Protectionism brings Trump closer to Russia

Ever since he assumed the US presidency in January last year, Donald Trump has been following a hard protectionist policy. He has raised import duties on a number of items like aluminium. The protectionist policy has hurt most the European allies of the US and alienated them from Washington. France, Germany and Italy are very bitter about Trump and his policy. As things stand, there is little possibility of a joint statement being issued after the coming two-day G7 summit meeting at Quebec in Canada. Ignoring the resentment of his European allies, Trump sticks to his stand: “All of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade.”
A curious fall out of the confrontation between the US and its European allies is that Trump is now trying to come closer to Russia. He has pleaded for the re-admission of Russia into the G7 group from which Russia was expelled in 2014 after Moscow annexed Crimea from the Ukraine. The intention, obviously, is to counterpose Russia against the European Union countries. But such an attempt may have far-reaching consequences – like the future of NATO which was created for warding off the threat posed by the Warsaw Pact between the former Soviet Union and the East European Peoples’ Democracies. Trump’s aggressive “America First” policy may, in the long run, harm the US rather than help it.
India should try to use the emerging situation in its favour. Washington has frowned upon India’s decision to go ahead with the acquisition of the Russian Triumf S-400 missile system at a cost of Rs. 40,000 crore and has hinted that future Indo-US defence relations may be adversely affected if New Delhi does not resile from its stand. India, apparently, is in no mood to do so and the necessary agreement may be signed by New Delhi and Moscow this October. Now that the US is trying to have Russia on its side, India should tell Trump and his advisers that India’s traditional defence cooperation with Russia will not be against US interests. The missile system is necessary to fortify India against likely attacks from Pakistan and China. Neither country is friendly to the US, though for different reasons. A militarily strong India will also be a source of strength to her neighbours which are getting suspicious of China’s growing military might.

Sunday, 10 June, 2018