Friday, December 9, 2022
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Populist leaders such as Modi, Netanyahu, Erdogan may regret their embrace of Trump

Indian leaders are reduced to hoping Biden won’t make same mistakes they did, will look beyond who’s in power at the moment and focus on long-term ties.

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We know that U.S. President Donald Trump loves strongmen. He was famously soft on Vladimir Putin’s Russia; he welcomed Hungary’s xenophobic Viktor Orban to Washington by saying he had done “the right thing” by restricting immigration; and he said he got along better with world leaders “the tougher and meaner they are,” singling out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the toughest and meanest.

And the strongmen loved him back. Orban wrote an op-ed during the election campaign hoping Trump would defeat the Democrats, whom he called “moral imperialists.” Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro said he hoped “from the heart” that Trump would be re-elected; and Slovenia’s Janez Jansa used various conspiracy theories to justify a call congratulating Trump on winning re-election.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that populist, right-wing strongmen get along well with each other. But their camaraderie provides yet more evidence of how these supposedly nationalist leaders place their own interests above those of their nations.

In coming weeks, many are going to have to back away awkwardly from their embrace of Trump. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu began even before the election, smoothly avoiding Trump’s attempt to get him to criticize his Democratic opponent Joe Biden on a phone call. And then, in what one Israeli journalist called “Netanyahu’s two-tweet solution,” he both welcomed Biden’s victory and thanked Trump for his support of Israel.

India’s Narendra Modi has set himself a more difficult task. Modi and Trump held a joint rally in Houston last year, at which the Indian prime minister approvingly quoted a variation of one of his own campaign slogans — “Ab ki baar, Trump sarkaar,” or “Next time, a Trump government” — in what many observers saw as an explicit endorsement of the president.

The Indian ambassador in Washington — now back in New Delhi as India’s top diplomat — met Steve Bannon and described him in a now-deleted tweet as a “warrior for Dharma.” Stung by criticism from Democratic legislator Pramila Jayapal, the Indian foreign minister canceled a meeting with members of the U.S. Congress. And the general secretary of Modi’s political party warned Democrats, after a tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders critical of Trump’s tacit approval of anti-Muslim riots in Delhi, that his party was now “compelled” to “play a role in the U.S. presidential elections.”

None of this made much sense at the time; now it looks incredibly short-sighted. Like their counterparts in similarly placed countries, Indian leaders are reduced to hoping that Biden won’t make the same mistakes they did — in other words, that his administration will look beyond who’s in power at the moment and focus on long-term ties.

Officials in New Delhi are feverishly reminding themselves and anyone else who will listen that Biden was one of India’s strongest backers on Capitol Hill, that he had nice words for the country even when it was the subject of international condemnation following its nuclear tests in 1998 and that he was one of the leaders of the bipartisan charge to normalize strategic relations between the two countries through an agreement on nuclear energy in the 2000s.

Other nations led by impulsive populists are also being forced to praise a bygone era of bipartisan diplomacy. Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo told Bloomberg News that warming ties “happened between Brazil and the U.S., not between two presidents.” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of the “shared priorities” of his country and the U.S.

But you would struggle to find anyone in these capitals who would disagree that their leaders’ impetuousness over the past few years won’t be a hurdle in the next four.

And this time they’ll be dealing with Biden, a man likely to take the pragmatic, long view — even with Johnson, who upset both Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris with his borderline-racist remarks about Barack Obama some years ago. Suppose it had been Sanders? Suppose the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has the next chance at government? Is it wise for any ally or friend of the U.S. to infuriate potential American leaders to this degree?

That’s the problem with the new breed of nationalists. They aren’t actually interested in the national interest at all. Without exception, they evaluate actions in terms of whether they offer immediate political benefits or, more often, a momentary ego boost.

It’s all very well to talk of the benefits of “personal diplomacy.” Most of the time, it’s just one strongman desperately seeking validation from another. This is no way to build deep, strategic partnerships.-Bloomberg


Also read: Trump is not Modi: 6 lessons Donald could have learned from his Indian friend


 

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19 COMMENTS

  1. India will regret having embraced Trump and fascism so openly. Biden knows and will be reminded by Jayapal, Saunders, Omar, Tlaib etc in the Democratic party that India has become a right wing fascist state that has more in common with thugs like Bolsonaro, Orban and Netanyahu than liberal Canada or New Zealand.
    Expect condemnation of anti-Muslim pogroms, human rights abuses in Kashmir and less support against China. The days of India getting a free-ride as they did under Trump are gone. India needs the US a lot more than the other way around. It better play nice as the Dems want a more liberal and stable world than anti-China obsessed Trump!

    • The Hindutva fellows sense that Biden and Harris will not be the same to them as Trump. Before they could show off Modi with Trump. That will not happen with Biden. The RSS had built Hindu extremist networks in the US and abroad, and they were not challenged. Now the minorities and Hindu liberals abroad have also got organised to counter the RSS. They exposed and ended the chances of RSS collaborators like Tulsi Gabbard and other such people.

  2. No sir ‘you’ will regret writing this piece. Not our leaders. Americans wouldn’t let the thugs sell their country to a communist China that easy.. with all respect to Mr. Biden.. it’s not about him, it’s the destructive hypnotising mind controlling powers that are planning to take over by having a weak authority, that’s a real threat to the entire world not just fit states. Only the discerning know what’s truly happening behind the curtains.. it is quite horrifying to be honest. Eye has not seen ear has not heard heart has not perceived the plans of the wicked..

  3. No sir you will regret writing this article when the truth about Biden and his tycoon mob is exposed and that will be soon.
    You underestimated Americans.. they can’t be bought for cash. They wouldn’t let the country turned to communist China on a silver platter by Mr. Biden.. not anytime soon.

  4. Mihir, thank goodness it’s only your opinion and it’s terribly far removed from genuine. Asking the Most High for discernment for you that your eyes will be opened to see the truth as it is, not what it seems to you, according to your mind’s conditioning.

    • So is the truth that Biden will be embracing Modi and holding shows with him ? You don’t believe that, I do not see any Hindus doing havans for Biden, as they did for Trump.

  5. As if Biden going to call Modi for his next campaign. How about Biden come india and ask for bjp or some other party?

    Demonitization also was long visioned act, but why dont you call for another #demo? the so called very effective financial surgical strike

  6. Dumb, stupid, fake article in the worst newspaper across the entire globe. Just the headline makes me wanna puke 🤢

  7. Utter rubbish. Relations between countries also depend so much on personal comfort level.
    Indira Gandhi and Nixon (very cold, hence USS Enterprise sent to Bay of Bengal durin 1971 war.) Contrast with and Nixon and Chinese premier which ended China’s isolation and provided the platform for its rise.

  8. The stupidity in this piece is so blatant! It stares You in the face. I would like to assign it to his ideological fanaticism, but still one should have some basic ability to acknowledge the truth! In this instance, let us turn the clock back to Obama era. PM Modi, embraced him as a friend, hugged him. The leaders struck a bonhomie which was evident. Modi referred to President Obama as ‘Barack’, at which a lot of hue and cry was made by the left liberal fanatic inferiority complexed journalists like this author. The moral of the story is, that Nations are much bigger than the leaders. These politicians know that. They find ways to work with each other. These stupid leftist commentators, with limited brains, looking to get paid by clickbait articles do not wish to acknowledge this. This is why these guys are so poorly paid, because they deserve it.

    • You are putting on a brave face, but you know in your heart that Biden will not have the same relationship as your chai wallah.

  9. Mihir sharma who otherwise writes well seems to have mistaken this time. Modi would have put on the same show even if it was biden and not trump. Are you all so nuts? Do u think biden or his team would act like high schoolers who are sulking because trump was given a good show? Frankly this reflects how warped we are in our own domestic political narratives without substance.

    Modi will manage to put on another show for biden. No issues. As far are right wingers being close to right wingers….Modi is incredibly different from trump and bolsanaro. just like Japan’s Abe. If you don’t get that, either you are not looking at facts objectively or just ignoring them.

    • ‘Modi will manage to put on another show for biden.’

      That is the usual Hindu way of touching the feet of more powerful than them.

      Modi may be willing to touch Biden’s feet, however, Biden is not going to relate to Modi in the same way. In Biden’s entourage, there are people who will warn him that Modi is a fascist and has assaulted minorities. Trump did not have such people in his team, and as he said, he liked the meanest people.

  10. If Modi was stupid enough not to understand whom to hug whom not to hug he would be writing articles and not running a country with two clear mandates.
    To trivialize the embrace as if it was a social hug is rather bankrupt thinking.

    • That’s right Vijay.
      Mihir it is in fact you who will regret writing this piece. Not our leaders. Americans wouldn’t let the thugs sell their country to a communist China that easy.. with all respect to Mr. Biden.. it’s not about him, it’s the destructive hypnotising mind controlling powers that are planning to take over by having a weak authority, that’s a real threat to the entire world not just fit states. Only the discerning know what’s truly happening behind the curtains.. it is quite horrifying to be honest. Eye has not seen ear has not heard heart has not perceived the plans of the wicked..

      • What can India contribute in America’s struggle against China, when America can see India cannot even defend its territory ?

        And if China took more territory, you think Biden will come and drive out China ?

        You are just a delusional BJP Hindu, the proverbial dumb bhakth.

Comments are closed.