December 25, 2003 - New Kerala News & Features: Malawi RPCV Robert Blackwill is new coordinator for strategic planning at NSC

Peace Corps Online: Directory: India: Peace Corps India: The Peace Corps in India: December 25, 2003 - New Kerala News & Features: Malawi RPCV Robert Blackwill is new coordinator for strategic planning at NSC

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Malawi RPCV Robert Blackwill is new coordinator for strategic planning at NSC

Malawi RPCV Robert Blackwill is new coordinator for strategic planning at NSC

Blackwill in National Security Council

By Vasantha Arora, Washington, Dec 25 (IANS):

Former US envoy to India Robert Blackwill is now a coordinator for strategic planning, a post created to make him the "in-house visionary" at the National Security Council (NSC).

"It means he has a free rein to think, track global trends and predict the unnoticed or unintended consequences of US foreign policy decisions anywhere in the world," said a report in the Washington Post.

Blackwill actually handles three of the trickiest foreign policy challenges facing the Bush White House -- Iraq's political transformation, Afghanistan and Iran.

Pakistanis are believed to be having nightmares about Blackwill's role in the newly created position at the NSC, said the report.

The Pakistani media has gone whole hog against Blackwill, criticising him for what they call "his bias against Pakistan".

Blackwill, the Pakistani media says, never missed an opportunity to castigate Pakistan during his stint as the US ambassador to India. With such a track record and his new role in the NSC he could undermine Pakistan and its interests, it said.

The Pakistanis also feel that he targeted Pakistan constantly, accusing it of being solely responsible for the Kashmir insurgency.

"He was never known to have spoken about the conduct of the Indian Army and security forces in Kashmir nor of the widespread human rights abuses for which they were universally held responsible. Pakistan heaved a sigh of relief when Blackwill left New Delhi. Little did Islamabad know that he was heading for even greener pastures," the Daily Times of Pakistan said in its report about Blackwill's new position.

According to the Post report, Blackwill's job was designed to provide cohesion and long-range planning for a White House foreign policy team under stress from wars and ongoing crises.

In a reversal of roles, Blackwill has now become the alter ego to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who earlier worked with Blackwill when he was dealing with the erstwhile Soviet empire's tumultuous unravelling in the first Bush administration.

Speculation is rife here that Bush, if re-elected in November 2004, is likely to reward Blackwill with Rice's position -- national security adviser for the White House.

Blackwill has been with the Bush team from the beginning of his presidency. He was one of the key advisers in Bush's first election campaign to become president. Bush rewarded Blackwill with the ambassadorship to India, even though Blackwill never visited India.

But he carried his duties as US envoy to New Delhi with such gusto that he soon became the best-known voice for support of India in the Bush administration.

Blackwill, a Peace Corps volunteer, has been in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

"But with a lifelong focus on the world's major powers, he sought the assignment because of President Bush's designation of India as a 'rising great power of the 21st century'," says the Post report.

He returned to the US in the summer, purportedly to take up his position at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he had taught for 14 years, but then he got the call from Rice asking him to come to Washington, and joined the NSC.

Even though he is physically present in Washington, he has clearly left his heart behind in India, say officials.

A huge map of "Mother India" adorns the cream-coloured walls of his fastidious office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The only item on his vast desktop, besides precisely arranged wooden "in" and "out" boxes, is a tiny figurine of Ganesha, the Hindu elephant-headed god of wisdom and success.

During his two-year stint, Blackwill oversaw one of the fastest transformations in relations between the US and any country by peaceful means. He noted this in a farewell address to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi this summer.

When he arrived in 2001, India was under US economic sanctions because of its 1998 nuclear tests.

But by the time he left, sanctions had been lifted and cooperation flourished on issues ranging from counter-terrorism to the HIV/AIDS crisis. And the US and Indian militaries were engaged in almost monthly joint training exercises.

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Story Source: New Kerala News & Features

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - India; COS - Malawi; Diplomacy; National Security



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