Under Whip of Trump

Here in India there has been much interest and worry about a Trump Presidency. For weeks before election, and now even more so after Donald Trump assuming office, media persons serving big business houses, are asking about the possibility of Indo-US relations taking a jump-start or sliding down. In a major relief to anxious people on the Right and far Right, the US Consul General Craig L Hall’s statement came as a moral booster. Mr Hall was addressing a gathering organised by the Kolkata-based Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce. Stating that he does not see any perceptible change under the new White House administration, Mr Hall doubly assured the people attending the meeting that it would not have any negative impact on the ever growing Indo-US bilateral relations. ‘‘There is nothing extraordinary in the change of governments in the US which takes place every four years’’. So said Mr Hall. He was absolutely correct. And it is precisely the crux of the matter—American reality. Also, it is precisely the essence of American democracy. It doesn’t matter whether the presidency is occupied by a Democrat or a Republican. It’s routine change in governance and it has nothing to do with crucial policy issues.

There are now 500 American companies doing business in India. Democrat Obama protected their interests and Republican Trump, being himself a business magnate, will do that with flamboyance.

While Mr Hall was explaining American priority in doing business under the new dispensation, outgoing President Barack Obama on the same day—January 12—in his farewell address to the nation, called for preserving democracy based on rule of law, human rights, along with an independent media. The people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria know how human rights are being honoured by Americans in uniform. And it was sheer hypocrisy when he referred to how he successfully tackled the problem of climate change. How the US has been systematically destroying climate change negotiations and opposing any binding treaty since the days of ‘‘Kyoto Protocol’’, borders on fascistic arrogance. Obama, however, congratulated himself for having halved America’s dependence on foreign Oil during eight years he ruled. It was not about reduction of oil consumption, it was not about reduction in green house gases as well. It was all about shifting to indigenous sources. Donald Trump cannot worsen the situation further even if he continues the present US policy because the world has already reached the tipping point, threatening the survival of living organisms on the planet earth. True to his pre-election commitment, Trump has appointed a climate change denier Myrol Ebell, to lead the ‘‘transition’’. Not that Obama was in favour of implementing the Paris Accord on climate change. Trump’s announcement that he intends to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement is actually continuation of American policy to deny any climate change binding treaty. But what was the Paris Agreement all about? It was a grand ‘‘fraud’’. So said James Hansen, one of the most prominent climate scientists. As per Hansen’s analysis, ‘‘It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises’’. In truth the ineffective ‘Kyoto Protocol’ has been replaced with even more flawed and vague Paris Agreement. And the much publicised COP 22 meet at Maracech in Morocco ended without even initiating discussions on contentious issues. With his financial stakes in Dakota Access pipeline, it would be quite natural for Trump to complete the pipeline despite its adverse impact. It’s not the question of one-man policy. It’s the question of American business, no matter who occupies the chair in the White House. The climate change negotiations process has been going from bad to worse for almost a quarter of a century. America always had its own way to overlord any international event in the past and it won’t behave otherwise in the future, Trump or no Trump.

Climate Justice Campaigners in the West are relying too much on their governments’ efforts to force the US to fall in line. Unless there is a binding treaty for all nothing will change for the better. In reality indigenous people, tribals, grassroots people in general in most third world countries, particularly in South Asia and Latin America, are resisting onslaught on climate and ecology. They are defending their lands, forests, rivers, notwithstanding massive repression and systematic destruction of lives and livelihoods. In some cases some international solidarity comes as a symbolic gesture. But symbolic gesture won’t bring in any tangible benefits to the people.

Protests of thousands welled up across America in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory. But that anti-Trump hysteria is past. Americans will soon reconcile themselves with Trump reality. The American ruling establishments irrespective of their label, always react violently and brutally when they think their strategic interests might be in jeopardy in any part of the globe. Trump may, at worst carry forward that legacy with more severity and barbarism.

If Trump’s victory means strengthening of forces on the Right, then the Modi brigade has everything to cheer about—there is no reason to press the panic button. What the Americans demanded during the Obama regime, they are now demanding the same thing under the new dispensation. So the US Consul General Craig L Hall was candid enough to admit that they were not satisfied with India’s tardy pace of ‘reforms’, especially in areas of land and labour. So Trump’s message has begun to circulate and it remains to be seen how the Modis respond to their overtures by asking the people of India to tighten their belts further, particularly after the surgical strike of demonetisation.


Vol. 49, No.29, Jan 22 - 28, 2017