India also has the potential to contain the power of China, in conjunction with other well-armed democracies around its periphery -- Japan, South Korea and Australia. Its economy has been growing almost as fast as China's, and it now has a middle class of perhaps 200 million people.
The election held over four weeks in April and May has produced a result very much to our advantage. The Congress Party has been returned to power with a larger share of the vote than indicated by pre-election and exit polls and will no longer need Communists and left-wingers for majorities in the Lok Sabha. The BJP attacked Congress for being too close to the United States; voters evidently decided that this was not a minus but a plus.
All of which puts the ball in Barack Obama's court. He has scarcely mentioned India in public since he became president, even as he has been making emollient noises to the mullah regime in Iran. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, said publicly she wouldn't object to China's abuses of human rights, while India has worked hard to uphold human rights.
The United States is preoccupied with the turmoil inside Pakistan, as well as with Pakistan's problematic role in the fight against the Taliban. But building closer relations with India would give us more leverage in Islamabad. Clinton, who played a constructive role in her husband's outreach to India, should understand this. Perhaps Obama does, too.
But it's hard to tell. Obama has continued military operations in Iraq and stepped them up in Afghanistan, but otherwise he is banking heavily on the proposition that he can persuade those who have been our sworn enemies that they should be our friends. Maybe that will work. But in the meantime, it would not hurt to show some solicitude for our friends in India, with whom we share strategic interests and moral principles. The 700 million voters of India have chosen to be our ally. We should take them up on it.