A Reset Button for Asia

Ambassasor John D. Negroponte speaking in Mumbai on Sept. 9, 2009. (Madeline Gressel, Asia Society India Centre)
Ambassasor John D. Negroponte speaking in Mumbai on Sept. 9, 2009. (Madeline Gressel, Asia Society India Centre)

MUMBAI, September 9, 2009 - In the transition between two radically different governments, the United States can expect to see distinct shifts in foreign policy.

This was the point driven home by Ambassasor John D. Negroponte, Vice-Chairman of McLarty Associates and Senior Research Fellow in Grand Strategy & Lecturer, International Affairs, Yale University, in an evening presentation organized by the Asia Society India Centre and sponsored by UB group. Because of his more than four decades of diplomatic service, Ambassador Negroponte was uniquely positioned to discus the changing face of US engagement in Asia.

Negroponte began his talk with an overview of the general geopolitical environment which shapes US policy today. Though this climate is benign compared with much of the 20th century, the Obama administration must still contend with considerable challenges in its foreign policy in Asia—most pertinently, Afghanistan and Iran. China and India have exploded as sites of huge human activity, economic and otherwise.

No US foreign policy can ignore the importance of devleoping strong relations with these countries. As a result, Negroponte predicted, in the 21st century we will see a great shift in the historically Euro-centric foreign policy of the United States. What will prove fundamental in US foreign policy going forward is the ability to forge international consensus, as well as a focus on helping to build local capacity.

As to relations between India and the United States, Negroponte speculated that environmental issues will be important in the bilateral dialogue. Furthermore, the United States and India are only beginning to take advantage of the potential economic mutual benefits, an important process which would be augmented by the development of a mutual investment strategy or free trade agreement. In a very positive development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit the White House in his first state visit. In Negroponte's view, that invitation highlights the new administration's commitment to renewed and revitalized discussion and collaboration with Asia.

Report by Madeline Gressel, Asia Society India Centre