be focused on economic renewal at home. While they remain supportive of US international engagement, even leadership, they prefer a more selective and less costly foreign policy, of the kind the Obama administration has pursued since 2009.
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