Donald Trump appears set on confusing the American Foreign Policy and Defence Establishment, with his radical changes in US global ambitions. He is also promoting confusion and an uncertainty worldwide, about what he intends to do next. While the US has led in developing a global world order to promote economic cooperation and fashion military alliances to promote its global reach and role, Trump is drastically changing past policies. He withdrew American participation in the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership, turned on friends and foes alike on issues of global, regional and bilateral trade and made it clear that America’s NATO allies would have to spend more on Europe’s defence.
Trump has made the US a virtual hostage of Israeli ambitions, reversing US policies on crucial issues. He unilaterally revoked the 2013 Geneva Accords ending UN sanctions on Iran. He downgraded relations with ASEAN, by not attending the annual ASEAN and East Asia Summits. His policies on Afghanistan were marked by shrill anti-Pakistani rhetoric on Pak-sponsored terrorism. This was suddenly reversed by his decision to hold talks with the Taliban and an announcement that he would soon withdraw half of his troops from Afghanistan. He decided to withdraw all American forces from Syria, betraying America’s faithful Kurdish allies and exacerbating rivalries in the Islamic World.
Despite the complexities in relations between major powers like the US, China, Russia and the European Union, India has done well in maintaining good relations, while taking an independent position on global and regional issues. It has imaginatively dealt with the Trump Administration’s propensity to impose sanctions on a vast range of issues. Indian diplomacy has won worldwide attention, by avoiding US sanctions on its construction of the Chabahar Port in Iran. It has also avoided US sanctions on its decision to purchase S 400 missiles from Russia.
Despite enjoying respect as a major Asian power, India is seen as a country, which lacks a defence industrial base, incapable of exporting any major weapons system. Its indigenous defence industry cannot match the defence export potential of China and in some cases, even Pakistan. The personal and sniper rifles Indian soldiers carry are out-dated and no match for the weapons even Pakistani soldiers carry. We are short of artillery, because of the incompetence of our Defence Ministry, which had comprehensive Swedish designs of 155 mm guns supplied by Bofors, locked in its cupboards, for two decades.
The army thereby suffered without guns, which could have been manufactured in India. The process for acquiring new fighter aircraft to replace those now obsolete was initiated in 2004. Fifteen years later, the first Rafale aircraft to strengthen the Air Force is still to arrive. The Air Force now functions with around 65 percent of its sanctioned strength, while Defence spending is reduced to a bare 1.5 percent of the GDP. The entire edifice of our Ministry of Defence needs to be dismantled and restructured, if we are to be taken seriously, internationally.