Trump under the cloud

Donald Trump and controversy go hand in hand. The suspicion of a ‘Moscow hand’ in winning his election battle has dogged him at every step since his victory. The recent victory of the Democrats in the midterm elections to the House of Representatives has only added to the woes of the President. US prosecutors are saying that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chief, has repeatedly lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  Special Counsel Robert Mueller says Manafort had “lied on a variety of subject matters”. Manafort, it may be recalled has been convicted of financial fraud in August in connexion with his work as a political consultant to Ukraine.
State institutions in the West, like the FBI in the US or the MI5 in the UK, enjoy a remarkable degree of independence of the government of the day in performing their professional duties. Trump tried his best to stop the inquiry into his alleged involvement with the Russians in winning his election. But in vain. He has received several more setbacks recently. After a verbal spat with a CNN reporter, Trump got his press accreditation to the White House cancelled. It provoked strong protests in the journalist community. Even Fox News, CNN’s traditional rival, joined the protest. The matter went to the court and the court struck down the President’s arbitrary order and restored the accreditation of the reporter. His law to ban entry of refugees to the US has been stayed by yet another court. Frequent sacking of senior officials in the White House has only reinforced his image as an egotist and whimsical president.
His India policy has also drawn criticism. His protectionist policy has affected India too. At the moment he enjoys some popularity in India because of his tough Pakistan policy He has made a huge cut in American financial assistance to Pakistan. He has, at least for the moment, exempted India from the purview of “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) as far as India’s oil imports from Iran or defence agreements with Russia are concerned. Given his capricious nature, his moods and decisions are liable to change without notice. India should be prepared for it and be determined not to surrender to any Trump policy that harms India’s long-term economic and strategic interests. For more than half a century, both Iran and Russia have proved to be far more dependable allies than the US. Trump’s anti-Pakistan stance does not necessarily make him pro-India.

Thursday, 29 November, 2018