Burns Steps Down

burns.JPGNicholas Burns, the right hand of the U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the third ranking official of Department of States, is retiring from his job due to the personal reasons. He announced his retirement on the 18th of this month. Nicholas Burns is known as the key negotiator of the Indo-U.S nuclear deal than for being a diplomat. This is said to be a deal (if it happens), which will be historic in many ways. However, the issue to be highlighted and given special significance is that the key negotiator of the deal is quitting from the state department. Burns, after retiring from the department, will join the private sector and the reason was said to be personal and is not specifically disclosed to the media. U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the third ranking top career diplomat will keep a role in working on the deal after he “retires”.

Burns too on his part promised “to finish this very promising strategic opening with India which will do so much good for our country and our global foreign policy.”
Nicholas Burn, a 51 year old diplomat, joined the state department in 1983 and worked at the post in the Middle East and Africa before taking over the Russia portfolio at the National Security Council in the waning years of the Cold War, during the administration of President George H W Bush. From 1997 to 2001, Burns was U.S. Ambassador to During his tenure as the Ambassador, the U.S. expanded its military and law enforcement cooperation with Greece, strengthened their partnership in the Balkans, and increased trade and investment and people-to-people programs. Burns as a Career Senior Foreign Service Officer served for five years (1990-1995) on the National Security Council staff at the White House. He was Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Affairs.
A 26-year veteran of the U.S Foreign Service, Burns is considered a brilliant career diplomat who, besides India, dealt with a wide range of issues, including Washington’s efforts to mobilize international support to punish Iran for its alleged nuclear infringements. However, what the current burning issue that arises in any mind is questioning of the type of the Agreement. It is highly ironical that the key negotiator played a huge role of advancing nuclear deal with India on the one hand and also in punishing Iran over possession of nuclear energy. But we need to understand that like a good diplomat, Burns was quite successful in getting away with all this as everything is in the “national interest” of United States of America.

U.S.A will benefit both politically as well as economically through this deal with India. Let us first look at the political gains. India is not politically and diplomatically aligned with U.S as Western Europe is. Nevertheless India as a strategic partner in ensuring safety of sea-lanes of the Indian Ocean is very valuable. At the moment as long as U.S stays in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world will perceive U.S as a big bully. A major regional power, with a different outlook than that the European and the U.S, is needed to cool the tempers off. India has to step in to prevent further sliding of the Middle East into anarchy. Looking at the economic gains, if India sets up 10 large size nuclear power plants, which is its intention in next 15 years, then it, will import technology and hardware from U.S for at least half of these projects. Furthermore, co-operation in auto parts, pharmaceuticals, R & D and defense industry cannot be ruled out. U.S is definitely looking for a low cost supplier that could be alternative to China. Further, the Iran issue is helping U.SA as it wants to take control of the Middle East it being the main oil resource. Hence, even though U.SA is contradicting its own policy it is actually for and in their national interest.
U.S is a superpower and the credit for that lies more or less in its foreign policy. The diplomats also play a pivotal role and Burn was one of them. Burns has been awarded the State Department’s Superior Honor Award for outstanding performance three times, the Department’s James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence in 1994, and in 2000 the Charles E. Cobb Award for Trade Development by an Ambassador. He has been decorated by the governments of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for his work in securing withdrawal of Russian military forces from the Baltic region in the 1990s and for helping to secure their admittance to NATO. Let me end by simply stating this -William Burns is expected to follow Nicholas Burns in his post.

Anupriya Prakash