Looking at the “independent” analyses of so many of the great brains of Lutyens’ Delhi, it is amusing to note how closely they follow trends in the thinktanks and foundations in the US that are, to many, their second home. Hence, the cacophony of voices in favour of Hillary Clinton as being far preferable to either Donald J. Trump or Bernie Sanders, both of whom were just weeks ago derided as comic figures, but are these days (in line with DC and NY thinktank opinions) merely seen as undeserving individuals riding an “anti-establishment” vein of public sentiment. Echoes of horror similar to those in the DC Beltway greet such sallies of the other billionaire in the race (besides the Clintons), as Trump’s call to do away with NATO, or, even more alien to thinktank groupthink, that US intervention in Libya or Syria was a mistake and that it is perfectly possible for Washington to work with Vladimir Putin, rather than drench and drown him in a Ukrainian-style colour revolution. Almost certainly, despite coming from opposite ends of the wealth and political spectrum, the views of Bernie Sanders in such matters are the same. The messianic Senator from Vermont is clearly no booster of either NATO or the many Secretary Clinton-era interventions, carried out in lockstep with such middle-aged schoolboys as Francois Hollande and David Cameron, who have never taken seriously Barack Obama’s admonition that a handful of individuals from the same geographic location no longer have the power to change the world. As for Putin, while Russia has paid a high price for Madeleine Albright-style sanctions imposed by the ageing schoolchildren who still predominate in the chancelleries of the Atlantic alliance, it is Europe that will, over time, pay much the heavier price, including in a sharp fall in goodwill within the Russian people at countries that seek to punish Moscow for the “crime” of seeking to avoid the same descent into geopolitical irrelevance that was visible in the Gorbachev-Yeltsin era.
The fact is that on almost all such issues, the views of Donald Trump are very similar to that of that diminishing part of the Indian establishment that is yet to succumb to the lure of exchanging intellectual freedom and an adherence to our national interest at the altar of superpower foundation largesse. Examine the manner in which NATO intervened in Afghanistan, a country critical to the Indian national interest and which Delhi seeks to ensure is allowed to conduct its own business without interference by Pakistan, a country whose military considers Kabul to be its colony. Throughout 2004-7, the ISI succeeded in planting members and ideological clones of the Taliban into almost every recess of the Afghan system, which is why that organisation has revived despite the expenditure of more than a trillion dollars on seeking its defeat. Just as in Vietnam, the US and its partners have been defeated in Afghanistan, and this time, by its own errors, rather than the ferocity of an enemy that in essence is little more than a band of ruffians. Of course, these days, what is becoming more obvious is that the Taliban has been cut in two, one section enslaved to the Pakistan army and the other which hates that military and which has linked up with like-minded Pashtuns across the Durand Line to battle the men in khaki. As for Libya or Syria, the results of intervention are obvious, even though excuses have been created, such as that the “moderate opposition” in Syria lost ground to ISIS because Barack Obama did not bomb Damascus. Had the US President not stood up to his Secretary of State and refrained from repeating Libya in Syria, the capital of ISIS would be Damascus and almost the entire population rather than nearly half would have washed up on alien shores. As for Vladimir Putin, despite his intent to shape a transformational partnership with Washington, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that the President of Russis is not dispensable.
It was only after somehow managing to prise Hillary Clinton away from her perch at the heart of what was less an Obama administration than a Clinton Lite setup, that Barack Obama ensured breakthroughs with Iran and Cuba that will endure in his legacy for generations.
However, the US President’s obsession with keeping big donors happy has meant that he has walked away from the fact that only a public health partnership between the US and India will enable that country to provide universal quality healthcare to its citizens at a cost that will not bankrupt it. A President Sanders, who has understood the inhuman effect of Big Pharma monopolies on the poor across the world, would be very different, as hopefully would be Trump, who thus far has spent only his own money during the campaign and is hence not the servant of big donors that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are. Interestingly, few have noted that much of the donations to the Clinton Foundation come from the Mideast, and hence that it is perhaps not wholly accidental that Secretary of State Clinton pushed for policies favoured by Doha and Riyadh, despite these being contrary to US national interests.
Using a Clinton email server has opened the possibility that several sensitive emails may have been shown to some of the big donors by Clinton Foundation staff, a temptation that ought to have been avoided.
The Clintons have sweet-talked their way into bureaucratic hearts in India despite in practice adopting an inflexible approach seeking to keep India firmly in a subordinate space to “civilised” countries such as France and the UK. Unless the FBI resists pressure from the White House and conducts a comprehensive investigation into Emailgate, Hillary Clinton may continue to bedevil Delhi in practice, while nuzzling it in a pretence of support. And certainly, a President Hillary Clinton would be certain to attract far more cash into the foundation run by the family than even Secretary of State Clinton.
Better by far a President Sanders, or even a President Trump.