In improving ties with India, Bush can claim a foreign policy success

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Manmohan Singh leads the largest democracy on Earth. But the Indian prime minister is gentle of manner and speaks in whispers. One struggles to imagine him professing love without shyness to his own wife. And so it meant something when he recently laid the L-word on a little-loved man: George W. Bush.

"The relationship with India is one of the few success stories of the Bush administration's foreign policy," said Teresita Schaffer, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who ran the State Department's South Asia desk under the first President Bush.

"Mr. Bush is driven by ideology and instincts, not by nuanced thinking," said Ashutosh Varshney, a political scientist and South Asia specialist at Brown University. "Bush's ideology convinced him that, of the two rising stars on the world stage, India was preferable." (The other is, of course, China.)

Many Indians believe they are the heirs to this tradition, that it is their special destiny to be a new America. It might be an empty boast - but it might not. And, in case it isn't, Bush will be able to claim credit for championing that new power before it was fashionable and, ironically, in the view from here, for clearing its path by squandering much of his own country's carefully accrued sway.

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