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Trump knows that it is Beijing and not Moscow that needs undivided attention 'if the US is to ensure that it remains the globe's largest economy'.

 

Almost the entire mainstream media in the US dislikes Donald Trump, and it shows. Television news reports, talk shows and newspaper commentary are filled with a toxicity towards Trump that is reminiscent of the vitriol directed against Chief Minister Narendra Modi from 2002 to around 2012, the year when he became a serious prospect for the Prime Ministership of India. The abuse did little to damage Modi’s electoral prospects in his home state, and the constant level of negative commentary about Trump in the midst of an improved performance by the US economy is proving unable to reverse the steady rise in the approval rating of the 45th US President, which may soon cross the politically significant 50% mark. The Democratic Party has yet to recover from its folly of having been forced by the (still dominant) Clinton personal and political machine to reject Senator Bernie Sanders as the party’s nominee for the 2016 Presidential contest. Given the atmosphere in the US during that year, Hillary Clinton was certain to lose to Trump and Sanders to win. The US would have changed under a President Sanders in a manner as comprehensive as it is during the tenure of President Trump, but in a wholly different direction. However, on the issue of dealing with a rapidly nuclearising Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), it is likely that Sanders would have trod much the same conciliatory path that Trump has been taking, except that in the latter’s case, his actual objectives and strategy remain a secret to all except the President himself and a handful of his confidants, many of the closest of whom are outside government, and most of whom have to date remained outside media attention. Indeed, those who have been written about in the media as being “close” to Donald Trump have usually found their welcome significantly reduced once such flattering reports come out. Influenced by an overwhelmingly hostile media across both sides of the Atlantic, the global perception about President Trump is that he changes his mind often and lacks either vision or a well thought out plan of action that could fulfil his stated objectives. The reality is that Trump does indeed have both a vision as well as a plan designed to ensure its fruition, but covers up both through camouflaging them with tweets and statements that deliberately confuse and mislead his audience, including the countries or the interests that he is targeting. Those close to him say that he has a “laser focus” on objectives that are hidden from public view, and among the most consequential of these is to repeat what Ronald Reagan did with the USSR, this time in the case of the People’s Republic of China. With an eye on trendiness and potentialities, Trump “has been aware for over eighteen years” (in the words of an individual who has had contact with him even after 20 January 2017) that “the only threat to the continued primacy of the US in the global order is China”, especially now that Xi Jinping, a leader in the transformational mould of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, has established firm control over the Chinese Communist Party and through that, both the administration as well as the military in what is on track to soon being the world’s largest economy.

 

Atlanticists Fight Trump

 

The ecosystem of the Washington Beltway consists of a dense matrix of think tanks, consultancies and state, as well as private agencies staffed by “experts” who have devoted decades of their lives to “understanding issues” from the 1940s perspective of the Atlantic Alliance. Although global geopolitics has reduced the significance of the European side of the Atlantic and at the same time steadily increased the importance of the Asian side of the Pacific, those with cosy sinecures within the Beltway remain moored to the 1940s worldview, exactly as do the international institutions set up during that period, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, NATO and the IMF. All four have at the core of their control systems the countries forming the Atlantic Alliance, an aberration that continues mainly because US policymakers continue to think and act as though the post-1945 world still exists, and not the world after the firebreak caused by the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, the event which first gave a glimpse to the international community as to the identity of the Second Superpower.

 

Had India post-2014 adopted the “Minimum Government” model promised by Narendra Modi in his 2014 Lok Sabha electoral campaign, by now its annual rate of growth would have crossed the 12% mark and by 2019, it would have been obvious both that Modi would win a second term and that India would soon become the world’s Third Superpower. However, the economic policies and administrative practices of the BJP-led government have in practice been such as to throw both conclusions into doubt. In contrast, the US under Donald Trump and China under Xi Jinping are both transforming themselves at speed, with China outpacing the US in the extent of internal systemic changes. “Digital India” remains a digital colony of the US and China, while “Make Babies in India” seems more accurate a description of the present situation than Make Manufactures in India. Whether in the US or in China, the policy elites of both agree that the immense unlocked potential of India remains locked by a governance mechanism that stifles rather than creates value. The manner of rollout of GST has made Franz Kafka’s depictions of bureaucracy seem a model of simplicity and efficiency, while the less said about the way in which the RBI implemented the 8 November 2016 changeover from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 notes as well as the change in size and colour of Rs 500 notes, the better for those who seek to keep their blood pressure under control. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been badly let down by important elements of his team, but being a large-hearted man, this has not resulted in any adverse impact on their careers. In fact, the reverse has taken place, with several of the “heroes in reverse” of demonetisation and the version of GST formulated by North Block moving on to higher responsibilities. Similarly, those responsible for missteps such as forcing through an alliance between the BJP and the PDP in Kashmir or who persisted even after 2014 with the Manmohan brain-free plan of an alliance of India with Japan, Brazil and Germany to help secure a permanent UN Security Council seat (in fact, the move has almost doomed India’s prospects) either remain at their posts or have moved on to better pastures, thanks to the generous and forgiving spirit that is the distinguishing characteristic of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi.

 

“The Europeans are hanging on to the coattails of the US and are dragging us down while pushing themselves up. This must change”, a key confidant of Trumpworld revealed, adding that “the US should not always be giving to Europe but should be getting as well, and this is something US Presidents (before Trump) have not bothered to ensure”. An associate went on to add that “(German Chancellor) Merkel makes much of her surplus from trade from the US, but that does not stop her from constantly attacking US policies and even the President personally in (what she regards as) private gatherings”. At the same time, “to the President in person she (Merkel) is very respectful. This is hypocrisy”. Another serial offender is UK Prime Minister Theresa May, “who talks to her staff in disrespectful terms about the Administration and even the President despite the special relationship between the UK and the US”. A relationship, he added, which President Trump is fully committed to. He pointed out that Trump “early on promised the UK that it would be at the head of the queue in trade agreements”, and that “this is a promise he intends to keep”, although (Prime Minister) May’s often censorious tone has created a distance between the White House and 10 Downing Street. Those privy to the thinking of President Trump say that there exists substantial evidence that elements of the British establishment connived with Hillary Clinton in seeking to damage the Presidential prospects of Donald Trump. “The Clintons have maintained extensive and lucrative contacts, including with the GCC, Russia and China, but the US media and FBI just want to look at the Trump family, “whose own contacts are few in comparison to the Clintons or the Bush clan”, a senior insider complained, adding that “they cannot forgive the President for refusing to be led by the nose the way Obama was for almost all his term”.

 

[The article was originally published in the Sunday Guardian on 23 June 2018 and is reproduced with permission.]

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal.