PRIME Minister Narendra Modi has visited 92 countries since 2014. In sharp contrast, Manmohan Singh, his predecessor at the PMO undertook only 93 foreign trips during his 10 years in office. The difference in number of diplomatic visits reflects the style and priorities of the two prime ministers. Manmohan Singh largely travelled to meet diplomatic commitments and obligations. Modi, the flamboyant of the two, has used the trips more for promoting his own brand than to achieve foreign policy goals.
THE Indo-Pacific has emerged as the centre of gravity of global geopolitics. This year’s APEC conference in Papua New Guinea did not produce a joint communique because of the growing Sino-US tensions. The Trump administration is pressurising China on trade and technology issues. The United States is relentlessly pursuing its strategic agenda to retain its dominance of the Indo-Pacific region and ensure that the Chinese growing economic power does not catapult it to command the region.
NOT very long ago, in 2012, the Indian Air force (IAF) selected Rafale fighter jet for procurement to augment its depleting fleet. The process adopted by the IAF for evaluating the competing aircraft set the gold standards for fighter aircraft acquisitions. Air Commodore Jasjit Singh praised the Air Force for following a “systematic and scientific process”.
THE Indian Ocean is fast getting converted from a ‘zone of peace’ to an arena of competition and conflict. The US military has given a new name to its Pacific Command (PACOM), it is now called the US Indo-Pacific Command. The change is more than symbolic, it indicates that the American Combatant Command (COCOM) structure, erected to deal with a bipolar world and spread the American hegemony is undergoing transition.
INDIA is ruled by polarisation experts. Our country is experiencing what an American anthropologist had identified as “schismogenesis” in simple words “creation of division”. The country seems to be in a perpetual state of conflict. There are slanging and shouting matches going on in TV studios and social media. And those in drawing rooms are shouting at their TV screens. Institutions, families and friends stand divided.
A FRESH round of imperialist bloodletting is on the cards in the Middle-East. They caused complete destruction of Fallujah in Iraq, they bombed hospitals in Afghanistan, and virtually flattened Mosul and Raqqa in Iraq and Syria.Trump and Netanyahu, backed by a set of reactionary monarchical Arab regimes, is out to devour one more nation to feed its insatiable imperial appetite.The US-Israeli war drive against Iran has assumed dangerous proportions.
THE launch of “America First” National Security Strategy (NSS) is last hurrah for the American Empire. The day on which the NSS was announced, America was trounced in the United Nations Security Council that overwhelmingly voted against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Irrespective of the denial by the Indian foreign policy establishment, the fact is that the American power, in the international arena, has eroded considerably. The American confidence in their system has plummeted, especially after the 2008 financial crisis.
MODI’S foreign policy is in doldrums. It suffers from fixity syndrome. It refuses to jettison the Cold War mindset. As in the mid- 1950s, New Delhi’s only agenda is to counter China and present itself to the West as a credible competitor to Beijing. It has got into a rat race with China and is splurging money on overseas projects merely to offer a counter to Chinese investments. For example, India’s US$ 300 million investment in Hambantota’s ghost airport.
THE Wire story on the India Foundation and the impropriety due to conflict of interests has been buried by the corporate media. The RSS, intoxicated by power gives two hoots for propriety. BJP will continue to insult the Indian constitution and not ask its ministers to resign as directors of India Foundation. Arrogant BJP will not investigate the FCRA violations by India Foundation. It feels that it has successfully intimidated the media and enfeebled the ability of the masses to fight back authoritarianism by sufficiently polarising them.
TRUMP’s flip-flops on Pakistan are no different than Modi’s wild-vacillations on Pakistan front. In August, Trump severely criticised Pakistan; in October, he has praised it as a “fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people”. Verbal flowers were bestowed on Pakistan after it helped gain the release of an American woman and her family held captive by Haqqani terrorist group. The family was abducted five years ago while hiking in Afghanistan. Trump’s team is celebrating the intelligence cooperation extended by ISI as a success of its policy to get Pakistan back on track.