India should be extremely wary of any Trump involvement on the Kashmir issue because he would do anything to bring India to the table, writes Dr. Susmit Kumar for South Asia Monitor.
By Dr. Susmit Kumar
Within a few weeks of winning the US presidential election last year, Donald Trump, then President-elect, on his own called Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, reportedly praising him as a terrific guy from a fantastic country. It is worth noting that he had not talked to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi till then.
Although Trump thinks that he is a genius, who can grasp anything in any field within no time, truth is that he has a brain of a child and does not have much knowledge in nearly all the fields, required to be the President of a superpower like the USA. Before him, two previous Republican Presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush Jr., also did not have much knowledge and hence they delegated their powers to people, well-versed in the respected fields.
Reagan depended on Henry Kissinger for international relations. Similarly George Bush Jr. depended on people like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney -- people well-versed in their fields.
On the other hand, Trump is dependent on his family members -- daughter, sons and son-in-law who have experience in business only -- for important decisions, in the same manner as he ran his own business in which he delegated most of his business decisions to his family members only.
Recently Trump sent his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has only business experience with no international affairs exposure, to Iraq to take stock of the situation there, even before a visit by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Only on the advice of his daughter, Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian Airbase after the allegation of Syrian army's use of chemical weapons, whereas he has not come out with any coherent plan, with an end game, to solve the Syrian issue.
In order to contain China, the US desperately needs the support of India because India is the only Asian country, with its world’s third largest defence forces, capable of helping the US against the Chinese army. For this very reason, India was the first country, outside the EU, that UK Prime Minister Theresa May visited after entering office.
Hence calling Pakistan’s Prime Minister on his own, even before calling India’s Prime Minister, Trump showed his immature brain. From his past behaviour, one can come to the conclusion that by solving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan, he wants to show to the Americans that he can accomplish something which none was able to do anything about earlier.
He knows that he cannot do much about the Israel-Palestine issue due to the stranglehold of the pro-Israeli American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) over the Congressmen and Senators. Boasting about the AIPAC’s clout, once an AIPAC official claimed that he could get signatures of 70 senators, out of 100, on a napkin.
Hence Trump has chosen the Kashmir issue to solve.
Till Trump took over, the successive US administrations were treating Kashmir issue as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan for the last several decades. Apart from this, Pakistan is a signatory to the 1972 Shimla Agreement with India, under which it agreed to solve the Kashmir issue bilaterally and hence the US has no legal base for involvement on the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan.
Trump is an 'every day poker player', i.e. he wants to win in every case by hook or by crook. He was doing it throughout his life in business to get work done from others. He is an avid TV news watcher. Instead of solving world issues, he watches TV news channels three to four hours in the evening every day. If he finds any anchor or analyst making statement against him, he would start his rant against him on twitter at 2 a.m. in the night.
Due to the diehard anti-establishment 'Freedom Caucus' Congressmen within his own Republican party, Trump was not able to pass the act to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in the Congress. Freedom Caucus has about three dozen members out of total 243 Republican Congressmen and their votes are needed for its passage as none of the Democratic Congressmen are in favour of Obamacare's repeal.
After the defeat, Trump warned the Freedom Caucus members of the Congress that he would work to defeat them in the next 2018 General Election. In the past, Republican establishments have had problems in passing acts due to this caucus, but they have never openly issued any threat to them.
After being unable to repeal Obamacare, the Republican establishment has moved on to the next agenda -- tax reform. But Trump is insisting on passing Obamacare repeal before taking up the tax reform agenda. He is now threatening Democratic Congressmen that they should vote for the Obamacare repeal otherwise he would de-fund it by not paying the subsidies which would blow up the entire Obamacare as it would result in massive losses for the insurers.
The Obama administration was paying the subsidies, without proper Congressional authority, to help people with lower incomes get insurance through Obamacare. It is worth noting that majority of Americans are against the Obamacare repeal and they want the Congress to improve it rather than to repeal it.
A few days ago, Trump said that China would get better trade deal if it solves the ‘North Korean problem’. He made this statement just so that China would help him in getting rid of North Korea's nuclear bombs and long-range missiles.
Trump is a serial liar. Hence even if China would help him in solving the North Korea problem, Trump would certainly renege on his promise and he would start going after China on trade issues as he promised during his election campaign.
Recently, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the Trump administration would try and “find its place” in efforts to de-escalate India-Pakistan tension. She even said that President Trump himself might take an active part in the process.
India should be extremely wary of any Trump involvement on the Kashmir issue because he would do anything to bring India to the table. In order to force India, he might threaten to eliminate H-1B visas for Indian programmers and might even start deporting H-1B visa holder Indian programmers from the US which would create a $40 billion hole in India’s Current Account Deficit (CAD), resulting in the collapse of Indian currency rupee and creating severe damage to the Indian economy.
Trump might even collude with Russian President Vladimir Putin to pass a UN Security Resolution to force India to the table.
During the Cold War, India had the unflinching support of the Soviet Union at world forums. The Soviet Union, enjoying veto power in the UN Security Council (UNSC), helped India on several occasions. For example, during the 1971 India-Pakistan War, the Soviet Union kept the UNSC resolution, which had the support of nearly all then UNSC members, in abeyance till India achieved its objective of the Pakistan’s army surrender in Dacca, enabling the dismembering of the then Pakistan.
Two recent incidents showed that India cannot depend any longer on Russia’s support. Within a few days of the much publicised Indian surgical strikes against Pakistan’s terrorist camps in September 2016, Russia went ahead to conduct the first ever military exercise with Pakistan which India expected to be postponed. Again, despite India having a significant stake in any outcome in Afghanistan, Russia did not invite India to the late-2016 summit on Afghanistan, attended by China and Pakistan, which excluded even Afghanistan.
Later, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had to go to Russia to press Putin to get India also involved in their talks on Afghanistan.
Therefore, India should be wary of Trump's involvement on the Kashmir issue.
(The author, a US resident, is a doctorate from Pennsylvania State University and author of books on global issues. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)