In recent past US-India ties seemed to have emerged on the basis of a symbiotic relationship as both the nations are grappling with somewhat same issues – China’s growing clout in the South China Sea, Terrorism, shared values and security interests. However, despite the bonhomie, Trump has never held himself back from cracking-down on India.
Firstly, last year in June when pulling out of the Paris accord, Trump made no qualms about reprimanding India and that too unwarrantedly. Without any proof whatsoever, precarious supreme leader of USA accused India of being the world’s largest polluter. Ironically, the US is way ahead in emitting Carbon Dioxide at 15.99 per cent as opposed to India’s 6.24 per cent.
What Did Nikki Haley Imply During Her Visit
Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the UN, on her recent visit to India, implied that India needs to revise its relations with Iran. Such implications though unwarranted were not completely unexpected.
“President [Donald] Trump has said we need to hold Iran to account”, she said. She further went on to say, “I think as a friend [of the U.S.] India should decide whether [Iran] is a country they want to continue doing business with”. Do her statements imply that India needs to decide between Iran and the U.S. But for India, It is not the case of “Scylla and Charybdis”, just because we’re an ally doesn’t warrant president Trump to expect us to hang onto every word he utters? India is its own country, who has to make decisions keeping its own faith and belief in mind.
The USA has already been infiltrated with doubts after the international display of India’s inclination to mend the relations with China and growing proximity with India’s time-weathered ally Russia.
On top of that, India’s firm decision to continue energy deals with Iran and Venezuela notwithstanding the sanctions put by the USA under the much promulgated CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), has aggravated the Indo-US relations even further.
Not to say, India’s S-400 Deal with Russia is suspected to be a direct snub to the USA.
Modi’s words at the Shangri-La-Dialogue in Singapore, which held nuanced yet firm undertones of non-compliance from those of U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis, acted as the proverbial nail in the coffin.
The Times Have Changed- The USA Is No More The Supreme Power
The world has come far along from the times when the U.S.A used to sneeze and the rest of the planet seemingly used to catch a cold. Though still the most powerful country in the world, U.S.A is no more in the position to act like Goliath, the big bully. The era when the U.S. was a hegemonic force is far behind.
The U.S. is one of our allies and we are agreeable on several issues, like China’s growing clout in Indo-Pacific region, however, this rapport does not amount to India toeing the line with the U.S. on every international issue.
Their enemies are not our enemies and if the U.S. beg to differ, then one can question the propriety in this contradiction, for the U.S. was tongue-tied and said relatively little when India was reeling from Doklam standoff with China.
India can have a symbiotic relationship with the U.S. while still maintaining its autonomy and having beneficial relations with other allies. To imply otherwise would mean suffering from indignity and playing second fiddle to the U.S.
America Has No Permanent Friends Or Enemies
When Henry Kissinger said that “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”, it seems he was not mincing his words. Camaraderie with the U.S. is even more uncertain now, with Donald Trump pulling the strings from the Pentagon. His incoherent foreign, as well as domestic policies, scream of uncertainty and warns of overt reliance.
Moreover, to be regarded as a reliable ally, rather than blatantly baring their teeth, the United States should show magnanimity and tolerance to its allies. The crude reality of American supremacy cannot be covered by flashy summits and flowery rhetoric. Trump must not forget that “First an empire prospers, as a result, it becomes arrogant and eventually, this arrogance results in its downfall”, as is discernible from the downfall of the mighty Roman Empire, the Soviet Union so on and so forth.
Countering Emerging Trio Of Russia-China-Pakistan
Traditionally an ally of India and supporter of India’s stance on Kashmir, Russia is now heavily leaning towards India’s adversaries Pakistan and China. Having said that, the emerging trio of Russia-China-Pakistan can be counteracted by initiating talks with Pakistan, maintaining cordial relations with China and assiduously ensuring Russia of India’s affinity despite growing ties with the west.
Ties with Pakistan can be mended if only the two neighbours let go of the visceral mutual hostility. China is on its way to becoming a world leader. To pretend otherwise is myopic, to say the least. China and India should address each other’s concerns as before relying on the partner’s miles away, it is imperative to resolve issues close home.
India Needs To Resuscitate Nehru’s “Bandung Spirit”
Amidst the strenuous conflicts between the U.S., Russia and China, India needs to carve its own niche rather than taking sides and must take an independent stand without being waylaid into taking decisions. India would fare far better if it resuscitates the “Bandung Spirit” in its foreign policy.
When Nehru could successfully lead Non-Alignment movement during the time when India was just finding its feet in the global scenario, after driving enemies away from home, we certainly can be even more assertive today. Now the scenario has changed and India is an emerging economy and heralded as the world’s largest democracy. India can prove its mettle by reviving the Non- Alignment movement and ensuring the Big Powers of its non-partisan stand. There is a persistent need for nurturing the goal of keeping “India first”.
Trump’s Unpredictable Foreign Policy
As for the US, India cannot completely rely on Trump’s unpredictable foreign policies. We must maintain a wary alliance with the largest economy in the world as an alliance with the superpower will always be unequal. The ties with the USA will accrue many benefits to India as Trump supports India’s membership bid for the NSG group and endorses India’s trepidation over China’s Belt and Road Initiative. However, we must be on the qui vive lest we end up sleepwalking between China and the USA. Growing military alliance with the USA should also be kept in check as that could potentially serve India up as a theatre for a proxy war between China and the United States in future.
The USA has a vested interest in India’s clout in the South-Asian region owing to China’s growing hegemony. In biological terms, we can forge a symbiotic relationship with the USA but not at the expense of our autonomy.
At present India seems to be stuck in a cauldron of the proverbial chicken-and-egg situation but as the French say “Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid”, which designates patience and perseverance. With time, wit and diplomacy we can build a unified comity with the world powers and our regional neighbours without having an impinging effect on our sovereignty and autarchy.