End of Alliance? India and United states on bad terms regarding relationship
A two-decade-old strategic assumption, that the United States considered India vital to an Asian security order in a post-9/11 world in which Chinese ascendancy is challenging US dominance, seems no longer valid. India’s relationship with the United States are under renewed focus to assess whether the momentum of the past two decades is waning.
A two-decade-old strategic assumption, that the United States considered India vital to an Asian security order in a post-9/11 world in which Chinese ascendancy is challenging US dominance, seems no longer valid. India’s relationship with the United States are under renewed focus to assess whether the momentum of the past two decades is waning. The warning signs were a manifest when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ignored a muscular approach towards China in the aftermath of the 2017 Doklam standoff, and towards India’s immediate neighbourhood as it is evident that in the warm outreach to Communist-controlled Nepal following the 2015 blockade.
US President Donald Trump largely sees nations, on a descending scale headed by China, at default in proportion to their trade surplus with the US. In addition, Mr Trump has upended stability in the Gulf region and West Asia by aligning with the young leadership of the UAE and Saudi Arabia against not only Shia nations led by Iran but even Qatar, Yemen and perhaps Turkey. Simultaneously, his North Korean gambit has left Japan and the US alliances in the Pacific open to doubt. Hence the Narendra Modi government’s new, more sober outreach to China, Russia, Nepal and even defiant, marble-sized Maldives.
Thus, Mr Modi visited Wuhan in April for an “informal summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping. On June 9-10, he was back in Qingdao, China, for the Shanghai Cooperation summit. In May, Russia was wooed by Mr Modi via another informal summit, to try and recapture the old romance in a progressively barren relationship, with India diversifying its arms purchases, including buying $13 billion of US arms since 2007. With oil prices rebounding, Russian allies Iran and Syria regaining control over a large swathe of West Asia, routing ISIS, and Europe divided over immigration, President Vladimir Putin has resurrected Russian influence.
Sending Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN and a Cabinet member, to New Delhi was poor substitute for institutional engagement. Moreover, she was the point person for announcing the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the face of US multilateralism, or its Trumpian version, symbolised by her announcement of the US quitting the UN Human Rights Council. Her message was to have India abandon oil purchases from Iran and dalliance with Russia as US legislation forbids trading, including arms purchases, even from the latter.
India has world’s second largest Shia population, whose votes the BJP now covets in Uttar Pradesh. Mr Trump may run into domestic or international trouble. Reports leaked by US intelligence indicate that North Korea is still enriching weapons-grade uranium at secret facilities, in breach of the Trump-Kim understanding.
A balanced foreign policy becomes a challenging task when antagonisms among the major powers are fanned by nationalistic leaders with non-concurring visions. The US perceives “Made in China 2025” as a technology behemoth built on purloined US and Western technology. “America First” is seen by China, if not Europe and Asia, as bullying by a mercantilist who sees global trade as a zero-sum game.