US must support India’s Security Council bid: McCain

Saturday, November 6, 2010

WASHINGTON - The US should support India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Republican Senator John McCain, who lost the race for the White House to President Barack Obama, has said. He also said a premature withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan would be damaging to India and affect bilateral ties.

McCain said Friday: “If we want India to join us in sharing the responsibilities for international peace and security, then the world’s largest democracy needs to have a seat at the high table of international politics.”

The veteran senator opined that India fears that US will prematurely withdraw from Afghanistan and this has reinforced Pakistan’s strategy to support militants in that region.

“Afghanistan has become a major source of tension between the US and India for the primary reason that India does not believe that we will stay until the job is done,” McCain said in a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The Washington Times reported McCain as saying that it was important for the US to address this concern head-on. The senator said some in Pakistan’s army and intelligence service continue to support these terrorist groups as a tool of influence.

“A belief that America will withdraw prematurely from Afghanistan has only reinforced the Pakistani military’s inclination to hedge its bets,” he added.

McCain spoke hours before Obama travelled to India for a trip that includes visits to Mumbai and New Delhi.

Describing the US relationship with Pakistan as one in which broader strategic interests are not entirely aligned, McCain said nothing the US has done since Sep 11, 2001 has changed the basic strategic calculus of the Pakistani army.

“When compelled, it is willing to fight terrorist groups that threaten Pakistan, but not related groups that threaten Afghanistan, India and increasingly America as well,” he said.

McCain said if the US quits Afghanistan “before positive conditions can be shaped and sustained on the ground, the consequences will certainly be terrible for us but they will be even worse for India, which will have a terrorist safe haven on its periphery.”

He said such a situation would deepen India’s reliance on Russia and Iran, which would damage the US-India relationship.

“I can think of few more immediate ways to damage the US-India relationship and to convince India that the US is both a declining power and unreliable partner than for us to pull out of Afghanistan before achieving our goals,” McCain said.

The Obama administration will conduct a review of its policies in Afghanistan in December but Obama has said the US will begin a pullback of its troops from the middle of next year.

McCain is senator from Arizona and was the Republican presidential nominee against Barack Obama in 2008.

McCain described the strategic partnership with India as “one of the most consequential, bipartisan successes of recent US foreign policy”.

On outsourcing, McCain said: “We cannot allow our anxieties about globalisation to cause us to demonise India for crass political gain. Outsourcing is an inescapable feature of today’s global economy, not an Indian plot to steal American jobs, and we should not condone any unfair punishments of Indian workers.”

The Republican politician said both India and the US are committed towards a strategic partnership but, “it is the domestic pressures of our democratic politics that pose perhaps the single greatest danger to our emerging partnership”.

“On the Indian side, relations with the US cannot remain a political club, which the party out of power uses to beat up the party in power for doing exactly what it would have done were it governing,” McCain said and urged leaders of both the countries to build the public support needed to sustain the strategic ties.

The Republicans won majority in the US House of Representative in the Nov 2 mid-term elections. Outsourcing of US jobs to India and other countries was one of the major issues during the election.

Obama’s Democratic party, during its campaign, opposed the shifting of domestic jobs abroad and vowed to stop providing tax breaks to such companies.

will not be displayed