India - US: Implications of Return of Trump


India - US: Implications of Return of Trump

As the chances of Donald Trump retiring to the White House brighten, C Raja Mohan  (contributing editor on international affairs for The Indian Express) writes “the apprehensions of US allies in Europe and Asia are getting darker. Even if Trump does not win, his Republican Party’s growing opposition to foreign commitments and a deepening sense of ‘America First' promise to produce major changes in Eurasian geopolitics. On the face of it, this does not look too threatening to India. After all, India is not an ‘ally’ of the US and does not depend on its military forces for its security. A closer look, however, points to more complex consequences of Trump’s ‘America First’ policies. Any American military retrenchment from Eurasia will dramatically alter the balance of power in this region and produce outcomes that are patently unfavourable to India.”


‘Asia could easily slip into the Chinese orbit’

Although India rarely debates the consequences of Europe without America, “it is acutely conscious of the dangers of a unipolar Asia dominated by China. It is possible to see that without American presence, Asia could easily slip into the Chinese orbit. As a maritime power, Delhi’s natural preference is for a multipolar order in Eurasia that is not dominated by one power or an axis of continental powers. Yet, Delhi must prepare for major changes in Eurasia amidst the current volatility in US domestic politics and its inevitable global impact.”

However,  Trump’s  administration “ramped up the pressures against Moscow” and “imposed new tariffs on China, began an effort to reduce economic exposure to Beijing, and revived the Quadrilateral Forum as part of a new Indo-Pacific strategy to balance China. Biden has built on the decisive Asian strategy articulated by Trump.”

Nevertheless, many of America’s friends remain worried.


Outlook for India on the security and economic front

India’s outlook on the security front writes Mohan “is positive. The US search for capable partners who are willing to contribute to regional security in Eurasia fits nicely with Delhi’s own great power ambitions. The quicker India moves on building its military capabilities and the greater its willingness to deploy it for collective defence with its partners, the faster its rise in the Eurasian security hierarchy will be.”

On the economic front, though, “Delhi has a challenge. That India is the ‘tariff king’ is stuck in Trump’s head, and he frequently lashed out at India’s protectionism. India’s efforts to negotiate a trade agreement with the Trump Administration did not succeed. Since Trump left office, the US has become a more important economic partner for India; trade and technology ties with America are also the most promising. Given the high commercial stakes in this relationship, Delhi will need to think creatively about a new framework for trade cooperation with Washington.”

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