A thumbs-up for ties with India, and a warning shot about deteriorating relations with Pakistan and China, including a cryptic reference to “securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal,” are among the key references to the region in a 58-page Republican platform (manifesto) released on the opening day of the party convention in Cleveland.
Given the excitement over Donald Trump’s unrehearsed and improvised foreign policy sallies, foreign policy pundits keenly awaited the document, and it does not disappoint with some unvarnished observations about the world in line with the Presidential candidate’s thinking.
The one-para reference to India is in tune with the bipartisan sentiment in Washington and builds on the Clinton-Bush-Obama legacy: It calls India “our geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner,” and observes that “the dynamism of its people and the endurance of their democratic institutions are earning their country a position of leadership not only in Asia but throughout the world.”
It also encourages the Indian government to permit expanded foreign investment and trade, calling it the key to rising living standards for those left out of their country’s energetic economy. For all of India’s religious communities, it urges protection against violence and discrimination, a formulation that is not censorious. It also acknowledges “with pride the contributions to our country that are made by our fellow citizens of Indian ancestry.”
But there is no reference to India in the context of the US troubles with China and Washington’s Asian pivot (the Democratic platform called India a “Pacific” power in an ostensible effort to position New Delhi in the Asia-Pacific context), although there is a stark warning that “China’s behavior has negated the optimistic language of our last platform concerning our future relations with China.”
– 58-page Republican platform (manifesto) has called for securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
– The document calls India a geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner.
– Republican manifesto makes harsh observations about China’s domestic issues.
After harsh observations about China’s domestic issues and internal crackdown, the GOP says that to distract the populace from its increasing economic problems and, more importantly, to expand its military might, Beijing is asserting its “preposterous claim to the entire South China Sea and continues to dredge ports and create landing fields in contested waters where none have existed before, ever nearer to US territories and our allies, while building a navy far out of proportion to defensive purposes.”
The complacency of the Obama regime has emboldened the Chinese government and military to issue threats of intimidation throughout the South China Sea, not to mention parading their new missile, “the Guam Killer,” down the main streets of Beijing, a direct shot at Guam (a Pacific island) as America’s first line of defense, it notes.
The platform also refers to “cultural genocide” in Tibet and Xinjiang and the erosion of the promised autonomy of Hong Kong.
“The currency is manipulated, our technology is stolen, and intellectual property and copyrights are mocked in an economy based on piracy. In business terms, this is not competition; it is a hostile takeover. For any American company to abet those offenses, especially governmental censorship and tracking of dissenters, is a disgrace,” manifesto notes in some of the harshest language emanating against Beijing from the US political class, incorporating a swipe even at Silicon Valley companies that have rolled over for China.
Pakistan too will have much to worry from a Trump presidency. The platform attributes the country’s trouble to “conflicts in the Middle East,” completely delinking it from India.
“Our working relationship (with Pakistan) is a necessary, though sometimes difficult, benefit to both, and we look toward the strengthening of historic ties that have frayed under the weight of international conflict,” it notes, while warning that “this process cannot progress as long as any citizen of Pakistan can be punished for helping the War on Terror,” an oblique reference to the incarceration of Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the US track down Osama bin Laden and who has been jailed by the Pakistan establishment.
In a sentence that is certain to set alarm bells ringing in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the platform also maintains that “Pakistanis, Afghans, and Americans have a common interest in ridding the region of the Taliban and securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.”