Obama’s second wind

Bringing stability to Afghanistan after the withdrawal of most of the International Security Assistance Force in late 2014 is of great importance to both Indian and US interests. Indian support for the American role in Afghanistan, a remarkable fact, given India's long resistance to any Western military presence in South Asia, and the growing closeness of consultations between the two governments on the way forward after 2014 are among the few clearly positive elements in the complex and shifting regional situation. India has played a very constructive role in assisting the development of Afghan infrastructure and government services under very difficult conditions. Continuing consultation and cooperation with India will be essential to US and other international efforts to get some measure of success from this protracted conflict.

Obama's departure, only 11 days after the election, for a four-day trip to Southeast Asia, which will also see the first visit by a US president to Myanmar, demonstrates his administration's continuing commitment to reinforcing the US's role in the world's most economically dynamic region. For the last 15 years India too has pivoted to Asia with its "Look East" policy and dramatic changes in its relations with China, ASEAN, Japan and, most recently, Australia. So it only stands to reason that the India-US strategic partnership should increasingly be focused on the two nations working together to help ensure a prosperous, progressive and peaceful evolution of the Asian region.

Finally, it is time for the US and India to re-engage with each other on the subjects of climate change and global food security. International efforts in 2009-2010 to address climate change fell foul of economic preoccupations soon after the financial crisis and the failure of the US cap-and-trade legislation. But in the past two years, both India and the US have experienced as well as observed elsewhere in the world extreme weather events that have had catastrophic economic and social impacts.

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