Our Friend from Texas   (23 Jan 2009)

Like the rest of the world, Indians have plenty of reasons to ridicule or even vilify the outgoing US President George Bush. Bush’s second term gave birth to America’s two biggest problems today – the Iraq war and a worldwide economic recession. However, nobody in India can deny that some of his decisions have historic consequences and will positively benefit India for a long time to come. Now that Bush has gone forever from the US politics – US constitution bars a third term for any President – and is back in his Texas ranch, we in India can cherish the memories of all that he has done for our country, despite some of his obvious follies.

Bush’s Iraq policy was a huge disaster and I will mince no words in condemning his unilateral invasion of Iraq. Mere suspicions of nuclear weapons in Iraq’s possession provided the alibi for all-round destruction of this once-prosperous country. It remains no secret that the real reason behind Iraq war was to secure uninterrupted supply from the bountiful oil fields of Iraq. Today Iraq is reduced to a land of anarchy with never-ending bloodshed.

If Bush is rightly blamed for the costly Iraq misadventure, he deserves equal applause for waging a tough war against Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan post 9/11. We in India have been an indirect beneficiary of America’s war, which have severely curtailed the powers of Al Qaeda and Taliban to spread their terror. Had these extremists not been reined in by the US forces, they would have focused their attention to Kashmir and perpetrated indiscriminate acts of terror in other parts of India. Even Pakistan can thank Bush for saving the country from takeover by Taliban.

The signing of the Indo-US Nuclear agreement is yet another cornerstone of Bush’s legacy to India. There should be no doubt ever that only George Bush could have forced this agreement through. No other President would have shown the audacity to push through this deal despite strong and unprecedented domestic and foreign opposition. Despite presiding over a lame duck government, Bush not only stood his ground in the US Congress to get the domestic bill passed, he withstood even stronger pressure from China and Pakistan to win the consent of international community over for this agreement. Not many people know that Bush had often stayed awake till 2 am to call the heads of many nations, at a time of their convenience, as he sought their endorsement for the Indo-US agreement in the IAEA. India had never experienced such direct favour from the world’s lone superpower. The world looks up to India with a newfound respect today and we can remain grateful to our friend in Texas for that.

Rajeev Shukla