Barack Obama defended his policy of reaching out to India and China on Wednesday, saying their rise should be welcomed rather than feared as a prelude to western decline. “Perhaps, the argument goes, these nations represent the future, and the time for our leadership has passed. That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now,” he said in the first address by a US President to both houses of the British parliament.
Obama’s state visit to Britain, which began Tuesday, has been beset by British fears that the Anglo-American special relationship has been brought to an end by a world leader more keen on India, China and Brazil. British Prime Minister David Cameron has even replaced the word “special” with “essential”. But Obama soothed the lawmakers’ nerves, saying, “Even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a century that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just.”
“The days are gone when Roosevelt and Churchill would sit in a room and solve the world’s problems. In this century, our leadership will require building new partnerships, adapting to new circumstances and remaking ourselves to meet the demands of the new era,” he said.
The concept of free enterprise, pioneered in the West, unleashed the full potential of individuals. “That’s why countries like China, India and Brazil are growing so rapidly because in fits and starts they are moving toward market-based principles that the US and UK have always embraced.”