July 27, 2018


Trump Is Losing India: The president has deep business ties to the country and an ideological affinity with its government. But the relationship is not working out. (JAMES CRABTREE, JULY 27, 2018, Slate)

[A]s America's quarrels with China grow more pronounced, from trade policy to the South China Sea, the more tempting it looks to draw India closer for balance. Last December the Trump administration officially took a further step in that direction, welcoming "India's emergence as a leading global power" in its National Security Strategy.

Yet all of this simply makes Trump's more recent rumblings the more self-defeating, beginning with moves to tighten H-1B visas for technology workers, which have often been used by Indian outsourcers. More recently there have been threats of possible "secondary sanctions" against India, if it continues to buy oil from Iran, one of its most important energy suppliers.

"India's bilateral relations with Iran stand on their own and are not influenced by India's relations with any third country," said Gen. V. K. Singh, India's minister of state for external affairs, in Parliament earlier this month--in effect politely telling the U.S. to back off.

Then there are growing disputes over trade flowing from Trump's attempts to pressure China and rip up the existing global trading system. India has already introduced retaliatory steps against Trump's recent tariffs on aluminum and steel. Trump has complained about Indian tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles in return.

As a still-poor country, India wants the kind of international stability that will allow its economy to grow. Broadly speaking, Modi backs the current global order that Trump is tearing down. The more that destruction continues, the weaker ties between the U.S. and India are likely to become.

Raja Mohan, one of India's most respected foreign policy analysts, put his finger on the brewing anti-U.S. mood swirling around New Delhi in a recent article. "For many in India, it is tempting to align with Trump's critics, at home in America and his allies in Europe and denounce the US president's disruptions," he wrote.

This should be an alarming warning. India is not a formal U.S. ally and is unlikely to become one, at least partly because New Delhi understands only too well that it should not needlessly antagonize China. It can be a prickly country to deal with.

"America's bet on India should be strategic, but Trump cannot see beyond the most recent transaction," said Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Asking 'what have you done for me lately?' will lead to bad outcomes when it comes to India."

Posted by at July 27, 2018 5:10 PM


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