The political context of Donald Trump’s visit to India: analysis
Nine months is a long time in politics. But with the next presidential elections of the United States (USA) In November, Donald Trump feels ascendant. In 72 hours this week, several developments occurred that further improved his prospects for reelection.
On Monday, when the state of Iowa held the first vote to select the candidate of the Democratic Party for president, the process was prosecuted for the controversy. The Iowa Caucuses, which include local meetings to select representatives that support individual candidates, reached a technical obstacle, which means that the results were delayed. When the confirmed results arrived, it seemed that Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of a small town in Indiana, 38, had won the largest number of delegates, even though veteran Senator Bernie Sanders could have won the majority of the votes . With Buttigieg and Sanders representing two wings of the party, the Democrats leave Iowa more fractured than ever. Meanwhile, the organization of the Democrats in at least one fundamental state seemed unfortunately incompetent.
On Tuesday, Trump delivered his annual address on the State of the Union to the United States Congress. This occasion not only saw him extol his various achievements, but was marked by the political theater that recalled the president’s previous career as a reality show personality. Right-wing radio commentator Rush Limbaugh received one of the highest civil honors in the United States. An enlisted military officer deployed in Afghanistan reunited with his family. The Democrats refused to applaud, several boycotted the speech and President Nancy Pelosi broke the text of Trump’s speech sitting right behind him. It was a moment of triumphalism for Trump in a bitterly divided house.
On Wednesday, the US Senate UU. He voted to acquit Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, both related to his link of military assistance to Ukraine with the internal political objectives of the United States. UU. While the acquittal was in line with the predictable lines of the party, Senator Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate, voted with Democrats to remove Trump from office. Romney’s surprise decision mitigated what could have been another unequivocal victory for Trump.
These developments have happened just when Trump’s popularity has improved. The economy and employment in general of the United States remain strong, and a recent estimate suggests the highest employment growth in the private sector in four and a half years. In terms of foreign policy, Trump’s escalation with Iran improved his position after the assassination by the United States of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and the accidental demolition of a civilian aircraft by Iran. On trade, Trump recently concluded a “Phase One” agreement with China, and successfully renegotiated a trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada (USMCA) on more favorable terms. Their tax cuts have found favor with the middle class constituents, their judicial appointments have pleased Christian conservatives and their trade policies have attracted certain commercial interests and unions. This creates a solid foundation on which he will now seek reelection.
It is in this context that Trump can go to India. The White House has not yet confirmed Trump’s expected visit this month, although preparations have begun in earnest. The United States seeks to conclude a modest bilateral agreement with India that will end almost three years of commercial hostilities. But the president’s main trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, optimistic at the conclusion of difficult negotiations with China, Japan, Canada and Mexico, seems eager to make a difficult deal and not let India break free easily. An important defense sale is another element that is waiting to be concluded. Trump also thrives in large crowds, which he expects to be expected in India. While these elements remain at the top of the priorities of the US president. Given its political value, its government is looking for other deliverables, including cooperation in third countries as part of the Indo-Pacific convergence of the US. UU. And India Several other US officials are expected to visit India later in the year to substantially track various aspects of India’s policy.
If Trump arrives in India going up, it will be important to remember some points. First, US elections are always competitive matters and opinion can change dramatically in a matter of months, as happened in 2008 and again in 2016. That said, the US presidential elections. UU. They tend to favor the presidents in office (only four have lost in the last century) Much will depend on the state of the US economy.
Second, Trump’s visit to India will not be a partisan issue, even if the president decides to portray him as such. After all, the Indian government invited its predecessor, Barack Obama, a Democrat, as the main guest of Republic Day in 2015. Efforts will continue to involve Democrats, despite their internal divisions, including presidential candidates and the members of the United States Congress.
Finally, while Trump will highlight aspects of the commitment to India that serve his political interests, the real importance for India will be at a more mundane level. The wide chasms that existed between New Delhi and Washington on trade, Russia, Iran and Afghanistan have been repaired in the last six months, while cooperation in security and terrorism has continued at an accelerated pace. Trump’s theatricality is not a secondary spectacle, since they have real implications. But neither should they constitute the most important story in relations between India and the United States from the point of view of New Delhi.
Dhruva Jaishankar is director of the United States Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation.
The opinions expressed are personal.