The Republican contender Mitt Romney’s appointment of Robert Zoellick to head his national-security transition team has huge implications for India, and yet our pundits and the media missed out on the move. There is a strong likelihood that in a Romney presidency, Zoellick might serve as the United States Secretary of State.
Of course, Zoellick’s credentials as a diplomat are impeccable. Anyone who observed closely the final diplomatic lap of the Cold War era, ringing up the Iron Curtain after half a century, would agree that Zoellick played a major role in the reunification of Germany at a juncture when many Western statesmen — Margaret Thatcher included — were apprehensive that it was far too premature a thing to happen. (Thatcher cautioned Mikhail Gorbachev against disbanding the Warsaw Pact prematurely.)
But Zoellick’s forte lies in economic diplomacy — trade and development, to be precise. The positions he held at the top of the US Treasury and the World Bank give him enormous experience and overview, which is vastly helpful in steering the US diplomacy through the choppy waters of the eurozone crisis or the rise of China.
Indeed, what takes the breath away is that Zoellick it was who coined the famous phrase that China should be encouraged to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. Beijing will be delighted at the prospect of Zoellick being at the helm of affairs in Foggy Bottom.
Unlike Hillary Clinton who has been “running around” (to use a derisive expression by People’s Daily) upsetting China, what appeals to China is that Zoellick is quintessentially a realist
in the mould of Henry Kissinger or James Baker. As a policymaker in Washington, how he calibrates the US’ “pivot to Asia” on the diplomatic plane will be a key factor in the politics of the Asia-Pacific.
Finally, what comes to mind is Romney’s sense of priorities if he is called upon to lead the US from the White House once the dust settles down. Despite the strident rhetoric of the election campaign — calling Russia a “geopolitical enemy”, et al — and the pandering and grandstanding — such as his recent visit to Israel — that is endemic to a tight race such as the upcoming one in November, Romney has introduced an element of nuance into his political personality. Influential sections within his own party have been caught unawares. This is not the one-dimesnional man he was meant to be — and the neocons are going berserk
Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.
– August 16, 2012