This is an essay that is quite likely to cause an uproar among a number of my acquaintances, friends, professional associates and self-proclaimed members of the Indic civilisation movement. Despite the brouhaha that will ensue in these circles, I must go ahead and write it. This is because the current situation demands that we should have a serious debate in our camp on President Trump and his policies. Antics would be a better word, but I do not want to jump the gun at this stage and would like the article to convince my readers.
To be fair to myself, my reservations about the 45th President of the United States are not recent. As early as on the 12th November 2016, soon after the results of the American presidential elections were officially announced, I wrote an article that raised some of the issues that we will be discussing in this essay (https://swarajyamag.com/world/trump-in-the-oval-office-how-it-might-pan-out-for-india).
For those readers who may not have the time or inclination to go through the entire article, it would be useful to briefly summarise some of the salient issues highlighted in it. The first point that I made was that “America has fundamental interests that Trump will never compromise. Add to this are the core values and interests of Trump’s support base that are equally beyond review.” I went on to add : “Are we, as a country, people, and society, jumping the gun when we comfortably predict a certain pattern of Indo-American relations when Donald Trump assumes office and settles down to governing?”.
There was another cautionary note: “However, I do not believe that Trump’s campaign gestures of reaching out to the Indian community (forget the “Hindu-Indian” mix-up) amount to much. In any case, the Indian-Americans, who number 3.2. million (just about 1 percent of the US million) do not have the same clout that other ethnic groups have. This is despite the fact that Indian-Americans are by, far, the best endowed in terms of critical parameters like education levels, family income etc”.
The analysis was wrapped up in the following manner : “India should be prepared to deal with the likely irrationalities in the Trump Administration with patience and understanding. ……….If Raisina Hill fine-tunes its world-view and develops rational expectations from the Trump administration, based on a nuanced assessment of America and its society, then the path ahead can be relatively smooth. Any hype will lead to disaster. Are we, as a country, people, and society, jumping the gun when we comfortably predict a certain pattern of Indo-American relations when Donald Trump assumes office and settles down to governing?
This is precisely what has happened. The babus in South Block, the IFS coterie, many of whom carry the toxic intellectual baggage of the British mandarin Olaf Caroe and are completely out of sync with our ancient heritage and culture, have been partly responsible for our American policy’s fissures and fault-lines. And, of course, as I have written here and in other publications for more than two decades, these people are inherently subservient to the white man. The Gunga Din syndrome is so deeply implanted in their psyche that they positively swoon when they are patted on their heads by whites, especially those who are in positions of power and influence.
This malaise is not restricted to the Indian bureaucracy. The most debilitating factor that has been at the core of the Indian stance towards the Western world and its native populace is the innate sense of inferiority that most desis have towards the whites. The reasons for this fatal flaw in our psyche are very complex and most difficult to understand and assess. More than ten centuries of foreign rule would clearly qualify as one of the main reasons. If the Muslim-Mughal domination started the whole degeneration, the complete annihilation of our self-esteem and self-respect was brought about by Pax Britannica. The final icing on the cake was 70 years of abject intellectual slavery inflicted by the Gandhi-Nehru clan and its political arm, the Congress Party.
Therefore, when we Indians (admittedly of a certain social group) start lionising other nations and people in the West, we invariably go overboard. The idolising of Trump among the NRIs in the U.S. and among a large swathe of resident Indians can be traced to this factor. All rationality and balance are thrown overboard. Therefore, it is essential for some commentators and observers to try and restore the equilibrium in our discourse and perspectives.
Let me try and start the Indian process of re-positioning Trump. The first point to note is that he is clearly a bad administrator and a person of very limited intelligence. When the pandemic hit America in mid-February, the man (hereafter referred to as DT) and his henchmen dismissed it as a non-event. On the 26th February came his epic declaration of tomfoolery : “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be close to zero.” Clearly, the chap ranks way up there in the good company of our Lalu Prasads, Mayavatis and Rahul Gandhis. I refer, of course, to the IQs of these three persons and not their stance on Covid-19.
Wait, things got worse with DT’s shenanigans. Instead of an all-out campaign to transport essential medical equipment to where it was needed, DT did nothing. The American health-care system needed everything, from face masks and other personal protective equipment for health care workers, to ventilators for critical patients. Also, the country required a huge increase in testing of people. DT had the power to mobilise industry to produce crucial equipment, but he refused to use that power. He declared grandly that “we’re not a shipping clerk.” The results of the man’s criminal buffoonery are now there for all American citizens and the whole world to see.
The fundamental problem, of course, with DT is his bag of skeletons that he has carried with him for decades, as he has steadily climbed the greasy pole to power and glory. Some Indians, including a number of my readers, are aware of DT’s strenuous efforts to keep his Income-Tax records from the public domain. Nevertheless, I must briefly touch upon this issue. In early May, the U.S. Supreme Court heard three cases dealing with subpoenas seeking information about President Trump’s businesses and financial activities, including records of his tax returns. The subpoenas were served not on President Trump, but on two banks and an accounting firm that were custodians of the subpoenaed records. One of the banks involved is Deutsche Bank.
Briefly, the available data shows that year after year between 1985 and 1994, DT appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. database for those years. To summarise, DT lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income tax for eight of the 10 following years. DT is clearly in the same league as our Vijay Mallyas and other nimble-fingered crooks. The American Supreme Court, like ours, is notoriously indulgent when it comes to taking hard decisions, Therefore, DT and his lawyers will try to drag on the case till the November elections.
DT’s latest outrage was when in mid- April, earlier this year, he weakened regulations on the release of mercury and other toxic metals from oil and coal-fired power plants in the U.S., another step toward rolling back health protections in the middle of a pandemic. Environmental lawyers and public health leaders critiqued the timing of the final mercury rule, as well as its substance, as an attack on air quality. DT’s own Environment Protection Agency had repeatedly warned that enormous increases in health problems and deaths would occur because of increased pollution. As is common in most of DT’s actions, there was a snake in the grass here.
The mercury rollback is a special victory for Robert Murray, the former chief executive of Murray Energy Corporation and a top fund-raiser for DT. Murray had personally requested the rollback in a written “wish list” to top officials shortly after DT took office. The company has since declared bankruptcy and is undergoing a reorganisation. These are nothing but shades of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and many similar incidents in our shores.
I must now come to the most serious issue where DT has failed disastrously and ignominiously. This relates to the horrendous murder of an Afro-American by a white police officer a few days ago and the widespread protests against this outrage throughout America. I am convinced that DT’s conduct during this existential crisis for his country displays his true colours and beliefs. The fellow is nothing but a crude white racist who tries his best to hide his odious ideology but lamentably fails to do so, because he is also an imbecile – and a crass one, at that.
When America’s civic society, including all racial groups, hit the streets throughout the vast country to protest against this despicable atrocity, DT and his coterie reverted to their atavistic instincts. Hari Kunzru, the Indo-American scholar and writer, penned an essay that described the true colours of DT and his clan. Referring to the work of a Hungarian social scientist, B. Magyar, Kunzru describes the DT Raj as follows : “a mafia state, which is a specific, clan-like system in which one man distributes money and power to all other members.”
Kunzru’s critique is severe. He says DT and his family identify their own interests with the national interest. Personal loyalty to DT overrides concepts like service to the country or patriotism. We obviously have variants of Mamata, Lalu, Mayavati, and the Nehru-Gandhi clan in Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.,
DT plunged to new lows when he advocated the use of the country’s military to quell the surging countrywide protests last week. This was so outrageous that two former Chiefs of Staff (both white Anglo-Saxons) wrote impassioned public letters that tore apart DT. James Mattis, a Marine General and the former Secretary of Defence had this to say : “I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
Admiral Mike Mullen, 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces was equally forthright in his condemnation of DT’s conduct: “ I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent. As a white man, I cannot claim perfect understanding of the fear and anger that African Americans feel today. But as someone who has been around for a while, I know enough—and I’ve seen enough—to understand that those feelings are real and that they are all too painfully founded.
We must, as citizens, address head-on the issue of police brutality and sustained injustices against the African American community. We must, as citizens, support and defend the right—indeed, the solemn obligation—to peacefully assemble and to be heard. These are not mutually exclusive pursuits.”
Mrs. Indira Gandhi, during her infamous Emergency days must have heard something similar to the above when she asked the-then Army Chief, General T.N. Raina, for an assurance that the Indian armed forces would help her and her government to implement the Emergency measures. Unfortunately, no record is available of their interaction, but nothing remains confidential in Lutyens Delhi.
Clearly, America, and specially its armed forces, have men of honour, decency, rectitude and humanity at the senior-most levels, while the Republican Party clearly does not. DT has now reached his nadir and surely his climb back to even a remotely acceptable position seems most unlikely. The magnitude and extent of the public outrage about police brutality on Afro-Americans (and indeed Hispanics and the indigenous population) has caught political America by surprise. This may be the “tipping point” as some social scientists and media persons call the phenomenon. The world’s richest and most powerful nation now realises that its sinews are not at all strong.
This writer is fully conscious of the likely reactions from many people, including those in the Indic civilisation movement, to this essay. If some of the reactions reflect outrage, let me reassure them in advance that I am not at all advocating a pro-Democratic Party stance for India’s America policy. As I said at the very outset, America has fundamental national interests that no political party or President will abandon.
However, history tells us that the U.S. under the Republican administration of Nixon and Kissinger took a viciously anti-Indian stand for many years. Moreover, during the earlier Republican rule of Eisenhower and Dulles for most of the 1950s, Washington resolutely supported Pakistan and opposed India in the international arena. Indians, surely, must not be allowed to forget those nightmare years.
On the other hand, the Democrats going back to Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) had a much more sympathetic attitude towards India and its freedom movement in the 1930s and 1940s. On a number of occasions FDR opposed Churchill’s visceral policies on India and our freedom struggle. Mrs. Clinton’s dishonourable conduct with us cannot be excused. However, her husband Bill Clinton was the person who initiated the Indo-American détente in 1999 during the Kargil episode and followed it up with his historic visit to India in 2000. The BJP regime, then in power in Raisina Hill, fully realised the significance of this sea-change in Washington’s posture.
To revert to the points I made in the earlier segment of this essay, DT is not a horse that India and Raisina Hill should back so uncritically and enthusiastically. In February this year, a reliable opinion poll (Quinnipiac) showed that DT would be comfortably defeated by all six of the Democratic contenders who were in the contest at that stage. Biden, who then went on to win the Democratic primaries, was a 50-43 winner. Much worse for DT, the public opinion polls in February showed his approval rating at just 42% of registered voters, while 55% thought “he sucks” (a frank way of saying that they had an unfavourable view of him).
Readers will obviously note that any current survey would be much more critical of DT after what the U.S. has gone through in the last few months. For India to be seen as tied and committed to such a socio-political force would be as much of a disaster as one can possibly conceive. The other side of the political divide on the banks of the Potomac are certainly not angels as far as we are concerned. However, we need to re-open our bridges to them, rather than play catch-up when Joe Biden becomes the next occupant of the White House.
It is quite possible that South Block is already in the process of building an entente with Biden and the Democrats and if that is so, we should breathe a sigh of relief.
To conclude, we must hear some of the most respected voices in Uncle Sam’s land. Brian Rosenberg, an academic who headed a liberal arts college in the East Coast, has gone on record as saying that “a society without a grounding in ethics, self-reflection, empathy and beauty is one that has lost its way.” Trump is the leader who has led his country to this impasse.
The last word goes to Paul Krugman: “But Donald Trump isn’t Richard Nixon — he’s much, much worse. And America 2020 isn’t America 1970: We’re a better nation in many ways, but our democracy is far more fragile thanks to the utter corruption of the Republican Party.”
Featured Image: The Hindu
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Jay Bhattacharjee is an advisor in corporate laws and finance, based in Delhi. His other areas of interest include socio-political issues and military history. He has been a commentator and columnist from the mid-1990s