America had, at least since World War II chosen to lead the free world, by alliances and by putting its weight behind key issues that had divided the world. With US President’s having enormous constitutional powers in foreign affairs and the military clout to take a decisive stand, the US sometimes even went in with just a ‘coalition of the willing’ like it did in the second Gulf War, to confront a rival. Being in deep trouble already at home, about Russian influence in his election victory, Mr Trump initially chose to ordering the bombing of Mosul and Syria — that killed a few hundred civilians — and then dropped the ‘mother of all bombs’ in an already wounded Afghanistan. And if that wasn’t enough, pressurise North Korea, through naval exercises that created a serious war scare in east Asia.
And if that didn’t still endear him to the American people entirely — since rarely has the US been so strongly divided, as it is now, between those that want Washington to shoulder global responsibility and those that want the US to look inwards — President Trump decided that on his first official trip abroad, he must get the rich Arab rulers to pour money into the US economy, to ‘make America great’ again! And so, for a half a trillion dollars plus price tag — $350 billion for arms purchases over a decade and another $160 billion in infrastructure funding — he announced his support for a Saudi led Sunni GCC alliance that initially alienated Iran further and then created a crisis when they all boycotted and sanctioned Qatar. With Mr Trump having abandoned the policy of his predecessors of the US not getting entangled in West Asian conflicts, the long term implications of which is still being calculated by experts, in India and abroad, as the region remains the world’s energy hub.
Thus enthused with such lucrative deals — being a businessman and a deal maker more than a political leader — Trump marched into Europe (via Israel) to meet America’s long standing NATO alliance partners at Brussels, for the first time. But instead of good word for their support to the US, (specially in Afghanistan and Iraq) to everyone’s surprise he abandoned talk of loftier goals and instead asked them to increase their defence budgets to pay more for their security!
And if this wasn’t shocking enough, despite all the efforts by the G7 countries to keep the US inside the Paris climate accord, the US President’s announcement at a grand Rose garden event, just after the G-7 summit that America will pull out of the Paris climate accord, left many European countries speechless. Mr Trump had thus cleared the ground for Russia and China to take up the leaders mantle in place of America.
But his actions have not only created tremors in world forums, but also great concern in New Delhi, as his accusation that India had taken ‘billions and billions of dollars’ to participate in the Climate Accord, left South Block in a spot, until both the Indian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister openly rejected Mr Trump’s claims, as baseless and wrong. Coming as it does just before Mr Modi’s planned trip to Washington in June, India’s diplomats are working hard to prevent a disaster. Compare his antics with that of the calculated postures of President Putin and China’s Xi Jinping and it seems that the American days as the world’s most influential power centre are now numbered. Mr Trump’s knee-jerk reactions on key issues despite his team of some rather capable advisers, is likely to create considerable confusion in the world. The question for India would be: “with its strategic partnership with the US having only had partial success, and one that had left Moscow peeved, what will now be Delhi’s choices, more so with the China-Pak nexus becoming stronger by the day”?
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