China, Islamists Top Donald Trump’s Enemy List; India is A Partner in Fight Against Both

President Donald Trump lays out a national security strategy that envisions nations in perpetual competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and de-emphasizes multinational agreements, in Washington, on Monday. — AP

The national security strategy underscores a warning to Pakistan, which had appeared in President Donald Trump’s “regional strategy” for Afghanistan earlier this year.

WASHINGTON — United States President Donald Trump’s new national security strategy, announced on Monday, promises support for India’s emergence as a “leading global power,” while identifying China, Russia and Islamism as main threats.

“We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner,” the strategy document said. Enhancing India’s global standing from being a ‘balancing power’ to be a ‘leading power’ has been a stated strategic objective of the Narendra Modi government.

Increased quadrilateral cooperation

“We will seek to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India. …We will expand our defence and security cooperation with India, a Major Defence Partner of the United States, and support India’s growing relationships throughout the region,” says the strategy, finalised after months of internal deliberations in the government.

India finds mention as a partner in Mr. Trump’s plans for South and Central Asia and Indo-Pacific, while China is named as a threat in both sections. The document saiys America “will help South Asian nations maintain their sovereignty as China increases its influence in the region,” and notes that many countries in the Indo-Pacific are looking to the U.S. for leadership even as “Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states in the region.”

The document seeks to balance Mr. Trump’s ‘America First’ politics with the country’s traditional strategic principles, and consequently makes contradictory commitments. It calls for “advancing American principles [that] spreads peace and prosperity around the globe,” at one place, while at another, it says America will seek partnerships with countries “each with its own cultures and dreams.”

Nation-building or promotion of democracy in Islamic countries is not part of the strategy. The document says the U.S.’’s involvement in multilateral forums will be without any compromise on the country’s sovereignty.

Trump slams predecessors

Mr. Trump, in a campaign style speech to unveil the new strategy, slammed his predecessors for protecting the interests of other countries at the cost of the U.S.’ own.

The document reiterates a series of announcements and speeches by the President and other senior officials in the last one year in the context of India. “We will deepen our strategic partnership with India and support its leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region,” it says. “And we will encourage India to increase its economic assistance in the region,” it observes about South and Central Asia.

The document underscores a warning to Pakistan, which had appeared in Mr. Trump’s “regional strategy” for Afghanistan earlier his year. “We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials. The United States will also encourage Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets,” it says, in a reference to the risk of terrorists laying their hands on them.

State of complacency after Cold War

The strategy notes that the U.S. slipped into a state of complacency once the Cold War came to an end, while new rivals, state and non-state actors, used the international system against America. “These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades — policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false,” says the document.

The document states that “a geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in the Indo-Pacific region,” while South and Central Asia and Middle East remain havens for Islamists.

The U.S. will act against threats at their source, the document says, echoing the principle of pre-emptive strikes. “…we will pursue threats to their source, so that jihadist terrorists are stopped before they ever reach our borders.” Mr. Trump accused his predecessors of neglecting the military and the document promises of a new round of military build-up. “It is a strategy of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology,” it says.


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