Thursday, 19 May, 2022
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On Pakistan, ‘non-Yale’ ‘non-Harvard’ Trump found the courage to call a spade a spade

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Trump understands that the American people are very angry about aid being given to “ungrateful” recipients.

The chattering classes among Indians who take their cues from the decrepit portals of the New York Times or the BBC are now in for a surprise. This so-called “buffoon” Donald Trump has started the New Year with a brilliant anti-Pakistan tweet. At least on Twitter, Shri Trump does not mince his words. He talks about Pakistani deceit and about how American leaders have been fooled. In some sense, the Dubya Bush and Obama administrations and all the Pakistan-lovers in the State Department have much to answer for.

The image of every young American soldier killed or wounded by the Taliban in Afghanistan must haunt them in their dreams. Everyone has known for years that these young Americans were attacked by forces based in Pakistan, sheltered by Pakistan, encouraged by Pakistan, and almost certainly armed by Pakistan. And all these years, elitist American diplomats have continued to sup with their Pakistani counterparts (remember the English proverb about supping with someone?) to the detriment of the interests of American fighting men and women. Trump, the ‘non-Rhodes scholar’, the ‘non-Harvard Law School Community Worker’, the ‘non-Yalie’ has found the courage, and need I add, the integrity to call a spade a spade. Just think of the counter-factual. How would the great Hillary, advised by the greater Huma Abedin, have ducked and weaved her way around the subject?

Trump is not a buffoon—despite the best attempts of the BBC and the NYT to create that myth. Trump understands that his countrymen and countrywomen are tired of being lied to by smug deal-makers in Washington DC. He understands that as Commander-in-Chief, his first duty is not to defend liberal Ivy-leaguers in the US Foreign Service, but to stand up for the men and women who wear American uniforms. He understands that the American people are very angry about aid being given to ‘ungrateful’ recipients, who arm terrorists who kill American service personnel and who sponsor UN resolutions against the US—especially at a time when domestic parsimony is the rule in order to curtail budgetary deficits.

If the US is really a declining power as everyone on BBC or Al Jazeera claims, then pray why are these commentators upset by the attempts by this power to reduce its aid footprint and its contributions to that most inane of debating clubs, the UN? Why not just spurn the funds of the declining power and just suck up to the ascendant one/ones? Aye there’s the rub. No one else is willing or able to give the quantum of aid that the US has traditionally showered on so many countries—many of these recipients have instead chosen sullen antagonism in preference to respect, let alone gratitude.

The Pakistani position that the US is screaming ‘sour grapes’ as they are ‘losing’ in Afghanistan is the height of mendacious hysteria. If the US has been less than successful in Afghanistan, it is primarily because of Pakistani obstructionism, obduracy and treachery, to use an old-fashioned word. What else is it but treachery to systematically sabotage the military operations of your ally? Just ask Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai or Ashraf Ghani—they will tell you that in the absence of Pakistani machinations, there would be improvement in the peace and prosperity of Afghanistan.

I would, however, sound a note of caution to our own countrymen and countrywomen who today are full of glee, just because Trump has finally called out Pakistan. This act on Trump’s part is not about India—it is about defending US interests. Trump should be expected to behave with similar clarity and vigour apropos of India when it comes to defending US interests——be it on H-1 Visas or on trade matters. In the same vein, he is likely to be positive towards India, if he sees it as benefiting his own country. So it is not an irrational or silly view. India should, therefore, chart its course to maximize the range of interests where we and the US are simultaneous beneficiaries. The US is not in decline. And we might be lucky if we can work with a realist US President. Let us remember that.

Jaithirth Rao lives in Mumbai. He is an entrepreneur and a writer.

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