If there is one country which has come out shining in Trump’s “America First” NSS, unveiled in Washington on December 18, it’s India, the world’s most populous democracy and the fastest growing major economy. Seeking to bolster India’s rise, the NSS also backs India’s concerns obliquely on the China-led One Belt One Road project and asks Pakistan to take “decisive action” against terror groups operating from its territory.
Clearly, there is a lot to rejoice for India, but the prospects of adversarial relations with Russia and China presage a conflicted international geopolitical landscape which New Delhi will have to tread cautiously.
“We welcome India’s emergence as a leading global power and stronger strategic and defence partner,” said the 2017 NSS. “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,” the NSS said.
“We will deepen our strategic partnership with India and support its leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region,” according to the NSS.
“We will insist that Pakistan take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups operating from its soil,” it said.
“We seek an American presence in the region proportionate to threats to the homeland and our allies. We seek a Pakistan that is not engaged in destabilising behaviour and a stable and self-reliant Afghanistan,” the NSS said.
India should also welcome Trump’s exhortation to Pakistan “to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets,” but should be a little wary of Washington’s apprehensions about “an Indo-Pakistani military conflict” leading to “a nuclear exchange,” as Islamabad may exploit to seek American interventionism in the Kashmir dispute.
The US interests in the region, according to NSS, include countering terrorist threats that impact the security of the US homeland and its allies, preventing cross-border terrorism that raises the prospect of military and nuclear tensions, and preventing nuclear weapons, technology, and materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.
(Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on global affairs, and India Writes Network, www.indiawrites.org)