I am happy to join the debate as someone who does not believe he alone has all the answers. Both Arun Mohan Sukumar and I agree that India's vote was correct, but we seem to disagree on the rationale for the vote. Sukumar is happy that India did not flinch in supporting a western-backed resolution. He believes that in voting for the resolution, India set aside its geopolitical interests; I believe it is precisely these interests which dictated India's vote, though it feels good to justify a vote as support for some principles. I continue to believe that the one principle which guides states at the United Nations is national interest.

While approving of India's vote, Sukumar predicts its manipulation to set in motion a prolonged and deadly war in Syria. He talks of a Syrian-led transition. Is there such a thing? Is the negotiating process with the Taliban an Afghan-led process? Was the Libyan transition? Sukumar does not seem to approve of the “Friends of Syria” forum. Does this mean that if India decides to join it, he would disapprove? I am not at all persuaded that if the Security Council resolution had been allowed to pass with abstentions by Russia and China, it would have acted like a magic wand and prevented sectarian violence.

I suppose the difference in our approach is that I have seen, at first hand, how nations, especially great powers, behave at the U.N. and I remain unconvinced that their actions are principally inspired by altruistic motives. But I do agree that India ought to use the BRICS as well as the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) forums much more for international issues.

(Chinmaya R. Gharekhan, former Indian Ambassador to the United Nations, was, until recently Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Special Envoy for West Asia.)

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