June 25, 2017, "Trump-Modi Meeting a Game Changer, despite Beltway Sabotage," SundayGuardianLive.com, Madhav Nalapat, New Delhi
"Those eager to ensure friction, want Trump to bring up issues that
impinge on India’s sovereignty, aware that Modi would react strongly to
any such efforts."...
Minister Modi...may be expected to accelerate towards a much more
transformative structure of governance, in this case matching the
attempted speeds of President Trump in his own administration. The
bureaucratic speed-breakers to a much more rapid overall congruence and
in several respects convergence of Washington-Delhi policies and actions
are getting weaker on the Indian side.
However, in Washington, the
“Beltway” establishment (both Republican as well as Democrat) is still
powerful enough to have a high degree of success in blocking many of
President Trump’s initiatives.
EFFORTS TO DERAIL
US, the higher layers of the federal bureaucracy are composed of what
may be termed “political bureaucrats”, i.e., officials chosen by
politicians and usually on political considerations. White House Chief
of Staff Reince Priebus, apparently, still considers himself to be
beholden to the entire leadership of the Republican Party, which he was
while Chair of the Republican National Committee, forgetting that from
20 January onwards, his loyalty needed to be directed solely in the
direction of President Trump. Over the past months, Priebus
has instituted a quota system in the US administration, trying to
select candidates for high positions that are a mix of those loyal to
George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, John McCain and other Republican Party
The problem is that these party grandees would be (not so secretly)
delighted were Trump to be made to step down as early as possible.
Hence, some of those appointed to high office by the Trump team see as
their primary interest the failure of the 45th President of the United
States to implement the agenda for which he was elected.
Should the 26
June Trump-Modi meeting go well, it would redound to the credit of
President Trump and lead substantially towards the long-cherished
objective of an India-US alliance for security and prosperity that would
in its effects span the globe.
Hence, they [Establishment Republicans appointed by Reince Priebus who want Trump to fail] are seeking to ensure that
the meeting goes badly, by seeking to ensure that President Trump brings
up issues that impinge on the sovereignty and self-respect of India,
aware that Prime Minister Modi is 100% a nationalist, who would react
strongly to any such efforts.
Among the issues they would like
Trump to bring forward for discussion are issues relating to some NGOs
operating in India that have been reported as having indulged in
activities that have the potential to cause mayhem and violence. Other
issues sought to be introduced into the conversation relate to some of
the matters that have been exciting both foreign and domestic media
during the past weeks, including matters of diet. Another googly being
suggested is to bring up the cordial relations that Delhi has with both
Teheran and Moscow, of course for valid geopolitical reasons.
expectation of those in the Trump administration who are eager to ensure
friction, and not understanding, during the Modi-Trump summit is that
the introduction of such issues into the Modi-Trump dialogue would
visibly set relations back, thereby slowing down the momentum already
generated by previous heads of government in both Delhi and Washington.
However, the few within the Trump administration who are genuine
loyalists of the 45th US President (and not of his Republican traducers) say that Trump is fully aware of such moves and will ensure that they
are not given a chance to work. They say that while such issues may
figure in some conversations, these would be at a lower level and
From the very first days of his ascension to office,
Prime Minister Modi showed his goodwill for the US by casting aside
years of hostility manifested in the denial of a US visa to him and
making thus far four successful visits to the US. Those familiar with
President Trump say that he is in sync with Modi on the need for the US
and India to work closely together, and can be expected to ensure that
the Prime Minister’s potentially very consequential visit to Washington
ends up as productive and ground-breaking. On the Indian side, although
there are issues relating to US policy that are of concern, such as
recent changes in visa rules in some categories or climate-related
matters, these are expected to be dealt with at a lower level and mostly
in closed-door sessions, so that the overall atmospheric remain
cordial, an important consideration in a democracy. Prime Minister Modi
is going the extra mile to ensure this, for example, by refusing to
accept the invite by some organisations in cities across the US to
address mass rallies of Indian-Americans during his latest US visit.
Such meetings may give rise to anti-immigrant feelings in a section of
Trump supporters about Indian-Americans, despite this group being the
most law-abiding and high (average) tax-paying of any ethnic community
settled in the US. Hence the expectations on the part of both Modi as
well as Trump loyalists are that there would be a Trump-Modi
breakthrough in US-India relations on 26 June.
This would ensure that
the two democracies move largely onto the same page in confronting
threats and taking advantage of opportunities in the Indo-Pacific
"Both during the 2016 Presidential campaign trail and in his
previous avatar as a billionaire businessperson, President Donald John
Trump had integrated India as a core component of the global order in
his policies and actions. However, since his inauguration on 20 January
and subsequently, very little mention has been made of India in the
statements made by spokespersons for the Trump administration, while, as
yet, several posts relevant to relations with India (such as that of
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia) remain unfilled.
the incoming US Ambassador to India, Ken Juster, was informed two
months ago that he was the White House choice for the post, and his
nomination has been made official days before the 26 June first-ever
meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump. The
chemistry between the two will play an important role in ensuring that
the India-US alliance, which was first initiated by President George W.
Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, becomes a reality during the
terms in office of Trump and Modi. This may already have occurred during
the first two years of NDA-II, which began in 2014, but for
foot-dragging by those loyal to Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were
disproportionately influential during the Barack Obama administration,
relative to the Obama loyalists, although less so in the 44th US
President’s second term (2013-17).
It was known within the Washington
Beltway—the US equivalent of India’s Lutyens Zone—that (former)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held the view that the benefits of a
close alliance with India were “oversold” by Condoleezza Rice and others
in the Bush team, and that far greater emphasis needed to be paid on
ensuring improved relations with China, her rhetoric to the contrary.... While President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh saw the advantages...of much closer India-US ties, the
former was slowed down by the Clintonites in his administration and the
latter by the leadership of the Congress Party, which went largely by
the views of Antony in such matters, despite the close personal
friendship between Sonia Gandhi and Hillary Clinton.
Minister Modi came to power on 26 May 2014, he adopted a careful
approach towards transforming the chemistry and approach of the Central
higher bureaucracy, even inducting several into his team who were
charter members of the Lutyens’ Zone. President Trump had (in the start
of his administration) a different approach, looking for a speedy
transition from the traditional Beltway policies and practices to a
construct more in tune with current realities. However, the blowback
that Trump has been receiving from the Beltway shows that Modi was
correct in his caution, as overall the Prime Minister of India has in
three years had a far more peaceful innings than the US President in
just six months of his term."...