When the decision is made to expand the United Nations Security Council, said former US president George W. Bush speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative, “India will be part of the mix.” The main barrier was less India’s credentials than crossing the “threshold” of agreeing to expand the council.
Day two ends on a note of hope
In a speech that otherwise emphasised the importance of the Indo-US relationship, Bush said, “We seriously considered expanding the UN in, I think, 2006. (Then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) began serious discussions on the issue. But when we talked to other countries, we got blowback.”
Bush said present veto-wielding countries were less than happy with the idea once they realised an expansion of the permanent membership would mean a dilution of their influence. “The Security Council should be changed given the new realities of the world,” said Bush.
“But the politics is difficult.” Japan, the world’s second largest economy, was a good candidate as were regional powers like Brazil. “India, however, must be considered as part of the mix.” Bush was unapologetic about the decisions he made to wage the “war on terrorism.” He made it clear that when it came to terrorists, he saw no point in compromise. “I don’t think you can negotiate with them.”
He strongly opposed letting the Taliban takeover Afghanistan again. “They would make Afghanistan a safe haven for terrorists.” He expressed strong emotions at the idea of what a Taliban recovery would mean in terms of “suppression of Afghan women” and the return of a “brutal tyranny.” The US mission has been long, difficult and costly. But it is necessary for peace and stability.” India and the US “had to stand together to support this young democracy.”
Bush argued that that spreading democracy, spreading values “shared by the US and India” was what would bring peace to the world. “In the long-term, the way to fight terrorists is tackle their ideology and for that we need to advance our values of democracy.”
Bush began his speech at the conference speaking about how he, Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had worked to bring the Indo-US partnership “into the 21st century.” He mentioned a long list of initiatives that had taken place during his administration including the civilian nuclear agreement.
“India and the US are half a globe apart, but have never been closer.” “India and the US should not only have an important relationship, but also the best relationship in the world,” he said. “But this will not happen automatically.” Bush made it clear the US would still pursue its relations with Pakistan and China as well.
“It is in India’s interest that a friend an ally be engaged with your neighbour,” he said. “We looked for elements in Pakistani society and military who were prepared to fight the extremists.” “I believe the changes I helped bring about in the Indo-US relationship” and the strategic partnership it is creating will help underpin world peace “50 years from now.”
On the present economic crisis: My administration had to intervene to avert a depression. India has acted decisively when the crisis happened, we and other governments intervened together. First, I see the crisis as having happened because the US got a lot of liquidity thanks to trade imbalances it was running. We developed fancy financial instruments from that liquidity that became so complex that no one understood them. Second, we had two financial institutions, who issued government backed mortgages that began to unwind. We had tried to regulate these two but had been blocked by Congress. Governments cannot spend our way to recovery, you have to revive the private sector and that means supporting small businessmen, entrepreneurs and risk takers.
HT Leadership Summit: Day 1
On Osama bin Laden: I think he’s alive. But he hasn’t won. He’s not holding any victory parades, he’s in hiding. He’s not giving television interviews. Eventually he will be brought to justice. The definition of victory is not win, it is ‘if’.
On Iraq invasion: The world is much better off without Saddam Hussein. There is no question about that. Hussein was a threat to the US. He was a brutal dictator. He used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He was not letting weapon inspectors in. Why should he do that unless he was hiding something? Everyone in the world believed he had WMDs. Regime change in Iraq was the official policy of the US much before I became the president. It was a law passed by Congress by the previous administration. And I take words seriously in international relations. It is not true that we did not have post-invasion plan. Look, once it was decided to remove Saddam Hussein, I had a choice of either replacing him with another tyrant or letting Iraqis who would rule them. But I believe in democracy, I believe it is a fundamental right, a universal right for everyone person. Setting up another tyrant was the easy option. And today we have a democratic Iraq. I reject the idea that some people are not ready for democracy. That is an elitist point of view.
On his impact on radical Islam: It is simply untrue that radical Islamic recruitment increased because of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even before 9/11, there were 10,000 radicals training in Afghanistan and they wanted to attack the United States. They would have found some other excuse to attack the US. My view is if we see threats, we need to take them on. What was the US supposed to do after 9/11? Just walk away? I know there’s propaganda out there saying George Bush and America hate Muslims. I would appeal to Muslims to not believe this. I believe in democracy and I don’t believe it is incompatible with Islam. I appeal to Muslims to not let the propagandists hijack their religion to murder innocent people. I hate people who hijack a great religion to murder innocent people.
On democracy: You know, after 9/11. I got a phone call from the prime minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi. He told me, “Japan stands with you in fighting terror and spreading democracy.” Sixty years ago, my father fought against the Japanese. And here was a Japanese leader saying he would fight alongside the United States. Sixty years is nothing in the span of history. What happened was democracy. Japan was changed by democracy. If you had told anyone 60 years ago that the Japanese would ever say they would help spread democracy, they would have laughed at you. The point is, democracy is transformative. And I think it will transform the Middle East.
As we would say in Texas, “Wall Street got drunk, we got the hangover.”
As president, you get paid – but not very much – to make tough calls.
I was raised by a strong woman, married a strong woman and raised two strong women. So, yeah, I know strong women.
Giving talks like these is what my Dad calls white collar crime.
More stories from the Summit
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Manmohan Singh and I share the same values: Bush
Nuclear deal is India's passport to the world: Bush
Obama election 'was uplifting moment': Bush
Bush proves to be the president of funny walk