The Bush wreckage

LEADERSHIP AND LEGITIMACY

Foreign voices on Washington’s performance, past and future

How did the Bush administration affect them and their countries? And what are their hopes for the new administration?
Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2009

Last week, a Times editorial series explored the extent to which U.S. leadership in the world suffered during the last eight years and what steps a new president should take to repair it. In conjunction with those editorials, The Times asked a variety of people around the world to answer two questions: How did the foreign policy of the Bush administration affect them and their countries? And what are their hopes for the new administration? What follows are edited transcripts of their answers.
 
Brahma Chellaney
New Delhi

The public perception in India is that Bush has had a real positive impact in the transformation of U.S.-India relations, which is true. But he leaves wreckage stretching from Iran to Pakistan to Afghanistan that will cost India dearly. The entire region, because of the Bush doctrine, is now a contiguous arc of volatility. This will exact a heavy cost regionally and internally. The attack on Mumbai that India suffered is one such follow-up cost from the mess Bush leaves. Personally, I feel great relief at his departure. He has caused such damage to U.S. interests, it will take a long time to recover. Taking over will not be easy. The economy is in shambles; you have two raging wars. I wish Obama all the luck.

The new president needs to have more engagement with Iran. He needs to bear in mind that the surge he has planned for Afghanistan comes too late in the day. Seven years of military intervention has created a Pashtun backlash. The U.S.-India relationship is set to grow closer no matter who’s in the White House; the problem is with the countries around India. In addition to Pakistan, you see the isolation of Burma [Myanmar]. Laura Bush’s obsession has only pushed Burma into China’s lap. I hope Obama’s foreign policy on China doesn’t brush human rights under the rug, as Bush did. Bush showed up at the Beijing Olympics as though nothing had happened. I hope Obama’s stance is more principled. A principled stand sets a standard for everyone.

— Chellaney is a strategic affairs specialist at the Center for Policy Research.

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