Event ReportsPublished on Apr 22, 2005
Professor Joseph Nye,Dean, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, who visited ORF recently, gave an e-mail Interview to Dr. Harinder Sekhon, Senior Fellow, on US foreign policy trends, especially in West Asia and the future of Indo-US relations.
India has a role in UN Security Council
Professor Joseph Nye, Dean, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, who visited ORF recently, gave an e-mail Interview to Dr. Harinder Sekhon , Senior Fellow, on US foreign policy trends, especially in West Asia and the future of Indo-US relations. Presented below are excerpts from the Interview.

HS: You have been a long-time advocate of soft power as an effective mechanism to achieve foreign policy goals. It must therefore be highly satisfying to witness the qualitative shift in US foreign policy and especially in the tone of key players to mend fences globally - especially the Persian Gulf. Will President Bush's new approach succeed?  

JN: It seems that President Bush and Secretary Rice have discovered the importance of soft power in their second term. They have changed the tone somewhat and increased expenditures on public diplomacy. Whether this will succeed or not will depend on how serious they are, and whether they adjust policies such as finding a political solution in Iraq and making progress on the Middle East peace process. 

HS: What are the chances of its acceptability especially in Iraq and Iran?

JN: The Iraq election was encouraging, but there are still many steps to go before there is a democracy and political stability.   On Iran, it remains to be seen whether the negotiations over cessation of uranium enrichment will succeed or break down.

HS: Do recent developments in West Asia represent a serious shift towards long-term reform in the region?  

JN: I think Bush is serious about promotion of democracy, but that is not the only objective. There is also the problem of combating transnational terrorism and the need for stability and allies to accomplish that. The two goals are compatible in the long run, but may run at cross-purposes in the short run.

HS: What are the prospects for democracy in the area?

JN: The conditions for democracy in the region remain difficult. Elections are not the same as democracy in which the rights of minorities are respected and a political consensus on democratic institutions is established.

HS: The Indo-US dialogue on defense cooperation, and in fact the first set of security discussion between India and the US, was initiated in January 1995 when you were Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. We have come a long way since then. How far is the US likely to go to accommodate India's quest for strategic autonomy? What is the likelihood of the US relaxing NSG norms to enable India to obtain nuclear reactor technology and safeguarded fuel?

JN: There has been impressive progress in development of a US/India strategic dialogue over the past decade.  Some issues, which we could only touch gently a decade ago, are now openly discussed. Secretary Rice spoke of sale of aircraft and nuclear reactors during her visit.  The United States has said that it accepts the rise of Indian power.  Details remain to be worked out. One difficult but not impossible task will be finding a diplomatic formula that is compatible with the obligations of the NSG guidelines. Overall, I am optimistic about the future of US/India relations.

HS: Finally, in view of the experience in Iraq, do you see a change in the US world-view and the possibility of a 'genuine' move towards greater international cooperation based on multilateralism? Can India hope for US support in its quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council?

JN: The Bush Administration seems to have realized that the failure to develop a broad coalition for the war in Iraq was costly, and it is trying to handle Iran and North Korea in a multilateral context.  If that fails, however, it has not given up the possibility of unilateral actions.

I think the US should support Security Council reform along the lines of Kofi Annan's recent High Level Panel report which would include a role for India.


Professor Joseph Nye , Jr., is a distinguished Professor of International Relations and Dean of the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Prof. Nye writes on foreign affairs and has an impressive list of publications to his credit that include numerous books and more than a hundred and fifty articles in professional journals to his credit. He coined the term 'soft power' and his most recent book is Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (2004). Prof. Nye has also worked in three US government agencies. From 1977 to 1979, he served as Deputy to the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology and chaired the National Security Council Group on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In 1993 and 1994, he was chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which coordinates intelligence estimates for the President and during 1994 -1995, he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

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