VYGR Exclusive: Interview with Prof. Walter Russell Mead (American Foreign Policy Expert)

American foreign affairs giant and polytropos Dr. Henry Kissinger considered India’s serving External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar as “the best foreign minister in the world." American thinker Walter Russell Mead, who had personal relations with Kissinger told Vygr Newson Friday during his recent visit to New Delhi on the margin of the ET Global Business Summit. Kissinger, who passed away in November 2023, remarked this last year over a dinner joined by several diplomats, where Walter Russell Mead, the Hudson Institute expert, was present. Walter Russell Mead served on the Council on Foreign Relations as a Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for US foreign policy.

Talking about Dr. Jaishnkar, Mead said he would agree with Dr. Kissinger’s view. Known for his deft diplomatic skills and English oratory, Mandarin-speaking Dr. Jaishnkar served in China and the US prior to becoming the Foreign Secretary. Dr. S. Jaishankar assumed the Ministry of External Affairs in May 2019.

Ayanangsha Maitra and Walter Russell Mead

Talking to Vygr News on India’s infrastructural development, he asserted that the construction of new roads is leading India at the global stage. He further stated that there is less poverty now and more business in Indian cities.

There used to be a time when only South Asian experts were interested in India, but now for the United States and many other countries, India is one of the great powers that are shaping world history, Mead, who has been closely observing India since the 1990s, asserted.

The American thinker is of the faith that there is a general world consensus that India has to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

"I would like that to happen, but unfortunately, China doesn't agree,” Mead told Vygr News.

China can veto any application, and then it would be very difficult to be a permanent member in the future, he added.

"India is more pro-American than it used to be. Russia's relations are because of business and defence equipment," he stated.

Calling at one point of time the US-India relations "very poor," the New Delhi and Washington relations improved under George W Bush and President Barack Obama, and President Donald Trump, and they continued to do very well under President Joe Biden. Both parties, the Democrats and Republicans, have seen importance in relationships with India, he added.

Ayanangsha Maitra and Walter Russell Mead

On Think-Tank Culture in India

American think tanks is a little bit of different than elsewhere, the American Foreign Affairs expert who grew out of poverty in South Carolina told Vygr News on Friday.

"When we change the president in the US, there are thousands of jobs at the federal government get changed. So many positions in the State Department and Department of Defence as well," he remarked.

"In India, if you change governments, almost no position gets changed in the Ministry of External Affairs. So people in the opposition get out of power from the think tank and wait till their turn in the presidential election,” he added.

Corporations often sponsor these think tanks considering they will be back in government, he told during the exclusive conversation.

“I see greater wealth in India. More understand foreign policy top Indian business and rise of think tank culture and grass-roots civil society think tanks getting  organized."

As the government policy becomes more important to more people, more people have the education and resources to participate, think tanks emerge as civil society becomes more complex.

Ayanangsha Maitra and Walter Russell Mead

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Image credit : Ayanangsha Maitra

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