“Trump is very tough on terror, and so is Prime Minister Modi. Trump is friendly to Russia, India is friendly to Russia. Trump is not positive to China; he has been calling the Chinese currency manipulator. And all that suits India’s interests in the geo-political scene,” an ace foreign policy commentator told this newspaper.
He said that “very importantly, Trump has made totally clear that for him Europe, Asia everything is the same. That is negative for Europe, which has for long been America’s special partner, but positive for Asia as no special treatment will be granted to Europe.” In Donald Trump, India may finally find a US President who would be ready to “discipline” the Pakistan army. Arguing that former US Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama made the mistake of seeing Pakistan as a “solution” to the terror problem, the commentator said “the Pakistan army got to be sent back to the barracks, it should be stopped from dealing with terror, and that is a policy approach Trump presidency is likely to adopt”.
“Obama, frankly, was not strong enough to do that. He began, but later chickened out. Trump, I think, follows a stricter line. Basically, in the war of terror, Pakistan is a problem. A politician looks at various political considerations, but Trump being a businessman is not wedded to that philosophy. Trump is more likely to look at facts minus any political calculations. And the fact is Pakistan is a problem. Since Trump only looks at the facts, he may take strong action against Pakistan,” the commentator explained.
Rahul Mishra, former research fellow at East West Center in Washington, seconded the thought. “It is very likely though that he would pursue a more aggressive policy towards Pakistan. In his addresses he has hinted at this. Pakistan is one area, where if we play our cards well, we will have more advantages than before,” he told this newspaper.
Manoj Joshi, distinguished fellow, Observer Research Foundation, however, thinks differently. He told The Sunday Guardian, “Those who expect Trump to come down on Pakistan may be disappointed. Whatever his personal predilections may be, he is unlikely to cut off a state as dangerous as Pakistan.”
Joshi, however, said, Trump may end up checking overtures between Russia and China. “What will definitely benefit India is a possible Russian-American entente. This could reduce the fatal attraction of Beijing for Moscow. If that happens, India can breathe a bit easier, because by itself it lacks the geopolitical clout to prevent the rise of a new Sino-Russian alliance in Eurasia,” he told this newspaper.
There are apprehensions in some quarters in India that Trump may discard President Barack Obama’s iconic “pivot to Asia” strategy, which attempts to corner China .
“I think pivot to Asia policy is going to be there. But he is not going to be out and out anti-China, that element is going to be absent,” Mishra argued. According to foreign policy analysts this newspaper spoke to, Trump is likely to engage more junior partners in the “pivot” policy. “There is a talk of dialogue with North Korea, I don’t know whether that is going to happen but there is a possibility of more of the American President’s interest/influence in the Korean peninsula. Then there are Japan and South Korea. Trump maintains that both countries should militarise themselves and have nuclear weapons. So, in a way he is going to pitch for a strong pivot policy, which was initiated by Obama, by bringing more junior partners on board. Your adversary (China) will naturally feel isolated,” Mishra said.
Experts also downplayed fears that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which aims to isolate China in international trade, is at risk with a confirmed Trump presidency. “Trade is not doing well globally. There is pressure against all these bilateral agreements. But I don’t see Trump discarding the TPP...because corporate America is very strongly for TPP and they have a very strong voice inside the government. Republican Party is heavily dominated by corporates, and so are the House and the Senate,” the commentator quoted above said, rubbishing such claims as “chunaavi jumla (hoax promises)” on Trump’s part.
‘What will definitely benefit India is a possible Russian-American entente. This could reduce the fatal attraction of Beijing for Moscow.’
When asked if Trump were to implement his plan of reducing corporate tax rates in the US from 35% to 15%, will US businesses in India be lured back to the American soil, the commentator said Trump is only targeting US cash hoard abroad. “No. It is basically the US cash hoard abroad. He is targeting US cash. It is about $2 trillion and that is lying abroad because the tax rate in the US is very high. So, the companies show profit abroad but not inside the country,” he countered.
Summing up what a Trump presidency will mean for India, Joshi said: “It is true that in the end, it is political interests rather than personal predilections that drive the foreign policies of mature countries. In that sense, both the US and India need each other, one to check China in larger Asia and the other to moderate the Sino-Pak axis in South Asia.”