Opinion divided over US endorsing India`s UNSC bid

The announcement by US President Barack Obama that his administration endorses India`s bid for a permanent seat at UN Security Council is more of "symbolic" in nature and lacks "substance", American experts have said.

Updated: Nov 09, 2010, 10:50 AM IST

Washington: The announcement by US President
Barack Obama that his administration endorses India`s bid for
a permanent seat at UN Security Council is more of "symbolic"
in nature and lacks "substance", American experts have said.

But senior administration officials quickly dismissed
such line of thought stressing that any announcement by the US
in this regard carried a lot of weight at the international
level and it would be incorrect to say that Obama`s statement
is symbolic in nature.

At the same time it is conceded that there is long way to
go before India gets its rightful place at the UN Security
Council, given the current political set up, the divergence of
views among the community of nations and lack of a strong
consensus in this issue at the world body.

"I can say today, in the years ahead, I look forward to a
reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India
as a permanent member," Obama said in his address to the joint session of the Parliament amidst thunderous applause.

With this the US has become the fourth country, after
Britain, France and Russia to endorse India for the UN
Security Council.

"This is not the most important issue in the world right
now, more symbolic than anything, but symbols seem to be very
important for MEA and the Indian media class," said Stephen P
Cohen, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Brookings
Institute, and a noted scholar on South Asia.

Obama`s announcement did not surprise Cohen.

"The problem was not US support, but opposition to India
in particular by others, and the whole problem of UN reform,"
Cohen said.

Echoed Robert Hathaway of the Woodrow Wilson Center, a
major Washington-based think tank.

"Many Indians will regard the President`s pledge to
support India`s bid for a permanent UNSC seat as the highpoint
of the visit. But since no one believes Indian membership in
the Security Council is imminent, in some ways this was merely
a symbolic step, albeit a truly important one," said Hathaway,
Director, Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International
Center for Scholars.

Beyond deepening the US-India strategic partnership
launched by the Bush administration, the Obama announcement
may help break the logjam that has kept the UNSC`s permanent
membership mired in the world of 1945, said Stewart Patrick of
the Council on Foreign Affairs.

He urged the Obama administration to follow its
endorsement with an initiative to gradually expand the UNSC
based on clear criteria for permanent membership.

PTI