This question is best answered if one realises that American politics has been a massive stage-managed show based on an illusion of choice, with the illusion mesmerising an entire population into believing that they choose their political leaders and vote on issues that are dear to them. In reality, the Republican Party and Democratic Party work together behind the scenes and act in tandem on important issues. Voters are asked to make the choice between these two parties only on issues that do not matter to those in power. Even in these cases, the voters are manipulated into voting along racial and religious lines so that there is an appearance of the two parties having an equal share of the vote and competing against each other. Occasionally, when it appears that a candidate who is not part of the system could win an election, those in power are not beyond using illegal means to keep out such people from succeeding.
The share of American voters, who have seen through this game, has grown in recent years, and the support for Donald Trump in the Republican Party and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party during the 2016 primaries was the direct result of an increase in the number of voters who have gained an understanding of the system. Even though it is possible that neither candidate is actually against the existing setup, there is no denial that the support for them is from people who are opposed to the system. Among the candidates representing the two dominant parties who have made it past the primaries, Donald Trump is perceived as the candidate who is against the corrupt establishment, while Hillary Clinton is seen as part of the establishment and as the most corrupt candidate to run for President in the history of the country.
The fact that the Clintons have used politics to make hundreds of millions of dollars and have funnelled vast sums of money from around the world to the Clinton Foundation, has only strengthened the belief that they are extremely corrupt people who sell influence in exchange for money and power. The most famous case related to the Clinton Foundation is their effort to raise money ostensibly to help the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. However, the money was not used to help the victims, but for other purposes including investments in insurance businesses and luxury hotels. Bill and Hillary Clinton, as the UN Representative and the US Secretary of State, respectively, also controlled the flow of money from other sources into Haiti, and the contracts to rebuild the country in the aftermath of the earthquake were given either to friends and relatives like Hillary Clinton’s brother or to firms that donated money to the Clinton Foundation. It is little wonder that the moniker “Crooked Hillary” has stuck to Hillary Clinton and even her official campaign has not made any efforts to counter it. Instead, they have admitted in emails that Hillary Clinton suffers from problems related to trustworthiness among the people.
A Hillary Clinton win in the election would bring back the hostility of the 1990s towards India that existed under the presidency of Bill Clinton. India’s relationship with the US took a sudden downturn after Bill Clinton took office in 1993. For nearly a year, Clinton did not bother appointing an ambassador to India even as he went about opposing India on a number of fronts, leading to resentment in the Indian establishment. He first set about the task of disarming and weakening India by preventing access to technology and simultaneously mounted a sustained attack on the Indian economy by imposing several economic sanctions.
In 1991, Senator Joe Biden, who is now the Vice President under Barack Obama, introduced an amendment in the bill granting aid to Russia, making the aid conditional on the fact that Russia could not sell cryogenic engines for India’s space programme. The Clinton administration persisted in taking measures intended to retard the development of India’s space and technology sectors and blocked the sale of Cray supercomputers that had been approved under the Ronald Reagan administration. This was done even as the Clinton administration allowed the sale of these supercomputers to China. India was also targeted for several economic sanctions and was threatened under what was called the Super 301 clause of the American trade law.
The Clinton administration specially targeted the Indian textile and carpet industries for destruction. Throughout the 1990s, the terms “Dunkel Draft”, “Super 301”, “WTO” and “patent laws” became synonyms for the US attempting to destroy the Indian economy and led to many protests in India. In one famous episode, the Clinton administration declared Indian skirts to be flammable and banned them after an official ignited a skirt in front of television cameras.
On the security front too, the Clinton administration was consistently anti-India and pro-Pakistan. Members of the Clinton Cabinet supported terrorists in India, with Clinton’s Vice President Al Gore using the term “Khalistan” to describe Punjab. Bill Clinton’s close friend Robin Raphel was made the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, and under her, the US State Department pursued an agenda that supported violent anti-India groups in Jammu and Kashmir, while offering F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The State Department also propped up the Taliban regime in Afghanistan during this period.
More recently, when Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State, Robin Raphel was appointed to oversee a $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan, but ended up being investigated by the FBI for spying on behalf of Pakistan and lost her security clearance. The charges against her were dropped only after Hillary Clinton herself ended up being investigated by FBI for using a private email server for classified emails. Had Robin Raphel been prosecuted, it would have been impossible for the FBI to justify dropping the charges against Hillary Clinton.
By 1996, India was justified in believing that Indo-US relations had hit the lowest point, but things took a dramatic turn for the worse during Bill Clinton’s second term in office. Warren Christopher was replaced by Madeleine Albright as the Secretary of State and she made no efforts to hide her hostility towards India and her weekly outbursts on television even bordered on racism. Even after leaving office, Albright continued her attacks on India and called for a plebiscite in Kashmir, thus justifying the actions of violent groups. Albright’s cynical action of bombing Yugoslavia and then getting her investment firm to attempt a takeover of mines in that country is an example of the abuse of power by people close to the Clintons. Albright also justified the deaths of half a million Iraqi children and claimed that the deaths were “worth it”. Recently, Albright threatened women in America and claimed that there was a special place in hell reserved for them if they did not vote for Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton, during her tenure as the Secretary of State, picked up where Bill Clinton and his Cabinet members had left off and did not waste any time in pursuing anti-India activities. Within weeks of Hillary Clinton assuming office, Teesta Setalvad, an activist involved in framing Narendra Modi using false charges, was paid a handsome donation by Vikram Chatwal, whose father Sant Chatwal was at one time a trustee of the Clinton Foundation. Emails leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks show that Sant Chatwal also had a role in the infamous cash-for-votes scam in which money was paid to purchase votes in the Lok Sabha. Other emails leaked by WikiLeaks show that the US government intended to fund Teesta Setalvad’s NGO and use her claims in the so-called human rights reports that could be used against India and Hindus.
Given Hillary Clinton’s background, these actions are not unexpected. Investigative reporter Jeff Sharlet has exposed the fact that Hillary Clinton is part of a secretive group in Washington DC variously known as the Fellowship, the Family, or the C Street House. This group is known to use religion to further their geopolitical agenda around the world and evangelical Christians are their main tool when it comes to interfering in other countries. The separation of East Timor from Indonesia using religious persecution as the excuse was one of their achievements under Bill Clinton, and when Atal Behari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister of India for a few days in 1996, Bill Clinton acted at the behest of this group and set up an advisory committee that would supposedly deal with religious freedom around the world.
Curiously, this committee had members from every faith except Hinduism, and it recommended the creation of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a government agency that has used, since its inception, fictitious claims to attack Hindus and India. It was the USCIRF that was responsible for demonising Narendra Modi using false charges and recommending that he not be permitted to enter the US. According to emails leaked by WikiLeaks, Preeta Bansal, the USCIRF commissioner, who was the main person responsible for this action, has also pressured Vietnam into accepting proselytism by American missionaries and is close to people in the Hillary Clinton campaign.
It is not just the past record, but the future too portends a disastrous era for Indo-US relations should Hillary Clinton end up becoming the President of the United States. There is already talk of Joe Biden being tapped by Hillary Clinton for the position of the Secretary of State. Biden would definitely pursue his agenda of thwarting the development of India’s space programme and other technological advancements. Even more worrisome is the fact that Hillary Clinton’s closest confidante is Huma Abedin who is of Pakistani descent and whose family has links to radical Islamist elements in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Abedin could end up playing an important role in determining American foreign policy.
Another point against Hillary Clinton is that the war hawk Henry Kissinger has come out in support of her and has praised her stint as Secretary of State. Kissinger’s hostility towards India is no state secret, as many of his racist, anti-India statements have been recorded on tape.
It is in the light of this background that many Indian-Americans have opposed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and have come out in support of Donald Trump. In contrast to the policies of the Clintons, Trump has promised to make India the best friend of the US and has stated that he looks forward to working with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trump has also reached out to Hindus in US. While there is always a risk of the unknown and it is not clear if Trump can succeed in cleaning up the system even if he intends to do so, a Hillary presidency will certainly be an unmitigated disaster for India.
Despite these facts, some Indian-Americans support Hillary Clinton, but their support is not based on sound analysis but on flawed information fed to them by the media. Most such supporters are highly qualified when it comes to educational degrees, but fall under the category of what is known in American parlance as “low information voters”. Most educated Indian-Americans typically demonstrate very little interest in politics and have almost never been part of even informal political discussions. America has made many things accessible to most people and politics is no exception. Usually, the process of making things accessible to a large number of people has involved dumbing down the system and controlling the behaviour of people.
Just as education has been dumbed down in US in order to make it easy for everyone to be part of the school system, politics too has been dumbed down and simplified so that even the most ignorant voter can have a sense of making a choice and being politically empowered. The educated class among Indian-Americans are especially suited to this model as they have no inclination towards politics but have been conditioned to refer to books as the source of their knowledge. They have thus internalised the idea of treating the printed word and assertions they hear from “authoritative sources” as the ultimate truth. They are told through television channels and newspapers that politics consists of exactly two groups, with one group consisting of heroes and the other group consisting of villains, a simplification that they readily embrace. They even use labels like “progressive”, “liberal” and “conservative” to describe themselves, even though they do not really comprehend the meaning of these terms and do not realise that these labels are handed out by politicians. In contrast, many supporters of Donald Trump discuss political issues and seem aware of the situation.
In order for India to build a constructive relationship with US, it requires people in both countries to have good intentions. It is clear that India cannot have a good relationship with the US if Hillary Clinton is at the helm of affairs. On the other hand, Donald Trump has articulated the right intent and his tenure holds promise for India.
Arvind Kumar is a political analyst based in the US